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Intercessions for Lent 3: 3 March 2013

The Collect

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Isaiah 55.1-9

The Lord says this: Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

Psalm 63.1-8

O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; *my soul is athirst for you.
My flesh also faints for you, *as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
So would I gaze upon you in your holy place, *that I might behold your power and your glory.
Your loving-kindness is better than life itself *and so my lips shall praise you.
I will bless you as long as I live *and lift up my hands in your name.
My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, *and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips,
When I remember you upon my bed *and meditate on you in the watches of the night.
For you have been my helper *and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10.1-13

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.  Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Gospel Reading: Luke 13.1-9

There were some present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’ Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”’


When I first looked at the lectionary, I couldn’t see any connection at all between the various passages. On these occasions, Rule 12 operates: when in doubt, concentrate on the gospel. And as I did so – and after having slept on it (Rule 11) – I could see (albeit through a glass, darkly) a link to the fig tree. Jeffrey John comes to my rescue: God visits his people and finds them fruitless, ‘what I gave them has passed from them’. John adds: ‘Jesus was certainly in anguish over the fruitlessness…and spiritual blindness of the religious institutions of his time. Is it likely that he thinks much differently of his Church now?’ (pp 188-202). The prayer for the Church today is based on this.

Prayers of Intercession

Today let us harden not our hearts, but open them to the Lord.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, we ask you to challenge and change our Church. Judge us and cleanse us and help us to be what you called us to be. Help us to embody you on earth, and make your presence real for everyone in the here and now. Help us to feed your people with bread instead of stones. And, Lord, we ask you to begin with each one of us.

Lord, help us to repay your loving kindness by at last bearing fruit: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, when we weep at our failure to bear fruit, we are comforted when we consider the glory and wisdom of your creation. Like a painting it is set before us: all through history your great brush has not rested nor has the paint dried on your canvas. In wonderment and awe, we praise you for your great glory, king of  glory eternal.

Lord, help us to repay your loving kindness by at last bearing fruit: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

Lord, as we seek to serve you among our fellow human beings, keep us mindful that the simplest task as a member of the community can also be the fruit of the Spirit. Let us rejoice in each other and the work that we do together, building the foundations of your kingdom on earth.

Lord, help us to repay your loving kindness by at last bearing fruit: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord, we pray for all those who are suffering, whether mentally or physically. Any help that we can offer or any kindness that we can show, let us do it now, not defer or neglect it.  While we may think it is we who are bestowing a blessing, so often we receive far more than we give.

 Lord, help us to repay your loving kindness by at last bearing fruit: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we remember before you those who have died. Grant us, with all who have known you in their hearts, a share in your eternal kingdom where all shall come to fruition.

Lord, help us to repay your loving kindness by at last bearing fruit: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 


The illustration is a fig tree fresco from the Casa del Frutteto (I 9, 5) in Pompeii via Wikimedia

 

2 comments on this post:

Andy said...
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‘ … all who have known you in their heats’ [sic] Song of Songs, perchance?

Lay Anglicana said...
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Very good, now corrected (good to know you are paying attention!) :)

27 February 2013 16:12
27 February 2013 13:56

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