20th Ordinary Sunday, 14 August: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Psalm 40:2-4, 17; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53 ~ keeping our eyes on Jesus

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Following Jesus may not bring us happiness in this life, but we are challenged to follow him nevertheless. We come together to worship our gracious God and to ask for help in our Christian life this week.

Opening Prayer:

To set the earth ablaze, O God, your Son submitted to a baptism unto death, and from his cup of suffering you call the Church to drink. Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and give us strength in time of trial to run the race that lies before us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.

“Our God” – Chris Tomlin


A Reading from the Old Testament: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10 (NLT)
[Jeremiah, whose preaching disturbed his king, had to suffer for it. This illustrates Jesus’ words in the Gospel.]

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1630 Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem
Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1630
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

So these officials went to the king and said, “Sir, this man must die! That kind of talk will undermine the morale of the few fighting men we have left, as well as that of all the people. This man is a traitor!”

King Zedekiah agreed. “All right,” he said. “Do as you like. I can’t stop you.”

So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern in the prison yard. It belonged to Malkijah, a member of the royal family. There was no water in the cistern, but there was a thick layer of mud at the bottom, and Jeremiah sank down into it.

So Ebed-melech rushed from the palace to speak with him. “My lord the king,” he said, “these men have done a very evil thing in putting Jeremiah the prophet into the cistern. He will soon die of hunger, for almost all the bread in the city is gone.”

So the king told Ebed-melech, “Take thirty of my men with you, and pull Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”

A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 40:2-4, 17 (NLT)

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.

As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.

“Psalm 40 – A Hymn of Praise” – U2’s “40”


A Reading from the Letters: Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)
[We are encouraged us to keep struggling on.]

Christ on cross - head

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

A Reading from the Gospels: Luke 12:49-53 (NLT)
[Those who follow Christ need not expect a trouble-free life.]

“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.

‘Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”


“Jesus” – Chris Tomlin


Intercessory Prayer:

Gracious God: you are our helper, our Savior, our God; and we are poor and needy. Hear us now, Lord, as we pray –

+ That missionaries may have assurance of your help…. Lord, hear us.
+ That believers who face persecution may not give up…. Lord, hear us.
+ That people of good will may fight injustice and prejudice…. Lord, hear us.
+ That believers who are tempted to give up their faith may be encouraged…. Lord, hear us
+ That sick people may experience your healing presence in times of darkness…. Lord, hear us.
+ That people on vacation may come home renewed and refreshed…. Lord, hear us.
+ That all the faithful who have died in Christ may receive a place near God’s throne of grace…. Lord, hear us.

Loving God, you are always thinking of your people: stoop down to us and hear our cry for your help, we pray, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

“Blessed Be Your Name” – Matt Redman



Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NLT)

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen