O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your Son came to save us
and bore our sins on the cross:
may we trust in your mercy
and know your love,
rejoicing in the righteousness
that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Alleluia. O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in their maker;
let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance;
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre.
For the Lord has pleasure in his people
and adorns the poor with salvation.
Let the faithful be joyful in glory;
let them rejoice in their ranks.
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 his disciples, ‘I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’
Jesus taught that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love our neighbour. Today we are given specific ways in which we might honour his command. Jesus teaches that we should not judge others, that we should not condemn others, and that we should both forgive and give, that is act in a spirit of generosity. Do not judge; do not condemn; forgive and give.
The daily lives of so many people are dogged with judgement and condemnation, whilst showing hardly any forgiveness or generosity. We live lives that focus primarily on the satisfying of our own needs and wants. In order that we might not have to ‘give in’ to practices that do not sit comfortably with our own likes and dislikes we turn the foibles of others into the subject of judgement and condemnation. We are ruthless in the way we describe the words and actions of others simply because they do not think, speak and act as we do. But … those people have the right to be heard too. Even those who are mirror images of ourselves should not be judged or condemned because their right to be heard is just as valid as ours.
The way in which people are judged and condemned is all too common in our church communities. Whether it is a matter of the choice of hymns, the style of liturgy or even the sharing of the peace (!), there are those who feel that their preferences have a greater claim on the allegiance of those with whom they gather in church. We even see people being manipulated into joining in with all that judgement and condemnation on no stronger basis than they are afraid to stand up to those who feel they have the right to bully others.
Jesus makes it clear that we are not the ones who sit on the seat of judgement, and we are not the ones who have the right to condemn others. We are frail human beings too. In our frailty we need the forgiveness and the generosity we so often withhold from those we perceive to be weaker than ourselves.
Today we are challenged to pray for an openness of heart and generosity of spirit that will empower us as we seek to love God and neighbour with all our hearts, and minds, and strength. We are challenged to pray for the humility to listen to the needs, the likes and the dislikes of others. We are called to pray that we might lay all that we find challenging before God, and then trust in his judgement … even when his conclusions are not the same as our own.
Prayers of intercession
In love and fellowship with all, let us pray to the Lord.
Fill the Church with the spirit of mutual love which seeks no advantage but only the glory of God. Help her ministers to speak the truth in love, patiently to bear opposition and to admonish without condemnation.
We pray for peace in the world, for reconciliation between nations and races that are hostile to one another. Turn curses to blessings and anger to loving acceptance. Guide those who have much of this world’s goods to share more freely with those who have little.
Give grace to us, to our families, friends and neighbours, to live in love and peace, to resolve all disputes, and to forgive all injuries. Bless with a generous spirit all who live and work in this community.
Have mercy on all who are oppressed, who suffer violence and contempt. Strengthen them in their trouble and turn the hearts of their persecutors.
Have mercy on those who have passed out of this world, and are at rest from its wraths and sorrows. Grant them forgiveness of sins and the reward of eternal life.
We pray in the name of Christ, ever loving and merciful to all who call on him.
Prayer for the week
May our Lord Jesus Christ
be near us to defend us,
within us to refresh us,
around us to preserve us,
before us to guide us,
above us to bless us;
who lives and reigns
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
God for evermore.
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.