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Intercessions for 17th Sunday after Trinity Year A (Proper 23) 12 October 2014


The Collect

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you: pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly  city where we shall see you face to face; 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.  Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Exodus 32.1-14

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered round Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold ear-rings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their ear-rings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterwards they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” But Moses sought the favour of the Lord his God. “O Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance for ever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Psalm 106.1-6,19-23

Alleluia. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, *for his faithfulness endures for ever.
Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord * or show forth all his praise?
Blessed are those who observe what is right * and always do what is just.
Remember me, O Lord, in the favour you bear for your people; * visit me in the day of your salvation;
That I may see the prosperity of your chosen and rejoice in the gladness of your people, * and exult with your inheritance.
We have sinned like our forebears; * we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
They made a calf at Horeb * and worshipped the molten image;
Thus they exchanged their glory * for the image of an ox that feeds on hay.
They forgot God their saviour, * who had done such great things in Egypt,
Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham * and fearful things at the Red Sea.
So he would have destroyed them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, * to turn away his wrath from consuming them.

Second Reading: Philippians 4.1-9

My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 22.1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to the chief priests and Pharisees in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

The RSCM has:

You have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. You have your whole life to prepare for it. You know the way. But you do not know the hour or the day. Blessed are those who will be found ready when he comes, dressed in alertness and hope, good deeds and loving kindness, faith and courage: wearing the wedding garment that will be expected of all the guests intending to stay for the feast.

And in his essay, The Wardrobe as Christian Metaphor, Dr Don King writes:

Digory’s Uncle Andrew…is actually called by Aslan so that he might be given the chance to re-focus his life away from…egocentricity and towards righteousnes and selflessness. Unfortunately, Uncle Andrew does not respond because his sensibilities have been deadened. For example, while Aslan sings his song of creation, Uncle Andrew “was not liking the Voice.” Later, all he could hear was “nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song”:…Aslan Himself sums up Uncle Andrew’s problem later in response to Polly’s request that Aslan remove the old man’s fear: “I cannot tell that [the meaning of His song of creation] to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh Adam’s sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good!” (171). Uncle Andrew’s failure to heed Aslan’s call is reminiscent of those in Jesus’ parable who failed to respond properly to a wedding invitation: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).

Prayers of Intercession

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, you have promised us that those who search for you will find you, if we seek you with all our hearts. Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that threaten our blossom and let us not be diverted by false goals. Rather, help us to develop our individual relationship of love with you so that we may be open to all the members of the Body of Christ in an inter-communion of love in which each embraces the other, and all are embraced by God.

Lord, draw us through the narrowest of gates to the wide open spaces of your heaven: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, open our eyes that we may see the harm we have done to your creation. Open our sense of smell that we may breathe in the promise of every new day. Open the fingers of our hands that we may touch something that you have made. Open our ears that we may hear your words of warning and mercy. And open our hearts, that we may feel and share your love.

Lord, draw us through the narrowest of gates to the wide open spaces of your heaven: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

Lord, the tangled roots from which we spring nourish our depths and send out shoots for growth; separate yet entwined with friends, relatives, strangers and people we do not like. Yet we grow together in an intricate relationship, mutually dependent in the up and over, as we dominate and submit to the wheel and turn, the pre-ordained pattern,  of a Celtic knot.

Lord, draw us through the narrowest of gates to the wide open spaces of your heaven: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord, we ask you for healing for all those who suffer. Help us and them to understand that healing is rarely achieved without some cost and may not mean the end of pain. For healing is not going back to what one was before, it is a growing on to a new stage of being and, through many little deaths and resurrections, being set free. Help us to hold on through the pain, and may our difficulties in time yield nourishment. *

Lord, draw us through the narrowest of gates to the wide open spaces of your heaven: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

Lord, with a love stronger than death, your son opened his arms to us on the cross and death was swallowed up in victory. May we who have shared our lives as strangers and pilgrims here on earth be welcomed with all your saints to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom.

Lord, draw us through the narrowest of gates to the wide open spaces of your heaven: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

* Based on two poems by Ann Lewin, Healing and Astringent Sweetness.

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Exodus 32.1-14 © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Post Communion (17th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

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