O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?
Who may rest upon your holy hill?
Whoever leads an uncorrupt life
and does the thing that is right;
Who speaks the truth from the heart
and bears no deceit on the tongue;
Who does no evil to a friend
and pours no scorn on a neighbour;
In whose sight the wicked are not esteemed,
but who honours those who fear the Lord.
Whoever has sworn to a neighbour
and never goes back on that word;
Who does not lend money in hope of gain,
nor takes a bribe against the innocent;
Whoever does these things
shall never fall.
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.
Matthew 7.6, 12-14
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.
I wonder how many of us have had these words spring into our minds when we have felt some sense of injustice and pain that has been inflicted by others? These words of Jesus sound so eminently sensible, a pattern for daily living that must surely lead to world peace and universal tolerance.
Of course, we know that such a utopian dream is far from the reality of life in this world. People are intolerant, unjust and oppressive towards each other. Despite an abundance of resources, people still die of hunger. Violently partisan regimes still inflict pain and misery on vast numbers of people whom they perceive to be weak and incapable of effective resistance. So many still wander the world in confusion and despair as refugees and the dispossessed. The human race is, in reality, not very good at following Jesus’ reminder of the ancient law and the prophets: do to others as you would have them do to you.
Of course, the danger is that the injustices of this world are on such a vast scale that we do not consider them to be our responsibility. We do not persecute, deprive or dispossess … or do we? The civilized nations of this world, despite their inordinate wealth, place strict limits on humanitarian aid and the welcome they offer to refugees. Much political debate is devoted to justifying why the ‘civilized’ nations of the richest countries should not do to others in a spirit of Christian love. Even in our own daily and church lives we apply the pernicious principle of ‘Charity begins at home’ to the way in which we deal with those whose daily lives are lived out on a knife edge.
Adherence to Jesus’ teaching is difficult. It is difficult because it challenges us to do to others as a demonstration of our faith in God. God has provided us with much, Jesus invites us to share that bounty, but we struggle because we find it hard to trust that God will continue to love us as he has in the past. Or perhaps we do not believe that our ‘riches’ do indeed come from God in the first place!
I pray that we might truly set ‘self’ to one side and follow the words of Jesus. I pray that we might not fall short of his command due to greed and self-interest. I pray that we might demonstrate the depth of our faith by laying all before God and allowing him to guide us along the path of love and service to all.
Prayers of intercession
Blessed are you, eternal God, to be praised and glorified for ever.
Hear us as we pray for your holy catholic Church: make us all one, that the world may believe.
Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you: that the life of Christ may be revealed in us.
Strengthen all who minister in Christ’s name: give them courage to proclaim your Gospel.
Inspire and lead those who hold authority in the nations of the world: guide them in the ways of justice and peace.
Make us alive to the needs of our community: help us to share each other’s joys and burdens.
Look with kindness on our homes and families: grant that your love may grow in our hearts.
Deepen our compassion for all who suffer from sickness, grief or trouble: in your presence may they find their strength.
We remember those who have died: Father, into your hands we commend them.
We praise you for all your saints who have entered your eternal glory: bring us all to share in your heavenly kingdom.
Prayer for the week
Lord of all,
inspired by your word and your love,
your apostles preached the good news to all people.
Strengthen us to be apostles in our own lives,
that through the goodness of our actions,
the thoughtfulness of our faith
and the quality of our common life,
many might come to know the joy of life with you,
in 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.