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Worship, Prayer and Bible Resources

23 Sunday in Ordinary Year B Green

First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 35:4-7

Second Reading: James 2:1-10, 14-17
Third Reading Mark 7:24-37
Commentary: James
Meditation: Meditation
Hymns Hymns
Prayers: Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead
Intercessions Prayers used in our Sunday service

help the poorIntroduction

We are surrounded by images of the successful and encouraged to try and become like famous people by using their shampoo or cologne. They are presented as aspirational characters and young people especially are given role models of these people, who are usually stars of film or sport.

Yet the rich and famous are poor examples for us or our children. With their failed relationships and dysfunctional lifestyles they are usually more to be pitied than copied. We need to lay before ourselves better examples of authentic living, types of behaviour which are more constructive and contribute to the happiness of ourselves and others. In our reading today we read that people said of Jesus 'He has done everything well,' now that really is a lifestyle worth looking at.
 

Opening Verse of Scripture— James 1:22

O Give thanks to the Lord for he is good for his loving memory is forever……… he satisfies the thirsty: and fills the hungry with good things. Ps 107 (v. 1 & 19)
 

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

O God, you bear your people ever on your heart and mind. Watch over us in your protecting love, that, strengthened by your grace and led by your Spirit, we may not miss your way for us but enter into your glory, made ready for all in Christ our Lord.  Amen.    Methodist Worship

Go before us, Lord, in all that we do, with your most gracious favour, and guide us with your continual help, that in all our works, begun, continued and ended in you, we may glorify your holy name; and finally by your mercy obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

Almighty God, who called your Church to bear witness that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself: help us to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may be drawn to you; through him who was lifted up on the cross, and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.    Common Worship

Almighty God, you search us and know us: may we rely on you in strength and rest on you in weakness, now and in all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Common Worship Shorter Collect

Isaiah Chapter 35:4-7

Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

share_bread Second Reading  James 2:1-10, 14-17

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbour as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Gospel Reading Mark 7:24-37

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. "First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter." She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!" ). At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

Post Communion Prayer

God our creator, you feed your children with the true manna, the living bread from heaven: let this holy food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage until we come to that place where hunger and thirst are no more; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Commentary

Those of you who struggle with hearing problems will know that it is not pleasant being deaf. At the time of Jesus it was much worse because there were no hearing aids, no sources of help for disability. The poor man in the Gospel story who was deaf and dumb would have lived an isolated life and he would have been used to people pointing at him and making him feel humiliated.

In the Old Testament, seven hundred years before this incident was recorded in Mark’s Gospel, the prophet Isaiah was describing the age of the Messiah, the time when God would act in the world. He said that when the Christ came, (Isa. 35:5-6).

“the ears of the deaf would be unstopped . . . and the tongue of the dumb would shout for joy”

In healing this man Jesus was taking upon himself the hopes and dreams of those who were waiting for God to appear ion earth and do a new a wonderful thing.

Deaf mutes were protected under Jewish law but they were classed with other groups such as women, slaves, and minors, not considered educated enough to keep the law. Jesus acts towards the man in a way which is compassionate in every sense

Jesus takes the man aside away from everybody else.

First of all Jesus takes the man aside, away from the crowd. Jesus gives him ‘one to one’ time. The man has been used to people looking at him and pointing and Jesus will not use him a spectacle, Jesus understand that the man does not want to be embarrassed. By taking him aside Jesus shows that the man is important and he deserves his complete attention.

Jesus communicates with the man

The man is deaf and dumb and so Jesus cannot speak to him. Jesus knows how important it is to communicate and because he cannot use words to speak to the man he uses actions.

Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears.

The man could not hear and so Jesus touches his ears. He makes it clear that he knows what the problem is with the hearing.

Then he spit and touched the man's tongue.

We are told that the man can hardly talk and so Jesus spits and touches the man’s tongue. It was thought that spit had healing properties. The Roman Emperor Vespasian restored the sight of a blind man by spitting into his eyes. (Suetonious Vespasian 7 Tacitus Hist 4.81) Jesus touches his tongue to show that Jesus understand his difficulty with talking.

Jesus Looks Up

Then we are told Jesus does another action. Jesus looked up to heaven. Jesus is making it clear that the healing which is about to take place is not an earthly cure. The man is being told in visual terms that the place from where we can find help from the things which trouble us is by turning to God. There is no earthly answer to human need, we have to look to God. Charles Royden

Meditation

In August, when I was pondering my contribution to this week's readings, I was struck by the heading of a series in the Bible study notes I use, ‘Closer to God’. The heading was ‘Vive la Difference’! The notes went on to say that ‘this expression celebrates an experience of diversity’. The readings that week encouraged us to ‘celebrate the joys of diversity and help us face some of its challenges’. Neither of the NT Bible readings set for today were included, instead we reflected on Numbers 12; 1 Corinthians 12: 11 – 26; Acts 6: 1- 7; Ephesians: 11 -22 and Revelation 7: 9-17. No doubt we could find many more that stress the same message as that of James who urges us to act without prejudice and Jesus who showed us how. On the day we read 1 Corinthians 12: 11 – 26 a set of questions were posed in relation to our church; neighbourhood and community, which I think are worth us all pondering on: Who are the most respected and valued? Who are the neglected and dishonoured? Who feels left out? Who is made a fuss of? Who might feel inferior? Wendy Waters

 

Hymns and Psalms

  1. Be still for the Presence of the Lord
  2. Crown Him with many crowns
  3. Give thanks with a grateful hear
  4. Healing God, Almighty Father
  5. Lord, the light of your love is shining

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian,
if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die

Prayer encouragement in the Christian life

 

Church Intercessions

Lord Jesus on this day we remember when you opened the ears of the man who was deaf, open our ears to your voice and may we spread abroad the story of your love and compassion which reaches out and makes us well.

Open our ears O Lord to those who are lonely, the sick, those who are troubled in their hearts and minds and those who are spiritually hungry. May we be used by you to reach out with your healing touch to those who are in need.

Open the ears dear Lord we pray of the Nations, so that they might hear those who cry for justice. We remember those who are displaced from their own country by war and disaster. We pray for refugees asylum seekers and migrants who seek a place of peace and safety in which to live and care for their families. We pray for all of those who live in constant fear of war, those who have no peace because they are threatened for their race, colour or creed.

Open our ears Lord to the necessity for equality. Release all of those who are captive to prejudice and discrimination. Give perseverance to all who work for mutual respect and strive to remove intolerance.

Open our ears to those who cry out in suffering. To those who are trapped in broken bodies. To those who suffer from fragile minds, those have been broken through painful experiences or debilitating disease. Give hope to all who put their trust in you.

Open our ears to those whose lives have been crushed by the death of loved ones and who live in grief and loss. Give to all who mourn the knowledge of your compassion and of your everlasting love for all that you have created.

We remember those who have died and commend them to God.

 

On the day when we have welcomed Harry and Luke into God's church, a prayer for them and all children growing up in a world which daily seems to be getting more confusing, challenging and with little sense of direction. God our Father, be near to our children growing up in the peril and confusion of these times. Guard them from the forces of evil at work in our society, and lead them in the paths of goodness and truth; enable us as parents, grandparents, family members or as friends to give them at all times the security of our love and the help of our example and our prayers. Amen Edward Peck


0pen my eyes that they may see The deepest needs of people. Move my hands that they may feed the hungry; Touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing; Teach me generosity that welcomes strangers; Let me share my possessions to clothe the naked; Give me the care that strengthens the sick; Make me the share in the quest to set the prisoner free. In sharing our anxieties and our love, Our poverty and our prosperity, We partake of your divine presence. Amen Canaan Banana, Zimbabwe

Lord Jesus, you made a deaf man hear. When we refuse to hear your voice, Open our ears to your words of love. Lord Jesus, you made a dumb man speak. When we do not know what to say, Open our mouths to praise you and speak your words of love. Lord Jesus, you made a blind man see. When we cannot see the signs of your presence in the world around us, Open our eyes and show us your works of love. Amen Judy Bainbridge

O Lord my God, I adore you as my first beginning and I long for you as my last end. Conduct me, therefore, O gracious Lord, by your wisdom. Restrain me with your justice, comfort me with your mercy, and defend me with your power; and of your love, enlighten my understanding, enflame my will and purify my soul; for Jesu's sake. Amen Richard Challoner, 1691-1781


Additional Material

Verse of scripture

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-- the LORD, who remains faithful forever. Psalm 146

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than either we desire or deserve: pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask but through the merits and mediation of 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.

Commentary

There is a really beautiful phrase in the reading from Mark today, it says simply ‘He has done everything well.’
We live in an age of pop stars and notoriety, everybody want to be famous. Young people especially face incredible challenges in our society, because they are led to focus their aspirations on the rich and famous and encouraged to believe that they can be the next pop idol or football star. The old values of working hard and earning a living have been shifted towards personal gratification and the aspirations and fashions of a consumer society.

It is easy to be critical of this, but in a sense every single one of wants to leave this world with some achievements to our name. We might find the cure for a terrible disease, but we feel that we should leave behind us an impression. If our lives are to be significant and remembered then we must do something significant with them. However the truth is that whilst the prevailing culture tells us that our achievements should be to earn lots of money and have a glamorous lifestyle, we know that this is not something which causes happiness or provides lasting significance. Few people draw admiration when they die and are fondly remembered because of the size of their yacht.

We should cast our attention upon Jesus and the type of life which he lived and the example which he gives to us. He was a carpenter, a workman who probably built houses and extensions and mended things. Anybody who knows the pains of being a builder will know how difficult it would have been for him to build the reputation ’He has done everything well.’ ! Jesus did not belong to the rich and famous, he was just an ordinary man who lived his life with the same issues which we deal with, paying bills, caring for relatives and getting on with the ups and downs which life throws at us.
This is what life is really all about, not jet setting or appearing in Hello magazine.

As Christian people we must try to provide examples of authentic living by setting examples which are wholesome and yet attractive. We must seek to lay before our children and grandchildren alternatives to the models which society presents. This is not in any way to discredit the ideals, dreams and vision of young people who want to achieve great things. However somebody needs to reaffirm the value of living ordinary lives in which we care for our families, our children and grandchildren. It is to stress that really gifted people do not have to appear on the television, they get up in the morning and do their jobs to the best of their ability, offer a helping hand to those in need and take time to spread a little happiness. The role models in society today seem to go change their marital partners like motor cars. As Christians we have to affirm that successful people are strong people who have the courage to work at their marriages and give time to their loved ones. Each one of us can make a real contribution to our families and wider society if we control our temper, show our appreciation to others, spread peace as we go about our business and pray to become more joyful. This is real achievement and the way to lasting success. Perhaps then people will say about us ‘he has done everything well.’ Charles Royden

 

Commentary

Jesus heals a deaf man who cannot speak

Jesus wanted people to be less public about some of the things which he did, the secret of who he was needed to be kept until the right moment. Unfortunately, as we see almost daily in our newspapers, news has a way of leaking out. Jesus could not stop excitement spreading about him and what he did. In our story today the man is deaf and can hardly speak. When Jesus heals him, Mark records the use of a graphic phrase "Ephphatha!" which suggests that his tongue had been tied up in knots and was suddenly untied. From silence to speech, just like that! Jesus takes him away privately, but it cannot be kept secret. Perhaps Jesus wanted more time to travel and speak with people, but when he performed miracles like this, there was no way of stopping the news spreading or the crowds seeking him out. He would soon have such notoriety that the authorities would have to act against him. With a miracle such as this, it was not surprising that onlookers had in mind the prophecy of Isaiah 35:5-6,
‘Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.’
This is for us a foretaste of what God’s healing is really all about, it is more than just the ageing body being patched up, it is a sign of God’s love breaking in to our painful and death—laden world. It was and still is, a signpost to the great Healing that will occur when the secret is out and Jesus is finally revealed to the whole world. Then all of the world will praise. Charles Royden

Meditation

James 2: 1 -10, 14 – 17, Mark 7:24 – 37

The letter of James to ‘the twelve tribes scattered among the nations’ (Chapter 1 v1) is, in my mind, a short sound ‘pocket guide’ to living the Christian life. If we keep what it says in the ‘pocket’ of our minds wherever we go and whatever situation we find ourselves in and act upon its advice then we may not go far wrong in our Christian journeys. Topics covered in its five short chapters include how to respond to and act in: ‘Trials and Tribulations’; Listening and Doing; Favouritism Forbidden; Faith and Deeds and ‘Taming the Tongue.

Today we consider ‘Favouritism Forbidden’ and move on to the beginning of ‘Faith and Deeds’. It was probably written about AD 50, at that time Christians were not yet being martyred but were suffering economic persecution and oppression. As is still the case in parts of the world today. The letter attributed to James, who may have been Jesus’ half-brother and who took over the leadership in Jerusalem after Peter left, was addressing the whole people of God ‘scattered among the nations’. It is presented to us in the Bible as one letter but it may be a compilation of his sayings and sermons put together by someone who could write good Greek, it is unlikely James could have done so.

The message is at first reading simple and straightforward ‘don’t show favouritism’ (2:1) and ‘faith by itself, it is not accompanied by action, is dead’ (2:17), but as we all know reading something and living it may he harder than it first appears. To explain his advice James presented his readers with a scene that they were familiar with, that of a Jewish court of law. Jewish law demanded that those in court, both the accuser and the accused, should dress the same either as a rich or poor person and that they would sit at the same level or stand. So there would be little distinction between them which would put them on an equal footing in front of the decision makers.

This seems a good practice to me. In the scene set by James there was obvious distinction in the physical differences which immediately displayed favouritism. James reminds his readers what Jesus told his disciples in Luke 6 v20, that God chose the poor to be rich in faith and that they would inherit his kingdom. If they failed to do this they were ‘slandering the name of him to who you belong’ (2:7), that is God. He pushes his point home by quoting the command found in Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 5:43 ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.

Showing favouritism is in part because we make judgements about people without getting to know them first. We ‘prejudge them’, hence the term prejudice, which can lead to discrimination on a relatively minor scale. Perhaps excluding them from our group or not talking to a visitor in church, or to a much more serious level which now forms part of our anti discrimination laws which make it illegal to: discriminate for reasons of age; disability; religion or belief; colour or race or ethnic background; gender; marital status or sexual orientation.

I am not pretending it is easy. I am fully aware that I have a strong tendency to judge by appearances; to put people in a certain category; what is often called stereotyping. Perhaps when I see a group of youths hanging around outside shops or in children’s playgrounds, I suspect they may be up to no good. Not from any personal experience but perhaps from what I have read or seen in the media. In my job I visit many elderly people in their homes and I have to be very careful not to prejudge, from the outside their homes and once inside, their financial status. It would all too easy for me to think they have a certain financial standing, rich or poor, according to their surroundings. A judgement which I have learnt from experience can be quite incorrect! The potential to prejudge, to discriminate, is something for us each as Christians and as a Church community to be constantly alert to. Unless we are we may exclude people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures from hearing of the love of God. The letter attributed to James puts it in a nutshell ‘Don’t show favouritism’!!’ Wendy Waters

Meditation

The Gospel for the Poor
Paul was a latecomer to the Gospel who converted on the road to Damascus around the year 35 AD. Fourteen years after his conversion, he travelled to Jerusalem to seek the favour of the original group of twelve apostles. He knew that he needed their imprimatur, and indeed he received what he calls “the right hand of fellowship” from the movement’s leaders. Later, when he recalled this trip in his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote something revealing about the first followers of Jesus. What did the leaders of the Jesus movement in Jerusalem require of Paul? “All they asked was that we should remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:10).
Saint Neilos the Ascetic (d. 430): “We monks come fawning to the rich, like puppies wagging their tails in the hope of being tossed a bare bone or some crumbs. To get what we want, we call them benefactors and protectors of Christians, attributing every virtue to them, even though they may be utterly wicked.”
Evagrios (died c. 400) considered it a trick of the devil to befriend the rich on the pretense of helping the poor: "The devil suggests that we should attach ourselves to wealthy women, and advises us to be obsequious to others who have a full purse. And so, after deceiving the soul, little by little he engulfs it in avaricious thoughts and then hands it over to the demon of self-esteem. The latter calls up in our imagination crowds of admirers who praise the Lord for the works of mercy we have performed."

 

Meditation

Telemachus was a monk who lived in Asia Minor about the year 400 AD. During his life the gladiatorial games were very popular. The gladiators were usually slaves or political prisoners who were condemned to fight each other unto death for the amusement of the spectators. People were fascinated by the sight of blood and gore upon the arena floor. Telemachus was very much disturbed that the Emperor Honorius, who was a Christian, sponsored the games and that so many people who called themselves Christian went to see them. What, he wondered, could be further from the Spirit of Christ than the horrible cruelty of the gladiatorial games? The bishops and priests spoke against them, but most people were deaf to their message. Telemachus realized that talking about this evil was not enough. It was time to do something. But what could he actually accomplish - one lone monk against the whole Roman Empire? He had no power. And the games had been part of Roman life for centuries. Nothing that he could possibly do would ever make a difference.

For a long time Telemachus agonized about the problem. Finally he could not live with himself any longer. For the sake of his own soul he decided he had to obey the voice of Christ within him - regardless of the consequences. He set out for Rome. When Telemachus entered the city, the people he met had gone mad with excitement. "To the Coliseum!", they cried out. "The games are about to start.!" Telemachus followed the crowd. Soon he was seated among all the other people. Far away in a special place he saw the emperor.

The gladiators came out into the centre of the arena. Everybody was tense. Everybody was silent as the two men faced each other. The men drew their swords. The fight was about to be on! One of them would probably die within a few minutes. Who would it be? At that moment Telemachus rose from his seat and ran down onto the arena floor. He held high the cross of Christ that he carried and threw himself into a position between the two gladiators. "In the name of our Master,", he cried, "Stop fighting!" The two men hesitated. Nothing like this had ever happened before. They did not know what to do. They put up their swords for a moment. The spectators were furious. Telemachus had robbed them of their entertainment. They yelled wildly and stampeded toward the centre of the arena. They became a mob. With sticks and stones they beat Telemachus to death.

Far down in the arena lay the battered body of the monk. Suddenly the mob and the spectators who had remained in their seats grew quiet. A feeling of revulsion at what had been done swept over them. Emperor Honorius rose and left the Coliseum. The people followed him. Abruptly the games were over. Emperor Honorius sensed the mood of the crowd that day. His ears were opened by the death of Telemachus. His tongue was loosened as well. He issued an edict forbidding all future gladiatorial games. And so it was, that in about the year 404 AD, because one individual, filled with the love of Christ, dared to say, "No!", all gladiatorial games ceased.

How many of us have the words of God's love fall upon our ears but have not heard them? How many of us have had the images of God's presence fall upon our eyes but have not seen them? How many of us have all the words of faith in our brains and have become familiar with heavenly mysteries and spiritual visions, yet do not live by faith or work the works of God? Even as Jesus opened the ears of the man born deaf, we must ask him to give us the ability to hear. To open our ears and our eyes and make the sensory signals that come to us from every direction get through to our spiritual centre, to that place where they can be translated from meaningless words and visions to the words and deeds of a living faith. We must not discriminate against some and show favour to others, we must seek to love all people as he loves all people - equally as brothers and sisters, without judgement or bias or reserve. We must seek healing, both inwardly and outwardly, to be whole, to be able to hear, and see, and speak, and do both in the body, and in the spirit. This is a cause for prayer.

Meditation

The deaf and mute man - Mark 7:31-37 by Claire Peck

My training to be a local preacher is very much in its early stages. In addition to learning to lead worship I am frequently trying to write assignments. I thought that I had finished with those when I graduated as a teacher! Part of my first assignment was to retell a story from the Bible from the point of view of one of the characters within the story. I hasten to add that it wasn't the healing of a deaf and mute man! Yet the reading today from Mark does lend itself to such a retelling. So sit back, imagine that I am retelling the story of the deaf and mute man from his point of view and then put yourself in his shoes - what story would you tell?

I can hear...1 can talk. It's a miracle. Oh I know Jesus told us to tell no one but I can't help it. You see I've not known it any different, I've been deaf and not able to speak for so long. I could make some noises, which some people could understand, but it was never easy being that way. You miss out on so much. So many people used to leave me out of things because I couldn't join in properly and they weren't prepared to hang around long enough to find out what I was trying to say. I am so grateful to those who were prepared to take time with me. They put themselves out to take me to Jesus - it couldn't have been easy for them. There were so many people around - I must admit to have been scared at first. I thought to myself that this Jesus bloke must be really popular. Why would Jesus want to help me? I was nobody special. Yet he must have wanted to help me for he took me away from the crowds. Did he know that I was scared with all those people around or did he need a break from them too? You'll never believe what he did next. I've a job believing it and it happened to me! It was so strange and yet... . .. well he seemed to know what he was doing. He put his fingers into my ears, spat onto his hand and then touched my tongue. How disgusting you must be thinking! I'm sure I heard him then say "Ephphatha" (which means be opened) but it might be that I've heard it told me so many times since! What joy - I could hear and speak. The crowd went berserk. There was no stopping them in their bid to tell as many people as they could about what had happened. I realised that it wouldn't take long for my story to be known all over the place. I'd like to think that Jesus knew that I was touched and that words would never be enough to thank him. I hope so.' Claire Peck

Prayers for Sunday

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom.

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

Dear Lord Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through us, and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul. Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus. Stay with us - and then we shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from you. None if it will be ours. It will be you shining on others through us. Let us thus praise you in the way you love best - by shining on those around us.

Lord our God, in you mercy and justice meet. With unparalleled love You have saved us from death and drawn us into the circle of Your life. Open our eyes to the wonders this life sets before us, that we may serve You, free from fear, and love one another as you love us - without regard to riches or poverty, class or place in life. God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord, we pray know for those who are known to us - and for those who are not - we pray for the dying and for those who mourn the dead, for the sick and for those who faithfully care for them, for the oppressed and for those who despair, for those who have hunger and thirst in body and in soul.

Hymn for this Sunday

  1. The Kingdom of God (Tune Hanover)
  2. When I needed a neighbour
  3. For the healing of the nations (Tune Rhuddland )
  4. The Church of Christ, in every age (Tune: Heronsgate)
  5. I want to walk with Jesus Christ
  6. Praise to the holiest in the height
  7. I have decided to follow Jesus
  8. Who would true valour see
  9. Through all the changing scenes of life
  10. Thy hand O God