Morning Prayer Wednesday, 6 January 2020
Good morning, all of you.
Today is the feast of Epiphany, marking the visit of the wise men to Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus in Bethlehem.
Give the king your judgements, O God,
and your righteousness to the son of a king.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute,
the Kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring gifts.
All kings shall fall down before him;
all nations shall do him service.
For he shall deliver the poor that cry out,
the needy and those who have no helper.
He shall have pity on the weak and poor;
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
The Lord is king let the earth rejoice.
Psalm 72: 1, 10–13
May your kingdom come, O God with deliverance for the needy,
with peace for the righteous, with overflowing blessing for all nations,
with honour, glory and praise for Christ the only Saviour.
Amen[This reading comes after Mark’s account for feeding the five thousand:]
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side to Bethesda while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
When evening came, the boat was out on the lake and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining on the oars against an adverse wind he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the lake. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart it is I; do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mark 6: 45–52
This psalm may have prompted the idea that the wise men who travelled to Jerusalem following a star were kings.
We now refer to them as Magi, learned men of some high status, as George in his sermon last Sunday reminded us.
He also remarked that they were men of action and determination.
They are also by tradition representing the different parts of the known world,
so that we think of the news of our Lord being displayed to the whole world and our role to make this good news plain to everyone.
In this time we have to think of new ways to achieve this.
The disciples in the gospel reading were unable to grasp the truth so Jesus needed to perform a miracle to get to them in time.
We have to be prepared to leave old things behind and take up new ways of being disciples
and remember God can surprise his disciples with a miracle to convince them in any age.
This reminds me of William Carey, born in nearby Paulerspury in 1761.
He was of humble origins, but literate, and grew up first as a tradesman, a shoe maker,
and later, a village schoolmaster and pastor of a Baptist church in Moulton.
He and his fellow Christians were inspired to finance a mission to India,
which became the first modern permanent missionary Society, the Baptist Missionary Society.
William went out to India and set the pattern for other denominations to form such societies by establishing schools and hospitals in Serampore.
There is now a university from the little school in India started by this one man from Paulerspury.
His watchword was: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”
Let us pray that we could follow that example.
At this time let us pray for the worldwide church, that it will attempt great things for God in our age and in our times.
Although our buildings may be shut for general public worship, we may still reach out to our wider communities
to show the love of God by word and action and not be tempted to find the current limitations an excuse,
just to sit back only maintaining our links within our worshipping communities.
Almighty God, you have called your church to witness that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself;
help us to proclaim the good news of your love by both word and action
that all who hear and see may be drawn to you;
through him who was lifted upon the cross and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
It’s the start of a new year and the start of a new term for schools all over the world.
Schools and the education of our new generation have been much in the news in the UK and in other countries too
because of the pressures to keep a regular routine of face to face learning
and the contrary pressure to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus strain.
Let us remember all teachers and the young people in all levels of the education system.
Almighty God, you are the source of all truth and your spirit leads us into the truth;
may all who teach and all who learn in our schools, colleges and universities be set free
from all things that might hinder the search for truth; and finding truth, may they learn to use it for the good of all.
The course of this pandemic continues to affect all our lives:
more people will suffer from infection,
there will be more pressures upon the families of those suffering
and an increase in the burdens on all involved in the medical and caring professions.
There are many suffering, not from ill health, but from mental distress
following loss of employment or loss of loved ones that they were unable to visit in their last days
and we all miss the freedom to meet and move together.
O Lord, we beseech you to deliver us from fear of the unknown future,
from fear of failure, from fear of poverty, from fear of sickness and pain, from fear of age, from fear of death.
Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you.
Fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you alone.
Amen.[To send us on our way; the last verse of a hymn by John L Bell and Graham Maule of Iona:]
Lord let your spirit meet us here to mend the body, mind and soul,
To disentangle peace from pain and make your broken people whole.
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. (St Theresa of Avilla)
Go safely today and expect that God will provide miracles for us.