O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you made us all in your image:
may we discern you in all that we see,
and serve you in all that we do;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven,
and whose sin is covered.
Happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt,
and in whose spirit there is no guile.
For I held my tongue; my bones wasted away
through my groaning all the day long.
Your hand was heavy upon me day and night;
my moisture was dried up like the drought in summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and my iniquity I did not hide.
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful
make their prayers to you in time of trouble;
in the great water flood, it shall not reach them.
You are a place for me to hide in;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with songs of deliverance.
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 went through the cornfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’
Human beings love rules and regulations. Well, when I say they ‘love’ rules and regulations I really mean that they love the ones that they find convenient. People really love to use rules and regulations to control others, to create the sort of order that they want in their own lives.
In today’s reading we encounter just such a use of the Jewish law. The Pharisees (the ‘experts’ in Jewish law) took the opportunity to criticize the disciples for picking some heads of grain and then eating them. Of course, technically, the Pharisees were right, but what about the needs of those men? Should the rules and regulations be so intransigent that the need of the individual is considered irrelevant?
Jesus reminds the Pharisees of their own history. He recalls the Old Testament account of David and his companions eating the most holy bread in the Temple, just because they were hungry. Then he reminds them that the temple priests are seen as having some sort of dispensation so that they can work in the Temple on the Sabbath. Jesus is, in effect, saying: What’s the difference?
Of course, there is a difference. Jesus is present with his disciples, and he is saying that there are more important things to worry about than the picking and eating of a few heads of grain. And … Jesus is saying that he can make that decision because of who he is.
So, how often have you ranted and railed against the breaking of petty rules and regulations?
And when you have found yourself in that place, how often have you paused to think about the real needs of those who have offended your sense of order?
This is not an easy challenge for us to have to face up to but, if we wish to be true disciples of Christ, we have to let go of our need to be the ones in control.
We have to learn to trust Jesus, because he never gets it wrong!
He really is the Lord of the Sabbath.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, whose love heals all that is hurt and mends all that is broken.
Strengthen your Church in all dangers and difficulties, to witness to the faith that comes not from human strength but only from your grace. Teach your people to maintain due reverence but never to set the forms of religion above the call of love.
Guide those who make and administer laws, to be both just and merciful in their calling. Bless with peace and harmony the places where laws are good and for the benefit of all. Give courage to those who work to reform laws that are harsh and oppressive.
May your light shine upon us in all that brings us closer to others. Let all that darkens the life of this community be cast out by the life that is in Jesus.
Have mercy on all who suffer under unjust regimes. Bless and strengthen those who are persecuted for their faith. Grant healing to those who are afflicted in the use of their limbs.
We give thanks for the departed who acknowledged the saving death of Jesus and now rejoice in his eternal life. Have mercy on all who have died through human injustice, and grant them rest.
Rejoicing in the glorious freedom given us in Christ, we pray through him.
Prayer for the week
O Saviour of the world,
lifted up on the cross to draw people
of all races and nations to yourself:
bless the witness of your Church
in this and every place,
and help us to finish the work
you have given us to do
in the world for which you died.
We ask it in your name,
our living and victorious Lord.
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. 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.