Worship for Sunday 30th July 2023, by Rev. Joy Rulton

Call to worship:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.
It is a small seed, but has some surprises in store for us.

When it is grown, it is a very large shrub.
Even the birds can find places in its branches for their nests.

God’s transforming love begins in small ways to enter our hearts.
Lord, plant those amazing seeds of transforming love in us

that they may grow into deeds of service

to others in your name.


Hymn:   God is love: let heaven adore him (StF 103)

God is Love, let heav’n adore him;
God is Love, let earth rejoice;
Let creation sing before him
And exalt him with one voice.
God who laid the earth’s foundation,
God who spread the heav’ns above,
God who breathes through all creation:
God is Love, eternal Love.

God is Love; and love enfolds us,
All the world in one embrace:
With unfailing grasp God hold us,
Every child of every race.
And when human hearts are breaking
Under sorrow’s iron rod,
Then we find that selfsame aching
Deep within the heart of God.

God is Love; and though with blindness
Sin afflicts all human life,
God’s eternal loving kindness
Guides us through our earthly strife.
Sin and death and hell shall never
O’er us final triumph gain;
God is Love, so Love for ever
O’er the universe must reign.

Prayer of adoration:

Almighty, gracious, God
Words cannot express our wonder at the beauty
and extravagance of all that you have made.
We adore you and offer you our worship.

The span of every human generation is too short
to describe the works of your hand.
We adore you and offer you our worship.

We find ourselves amazed at the depth
and breadth of your love for us, your children.
We adore you and offer you our worship.

The story of your saving love is miraculous
and full of mystery.
We adore you and offer you our worship.

The generosity of your grace is shown
in the life of your Son, Jesus Christ.
We adore you and offer you our worship.

The gentle dance of your Spirit moves through
our lives inspiring us and equipping us to serve you.
We adore you and offer you our worship.
Receive our prayers
and be known to us in our worship.
In Christ’s name.


and confession

forgive our half-hearted attempts to follow you.
We confess the cosiness of our religion:
we like our faith to be nice and gentle;
often we keep it in in a corner of our lives.
Our commitment is lukewarm.

Lord, comfort us when we are disturbed,
but please disturb us when we are comfortable.

Let us love you with passion,
seek you and your kingdom.

May we hunger and thirst for your kingdom
above all else.

Hymn:    All my days I will sing this song of gladness (StF 343)

All my days I will sing this song of gladness,
give my praise to the fountain of delights;
for in my helplessness you heard my cry,
and waves of mercy poured down on my life.

I will trust in the cross of my Redeemer,
I will sin of the blood that never fails,
of sins forgiven, of conscience cleansed,
of death defeated and life without end.

Beautiful Saviour, wonderful Counsellor,
clothed in majesty, Lord of history,
you’re the Way, the Truth, the Life.
Star of the Morning, glorious in holiness,
you’re the risen one, heaven’s champion,
and you reign, you reign over all!

I long to be where the praise is never ending,
yearn to dwell where the glory never fades,
where countless worshippers will share one song,
and cries of “worthy” will honour the Lamb!

C: Stuart Townend

Reading:      Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast:

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

The Parable of the Net:

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”


I wonder if you like spicy food. Last year we grew our own chillis and there was an abundant harvest. We are still using fruit that I had to freeze. It never ceases to amaze me that so much can come from just one tiny seed.

Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like a tiny mustard seed, one that can grow into a tree big enough to provide shelter and safety.This kingdom, where God reigns, is so precious, that when we discover it we would be prepared to give up everything to possess it.

In Jesus’ parable, the man who found treasure hidden in a field, quickly covered it up then went and sold all he had and bought the field. He put such value on the treasure he was ready to give up everything else. We wouldn’t bury our valuables today, but in ancient Israel, the land had been occupied by other countries and if you had to escape, you would hide them and look to reclaim your hidden treasure when you could return.

In Jesus’ next story, he speaks of pearl merchants, who would travel great distances to find the best pearl. There was always the possibility of finding a bigger and better one.

Then there is the story of the net full of fish and judgment. We often feel uncomfortable talking about God’s judgement. We don’t want to upset anyone. But although Jesus speaks of it here, he tells us, too, of how we can find the kingdom close at hand in everyday life, in making bread and ploughed fields. Perhaps for us that would be washing up or sharing a meal.

He uses images that would have been well known to his listeners. The people in them are going about their usual day to day business. We have to look for it, to recognise it every day. Something special can be found in the ordinary things of life, washing up or watering the plant pots perhaps.

Following Jesus and seeking his kingdom may not turn out as we expect, but it does transform our lives.

These parables encourage us to focus on God’s kingdom, that it is already here, it’s active and is the treasure worth seeking.

Over this next week, I invite you to think about your everyday life, the chores you do every day. Can you seek and find the Kingdom of God in the midst of it?

Prayer of thanksgiving:

For the signs of your kingdom,
in gestures as small as tiny mustard seeds,
in simple kindnesses that can mean so much:

We give you thanks.

For the way your kingdom takes hold
and grows like yeast in a batch of dough,
with the determination and persistence that good will prevail:

We give you thanks.

For the way we see your kingdom in surprising places,
such as the discovery of treasure in a field,
and unlikely people doing unexpected things:

We give you thanks.

For the price people pay for your kingdom,
like a pearl, more costly than all the other jewels in the world,
because it asks for commitment and sacrifice:

We give you thanks.

For the way your kingdom spreads
like a net catching enough fish to feed the world,
irresistible, powerful, with a love that overcomes all:


Thank you for saving me, what can I say?
You are my everything, I will sing your praise.
You shed your blood for me, what can I say?
You took my sin and shame,
a sinner called by name.

Great is the Lord,
Great is the Lord,
For we know your truth has set us free,
You’ve set your hope in me.

Mercy and grace are mine, forgiven is my sin,
Jesus my only hope, the Saviour of the world.
“Great is the Lord” we cry,
God let your kingdom come,
Your word has let me see,
thank you for saving me!

Martin Smith ©1994 Curious? Music UK

Prayers of intercession

God of heaven in ordinary,
we pray for those searching
for the precious pearl of purpose in their lives…
We pray for those searching for peace…
We pray for those longing for reconciliation…
We pray for those yearning for freedom…
We pray for those aching for forgiveness…
We pray for those who need acceptance…
We pray for the sick who need healing…
We pray for those longing for comfort…
To you, Lord of love, we entrust our prayers,

Offering them in the name of Christ.

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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.


Come set Your rule and reign
In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray
Unveil why we’re made
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
Like wildfire in our very souls
Holy Spirit, come invade us now
We are Your Church
And we need Your power
In us

We seek Your kingdom first
We hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives
For You’re our joy and prize
To see the captive hearts released
The hurt, the sick, the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for Heaven’s cause
We are Your church
And we pray revive
This earth

Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
We pray

Unleash Your kingdom’s power
Reaching the near and far
No force of hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts
You made us for much more than this
Awake the kingdom seed in us
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ
We are Your church
we are the hope
On earth

Songwriters: Chris Llewellyn / Gareth Gilkeson / Will Herron

lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group, Capitol CMG Publishing


May the joy of the kingdom go with you.
May the peace of the kingdom sustain you,
and may you know the king of the kingdom, Jesus Christ,
to be your friend and Saviour
as you journey through this week.

Prayers from rootsontheweb

CCL: 5441182