Prayers at Mid-day for Tuesday, 11 August, 2020 (Proper 19, Trinity 9)


Memorial of St. Clare of Assisi, founder of the Order of the Poor Clares (d 1253)






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.



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


Hebrew Scriptures

Judges 13.1-15 (The Birth of Samson)



Psalm 99

The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!

   He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! 

The Lord is great in Zion;

   he is exalted over all the peoples. 

Let them praise your great and awesome name.

   Holy is he! 

Mighty King, lover of justice,

   you have established equity;

you have executed justice

   and righteousness in Jacob. 

Extol the Lord our God;

   worship at his footstool.

   Holy is he! 


Moses and Aaron were among his priests,

   Samuel also was among those who called on his name.

   They cried to the Lord, and he answered them. 

He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;

   they kept his decrees,

   and the statutes that he gave them. 


O Lord our God, you answered them;

   you were a forgiving God to them,

   but an avenger of their wrongdoings. 

Extol the Lord our God,

   and worship at his holy mountain;

   for the Lord our God is holy.





Acts 5.27-42




John 3.22-36


After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized— John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.’ John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, “I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.’


The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.



Commentary (Father Michael)



In a museum at Colmar, in Alsace in France, you can see (when we can go places and see things again) a medieval work of art known as the Isenheim Altarpiece.  Originally painted for monks  who cared for the sick, you can see beneath the cross, on Jesus’ left, the figure of John the Baptist.    John, who is very much alive (he was of course murdered long before Jesus was crucified), is shown pointing to Jesus, and the words inscribed beside him are from today’s gospel reading, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3.30).



This appearance of John the Baptist in John 3 offers an interesting glimpse of other itinerant preachers and baptizers who were contemporaries of Jesus.   We can imagine a fairly busy religious landscape, where charismatic figures were in competition with one another.   However, in this account, and in the theology of the Fourth Gospel, John the Baptist is clear that Jesus eclipses him in every way, because Jesus “comes from heaven” and he, John, is he one who announces Jesus, the herald, the “friend of the bridegroom”.  John the Baptizer sees no equivalence between himself and Jesus, who is greater than him in every respect.


For this reason, the Isenheim Altarpiece pictures John pointing at the cross, to indicate, even in his death, the supremacy of the crucified Christ.    One of the great theologians of the last century (and a favourite of mine), Karl Barth, kept a reproduction of the Altarpiece on his desk. Barth wrote of this depiction of John, “Could anyone point away from himself more impressively and completely?”  For Barth, this figure of John was emblematic of preachers and of the church, to point always and only to Christ.  As it applies to preachers, so it also applies to Christians in our personal lives of faith, that if we centre ourselves on Christ in contemplation and adoration, recognizing that the Father has placed “all things” into his hands, including eternal life, then we will never too far wrong. 




What do you see in the image of the Isenheim Altarpiece?   How does your life point others towards Christ?  What other questions come to mind in today’s passages?




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 Ohio (The Episcopal Church), their bishop The Rt Revd Mark Hollingsworth, and the clergy and people of the Diocese of Bristol (England), their bishop The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, and the clergy and people of the Diocese of Katanga (Congo) , their bishop The Rt Revd Bertin Subi 

 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.





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.


God of peace, who in the poverty of the blessed Clare gave us a clear light to shine in the darkness of this world: give us grace so to follow in her footsteps that we may at the last, rejoice with her in your eternal glory; 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.  


Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.