O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
Psalm 68.27-28, 32-35
Send forth your strength, O God;
establish, O God, what you have wrought in us.
For your temple’s sake in Jerusalem
kings shall bring their gifts to you.
Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth;
make music in praise of the Lord;
He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens
and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice.
Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel,
whose power is above the clouds.
How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary,
the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people!
Blessed be God.
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, ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.’
Jesus said: As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
In recent times no one has travelled very far. Holidays, business trips, family visits and many other causes for travel have been curtailed. And yet Jesus’ sending out of his followers has not been put on hold. Jesus came into the world to preach a new and exciting message. In his turn he then sent us out into the same world to continue his work, to further his mission. As we have become acclimatised to the restrictions of the last year many of us have become increasingly inward looking. But, Jesus’ commission to share his new and exciting message has not gone away, it has not been postponed or cancelled by the Covid virus.
To be an apostle, a messenger of Christ, demands commitment, determination and imagination. The disciple who accepts Christ’s commission into apostleship needs to be ready to search for the ways he or she is being called to follow. It is easy for us to claim that we are disciples of Christ as we sit back and wait for some miraculous message to drop into our spiritual inboxes, but that is not how it works. To turn our discipleship into effective apostleship demands that we are proactive. We are called to look for the doors that might be opened and not just wait to be gently led down the paths we believe we should be following. The question that confronts us today is how have we, and how are we, using our imaginations and our determination to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
There has been much talk of on-line prayer and worship over the last year; there has also been much talk of such spiritual engagement on this level being inadequate and ‘unreal’. Other initiatives have been taken in order that the message of God’s love and peace might be shared with everyone, no matter how challenging the circumstances. Sadly, many of those have also been greeted with scepticism and scorn. Much that has been achieved has been derided because it does not fit the ‘old’ model of Christian engagement with the world. Endless barriers have been erected to justify inactivity and disaffection. Then, to make matters worse, those who have tried to share the Good News have been criticised; criticised for following Jesus’ call!
Jesus spoke of the troubled times every person of faith would have to endure in the course of their earthly lives. Those troubled times come in many shapes and guises. Jesus’ message also offered us the strength to continue his mission, no matter what. Today we should be praying not for a return to our own self-serving ‘normality’ but for God to inspire us to step out of our spiritual comfort blankets and tell all the world of Jesus.
Prayers of intercession
That all our lives may be sanctified in the truth, let us pray to the Lord.
We pray that your Church may be committed to the needs of the world, but never conformed to the world. We pray that those you have called to your service may be strong in the faith of Christ and given power to reveal his love.
Be with all who must make decisions that will affect other lives. Give wisdom to those who appoint or elect to positions of authority, guiding them with your Holy Spirit to seek the common good.
Bless us, our families and friends and colleagues in the decisions, both small and great, which we must make in our daily lives. Unite us in the love that makes us your own, and keep us from all evil.
Have mercy on any who have broken faith, betraying those who trusted them. Restore them in your mercy to the life of love that they have forsaken. Guide us where we can bring relief to any who have lost direction through the distress of misplaced trust.
Grant to the faithful departed the eternal life promised through Jesus Christ. May his saving love avail for those who have passed through this world and into the world beyond.
Since our joy is made complete in Christ, we pray with confidence in his name.
Prayer for the week
forgive what we have been;
sanctify what we are;
and order what we shall be.
What we do not know, teach us;
what we do not have, give us;
what we are not, make us;
for Jesus Christ’s sake.
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.
What a way of life you showed us
through the Son you gladly gave:
never snared by earthly treasure,
buried in a borrowed grave –
yet to all he freely offered
riches of the deepest kind:
let us live with his example
firmly fixed in heart and mind.
Martin Leckebusch (b. 1962)