21st October, 2020   

Psalm 85:  (From ‘Psalms Now’)
O God, you have indeed been good to us.
You have prospered our land. You have opened your heart to us in love.
You have forgiven our sins and adopted us as your children.
But now our country is in turmoil.
We no longer have confidence in our leaders. Our citizens are in revolt.
People are turning away from you and are being ensnared
by strange doctrines and godless philosophies.
We know that you have not turned away from us.
You touch with joy and peace the hearts that are open to you.
You stand ready to show your salvation to all who will trust in you.
As we speak to you in faith, you respond in loving concern.
You will give us what is good
and will prosper us with gifts from your hand.
You are holy and just. You love your children and will guide them
in your course for their lives.
Renew our faith, O God.
Forgive us our many failures and infidelities.
May our land continue to be a place where we can be free to love and serve you.
Response to our prayers of praise and thanks is:
Lord, you are holy and just.
SCRIPTURE READINGPhilippians 4:4-9
Always be joyful in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful. Let your good sense be obvious to everybody.  The Lord is near. Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petitions shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire – with whatever is good and praiseworthy.  Keep doing everything you learnt from me and were told by me and have heard or seen me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you.
The word of the Lord.

REFLECTION:  (Henri Nouwen)
To pray means to open your hands before God. It means slowly relaxing the tension which squeezes your hands together and accepting your existence with an increasing readiness, not as a possession to defend, but as a gift to receive. Above all, prayer is a way of life which allows you to find a stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God’s promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbour and your world.  In prayer, you encounter God not only in the small voice and  the soft breeze, but also in the midst of the turmoil of the world, in the distress and joy of your neighbour and in the loneliness of your own heart. Prayer leads you to see new paths and to hear new melodies in the air. Prayer is the breath of your life which gives you freedom to go and to stay where you wish and to find the many signs which point out the way to a new land. Praying is not some necessary compartment in the daily schedule of a Christian or a source of support in time of need, nor is it restricted to Sunday mornings or mealtimes.  Praying is living. It is eating and drinking, action and rest, teaching and learning, playing and working.  Praying pervades every aspect of our lives. It is the unceasing recognition that God is wherever we are, always inviting us to come closer and to celebrate the divine gift of being alive.
In the end, a life of prayer is a life with open hands where we are not ashamed of our weakness but realise that it is more perfect for us to be led by the Other than to try to hold everything in our own hands.
INTERCESSIONS: Lord in your mercy . . . Hear our prayer
Dear Lord, I do not know where you are leading me.
I do not even know what my next day,
my next week or my next year will look like.
As I try to keep my hands open,
I trust that you will put your hand in mine and bring me home.
Thank you, Lord, for your love.  Thank you.  Amen.

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