Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
Last Sunday's Epistle came from St Paul's letter to the young Corinthian church. (1 Cor 1:10-18). He is writing to a divided church, urging them to heal their differences and focus their faith and worship on Jesus, the Christ.
Sadly, even today within the Church there is division as indeed there is in the wider community. I was able to pick up on this point in the Intercessions I led. Here are a couple of prayers that I offered:
Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of peace, break down the barriers which separate us from each other and from God. Teach us to love one another across the walls of colour,class and creed; forgive us, too, the excuses we make for our own prejudices, and lead us in your cause of peace and goodwill on earth; for your name sake. Amen. (This prayer was written by Ian Bunting and is published in the SPCK Book of Christian Prayer)
The second prayer is my own and reads: Heavenly Father, within the next few days the UK will part from our friends and neighbours in Europe. This whole Brexit process has caused deep divisions, pain and suffering across the nation. Bless Elizabeth our Queen and give wisdom to all in authority under her, that they may lead us to a healing of those wounds with humility and forgivness. Let us workto gether with other nations, including the EU in true partnership for the promotion of peace and the good of mankind. Amen
The last words of the Gospel reading gives us hope for in it Matthew tells us that Jesus commenced his earthly mission by healing the sick and curing diseases (Matt 4:23)
In Chapter 10 of Matthew's Gospel Jesus instructs his disciples to continue his work after he has left them. As baptised members of the Church it is our task to Take up our cross and follow him. That means doing what we can, with the help of the holy Spirit to healthe divisions within our church and our community. Let us pray for God's help that we may do so..
As some of you may know this year I will lead the intercessions at the Sung Eucharist service on a rota basis at St Mary Magdalene. Inspired by Walter Brueggmann, "This City....of God" Prayers for a Privileged People (Abingdon Press 2010) this is a prayer I am thinking of using for a coming Service. Let me know what you think of it.
'O Lord, the church of St Mary Magdalene is situated in the Borough of Basildon, a diverse community as many are, but this is our home. We pray for those living in the multi million pound houses north of the Borough and for those who have no home and will sleep tonight in a cold draughty shop doorway in the Town Centre. For those who make their purchases online from the most expensive shops, and for those who need to produce a voucher to collect their weekly necessities from the Foodbank. For those who take regular exercise, perhaps running marathons and for those for whom even standing up is an impossibility. For those surrounded by close friends and family and for those whose only contact with the outside world is the flickering images on the TV screen. For those born and bred in this country and for those recently arrived who are struggling to learn a new language and new customs. For those joyfully welcoming a new child into the world and for those mourning the loss of a loved one.
Teach us not to forget, Lord, that you have made each of us in your own image. We are all members of your family - neighbours whom you call us to love.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years