We gather as the people of God in a short time of stillness, contemplation, praise and prayer. We look to the Prophets in this season after Christmas
Restoration and Protection Promised
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight,
and honoured, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up’,
and to the south, ‘Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.’
On reading this passage from Isaiah we are immediately drawn to the hymn “Do not be afraid” (CH4 191). In many ways these words of scripture create a sense of calm in this soothing passage, given that in the lectionary calendar it comes to us at the beginning of January, after the rush and excitement of Advent, Christmas and after the bringing in of the New Year and all that accompanies it. The words of Isaiah bring for us – all of us, regardless of our background, ethnicity, age and stage in life, ability or disability – assurance and comfort. At the start of this New Year, we are assured that we do not face things alone, we go in the strength and presence of God. So, we can allow ourselves to take a deep breath, exhale and utter, ‘With God, I can do this.’
We pray for all who are bearing heavy burdens:
those facing difficulties and problems to which they can see no solutions,
wrestling with inner fears and racked by anxiety for themselves or loved ones;
troubled about money, health, work or relationships;
all who crave rest for their souls but cannot find it.
We pray for the influence of Your Holy Spirit in the troubled places of the world.
Fill us with Your passion for justice that we may strive to build bridges of reconciliation.
We pray for all who are happy and for whom things are going well,
that they may know the source of their blessing.
We pray for all who are distressed.
Comfort the sad, be present with the sick and make Your will known to them.
Strengthen those who are depressed by failure.
Our dear God,
we ask that You will help us to spread Your love to our friends and neighbours.
Let us think of one or two particular friends
and ask that God will help us tell them the good news.
Let us think of the people sitting on either side of us
and ask that God will be especially close to them.
We also remember those people who are not with us today,
perhaps through illness or because they are on holiday.
Lord, thank You that You listen to our prayers – spoken and unspoken –
in Jesus name. Amen