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.
If the Lord himself had not been on our side,
now may Israel say;
If the Lord had not been on our side,
when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us alive
when their anger burned against us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us
and the torrent gone over our soul;
over our soul would have swept the raging waters.
But blessed be the Lord
who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
Our soul has escaped
as a bird from the snare of the fowler;
the snare is broken and we are delivered.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who has made heaven and earth.
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, ‘Know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’
Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’ And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming”, and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.’
Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’
There is an interesting undertone of self-interest in Peter’s question to Jesus. Jesus is offering grave warnings about the need for our readiness to face the final judgement, and yet Peter asks: are you telling this parable for us or for everyone? Whenever I read this passage, and this question in particular, I pause and wonder. Is Peter seeing Jesus’ warning as something for his disciples alone? Is Peter suggesting that he and the other disciples have a right to some sort of spiritual early warning system? Is Peter suggesting that Jesus’ teaching serves a ‘them and us’ culture? I pause and I wonder, and then I look around.
We live in a time and culture that is self-serving. In the life of the Church and in society at large, there is a powerful sense of separation and one-upmanship. From an early age we indoctrinate our children with lessons about the need to look after ourselves. We live our lives in a way that constantly demonstrates our unwillingness to love and serve as Christ loved and served us. Sometimes wrapped up in the language of politics and sometimes in the language of economics, we focus on ‘self’ long before we consider the desperate plight of others. We seek reassurance that we have an edge over those amongst whom we live.
Throughout his ministry Jesus made it clear that he was calling his followers to be faithful in love and service to all, even when such love and service entailed personal danger and self-sacrifice. We know and we understand that call, but what do we do about it? We devote a great deal of time and effort to persuading ourselves and others that all of that ‘religious stuff’ doesn’t really apply to us.
All who profess a faith in Jesus Christ are called to be faithful servants, always engaged in the Lord’s work. A self-professed sense of humility does not excuse us from being busy in the Lord’s name. In true humility we are invited, through prayer and contemplation, to recognize our limitations and then to do the very best we can.
Let us pray that we might hear Christ’s call and be ever-ready to respond. Let us pray that we might work hard to share the Good News with all, breaking down the false barriers that separate people in matters of faith. Let us pray that, in our time, we might come to stand before God confident that we have done our very best to serve him in all we have said, and thought, and done.
Prayers of intercession
In the power of the Spirit let us pray to the Lord.
Lord Christ, come among us with mercy and judgement. When you come may we be found prepared and ready to greet you with faith and hope. Set the heart of your Church on your redeeming presence.
Lord Christ, come among the nations with mercy and judgement. Keep those in government alert to your justice and peace. Expand the vision of your people to that of your eternity.
Lord Christ, come among our communities and homes with mercy and judgement. Mould us as a potter shapes clay. We are the work of your hands and rejoice in your gift.
Lord Christ, come among all who are ill with mercy and judgement. Give time to amend life and to be thankful for your love. Strengthen them in the palm of your hand.
Lord Christ, come among us at the hour of our death with mercy and judgement. Gather your faithful ones to your eternal home.
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.