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Intercessions for First Sunday of Christmas Year B – 28 December 2014


The Collect

Heavenly Father, whose children suffered at the hands of Herod, though they had done no wrong: by the suffering of your Son and by the innocence of our lives frustrate all evil designs and establish your reign of justice 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: Jeremiah 31.15-17

Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. Thus says the Lord: Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says the Lord: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.

Psalm 124

Refrain: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

If the Lord himself had not been on our side, *now may Israel say;
If the Lord had not been on our side, * when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us alive * when their anger burned against us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over our soul; * over our soul would have swept the raging waters. R
But blessed be the Lord * who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler; * the snare is broken and we are delivered.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, * who has made heaven and earth.
Refrain: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Second Reading:  1 Corinthians 1.26-29

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 2.13-18

When the Magi had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Prayers of Intercession

Visual Liturgy suggests the following:
In peace let us pray to the God of love.

Righteous God, your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ dwelt among us and shared our grief and our pain.
We pray for the children of our world, that they may grow up knowing love and security.
We pray for all children who suffer physical or mental abuse.
We pray for all communities in our world who live with the memories of massacre and gross cruelty.
We pray for all who are corrupted by power and who regard human life as cheap.
We pray for parents who have suffered the death of a child.
We pray for parents and guardians, that they may be given grace to care for the children entrusted to them.

As we celebrate the coming of the Christ-child, we rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Innocents and commit the children of this community, our nation and our world to you, our righteous God.

[A note on the lectionary: tomorrow is the The Innocents, but it is marked today, together with it also being the First Sunday of Christmas ]


Let us pray to the Father, who has revealed his glory through the Incarnation of his Son.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, your Son was born when the world was at its darkest, into a world so dark that infanticide in the name of politics is still with us 2,000 years later. And yet into this world came our light, which the darkness could not comprehend. Into this world came our dawn, which the darkness could not overcome. As we feel cast down by the darkness that seems to be our Church, help us to see the thousand points of light, elusive and not easily captured though they may be, which repeat your promise of hope through love.

Lord, when this world seems dark, help us to focus on your light : in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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

Lord, in this world which flows with milk and honey, we pray for those who go hungry. In this world in which there are houses which are never or rarely occupied, we pray for those with nowhere to live. Lord, at a time when we celebrate the creation of the Holy Family, we pray for all those who have no families, or are estranged from them. As together we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, we pray for those who do not know him. For those who shiver in the cold, excluded from the fire of life, we pray that they may receive your warmth and love.

Lord, when this world seems dark, help us to focus on your light: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

Lord, we pray for the neighbourhoods in which we live. We pray that, when a new idea wells up from amongst us, our first instinct is not to massacre it at birth, fearing it may unsettle our established way of doing things. Help us to look encouragingly at new ideas, especially those offered by the young and those new to our community. Open us up to the wealth of possibilities these new ideas may offer us, new shooting stars that we may attempt to grasp.

Lord, when this world seems dark, help us to focus on your light: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord, this is a time of spiritual darkness for some, and emotional depths for others. It is a time of illness amongst many, and desperation amongst some. We pray for all those who are suffering at this time, and for those around them who attempt to care for them. We pray for all those in physical pain, that their suffering might be alleviated. Into the darkness of all these people, O Lord, we ask you to send your son to guide their steps into the way of peace.

Lord, when this world seems dark, help us to focus on your light: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we pray for all those whom we love and see no more. May they rest in peace and rise in glory, and may your light perpetual shine upon them.

Lord, when this world seems dark, help us to focus on your light: in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Matthew 2.13-18 © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council

2 comments on this post:

UKViewer said...

Thanks Laura. I’m preaching this weekend 🙁 Hard one.

Lay Anglicana said...

It really is. This is the first time for a long time that I have struggled with the prayers. No help from Jane Williams et al as they are all on the First Sunday readings, but Visual Liturgy is quite stern on the subject. Having gone over and over it for a few days, I think I have finally understood why we have to have this bleak message so soon – one of the most helpful things over Christmas for me was Richard Coles explaining to Fern Britton just how dark things were before Christ came – he reduced her (and me) to tears,
And then with the massacre of the innocents in Peshawar….in the name of what? Politics? Religion?

27 December 2014 10:11
27 December 2014 10:00

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