O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
revive your Church in our day,
and make her holy, strong and faithful,
for your glory’s sake
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 18.1-2, 48-51
I love you, O Lord my strength.
The Lord is my crag, my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation and my stronghold.
Even the God who vindicates me
and subdues the peoples under me!
You that deliver me from my enemies,
you will set me up above my foes;
from the violent you will deliver me;
Therefore will I give you thanks, O Lord, among the nations
and sing praises to your name,
To the one who gives great victory to his king
and shows faithful love to his anointed,
to David and his seed 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.
A man came to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’
Today’s reading is well known. We may not remember the context in which Jesus says these words, but most of us will recall them: if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move. But, do we believe it?
Many people try to explain this saying of Jesus away from a position of worldly wisdom. They say that we know that we cannot move mountains with our will, so Jesus must be speaking figuratively. Such an argument must then also lead us into denying the reality of the resurrection … surely we all know that no one can be brought back from the dead!
In this well known saying Jesus is giving us a glimpse of the power of faith. That which holds us back as we journey along the pilgrim route that has been laid for us, is our doubt. When the going gets tough for us, or when we presume the going ‘might’ get tough for us, we are overcome with doubt and fear. Our faith crumbles and we are rendered impotent in God’s service. Just as the disciples found themselves unable to heal the son who suffered terribly, so we find ourselves incapable of bringing the light and joy of Christ into the lives of others.
Whether or not we accept Jesus’ words about the power of faith lies at the very heart of our lives as Christians. The moment we allow uncertainty and doubt to creep into our relationship with God, then our ability to move mountains vanishes. Faith is that great gift which allows us to bring about change in God’s name. That change may be small, almost to the point of imperceptibility. However, that which seems small to us may bring about seismic changes in the lives of others. Our faith may be the catalyst which causes the whole landscape to change in the lives of those amongst whom we live … whether we find that easy to believe or not.
On my desk there is a tiny mustard seed in a plastic phial. That seed was given to me as I embarked upon my ordained ministry. It was given to me as a constant reminder of the power of faith in my life. Every day I see that mustard seed and I pray for the strength to remain faithful and true in my calling. I pray that you may all remember the wonders that can be achieved in Christ’s name, if only we remain strong in our faith.
Prayers of intercession
Jesus our exalted Lord has been given all authority. Let us seek his intercession that our prayers may be perfected by his prayer.
Jesus Christ, great high priest, living for ever to intercede for us, pray for the Church, your broken body in the world.
Jesus Christ, king of righteousness, enthroned at the right hand of the majesty on high, pray for the world, and make it subject to your gentle rule..
Jesus Christ, Son of Man, drawing humanity into the life of God, pray for your brothers and sisters in need, distress or sorrow.
Jesus Christ, pioneer of our salvation, bringing us to glory through your death and resurrection, surround with your saints and angels those who have died trusting your promises.
Jesus Christ, Lord over all things, ascended far above the heavens and filling the universe, pray for us who receive the gifts you give us for work in your service.
Jesus Christ, keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at your feet.
Prayer for the week
Lord, may we live in faith,
walk in love,
and be renewed in hope,
until the world reflects your glory
and you are all in 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.