Podcast: Play in new window
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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem;
Jerusalem, built as a city
that is at unity in itself.
Thither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,
as is decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there are set the thrones of judgement,
the thrones of the house of David.
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
‘May they prosper who love you.
‘Peace be within your walls
and tranquillity within your palaces.’
For my kindred and companions’ sake,
I will pray that peace be with you.
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek to do you good.
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 entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, ‘It is written,
“My house shall be a house of prayer”;
but you have made it a den of robbers.’
Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.
Many people in this world live in fear of persecution or even death for their faith in Jesus Christ. In our own, increasingly secular society, Christians may feel persecuted in the way they are ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, I heard a comedian recently apologize for spoiling the ‘story’ for Christians by declaring that the gospel message was ‘simply not true’. Not only was that ‘comedian’ wrong, I was also left wondering why he felt he had the right to speak in that way, and why the BBC felt that that was an appropriate thing to broadcast? I also wondered whether a similar slur on other religions would have been allowed? Whatever the answer to those questions may have been, the fact remains that a ‘comedian’ thought that our faith could be the subject of his derision … Christians are indeed feeling persecuted through the ridicule and indifference of those who have rejected Christ’s call in their lives.
Throughout his ministry Jesus ran the whole gamut of human disdain and hatred. But … Jesus remained steadfast. Jesus never ceased to pray to his Father in heaven, to preach the good news, to bring healing to the sick, to lead others away from the old way of doing things in order that they might draw closer to God. We are called to do no less.
When human beings fail to understand something that is beyond their intellect, or when their comfortable lifestyles are threatened, they react with scorn and derision, and sometimes with violence … just like the chief priests, the scribes and the leaders of the people who kept looking for a way to kill Jesus. These words reveal the extent of the persecution we might feel. They show us that Jesus did not only face opposition from the religious authorities, the leaders of the people, that is the secular authorities, were also determined to see an end to his ministry.
As books are written deriding the Christian faith, and as commentators and comedians feel empowered to pour scorn on the certainty of our faith, we are called to consider our response. Do we sidle away and hide from the constant barrage of abuse, or do we stand firm in our faith? Do we join Jesus in a life of prayer, preaching, healing and leading, or do we keep the joy of our faith to ourselves?
Let us pray for the strength to stand tall in our faith, never failing to help others along the path trod by Jesus himself.
Prayers of intercession
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
Lord of the heavens and earth, you need no place made by human hands to dwell among us. Rather, we make a shelter when we encounter your presence. Sanctify our church as a gateway to you. Before you we stand on holy ground.
Lord of glory, you give ‘craftsman’s art and music’s measure’ to delight our senses. Inspire our praise and raise our gaze to see the imprint of your image in your creation.
Lord of yesterday, today and the future, you give to us a heritage of faith proclaimed in stone. Build and restore your temples as living stones. Give us wisdom to treasure and value what has been handed on without stifling your Spirit.
Lord of peace, you give to us space to be still and know that you are God. Bring into our anxious concerns trust in your providential care. Breathe upon us your life restoring presence.
Lord of the harvest, you hold all life from beginning to its end, and onwards to new life. Bear as on eagles’ wings your faithful servants who have departed this life. In union with the great cloud of witnesses, bring us all to rejoice in your heavenly home.
Prayer for the week
God of righteousness, God of peace,
forgive the selfishness, greed and arrogance
that cause us to be at enmity one with another.
Help us and all people to live together
in Christian love and goodwill;
and teach the nations of the world
the things that belong to their peace;
through Jesus Christ our 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.
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.