Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Morning Prayer - 6 October 2015

William Tyndale, Translator of the Scriptures, Reformation Martyr, 1536

Psalm 87
His foundation is on the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are spoken of you, Zion, city of our God.  I record Egypt and Babylon as those who know me; behold Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia: in Zion were they born. And of Zion it shall be said, ‘Each one was born in her, and the Most High himself has established her.’

The Lord will record as he writes up the peoples, ‘This one also was born there.’

And as they dance they shall sing, ‘All my fresh springs are in you.’

Psalm 89.1-18
My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord: with my mouth will I proclaim your faithfulness throughout all generations. I will declare that your love is established for ever; you have set your faithfulness as firm as the heavens. For you said: ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant:  “Your seed will I establish for ever and build up your throne for all generations.” ’

The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones; for who among the clouds can be compared to the Lord?  
Who is like the Lord among the host of heaven? 
A God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible above all those round about him. 

Who is like you, Lord God of hosts? 
Mighty Lord, your faithfulness is all around you. 
You rule the raging of the sea; you still its waves when they arise. 
You crushed Rahab with a deadly wound and scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. 
Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; you established the world and all that fills it. 
You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name. 
You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand and high is your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before your face.

Happy are the people who know the shout of triumph: they walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance. In your name they rejoice all the day long and are exalted in your righteousness. For you are the glory of their strength, and in your favour you lift up our heads. Truly the Lord is our shield; the Holy One of Israel is our king.

Ezekiel 18.1-20
The word of the Lord came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.

 If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbour’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not take advance or accrued interest, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between contending parties, follows my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances, acting faithfully—such a one is righteous; he shall surely live, says the Lord God.

 If he has a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though his father does none of them), who eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbour’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, takes advance or accrued interest; shall he then live? He shall not. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

 But if this man has a son who sees all the sins that his father has done, considers, and does not do likewise, who does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbour’s wife, does not wrong anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no advance or accrued interest, observes my ordinances, and follows my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practised extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, he dies for his iniquity.
 Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own.Refrain: The Lord has chosen Zion for himself.

Mark 15.16-32
Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

The Collect
Lord, give to your people grace to hear and keep your word that, after the example of your servant William Tyndale, we may not only profess your gospel but also be ready to suffer and die for it, to the honour of your name; 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, 5 October 2015

When pastoral gets tricky: Matthew 5.27 - a state of mind?

Having taken the first bite of this cherry I reckon we need to start with the biggest sex organ of all: the brain; for this seems to be, when it comes to matters sexual, the common denominator for ALL areas of concern!

One area I consistently find sexual sin rising from the waves of self-despair and imposted condemnation (if many of those I am engaged by are anything to go on) relates to Matthew chapter five and verses twenty-seven and twenty-eight:

'You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'

One of those who brought this to me came and told me that he had read a website where he had been informed that because he fantasised about a person when engaged in a solo sex act (SSA - nicer than the 'M' word methinks if only because it stops people from sniggering: Mind you the "W' word appears to cause less of a snigger and more offence, so my label of SSA is a more gentle path to labelling the act, innit?) that he was committing adultery and was destined to go directly to hell without even passing 'Go!'

So what pieces of the puzzle do we have on the board:

Adultery - the seventh commandment (Ex 20.14)

Lust - the act of looking upon something with a view to desiring it, or wanting to make it ours, that trumps the plain old coveting of the tenth commandment (ex 20.17). More than just wanting what someone else has: It has a sexual possessive air about it. After all I might covet your fast car but I wouldn't lust after it (unless we'd like to redefine autoeroticism that is!)

I recall a lecture where we were told that what this what this passage really meant contextually was to act in such a way as to get the focus of that lust to lust after them in return. I have seen this where one man has so engaged with a woman that the result was to 'make her fall in love with him and leave her marriage partner and family for him.

Covet is a possessive but lust is possessive that seeks to break bonds and attachments (often it breaks covenanta) to make what they want their own: Oddly those who lust after people often become serial sexual offenders and beget in those they have won over, and subsequently discarded, the same mindset too! It is a cancer that kills stable society and familial relations!

Now Jesus engages in some really joined up thinking here and brings forth some extremely smart comparisons as He seeks to address the people before Him using adultery as the focus.

Can you imagine it? I can:

'Stand up all those who have never committed adultery,' says Jesus; and up stands all the self-righteous who look down upon the self-acknowledged sinners and sneer.

'Now if you have never lusted after someone sexually, keep standing,' Jesus continues, 'Otherwise sit down with the adulterers!'

'Yeah, so much for the looking down your noses at us, you're just the same as us sinners after all!' cry those already sitting!

Jesus is telling people that before the action is taken there has to be some thought process. This is why, if we follow on with the next couple of verses, that we find Jesus calling us to regard the eye, for this is what sees the object of our potential lust and the hand, which acts once the eye has seen it. Jesus is taking the absolute limit of penalty when He talks about cutting off the dodgy members. He's saying, 'Before you get to the 'chop it off' point, how's about you stop, think, and stop doing it?'

 Let's let Him have the microphone shall we?

'If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.'

The parallel verses of Matthew eighteen adds 'foot' to the mix:

'If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.'

And in the parallel passage (we use the shorthand  // to show it's a parallel - just thought I'd mention it) that is Mark 9. 43-47, we find:

'And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 
And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,'

What we have here is Jesus telling people to have some understanding of the elements involved in sin, and here we mean 'lust' in particular, but 'sin' is what we are concerned with and here we develop something quite universal.

Sin comes into being because we 'see' something and then 'move' towards that something so that we might 'touch' it (or have it touch us). Jesus is doing more than just laying down the law; He is trying to get us to think about things!!!

Now if you are not married and you lust after a woman who is not married you are not, under my categories yesterday, committing adultery. How can you be, neither of you are married to another and so the breaking of the covenantal relationship that is part of adultery is missing.

There is potential for someone to be a fornicator here but as they're not having a sexual relationship the label fornicator might also be considered to be wrong too. But Jesus is telling us that doing the act and thinking about the act are one and the same thing so can we make that decision to keep wrong as being limited to the 'act' rather than include the 'thought'?

When I was a Pentecostal there were many pastors around me who would complain about, 'The jolly idiot in the car ahead!'

They would come and sadly tell me that, 'The jolly computer was broken!'

One day I turned to one of them, a really smug and self-satisfied, pious individual, and asked them why the hadn't said that, 'The f***ing computer was broken,' or look at the 'B**tard idiot in the car ahead!'

Their (shocked) response was, 'Oh, but I would never say that, I never swear!'

But of course they did, they just swore in their head and published jolly for public consumption to make them look like they were 'holy'!  Do you, or someone you know, do that I wonder?

So here is the bottom line: If you think about committing a sin then potentially you are only a short step away from committing it. But if upon reaching that place you decide to distance yourself from an action that would be sin, and to consider Paul's words from Romans 12.2:

'Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So here's the bottom line with this one:

If you lust after someone, that, like coveting is wrong: It has to be because that's what the Bible says.

If you engage in SSA then you engage in SSA - just like so many people I have encountered - that's obvious really!

BUT if doing that damages a covenant relationship between you and another person then it is wrong.

If it leads you into looking at images or imagining situations that are wrong; if it leads you down a path where thoughts are beginning to lead you to committing stuff. If it is so controlling of you and your thought life and your actions that it is, like most sin, not a release but something that binds you in chains and debilitates you: Stop it.

If it takes your eyes of of the cross and leads you away into places, practices and thoughts that damage others: Stop it.

We are all, generally speaking, sexual people. We have needs and urges and stuff. But if in fulfilling them we damage others, damage relationships or cause ourselves to become someone we would not wish to associate with were it someone else: The wake up and remedy it.

If you believe the idiots out there who tell you that creating an imaginary focus for your sexual releases, don't give them any credence: They are as wrong about that as they are about this 'sexual sin' condemning you immediately to hell!  

Some tips: 

If you find a site which is ready to condemn you to hell at the drop of a hat  - IGNORE it!

If you find a site which is more focussed on sexual sin than it is about being a disciple, assume they have a bigger problem than you with sex, and IGNORE them!

If you are more concerned with hell (and not going there) than you are about being a follower of Jesus, the Christ, then get yourself into a proper fellowship and get yourself in the company of true believers - PICK UP YOUR BIBLE and READ IT, PRAY IT, LIVE IT!

If you struggle with sex and sin and stuff: Join the club, everyone has something they struggle with! Join a church and get yourself sorted by being with people who will love you and care for you and correct you gently. (That;s the Bible way of doing stuff!)

Morning Prayer - 5 October 2015

Psalm 80
Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, you that led Joseph like a flock; shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim, before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your mighty strength and come to our salvation. Turn us again, O God; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry at your people’s prayer?
You feed them with the bread of tears; you give them abundance of tears to drink. You have made us the derision of our neighbours and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
Turn us again, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
You made room around it, and when it had taken root, it filled the land. The hills were covered with its shadow and the cedars of God by its boughs. It stretched out its branches to the Sea and its tendrils to the River. Why then have you broken down its wall, so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes? The wild boar out of the wood tears it off, and all the insects of the field devour it.
Turn again, O God of hosts, look down from heaven and behold;

Cherish this vine which your right hand has planted, and the branch that you made so strong for yourself. Let those who burnt it with fire, who cut it down, perish at the rebuke of your countenance. Let your hand be upon the man at your right hand, the son of man you made so strong for yourself. And so will we not go back from you; give us life, and we shall call upon your name.
Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Psalm 82
1 God has taken his stand in the council of heaven; in the midst of the gods he gives judgement: ‘How long will you judge unjustly and show such favour to the wicked? You were to judge the weak and the orphan; defend the right of the humble and needy; rescue the weak and the poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. They have no knowledge or wisdom; they walk on still in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are shaken. Therefore I say that though you are gods and all of you children of the Most High, nevertheless, you shall die like mortals and fall like one of their princes.’
Arise, O God and judge the earth, for it is you that shall take all nations for your possession.

Ezekiel 14.12-end
The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it, and break its staff of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it human beings and animals, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job, these three, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, says the Lord God. If I send wild animals through the land to ravage it, so that it is made desolate, and no one may pass through because of the animals; even if these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate. Or if I bring a sword upon that land and say, ‘Let a sword pass through the land’, and I cut off human beings and animals from it; though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be saved. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off humans and animals from it; even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither son nor daughter; they would save only their own lives by their righteousness.

For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four deadly acts of judgement, sword, famine, wild animals, and pestilence, to cut off humans and animals from it! Yet, survivors shall be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; they will come out to you. When you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it. They shall console you, when you see their ways and their deeds; and you shall know that it was not without cause that I did all that I have done in it, says the Lord God.

Mark 15.1-15
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us your gift of faith that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to that which is before, we may run the way of your commandments and win the crown of everlasting joy; 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.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Can't make it to church? 4 October 2015

Today our little church celebrated our patron saint (St Francis of Assisi) and harvest in one fell swoop and, as we do, we brought foodstuff for the local Foodbank and had a shared lunch with the result that the food bank box, and the stomachs of all who came, were filled!

Francis was a man from a well-off family; life was easy and filled with privilege. Apparently a likeable bloke, he was the one who led those who lived lived in the fast lane; those who partied hard and lived life to the full (wink, wink). But he decided that he was going to be a knight and so when a local war came about, off he went to earn his spurs ... only to end up held as a prisoner by the victorious opposition for about a year before his release was paid for by his family.

Back home he partied even more and then there was a call for knights to get involved with the fourth crusade - so armour on and horse mounted, off Francis goes to war with the hope of ennoblement aforethought. But he didn't make more than a day's journey away from home before he felt God call him to stop the foolishness and return home! Not something easily done after the money and the send-off he'd had. 

Can you imagine it: 'Hi guys, was going to war but felt God didn't want me to go and get stuck in there so I've come home. What's for dinner then?' But he did what he felt was right and life continued. And continued. And kept on continuing ...for about twenty-five years!

During this time he calmed down; not hard when people think you're a bit of a wally who left for war with cheers and crept back home to jeers perhaps? He spent more time in prayer - retreating to his cave and weeping over his past, and perhaps present, sins - and working in the family business (dad was a merchant who sold expensive cloth).

The one day, out riding, have came across a member of the most despised breed of outcast that there was in his society:A leper! Jumping from his horse he gave the leper a kiss of peace, and having the leper terrain that act, he jumped on his horse and went off rejoicing (he told people that when he looked back the leper had gone: Perhaps this was a test to have been passed. And pass it he had and this started the ball rolling big style and soon San Damiano, a derelict and abandoned church building became a place for him as, not quite understanding the 'building God's Church was something to do with a spiritual body, not a pile of bricks he attempted to rebuild it. He used money and sold stuff on the side to fund this and soon his Father had him before the authorities for theft!

Bottom line: he paid back the money and renouncing his family, gave back everything he had ever gained from being his Father's son - including his fine clothes - and left to pursue his life of faith wearing but a hair shirt (but naked makes for a better recounting doesn't it?).  

The rest, as they say, is history: He did rebuild San Damiano and served the weak, marginalised and oppressed. He gathered together a rag bag collection of followers and called others to sell what they had and live for God. They went out in two and preached the Gospel, favouring no one and embracing all. 

he, and his followers always seemed to be joyful: The loved life and people and preached Jesus, the Christ, where would the Church be today if we all acted like that? One of the things that spurs me on is Francis' thought that:

'You can't starve a fasting man - steal from one who has nothing - or ruin someone with no name to begin with!'

he understood the passage from Luke that we have before us today - he lived the commandment that we find in Micah regarding humility, justice and mercy.

Do we?

The Collect
O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heart: 
Grant that, following the example of the blessed Francis, 
We may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness
And know only Jesus Christ and him crucified, 
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Micah 6.6-8
The people of Israel say,“What should we bring with us when we go to worship the Lord?
What should we offer the God of heaven when we bow down to him?
Should we take burnt offerings to him?    
Should we sacrifice calves that are a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams?
Will he take delight in 10,000 rivers of olive oil?
Should we offer our oldest sons for the wrong things we’ve done?
Should we sacrifice our own children to pay for our sins?”
The Lord has shown you what is good.    
He has told you what he requires of you.
You must act with justice. 
You must love to show mercy.
And you must be humble as you live in the sight of your God

Luke 12.22-34
Then Jesus spoke to his disciples. He said, “I tell you, do not worry. 
Don’t worry about your life and what you will eat. 
And don’t worry about your body and what you will wear. 
There is more to life than eating. 
There are more important things for the body than clothes. 
Think about the ravens. They don’t plant or gather crops. They don’t have any barns at all.
But God feeds them. You are worth much more than birds! 
Can you add even one hour to your life by worrying? 
You can’t do that very little thing. So why worry about the rest? 
Think about how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work or make clothing. 
But here is what I tell you. 
Not even Solomon in his royal robes was dressed like one of those flowers. 
If that is how God dresses the wild grass, how much better will he dress you! 
After all, the grass is here only today. Tomorrow it is thrown into the fire. 
Your faith is so small! 
Don’t spend time thinking about what you will eat or drink. 
Don’t worry about it. 
People who are ungodly run after all those things. 
Your Father knows that you need them. 
But put God’s kingdom first. 
Then those other things will also be given to you. 
Little flock, do not be afraid. Your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 
Sell what you own. 
Give to those who are poor. 
Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out. 
Store up riches in heaven that will never be used up. There, no thief can come near it. There, no moth can destroy it.  Your heart will be where your riches are.

When pastoral gets tricky:Onan

Now this is going to be one of those more difficult series of posts for me to write as there is a fine line to be trodden with this topic if I am to do it justice. Conversations with a few people of late have made me realise that I need to try and set a few things straight; but by attempting to do so I will undoubtedly become heretical, liberal, foolish, or hardline in the eyes of some. But the pastoral role is daily fraught with such potential, so what heck?

Let's crack on:

The topic: a triumvirate that is the sin of Onan, masturbation, sexual sin.

Except of course Onan, although having become synonymous with masturbation, has nothing to do with the act at all!

Genesis 38 finds Onan, Judah's son, being required to father a child with Tamar, the widow of his brother Er. The intention was that a child, if male, would claim a double share of Er's estate - but if there was no heir then Onan got it all! 

Onan, whilst having sex with Tamar, pulled out of the arrangement, and the act, and 'spilled his seed in the ground'. This act of coitus interuptus meant no heir and therefore Onan inherited. This is a story of greed and failure to discharge (no pun intended) one's duty to a dead brother.  This is about engaging in a 'levirate' marriage ('levir' meaning husband's brother - literally marriage to one's husbands brother') - and not keeping the brother's side of the contract.

Onanism is regarded as the 'spilling of one's seed on the ground.' But this blanket term covers a multitude of acts and would that we left Onan to be the patron of pulling of of a deal for one's own ends than cloud the other seed spilling encounters (and a psycho-sexual counselling course done many years ago listed many such activities) that go on in the world!

Onan in failing to bring about the birth of an heir for Er gives birth to an exclusively 'male only' offence - that of 'spilling seed' - but it is not about spilling but about the not fulfilling of an obligation 

So farewell Onan, let's send you off the the legal department and file you under the heading of  'broken contracts for self-gain' and move on to the real matter in hand!

Just to understand my approach to this  whole 'sexual sin' area, I find my Bible listing but three sexual states:

Marriage: and here this is taken to mean the male/female relationship,

Fornication: the sexual act engaged with outside of marriage, and

Adultery: the sexual act of a married person with one who is not their spouse (and vice versa).

Now this is a simple account of the three sexual States of matter -not popular with some (I have received short shrift from many who dislike the label 'fornicator' and others for whom 'adulterer' was less acceptable to them than the act they were engaged in. We are a bunch of odd people us humans, aren't we? We are all happy until we call it what it is!). But, human nature and sensibilities aside, this is what the Bible tells us to work with - although some clever sort will point to concubines, plural marriage and the like as found in the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East (ANE) accounts - I'm not going to muddy the water any more than necessary: and it ain't necessary)!

I think this is a good place to park the bus for now - we'llcontinue with this after the Sunday services (and a celebration of our patron saint and a harvest celebrations) are done.

I hope this has been of some help and that the whole, when completed, will prove to be of some value.


Saturday, 3 October 2015

Ride to the Wall - 2015

Now in it's eighth year: Ride To The Wall will be holding an packed day of activities at the National Memorial Arboretum - there is definitely no other gathering like it and it's a chance to talk bike, pay your respects to those who have served and given their lives; to celebrate those who serve (and meet mates you were in with) and to wave the flag and wear the leathers!

So, if you can handle the traffic - there will be just a few motor bikes and other exotic things with wheels making their way there - Why not come along and have some fun and do remembrance in a different way from the norm?

See you there perhaps

For more details CLICK HERE

Trip and Fool hazard?

One of my friends posted this and I had to say that as I read it the grin just got that little bit wider as I progressed.

Happy Saturday:

Be sure your sins might just be dealt with quicker than you thought (in real life) ;-)

ps. in case you're worried - it's obviously not a real story - but that doesn't stop the smile

Morning Prayer - 3 October 2015

George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 

Psalm 76
In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. At Salem is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. There broke he the flashing arrows of the bow, the shield, the sword and the weapons of war. 

In the light of splendour you appeared, glorious from the eternal mountains. The boastful were plundered; they have slept their sleep; none of the warriors can lift their hand. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot fell stunned. Terrible are you in majesty: who can stand before your face when you are angry?

You caused your judgement to be heard from heaven; the earth trembled and was still, When God arose to judgement, to save all the meek upon earth. You crushed the wrath of the peoples and bridled the wrathful remnant.

Make a vow to the Lord your God and keep it; let all who are round about him bring gifts to him that is worthy to be feared. He breaks down the spirit of princes and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 79
O God, the heathen have come into your heritage; your holy temple have they defiled and made Jerusalem a heap of stones. The dead bodies of your servants they have given to be food for the birds of the air, and the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the field. Their blood have they shed like water on every side of Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.

We have become the taunt of our neighbours, the scorn and derision of those that are round about us.
Lord, how long will you be angry, for ever?
How long will your jealous fury blaze like fire?

Pour out your wrath upon the nations that have not known you, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon your name. For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his dwelling place. Remember not against us our former sins; let your compassion make haste to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and wipe away our sins for your name’s sake.

Why should the heathen say, ‘Where is now their God?’
Let vengeance for your servants’ blood that is shed be known among the nations in our sight. Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you, and by your mighty arm preserve those who are condemned to die.

May the taunts with which our neighbours taunted you, Lord, return sevenfold into their bosom. But we that are your people and the sheep of your pasture will give you thanks for ever, and tell of your praise from generation to generation.

Ezekiel 14.1-11
Certain elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. And the word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and placed their iniquity as a stumbling-block before them; shall I let myself be consulted by them? Therefore speak to them, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Any of those of the house of Israel who take their idols into their hearts and place their iniquity as a stumbling-block before them, and yet come to the prophet—I the Lord will answer those who come with the multitude of their idols, in order that I may take hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom are estranged from me through their idols.

 Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For any of those of the house of Israel, or of the aliens who reside in Israel, who separate themselves from me, taking their idols into their hearts and placing their iniquity as a stumbling-block before them, and yet come to a prophet to inquire of me by him, I the Lord will answer them myself. I will set my face against them; I will make them a sign and a byword and cut them off from the midst of my people; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

 If a prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear their punishment—the punishment of the inquirer and the punishment of the prophet shall be the same— so that the house of Israel may no longer go astray from me, nor defile themselves any more with all their transgressions. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God, says the Lord God.

Mark 14.66-end
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I do not know or understand what you are talking about.’ And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’ At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.

The Collect
Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you: pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly city where we shall see you face to 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.