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.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak:
I will testify against you, O Israel; for I am God, your God.
I will not reprove you for your sacrifices,
for your burnt offerings are always before me.
I will take no bull out of your house,
nor he-goat out of your folds,
For all the beasts of the forest are mine,
the cattle upon a thousand hills.
I know every bird of the mountains
and the insect of the field is mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the whole world is mine and all that fills it.
Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and fulfil your vows to God Most High.
Call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you and you shall honour 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.
Matthew 10.34 – 11.1
Jesus said to the twelve:
‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth;
I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’
Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.
As we have been journeying through Matthew’s gospel in our daily readings we have come to see Jesus in a context that makes many feel uncomfortable. We have been brought face to face with Jesus the ‘Innovator’, Jesus the bringer of ‘the New and the Different’. Jesus has taught us to seek a new and more intimate relationship with his, and our, Father in heaven, and he has taught us to pray in a different way, and, of course, he has stretched our the hand of healing love to the untouchables of society.
Today Jesus reveals himself as the great innovator yet again. The words that Jesus speaks about division and conflict would not have been new to his Jewish audience, they come from the writings of the Old Testament prophet Micah. By quoting these words Jesus is reminding us that it has always been known that true love of God might well separate us from even those most near and dear to us in this world. But, having delivered these words of dire warning, Jesus also reminds us that those who live the life of true discipleship will come to know the joy of eternal life in the nearer presence of God in heaven.
Jesus also reminds us that devoting ourselves to following him, above all earthly demands, is not a mere intellectual exercise. Jesus tells us that the simplest acts of Christian love, even the quenching of the thirst of the most challenging social outcast, is an act of love to Our Lord himself.
Such acts of love may have been difficult during our days of lockdown, isolation and shielding, but they were not impossible.
How have you demonstrated your devotion to Jesus, and how will you show that devotion even more as the lockdown eases?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, the source of all prophecy and all righteousness.
Give to the Church the gifts that inspired the prophets of old, to warn and to encourage at this time and always. Make your people worthy to be prophets of your word and counted as righteous through your grace.
Be with those who in the world speak the words of truth and the message of salvation. Open the hearts of the powerful and the humble alike to receive those who come in your name.
Grant us grace to discern the presence of Christ in those we know and in the stranger. May the doors in this community be open to the Lord who comes in many ways.
We pray for those who are suffering from drought, all who are thirsty and must go far to find water. Guide and enable those who work for their relief and grant the blessing of good water where it is lacking.
May the faithful departed receive their reward and share in the fountain of living water in heaven. Grant that we may be constant in this world and enter at last into the world to come.
May our prayers be accepted in the name of Christ who has called us to be his messengers.
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
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
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.