Podcast: Play in new window
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | More
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God, our refuge and strength,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
that earth may know the peace of heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
My soul shall glory in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look upon him and be radiant
and your faces shall not be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
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, ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” ’
Today’s reading contains some very difficult language. In our modern society we struggle with the use of the word ‘slave’. In order that we might overcome this barrier to engaging with today’s reading we need to understand that the word ‘slave’ is not just about the subjugation of the weak. This emotive word also describes someone who works tirelessly; someone who is submissively devoted to another. In the 21st century we focus on the negative but, when viewed in a wider context, ‘slave’ and ‘faithful follower of Christ’ can be seen as being closer in meaning than our natural instincts might imagine.
In some modern translations of the Bible, the Greek word doulos is translated as ‘servant’. But, this is incorrect. Doulos has only one translation, and that is ‘slave’. Rather than becoming obsessed with what humanity has created in the vile slave trade and other forms of exploitation and abuse, we need to pause and think about Jesus’ use of the word.
Jesus calls us to work tirelessly in his service. Jesus calls us to celebrate and utilise our God-given gifts and talents in his name. Sometimes that work will lead us into challenging, and even threatening, places. However, we need to remember that Jesus is not asking to do anything he has not done for us. He is not asking us to travel any road in this world that he has not trod before.
We may well find ourselves wondering why we should cast ourselves in the role of ‘slave’? The answer to that question lies in our faith in the one who came and sacrificed himself for the whole of humanity. Jesus came to earth to bring forgiveness and the promise of eternal life … a future so much better than any present we can create for ourselves. In Roman society, slaves had a future! Whilst not a glamorous ‘career path’ for the majority, Roman slaves did reach a point where they could earn their freedom. This offers us another positive parallel with the life of a faithful Christian. No matter what we may have to endure in this world, if we endure it in Christ’s name, there is an eternity of glorious and victorious freedom awaiting us in God’s nearer presence.
Today we are called to ask ourselves whether: we have done only what we ought to have done? Or, are we falling short? Are we ready to be faithful ‘slaves’ of God, or are we too arrogant and lacking in humility to be the faithful and submissive ‘slave’ of Christ that is the calling we all share?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray that all may be obedient in the service of God.
Increase the faith of the Church, that the saving power of your love may be proclaimed. Give to all Christian people the grace to be obedient servants, seeking no reward but the joy of following your will.
Guide those in authority to serve those they govern and to set their needs above their own desires. May all work be dedicated to the common good and the peace of the world.
Bless us in our daily work, and bless those who work with us. Knowing that we are not worthy in ourselves to make any offering, let us seek so to live in faith that our service shall be made acceptable.
Have mercy on those whose work is heavy, those who labour day after day with little reward. Give rest to the weary, food to the hungry and strength to those who have lost hope.
Receive into life those who have laboured in this world until the end. Grant them a place at the heavenly feast, and bring us in our time to share the joy that is prepared for those who die in faith.
We offer our prayers in the name of Christ, our Lord and Master.
Prayer for the week
you have shown us how great is the price of freedom
by giving your life to deliver us from evil.
Teach us to give to the uttermost;
to respect that which others have secured for us;
and to pursue peace in obedience to your will,
until all the kingdoms of this world come to you
as Lord and Saviour of all.
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.