Holy Lord of all time and space
The message of happiness and sorrow that Jesus brought to us sometimes seems to be at odds with modern-day thinking.
Jesus said, "Happy are you poor - the kingdom of God is yours". But the TV says that we need new TVs to be happy; that we need new cars to be happy; that we need new computer software to be happy; that we need fast food and sweet drinks to be happy.
We pray for your help to understand the words of Jesus - to see through the hype of commercialism and consumerism. Help us to understand that our lust for the material is at odds with the true bliss that comes from knowing You.
And we pray for those who we are leading into this same sorry state of wanting - for the developing countries who were satisfied with enough until we showed them how to want more.
Jesus said "Happy are you who are hungry now - you will be filled". But we are bombarded with pictures of happy people - eating, of steaming roasts and sunny faces, of rich deserts and glittering eyes. We are told to feed the man meat, to enjoy happy meals, that heaven is an ice cream, a biscuit, a chocolate.
We pray for your help to understand the words of Jesus - to see past our gluttonous desire to fill our mouths and bellies while the rest of the world starves. Help us to feed our hunger for your love rather than to feed our insatiable stomachs.
And we pray for those who are genuinely starving while we over indulge in nutrition-free fast foods, confectionery and hormone-saturated meats. We pray for the mother who is genuinely satisfied with a few life-saving high-energy biscuits for her family, and for the child who dies because the cupboard was bare.
Jesus said, "Happy are you who weep now - you will laugh". But our leaders tell us that we are too emotional, too sentimental - too compassionate. Asylum seekers are to be coldly rejected; Indigenous people should get off their backsides and solve their own problems; the unemployed should get jobs.
We pray for your help to understand the words of Jesus - to see through the cold rationalism of self-protection, to heal ourselves of the blindness with which we abdicate responsibility for the rest of the world, and to open our hearts to the plight of those suffering from injustice, poverty, isolation and unhappiness. Help us to cry for the world.
And we pray for those who are suffering. Be their support, and help us to be their support also. When they hunger, let us bring them food. When they thirst, let us bring them water. When they run from death, let us be their sanctuary. When their lives are made empty, let us fill them with your love. When they are alone, let us just be there for them.
Jesus said, "Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and say that you are evil, all because of the son of man". But we are encouraged to keep quiet about our faith. God, we are told, has no place in politics, in the schools, in the workplace. Our friends grow embarrassed when we speak of Jesus, our colleagues prefer to accompany us to the football rather than to the church. We feel isolated and out of step with the world.
We pray for your help to understand the words of Jesus - to value the depth of his love for us over the shallow relationships that we enjoy with each other. Help us to share the Good News that he brought rather than the gossip and trivialities that we think are so important.
And we pray for those who’s lives rather than just reputations, are at risk when they bring the Word of God to others. We who are free to come to Church, pray for those who risk their lives in doing so. We pray that their courage will be fortified by your love, and that you will give them the strength to persist against the odds. And we pray that we shall continue to support and encourage them, and that we ourselves might come to be missionaries in our own social or corporate jungles.
Jesus said, "How terrible for you who are rich now, you have had your easy life". We pray for forgiveness, because we are rich and our lives are comparatively easy. We have enough, but want for more. May we reduce our consumption, may we reduce our destruction of Your creation, may we want only to serve you.
Jesus said, "How terrible for you who are full now, you will go hungry". We pray for forgiveness because we are full, and we are obese. We are the over-fed watching the under-fed with dis-interest. May we learn to feed others first, and to hunger only for your love.
Jesus said, "How terrible for you who laugh now, you will mourn and weep". We pray for forgiveness because we amuse ourselves with trifles while Your creation cries in pain. May we learn to laugh at ourselves, and open our hearts to the plight of others.
Jesus said, "How terrible when all people speak well of you, their ancestors said the very same things about the false prophets". We pray for forgiveness when we build our egos instead of our faith, when we delight in sugary words rather than in the more wholesome working of the Holy Spirit in others. May we say everything, think everything, and do everything in your name, and for your glory.