O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love,
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that fills it,
the compass of the world and all who dwell therein.
For he has founded it upon the seas
and set it firm upon the rivers of the deep.
‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord,
or who can rise up in his holy place?’
‘Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,
who have not lifted up their soul to an idol,
nor sworn an oath to a lie;
‘They shall receive a blessing from the Lord,
a just reward from the God of their salvation.’
Such is the company of those who seek him,
of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
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 12.54-59
Jesus said to the crowds: ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain”; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
‘And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.’
One of the criticisms that non-Christians often level at the Church and its leaders is one of ‘interference’. When some significant social, economic or political event occurs, and a church leader comments upon that event, you can be sure that someone will say that it has nothing to do with the Church. This is, of course, far from the reality of our Christian calling. It is when the Church does not comment on significant events in the everyday lives of people that it is totally failing in its calling to be representative of Christ on earth.
Chapter 12 of Luke’s gospel has, for many centuries been seen as Jesus urging Christians to read the signs of the times we are living in. At the beginning of the twenty-first century no one can fail to notice the discontent and division, the injustice and prejudice, and the wanton disregard for the preservation of God’s wonderful creation that is dominating the way that humanity is managing its own affairs. How can any Christian not feel moved to comment and to take action in the name of Christ?
Jesus teaches us to see things as they are and to stand up for what is right. Jesus also tempers that with the clear instruction that we should not resort to violence, but rather use Christian love as our only weapon when we face up to those who are getting it so wrong.
In today’s reading Jesus is reminding us of all of these responsibilities. Jesus is urging us to read the signs of the times and then to speak out in his name. He is also urging us to avoid conflict if we can. He wants his followers to show the world that there can be a path of peaceful negotiation and reconciliation – we do not always have to resort to the law, or violence for that matter, to find the best way forward.
Of course, this does not only apply to the bigger issues that cause so much pain in our world. Jesus is encouraging us to apply this teaching and model in our everyday local lives as well. So, instead of building bigger fences and shouting louder insults, let us see how Christian love might bring about the reconciliation and peace we so desperately need in our lives.
Prayers of Intercession
That we and all people may discern the time with wisdom, let us pray to the Lord.
Keep your Church faithful, ever looking to Jesus as her source and her goal. As we serve you hear on earth, let us always remember the witness of those who have gone before and who now support us with their prayers.
Give wisdom to men and women, to understand the needs of our time and to work for justice and peace. May those who hold power and authority in the present be ready to learn from the wisdom of the past.
Give us grace in our families, and let each generation value what the others have to give. Bless with love and harmony the families of our neighbours and those with whom we work.
Have mercy on those who have died after much suffering. Grant them rest and peace in your heavenly Kingdom where there is no more pain and all sorrow is taken away.
We pray through Christ that we may rightly interpret and faithfully perform his will.
Prayer for the week
Most merciful God, we pray
for those who doubt your love;
for those who find it difficult to believe or to pray;
for those who have lost a faith they once possessed.
May the Holy Spirit enlighten their minds
and lead them into all truth,
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, for the years your love has kept and guided,
urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided,
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.
Lord, for ourselves; in living power remake us,
self on the cross and Christ upon the throne;
past put behind us, for the future take us,
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.
Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926)