O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
send down upon your Church
the riches of your Spirit,
and kindle in all who minister the gospel
your countless gifts of grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
‘To you will I give the land of Canaan
to be the portion of your inheritance.’
When they were but few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in the land,
Wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
He suffered no one to do them wrong
and rebuked even kings for their sake,
Saying, ‘Touch not my anointed
and do my prophets no harm.’
Then he called down famine over the land
and broke every staff of bread.
But he had sent a man before them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
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 twelve, ‘As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for labourers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.’
You have received without payment; give without payment.
We live in a world where everything seems to have been allotted some sort of monetary value. Both goods and services are valued in terms of cost and outcome. Even that which we are called to give freely often comes with a notional price tag attached. Today’s reading, which follows on from yesterday’s, does not only begin with a reminder of Jesus’ commission to go, proclaim the good news, but it also spells out exactly what that means.
As Jesus sends his disciples out into the world, and away from the comfort and safety of their own tight-knit circle, he paints a picture of what it means to journey in faith. As well as being charged with the task of bringing about healing, new life and new hope, they are charged with trusting in the bounty of God’s generous love. Rather than weighing ourselves down with what we believe we might need, Jesus urges us to trust in him. Jesus does not promise that we will travel in luxury, but he does make it clear that as we journey in faith we will travel in the certainty of his love and protection.
Then there are the words with which I opened today’s reflection: you have received without payment; give without payment. All that we have is a gift from God, and that gift came to us without charge. God’s bounty and God’s grace are free for all who trust in him. As we go in the name of Christ we are called to be no less generous. We have much to share in Christ’s name, and we have no right to expect payment for that which we received at no material cost.
Every aspect of our lives, including the churches we attend, obsess with money. We strive to raise funds, invest wisely and spend sparingly. We strive so hard for these things that we often forget Jesus’ instruction to go, proclaim the good news. While we are building up our reserves for that proverbial rainy day we fail to notice that we are drowning in a tsunami of worldly concerns and that our lives of faith are dying in a torrential storm.
Let us pray that Jesus’ commission may be the driving force in our lives. Let us pray that we might set aside our misguided love of worldly riches. Let us pray that we might shine with the generosity of Christ’s healing love and light.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, by whose authority we are called to his service.
Keep the Church steadfast, confident in the strength that comes only from your grace. Bless those who are chosen as your ministers and messengers, that they may preach the Gospel with assurance. Sustain those whose burdens are heavy as they work to relieve the burdens of others.
Wherever your word is preached, grant that it may be heard with understanding and received with faith. Change the hearts of those who glory in their own strength and authority, and teach them to bear their power humbly.
Give us light to see the gifts of God in all around us, to honour his presence in our families and friends and neighbours. Open our hearts and our homes to welcome those who are sent to be among us
Have mercy on all who are sick and bless those who care for them. Give them comfort and hope in their affliction. Release those who are in the power of evil and restore them to wholeness of life.
We give thanks for those who have walked in the way of the Lord through this world and have come to their journey’s end. May they be at peace in the great family of the faithful departed.
We pray in the name of Christ.
Prayer for the week
grant us anew your grace,
that we may love as you love us,
without selfishness, without ulterior motive
and without desire for gain,
that our worship may be pure,
our prayers honest
and our lives upright in your sight,
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.