O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you know our struggle to serve you:
when sin spoils our lives
and overshadows our hearts,
come to our aid
and turn us back to you again;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
long-suffering and of great goodness.
The Lord is loving to everyone
and his mercy is over all his creatures.
All your works praise you, O Lord,
and your faithful servants bless you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your mighty power,
To make known to all peoples your mighty acts
and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
your dominion endures throughout all ages.
The Lord is sure in all his words
and faithful in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand
and fill all things living with plenty.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and loving in all his works.
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 the Jews, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.
Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomsoever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Anyone who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life.
‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
‘I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.’
I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
As children grow up, most parents seek for opportunities to prepare them to lead independent lives. From the taking of first steps and the uttering of first words we try to lay the foundations for happy, self-sufficient lives. This essential part of the parenting role is easier for some than others. Some parents push their children into independence far too soon, and sometimes long before they are ready. This style of parenting often appears neglectful to those outside the immediate relationship. Some parents are at the opposite end of the parenting spectrum. These parents are forever stifling the development of their children by seeking to control every moment of their lives. The children of these parents may also come to feel neglected as they come to realize that they were never allowed to learn their mistakes in the context of a loving and open parent/child relationship.
Those who are allowed to stray and test, or even push, the boundaries of parental ‘control’ often end up describing the relationships they have with their parents as ‘friendships’. These children often come to the point of understanding and sharing the opinions and attitudes of their parents at the end of a process of independent and freely-reasoned consideration. Today’s reading ends with the ideal conclusion in this respect: I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Very few of us live our lives without having to consider whether we will ‘obey the rules’, or not. Over the last year there have been many instances when people have tried to persuade me, or even coerce me, into breaking the rules and regulations put in place to provide protection from the coronavirus. At each of those moments I have had to make a decision, will I take the soft option or will I remain resolute in doing what I know I should be doing?
Today, Jesus is urging us to flourish in the freedom and independence we were given when God created humanity, but he is also showing the way God wants us to choose. We all have the gift of free will and self-determination, within reason. But, we are all also called to be faithful and obedient to our loving Father in heaven. To be a true disciple we need to come to the realisation that God gave us freedom and independence, just as he continues to give us forgiveness and the security of his divine love. It is in this context that we should pray for the strength of faith to join Jesus in saying: I seek to do not my own will but our heavenly Father’s will as I journey through this life.
Prayers of Intercession
High and holy God, robed in majesty, Lord of heaven and earth, we pray that you will bring justice, faith and salvation to all peoples.
You chose us in Christ to be your people and to be the temple of your Holy Spirit; we pray that you will fill your Church with vision and hope.
Your Spirit enables us to cry, ‘Abba! Father!’, affirms that we are fellow-heirs with Christ and pleads for us in our weakness; we pray for all who are in need or distress.
In the baptism and birth of Jesus, you have opened heaven to us and enabled us to share in your glory: the joy of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit from before the world was made.
May your whole Church, living and departed, come to a joyful resurrection in your city of light.
Let us commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to the mercy and protection of God.
Prayer for the week
be with us in our search for peace,
in ourselves and in the world you have made.
Diminish pride and increase humility;
weaken suspicion and nourish trust.
Deepen true love and understanding in every heart,
and unite us all as members of one family;
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.
Lord of all power, I give you my will,
in joyful obedience your tasks to fulfil.
Your bondage is freedom, your service is song,
and, held in your keeping, my weakness is strong.
Jack Copley Winslow (1882–1974)