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.
‘I have found David my servant;
with my holy oil have I anointed him.
‘My hand shall hold him fast
and my arm shall strengthen him.
‘No enemy shall deceive him,
nor any wicked person afflict him.
‘I will strike down his foes before his face
and beat down those that hate him.
‘My truth also and my steadfast love shall be with him,
and in my name shall his head be exalted.
‘I will set his dominion upon the sea
and his right hand upon the rivers.
‘He shall call to me, “You are my Father,
my God, and the rock of my salvation;”
‘And I will make him my firstborn,
the most high above the kings of the earth.
‘The love I have pledged to him will I keep for ever,
and my covenant will stand fast with him.
‘His seed also will I make to endure for ever
and his throne as the days of heaven.
‘But if his children forsake my law
and cease to walk in my judgements,
‘If they break my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
‘I will punish their offences with a rod
and their sin with scourges.
‘But I will not take from him my steadfast love
nor suffer my truth to fail.
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, ‘No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’
Yesterday I asked some challenging questions about what we treasure in our lives, and how we might come to live our lives as healthy and vibrant Christians in this world. That message is hammered home in today’s reading: You cannot serve God and wealth.
Money and possessions are the root of so much that is contentious in our lives. We strive for more money and ever larger piles of ‘things’. Even when we decide to ‘declutter’ our lives, we do so by assessing the value of that which is in our way. We rarely do so as an act of clearing a way towards a stronger relationship with God.
Over the last year or so we have been forced to live without visiting shops. For some of us that has been a delight, for others a torture. Wherever one might stand in that debate, the truth is that shopping has gone on. Thanks to modern technology we have been able to satisfy our craving for more ‘things’ by shopping online, and then by having all those cardboard boxes delivered to our doors, sometimes on the same day. Even a pandemic has not curtailed our desire to put worldly wealth and possessions before our relationship with God.
Today Jesus spells it out for us. God is not interested in how much we are worth or how full our cupboards and wardrobes might be. God is not interested in how fashionable we are, nor how overweight we have become through our greed and self-indulgence. God is only interested in how much we value all that he has provided for us and how, through a simplicity of living, we might draw ever closer to him.
Jesus said: You cannot serve God and wealth. It is contentious enough that we struggle with this teaching in our personal lives, but surely it is unforgiveable that Christian communities of faith should fall into the same trap. So many Church communities hoard wealth in the form of money and possessions. The proverbial ‘Rainy Day’ rules the hearts of so many Church committees up and down the land. The notion of using wealth to the glory of God is anathema to so many which means, of course, those hoarders do not trust in God to provide as he has promised.
Jesus said: You cannot serve God and wealth. Let us pray that we may truly come to understand that life is more than food and that the body is more than clothing. Let us pray that we may learn the lessons of the birds and the lilies of the field. Let us pray for humble and generous hearts.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, the giver of all beauty in heaven and earth.
Fill the Church, your new creation, with the spirit of hope. Enable her to proclaim to all people the good news of the kingdom and its righteousness.
As we give thanks for the beauty of the natural world, we pray that it may not be lost through human greed and folly. May those who have control of change act responsibly, as knowing that they are stewards of a treasure not of their making, a glory beyond the riches of the kings and rulers of the earth.
Bring to all who are of our community the assurance that they are your children and that you will meet their needs. Let our own trust be a witness to others.
Have mercy on those whose troubles hold them back from knowing the beauty of the world. Deliver them from fear and show them the joy of your salvation.
We commend those who have been delivered from the cares of this transitory life. Hold them in the life of the Kingdom where lost beauty is restored and lost innocence is renewed.
Trusting in the unfailing love of God for all that his 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.