O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God the Father,
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, one glory.
Bless the Lord all you works of the Lord.
Bless the Lord you heavens.
Sing God’s praise and exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord you angels of the Lord.
Bless the Lord you waters above the heavens.
Bless the Lord all you his hosts.
Sing God’s praise and exalt him for ever.
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.
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’
The disciples asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.
‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.’
How we look and how people perceive our lifestyles is important to many people. From the moment we begin to interact with other people we like to be seen as ‘fashionable’, as not standing out in the crowd for our lack of ‘trendiness’. As we get older most people grow away from this ‘herd mentality’ and begin to pride themselves on their individuality. But, no matter how ‘individual’ we like to see ourselves as being, we still find ourselves moving with the general sweep of the crowd.
Whilst our need to ‘blend in’ may not be harmful in many respects, it does also have the potential to damage both our earthly and our eternal lives. It is the desperate need to be like everyone else that leads people into a way of living that damages others as much as themselves. Jesus’ words in today’s reading offer us sound advice in this matter: Beware that you are not led astray, and Do not go after them.
In every setting in which we come into close contact with others, there will be those who dominate. Whether their ‘power’ lies in charisma alone, or whether it is rooted in something more sinister, leaders always rise to the top of the pile. These are the people Jesus is warning us to be cautious about; these are the people who would have us follow them as they lead us further and further away from the path laid for us by God.
Human beings do terrible things to each other. People are abused and exploited. Acts of terror are perpetrated on the innocent. Wars are promulgated on the basis that they are the only course of action that will ensure freedom. No matter how ‘individual’ and ‘independent’ we may consider ourselves to be, the truth is that the eloquence of those who hold power leads us into these evil ways, and then it quickly becomes impossible for us to extricate ourselves.
Today we are urged to pray for strength. So, let us pray for that strength which will keep us firm in our resolve to follow Jesus Christ alone. Let us pray that we might set aside our need to be ‘honoured’ and ‘respected’ by others, and that we might find the courage to live the life of faithful discipleship. And … let us pray that we might never become one of those who lead others astray!
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray for the peace of God in the Church and among the nations.
As your people come together for worship, fill them with your love and keep them faithful in that holy fellowship. Protect the Church from false doctrine and all that is contrary to your world.
Give to the world freedom from war and fear of war. Grant true judgement where there is injustice. Let all human endeavour that is wasted in limited aims be turned to your eternal purpose.
Protect this community from all false rumours and damaging gossip. Grant to us, our families, friends and neighbours, the full assurance of faith.
We pray for those who suffer from war and live in fear of violence. Have mercy on the victims of famine and natural disasters, and give strength to those who work for their relief.
Have mercy on all who have died and come to judgement, that in your mercy they may receive everlasting life. May the Blood of Christ make them clean from all their sins.
Trusting in Christ, the one true Messiah, we pray in his name.
Prayer for the week
Lord, you have blessed the world
by sending your Son into our midst
and by making all things new in him.
We ask you to give all people
the courage and power we need
to share fully in his mission to the world
and to further his kingdom in the lives of all,
to the honour and glory of his 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.
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