Weekly Readings and Prayers

Sunday 26th December 2021 St Stephen

Gracious Father, who gave the first martyr Stephen grace to pray for those who took up stones against him: grant that in all our sufferings for the truth we may learn to love even our enemies and to seek forgiveness for those who desire our hurt, looking up to heaven to him who was crucified for us, Jesus Christ, our mediator and advocate, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading 2 Chronicles 24.20-22
The spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of the priest Jehoiada; he stood above the people and said to them, ‘Thus says God: Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has also forsaken you.’ But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord. King Joash did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. As he was dying, he said, ‘May the Lord see and avenge!’ 

Psalm 119.161-168

161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause, : but my heart stands in awe of your word.
162 I am as glad of your word : as one who finds great spoils.
163 As for lies, I hate and abhor them, : but your law do I love.
164 Seven times a day do I praise you, : because of your righteous judgements.
165 Great peace have they who love your law; : nothing shall make them stumble.
166 Lord, I have looked for your salvation : and I have fulfilled your commandments.
167 My soul has kept your testimonies : and greatly have I loved them.
168 I have kept your commandments and testimonies, : for all my ways are before you.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen

Second Reading Acts 7.51-60
Stephen said to the high priest and the council: ‘You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are for ever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.’ When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died. 

Gospel Matthew 10. 17–22
Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Post Communion Prayer
Merciful Lord, we thank you for the signs of your mercy revealed in birth and death: save us by the coming of your Son, and give us joy in honouring Stephen, first martyr of the new Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for the week

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people" (Titus 2:11)

This week we are praying for those who live in Tite Hill, Victoria Street and Willow Walk

Sunday 26th December: Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr
Almighty God, we give you thanks for the unflinching witness and courage of your servant Stephen. We pray for those of whom faith and commitment to you demands that same courage, even today.  Help us never to take for granted the freedom and peace which we may still enjoy as we seek to worship and to serve you. 

Monday 27th December John, Apostle and Evangelist
Merciful Lord, cast you bright beams of light upon your church, that, being enlightened by the teaching of your blessed evangelist and apostle John, we may so walk in the light of your truth that we may at last attain to the light of everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen 

Tuesday 28th December The Holy Innocents
Merciful God, as we remember the children whose lives were lost even as your Son came into the world, look with compassion we pray on those who today are innocent of wrong and yet have wrong inflicted upon them. As Jesus stooped to share our human lives so may He be ever present with those who are most defenceless and vulnerable across our broken world today.  


Wednesday 29th December
Sovereign God, look with mercy upon your world as we seek to defeat the spread of COVID and yet seem almost to be defeated by it.  Give wisdom to those in government and insight to those engaged in research. Renew the strength of those who work in healthcare and bring healing to those who are sick.  Comfort those who are isolated and bring peace to those who are afraid.  


Thursday 30th December
Almighty God, as we look back on the year that is passing, we pray for those to whom 2021 has brought sorrow and loss. We remember those who have lost loved ones, those who have experienced sickness, including those who have contracted COVID, and those who have been burdened by financial worries or job insecurities. Be very present with them, we pray, at the turning of the year 

Friday 31st December  
Heavenly Father, we pray for one another at the dawn of the New Year. Help us to tread safely into the unknown with our hands in yours. Help us to support and care for each other. Keep us generous in our compassion for those in need. Enable us to be faithful in prayer and constant in faith.

Saturday 1st January The Naming and Circumcision of Jesus
Lord Jesus Christ, named for our salvation.  Help us to dedicate this year, with all its unknowns, to you.  Watch with us and with those whom we love and enable us to hold fast and to share the hope that we have found in you.

Heavenly Father, please accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen