simple white fading png image
notre dame montreal

Weekly Bible Notes and Worship Resources

Ordinary 13 Year A


Churches across the world are in a time in the religious calendar called ' Ordinary Time'. This year there is nothing which could be considered as normal and so it is a quite extraordinary time for all of us. Sunday Bible readings from now on will focus on the teachings of Jesus about living our ordinary Christian lives. Whilst there might not be anything special going on, perhaps for the next weeks this is the really important stuff, getting on with being disciples, living out the teachings of Jesus day by day. I suppose this is the time which really matters, where we show we mean what we say, by doing the things Jesus commanded.

Our image this week is that of a cross. It has been made for an altar frontal by Jean Kirk and is entitled, 'The Cross is the Way.' It is a reminder to each of us when our daily life gets tough, that we should fix our eyes upon Jesus and his living example. He loves us so much that he gave us everything, even his life on the cross. We walk in his way to find life and peace.


Opening Verses of Scripture Romans 12:11

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God; 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. CW

God our saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and in power; hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. CW

First Bible Reading  Genesis 22: 1-14

God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And Abraham said, ‘Here I am.’ God said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.’ Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’ And Abraham said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Isaac said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together.

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ The angel said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The LORD will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.’ NRSV

Second Reading  Romans 6:12-23

Do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. NRSV


Take up your cross and follow me Gospel Reading Matthew 10:40-42

‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple - truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’ NRSV


Post Communion Sentence

O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining and whose power we cannot comprehend: show us your glory as far as we can grasp it, and shield us from knowing more than we can bear until we may look upon you without fear; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. CW


The passage from Matthew this morning is a simple one, but it has a powerful message. Previously in this chapter we have heard how Jesus sends out his disciples.

  • Jesus has summoned the disciples and given them authority over unclean spirits to cure disease and sickness. (10:1-5)
  • He then sends them out on the mission to proclaim good news. They are to travel light, look for supporters and if they are not found move on. (10:5-15)
  • Jesus warns them that not everybody will welcome them, they are engaged in a spiritual battle. They are vulnerable because they are surrounded by religious people who will attack them physically even in places of prayer (synagogues). However as they travel they are not alone because the Holy Spirit is with them. (10:16-25)
  • Jesus tells them not to be afraid of anybody because they have very limited powers, God is on the side of the disciples and God holds power over life and death. (10:26-28)
  • Jesus reassures the disciples that as they speak for him , so he will always speak for them before God (10:32)
  • There is a use of language reminiscent of war, the disciples need to know that this is high risk, Jesus isn’t bringing peace but a sword. (10:34)
  • The message which the disciples have to share isn’t great on the face of it. They are calling people to give their lives to follow Jesus, but the reward will be the discovery of a new way of living (10:34-39)

So then we come to these short verses today as the conclusion of this speech by Jesus. The disciples as they go about their mission are representatives of Jesus. However they are more than just messengers, when people welcome them it is as though they are welcoming Jesus himself, and because of who Jesus is, they are welcoming God the Father. Put bluntly when the disciples come to your home to visit, it is as though God was walking through the door. This means that people should be very wary of how they treat the disciples, since dishonour shown to them is dishonour shown to God. Likewise, should the disciples be treated kindly, then there would be reward because this is a sign of respect and an act of love shown to God. This is the principle of Shaliah, a Jewish concept which the disciples would understand. In Hebrew a Shaliah is an emissary or legal representative who has powers of attorney, to the extent that the one sent is regarded as the very person themselves. It is similar to the way in which we treat ambassadors from other countries. If we insult them, then it is not just a personal insult, we insult the country which they represent.

Jesus is clear, kindness shown to his disciples is kindness to him, because they are acting on his behalf. And of course if they act on behalf of Jesus they act for God himself. This is a serious warning to those who might offer hospitality, it is also a reminder to the disciples that they are not out campaigning for themselves, it is not like selling vacuum cleaners, they are nothing short of the visible presence of God himself.

Nobody could say that Jesus tried to give a rosy picture of discipleship to his followers. He is overt in making the point that the world will be a hostile place. It is better for them to go in pairs rather than alone, they need support wherever they go.

One question which is raised for us is this,
‘who do we regard as the agents of God today, who does Jesus send today as his agents?

The answer must be , those who are willing to speak his words and make his presence known in both friendly and hostile places. Those people will be the ones who have heard his words and have taken up the cross of discipleship. In short it is all of his followers, there are not supposed to be any secret undercover agents in the service of Jesus. There is no covert surveillance department sent into the war zone by Jesus, he needs nobody to go behind enemy lines and ’blend in.’ The followers of Jesus are commissioned to walk straight and bold as brass and declare their mission even in the face of a hostile and unforgiving enemy. For this reason the mission could easily be regarded as a suicide mission. Indeed by using the phrase last week of ’taking up the cross’ an instrument of death, that is exactly what Jesus meant ! This mission of Jesus, for those who decided to take it, is dangerous and potentially suicidal, but the success should be judged not in human terms of life and death but the eternal significance of God’s kingdom. This was a mission where it never mattered whether or not they made it back alive.

So there we have it, in a nutshell, if you want to be a follower of Jesus, then you are called to active service. You are expected to be a proclaimer in word and deed of the one who sends you, and wherever you go - it is as though God were going. Little wonder then that we must set a good example by our word and deed.

It seems that everybody will be judged by the way in which they treat the disciples. Jesus does not just consider how kings will change government policy. Rather he uses the example of how an ordinary person might respond by offering a drink. It is only a small thing, it does not require great affluence, and so the point is made, we do not have to be rich to help, and poverty is no excuse because we all have something to offer. To provide a cup of cold water to a thirsty person is not costly, but it might be extremely welcome, indeed it might be the gift of life itself.

We do not know what reward Jesus has in store for those who help and offer support, but we do know that the reward is guaranteed. In Acts 20:35 we read the following words of Paul

‘In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Paul quotes Jesus and speaks of the importance of helping those less fortunate. He states what has been discovered by those who give, that we gain blessing in helping others. Perhaps that is sufficient reward in itself.

It is important to remember that Jesus is not commending general hospitality, but rather hospitality to his disciples. Providing hospitality to the disciples shows support for their message. But we fail to do justice to the ministry of Jesus if we fail to recognise the importance of showing kindness to any vulnerable person. Jesus healed freely, he fed freely, he cared for all without distinction.

This was a message and pattern of behaviour which Jesus would have known from the Scriptures. Proverbs tells,

Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31: 9

As the Christian church across the world we must go and preach as those early disciples preached. As we go we must recognise that things have changed since those first disciples went out. The church is no longer in the position of needing to ask for water. Rather we know of all too many people in countries where there is no water and the church now represents many who have power and wealth. In this the church has a prophetic voice to raise. We want to make the proclamation of the Good News to the poor, but the good news which the poor are waiting to hear is that they are poor no more.

If we are to take the commission by Jesus to all his disciples that we should go out and reveal who he is, then we need to consider how we might best do this. If we copy the example of Jesus then we will show the love of God in acts of kindness and speak words of compassion indiscriminately. Charles Royden


Saint Alban

Last week we mentioned the feast of St Alban, Britain’s first Saint and martyr, who died and was buried 1700 years ago at the place where St Albans Cathedral now stands. Alban was converted to Christianity while sheltering Amphibalus, a Christian priest. The Roman Emperor had ordered a period of persecution for Christians and soldiers sought them out. Alban exchanged his clothes with the priest and gave himself up to the Romans for martyrdom in Amphibalus' stead.

Standing trial and asked to prove his loyalty by making offerings to the Roman gods, Alban bravely declared his faith in "the true and living God who created all things". This statement condemned Alban to death. He was led out of the city, across the river and up a hillside where he was beheaded. Sadly Amphibalus was later caught and also martyred. It is a wonderful story to accompany our Gospel reading today which speaks of rewards for those who welcome God’s people and care for them. Perhaps Alban is the perfect example.

When we were considering using our churches for community use many years ago, some of us travelled to St Albans Cathedral dedicated to the memory of this first Christian witness. We wanted to consider how this sacred space was now being used for fashion shows and events which were supposedly ’secular.’ Is there a clash between the sacred and the secular? After our visit we decided that God was not going to be upset if we did things in church which we felt entirely comfortable about doing somewhere else - like bowling. Writing in the annual review of St Albans Cathedral this year, The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John writes this.

‘Is there a clash here between the sacred secular? No. The Incarnation means that God is involved in absolutely everything, whether we see it or not. Time and again supposedly ‘secular’ visitors and tourists turn out to be pilgrims too; and that’s why the Church, and especially the Cathedral, must be porous - open to serve all who come, for whatever reason.’


  1. O Christ, the Healer, we have come To pray for health, to plead for friends.  Tune Song 34 mv
  2. Lord of all power, I give you my will, Tune Slane
  3. Lord, we come to ask your healing, Tune Ar hyd y nos
  4. O for a heart to praise my God, Tune Abridge


Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead


Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die.

Lord God you love us with a generous love, you welcome us with open hearts, as a parent would welcome a lost child. Give us such generosity in our love, that we would welcome others and embrace them with arms as wide open as your arms. Give us a love as accepting as the love which welcomed us when we far off and which reassured us of forgiveness and mercy.

Lord Jesus, you healed freely, you fed all who came to you and shared your love and forgiveness even with those who persecuted and killed you. As you have shown us how to live in this extraordinary way, so may we your people live differently and seek to follow your example. May your church be a place of welcome, where your goodness is reflected in all that we speak and do. Help us so to practice our faith that compassion would be shown to all without discretion. Forgive us when we limit your grace and create boundaries around ourselves and others. Through daily acts of simple kindness, help us to be a part of building your kingdom here on earth.

God our heavenly Father you have made people of all nations and hate nothing that you have made. Help us to break down the barriers which divide nations and communities. Give to us a love of friendship and peace, a desire to put aside words of violence and to put down instruments of war. Remove from our minds all that causes hardness of heart towards others and diminishes their worth. We pray for countries where religion politics or nationality have become excuses to hate and kill.

We pray for all of those who carry burdens. Those who are worried about life, those who fear death, and those who are lonely following the loss of somebody they love. May those who lack completeness in their lives find their wholeness the knowledge of your unfathomable love.

Additional Material


‘Poverty is not natural, it is man made’ Nelson Mandela


My treat this week was to pop into an exhibition on the Orient in European Art. The show was all about how travellers perceived the Middle East from the seventeenth century onwards. These intrepid travellers braved disease, bandits and  hostile terrain to go to the Holy Land. When they arrived there, they encountered a dramatically different landscape, bright, arid, practically treeless. The Holy Land was a huge shock in every way. The traveller from Britain and France also encountered an entirely new religion, in Islam which they struggled to understand. . They were at once attracted and repelled  by the people  and focussed on the decadent  life style of the Pasha with his harem. Middle Eastern people were caricatured as being lecherous (why else would they not allow their women to show their faces?); they were portrayed as being cruel (there are several images of slave markets in the exhibition). In short, although the travelling artists thought they were being honest when they painted Middle Eastern subjects, they were influenced by the ideas they brought to bear on the place and its people. I can only compare this to being introduced to someone whom you have had described to you as being rude,  sarcastic and critical. You might find it hard not to interpret every word from their mouth in the light of this prior “knowledge”. In our daily lives we often experience this problem, of pre-judging a situation or a set of people. We know what we expect to find and so we do find it. I will admit that it is very hard not to make assumptions and have prejudices, especially as we get older. With experience and weariness we take short cuts to sum up people and situations and we might well jump to the wrong idea. It is right as Christians to continually re-evaluate. It is important that we allow the Holy Spirit, always moving and directing us to change us. God cannot work in us if we are entrenched in our ideas. We must be faithful but not bigoted. It is a balance that we need to continually strike in ourselves. Rev Dr Joan Crossley

Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31: 9


It is not from your own possessions that you are bestowing alms on the poor, you are but restoring to them what is theirs by right. For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. Thus, far from giving lavishly, you are but paying part of your debt. (St Ambrose, 340-397)

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was asked how it was that she could continue to tend the sickest and most wretched of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, India. Mother Teresa said that as she looked at each person for whom she was caring she tried to imagine that she was tending the Lord Jesus’ wounded body – His nail-scarred hands, feet, and side. And so it was that in each act of caring, the Kingdom of God embraced and even reached out through Mother Teresa as she welcomed Christ in her neighbour and as she embraced the neighbour as if that person were the Lord Himself! God remembers each act of hospitality.


Grant to us, O Lord, ears to hear your voice, eyes to see your beauty and hearts to love your name, so that hearing, seeing and loving we may come at last to the joys of your kingdom; through Christ our Lord. Amen. Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Christ who has nourished us, is our peace. Strangers and friends, male and female. Old and young have broken down the barriers to bind us to him and to each other. Having tasted his goodness, let us share his peace. Amen

O God, we bring you our failure, our hunger, our disappointment, our despair, our greed, our aloofness, our loneliness. We cling to others in desperation or turn from them in fear. Strengthen us in love. Teach us, women and men to use our power with care. We turn to you, O God, we renounce evil, we claim your love, we choose to be made whole. Amen (Monica Furlong)

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall softly upon your fields until we meet again. May God hold your in the hollow of his hand. Amen, (Gaelic Blessing)

We see you in the compassionate ways of those who accept us
no matter how inadequate or different we may be.
We see you in the loving ways of those who love us unconditionally.
We see you in the sacrificing ways of those who give of themselves.
We see you in the forgiving ways of those who forgive our unforgivable ways.
We give thanks that you have revealed yourself to us and that the You we see in Jesus we can also see in those around us in our daily lives.

O God, you give us life, you call each of us into faithful service, discipleship in Jesus Christ. Open our hearts in ways that we might reach out to those-especially those who are so different from ourselves-and in so doing, may the world be transformed through your love, enlivened through our lives. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

While I have a thought to think, let me not forget thee; while I have a tongue to move, let me mention thee with delight; while I have a breath to breathe, let it be after thee and for thee; while I have a knee to bend, let it bow daily at thy footstool; and when by sickness thou confinest me to my couch, do thou make my bed, and number my pains, and put all my tears into thy bottle. Amen. From The Saints' Everlasting Rest, Richard Baxter (1615 ...

O Lord Christ, who became poor that we might be rich, deliver us from a comfortable conscience if we believe or intend that others should be poor that we might be rich; for in God's economy, no one is expendable. Grant us instead the riches of love. (World Alliance of Reformed Churches) Peter Williams/WCC

I dare to pray: Lord, let the world be changed, for I long to see the end of poverty;
I dare to pray: Lord, let the rules be changed, for I long to see trade bring justice to the poor;
I dare to pray: Lord, let my life be changed, for I long to bring hope where good news is needed.
In the strength of your Spirit and inspired by Your compassion,
I make this promise to work for change, and wait confidently for the day
when You make all things new. Amen (Peter Graystone, Christian Aid)

Give us, O Lord, churches that will be more courageous then cautious;
that will not merely "comfort the afflicted" but "afflict the comfortable";
that will not only love the world but also demand justice;
that will not remain silent when people are calling for a voice;
that will not pass by on the other side when wounded humanity is waiting to be healed;
that will not only call us to worship but also send us out to witness;
that will follow Christ even when the way points to a Cross.
To this end we offer ourselves in the name of him who loved us and gave himself for us.
(Christian Conference of Asia)

God of Justice, manifest in a carpenter’s son, we pray for all who labour and toil and for those charged with protecting the conditions of their work. Grant to these stewards of economic justice an abiding and untiring commitment to the rights of all workers and to the protection of international labour standards throughout the world. Amen. (Source unknown, pp119 Harvest for the World compiled by Geoffrey Duncan © Canterbury Press 2002, 2004)

God of the just weight and the fair measure, let me remember the hands that harvested my food, my drink, not only in my prayers but in the market place. Let me not seek a bargain That leaves another hungry. (Janet Morley Christian Aid; pp149 Harvest for the World compiled by Geoffrey Duncan © Canterbury Press 2002, 2004)

We shall not be crushed; we do not despair; we know you will not abandon us; or let us be destroyed: for you are the God of life, and we carry your life in us. (Christian Aid; Hunger for Justice (ed) Martin John Nicholls © 2004 Kevin Mayhew Ltd)

To the countries where food is scarce, mercy Lord, while there is still time.
To the countries where crops have failed, rescue Lord, while there is time.
To countries where people are fearful, security Lord, while there is time.
In the countries where we have plenty, set our hearts on sharing this time.
In countries where we feel in control, set our minds on justice at this time.
In countries where we forget those in need, set our prayers on Africa at this time.
Amen (Peter Graystone/Christian Aid; pp 133 Blessed Be Our Table; compilation © 2003 Neil Paynter)


  1. Praise my soul the king of Heaven
  2. When I needed a neighbour were you there
  3. Be still for the presence of the Lord 
  4. Tell out my soul Tune Woodlands
  5. O for a thousand Tune Lyngham
  6. Praise to the Lord
  7. For the healing of the Nations
  8. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
  9. Forth in thy name