Sunday 29th March

Together in Prayer
29th March
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…

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear.
Psalm 46:1-2

In the beginning
before time, before people,
before the world began,
God was.

Here and now
among us, beside us,
enlisting the peoples of the earth
for the purposes of heaven,
God is.

In the future,
when all have turned to dust
and all we know has found its fulfilment,
God will be.
Not denying the world, but delighting in it,
not condemning the world, but redeeming it,
through Jesus Christ,
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
God was, God is, God will be.

Reading
Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

For the Word of God in scripture,
for the Word of God among us,
for the Word of God within us;
Thanks be to God.

Thought for the week
On Wednesday just gone, the church celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation, the moment when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Saviour of the world. It may seem strange, in the middle of lent, to remember a story that has a distinctly Christmas feel. And yet, perhaps, in our present circumstances there is no better time to be inspired by Mary’s magnificent ‘here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me just as you say’ (Luke 1:38).
The message of Easter is that the Son of God was given for the world, and our focus is drawn to the crescendo of this self-giving love, Christ’s death on the cross and his triumphant resurrection. But the annunciation invites us to reflect on the whole of Jesus’ human life. It reminds us that before God gave his life for us, he gave himself for us. God was willing to become small, vulnerable, helpless. The One who carries the universe was willing to be carried. The One who envelops all things, became enclosed in the darkness of a womb, isolated, alone, dependent.
‘This is how God shows his love for us,’ the apostle John wrote, ‘he sent his Son into the world so that we might live’ (1 John 4:9-10).
A week into church closures and tough restrictions on leaving our homes, I’ve found it inspiring this week to pray to a God who can identify with all our human experiences, our joys and our hardships. And, though I don’t plan on these ‘thoughts’ to focus on the coronavirus every week (you’ll be pleased to know!), we can be encouraged that God has come near us, he brings hope in the darkness, and friendship when we feel alone.
Out of that isolation and dependency of the womb, God birthed something truly awesome, a new creation, a new way to live, mercy and grace embodied in his Son. I wonder, in the midst of our isolation and dependency on others, what might God birth today and in the coming weeks? Can we say, as Mary said, ‘here I am’ to the new thing that God might do?

Loving God, thank you that you carry our burdens, and you hold us in times of distress and uncertainty. In our isolation, may we know your presence. In this time and space, may we seek and find you, expectant and eager for all you might do through this time. Lord, Here I am, let your will be done in me. Amen

Prayers
As you come to pray for your life and the lives of others, you might like to reflect on another caption by Charlie Mackesy:

‘Do you know why you keep going?’ asked the horse

‘Because you carry me’ said the boy.

Almighty and everlasting God,
we thank you that you have brought us
safely to the beginning of this day.
Keep us from falling into sin or running into danger;
order us in all our doings and guide us
to do always what is righteous in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us
from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen

God of love and hope, you made the world and care for all creation, but the world feels strange right now. The news is full of stories about Coronavirus. Some people are worried that they might get ill. Others are anxious for their family and friends. Be with them and help them to find peace. We pray for the doctors and nurses and scientists, and all who are working to discover the right medicines to help those who are ill. Thank you that even in these anxious times, you are with us. Help us to put our trust in you and keep us safe. Amen.

You might like to use this time to offer your own prayers to God, either in silence or out loud. Pray for the world, the church, our communities, for those who need God most at this time. You might like to play some worship music and lift your heart to God.

Collect for the fifth Sunday in Lent
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  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. Amen.

Lord, set your blessing on us
as we begin this day together.
Confirm in us the truth
by which we rightly live;
confront us with the truth
from which we wrongly turn.
We ask not for what we want
but for what you know we need,
as we offer this day and ourselves
for you and to you
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour  Amen.

The Lord be with you,

Thanks be to God.