On Sunday 22nd April, at St Marks, we had our Annual General Meeting. Also that day we made a collection for our Patronal Day, our patron is ‘St Mark the Evangelist’ whose day is actually 25th April.
During the service Gordon led us in our prayers of intercession; this type of prayer is when we as the church and the body of Christ pray to God for the benefit of others and guidance for ourselves.
I asked Gordon if I could share those prayers with you, and ask, as you read them, if maybe you can reflect on them and ask yourselves “How can I can help my self and others by following and being obedient to some of the things Gordon prayed for?”
“Let us take a moment to set aside the cares of this world and empty our minds of the trivia of day-to-day life………………………” I wonder how often we take the time to do this very simple action, of just clearing our minds and just resting in the presence of God. It is so beneficial for us to spend quiet time with Him.
Now, in the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you promised through your Son Jesus Christ to hear us when we pray in faith.
Just read that again and think on the words. What a wonderful gift God gives us freely when we turn to Jesus in repentance and faith, the gift of the Holy Spirit working within us, guiding us and praying on our behalf. Romans 8:26 says “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans”.
As we celebrate our Patronal Day of St Mark, this coming Wednesday, keep us steadfast in our beliefs and let us not emulate your supporters, who cheered Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday but abandoned Him on Good Friday. Keep us firm in our resolve to bear witness to you in all we say and do. How quickly the crowd turned away from Jesus when things got hard. Gordon prays that it would not be the case for us, but that we like St Mark would tell our good news of Jesus. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
St Mark was the evangelist, who is said to have founded the church in Alexandria in Egypt, where the see of Alexandria is called the ‘Cathedra Marci’ – the Chair of Mark. He also appears to have accompanied Barnabas and Paul to Antioch, in Turkey, before journeying on to Cyprus. Let us pray using the Collect (the Special Prayer) for St Mark: – “Almighty God, who enlightened your holy Church through the inspired witness of your evangelist, St Mark: grant that we be firmly grounded in the truth of the gospel, and may be faithful to its teaching both in word and deed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity if the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” When you read the accounts of these men’s lives you will see they have different backgrounds, but they were held as one in faith and unity in Jesus; Paul that great apostle who spread the Gospel message throughout the Mediterranean area and Barnabas, whose real names was Joses, but received Barnabas because he was such an encourager, what great teachers to the young Mark, wouldn’t it be great if people thought that of us in our Christian journey?
Gordon then turned his prayers forwards the church Strengthen Paul, our Bishop, Jennifer our Archdeacon, and Eileen and Andy, our local spiritual leaders, and all your church in the service of Christ, that those who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world. Leadership can be very challenging and especially in times of change and turmoil, so can I encourage you, if you do not do so already, to pray for our Spiritual Leaders as they discern how to understand God’s will in our part of the world and for us all to do this in unity and love to reveal God to the world.
As we come to that time of year in the Church’s calendar when we hold APCM, to reflect on the work of the Church over the last twelve months, let us give thanks for all the officials of St Marks and the Good Shepherd, who give their time so freely and generously for the benefit of us all. As the new building plan turns into reality, let us pray that it will raise the profile of St Marks and help us to reach out into the local community, just as St Mark himself did. Each year we look at where we are as the church in this place, what we have done over the year and the vision we have for the future and the generations to come. We look to people who will act as elders of the church to guide it, hand in hand with the Holy Spirit, that we may be obedient to God’s command to Love God with all that we are and to love our neighbour as our self.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit, especially and then we name those we know who are sick in our parish.
Let us also take a moment to think of all those other people, perhaps known only to us, who are also in need of your support at this time put the name of somebody who you know about.
Give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation. So many in need, so many needing to hear the Good news of Jesus and how many people are prayed for by others I wonder?
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ. Those we know about and those who are known to others, no matter how long ago a bereavement, we know we still carry the pain.
According to your promises, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom. Give comfort to all their friends and relations, and also to the relatives of the passenger who was killed in the recent tragic aircraft accident, and to the passengers and crew of this stricken flight. Comfort them all at this difficult time. Life is so short and fragile, why do we waste so much time on trivia and pettiness. Why not pray to God to help us see what is really of him and let us commit to being obedient to the teaching of Jesus. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Rejoicing in the fellowship of St Mark and of all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole of creation to your unfailing love. It is a gift and a blessing that we can always turn to God no matter how far we are away from him at this moment. So let us rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives given through our faith in Jesus and as Gordon says let us also say Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.