Podcast: Play in new window
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | More
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As for me, I am poor and in misery;
your saving help, O God, will lift me up.
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will proclaim his greatness with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an offering of oxen,
more than bulls with horns and hooves.
The humble shall see and be glad;
you who seek God, your heart shall live.
For the Lord listens to the needy,
and his own who are imprisoned he does not despise.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him,
the seas and all that moves in them;
For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah;
they shall live there and have it in possession.
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 said to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’
Every time I read this passage I find myself thinking of the quid pro quo attitude of so many people when it comes to the matter of hospitality, and generosity in general. How many people keep Christmas card lists, for example. You know the sort I mean. The ones that lead to comments such as: I’m not sending him or her a card this year because they didn’t send me one last year! Similarly, those who are tardy in reciprocating hospitality find themselves excluded from the ‘dinner party circuit’. We spend so much time and effort in ‘managing’ the ways in which we offer and respond to acts of kindness and generosity. This very issue is addressed by Jesus in today’s reading.
Jesus’ teaching could not be clearer: … do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they invite you in return, and you would be repaid. The model Jesus gives us is one of open-handed and open-hearted generosity. Furthermore, Jesus makes it clear that such generosity should never be offered with the expectation of its being returned.
An example of the generosity Jesus describes can be found in the way many throw open their doors at Christmas. Up and down the country there are many people who live alone, or are without a home at all. Charities, churches and individuals strive to offer some Christmas cheer for such people on that day when so many are wallowing in over-indulgence. This is the generosity of which Jesus speaks.
Sadly, this ‘invasion’ of our personal space is anathema to so many. Christmas, the moment when God’s generosity breaks through into our mortal world, is turned into a time of meanness of spirit. This meanness of spirit is seen in Charles Dickens’ famous novel: A Christmas Carol. The character of Ebenezer Scrooge has become synonymous with meanness of spirit. But, the fictional Scrooge is not alone. So many of us share in his miserliness.
Let us pray that we might let the spirit of loving generosity break through our barriers of self-interest. Let us pray that we might seek to share the love of Christ with all, and especially with those who will never be able to offer any kind of repayment. Let us pray that we might join the whole company of saints who, down the ages, have lived unswervingly according to the teaching of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Prayers of intercession
In the power of the Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord Jesus, you turn the honours of the world upside down. Keep your Church from love of status and pride. Give us a servant heart.
Lord Jesus, you challenge rulers to be mindful of all their people. Keep the nations from cravings that lead to oppression and violence. Give wisdom to all who lead.
Lord Jesus, you give children a special regard and dignity. Keep their well-being and safety at the forefront of our minds and practices. Give strength to all involved in safeguarding and protection; sustain them in their work.
Lord Jesus, you embrace the path of suffering. Keep in your gaze all whose health is ailing. Give peace and hope to all in need.
Lord Jesus, you hold before us the hope of salvation. Keep in your love all who have died. Give eternal life to all the faithful departed.
Prayer for the week
we praise and bless your holy name
for your saints of every time and place
who have served you faithfully in their generation
and have enriched the world by their lives,
their witness and their example.
Help us, by your grace, to follow them
as they followed Christ,
that with them we may be partakers of your everlasting joy;
through the merits of Jesus our Saviour and 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.