A very sad time for our Royal family and for the nation at the loss of Her Majesty the Queen. We remember her and her family in our prayers, both last week and today, before her funeral tomorrow.
I hope that you all are well and are coping, Rev Peter has kindly done the reflection and our prayers today and we think of you all at this time.
Gracious God, we give thanks
for the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth,
for her faith and her dedication to duty.
Bless our nation as we mourn her death
and may her example continue to inspire us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
God of our days and years, we set this time apart for you. Form us in the likeness of Christ so that our lives may glorify you. Amen.
PRAYERS OF PENITENCE
God shows his love for us in that, while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Let us then show our love for him, by confessing our sins in penitence and faith.
Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with all our heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us. You are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Almighty God, you search us and know us: may we rely on you in strength and rest on you in weakness, now and in all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE OLD TESTAMENT READING
Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying,
“When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. Glory to you O Lord.
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property.
So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’
Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’
So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’
And his mastercommended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.
If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
We are in the Harvest season, when traditionally we celebrate crops and fruit being harvested. This year we are also in the shadow of a huge Royal Funeral, the end of a long reign, the remembering of a much-loved queen. In our church year we continue through Luke, with more parables about rich men, wealth and following Jesus. This parable is particularly difficult to make sense of; in verse 8 it is not clear from the text if it is the rich man who commends his shrewd steward or the Lord that is Jesus commenting on the story. Certainly in the second half of the verse it is Jesus commenting. The translation also rather obscures the fact that the steward is falsely accused of squandering the goods – the verb used almost always is about slander and false accusation. We should also note that in the other parables which start with “there was a rich man”, the rich man is not a figure of approval.
And we may struggle with this parable; Christians also struggle to know how to engage in economics – we mostly feel out of our depth, that it is too complex, even that we should keep faith and economic criticism separate – though Amos would not agree! Amos lived in an unjust society where the poor were trampled on, where debt slavery was a real problem, where merchants used crooked weights to make more and where they wanted to sell 7 days a week including the sabbath, all driven by profit.
Maybe Jesus commends this steward because, in some way, maybe driven by crisis he writes down the profits his master would have made, so benefiting those who owed, not just what they had borrowed but significant interest on top. Others see in Jesus’ teaching a dark ironic, even sarcastic element – if this is the world and the values that you live with scrabble around, you will still be in the rat race, just a different lane! The real contrast is with those who understand spiritual riches and who seek God, not mammon. There is a call to be people of integrity and truthfulness / trust.
The last challenge is clear, and it is one that we have heard several times already in Luke’s gospel. It is the positive side to the challenge that Amos puts. It needs working out for each of us.
The world is a harsh often brutally unjust place. It has powerful structures and systems, a change of monarch, a change of Prime Minister in itself is not going to change these systems and structures which are twisted to benefit their interest groups. Christians will differ on how to make the world better – how much taxation, how much government control / involvement – these are big questions; but Christians should, following the prophets, following Jesus have a primary concern for a justice where the needy are a priority not a casualty. Somewhere in this parable is a steward who reacts to a crisis, but he also remains within the system. Maybe there is a both / and to its interpretation, to note his response to the crisis, as well as acknowledging he remains stuck in the systems of his world? We’ve said it before; the teaching of Jesus is not easy!
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.
During the intercessions, we pray for the church, our country, our government, people in difficulty and those who have died. You can use your own prayers or if you prefer here are some on today’s theme.
Heavenly Father, Eternal King, Look with mercy on the nations of this world. We pray particularly for our own nation, for our new King and the responsibilities on his shoulders; As you gave strength and guidance to his mother, so guide and guard him in all he does that he may lead us in your ways, that this nation may honour your glorious name.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Heavenly Father, Eternal King, Look with mercy on the nations of this world. We pray for those in our own land who do not have enough to eat, those who rely on the handouts of others, all for whom the future is uncertain or bleak. We pray too for those poorer parts of the world, for those countries ravaged and destroyed by war and for the people affected and suffering. We pray for a lasting and just peace where all may flourish.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Heavenly Father, Merciful God, As we remember Elizabeth and pray for her family at this time, so we lift to you also, all who grieve, all who mourn; We pray for those whose lives are ending, those who others to care for them and love them, and for those who will die alone or afraid. Help us to be communities where all are embraced, all will feel loved, and where those who suffer, in body, mind or spirit, will feel most precious.
Lord in you mercy. Hear our prayer
Merciful Father and Lord of all life, we praise you that we are made in your image
and reflect your truth and light. We thank you for the life of our late Sovereign Lady
Queen Elizabeth, for the love she received from you and showed among us. Above all, we rejoice at your gracious promise to all your servants, living and departed, that we shall rise again at the coming of Christ. And we ask that in due time we may share with your servant Elizabeth that clearer vision promised to us in the same Christ our Lord;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ Amen.
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 this day 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 forever. Amen.
May the Lord of peace himself, give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with us all and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us now and forever more. Amen.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ. Amen.