O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you know our struggle to serve you:
when sin spoils our lives
and overshadows our hearts,
come to our aid
and turn us back to you again;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 30.1-5, 8, 11-12
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have raised me up
and have not let my foes triumph over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to you
and you have healed me.
You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead;
you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit.
Sing to the Lord, you servants of his;
give thanks to his holy name.
For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,
his favour for a lifetime.
Heaviness may endure for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.
To you, O Lord, I cried;
to the Lord I made my supplication:
You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness;
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.
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 went from Sychar in Samaria to Galilee (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honour in the prophet’s own country). When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival.
Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.’ The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he himself believed, along with his whole household. Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him …
We live in dangerous time. Every week we hear of people, and not always vulnerable people, being cheated out of their savings and pension funds. Those who carry out these cruel deceptions are very convincing, or so we are told. Such ruthless criminals have mastered the art of deception to such an extent that their ‘respectability’ seems beyond question. It is on this basis that they strike, destroying the lives of their victims.
One of the issues that makes such crimes possible is rooted in the greed of many of those who they target. They seek a level of gain that appears to be balanced between the unbelievable and the just about achievable. Those who will become victims convince themselves, or allow themselves to be convinced, of their shrewdness and wisdom whilst, in reality, setting both of those qualities to one side, replacing them with gullibility and greed.
In today’s reading we see a royal official demonstrating what many around him would have described as gullibility and greed. His son was mortally ill, and Jesus was in town. The official had heard accounts of Jesus, the miracle working healer. He would also have heard the scepticism of those who had seen Jesus grow up. But, the official was desperate; he was ready to risk anything and everything to achieve his impossible goal, the rich reward of his son’s health.
The royal official approached Jesus and begged for help. Jesus did not seek him out and offer a deceptive hope. Jesus waited for the royal official to come to him. Then, when the approach was made, Jesus warned us all against relying on signs and wonders. The criminals I spoke of earlier provide signs and wonders that are nothing more than worldly deception. Jesus is leading us another way. Jesus is speaking of faith.
Jesus answers the prayers of the desperate father, but quietly and without pomp and ceremony. Jesus recognizes and rewards the faith of the royal official by simply saying: Go, your son will live. Then we read these powerful words: The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.
Jesus tells us that the tiniest amount of genuine faith can move mountains. Let us pray for a mustard seed’s worth of that faith. Let us pray for the strength to set aside human gullibility and greed and take our needs, our hopes and our dreams to Jesus, the only one who can work the miracles we would like to see, the miracles that can be truly life-changing.
Prayers of intercession
In peace, let us pray to Jesus our Lord, who ever lives to make intercession for us.
Saviour of the world, be present in all places of suffering, violence and pain, and bring hope even in the darkest night. Inspire us to continue your work of reconciliation today.
Lord of the Church, empower by your Spirit all Christian people, and the work of your Church in every land. Give us grace to proclaim the gospel joyfully in word and deed.
Shepherd and Guardian of our souls, guide and enable all who lead and serve this community and those on whom we depend for our daily needs. Grant that we may seek the peace and welfare of this place.
Great Physician, stretch out your hand to bring comfort, wholeness and peace to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit. Fill us with compassion, that we may be channels of your healing love.
Conqueror of death, remember for good those whom we love but see no longer. Help us to live this day in the sure and certain hope of your eternal victory.
Let us commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to the mercy and protection of God.
Prayer for the week
be with us in our search for peace,
in ourselves and in the world you have made.
Diminish pride and increase humility;
weaken suspicion and nourish trust.
Deepen true love and understanding in every heart,
and unite us all as members of one family;
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. 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.