Trinity 1

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Readings

Exodus 19.2-8a
Psalm 100 
Romans 5.1-8 
Matthew 9.35-10.8 [9-23]

Sermon

My name is Laura Handy and I’m the Team Vicar in the Saltway Team in and around Droitwich.

Many people who call themselves Christians value the opportunity to read, hear and reflect on the Bible. At times this is on their own as part of our daily routines, but many really value coming together and hearing scripture as part of worship, most often in church buildings.

Things are of course very different at present, as we all navigate our way through this pandemic. The churches are locked and many have been finding different ways to connect together, to worship and pray.

During this time I have found myself reflecting on various parts of scripture at this time when we all find ourselves in a new situation. Perhaps there is an opportunity to hear them from a different perspective at present.

‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few,’ says Jesus as he speaks to the disciples about the enormity of the task in front of them. Jesus saw the harassed and hopeless crowds, who were like sheep without a shepherd and had compassion on them. Jesus told the disciples to ‘ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

I’m not sure I can quite recall the last time I saw a crowd in real life. It seems like an age ago. Well ordered socially distanced queues are the most common sight at the moment. People trying to work out how to pass each other in the street while staying the required 2 metres apart. For some people it has been months since they’ve seen anyone in ‘real life’ face to face. Our ‘crowds’ are currently dispersed, hidden, perhaps out of mind.

The crowds that I have seen have been in the media, crowds on beaches yes….. but more memorably protests highlighting the inequalities in our world, crowds in refugee camps and countries with little or no resources to fight the current pandemic.

Perhaps many crowds at present are represented by statistics, those who have sadly lost their lives and those who did all they could to treat them and those who mourn for them. Perhaps the ever growing ‘crowd’ of those relying on foodbanks to supply their most basic needs. I think Jesus’ description of harassed and hopeless applies to many at the moment. Sheep without a shepherd. And yes of course Jesus most definitely has compassion on them.

There are other crowds at the moment of course…… Those who have survived COVID-19, or maybe it’s the ‘crowd’ of volunteers who have served their communities, working as key workers or volunteers working tirelessly for others. Or those who have taken seriously their need to protect themselves and others by staying at home.

After Jesus has told the disciples to pray for workers to go into the harvest field, we see that he gives them the authority that they need to do exactly what he is talking about. Matthew lists the names of the 12. I really like that. Because within the group or crowd of disciples there are of course simply lots of individuals. Each person known, loved and called. Each disciple with their own journey, story, doubts, questions, hopes, ambitions, skills, experience, gifts…….. just like those of us who would call themselves disciples today.

Then Jesus says ‘Go!’ He sends them out, telling them to ‘proclaim the good news that ‘The Kingdom of heaven has come near’.’

This reading is often heard, in church, by the particular crowd gathered for a service. The congregation often think about the need for the church and individual disciples within it live out their faith every day, in the places where they go and amongst those they see.

Many people would love to be given the instruction ‘Go!’ during these times. In fact the advice many are currently following is the complete opposite ‘Stay!’ I feel challenged once again by Jesus’ compassion on the crowds, by the command to pray and then by Jesus sending the disciples out to the crowds with his authority.

As Archbishop Justin pointed out in his Pentecost sermon, when the Holy Spirit was sent at Pentecost it caused the crowd of disciples waiting in the upper room, who were fearful and turned in on themselves to look outwards to the world around them. On Trinity Sunday we reflected on the true that God is indeed Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The day will of course come when congregations can gather once more in churches and my prayer is that the church will have learnt afresh to depend on God and that filled afresh with His Spirit will turn even more to look outwards. My hope is that there will have a new awareness and compassion towards the crowds of those who do not yet know hope and security in Jesus.

Many people at this time are looking beyond themselves, are asking big questions, are finding themselves drawn to pray. The harvest is indeed plentiful.

There will be many challenges in the days ahead and many who will feel particularly harassed and helpless. This passage is a reminder that the greatest need of all is for a shepherd. I pray that the Church in this nation and across the world will respond with the compassion of God and changed and equipped by God will go out, in new ways and in familiar ways to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

What do we do now? We can do what can.

Perhaps it is a time to pray, to notice the crowds in our communities. They may not be crowds that are physically together at present but are very real all the same. As people draw close to God, he draws close to them. Lots of people have spoken of having days during the last few months that they have felt a bit lost. This passage is a reminder that God is a good shepherd, a compassionate God who is always with us. There is also the opportunity to read the Bible, to allow God to speak, nourish and guide. There are also lots of ways in which to show care, love and hope with others, even if it is as simple as a smile or phone call.

Questions for reflection

  • How did you come to know and trust Jesus? Perhaps pause to give thanks for those who shared the good news with you at whatever age you were. 
  • Which group of people or ‘crowd’ are most on your heart or mind at the moment? Why not take a moment to pray for them.
  • Do you have any particular friends or family who you long to know God’s love and faithfulness? God knows their names and has compassion on them, why not pray for them now.


Page last updated: 9th June 2020 1:30 PM
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