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Worship, Prayer and Bible Study Resources

26 Sunday in Ordinary, Year B, Green


Introduction

This week I was asked to participate in a radio programme which was exploring the issue of a nurse who had been forced out of her job because she insisted on wearing a 1" silver cross. Her bosses had said that it was a health and safety issue, although they were prepared to allow nurses to wear a ring on their finger, which I would have thought was more of a serious problem.

Anyway I agreed to go on the radio and discuss this. Whilst I was waiting to speak the host of the show was really rather rude towards one elderly who rang in. The lady had made the effort and gathered her courage and was defending the sacked nurse, much to the annoyance of the host. He felt that nobody should display any symbols of faith at all, there was no need. He also enjoyed the now familiar rant about how religion is guilty of causing every war that has ever occurred.

Of course this is very much wide of the mark, not least because it is not religion which has caused the wars, but people who use religion as an excuse for hating others. The same can be true of anything of course, it might be nationality, even something as insignificant as the game of football can become an excuse to start a fight. As the interview showed even people with no faith can be equally intolerant and aggressive.

In the lesson this week we are able to see that Jesus refused to join in with this, much to the consternation of his disciples!

Opening Sentence1 Corinthians Chapter 12:4-6

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
 

Collect Prayer for the Day— Before we read we pray

Father of all, you gave your only Son, to take upon himself the form of a servant and to be obedient even to death on a cross. Give us the same mind that was in Christ Jesus that, sharing in his humility, we may come to be with him in his glory; for he lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen. Methodist Worship  

Gracious God, you give the water of eternal life through Jesus Christ your Son. May we always turn to you, the spring of life and source of goodness; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

Lord of creation , whose glory is all around and within us: open our eyes to your wonders, that we may serve you with reverence and know your peace at our lives' end, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Common Worship Shorter Collect

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers of your people who call upon you; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have the grace and power faithfully to fulfil them; 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.  Common Worship  

First Bible Reading 

Number 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

4-6 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat!
We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.
But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"
 

10-16 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled.
He asked the LORD, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?
Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers?
Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!'
I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.
If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now--if I have found favor in your eyes--and do not let me face my own ruin."
The LORD said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you.
 

24-29 So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent.
Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again.
However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp.
A young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."
Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' aide since youth, spoke up and said, "Moses, my lord, stop them!"
But Moses replied, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!"

Second Reading James 5:13-20

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

 

Gospel Reading Mark 9:38-50

"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where "`their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' Everyone will be salted with fire. "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."


Post Communion Sentence


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.


Commentary

This week I was asked to participate in a radio programme which was exploring the issue of a nurse who had been forced out of her job because she insisted on wearing a 1" silver cross. Her bosses had said that it was a health and safety issue, although they were prepared to allow nurses to wear a ring on their finger, which I would have thought was more of a serious problem.

Anyway I agreed to go on the radio and discuss this. Whilst I was waiting to speak the host of the show was really rather rude towards one elderly who rang in. The lady had made the effort and gathered her courage and was defending the sacked nurse, much to the annoyance of the host. He felt that nobody should display any symbols of faith at all, there was no need. He also enjoyed the now familiar rant about how religion is guilty of causing every war that has ever occurred.

Of course this is very much wide of the mark, not least because it is not religion which has caused the wars, but people who use religion as an excuse for hating others. The same can be true of anything of course, it might be nationality, even something as insignificant as the game of football can become an excuse to start a fight.

The cause of war is invariably people who are lacking in tolerance and respect for other people who are different. Sometimes we are afraid of things which are different, because we do not understand them. Sometimes we resent their success and look for reasons to criticise.

In the passage from the Gospel reading today we find such an instance. In this passage from the Gospel according to St Mark, we find the disciples in a cross mood, they are a bit miffed! Someone who hardly knows Jesus has been achieving spectacular success as an exorcist, using their master’s name. It is in this situation that Jesus says that “he who not against us is for us”. It looks a bit odd, because we tend to turn the phrase around to mean that anyone who is not actively on our side, in politics, business or war, is helping the enemy. This deceptive throw away comment by Jesus holds the key towards how people should cope with religious difference.

Like so many of Jesus’ sayings it is hard for us humans to understand and cope with. We are like the disciples, we want to crush rivals whether in secular or religious life. How often have humans used the excuse that they are serving Jesus by putting to death women and men who do not understand the Bible in the same way, feel called to worship in different styles, believe different things from themselves? Here Jesus is saying that difference, unless it is actively dangerous, cannot hurt the new Jesus movement. Jesus was brave enough to allow a stranger, who recognised the saving power of Jesus’ name to use it, unsupervised, for good purposes. What a message to all control freaks! God does not allow us a limited amount of freedom and then reign us back. In his love for us, He grants us the freedom to love, to create and to serve in His name. But we must allow others to have this freedom too.

 

Meditation

This is an ancient fable. There was an old King who possessed a miraculous gold ring. It gave to the person who owned it such sweetness of character, such truthfulness of heart that they were beloved by everyone who knew them. At his death, the King left each of his three sons a gold ring, but no-one knew which one had received the magical ring. They argued for ages and then went to a wise Judge, she said. “I cannot tell you which of you holds the magic ring, but you can prove it in yourself. If you display love, truth and justice in the way you live, then you will show who has the magical ring of perfect love. This little fable reminds us that it is by the fruits of the spirit that we display our faith in Christ, not by winning arguments, scoring points or pillorying opponents.
 

Hymns and Psalms

  1. Jesus shall reign
  2. Alleluia, Alleluia
  3. Come now with awe (Tune Finlandia)
  4. Help us O God (See below)
  5. Lord for the years
     

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead


Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen. A Prayer of St. Chrysostom

O Lord, guard us all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes: and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and your blessed peace at the last. Amen. (John Henry Newman)

Take my body, O Christ, to do your work, for here on earth you have no body now but mine. Take my hands to be your hands and my feet to walk in the ways of your feet. Take my eyes to be the eyes of your own compassion shining forth upon a troubled world; for your own mercy’s sake. Amen Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582

Father of love, we thank you that your rainbow covenant embraces all people and lures them to fullness of life. Jesus redeemer, we thank you that your new covenant brings blessing in brokenness and creates gratitude through grace. Spirit of God, we thank you that you dance through creation, scattering sparks of hope and weaving networks of community. May we, as your covenant partners, work with you in healing the wounds and scars of our violent world. Amen Tom Stuckey, Southampton District Chair
 

 

Additional Material

Verse of scripture

Jesus said .... ‘If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.’ Mark Chapter 9

Collect Prayer for the DayBefore we read we pray

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. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer

Keep, O Lord, your Church with your perpetual mercy; and, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall, keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Meditation

"Jesus , came to comfort the afflicted ... and to afflict the comfortable." R. Niehbur

Commentary

This week I was asked to participate in a radio programme which was exploring the issue of a nurse who had been forced out of her job because she insisted on wearing a 1" silver cross. Her bosses had said that it was a health and safety issue, although they were prepared to allow nurses to wear a ring on their finger, which I would have thought was more of a serious problem. Anyway I agreed to go on the radio and discuss this. Whilst I was waiting to speak the host of the show was really rather rude towards one elderly who rang in. The lady had made the effort and gathered her courage and was defending the sacked nurse, much to the annoyance of the host. He felt that nobody should display any symbols of faith at all, there was no need. He also enjoyed the now familiar rant about how religion is guilty of causing every war that has ever occurred.

Of course this is very much wide of the mark, not least because it is not religion which has caused the wars, but people who use religion as an excuse for hating others. The same can be true of anything of course, it might be nationality, even something as insignificant as the game of football can become an excuse to start a fight. The cause of war is invariably people who are lacking in tolerance and respect for other people who are different.

Sometimes we are afraid of things which are different, because we do not understand them. Sometimes we resent their success and look for reasons to criticise. In the passage from the Gospel reading today we find such an instance. In this passage from the Gospel according to St Mark, we find the disciples in a cross mood, they are a bit miffed! Someone who hardly knows Jesus has been achieving spectacular success as an exorcist, using their master’s name. It is in this situation that Jesus says that “he who not against us is for us”. It looks a bit odd, because we tend to turn the phrase around to mean that anyone who is not actively on our side, in politics, business or war, is helping the enemy.

This deceptive throw away comment by Jesus holds the key towards how people should cope with religious difference. Like so many of Jesus’ sayings it is hard for us humans to understand and cope with. We are like the disciples, we want to crush rivals whether in secular or religious life. How often have humans used the excuse that they are serving Jesus by putting to death women and men who do not understand the Bible in the same way, feel called to worship in different styles, believe different things from themselves? Here Jesus is saying that difference, unless it is actively dangerous, cannot hurt the new Jesus movement. Jesus was brave enough to allow a stranger, who recognised the saving power of Jesus’ name to use it, unsupervised, for good purposes.

What a message to all control freaks! God does not allow us a limited amount of freedom and then reign us back. In his love for us, He grants us the freedom to love, to create and to serve in His name. But we must allow others to have this freedom too.

Jesus' rebuke most likely surprised the disciples. The Twelve saw themselves as a uniquely-endowed, specially-selected group privy to Jesus' individual attentions and tutorials. They believed that because of their close relationship with the Master they had been "rewarded" with the power to cast out demons, as well as to preach and teach in Jesus' name. They considered this uninitiated outsider to be like we perceive an unlicensed doctor -- one who should immediately be reported to the authorities and whose illegitimate activities should be stopped. The disciples thought Jesus would be angry - but he wasn't. Instead he said - "it doesn't matter to me if those people are a part of your group or not. All that matters is that they are doing the things that God wants. They are a part of God's family.

These words of Jesus, then, are a rebuke to all our blind exclusiveness, our arrogant assumptions, that God's action in the world is limited to the forms which we are familiar. The church has suffered terribly, and the world has suffered terribly, from this fence-building frenzy. If one tenth of the time which Christians have devoted to building fences had gone into building roads as a highway for God, the world would be a far better place today. Jesus throws open wide the doors of the Christian community by proclaiming that "whoever is not against us is for us" (verse 40). Jesus' point is clear. In verse 41 he goes on to stress that anyone who performs a service, no matter how small, because of Christ's name becomes a member of the community and shares in its "rewards." Charles Royden

Prayers for Sunday

O God, light of the minds that know you, life of the souls that love you, and strength of the hearts that seek you - bless the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. We ask it in Jesus' name.

Lord God - we thank you for making us - a part of your family - help us open our hearts - to all the other parts - of your wonderful family - to those we don't know - to those who do things differently - to those who live in far off places - help us all to work together - and by ourselves - to do what Jesus asks us - we ask it in his name Amen

Gracious God - we thank you for the love you have bestowed upon us all through this past week - for the love that has brought us to this time of worship. We pray that you would bless us with your most Holy Presence this day and build in us an ever stronger faith. Meet us here, amid our doubts and questions, that we may know we are heard and understood. Grant that as we pray and sing your praises that we may be built up in Christ Jesus and made more able to serve you and please you in all that we think, say, and do. We ask it in his name. Amen.

O Lord Christ, who came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, so come that all shall have full opportunity to live; so come that we may open out opportunities to all who are dear to you because they lack and suffer hunger. Come and break down all that hinders life, the iron walls of grim refusal that give life no chance. Come and give us wisdom and patience, courage and resolution to discover how your goodwill may verify itself to all. Give us life that we may give out life. Come and fill us with your own strong desire; with your own brave hope, that all may find their way to live in you. Give unity; give brotherhood; give peace. H. Scott Holland (1847-1918), Theologian and canon of St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me your grace to labour for. Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), Lord Chancellor of England and martyr

Hymns for this Sunday

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun

The trumpets sound

Restore O Lord

Lord for the years

Our eyes have seen the glory

Christ from whom all blessings flow

Alleluia, Alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord

See how great a flame aspires (Tune: St George’s Windsor)

Go forth and tell! 0 Church of God awake (Tune: Go forth)

Come all who look to Christ today (Tune: Tallis’ Canon)


 

Help us, O God, to hear your word,
your promises believe,
as in the unexpected voice
your challenge we receive.

Through voices we have never known,
of unfamiliar name,
in faith and culture far apart,
your purpose you proclaim.

So save us from religious pride,
and narrowness of mind,
that we may recognise your love
in all of humankind.

Call us, with openness,
to hear the voices of the poor,
then let us of our greed repent
and righteousness restore.

Tune: (Horsley)