Podcast Worship

Daily Prayer for 12 January 2023 (Epiphany 1: Thursday)

Listen to a service of Daily Prayer for Epiphany 1: Thursday, 12 January 2023, including a reflection on the gospel readin


O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, Sovereign God,
king of the nations,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
your name is proclaimed in all the world.
As the Sun of Righteousness dawns in our hearts
anoint our lips with the seal of your Spirit
that we may witness to your gospel
and sing your praise in all the earth.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Mark 1.40-45

A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. 


Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him … Be made clean!’

In 1986 the UK government released a public information film that warned of a new deadly disease that was sweeping the world: AIDS. In 2020 the UK government joined with nations across the world in locking its population down for fear of another new deadly disease: COVID 19. These two diseases are very different, except in one respect: in the 1980s, just in 2020, there quickly arose a fear that the infection could be spread by touch. During the height of the AIDS scare, those who were known to be infected were shunned by society, much as lepers were in biblical times. In 2020, and still in 2023, gloves are donned and hand-sanitiser is used for fear of contracting a viral infection that scientists have proved not to be communicable through touch. All of this is relevant because we read of Jesus touching a leper in today’s reading.

Touch can be described as the most intimate of our five senses because it involves a level of communication between ourselves and others that is physical. Any distance that might exist is breeched by our reaching out to form a bond that goes beyond any of our other sensual experiences. Taste, smell, hearing and seeing can all be experienced at a distance, but touch is different. Touch involves a drawing close, and a greater degree of trust.

When we read of leprosy in the bible, we cannot be sure exactly what is being described. It is believed that many different skin complaints were summed up with the same diagnosis: leprosy. We now know that leprosy itself cannot be passed on through casual touch, just like AIDS and COVID 19, but that was not known in the first century. As a way of protecting communities, ‘lepers’ were isolated. But, when Jesus was approached by a leper, he stretched out his hand and touched him. Through the faith of the leper, and the simple act of touch, Jesus demonstrated his power to heal, to give new hope and new life.

In the gospels we read of Jesus sending out his disciples to preach, to forgive sinners and to heal the sick. That commission has been passed down the generations until we find that it is now our calling to fulfil Jesus’ wishes. But, do we hear that call, and are we ready to take up the challenge it presents? When confronted with the challenging and the difficult many of us feel repulsed and we step back. We go to inordinate lengths to avoid the intimacy of touch, and yet that is what we are called to do. We are called to reach out in Christ’s name. We are called to put self to one side and to share Christ’s love in the most intimate of ways … just as Jesus did himself. We are called to let others feel the love of Christ through our hands, because Christ has no hands on earth now, but ours.


From the rising of the sun to its setting, 
let us pray to the Lord.

That the people of God in all the world
may worship in spirit and in truth,
let us pray to the Lord.

That the Church may discover again 
that unity which is the Father’s will,
let us pray to the Lord.

That the nations of the earth
may seek after the ways that make for peace,
let us pray to the Lord.

That the whole creation, groaning in travail,
may be set free to enjoy the glorious liberty of the children of God,
let us pray to the Lord.

That all who with Christ have entered the shadow of death
may rest in peace and rise in glory,
let us pray to the Lord.

Let us commend the world, to which Christ showed the way,
to the mercy and protection of God.

Creator of the heavens,
who led the Magi by a star
to worship the Christ-child:
guide and sustain us,
that we may find our journey’s end
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Believing the promises of God,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Christ the Son of God
perfect in us the image of his glory
and gladden our hearts 
with the good news of his kingdom;
and may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.