We give You thanks today as we call upon Your name. You have done so much for us, and for all who have gone before us, that it is our joy to sing Your songs and tell Your stories, so that we will always remember Your faithfulness.
Although we do not understand why, You have issued a call to each one of us, to know You, follow You, and play a part in Your work in the world. On our own, we are incapable and still stuck in bondage, yet as we open our eyes to Your presence and listen to Your call, You promise to be with us as we go about Your work. May we all know the desperation of having things to do for You that are much too big for our own powers.
As we follow along in Your ways, we will realize that whether or not Your call to us involves things that appear to be big, following You always reveals parts of us that need Your healing touch, and these things are always the core of Your work in our world. Teach us to let love be the center of who we are, loving You and others deeply, learning, as was the way of our Master, Jesus, to bless those who seek to do us harm.
It is from the matchless example of the life that He lived among us as Your Son that we best learn how to love, how to keep our minds on Your things rather than on the ways of the world around us, and how it is in giving up our own lives that we find real life.
So it is again today, as His students, who have heard His call to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, that we take the step of praying the prayer that He taught us, saying,
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.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours now and for ever. Amen
Depending on which system of ordering one pays attention to, this Sunday can also be referred to as Proper 17, or (in 2011) the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. Regardless of the system, the readings are the same. So, the readings for this week, on which this prayer is based, are:
- Exodus 3:1-15: The second of nine consecutive readings from Exodus. This is God's call to Moses from the burning bush, including Moses' initial objection to the call and God's assurance that he would go with Moses to deliver his people from Egypt.
- Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45b: Part of a hymn that recounts God's work to save his people from the time of Abraham until they settled in Canaan. These verses of the Psalm call the reader to worship God for his deeds among the people, how Jacob's descendants multiplied and were oppressed in Egypt, and that God sent his servant Moses to free them.
- Romans 12:9-21: The thirteenth of sixteen possible consecutive readings after Pentecost from Romans. This passage is a list of instructions from Paul on living in the way of Christ, centering on the command to live genuinely loving lives.
- Matthew 16:21-28: All of the gospel readings after Pentecost in Year A come from Matthew. This passage is the beginning of how "from that time on" Jesus prepared his disciples for his death. Peter objects to what Jesus says, receives a strong rebuke from Jesus ("Get behind me, Satan..."), and Jesus gives the call most often repeated in the gospels: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me..."