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Intercessions for the Conversion of St Paul: 25 January 2015


Conversion of St Paul by Giovanni Antonio de Sacchis

The Collect

Almighty God, who caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul: grant that we who celebrate his wonderful conversion may follow him in bearing witness to your truth; 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 1.4-10

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak  whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.’ Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms.’


Psalm 67

God be gracious to us and bless us * and make his face to shine upon us,
That your way may be known upon earth, * your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; * let all the peoples praise you.
O let the nations rejoice and be glad, * for you will judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; * let all the peoples praise you.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase, * and God, our own God, will bless us.
God will bless us, * and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

Second Reading:  Acts 9.1-22

Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.


Gospel Reading: Matthew 19.27-30

Peter said to Jesus: ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’


Prayers of Intercession

Visual Liturgy offers the following:
“Encouraged by our fellowship with all the saints,
let us make our prayers to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, your Son called men and women to leave the past behind them and to follow him as his disciples in the way of the cross. Look with mercy upon those whom he calls today, marks with the cross and makes his disciples within the Church … Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Your Son told his disciples not to be afraid, and at Easter breathed on them his gift of peace. Look with mercy upon the world into which he sent them out, and give it that peace for which it longs … Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Your Son formed around him a company who were no longer servants but friends, and he called all those who obeyed him his brother and sister and mother. Look with mercy upon our families and our friends and upon the communities in which we share … Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Your Son sent out disciples to preach and to heal the sick. Look with mercy on all those who yearn to hear the good news of salvation, and renew among your people the gifts of healing … Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Your Son promised to those who followed him that they would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and would share the banquet of the kingdom. According to your promise, look with mercy on those who have walked with Christ in this life and now have passed through death …Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone: so join us together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”



This Sunday is of course also the Third Sunday of Epiphany, and most of our usual guides to the lectionary discuss that. However, almost all churches will be celebrating the Conversion of St Paul, which is a red-letter day. At its most obvious level, the message I suppose for us is that of Amazing Grace: (I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.) However, the Revd Alan Garrow in ‘The Ministry Handbook’ amplifies this:

“On his mission to Damascus, Saul undoubtedly believed himself to be carrying out [God’s] purpose in stamping out the followers of the Way. If Saul had a qualification for being chosen to to be Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles, then his enthusiasm to carry out God’s purposes must have been it. His zeal was, of course, dangerously misguided. However…Christ was able to take that fervour and turn it to his true purpose…if we too have a definite desire to serve God’s purpose in the world, God is capable of directing that enthusiasm in the right direction, even if we may start off on entirely the wrong path ourselves. ..the fundamental problem with Saul’s enthusiasm was that it was born of a personal motivation. To be used by God, he had to be stopped and emptied. He became, in fact, an entirely helpless man for three days. From this state of emptiness God was able to fill him and send him, in the Spirit’s power rather than his own. In our plans to serve God, we also need to be sure that we are fuelled by God’s Spirit and agenda rather than our own. ”


¶The Church of Christ

Lord, help us to steer the great ship that is your Church through the powerful currents and shifting sands that surround us. Help us to set a true course, and not to be deflected by cross-winds, as we set out for the high seas, scorning to seek the shelter of quiet bays, which offer only stagnation. Fill our sails, as we set our course for the utter east.  Our peace is in your presence, Lord. We are calm when you are close. Winds wail and waves rise, but we will cross these seas with you.

 Lord, take our enthusiasm and channel it to your purposes so that we may truly serve you: in your mercy, hear our prayer


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

Lord, as movement stirs on the surface of the earth and a new day dawns on our planet, ocean-deep in glory, open our eyes to see and our hearts to join in.  Lord, as you the artist paint us into beauty, you the sculptor shape our souls, and you the gracious gardener grow us to fullness and beauty, Lord our maker, make us whole. **

 Lord, take our enthusiasm and channel it to your purposes so that we may truly serve you: in your mercy, hear our prayer


¶The local community

Lord, may the wounds that we have borne bear fruit in love. May the pains of the past create in us compassion, and from brokenness may kindness rise in us. Where winter has reigned, Lord, let spring break out. Where hearts are frozen, may your sun rise with healing in its wings. We are breath in clay, spirit in flesh, mind in matter, between angels and animals. Creator God, inspire us today to love one another even as we love you. **

 Lord, take our enthusiasm and channel it to your purposes so that we may truly serve you: hear our prayer


¶Those who suffer

Lord, we pray for those who suffer mental and physical anguish. Help us to take comfort from the example of St Paul who, once willing to share in the cross and follow The Master, was freed – not from pain, but from his delusions, as the mist began to clear for him. For us, we are yet far off, but there are mirrors in which the partially sighted look at themselves, and love looks back. Reaching the goal takes no time, and admission is free to all who bring simply their need and their faith. *

 Lord, take our enthusiasm and channel it to your purposes so that we may truly serve you: in your mercy, hear our prayer


¶The communion of saints

Lord, we rejoice that in you the best is yet to come. We give thanks for all who have been changed into the glory of your kingdom and we pray for those whom we love and see no more. Good Lord, transform us,

take our enthusiasm and channel it to your purposes so that we may truly serve you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

*Based on R S Thomas, ‘The Kingdom’

** Based on ideas and phrases from Gerald Kelly’s ‘Twitturgies’.n



Prayer after Communion

Almighty God,
who on the day of Pentecost
sent your Holy Spirit to the apostles
with the wind from heaven and in tongues of flame,
filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel:
by the power of the same Spirit
strengthen us to witness to your truth
and to draw everyone to the fire of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Jeremiah 1.4-10 © 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 Prayer at the Preparation of the Table (Conversion of Paul) © Book of Alternative Services – Anglican Church of Canada Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2002

7 comments on this post:

UKViewer said...

Thanks Laura

21 January 2015 11:23
James Wonnacott said...

I was searching the web for inspiration whilst preparing for Sunday’s intercessions and rewarded with so much more!
A wonderful site, thank you.

22 January 2015 09:53
Gary Lewis said...

What a fantastic resource for all who are involved in leading worship.

24 January 2015 15:27
Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you so much, James and Gary. All feedback is welcome, and kind feedback gives a warm glow 🙂

24 January 2015 18:36
Joyce Hackney said...

These weekly editions are always useful and helpful, Laura, even for those of us who’re not doing any leading in a B and M.

25 January 2015 18:24
Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you Joyce – I think one of the things people appreciate is the opportunity to read the whole lectionary – in our church, for example, we no longer have the psalm and use the epistle in preference to the first reading (usually OT)…

25 January 2015 20:30
Joyce Hackney said...

Yes, the whole lectionary is certainly something I appreciate, Laura.

27 January 2015 02:18

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