O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God, our refuge and strength,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
that earth may know the peace of heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 37.3-5, 30-32
Trust in the Lord and be doing good;
dwell in the land and be nourished with truth.
Let your delight be in the Lord
and he will give you your heart’s desire.
Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him,
and he will bring it to pass.
The righteous shall possess the land
and dwell in it for ever.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and their tongue speaks the thing that is right.
The law of their God is in their heart
and their footsteps shall not slide.
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 17.7-10
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” ’
Today’s reading is one of those passages from scripture that often leaves us wondering exactly what it is that Jesus is saying to us. I would suggest that after yesterday’s reading, which was about our relationship with others, today’s reading is about our relationship with God. Yesterday we were told not to be ‘stumbling blocks’ to those with whom we share this human life. Today we should see ourselves as the ‘slave’ who is called to work in the service of their master.
Our call to serve God is one of the constants in our lives, whether we acknowledge that fact or not. No matter what pressing appointments and priorities we may consider to be more important, God is always our first priority. The need to tend our gardens, clean our cars or play golf is never as great as the need to worship God. The urgency of cleaning, cooking and resting never outweighs the truly urgent need to be constantly in prayer. The greed which leads us to hoard both goods and money is always contrary to God’s call to show our love for humanity through generosity and open-hearted compassion. The pride and stubbornness which leads us to exclude others is an act of defiance in the light of Jesus’ command to love and serve in his name. Jesus is telling us that, if we are to be true disciples, we need to set aside all those things that separate us from God.
In St John’s Church, Corby Glen, there are some magnificent medieval wall paintings. One of the most eye-catching of those paintings is a representation of the seven deadly sins. This would have been seen by parishioners as they gathered for worship each week. The picture is there to remind us of what we should not be doing in our daily lives. We should not be proud, greedy, lustful, envious, gluttonous, angry or lazy. These are all things that distance us from God and they are the very things of which we are guilty every day of our lives. They are also the things that Jesus is warning us about today.
However, all is not doom and gloom! We simply have to look at Jesus’ warning and make one simple adjustment to our thinking. As I have listed some of the things people do instead of honouring God’s call in their life, I have also developed an awareness that it sounds like serving God is an onerous chore. That is not the case! Instead of looking at our call to love and serve in God’s name as a time-consuming and over-demanding set of relentless tasks, we simply have to view serving God as an act of thanksgiving. God has given us everything we celebrate and enjoy in our lives. Surely, it is fitting for us to say ‘thank you’ for all that grace that has been bestowed on us. Let us stop being so ungrateful, and let us, in joy and gratitude, say ‘yes’ to God and offer him the prayer, worship and obedience that he is due.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray that all may be obedient in the service of God.
Increase the faith of the Church, that the saving power of your love may be proclaimed. Give to all Christian people the grace to be obedient servants, seeking no reward but the joy of following your will.
Guide those in authority to serve those they govern and to set their needs above their own desires. May all work be dedicated to the common good and the peace of the world.
Bless us in our daily work, and bless those who work with us. Knowing that we are not worthy in ourselves to make any offering, let us seek so to live in faith that our service shall be made acceptable.
Have mercy on those whose work is heavy, those who labour day after day with little reward. Give rest to the weary, food to the hungry and strength to those who have lost hope.
Receive into life those who have laboured in this world until the end. Grant them a place at the heavenly feast, and bring us in our time to share the joy that is prepared for those who die in faith.
We offer our prayers in the name of Christ, our Lord and Master.
Prayer for the week
Lord Jesus, you have shown us
how great is the price of freedom
by giving your life to deliver us from evil.
Teach us to give to the uttermost;
to respect that which others have secured for us;
and to pursue peace in obedience to your will,
until all the kingdoms of this world come to you
as Lord and Saviour of all.
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.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.
There’s joy for all who serve him,
more than human tongue can say;
there is pardon for the sinner,
and the night is turned to day;
there is healing for our sorrows,
there is music all the way,
for Jesus Christ is King.
Praise and glory be to Jesus,
praise and glory be to Jesus,
praise and glory be to Jesus,
for Jesus Christ is King!
Jack Copley Winslow (1882–1974)