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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
‘Many a time have they fought against me from my youth,’
may Israel now say;
‘Many a time have they fought against me from my youth,
but they have not prevailed against me.’
The ploughers ploughed upon my back
and made their furrows long.
But the righteous Lord
has cut the cords of the wicked in pieces.
Let them be put to shame and turned backwards,
as many as are enemies of Zion.
Let them be like grass upon the housetops,
which withers before it can grow,
So that no reaper can fill his hand,
nor a binder of sheaves his bosom;
And none who go by may say,
‘The blessing of the Lord be upon you.
We bless you in the name of the Lord.’
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.
As Jesus came near Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’
How do we respond to adversity? When things in our lives are going well, it is easy for us to be ‘strong in the faith’. But … what about when the going gets tough? So often, at that moment when we need Jesus the most, we turn our backs on him while we try to ‘sort things out for ourselves’. Just as we should be trusting Jesus to hold and protect, to guide and comfort us, we forget his constant presence and turn in on our own resources, no matter how inadequate they may be.
This reliance on ‘self’ is not unusual, but it is not the way we should behave if we are true followers of Christ. Repeatedly during my ministry I have heard people talk about distancing themselves from Church, and Christ, while they sort out or come to terms with the problems they are facing in their daily lives. This may not be the exact language those people have used, but it is certainly what they have meant. At the very moment when we should be trusting Jesus, our thoughts and our behaviours demonstrate that we are following the path that leads in the opposite direction, the path which, unsurprisingly, leads to disaster.
Today’s reading ends with these words: you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God. That is certainly what we see as we read the gospel narrative. Those amongst whom Jesus lived and walked and worked did not recognize the power that had come amongst them. And, despite our knowing far more of the story, we are just the same. In fact, we take a pride in our resilience and ‘ability’ (if only that were the word) to deal with things in our own strength.
Two thousand years ago God came down to earth. He came to renew the broken relationship between Himself and humanity … a broken relationship that had been entirely the fault of a proud and wilful human race. God walked among us in the form of Jesus Christ and, what is more, he still walks among us. The love and service he modelled during his earthly Incarnation is still there, every moment of every day. But, do we believe that? Do we trust that that is true?
Let us pray that we might be true to our calling and rely first and for ever on Jesus, our risen and ascended Saviour.
Prayers of intercession
We pray to the Lord for the courage to give ourselves to him.
Give us the courage to look beyond ourselves to mission in your world. May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus bring forgiveness to your people and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation.
Give us the courage to give up war, bitterness and hatred, and to seek peace. May the shoulders of the risen Jesus, once scourged by soldiers, bear the burden of political and military conflict in our world.
Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy in our families, neighbourhoods and communities. May the presence of the risen Jesus, his body once broken and now made whole, bring peace and direction as we live with one another.
Give us the courage to live for others, giving time, care and comfort to the sick and those in need. May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing, and the light of his presence fill their lives.
Give us the courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith. May the risen Lord Jesus, whose feet were once nailed to the cross, walk alongside the dying and bereaved, and lead them and all your Church through death to the gate of glory.
Lord, meet us in the silence, give us strength and hear our prayer, here and in eternity.
Prayer for the week
God of righteousness, God of peace,
forgive the selfishness, greed and arrogance
that cause us to be at enmity one with another.
Help us and all people to live together
in Christian love and goodwill;
and teach the nations of the world
the things that belong to their peace;
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.
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.