Sunday 6 August, 2017

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings are laid out as for the continuous form of the lectionary. Alternative related readings (OT and psalm only) are below. Hymns marked with an asterisk (*) are suggested for more than one reading.

Genesis 32: 22-31

Come, O thou Traveller unknown (StF 461)
Let love be real, in giving and receiving (StF 615)
My God! I know, I feel thee mine (StF 390)
O love that wilt not let me go  (StF 636)
When we are tested and wrestle alone (StF 240)
When we were in the darkest night (StF 241)

Psalm 17: 1-7, 15

Hymns echoing the psalmist’s theme

Away with our fears! (StF 458)
Merciful Lord, in your loving kindness hear our prayer (StF 761)
Son of God, if your free grace (StF 336)
Safe in the shadow of the Lord (StF 509)
There is no moment of my life (StF 482)

Romans 9: 1-5

All my hope on God is founded (StF 455)
Father God, I wonder how I managed to exist (StF 72)
Father, we have sinned in word, and deed, and thought (StF 422)
‘Forgive our sins as we forgive’ (StF 423)
God, how can we forgive when bonds of love are torn? (StF 613)
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy (StF 416)

Matthew 14: 13-21

A rich young man came seeking (StF 243)
Be still, for the presence of the Lord (StF 20)
Come, let us sing of a wonderful love (StF 443)
Eat this bread, drink this cup (StF 583)
* Faithful One, so unchanging (StF 628)
Jesus the Lord said: 'I am the Bread' (StF 252)
Longing for light, we wait in darkness (StF 706)
Seek ye first the kingdom of God (StF 254)
The kingdom of God is justice and joy (StF 255)
We have nothing to give that didn't first come from your hand (StF 670)
When I needed a neighbour, were you there? (StF 256)

Alternative related readings:

Isaiah 55: 1-5

As the deer pants for the water (StF 544)
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart (StF 545) esp. v4
Bread of Life, Truth Eternal (StF 578)
* Faithful One, so unchanging (StF 628)
From the breaking of the dawn (StF 156)
O God, what offering shall I give (StF 562)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases (StF 66)

Psalm 145: 8-9, 14-21

Hymns echoing the psalmist’s theme

All creatures of our God and King (StF 99)
God is love: let heaven adore him (StF 103)
I sing the almighty power of God (StF 107)
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!  (StF 88)
Sing to the great Jehovah’s praise (StF127)

The Revd Phillip Poyner writes:

The reading from Matthew begins: “Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart.” It is not surprising that Jesus would want to be on his own to reflect, having just heard of the execution of John the Baptist. The crowds follow and Mark 6: 34 adds “he had compassion on them , because they were like sheep without a shepherd”. Had they not also lost a shepherd with John’s death?

Reflection leads to compassion, producing healings and the feeding of the people.  Reflection yields sorrowful thoughts and unceasing anguish for Paul as he thinks compassionately of the people. The Psalm is attributed to David and speaks of the Lord being “gracious, full of compassion”.  That compassion is to be seen in the Servant of Isaiah 55. George A.F. Knight in his commentary, Isaiah 40-55: Servant Theolog y , writes that: “the outcome of God’s purpose in the Servant is at last revealed...the redemption not only of Israel herself but of all”. In verse 3 God’s steadfast love to David is promised to all people.

As is often the case, the continous readings have echoes of the themes in the related readings. Genesis 32 could be extended back to verse 3 revealing two actions by Jacob. His fear of his brother leads to the  decision to divide his flocks and in v.20 to exhibit generosity and make a present of animals to Esau. Then in vv.9-12 Jacob prays: “I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all thefaithfulness which thou hast shown to thy servant.” These actions by the more reflective, vulnerable Jacob, with a greater perception of his personal standing , perhaps find their response in the wrestling with the man that night. That encounter with God produces the blessing of a new status as Israel and the preservation of his life. Psalm 17, also attributed to David speaks both of God’s loving kindness (v.7) and proclaims God as “Saviour of those who take refuge . . . from those who rise up against them”.
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