Here is the virtual service for 12 July 2020 – the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.
The main reading comes from Genesis 25:19-34. Rev. Geoff McKee continues his series of studies from the Book of Genesis.
This week it’s the story of Jacob and Esau.
Esau gives up his inheritance rights as first-born to his brother, Jacob, in return for a bowl of stew.
Did Jacob act on the spur of the moment to gain this advantage or did he – or God – have a plan all along? The story raises questions about freewill as against predestination.
It also provides a stark contrast to Jesus’ example to us as someone who himself had a birthright but chose not to give it up in the face of temptation.
Below, you will find the 4 Lectionary scriptures for this week, prayers, Geoff’s audio sermon and a musical selection from Katherine Robertson, musical director at St James’.
Genesis 25:19-34 (New International Version)
Jacob and Esau
19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.
21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.
23 The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.
So Esau despised his birthright.
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
that I will follow your righteous laws.
107 I have suffered much;
preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me,
but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees
to the very end.
Life Through the Spirit
8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
The grass may wither, the flower fade, but the word of our God will endure for ever.
God of grace and love, we rely on Your love extended to us in all ways and at all times, extravagantly and with generosity. We live day by day knowing that your care and concern is poured out for us in your provision for our needs and beyond our imagining. You entrust us with the gift of good news and invite us to be partners in the sharing of the message of grace. Day by day we realise the many gifts lavished upon us. We come to You to acknowledge and praise you for all Your goodness to us.
Merciful God, we often appear to be choked by greed and selfishness. We indulge ourselves and ignore the needs of others. We are quick to protect what we believe is our own and forget to share the bounty you have so generously provided for us. We have ignored the opportunities for bringing the love you have shown to our neighbours and those in need. We are restricted in our spiritual growth by the power of selfishness and indulgence which take root in our lives. We know we are in need of mercy, care and compassion and seek your message of forgiveness and restoration.
Source of life and hope make us aware of our opportunities for witness and service, even in unlikely places. Focus our attention on our responsibilities, and not on the impact of what we are doing as Your disciples. Take from us the desire for superficial success and strengthen our resolve to be faithful and responsive to the message of your inclusive love so demonstrated in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus, in whose name we pray.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
Lord God of compassion we pray for the many who are oppressed by crushing political and economic circumstances. Those persecuted on grounds of faith or ethnicity or background. Families torn apart by age-old feuds, petty tensions, ill-founded jealousies and destructive attitudes based on concepts of exclusion, privilege and prejudice.
The men and women ground down by lack of food and opportunities of inclusion. The children oppressed by discrimination and disadvantage, lack of resources and failures of education. The downtrodden and those seen as unable to make a positive contribution to the life of the world.
Empower, encourage and endorse the disciples of Jesus who try to address the needs of the isolated and lonely, often at enormous personal cost. The concerned workers who day by day bring food and shelter, care and compassion to the hungry and the homeless. The missionaries in the world of business and economics who try to overturn the status quo and bring health and healing in an environment alien to the gospel. Those who hear the world’s poorest cry out for justice and mercy and respond without question or analysis of impact. The generous who see gifts always as opportunities for sharing their good fortune. The intrepid who take food and water to those who are ungrateful and resistant to kindness and thoughtfulness. The faithful, who day by day take time to pray and listen attentively to the Word. The fighters for justice who have courage and conviction and who try to change the mind-set of exclusion and condemnation. Those unafraid of persecution, personal disadvantage and power in the world and who dare to question and speak the truth when it would be much easier to keep silent.
We pray for the sick in mind, body and spirit, the dying, and those who care for them, that they may always be aware of the presence of Your spirit among them and in their daily lives. As we pray for those in hospital with COVID-19 so we remember those struggling with the challenges of recovery. We remember those who have lost their jobs and those who are fearful of the same. Bring your comfort to those crippled by fear and may your light guide and reassure.
You have demonstrated your love in and through Jesus Christ your Son who taught us to pray….
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
El Shaddai (God Almighty) can be found in Mission Praise no.119 and was composed in1982 by Michael Card. This song, along with “Love Crucified Arose” and “Emmanuel,” are his most prominent contributions as a song/ hymn writer.
The verses discuss God’s faithful acts , including Abraham and Isaac, the parting of the waters during the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt and the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of Christ’s mission.
In the chorus, we sing about lifting God’s name on high as we give Him all our love and praise. His amazing power has been the same through the ages as it is today and will be forever more.