Friday, 24 October 2014

Morning Prayer - 24 October

Psalm 88
O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you. Let my prayer come into your presence; incline your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles; my life draws near to the land of death. I am counted as one gone down to the Pit; I am like one that has no strength, Lost among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. You have laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness in the abyss. Your anger lies heavy upon me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves. You have put my friends far from me and made me to be abhorred by them. I am so fast in prison that I cannot get free; my eyes fail from all my trouble.

Lord, I have called daily upon you; I have stretched out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
Will the shades stand up and praise you?
Shall your loving-kindness be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Shall your wonders be known in the dark or your righteous deeds in the land where all is forgotten?
But as for me, O Lord, I will cry to you; early in the morning my prayer shall come before you. Lord, why have you rejected my soul?

Why have you hidden your face from me?
I have been wretched and at the point of death from my youth; I suffer your terrors and am no more seen. Your wrath sweeps over me; your horrors are come to destroy me; All day long they come about me like water; they close me in on every side? Lover and friend have you put far from me and hid my companions out of my sight.

Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and be glad in him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice:
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, on that day at Massah in the wilderness, When your forebears tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my works. Forty years long I detested that generation and said,
“This people are wayward in their hearts they do not know my ways.”

So I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest.” ’

2 Kings 12.1-19
In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign; he reigned for forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba. Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all his days, because the priest Jehoiada instructed him. Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places.

Jehoash said to the priests, ‘All the money offered as sacred donations that is brought into the house of the Lord, the money for which each person is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money from the voluntary offerings brought into the house of the Lord, let the priests receive from each of the donors; and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.’ But by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash the priests had made no repairs to the house. Therefore King Jehoash summoned the priest Jehoiada with the other priests and said to them, ‘Why are you not repairing the house? Now therefore do not accept any more money from your donors but hand it over for the repair of the house.’ So the priests agreed that they would neither accept more money from the people nor repair the house.

Then the priest Jehoiada took a chest, made a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar on the right side as one entered the house of the Lord; the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the Lord. Whenever they saw that there was a great deal of money in the chest, the king’s secretary and the high priest went up, counted the money that was found in the house of the Lord, and tied it up in bags. They would give the money that was weighed out into the hands of the workers who had the oversight of the house of the Lord; then they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the house of the Lord, to the masons and the stonecutters, as well as to buy timber and quarried stone for making repairs on the house of the Lord, as well as for any outlay for repairs of the house. But for the house of the Lord no basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, were made from the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, for that was given to the workers who were repairing the house of the Lord with it. They did not ask for an account from those into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workers, for they dealt honestly. The money from the guilt-offerings and the money from the sin-offerings was not brought into the house of the Lord; it belonged to the priests.

At that time King Hazael of Aram went up, fought against Gath, and took it. But when Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem, King Jehoash of Judah took all the votive gifts that Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his ancestors, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, as well as his own votive gifts, all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house, and sent these to King Hazael of Aram. Then Hazael withdrew from Jerusalem.
Now the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah?

Acts 28.1-16
After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it. Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’ He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It so happened that the father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him. After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They bestowed many honours on us, and when we were about to sail, they put on board all the provisions we needed.

Three months later we set sail on a ship that had wintered at the island, an Alexandrian ship with the Twin Brothers as its figurehead. We put in at Syracuse and stayed there for three days; then we weighed anchor and came to Rhegium. After one day there a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found believers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. The believers from there, when they heard of us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.

When we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

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.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Morning Prayer - 23 October

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

For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday, which passes like a watch in the night. You sweep them away like a dream; they fade away suddenly like the grass. In the morning it is green and flourishes; in the evening it is dried up and withered. For we consume away in your displeasure; we are afraid at your wrathful indignation.

You have set our misdeeds before you and our secret sins in the light of your countenance. When you are angry, all our days are gone; our years come to an end like a sigh. The days of our life are three score years and ten, or if our strength endures, even four score; yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow, for they soon pass away and we are gone.

Who regards the power of your wrath and your indignation like those who fear you? So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. Turn again, O Lord; how long will you delay? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Give us gladness for the days you have afflicted us, and for the years in which we have seen adversity. Show your servants your works, and let your glory be over their children. May the gracious favour of the Lord our God be upon us; prosper our handiwork; O prosper the work of our hands.

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

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

For lo, your enemies, O Lord, lo, your enemies shall perish, and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild oxen; I am anointed with fresh oil. My eyes will look down on my foes; my ears shall hear the ruin of the evildoers who rise up against me.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon. Such as are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be vigorous and in full leaf; That they may show that the Lord is true; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

2 Kings 9.17-end
In Jezreel, the sentinel standing on the tower spied the company of Jehu arriving, and said, ‘I see a company.’ Joram said, ‘Take a horseman; send him to meet them, and let him say, “Is it peace?” ’ So the horseman went to meet him; he said, ‘Thus says the king, “Is it peace?” ’ Jehu responded, ‘What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me.’ The sentinel reported, saying, ‘The messenger reached them, but he is not coming back.’ Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, ‘Thus says the king, “Is it peace?” ’ Jehu answered, ‘What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me.’ Again the sentinel reported, ‘He reached them, but he is not coming back. It looks like the driving of Jehu son of Nimshi; for he drives like a maniac.’

Joram said, ‘Get ready.’ And they got his chariot ready. Then King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu; they met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. When Joram saw Jehu, he said, ‘Is it peace, Jehu?’ He answered, ‘What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?’ Then Joram reined about and fled, saying to Ahaziah, ‘Treason, Ahaziah!’ Jehu drew his bow with all his strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart; and he sank in his chariot. Jehu said to his aide Bidkar, ‘Lift him out, and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I rode side by side behind his father Ahab, how the Lord uttered this oracle against him: “For the blood of Naboth and for the blood of his children that I saw yesterday, says the Lord, I swear I will repay you on this very plot of ground.” Now therefore lift him out and throw him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of the Lord.’
When King Ahaziah of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. Jehu pursued him, saying, ‘Shoot him also!’ And they shot him in the chariot at the ascent to Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there. His officers carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his ancestors in the city of David.

In the eleventh year of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah began to reign over Judah.
When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window. As Jehu entered the gate, she said, ‘Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?’ He looked up to the window and said, ‘Who is on my side? Who?’ Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. He said, ‘Throw her down.’ So they threw her down; some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, which trampled on her. Then he went in and ate and drank; he said, ‘See to that cursed woman and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter.’ But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. When they came back and told him, he said, ‘This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, “In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; the corpse of Jezebel shall be like dung on the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.” ’

Acts 27.27-end
When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they took soundings again and found fifteen fathoms. Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. But when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, on the pretext of putting out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.’ Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat and set it adrift.

Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’ After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (We were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.) After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

In the morning they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned to run the ship ashore, if they could. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea. At the same time they loosened the ropes that tied the steering-oars; then hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. But striking a reef, they ran the ship aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the force of the waves. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none might swim away and escape; but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest to follow, some on planks and others on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

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.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Wearing a poppy with pride

It's time for me to point people towards the (ever growing) collection of poppy images that can be used as avatars on Facebook, Twitter and so many other places.

There are all poppies with cap badges, branches and even cadet forces too and by using them during the time when we remember those who have gone. we do this especially through the observance of All Saints, All Souls, Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day and other events; marking the passing of those who have departed this life and paying our respects to them. It is in the doing of this that we echo Binyon's words 'We Will Remember Them' in a tangible and obvious manner.

So for those who would like a poppy with a badge all you need to do is:

Google Vic the Vicar + Avatar + the name (i.e. Royal Signals or ATC or hussars) and you should find the badge you want.

If you cannot find the badge then add a comment to this blog and I will add it to the collection as quickly as I can.

A new addition to the poppies this year has been one for those who wish to honour the dead (by the way - 'Glorious' means they are in glory - it is not glorifying war) and draw attention to the lives lost through the actions of the Islamic State (IS) - because 'Never Again' means exactly that:




Please wear a poppy to support those who have served the cause of peace and justice throughout the years and have served to protect our land and uphold, and observe, the various conventions that protect the weak and oppressed.


Morning Prayer - 22 October,

Psalm 119.105-128
Your word is a lantern to my feet and a light upon my path. I have sworn and will fulfil it, to keep your righteous judgements. I am troubled above measure; give me life, O Lord, according to your word. Accept the freewill offering of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me your judgements. My soul is ever in my hand, yet I do not forget your law.

The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your commandments. Your testimonies have I claimed as my heritage for ever; for they are the very joy of my heart. I have applied my heart to fulfil your statutes: always, even to the end. I hate those who are double-minded, but your law do I love. You are my hiding place and my shield and my hope is in your word.

Away from me, you wicked! I will keep the commandments of my God. Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be disappointed in my hope. Hold me up and I shall be saved, and my delight shall be ever in your statutes. You set at nought those who depart from your statutes, for their deceiving is in vain. You consider all the wicked as dross; therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of you and I am afraid of your judgements.

I have done what is just and right; O give me not over to my oppressors. Stand surety for your servant’s good; let not the proud oppress me. My eyes fail with watching for your salvation and for your righteous promise. O deal with your servant according to your faithful love and teach me your statutes. I am your servant; O grant me understanding, that I may know your testimonies. It is time for you to act, O Lord, for they frustrate your law.

Therefore I love your commandments above gold, even much fine gold.
Therefore I direct my steps by all your precepts, and all false ways I utterly abhor.

2 Kings 9.1-16
Then the prophet Elisha called a member of the company of prophets and said to him, ‘Gird up your loins; take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. When you arrive, look there for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi; go in and get him to leave his companions, and take him into an inner chamber. Then take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, “Thus says the Lord: I anoint you king over Israel.” Then open the door and flee; do not linger.’

So the young man, the young prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. He arrived while the commanders of the army were in council, and he announced, ‘I have a message for you, commander.’ ‘For which one of us?’ asked Jehu. ‘For you, commander.’ So Jehu got up and went inside; the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, ‘Thus says the Lord the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and no one shall bury her.’ Then he opened the door and fled.

When Jehu came back to his master’s officers, they said to him, ‘Is everything all right? Why did that madman come to you?’ He answered them, ‘You know the sort and how they babble.’ They said, ‘Liar! Come on, tell us!’ So he said, ‘This is just what he said to me: “Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.” ’ Then hurriedly they all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, ‘Jehu is king.’

Thus Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. Joram with all Israel had been on guard at Ramoth-gilead against King Hazael of Aram; but King Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Arameans had inflicted on him, when he fought against King Hazael of Aram. So Jehu said, ‘If this is your wish, then let no one slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.’ Then Jehu mounted his chariot and went to Jezreel, where Joram was lying ill. King Ahaziah of Judah had come down to visit Joram.

Acts 27.1-26
When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, they transferred Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius. Embarking on a ship of Adramyttium that was about to set sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly, and allowed him to go to his friends to be cared for. Putting out to sea from there, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. After we had sailed across the sea that is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind was against us, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Sailing past it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Since much time had been lost and sailing was now dangerous, because even the Fast had already gone by, Paul advised them, saying, ‘Sirs, I can see that the voyage will be with danger and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.’ But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. Since the harbour was not suitable for spending the winter, the majority was in favour of putting to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, where they could spend the winter. It was a harbour of Crete, facing south-west and north-west.

When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. Since the ship was caught and could not be turned with its head to the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea-anchor and so were driven. We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard, and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.” So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.’

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.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

'It's like you were born again!

It's an odd reality that in life there are times when the only way to progress comes through finding the ability to stand still! So often we find ourselves talking about great advances made in some area or the other. Today the news has been filled with the news that a man whose spinal cord was severed has had it repaired and is walking and driving again. Darek Fidyka, speaking of his feelings towards the treatment he had received said, "When you can't feel almost half your body, you are helpless, but when it starts coming back it's like you were born again."

Darek's words struck me because for many of us we can remember a time when we were living lives in which we were out of touch with our feelings, unable to control our bodies or regulate our thinking, and it was the coming into relationship with God, the Father, through the actions of Jesus, the Christ, that caused us also to be able to say, "We were helpless and were out of touch with ourselves and the surroundings around us until we met Jesus and, regaining our senses and right mind, it was like being born again!"

Today as we celebrate the first steps of a man for whom medicine has made so much difference I wonder how many of us can remember what it was like when were were were out of control and distant from God? Much more so I wonder how many of us have stopped to check that we're still in touch with 'all of ourselves' because I meet so many Christians who are obviously not living as believers in all departments; so many who limbs, brains and tongues most definitely function wrongly and over which they too apparently have no control!

My prayer is that those who claim to be 'Christian' (beginning with me) will take the time to see which part of their body, and their lives, they are out of touch with in terms of Christian living. How many of us are not standing tall, walking straight or thinking rightly because the connections between them and God - their intentions and realities - are severed or severely limited?

I leave us all with the words of Paul (Romans 7) where he says:

Now, which finger do you choose to use?

"I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."
As we celebrate medical advances I pray that we will, by examining ourselves, make advances in our own lives and the way that we have control of our whole body and mind.

Pax

Morning Prayer - October 21

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. R
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.

2 Kings 6.1-23
Now the company of prophets said to Elisha, ‘As you see, the place where we live under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, and let us collect logs there, one for each of us, and build a place there for us to live.’ He answered, ‘Do so.’ Then one of them said, ‘Please come with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I will.’ So he went with them. When they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axehead fell into the water; he cried out, ‘Alas, master! It was borrowed.’ Then the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick, and threw it in there, and made the iron float. He said, ‘Pick it up.’ So he reached out his hand and took it.

Once when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he took counsel with his officers. He said, ‘At such and such a place shall be my camp.’ But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, ‘Take care not to pass this place, because the Arameans are going down there.’ The king of Israel sent word to the place of which the man of God spoke. More than once or twice he warned such a place so that it was on the alert.

The mind of the king of Aram was greatly perturbed because of this; he called his officers and said to them, ‘Now tell me who among us sides with the king of Israel?’ Then one of his officers said, ‘No one, my lord king. It is Elisha, the prophet in Israel, who tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.’ He said, ‘Go and find where he is; I will send and seize him.’ He was told, ‘He is in Dothan.’ So he sent horses and chariots there and a great army; they came by night, and surrounded the city.

When an attendant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. His servant said, ‘Alas, master! What shall we do?’ He replied, ‘Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed: ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. When the Arameans came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Strike this people, please, with blindness.’ So he struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. Elisha said to them, ‘This is not the way, and this is not the city; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.’ And he led them to Samaria.

As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, ‘O Lord, open the eyes of these men so that they may see.’ The Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, ‘Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?’ He answered, ‘No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.’ So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.

Acts 26.24-end
While he was making this defence, Festus exclaimed, ‘You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!’ But Paul said, ‘I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth. Indeed the king knows about these things, and to him I speak freely; for I am certain that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.’ Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains.’

Then the king got up, and with him the governor and Bernice and those who had been seated with them; and as they were leaving, they said to one another, ‘This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.’ Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to the emperor.’

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.

Monday, 20 October 2014

'No Child Taken'

This week sees a 'Cake Sale' at Glascote Methodist Church to raise awareness, and money, for Tear Fund's 'No Child Taken' campaign.

So if you live in, or near, to Tamworth (Staffordshire - not the upsidedown world version) then I'd like to encourage you to put it in your diary.

If you don't, then I'd like you to consider having a cake sale in your church or home or workspace or any other place where you think it might be able to do it.

In addition to this a plea to churchgoers of all complexions (leaders and above) to make this something those in your church know about and take onboard as something to support.



And don't forget to tell people about


Morning Prayer - October 20

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
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.

2 Kings 5
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favour with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’ So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, ‘Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.’

He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, ‘When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.’

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, ‘Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, ‘I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?’ He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, ‘Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, “Wash, and be clean”?’ So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing!’ He urged him to accept, but he refused. Then Naaman said, ‘If not, please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will no longer offer burnt-offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord. But may the Lord pardon your servant on one count: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow down in the house of Rimmon, when I do bow down in the house of Rimmon, may the Lord pardon your servant on this one count.’ He said to him, ‘Go in peace.’

But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, thought, ‘My master has let that Aramean Naaman off too lightly by not accepting from him what he offered. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something out of him.’ So Gehazi went after Naaman. When Naaman saw someone running after him, he jumped down from the chariot to meet him and said, ‘Is everything all right?’ He replied, ‘Yes, but my master has sent me to say, “Two members of a company of prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim; please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.” ’ Naaman said, ‘Please accept two talents.’ He urged him, and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and gave them to two of his servants, who carried them in front of Gehazi. When he came to the citadel, he took the bags from them, and stored them inside; he dismissed the men, and they left.

He went in and stood before his master; and Elisha said to him, ‘Where have you been, Gehazi?’ He answered, ‘Your servant has not gone anywhere at all.’ But he said to him, ‘Did I not go with you in spirit when someone left his chariot to meet you? Is this a time to accept money and to accept clothing, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you, and to your descendants for ever.’ So he left his presence leprous, as white as snow.

Acts 26.1-23
Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You have permission to speak for yourself.’ Then Paul stretched out his hand and began to defend himself:

‘I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defence today against all the accusations of the Jews, because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews; therefore I beg of you to listen to me patiently.

‘All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

‘Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.

‘With this in mind, I was travelling to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, when at midday along the road, your Excellency, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my companions. When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.” I asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The Lord answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you. I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

‘After that, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout the countryside of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: that the Messiah must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.’

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..