O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
Psalm 68.9-10, 18-19
You sent down a gracious rain, O God;
you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary.
Your people came to dwell there;
in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor.
Blessed be the Lord who bears our burdens day by day,
for God is our salvation.
God is for us the God of our salvation;
God is the Lord who can deliver from death.
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.
Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.’
In the Preface to the Marriage Service the priest says these words: marriage is a gift of God in which … man and woman become one flesh. It is God’s purpose that … they shall be united as Christ is united with his Church. These words are said at the beginning of each Marriage Service. These words, and others with describe the ‘oneness’ to which each married couple should aspire, are meant for those being married, for those who are already married, and for those who are contemplating the possibility of marriage at some point in the future. These words sum up the totality of the commitment that is made by each married couple as they offer their vows to each other. As we consider the ‘oneness’ that is the calling of each married couple, we should use that very human marker as a way of grasping Jesus’ words to us today.
As Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples draws to its close, he looks to his Father in heaven and prays for his closest companions in the times of fear and need with which they will soon be confronted. As Jesus’ earthly ministry draws to its glorious conclusion, he prays for those nearest to him, and for all future believers in his great message to humanity.
As I have considered in earlier reflections, prayer is a great mystery. The power of prayer is incalculable, just as it is undeniable. As prayers are answered many will speak of ‘good luck’ rather than thanking God for his merciful response to their pleading. Such a cavalier reaction to prayers answered is often rooted in God’s response not being framed in the self-centred way in which we would wish. Jesus’ prayer, and his heavenly Father’s response to that prayer, is different. Jesus’ prayer, as recorded by John in this short passage, is yet another example of his intimate union with his Father in heaven, an intimate relationship Jesus wants for us as well.
Consider the times you have played your small part in something you could not have achieved alone. Whether you were third triangle in the school orchestra, just one singer in a choir of two hundred voices, one member of a sports team or a participant in something much bigger like the London Marathon, your part was important, you were in an intimate and complete union with everyone else who was taking part. This is Jesus’ prayer for us. Jesus prays that we come to understand that, no matter how insignificant we may feel ourselves to be, his arms are open to welcome us with the warmest possible embrace.
Jesus prays that our relationship with God should be the same as his. What greater answer to prayer could we possibly ask for?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to the Father, glorified in the Son to whom all things in heaven and earth are given.
We pray for the people of your Church, those you have called to hear and believe your word. Draw them together in unity, inspired by the mutual love of the Father and the Son to be as one in faith and hope and love.
For all the people of the world that Christ came to save, those who acknowledge his power and those who do not know him, we ask that his glory may shine upon them and make them his own. As he has authority over all, may those who exercise power learn the way of his justice and his mercy.
Make us bearers of your word to those among whom we live. May we be sensitive to discern and heal the misunderstandings that cause division.
Comfort and relieve those who suffer for their faith. Protect your chosen ones who are rejected by the world.
We remember those who in this world began their eternal life through faith and have entered into its fullness. As they are now in your presence, so may we grow in grace towards that vision of glory.
We pray in the name of Christ, glorified before all worlds.
Prayer for the week
forgive what we have been;
sanctify what we are;
and order what we shall be.
What we do not know, teach us;
what we do not have, give us;
what we are not, make us;
for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
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.
Father, hear the prayer we offer:
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength that we may ever
live our lives courageously.
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
in our wanderings be our guide;
through endeavour, failure, danger,
Father, be thou at our side.
Love Maria Willis (1824–1908)