Psalm 136 (From ‘Psalms Now’)
Thank you, God, for all these things that reveal your love.
Thank you for the heavens that cover us, for the earth beneath our feet, for the sun in the day and the stars of the night, for the snow and the rains and the rivers and the lakes, for mountains and valleys and trees and flowers.
Thank you, God, for those people who demonstrate your love.
Thank you for those great people who followed you throughout history, for the priests and prophets and apostles and ministers, for doctors and teachers and mothers and fathers,
and painters and musicians and writers and farmers and labourers and clerks,
for those men and women who accepted your love and dedicated their lives to loving their neighbours.
Thank you, God, for choosing me to be one of Your people,
for calling me and equipping me to communicate Your love to the world about me.
Thank you, God.
LITANY OF PRAISE: Response to each of your prayers of praise:
Thank you, God!
SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 3:14-21
This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, in heaven or on earth, takes its name. In the abundance of his glory, may he, through His Spirit, enable you to grow firm in power with regard to your inner self, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith and then, planted in love and built on love, with all God’s holy people, you will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; so that, knowing the love of Christ which is beyond knowledge, you may be filled with the utter fullness of God. Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.
REFLECTION: (Louis Evely)
Lay persons, by and large, underestimate their vocation. They don’t understand that God needs them right where they are to carry on His work among men, that He’s counting on them to perfect and sanctify the world; they don’t realise that He’s committed this task, this business, these children, this man and this woman to them, and that we’re all like the wise and prudent manager who’s been put in charge of some of his Master’s goods and servants in order to give each one what he needs, when he needs it.
Let’s look at it this way: God needed someone where we are now, to guide this child, to comfort this man or woman, to perform this job, to prove His love. Couldn’t He have done that Himself, without relying on us? Yes, God could’ve done everything all by Himself but He so made the world that things wouldn’t be as good that way. He’s chosen to need men and women; He’s willed that we be necessary to Him for the fulfilment of His designs. “You’ll do greater deeds than I”. He’s permanently set up the universe in such a way that God with man can accomplish more than God alone. He became flesh and forever bound Himself to being incarnate. “As the Father has sent me, so now I send you.”
He’s relying on us: He’s entrusted His work to us and He’s waiting for us to do it. He needs us to make this man or woman happy, to do this particular task, to manifest His tenderness and His fidelity, His joy and goodness, His patience and trust and courage. If only we realised that!
If only we took a little more pride in it and felt that, wherever we are, we’re God’s lieutenants. The word lieutenant means “one who takes another’s place,” and it suggests that we have to take God’s place with regard to those He’s confided to us, that we have to substitute for Him and, in His stead, do the job He’s left in our hands.
INTERCESSIONS: Lord, in your mercy . . . Hear our prayer
CLOSING PRAYER: (Huub Oosterhuis)
Lord God, your kingdom is here, hidden and close to us – someone to care for and people to live for. Your will is done on earth everywhere where people live and die for each other. We pray, therefore, that we may gradually accomplish this from day to day, and thus come to know your name and find you, our Father, for ever. Amen.