Prayers at Mid-day for Tuesday, 21 July, 2020 (Proper 16, Trinity 6)





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

Joshua 8.1-22 (The Destruction of Ai)



Psalm 45


1 My heart overflows with a goodly theme;

   I address my verses to the king;

   my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. 

2 You are the most handsome of men;

   grace is poured upon your lips;

   therefore God has blessed you for ever. 

3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,

   in your glory and majesty. 


4 In your majesty ride on victoriously

   for the cause of truth and to defend the right;

   let your right hand teach you dread deeds. 

5 Your arrows are sharp

   in the heart of the king’s enemies;

   the peoples fall under you. 

6 Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever.

   Your royal sceptre is a sceptre of equity; 

7   you love righteousness and hate wickedness.

Therefore God, your God, has anointed you

   with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; 

8   your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.

From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; 

9   daughters of kings are among your ladies of honour;

   at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir. 

10 Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear;

   forget your people and your father’s house, 

11   and the king will desire your beauty.

Since he is your lord, bow to him; 

12   the people of Tyre will seek your favour with gifts,

   the richest of the people 13with all kinds of wealth. 

The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes; 

14   in many-coloured robes she is led to the king;

   behind her the virgins, her companions, follow. 

15 With joy and gladness they are led along

   as they enter the palace of the king. 

16 In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons;

   you will make them princes in all the earth. 

17 I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations;

   therefore the peoples will praise you for ever and ever.



Romans 14.13-23 (Do Not Make Another Stumble)




Matthew 26:47-56

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. 59Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, 60but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61and said, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.” ’ 62The high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ 63But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ 64Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you,

From now on you will see the Son of Man

   seated at the right hand of Power

   and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ 

65Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66What is your verdict?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’ 67Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, 68saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?’



Commentary (Father Michael)


One of my interests is military history and model soldiers, and from that point of view, today’s first reading from the Anglican Book of Alternative Services’ Daily Office Lectionary, Joshua 8 and the account of the Hebrew’s destruction of the city of Ai, is fascinating.   The account of military stratagems – the ambush and feigned flight that Joshua plans – tell us something of what ancient warfare might have looked like.    One can certainly appreciate how, to the ancient Israelites, a people embattled and beset by powerful neighbours, this story must have kindled they sense of military pride and their faith that he God of Israel, would always fight for them.  The same can be said of Psalm 45, which depicts Israel’s king as a mighty warrior, ready and able to defend his people.


From any other point of view, however, the stories of the conquest of Canaan related in the early books of the Hebrew scriptures, such as the sack of Ai, are horrific.   The destruction of a city, its people massacred, evoke horror and would be a war crime by today’s standards.    The point of the conquest narratives may have a theological point, to portray the God of Israel as a mighty warrior, far stronger than the gods of the neighbouring peoples, we struggle to find much that is edifying in books such as Joshua.   At the same time, as I have written previously in these commentaries, to want to dispense with the Hebrew Scriptures because of their violence and savagery is to risk falling into the ancient heresy of Marcionism, the belief hat these are stories about some other God.   These are, for better or worse, stories about the people who God rescued from slavery, and championed in their battle for a place where they could be God’s people.


I always believe that the antidote to our struggles with these aspects of Joshua and other books of conquest in scripture is to see them as part of a wider narrative, in which God slowly creates a new people who can encompass difference rather than wage war against it.  Paul’s letter to the Romans shows how God’s plan of salvation requires a new people, the Gentiles, who are now being grafted onto Israel to become a new nation, one capable of fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that his ancestors will be many nations.   The trajectory out of the Hebrew scriptures, the “main drift” as Richard Hooker called the grand themes of scripture, thus leads us from violence and massacre to restrain and accommodation as a new people, the church, try to figure out who they are.   I find this transition redemptive, and remembering this trajectory gives me some peace with the dark and violent passages such as Joshua 8.





How do you understand the warlike passages in the Hebrew Scriptures?   Can God be a warrior?  Should we think of God this way?  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 Northern Zambia (Central Africa) and their Bishop The Most Revd Albert Chama (Primate), the Diocese of Belize (West Indies) The Rt Revd Philip Wright, and the Diocese of
Kanyakumari (South India) The Rt Revd Dr A R Chelliah.


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 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, your Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence.  Give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.   Amen.