Together in Prayer for 2nd Sunday before Advent.
O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall declare your praise!
The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.
Preparing our hearts
One thing I have asked of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life;
to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Reading: Matthew 25:14-30
“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Thought for the week: Rev Joe Knight
It may be difficult to believe, but we’re very close to the end of another church year. Next week, the liturgical calendar will reach its climax with the feast of Christ the King, a summing up of the Good News of God, reminding us of the God who made and loves the world, and shining a light on who he has made us to be. It’s been difficult to follow the sense of momentum this year as we’ve journeyed through Matthew’s gospel. But the message of Christ being the King of all the world has been there since the beginning.
Remember, chapter one introduces us to Jesus through his royal family tree, emphasising that the long awaited saviour – the King of kings – was born in a humble animal dwelling, and came to serve and not be served, who did not hide the gift of God in the ground, but, with every breath, word and deed, proclaimed the gift of God’s kingdom, right up to the grave, and even beyond!
In the reading this week, we find a challenge of Jesus. He is speaking to his disciples and asking them what they will do with the good news. The scribes and pharisees had been given the law of Moses, and before them, the people of Israel had been given the gift of God’s promise – that they would be a blessing to all the world. But what had happened? It was as though that treasure had been buried, and they were not ready for the master’s return. Now Jesus focusses on his friends, his followers, and asks them the same, ‘what will you do with the gift of God?’
One day, I’d like to tell you about my Nan. Sadly, she passed away three weeks ago, but had lived a beautiful life. She lived in awe of God’s great love and faithfulness, and did not hide that joyful gift in the ground, but used her ‘talent’, her gift, and multiplied it many times over with the many hearts she touched. To me, she’s a true inspiration. She invested in the gift by prayer (at least two hours every morning), and let that deep-rooted faith blossom through preaching, volunteering, caring for the needy in a whole variety of ways; her life was a mission. And, when the Master came, she gladly welcomed his call.
I’d like to live a bit like that. To know that the gift of God is a vocation – to live as servants to the King of kings. And not just servants, but as friends (John 15:15). The good news of the kingdom is that there is a king, and the king is good, loving, trustworthy, ever-faithful, gracious and forgiving, kind, just, and always ready to pick us up in his arms and say ‘well done.’
One last thought. Jesus posed this challenge before taking it on himself by facing the burden of the cross. He knows it’s difficult. He knows we’re all sometimes tempted to hide the gift of God in the ground. He knows our suffering and weakness because he’s been there too. So, even in these strange days, we can encouraged that God’s kingdom is not hidden away, but in our lives and in our prayers, we can help put it on display, growing the hope of God’s good news in our challenging world.
Collect for the 2nd Sunday before Advent
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, we pray that we may be found
ready at your coming,
may we heed your call and do you will.
Guide your whole church, that it may show
forth your light and love,
through Christ our Lord.
We lift to you, once again, our communities.
Lord, giver of life and hope,
we pray that you would strengthen us
and meet us in our need.
Bring peace to the lonely, the hurting
and the dying. Bring comfort
to those who mourn or feel abandoned.
May your kingdom and your presence
be evident and tangible
to all those who need you most,
and all those who seek you.
We pray especially for …
We rejoice in the gifts you’ve given us,
May we share them and use them for your glory.
May your good news touch
the brokenness of our world,
bringing hope, healing and reconciliation.
We pray for the nations of the world,
and all those places experiencing
the wound of division. Bring your peace,
prince of peace. Bring vision and unity
to all who find themselves in conflict.
We pray especially for …
Lord, though we are in lockdown,
may our hearts be open,
fill us with a new sense of your joy,
fill us with a renewed confidence
in the good news that brings hope
for today and all our tomorrows.
Thank you Jesus that you know us,
you love and care for us all the time,
empower us by your Spirit
to live and work for your praise and glory.
We join all our prayers into one, by saying the Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Lord, set your blessing on us
as we begin this day together.
Confirm in us the truth
by which we rightly live;
confront us with the truth
from which we wrongly turn.
We ask not for what we want
but for what you know we need,
as we offer this day and ourselves
for you and to you
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour