Intercession Prayer for Sunday 18th March 2018

The 5th Sunday of Lent.

Audio expires after approximately 90 days.

Living God, You sent Your Son Jesus Christ to proclaim Your word to all mankind. Thank You for His teaching of peace, compassion and justice, as we seek to learn His ways. May our lives influence those who have not heard Your message until Your Kingdom reigns over everyone.

Thank You for the enthusiasm in Lent initiatives and guiding us through the Lenten season. Give us the opportunities to put into practice what we have learned.

God of hope and unfailing love, cleanse us and let us find the joy and gladness you offer. Show us how to be pure in heart, serving our community as Jesus served all mankind.

We pray for people going through dark times. For those in places of conflict. For people struggling to feed their families an who have suffered rejection, feeling discarded or disposable.

We pray for staff of toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us as it closes. Help former staff find new work or training. Enable them to support themselves and their dependants.

Father God give wisdom to the leaders of the world’s nations. Encourage moderation by our Prime Minister and the Russian leadership, to lower the tension between Great Britain and Russia caused by the attempted killing of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

We pray for those recently departed this Earth, to stand in your presence. Gentle God who gave the gift of life, give them peace in Your kingdom. Comfort those who grieve, knowing that their loved ones are with You. Be with them in their sorrow and pain.

We bring before you the friends and family of scientist Stephen Hawking. May they know he is healed and whole in your presence. We mourn his loss to science and pray for his legacy to inspire people to continue exploring the mysteries and wonders of the universe You made.

Loving Father we bring to You the hurt in body, mind or spirit. Be with the unwell and injured and frightened. Reassure them that by the creative ability You gave to our medics many will be cured, restored to health and relieved of pain. Give them courage and comfort by knowing that you are always with them throughout their suffering, and we pray especially the alone and lonely who have no one to help them.

We offer this prayer for those we know in need of Your healing, comfort or wisdom. We pray for those needing care, those who care for them and the medical staff who treat them.

Lord and Father be with us in the week to come. Help us be good tempered and considerate to all who we meet. To be cheerful when things go wrong and to act kindly to those we find it hard to like. Send Your spirit to guide us while we go about our daily lives.

Merciful Father, accept this prayer for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.


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Separated from the Father?

Christ On The Cross, by Eugène Delacroix, 1798 – 1863

On the day that Jesus is crucified, when he is hanging nailed to the cross, at around three in the afternoon he is heard to say “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (UKNIV Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34). It seems to be generally assumed that he has become separated from his father, can no longer feel His presence. Is there be another possibility?

Jesus knows he is going to die, that is clear. He prophesied his own death to his disciples, though they don’t listen, don’t believe or don’t understand. As well as knowing he was to die, Jesus knew why and quite possibly when.

You and me know we are going to die too. Only a very few people know when and with the exception of suicide, the time of their death. The very old probably realise why they die; They reach the natural end of thier life. Most of us do not know when, why or how we will die. We probably expect to live into a ripe, old age.

As I have aged my fear of death has diminished. I think that happens for most people as they get older. What I am afraid of now is not being dead, it is the manner of my dying.

Is it possible that Jesus’ cry of “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” as he was crucified was because of the manner of his death, not because he was afraid to die and not because he was experiencing separation from God His Father?

Jesus crucifixion was a brutal act. It was unjust, but that is not relevant in this context. It would have been excruciatingly painful. Most men probably could not have born such agony for so long, knowing their life was ebbing away. I am not saying any other interpretation is wrong, only that I think the scenario I offer bears consideration.


How Humanist Are You?

That I’m taking a look at humanism should not suggest any doubt or move away from my Christianity. I think it is helpful to understand other belief systems, as well as my own faith. If you are interested too, you can try the free online course I am undertaking INTRODUCING HUMANISM: NON-RELIGIOUS APPROACHES TO LIFE.

The very first thing I noticed. in the introductory video of the course is that, aside from not believing in a deity, a lot of what humanists believe does not seem to conflict with Christianity, or other religions.

Humanists are much more committed to testing everything, acquiring scientific evidence for what they believe. The italics for believe are deliberate. For a religion, I use the term advisedly noting they have certain religious type characteristics, requiring testing and evidence, they refer to beliefs an awful lot. If “belief” is necessary because some elements cannot be objectively demonstrated and proof provided through evidence, then how is humanism different from any other religion or belief system that has elements that cannot be proven objectively?

I was interested to take part in the How Humanist Are You quiz that is on the Humanist UK website. The first time I took the quiz it told me that I am, apparently, 71% humanist. I suspect that might be a higher percentage than some self professed humanists, but the quiz itself makes me uneasy.

The quiz is of the multiple choice answer type and, one answer can be selected to each question. It seems to me that a number of potential, relevant answers are missing. Some of the allowed answers are not mutually exclusive, so more than one could be ticked if the design of quiz permitted it. I ‘believe’ the quiz to be deliberately slanted to suggest a humanist viewpoint at its conclusion. Of course according to humanists my ‘belief’ is as valid as theirs.

I took the quiz a second time, selecting alternative answers where I would have ticked two for the question, if the quiz permitted me to do so. I received a new score of 55% humanist.  So perhaps, averaging the two attempts, I am 63% humanist.

In line with the humanists’ own contention that everything we ‘believe’ should be tested and be evidence based, where is the evidence that the quiz is fair? What tests have been done to prove that by entering every possible combination of answers the results show a linear progression of 0% to 100% humanist?

As I write I am at the end of week two of the online course. This post will be updated if my views change as the course progresses.

Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow

Or it might be too late.

2015-02-18 15.50.45-1Note:  This post was written in 2015, but remained unpublished until 2018.

We all do it at some time. I am as guilty as anyone else, for putting things off to do later. I expect we all use the same excuses too; Another day won’t matter. I’m too busy just now, he/she always asks for it before it’s needed anyway. I’ve used all those at one time or another, and probably a host of others too that I cannot remember. I think that, more often than not, putting something off is really just a matter of procrastination, or plain laziness.

While only time will tell if I am cured of this laziness, at least for the foreseeable future I will not be putting of until later actions or jobs I can undertake today. And the reason? Simple. An incredibly graphic, distressing example of what can happen.

My online friend of more than 6 years, a wonderful, kind, caring and warm lady, started to suffer pains that made it hard for her to walk and move around; she could still sit in relative comfort. Later, in October, she had a series of medical investigations and in early November was informed that she had an inoperable, cancerous tumour. She was offered chemotherapy and radiotherapy but declined any aggressive treatment, opting only for pain relief. Her prognosis was to expect approximately 12 months before the condition was terminal.

I decided I would try to visit her. She lived in The Netherlands but this did not matter, I had plenty of time to make arrangements and occasionally visited Maastricht for concerts. I could call in on her way back to the ferry at Hoek-van-Holland. Even if I took a pessimistic view, I reckoned I would have  six months leeway to arrange a visit.

On the 6th January 2015, when I logged into our online meeting she was not there. Instead there was a message from her sister, saying that my friend had been taken into hospital. The next day a further message informed me that she was in a coma and not expected to survive. The following day …. well, you can work it out.

My friend had survived only two months from her diagnosis, not the year projected by the doctors, or even my pessimistic guess of six months. I did not see her before her death, all because I put off taking the appropriate action until ‘tomorrow’.

Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest
not what a day may bring forth – Proverbs 27:1 


But what is a covenant?

In today’s Old Testament lectionary reading God establishes his covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:8-17), “for all generations to come” (UK NIV). But what really is a covenant?

Almost every one of us probably has a fair understanding of what a contract is. We probably enter into some kind of contract every day. Every time we buy something in a shop, we enter into a contract, in that example a consumer contract, in which every person who buys the same thing gets it on the same terms and conditions.

A contract requires an offer of some product or service, an acceptance of the offer and a consideration, some form of payment for the product or service, usually but not always financial.

Contracts can be express, where every little detail is explicitly spelled out, or implied, where under normal circumstances the buyer has a reasonable expectation that a product or service be supplied in a certain way, for example a meal in a restaurant will be properly cooked.

But what exactly is a covenant? It’s not a promise, because a promise does not require a consideration, or it would become a contract. Neither is it really a contract, with every little detail upheld by law.

I have trouble actually defining a covenant myself, though I think I know a good example, found in the original 1960 film, The Magnificent Seven.

A poor Mexican village has hired a group of seven gunfighters to protect them from outlaw raiders that steal their crops. At a stage where it looks like the hired men might have bitten off more than they can chew, we hear them having a discussion about whether to stay in the village or leave.

A short snippet of their conversation when someone suggests they leave goes:

Chris:  “You forget one thing. We took a contract.”
Vin:   “It’s not the kind courts enforce.”
Chris:  That´s just the kind you’ve gotta keep.

That, it seems to me, is the essence of covenant over contract. A matter of honesty and honour.

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 11th February 2018

The Sunday Next Before Lent.

Audio expires after approximately 90 days.

Perfect God and Father, You value each of us so much that you sent Your son, Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins and redeem us all. As You have shown our value to you, let us take that example to show how we value You by caring for our fellow human beings and sharing Your love to Your people, created in Your image.

As we approach the season of Lent, bless the initiatives taking place wherever Lent is observed.

Bless and guide Lent Groups. Lead them as they seek to serve communities by living as an example that can bring more people to You.

Eternal, loving God help us to look forward with hope, expectation and action through Lent and beyond.

Christ Jesus who gave us freedom to live, work and to worship you, we pray for the 200 migrants rescued from modern slavery on a flower picking farm in Cornwall. Help them, and all who are forced to work under unjust conditions, to integrate into our free society or the society wherever they may be.

We pray that in places beyond our direct influence, there is someone to help and support those living or working under slave conditions, or under any kind of injustice that might be inflicted upon them. We ask for all slaves to be freed and for justice upon the slave-masters and the oppressed alike.

Loving Father we bring to you those hurt in body, mind or spirit. The unwell and the injured. Heal those injured by their and our fellow humans, in places like Syria, Somalia, Yemen and wherever there are victims of violence perpetrated on human by human. Heal too the minds of those who enact that violence. Forgive them as an example to us and to their victims to forgive them.

In our own localities, we offer this prayer for those we know in need of your healing, comfort or wisdom. We pray for those needing care, those who care for them and medical staff who treat them.

Eternal God, thank you for hearing our prayers. May we listen with open hearts and minds for your response whenever, wherever and however you choose to respond.

Merciful Father, accept this prayer for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.


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