O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God, our judge and saviour,
teach us to be open to your truth
and to trust in your love,
that we may live each day
with confidence in the salvation which is given
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Give praise, you servants of the Lord,
O praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations
and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
that has his throne so high,
yet humbles himself to behold
the things of heaven and earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ashes,
To set them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a place in the house
and makes her a joyful mother of children.
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 11.29-32
When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!’
The readings in this week’s services of Daily Prayer are challenging. To begin to understand them we have to put them in context. That context is Jesus’ journey towards Jerusalem. In that context, Jesus’ journey is like a light moving forward through the darkness of this world.
Light scatters darkness as it bring hope and a sense of optimism. Light also symbolizes new life as it shows the darkness up for what it really is. As Jesus journeys towards Jerusalem he shines ever brighter with the light of God which will soon scatter and destroy the darkness for ever.
Today Jesus speaks of the sign of Jonah. The story of the reluctant Old Testament prophet is both short and well-known, if only for his sojourn in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights. But … in the midst of Jonah’s comical story there is an important message. Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and he told the people of Nineveh of their need to repent. Despite Jonah’s scepticism, the power of the message got through and the heartfelt repentance of the people of Nineveh saved them from a terrible doom.
Of course, there is nothing comical about Jesus. In fact, his message of repentance is so much more powerful because of who he is. Jesus’ message of repentance is one that is being uttered by someone whose wisdom far surpasses that of Solomon. But … Jerusalem proved itself far less wise than ancient Nineveh. It ignored Jesus’ words; the people did not repent.
In this week’s reading, as Jesus is continuing his journey toward Jerusalem and all the events of Holy Week and Easter, we are being invited to follow the light which Christ bears. We are being invited to repent and follow the light which illuminates God’s path through the darkness of this world. We are also being invited to become, like Jonah, bearers of God’s light into the most unlikely corners of this cynical and dark world.
The question Jesus is asking us is simple: Are we ready to go on the journey with him?
Prayers of Intercession
In the power of the Spirit let us pray to the Father through Christ the saviour of the world.
For forgiveness for the many times we have denied Jesus, let us pray to the Lord.
For grace to seek out those habits of sin which mean spiritual death, and by prayer and self-discipline to overcome them, let us pray to the Lord.
For Christian people, that through the suffering of disunity there may grow a rich union in Christ, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who make laws, interpret them and administer them, that our common life may be ordered in justice and mercy, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who still make Jerusalem a battleground, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who have the courage and honesty to work openly for justice and peace, let us pray to the Lord.
For those in the darkness and agony of isolation, that they may find support and encouragement, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who, weighed down with hardship, failure, or sorrow, feel that God is far from them, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who are tempted to give up the way of the cross, let us pray to the Lord.
That we, with those who have died in faith, may find mercy in the day of Christ, let us pray to the Lord.
Prayer for the week
Give peace in our time, O Lord:
peace and reconciliation among the nations;
peace and unity within the churches;
peace and harmony in our communities and homes;
peace and love in all our hearts;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
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.
Thou, who didst come to bring
on thy redeeming wing
healing and sight,
health to the sick in mind,
sight to the inly blind,
O now to all mankind
let there be light.
John Marriott (1780–1825)