Sunday readings and prayers

THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves                                                    

and take up their cross and follow me.’

 

1) Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
o'er the world's tempestuous sea;
guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us,
for we have no help but thee;
yet possessing every blessing,
if our God our Father be.

2) Saviour, breathe forgiveness o'er us:
all our weakness thou dost know;
thou didst tread this earth before us,
thou didst feel its keenest woe;
lone and dreary, faint and weary,
through the desert thou didst go.

3) Spirit of our God, descending,
fill our hearts with heavenly joy,
love with every passion blending,
pleasure that can never cloy:
thus provided, pardoned, guided,
nothing can our peace destroy

 
 
 

The collect for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; 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.

 

First Reading:  Proverbs 1.20-33

Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, have stretched out my hand and no one heeded, and because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you, when panic strikes you like a storm, and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices. For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.’                              Wisdom

 

Psalm 116:1-8

I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.

The cords of death entangled me; the grip of the grave took hold of me;  I came to grief and sorrow.

Then I called upon the Name of the Lord:  "O Lord, I pray you, save my life."

Gracious is the Lord and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

The Lord watches over the innocent;  I was brought very low, and he helped me.

Turn again to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has treated you well.

For you have rescued my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.

I will walk in the presence of the Lord  in the land of the living.

 

Second Reading James 3:1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue - a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. 

 

Gospel Reading: Mark 8:27-38

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ Jesus asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’          Giotto  

                                                               

St. Mark tells of  Jesus travelling from Lake Galilee to Caesarea Philippi, a city previously renowned for the worship of  the gods of Palestine and Greece  and which was now known as Caesar’s city, inhabited by influential people in the Roman Empire. It was here that Jesus, the lowly Galilean carpenter,  asked his followers who they thought he was. It is Peter who recognises that Jesus is the Messiah and also Peter who voices his anguish when  he is told that the Son of Man is to be killed. How could this happen to the miracle worker who brought others back to life?  It did not make sense!

This week’s Old Testament reading gives words of comfort: “Those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”  Jesus’s words, however,  make it clear that the life of the Christian is not for those seeking an escape. 

“Taking up one’s cross” is an expression that for us is common parlance but  in New Testament times it represented an extreme act of courage. The crowd  would be familiar with the sight of individuals walking along  the roads carrying their own wooden crosses upon which they would be nailed and killed. When Jesus exhorted his disciples  to take up their cross, he was urging them to recognise the depth of the commitment that following him would require.

Christians face adversity and danger like anyone else. We are not protected from it  but we are accompanied along the way by one who has  experienced it all himself.  We believe that if we have Faith, God will give us the strength to “take up our cross” and so find peace, whatever befalls us.

 

If God sends you down a stony path,  may he give you strong shoes.  (Celtic tradition)

 

Heavenly Father, we pray for the many in these troubled times who have to take each day as it comes as they struggle to find bread for the table and hope for the future. We think in particular of those in Afghanistan whose life chances and dreams have been shattered.

 

We pray for those who have responsibility for finding homes for the refugees that welcome and hospitality may be forthcoming.

 

At this Creationtide, we pray for farmers and horticulturalists and all who work on the land, thinking especially of those who are struggling to confront issues of climate change and unusual weather patterns.

 

We pray all whose cross is hard to bear, whether it be for reasons of health, family circumstance, pressures of work, poverty or discrimination.

 

Lord, we ask you to heal the sick, thinking of............................................ May they know your compassionate presence and find in it a source of renewed strength.

 

We pray for those who have departed this life and are now in the fullness of God's presence. We pray for the repose of the soul of  ............... &  for all bereaved people who are adjusting to the loss of a loved one.

 

Almighty God, you have taught us through your Son that love is the fulfilling of the law: grant that we may love you with our whole heart and our neighbours as ourselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 

 


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