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Weekly worship

Sermon pointers and prayers for putting social justice at the heart of your church service each week.
Sunday 30 July

‘Yeah, right!’

Gen 29:15-28       Matt 13: 31-33, 44-49            Romans 8:26-39

St Paul tells us that: ‘All things work together for the good of those who love God.’ To which the occasional liturgical response might be: ‘Yeah right!’

I bet that Jacob’s wasn’t thinking that when his father-in-law hitched him to both his daughters and conned another seven years of work from him. ‘Ah well’, says Jacob, ‘All things work together for good with God?’ Yeah, right!’ But in the end it did and maybe Jacob, the trickster who conned his brother out of his birthright can, looking back, appreciate the irony of how he has been duped.

Many of us can feel that life has conned us. And for people living in global poverty today that hunch is often right. There are some massive economic ‘cons’ in international trade and tax and all things working for good, can seem far from a reality. Maybe, someday, in heaven, but right now we might want to respond: ‘Yeah right!’

But of course, Paul had his troubles too, shipwrecks, beatings and prison. It’s from jail that he writes these words to a struggling church saying it will all work out. No doubt his guards would say: ‘Yeah right!’ To the casual observer it must’ve seemed that the earthly powers of greed and injustice were having it all their own way with Paul. And it often still seems so.

We imagine that we look in vain for signs of the kingdom but what should we expect in a world of famine and war, terrorism, poverty and climate chaos? Even Jesus struggles to describe it in his time. He borrows the everyday language of mustard seeds, yeast, hidden treasures and pearls and gives them a poetic twist. We know these images well, but back then they were vibrant and provocative.

The Pharisees preferred rules that you could measure and define. But you can’t do that with poetry and you can’t do it with Jesus. The one man who was qualified to speak plainly about God chooses to tell it slant, hidden in the imagery.

When all we can see is famine and poverty, war, God’s kingdom may seem hidden too. But here is how God plays the oldest trick in the book, older even than Laban and Jacob. God hides the kingdom in the plain view. It’s not always found in the holy places where the treasure hunters go, instead it’s in the last place anyone would think to look, in the ordinary things of the everyday.

Like a diamond set among the rhinestones the kingdom’s glory sits expectant in the grey and our dearest treasure is already here in the unglamorous daily commitment to live more simply so that others simply live. That kingdom is found in the shop, the school, the factory and the park and in people like you and me when we dare to image a kingdom like this then and respond: ‘Amen. Yes, right’.


God of hidden treasures,

help us to seek and to find your kingdom

in unexpected places

and with unanticipated people

who together say: ‘Amen, yes right,

let it be on earth as it is done in heaven.’
Amen.

Points for prayer
  • Give thanks for all who choose to give to Christian Aid through the In Their Lifetime (ITL) initiative, enabling us to pioneer new approaches to fight poverty and to scale up the solutions that work best.
  • Give thanks for the help given to organic farmers in India through ITL, linking them with consumers and creating regional hubs for them to distribute their vegetables.
  • Pray for Christian Aid partner SAAL, which is providing a demonstration farm so that farmers can see the increase in yield and soil health before they take the risk of converting to organic practices.


Farmer God,

cultivate good soil in our hearts,

remove any stones and weeds

so your word might flourish

in and through our lives.

Amen.

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