Daily Prayer for 16 January 2023 (Epiphany 2: Monday)

Preparation

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 2.18-22

John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. 

‘No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.’ 

Reflection

In the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes we read: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. These words from the wisdom writings of the Old Testament sum up the message of the words we hear from Mark’s gospel today. According to the Jewish religious discipline John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, but this act of spiritual self-denial was not being observed by Jesus’ disciples. We should not be surprised that questions were being asked! Jesus’ response to these questions brings to mind the teaching we find in Ecclesiastes as he says: The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them … the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

The Gospel tells us of the days when the Messiah walked amongst us, as one of us. Jesus shared in the totality of the human experience from birth to death, but he was still the Messiah, the Son of God. As he shared in every aspect of our day-to-day lives the onus was upon those amongst whom he lived to take the step into believing in his kingship, his divinity. For those who did recognize Jesus for who he truly was it would have been totally inappropriate for them to fast … being in his presence was a time of celebration and joy.

The majority of us do not like to stand out from the crowd. We like to be seen as ‘blending in’ with the society in which we find ourselves. Sometimes this involves us in adopting inappropriate practices or espousing inappropriate beliefs. Jesus’ call to us is that we should recognize that which will lead us into a closer relationship with him, even if that means being ‘different’ from those around us.

Let us pray that we might recognize the wisdom of God in our lives as we follow his path … even if that means treading a path that is not that which is being trod by the majority of those amongst whom we live.

Prayers

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.
Amen.

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.
Amen.

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.
Amen.