16 July 2016

‘Strengthen for service, Lord,
the hands that holy things have taken’

Fresh lemons on sale in a supermarket near Rethymnon this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

Tomorrow [17 July 2016] is the Eighth Sunday after Trinity. The readings in the Revised Common Lectionary are: Amos 8: 1-12; Psalm 52; Colossians 1: 15-28; and Luke 10: 38-42.

In Crete during the last few weeks, I have noticed how the trees are dripping with fresh fruit, especially lemons, and the vines with ripening grapes. At the same time, fresh, locally-produced fruit – from cherries and pears, to oranges and peaches – are in plentiful supply on the shelves of local shops and supermarkets.

And so the opening words of the Old Testament reading have a special resonance for tomorrow morning, even though the go on to speak about a prophetic warning rather than a blessing:

This is what the Lord God showed me – a basket of summer fruit. He said, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ (Amos 8: 1-12)

And looking at the icons in the churches and on sale in the shops, I am reminded in the Epistle reading, despite its awkward translation in most English-language versions, that Christ is the first icon:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1: 15-16)

The Gospel reading (Luke 10: 38-42) tells a well-known story about Mary and Martha. It has sometimes puzzled readers, but this evening it reminds me that if Mary and Martha are models for priestly ministry, then being is as important in priesthood as is doing:

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ 41 But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’


Blessed are you, O Lord,
and blessed are those who observe and keep your law:
Help us to seek you with our whole heart,
to delight in your commandments
and to walk in the glorious liberty
given us by your Son, Jesus Christ.

Post Communion Prayer:

Strengthen for service, Lord,
the hands that holy things have taken;
may the ears which have heard your word
be deaf to clamour and dispute;
may the tongues which have sung your praise be free from deceit;
may the eyes which have seen the tokens of your love
shine with the light of hope;
and may the bodies which have been fed with your body
be refreshed with the fullness of your life;
glory to you for ever.

An icon of Christ as the Great High Priest in a church near Rethymnon this week (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

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