The 6th Sunday of Trinity.
Heavenly Father, whose love is wider than our imagination, send Your Holy Spirit as we pray to You in the name of Your Son, our redeemer Jesus Christ.
Thank You that we can worship you in our homeland, that we can do so without fear. We remember places where to worship in Your Holy name might bring persecution We pray that soon everyone of faith may have freedom to worship you.
When Jesus told the parable of the weeds (Matthew 13: 24-30), he showed the need for patience, to separate the wheat from the chaff. Give us patience not to get caught up by the ‘have it now’ inclination, but to have self restraint for the richer rewards to come. Let this patience not be lazy, just waiting. Help us to flower amongst the weeds.
As school holidays begin, we pray for the children and young people, their teachers and carers. May the holidays refresh them for the next school year.
We pray for those leaving school to begin work or higher education. For those nervous about joining a new school, college, university or working for the first time. Prepare and support them for the next steps of their journey, whatever those steps might be. Guide them always along Your path.
We pray for the people of Lincolnshire and of Coverack in Cornwall, affected by flash floods after the storms. Let the resources be available to clear the devastation and return homes to liveable condition, and livelihoods back to business. Lord, help the relief workers making buildings safe and habitable again and help residents rebuild their communities after the reconstruction and refurbishment is complete. We pray for generosity and compassion in finding them temporary accommodation until they can return to their homes.
We give thanks for our homes whilst we remember the homeless and the refugees, wherever they are and whatever the cause. As the world refugee crisis shows no sign of slowing, we think today of South Sudan where towns near the country’s border have lost over 90% of their population.
We pray for the negotiations taking place to agree the conditions of the UK departure from the European Union. We pray for the negotiators of both UK and EU that their discussions be constructive, not confrontational. Help them to quickly reach agreement on citizens rights that are fair to all and ends uncertainty of anyone making a home, living and working in a country other than their homeland.
Father we bring to You those we know who are unwell or injured in body, mind or spirit. Offer them Your healing, to each in the way best fitted to their own need and we each offer to You, Father, the unspoken words of our own hearts.
Living God who loves all that You have made, give to us your compassion that others may see it through us in how we treat our brothers and sisters, friends and neighbours. Let our ears hear Your words of grace, given to us by Your Son, Lord Jesus Christ.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
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.
As children and young people return to school or higher education we pray that their studies prepare them for adulthood. Guide those returning to school and comfort and support children going to school for the first time. Bless the teachers and all who give time and energy to care for children, to give them a bright future in which they can thrive.
We pray for places where education is sketchy, non-existent, or is not free. Give everyone and especially children access to education to get literacy skills they need for their own futures and for the futures of their communities and countries.
Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep and, like the shepherd searching for his sheep, Jesus searches for us. Father in heaven, send Your Holy Spirit to be our guide, so that Your son need not seek us but we search for him.
Heavenly father we remember the attack on the World Trade Centre, 15 years ago today in which nearly 3000 people died. We pray for injured and dead victims of terrorism and for bereaved families and friends. Give us eyes and ears to be vigilant, to help prevent more acts or terrorism. We ask not for revenge upon terrorists but for justice and the safety and security of all people.
We pray that the initiative agreed between America and Russia will bear fruit, helping bring peace to Syria, at war with itself and Islamic State for more than 5 years.
God of the one and the many, who gives everyone the same love, support those from broken homes, those who cannot find their place in society, the alone, isolated and lonely. Give hope to those who fear for their children’s future.
God of true healing, we pray for the unwell, in hospital or ill at home; for people struggling with despair or depression and for all their carers. We think of people we know who suffering or recovering and offer these prayers for them,
Glorious and gracious Father, let our ears hear You, let our eyes see You and our hearts perceive your presence. May we dream Your dreams, reflect Your love, do Your work, empowered by Your Holy Spirit and may we taste Your peace.
Merciful Father, accept this prayer for the sake of Your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
A short story, with a 500 word limit, submitted
for a writing course I undertook.
For two weeks every summer, Colin, my brother, and I walked past our school to the Recreation Ground, a field near the school that most of us just called the Rec. It was at what seemed a ridiculously early hour, for the school summer holidays; about a quarter to nine. I was 10 and Colin, 7. We would be on our way to CSSM, or Sizzum as most of us children called it.
The Children’s Special Service Mission was held every summer, for two weeks in the school summer holiday. The Scripture Union Christian organisation ran it for children to have some fun, be out of Mum and Dad’s, mainly Mum’s way, for a couple of weeks and learn a few Bible stories at the same time.
A marquee was set up on the Rec. for Sizzum but rarely used, unless the weather was bad. If it didn’t rain, we did almost everything out in the open.
After arriving each morning and everyone singing a few songs, we were split up into groups by age. With three years between us, Colin and I were in different groups. Once in our groups we would be told stories, often from The Bible, and then there might be a quiz on the story we had just been told. I always liked the Old Testament stories best, with the armies and heroes and battles. Then, at the end of the morning each child was given a clue to a bible story. Not everyone got the same clue but the answer was always the same.
After lunch was the real reason I suspect most of us came, an afternoon of games usually on The Rec. sometimes in the woods next to the Rec. for the older group. If it was wet, we’d be entertained in the marquee, by the grown ups. There were no screens or computers for that in the sixties.
At lunchtime, Colin and I would eat the packed lunch that Mum always sent us with, together. While eating lunch, we would compare the clues we had been given to find that day’s Bible story. So not only did we have two clues but Colin’s, because he was in the younger group, was easier to decipher and the answer still the same for both groups.
At the end of the day, before we went home, we had to guess the answer to the clues for the day. Everyone got a sweet before going home, of course, but if you got the answer right from your clue, your prize was a bit bigger. Maybe a Mars bar, instead of a sweet. Now don’t laugh, a Mars bar was a big prize to us in the sixties. By putting our two clues together each lunchtime, it was surprising how many days Colin and I both went home with a Mars bar each.
On BBC Radio 4’s lunchtime programme You And Yours, on 7th May the topic was the slowing in the decline of The church in the UK. Part of the programme was around church schools and I was somewhat unpleasantly surprised by some of the views expressed, both by guests and callers to the programme.
Two aspects, in particular I feel I should comment on.
1. Parents who attend a church simply to get their child into a particular Christian school:
Obviously this is both hypocritical and dishonest, albeit that one parent might understand the desire of another to get their child into a good school. Of greater concern is that by this hypocritical, dishonest act, children from true Christian backgrounds might be denied places.
2. Support of church schools by taxpayers (usually, wrongly, called government) money:
The caller who addressed this aspect did not think taxpayers money should be spent on these schools. He had clearly never thought that. the parents of the children attending church schools are taxpayers and so are as entitled as anyone to give their child taxpayer provided education.
I also find it strange that if parents think that a Christian education is so good, does it not occur to them how Christianity itself might also be beneficial to their children and family?
My remarks are on Christian church schools, because of the radio programme subject. The same remarks are probably equally applicable to other religions’ schools.