O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples:
help your Church to obey your command
and draw the nations to the fire of your love,
to the glory of God the Father.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods will I sing praise to you.
I will bow down towards your holy temple and praise your name,
because of your love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name
and your word above all things.
In the day that I called to you, you answered me;
you put new strength in my soul.
All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
Though the Lord be high, he watches over the lowly;
as for the proud, he regards them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you will preserve me;
you will stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;
your right hand will save me.
The Lord shall make good his purpose for me;
your loving-kindness, O Lord, endures for ever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
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.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.’
Jesus said to his disciples: yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?”
Can you remember how your journey of faith as a Christian began? Depending on your age and social background, there will be many different answers to that question. For me, as with many of my generation, I began my life in the church as a chorister singing a well-established repertoire of hymns, psalms, canticles and anthems as an enhancement to the worship of others. The choir took pride in its ‘performance’ and its ‘attention to detail’. The choir was seen as an essential feature of church life and was celebrated for its ‘beautiful sound’. As a chorister I sang of Jesus Christ, I heard the words of the liturgy which honoured Jesus Christ, and I heard the words of Jesus Christ proclaimed and explained on a regular basis. But … was this really the beginning of a journey of faith? Whether we started out as choristers, or whether we were loyal members of the Sunday School, or whether we just sat alongside others because that was the ‘right’ thing to do on a Sunday, many journeys of faith began as a duty rather than as a matter of joyous commitment. Jesus’ words in today’s reading encourages us to reflect on the course of our personal journeys of faith, whether they have been long or short.
Many of us picked up our Christianity without any feeling of the need to exert ourselves. The process was one of osmosis. A process through which we gradually absorbed and assimilated the words of the gospel into our lives. Our adult selves began going to church because it was something we had done as youngsters. We connected with the notion that we live in a ‘Christian society’ and thus we joined the dots and began to call ourselves ‘Christians’. Then, as we became rooted in our local church communities we became increasingly resistant to anything being changed because it presented a challenge to the ‘certainty’ that had been drilled into us in our youth.
In today’s reading we are being invited, by Jesus himself, to reflect upon this situation. Jesus journeyed with and taught his disciples. As the journey of Jesus’ life was drawing towards its end, he observed that his disciples had accepted his teaching without question. He observed that their sorrow at his imminent departure from this world was based on his words, rather than on true engagement with his message. Today, Jesus points the finger at those whose faith is simply a matter of habit and tradition.
As far as the Jewish religious authorities were concerned, Jesus had broken all the rules. Jesus had advocated change in its most profound and far-reaching form. So, with that as our model, why do we cling on to the past and fail to see the need for the vitality and joy of the Christian message in today’s world? Why do we seek to root our faith in times long past and speak in a way that means very little, if anything, to those amongst whom we live?
The Christian message is robust and can easily be communicated in a living and relevant way without any fear of its being compromised. Despite our ‘need’ to wrap it up carefully and preserve it as though it were an artefact in a museum, it is desperate to break out and to be shared with those amongst whom we live today.
Let us pray for minds that ask Jesus not only, ‘Where are you going?’, but also, ‘How might we share that journey with you?’
Let us pray that we might share Christ’s mission today and every day.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us ask the God of creation to send a blessing upon us.
Upon the rich earth send a blessing, O Lord. Let the earth be fruitful and its resources be hallowed.
Upon human labour send a blessing, O Lord. Prosper the work of our hands; may all find dignity and just reward in their work; free the exploited and oppressed.
Upon the produce of the earth send a blessing, O Lord. Guide us into a sustainable future, and give us the will to share the fruits of the world.
Upon the seas and waters send a blessing, O Lord. Teach us to cherish the water of the earth, and to conserve the seas, lakes and rivers.
Upon aid agencies send a blessing, O Lord. Where the earth is parched and the well has run dry; where war brings want, and children go hungry; where the poor cry out for bread and for justice, give hands to care and heal, and compel us to be generous.
We ask you to hear us, good Lord, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Prayer for the week
Grant that your Church, O God,
here and in every place,
may offer a living worship to you in your glory,
and a living witness to the world in its need;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
We have a gospel to proclaim,
good news for all throughout the earth;
the gospel of a Saviour’s name:
we sing his glory, tell his worth.
Now we rejoice to name him King:
Jesus is Lord of all the earth.
This gospel-message we proclaim:
we sing his glory, tell his worth.
Edward Joseph Burns (b. 1938)