Home Service 31st January ’21

Prayers of Approach

Great God, whose arms are wide open in welcome,
we gather around you, because there is nowhere else we can go.

Great God, whose love is broad enough to hold us all,
we journey into you, because there is nowhere else to be.

Gather us into your just community, Word of life,
that we may we share all our living with you.

A prayer of praise and thanksgiving

God of majesty and splendour,
holy and awesome, righteous for ever,
your covenant with us offers the hope of justice in a broken world.
We give thanks to you, for we delight to know you
as our Lord and our God – creator, redeemer, sustainer.

Music: God who spoke in the beginning (R&S 60)

Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20

                 Mark 1:21-28

Introduction: ‘Simon Says’

We’ve probably all played ‘Simon says’ at some time in our lives. A series of instructions are given but only those which Simon says must be followed. It’s a game which many cultures throughout the world have a version of. In life, as in the game, we have to be careful that we are following the right instructions, given by the right person, and are not being led astray. Who has the authority to command, and say what should be done?

Music: Majesty, worship his majesty (CMP 454)


At the beginning of his ministry Jesus goes to the synagogue and begins to teach. Although Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus says he evokes a very traditional picture of a Rabbi sitting with the people around him hanging on his every word. There is one big difference, however. The scribes or rabbis of the day would often present a range of opinions from earlier teachers or other scholars and then leave the congregation to make their own minds up (a technique that I have used myself, especially if I am unsure or don’t know the ‘right’ answer). In contrast Jesus speaks with originality and with ‘authority’ leaving the people amazed and awed.

This impression was further strengthened by Jesus’ encounter with a man who was ‘possessed by an evil spirit’. There seems to be a battle of wills between Jesus and the spirit which asks, ‘what do you want with us, have you come to destroy us?’ as the spirit recognizes Jesus and declares, ‘You are the Holy One of God’. Jesus responds by ordering the spirit to be quiet and come out of him, and unable to make any other response the spirit comes out with a shriek. The people are astonished that Jesus not only gives a new teaching, with authority, but that he even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him, and the news quickly spreads.

Jesus’ authority is plain to see but it still does not answer the question of who Jesus is. It is a question which is asked repeatedly throughout the Gospels and it is answered just as often by the ‘evil spirits’ that Jesus drives out as it is by any of the people we encounter, although there is much speculation. Jesus himself drops many hints, quoting from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:18-21), referring to his relationship with the Father, and describing himself as the ‘son of man’ before finally accepting the title of Messiah. For his disciples and for those early followers what Jesus said and did clearly proclaimed that Jesus was the son of God. His authority proved that he was the son of God and being the son of God gave him authority.

Questions for reflection:

  • What does the word authority make you think of?
  • Where do you see authority in the world today?
  • Have you ever been impressed by somebody’s authority?
  • Where or who is the authority in your life?

Music: At the name of Jesus (R&S 261)

Prayers of intercession

We pray for those who are feeling weak,
for those who are hungry or thirsty,
for those who are homeless,
for those who are prisoners,
for those who are ill…
Lord, hear our prayer
and give your strength.

We pray for those who are feeling weak,
for those who are lonely,
for those with mental health problems,
for those who doubt and those who struggle,
for the bereaved…
Lord, hear our prayer
and give your strength.

We pray for those who are feeling weak,
for those who work for change in our world,
for those who have power but cannot see how to use it,
for those who have no voice…
Lord, hear our prayer
and give your strength.

We pray for those who are feeling weak,
for those we worry about,
for those we find it hard to love,
for those whose lives pass without notice…
Lord, hear our prayer
and give your strength.

We pray for ourselves in our weakness,
for the commitment to serve you and others,
for the desire to serve you and others,
for delight in serving you and others.
Lord, hear our prayer
and give your strength.

Music: Thy hand O God has guided (R&S 567)

A sending out prayer

We have been in the presence of God.
As you have allowed God to meet with you,
go to meet with others in Jesus’ name.
As you have allowed God to refresh you,
go to refresh others in Jesus’ name.
As you have allowed God to bring you to life,
go to bring life to others in Jesus’ name.
Go in the name and strength of God,
the power of the Spirit and the name of Jesus.

Rev Janet Calderley

Prayers © ROOTS for Churches Ltd 2002-2021. Used by permission.

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