simple white fading png image
notre dame montreal

Worship Prayer and Bible Study Resources

24 Sunday in Ordinary Year B, Green


Introduction

What kind of message do we present about the Christian life? Some Christians do give the impression that by casting our lives onto Jesus we will discover new found health, wealth and happiness. If faith in Jesus means that we become able to overcome the disappointments of life then that message is one which will go down really well on the street. So are Christians richer, healthier, happier people? Well the answer is both yes and no!

Yes, Christians should be people who work hard and who take their commitments to work and family seriously. Christians will take a dim view of wasting money on drugs, will not be drunk every night of the week and they will hopefully not spend too much of their free time down the bookmakers gambling away their hard earned cash. Because they take seriously their marital vows they will stand a good chance of avoiding certain particular lifestyle diseases, stress and costly payouts to divorced partners. From this point of view Christians are on the road to success!

However this is not the whole picture. Christians will find that they are just as likely to be run over by a bus as anybody else. Christians in Bedford are just as likely to suffer from cancer and many other physical setbacks. Faith in God will not protect us when an employer makes the workforce redundant or when we share any other similar fate to our community.

It gets worse! Not only are Christians not immune from the daily grind. Jesus tells his followers that for them there will be a calling to a life which can bring suffering and even premature death. Jesus is quite clear to his disciples in the passage today. He will not allow them to go out and preach a soft option. Being a Christian will not make life easier, it is actually about a life of denial and hardship.

 

Opening Verse of Scripture 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.
 

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

God our Redeemer, who called your church to witness that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself: help us so to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may be reconciled drawn to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   Methodist Worship 

Gracious God, like a mother you give us new life, and make us your children in Jesus Christ. Look on us in your love, and bring us to the inheritance which you promised. Grant this through Jesus Christ, your Son.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

Almighty God, whose Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; 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.  Amen.  Common Worship

Merciful God, your Son came to save us and bore our sins on the cross: may we trust in your mercy and know your love, rejoicing in the righteousness that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Common Worship Shorter Collects


First Bible Reading  Isaiah 50:4-9

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.

Second Reading James 3:1-12

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Gospel Reading Mark 8:27-38

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ." Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

Post Communion Sentence

Lord God, the source of truth and love, keep us faithful to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, united in prayer and the breaking of bread, and one in joy and simplicity of heart, in Jesus Christ our Lord. 


Commentary

The passage from Mark today is all about recognising who Jesus really and what that means for his followers. There are three ways we can look at the passage, what it means for Jesus, what it meant for the disciples and what it means for us.

1. What it meant for Jesus
Jesus is nearing the end of his ministry, he is about to be killed and there is an evaluation of how well he has communicated his teaching.
Jesus asks directly what people are saying about him, and he is told that some see him as
John the Baptist others as Elijah or a prophet.
Then Jesus asks them directly what they think. Peter was always quick to respond and in the words of our reading today he calls Jesus the ‘Christ’ The word "Christ" is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word "messiah." The expectation of a "messiah" in first century Israel was that the messiah would sweep in and bring about the promised Golden Age. The messiah would be like King David, and would destroy Israel's enemies and bring peace and prosperity to the land. We could understand Peter stating this very traditional Jewish teaching. The Messiah was one who would usher in a climactic day of God’s deliverance as a mighty warrior. One capable of returning Israel to independence, free from Roman oppression.
He would understandably be shocked that Jesus interpreted Messiah as meaning somebody who would instead see the role as meaning one who suffered. Jesus speaks of himself as the "Son of Man" one who would suffer and be killed.
Peter will have nothing of it and reprimanded Jesus for having said it. Peter wants to hear nothing about the Son of Man being rejected and killed. He is still fixed on the idea of a triumphant and strong Messiah who would overpower the authorities; not suffer and die. It didn’t fit his view of how God would save the world.
Peter rebukes Jesus for not being the kind of saviour that he wanted. In return Jesus uses the strongest language and calls Peter “Satan.” The disciples had failed miserably to understand Jesus teaching. God’s presence would not be found in powerful deeds and military might. The power of Jesus would be revealed in his risen life, but this only came through a life lived in weakness, suffering and death.

2. What it meant for the disciples
Note that Jesus calls the disciples and the crowds to gather round and makes clear that he is giving instructions which are for everyone. If they wish to live his risen life then they must follow his life of service. They must learn to copy him and deny their own selves, take up crosses, and follow. The words at the time would have had stark meaning. Having seen hundreds and thousands who had received the death sentence the crowd knew well the sight of individuals walking the roads carrying their own wooden crosses upon which they would be nailed and killed.
The message at the time would have been chilling, there were no cute songs ‘the old rugged cross,’ if you followed Jesus you should expect to go to the same fate as the condemned Jesus, literally carrying their cross for their own crucifixion.

3. What it means for us
We won’t most likely be asked to carry a cross, or to literally die for our faith. However we are called to be radically different in our lifestyles, to live in a counter intuitive ways to the norms of society. Like Jesus, like the disciples, we are requires to deny our own needs and desires. To put ourselves aside for the sake of greater values. It is giving up ourselves for others, in the way of sacrifice and unselfishness. It is giving up particular interests or time or possessions when the purposes of God require it. It is letting the will of God take the place of our own will. It is putting God, not ourselves, at the centre of life.

There were those who like the rich man had understood the cost of following Jesus and the sacrifices which needed to be made, and who decided that they were not prepared to pay that sort of price. It is interesting that Jesus finishes this teaching by using monetary terms of profit and loss. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Jesus is using the language of economics to boil it down to very materialistic terms which we all understand. Following ourselves and our own desires is a path leading to ruin, following Jesus is the only good investment. Charles Royden

Meditation

"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." To be a Christian is not for the faint hearted, nor even for the strong, but only for the faithful, who dare to trust the Lord.

 

Hymns and Psalms


  1. Tell out my soul
  2. I have decided to follow Jesus
  3. The servant of the living God (Tune Old 100th) (Words below)
  4. Through all the changing scenes of life
  5. Healing God Almighty Father (Tune Hyfrodol)

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Lord Jesus we pray that your Spirit would lead us and guide us as we seek to follow you and place you at the centre of our lives. Your love urges us to have confidence in your promise that we are a new creation. May we know in our hearts the reassurance of sins forgiven and our future safe in your merciful keeping. King of love we praise you that no matter what circumstances may come upon us we are always in your presence and that you walk with us wherever we go. Help us to trust you in all things and through all things and may we be an optimistic people dwelling in the comfort and knowledge that we can entrust all of our future to your safe keeping.

We pray that our lives would be lived as witnesses to your kingdom. May your seeds planted in our lives bear witness to your saving grace. Help us to make our souls places which are fertile fo the growth of your word. Through us may your kingdom be demonstrated to your glory as we share your grace and love. We pray that you would direct and govern your Church, that we might be your living presence in our community. May your kingdom grow and your love be known that justice and peace may reign. We pray that you would inspire our church leaders that they might speak your words to our generation and lead us in truth.

We pray for Jeremy Corbyn as he takes office as the new elected leader of the Labour Party and we pray for all in political office as they exercise government.

Especially we pray for all of those in the decision making process over how to respond to the mass movement of people across the Middle East and into Europe. Give them compassion and understanding to tackle those underlying issues which have caused so many people to flee their own countries. Forgive us our part in the destructive violence seen in dysfunctional countries in the Middle East and northern Africa. You have called us to welcome the stranger and love them as ourselves, so may your church show leadership to respond with love and care to the humanitarian crisis. Help us also to prepare for the long term commitment and the implications of the responses we which offer.

Look with compassion Lord Jesus of the anguish of our troubled world. We pray today for those facing adversity and all who are in need of your love and grace. We think of those facing financial hardship and an uncertain future. Those who are weak and frail and troubled by physical weakness. May all who are insufficient in their own strength find their strength in you. Lord Jesus your touch changed the lives of all who turned to you, so now hear the cry of all who cast their anxiety onto your loving care.

Heavenly Father your glory unites earth and heaven. Gather to yourself those who have died and grant eternal life to all your children, bring us through the waters of death to life eternal.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which no darkness can quench. We comment to your merciful keeping ..... May the souls of the faithful deprated rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

 

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation, for having made us all different. What I don’t know about you I need to learn from others because they reflect your image and likeness
in a different way. I ask you to lead me to seek to understand the many people of good will who are different from me. Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. I am grateful
for all that is good in my life. I know that you look on me with tender love, and invite me
to assess and renew my attitude and direction in life. Be with me in my determination
to live in a positive way. Amen.

Wonderful God, Almighty Redeemer - you have declared your love for us not only in words, but in deeds. We thank you for the love you have revealed through Christ Jesus, our Lord and for how you have granted us by his death and resurrection victory over the sin that is in us and in the world. We praise you for inviting us to be a part of your family and for reaching out to us when we have wandered from the path. Be with us this day as we worship you and listen to your word. Grant that we may be
renewed in body and spirit that we might more worthily serve and adore you. We ask it in Jesus' name.

We are on the way again Lord - the time of busyness. The time of new schooling, Of new activities in church and in the community. We ask you to bless our activities - our special services - our ways of doing things, our volunteers - and those who continue to serve as faithfully as they have for many years.... Amen.

Lord God, may the sight of your creation - from the vastness of mighty stars and planets to the lowliness of the smallest living creature that I can see - inspire me to grow in wonder and awe, in reverence for life, and in appreciation of the people I meet and of all creation.


 


Additional Material

Commentary

The people who listened to Jesus were right to recognise him as the Messiah, the Christ. He was not a forerunner, somebody sent to prepare the way, he was the way. He was the fulfilment of all the hopes and dreams of the Jewish people. God had kept his promise, he had sent in Jesus not a prophet, not a person to speak about what God was like, it was God himself in human form. It was most wonderfuI.  The Jews who heard Jesus and who recognised who he was could have been forgiven for assuming that this meant that as Messiah Jesus would be the one who would raise Israel up from under Roman occupation and restore her fortunes as a nation.  The role of Messiah had military and political expectations which they could justifiably expect Jesus to carry out.

The air would have been filled with excitement at being in the presence of one who was about to reverse the fortunes of the downtrodden Israelites. Peter and disciples must have had in their minds episodes from the history of Israel, such as when Moses freed the people from Pharaoh. Once more God was about to do a great thing and the opportunity to be a part of it must have been elating.

Imagine the disappointment then when Jesus acknowledges the fact that he is the Messiah, but then says he is going to be captured and put to death. How on earth could they convince anybody to follow a leader who was already predicting his own failure and demise! Jesus insists on honesty, they must not lead anybody into false expectations or misguided hopes. Anybody who wanted to follow would be a part of a movement which was destined to suffering and hardship.

The disciples found it almost impossible to understand Jesus. Later we read that Jesus gathered his disciples together and made his teaching really explicit. He broke bread as a visual aid, to help them understand that his body was going to be broken. His blood was going to be poured out, just as he gave them wine to drink. The disciples found such ideas beyond comprehension, they wanted the inauguration of the Kingdom of God, the new Golden Age.

This is an important to lesson to learn, for many are deceived in their faith by imagining that faith in Christ acts like a barrier against trial and tribulation. Some are wrongly advised that the trusting soul is not occasioned by adversity to the same degree as those who live without the Christian religion. How easy it would be to stand in the pulpit and declare that the act of faith works to bring health and wealth and immunity from the dangers which trouble others. How easy and yet how false.

Thomas a Kempis wrote of those who have taken up the cross of Jesus Christ

'They are proved by tolerance of injuries, and the removal of internal consolations; by the death of friends, and by the loss of property; by pains in the head, and injuries in the limbs; by abstinence from food, and roughness of garments; by the hardness of their bed, and the coldness of their feet; by the long watches of the night, and the labours of the day; by silence of the mouth, and reproofs of superiors; by worms that gnaw, and tongues that detract. In their sufferings, however, they are consoled by the devout meditation of the Lord's Passion.'

Nobody could accuse him of trying to pull the wool over the eyes of potential converts!

We must not expect special favours from God because of our faith. Christian commitment does not grant us immunity from the pains of life associated with our mortal bodies and a fragile planet.  A most cursory glance at the misfortunes which afflict the lives of people across the world from Darfur to Iraq, must convince anybody with half a brain, that God is not in the business of sparing people from even the most dreadful atrocities. The idea that we worship a God who will through our prayers reward us with new jobs or girlfriends, whilst being seemingly oblivious to the plight of millions who seek only enough food and water to remain alive, is simply ridiculous. Such belief turns God into a monster from whom we would do better to run away than to fall down and worship. 

The life of the Christian is not for those seeking an escape, it is just another way of walking the same path of life, with its many adversities and dangers. The difference is that as we walk we are accompanied along the path by one who has walked this path before and who promises to be with us as we pass over to the other side. Charles Royden

Meditation

1.  A woman went to St. Francis of Assisi and asked what she had to do to be forgiven for her gossiping. St. Francis told her to take feathers and place one at the doorstep of everyone she had spoken ill of in the town. She did so and returned to the wise saint. Francis told her to then go and retrieve all the feathers. When she attempted to do so, they were all gone. By that time the feathers were scattered all around town. Once again, she returned to St. Francis and told him about the feathers. He said to her: You wish to repent and be forgiven of your sin. Good. But the damage of your words is done and cannot be taken back.

2.   There is a story told about the great psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. After giving an address in Melbourne, he was given a boomerang as a gift. He commented that the boomerang reminded him of our human existence. People assume that the function of the boomerang is to return to the thrower, he said. But it is the real function of the boomerang to hit the target and to return to the thrower only if it misses the target. The same is true for life. We return to ourselves, to become self-absorbed and preoccupied, only if we have failed to find meaning in life. The meaning of life is to move out beyond ourselves, beyond our own meaning, and therefore find meaning. If we live only unto ourselves, spending money only for ourselves, squandering our time and our strength only on ourselves, focusing chiefly on ourselves, life boomerangs and comes back to us with only ourselves to show for it.

3. About this time of year people of the Jewish faith will celebrate the feast of ‘Rosh Hashanah’. The words in Hebrew mean “beginning of the year”. On the feast of ‘Rosh Hashanah’, people celebrate God’s creation. During a festive meal, pieces of apple dipped in honey are eaten. It is an expression of hope for a sweet and pleasant year ahead. ‘Rosh Hashanah’ is also the first day of a ten-day period of reflection, asking God’s forgiveness for faults of the past, promising to approach things in a better way in the year ahead. On this day, a ram’s horn - called the ‘shofar’ - is blown.
 

Commentary

The time of Jesus’ passion is coming to a close. He knows it is, but as yet his disciples are ignorant about what will happen. Soon, it will be time for Jesus to take them up into the hills where they will experience his transfiguration. Up to now, Jesus’ work has entailed travelling around, teaching, preaching and healing. But this passage indicates that things are to change and Jesus is starting to want to prepare his disciples for the changes. He asks them ‘Who do you think I am?’ and is told who others have said he is. However, Jesus wants to know what they think, not what others have said.

 This is to remind us that we stand before him on a one-to-one basis, God does not deal with us through a third party. Yes, of course, Jesus is our mediator, but since he tells us that he and the Father are one (John 17), then that does not alter the relationship. From the passage in Mark, it is clear that Peter has started to understand things more clearly than the other disciples do: he is the one to say that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One.

This was the person many Jews had been looking forward to, the one who would set them free. The trouble was that they were expecting a great leader who would conquer their enemies. Jesus, of course, was a Messiah in a different way. In verse 33 we can see that Jesus had his mind set on divine things: on the Church that he was founding, and on how the remainder of his earthly ministry would be pointing to the setting up of that Church.

Today, Jesus still continues to build for eternity: brick by brick, stone by stone, soul by soul, as his gospel reaches out to people in more and more countries. There are still people who need to be reached so that they can hear and receive the gospel. As Christians we are therefore commissioned to share Jesus’ message with as many people as we can through what we say and how we behave. Rev Peter Littleford

Alternate hymns

  1. Immortal invisible
  2. The servant of the Living God
  3. If any man will follow
  4. I have decided to follow Jesus
  5. All earth was dark
  6. Broken for me
  7. Man of sorrows
  8. Will you come and follow me
  9. Now thank we all our God
  10. Tell out my soul (tune Woodlands)
  11. Come on and Celebrate
  12. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
  13. Lord of creation (tune i Slane)
  14. May the mind of Christ my Saviour (tune ii)
  15. Onward Christian Soldiers

 

 

picture of charlie chaplinOn April 16, 1889: a baby boy Charles was born in East Lane, Walworth (London), to music hall performers Charles and Hannah Chaplin. His parents parted company within 5 years and he had a difficult childhood, attending a school for orphans and destitute children. His father subsequently died and his mother was placed in an asylum for the insane. Yet Charles Chaplin grew to become and amazing star of films across the world. It has been said that his odd little tricks of manner and his refusal to do the most simple things in an ordinary way were essential features of his method, which thus far has defied successful imitation. His work was acknowledged when on March 4 1975 Chaplin was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. He died on December 25 1977 at his home in Switzerland.

From time to time, one of Charlie Chaplin’s silent films is shown on TV. He was a small man, with a moustache and a hat and walking stick, and a funny way of walking! Because he was very popular, Charlie Chaplin look-alike-competitions were held, and people would line up and be judged on who looked most like Charlie Chaplin, walking like him and doing tricks like him. One day, just for the fun of it, Charlie Chaplin himself entered one of these “look-alike” competitions. He didn’t win - he came third!

In Romans 8:28 we read In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

There is a sense therefore in which we are all called to be ‘look-a-likes’ We are to copy the example of Jesus, his life of love and compassion. We are challenged to ask ourselves, ‘When God looks at me, how close might I be to the true person that he calls me to be, being made in his own image and likeness?’ What changes do I need to make in my life that I may succeed in the real “look-alike” competition? We are called not to be like other human beings, but rather to be like Christ No matter how humble our beginnings, or what difficulties life might throw at us, God encourages us all to achieve to the likeness of Christ.


Hymn to tune Old 100th

1 The servant of the living God
is found among the humble poor;
in their oppression he will share,
and human dignity restore.

2 The Servant now we recognise
as Son of man and Son of God;
then let us follow, not obstruct,
the painful path of hope he trod.

3 He calls us to a living faith,
to costly love in action shown;
for faith itself is counted dead,
unless in caring works made known.

4 O give us faith, eternal God,
among the poor to take our place,
and let our words and actions show
the presence of undying grace.

Tune Old 100th

Prayers

Love is your meaning, O Lord. Before ever you made us you loved us. Your love has never slackened nor ever shall. In love all your works have been begun, by love you sustain them and our life in your love is everlasting. So let the beginning and ending of all our loving be to see our God for ever; and this may Jesus grant us. Amen. Julian of Norwich (c.1343-c.1417)

Lord of light – shine on us;
Lord of peace – dwell in us;
Lord of might – succour us;
Lord of love – enfold us;
Lord of wisdom – enlighten us.
Then, Lord, let us go out as your witnesses,
in obedience to your commands;
to share the good news of your mighty love for us
in the gift of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
A prayer for Mission – from the Church in Wales

Wonderful God, Almighty Redeemer - you have declared your love for us not only in words, but in deeds. We thank you for the love you have revealed through Christ Jesus, our Lord and for how you have granted us by his death and resurrection victory over the sin that is in us and in the world. We praise you for inviting us to be a part of your family and for reaching out to us when we have wandered from the path. Be with us this day as we worship you and listen to your word. Grant that we may be renewed in body and spirit that we might more worthily serve and adore you. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.


We are on the way again Lord - the time of busyness. The time of new schooling, Of new activities in church and in the community. We ask you to bless our activities - our special services - our ways of doing things, our volunteers - and those who continue to serve as faithfully as they have for many years.... Amen.
 

God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 

Gracious Father, fill your whole Church with truth and peace; where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where anything is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; and where it is divided and torn asunder, heal and bind its wounds; through Christ our Lord. Amen William Laud, 1573-1645

Lord, for every story of growth and exciting development, there seem to be a dozen others of decline and failure. When will the Church become strong again? When will we be able to hold up our heads as Christians? Perhaps it will be when we learn that it is not our Church, but yours; when we learn to let go of comfortable traditions that keep us safe and once again risk everything for your Kingdom; when we learn that the one who would be first must be the servant of all; and when we rely on your grace rather than our own strength. Perhaps you have something entirely new waiting for us? Help us to see the way ahead, Lord. Graham Carter, Darlington District Chair

Inspire me, Lord, so that I may reflect your image and likeness a little more clearly each day. Amen.