Saturday, May 23, 2020

That We May Be One

Readings: Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35, Acts 1:6-14,
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, MD, May 24 2020

A Video version of this service can be found HERE

Our gospel reading today, John 17:1-11 is part of an amazing prayer, that Jesus offers at the end of the Last Supper, before He heads out to Jerusalem where He will face betrayal, trial and execution. One can only imagine what was going through His mind as He sat at table with that much loved group of friends, knowing that one was going to betray Him, another deny Him and the rest run away in fear from what was happening.

Yet, still, He makes this glorious life-affirming prayer, lifting up His disciples and praying that they my be “kept” in God's love, even daring at the end of this passage to pray to His Father, “That they may be One, as We are One.” (verse 11)

2000 years on we look around at the worldwide church and what we do not see is any urgent sense of unity. Like the disciples at that last supper table we are divided, confused, opinionated and equally capable of betrayal, flight and denial as they were.

Over the centuries we have erected many barriers to protect our purity and proclaim our uniqueness and in the process the notion that we Christians love each other seems a rather hollow sentiment. Yet... still... Jesus prays, Father, “That they may be One, as We are One.”

In the face of such abject failure it would be easy to dismiss these words as being an impossible dream. Even though we know that in heaven there will not be separate enclaves for believers of different theological persuasions, it appears that the last thing we are prepared to do is actually believe that God's will regarding unity, should be pursued on earth as it is in heaven.

But I would suggest to you, for the following three reasons found in this prayer of Jesus, that pursing unity is exactly what we should do. Why?
  1. Jesus builds His Church from common clay.
  2. Jesus prays His disciples will be “kept.”
  3. In Jesus unity becomes reality.
Jesus builds His Church from common clay.
I was visiting a stately home in Wales. The guide who was showing us around commented on how the marble around the fireplace had been imported from the Mediterranean, the wood around the doors from the African continent, the silk curtains were from India, the fittings from China... and so on and so on. Nothing... except the slate mined from local quarries, a business that had made the home owner his fortune, was sourced locally.

In contrast most of the homes that the slate quarry workers were housed in were made entirely of local materials, bricks of local clay, roofs of local slate, wood from the nearby forest.

When Jesus put a team together to evangelize the world, He chose a group of 12 local lads. He did not scour the world for experts or folks with obvious charisma and ability. He didn't ask them to submit resumes. He just said to a few young fisherman and other local workers “Come and follow Me.”

These were among those He mentions in His prayers as “People whom You have given me out of the world.” None of them appear to be particularly outstanding. Prior to the resurrection they often appear more clueless than faithful. Jesus could easily have complained about their mediocrity, but instead speaks of them respectfully, as a treasure that the Father had placed into His hands.

Despite their lack of ability, sometimes irrationality and on other occasions just plain ignorance, through their lives the church came into being. Such gives me hope for the future of the church.

Because, let's face it, we all have misunderstandings, we are all very poor reflections of the love of God, we are all far too busy with the life of this world to always even keep in mind the things of the Kingdom... and yet... Jesus describes us as treasure and lifts us up in prayer to His Father. And He makes a very particular prayer.

Jesus prays His disciples will be “kept.”
He does not pray they will become perfect. He does not ask that they will never fail. He does not ask that they sail through life in glory, victory, health and prosperity. He asks that, in the face of an often hostile world, they be “kept” in a place of faith, trust and protection.

To enlarge on the text of verse 11 Jesus prays “Keep them … through Your name.” He is asking that their identity may continue to be formed by the relationship they had found with God, through His teaching and through the Holy Spirit. That the spiritual growth they had already experienced would be something that continued to be a happening in their hearts and lives.

In verse 10 Jesus prays “All mine are Yours, and Yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.” The words and teaching that He had given them had already taken effect in their lives. Because of their relationship with Him, they were not the people they had once been.

I am quite sure that is something many of us can testify to. That, because of our understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we are not who we once were. That because we have gathered together in worship and gone out together to serve, we have been changed by experiences of His love, living and active, glorious experiences that reminded us that God has called us and empowered us and helped us.

Through His example, Jesus encourages us to see things through to the end, to keep on running the race of faith. He prays in verse 4, “I glorified You on earth by finishing the work that You gave me to do.” It is a wonderful thing to set out an a journey. But the journey is not complete until we arrive, until we finish it!

God has work for us yet to do. There is growth we still need to experience. There are words yet to say, acts of kindness yet to be accomplished, missions yet to be embarked upon. We are not there yet! The greater glory is not revealed until we, like Jesus, become finishers.

Do you recall the words Jesus spoke upon the Cross? “It is finished!” (John 19:30) The work He came to do was completed. The life He lived on earth had come to an end and the purpose He set out to achieve was completed. Our salvation is dependent upon actions He followed through to His very last breath. Jesus died to give us life. Eternal life.

Verse 3 “This is eternal life, that they should know You, the only true God, and Him whom You have sent, Jesus Christ.” The dictionary defines eternal as being “Without beginning or end: existing through all time: everlasting.” We think of eternal life as life that goes on and on. That may not fill us with great anticipation.

I recall Freddie Mercury in the group Queen blasting out a song, “Who wants to live forever?” In this prayer of Jesus, eternity is not about endlessness, but about having a present relationship with God. Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God and Jesus Christ. If we know Him, we also seek to follow Him and embrace those things scripture teaches us are important. One of those things is unity. How can that be achieved? Only in and through Jesus Christ.

In Jesus unity becomes reality.
We may prefer to live with disunity. We may not like to include everybody because that means there is less chance of our personal preferences being honored. We are far more comfortable with what we know, than dealing with the unknown.

Jesus invites us, because of our relationship to Him, to include in our welcome all those He welcomes. In that way, God's will on earth is done as it is in heaven. In that way, the prayer Jesus makes, “That they may be One, Father, as You and I are One” is fulfilled. If we are saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, then our neighbor is saved by that same grace. If we look to the Cross as the place of our redemption, it is also the place of redemption for our neighbor.

One Grace. One Cross. One love. One people of God. One hope. One Savior. We are inhabitants of the one heaven and called to work alongside each other to being God's One Kingdom to God's one and only earth.

This is a truth that as churches an denominations we are hesitant to embrace. The church has fragmented into many clashing groups and spent altogether too much time fighting one another and arguing about things that are meant to bring us together.

And yet – in our better moments – we see Christians working together across denominational lines in many ways – from sponsoring community worship services to financing relief efforts, from working to combat human trafficking to supporting hunger and poverty outreach. It is not enough, but it is a beginning.

Jesus prays to His Father... “That they may be One, as we are One!”
But it is complicated.
For a number of reasons!
  • Jesus builds His Church from common clay. The first disciples were a mixture of folk with a lot to learn and conflicting ideals. We are no different. We are comfortable with our disunity and treasure our privileges. But God is not giving up on us!
  • Jesus prays His disciples will be “kept.” Jesus prays for us that as those whom God has chosen to be harbingers of God's Kingdom, that we will be “kept” by the ministrations of God's Holy Spirit, the great encourager and inspirer. That we will finish the task before us. That just as He declared on the cross “It is finished” so we will be faithful servants of our most High God.
  • In Jesus unity becomes reality. Because we have one savior, we are one. Though we may be reluctant to recognize our common identity, nonetheless we are One church and One people of God. Our unity is both through Jesus and in Jesus. We are eternally bound together with each other both in time and beyond time.
I pray that as individuals we may seek unity and peace with those we share our lives with, acknowledging our common humanity and seeking the good of all. I pray that as churches we may acknowledge our common heritage in faith as sisters and brothers of our One Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has prayed that we may be “One as He and His Father are One.”

And to God be all glory. Amen.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

Prayer – That We may Be One

Lord God our God we are thinking today about the prayer of Jesus that we experience unity. With You. With each other. We confess that often we are far more comfortable with embracing what we know rather than trying to cope with the unknown. We do not always see each other as equally deserving of Your love.

Keep the vision before our eyes of what could be. Help us remember that we are all common clay and therefore refrain from judging each other. Help us to recall that You pray that we will be kept in Your joy and kept on the road of discipleship. Keep before us Your desire that we may be eternally united, together with You, in this life and the next.

In the knowledge that You are the God who is for us and who is by our side we lift up particular concerns, that lay on our hearts today. We pause for a few moments of silence to offer our personal prayers.



We bring concerns about the wider world in which we live and move and have our being. We pray for peace in those areas of extreme conflict. We pray for justice in those lands where freedoms are seriously curtailed. We pray for all those who are persecuted for their faith.

We lift up leaders in church and in government. Guide us towards Kingdom priorities that Your will may be done in our churches and in our land. Teach us to live in such a way that our whole life becomes an act of worship before You. Grant us the wisdom to discern between those things that are of eternal significance and those that are just passing distractions.

We ask that You continue to guide us and help us through these days when we battle the pandemic which has taken such a heavy toll upon many lives. Things are not as they used to be. We anticipate times of restoration and pray for Your healing grace to help us through.

All our prayers we offer in the name and through the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ who has taught us when we pray to say together...

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. AMEN.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Ideal Homes

Readings: Psalm 66:8-20, Acts 17:22-31, I Peter 3:13-22 John 14:15-21
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Maryland, May 17 2020

An online service can be found at https://youtu.be/tceLJNHQAow

During years when lock downs do not apply, one of the regular features on the British calendar is the annual “ Ideal Homes” show, held at Earls Court in London.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is some kind of family based weekend of seminars on relationships between spouses or advice on dog training or helpful hints on dealing with children in their teens. “Ideal Home” is a trade exhibition where you can see the latest gadgets, the latest designs, the newest and the best.

I guess the theory is that if you have a home that’s up to date with an automated everything, solar driven lawn mowers, self flushing toilets and a perfectly blended and themed kitchen where the decor matches the pots and pans and the table napkins perfectly compliment the ceiling fans, then you will have a happy, blissful, contented and ideal home.

As Christian people we would probably all wish to have ideal Christian homes. But I wonder what sort of image that phrase calls to mind? What would an ideal Christian family look like?

Would they be middle class, squeaky clean, neat and tidy, never missing a service (be it actual or virtual) at church, ever so polite, ever so dedicated to everything they put their minds to; a kind of spiritualized Brady Bunch?

Or would they be that environmentally friendly family, father an advocate for peace and social reform, mother always with smiling faced children around and nursing a baby, living frugally with their limited means in their ergonomic trailer home, adopting refugee children, campaigning constantly for social causes, always first to volunteer for anything justice related? ?

Or would they have by now left the country, Father and Mother and teenage sons and daughters (having all graduated from Bible College) all in perfect harmony, working in some forgotten corner of creation, facing daily the threat of wild animals and, not just coronavirus, but a whole host of nasty foreign diseases? Never uttering one word of complaint, succumbing to a single argument, but daringly, carefully and prayerfully saving the world?

What is your image of an ideal Christian family?
How does your own family compare to it?
Chances are that we expect the sort of high ideals for Christian families
that most of us never even get close to in our real lives.

Ever thought about Jesus family background? His mother had been a teenage bride who became pregnant out of wedlock. Among His ancestors were the prostitute Rahab, the materialistic King Solomon who, though famed for His wisdom, was not wise enough to curb his spending before splitting the nation into fragments. The anointed King David, an adulterer and a murderer. And that’s the good cards in the pack!

Ever thought about Jesus home life? He starts out life in a stable, then becomes a refugee in a foreign land, before moving to Galilee (Which was sort of the “Redneck” district of Israel). He has brothers and sisters, but from the lack of mention of father Joseph at the time Jesus starts His ministry, we presume Joseph had died and that Jesus was head of the household.

It can’t have been easy in that position to leave and embark on a mission that would have it’s destiny in a cross. What about the family it was His duty to support? Maybe such an experience lay behind His strong words that to follow Him meant having a love for God that made all other loves seem like hatred by comparison.

His family weren't exactly supportive. When He was a boy missing in the temple, His parents get mad at Him. Half way through His mission the whole family are convinced He has lost His mind and try to persuade Him to come home. It wasn't that Jesus didn't care or have a plan. We know that even as He hung on the cross He told the disciple John to take care of His mother and that His brother James became a leader in the Jerusalem church.

Our families are not ideal families. Our homes are not ideal homes. We are not ideal people. Yet…within all those limitations, allowing for all those crazy family dynamics, it is within our families and our homes that Jesus calls us to love Him and to obey His commandments. Even during this time of pandemic. Or maybe especially so!

When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, His promise is that God's Spirit will make a home in our lives. Hear what Jesus says in verse 18 of John 14 ; “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.... because I live, you will live also... you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you."

As we place our trust in Jesus Christ our lives become a dwelling place for His love. We start trying to live in a way that reflects the relationship that we have with God. And this is not easy. We mess up and don’t always live up to our own ideals, let alone others.

We may live with folk who are not as excited about faith as we are. Folk who don’t see things the way we do. Folks whom we feel can impede our spiritual progress. I don’t think that should surprise us. That’s how it was in the house of Jesus.

We may be called to work every day alongside folk who care nothing for our beliefs or the One we believe in. Such an atmosphere may not be the most conducive to personal spiritual development. Again we should not be surprised. Jesus speaks in John14:17 of how our lives are indwelt by “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him”.

We may sometimes feel that we worship alongside people or belong to a church that is far from being an ideal spiritual home. Again, don’t be surprised. The Church, any church, whatever the brand name, is not a community of the sanctified but a ship full of sinners. If we found the ideal church home, the moment we became part of it, we’d mess it up! We wouldn’t belong. We need help!

The Good News? Jesus tells us help is available. Verse 14. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Verse 16 “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another, the Helper, that He may be with you forever.

The only restriction on asking and receiving is given in verse 15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” In other words, if we ask for anything out of selfish concern, or out of a heart that has no intention of seeking to live God’s way, then the God who loves us more than we love each other, isn’t about to let us have something that will mess our lives up even more.

But if we ask God to help us become the sort of people we know in our hearts that God wants us to be, then God will help us. His Spirit, the Helper, the Advocate and Counselor, will be with us. His love will be in us and working through us. God will help us with that situation at home, with that situation at work, with that situation in our church, in our personal life, in our spiritual life. Because I live” promises Jesus “you also shall live.

Beyond that, it is our mission as a people of God to seek that all this world becomes an ideal home for people God has created and who God loves. Our mission statement states that “We are called to serve.”

One of the great ends of the church, (symbolized by the by the sixth of our banners) is that she be an Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World.” The annual “Ideal Home” exhibition in London seeks to show what a home can be. Our ideal as a church is to demonstrate to the world what a community built upon the love of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit can be.

We are also called, as the fifth banner declares, “To the promotion of Social Righteousness.” Where people do not feel at home in this world, because of injustice, because of disaster, because of prejudice, because of illness or because of their difference to others or from our selves, we are to welcome them home as children of God.

Where things have gone wrong, we are invited, by Jesus, to be part of the solution. When things seem hopeless, we have a message about a Cross that became a resurrection. When all is lost, we have a God who seeks to find. When all is confusion we are invited to lift up the name of One who declares that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

It all begins in the heart. We can only have ideal homes and seek to create a world that is an ideal home for all who we share it with us, to the extent that we welcome the love of Jesus Christ to find a home in our hearts. That’s where the change can come. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” The best hope for others to come alive to the reality of God’s presence is for God's presence to come alive in us!

Every human heart is designed to be an ideal home for the love of God. Revelation 3:20 declares "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Every worship service is an opportunity to come home to the embrace of God. Every scripture we hear is outlining our manifesto. Every prayer we say is inviting God to be a part of our everyday lives. Every hymn we listen to or sing is a testimony of what God has done and can do in the lives and through the lives of God's people.

May this day, and every day, be a time for hearing and responding and for knowing the friendship of God... and seeking for our lives, and our world, to be the ideal home for God's love. Amen.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

Prayer – May 17 Easter 6 Ideal Homes

Lord our God, we know our homes are not ideal homes and we are not ideal people. We hear over and over Your command to love. To love You with all that we are, to love our neighbor like we love ourselves. We hear the glorious proclamation ‘God is love’, yet still fail to adequately express Your love in and through our lives. The one thing You most desire for us to accomplish is the very same thing we find the hardest to do… to love as we have been loved.

Because Your love is so much greater than ours, we do not give up, we do not stop trying, we do not count such effort as unworkable or unrealistic. For every time love is expressed then hope also comes alive. Every act of giving produces fruit for Your Kingdom and brings about change. Help us to be courageous in expressing Your love to this needy world through which we walk.

We offer prayer for all those whose circumstances are making it hard for them to feel Your presence or Your support. We think particularly of all whose lives have been ravaged by the current pandemic. Those who have lost loved ones; those whose health has failed. Those who are in family situations where love has left home or where relationships are strained to breaking point.

We see a world that seems often so bereft of true love. Wars continue to rage. Greed continues to leave its mark on those least able to help them selves. The hungry remain unfed, the naked unclothed, the homeless still wandering, the unjustly imprisoned still seeking for justice.

Yet wherever and whenever we take the time to care, change can happen… and for all those we have been able to help we give thanks. We thank You for those times we have had needs and others have come to help us and shared the love You have given them in ways that have lifted us up.

Conscious of Your constant love and support towards us, shown especially through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ we join in praying together the prayer that He has taught us, saying…

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. AMEN.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Nurture

"Nurture”
Readings: Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16, Acts 7:55-60, 1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church on May 10, 2020
 
If you have online access use the link below to watch.
https://youtu.be/WCbW2mjBHno
 
In our scripture from John 14:1-11, God is pictured as a nurturing God. “In my Father's House” says Jesus, “There are many dwelling places.” Where we dwell is where we find nurture and where our life becomes most of the things it will ever be.

We are dependent upon those with whom we live for growth, support and nurture. In particular we are dependent upon our fathers and our mothers. Today being “Mother's Day,” or in some traditions “Christian Parenting Day,” we take time to acknowledge the blessings we have been given through those who nurture our lives.

We are also taking time today to acknowledge the teachers and educators around our lives as we celebrate our Nursery School. It is often said that it takes “A village to raise a child.” These days have been particular challenging. With the closing of our educational facilities educators have needed to find constructive ways of reaching out to their students and parents find creative ways to home school. It has not been easy. It has been hard.

The fact that we are gathered around screens rather than together in Church, also reminds us that we are not able to be together as a church family. One of the traditional ways the Church has been described is as “Our Mother in the Faith.” There is a special blessing that comes to us when we can come together and sing and share and pray for each other. Many of us are really missing that.

The times dictate that we must be apart. Sometimes as families we need to be apart. One of the hardest things that my family has discovered about moving from our homelands, is the simple fact that you are away from extended family. You miss things. Celebrations. Communal experiences. It tends to be the little things, not the big things that get to you!

Because we moved, without a doubt, there have been blessings we have known, that we otherwise would have missed. But that does not mean there are not days, when we ache for that familiarity, that only family can bring. That sense of distancing is something everybody around the world is experiencing during these days.

I understand the desire for everything to return to normal. It can't. Not yet. Not now. Thankfully we are discovering new ways to nurture and help each other. It's not the same and it won't be for a while.

In our bible reading Jesus has to let the disciples know that, in a little while, their whole world was going to be shattered. He would be betrayed, be crucified and they would have to come to a realization, that His presence with them, was going to be a spiritual one, rather than a physical one.

He talks to His disciples about “Preparing a place for them.” If we read the whole chapter we will see that He talks about how their lives would continue to be nurtured. Their nurture, after His resurrection, would take place though the Holy Spirit, as they gathered together in His name.

But all of it is over their heads. Thomas is saying “But how can we know the way?” Phillip is saying, 'But show us!” Jesus can't do that, in a way that would fully answer all their questions and concerns. Not yet, not right then.

As we think about the situation we are traveling through, some of that sounds very familiar. I have so many “But which way... but when can we...but ow do we?” questions right now! I know the resolution to those dilemmas will not come. So what can we do?

The answer is found in the very first verse of John 14. Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.” The rest of the chapter is all about the disciples struggling to come to terms with having that kind of trust and belief. If it was not easy for them. Why would we expect it to be easy for us?

Eventually, they did get through. As things went from worse to worse, they had their failings. They denied Him. They deserted Him. They were afraid. After the resurrection, that began to change. They started to see that He really was still with them.

They started to understand, that the love that had nurtured them when they walked with Him, could be the same love that got them through the next thing they would face and would sustain them all the way to eternity.

They discovered that nurturing love keeps on nurturing. Just as we are nurtured by our teachers, by our faith communities and by our parents, that sort of love continues to inspire us and move us forward throughout our lives.

It is by focusing on such love that our hearts become less troubled and our belief, not only in our selves, but in what can be done through grace and hope and faith and community is deepened. “Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.” are words Jesus still offers to those who wish to walk with Him.

They are words that can help us walk the road ahead of us. We can do so with thanksgiving. We can be grateful for the many around us who are sailing through this storm alongside us. Some on the front-line. Some through their kindness. Some through their leadership.

Today we are thankful for the educational mission of our Nursery School and their ongoing work in the midst of crisis. Today we are thankful for our faith community and it is my prayer that we stay focused and stay connected.

Today we are thankful for our Mothers and Fathers, particularly for the values they instilled in our lives and the example of nurturing love they gave us to follow.

A very blessed Mother's Day to you all.

Prayer
Everyone needs a champion, someone who will be in your corner, always,someone watching your back, someone watching you, treasuring you,keeping you in their heart. Someone offering us love to give away. Parents are nature’s champions, biologically led to love and nurture, feed and foster, support and sustain. They can’t keep their eyes off you.

From Adam and Eve on, parents creating babies,caring for their offspring, all part of God’s plan for fruitfulness, the multiplication of love from generation to generation. And this is a true story, a story for many happy people, dearly beloved by happy parents.

Other true stories need telling;
parents who champion themselves at the expense of their offspring,
parents who hate themselves and have no room in their hearts for love,
parents who abandon children, or who are forced to abandon children,
parents who die, leaving orphans.
Those who cannot become parents.

Who will care for the motherless, who will cherish the fatherless, who will champion the neglected?

God our Father, Life-giver, You cannot forget the child You created,
God our Mother, Life-sustainer, You cannot forget the child You nurse.
God our Parent, our Protector, You are an ever present help in times of trouble.
You are the champion of the orphan, you seek out the lost and the lonely,
the smallest lamb will not escape Your notice.

You carry us in Your arms,
You speak tenderly,
You seek justice for us,
You pronounce judgment on those who hurt us.
You provide a place for us, people who shepherd us and take us into their own flock.
You raise up communities of nurturers, groups of people who will not let a single little one be lost.
Guardian of us all, we give You thanks for mothers, fathers and all who foster us;
gifts from Your tender hands,
Lord our God, You are our Divine Champion.

All our prayers,
For the nations in these difficult times
For our leaders in nation and Church
For our families and for our communities
We offer in Jesus name.

Let us pray together the Lords Prayer;
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. AMEN.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Anemnesis (Virtual Communion Service)

Virtual Communion Service
Readings: John 10:1-10, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church on May 3, 2020

This is a transcript of a message used in an online service.
If you have online access use the link below to watch.
https://youtu.be/nfKjNIXf3WU

One of the things I've been doing during the pandemic is looking through some old photographs. I found among them the above class picture from 1964. I'm about 6 years old in this picture. I wonder if you can find me in the photograph?

As I look at the picture, I see some faces, that I can't remember exactly who they are. Others, I can put a name to the face. There's even a couple of people in there that I'm still in touch with today. I can see Michael, I can see Philip. If you haven't found me yet... I'm the one right down on the front row. In the line (where it's mostly girls) is me, proudly sitting behind the sign.

'Sitting behind the sign' came to be something of a thing they did not do some years after that. If you were sitting behind the sign, then you must be teacher's pet or a real goody two-shoes to be the sign holder. In future years they put the sign in the middle of everybody. For 'Goody two-shoes' we were not!

I remember being in class with Philip. I recall a game we used to play when the teacher wasn't looking. (Kids, don't try this.. you could get in big trouble.) We used to take our rulers and get some paper, chew it up, and put it on the end of the ruler, then throw it at somebody.

Philip tried to get me on the back of the head, when the teacher wasn't looking. Unfortunately, I ducked, and his torpedo went and landed right on the teacher's desk. I remember Mrs. Davies saying “Oh, there's a horrible sticky mess on my desk!” I can't remember if we got away with that one!

Sometimes we didn't get away with things. I remember one time being sent for some misdemeanor to the principal's office. “Go and stand outside the headmaster's office” we would be told. He always kept the door open just a crack. You could hear him inside rustling his papers and you could smell the polish on his desk.

Mr. Rawlinson, the headmaster, to me, was about 9 foot 13 inches tall and always wore black. So there am I, standing outside in the corridor... the corridor that was normally full of the sounds and laughter of children. All I could do was stand there and hear the echo's and smell that strange smell of disinfectant they used to use in schools. I got away with it one time, because the bell went, and what happened when the bell went? It meant it was time for break.

Break times were always a great time in infant school because we had free milk and a packet of crisps (that's chips to some of you). These crisps were potato crisps and in the packet was a little blue bag that had the salt in.

You had to open up the bag and fish through the crisps for the little blue bag. Then you had to unwrap the little blue bag, sprinkle it on the crisps, hold the bag tight together, shake it up, shake it really well.. as the salt had to be evenly distributed among the crisps. Then you could open it up and hopefully enjoy the crisps.

If you didn't know the blue bag was in there, that could be awful, as you could put your hand in and eat the blue bag! Believe me, having done that on at least one occasion, that was not a great taste to experience!

Memories... they are full of smells and tastes and sounds and touch. Also emotions and feelings. As I looked at that picture, I realized there were some of the people in that photograph, who aren't with us anymore.

In the Bible story from 1 Corinthians, we heard Paul telling us about the institution of the communion. If you look at it in different translations, you'll see he tells us that Jesus says 'Remember Me' in this way, or 'Make Memorium of Me' in this way.

The Greek word used in that passage is 'Anamnesis.' It's only used four times in the whole of the New Testament. One of the times is in Hebrews when it talks about the bad things that we've done and calling those things to mind. The other times, it is used of remembering Jesus. 'Anamnesis.'

Anamnesis isn't just remembering, as we might remember a formula or remember a recipe. It's remembering, in such a way, as you call that situation to mind. It is remembering... everything. It's remembering the smells, the tastes and the sounds and the touch and the emotions and the feelings.

What Paul and Jesus were trying to tell us, was that we should “Call to mind,' with all our senses, who Jesus was. “Call to mind” all the amazing things He did and the amazing things that He said.

We can't travel back through time and sit at the Last Supper with the disciples. We can't be there when Jesus was telling some of His stories. We can't be there to see some of His miracles. But we can use our imaginations, and travel back to some of those stories and recapture what it must have been like.

I think that was why Jesus said 'Remember Me' in this way. 'Remember Me' with something that you have to taste, with something that you can smell, with something that you touch. Because that brings Him alive to us in the present day.

Allowing Jesus to be alive to us, brings His love to us. When He comes alive to us, His promises also come alive. Our Gospel reading was from the Gospel of John, chapter 10. It's a passage that talks about Jesus being the “Good shepherd.”

Many times in the scriptures Jesus uses shepherd imagery. He tells a story about how, if there were 99 sheep in the fold and one of them had gone missing, He'd go and find that one and bring them home again. He talks in this passage about how He is the shepherd that brings abundant life to us. One of the most famous Psalms in the whole of the Bible talks about Jesus being the Shepherd (Psalm 23), a shepherd who walks with us in the good times and the bad times.

We are going through a difficult time right now. All of us are going through a difficult time because of the pandemic. So it is good to take a little bit of time out to break bread and to drink wine and to 'Anamnesis.' To remember that God is with is in these days.

You know, I'll be honest with you, I don't truly understand what happens when we take communion. But I do know that the communion table is a place where many have felt and found the love of God in a very special way.

One of the prayers we often use in communion is that we ask that, as we take the bread, the life that was in Jesu,s may be in our lives. As we drink the cup, we ask that the love that was in Jesus, may be in our hearts as well.

As I say, I don't completely understand what takes place in communion, I just know I feel more able to walk through the world in the knowledge that God is with me, after I have received and participated in a communion service.

I pray today that that might be so for yourselves, your families and wherever you are sharing together in this service. May God's blessing be with you in Jesus' name. Amen.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Reading The Times

Readings: Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19, Acts 2:38-41,1 Peter 1:17-23, Luke 24:13-35
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church on April 26, 2020

The oldest English language newspaper is “The London Gazette,” first published as the Oxford Gazette in 1665. The Gazette was not a newspaper as we know it, but the published record of official notices by the government. With the advent of the printing press, other publications followed. Possibly the most endearing and famous of them all would be “The Times” first published in London, on January 1st 1788.

The difference between “The Times”and “The London Gazette” was that it did not simply report on events but sought to interpret the events as well. They were the first to invite public figures from many disciplines to offer commentary on world events. At different times in their history they have advocated certain political positions and on occasions been guilty of publishing incorrect or misleading information. For that reason, other newspapers, offering a different perspective, soon became available.

Which leads us to today, when we suffer from so much information overload that it is hard to know what or who to believe. Not only do we still have published media, we have radio, TV and the Internet as the 'go to places' for so many. For every opinion you can find a rebuttal and for every statement find somebody prepared to state the opposite. And of course, if it's on Facebook, it must be true.

How do we navigate though all this conflicting data? In these times we are living through, it is more essential than ever that we can make the right decisions and find a way through the fog of conflicting opinions. As those who seek to follow One who self-identified as Way, Truth and Life, then finding a way and discerning the truth are essential elements in finding the life God wants us to have.

Our gospel reading gave us the account of two travelers on a road that led to Emmaus. It is not long after the crucifixion of Jesus. They are trying to cope with what had been an unbelievably tragic turn of events. They are dealing with conflicting information, trying to find a way of interpretation and ultimately looking for inspiration.

Which conveniently offers three points to build a sermon out of!Firstly...

Information

The two travelers, one of who is called Cleopas, are devastated by the events they had recently witnessed. They are depressed, confused and downhearted. They are trying to make sense of all the conflicting information they had been receiving. Some of it is just fact, some of it is speculation, some of it is their feelings about what had happened.

The facts? Well, their chief priests and leaders had seen to it that Jesus had been condemned to death and crucified. They had invested a lot of hope in Jesus and the message He had shared with them about His Kingdom. It was revolutionary, liberating and life-changing. He was the One. He was going to redeem Israel. No longer were they going to be trampled down and overcome and powerless. A new age was coming. At least that's what they had hoped. Now He was dead. So that was the end of it.

At this current time we are being bombarded with numbers and statistics. There is no way we can assimilate them all. Many of us are just trying to follow guidelines and trusting that the advice we are given is factual. We do know there is crisis. We do know that people are dieing from this virus. We do know that it is not going anywhere soon. We do know it is having a devastating effect upon the economy, upon our social lives, upon our education system, upon our expectations and plans. In the face of the facts, we like the travelers on that road, can become depressed, confused, fearful and downhearted.

There are other things we are hearing that we choose to either believe or reject. The travelers on the road are talking about some women among their group. The women are saying that they had been to the tomb, that the body of Jesus was not there and they had been told by an angel that Jesus was alive.

The travelers dismiss this story as nonsense. They point out that some in the group had gone to the tomb. They had found the tomb empty but they had not seen any angels or been presented with evidence to suggest that Jesus had risen from the dead. Reading between the lines, they are dismissing the women's account as an emotional reaction to their grief, as wishful, fanciful thinking.

In the second part of verse 21 they even say. “Yes, besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place.” If you were to read the whole of Luke's gospel you will see that a number of times Jesus speaks to His disciples about the significance of the third day. We read in Luke 18:31, a passage that comes just before Palm Sunday:-

He took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles; and He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise again.”

The idea of the third day meaning something had remained with them, yet in their grief and confusion they completely resisted the idea that it could actually be true. The irony, of course is, that the person they are trying to convince that this resurrection idea is nonsense, is actually the Risen Christ Himself. It is here that a second theme comes into the story.

Interpretation

At the start of the account Jesus comes alongside the travelers and acts like He's been out of town for a while. They say to Him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there is these days?” I'm a little dissapointed Jesus didn't reply “Out of this world, man, out of sight.” Which is why God arranged for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to write gospels, not me.

But imagine our astonishment if someone met us in the street and said, “Why are all the shops closed and nobodies going anywhere? Why are people wearing face-masks? Where's all the toilet paper?” We'd look at them and say, “Have you been in a coma for the last few months? It's a worldwide pandemic!” Except for the toilet paper. That's just people's stupidity, greed and panic.

Jesus listens to their complaints. He hears their sadness. He doesn't straight away try and put them right or argue with them. He hears them out. Then He jumps in, questions if they had been paying attention to their scriptures and starts to interpret the events they had witnessed, in particular pointing to passages that spoke about His mission and the coming of the Kingdom. Verse 22 “He interpreted to them the things about Himself in all the Scriptures.”

We are hearing a lot of conflicting things about the pandemic. We have to interpret it. We should question the sources of the stories we hear. It's got to a point now where you can find fact checking sites that check the reliability of other fact checking sites. Then you have to check out exactly who those fact checking fact check sites are aligned with, and what their spin on things might be!

Things were a lot easier in 1665 when the London Gazette offered just the parliamentary records, without the interpretation. We have to interpret, to read the times. Sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we might get it right.

As we do so, I would encourage us to remember that Jesus walks with us. We may not recognize Him, but neither did those two travelers. He was right there. Their sadness, their disillusionment, their fear, blocked the view. But He was right there.

Scriptures purpose is not to inform us about the intricacies of interpreting media in the twenty first century. God has given us our imagination and intelligence to apply to that question. Scripture points us to the presence of God, in and around our lives. Scripture seeks to lift up Kingdom principles that we can apply to understanding the world around us.

Our second reading, from 1 Peter 1:21 told us how “Though Him (that is Jesus) you have come to trust in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.”

Those travelers? Their trust in God had been shattered by the events they had witnessed. They were reeling, they were in shock. As we travel through this crisis we can identify with that. We have information, we have interpretation, but right now we are looking for a third thing...

Inspiration

Later in the evening the travelers are saying to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked to us on the road.” Their encounter with Jesus became a moment of revelation when they invited Him to sit at table with them. (verse 30-31) “He took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened...”

An important part of recognizing the presence of God is inviting the Holy Spirit to be a part of what we are doing. Asking God to be in our homes and our hearts. Our buildings are as empty as the tomb was on Easter Sunday morning. So every home is a Church.

I encourage us to continue to worship and pray and serve and find those things that reveal God's presence to our lives. I pray that online services like these can be a help towards that goal. Watch together. Talk together. Sit together. Break bread together. This we may not be able to do physically, but we can do virtually. 1 Peter 1:22 invites us to “Have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart

When love is shared, God shows up. Joy returns. Hope is renewed. Strength to carry on is found. I am encouraged as I read stories about folks going beyond to support each other, to support workers in the front line, making masks and gowns, shopping for their neighbors, being generous to delivery folk... so many little things that together make a big difference.

These simple acts are more important than the commentary and the tweets and the spin and all the rest of it. The great and good news, is that God is with us. Jesus walks alongside us. God sends the Holy Spirit to empower us.

You won't find that in the London Gazette. You may not find it in “The Times.” In these days of searching and striving, as we try and fit all the pieces of the puzzle together and discern what the picture may be, let us continue to nurture our spiritual selves and seek for God's presence to be revealed to us, whatever may come next.

And to God be all glory. Amen.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

On this third Sunday in the Easter season we come to You, O God, because only You can make our lives complete. Too often we fail to live with resurrected hearts—hearts that look around and see possibilities from You, even in the midst of turmoil and turbulence.

Lord in Your mercy “Hear Our Prayer”

Just as the disciples were plunged into despair on Good Friday and failed to see the possibility of Easter coming, we fail to see Your providence in our darkest times. Help us to form Easter hearts that see possibility and providence in everything, and to form thankful hearts that recognize Your hand throughout our lives.

Lord in Your mercy “Hear Our Prayer”

Circumstances can cause to hang our heads in despair rather than lift them up to Your light. So we lift up to You on this day the totality of our lives. Our joys, our concerns, our heartaches and our fears. We reaffirm our faith in Your ability to take the ugliest of circumstances and transform them to beautiful opportunity.

Lord in Your mercy “Hear Our Prayer”

From the Cross to the grave, from the grave to the wonder of an empty tomb. From the empty tomb to the proclamation that death had been defeated. From the proclamation of resurrection to the realization that our lives can be places in which the living presence of Your Holy Spirit can be at work, LIVING within us and through us.

Lord in Your mercy “Hear Our Prayer”

We continue to pray for all on the frontline of providing care and essential services in these difficult days. We pray a cure may be foumd. We pray our leaders may make the right decisions. We pray for both wisdom and patience.

Lord in Your mercy “Hear Our Prayer”

We offer to You our prayers for our families, for our friends with particular needs, for our fellowship as a church. Lord, we aware that You have entrusted to us the greatest message in the world, the message that You are not distant but walk alongside us, even when we do not recognize Your presence. All our prayers, spoken and unspoken, we offer in the name and through the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Lord in Your mercy “Hear Our Prayer”

Let us join in praying the family prayer that Jesus taught His disciples as we say… Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. AMEN.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Breathe

Readings: Psalm 16, Acts 2:14a, 22-32, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20, 19-31
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church on April 19, 2020

When I was a teenager around 15-16 years of age the band Pink Floyd released their album “Dark Side of the Moon.” At that time the radio waves in the United Kingdom were controlled by the B.B.C. and offered a somewhat limited selection of “Light Entertainment.” Thankfully, in the seas beyond government control existed “Pirate” radio stations such as “Radio Caroline” and “Radio Luxembourg” who sent across the airwaves the music we younger ones liked to listen to.

One of them – I forget which – premiered Pink Floyd's new album late one night, way past my bedtime. I had this tiny transistor radio that I took to bed with me, and stuffed my head under the pillow so my parents would not know I was still awake, and listened to “Dark Side of the Moon” for the first time,” my ear pressed to the tiny loudspeaker.

It starts with the sound of a heartbeat, then random voices come in, shouts, noises and what sounds like a gospel singer, before morphing into a wonderful slow blues piece with some tasty slide guitar. The first words that are sung? “Breathe, breathe in the air, don't be afraid to care... For long you live and high you fly, and smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry, and all you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be.”

As a teenager, struggling with teenage angst, “Why am I here, will I ever get a girlfriend, What do I do with my life, why does God allow spots...” this was a religious experience and “Breathe” was the call to worship.

Which leads me to our bible reading today, John 20:19-31, in which Jesus appears after His resurrection to His disciples, identifies with their pain, lifts their spirits and then breathes on them saying... “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In that locked down Upper Room, I notice three things relating to breathing.

1. The disciples needed to take a breath.
2. Before they could breathe in, they needed to breathe out.
3. Jesus needed to breath on them.

The disciples needed to take a breath.

It is not hard to see that the disciples were totally stressed out by the situation they found themselves in. We are accustomed in these days to seeking isolation. The disciples were together behind locked doors. They had seen Jesus betrayed, tortured, murdered and crucified. They are fearful for their lives.

They needed to breathe. The fearful aspect of coronavirus is that it attacks the lungs. It is sadly true that if our lungs cease functioning, so do we. The call for ventilators and other equipment that enables folk to breath is unprecedented. Breathing is a vital function.
Not just for physical health, but also for mental and spiritual health. How many times in the middle of a crisis have we had people say to us “Hold On. Take a deep breath? Start again.?” We need to breathe in these stressful times.

Jesus does two things as He meets with the disciples. The first is to say, “Peace be with You.” The peace of God is described as passing all understanding. Often in scripture it is pictured as a healing force that comes to us and returns to us our lost equilibrium and our sense of balance.

The second thing He does is how them His scars. Verse 20 “He showed them His hands and His side.” There is something about being comforted by a person who has been through something terrible and come though to the other side, that gives their presence an authority and helps us to trust them. We are boosted and energized by stories of survivors. Their stories give us hope for the struggles and dilemmas we face in our own lives. If they can get through.. maybe there is hope for us all.

I have noticed on social media people posting things that basically say, “Stop telling us how many have died. Talk to us about how many have survived.” We don't want the negativity, we want the positive. I really can't think of anything more positive than a resurrection. I think that John is understating the situation when he writes that “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”Rejoiced? I'd be dancing with delight!

The disciples needed to take a breath. Instead, Jesus takes their breath away by His appearance, offering peace and solidarity with their situation of isolation. Dare we believe that Jesus stands with us during these strangest of days? Do we hear His voice offering peace to our hearts?

Do we recognize, as the author to the Book of Hebrews (4:15-16) writes, that “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The disciples needed to take a breath. So do we! Notice, secondly,

Before they could breathe in, they needed to breathe out.

Back in my seminary days, in our final year of Pastoral Studies, we had a session with a voice coach. He tried to teach us about the importance of our diaphragm and speaking, not from our throats, but from a deeper place. If you have ever taken singing lessons, I'm sure you have been offered similar strategies for breath control.

One thing I remember was him telling us that, whatever you do, don't take a deep breath. Before you can truly breathe in, you have to push all the breath out. The exercise he used to make us do was place a finger below our nose (and trying to do this without touching your face is hard... so I hope you have washed your hands!) and then, don't take a breath in, just breathe out through your nose till there is nothing less to breathe out.

And then what? Take a deep breath. No. Hold on for as long as you can and just let the air flow into your lungs. Don't force it. Let it come. (And if you are trying to do this, make sure there is somewhere to sit down, because it can make you quite giddy.) That's how you can find your diaphragm and project your voice, be it speaking or singing, from the diaphragm, rather than from your throat.

Did you notice in our reading that Jesus tells them three times, “Peace be with you?” verse 19 and verse 21. Then, a few days later, when Thomas is with them, he says it again, “Peace be with you.” (verse 26). It seems that before they could start to minister to others they had to receive ministry from Jesus for themselves.

In our own spiritual lives we are in a rush. We want to force ourselves into a place of peace and wholeness. We want to make it happen. We want to be in control. Now here is Jesus saying, “Look if you want me to be in control, you have to let go.”

Let Go and let God” was the title of a much loved book by Albert E. Cliffe. Cliffe first published in 1971 and it has been reprinted many times since then. The basic premise of the book is that we should let go of stress and let go of fear, once and for all, and let God lead the way to a more fulfilling, more satisfying, more successful life.

That is not so easy to do in these stressful times. It requires a childlike faith and trust that God can be the kind of God for us that we can implicitly trust to lead us, guide us and shelter us from harm.

My young granddaughter is a huge fan of the 'Frozen' movies. When the song “Let it Go” comes on, she does not hold back. Sometimes, complete with princess dress, she just throws out her arms and lifts her voice to the skies. “Let it Go... Let it go.” If only we could lift up our troubles up to God with such heartfelt abandon.

We are all carrying a lot of stress and concern and worry right now. The disciples needed to take a breath. Before peace and wholeness can flood in, we have to breathe it out, let it go. Finally, notice the third thing in our passage.

Jesus needed to breath on them.

Verse 22; “He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.” Many writers about spirituality speak of practicing the presence of God. I agree with them. It takes practice. Lot's of it. We are not good at receiving all the things God wants to give us. God has to keep breathing God's life into us, week by week, day after day, hour by hour.

First time I ever listened to Pink Floyd's “Dark Side of the Moon” it was with my head wedged under a pillow on my tiny transistor radio. Then I heard it on a record player. Then in stereo. Then I went to a friends house who had a quadraphonic hi-fi system and we sat in the middle of the speakers and immersed ourselves into the sounds.

Then it came out on CD and they remastered it. And then you listen in different sets of headphones. And every time I hear it in a different environment, I hear different things... that were no doubt there all the time, but it took a while before I heard them.

It feels like my relationship with God has been like that. As I've expanded the ways I can recognize God's guidance, as I have over the years experienced God's interaction with my life, I have greater clarity. Am I seeing it all? Have I arrived? No way. I still, as St Paul puts it, “See through a glass darkly” and most days it is still a case of one step back and two steps forward, but, hey... that's still progress.

In these days we need God to breathe the Holy Spirit upon us. To breathe spiritual strength upon those working in our hospitals and medical facilities. To breathe on those working in retail and supply,who are dealing with worried, stressed out people, while carrying all the time carrying their own self concerns. To breathe on our emergency personal, on our leaders, on families seeking to provide a safe and nurturing home environment, on all those worried about their financial situation and unable to work as usual.

Edwin Hatch's hymn, from back in the seventies (that's 1878 not 1978!)
frames such desires into a prayer;
Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew,
That I may love the way You love, and do what You would do.”

Or if that's a little to ancient for you,I return to those first words on that classic Dark Side album... “Breathe, breathe in the air, don't be afraid to care.”

Take a breath. Remember, before you can truly breathe in, you need to breathe out.
And seek for the breath of God's Holy Spirit to be upon You, within You and around you in these unusual days. To God be all glory. Amen.

PRAYER – April 19 2020 Easter 2

Lord our God as we consider the love You have towards us it causes us to be in awe. As we consider that You who created this universe, sent Your Son Jesus Christ to die upon the Cross for the sake of people like ourselves, it takes our breath away. As we recall that You send Your Holy Spirit to empower lives such as those we live, it grants us hope for the future. Help us to breathe deep of Your love, O God.

Lord, send Your Holy Spirit. “Breathe on me breath of God.”

Truly you know what we are going through, just as You know the situations others are traveling through and know the needs of their hearts. So we pray. We ask for those who are in distress that Your presence would comfort them in ways that we are unable.
We ask for those facing treatment or procedures about which they are fearsome that Your peace may come to them in ways that surpass all understanding. We seek that those who are chained by addictions or habits that nothing on earth can seem to break, may be set free by your heavenly Spirit at work within them and around them.

Lord, send Your Holy Spirit. “Breathe on me breath of God.”

We come to you with our weakness. We come to you with our fear. We come to you with trust. For you alone are our hope.We place before you the pandemic afflicting our world.
Bring wisdom to doctors. Give understanding to scientists. Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity. Strenghen all those working in service industries.

Lord, send Your Holy Spirit. “Breathe on me breath of God.”

Bring healing to those who are ill. Protect those who are most at risk. Give comfort to those who have lost a loved one. Welcome those who have died into your eternal home.
Stabilize our communities.Unite us in our compassion. Remove all fear from our hearts.
Fill us with confidence in your care.

Lord, send Your Holy Spirit. “Breathe on me breath of God.”

Raise up in every land Oh Lord those who are attuned to Your ways, those who do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before You. In this we pray for Your church in her many traditions and many situations… that she may provide light for those who walk in darkness and healing for those who walk with pain.

Lord, send Your Holy Spirit. “Breathe on me breath of God.”

All our prayers we join to those of Christians around the world as we pray with them, in the way Christ has taught us, saying; 

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. AMEN.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.