O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Blessed are you, Sovereign God of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In your tender compassion
the dawn from on high is breaking upon us
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us this day,
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.
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralysed, in terrible distress.’ And he said to him, ‘I will come and cure him.’ The centurion answered, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.’
Jesus said: … in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
Today we hear of the faith of a hated enemy of the Jewish people. A centurion, a senior officer in the Roman military machine, comes to Jesus in great need. That need was not for self, for family or for friends but, rather, it was for a servant who was lying at home paralysed, in terrible distress. Such compassion would not have been expected of such a man. As he came to Jesus fearful Jews would have stepped back. The arrogance of a centurion would have left them curious about his intentions. It is easy to imagine those who were gathered around Jesus straining to hear what was going on. Imagine their surprise, then, as they heard the centurion’s request on behalf of a servant followed by the words: Lord, I am not worthy. In response to this moving scene Jesus says: … in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
We all run the risk of putting self before others, of viewing ourselves as being more deserving, more entitled than those around us. As others, for whatever reason, put us on pedestals of varying heights we become inflated with the deadly sin of pride. Then, as we absorb the respect, and perhaps the adulation of others, our hearts become hardened, and we become blind to the needs of this world.
Today we are shown what true faith means. Today we see an outsider demonstrate that which should be a first response for all who profess a faith in Jesus Christ. Sadly, too many Christians say the right things but fall short when it comes to action. Too many keep Christian love and compassion locked away safely and securely, forgetting Christ’s call to live the life of love in his name.
Let us pray that we might ever be aware of the needs of others, and that we might ever be ready to love and serve in true faith and humility, always placing ourselves at the back of the queue.
Watchful at all times, let us pray for strength to stand with confidence before our Maker and Redeemer.
That God may bring in his kingdom with justice and mercy, let us pray to the Lord.
That God may establish among the nations his sceptre of righteousness, let us pray to the Lord.
That we may seek Christ in the scriptures and recognize him in the breaking of the bread, let us pray to the Lord.
That God may bind up the broken hearted, restore the sick and raise up all who have fallen, let us pray to the Lord.
That the light of God’s coming may dawn on all who live in darkness and the shadow of death, let us pray to the Lord.
That, with all the saints in light, we may shine forth as lights for the world, let us pray to the Lord.
Let us commend the world, which Christ will judge, to the mercy and protection of God.
as your kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin to the
light of holiness,
that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Uniting our prayers with the whole company of heaven,
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.
Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon us,
scatter the darkness from before our path,
and make us ready to meet him when he comes in glory;
and may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.