Tag Archives: God

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 7th May 2017

The Fourth Sunday of Easter.


Audio expires approximately after 90 days after posting.

Father of our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, You sent Him to Earth to care for your flock. To lead, not to heard. To open the gate to Your pasture, Not to round us up when we stray but to show us the way back to Your fold.

May this prayer encompass not only our words to You but, guided by Your Holy Spirit, that which you need us to hear today.

At Jesus baptism, You sent the blessing of Your Holy Spirit upon him as a dove. Send Your Spirit today to all those being baptised. Protect and sustain children as they grow, guide their parents, godparents and all who will care for them, that they may thrive.

Creator spirit, remind us of our own baptism and confirmation. Open our hearts and minds, to hear Your life giving word and be renewed by Your power.

Thank You Father that we live in a free democracy. We pray for the coming election. May the campaigns be fought on policy, not personality. On debate, not disparagement or dogma.

Source of truth and wisdom, guide us as we examine the options and remind us of our responsibility, to consider good and justice for all, not just our own needs and ends.

Heavenly Father, comfort all who grieve the death of a loved one or friend. Give strength to those who handle the formalities of death. Heal the unwell and injured in body or mind, according to their own need. and hear too the care of our own hears that we may say in silence within ourselves. 

Merciful Father, hear this prayer in the name of Your son, our Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Download and print this prayer.

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 2nd April 2017

The Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Audio prayer


Audio expires after approximately after 90 days.

Father God, young or old, rich or poor, we are all Your children. You welcome us into your home, so let us extend that welcome on Your behalf to those we reach in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ. We offer this prayer in His name.

Our Prime Minister has notified the European Union of Britain’s intent to withdraw. We pray that negotiation of departure be conducted with honesty and good will. May our separate futures be in peace, prosperity and harmony.

Though we chose a different path, Father let us remain welcoming to European citizens who chose to make their home here. Give us wisdom to see the benefits they bring to our wellbeing and prosperity.

We pray for everyone undertaking an initiative or challenge during this Lent. Support them in their efforts, guide and bless them through the lenten time.

John says Jesus shed tears with Mary and Martha as they grieved the death of their brother, Jesus’ friend Lazarus. Father God we ask that you strengthen anyone grieving today for the death of someone they loved. Support them by Your Holy Spirit as they adjust to their changed circumstances and life.

Today especially we pray for the souls of the 24 dead, their families and more than 70 injured by the terrorist bomb on Friday in Parachinar, in Pakistan.

Healing Father who cares for everyone unwell or in pain, we pray that in Your wisdom You comfort and strengthen them. Guide those who will care for them.

Father in Heaven, forgive what we have done that gave you sadness, and those things we should have done that would have brought you joy. Send Your Holy Spirit to guide us to bring Joy by Creating Connections with those who do not know you.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of Your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Download and print this prayer.

Hitchhiking

Is there any truth in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and its sequels?

A tongue-in-cheek look at Douglas Adams’ story, and how he probably didn’t mean thealternative factsI’m about to suggest.

When Ford Prefect, a native of the planet Betelgeuse rescues his earthling friend Arthur Dent from the total destruction of planet Earth, he takes him on a journey through the universe, some might say through creation. They travel in both space and time and amongst their adventures, they witness the end of the universe. But they are fine after it so don’t worry.

There are numerous prophecies that foretell the end of all things, like Adams’ end of the universe. Unlike Adams’ tale, most do not happen to have a restaurant where you can watch it. The Bible’s book of Revelation tells of a new heaven and a new earth, and was written at a time when the rest of the universe was not known to exist. So what if it simply encompassed all that was known and we interpret as all that is known now then there goes the universe, to be replaced by ….. a new universe?

The universe, or creation, has been created by an ultimate intelligence. Some might say a god is the ultimate intelligence. Of course in our world today lots of people do not believe in God, though they may have their own private little god/s (idols). That doesn’t, of course, stop them wondering about the answer to life, or as in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, “life the universe and everything”. As I write this, we know the answer to “life the universe and everything”, it’s 42. The super mega computer Deep Thought told us it is 42.

Well, as we are not in the story, we haven’t got a computer that powerful yet but we are working on it. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used in more and more applications. Sooner or later someone is going to ask it, not necessarily in exactly the same words, what is the answer to “life the universe and everything”. The worst aspect of this is that we will believe the answer the AI gives us. A bit of prophecy in Adam’s tale?

Ultimately, at the conclusion we discover that planet Earth, which we are blissfully, ignorantly living on is in fact a giant, organic computer. It has been designed by the ultimate intelligence not to answer the question of “life the universe and everything” but to determine the actual question. We have been place here on this insignificant that no one else knows about as subjects in a great experiment. 

Well you have to admit, if we believe in any kind of ultimate intelligence, it is at least a possibility, no matter how unlikely that we are just experimental animals in a controlled environment..

“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot
of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

Intercession Prayer For Sunday 26th January 2017

The Sunday Before Lent.

Living God who knows each of us by name, we thank You for coming to us in human form in Your Son, to show us how to live and to teach us how to pray. We offer you this prayer in Jesus name.

God said to His Son, at both Jesus’ baptism and later on the mountain top with Peter, James and John, in the company of Moses and Elijah, “with Him I am well pleased”. God is with us at every stage of life and He knows our thoughts and our actions. We pray that with His guidance and by our faith in Him, that when the time is right He will say to us, ‘With you I am well pleased’.

As we prepare for Lent and to honour Your Son, guide us in faith. Be with all who attempt an initiative during the 40 days, and attempt the challenges it offers.

We pray for those affected by storm Doris in the United Kingdom, especially the family and friends of the woman killed in the West Midlands, after debris was blown onto her. May she be at peace with You, Father and her family and friends comforted by your presence. We pray for those who were without power and especially for the homeless, without shelter, that we take for granted.

We pray for places where there is violence, intolerance and injustice. This week we pray for those affected by the bomb blast in Lahore. Receive the souls of the dead, heal the injured and comfort the bereaved.

Living God, source of life, we pray for the unwell whether injured or ill, physically or mentally and for the bereaved who have lost someone. We offer them into Your gentle hands to comfort them, ease their pain and still their suffering.

May Your light surround them,
Your presence enfold them,
And Your power heal them.

As Your light shone around those who accompanied Jesus, let it shine in our hearts. As Jesus shines in glory, let that radiance spread across the world and on into the universe bringing peace and love wherever it shines, banishing shadow.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of Your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Download and print this prayer.

Fairy Tales 9: The Story Of A Mother

A reflection on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson.

Introduction

Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen

Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen

The Story Of A Mother is described as one of Hans Christian Anderson’s New Fairy Tales, though it is notable that HCA himself calls it a story. It is quite adult oriented, with elements that children would have trouble comprehending, and some adults might struggle with. It deals with a child’s death and its mother’s desperate response to the tragic event. In the natural order of life, a mother does not outlive her child.

Hans casts Death not just as the loss of life but as a character, in a way that might help comprehension by young minds. This plot device has been used by later authors such as Terry Pratchett, in a few of his comic Discworld tales, and Markus Zusak in The Book Thief, where Death is not just a story character but in fact the narrator.

When The Story Of A Mother was written, child mortality was much higher than today, nevertheless any mother will suffer intense emotional pain if her child dies before her, both when it was written in 1847 and now.

The Character of Death

To readers today, The Story Of A Mother is set in the past, but to readers of the author’s time it would not be so clear when it is set, though it is equally relevant now as when it was written. Neither are we given any location for the story, which could be nearly anywhere. The only clue is the frozen bush with icicles hanging from it, suggesting we are well north or south of the equator, though as we don’t know the time of year, it might be winter.

The aspect of time is further thrown into doubt when the clock stops after Death, as the old man who the mother does not recognise as Death when she first meets him, takes the child while the mother has fallen asleep for a beirf moment. It is only when she rushes out of her house in search of her child, and encounters the “woman in black garments” who says “Death has been with you in your room” that she knows who the old man was.

The stopping of the clock might signify the death of the child, the tick having represented the heartbeat. I prefer to think of the stopping of the clock as the suspension of time for the mother, like ‘time stands still’ for her until the point in the story, when she begins to grieve for her child, instead of her desperate attempt to get it back.

This aspect of time stopping is reinforced later when death encounters the mother in his “hothouse”, and asks “How have you been able to come quicker than I?” The mothers answer is brief, direct and would be understood by any mother. She replies simply “I am a mother”. This simple powerful statement explains the trials the mother bears and the challenges she overcomes, including the literal ‘crying her eyes out’, making herself blind, to get to Death’s hothouse whilst attempting to rescue her child.

As well as the ambiguity of setting of location and time, the characters we meet are all somewhat ambiguous too. None of the characters, except Death and God are named. We do not even know the gender of the child. Even God as referred to in the story could be a god of many religions, not necessarily Christian, though HCA was himself a Christian in more than name. These ambiguities in the story tends to make race, creed, colour and culture irrelevant and the underlying message equally appropriate to almost anyone. Any mother would be deeply wounded by her child’s death. The age of this story does not make it less relevant or powerful today, whenever “today” might be for the reader.

We are told by HCA that Death acted only on God’s will, yet the Death we meet seems to have a mind of his own, and that he apparently had some feelings for his ‘victims’. Whilst God instructs Death what to do, Death says to the mother “I do only what he commands”, it seems Death was allowed to use his own initiative how to accomplish the tasks he is given. But should we believe Death’s statement, when we see later that he lies to the mother?

It is apparent that Death is not without some degree of feeling or emotion and at least some degree of curiosity. He fished the mother’s eyes from the lake and, when returning them to her, said “they gleamed quite brightly”. If he were emotionless like death is more usually imagined, the gleam would have meant nothing to him. He might have taken a moment’s passing interest in the eyes but would have felt no need to fish them out of the water.

Death’s feelings are also shown when the mother threatens to “tear off all your flowers, for I am in despair”. Were he unfeeling, he could just have frozen her hands again with his cold breath and taken the flowers from her. Instead, he plays on her emotions, pointing out that what she has threatened would make another mother just as unhappy as she is. It is necessary for Death to feel and understand emotion himself, to be confident that his words would have the desired effect on the despairing mother.

For all that Death demonstrates some feeling, he is not beyond practicing some deception even though he is God’s servant. After returning the mother’s eyes to her, Death shows her the fate of two flowers, the two she had been holding and threatening to uproot in herb desperate attempt to get her son back. He tells her that one of the fates she sees is that of her son, but this is a lie. The lie misleads the mother but in doing so allows her to accept the demise of her son, and so begin grieving for him, instead of the desperate, hopeless quest to recover him. At this point when, if the mother returned home, she would wind the stopped clock, re-starting it as time re-starts for her with the acceptance of the inevitable.

It is interesting that Death’s character is shown as a gardener. However in modern terms he might be better described as a nurseryman, who only cares for the tender seedlings and young plants until they are ready to be planted outside of the greenhouse, or “hothouse” as in the story, into a garden. The Catholic church believes in an intermediate state after physical death, called purgatory, thought to be a time of purification for those who will ultimately ascend to heaven. With Death as a nurseryman tending the young plants, I suggest that it is analogous to purgatory. Death looks after the young plants until they have grown sufficiently mature and strong to no longer need the protection of his greenhouse, and can be ‘planted out’ in God’s ‘garden’.

Another facet of Death is his curiosity, that shows up in his response to the mother’s plea “Let my child be free from all that misery”, and “Forget my tears”, when he says “I do not understand you”. If he were simply a dumb servant, he would not need or want to understand the mother’s reaction, he would simply carry out his master’s instructions. Since we know he is serving God’s will, we might think of Death not as an antagonist, in fairy tale terms, but as a helper.

Prima facie Death’s actions and treatment of the mother might appear callous, like the antagonist type character as seen in other tales, though he is perhaps not, as I have shown, unfeeling. He is not however an antagonist in the classic sense. Death has no animosity toward the mother or for the child, he is simply carrying out God’s will.

Death might even be seen as a helper to the mother. He returns her eyes, restoring her sight, and helps her to resume her life when she finally accepts the death of her beloved child and begins to grieve.

Conclusion.

The Story Of A Mother presents two universal themes that can be understood in any culture, the death of a child and the lengths that a mother’s love will drive her to for the sake of her child, sometimes taking desperate measures to her own detriment, We find a third lower theme coming in toward the end when the mother finally accepts the inevitability of her situation and begins to grieve for her child.

Most readers would probably assume that the god referred to is the Christian God. There is no explicit statement to this effect, letting a reader to interpret the tale in relation to their own deity.

Intercession Prayer For Sunday 8th January 2017

The Sunday of Epiphany

God and Father, Hear this prayer offered in the name of your son Jesus christ, for Your world, Your church and for ourselves.

As you guided the wise men to follow a star to Bethlehem, let us by guided by Your Morning Star. Let us be like the light of a star, shining for others to follow in a dark, turbulent world where it is hard to know which way to go unless we are guided by You, our Father.

The wise men followed a single star, out of the unknown number You created. We give thanks for the wonders you have placed in the universe that are beyond our understanding and that remind us that in Your majesty you also are beyond our understanding.

Today (Sunday 8th January 2017) is 1000 days since the schoolgirls from the Nigerian village of Chibock were abducted by the Boko Haram group. We pray for the girls still held captive by Boko Haram, and for those few freed but still under heavy restriction by their own country’s intelligence agency. We pray too for all who are unjustly abducted and held against their will.

We pray to you God for all those affected by flooding in southern Thailand. Comfort and strengthen the friends, family and loved ones of those who have died. Support those who have lost homes and livelihoods and everyone bringing aid and assistance.

As our children and young men and women return to school and education after the Christmas holiday, bless the people who teach, train and educate them. Borrowing a few words from Michele Obama, help them Father to “use that education to build a better” world “worthy of your boundless promise”. May they “lead by example with hope, never fear.

Healer God, send your spirit to the sick and the injured in mind, body or spirit. Comfort, support and strengthen them. We give thanks for the carers, whether professional or friends and family. Medicine may cure ills but true healing comes only from You. We ask for your healing touch on the unwell whoever and wherever they may be, known or unknown to us.

Whether we are well or unwell, we all still carry our cares, concerns and worries. We bring these thoughts and and feelings we hold in our hearts to you, our Father.

The decorations have been taken down and the Nativity sets put away in their boxes. Remind us Father not to put away Jesus in a box until next Christmas, like the nativity sets.

Merciful Father, accept this prayer for the sake of your son, our saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Download and print this prayer.