O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your Son came to save us
and bore our sins on the cross:
may we trust in your mercy
and know your love,
rejoicing in the righteousness
that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge;
I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord,
all my good depends on you.’
All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble in heart.
Though the idols are legion
that many run after,
their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
neither make mention of their names upon my lips.
The Lord himself is my portion and my cup;
in your hands alone is my fortune.
My share has fallen in a fair land;
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel,
and in the night watches he instructs my heart.
I have set the Lord always before me;
he is at my right hand; I shall not fall.
Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices;
my flesh also shall rest secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Death,
nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit.
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence is the fullness of joy
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
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 told his disciples a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.’
Among the paintings of the Dutch Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder there is a canvas which depicts Jesus question: Can a blind person guide a blind person? Bruegel’s painting is actually inspired by the parable in the 15th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, and shows six figures falling as they stumble down a country lane. Each of the blind men is suffering from a different eye affliction, and their path is seen to be leading away from the church in the background of the painting.
Bruegel’s work was a response to Jesus’ criticism of the role played by the Pharisees as they led people away from God with their man-made rules and regulations for the acceptable conduct of a spiritual life. Each of the blind men in Bruegel’s painting is well-dressed; they are not in the apparel of shabby peasants, which might be seen as implying that they are victims. Instead, their finer clothes indicate that their inability to see the true path to spiritual enlightenment is self-inflicted.
So often, we are like the blind men in Bruegel’s painting. We have God’s truth in our holy scriptures, the scriptures that should be the road map for every moment of our daily lives. We have the model of Jesus’ earthly life, a life in which we were shown how to love and serve and thereby draw closer to our heavenly Father. We know, whether we like it or not, what we are called to do in God’s name, even when it does not fit with the way we would prefer to live out our daily lives. The way in which we turn our backs on the teachings of the Church, on scripture, and on God himself leaves us with impaired eyesight, with a distorted vision that struggles to focus on all that is holy and pure.
Jesus asked: Can a blind person guide a blind person? There is a worrying truth contained within this question. There are those who strive to live a faithful life in the nearer presence of God. We are called to follow those people. But … we don’t! Too often we see their piety as feeble-mindedness, their humility as weakness, their worldly and spiritual generosity as something to mock rather than celebrate.
Let us pray that we might accept God’s challenge and become leaders for those who wish to discern the right path through this life. Let us pray that our vision might not become impaired by the myopia of self-importance and self-delusion. Let us pray that we might always be ready to hold out our hands to steady and to guide those who are falling from God’s path through this world.
Prayers of intercession
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you promised through your Son Jesus Christ to hear us when we pray in faith.
Strengthen our bishops and all your Church in the service of Christ, that those who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.
Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen; give wisdom to all in authority; and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace; that we may honour one another, and seek the common good.
Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours, that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.
Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation.
Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ; according to your promises, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.
Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.
Prayer for the week
May our Lord Jesus Christ
be near us to defend us,
within us to refresh us,
around us to preserve us,
before us to guide us,
above us to bless us;
who lives and reigns
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
God for evermore.
The Lord’s Prayer
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.
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.