Monthly Prayers for May 2016

St Joseph and Jesus as a child working as carpenters

St Joseph and Jesus

1st of May is recognised in many countries as international workers day. It is also the feast day of St Joseph the worker. This inspires our theme for this week’s prayers.
Joseph is the foster father of Jesus, a man who worked for his living. He was the descendant of a royal house yet a refugee and a poor man who makes offerings of birds rather than a lamb in the temple.
What can we learn from him about faithfulness and discernment? 

Pray for workers’ rights with CAFOD

Gospel Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.


Joseph reflects
It always comforts me, the workshop. Something settles in me when I’m making something out of the strength of my hands; shaping the wood, making it smooth and useable, an item a family might use for generations. I planned these chairs for my home with Mary; I had imagined us growing old in them, siting either side of our hearth. Then she comes back from her cousin’s place with her belly huge, unrepentant for what she must have done. Scared, she was scared. But she looked me in the eye to tell me a tale about an angel, a baby and how we were part of the plan of our God. I walked away.
I sat in my workshop that night, not working but thinking. Would I still marry her? I had loved her. I could see her face lit with joy the day I asked her to be my wife. I thought about her son. Could I teach him my craft? Would I love him? Would I raise for the House of David a child not of my making?
I went to sleep that night having made a decision, I wouldn’t disgrace her. I would do it quietly; I would give her up quietly, save her from disgrace. It was the right thing to do, but my heart was weary.
And in the night the voice, of such purity I knew it spoke truth. Mary had not betrayed me and I must keep faith with her, with God. It wouldn’t be as I imagined it; the road ahead may be hard. But what can I do?
I haven’t decided yet; don’t think I’ve made a decision. I’m just a man in a workshop making a chair.

©Marie Pattison

Discuss
Joseph is drawn in to God’s plan with for his life; it doesn’t go according to his plan. Mary pregnant… a trip to Bethlehem… nowhere to stay… a trip to a foreign land as a refugee… But he trusts in God and responds to God’s call.

Do you have a sense of your work or volunteering as being a calling from God? How did you know that? How does that call feel today?
Which parts of that are less clear?

Are there parts of your life where, like Joseph, you don’t know what God might be doing? What do you do in those moments?

Prayer for others
God of creation,
we live in the world you have made
Give us generous hearts to share your wealth with others
We pray especially for…
Your kingdom come, your will be done.

God of power,
help us to remember that you can do impossible things
Inspire us to work with you for change in our society
We pray especially for…
Your kingdom come, your will be done.

God of hope,
be present in our communities
Give us the strength to show your love right here
We pray especially for…
Your kingdom come, your will be done.

God of love,
you bring us healing and comfort
Come close to those who need your peace
We pray especially for…
Your kingdom come, your will be done.

God of truth,
draw us into your story of hope
Challenge us to speak out for justice
We pray especially for…
Your kingdom come, your will be done.

In the gift of this new day, Praying with the Iona Community. Used with author’s permission

Time for other concerns or prayers

An affirmation of faith
I believe in God
I believe in God, Three in one
Father, Son, Spirit
Paradox
Mystery
Elemental

I believe in a God of Justice,
Compassion, mercy, hope
And first, a God of love
Love personified, incarnated

I believe in God,
The mother of Creation
God, the father of humanity
God, the lover of us all

I believe we are called:
To activity out of passivity and apathy,
By the Son of God, through his actions
Calling down through history,
Borne on the wings of the Spirit

I believe we are called:
To community, with each other
Through Christ the thread
Weaving us all together

I believe that God plays no favourites
Pulls no punches
Leaves no stone unturned

I believe that life is hard
I believe that life is beautiful
So, I believe, does God

From Alternative Worship, Jonny Baker, Doug Gay, Jenny Brown

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