Monday, 30 May 2016

Morning Prayer - Monday, 30 May 2016

Josephine Butler, Social Reformer, 1906
Joan of Arc, Visionary, 1431
Apolo Kivebulaya, Priest, Evangelist in Central Africa, 1933

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?
When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not be afraid, and though there rise up war against me,
yet will I put my trust in him.

One thing have I asked of the Lord and that alone I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to seek his will in his temple. For in the day of trouble he shall hide me in his shelter; in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me and set me high upon a rock. And now shall he lift up my head above my enemies round about me; Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy upon me and answer me. My heart tells of your word, ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face from me, nor cast your servant away in displeasure.

You have been my helper; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path, because of those who lie in wait for me. Deliver me not into the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and those who breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 30
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have raised me up and have not let my foes triumph over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you have healed me. You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit.

Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; give thanks to his holy name. For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, his favour for a lifetime. Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

In my prosperity I said,
‘I shall never be moved. You, Lord, of your goodness, have made my hill so strong.’

Then you hid your face from me and I was utterly dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried; to the Lord I made my supplication:
‘What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?
 Will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; O Lord, be my helper.’

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Joshua 14
These are the inheritances that the Israelites received in the land of Canaan, which the priest Eleazar, and Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the families of the tribes of the Israelites distributed to them. Their inheritance was by lot, as the Lord had commanded Moses for the nine and a half tribes. For Moses had given an inheritance to the two and a half tribes beyond the Jordan; but to the Levites he gave no inheritance among them. For the people of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim; and no portion was given to the Levites in the land, but only towns to live in, with their pasture lands for their flocks and herds. The Israelites did as the Lord commanded Moses; they allotted the land.

Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal; and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, ‘You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him an honest report. But my companions who went up with me made the heart of the people fail; yet I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, “Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children for ever, because you have wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.” And now, as you see, the Lord has kept me alive, as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel was journeying through the wilderness; and here I am today, eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was on the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war, and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day; for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; it may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out, as the Lord said.’

Then Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. So Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba; this Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. And the land had rest from war.

Luke 12.1-12
Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered in thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
‘I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

‘And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.’

The Collect
God of compassion and love,
by whose grace your servant Josephine Butler followed in the way of your Son in caring for those in need: help us like her to work with strength for the restoration of all to the dignity and freedom of those created in your image; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Can't make it to church - 29 May 2016

As a military Chaplain I often find resonance with military values in the accounts written in the Bible and often in the words Jesus Himself speaks. Today is one of those days as, in the Gospel, we find Jesus encountered some people who had been sent to Him by a Centurion whose servant was sick.

Jesus responds by setting off for the Centurion's house, but before He reaches the house the Centurion sends people out and they meet Jesus on the road. They explain that the Centurion sent the elders to make the request as he considered himself to be unworthy to encounter Jesus personally. "Don't come to my home, I'm not worthy to have you enter it," says the Centurion though his emissaries - and then comes the military resonance:

"I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it."

First, and foremost, the Centurion recognises the fact that Jesus is a 'man under authority' - He comes in the name of the LORD (who is the absolute God - YHWH) and secondly he realises that it only needs Jesus to issue the word and His command, like that of the Centurion in the world he occupied, carries power and authority.

No wonder Jesus is amazed, for this Roman has recognised and submitted to the higher authority of the one in whose name jesus comes and in the the authority Jesus also has. No wonder Jesus notes that he hasn't seen faith like the Centurion's 'in Israel'.

Here we have an example for us - from one who was 'far off' and yet by his actions and words was perhaps nearer than many of us we find an example and encouragement to recognise, and petition, the Lord - how we should respond and relate and live out our lives as followers of Jesus, the Christ.

Paul reflects on his call which he notes was, "Neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead,' the calling we all have as believers. This is the calling and commission all who follow the Christ have - not a parchment scroll signed by a monarch giving a commission but the commission that gives us the 'Great Commission' to go into all the world and teaching those around us to keep God's laws and to turn from their wrong ways (being baptised) to live in the fulness and freedom of God's love.

What encouraging words - what a wonderful promise - what a fantastic calling and commission we have. How can we top this, this morning?

Well I have to point to Elijah (another of my heroes) as he encounters the followers of Baal and challenges them and their god to a contest. "If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him,' he says. So Elijah sets up the stuff to carry out a bit of worship of the true God - this comes in the shape of some wood and a bull for the burnt offering (a thought: burnt offering = holocaust, which is why many of us prefer 'shoah' when it come to speaking of the Jews who were murdered in the Nazi camps).

The followers of Baal shout and scream, the get in a right tizzy, but no fire.
So, helpfully, Elijah calls on them to shout louder, "Perhaps your God is on the loo and can't hear you, " he tells them! And yet not a spark.

So it's now Elijah's turn and, to make things a bit more even, he orders the wood to be drenched and then says to God, "All your!' And whoosh, the wood, the bull, the water, the stones, the dust - everything vanishes in a flash of fire.

So today, when you look at those who follow the false gods of the age come before you - remember that we have a God who indeed does 'answer by fire'.

So here we are called by the God who answers by fire - what more do we need to know to take us onwards into life?

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.





1 Kings 18.20-39
So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ The people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, ‘I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred and fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.’ All the people answered, ‘Well spoken!’ Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, ‘O Baal, answer us!’ But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is on the toilet, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.’ Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.

Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come closer to me’; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name’; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, ‘Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt-offering and on the wood.’ Then he said, ‘Do it a second time’; and they did it a second time. Again he said, ‘Do it a third time’; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all round the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.’ Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt-offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.’

This is big and dramatic!
Galatians 1.1-12
Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead - and all the members of God’s family who are with me: To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Luke 7.1-10
After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum.
A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.’ And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Post Communion
Eternal Father, we thank you for nourishing us with these heavenly gifts: may our communion strengthen us in faith, build us up in hope, and make us grow in love; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

and this isn't!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 28 May 2016

Lanfranc, Prior of Le Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, Scholar, 1089

Psalm 20
May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend you; Send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you out of Zion; Remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice; Grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your mind. May we rejoice in your salvation and triumph in the name of our God; may the Lord perform all your petitions.

Now I know that the Lord will save his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven, with the mighty strength of his right hand. Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will call only on the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen, but we are risen and stand upright.

O Lord, save the king and answer us when we call upon you.

Psalm 21
The king shall rejoice in your strength, O Lord; how greatly shall he rejoice in your salvation!
You have given him his heart’s desire and have not denied the request of his lips. For you come to meet him with blessings of goodness and set a crown of pure gold upon his head.

He asked of you life and you gave it him, length of days, for ever and ever. His honour is great because of your salvation; glory and majesty have you laid upon him. You have granted him everlasting felicity and will make him glad with joy in your presence.

For the king puts his trust in the Lord; because of the loving-kindness of the Most High,
he shall not be overthrown. Your hand shall mark down all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them like a fiery oven in the time of your wrath; the Lord will swallow them up in his anger
and the fire will consume them. Their fruit you will root out of the land and their seed from among its inhabitants. Because they intend evil against you and devise wicked schemes which they cannot perform, You will put them to flight when you aim your bow at their faces.

Be exalted, O Lord, in your own might; we will make music and sing of your power.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Joshua 10.1-15
When King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, he became greatly frightened, because Gibeon was a large city, like one of the royal cities, and was larger than Ai, and all its men were warriors. So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent a message to King Hoham of Hebron, to King Piram of Jarmuth, to King Japhia of Lachish, and to King Debir of Eglon, saying, ‘Come up and help me, and let us attack Gibeon; for it has made peace with Joshua and with the Israelites.’ Then the five kings of the Amorites—the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon—gathered their forces, and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon, and made war against it.

And the Gibeonites sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, ‘Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us; for all the kings of the Amorites who live in the hill country are gathered against us.’ So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the fighting force with him, all the mighty warriors. The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have handed them over to you; not one of them shall stand before you.’ So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who inflicted a great slaughter on them at Gibeon, chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel, while they were going down the slope of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down huge stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died because of the hailstones than the Israelites killed with the sword.

On the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel,
‘Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.’
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in mid-heaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice; for the Lord fought for Israel.

Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

Luke 11.37-end
While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.

‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the market-places. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.’

One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.’ And he said, ‘Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute”, so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.’

When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile towards him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

The Collect
Holy God, faithful and unchanging: enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth, and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love, that we may truly worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Friday, 27 May 2016

Morning Prayer - Friday, 27 May 2016

The Venerable Bede, Priest, 735

Psalm 17
Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint; listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips. Let my vindication come forth from your presence; let your eyes behold what is right. Weigh my heart, examine me by night, refine me, and you will find no impurity in me.

My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards; I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments; my feet have not stumbled in your paths.
I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; incline your ear to me, and listen to my words. Show me your marvellous loving-kindness, O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings, From the wicked who assault me, from my enemies who surround me to take away my life. They have closed their heart to pity and their mouth speaks proud things. They press me hard, they surround me on every side, watching how they may cast me to the ground, Like a lion that is greedy for its prey, like a young lion lurking in secret places.

Arise, Lord; confront them and cast them down; deliver me from the wicked by your sword. Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand from those whose portion in life is unending, Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, who are well supplied with children and leave their wealth to their little ones.

As for me, I shall see your face in righteousness; when I awake and behold your likeness, I shall be satisfied.

Psalm 19
The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. One day pours out its song to another and one night unfolds knowledge to another. They have neither speech nor language and their voices are not heard, Yet their sound has gone out into all lands and their words to the ends of the world. In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun, that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a champion to run his course. It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, nore than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey,dripping from the honeycomb. By them also is your servant taught and in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can tell how often they offend? O cleanse me from my secret faults!
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Joshua 9.3-26
But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning: they went and prepared provisions, and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes; and all their provisions were dry and mouldy. They went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the Israelites, ‘We have come from a far country; so now make a treaty with us.’ But the Israelites said to the Hivites, ‘Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a treaty with you?’ They said to Joshua, ‘We are your servants.’ And Joshua said to them, ‘Who are you? And where do you come from?’ They said to him, ‘Your servants have come from a very far country, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard a report of him, of all that he did in Egypt, and of all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, King Sihon of Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan who lived in Ashtaroth. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, “Take provisions in your hand for the journey; go to meet them, and say to them, ‘We are your servants; come now, make a treaty with us.’ ” Here is our bread; it was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey, on the day we set out to come to you, but now, see, it is dry and mouldy; these wineskins were new when we filled them, and see, they are burst; and these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.’ So the leaders partook of their provisions, and did not ask direction from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them, guaranteeing their lives by a treaty; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.

But when three days had passed after they had made a treaty with them, they heard that they were their neighbours and were living among them. So the Israelites set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. But all the leaders said to all the congregation, ‘We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we must not touch them. This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that wrath may not come upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.’ The leaders said to them, ‘Let them live.’ So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, as the leaders had decided concerning them.

Joshua summoned them, and said to them, ‘Why did you deceive us, saying, “We are very far from you”, while in fact you are living among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall always be slaves, hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.’ They answered Joshua, ‘Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; so we were in great fear for our lives because of you, and did this thing. And now we are in your hand: do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us.’ This is what he did for them: he saved them from the Israelites; and they did not kill them.

Luke 11.29-36
When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!
‘No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.’

The Collect
Holy God, faithful and unchanging: enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth, and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love, that we may truly worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen. one God, now and for ever.



Thursday, 26 May 2016

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion (Corpus Christi)

Psalm 147
Alleluia.
How good it is to make music for our God, how joyful to honour him with praise.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds. He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond all telling. The Lord lifts up the poor, but casts down the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the lyre; Who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth; Who makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve our needs. He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens when they cry. He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, no delight in human strength; But the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their trust in his steadfast love.

Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion; For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you.
He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost?
He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel.
He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws.
Alleluia.

Deuteronomy 8.2-16
Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The clothes on your back did not wear out and your feet did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you. Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.

Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid waste-land with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good.

1 Corinthians 10.1-17
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

The Collect
Lord Jesus Christ,
we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament you have given us the memorial of your passion:
grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may know within ourselves and show forth in our lives the fruits of your redemption;
for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The United Kingdom and the EU - Going it alone and trading with others!

A real challenge for me has come in the shape of those who reckon that life as an independent nation would be one of the greatest boons those of us left on these shores might have. "If we leave the EU then we can choose who we trade with. " people tell me - not only that but they are convinced that should we leave the EU then Commonwealth nations, America and loads of other nations (including EU members would be falling over themselves to buy from us.

But is this an accurate position to occupy?

LEAVE
If we were to leave the EU then the UK would merely need to negotiate trade agreements with nations (and even EU member states) to trade with them in a mutually beneficial way - and, as under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, we would have two years to negotiate a new agreement on trade, we would be able to continue exactly as we were when we were in Europe with regard to EU member states - so we would lose nothing and gain our own sovereignty. We cannot lose.

And of course the Commonwealth, America and other nations outside of the EU would be keen to arrange trade agreements with us so we'd have the best of it everywhere. We'd be like Norway and they are doing alright out of it!

STAY
"Wait a minute," says the 'stay' side of the argument, "What makes you think the US or the Commonwealth will be that keen to make trade deals. Obama said that that wouldn't happen anytime soon!"

And you know what, they are right. In fact, it seems Article 50 comes into effect when we sign on the line to leave (not when we think we need it to come into effect) and so, from signing to agreements, we have but 24 months of continuing as we were (and if that's good for us, why are we leaving?) and then we would need a new agreement in place - which surely wouldn't be as beneficial as being a member nation - it it was, where's the benefit in joining anyway?

Should no agreement be made then we would be subject to the agreed World Trade Organisation's (WTO) tariffs and this would mean that we would be facing an additional bill somewhere around 2% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which in real terms means something around £7.5 billion - which suddenly makes leaving rather unattractive - in fact it means that what we have saved will be spent just compensating for the exit.

And then we might just find that new regulations and 'Buy European' campaigns, benefits for EU member states, discounts and other 'anti-UK' trade measures might see us well and truly becoming the poor man in the area. Still, on the bright side, rather than see economic migrants coming to our shores, we'd probably be exporting them!

Seems to me that the potential of leaving so we can stop sending money to Europe so we can compensate out manufacturing and exporting folk (so where's the money for the NHS coming from if we've already committed it in this area?) is foolish. Once we are out the EU can create new legislation and  impose demands upon us that we will have no say in - and will potentially leave us hamstrung.

I'm beginning to think that I'd rather be an effective member of the EU than a new 'third world nation' just off the coast of the world looking to live off of handouts and calling in old relationships (which might confirm that the days of Empire don't have the legacy we think  they have)!





The United Kingdom and the EU - Foreigners and Benefits

The conversations under this heading were quite passionate and often vitriolic. Sadly, if I am honest, almost every one of them made reference to those from Eastern Europe in a way that took me back to my childhood in North London - except then the target for the vitriol was 'the blacks'! Funny how short a distance our nation has come over the past fifty years.

LEAVE
EU migrants to the UK are taking £££££ in terms of benefits and they are being housed ahead of births nationals. They're taking our jobs and pushing up the house pricesThey come to get free NHS and take jobs from the native population of this island. Leaving the EU would save us spending almost a billion pounds (the Daily Mail actually reported it to be £886,000,000 at the end of February 2016) - and this, "Staggering welfare bill ...  meant unemployed EU migrants received £886 million in Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and sickness pay in 2013-14. A fresh influx of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants means the figures are now likely to be even higher. Philip Davies, a Conservative MP said: ‘It’s amazing we’ve got some figures at last, but one has to question how reliable they are. They certainly won’t be underestimates. It’s quite clear that immigration has gone up recently so the figures must be well over a billion pounds now, even by the Government’s own estimates."

The Mail went on to add: "The 43-page dossier, 'The Best Of Both Worlds' claims that about four in ten recent arrivals from the EU are in households that get benefits. It says EU migrants received £2.5 billion of benefits for workers on low incomes, made up of Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credits, ten per cent of the total UK bill."

Worse still, EU migrants with children in their home countries claim a further £27,000,000  (34,000 claims for UK child benefit for children residing in EU states.

The figures speak for themselves - if we left the EU we could stop sending benefits and this could be used to transform the NHS. Obviously leaving is a 'no-brainer'

STAY
Those EU immigrants to the Uk are actually a blessing rather than a curse - the reason for this position being taken is that, generally speaking, they're young and working and that means they pay more into our economy in terms of spending and taxation than they will ever take from it. You see the reality, contrary to popular belief, is that British citizens are more like to claim, and depend on, benefits than any of the EU immigrants.

An interesting reality is that the baby-boomers are ageing fast and it is to the immigrant population that we are increasingly looking to fill the gap they are leaving - and it's not just low-skilled manual labour jobs they're doing, there are a number of professionally qualified folk joining us, and that makes them extremely valuable to this country at home and in exports too.

As for clawing back the 1 billion we give to EU migrants (and their kids) and using it to spend on the NHS such that it is 'transformed' - the only answer I can give is to point to the planned expenditure for 2015/16 (£116.574billion) and ask the question about the difference reducing the bill by 0.86% of the overall spend would really do. This is not the transformational influence those supporting 'Leave EU' are portraying it as, is it?

It is a bit of a shock (well I was shocked) to find that the HMRC (the Taxman) defines migrant non-UK families as as family, “where at least one adult is a migrant when issued with a national insurance number”. So any couple where one partner is a British national and the other from the EU becomes part of the 'EU Scrounger' statistics' ! Suddenly the arguments against the EU seem a little less complex - perhaps we need to ban Brits from marrying foreign types as it is not only weakening the pedigree British strain (apologies for Dutch descent on my part) and confuses the benefits picture!

To give a sense of feel for this, the figures from the Office for National Statistics, show around are 1.1 million 'mixed EU/British'  couples - that's more than 7% of all couples un the UK at the moment/

So - not as clear a picture as one might thing (yet again)








Morning Prayer - Wednesday 25 May 2016

The Venerable Bede, Monk at Jarrow, Scholar, Historian, 735
Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, 709

Psalm 119.1-32
Blessed are those whose way is pure, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his testimonies and seek him with their whole heart, Those who do no wickedness, but walk in his ways. You, O Lord, have charged that we should diligently keep your commandments. O that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes. Then should I not be put to shame, because I have regard for all your commandments. I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, when I have learned your righteous judgements. I will keep your statutes; O forsake me not utterly.

How shall young people cleanse their way to keep themselves according to your word?
With my whole heart have I sought you; O let me not go astray from your commandments. Your words have I hidden within my heart, that I should not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; O teach me your statutes.

With my lips have I been telling of all the judgements of your mouth. I have taken greater delight in the way of your testimonies than in all manner of riches. I will meditate on your commandments and contemplate your ways. My delight shall be in your statutes and I will not forget your word.

O do good to your servant that I may live, and so shall I keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of your law. I am a stranger upon earth; hide not your commandments from me. My soul is consumed at all times with fervent longing for your judgements. You have rebuked the arrogant; cursed are those who stray from your commandments. Turn from me shame and rebuke, for I have kept your testimonies. Rulers also sit and speak against me, but your servant meditates on your statutes. For your testimonies are my delight; they are my faithful counsellors.

My soul cleaves to the dust; O give me life according to your word. I have acknowledged my ways and you have answered me; O teach me your statutes. Make me understand the way of your commandments, and so shall I meditate on your wondrous works.

My soul melts away in tears of sorrow; raise me up according to your word. Take from me the way of falsehood; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth and your judgements have I laid before me. I hold fast to your testimonies; O Lord, let me not be put to shame. I will run the way of your commandments, when you have set my heart at liberty.

Joshua 8.1-29
Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed; take all the fighting men with you, and go up now to Ai. See, I have handed over to you the king of Ai with his people, his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king; only its spoil and its livestock you may take as booty for yourselves. Set an ambush against the city, behind it.’

So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to go up against Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand warriors and sent them out by night with the command, ‘You shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it; do not go very far from the city, but all of you stay alert. I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us, as before, we shall flee from them. They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city; for they will say, “They are fleeing from us, as before.” While we flee from them, you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city; for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. And when you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire, doing as the Lord has ordered; see, I have commanded you.’ So Joshua sent them out; and they went to the place of ambush, and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai; but Joshua spent that night in the camp.

In the morning Joshua rose early and mustered the people, and went up, with the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. All the fighting men who were with him went up, and drew near before the city, and camped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. Taking about five thousand men, he set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rearguard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley. When the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the inhabitants of the city, hurried out early in the morning to the meeting-place facing the Arabah to meet Israel in battle; but he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. And Joshua and all Israel made a pretence of being beaten before them, and fled in the direction of the wilderness. So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city. There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel; they left the city open, and pursued Israel.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Stretch out the sword that is in your hand towards Ai; for I will give it into your hand.’ And Joshua stretched out the sword that was in his hand towards the city. As soon as he stretched out his hand, the troops in ambush rose quickly out of their place and rushed forward. They entered the city, took it, and at once set the city on fire. So when the men of Ai looked back, the smoke of the city was rising to the sky. They had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city was rising, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. And the others came out from the city against them; so they were surrounded by Israelites, some on one side, and some on the other; and Israel struck them down until no one was left who survived or escaped. But the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.

When Israel had finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai, and attacked it with the edge of the sword. The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was twelve thousand—all the people of Ai. For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the sword, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their booty, according to the word of the Lord that he had issued to Joshua. So Joshua burned Ai, and made it for ever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening; and at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree, threw it down at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.

Luke 11.1-13
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
 Father, hallowed be your name.
 Your kingdom come.
 Give us each day our daily bread.
 And forgive us our sins,
 for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
 And do not bring us to the time of trial.’

And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

The Collect
God our maker,
whose Son Jesus Christ gave to your servant Bede grace to drink in with joy the word that leads us to know you and to love you:
in your goodness grant that we also may come at length to you, the source of all wisdom, and stand before your face;
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.