|New Book now Available|
Here is an anthology of over 1100 brief prayers and thought-starters, for each day of the year, with almost 400 original prayers by Bruce Prewer.
Included is both a subject index and an index of authors-- an ecumenical collection of about 300 different sources.
| Title: Brief Prayers for Busy People.|
Author: Bruce D Prewer
Available from Australian Church Resources,
web site www.acresources.com.au
or by order from your local book shop
or online on amazon.
Mark 5: 21-43... (Sermon 1: “What a Woman!”
(Sermon 2: “Talitha Cumi!”)
2 Corinthians 8:7-15...
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27...
Church is for the hungry.
We long for God;
our souls wait and put their trust in God’s word.
Our spirits long for God;
more than nightwatchmen wait for the dawn,
more than nightwatchmen wait for the dawn.
Worship includes both a celebration of what God has done for us
and a hungry plea for more of this God in our lives.
Unless our worship is genuine, it is a waste of time.
Out of the depths we cry to, you, O God,
Lord hear our voices.
Remember the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who though he was rich, for our sakes became poor,
so that through his poverty we might become rich.
Let God’s people put all their hope in the Lord.
For with God there is faithful love,
and in the Lord is plenteous redemption.
Let us worship in sincerity and truth.
Let us pray.
Living and faithful Spirit,
the God in whom we live and move and have our being,
the God who is made known in Christ Jesus,
bless us one and all as we wait on you this day.
Please remove from our minds and hearts
whatever impediments hinder worship or dampen our joy.
Increase within us
that holy longing for closeness which can open our lives to fuller delight
and to a deeper commitment.
May our hymns and prayers,
our searching thoughts, and our hearing of the Scriptures,
be an exercise in the holiest love making.
By you, with you and for you, may our lives publish your praise.
In the name of Christ Jesus.
BEING HONEST TO GOD
If God should keep tally of our sins,
who can stand?
But there is unlimited forgiveness in God,
for all who humbly worship.
Let us confess our sins.
Great God, just and gracious, have mercy on us; forgive the injustices to which we are
party, both the wilful ones and those committed in ignorance.
Great God, truthful and gracious, forgive the deceits we personally practice and those
communal lies in which we participate without protest.
Great God, patient and gracious, forgive our impatience and irritability, the unreal
expectations we put on others and the petulant excuses made for ourselves.
Great God, generous and gracious, forgive our miserly ways and the occasions when we
resent the demands made on our time, money, energy and goodwill.
Great God, inclusive and gracious, forgive our proud exclusive habits, and have mercy on us
if we perversely exclude ourselves from knowing your free grace.
Great God, by the saving grace of Christ Jesus, cleanse us and support us in the hour of
temptation, deliver us from evil, and lead us by your light, love and serene joy.
For your name’s sake.
O People of God ! Put all your hope in God!
For with God there is steadfast love,
in the Holy One is plentiful redemption.
We remember the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who though he was rich, for our sakes became poor,
so that through his poverty we might become rich.
God does redeem the people
from all their sins.
Thanks be to God!
PRAYER FOR CHILDREN
Jesus was a reflection of you,
Well that’s cool!
Cos’ he was never in too much of a hurry.
He had time for ordinary people,
for sick kids and diseased women,
and even for ‘wierdos.’
Thank you, God,
for loving us like that.
For having time to listen to us
whenever we pray.
Thanks for hearing us
See “Australian Psalms”
Ó B D Prewer & Open Book Publishers.
A WOMAN TELLS
Mark 5: 25-34
I cringed, twelve long years;
and husband’s bed;
Banned by Holy Writ
until this Jesus
came to town.
I joined the crowd
that packed around;
Drawn on to him
hope and faith.
defying the old god,
..I forced my way
among the throng
to touch his alb’s hem;
that I was healed!
Trembling I came and knelt;
He stroked my hair
and gave me peace;
No more unclean,
and now I knew
unclean I never was!
Ó B D Prewer 2000
Loving God, from you all the skill and science of health-care flow. Please grant your people that wholeness of body, mind and spirit which is of Christ. Then, daily renewed by his healing touch, may we be your healing agents in this fractured and infected world. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.
SERMON 1: WHAT A WOMAN!
* Too lengthy. Abbreviate by one third.
“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.
Who is this fellow Jesus?
According to Mark, the words and deeds of Jesus were met with amazement. To see him in action inevitably brought gasps from the onlookers. When they managed to find their tongues they wanted to know where his power came from. What was the source of his authority?
Mark of course, reckons he more or less knows the answer to that question “Who is Jesus?” I say “more or less” because the nursling church, like later generations, found that the full truth of Jesus always eluded their best creeds.
In today’s Gospel lesson from Mark, we have a story within a story. The main story is about Jesus answering the request of Jairus, the chairperson of the parish council (ruler of the synagogue). He asked Jesus to come and heal his daughter who was gravely ill. The secondary story outlines an event on the way to the house of Jairus. Both stories are intended to raise the question: “Who is this?”
JESUS WAS UNHURRIED
The first point I wish to highlight is Jesus’ patience. While he is trying his hardest to get to a very ill child as quickly as he could, his progress is interrupted by a woman who has been sick for twelve years, internally bleeding.
[Pause; for convenience I am going to call this woman Ruth. I can’t go on calling her ‘that woman’ again and again]
We might suppose that after twelve years it would not matter if Jesus told her to wait until later, when he was not on an urgent house call. But Jesus had time for Ruth there and then. He stopped and turned around to meet her.
As I reflect on this, I wonder about our frenetic lives which leave little time for stopping and caring about people. We become goal orientated. We develop tunnel vision. All that matters is we get to where we intend going. There is no time for those on the side of our road.
Let me freely confess that as a pastor, I have fallen into this trap at times. It is a sad that over-busy ministers are such a poor role model to their parishioners. I have felt rightly judged by events when it comes to light that a wonderful church member has carried, all alone, some painful load, because “I did not want to burden you with it, Bruce. You lead such a hectic life.” It should not be like this! Christ have mercy!
In the midst of a thick crowd that made his progress slow, Jesus on the way to an urgent house call had time for one neglected Ruth.
FAITH THAT BREAKS A HEALTH TABOO
She touched his garment with the fingers of faith and felt herself being healed.
Jesus immediately stopped walking, turned around, and asked for the person who touched him to step forward. Feeling the scornful eyes of the men around her, Ruth came forward and threw herself at his feet. Jesus told her. “Daughter [term of affection] your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
From our cultural setting, is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of the faith of that brave woman who dared to do this thing. She had faith enough to shift a mountain of religious and social taboo. Enormous faith in Jesus and his God!
What a woman!
Ruth was, according to established Jewish practice, unclean. She had in the eyes of Jewish community the status of an untouchable. She must keep to herself because she had suffered from a chronic uterine bleeding for twelve years. In the view of respectable people, Ruth should have kept away by herself, out of sight and definitely out of touch
This taboo had its roots in the health measures implemented by the remarkable Moses. These were strict health regulations, the aim of which was to stop diseases spreading through the vulnerable camp of the nomadic Israelites, during their many years living in the wilderness of the “land of Midian”. Later in town and city life, these health regulations would also help prevent epidemics.
Those regulations may sound harsh to us. But they were the difference between life and death for a large body of people living at close quarters without our modern community health knowledge and services.
We cannot judge the people of another culture by ours. They did not have our advantages. It is similar to the nomadic first Australians. Among some indigenous tribes, when twins were born one was left to die. Cruel? From our view point yes. But for their situation as nomads, covering at times enormous distances, there was no way a woman could carry and suckle two babies. I have no doubt that those mothers grieved as mothers in this congregation would grieve. But it was one of the costs of tribal survival in a dry and thirsty land.
A similar harsh reality faced the wandering tribes of Israel. What is more, in their wanderings they came in contact with other races carrying potential diseases. Stringent care was taken to protect the health of the people.
Those ancient Hebrews possessed limited medical understanding and skills. Pharmaceutical products were few. In terms of diagnosis they did not either understand or differentiate between a normal healthy issue of blood and one caused by illness. I guess they could not afford to take the risk. Every month, for seven days a woman was treated us unclean; banned from contact with others. Anything she touched or sat on or lay on was regarded as unclean. For another person to touch such things, made that person also unclean.
But in time such health precautions became religious taboos. Even worse, a social stigma became attached to “uncleanness”. A woman’s menstrual flow was regarded as a thing of shame. A disgusting thing.
The brave woman in our story, the one I have called Ruth, had to overcome this stigma, which was buttressed by many generations of custom. She decided to defy it, to leave her room and go out into the street, move amongst the crowd, and dare to touch the hem of Jesus’ alb. All of this was strictly forbidden. Such was her faith in the God of this Jesus from Nazareth, that she did it. Remarkably she did it!
What a woman!
FAITH DEFIES FEMALE PUT DOWN
There is yet more faith-courage in this person. Even before she starting suffering from the bleeding, there was a pre-existing condition. She was female!
Culturally, women were regarded as inferior, not fit for male company. Publicly they were not to associate with men. Even a brother would have no contact with his sister outside the home. Some of this cultural denigration was reinforced by the religious idea that Eve was the evil women who had tempted Adam to sin. As a result of her deed, all men had been dragged into corruption.
Women were the low life! No women were allowed to be disciples (students) of a rabbi. Some taught that it was better to educate a dog than teach a woman. As you may recall, even in the synagogue women were not allowed to sit with the men but gathered behind a screen. There was a fear of being contaminated by these lesser creatures. I would go further and assert there was insipient misogyny, hatred of women, amongst the men. Men of that the ancient Hebrew culture tapped into existing misogyny and amplified it under the guise of religious purity and piety.
This Ruth with the haemorrhage had sufficient faith to confront such a strong misogyny. She left her house, walked past the women scrubbing their door steps or gossiping in twos and threes along her street. She joined the crowd of men in a public place. She pushed among them. I have no doubt she copped some verbal abuse while doing it. She worked her way to the side of Jesus. Ruth touched him.
And felt herself healed. Jesus told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease. She went her way in peace, and she was healed.
What a woman!
The ancient Jews were by no means the only culture that indulged in misogyny.
Take the more recent example of the Taliban of Afghanistan. Those religious bigots banned females from all education, insisted they be covered from head to toe, and returned them to a status not much better than the slaves of men. In some such cultures, the practice of brutal, female circumcision is still enforced. There is a despising of women under the pretence of protecting them. One could go further and say that many such men are expressing a hatred of the female of the species.
Such anti-women feelings and actions are not confined to ancient Jews and to the Taliban, or other benighted cultures. There are elements of it everywhere in our Western scene, including our own Australian society.
Among men today we can still encounter disrespect for women. Some despise them. Some resent and fear women. The stories they tell each other, the jokes they make, are misogynist. They denigrate women as being poor drivers, boring conversationalists, irrational harridans, extravagant shoppers, naggers, or sex hungry temptresses who are “always looking for it”. Far too many men would much rather spend a couple of hours “with the blokes” than sitting and chatting with their wives or girlfriends. I fear that some of these men know lust but not much love and respect: “Ah women! You can’t live with them yet you can’t live without them.”
Many cases of rape (only a small fraction of which are ever reported) are crimes of
misogyny rather than lust. They are committed by men who despise women. As one man serving time for rape, responded when asked by a chaplain why he had done this cruel thing, “I had to teach that bitch to respect me!” Or as one prejudiced judge in our land commented when giving a light sentence to a husband for domestic abuse, “There are circumstances where a husband should be able to push his wife around a little.”
THE WOMAN AND US
Such disrespect for women is truly evil. Think of the faith of the woman (whom I have called Ruth) in the Gospel story; She rose above that evil and made a public spectacle of herself by squeezing through the mob and seeking the help of Jesus!
When he asked “Who touched me” Ruth came forward and fell at his feet. The men who gathered around would have expected the sternest rebuke. Instead, Jesus affirmed her. She had done very well in his eyes. It took daring faith to transcend this powerful social attitude and taboo. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease. Think of this courageous person and praise God!
What a woman!
Think also of the numerous women in recent generations who have shown sufficient faith to fight for respect. Think of them and praise God! Think of the women who have fought, and some are still fighting, for full respect within the councils and ministry of the church. Think of them and praise God! Think of those in the community, in the work place, and within marriage, who have asserted their faith in their own dignity. Think of them and praise God!
What glorious women!
A word now to you men. I know that the historically recent rising up of women to claim their place in the sun, has left us in some confusion about our place and our role. Maybe a few women are over-doing it, and maybe some and are keen to establish a man-hatred, misandry. Or perhaps a number have replaced their old ways with nothing but a copy of the worst habits of men. That is sad.
But it is well worth living with whatever pain and confusion has discomforted us. As men, and especially as the sons of God, we should rejoice with the angels in heaven to see the daughters of God coming into their own! This ongoing work of Jesus should be met with a gasp of amazement and a song of thanksgiving!
“Who is this fellow Jesus?” Whoever he is, there is a strength which goes out of him into others.
He empowers those who have languished, until they meet him, in a state of neglect or oppression. He empowered Ruth and many more women around Galilee. He also empowered many men whose self esteem had been zero. He empowers those today who dare to have faith in him and his way of love.
“Who is this Jesus?” He is that most holy friend who empowers the least, the last and the lost.
Some results have been a long time coming: from the beginning with Jesus and those women whom his respect embraced, to the revolution in self esteem which has been reshaping our times. And there is a long way to go for both women and men. We need to go on together in Christ’s name, displaying the faith that leads to healing of bodies, souls, minds, relationships, communities and nations.
“Daughter, son, your faith has made you well;
go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
SERMON 2: TALITHA CUMI
Mark 5: 35-43
Today in the Gospel reading from Mark Chapter 5, we were offered something I would describe as a sacred sandwich. Two slices of healthy wholemeal with a layer of salad and cheese in the middle.
Jesus, had sailed over from the Eastern side of Galilee. On the far side he had healed a mentally deranged person who lived in a cemetery. Now, stepping ashore on more familiar north-western bank, Jesus was immediately met by one of the rulers from the local synagogue. A dignitary named Jairus. This man’s 12 year old daughter was gravely ill. Jairus begged Jesus to come immediately and lay his healing hands on her. Jesus set off.
This constitutes the first slice of wholemeal bread. Then there comes the filling. The journey was slow because of the pressure from the crowd. As Jesus worked his way ahead, a diseased woman, with astounding faith and courage, reached out her hand to touch the hem of her garment and became healed. You remember that story well, I am sure. Jesus publicly commended her faith and sent her on her way in peace.
What follows is a substantial bottom layer of bread, to complete an amazing sacred sandwich. I always find this both a moving story and an intriguing one. Just as Jesus finished dealing with the woman, a message arrived for Jairus telling him it was too late; his daughter had died. Jesus was undeterred. He simply told Jairus not to panic but to have faith. Having said this, he continued on his way to the house.
There the Lord found a scene of despair. Relatives and neighbours (and maybe some of the professional mourners of that era, keen to make a buck) were gathered around weeping and wailing. Jesus made a surprising statement: “Why are you making so much fuss? The girl is not dead but sleeping.” They mocked him.
So he ordered the mourners be put outside. Taking just the father and mother, and some disciples with him, Jesus went into the girl’s room. Taking her by the hand Jesus said “Talitha cumi!”
Which in the Aramaic language means “Little girl, I tell you, rise up!” The girl stood up and walked. Those present were stunned. Of course! Who wouldn’t be!? . But Jesus, sensitive as always to the situation, said to them: “The child is hungry. Give her some food.”
This part of this sandwich intrigues me for at least the three following reasons.
1/ MARK’S PURPOSE
The first and primary reason is that Mark plainly tells this tale as a part of his unmasking of the profound mystery that was Jesus of Nazareth. We dare not take Jesus at face value. Something as deep as creation empowers this fellow.
Previous to this incident, Jesus had stilled a storm on Lake Galilee, then stilled the raging voices in a mad man’s head, then healed and blessed the woman who dared to touch the hem of his robe, and now he raises up a child who was presumed dead.
What on earth is going on here? That’s what Mark wants us to sincerely ask. Who is this bloke? From where does he derive his unique authority? What is the source of his power? Mark knows that if we will only follow this question (without any humbug) to the very end, we will come up with a divine answer: An answer that will forever change our lives.
That was and is the dynamic of his Gospel. It is also the key to digesting this sacred sandwich we have been offered today.
2/ ONE PASTOR’S EXPERIENCE
In my own pastoral experience, this passage came to have a special relevance. A youngest mother of four, whom I will call Magda, had overcome a couple of close encounters with cancer. With therapy, changed diet, and extensive meditation, Magda seemed to be in remission. Then suddenly the cancer flared up again. Her husband and children were of course hit badly by the news. But Magda was, as always, defiant and positive. There was no denial at work in her. But she was determined to joke (her own special brand of quirky humour) into the face of the disease.
I confess I was flattened. I felt panic in my stomach. The morning after the news jolted me, I was engaged in my morning devotions and I happened to read this very passage from Mark. The words of the messenger to Jairus, strike me: “Don’t trouble the Lord any more. Your daughter is dead.”
“O God” I cried, “we are going to lose Magda this time.” More panic. Then, gathering myself I read on. I recognised myself among the wailing crowd gathered at the house of Jairus. I heard my Lord Jesus saying: “Why do you panic and make such a noise? She is not dead, just sleeping.”
In that moment I knew, with a conviction which did not stem from my own wisdom or faith, but from the very Spirit of God, that Magda was not going to die at that time.
I hope that my quiet confidence from that day on was of some help to this dear woman.
Magda is still with us. She has seen her two sons and two daughters grow up into adulthood. Her husband has deeply cherished every bonus day spent with his beloved wife. I am no longer their pastor. But often in my morning prayers I include Magda and thank God for divine grace at work in her. I also praise God for the Word which came to me through Mark’s Gospel story, that morning some years ago. That blessed word which stilled my panic, and enabled me to be a better pastor.
3/ WHY THE ARAMAIC?
The third reason I find this story intriguing arises from those words, ‘TALITHA CUMI’
The actual Aramaic, the common language of the people in Jesus day, is used. Not the Greek like the rest of the Gospel.
Scholars generally agree that wherever the Greek New Testament reverts to the Aramaic it is because a particular word or phrase was particularly precious to the young church. They loved to repeat such words and recall Jesus actually saying them. It put them in close touch with their roots as a community of faith.
Why and in what circumstances were these words Talitha cumi so treasured and repeated? I can only conjecture. My hunch is this: Often in those first years of Christianity, when a loved one died the bereaved may have been tempted to lapse back into the old habits of pagan despair, with much weeping and wailing. But because of Christ, such despair was totally inappropriate.
Grief was appropriate, but not despair. Jesus had banished despair. So the actual words of Jesus were often lovingly repeated: “They are not dead but sleeping. Little soul, rise up---- Talitha cumi!---- talitha cumi----- talitha cumi.” That is the very word of the Lord!
I wonder how many times in that first century (when disease broke out, or later when bloody persecution devastated the young churches) were these words of Jesus lovingly repeated? Hundreds? Thousands? I even wonder if sometimes they wrote those words of faith on a grave stone?
Somewhere I have read of an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus. A small one. That of a little child. On it was inscribed “O my life, my love, my little one, would to the gods I had died instead of thee.” There we have death with unrelieved despair.
Blessed were those, and blessed are any believers today, who whisper, sing, or even inscribe on a grave stone, “Talitha cumi.”
I cannot read the Aramaic language. I do not know that the male form of the words of Jesus would be in that tongue. But whatever they are I would be most honoured to have them inscribed on my headstone. “Little soul, I tell you, rise up!”
Which brings to mind another New Testament affirmation: “The day is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and live!”
I believe in God, who cares for every human being,
and in Jesus Christ who lived, suffered, died and rose for all,
and in the Holy Spirit who gives us new life and strength.
I believe that faith can move mountains of evil and despair,
bridge the gulf between nations and races,
and plant hope and respect in every community.
I believe that God is leading us to a brighter future,
where justice and peace shall flow like waters
and love prevail like an ever flowing stream.
I believe that the essence of these things is present now,
inaugurated by Christ and sustained by the Spirit
and blessed by the faithful providence of God.
* A prayer for 2 voices
God our holy Friend, you allow us share some of your love for the world, While we are here praying for the world’s healing, others are busy implementing that healing. Later, when we are out there trying to give of our best, may others remember to pray for us.
Give your grace to all peacemakers; those who endeavour to resolve with justice all conflicts between nations, and within communities, commerce and industry, parliaments, families, marriage partners, colleagues, and friends.
Let your grace support those who fight with and for neglected people; those small ethnic groups with no political clout, the little people who are being ripped off by the rich and unscrupulous, and the deserted wives or husbands who are raising a family alone.
Endow the merciful folk with your sustaining grace; those who treat diseases, bind up wounds, feed the hungry, re-settle the homeless, care for the orphan, visit the prisoner, encourage the handicapped, watch with the dying and grieve with the sorrowful.
Endorse the work of this church with your enabling grace. Keep it close to the agenda of Christ. Let us be joyful in worship, warm in fellowship, inclusive in outreach, open in decision making, humble and sensitive in evangelism, and gracious in our ecumenical endeavours.
Bless any servant of yours who is keeping the faith against the odds: those without the encouragement of other Christians at hand, or without even a distant congregation that can pray their names with affection. Please let your grace renew them daily, and may they know your Spirit as Friend and Counsellor.
Visit each of us with your grace, loving Friend. Dismantle our fears, build up our faith, deepen our love, clarify our goals, sharpen our insight, widen our compassion, and open our minds to the new words you wish to speak to our situation.
In the name of the patient, insightful, and healing Christ we offer these prayers.
GETTING READY TO SERVE
With a knowledge of your own limitations, and faith in God’s unlimited grace,
go on your way as Christ’s optimists.
With good will towards your critics and patience with your flawed self,
go on your way with thanksgiving.
With mercy for your enemies and much delight in your good friends,
go on your way rejoicing.
Without mulling over past mistakes and with high hopes for the future,
go on your way with the light steps of the redeemed.
Grace mercy and peace,
from the bounty of our loving God,
through the intervention of the Saviour,
in the power of the Spirit-Friend,
will be with you now and always.
My Best Mate, (first edition 2013)
ISBN 978-1-937763-78-7: AUSTRALIA:
ISBN : 978-1-937763-79- 4: USA
Third edition May 2014
ISBN 978-1-62880-033-3 Australia
Jesus Our Future
Prayers for the Twenty First Century
Second Edition May 2014
|Although this book was written with young people in mind, it has proved to be popular with Christians or seekers of all ages. Through the eyes and ears of a youth named Chip, big questions are raised and wrestled with; faith and doubt, unanswered prayers, refugees, death and grief, racism and bullying, are just a few of the varied topics confronted in these pages. Suitable as a gift to the young, and proven to be helpful when it has been used as a study book for adults.||
Australian Prayers has been a valuable prayer resource for over thirty years. These prayers are suitable for both private and public use and continue to be as fresh and relevant today as ever. Also, the author encourages users to adapt geographical or historical images to suit local, current situations.
This collection of original, contemporary prayers is anchored firmly in the belief that no matter what the immediate future may hold for us, ultimately Jesus is himself both the goal and the shape of our future. He is the key certainty towards which the Spirit of God is inexorably leading us in this scientific and high-tech era. Although the first pages of this book were created for the turn of the millennium, the resources in this volume reflect the interests, concerns and needs of our post-modern world.