Holy Communion for Sunday, 12 July 2020

[The complete Service is contained in one video file. The musical prelude and postlude are each in their own video file, at top and bottom of this post. The words of the service, hymns, readings and intercessions are all included in the video of the Service, but not the words of the Sermon by Revd George Mwaura; if you wish to read his text while listening, you will need to scroll down to it in the text of the Service, which is below the video recordings here.]

Organ Prelude: Tierce en Taille in G from ‘Trois Pieces’ by Jean-François Dandrieu (1730)



Welcome in the name of Christ.
God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you.

Good morning and welcome to our Holy Communion Service
today on the seventh Sunday of Trinity.

Let us begin with the Prayer of the Week.

Let us pray.

Prayer of the Week

Gracious God, we thank you that all good gifts come from you.
We thank you for all you have already given us.
And, as the good soil welcomes the seed, and causes it to grow,
we welcome you to take root and flourish in our lives
enabling us to listen, to learn and to act in Jesus’ name.


Hymn: Longing for light, we wait in darkness

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness
Christ be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has power to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness
Christ be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness
Christ be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness
Christ be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants one to another,
helping your kingdom come.

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness
Christ be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957)

Gathering Prayer

Jesus said: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Welcome to the house of God.
We have come from all the corners of the earth.

Welcome to the hospitality of God.
We come as we are; we bring our life, our stories, our journey.

Welcome, brothers and sisters.
We are the rainbow people of God.

Welcome, chosen people.
May God our companion bind us in his love.


The Confession

Forgive us for the things we have done and have not done.
Forgive us for the things we have said and have not said.
Forgive us for the life we have lived and not lived.
Beloved God, help us to reflect the image
of the one we profess to follow
in thought, word and deed,
and in discovering our true self
draw others into that light.


The Word of the Lord

Isaiah 55: 10–13

Read by Michael Browne

10 As the rain and the snow
  come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
  without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
  so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
  it will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
  and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
  and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
  will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
  will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn-bush will grow the juniper,
  and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
  for an everlasting sign,
  that will endure for ever.’


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Matthew 13: 1–9 & 18–23

Read by Ruth Murray

The parable of the sower

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered round 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. 22The 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.’


This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.


By Revd George Mwaura

Isaiah 55: 10–13; Matthew 13: 1–9 & 18–23

The art of listening

Creator God, you who set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set,
we pray that you will shed the light of your wisdom in the darkness of our collective minds
by the power of your spirit in Jesus’ name.


The setting of this parable – or sermon, if you like – is rather interesting, if not tricky. Matthew tells us that Jesus’ listeners came to the beach where he had gone to relax. There is no evidence that the people came to hear him preach, but that should not surprise us at all – most people I know do not go to the beach to listen to sermons anyway. To complicate the matter, Jesus had to retreat to a small boat, anchored a few feet offshore, to deliver his message. Without the benefit of an adequate sound system, he had to try to be heard over the sound of the waves washing against the beach. In that setting, Jesus tells this simple parable drawn from an agriculture setting during the planting season. There was nothing unusual about the story, although it sounds a bit strange to us. Farmers simply went to an open field with a bag of seed and scattered them across the ground. Some seed sprouted and grew, and other seed did not. One never knew exactly where the crop would be the best. I always imagined that when Jesus finished telling the story, the crowd shrugged their shoulders, scratched their heads, and said to one another: ‘Is that it; there’s nothing new about that story, we see that happen all the time; so what?’ But then, in one of those magical strokes of effective public speaking,  Jesus brought their casual responses to an abrupt end by adding: Let anyone with ears listen – as if to say, and to remind us, there is more here than a casual planting story to kill the hours on the beach.

I wonder what prompted Jesus to add this last line. Perhaps Jesus added this line, and maybe even told the down-to-earth story of the land in the first place, because of what he saw when he looked at the crowd from his perch in that boat. What he saw is the same thing I see when I look at the congregation each Sunday from the pulpit: a group of people who have come together for a variety of reasons. Some have been forced to rise and dress when sleep would have been preferred; some have come out of a sense of duty or habit. Others have come to display their piety and practice their faith. A few have come, no doubt, with a sense of expectation, knowing there is a need and a longing to have it met. These listeners are hoping beyond hope that maybe this will be the Sunday when the Word will break through for them. When Jesus looked into their faces, he probably saw the same thing I see. You see, the body language and facial expressions reveal much about what is going on in a person’s mind, and from the pulpit vantage point, I can see more than I sometimes care to see. For instance, there are those blank expressions which say, in essence: I am not interested. Then, there are the glassy stares which betray the fact that someone’s mind is on a different planet. Of course, there are those with drifting eyes, searching for who is wearing what and oh, where is that couple with the annoying child seated? Then, of course, there are those keen looks, which are, essentially saying, entertain me for 60 minutes and then let me get out of here, feeling good but not disturbed. Those of us who stand in pulpits to engage God’s people Sunday after Sunday have come to know one truth: most of what is said will go in one ear and out the other. It should not surprise us then that Jesus would tell such a story as this, and boy I am I glad he did!

Listening seems to be one of those automatic things which we too often take for granted. When listening stops in a marriage, family and even in the Church, relationship hit rock bottom. We bury our heads in TV, Tiktok, WhatsApp, emails, texts, and other social media distractions and forget to listen to one another. While your Minister may not be the most entertaining or thought-provoking preacher, the problem may not be all his; quite often it is the listener who has issues. Could it be that one of the reasons we think that God no longer talks with a plain clear voice, as God did in the Old Testament days, is not that God stopped speaking, but that we stopped listening? Before us, this morning is a story that says more than just the poor farming techniques and uneven soil conditions. It is, at one level, about how we listen when the Word is proclaimed. The parable offers some guidelines on the art of listening for God’s Word in a sermon.

Here are three guidelines to ponder.

Guideline Number 1: Do not have your mind made up before you go to church. We often fail to hear anything because we think we know everything there is to know already. There is nothing that will be said that will bring any more information than we already possess. Just before I started training for ministry, an elder in my church said to me, ‘George, do not let them change you at Westminster.’ I am glad I did not follow that advice! To have done so is like those seeds, when scattered, fall on a path where the birds quickly eat them up. They never have a chance to grow because they never got inside the earth. Some people are like that; so rigid that nothing can penetrate their spirits. It’s pointless to preach to them.

Guideline Number 2: Do not be swept away with emotional ecstasy. We often fail to pay attention, because we are on some mountaintop; high on emotions and feelings, either before we come, while we are present, or after we leave. Too many times we listen only with our feelings and emotions. We get inspired not by the content but by the presentation; we are moved not by the Word but by the persuasiveness of the personality through whom the Word comes. Emotional listening is like a seed that finds itself on rocky soil, a bit of topsoil where it can sprout quickly. But since there is no root it soon wilts during the reality of the sun and the heat. Angelic choirs, charismatic preachers, and majestic buildings are fine in their place as tools and agents that enable the hearing of the Word. But remember they are not the Word. Listen to the Word!

Guideline Number 3: Do not be distracted by the surroundings. We often fail to hear because there is so much coming at us and there is so much activity swirling around us that it is difficult to sort through the noises, to hear the Word. And the times we live in are not the most conducive in hearing God’s Word either. There are far too many things vying for our attention and energy. As a result, we miss the annunciation of good news. Distractions divert our attention from what is to be the focus of the moment, and we turn off our hearing to think about what has just happened. For example, we lose our concentration when a mobile phone rings during a sermon, a hymn book is dropped, or a door is opened. It is like seed planted among the thorns and the thorns grow up to choke off the good growth, preventing or hindering the ability to listen.

So this, my good friends, is not just a parable; in this sermon, we find guidelines for the art of listening. What message then can we find in this parable today? It is this: the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is sown. As a result, the reign of God is established, it takes root and grows in this world sometimes in surprising places, where we would least expect it. It starts small, like a seed; but the result is an amazing return at the harvest season. It is a return that is not based on what we do with or to the soil. It is simply an act of God’s grace. Above all this is a story of hope. Even when we come to realise that not all our efforts are productive, the result is still astonishing: God’s grace. Life can indeed be the art of the possible which succeeds despite overwhelming odds to the contrary. If we hear the Word, then we are called to go tell it, to plant more seeds and to scatter our brand of hope on a world which has none. A world brought to its knees by an invisible virus. So, friends, go, scatter some seeds because you have heard the Word. Let anyone with ears, listen!


An Affirmation of Faith

We believe in the Creator:
the maker of all things.

We believe in the Son:
the redeemer of our broken world.

We believe in the Spirit:
The sacred wind that binds all things together in the family of God.

Creator Father, beloved Son and living Spirit.



By Maggie Kean

Lord, in your mercy, receive our prayers.

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.
We enter your presence with gratitude and reverence.
We are grateful that you are our God and we are your children.
Because of this, we can come before you and intercede for ourselves and our world.

Lord, in your mercy, receive our prayers.

We bring our world – your people before you.
The times remain uncertain and frightening for many.
In parts of the world, Covid-19 is still a major threat to life.
We thank you for those in medicine, science and social care
who are carrying the major burden on our behalf –
in caring for our sick and researching to understand how
we can overcome and stop the virus from taking more lives.

Lord, in your mercy, receive our prayers.

We ask for the those that mourn loved ones –
may they feel the embrace of your love
and assurance that you are with them in their pain and sorrow.

We pray for those who are fearful of the future.
Maybe they have underlying health conditions
that put them at greater risk of catching Covid-19.
Maybe they have lost their livelihoods – maybe they fear losing it.
Lord, be their comfort and grant peace.
For those whose financial future is uncertain,
also grant an extra measure of faith to trust and believe that you will provide.

Lord, in your mercy, receive our prayers.

We pray for those who sick among us – we ask that you grant healing.
For those who are nursing loved ones – grant them your strength.
For those who suffer social isolation and loneliness particularly at this time – be their comfort.
Open our eyes to each other’s needs and help each one of us to be Christ to one another.

Lord, in your mercy, receive our prayers.

We pray for those in any leadership positions in any arena – we ask for wisdom and courage.
Help them to see with your eyes so that the decisions they make
at this challenging time may be ones that honour humanity.

Lord, in your mercy, receive our prayers.

We thank you for the leadership here at Cornerstone.
We ask that your spirit continues to guide them in the coming weeks and months
as they continue to serve and support the congregation.
We remember especially George who is unwell at this time –
grant him a speedy recovery and much needed rest.
We are so grateful for those who put in a huge amount of time
enabling us to continue to worship together –
apart but together still via the internet.

Lord, in your mercy, receive our prayers.

We pray and ask all this in the name of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Hymn: Spirit of God within me

Spirit of God within me,
possess my human frame;
fan the dull embers of my heart,
stir up the living flame.
Strive till that image Adam lost,
new-minted and restored,
in shining splendour brightly bears
the likeness of the Lord.

Spirit of truth within me,
possess my thought and mind;
lighten anew the inward eye
by Satan rendered blind;
shine on the words that wisdom speaks,
and grant me power to see
the truth made known to all in Christ,
and in that truth be free.

Spirit of love within me,
possess my hands and heart;
break through the bonds of self-concern
that seek to stand apart;
grant me the love that suffers long,
that hopes, believes and bears,
the love fulfilled in sacrifice
that cares as Jesus cares.

Spirit of life within me,
possess this life of mine;
come as the wind of heaven’s breath,
come as the fire divine!
Spirit of Christ, the living Lord,
reign in this house of clay,
till from its dust with Christ I rise
to everlasting day.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926)

The Peace

Jesus says,

‘Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid.’

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

The Offering

Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9: 6–7

Thank you

To everyone who is continuing to pay us regularly through the Parish Giving Scheme.
To everyone who is continuing to pay us regularly by bankers’ order.
To people in the envelope scheme who are putting their money aside every week ready to bring in when we re-open.
To members of the envelope scheme who have already sent cheques and on-line donations.

Thank you

Holy Communion

The Thanksgiving

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed be God for ever.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become our spiritual drink.

Blessed be God for ever.

The Lord be with you
and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

Eucharistic Prayer

It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;
in your love you made us for yourself.
When we turned away
you did not reject us,
but came to meet us in your Son.

You embraced us as your children
and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.

In Christ you shared our life
that we might live in him and he in us.

He opened his arms of love upon the cross
and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.

On the night he was betrayed,
at supper with his friends
he took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to them, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his body is the bread of life.

At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,
he gave you thanks, and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;
do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his blood is shed for all.

As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,
send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine
may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.

As we eat and drink these holy gifts
make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.

With your whole Church throughout the world
we offer you this sacrifice of praise
and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.


Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Take this bread:

Share this wine.

In these Christ comes to us with love from God.
The gifts of God for the people of God.


Hymn: Colours of day

Colours of day dawn into the mind,
the sun has come up, the night is behind.
Go down in the city, into the street,
and let’s give the message to the people we meet.

So light up the fire and let the flame burn,
open the door, let Jesus return.
Take seeds of his Spirit, let the fruit grow,
tell the people of Jesus, let his love show.

Go through the park, on into the town;
the sun still shines, it never goes down.
The light of the world is risen again;
the people of darkness are needing our friend.

So light up the fire and let the flame burn,
open the door, let Jesus return.
Take seeds of his Spirit, let the fruit grow,
tell the people of Jesus, let his love show.

Open your eyes, look into the sky,
the darkness has come, the sun came to die.
The evening draws on, the sun disappears,
but Jesus is living, and his Spirit is near.

So light up the fire and let the flame burn,
open the door, let Jesus return.
Take seeds of his Spirit, let the fruit grow,
tell the people of Jesus, let his love show.

Sue McClellan, John Paculabo and Keith Rycroft (1974)

The Blessing

Thank you for joining us this morning.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn his face towards you
and give you peace.

And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father,
the Son
and the Holy Spirit
be among you
and remain with you
today and always.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ.


Postlude: Coro in D (Finale) from Handel’s Water Music

[Video recordings of all the music in this Service can be seen by following this link: http://www.cornerstonemk.co.uk/music-videos-for-sunday-12-july-2020/.]