O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
our beginning and our end:
bring us with the whole creation to your glory,
hidden through past ages
and made known in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Show us your mercy, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
I will listen to what the Lord God will say,
for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful,
that they turn not again to folly.
Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth are met together,
righteousness and peace have kissed each other;
Truth shall spring up from the earth
and righteousness look down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed give all that is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness shall go before him
and direct his steps in the way.
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 went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus appointed twelve, whom he also names apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim his message.
Today’s reading is well-known, but often glossed over. We know that Jesus gathered twelve disciples around him, and we know that, somewhere in the gospels, those disciples are named. We know that we are more familiar with the names of some of the disciples, and some of us may be able to name all twelve. However, the naming of the twelve disciples is not, I believe, the primary importance of today’s reading. I believe that we should really be focusing on the words to be with him and to be sent out to proclaim his message.
When we think of Jesus’ twelve closest companions we tend to use the words ‘disciple’ and ‘apostle’ as though they are interchangeable, but they are not. The two words, ‘disciple’ and ‘apostle’, have different meanings. It is good for us to pause at this point and reflect on those meanings as we consider how today’s reading might impact on our own journey of faith, our own relationship with Jesus.
A disciple is one who comes close to a teacher in order that he or she might receive instruction from that teacher. A disciple follows and comes to believe the teaching (the doctrine) of another. Essentially, a disciple is a follower. It was in this literal sense of discipleship that Jesus’ twelve companions were called to be with him. But … this did not make them apostles.
To be an apostle is to take on a far more active role. An apostle is a principal champion, one who is sent to preach the Gospel (the Good News). It is, if necessary, the role of the apostle to be the first one to introduce Christianity into a community, or even a country. Jesus’ naming of the twelve as apostles was a very different matter to his calling them into discipleship. They needed the call to become disciples in order that they might take on the essential role of apostleship.
In today’s reading there is a very direct challenge to each and every one of us. It is comparatively easy for us to take ourselves into the presence of our Lord and teacher, Jesus Christ. But … what about taking the next step? What about facing up to and responding to the challenge of becoming an apostle? Are we brave enough in our faith to introduce, proclaim, preach and champion the teachings of Jesus Christ in a sometimes hostile world? Are we ready to take our place in the long line of those who, down the centuries, have said, ‘Yes,’ to that call?
Prayers of intercession
We pray that Christ may be seen in the life of the Church.
You have called us into the family of those who are the children of God. May our love for our brothers and sisters be strengthened by your grace.
You have called us to be a temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell. Give us clean hands and pure hearts, so that our lives will reflect your holiness.
You have called us to be a light to the world, so that those in darkness come to you. May our lives shine as a witness to the saving grace you have given for all.
You have called us to be members of your body, so that when one suffers, all suffer together. We ask for your comfort and healing power to bring hope to those in distress.
You have called us to be the Bride, where you, Lord, are the Bridegroom. Prepare us for the wedding feast, where we will be united with you for ever.
Jesus, Lord of the Church, hear our prayer, and make us one in heart and mind to serve you with joy for ever.
Prayer for the week
To your keeping, O Lord God,
we commend all whose enjoyment of life
has been taken away by sickness,
by tragedy, or by the sin of man.
May your love sustain them in their suffering,
and may your people care for them
in the name of 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.
Take up thy cross, the Saviour said,
if thou wouldst my disciple be;
deny thyself, the world forsake,
and humbly follow after me.
Take up thy cross: let not its weight
fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
his strength shall bear thy spirit up,
and brace thy heart, and nerve thine arm.
Charles William Everest (1814–1877)