Listen to a service of Prayer for 30 July 2021 (Trinity 8 / DEL Week 17: Friday), including a reflection on the gospel reading
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your Son left the riches of heaven
and became poor for our sake:
when we prosper save us from pride,
when we are needy save us from despair,
that we may trust in you alone;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Those who hate me without any cause
are more than the hairs of my head;
Those who would destroy me are mighty;
my enemies accuse me falsely:
must I now give back what I never stole?
O God, you know my foolishness,
and my faults are not hidden from you.
Let not those who hope in you
be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts;
Let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me,
O God of Israel.
For your sake have I suffered reproach;
shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my kindred,
an alien to my mother’s children.
Zeal for your house has eaten me up;
the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me.
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 his home town and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.’ And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.
In earlier days, when I lived and worked in a very different world, I often found myself auditioning actors, singers and dancers for roles in professional theatrical productions. Those aspiring actors, singers and dancers all brought training, experience and hope into the audition room. The majority walked away from the audition experience with exactly the same amount of training, a little more experience, and completely dashed hopes.
You don’t have to be in the role I occupied to dash the hopes of others. It is so easy, in our ‘straight talking’ and ‘honest’ way to destroy the hopes of others. It is true that those actors, singers and dancers were putting themselves through the psychological wringer, and it is true that rejection is an inevitable part of the process, but that is not the case for all those people we reject, day in and day out, through our unkind and thoughtless words.
We may feel that by ‘saying it as we see it’ we are, in fact, being kind. But are we? Very often our harshest words are reserved for those we claim to hold nearest and dearest to our hearts: our children, our spouse, our siblings, our parents. If we cannot be bothered to temper the way we address the ‘truth’ with them, how must we come across to the stranger?
This is exactly where we find Jesus in today’s reading. Those who had seen him grow up could not bring themselves to accept that he had anything to teach them. Rather, they took offence at him. How dare the ‘carpenters’ son’ try to teach them!?
For Jesus, the rejection of those who had known him the longest was a matter of course. He had tried, and he had been rejected. Sadly, though, they were the losers. Not only had they rejected his exciting, life-affirming and life-changing teaching, but they had also rejected his ‘deeds of power’. Not for that community the joy of divine healing and forgiveness.
This passage is situated almost halfway through Matthew’s gospel. No one in Jesus’ home town could have credibly claimed ignorance of all that Jesus had done up to this point in his ministry. But still they rejected him.
Where are we in this narrative?
We know much more of the story, but still Jesus is rejected by so many.
Are we ready to stand firm, listen and then follow Jesus, or are we going to join the sceptical throng which will one day turn scorn into shouts of: Crucify him!?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, by whose authority we are called to his service.
Keep the Church steadfast, confident in the strength that comes only from your grace. Bless those who are chosen as your ministers and messengers, that they may preach the Gospel with assurance. Sustain those whose burdens are heavy as they work to relieve the burdens of others.
Wherever your word is preached, grant that it shall be heard with understanding and received with faith. Change the hearts of those who glory in their own strength and authority, and teach them to bear their power humbly.
Give us wisdom to discern the gifts that you have given to our friends and colleagues. Teach us to learn from one another and to give support where it is needed.
Uphold those who wish to help others but are frustrated by opposition and indifference. Give grace to all who suffer, that they may be open to accept relief.
We give thanks for the departed who in this world were granted a partial vision of your wonder and to whom it is now revealed in its fullness. Give us grace so to live in Christ that we too may behold his glory.
Through our prayers in the name of Christ, may we overcome evil.
Prayer for the week
Lord and heavenly Father,
make us mindful of your presence with us;
that we may draw near to you
with holy and humble hearts,
and offer prayers and praises
acceptable in your sight;
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.