Morning Prayer Wednesday, 24 June 2020
Good morning, Cornerstone friends.
I hope you are all ready for a hot summer day after our time of reflection.
Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel
who has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets God promised of old
to save us from our enemies, from the hands of all that hate us.
To show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
And you child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you go before the Lord to prepare his way.
To give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of all their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
and guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1: 68–79
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever.
This reading is not a psalm as I usually start our time together,
but it sounds like one and it is one in many ways.
It is the ‘Benedictus’ used in Morning Prayer in the Church of England Prayer Book.
It is the prayer of Zechariah the Jewish priest, married to Elisabeth.
Zechariah had a vision from God that although he and his wife were old,
she would conceive a child and they would have a son.
Zechariah lost the power of speech until the boy was born.
He then spoke to say the boy should be called John
and followed it with this prayer of praise, assurance and thanksgiving.
We know the boy as John the Baptist and today the Church celebrates this birth.
So let our time today be full of praise, assurance and thanksgiving.
Let us heed the message of John.
God is near, we need to be ready for new things.
From now on things will change for everyone.
Our building in Central Milton Keynes is now open for private prayer.
Let us give thanks for those who have worked to prepare the building
and organise the new procedures for directing visitors
and cleaning the building regularly to protect all who come in to pray.
Preparations are being made for us to return to attending worship together
when the coronavirus is less widespread and distancing rules permit.
We could well decide to retain this use of Whatsapp and other digital means
to share time each morning and evening in the week.
When it became necessary,
we older generation have become used to using digital facilities to create a virtual community.
The youngsters have been using this means of communication well before this year.
They are likely to be on phones or laptops using Minecraft or Fortnite
to play games in virtual environments.
The Bishop of Oxford in his message on line to the Diocese this week
urged us to think of our work with children and young people.
He remarked that he had been in a very small Sunday School
and his church formed a youth group with only three members when he was thirteen.
This, he said, laid the basis for his faith
and began his journey which led to ordination
and now his appointment as a senior bishop in the Church of England.
Let us pray for our work with mums and toddlers on Monday
and for our youth work on Sundays and in the week.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you that we can worship without fear.
We ask that you will guide all those leading Cornerstone
as we emerge from this period of confinement
so that we can all make a pathway to you to serve the needs of Central Milton Keynes.
We pray that you will guide us to nurture a new generation,
who will be more aware of the opportunities you are setting before us,
and give us the humility to listen to their vision for your Church in this city
as we move to serving you in changing circumstances.
We ask that our building and our people may be a beacon of your presence
on the hill in the centre of our community all to your praise and glory.
The whole world is changing as we deal with this pandemic outbreak.
Pray for those areas that are experiencing a resumption of fuller activities,
those like us who are making tentative steps to emerge from a life of restriction
and for those areas where the epidemic is still spreading
and affecting a growing number of their communities.
Pray for all those who tend the sick,
comfort the grieving
and those who seek better ways to treat the sick and protect us all against new infections.
The Pope has reminded us this week
that we should all work to continue to limit our pollution of the environment
as we move to more activity when the lock-down limitations are removed.
This remains central to the goals of the United Nations,
who are also reminding us of the plight of millions of displaced people in different parts of the world. Few are in this position because of natural disasters;
most are as a result of conflict or persecution.
The UN has also brought about a rather encouraging piece of co-operation between East and West.
It has persuaded Melinda Gates, philanthropist and holder of large interests in Microsoft,
to join with Jack Ma, philanthropist and controller of Alibaba, the Chinese software giant,
to become joint chairs of a new working group.
It will consider how we can use these new technologies
to give access to more people yet preserve our privacy and retain control of our lives.
In times when there appears to be such mistrust between nations,
particularly the USA and China, this co-operation gives a ray of hope.
We still have to find a way to include those in our communities who are excluded.
We need to change so that more women and more people from African, Asian and mixed ethnicities
are included in positions of authority,
so that the decisions affecting our lives come from the experience of all sections and not just from white males.
Lord we thank you for your gift of hope, our strength in times of trouble.
Beyond the injustice of our time, its cruelty and its wars,
we look forward to a world of peace when men and women deal kindly with each other and no one is afraid.
Every bad deed delays its coming, every good deed brings it nearer.
May our lives be your witness, so that future generations will bless us.
May the day come when the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.
Help us to pray for it, to wait for it, to work for it and to be worthy of it.
Blessed are you, Lord God, for ever.
A final prayer to set up our day; a prayer of St Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb you, nothing alarm you,
while all things must fade, God is unchanging.
Be patient and you will gain everything;
for with God in your heart nothing is lacking.
God meets every need.
No need for fear or deep despair
Seekers of God receive his care
No need for fear or deep despair
We are at home and God is there.
Have a fulfilling day, everyone.