Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 25 September 2020 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers.
Brothers, Sisters, Friends we hope that you are well. If not, please let us know.
We are still on the journey concerning the issue of forgiveness. I continue to think a lot about this issue and the responses sent by mail or otherwise disclosed. I felt the Holy Spirit leading my thoughts to focus on what the scientist refers to as the epidemiology, that is, the cause of a health issue or disease. You may wonder, is forgiveness a health issue or a disease? How about emotional health? In order to adequately address an issue, is it important to know what gave rise to it in the first place?
As a possible cause, let us consider the words we speak and the function of our tongue in this process. You may consider who spoke those words. This is what I call a “biggy” for many because words can easily slip out of us. Once they are gone, there is no turning back, and they have an impact. In today’s deliberations, when we speak of words, it is what we voice to others and self. This has to do with what is spoken and heard. You may agree that the tongue plays a vital role in the process of what we speak.
I recall watching a demonstration where the venom of a creature was applied to human blood. Within a few minutes of application, the blood curdles. This can lead to a lack of oxygen in the blood. This may result in difficulty breathing and in some instances death.
Holman said that venom is a poisonous secretion from an animal such as a snake, spider, or scorpion that is released into its victim by a bite or sting. Venom is a translation of the Hebrew word ro’sh. It is the same word that is used for a dangerous, poisonous plant (Deuteronomy 29:18). Poison is a chemical agent causing ill health or death when in contact with or ingested by an organism. An organism is an entity which has life. It could be an animal (including humankind) plant, etc. Poison serves as an image for wickedness, especially lying speech (Job 20:12-16; Psalm 58:3-4; Psalm 140:1-3).
Brethren, now that we have considered the preceding concepts, stay on the path. Please take a walk with me, and let us listen to what James had to say about speech and how he relates it to poison. James started with encouragement and advice.
“…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.James 1:19-20 (NIV)
The apostle Paul also said “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26, NIV). Just to add that anger is an emotion that emerges from something that is believed to have been said or done. It is not the cause, it results from the cause.
As we proceed through James’ writings, one could say he made an admission to the frailty of humankind. Yet, he indicated that if a person considers self to be perfect, then everything that functions within us must be perfect. “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” (James 3:2, NIV).
James took the Brethren into further exploration of the difficulties associated with keeping self in line mainly focusing on the tongue. He enunciated that we are able to control many things outside of self but may find it difficult to control self. He showed a contrast between using a small instrument (a rudder) to control a large ship versus facing an almost impossible task of trying to control a small organ in our own body, our tongue. Just in case there is the need for more examples he gave it, embarking on the disposition and possible impact of the tongue. He stated:
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example, although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.”James 3:3-4 (NIV)
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”James 3:5-8 (NIV)
James also looked at the contrast of the tongue in its functionality and the conflict it produced as it relates to worshipping God. Here he said:
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”James 3:9-12 (NIV)
In another place, Peter’s mind was in a somewhat similar mode. He encouraged the Brethren not to repay evil for evil, or insults for insults. He went on to say “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.” (1 Peter 3:10; NIV). The Psalmist, David, had issued a similar advice “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:13, NIV).
Brethren and Friends, the words we use our lips and tongues to speak can be like a poisonous bite or sting that destabilizes another person, causing them great hurt and pain. It may stifle a life that needs to truly live. Some of us may experience a similar impact. We may find it hard to forgive and others may find it hard to forgive us. Some of us have been carrying the weight of those hurts for a long time. It affects relationships and keeps us in cycles so there is no change. We keep going around and around in a circle operating in the same mode. The hard part is when we do not see and know that it is happening.
I encourage us to stop and carefully think about this statement, as I am also learning to embrace it, though it came through me. It is not about how small we may feel admitting a wrong or making an apology, it is how bold and courageous we are in doing it.
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, we praise and honour You. We bless Your Holy name. You are Awesome! You are above all else. We give You all of the glory, honour and praise.
Almighty God, we thank You for Your mercies and grace. We thank You that you gave us Your Son, Jesus Christ who died for our sin and currently makes intercession for us. Lord, we thank You for forgiving us even when we do not deserve it. Thank You Lord that we do not pay for it.
Lord, we thank You.
You are altogether perfect, Lord, and we seek righteousness through You. Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, we lift up ourselves, families (church and biological), communities and country. We confess that we have at times done wrong in Your sight. We ask that You hear our cries for mercy. Cleanse us from all unrighteousness and forgive us of all our sins. Heal our land.
Lord, our country and other countries of the world continue to grapple with multiple disasters that have given rise to loss of lives, displacements of all sorts, destruction of properties, and shrink in economies. We ask for Your mercy upon all leaders and that each heart becomes obedient to Your will and Your way. So we pray for a renewal of the right spirit within each person.
Hear O Lord, and have mercy.
Lord, we ask for Your mercy on our leaders and that You continually guide them in their pursuits to lead and govern this country. Grant them the courage and boldness that they need. Help them to be sound in thoughts and action. Grant them wisdom and understanding and an ability to lead that goes beyond themselves.
In particular: The Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton, Minister of Finance and the Public Service Nigel Clarke, health workers and support staff, Minister of Education, Youth and the Environment Fayval Williams, Minister of National Security Horace Chang, and his team, Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck. We also remember the judges in our congregation: Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie.
Lord, You know the harsh impact of Covid-19 on our churches and communities, and nation as a whole. It has taken a turn for the worse and has even been found in the prison. O Lord, have mercy! Have mercy on us O God! We need Your intervention. Heal and protect our land, and cushion our economy through healthy strategies.
We remember frontline workers connected with GMC: Medical Doctors: Asana Anderson Wilks and Rohan Wilks, Kahlete Falloon, Tina Kong, Vernon Jones, Leighton Logan; Dentists: doing emergency cases; Jhenell Black, Dania Jones, Eleanor Reynolds; Pharmacists: Sandra Bucknor-Jones, Viveen Watson; other doctors and nurses from GMC or in connection with members and adherents of GMC who are working on the frontline (for example Dr. Richard Reynolds) and their families.
Hear O Lord, and have mercy.
Lord, we see that business leaders are trying their best to keep businesses alive. Lord, grant them the strategies and resources to do so. Give them the strength and boldness for such a time as this. We lift up especially business leaders in our congregation:
Ewan and Maxine Oliver; Lanna and Desmond Bennett; Warrick Bogle, Carol and Leroy Blake, Marcia Leair, Robert and Bevelin Smith, Paulette Dixon, Kemorine and Karl Henry, Ava Comrie, Catherine Barkley and husband, Cornel Richards and family, Everton Lewis, Pauline and Mark Garvey, Brother Astley Hall, Maxine and Benedict Ranger, Melva Knight, Nicole Fender, Sharon Baldie, Karl Jones and others.
Hear O Lord, and have mercy.
Lord, You see the rise in criminal activities in our country. We pray for Your mercies and that You will identify and deal with every criminal mind, element and scheme of criminal activities from the length and breath of this country. We pray that their hearts will turn to You rather than please the desires of evil.
Hear our cries O Lord.
Lord, we are extremely grateful that our young people at GMC and those connected to us did so well in their CSEC and CAPE exams. Lord, thank You so much for answered prayers. We pray for those who have not done well nationally, those who have done well but are confused, and those who are still wondering what next. Grant direction and guidance to all, and cause it that those who are on a path of confusion, seek You with diligence in spirit.
Lord, grant hope in a world where more and more people are becoming lost. Help us to be the instrument of hope and transformation as You transform us. Grant us Your peace and fill us with Your love. So give us strength for each day and provide for us in these times.
Lord, we thank You in Jesus name.
Our Prayers of Encouragement are for everyone. Therefore, if you are also in need of prayer or comfort, please contact us with your request. We would be so very happy to share with you.