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Intercessions for Trinity + 8 (Proper 12) Year B: 26 July 2015


The Collect

Almighty Lord and everlasting God, we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of your laws and the works of your  commandments; that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 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: 2 Samuel 11.1-15

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.  It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, ‘This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’  So David sent word to Joab, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house, and wash your feet.’ Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, ‘Uriah did not go down to his house,’ David said to Uriah, ‘You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?’ Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.’ Then David said to Uriah, ‘Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.  In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.’

Psalm 14

Refrain: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ * Corrupt are they, and abominable in their wickedness; there is no one that does good.
The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of earth, * to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks after God.
But every one has turned back; all alike have become corrupt: * there is none that does good; no, not one. R
Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, * who eat up my people as if they ate bread and do not call upon the Lord?
There shall they be in great fear; * for God is in the company of the righteous.
Though they would confound the counsel of the poor, * yet the Lord shall be their refuge.
O that Israel’s salvation would come out of Zion! * When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Refrain: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

God of heaven,
look with mercy on all who are consumed
by ignorance and greed,
and let the children of earth know
that you are God for ever.

Second Reading: Ephesians 3.14-21

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel Reading: John 6.1-21

Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Jesus, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’ When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.  When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.

The gospel reading today describes probably the best known of all the miracles. One reason for that is that there are accounts of the feeding of the 5,000 in each gospel (Mark 6.30-44, Matthew 14.13-21, Luke 9.12-17 and John 6.1-21). And two more descriptions of the feeding of the 4,000 (Mark 8.1-9 and Matthew 15.32-38). The best commentary I know is by Jeffrey John in ‘The Meaning in the Miracles’ (pp 60-70). You can see the text of Jane Williams here (pp 89-90, search ‘pressure’).

Gerard Kelly, in ‘Twitturgies‘ (week 29) has an interesting reflection on bread, for which he suggests you read Philippians 2.17. “Christians think of bread and wine in terms of receiving. The Eucharist is central to our faith: Christ’s body is broken and given to us. We are on the receiving end of love. But elsewhere we are described as the body of Christ. Henri Nouwen points out an often-hidden meaning of this name. Are we, as Christ’s body, broken and given to the world? Does our imitation of Christ stretch to this ultimate act of self-giving? Are we bread in the hands of God to be broken and shared with the hungry, wine to be poured out? Nouwen suggests that we are and that the act of being broken, being poured out, being shared is the true meaning of our faith. Paul describes his life as ‘poured out as an offering’. Will yours be?”

This is the first of several weeks in the lectionary on the subject of the bread of life. So we need to pace ourselves. The particular feature of this gospel reading is perhaps the boy, whose lunch is shared with this vast throng. Does he represent all those who have promised to follow Christ, ‘bread in the hands of God to be broken and shared with the hungry’ as Nouwen writes?

Or, linking with the passage from Ephesians, does the boy represent each one of us, unique to God amongst the throng? Here is Jane Williams:


Prayers of Intercession

¶The Church of Christ

O Lord our God, we have promised to serve you to the end, knowing that the food that we eat, all that we have, comes from you.  Today we vow to follow that child who gave all that he had to eat that day, so that with five rolls and two fish a vast multitude might be fed. Today we offer ourselves to you, just as we are, to be taken, blessed, broken and given in your name. May it be so.

Lord, work in us so that we may be changed: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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

Lord, we pray for those in authority who have been overcome by the web of greed and corruption. May their hearts look beyond themselves once more and be softened by compunction and grief. God of true wealth, draw us all through the narrow gate of loss.

Lord, work in us so that we may be changed: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

Lord, we ask that through you we may be of service to our neighbour. But give us also the humility to realise that we, too, need to accept your grace through those we live amongst. We stand united, looking in the same direction towards Christ, and we help one another along the road to salvation. Some may do the carrying, others may be carried, but we follow the same path and give glory to you by our journeying. *

Lord, work in us so that we may be changed: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord, there are times when we feel we are at the limits of our coping.  We know that the Christ who hangs on the cross with us shares our pain. Being pushed to the limit takes us to the edge of eternity, makes us tremble on the brink of your infinite mystery, where we live by faith — our faith in you, and even more astonishing, your faith in us.**

Lord, work in us so that we may be changed: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we pray for all those that have died, that the love of Christ  will gather them into the fellowship of the saints…

May they rejoice in your heavenly feast, where he presides for ever.

Lord, work in us so that we may be changed: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

* Based on Dame Catherine Wybourne’s post Pilgrimage to St Winefride’s Well.

** Ibid, ‘Pushed to the Limit’

Prayer after Communion

Strengthen for service, Lord,
the hands that have taken holy things;
may the ears which have heard your word
be deaf to clamour and dispute;
may the tongues which have sung your praise
be free from deceit;
may the eyes which have seen the tokens of your love
shine with the light of hope;
and may the bodies which have been fed with your body
be refreshed with the fullness of your life;
glory to you for ever.

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): 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 Collect (8th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

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