O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvellous things.
His own right hand and his holy arm
have won for him the victory.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
his deliverance has he openly shown
in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his mercy and faithfulness
towards the house of Israel,
and all the ends of the earth
have seen the salvation of our God.
Sound praises to the Lord, all the earth;
break into singing and make music.
Make music to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the voice of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sound praises before the Lord, the King.
Let the sea thunder and all that fills it,
the world and all that dwell upon it.
Let the rivers clap their hands
and let the hills ring out together before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
In righteousness shall he judge the world
and the peoples with equity.
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 his disciples, ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.’
Jesus said to his disciples: Go also the second mile.
Since March 2020 not many of us have been able to travel very far. We have not been able to visit family or friends, even when the need was urgent. We have not been able to experience the sense of physical and spiritual restoration that accompanies times of holiday. We have not been able to travel to favourite buildings, parks and restaurants. Many have had to develop a new way of donning and removing their ‘work identity’ … a way that does not include the usual journey between home and workplace … as ‘going to work’ has become a matter of moving from one room to another. In the context of the last fifteen months the phrase: Go also the second mile has lost its meaning in the literal sense. But, that does not reduce it to the status of being nothing more than a quaint, well-known saying. Remember, all the sayings of Jesus have meaning, and they are meant for us in 2021, and not just for those who first heard them two thousand years ago.
One of the most significant negative side-effects of the pandemic has been increased levels of tiredness. Despite isolation and loneliness, or possibly because of isolation and loneliness, people have worked harder than ever. The desire to get a job done, coupled with a lack of social interaction, has left people feeling drained of energy and excitement. Just the thought of going that second mile has become anathema to many. But, Jesus’ instruction to all who would be his disciples stands firm: Go also the second mile.
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ makes demands on every aspect of our lives. We are called to use our obvious talents in God’s service, and we are called to be open to new challenges. God knows that of which we are truly capable and, if we let him, he may well lead us into new territory. Such an adventure should inspire and excite us. But, it also demands our cooperation and our courage. We have all carved out daily routines that suit the resources we know we have. God does not want to abandon that certainty and commitment, but he also does not want us to stop there.
The challenge we are faced with today is about how willing we are to allow God to energize and excite our imaginations. Even the recent routines of living through a pandemic have become boring and matter of fact. Living the life of faith should never be so dull. Living the life of true faith invites us to go that second mile, in order that we might creatively and joyously love and serve in the name of our Lord. Let us pray for the courage and strength to do just that.
Prayers of intercession
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
Merciful Father, you break the cycle of hatred and recrimination. Grant that your Church may be an instrument of your peace, sowing love, pardon and faith.
Merciful Father, you bring dignity to the abused and oppressed. Give to governments and rulers strength to prevent the worst excesses of retribution. Restore us all in your image that we may forgive as we know ourselves to be forgiven.
Merciful Father, your compassion leaves no one excluded. Open our hearts to the needs of the hungry and the homeless. Give dignity to all your people.
Merciful Father, you hear the cries of all in distress. Pour out your healing love on all who seek you. Bring light to our darkness and joy to all in sorrow.
Merciful Father, your love holds us in life and in death. Remember for good all who have died. Keep the faithful departed forever in your loving embrace.
Trusting in the unfailing love of God for all that he has made, we offer our prayer and praise before him.
Prayer for the week
your Son Jesus Christ came to make all things new.
Refresh us by the power of your Spirit,
that through the stillness of prayer
and the energy of service
we may discover afresh your call on our lives
through Jesus Christ our 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. Amen.