O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I will exalt you, O God my King,
and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless you
and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised;
his greatness is beyond all searching out.
One generation shall praise your works to another
and declare your mighty acts.
They shall speak of the majesty of your glory,
and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts,
and I will also tell of your greatness.
They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
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 the disciples, ‘I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave 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.’
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.’
This week we have spent much time reflecting upon generosity. We have thought about God’s generosity and the generosity of others. We have considered our own generosity, or lack of it, and we have been encouraged to live in an open-hearted and generous way as we journey towards the day when we will enter into the nearer presence of God for the whole of eternity. Today Jesus confronts us with the biggest challenge as we live out our lives in the world of the twenty-first century: You cannot serve God and wealth.
We are obsessed with wealth. We like to amass money and surround ourselves with ‘valuable’ things. But, as we amass as much wealth as we can, how often do we pause and see the effect of our miserliness?
I often encounter people who are living in very poor circumstances because they do not want to use up any of their wealth, or they want to leave it for the benefit of the next generation. I meet those who have great wealth and who claim to be faithful Christians, but who would never consider using any of their wealth for the benefit of those who have nothing. I even see churches where the accumulation of wealth is seen as being the primary function of their, so-called, communities of faith. All of these people have lost sight of Jesus’ clear teaching: You cannot serve God and wealth.
Today we are confronted with a straightforward choice. Jesus’ words are uncompromising. Jesus’ words are a challenge to us all: whom have we chosen to serve, God or our bank balances?
Many will offer seemingly plausible reasons for not giving away ‘too much’ of their wealth. The famous ‘rainy day’ may well be just around the corner. As the excuses for our niggardly behaviour trip freely from our tongues we are aligning ourselves with the Pharisees who are also mentioned in today’s reading: The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him.
There is no room for misinterpreting or re-interpreting Jesus’ teaching in today’s reading: You cannot serve God and wealth. Today we are being asked to make a choice. The choice may be harder to make for some, but the time has come, nevertheless. And, as we consider our response, let us pause and reflect on this fact … the majority of charitable giving comes from those who have the least!!!
Let us pray that we might respond to Jesus’ challenge by setting aside our worship of worldly wealth and focus our adoration on God alone.
Prayers of intercession
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
Blessed Lord, from the rising of the sun to its setting, we will praise you and you alone. Keep your Church in this single-minded devotion, and sustain us with your presence.
Blessed Lord, hear our prayers for those in high position, that the dignity of all may be upheld and honoured. Guide all nations in the ways of peace and justice.
Blessed Lord, turn our hearts from love of wealth and obsession with its false securing. Set us free to trust in your bounty and to be satisfied with sufficient. Fix our hearts where true and lasting treasures may be found.
Blessed Lord, in your love and mercy, save us from the anger and bitterness that destroys the soul. Quieten the raging hearts of those in distress and bring peace to troubled minds. Lift us from dust and ashes to hope in you.
Blessed Lord, you desire the salvation of all people. We commend to you all who have died. Bring us all to rejoice in your courts with thanksgiving.
Prayer for the week
we praise and bless your holy name
for your saints of every time and place
who have served you faithfully in their generation
and have enriched the world by their lives,
their witness and their example.
Help us, by your grace, to follow them
as they followed Christ,
that with them we may be partakers of your everlasting joy;
through the merits of Jesus our Saviour and 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.
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.