Prayers at Mid-day for Friday, 14 August, 2020 (Proper 19, Trinity 9)

 

Today in the Christian calendar we remember Father Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr of the Holocaust (d 1941).

 

 

 

 

Invitatory

 

O God, make speed to save us.

 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.

Amen.

 

The Lord is our refuge and our strength:  O come, let us worship.

 

Hebrew Scriptures  (Samson Defeats the Philistines)

Judges 14.20 – 15.20

https://bible.oremus.org/?ql=464365784

 

Psalm

Psalm 102

Hear my prayer, O Lord;

   let my cry come to you. 

Do not hide your face from me

   on the day of my distress.

Incline your ear to me;

   answer me speedily on the day when I call. 

 

For my days pass away like smoke,

   and my bones burn like a furnace. 

My heart is stricken and withered like grass;

   I am too wasted to eat my bread. 

Because of my loud groaning

   my bones cling to my skin. 

I am like an owl of the wilderness,

   like a little owl of the waste places. 

I lie awake;

   I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. 

All day long my enemies taunt me;

   those who deride me use my name for a curse. 

For I eat ashes like bread,

   and mingle tears with my drink, 

because of your indignation and anger;

   for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside. 

My days are like an evening shadow;

   I wither away like grass. 

 

But you, O Lord, are enthroned for ever;

   your name endures to all generations. 

You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,

   for it is time to favour it;

   the appointed time has come. 

For your servants hold its stones dear,

   and have pity on its dust. 

The nations will fear the name of the Lord,

   and all the kings of the earth your glory. 

For the Lord will build up Zion;

   he will appear in his glory. 

He will regard the prayer of the destitute,

   and will not despise their prayer. 

 

Let this be recorded for a generation to come,

   so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord: 

that he looked down from his holy height,

   from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, 

to hear the groans of the prisoners,

   to set free those who were doomed to die; 

so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,

   and his praise in Jerusalem, 

when peoples gather together,

   and kingdoms, to worship the Lord. 

 

He has broken my strength in mid-course;

   he has shortened my days. 

‘O my God,’ I say, ‘do not take me away

   at the mid-point of my life,

you whose years endure

   throughout all generations.’ 

 

Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth,

   and the heavens are the work of your hands. 

They will perish, but you endure;

   they will all wear out like a garment.

You change them like clothing, and they pass away; 

   but you are the same, and your years have no end. 

The children of your servants shall live secure;

   their offspring shall be established in your presence.

 

 

Epistle

Acts 7.17-29

https://bible.oremus.org/?ql=464365936

Gospel

John 4.43-54

 

When the two days were over, he went from that place to Galilee (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honour in the prophet’s own country). When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival.

 

Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.’ The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he himself believed, along with his whole household. Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee. 

 

Commentary (Father Michael)

 

Today’s gospel passage invites us to think about the foundations of our belief.   How do we come to belief?  What do we need to believe?    What can we ask of God to help us to believe?   In John’s gospel, the principal place where these questions are addressed is the post-resurrection story of Thomas, where Jesus praises those who can believe without proof:  “Blessed are those who have not see and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20.29).   Here in the story of the royal official of Capernaum, Jesus makes a similar comment when he says, almost reproachfully, that people will not believe without “signs and wonders”.  The official however seems to exceed expectations in that John mentions his strong faith, and a causal relationship is then implied by the news, immediately following, that his son is recovering.  This sign then leads the official’s family and household to also become believers.

 

In his commentary on this passage, N.T. Wright notes that this miracle is the “second sign” that Jesus gives, but that for the rest of the gospel, John ceases to number the signs.  How many signs are there in total in John?   Well, to answer that question, we would have to read the gospel carefully and attentively.   We would, as Wright notes, have to engage with Jesus as the Word, literally within the words of the gospel, but also in his capacity as the Word made flesh which comes from the Father into the world.   As John brings his gospel to a close, he tells us as much, that his book is “written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah” (Jn 20.31).

 

Sometimes Christian belief is presented as if belief is about giving our consent to a set of abstract principles.  Texts like Romans 10.9 are often used to support this idea, but it’s worth noting that Paul also tells us, quoting Deuteronomy, the “the word is near you” (Rom 10.4).  Jesus the Word of God is near us, speaking to us in the gospels, dwelling with us in the Holy Spirit, continually speaking, teaching, and loving us.   I pray that by spending time with the Word, opening ourselves to it, and letting it soak into our minds and hearts, we can too, like the official, can readily believe without the benefit of “signs and wonders”.

 

 

Questions

How is belief sometimes a struggle for you?   Have you ever asked God to help you believe?   Could you?  What other questions come to mind in today’s passages?

 

Intercession

 

Let us pray in faith to God our Father, to his Son Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, saying, “Lord, hear and have mercy.”

 

For the Church of the living God throughout the world, let us ask the riches of his grace.  Today we pray in the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer for the clergy and people of the diocese of Oke-Ogun (Nigeria) and their bishop, The Rt Revd Cornelius Adagbada, as well as the clergy and people of he diocese of Bukavu (Congo) and their bishop, The Rt Revd Sylvestre Bahati.

 In our Diocesan cycle, we pray for the clergy and people of St. St. Martin in-the-Fields.

.

 Lord, hear and have mercy.

 

For all who proclaim he word of truth, especially all who struggle to communicate the gospel within the isolation and restrictions of the pandemic, 

Lord, hear and have mercy.

 

For all who have consecrated their lives to the kingdom of God, and for all struggling to follow the way of Christ, let us all the gifts of the Spirit.

Lord, hear and have mercy.

 

For Elizabeth our Queen, for Justin our Prime Minister, and for all who govern the nations, that they may strive for justice and peace, let us ask the strength of God.

Lord, hear and have mercy.

 

For the people of Lebanon, as they face the aftermath of the terrible explosion in Beirut, and for the many injured and homeless, and for those who mourn.

Lord, hear and have mercy.

 

For scholars and research workers, particularly for those working on treatments and a vaccine for Covid 19, and for all whose work seeks to benefit humanity, let us ask the light of the Lord.

Lord, hear and have mercy.

 

We pray to be forgiven our sins and set free from all hardship, distress, want, war, and injustice.

Lord, hear and have mercy.

 

For all who have passed from this life in faith and obedience,  and for all who have perished from Covid 19 and from diseases that went untreated because hospitals were overwhelmed, let us ask the peace of Christ.

Lord, hear and have mercy.

 

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Collect

 

Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church.  Open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of your Spirit in love, joy, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

 

Most loving Father, whose Son Jesus Christ came to give his life as a ransom for many: Grant to us the grace, as thou didst grant to thy servant Maximilian Kolbe, to be always ready to come to the aid of those in need or distress, not counting the cost; that so we may follow in the footsteps of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.