Sunday 19th April: Together in Prayer
The following service is an adapted version of Morning Prayer for the Benefice of Newnham, Awre and Blakeney. Use it in whatever way is helpful to you. Go from start to finish, or pick and choose the prayers, readings or thought for the week. We hope that this will help strengthen our community as we journey through a season where gathered services are suspended.
Begin by being still. You might like to light a candle to help you focus….
I waited and waited for the Lord’s help; then he listened to me and heard my cry. He pulled me out of a dangerous pit, out of a muddy hole! He set me safely on a rock and made me secure. Psalm 40
We come in these moments of quiet to God
Full of all our thoughts and emotions of the week.
We come to still ourselves in God’s presence
To reflect and listen and sift through our many ideas.
We come with some faith, and many doubts
We come with our longings and fears and hopes.
We come just as we are
Knowing that God loves us unreservedly.
The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you. Amen
Prayers of Penitence
Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us. Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart.
Like Mary at the empty tomb, we fail to grasp the wonder of your presence.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Like the disciples behind locked doors we are afraid to be seen as your followers.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Like Thomas in the upper room, we are slow to believe. Lord in your mercy.
Lord in your mercy.
Receiving God’s Forgiveness
May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
Blessed are you, sovereign God, gentle and merciful creator of heaven and earth. Your word brought light out of darkness. In Jesus Christ you proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind and freedom for the oppressed. Daily your Spirit renews the face of the earth, bringing life and health, wholeness and peace. In the renewal of our lives you make known your heavenly glory. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
You might like to use this time to offer your own prayers to God, either in silence or out loud. This might be a good time to play some worship music and lift your heart to God
Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter
Almighty Father, you have given your only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant us to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God, now and for ever. Amen
Reading : John 20:19 – 29
When it was evening on the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said the, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his sides, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
Thought for the week
Fear and disbelief, we will all have experienced them and most probably the reasons are as numerous as the people who give them.
In our present predicament we have the opportunity to appreciate just how the disciples are dealing with their particular situation. In misery and despair they feel confident they have locked themselves in against all their greatest fears. Having heard rumours from both Mary and Peter, and Mary having to admit she didn’t actually recognise Jesus at first; what were they to believe; was their fate now sealed and would the authorities be out to condemn them to the same fate as Jesus.
Surely this is us too, we have shut ourselves in behind locked doors, in our case many of us sharing a fear of contracting the Covid-19 virus. We too have a fear for the unknown, a fear of experiencing the same devastating fate as so many others; we stick together either in our households or by ‘phone, we wait, uncertain of the outcome, seeking reassurance from the News broadcasts.
I think we might have become used to the fact that no locked doors can hold Jesus out; but for the disciples it was essential proof as he showed them the marks of his crucifixion. He had managed to pushed his way into their deepest fears and dispel them with his words ‘peace be with you’ and he blessed them with the familiar words ‘Receive
the Holy Spirit’; those same words we heard said over us when we came asking for confirmation; and he gave them a job to do.
I am forever grateful to Thomas for speaking our words of doubt for us; we might well have questions to ask right now – why – why has so much misery and sadness and suffering been inflicted on so many. But maybe if we can remain in God’s presence we will come to realise just how much he too is suffering to see such pain and anxiety.
During our time of lockdown there is clear evidence that Jesus’ love is forcing its way into all areas of society as we hear of new initiatives for support for one another in any way we can, this, I believe, is the work Jesus has given us to do in his name. Captain Tom Moore has certainly captured the imagination and generosity of many this week.
Loving God thank you for pushing your way through our locked doors and filling our homes and hearts with your sustaining love, and strength to do your will. Amen
Let us pray for our world, for our communities, our friends and families and ourselves
Blessing and praise be to you, Lord our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By your great mercy you have given us a new life and new hope through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. We give thanks that you appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room. We give you thanks for all who, though they have not seen you, have believed. Help us to know that you are with us even behind our locked doors as this time of heightened tension that we may know of your love and feel reassured by your presence. Amen
We give thanks for those who have taught us the faith by their example and sharing their beliefs with us. We hold all those in our communities of Newnham, Awre and Blakeney in our prayers, for the financial concerns for their income and those with businesses closed to the public; for our farmers working to keep us fed. We give thanks for our doctors’ surgeries, pharmacies, food shops and post offices who have stayed open to serve us and for the community spirit which is sustaining us all. Amen
We pray for our families and friends whom we cannot visit and hug at this time, especially where there has been the sadness of illness and death. We pray for all who need your healing power especially if they have not been able to comfort their loved ones at the end of their lives. Remembering by name those who we know have died at this time may we also give thanks that they have passed into your presence of indescribably and glorious joy; may the peace of God always rest upon them. Amen
Trusting in the compassion of God, as our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours now and for ever.
We are not people of fear: we are people of courage. We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety. We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity. We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs. For as long as it takes wherever you call us.
May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love.
Let us bless the Lord.
Let us end with a rendition of the last verse of a hymn we might have sung on Easter Day
Thine be the glory.
No more we doubt thee,
Glorious Prince of Life;
Life is naught without thee:
Aid us in our strife.
Make us more than conqu’rors
Through thy deathless love;
Bring us safe through Jordan
To thy home above.