Online services and readings for the Birth of John the Baptist

St John the Baptist by El Greco c. 1600 in the Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco

Reflections from our bishops.

Wells Cathedral – streamed services

Weekly online services from the Church of England

Readings & Prayers for

Sunday 28th June 2020

 

Collect

Almighty God,

by whose providence your servant John the Baptist

was wonderfully born,

and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Saviour

by the preaching of repentance:

lead us to repent according to his preaching

and, after his example,

constantly to speak the truth, boldly to rebuke vice,

and patiently to suffer for the truth’s sake;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

Readings

Psalm 85 7 – end

7 Show us your mercy, O Lord,

and grant us your salvation.

8 I will listen to what the Lord God will say,

for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful,

that they turn not again to folly.

9 Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth are met together,

righteousness and peace have kissed each other;

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth

and righteousness look down from heaven.

12 The Lord will indeed give all that is good,

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him

and direct his steps in the way.

 

Galatians 3 v 23 – end

Before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ; there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

 

Luke 1 57 –  80

The time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’ Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:

‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.

He has raised up a mighty saviour for us

in the house of his servant David,

as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,

and has remembered his holy covenant,

the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,

to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,

might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness

before him all our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

by the forgiveness of their sins.

By the tender mercy of our God,

the dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.’

The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

 

Intercessions led by Gary Lewis

 

Lord God, we pray for St John’s Church, celebrating our patronal festival physically apart but still close together in love and service.  We pray for our clergy and congregation here at St John’s and we especially give thanks for Fr Jim and Fr Tony who are continuing our cycle of prayer and celebration in church and leading our worship and reflections.  We give thanks Maureen who is doing so much to support our communications and we pray for our churchwardens who continue to take difficult decisions during the closure.

Lord, we continue to pray for your guidance during our vacancy here at St John’s.  We pray for all those involved in making the appointment.  We pray too for the short-listed candidate, that he may hear your voice and know if it is your will leading him here.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our Prayer

Lord Jesus, we pray for the wider church and remember before God Archbishop Justin, our Bishops Peter and Ruth and all the clergy and people of this Deanery and Diocese.  We pray that like St John they will point only to you.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our Prayer

Lord God, we pray for our world and at this time we especially remember those places that are still at the start or in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic.  Give wisdom to their leaders and courage to their peoples.

We pray too for all parts of the world where ethnic tensions run high.  We pray for people everywhere who face discrimination or unfair treatment because of their skin colour.  In today’s epistle we heard that ‘there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’  We praise you, Father, that in you all are equal and we pray that we might obey you in thought, deed and attitude to make this world a fairer place.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our Prayer

 

We pray for our community here in Midsomer Norton and in our cycle of prayer we especially pray for the residents of Redfield Road, Redfield Grove, St Chads Green, Providence Place & Sperring Court.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our Prayer

 

We pray for all who are ill at this time, especially

Rachael Macfarlane, Judy Flook, Miranda Cooper, Rose Stenner, Paul & Margaret Knott, Irene Leet,  Faye McDermott,  Anne Hatton, Rob & Glyn Gilliland,  Gerrard Monks, Trevor & Elizabeth Bell,  Fr Roy Boots, Nicholas Hambleton, Mary Hickmott, Helen Plummer & Daniel Plummer, Betty Chiplin, Ethan Horwood,  John Lewis, Patricia Flagg, and John Denning.

 

Lord God, show you love and grace to those who face sickness and fear that they might find peace and healing.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our Prayer

 

We remember Jonathon Cook who has died this week.  Jonathon was a teacher at St John’s School and we pray too for his family, his pupils, his colleagues and the community at that school who will be so shocked and saddened by his sudden death.

We pray also those whose anniversary of death falls this week:

(M) Monica Medlock, George Nield (T) Cuthbert Simpson Pr., Ivy Knight, Jean Henderson (Th) Gerald Stenner, Mildred Rowden, Ivor Plummer (F) Mary Robinson (S) John Rowden, Marion Cottle, Alfred Furkins.

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our Prayer

 

Rejoicing in the fellowship of Mary, John and all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.

Merciful Father accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son

our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

The Birth of John the Baptist by Father Jim

 

“Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.”

Today, for the third time since Pentecost, the Sunday liturgy of ordinary time gives way to a feast, a great feast: that of the Birth of John the Baptist, he who was chosen by God to prepare for the coming of his Son into this world! It is indeed a great feast, a feast of joy, but above all a feast of mercy!

But if this is a feast of mercy, it is above all because the birth of John proclaims the coming birth of the Messiah, Christ, the Son of God made man, sent to earth to redeem humanity.. With the birth of John the Baptist, all of humanity finds itself at a turning point in its history: from that point on, the world will no longer be sunk in darkness, but rather the grace of God will, little by little, win over the hearts of people in order to bring them to the praise and service of God!

“And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John.’ And they said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’  And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they all marvelled.”

When John the Baptist was born, his father, Zechariah, was dumb. This was a penance. Indeed, nine months earlier, when Zechariah was in the Temple, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him to announce that his wife was going to have a son: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John…” (Lk. 1:13) But Zechariah doubted the power of God and, as a punishment, the angel said to him: “You will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (Lk. 1:20)

During the nine months of his wife’s pregnancy, Zechariah had time to reflect upon all this and to meditate upon the goodness and the mercy of the God. So, when the moment came to give his son a name, he did not hesitate: he confirmed what his wife Elizabeth had said: “His name is John!”  By writing on a tablet the name that the angel had dictated to him, Zechariah manifested his faith in the word of God, and, as the angel had foretold, Zechariah recovered the use of his voice…”And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.

Truly, the birth of John the Baptist takes place at a decisive moment, one that is crucial to all humanity. Zechariah, his father, is the first witness of this: he goes from being incredulous to becoming a believer; from being dumb to becoming the one who proclaims the praises and the blessings of the Almighty! The world will change, for the Messiah is to come. God comes to save humanity in order to transform them into a new humanity, a people according to the heart of God, a people upon whom rests the hand of the Lord: “the hand of the Lord was with them”.

Another John, the one who wrote the fourth Gospel, understood this very well, when he wrote: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John… He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The Word was the true Light…” (Jn. 1:6-9)  “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.”

Everyone has his or her own vocation. We are all called by God to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. Like everyone else who is called by God, John is prepared for the mission that had been entrusted to him. This was his life with and in the Spirit of the God.  It is this mission to which God calls us as members of His Church. We can accept it or reject it, but we cannot is ignore it. It is part of God’s plan for us. So on this Feast of our Patronal Festival let us proclaim our faith in God and John the Baptist.

Fr Jim

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