O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Lord of creation,
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding, according to your word.
Let my supplication come before you;
deliver me, according to your promise.
My lips shall pour forth your praise,
when you have taught me your statutes.
My tongue shall sing of your word,
for all your commandments are righteous.
Let your hand reach out to help me,
for I have chosen your commandments.
I have longed for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and it shall praise you,
and let your judgements be my help.
I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost;
O seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
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 10.17-24
The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.’
Fifty years ago a young, innovative writing duo created a piece of musical theatre that was both controversial and ground-breaking. Fifty years ago Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice created the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Today’s reading opens with the feeling that that title, which caused a lot of offence five decades ago, is remarkably accurate. The seventy, who Jesus empowered to conquer evil, have returned. They exclaim in wonder: even the demons obey us!
Jesus had commissioned and sent out seventy faithful souls to further his mission. They had trusted Jesus and they had gone out to spread the good news, to share Christ’s peace, to heal and to prepare the people for Jesus himself coming amongst them. Because they had not behaved like those who consider themselves ‘worldly wise’, but rather had gone out in simple faith, they had seen great things happen. Is there any wonder that they returned with joy?
To help them gain some level of understanding of what they had experienced, Jesus gave them a small taste of the reality of who he really is. He had been there from the very beginning of all things, he had even seen the downfall of Satan. But, despite all these wonderful things that he had seen, he was warning them not to get caught up in the ‘glamour’, the Superstar-dom, of what they had experienced. The fight with evil is real and ongoing, and it needs faithful disciples if the battle is to be won. Furthermore, that humble, faithful discipleship will not go unrewarded.
Jesus came to earth so that we might know the power of God. He did not come with fanfares and armies. He came in humility to show us the path we need to follow if we are to come into the promised joy of an intimate relationship with God. It is our task to travel this world in faith and to shine with the radiant light that comes from Christ alone. We should never forget that all we achieve in this world is a gift from God and that, provided we do not let ourselves be distracted by worldly fame and glory, we will one day truly understand the joy of God’s generous love and grace.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray through the Son to the Father, Lord of heaven and earth.
Keep the Church strong in the law of Christ, resisting the temptation to accept false values. May your people in their generation be truly the children of wisdom.
Have pity on a world full of discontent, restless and finding no lasting satisfaction. Guide into the right way all who desire the good but give way to evil.
Help us to discern and follow the right way in all our relationships. May the knowledge of your truth be known to this community. Give wisdom to those who hold responsibility in it and make them agents of your law of love.
Have mercy on those whose lives are weary and whose burdens are heavy. May they come to know the freedom of trust in Jesus Christ.
We remember those who have been delivered from their mortal bodies. Now that the struggle with sin is over, receive them into your presence.
Secure in the rest that Christ has given, we pray in his name.
Prayer for the week
we pray for all who are any way troubled at this time,
and especially for those known to us.
Give relief to those in pain,
friendship to those who are alone,
reassurance to those in doubt or distress of mind;
and may our love be so strong that seeing need
we may never pass by on the other side.
We ask it in Christ’s name.
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.
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.
Walter Chalmers Smith (1824–1908)