First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-13

God’s word to Israel’s exiles is as sure and effective as never-failing precipitation. Their return to the Holy Land in a new exodus is cheered on by singing mountains and by trees that clap their hands.
10For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
  and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
 making it bring forth and sprout,
  giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
  it shall not return to me empty,
 but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
  and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12For you shall go out in joy,
  and be led back in peace;
 the mountains and the hills before you
  shall burst into song,
  and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
  instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
 and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
  for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
 

Psalm: Psalm 65:[1-8] 9-13

Your paths overflow with plenty. (Ps. 65:11)
[ 1You are to be praised, O | God, in Zion;
  to you shall vows | be fulfilled.
2To you, the one | who answers prayer,
  to you all | flesh shall come.
3Our sins are strong- | er than we are,
  but you blot out | our transgressions.
4Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your | courts to dwell there!
  They will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness | of your temple. R
5Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of | our salvation,
  O hope of all the ends of the earth and of the oceans | far away.
6You make firm the mountains | by your power;
  you are girded a- | bout with might.
7You still the roaring | of the seas,
  the roaring of their waves, and the clamor | of the peoples.
8Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your | marvelous signs;
  you make the dawn and the dusk to | sing for joy. R
]  9You visit the earth and water it abundantly; you make it very plenteous; the river of God is | full of water.
  You prepare the grain, for so you provide | for the earth.
10You drench the furrows and smooth | out the ridges;
  with heavy rain you soften the ground and | bless its increase.
11You crown the year | with your goodness,
  and your paths over- | flow with plenty.
12May the fields of the wilderness be | rich for grazing,
  and the hills be | clothed with joy.
13May the meadows cover themselves with flocks, and the valleys cloak them- | selves with grain;
  let them shout for | joy and sing. R
 

Second Reading: Romans 8:1-11

There is no condemnation for those who live in Christ. God sent Christ to accomplish what the law was unable to do: condemn sin and free us from its slavery. The Spirit now empowers proper actions and values in our lives and gives us the promise of resurrected life.
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

In Matthew’s gospel, both Jesus and his disciples “sow the seed” of God’s word by proclaiming the good news that “the kingdom of heaven is near.” Now, in a memorable parable, Jesus explains why this good news produces different results in those who hear.
1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”

18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

 

Prayers of Intercession

The prayers are prepared locally for each occasion. The following examples may be adapted or used as appropriate.
Called together in the Spirit’s embrace, let us pray for the mending of God’s world.
A brief silence.
 
Gracious God, we give thanks for your living word that goes out and does not return empty. Make your church a partner in accomplishing what you desire. Unite us in faith, witness, and mission. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

 

For land, creatures, and people suffering from drought, that gentle rain bring life and hope. For mountains, hills, and the trees of the field, that all creation clap for joy. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

 

For nations suffering the violence and hunger of war (especially). For exiles and refugees. Lead them home in peace and bless them with your fullness. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

 

For victims and perpetrators of race-based crime. For all who suffer sorrow, illness, or injury (especially). Bring them justice, healing, and new life by the power of your Spirit. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

 

For this congregation and its leaders; through our shared work, let your word prosper among us and bring life to the community beyond our doors. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

 

Here other intercessions may be offered.
 
In thanksgiving for all who have died recently, for strangers and dear ones who have blessed our lives and sparked our hope (especially). Give comfort and confidence to all who mourn. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

 

All these things, and whatever else you see that we need, we entrust to your care through Christ our Lord.
Amen.