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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
purify our hearts and minds,
that when your Son Jesus Christ
comes again as judge and saviour
we may be ready to receive him,
who is our Lord and our God. Amen.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
He will not always accuse us,
neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his mercy upon those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he set our sins from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so is the Lord merciful towards those who fear him.
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 said, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
How relaxed are you feeling? In this strange year, which has seen so many new demands made of us, coupled with our proximity to Christmas, I sense that not many people can say that they are relaxed. For several months doctors, scientists, politicians and commentators have been telling us that we are all stressed and struggling with various mental health issues. We have been told that we are all lonely and isolated, struggling to come to terms with changes in routine, and growing increasingly suspicious of the strategies that have been put in place to try and protect us from the virus that is sweeping across the world. If we listen to what others are saying we will certainly not be feeling relaxed.
But … there are those for whom none of the above is true. Some have found new purpose in trying to help those less fortunate or able than themselves. Some have found that their naturally optimistic and ‘sunny’ personalities have not been compromised by the events of the year. Some have found the resolve to make the best of the situation in order that they might avoid all the negative ‘stuff’ the pundits tell us we should be afflicted with. Then, there are some who would be struggling if it was not for their faith in the words of Jesus Christ.
Life in the Middle East in the first century was not easy. There were the brutal Roman occupying forces to contend with, inadequate medical care (as compared to the medical know-how and resources available to us), economic uncertainty, inadequate facilities for the care and nurture of children, corruption in those who had authority over the lives of many. Life in Jesus’ time was not easy, and Jesus knew that. Jesus also knew that there was a way of finding peace and joy, and relaxation of body and spirit. Jesus knew that if humanity learnt to cast its cares onto his shoulders, then there would be a profound understanding of what it meant to lead the Christian life.
While we are tense and worried, our minds pre-occupied with the mundane, the political and the economic concerns of modern life, we are not in a place where we can open our hearts and minds to the promptings and the callings of God. Worry undermines the joy of human existence, and so much of the worry is created by ourselves. By listening to the words of Jesus and by learning to follow the lead he gives, we will come to know the fullness of the Christian life. The concerns and fears of the world will not go away, but we will be so much stronger as we allow God to lead us through them, around them, or even into direct confrontation with them.
Give it a go. Come to Jesus and find the rest that only he can give.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray with confidence to the Father, Lord of heaven and earth.
Bless and strengthen the Church to which the mystery of faith has been revealed. Grant that she may speak the words of comfort to all people, to meet their diversity without losing the integrity of truth.
Come with healing into the discontent of the world, to take away the suspicion that separates people and sets them against each other. Teach those who think themselves wise in this world to trust the wisdom of the simple.
Make us more gentle and humble in our dealings with others. Give us insight to see the burdens that many in our community are bearing, and generosity to bring relief.
Have mercy on those who are bowed down under heavy loads, wearied by poverty and hunger, by sickness or by the weight of unresolved sin. Bring them to your side, to find comfort and assurance in your love.
We remember those who have laid down their burdens and found eternal rest. We give thanks that to them all mysteries have been revealed and the fullness of the divine love made known.
We offer our prayers in the name of Christ, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
Prayer for the week
Father in heaven,
our hearts desire the warmth of your love
and our minds are searching for the light of your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ our Saviour
and give us the strength to grow in love,
that the dawn of his coming
may find us rejoicing in his presence
and welcoming the light of his truth.
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.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Come unto me and rest;
lay down, thou weary one, lay down
thy head upon my breast’:
I came to Jesus as I was,
weary and worn and sad;
I found in him a resting-place,
and he has made me glad.
Horatius N. Bonar (1808–1889)