Podcast Worship

Daily Prayer for 17 January 2023 (Epiphany 2: Tuesday)

Listen to a service of Daily Prayer for 17 January 2023 (Epiphany 2: Tuesday), including a reflection on the gospel reading


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 2.23-28

One sabbath Jesus was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ And he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’


Jesus said: The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath.

We often hear our politicians speaking of ‘red lines’, by which they mean the boundaries beyond which they are not prepared to trespass. These ‘red lines’ are usually associated with doctrines or philosophical tenets that underpin the way in which they perform their duties. Such ‘red lines’ will be invariably rooted in a set of principles that justify the way in which decisions are made, and the lives of those whom they represent are regulated. Unfortunately, such political principles often prove themselves to be flexible in nature … that which underpins today’s decisions can easily be reversed tomorrow! Too often the Church behaves in the same way as those ‘flexible’ politicians.

It is often said that one of the great ‘strengths’ of the Church of England is its ability to accommodate a great breadth of belief and practice. We can certainly see the truth of this ‘flexibility’ in the way the Church’s liturgy is constructed and in the way faith is expressed and lived out in different Christian communities. However, this flexibility and fluidity can also be a weakness. Different Church communities can become obsessed with man-made rules, such as the rigid observance of the sabbath. 

In the book of Genesis we read of God creating the world. At the end of his labours we read that: God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. Then, in the ten commandments we read: Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy … six days you shall labour and do all your work but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. The word ‘sabbath’ means a day set aside from the humdrum round of daily work. Within the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) there exists a duty to honour the way in which God rested by setting aside one day a week for rest and worship. In earlier times this became one set day: for Jews it is Saturday, for Christians it is Sunday, for Muslims it is Friday. These set days allow faith communities to come together with a common purpose one day a week. But, modern society does not make such a rigid approach easy to observe.

In today’s reading Jesus speaks of David breaking one of the great taboos of the Jewish faith when, in a time of need, he and his companions ate the holy Bread of the Presence. Religious doctrine was set aside to serve the needs of the hungry. The same can be said of our observance of the sabbath. Society no longer sets aside one day a week when everything grinds to a halt. This does not mean that the sabbath has ceased to exist, rather it means that we should find that day in our week for rest and, as we rest, we should worship the God whose gracious bounty enriches our lives. 

Let us pray that we might observe the sabbath with joy, giving thanks for a time of rest as we praise God our creator and loving Father.


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.