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Prayer for Sunday 1 May

Prayer for Sunday 1 May

In May we start praying for Greece. Although today Greece is a small struggling country, it was once a centre of cultural growth. Philosophical books and the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament are written in Greek. There is much about Greece to praise and thank God for, yet there is struggle and issues that require prayer.

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We give you thanks, God of all peoples
For the way in which witness to Christ
And to the early church have been preserved
And handed down to us through the Greek language.

Let us not take that legacy and achievement for granted
We pray for those who continue to wrestle
With the Greek version of the New Testament
And find within its words and turns of phrase
Fresh inspiration for us today.

We give you thanks for the missionary journeys
Of the apostle Paul, apostle to the Gentiles,
His companions Sosthenes, Silvanus, Timothy and Silas.

We give you thanks for the churches
At Philippi, Thessaloniki and Corinth,
For the way in which they sought to express faith
In Christ Jesus in new different and settings,
And for the epistles which were then written to them.
We are in their debt.

We remember Lydia of Thyatira, a worshiper of God,
In whose home the church at Philippi first met;
And Epaphroditus, their messenger and minister
To Paul in his hour of need;

We remember the household of Stephanas,
The first converts in Achaia,
And Fortunatus and Achaicus.
We give you thanks and cherish
Those who have gone before us in Christ’s name,
In and through your Holy Spirit,

Historical Background

Over the last few years Greece has been in the news on a regular basis. For some time we would here of emergency budgets, political stand-offs with the European Union, runs on the banks, protests in the streets and frequent changes of government. The reality of Greek indebtedness to German political and economic clout reminded citizens of the damages they had sustained during the Nazi invasion and occupation 70 years before. Would Greece remain within the European Union or be left to find its own way in the company of the drachma rather than the Euro? How difficult to imagine a collapsed state in the light of its classical legacy and its role of being the origins of democracy.

Now all that seems to be in the background – though Greek debt remains high and its people vulnerable. Now the focus falls, firstly, on the Greek islands. For so long they have been the destination of choice for millions of tourists and those on Aegean Sea cruises. The islands of Cos and Lesbos are among those which lie close to the Turkish mainland. They have become the much sought-after destination for refugees from Syria and further afield seeking to establish a foothold, however tenuous in Europe. To the north of the country lies the second focus – the razor wire of Macedonia which prevents refugees entry into the rest of Europe.

For Christians, of course, Greece is of some importance. The books of the New Testament were originally written in Greek. Several of Paul’s epistles were directed to churches in what we would now regard as Greek cities – Philippi, Corinth and Thessaloniki. Paul’s address to the unknown God took place in the Athenian agora or marketplace.

Our expression of faith owes much to this presently troubled country – so much so that words like church are derived from (κυριακος), kyriarkos, belonging to the Lord) and the Eucharist comes from the Greek to give thanks (εύχαριστεω),( eucharisteo).