Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Peter and Paul, Apostles

Psalm 71
In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me. Be for me a stronghold to which I may ever resort; send out to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the evildoer and the oppressor. For you are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence, even from my youth. Upon you have I leaned from my birth, when you drew me from my mother’s womb; my praise shall be always of you.

I have become a portent to many, but you are my refuge and my strength. Let my mouth be full of your praise and your glory all the day long. Do not cast me away in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails. For my enemies are talking against me, and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together. They say,
‘God has forsaken him; pursue him and take him, because there is none to deliver him.’

O God, be not far from me; come quickly to help me, O my God. Let those who are against me be put to shame and disgrace; let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.

But as for me I will hope continually and will praise you more and more. My mouth shall tell of your righteousness
and salvation all the day long, for I know no end of the telling. I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord God; I will recall your righteousness, yours alone. O God, you have taught me since I was young, and to this day I tell of your wonderful works. Forsake me not, O God, when I am old and grey-headed, till I make known your deeds to the next generation and your power to all that are to come.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens; in the great things you have done, who is like you, O God?
What troubles and adversities you have shown me, and yet you will turn and refresh me and bring me from the deep of the earth again. Increase my honour; turn again and comfort me.

Therefore will I praise you upon the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will sing out as I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed. My tongue also will tell of your righteousness all the day long, for they shall be shamed and disgraced who sought to do me evil.

Psalm 113
Alleluia.
Give praise, you servants of the Lord, O praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the Lord be praised.

The Lord is high above all nations and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God, that has his throne so high, yet humbles himself to behold the things of heaven and earth?

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ashes, To set them with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a place in the house and makes her a joyful mother of children.
Alleluia.


Isaiah 49.1-6
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.  And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’

But I said,
‘I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says,
‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob
 and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations,
 that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’

Acts 11.1-18
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’ Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But I replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” But a second time the voice answered from heaven, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.” And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you in their death as in their life:
grant that your Church, inspired by their teaching and example, and made one by your Spirit,
may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, Teacher of the Faith, c.200

Psalm 106
Alleluia.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his faithfulness endures for ever.

Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord or show forth all his praise?
Blessed are those who observe what is right and always do what is just. Remember me, O Lord, in the favour you bear for your people; visit me in the day of your salvation; That I may see the prosperity of your chosen and rejoice in the gladness of your people, and exult with your inheritance.

We have sinned like our forebears; we have done wrong and dealt wickedly. In Egypt they did not consider your wonders, nor remember the abundance of your faithful love; they rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. But he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his power to be known. He rebuked the Red Sea and it was dried up; so he led them through the deep as through the wilderness. He saved them from the adversary’s hand and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

As for those that troubled them, the waters overwhelmed them; there was not one of them left. Then they believed his words and sang aloud his praise. But soon they forgot his deeds and would not wait for his counsel. A craving seized them in the wilderness, and they put God to the test in the desert. He gave them their desire, but sent a wasting sickness among them. They grew jealous of Moses in the camp and of Aaron, the holy one of the Lord. So the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and covered the company of Abiram. A fire was kindled in their company; the flame burnt up the wicked. They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image; Thus they exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that feeds on hay.

They forgot God their saviour, who had done such great things in Egypt, Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham and fearful things at the Red Sea. So he would have destroyed them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath from consuming them. Then they scorned the Promised Land and would not believe his word, But murmured in their tents and would not heed the voice of the Lord. So he lifted his hand against them and swore to overthrow them in the wilderness, To disperse their descendants among the nations, and to scatter them throughout the lands.

They joined themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to the dead. They provoked him to anger with their evil deeds and a plague broke out among them. Then Phinehas stood up and interceded and so the plague was stayed. This was counted to him for righteousness throughout all generations for ever. They angered him also at the waters of Meribah, so that Moses suffered for their sake; For they so embittered his spirit that he spoke rash words with his lips.  They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them. They mingled with the nations and learned to follow their ways, So that they worshipped their idols, which became to them a snare. Their own sons and daughters they sacrificed to evil spirits. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, Which they offered to the idols of Canaan, and the land was defiled with blood. Thus were they polluted by their actions, and in their wanton deeds went whoring after other gods. Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, and he abhorred his inheritance.

He gave them over to the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. So their enemies oppressed them and put them in subjection under their hand. Many a time did he deliver them, but they rebelled through their own devices and were brought down through their wickedness. Nevertheless, he saw their adversity, when he heard their lamentation. He remembered his covenant with them and relented according to the greatness of his faithful love. He made them also to be pitied by all who had taken them captive.

Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting and to everlasting; and let all the people say, Amen.
Alleluia.

1 Samuel 1.21-2.11
The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, ‘As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there for ever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.’ Her husband Elkanah said to her, ‘Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only—may the Lord establish his word.’ So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, ‘Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.’

She left him there for the Lord. Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God.
 My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.

 There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth;
 for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.
 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
 but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
 The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts.
 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
 to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour.
 For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

 He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
 for not by might does one prevail.
 The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven.
 The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king,
 and exalt the power of his anointed.’

Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, while the boy remained to minister to the Lord, in the presence of the priest Eli.


Luke 19.41-end
As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, ‘It is written,
“My house shall be a house of prayer”; but you have made it a den of robbers.’

Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.

The Collect
God of peace, who through the ministry of your servant Irenaeus strengthened the true faith and brought harmony to your Church:
keep us steadfast in your true religion, and renew us in faith and love,
that we may always walk in the way that leads to eternal life;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Monday, 27 June 2016

Morning Prayer - Monday, 27 June 2016

Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher of the Faith, 444

Psalm 98
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things. His own right hand and his holy arm have won for him the victory.

The Lord has made known his salvation; his deliverance has he openly shown in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his mercy and faithfulness towards the house of Israel, and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Sound praises to the Lord, all the earth; break into singing and make music. Make music to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the voice of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn sound praises before the Lord, the King. Let the sea thunder and all that fills it, the world and all that dwell upon it. Let the rivers clap their hands and let the hills ring out together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. In righteousness shall he judge the world and the peoples with equity

Psalm 99
The Lord is king: let the peoples tremble; he is enthroned above the cherubim: let the earth shake.
The Lord is great in Zion and high above all peoples. Let them praise your name, which is great and awesome; the Lord our God is holy. Mighty king, who loves justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

Exalt the Lord our God; bow down before his footstool, for he is holy. Moses and Aaron among his priests and Samuel among those who call upon his name, they called upon the Lord and he answered them. He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud; they kept his testimonies and the law that he gave them. You answered them, O Lord our God; you were a God who forgave them and pardoned them for their offences.
Exalt the Lord our God and worship him upon his holy hill, for the Lord our God is holy.

Psalm 101
I will sing of faithfulness and justice; to you, O Lord, will I sing. Let me be wise in the way that is perfect: when will you come to me?

I will walk with purity of heart within the walls of my house.

I will not set before my eyes a counsel that is evil. I abhor the deeds of unfaithfulness; they shall not cling to me. A crooked heart shall depart from me; I will not know a wicked person. One who slanders a neighbour in secret I will quickly put to silence. Haughty eyes and an arrogant heart I will not endure. My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me. One who walks in the way that is pure shall be my servant. There shall not dwell in my house one that practises deceit. One who utters falsehood shall not continue in my sight. Morning by morning will I put to silence all the wicked in the land, To cut off from the city of the Lord all those who practise evil.

1 Samuel 1.1-20
There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year after year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’

After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: ‘O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.’

As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.’ But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.’ Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.’ And she said, ‘Let your servant find favour in your sight.’ Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.

They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked him of the Lord.’

Luke 19.28-40
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
 Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’
He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’

The Collect
Almighty God, send down upon your Church the riches of your Spirit, and kindle in all who minister the gospel your countless gifts of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Sunday, 26 June 2016

Can't make it to church? 26th June 2016


Today’s readings call us to think about endings and beginnings – a familiar theme in the light of the referendum results this week and our remembering the beginning of the Battle of the Somme (141 days of conflict which took more lives than any other battle in the world’s history) at the end of the coming week perhaps?

Endings - As we find Jesus setting out on His final journey to Jerusalem. He’s told his followers what to expect – how he is to suffer and die – and determines to head into that reality and an end which heralds an amazing, and eternal, beginning. This is an act of commitment and courage, and act that makes real the words of commitment to God, the Father.

As we take our steps in the worlds, this too is our calling – to make real the words that we issue about our calling with God, even if it means laying down our lives.

So off they go, passing through a Samaritan village on the way. Jews and Samaritans don’t mix, they have ‘history’, and the welcome they receive cause upset amongst the disciples – no shock here as they were probably already tense and edgy, they were following Jesus to His death (and possibly theirs too). So they lash out – just like us when we are tense – “Let's call down fire on them,” they say!

But Jesus, rather than agree, uses the moment to bring some clarity about following Him to those who have already committed to do that. To move on and accept that things might be difficult, possessions and property a thing of the past as the move into that great unknown, for who truly can predict the future or the time of their ending other than the Lord?

We need to plough straight furrows with our lives – having been to a ploughing contest the difference between a straight line and a wobbly one was obvious, but the implication of this, being that the straight line yielded more produce, was news to me.

How straight is the line we walk today?

Are we a voice of reason, love and service to those around us or the embodiment of what it means to be self-serving and men-spirited?

As we look to lose the identity that says ‘EU citizen’ and change it – what will it be that we bear? British citizen or citizen of heaven, for surely the latter is, for us, (or should be) the reality for being in and not of the world we are surely ‘exiles and aliens’  in this world (1Pet 2.11).

Beginnings (and endings) - And as we consider Elisha’s call – something very different from the other calls in the Old Testament as there;s no burning bush, fanfare, whispers in the night, vision or God pop in and nudge him. It’s just so very ‘ordinary’: Elijah’s offering him a job; the opportunity to stop ploughing and start sowing the word of God!

Elisha’s is to be a disciple, a servant, of Elijah. Something we call a ‘type’ in theological; circles for here we find an example for us to take up and make our own. We are called to leave behind what we are and what we know and to follow Jesus in exactly the same, often equally unspectacular way – and later the time come when Elisha takes on Elijah’s role (I like the term ‘takes on his mantle – meaning puts on his uniform if you like’) when Elijah gets taken up into heaven.

Elisha takes the cattle that pull the plough and slaughters them, using the plough as the source of heat, talk about burning your bridges – this is not just commitment but determination in terms
of intent and opportunity! A true burning of his bridges so that the only way open it him is ‘forward’.

Our call to becoming disciples is one of turning from our sins and moving forward in the footsteps of the master. For Elisha it was Elijah, for us it is Jesus – and there can be no turning back – and as we do this we break free from the chains and demands of this world into the freedom Paul speaks of in out Galatians passage; free from the chains of sin and the snares of this world As we live in the power of God’s Holy Spirit..

Let us not conform to the attitudes of this world and to get in step with its self-serving and sinful desires but live as a ‘tended tree planted by streams of living water’ like the faithful inPsalm one – and if we do we will produce good fruit:

“The fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, mercy, gentleness and self-control.”

Nothing the world has can deny or overcome this – by having these the world in which we live, and yet are not of, will be changed and our endings and beginnings made bright, right and enabling.




1 Kings 19.15-16,19-21
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came. Go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also anoint Jehu as king over Israel. He is the son of Nimshi. And anoint Elisha from Abel Meholah as the next prophet after you. He is the son of Shaphat. Jehu will put to death anyone who escapes Hazael’s sword. And Elisha will put to death anyone who escapes Jehu’s sword.

Elijah left Mount Horeb. He saw Elisha, the son of Shaphat. Elisha was plowing in a field. He was driving the last of 12 pairs of oxen. Elijah went up to him. He threw his coat around him. Then Elisha left his oxen. He ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said. “Then I’ll come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

So Elisha left him and went back. He got his two oxen and killed them. He burned the plough to cook the meat. He gave it to the people, and they ate it. Then he started to follow Elijah. He became Elijah’s servant.




Galatians 5.1,13-25
Christ has set us free to enjoy our freedom. So remain strong in the faith. Don’t let the chains of slavery hold you again.

My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to live under the power of sin. Instead, serve one another in love. The whole law is fulfilled by obeying this one command. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” If you say or do things that harm one another, watch out! You could end up destroying one another.

So I say, live by the Holy Spirit’s power. Then you will not do what your desires controlled by sin want you to do. The desires controlled by sin do not want what the Spirit delights in. And the Spirit does not want what the desires controlled by sin delight in. The two are at war with each other. That’s why you are not supposed to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the authority of the law.

The result of sin’s control in our lives is clear. It includes sexual sins, impure acts and wild living. It includes worshiping statues of gods and worshiping evil powers. It also includes hatred and fighting, jealousy and fits of anger. Sinful desire is interested only in getting ahead. It stirs up trouble. It separates people into their own little groups. It wants what others have. It gets drunk and takes part in wild parties. It does many things of that kind. I warn you now as I did before. People who live like this will not receive God’s kingdom.

But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful and gentle and having control of oneself. There is no law against things of that kind. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their sinful desires to his cross. They don’t want these things anymore. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.


Luke 9.51-62
The time grew near for Jesus to be taken up to heaven. So he made up his mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent messengers on ahead. They went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him. But the people there did not welcome Jesus. That was because he was heading for Jerusalem. The disciples James and John saw this. They asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and commanded them not to do it. Then Jesus and his disciples went on to another village.

Once Jesus and those who were with him were walking along the road. A man said to Jesus, “I will follow you no matter where you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens. Birds have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

Jesus said to him, “Let dead people bury their own dead. You go and tell others about God’s kingdom.”

Still another person said, “I will follow you, Lord. But first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

Jesus replied, “Suppose someone starts to plough and then looks back. That person is not fit for service in God’s kingdom.



Saturday, 25 June 2016

So it's goodbye from us ...

And 'Good Riddance' from them?

As we all know by know, the people of the United Kingdom have, albeit narrowly, voted to leave the European Union.

Some will be cheering - others will be fearing.

Some will see this as an opportunity to regain sovereignty and put the 'Great' back into Britain whilst others will see this as us condemning ourselves to becoming a small minded nation on an even smaller offshore piece of land outside the rest of the world.

Much like the peasant's revolt of 1381, this was as much a revolt against those who govern and the taxation and nation's spending as it was about the other much proclaimed issues - although that said, the majority of the 'Leave' voices brought the issue back to immigration (more on that shortly though).  The Peasants Revolt was also about and end to serfdom - what I was taught of as 'unify' labour - whilst this was, for many, about 'free labour'!

So here we are, about to go it alone and this for me means that we should, immediately, look to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start the two year exit process rolling. Many people are calling on us to hold fire with this because the effect it will have on us nation but it seems to me that this newly recovered sovereignty and national identity, as with everywhere in the world where people have fought to become free, comes at a price.

This price, thankfully, is not paid in blood or lives (unless you consider the assassination of an MP to count - and I do) but in cold hard cash. Freedom is never cheap and we will have to grin and bear the rises in the cost of living, the fall in our house prices and the jobs that are lost as the price we are all willing to pay for our breaking free from the bonds of European membership.

As we make our journey we need to realise that we are now looking towards the goodwill of those who remain in the EU and, like any divorce, this might not be a generous as we think we deserve. To quote European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker:

"Britons decided yesterday that they want to leave the European Union, so it doesn't make any sense to wait until October to try to negotiate the terms of their departure - I would like to get started immediately." 

You see, Europe would like us to be gone and whilst what some exit politicians are asking for is akin to a divorces settlement where one party retains the right to have meals cooked for them, their washing done and conjugal rights to continue - the other is looking to distance themselves from their estranged partner as quickly as possible, and despite the well meant words from family gained through marriage when divorce comes, the relationship are rarely continued and when they do, never the same!

Those who preached exit are now telling us that migration into the UK will continue - it has to, that's how the rest of the world lives these day - and that the money saved might not be what was first preached to be - that we will have to abide by EU laws if we want to trade with them and more besides.

So perhaps our exit is not going to be the paradise it was billed to be - but the trigger has been pulled and the bullet has left the chamber, there's no going back and the challenge for us is to work out how we can regroup and reform our national identity and that takes public will and solid and intelligent government. The key is for us to become a United Kingdom (talk of referenda regarding the Union from Northern Ireland and Scotland aren't helping this) and to look at the positives that being British bring.

We need to be open and honest about our views and seek a middle way - something the Church of England excels in - if that happens then this will indeed be something quite positive coming from the result.

I think we need a new government, not a new Conservative Prime Minister, because the government is looking at areas and actions never spoken of in a manifesto nor voted of at the last election. This is time for a new leadership across the board in the house of Commons.

One of the hopes of those who preached on the exit side of the debate was that we would return to our national roots and this, and of course I would say this, means a return to the biblical values and standards that shaped us and a putting aside of self and selfish ambition. We need to establish a nation where humility, not the nationalism that brought about a global conflict, is the hallmark. National pride not nationalism being the bedrock upon which we look to exhibit mercy and crave for justice as that which we value and live by.

We need to continue to welcome the oppressed and marginalised, to act to support those in other lands who face genocide and oppression, to stand with our neighbouring nations to work together for peace and freedom for all.

And oddly - if we do, it won't look much different from that we've just voted to leave!

So pray that 'God's will be done' rather than 'give us our own way!'

Going to be a very interesting time - and when the going gets tough (and I'm sure it will) look to the words and example of Jesus, the Christ, rather than the self-serving needs of our fallen race.

No man is an island - even when he lives on one!



Morning Prayer - Saturday, 25 June 2016

Ember Day

Psalm 96
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord and bless his name; tell out his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations and his wonders among all peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; he is more to be feared than all gods. For all the gods of the nations are but idols; it is the Lord who made the heavens. Honour and majesty are before him; power and splendour are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples; ascribe to the Lord honour and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; bring offerings and come into his courts.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him. Tell it out among the nations that the Lord is king. He has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; Let the fields be joyful and all that is in them; let all the trees of the wood shout for joy before the Lord.

For he comes, he comes to judge the earth; with righteousness he will judge the world and the peoples with his truth.

Psalm 97
The Lord is king: let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his enemies on every side. His lightnings lit up the world; the earth saw it and trembled. The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declared his righteousness and all the peoples have seen his glory.

Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight in mere idols. Bow down before him, all you gods.

Zion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of your judgements, O Lord. For you, Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

The Lord loves those who hate evil; he preserves the lives of his faithful and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light has sprung up for the righteous and joy for the true of heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name.

Psalm 100
O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth; serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song. Know that the Lord is God; it is he that has made us and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting, and his faithfulness endures from generation to generation.

Judges 18.1-20, 27-end
In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking for itself a territory to live in; for until then no territory among the tribes of Israel had been allotted to them. So the Danites sent five valiant men from the whole number of their clan, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it; and they said to them, ‘Go, explore the land.’ When they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they stayed there. While they were at Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they went over and asked him, ‘Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?’ He said to them, ‘Micah did such and such for me, and he hired me, and I have become his priest.’ Then they said to him, ‘Inquire of God that we may know whether the mission we are undertaking will succeed.’ The priest replied, ‘Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord.’

The five men went on, and when they came to Laish, they observed the people who were there living securely, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, lacking nothing on earth, and possessing wealth. Furthermore, they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with Aram. When they came to their kinsfolk at Zorah and Eshtaol, they said to them, ‘What do you report?’ They said, ‘Come, let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and it is very good. Will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go, but enter in and possess the land. When you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people. The land is broad—God has indeed given it into your hands—a place where there is no lack of anything on earth.’

Six hundred men of the Danite clan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day; it is west of Kiriath-jearim. From there they passed on to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.

Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land (that is, Laish) said to their comrades, ‘Do you know that in these buildings there are an ephod, teraphim, and an idol of cast metal? Now therefore consider what you will do.’ So they turned in that direction and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and greeted him. While the six hundred men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate, the five men who had gone to spy out the land proceeded to enter and take the idol of cast metal, the ephod, and the teraphim. The priest was standing by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war. When the men went into Micah’s house and took the idol of cast metal, the ephod, and the teraphim, the priest said to them, ‘What are you doing?’ They said to him, ‘Keep quiet! Put your hand over your mouth, and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one person, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?’ Then the priest accepted the offer. He took the ephod, the teraphim, and the idol, and went along with the people.

The Danites, having taken what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, put them to the sword, and burned down the city. There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with Aram. It was in the valley that belongs to Beth-rehob. They rebuilt the city, and lived in it. They named the city Dan, after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was formerly Laish. Then the Danites set up the idol for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the time the land went into captivity. So they maintained as their own Micah’s idol that he had made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.

Luke 19.11-27
As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, ‘A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, “Do business with these until I come back.” But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to rule over us.” When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, “Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.” He said to him, “Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.” Then the second came, saying, “Lord, your pound has made five pounds.” He said to him, “And you, rule over five cities.” Then the other came, saying, “Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” He said to him, “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.” He said to the bystanders, “Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.” (And they said to him, “Lord, he has ten pounds!”) “I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.” ’

The Collect
Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored. Amen.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 23 June 2016

Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely, c.678

Psalm 90
Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth, or the earth and the world were formed, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust and say: ‘Turn back, O children of earth.’

For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday, which passes like a watch in the night. You sweep them away like a dream; they fade away suddenly like the grass. In the morning it is green and flourishes; in the evening it is dried up and withered. For we consume away in your displeasure; we are afraid at your wrathful indignation. You have set our misdeeds before you and our secret sins in the light of your countenance. When you are angry, all our days are gone; our years come to an end like a sigh.

The days of our life are three score years and ten, or if our strength endures, even four score; yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow, for they soon pass away and we are gone. Who regards the power of your wrath and your indignation like those who fear you? So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

Turn again, O Lord; how long will you delay?
Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Give us gladness for the days you have afflicted us, and for the years in which we have seen adversity. Show your servants your works, and let your glory be over their children. May the gracious favour of the Lord our God be upon us; prosper our handiwork; O prosper the work of our hands.

Psalm 92
It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; To tell of your love early in the morning and of your faithfulness in the night-time, Upon the ten-stringed instrument, upon the harp, and to the melody of the lyre. For you, Lord, have made me glad by your acts, and I sing aloud at the works of your hands.

O Lord, how glorious are your works!
Your thoughts are very deep. The senseless do not know, nor do fools understand, That though the wicked sprout like grass and all the workers of iniquity flourish, It is only to be destroyed for ever; but you, O Lord, shall be exalted for evermore. For lo, your enemies, O Lord, lo, your enemies shall perish, and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild oxen; I am anointed with fresh oil. My eyes will look down on my foes; my ears shall hear the ruin of the evildoers who rise up against me.The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon. Such as are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be vigorous and in full leaf; That they may show that the Lord is true; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Judges 16.4-end
After this he fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. The lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, ‘Coax him, and find out what makes his strength so great, and how we may overpower him, so that we may bind him in order to subdue him; and we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.’ So Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me what makes your strength so great, and how you could be bound, so that one could subdue you.’ Samson said to her, ‘If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that are not dried out, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.’ Then the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not dried out, and she bound him with them. While men were lying in wait in an inner chamber, she said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ But he snapped the bowstrings, as a strand of fibre snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

Then Delilah said to Samson, ‘You have mocked me and told me lies; please tell me how you could be bound.’ He said to her, ‘If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.’ So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ (The men lying in wait were in an inner chamber.) But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.

Then Delilah said to Samson, ‘Until now you have mocked me and told me lies; tell me how you could be bound.’ He said to her, ‘If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and make it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.’ So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web, and made them tight with the pin. Then she said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.

Then she said to him, ‘How can you say, “I love you”, when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me three times now and have not told me what makes your strength so great.’ Finally, after she had nagged him with her words day after day, and pestered him, he was tired to death. So he told her his whole secret, and said to her, ‘A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, then my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be like anyone else.’

When Delilah realized that he had told her his whole secret, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, ‘This time come up, for he has told his whole secret to me.’ Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands. She let him fall asleep on her lap; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. He began to weaken, and his strength left him. Then she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ When he awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him. So the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles; and he ground at the mill in the prison. But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, and to rejoice; for they said, ‘Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.’ When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, ‘Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.’ And when their hearts were merry, they said, ‘Call Samson, and let him entertain us.’ So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. They made him stand between the pillars; and Samson said to the attendant who held him by the hand, ‘Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, so that I may lean against them.’ Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson performed.

Then Samson called to the Lord and said, ‘Lord God, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.’ And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel for twenty years.

Luke 18.31-end
Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.’ But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

The Collect
Eternal God, who bestowed such grace upon your servant Etheldreda that she gave herself wholly to the life of prayer and to the service of your true religion: grant that we, like her, may so live our lives on earth seeking your kingdom that by your guiding we may be joined to the glorious fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.