Morning Prayer Wednesday, 16 September 2020
Good morning, good Cornerstone friends. Are you ready for a new day?
Behold how good and pleasant it is
to dwell together in unity.
It is like precious oil upon the head,
running down upon the beard,
Even on Aaron’s beard,
running down upon the collar of his clothing.
It is like the dew of Hermon
running down upon the hills of Zion.
For there the Lord has promised his blessing
even life for evermore.
Mercy and truth are met together,
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Grant your people, good Lord, the spirit of unity
that they may dwell together in your love, and so bear to the world
the ointment of your healing and the dew of your blessing,
through Christ our Lord.
In the morning as they passed by they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.’
Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea” and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgiver you your trespasses.’
Mark 11: 20–25
I do not choose the readings at random, they are from the Lectionary,
a daily list of Bible readings followed by several denominations.
The Psalm shows us that living together in unity produces overflowing joy and satisfaction.
Again, this time from Mark, the story of the fig tree.
In Mark’s account Jesus curses the fig tree on the way to the Temple,
when he overturned the tables of the money changers.
It is strange, but no problem, that we are drawn again to this story only a week after we had it before.
It echoes what our Lord taught his disciples right at the beginning of his ministry,
in the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 7: 7 & 8:
‘Ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.’
Two themes for our day; ‘Ask and it will be given to you’ and
‘How good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity’.
So let us pray for the church:
I summarise the messages from the two sermons we had last Sunday, I hope adequately.
Ernesto told the story of a man searching for God to find answers to what he saw about him of the best and worst of humanity.
It took him some time to realise that God was at work in his life without him being aware of it.
The Spirit of God is moving in each one of us but we only find it when we stop trying to put limits on God
and open our lives with others that we meet.
A universal view of God which reminded me of conversations with Buddhist friends,
a mystical, contemplative approach, echoed by his reference on Monday to the life of Hildegard von Bingen,
who is remembered especially tomorrow, 17 September.
George preached on Isaiah 43: 18 ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!’
His message was that after this experience of lockdown we cannot just go on as before.
We have to be a ‘new’ or ‘renewed’ church, not only in our approach to worship,
but in our relationship with the community where we are based
and that our individual daily lives in the week should be part and parcel of our life of faith.
Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever.
Heavenly Father, you have called us in the Body of your Son, Jesus Christ
to continue his work of reconciliation and reveal you to the world:
forgive us the sins which tear us apart;
give us courage to overcome our fears and seek that unity
which is your gift and your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us pray for our world:
The news is again full of stories of conflict and oppression of the weak.
We cannot be unmoved if we watched David Attenborough’s documentary ‘Extinction, the Facts’ on Sunday
about how we are destroying the diversity of life on Earth by how we misuse its resources.
Poverty and climate change are with us in many ways including widespread fires on the Pacific coast of the USA.
Covid-19 infections are rising in most countries, needing more restrictions on our behaviour to restrict the spread.
This affects our economy and we have many who have lost their jobs.
This situation is true for many so-called advanced economies
and conditions are worse for those living in so-called developing economies,
such as the nations in Africa, Central and South America.
The words of Pope John Paul, speaking at Hiroshima,
when he was thinking about war and the abuse of power
could also refer to our mistreatment of the environment which is added to our world-wide challenges of today.
He said, ‘In the past, it was possible to destroy a village, a town, even a region or country.
Now it is the whole planet which has come under threat.
This fact should compel everyone to face a basic moral consideration:
from now on, it is only from conscious choice and then a deliberate policy that humanity can survive.’
Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed;
kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom those who lead the nations of the earth
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward
till the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To those of you who are getting about,
remember the church is open on weekdays for private prayer,
the Café is open for take-away refreshments
and the Shop for cards and books with a Christian message and Traidcraft goods.
Going out or staying in, remember God is near and we are all in a family united in Him.