O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God, our refuge and strength,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
that earth may know the peace of heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 105.1-5, 35-42
O give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises,
and tell of all his marvellous works.
Rejoice in the praise of his holy name;
let the hearts of them rejoice who seek the Lord.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his face continually.
Remember the marvels he has done,
his wonders and the judgements of his mouth,
They ate every plant in their land
and devoured the fruit of their soil.
He smote all the firstborn in their land,
the first fruits of all their strength.
Then he brought them out with silver and gold;
there was not one among their tribes that stumbled.
Egypt was glad at their departing,
for a dread of them had fallen upon them.
He spread out a cloud for a covering
and a fire to light up the night.
They asked and he brought them quails;
he satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out
and ran in the dry places like a river.
For he remembered his holy word
and Abraham, his servant.
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 told the disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” ’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’
The early Church believed that Jesus’ second coming would happen imminently. As we read the New Testament, we can sense that it slowly dawned on those early Christians that Jesus’ return might be a long time in the future. We see evidence of early generosity, love and service becoming more constrained, or simply drying up altogether.
Two thousand years on we, like those early Christians, sometimes ask ourselves about Jesus’ promised second coming. Perhaps we sometimes doubt that it will really happen. But … that second coming, that end of time as we know it, is going to happen. The question we should be asking ourselves is not, ‘When will it happen?’ but ‘Are we ready for it to happen?’.
In the second letter of Peter, chapter 3, verse 8, we read: … with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. Peter goes on to say: The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
These words make it clear that we cannot set the agenda for God. The second coming will happen in God’s good time. However, that good time may be today … the question is: ‘Are we ready?’.
Peter suggests that God is giving us time to ‘get it right’, to sort out the mess that is our lives and get ourselves ready for the moment of judgement. How are we using the time God is giving us? Are we preparing ourselves with worship, prayer and service to others, or have we lost heart? Are we doing our best to prepare for the moment when we are called to give an account of our lives on earth, or are we resigned to being distanced from God for the whole of eternity?
Let us pray for the faith that will sustain and strengthen us as we journey through our mortal lives. Let us pray that, when we feel dispirited and discouraged, we might not forget the love God has shown for us in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that we might remain steadfast in our faith and ready for the inevitable moment when we will find ourselves face to face with the risen and ascended Christ as he comes, once again, into our midst.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God for right judgement in all things, and thank him for his goodness.
Keep the Church constant and faithful in prayer. Give to all Christian people grace to spread the good news of the hope they have received.
We pray for all who exercise judgement in the world. Make them patient in hearing and impartial in deciding. Lead to peaceful agreement all who are at enmity over legal disputes.
Make us just in all our dealings, honest in our work, compassionate towards those who need us. Bless all in our communities who are engaged in legal work.
Have mercy on all who suffer injustice, the victims of false judgements or the indifference of those from whom they seek redress. Bring comfort and support to widows and orphans in their need.
We remember those who have passed from this world and come to judgement. Be merciful to them, hear our prayers and grant them eternal life.
We pray in the name of Christ, the righteous Judge of all.
Prayer for the week
you have shown us how great is the price of freedom
by giving your life to deliver us from evil.
Teach us to give to the uttermost;
to respect that which others have secured for us;
and to pursue peace in obedience to your will,
until all the kingdoms of this world come to you
as Lord and Saviour of all.
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.