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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you call us to fullness of life:
deliver us from unbelief
and banish our anxieties
with the liberating love
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
My days fade away like a shadow,
and I am withered like grass.
But you, O Lord, shall endure for ever
and your name through all generations.
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is time to have mercy upon her;
surely the time has come.
For your servants love her very stones
and feel compassion for her dust.
Then shall the nations fear your name, O Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the Lord has built up Zion
and shown himself in glory;
When he has turned to the prayer of the destitute
and has not despised their plea.
This shall be written for those that come after,
and a people yet unborn shall praise the Lord.
For he has looked down from his holy height;
from the heavens he beheld the earth,
That he might hear the sighings of the prisoner
and set free those condemned to die;
That the name of the Lord may be proclaimed in Zion
and his praises in Jerusalem.
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.
An argument arose among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’
John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’
Today’s reading resonates with the way so many people live out their daily lives. The disciples have been arguing about which one of them should be considered the greatest. Then John complains to Jesus that someone, who is not one of Jesus’ chosen twelve, is casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Even as they walked with Jesus, the disciples were already displaying the signs of those traits which have caused so many rifts and disputes between those who claim to be followers of Christ.
As ‘Christians’ invent ways of carrying on which endorses their positions of influence and power, we would all do well to heed the words of Jesus that lie at the heart of today’s reading: … the least among all of you is the greatest. Jesus’ words are unequivocal. Jesus tells us to stop wasting our energies on trying to dominate the lives of others. It is not for us, as individuals, to decide on that which is ‘good’ and ‘commendable’. Such matters should be left to God alone. Our role in the order of creation is to love and serve one another in all humility.
Humility is a difficult concept for many. Whether in family life, in our working lives or in our more general social settings, we like to be seen as the ‘top dog’, the one who everyone looks up to. But … such an attitude does nothing other than distance us from God.
Time and again I hear people speaking of the need for more young people to be engaged in the life of the Church. Then, those same people do the best they can to alienate any ‘young people’ who do happen to stray into a Church. The children are sent to sit in a corner with a box of old toys. The parents of those same children are made to feel inadequate if their children do not play quietly, without disturbing the important things that are happening elsewhere in the building. Why should those ‘young people’ ever come back?
Today, Jesus takes a child, a young person who has no social status, and says: Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Jesus is very clear indeed. Stop working at building up our own reputations and power bases, and start working towards becoming the humble, loving and serving follower of Christ that is the calling of us all.
Let us pray that we might live our days in humility and Christian joy. Let us pray that we might set aside our ‘need’ for importance and power. Let us pray that we might truly join the company of Christ’s faithful people on earth.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to the Father whose Son suffered betrayal and death for the salvation of the world.
Cleanse the Church from temptation to worldly ambition and false triumphalism. In childlike simplicity, may your people follow you without fear, in loving one another.
Bring peace to the troubled places of the world, where war destroys both human life and the beauty of your creation. Make peaceful the minds of those who contend for power, that they may know the freedom of your service.
Bless the children of our families and those in our community. Let their innocence teach us to avoid all that may destroy the harmony of living.
Have mercy on the victims of war and violence… those who have lost their loved ones and been driven from their homes. Grant them a place of refuge to rebuild their lives.
We remember those who have died in war or through human violence. Grant mercy to those who died unprepared and impenitent, by the love of Christ who served others even to death. Grant them the peace that they were denied in their last hour.
As servants of Christ, we humbly offer our prayers in his name.
Prayer for the week
we pray for all who are any way troubled at this time,
and especially for those known to us.
Give relief to those in pain,
friendship to those who are alone,
reassurance to those in doubt or distress of mind;
and may our love be so strong that seeing need
we may never pass by on the other side.
We ask it in Christ’s name.
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.