Prayers of Approach
Healing Lord, we come with wounds that often only you know; we bring weariness and fears as well as hopes and aspirations. Heal us and refresh us; restore your image in us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Almighty, powerful God, who is full of compassion, who rescues us from danger, who strengthens the weak, who feeds the poor: we honour your name.
Almighty, powerful God, who brings hope and healing, who hears our cry, whose heart feels our pain, who heals us inside and out: we honour your name. Amen.
Hymn To God be the glory, great things he has done (R&S 289)
Readings: Galatians 3:23-29
In our Gospel reading Jesus encounters and dramatically heals a man possessed by many demons. The man is transformed from someone naked and who appeared frightening, into someone ‘clothed and in his right mind’. The local community are fearful and ask Jesus to leave. Jesus tells the man who was healed to tell everyone what God has done for him.
In Galatians Paul asserts that Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, men and women now belong equally to God’s new creation The impact of Jesus on their divided world is dramatised in the baptismal ritual. Candidates for baptism removed their outer clothes before going under the water, and once they emerge put on new clothes to symbolise their sharing in the risen life of Christ. The newly baptized would all be dressed alike, ‘clothed with Christ’, to reveal – like the man in the Gospel – their inside-and-outside renewal.
What relevance does this story, and Jesus’ healing ministry in general, have for the world of today? How does it impact and challenge the way we live?
Hymn O Lord all the world belongs to you (R&S 90)
I remember several years ago there was a TV trailer (although I can’t remember what it was for) that proclaimed, ‘every parent a super-hero in disguise.’ When we were children many of us probably thought that was true, especially our dads, because after all our dads can do anything! – and how many cards have you seen this week proudly celebrating ‘Super-Dad’. Yet even though today is Father’s Day the set readings are very much focussed on Christ rather than on the Father.
However even though God has long been celebrated as Father our modern Father’s Day, of course, is a relatively new invention dating from a church service held in America in 1909 to recognise earthly fathers, based on the selfless love and care of a father in Spokane, Washington who brought up six children on his own. Nevertheless it is an opportunity to think about what Jesus meant when he called God ‘Our Father’ and referred to God as ‘Abba’ (dad or daddy!).
Jesus never failed to remind people that everything he did and said came from his ‘Father’ and was the out-pouring of the generosity and unconditional love of God, our heavenly father. It is summed up perfectly in the saying, ‘like father, like son’ – Jesus shows the true nature of God, and of what human beings can and ought to be if we too ‘live in God’, or as Paul puts it are ‘clothed with Christ’.
Jesus has crossed the Sea of Galilee into Gentile territory where he meets a man ‘who had demons in him’. We know very little about this man whom Jesus heals. We are given a picture of before and after and it is quite a contrast. We do not have an in depth explanation as to why he behaved in the way he did. That may well be the case with people we encounter in contemporary society who have mental health issues. We may experience their impact but have no
understanding of their context. Jesus did not judge. He simply got alongside the man, and through his caring the man’s life was transformed. He was healed. Jesus did not wait to be asked. He instinctively knew what was needed and reacted accordingly.
This strange story is a heady mix of fear, destruction and renewal. Once uncontrollable, noisy and naked, the man had been rejected by his community. Now, delivered from his living death, he is at peace, ‘sitting at the feet of Jesus’ like a true disciple, ‘clothed and in his right mind’. What has brought this about? Quite simply, the love of the Father shown in the Son.
The man was quite literally living on the edge. When he was healed, he begged that he might go with Jesus. However, Jesus refused his plea and sent him back to his own community. It may not have been easy for him, especially in view of what happened to the pigs. Jesus made the man whole again through healing, but he also sought to bring wholeness to the community. That wholeness is spelt out by Paul in the Galatians passage that takes Jesus’ interaction with a gentile community one step further, spelling out the irrelevance of differences in the light of his love.
Hymn Father I place into your hands (R&S 518)
Prayers of Intercession
We pray, dear God, for all who have lost their way and become strangers to themselves and to others… Clothe them with reassurance.
We pray for those who have become estranged from their families and their communities… Clothe them with reconciliation.
We pray for those who have lost heart in their faith and given up on the Church… Clothe them with refreshment.
We pray for those who are vulnerable through illness, through poverty, through the aggression of others… Clothe them with protection.
We pray for all people and all creation struggling to survive, struggling to find harmony, struggling to find hope… Clothe them and us and all your world with peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayers for Father’s Day
Loving God, as a father feeds, nurtures and sustains his children, so you feed us with the rich food of your heavenly banquet. Help us who have tasted your goodness to grow in grace within the household of faith: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord God, it’s not easy being a father today, and so we pray: for fathers in a society that is constantly redefining their role; for fathers who stay at home and look after children; for fathers who have been forced out of their families or away from their children; for fathers with adult children who must relearn what it means to be a parent.
We pray also for families with fathers who are inadequate, violent, lazy or unkind; for families where there is no father present at home; for families in which there seems to be a succession of different ‘fathers’, making it hard for the children to build lasting relationships or know their true identities.
Whatever their circumstances, may every family find wholeness and help as they look to God, the loving Father of us all. Amen.
Hymn Christ for the world we sing (R&S 599)
Come with us, Lord, in our brokenness and bring healing. Come with us, Lord, into our divided world and unite us. Come with us, Lord, and cast from us that which is not of you, that we may live as your children in your world, today and always.
Prayers and some other material © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.