O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
teach us to be faithful
in change and uncertainty,
that trusting in your word
and obeying your will
we may enter the unfailing joy
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Alleluia. I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the faithful and in the congregation.
The works of the Lord are great,
sought out by all who delight in them.
His work is full of majesty and honour
and his righteousness endures for ever.
He appointed a memorial for his marvellous deeds;
the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
He gave food to those who feared him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He showed his people the power of his works
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are truth and justice;
all his commandments are sure.
They stand fast for ever and ever;
they are done in truth and equity.
He sent redemption to his people;
he commanded his covenant for ever;
holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have those who live by it;
his praise endures for ever.
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 14.1-6
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, ‘Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?’ But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, ‘If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?’ And they could not reply to this.
Today’s reading presents us with another occasion when Jesus goes to eat at the home of a Pharisee. Not only is Jesus eating with those who have openly criticized him throughout his ministry, but he is, once again, challenging those around the table on the subject of what should and should not be done on the sabbath.
People tend to react in increasingly negative ways when they are nagged. Most of us get to the point when we say: I heard you the first time! or Can we change the subject now? But, the need for those repeated reminders so often lies in our failure to get something done or, as in the case of the Pharisees, to change their ways.
The Pharisees in Jesus’ time were powerful people. Their teaching and practices were the foundation of liturgical and ritualistic Judaism. Their power and influence guided the way the majority of first century Jews lived out their daily lives. This, of course, meant that they would inevitably come into conflict with Jesus.
Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, was bound to disappoint. Jesus came with a message that contradicted so much of what the Pharisees taught and did. One of those recurring points of contention revolved around the appropriate observance of the sabbath. From the beginning of time, we have been taught, there has been felt a need to follow the example of God himself and rest on the seventh day of each week. The Pharisees developed this into a total ban on any form of ‘work’, including that which might improve or even save a life. Jesus’ new teaching and way of conducting himself was seen as being in direct opposition to Pharisaic law.
Jesus’ primary mission was to the Jewish nation, God’s chosen people, but they were reluctant recipients of the Good News. Jesus came to open their hearts and their minds to the ways of God’s love, but those hearts and minds were bound by the rules of the Pharisees. Is there any wonder that Jesus nagged and nagged at those Pharisees – they had become a barrier between God and his people?
Today’s reading reminds us that Jesus is nagging us as well. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love – to love God and to love our neighbours, that is the whole of humanity. When did our words and actions of love last bring light and hope to others?
Prayers of Intercession
For the healing of all ills in the Church and in the world, let us pray to the Lord.
We pray that the Church shall keep holy the Lord’s Day in reverence and worship, but never let its observance destroy compassion for those in need. Shield your people from hardness of heart and confidence in their own righteousness.
Grant to those in authority the grace not to rule in their own interest but for the good of those they govern. May those who make and administer laws have compassion on the weak and lay no oppressive burdens on them.
May we, and all those around us, be alert to perceive where there is need and to give such help as we can. Bless our community with the spirit of harmony and mutual concern.
Have mercy on all who are disabled by accident or illness. Give them courage and hope in their affliction and bless those who work for their healing.
Receive into new life the souls of those who have departed from this world. May they rejoice in the eternal Sabbath where hunger and sickness are no more.
We offer our prayers in the name of Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath.
Prayer for the week
We thank you, Lord,
for calling us to be your witnesses:
grant us the courage and the love
to be obedient and faithful to that calling.
We pray that our lives may bear witness
to your love shown in Jesus Christ,
and that our witness may reflect your light
in the communities in which we live and work,
to the glory of your 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.
Lay your healing hand upon us,
Jesus, when we cry with pain;
bind our wounds with your compassion;
bring us back to health again.
Then, whatever grief awaits us,
as we learn your gentle ways
we will share your joyful Spirit
and for ever sing God’s praise.
Alan Gaunt (b. 1935)