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Intercessions for 4th Sunday before Lent (Proper 1): 9 February 2014


The Collect

O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: grant to us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; 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 58.1-9a(b-12)

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know  my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of  oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring  whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

Psalm 112.1-9(10)

Alleluia. Blessed are those who fear the Lord * and have great delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land, * a generation of the faithful that will be blest.
Wealth and riches will be in their house, * and their righteousness endures for ever.
Light shines in the darkness for the upright; * gracious and full of compassion are the righteous.
It goes well with those who are generous in lending * and order their affairs with justice,
For they will never be shaken; * the righteous will be held in everlasting remembrance.
They will not be afraid of any evil tidings; * their heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their heart is sustained and will not fear, *until they see the downfall of their foes.
They have given freely to the poor; their righteousness stands fast for ever; * their head will be exalted with honour.
The wicked shall see it and be angry; they shall gnash their teeth in despair; * the desire of the wicked shall perish.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2.1-12(13-16)

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 5.13-20

Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I turn as so often to Jane Williams:

“God expects us to begin to see the world through his eyes, whereas we were rather hoping that he might see it through ours…God wants us to be heart-broken with love and longing for the world, as he is…We cannot allow ourselves to be satisfied with having just our own needs met. That’s why Jesus says that his disciples are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Their faith is not just – or even primarily – about themselves, but about their participation in God’s work in the world. This is the fulfilment of the law…essentially a corporate thing…designed to build a people whose life together reflects the nature of God…God’s gift to us…allows us to put others before ourselves. It allows us to care for the world as God does, so that we are incomplete while others suffer. ..This gift does very little for our own…sense of self-importance, and it will be sneered at and misunderstood by all who do not possess it. But it is a present that interprets the whole world, once you have the knack of it.”

Prayers of Intercession

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, grant to the members of the Body of Christ the inward happiness and serenity that comes from living close to you. Daily renew in us the sense of joy, and let your eternal spirit dwell in our souls and bodies, filling every corner with light and gladness. Then, salted with your word, may we season the earth. In imitation of your Son, the light of the world,  may each one of us in turn illumine the life of our neighbour. Finally, filled through your Holy Spirit with all joy and peace in believing,  may we be diffusers of life in your name.

Lord, help us to help you scatter the darkness from this world: in your mercy, hear our prayer

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

Give us, Lord God, a vision of our world as your love would make it: a world where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor; a world where the benefits of civilized life are shared, and everyone can enjoy them; a world where different races, nations and cultures live in tolerance and mutual respect; a world where peace is built with justice and justice is guided by love; And give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through the power of your holy spirit. *

 Lord, help us to help you scatter the darkness from this world: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The local community

Lord, thank-you for teaching us how to give, as well as how to receive, and how to support each other on life’s journey. Generous God, save us from the meanness that calculates its interest and hoards its earthly gain; as we have freely received, so may we freely give,  sure in the knowledge that what we gave, we still have; what we spent we kept;  whereas what we held on tight to, we thereby lost. While you have told us it is more blessed to give than to receive, give us also the humility to allow others the blessing of giving to us, in your name.

Lord, help us to help you scatter the darkness from this world: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Those who suffer

Lord, grant to all those who are bearing pain your spirit of healing, your spirit of life, your spirit of peace and hope, of courage and endurance. Cast out from them the spirit of anxiety and fear and grant them perfect trust in you so that in your light they may see light and know the truth of your promise that we shall not be overcome.

Lord, help us to help you scatter the darkness from this world: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The communion of saints

We give thanks that life is eternal and we remember those whom we loved who have gone before us and are now in the fullness of light in your kingdom. We give thanks for all that reflected your lifht in their lives and pray that we may all walk with them in that light.

Lord, help us to help you scatter the darkness from this world: in your mercy, hear our prayer

In the illustration, salt crystals reflect light so that they represent both the salt of the earth and the light of the world.


*This is a prayer of the Revd Trevor Williams, leader of the Corrymeela Community, an ecumenical community of reconciliation in Northern Ireland. It is included in Deborah Cassidi’s anothology ‘Favourite Prayers’.


Copyright acknowledgement : Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000.Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

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