O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God, our light and our salvation:
illuminate our lives,
that we may see your goodness
in the land of the living,
and looking on your beauty
may be changed into the likeness
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sacrifice and offering you do not desire
but my ears you have opened;
Burnt offering and sacrifice for sin you have not required;
then said I: ‘Lo, I come.
‘In the scroll of the book it is written of me
that I should do your will, O my God;
I delight to do it: your law is within my heart.’
I have declared your righteousness in the great congregation;
behold, I did not restrain my lips,
and that, O Lord, you know.
Your righteousness I have not hidden in my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your loving-kindness and truth
from the great congregation.
Do not withhold your compassion from me, O Lord;
let your love and your faithfulness always preserve me.
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, ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.’
For some in our society the instruction to be dressed for action is a daily reality. For those who serve in our emergency services, there is a constant need to be ready for action. Those dedicated men and women are called to live in a way that ensures their constant readiness to respond to the needs of others. Any moment where they fail to be ready could cost someone their life. This is an enormous responsibility to lay upon anyone’s shoulders, and we should be thankful that there are those who take on that mantle willingly.
Today Jesus is speaking of a similar call to readiness. Jesus is still speaking of matters of life and death, although he is inviting us to reflect upon our eternal lives and our readiness to be called into God’s nearer presence.
As in other passages in scripture, the coming of the time of judgement is compared to a wedding banquet. We invest a great deal of time and effort in preparing for our worldly wedding celebrations. Jesus is reminding us that our preparations for the time of judgement before God should be no less rigorous. Jesus is reminding us that our ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude to such serious matters could lead us down a path that will deny us the joyous eternal life we long for.
It is important that we heed these words. The early Church held themselves in readiness for Christ’s second coming as though it would happen within their lifetimes. This, of course, was not the case and, two thousand years later, it still has not occurred. Because we forget that time is very different for God, we have become complacent and careless. We have ceased to perceive the urgency of the need to be dressed for action at all times. We have invested much of our energy in the way we live our lives in this world, rather than focusing our hope on the joy of living in God’s nearer presence, for ever.
Let us pray that we might always keep ourselves in readiness for the moment when we are called before God as our judge. Let us pray that we might be diligent as we read scripture, pray and worship God in our daily lives. Let us pray that we might take seriously Christ’s call to be dressed for action and ready to help those who are struggling along the same path.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray that God will guide us, and bring us through obedience to his Kingdom.
Keep the Church always ready to respond to the call of God and to serve with zeal and humility. Grant that her ministers shall be faithful stewards of the spiritual treasures entrusted to them.
Give healing to the world where many are oppressed by concern for material things. Guide those who command and those who serve, that each shall live in harmony and seek the good of all.
Be with us in our daily work and bless those who work with us. May all who serve our community be watchful to give help where there is most need.
We pray for all whose work is hard, who toil for little reward and grow weary. Sustain them in their tasks, bring them hope, and give compassion to those who have power over them to ease their burdens.
Have mercy on those who have been called from this world. Grant them peace and a share in the unfailing treasure of heaven.
We offer our prayers through Christ, the Master who became the servant of all.
Prayer for the week
Most merciful God, we pray
for those who doubt your love;
for those who find it difficult to believe or to pray;
for those who have lost a faith they once possessed.
May the Holy Spirit enlighten their minds
and lead them into all truth,
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.