1 O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth;
serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song.
2 Know that the Lord is God;
it is he that has made us and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and bless his name.
4 For the Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting,
and his faithfulness endures from generation to generation.
the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Matthew 9.35-10.8The Harvest Is Great, the Labourers FewThen Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’
The Twelve ApostlesThen Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
The Mission of the TwelveThese twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
Almost embarrassing isn’t it? Here we are in this time of pandemic and up pops this reading where Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal all those who are sick - and yet we pray and we pray, but the pandemic continues.
But look more closely, that would be missing the point, it would be just a superficial reading of the passage. The healing here isn’t for the sake of curing all ills, it’s to announce the Kingdom of God!
That’s not just the subject for this Sunday, it’s setting the scene for the next 6 months.
It’s the first Sunday after Trinity and we go into “Ordinary time” (if you could call it that).
Since the beginning of Advent, we’ve been going through the life of Jesus, following from the prophecy of his coming, through to the sending of the Holy Spirit.
For the rest of the year, the liturgy prompts us to consider our response as his followers.
The first Sunday after Trinity - a long time ago - was All Saints Day until the church recognised what was actually happening and adapted. Still the calling to be the people of God, the followers of Christ remains. Today is our call to respond to all that God has done for us in Christ.
In our reading Jesus appoints his disciples to go only to the people of Israel, to those trying to follow the law of Moses, but dependent on others to interpret it. He appoints them to announce the Kingdom to people who are confused, harassed, not knowing what to believe, who to follow or what to do. Probably not knowing or understanding amidst all the laws, sub-laws and complexities of Jewish law, all looking to follow God, but never quite sure if there’s some law they haven’t heard of.
They want to get it right, the harvest of those who are trying to be faithful to God is plentiful, but away from Jerusalem there are even more interpretations of how they should do that. There are multiple interpreters, maybe well meaning, maybe strict, maybe even some unscrupulous authority figures creating rules to serve themselves, but all fumbling in the dark themselves.
What or who then out of all their choices, should the people follow or believe?
The healings, the high impact miracles are there as a beacon to reveal the ones authorised to speak for God, the ones, the One who would lead them in the truth that they are seeking.
Our calling is to proclaim the good news “The Kingdom of God has come near!”. In this day of modern medicine, this time of pandemic and this stage in the lockdown, this point in history where the environment and equality are the big issues, maybe we need to look more widely at how we proclaim that Kingdom.
Please pray for:
- The Church
Those who long to visit and for those church members who long to open their church, but are prevented from doing so.
- The World
For our government and the leaders of all nations in the decisions they need to make.
For all those who have lost jobs or closed their businesses for good that they may find hope for the future.
- Our Community
For those who have more freedom that they will be safe, and for all to be thoughtful of others.
- The Sick and Suffering
For those still suffering from Coronavirus.
- Give thanks
For all the places we encounter God even now when we can’t go into the church.
Following the new rule that those living alone can have a ‘bubble’ where they can fully join with a family, we give thanks for those families. At the same time, let’s recognise that many are still confined and pray that they will have companionship from others and know themselves to be loved.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
Lord God, you are always with me.
You are with me in the day and in the night.
You are with me when I’m happy and when I’m sad.
You are with me when I’m healthy and when I am ill.
You are with me when I am peaceful and when I am worried.
Today I am feeling (name how you are feeling) because (reasons you are feeling this way).
Help me to remember that you love me and are with me in everything today.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all
we can ask or conceive, by the power which is at work among us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all ages.