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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you call us to fullness of life:
deliver us from unbelief
and banish our anxieties
with the liberating love
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure
and gives wisdom to the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure
and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever;
the judgements of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold,
sweeter also than honey,
dripping from the honeycomb.
By them also is your servant taught
and in keeping them there is great reward.
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.
The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.
‘Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.’
Today we are reminded that we are all called to go out into the world as apostles of Christ. Jesus’ injunction to the seventy others is clear: Go on your way. Jesus sends those apostles out in pairs because he knows the dangers that lurk around every corner. He also tells them to go ‘as they are’, without elaborate preparations and large amounts of luggage. Jesus knows that he is sending them out like lambs going into the midst of wolves.
Many of us consider the challenge of living and preaching the gospel as being beyond us. We struggle with the ridicule and rejection with which we are confronted. We like to think of this aspect of the Christian faith as being the job of the professionals! But, of course, we should all consider ourselves to be ‘professionals’ when it comes to living and preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Whilst some are called to travel far and wide furthering the mission and ministry of the Church, others are called to live out their faith in their local community. Those who travel far and wide are urged by Jesus to travel in faith. The Franciscan Order is a good example of this. Franciscans have no worldly possessions, in honour of their oath of poverty, and as they travel they do so in faith, relying upon the charity, the love, of those whom they serve. We are all called to embrace this model. We are all called to set aside our ‘need’ to prepare for every possible eventuality as we travel and to trust that God will provide.
For those who are called to serve in their local communities, our Lord’s words are no less potent. As we meet friends, family and neighbours we are called to radiate the love and light of Christ in all we say and do. We are called to set aside our love of local gossip and our engagement with local mischief and focus on loving and serving in the name of Jesus Christ.
All of this is a challenge. Whether we are stepping into the unknown or the familiar, Jesus’ words remain just as relevant. We are sent out to be disciples and apostles. We are called to follow that path trusting in God alone. And … when we meet hostility and rejection (those wolves!) we need to turn away and focus on those who want to feel the joy of God’s kingdom in their midst. We are not called to judge, that task belongs to God alone, but we are called to continue journeying in faith and in joy, in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God in confidence for the coming of the Kingdom.
Bless the Church with the spirit of true discipleship. Give grace to all Christian people to show in their lives the healing power of the gospel. Bring new labourers to hear the call and work for the harvest of the Lord.
We pray that all nations may know the peace that comes from above. Drive out the evil which brings strife between people, give light to the dark places and fill the world with knowledge of the truth.
Let our homes be as those which have been visited by the messengers of peace and love. Make us welcoming and hospitable, open to learn from any who come into our lives.
Grant healing to the sick in mind and body, and skill to those who care for them. Defend and strengthen all who have gone forth as missionaries to face opposition and danger.
We give thanks for the departed who have laboured for good in this world. May their names be written in heaven and their joy be everlasting.
We pray in the name of Christ, by whose power evil is overcome.
Prayer for the week
we pray for all who are any way troubled at this time,
and especially for those known to us.
Give relief to those in pain,
friendship to those who are alone,
reassurance to those in doubt or distress of mind;
and may our love be so strong that seeing need
we may never pass by on the other side.
We ask it in Christ’s name.
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.