Liturgy of The Word for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost (July 12th, 2020)

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Order of Service for the Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Prelude: Prelude from Suite No. IV in E flat by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Consuelo Sherba, viola

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “Lord of Life and King of Glory” by Michelangelo Grancini (1605-1669), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn 512 “Come Gracious Spirit” (vv. 1, 4), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly Dove,
with light and comfort from above;
be thou our guardian, thou our guide
o'er every thought and step preside.
4 Lead us to heaven, that we may share
fullness of joy for ever there;
lead us to God, our final rest,
to be with him forever blest.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 280, St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ.

The Collect of the Day

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-13 read by David Blake

Psalm 119:105-112, St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Refrain: Your word is a lantern to my feet, O Lord, and a light upon my path.
105 Your word is a lantern to my feet
and a light upon my path.
106 I have sworn and am determined
to keep your righteous judgments.
107 I am deeply troubled;
preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.
108 Accept, O LORD, the willing tribute of my lips,
and teach me your judgments.
Your word is a lantern to my feet, O Lord, and a light upon my path.
109 My life is always in my hand,
yet I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a trap for me,
but I have not strayed from your commandments.
111 Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
truly, they are the joy of my heart.
112 I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes
for ever and to the end.
Your word is a lantern to my feet, O Lord, and a light upon my path.

Second Reading: Romans 8:1-11, read by Pat Nolan

Gradual Hymn 48 “O day of radiant gladness” (v. 1), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O day of radiant gladness, O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright;
this day the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
sing "Holy, holy, holy" to the great God Triune.

The Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, proclaimed by Linda+

Gradual Hymn 48 “O day of radiant gladness” (v. 4)

4 That light our hope sustaining, we walk the pilgrim way,
at length our rest attaining, our endless Sabbath day.
We sing to thee our praises, O Father, Spirit, Son;
the Church her voice upraises to thee, blest Three in One.

The Sermon: Mark+  A stand-alone sermon recording and full text also appear below on this page.

The Nicene Creed: We recite together. Please note italicized inclusive language changes.

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified
        and has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “Ave verum” by Edward Elgar (1857-1934), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Ave, verum corpus
natum de Maria Virgine,
Vere passum immolatum
in Cruce pro homine,
Cujus latus perforatum
unda fluxit sanguine,
Esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.

Hail, true body
born of the Virgin Mary,
Who truly suffered, sacrificed
on the Cross for man,
Whose pierced side overflowed
with water and blood,
Be for us a foretaste
In the test of death.

Prayers of the People: led by Mark+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants 
give you humble thanks 
for all your goodness and loving-kindness 
to us and to all whom you have made. 
We bless you for our creation, preservation, 
and all the blessings of this life; 
but above all for your immeasurable 
love in the redemption of the world 
by our Lord Jesus Christ; 
for the means of grace, 
and for the hope of glory. 
And, we pray, give us such 
an awareness of your mercies, 
that with truly thankful hearts 
we may show forth your praise, 
not only with our lips, but in our lives, 
by giving up our selves to your service, 
and by walking before you in 
holiness and righteousness all our days; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, 
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Hymn 505 “O Spirit of Life” (vv. 1, 3, 4), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God,
in ev'ry need thou bring us aid,
proceeding forth from heaven's throne,
from God, the Father and the Son;
O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God.
3 O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God,
make us to love your sacred word;
the holy flame of love impart,
that charity may warm each heart;
O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God.
4 O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God,
enlighten us by that same word;
teach us to know God's radiant love,
lead us to Christ who reigns above;
O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God.

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Courante from Suite No. IV in E flat by J. S. Bach, Consuelo Sherba, viola

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.

Mark’s+ stand alone sermon podcast and text


Prior to modernity, most people lived in agricultural societies. Accordingly, the Bible abounds with spiritual metaphors from agrarian life – in particular the spiritual metaphors of planting and harvesting. In the readings for Pentecost 6 from Matthew 13 and Isaiah 55 it comes as small surprise that each employs the spiritual metaphors of planting and harvesting – or sowing and reaping.

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that the readings each Sunday provide a platform for God to invite us into conversation. In discerning the nature of this conversation, we look, in the first instance, for clues in the relationship between Gospel and O.T. readings. On Pentecost 6 it’s hard not to miss the connections that lead us to conclude that the conversation God invites to have concerns sustainability.

Isaiah pictures the fruitfulness of God’s word – the seed – that goes forth from God’s mouth to accomplish a tangible harvest of environmentally friendly fruitfulness: the rain and snow do not evaporate before watering the earth – bringing forth a wild and extravagant fruitfulness that gives both seed for sowing and bread for eating. From seed – to bread – to seed -for future bread – the virtuous cycle of fruitful environmental sustainability stares us in the face.

This Isaiah, for he is the third prophet by this name, draws upon a powerful relationship between ecology and spirituality when he proclaims: the very mountains and the hills shall burst into song and the trees of the field shall clap their hands. The word of God’s mouth returns to God through a full-throated affirmation of divine fruitfulness – the product of a profound harmony between divine and human endeavor, in sync with the natural world.

Whatever the harvest produced by modern humanity’s intensive industrial farming methods it is not a rich harvest as God anticipates. We plough the land with chemicals, planting to produce a harvest -the abundance of which needs to be measured against the cost of environmental desecration and ecological degradation. The trees of the Amazon rainforest can hardly be pictured as clapping their hands in the face of slash and burn practices that strip the land for planting – land that after its first harvest – lying nakedly exposed to the elements of nature that no longer water the earth bringing forth fruitfulness but erode the leach the soil which quickly loses it fertility without further chemically enhanced help.

The conversation with God that emerges from Isaiah 55, challenges our current agricultural practices of land management and factory farming – practices that destroy the harmony of the natural order through the forces unleashed by greed driven, human endeavor.

In Matthew 13 we find the image of the sower – a farmer or farm hand who squanders his precious seed -recklessly scattering – seemingly heedless to the fact that much of it will land among rocks and weeds – marginal land inhospitable for a rich harvest.  

Following on from Isaiah 55, Matthew 13 pictures the seed being scattered as a metaphor for God’s word that goes out from God’s mouth. It’s perplexing that God seems not to mind the inefficiency of seed wasted by being scattered among rocks and weeds. Yet, maybe in this perplexing disregard God’s rich purpose is still accomplished in ways beyond our limited imagining.

The focus on the seed of God’s word having been scattered far and wide – now shifts to the nature of the soil in which the seed takes root – a metaphor for people who with varying capacities for fruitfulness respond to God’s word in different ways.

Matthew’s parable of the sower directs us to a conversation with God about the fruitfulness of our own lives. Fruitful lives embody sustainability.  In nature sustainability means planting seed that bears a harvest abundant enough to ensure we have bread to eat- but just as importantly, seed for further sowing. From planting to harvest – seed to bread for today – to seed for tomorrow’s bread we see the clear outlines of what I am calling the virtuous cycle of fruitful environmental sustainability.

It’s not enough that we find our fruitfulness in self-contentment, self-fulfillment. Our fruitfulness must be directed towards agitating for a much wider systemic fruitfulness in the life of our society. This agitation for changes in the direction of a greater systemic fruitfulness benefiting the many and not just the few is now a matter of some urgency in these stressful days of society-wide challenge and opportunity.

To live fruitfully requires three things: the capacity to be receptive, the openness that comes with understanding, and quality of action. Receiving refers to a life-long attention to nourishing the rich soil of our life so that the seed sown in us sprouts a rich harvest of understanding. However, understanding is not about our mental comprehension. Matthew elsewhere reminds us to be doers of the word and not simply passive hearers. Understanding derives from the rain and snow of God’s grace watering the fruit of our lives of action.

Action becomes visible when we participate with God in the bringing about of God’s rich purpose in the world – a purpose manifest in the virtuous cycle of sustainability.

Sustainable agriculture that provides for our daily bread – i.e. bread for eating -while taking care to ensure we have seed for the bread of tomorrow is a rich metaphor for our conservation of earth’s precious resources. However, humans are also social creatures and sustainability applies as much to our societal structures as to our agricultural practices.

Sustainable society is one in which justice rains down like dew from heaven –creating and protecting social environments within which individuals and communities are able to flourish and produce a harvest of unimaginable diversity and variety.

The parable of the sower is finally a parable about a risk-taking God who also expects us to be risk taking people. God the sower scatters the seed of the word willy-nilly – scandalously heedless of where the precious seed will land – a far cry from today’s profit driven efficiencies. Yet, the seed that lands among infertile rock is far from wasted. It becomes food for the birds who through their digestion cycle carry and deposit the seed in new and surprising places beyond the range of a single sower’s planting.  

Like the farmer in Matthew’s parable of the sower, if we risk scattering far and wide without regard for efficiency or short term profit – we will most likely be surprised by the unexpected results. If there was ever a time for us to be bold and to take risks with sowing tomorrow’s seed – it’s now. The challenge of risk is none other than the rich soil of opportunity.

If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter, we invite you to


Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

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