O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Lord of creation,
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint;
listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips.
Let my vindication come forth from your presence;
let your eyes behold what is right.
Weigh my heart, examine me by night,
refine me, and you will find no impurity in me.
My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards;
I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments;
my feet have not stumbled in your paths.
I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me;
incline your ear to me, and listen to my words.
Show me your marvellous loving-kindness,
O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand
from those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me under the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who assault me,
from my enemies who surround me to take away my life.
They have closed their heart to pity
and their mouth speaks proud things.
They press me hard, they surround me on every side,
watching how they may cast me to the ground.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 9.46-50
An argument arose among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’
John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’
We are called into a life of faith in God, a life of Christian love and service. Having said that we are all human, and we all have the very human capacity to make things more complicated than God intends. When we try to add layers of subtle interpretation that God never intended we come to the moment when we sin. We sin by thinking that we know better than God. We sin and, in sinning, we distance ourselves from the God who loves us.
Today’s reading opens with a brief description of an argument that had arisen between the disciples. We might imagine the disciples as a blessed company of men who had been called into an intimate spiritual relationship with Jesus. Of course that is true, but they are also human beings, and all human beings get it wrong. We all love to impose our own sense of structure and meaning on our lives; very few of us are any good at letting God take that burden off our shoulders. Then, as we try to organize our lives for ourselves, we begin to add other layers of meaning, such as hierarchy and influence. God calls us to rest and rejoice in his presence, we insist on complicating matters with our very flawed human sense of relationship and justice.
Of course, Jesus is aware of the problem and he rebukes his disciples in the simplest of ways. He brings a child to the fore and tells his disciples that by welcoming everyone as though they were a child, that is not with some complicated political, sociological or emotional agenda, they are drawing closer to God.
This sounds simple but, sadly, it isn’t! Immediately we hear John criticizing someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus, but who is not one of the ‘inner circle’. With this brief exchange Jesus hammers the message home: whoever is not against you is for you – even if they follow Jesus in a different way.
Today we are challenged to set aside our spurious need for status and superiority. As we are called to be faithful followers of Christ, let us pray that we may follow in simple faith, faith that is rooted in Christ alone.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to the Father whose Son suffered betrayal and death for the salvation of the world.
Cleanse the Church from temptation to worldly ambition and false triumphalism. In childlike simplicity, may your people follow you without fear, in loving one another.
Bring peace to the troubled places of the world, where war destroys both human life and the beauty of your creation. Make peaceful the minds of those who contend for power, that they may know the freedom of your service.
Bless the children of our families and those in our community. Let their innocence teach us to avoid all that may destroy the harmony of living.
Have mercy on the victims of war and violence… those who have lost their loved ones and been driven from their homes. Grant them a place of refuge to rebuild their lives.
We remember those who have died in war or through human violence. Grant mercy to those who died unprepared and impenitent, by the love of Christ who served others even to death. Grant them the peace that they were denied in their last hour.
As servants of Christ, we humbly offer our prayers in his name.
Prayer for the week
we pray for all who are any way troubled at this time,
and especially for those known to us.
Give relief to those in pain,
friendship to those who are alone,
reassurance to those in doubt or distress of mind;
and may our love be so strong that seeing need
we may never pass by on the other side.
We ask it in Christ’s name.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
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. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
May the gospel of the Lord
everywhere be spread abroad,
that the world around may own
Christ as King, and Christ alone.
Sidney Newman Sedgwick (1872–1941)