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.
Matthew 9.35 – 10.1, 6-8
The harvest is great, the labourers few
Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.’
Throughout the Old Testament there are prophecies which foretell the coming of the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. Those prophecies consistently speak of a forthcoming ministry of preaching and healing, of meeting every human need. When Jesus began his ministry he highlighted this as he read from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth. Jesus said: Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing, and he was driven out of town.
From that moment, and as today’s reading tells us: Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. Jesus went out into the world, meeting people where the need was at its most raw and had compassion for them. Jesus met the people as they lived out their daily lives in confusion and pain, and he brought them into direct contact with God’s love.
The prophecies of the Old Testament left the world looking for a Messiah, but the coming of that Messiah was but a beginning. Jesus knew the magnitude of the task and, through his words and actions, established a community that he would charge to carry on his work until the end of time. That community, which began with twelve disciples who were given authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness, is the Church. As Jesus observed that the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few he was issuing a rallying cry to the faithful … to you and to me.
Today we are being challenged to join Christ in his mission to preach, to heal, and to meet every human need. The question we need to answer is: ‘Are we up for the challenge?’ As we continue our journey through Advent we need to pause and reflect upon the outward-looking nature of our faith … Are we working, in Christ’s name, to meet every human need, or is our faith just an introspective, personal security blanket?
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.