Trinity 4


O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that with you as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not our hold on things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Post Communion

Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken, you have fed us at the table of life and hope: teach us the ways of gentleness and peace, that all the world may acknowledge the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.


Old Testament

 This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’ Then the Lord said,

‘See, I am setting a plumb-line
in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass them by;

the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’

Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, ‘Amos has conspired against you in the very centre of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said,

    “Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
and Israel must go into exile
away from his land.” ’

And Amaziah said to Amos, ‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.’

Then Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

    ‘Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.
You say, “Do not prophesy against Israel,
and do not preach against the house of Isaac.”

Therefore, thus says the Lord:

    “Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
and your land shall be parcelled out by line;
you yourself shall die in an unclean land,
and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.” ’

Amos 7.7–17


1    God has taken his stand in the council of heaven;
in the midst of the gods he gives judgement:

2    ‘How long will you judge unjustly
and show such favour to the wicked?

3    ‘You were to judge the weak and the orphan;
defend the right of the humble and needy;

4    ‘Rescue the weak and the poor;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

5    ‘They have no knowledge or wisdom; they walk on still in darkness:
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

6    ‘Therefore I say that though you are gods
and all of you children of the Most High,

7    ‘Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals
and fall like one of their princes.’

8    Arise, O God and judge the earth,
for it is you that shall take all nations for your possession.

Psalm 82


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow-servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1.1–14


Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Luke 10.25–37

Sermon on Sunday, Trinity 4

“With you as our ruler and guide may we so pass through things temporal that we lose not our hold on things eternal.”

These words should always be at the forefront of our minds. What exactly are these “things eternal”? Or would it be easier to catalogue the “things temporal” so that we don’t get bogged down in them as we make our way through them to those eternal?

The philosopher takes this latter approach when he talks of the significance of life in the world. He examines a broken hammer in order to see what our Collect prayer calls “the temporal”. The broken hammer puts the world into focus, because it is broken, it fragments our environment into its  constituent parts precisely because nothing works as expected. Since nothing is “normal”, everything has to be examined, piece by piece, down to the smallest detail.

He examines his world broken down to the most minute element. To the extent that only colour perception remains. He has deconstructed the world so radically that everything becomes ephemeral. But he does not remain in that state for long, because he realises that existence does not merely consist of perception, though it does dawn on us through it. The philosopher then goes on to examine why the world is as it is by considering what glues it all together.

He glues everything together by asking about “intentionality”. – He asks, “how do we relate to the objects of experience?” When we look at those sensory data we interpret as a table, we intend that it has height, depth, colour, solidity and endurance – in other words, we know it doesn’t disappear when we turn our backs on it. What do we really want to remain, when we are away from it? This becomes a very interesting question, doesn’t it? What do we really expect to be enduring? What is eternal? Is it the table? Is it this building? My friends? My loved ones? What do we want never to pass away?

Our reading from Colossians intimates the enduring in our relations with other people, specifically he speaks of the hope we have for them, the love they have shown to us and others, our love toward them, the grace of God which has been shared between us all. These are the moments we remember in our lives, aren’t they? We think these are the most important aspects of life. Love is that greatest of all things, as Paul rhapsodises in one of his other letters. Love is that intention in life beyond all others. It drives us through everything. Love is what endures. Love is not ephemeral.

Jesus speaks more prosaically about that eternal verity through a parable – the good Samaritan. This person shows the lasting nature of love and compassion in a very practical way. The Samaritan has opened himself up to the other in a way that the lawyer and the priest did not, by taking him in hand. He has given aid and succour to an unknown man, a stranger injured and lying by the side of the road. He has not passed by on the other side.

This parable is one of the most poignant in the sayings of Jesus, isn’t it? Everyone knows what you mean when you say “the good Samaritan”, don’t they? Many have preached on it at length and with more insight than I, so I would encourage you to look for them. Googling “the meaning of the parable of the good samaritan” could start you off with a magnificent list of things to read.

However, for the moment, I think the parable is about what is eternal in our lives. The ephemeral is not mentioned at all. After all, we don’t hear about he hunt for the brigands as in a murder mystery. We don’t hear what medical attention was required, or how much money he had to ultimately stump up. We don’t hear about all the nursing lavished on this sad and injured man either. The story of how the beaten man recovered is not related. Rather we hear about what makes the story real.

All we hear about is the care the Samaritan gave to this stranger who had been left for dead, lying on the road. The Samaritan took him up and ensured he was loved. The injured man was to be given the opportunity to heal amongst professionals, people paid to look after him. We don’t hear about the everyday details, those prosaic facts of washing and swaddling in his absence, but he must have come back to examine the object of his pitying love. He must have judged those professionals by the state of the man after they had treated his wounds. Imagine his wrath if the poor man was in a worse state than when he left originally!

We have to think we ourselves might be those professionals in our own time! We have been given the responsibility to care for each other – isn’t that what Jesus commands? “Love one another as you love your self.” What judgement will he make on us when he comes again in his glory? What judgement do we make upon ourselves, when we consider our behaviour towards our loved ones? But more telling is what judgement we make upon ourselves when we reflect on how we have behaved toward the stranger. I would say the stranger reveals what our eternal values are. Do we open our hearts and purses when we meet any stranger in dire straits? Do we close our hands into a fist to hold on to those things we consider so important in the everyday – do we grasp money and possessions with a passion we don’t show to people? Do we shake our fists at them? Have we closed our hands around the ephemeral at the expense of the eternal?

Paul’s letter to the Colossians speaks to what is lasting in life. He begins to extol their love toward the saints because of their hope, which begins with their understanding of the word of the gospel.

Paul prays for the Colossians, that they may continue to “lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work”. There is a marvellous literature about the fruits of the spirit we’ll leave for another time. But those worthy lives show the command of the Lord in action, loving one another.

That love is an openness which reveals just what is eternal. When we open our hands and hearts, we reveal just what can pass through our fingers. Such things are not what defines our lives. When we open our hands and hearts, we reveal what we hold dear, what we consider lasting. We show our love. We show that we want to be in that eternal relationship of caritasagape when hands stretch out without that ephemeral grasping, rather when hands stretch out opened with eternal love.


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