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Weekly Bible Notes  Ordinary 11

Year C, Colour = Green

 Ordinary 11 Year C


In our Bible Reading for this Sunday, Jesus is anointed with perfumed oil by a woman we presume to be a prostitute. She is considered a public sinner, and Jesus' host at dinner is obviously annoyed that Jesus doesn't recognise her as an object of scorn. Jesus pronounces however, that this woman's many sins are easily forgiven, because she 'loved much.' What Jesus is saying is that love covers a multitude of sins. This should give us a sense of relief. We are not given a licence to sin, but for as long as we seek to be loving persons, we can be assured that God considers our sins to be pardoned.

There is therefore no need to burden ourselves with guilt trips, and no reason to look down upon ourselves because of mistakes which lie in the past. Love sets us free from our failings, so that we can get on with or life with God. 

Opening Verse of Scripture    Psalm 8:1

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

Lord you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before your. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ' sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen. Common Worship

Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Common Worship Shorter Collect

Your glory, O God, fills heaven and earth and all creation resounds with your praise. As we rejoice in your presence may we know your power to save and praise you for your faithfulness, now and for ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. Methodist Worship

Generous God, you gather your people and lavish your gifts upon us, day by day. Grant that each experience of your pardon may enlarge our own love, until is meets the measure of your extravagant forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

vineyardFirst Bible Reading  1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14) 15-21a

1-10 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, "Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth." But Naboth replied, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers." So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat. His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, "Why are you so sullen? Why won't you eat?" He answered her, "Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, 'Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.' But he said, 'I will not give you my vineyard.'" Jezebel his wife said, "Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I'll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite." So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth's city with him. In those letters she wrote: "Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death."

11-14 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth's city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, "Naboth has cursed both God and the king." So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Then they sent word to Jezebel: "Naboth has been stoned and is dead."

15-21 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, "Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead." When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth's vineyard. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: "Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth's vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?' Then say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood--yes, yours!'" Ahab said to Elijah, "So you have found me, my enemy!" "I have found you," he answered, "because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD. 'I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel--slave or free.

Second Reading  Galatians Chapter 2:15-21

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. 

Art in the Christian Tradition,Gospel Reading   Luke 7:36 - 8:3

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. 

Post Communion Prayer

Loving Father, we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son: sustain us with your Spirit, that we may serve you here on earth until our joy is complete in heaven, and we share in the eternal banquet with Jesus Christ our Lord.


Love takes us in a different direction
In the Old Testament and Gospel readings we see some very different attitudes to material possessions and to property. Jesus tells the story in Luke to help people see things from a different perspective. Simon and his friends, whilst acknowledging the truth and reality of what Jesus has said, nonetheless want to try to undermine what He has said so they can be less challenged by it. Jesus sees the woman merely as a sinner with a desire to change. Simon sees her as a woman with a chequered past and of little consequence. But Jesus makes her the centre of the story. Here is someone who recognises both her sin and her need and someone who then simply turned to the ultimate source of forgiveness with an expression and actions of deep gratitude.
Both Ahab and Simon were used to being the centre of the story. Their worlds revolved around themselves and other individuals where merely bit part players who completed the picture when necessary. They stereotyped individuals and stifled any desire or wish to change by their attitudes. Naboth was merely an individual who had something of value that Ahab wanted and was peeved when he could not get his own way. The woman was just a person of ill repute who seems to have gate-crashed the party which Simon was hosting, how inconvenient! But in pouring the expensive ointment over Jesus’ feet the woman demonstrates a radically different attitude to possessions. To Ahab they are something to desire and accumulate, by whatever means necessary. For the woman, the most expensive thing she had was poured out over the feet of Jesus in her own act of self-giving love as she repents and seeks forgiveness for all that is past in her life.
Here is not a heart with is hardened or governed by cold logic or law but a heart which is broken in the presence of love itself. She no longer cared for her possessions but cared about her life and how it could be turned around by an encounter with the Messiah. Her love of Jesus had taken her in a completely different direction from care and concern about mere physical possessions and wealth.
Simon the relatively comfortable Pharisee is playing host, perhaps not quite as generously or enthusiastically as might have been assumed. The woman with little status and possessions gladly gives what she has. It’s a familiar story. Her life takes a different direction when she encounters love and forgiveness incarnate. For her it wasn’t about what possessions and status she had, but what she would do with what she had in the face of God’s indescribably generosity.

We face the same questions. It’s not so much a questions about the possessions, status and wealth we have, but what we choose to do with them in the face of what God has done for us through His Son. How are we stewards of what God has given us, personally and collectively as a human race. God reaches out to us, and as we turn to Him in repentance, so we see what we have in His perspective and light. So often we want to be like the woman who gave so generously, but as we come under the pressure of our consumerist society we end up perhaps being pulled towards the position of Simon the Pharisee.

There is also the question that Simon raises about forgiveness. Forgiveness can be difficult for some to get their minds around. It seems sometimes to run counter to the concept of judgement and justice. But the woman doesn’t need judgement, she is probably all too well aware of her position and the shame that it brings. She knew there would be plenty who would never let her forget her past, whatever the future might bring, they would remind her of what she had done and who she had become. She could never change the past, but she could change the future. And ultimately it is Simon who is left confused, and even perhaps left with a feeling of emptiness. The woman leaves with that sense of peace we all desire and yearn for in our lives. One had truly encountered Jesus and responded with an openness and as much as was humanly possible, a reciprocal generosity of love. One it seems, had merely met Him but not let the encounter change His life. One kept Him at a manageable distance, the other got close enough to Him to have her life renewed and the debilitating effect of sin lifted from her life. One saw Jesus with his mind, the other saw Jesus with her heart. One trusted in the power of his own abilities, intellect, knowledge, status, possessions and wealth to give new life. The other merely trusted in the power of God, manifest in Christ, to bring new life through the forgiveness and acceptance she received. One seemed to stay the same, the other changed direction.

Like the woman, we cannot change the past, but in God we can have a future which can be very different. Different as we open ourselves up to the love God has for each one of us, respond with the same openness and generosity as the woman who encountered Christ as the house of Simon the Pharisee, and begin to understand what is the oil we need to bring to pour on the feet of Jesus as we respond to that love. And as we do, so the direction and orientation of our future life changes, irrespective of how we feel or what others may say who seek to hold us to our past. Sam Cappleman



Paul says in Galatians 2 v 20 that 'I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’. In stating so clearly that Jesus loved him (Paul) and gave Himself for him we probably have one of the earliest statements of the doctrine of atonement. It shows clearly the cross and resurrection as acts of self-giving and selfless love. Paul transforms religion from being something which has been largely (mis)understood in legalistic terms and now is defined in terms of unimaginable love and unconstrained and unlimited forgiveness to anyone who wants to accept God’s love. A new way of understanding and engaging with God has been made clear and available. We see in the Old Testament reading that through Jezebel, King Ahab killed those who stood in his way and opposed his will, as Tom Wright puts it, ‘a complete misunderstanding of what Israel and its kings should have been about.’ The true King of the Jews is shown by his unlimited love and forgiveness. A sacrificial self-giving that is difficult to understand in the ancient world of warring kings and countries and perhaps even more difficult to understand in our own self-centred and materialistic world. As we live out a life of generosity and live, so we live out the atonement of which Paul speaks in our own lives.



  1. Sing the almighty power of god 334
  2. God’s spirit is in my heart 315
  3. Let earth and heaven agree 226
  4. Lord God in whom all worlds 384
  5. For the healing of the nations 402


Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"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."

The Bishops of Bedford and Hertford have sent a message to Muslim communities in the Diocese of St Albans for the month of Ramadan:

“It is with deep love and regard for you, our Muslim friends and neighbours, that we send our blessings as you begin your fasting and prayers during the month of Ramadan. As always we hold you in prayer, and seek to walk with you for the good of our communities in Bedfordshire, Luton, Hertfordshire and Barnet, and more widely, in our broken and wounded world. May this coming month bring us all closer together as we work towards the betterment of humanity. The emphasis in Ramadan on prayer, spirituality and charity is an inspiration to us all as people of faith.”

The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, OBE, Bishop of Bedford & The Rt Revd Dr Michael Beasley, Bishop of Hertford

A Prayer for the Refugee Crisis
from the Church of England website:
Heavenly Father,
you are the source of all goodness, generosity and love.
We thank you for opening the hearts of many
to those who are fleeing for their lives.
Help us now to open our arms in welcome,
and reach out our hands in support.
That the desperate may find new hope,
and lives torn apart be restored.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, Our Lord,
who fled persecution at His birth
and at His last triumphed over death. Amen

We are creatures of your new creation. We are your new creation. Grant us the grace that we may live, not according to the strictures of the old creation but by the precepts of that new creation, that others too may be drawn to new life and we can all share all that you have given us so generously with others.Amen

Father, help us at all times to put you and your Kingdom first. Help us be courageous in all we do or say that through us and the small seeds of yours we plant and nurture, your Kingdom might grow. Amen

Living God, you have given us an eternal and living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: grant that we, being risen with Him, may fix our hearts on heavenly things and share in your eternal life, worshipping you for ever at your throne in heaven. Amen

The Church of England prayer for Euro 2016

God our Father, thank you for all your gifts to us,
and especially the beautiful game.
We pray for the teams that in the heat of competition
they may be ambassadors for their sport.
We pray for the players that as they give everything to
their cause they remember the game isn't everything, win, lose or draw.
We pray for the officials for wisdom and clarity, for there to be a respect for authority even in fallibility.
We pray for the fans that in sharing their passion they remain open to friendship.
We pray for humility in victory, and dignity in defeat.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen


Additional Resources


In the episode from Luke today, Jesus is found having dinner in the home of Simon, a Pharisee. There can be no doubt that Simon was a Pharisees, Luke tells us three times in the opening two verses! It is as though he was shouting the word Pharisee at us. The point is that Pharisees were strict religious people, with high standards. It was whilst Jesus was in such company that we are told a woman who had lived a ‘sinful life’ came and sought Jesus out. So here we have a man with the highest reputation, finding his home invaded by a woman of the lowest reputation, an uninvited guest, with Jesus in the middle.
It is this contrasts which Luke wants to draw our attention to. We are almost invited to guess what reaction Jesus might have, will he be critical of the woman? Will Jesus worry that this woman might compromise his reputation? The woman is not discreet. We are told that she

‘stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.’

We know that washing the feet of another person was identified with slavery. But there is more going on here, this is a violation of social convention in caressing the feet of Jesus and rubbing them with her hair. Even today I would imagine that you and I would have been worried about our reputations, what indecent things would others have thought about Jesus? Jesus however recognises that the touch which you and I would perhaps see as a transgression of social boundaries, is instead a sign of reverential love.
Jesus is able to do this. He is able to go beyond mere appearances, beyond cultural blindness and see things in a completely different way. Once again this story is about Jesus turning everything upside down.
The story is one of contrast, the powerful Pharisee, Simon, represents the dominant religious, Jewish elite with all of its power and influence. The woman represents those on the margins, shunned by her own ethnic group. She begins an action which was a cultural gesture of moral depravity. Quite rightly we might say, Simon is scandalized. As a woman, and as a sinner this woman has and can have no value, no voice, in Simon’s eyes or in the eyes of his Jewish culture. How can she presume to do this thing ?
Here a powerful man, sees Jesus involved in a dubious act with a woman, and we are told he thinks to himself, ‘he shouldn’t be doing that.’ You and I, if we were there, would undoubtedly have said exactly the same thing.
We are worried about social convention, not Jesus. Jesus reads Simons’ mind and challenges him. Jesus is not apologetic, as we would have been, instead Jesus turns the tables on Simon the Pharisee and tells him that it is the woman who is the example of true religion.
Simon had perhaps not been inhospitable but neither had he gone to the lengths which this woman had gone to – to show real love and gratitude to Jesus. Simon is right about this woman. His original premise was correct: she has committed great sins. But his mistake was in seeing the sin and not the woman, or the forgiveness which she felt.
Jesus reverses everything, the ‘sinful woman’ is a demonstration of God’s love and forgiveness, Simon is exposed as just another hypocrite. The implication of the story, is that the woman loves or will love Jesus more, since she has a greater debt to be forgiven. When we look at people, we see their faults. When Jesus looks at people he sees only grace and forgiveness. Jesus tells Simon to look at this woman. She will be as a teacher to him. She can teach him about being forgiven. She can teach him about receiving grace. She can teach him about love and hospitality.

She can also teach us. On occasion, we can all show that we have received just enough forgiveness to enable us to be properly judgmental of others. We all need to recognize our need of much more forgiveness in order to cause us to be as graceful and forgiving of others, as God has been toward us. The story asks us to question our attitude. Are we a welcoming people or a judgemental people? Are we like Jesus or Simon? In speaking to Simon Jesus plays with words ‘he who has been forgiven little, loves little.’ Of course we should all know that we have been forgiven lots. Are we a Simon? Are we scared of our reputations? Do we have the generosity and love of Jesus which this woman possessed? Charles Royden


To God, our ability is less important than our availability. Our ability can even get in the way if it obscures God's role in our achievement.

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

O God, 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.

God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son.

Into your hands, O Father, we commend our souls and our bodies; our loved ones and our neighbours; our benefactors and our friends; all who confess their faith and all who stand in need of your mercy and protection; bless us with your grace and grant that we may never be separated from you; but abide with you in time and in eternity, now and for ever. Amen Edmund of Abingdon, 1180-1240