O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Eternal God, give us insight
to discern your will for us,
to give up what harms us,
and to seek the perfection we are promised
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 42.1-2, 43.1-4
As the deer longs for the water brooks,
so longs my soul for you, O God.
My soul is athirst for God, even for the living God;
when shall I come before the presence of God?
Give judgement for me, O God,
and defend my cause against an ungodly people;
deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.
For you are the God of my refuge;
why have you cast me from you,
and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me?
O send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,
and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling,
That I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness;
and on the lyre I will give thanks to you, O God my 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 came to Nazareth and spoke in the synagogue, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’
When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town.
It is not uncommon for the clergy to witness the discomfort of faithful parishioners when asked about their churchgoing and other matters of faith. This often comes in the form of the vicar happening upon someone in a social setting and exchanging a simple greeting. Then, as the vicar moves on, he or she hears that person being interrogated about their faith and/or their connection to the Church. It is also not uncommon to hear a faithful parishioner ‘play down’ all that holy ‘stuff’. An opportunity to share the joy of the faith is thrown away because of feelings of embarrassment, or even fear. When nearest to home the prophet is silenced by scepticism and insecurity.
Because of the way we engage with scripture, we struggle to understand the word ‘prophet’. A prophet is someone who hears the word of God and passes it on to others. It is as simple as that. When we hear lofty and portentous words from the books of such prophets as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel we develop notions that cut us off from God’s call to be prophets in our own times and communities. Even when we read the story of that most reluctant and human of prophets, Jonah, we focus on the fish rather than the effective prophecy.
Jesus makes it clear that he understands the problem: No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. Jesus understands because it happened to him. But, of course, there is a difference. Jesus did not obfuscate and prevaricate on matters of faith. Jesus stayed firm, even in the face of vehement opposition, just as we are called to stand firm.
In Lent we are called to pray, to fast, to serve and to prayerfully engage with scripture. This fourfold route map of faith is meant to draw us closer to God. Surely, as we draw closer to God, we want to share the joy and excitement of that experience! We may feel uncomfortable when challenged about our faith, but let us be resolved to be truly Christ-like as we live out our calling to faithful prophecy.
Prayers of Intercession
God of love and compassion, you are always more ready to hear and help than we are to pray. Help us to know that you are with us now.
We pray for all who come to your Church with hopes and fears, all who come with special needs, that in you they may find new hope. We remember all who thirst for God, praying for pilgrims and seekers.
We pray for our troubled world, for places of oppression, tyranny and violence. We remember all who suffer through war or natural disasters. We ask your blessing upon the hungry and the homeless, all who have no place to call their own.
We give thanks for all who have shared their love and peace with us, and pray for our homes and our loved ones. We pray for homes where there is trouble, for destitute families, for those who have been evicted or driven out of their homes. We pray for homes where there is abuse or neglect.
We remember before you all who are not at peace with themselves or their neighbours, all who are troubled in body, mind or spirit. We pray for all who feel despised or rejected, all who walk in fear and in darkness.
We give thanks that you are our strength in times of weakness; you deliver us from the power of death. We give thanks for all who have been delivered from eternal death, and remember loved ones departed this life.
Prayer for the week
Lord, we offer you ourselves this day
for the work you want accomplished,
for the people you want us to meet,
for the word you want to be uttered,
for the silence you want to be kept,
for the new ways you want pioneered.
Go with us along the way, Lord,
and enable us to realize your presence,
at all times and in all places,
our loving Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
God has spoken – by his prophets,
spoken his unchanging word;
each from age to age proclaiming
God the one, the righteous Lord;
in the world’s despair and turmoil
one firm anchor holds us fast:
God eternal reigns for ever,
God the first and God the last.
George Wallace Briggs (1875–1959)