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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. Amen.
Psalm 33.1-6, 12
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
for it is good for the just to sing praises.
Praise the Lord with the lyre;
on the ten-stringed harp sing his praise.
Sing for him a new song;
play skilfully, with shouts of praise.
For the word of the Lord is true
and all his works are sure.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
Happy the nation whose God is the Lord
and the people he has chosen for his own.
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 12.1-7
When the crowd gathered in thousands, so that they trampled on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
‘I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.’
Today, Jesus is changing the mood. Today, Jesus’ attention is switching from criticizing the religious leaders of the day to challenging and reassuring those who would be his followers. All the while Jesus is journeying towards Jerusalem. Jesus knows that, in Jerusalem, things are going to get very tough indeed. Having pointed out the shortcomings of the Pharisees and lawyers, Jesus is now saying that there is a better path to follow. And Jesus’ words are as relevant to us in the twenty-first century as they were to those first century Jews. Jesus knows that a shallow or superficial approach to discipleship will never be good enough. It will never be adequate to go to a church service, perhaps once a week, and then, perhaps, feel a hint of God’s presence and love, and then go back to normal life just as though nothing had happened. Jesus is demanding total commitment not shallow acquaintance.
Of course, Jesus is aware of the risks associated with being reckless in a dangerous society. Jesus knows that the time is coming when what is whispered about him will one day soon be shouted from the rooftops. Jesus wants his followers to be ready for that moment.
To help and encourage his supporters Jesus reminds them of their value in the eyes of God. Jesus wants us to know that God values his children more highly than a whole flock of sparrows. God even knows the number of hairs we have on our heads, that is how intimate his knowledge of us is.
So, as we go forward on the path of discipleship are we ready to meet Jesus’ challenge? Are we ready for how tough it might be from time to time? Are we ready to trust in the words of Jesus and the love of God as we shout the Good News of Jesus Christ from the rooftops?
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to God, the ruler of all, the beginning and the end.
Keep your Church free from temptation to conceal or darken the truth that she should proclaim. Shield us from error and false doctrine and from compromise with ways that are not yours.
Come with power to a world where many are led astray as they seek in other ways the assurance that you alone can give. Bring order to the confusion of their lives, and hope in their fears.
Give us gentle spirits, to help and comfort those with whom we live. Keep us, our families, friends and neighbours, in continual trust, not fearing what the future may bring.
Have compassion on refugees and all who have been force to flee from their homes. Protect especially the mothers and the little children. In your mercy, shorten the time of their distress.
Receive and pardon the souls of those who in this world followed the wrong paths and lived in error. Save them through the mercy of Christ who loved them although they did not know him.
We pray in the name of Christ.
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.
Who would true valour see,
let him come hither;
one here will constant be,
come wind, come weather;
there’s no discouragement
shall make him once relent
his first avowed intent
to be a pilgrim.
John Bunyan (1628–1688)