O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father
My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready;
I will sing and give you praise.
Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre,
that I may awaken the dawn.
I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praise to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
and your glory over all the earth.
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 his disciples, ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.’
You did not choose me but I chose you.
We live in a world that seems to overflow with abundant choice. In fact, when the objects of our desire are not immediately available we become angry and resentful. We believe that we are entitled to choose whatever we wish, and for it to be brought to our doorsteps, sometimes on the same day! The circumstances of the last year have both fostered and reinforced this sense of entitlement in many people. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, online shopping has meant that we have not had to stint ourselves, despite lockdowns and periods of isolation and sheltering. But … !!! Today Jesus speaks to us of choice. He does not speak of superficial choice, instead he speaks of that which can change our lives for ever, if we let it.
In our readings this week we have considered Christian love, generosity, apostleship and joy. Today, we are being invited to reflect upon the generosity of God’s grace to humanity in terms of our being called by God. In our materialistic world we foster the belief that everything we have is a matter of our choice, our willingness to accept and acquire what is within our grasp. Too often we fail to recognize that our worldly desires are not the end of the story. We revel in the abundance that is showered upon our privileged existence, whilst rarely pausing to think about those who live in more deprived areas of the world. Despite the moans and groans about the chore of shopping, all the evidence suggests that we enjoy being ‘spoilt for choice’ and that we cannot begin to imagine how we would react if we had no choice at all. But, when we look at those areas of the world where there is little material choice we often see great spiritual joy. The deprivation of unnecessary material wealth seems to foster a closer identification with Christian calling.
Jesus said you did not choose me but I chose you. In these words we are being reminded that it is through God’s generosity that we came to enjoy the salvation offered through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This abundant and overflowing generosity was, and is, a gift from God to us. There was no obligation on God to give us so much, but that is the path he chose for us. Let us respond in gratitude that he has called us. Let us set aside our material greed and let us follow him in simple and profound joy. Let us shed the unnecessary in order that we might focus on every aspect of God’s call in our lives and not be distracted by the next ‘must have’ purchase that leads us away from God’s love.
Prayers of Intercession
For obedience to the law of love, let us pray to the Lord.
Give to the Church, chosen and called to service, the love for all which reveals the love of God. As she has received grace, may she be a channel of his peace now and for all time.
Grant to those who hold authority the love which is stronger than the love of power. May they know that true authority is from above and is fulfilled not in command but in service. Grant that love shall drive out hatred between nations and races and the whole world be at peace.
As Christ has called us to be his friends, increase in us the gift of friendship towards all who come close to us in our daily lives. By our love one for another may we show that we have heard and answered his call to follow him.
Have mercy on those who have never known love and are enslaved by anger and bitterness. Show them the love of God, to restore them to the love of humanity. Hear the prayers of the sick and afflicted who ask for healing.
We give thanks for the departed, called to service in this world and now called to the presence of the Lord who have loved them from the beginning. May their joy be complete, and may we come to that eternal joy in the fellowship of the saints.
We pray in the name of Christ who laid down his life for his friends.
Prayer for the week
O Lord, the first and the last,
the beginning and the end:
you who were with us at our birth,
be with us through our life;
you who are with us through our life,
be with us at our death;
and because your mercy will not leave us then,
grant that we die not,
but rise to the life everlasting.
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.
Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see;
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.
This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.
George Herbert (1593–1633)