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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Blessed are you, creator of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your dawn renews the face of the earth
bringing light and life to all creation,
may we rejoice in this day you have made;
as we wake refreshed from the depths of sleep,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
The Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.’ And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
Most of us ascribe to the philosophy of ‘seeing is believing’. Since the dawn of the Enlightenment, that great ‘Age of Reason’ which started at the end of the 17th century, human beings have increasingly put scientific evidence ahead of faith and trust. As our God-given powers of deduction and reasoning have developed, and as our awareness and command of scientific principles have grown, we have become increasingly disengaged with the true wonders of our mortal existence. In many ways this has proved to be a matter of simple common sense, but it has also removed much of the joy and the mystery from our lives. In today’s reading we are shown that what we consider to be our modern and sophisticated attitude to matters of faith is nothing new. Jesus, the Son of God, was walking this earth, and yet the Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. The scepticism we associate with Enlightenment thinking existed long before philosophers such as Francis Bacon, Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau put forward their arguments and theoretical speculations.
As Jesus lived out his short life on this earth he offered us many signs, from his first at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, through to his greatest sign of all, his resurrection from the dead. As Jesus walked amongst us he defied the laws of nature, he taught and preached a whole new way of living that brought us into a closer relationship with God, and he healed the sick and the possessed. By the time we reach this moment in the gospel narrative, all of these acts have been performed. We might, therefore, be justified in asking the Pharisees who came and began to argue with Jesus what sort of signs they were seeking?
Today we are being urged to set aside our attitude to life that is rooted in the philosophy of those who are firmly aligned with the Pharisees. Today we are being reminded about the divine mystery that is our God. To have faith in God is to demonstrate a readiness to step outside the bounds of human wisdom and into the world of God’s reality, a realm that exists beyond our wildest imaginings. Let us pray for that faith, even in the smallest measure, in order that we might live out the lives we have been given through God’s generous and loving grace.
Let us by prayer and intercession with thanksgiving
make our requests to God.
we pray for peace, justice and reconciliation throughout the world.
We pray for the honouring of human rights,
and for the relief of the oppressed.
We give thanks for all that is gracious in the lives of men,
women and children.
We pray for the renewal of the Church in faith, love and service.
We pray for our bishops and for the life of all communities of faith.
We give thanks for the gift of your word,
the grace of the sacraments
and the fellowship of your people.
We pray for this local community
and for all people in their daily life and work.
We pray for the young and the elderly,
for families, and all who are alone.
We give thanks for human skill and creativity
and all that reveals your loveliness.
We pray for those who are in need;
for the sick, sorrowful and bereaved.
We pray for all who bring comfort, care and healing.
We give thanks for human love and friendship
and for all that enriches our daily lives.
Let us commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.
give us reverence for all creation
and respect for every person,
that we may mirror your likeness
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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 Lord bless us and watch over us,
the Lord make his face shine upon us
and be gracious to us,
the Lord look kindly on us
and give us peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.