Sunday 31st March Reading and Prayer
Let us ask God for help to understand his word. Let us pray.
Gracious God, when we read your word we do not always grasp its real meaning. In Jesus’ name we ask that your Spirit will lead us to a better understanding of your ways. Amen
Our first reading this morning is from the New Testament, the Letter to the Romans, Chapter 12 and verses 9 to 21. If you are using the pew Bibles you can find this on page 200 in the New Testament section.
At the time when Paul wrote this, none of the apostles had visited the new church in Rome, so for some time Paul had wanted to go to Rome to minister there, and his letter to the Romans was, in part, to help to prepare for his proposed visit. The church in Rome was predominantly made up of Gentiles, but there was also a significant number of Jews. In this part of his letter Paul is encouraging his readers in Rome to love and support each other.
So let us read Romans, Chapter 12 and verses 9 to 21.
9 Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good.
10 Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another.
11 Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.
12 Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.
13 Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers.
14 Ask God to bless those who persecute you - yes, ask him to bless, not to curse.
15 Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.
16 Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise.
17 If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good.
18 Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.
19 Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God's anger do it. For the scripture says, "I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord."
20 Instead, as the scripture says: "If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame."
21 Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.
Now let us all, including those who are listening to the CD of this service, come before God in prayer. Let us all pray:
Loving God, creator of everything, we have come here today to worship you. We know that you are the all-powerful, eternal God, the creator and sustainer of all things. Everything that we have comes from you. Life in all its amazing varieties, and the huge range of wonderful resources that are in the world, are gifts from you. You are generous, and you have provided us with far more than we really need.
When we consider the vastness of your creation we feel small and insignificant, and we find it truly amazing, that you, the almighty creator of everything, should care about each and every one of us, and treat us as your children.
Lord, we thank you that you are a merciful god, who is always willing to listen to our prayers, and to forgive the shortcomings of those who repent. We confess that we frequently fail you in many ways, and that we need to seek your forgiveness.
Forgive us for the times when we have taken everything for granted, and failed to acknowledge that all good things come from you.
We confess that we have not always make good use of all that you have given us, and we have been possessive and greedy. We have misused the gift of time, and we have been wasteful with the world’s resources which you have provided for us.
We thank you for all the things that you have provided for us, and we ask that you will guide us to use them wisely, not to waste them, and to share them with others.
Jesus taught us that we should treat all people everywhere in the same way as we would wish to be treated, but we confess that we often find it difficult to follow Jesus’ teaching, and we can find it hard to treat others in the way that we should. Sometimes we have allowed our emotions and egos to get in the way of loving others as we should. We have not always been welcoming and hospitable to strangers, and we have tended to put people into categories rather than treating them as valuable individuals who are loved by you. Forgive us for all these times when we have failed to treat people in the way that we should.
At present our own country faces a time of uncertainty, and many people have strongly held, but differing views on what should happen. Help us to respect other people by listening to their points of view, especially if we do not agree with them.
Remind us that Jesus showed his love and concern for all people, including those who were feared or despised by others. Fill us full of love, and may we have the courage to do our best to show your love and compassion to all the people that you have put into our lives.
Hear these our prayers which we offer in the name of Jesus.
Let us now sing Hymn 528 “Make me a channel of your peace.”
Our second reading this morning is from the New Testament, John’s Gospel, Chapter 4 and verses 46 to 54.
If you are using the pew Bibles you can find this on page 121 in the New Testament section.
This passage comes immediately after the story about Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well. After he had spoken with the woman, the local people had urged him to stay for a while, and he had stayed for two days before travelling north back to Galilee.
Let us now read John, Chapter 4 and verses 46 to 54.
46 Then Jesus went back to Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. A government official was there whose son was sick in Capernaum.
47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to go to Capernaum and heal his son, who was about to die.
48 Jesus said to him, "None of you will ever believe unless you see miracles and wonders."
49 "Sir," replied the official, "come with me before my child dies."
50 Jesus said to him, "Go; your son will live!" The man believed Jesus' words and went.
51 On his way home his servants met him with the news, "Your boy is going to live!"
52 He asked them what time it was when his son got better, and they answered, "It was one o'clock yesterday afternoon when the fever left him."
53 Then the father remembered that it was at that very hour when Jesus had told him, "Your son will live." So he and all his family believed.
54 This was the second miracle that Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
Let us again come together in prayer. Let us pray.
Great and everlasting God, we thank you for all that you have done for us, and for all that you continue to do. You give us so much that it is impossible to count the numerous blessings that we receive every day, and we thank you that you revealed the depth of your love for us, by sending Jesus into the world to teach us about your ways, and to show us your loving and compassionate nature.
Today we want to thank you for all the people that you have put into our lives. In particular, we thank you for the members of our families, and for our friends. We are grateful for all the love and kindness which they show to us, and to others.
Help us to accept their kindness with gratitude, and may we have the courage and strength to show love, compassion and kindness to them and to all the people we meet.
We thank you also for the very many people, not only from this country but from all around the world, on whom we depend for many things in our daily lives. Support them in their work and let them know that they are loved and valued by you. Help us to treat all people, everywhere, with fairness and respect, and to be good neighbours to all.
Compassionate God, you know that at times we all find life difficult. We ask that you will send your Spirit to bring your comfort and peace to all those who are finding life tough at present. Today we think particularly of those who are sad, worried, or depressed; those who are ill, and those who are struggling in any way. You know who all these people are, and in this moment of silence we bring to you those who are known to us.
Lord, help us to remember that we can be your hands, showing love and kindness to others. May your Spirit guide us and show us what we can do, and may we have the strength to do it.
We offer these prayers in Jesus’ name, and we further pray in the words that he taught his followers.
Our Father, which 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, forever.
Let us now sing Hymn 519 “Love divine all loves excelling.”