O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessed are they who have not walked
in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the assembly of the scornful.
Their delight is in the law of the Lord
and they meditate on his law day and night.
Like a tree planted by streams of water
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither,
whatever they do, it shall prosper.
As for the wicked, it is not so with them;
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked shall not be able to stand in the judgement,
nor the sinner in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked shall perish.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 18.35-43
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.
Today’s reading is a familiar story. A person with a life-changing affliction becomes aware that Jesus is near. That person has heard the stories. That person believes that his disability can be healed by this amazing man. In desperation and hope he raises his voice and cries out to Jesus. In desperation and hope he comes to Jesus and asks for the gift of healing that only Jesus can give.
In these strange and challenging times we have all experienced confusion and disorientation. Some have been overwhelmed with fear, while others have experienced complex problems with their mental well-being. Whether our times of lockdown have caused us anxiety or not, surely we have all longed for healing from the health crisis that has so radically affected our daily lives. This is the point where today’s reading speaks to our lives in 2020.
Our hopes and prayers for healing are founded in our longing for a return to ‘normality’, but that was not the case for the blind beggar. The blind man who cried out to Jesus for healing wanted something very different. In an ironic sense, that man’s blindness brought with it a degree of certainty, even security, that we will probably find it difficult to understand. A serious disability, such as blindness, brought with it an income derived from the sympathy and empathy of those who were physically fit. The healing of that blind man would have taken him into a new and unpredictable world, a world of new sights, and yet that was what he asked of Jesus.
In our prayers we often ask for healing and change, but those prayers are often rooted in self-interest. The blind man wanted the most radical change imaginable. Whilst our prayers are offered in sincerity we rarely want the level of change that will free us to live a life of true discipleship. And, of course, that is exactly what the blind man was given by Jesus.
The blind man’s response to his healing was to glorify God, not to go around telling people how lucky he was. What is more, his glorifying of God led others to praise God as well. As we pray for healing and change let us also prepare ourselves for the moment when that prayer is answered. Let us pray that we might also be given the courage to use our newly healed selves to glorify the God who brings healing. Let us not be afraid of the change that healing might bring to our lives. Let us, instead, pray for the strength and the courage to use our newly healed lives to make this a better and more God-centred world.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray that the Church and the world shall be guided to walk in the way of the Lord.
Bless the Church with clear vision to follow wherever the gospel leads. Open the ears of all Christian people to hear and respond to those who cry out for the divine mercy.
Give compassion to those in authority, that they may know the needs of those they govern and use their power for good. Enlighten all the people of the world who go on their way unseeing and unguided, and bring them to knowledge of salvation.
We pray for ourselves, that as we pass by on our journey through the world we may not be blind to the needs of those who come close to us. Bless our community with the spirit of love and concern for one another.
Have mercy on the blind and all whose sight is impaired. Bless the doctors who work to save and restore sight, and all who work in places where many suffer from diseases of the eyes.
We give thanks for the departed who have followed the way of faith and come to the end of their journey. Grant them, and to us in our time, the perfect vision of holiness in eternity.
May our prayers be accepted through Christ, the merciful Son of David.
Prayer for the week
God of righteousness, God of peace,
forgive the selfishness, greed and arrogance
that cause us to be at enmity one with another.
Help us and all people to live together
in Christian love and goodwill;
and teach the nations of the world
the things that belong to their peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
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.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Put thou thy trust in God,
in duty’s path go on;
walk in his strength with faith and hope,
so shall thy work be done.
Commit thy ways to him,
thy works into his hands,
and rest on his unchanging word,
who heaven and earth commands.
Paul Gerhardt (1607–1676)
translated by John Wesley (1703–1791) and others