O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
by the obedience of Jesus
you brought salvation to our wayward world:
draw us into harmony with your will,
that we may find all things restored in him,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
My soul shall glory in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look upon him and be radiant
and your faces shall not be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him
and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is gracious;
blessed is the one who trusts in him.
Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
Lions may lack and suffer hunger,
but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.
Come, my children, and listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is there who delights in life
and longs for days to enjoy good things?
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.
When Jesus came to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, ‘What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?’ Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’ And he said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighbourhood.
The two demoniacs suddenly shouted: What have you to do with us, Son of God?
During my lifetime I have seen a growth in society’s eagerness to ask questions. The style of questioning that has emerged has been increasingly challenging and combative. Those in positions of authority are no longer seen as deserving ‘respect’ and ‘obedience’ as a matter of right. Those who have come into positions of authority are constantly called to account for their decisions and actions. Similarly, the authority that was once exercised by the Church has come into question. We no longer live in a world where the Church is seen as leading the way. The Church is also called upon to justify the authority it claims to exercise in the world.
Historians and sociologists often associate this societal shift in matters of acceptance and respect to the years that immediately followed the Second World War. The status quo that had existed in the 1930s had been overthrown. Those who wielded power over the lives of others were seen to be flawed, and not perfect. Questions began to be asked.
When I was a teenager those questions began to manifest themselves in popular culture of all sorts. Music sought to deconstruct the accepted norms of recent history. Theatre fought its way out of the straitjacket of censorship. Literature reflected the gritty reality of ordinary life, rather than the dreamy escapism that was centred around hierarchy and deference. The Church became, in the eyes of many, an anachronistic place of superstition and myth. In my lifetime I have heard so many join the Gadarene demoniacs in asking: What have you to do with us, Son of God?
For those of us who cling on to our faith in the Son of God, the world is often viewed as having sunk into a hopeless pit of despair and self-destruction. But … this world, and all of us, are still part of God’s wonderful creation, the creation he saw as being very good. Each of us are still made in the image of God. Each of us share in the free will that was given to our earliest ancestors in the Garden of Eden. Each of us still has the choice to believe in and journey with God, or to reject him.
This world is in need of Christ’s healing touch, just as we are as individuals. But, it has never been any different. This world is flawed because it is inhabited by human beings who, despite being made in the image of God, are flawed because we are not God! It is our calling, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to allow him to cast out all that is dark and negative in us in order that we might shine as his lights in this world. It is our calling to join him in repelling the forces of darkness through our steadfastness and faith. It is our calling to recognize that we are the hands, the feet, the head and the heart of Christ in this world today.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray for the healing of all ills in the Church and in the world.
Cleanse the Church from all that may hinder her witness to the gospel. Give grace to her ministers and to all Christian people, that they may make know the mighty works of God.
Have mercy on the world where many are in conflict with one another and are not at peace within themselves. Come with the healing Spirit which drives out evil in the high places of power and in the lives of ordinary people.
Give to us, our families and friends, grace to receive with joy the signs of your presence, even when they disturb what is safe and familiar. Give us compassion and understanding for all whose ways seem strange to us.
Look with compassion on all who are disturbed in their minds. Grant them recovery and the way to a new life. Bless and enable those who care for them.
Have mercy on the departed, and especially those whose lives in this world have been troubled by mental illness. May they be made perfect in the heavenly peace which passes understanding.
We pray through Christ who has restored us and made us whole.
Prayer for the week
Lord of all,
in whom we live and move and have our being,
renew our hearts through your Holy Spirit,
that we may long to draw close to you in prayer,
that we may have the faith to hear your call on our lives,
and that we may have the courage
to tread the path you have set before us,
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.