Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 18 July 2018.

Elizabeth Ferard, first Deaconess of the Church of England , Founder of the Community of St Andrew, 1883

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.

1 Samuel 11
About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, ‘Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.’ But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, ‘On this condition I will make a treaty with you, namely that I gouge out everyone’s right eye, and thus put disgrace upon all Israel.’ The elders of Jabesh said to him, ‘Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.’ When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the hearing of the people; and all the people wept aloud.

Now Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen; and Saul said, ‘What is the matter with the people, that they are weeping?’ So they told him the message from the inhabitants of Jabesh. And the spirit of God came upon Saul in power when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. He took a yoke of oxen, and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by messengers, saying, ‘Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!’ Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one. When he mustered them at Bezek, those from Israel were three hundred thousand, and those from Judah seventy thousand. They said to the messengers who had come, ‘Thus shall you say to the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead: “Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have deliverance.” ’ When the messengers came and told the inhabitants of Jabesh, they rejoiced. So the inhabitants of Jabesh said, ‘Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.’ The next day Saul put the people in three companies. At the morning watch they came into the camp and cut down the Ammonites until the heat of the day; and those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

The people said to Samuel, ‘Who is it that said, “Shall Saul reign over us?” Give them to us so that we may put them to death.’ But Saul said, ‘No one shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has brought deliverance to Israel.’

Samuel said to the people, ‘Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.’ So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the Lord, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.

Luke 22.39-46 
 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’

Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.

When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’

The Collect
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; 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, 17 July 2018

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my lamentation. Hearken to the voice of my crying, my King and my God, for to you I make my prayer.

In the morning, Lord, you will hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal to you, and look up. For you are the God who takes no pleasure in wickedness; no evil can dwell with you.

The boastful cannot stand in your sight; you hate all those that work wickedness. You destroy those who speak lies; the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord will abhor. But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy, I will come into your house; I will bow down towards your holy temple in awe of you.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness, because of my enemies; make your way straight before my face. For there is no truth in their mouth, in their heart is destruction, their throat is an open sepulchre, and they flatter with their tongue. Punish them, O God; let them fall through their own devices. Because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them sing out their joy for ever. You will shelter them, so that those who love your name may exult in you. For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; and with your favour you will defend them as with a shield.

Psalm 6
O Lord, rebuke me not in your wrath; neither chasten me in your fierce anger. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak; Lord, heal me, for my bones are racked. My soul also shakes with terror; how long, O Lord, how long?

Turn again, O Lord, and deliver my soul; save me for your loving mercy’s sake. For in death no one remembers you; and who can give you thanks in the grave?

I am weary with my groaning; every night I drench my pillow and flood my bed with my tears. My eyes are wasted with grief and worn away because of all my enemies. Depart from me, all you that do evil, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.

The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. All my enemies shall be put to shame and confusion; they shall suddenly turn back in their shame.

Psalm 8
O Lord our governor, how glorious is your name in all the world!
Your majesty above the heavens is praised out of the mouths of babes at the breast.
You have founded a stronghold against your foes, that you might still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have ordained,
What is man, that you should be mindful of him; the son of man, that you should seek him out?
You have made him little lower than the angels and crown him with glory and honour.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands and put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fish of the sea and whatsoever moves in the paths of the sea.
O Lord our governor, ahow glorious is your name in all the world!

1 Samuel 10.17-end
Samuel summoned the people to the Lord at Mizpah and said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.” But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said, “No! but set a king over us.” Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.’

Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the family of the Matrites was taken by lot. Finally he brought the family of the Matrites near man by man, and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the Lord, ‘Did the man come here?’ and the Lord said, ‘See, he has hidden himself among the baggage.’ Then they ran and brought him from there. When he took his stand among the people, he was head and shoulders taller than any of them. Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the one whom the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.’ And all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’

Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship; and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people back to their homes. Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went warriors whose hearts God had touched. But some worthless fellows said, ‘How can this man save us?’ They despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh-gilead.

 ‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’
He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’

The Collect
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; 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, 16 July 2018

Morning Prayer - Monday, 16 July 2018

Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, 1099

Psalm 1
Blessed are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the assembly of the scornful. Their delight is in the law of the Lord and they meditate on his law day and night. Like a tree planted by streams of water bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither, whatever they do, it shall prosper.

As for the wicked, it is not so with them; they are like chaff which the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked shall not be able to stand in the judgement, nor the sinner in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall perish.

Psalm 2
Why are the nations in tumult, and why do the peoples devise a vain plot?
The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed:
‘Let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their cords from us.’

He who dwells in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak to them in his wrath and terrify them in his fury: ‘Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.’

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord; he said to me: ‘You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

Now therefore be wise, O kings; be prudent, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and with trembling kiss his feet, lest he be angry and you perish from the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all they who take refuge in him.

Psalm 3
Lord, how many are my adversaries; many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say to my soul, ‘There is no help for you in your God.’ But you, Lord, are a shield about me; you are my glory, and the lifter up of my head.

When I cry aloud to the Lord, he will answer me from his holy hill; I lie down and sleep and rise again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of hordes of the peoples that have set themselves against me all around. Rise up, O Lord, and deliver me, O my God, for you strike all my enemies on the cheek and break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord: may your blessing be upon your people.

1 Samuel 10.1-16
Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, ‘The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage: When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; they will say to you, “The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying about you, saying: What shall I do about my son?” Then you shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt-offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. For seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.’

As he turned away to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all these signs were fulfilled that day. When they were going from there to Gibeah, a band of prophets met him; and the spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them. When all who knew him before saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, ‘What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’ A man of the place answered, ‘And who is their father?’ Therefore it became a proverb, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’ When his prophetic frenzy had ended, he went home.

Saul’s uncle said to him and to the boy, ‘Where did you go?’ And he replied, ‘To seek the donkeys; and when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.’ Saul’s uncle said, ‘Tell me what Samuel said to you.’ Saul said to his uncle, ‘He told us that the donkeys had been found.’ But about the matter of the kingship, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

Luke 22.24-30
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Collect
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; 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.


Saturday, 14 July 2018

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 14 July 2018

John Keble, Priest, Tractarian, Poet, 1866

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.

1 Samuel 9.15-10.1
Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: ‘Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of my people, because their outcry has come to me.’ When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, ‘Here is the man of whom I spoke to you. He it is who shall rule over my people.’ Then Saul approached Samuel inside the gate, and said, ‘Tell me, please, where is the house of the seer?’ Samuel answered Saul, ‘I am the seer; go up before me to the shrine, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, give no further thought to them, for they have been found. And on whom is all Israel’s desire fixed, if not on you and on all your ancestral house?’ Saul answered, ‘I am only a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel, and my family is the humblest of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin. Why then have you spoken to me in this way?’

Then Samuel took Saul and his servant-boy and brought them into the hall, and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, of whom there were about thirty. And Samuel said to the cook, ‘Bring the portion I gave you, the one I asked you to put aside.’ The cook took up the thigh and what went with it and set them before Saul. Samuel said, ‘See, what was kept is set before you. Eat; for it is set before you at the appointed time, so that you might eat with the guests.’
So Saul ate with Samuel that day. When they came down from the shrine into the town, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul upon the roof, ‘Get up, so that I may send you on your way.’ Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.
As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, ‘Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.’

Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, ‘The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage:

Luke 22.14-23
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’ Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.

The Collect
Father of the eternal Word, in whose encompassing love all things in peace and order move: grant that, as your servant John Keble adored you in all creation, so we may have a humble heart of love for the mysteries of your Church and know your love to be new every morning, in 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.


Friday, 13 July 2018

Morning Prayer - Friday, 13 July 2018

Psalm 142
I cry aloud to the Lord; to the Lord I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before him and tell him of my trouble.
When my spirit faints within me, you know my path; in the way wherein I walk have they laid a snare for me.
I look to my right hand, and find no one who knows me; I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for my soul.
I cry out to you, O Lord, and say:
‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.
‘Listen to my cry, for I am brought very low; save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.
‘Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name; when you have dealt bountifully with me, then shall the righteous gather around me.’

Psalm 144
Blessed be the Lord my rock, who teaches my hands for war and my fingers for battle; My steadfast help and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I trust, who subdues the peoples under me.

O Lord, what are mortals that you should consider them; mere human beings, that you should take thought for them?
They are like a breath of wind; their days pass away like a shadow.

Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains and they shall smoke.
Cast down your lightnings and scatter them; shoot out your arrows and let thunder roar.
Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and take me out of the great waters, from the hand of foreign enemies, Whose mouth speaks wickedness and their right hand is the hand of falsehood.

O God, I will sing to you a new song; I will play to you on a ten-stringed harp,
You that give salvation to kings and have delivered David your servant.

Save me from the peril of the sword and deliver me from the hand of foreign enemies, Whose mouth speaks wickedness and whose right hand is the hand of falsehood; So that our sons in their youth may be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters like pillars carved for the corners of the temple; Our barns be filled with all manner of store; our flocks bearing thousands, and ten thousands in our fields; Our cattle be heavy with young: may there be no miscarriage or untimely birth,no cry of distress in our streets.

Happy are the people whose blessing this is. Happy are the people who have the Lord for their God.

1 Samuel 9.1-14
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. He had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, had strayed. So Kish said to his son Saul, ‘Take one of the boys with you; go and look for the donkeys.’ He passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he passed through the land of Benjamin, but they did not find them.

When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the boy who was with him, ‘Let us turn back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and worry about us.’ But he said to him, ‘There is a man of God in this town; he is a man held in honour. Whatever he says always comes true. Let us go there now; perhaps he will tell us about the journey on which we have set out.’ Then Saul replied to the boy, ‘But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What have we?’ The boy answered Saul again, ‘Here, I have with me a quarter-shekel of silver; I will give it to the man of God, to tell us our way.’ (Formerly in Israel, anyone who went to inquire of God would say, ‘Come, let us go to the seer’; for the one who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) Saul said to the boy, ‘Good; come, let us go.’ So they went to the town where the man of God was.

As they went up the hill to the town, they met some girls coming out to draw water, and said to them, ‘Is the seer here?’ They answered, ‘Yes, there he is just ahead of you. Hurry; he has come just now to the town, because the people have a sacrifice today at the shrine. As soon as you enter the town, you will find him, before he goes up to the shrine to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterwards those eat who are invited. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.’ So they went up to the town. As they were entering the town, they saw Samuel coming out towards them on his way up to the shrine.

Luke 22.1-13
Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’

‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ ” He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’ So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

The Collect
Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; 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, 12 July 2018

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 12 July 2018

Psalm 143
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and in your faithfulness give ear to my supplications; answer me in your righteousness.
Enter not into judgement with your servant, for in your sight shall no one living be justified.
For the enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like those long dead.

My spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate.
I remember the time past; I muse upon all your deeds; I consider the works of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you; my soul gasps for you like a thirsty land.

O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me; hide not your face from me lest I be like those who go down to the Pit.
Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning, for in you I put my trust; show me the way I should walk in, for I lift up my soul to you.

Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies, for I flee to you for refuge.
Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God; let your kindly spirit lead me on a level path.
Revive me, O Lord, for your name’s sake; for your righteousness’ sake, bring me out of trouble.
In your faithfulness, slay my enemies, and destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for truly I am your servant.

Psalm 146
Alleluia.
Praise the Lord, O my soul:
while I live will I praise the Lord;
as long as I have any being,
I will sing praises to my God.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in any human power, for there is no help in them.
When their breath goes forth, they return to the earth; on that day all their thoughts perish.

Happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong and bread to those who hunger.

The Lord looses those that are bound; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land; he upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.
The Lord shall reign for ever, your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Alleluia.

1 Samuel 8
When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to their voice and set a king over them.’ Samuel then said to the people of Israel, ‘Each of you return home.’

Luke 21.29-end
Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’

Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.

The Collect
Creator God, you made us all in your image: may we discern you in all that we see, and serve you in all that we do; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Is it really 'Poor old Judas?"

Let's ask Jesus Christ Superstar - for I think there are many influences to be found in it.

There's probably no more controversial New Testament character than Judas. This is a quick and dirty assessment of the man in the light of comments made, sermons heard and questions asked as the traditional position whereby he is vilified and derided gives way to something so very different.

The trend today has become a collision of excusing, justifying, or pardoning Judas. Not only that but we find some accusing Jesus of setting Judas up whilst others or raise Judas to the status of co-redemptor (because salvation by way of the cross could not have happened without him).

There's no doubt that Easter Sunday can't happen without Judas popping up and betraying Jesus, but can we join together with the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar and take up the strains of 'Poor old Judas' with any integrity?

The show puts these words into Judas' mouth:

"My God, I saw him He looked three-quarters dead and he was so bad I had to turn my head
You beat him so hard that he was bent and lame and I know who everybody's Going to blame 
I don't believe he knows I acted for our good I'd save him all the suffering if I could 
Don't believe Our good save him If I could 

Christ! I know you can't hear me But I only did what you wanted me to 
Christ! I'd sell out the nation for I have been saddled with the murder of you
I have been spattered with innocent blood I should be dragged through the slime and the mud 

My mind is darkness now My god I am sick I've been used and you knew All the time 
God I'll never ever know why you chose me for your crime
For your foul bloody crime You have murdered me!"

The words above raise many questions. Do we have before us a man who is vilified for 'acting for the good of Jesus' followers'? Does Judas become betrayal personified for 'doing what Jesus wanted him to to do'. Should we be pointing the finger of blame at Jesus because He chose Judas to do the crime!

I think there is value to hear the song itself and so throughout this piece you'll find the songs. Have a listen if you can:


Even today Judas’s very name appears in everyday language as an accusation of duplicitous action and gross, wicked and painful betrayal. It appears in our conversations, in print and in the media.

Only a few days ago the television presenter Lorraine Kelly was branded 'a Judas' after she admitted that she was not supporting England but Iceland in the World Cup.

As someone who works in education helping people tounderstand the dynamics and realities of the Shoah (the Holocaust) I have read much propaganda designed to cause people to regard, and treat, Jews as undesirable vermin who were betraying the German nation just as Judas the Jew had betrayed Jesus. It didn't stop with Germany, for wherever Jews were to be found they were presented as a problem than needed solving, The 'solution' being their extermination!


Judas is neither friend for Jew or Gentile it seems. In fact for centuries the Jews suffered because of his actions. But is a scapegoat or is this no more than the man deserves? 

Let’s have a look at the man to see what we can make of him and his situation . . . 

What do we know about Judas?

 1. He was the ‘money man’ for the band of brothers that were Jesus and His followers (John 12). 

 2. He was apparently dodgy. After Judas’ response to the wasting of expensive nard John 12 continues: “Judas said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” 

 3a. From Matthew 26 // Mark 14 we know it was Judas himself who made the approach to the Jewish authorities with the intention of turning Jesus over to them: “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” 

3b. Luke 22 adds some proper perspective as to the fact that it was not God who influence, selected, or tasked Judas with the act of betrayal but satan: 
"Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present."

4a. We know that (in John 18) Judas led the people who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to Him: 
"Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.  Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 

They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 

Jesus said to them, “I am he.”

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 

When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 

So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.”

4b. Another accountof Judas' encounter with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane can be found in Luke 22:
" . . . there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”"

5a. So Jesus is taken away and Judas attempts to return the 'blood money' after which he goes and hangs himself:
"Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself."

5b. The Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1) tells us that having been left hanging (which makes sense because to touch a dead body is to make oneself unclean), Judas' body decomposes and his guts spill out into the field which becomes known as Akeldama:
“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 

Plenty of material to help us think about Judas. 

Radio 4 had a bishop speaking about Judas recently. In the interview he voiced his sympathy for the man and the 'lousy press' he gets. "After all, nobody likes him, do they?"

Increasingly it seems that people are harbouring the thought that Judas was set up by Jesus. If this is the case then this raises questions about everything that Jesus is and is claimed to be. In fact if this was true then Jesus is most definitely not the Messiah but is indeed 'a very naughty boy!' But I don't think the life of Brian can hold anyway here as there's no evidence to support this position. Conspiracy theorists would say this only strengthens their case!

I think we have a man who has acted from within himself for a number reasons (I've come up with five). Have a look and decide which of them add sto the picture you might construct of the man and his actions:

i. Was it the money?
John paints a picture of a man stealing from the community's moneybag. Now though this betrayal    gave him money, I don't think money was the primary motive for the act. Thinking about it logically, if the whole situation was about to explode and the following Jesus was about to go down the drain, money would give Judas the means to ride off into the sunset and start over elsewhere. It was a cheery on the cake, not the prime mover for the action.

ii. Was he 'disgruntled'?
One of the biggest causes of 'whistleblowing' is discontent. The person doesn't feel valued, dislikes their boss (or some other person), disagrees with the policies, or feels aggrieved over some real or perceived wrong action. In this case it makes sense to point the finger at the 'wrong action/policy' of not becoming a guerrilla force. Jesus had the people's hearts and minds, all He needed do was add a bit of spice and the rabble would have raised up and acted against their occupiers.

But Jesus' was no rabble rouser and this could easily have frustrated the Zealots amongst the disciples. Could it be that we owe more to Simon the Zealot and his song in supporting the modern attitude towards Judas as he asks this question of Jesus?


Reading the lyrics brings into our consciousness some really powerful thoughts indeed. Here we have a man who wants that little bit more:


"There must be over fifty thousand screaming love and more for you. 
 And everyone of fifty thousand would do whatever you asked them to. 
 Keep them yelling their devotion, but add a touch of hate at Rome. 
 You will rise to a greater power.  We will win ourselves a home. 
 You'll get the power and the glory For ever and ever and ever . . ."

But that little bit more was not what Jesus had come for. He came to reconcile humanity to God and to present a new way of thinking and living; a way which had no need of swords.

iii. Had it 'All gone sour'?
The song 'Heaven on their minds' is probably one of the most influential songs we have with regard to making a positive and supportive case in favour of Judas. Once you've heard it sung you're part way to agreeing that He's merely being human and telling Jesus how things really are. The bloke's not all bad, he's just trying to get Jesus to listen and change track before it's all too late.

He become aware that Jesus and those following Him disciples are on the road to destruction and no matter what he tries to do they aren't listening to (his) reason. They've sold out to the 'heaven' message and so, frustrated, we find him on the stage putting his side of the story with this song:


These words of this song resonate so much with the opinions of many regarding who have engaged with me over the years with regard to Judas being a desperate man trying to save Jesus and his comrades. The last stanza tie a neat bow of the package of justification for Judas' actions:


"Listen, Jesus, to the warning I give. 
 Please remember that I want us to live. 
 But it's sad to see our chances weakening with every hour. 
 All your followers are blind. 
 Too much heaven on their minds. 
 It was beautiful, but now it's sour. 
 Yes it's all gone sour."

Sour grapes, fear and a large dose of disillusionment . Do these lead Judas to the Temple as he tries to pull the plug on it all before it all crashes down and they find Jesus (and themselves) themselves put to death? Did he think the authorities he was about to conspire with would act to stop the Jesus roadshow before it was too late?

Sounds reasonable to me, but perhaps the man just didn't read or understand his audience well enough. They weren't looking to stop Jesus, they wanted to kill Him! This would most assuredly scare those who followed Him and sang His praises. Those who hung on His every word would soon stop from carrying on His message if they were in fear of being singled out as a follower.

An lecture I listened to a few years back raised the question, "Did Judas' actions come out of a desire to get back to being part of a select few rather than one of the crowd?" Something to ponder isn't it?

The Temple authorities wanted 'church' done the way it always was - with them running the show! They wanted the power and authority it had 'always' had and were keen to keep the plebs in their place. After all, could it be that they wanted God (and themselves) worshipped their way, not Jesus'?

iv. Judas was merely a frightened man.
I find lots of value in the thought that when Judas betrayed Jesus he was merely being a frail, frightened, vulnerable and perhaps a little deranged bloke.

If we look at the world's history we soon realise that Judas did was nothing more than had been done before and has most certainly been done since. Some have given their names to the act of treachery. Many have acted out of personal gain over the years, others because of their devotion to a curse or ideal, others because they were disgruntled employees:

Brutus stabs Caesar because he is disgruntled with the man. He is more concerned with the flourishing and the concept of the Republic than the life of one man - even though he is a god!

Guy Fawkes, the man who wanted to blow up parliament, was apparently 'turned in' by means of a letter by one of his co-conspirators to a friend as the magnitude of their intended actions hit home.

Like Judas, the Norwegian Vidkun Quisling is another man whose act of betrayal against his nation in favour of the Nazi regime has made his name synonymous with the act of betrayal. 

Benedict Arnold, tired of others getting the credit for his achievements turns them over to the enemy (who in this case were the British). I've heard his name used in anger when I worked in the US. 

We all have our whistle blowers and zealots - not always do they do what they do for the right reasons or in the right way. Was Judas merely another of these?

v. A bit of a scheming wotsit?
So let's think about it. 

1. The crowd love Jesus and the Romans and the Religious people hate Him.

2. The Temple authorities seize Jesus and give Him a tough time which causes unrest.

3. The Romans get a bit heavy-handed and blood starts to flow, which brings an armed response.

4. The struggle begins and Jesus is left to preach peace and cheek-turning after He's been rescued.

Now this is pure fiction (which in academic circles we call conjecture) but it is no less valid a consideration (is it?). Could be that this was a real and present motive behind the act of betrayal?

Looking at things with this as a player has some merit for it brings about action and a desired outcome out of the passivity that Jesus is preaching.

So could Judas have been forgiven?

I have to say, "Yes, I think He could, but I don't think he was!"

My reason for this is:

If we take the stories of two of the men, Judas and Simon Peter, involved in the Passion narrative we find these two men both caught up in the act of publicly denying Jesus. 

Judas to the Temple authorities, to the people he gathered and led to the garden of Gethsemane and to those people gathered there with Jesus. 

Simon Peter to the people gathered around outside the place where Jesus has been dragged off to after having been seized.

I don't know whether you've ever thought about it but I reckon there's more than a fleeting chance that Judas and Simon Peter were both in that same place. Could it be that this is where Judas, seeing Jesus so sorely abused, feels the remorse that takes him back to the authorities to return the money?

Let's add Peter's story to the mix using the words of Matthew 26 // Luke 22*:

"Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. 

And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 

And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 

After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 

And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly."

Now both Judas and Simon Peter showed remorse for their actions. Both men understood what they had done in denying Jesus but one of them, Judas, rather than repent - which means turning away from his actions - instead removed himself from any act of restoration by taking his own life. This, in my book, is the ultimate rejection of God for it rejects and chance of redemption. 

In John 21 we find Simon Peter in the company of Jesus and just as John denied Jesus three time, thrice does Jesus as of him a question:

"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 

He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”

In this act the denial is noted, challenged and restoration is made real in Simon Peter's being and it in this moment that Simon Peter becomes someone, and something, new. This is the moment when forgiveness and pardon are handed to the man and I feel more than a little confident that had he not removed himself from the world this would have been the reality for Judas too. But Judas took matters into his own hands rather than repent and throw himself to the mercy of God.

It is important that we have a think about the words of Mark 14 which tell us Jesus knew He was about to be betrayed:

"And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 

They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?”

He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”"

But knowing and commissioning are different things.

If you knew something going to happen, when it occurs you cannot be considered guilty or complicit in the event unless you commissioned it. Can you?

So here it is as I see it:

Judas is indeed guilty of betraying Jesus. I don't think he did it for the money but because he was disgruntled, scared, frustrated and disillusioned. The money is a subsidiary issue in my book; a sweetener rather than a reason to betray Jesus. 

It would seem reasonable to assume that what Judas might have hoped for was merely to stop the bus before it crashed and they all got burned. But there was also the potential that in doing this there was the chance that the blue touch paper would bit lit igniting the zealots and starting the fireworks.

Jesus is the victim here with Judas and Simon Peter's acts of betrayal. That Jesus 'knew' about both Peter's denial and Judas' betrayal beforehand does not make Him complicit in their actions. There is no way anything in this story can place the responsibility for either act at Jesus' feet for He neither commissioned the acts nor acted to avoid them! 

Jesus knew the day was coming when He would be put to death. He asked whether the cup might pass from Him and understanding that it couldn't, He accepted it and willingly took up His cross and our sins that through His once and for all atoning death we might be reconciled to the God (the Godhead - Father Son and Holy Spirit). By this one single act He pronounced us 'justified' (that is not guilty). 

That Judas is 'damned for all time' is the result of his sidestepping encountering God, repenting and seeking forgiveness by choosing death at by own hand. Had he come to the foot of the cross rather than to the end of a length of rope I think forgiveness would have been his..

He's not a patsy. Neither is he the 'fall guy' (unless we are reflecting on the means of his death). 

He gets bad press (but that goes with the act) but regardless of his motive, the act was considered, offered, delivered and paid for in full all by the man himself with no obvious dialogue with God.

To feel sorry for the man is only natural, after all he's perhaps one of the biggest 'if only's' in history. If only he'd stopped, prayed, dialogued, repented, etc. then he'd have made it through to the day when, like Peter, he could have been met, engaged with and forgiven. 

But he didn't and so he wasn't and that's the end of it which means (in a nutshell):

Simon Peter ends up forgiven and Judas doesn't: It's about choices!

Judas betrays Jesus by his own hand and thinking: It's about actions!

It's sad that Judas gets so caught up in his own actions - Folly is always sad!

And a thought: Who does it serve to make Judas the scapegoat?
(have a think about this and let me know what conclusion you come to. I have mine)


* Luke 22:
"Then they seized Jesus and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.  And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 

Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 

And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly."

// Where you see '//' this indicates that the story or account appear in more than one of the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke. Synoptic means  'same/similar' view).
It's a nice shorthand way of saying, "Can be found in two or more of the synoptics"

SaveSave

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, Father of Western Monasticism, c.550

Psalm 119.153-end
O consider my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me; according to your promise, give me life.

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
Great is your compassion, O Lord; give me life, according to your judgements.

Many there are that persecute and oppress me, yet do I not swerve from your testimonies.
It grieves me when I see the treacherous, for they do not keep your word.
Consider, O Lord, how I love your commandments; give me life according to your loving-kindness.

The sum of your word is truth, and all your righteous judgements endure for evermore.
Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of your word.

I am as glad of your word as one who finds great spoils.
As for lies, I hate and abhor them, but your law do I love.

Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgements.
Great peace have they who love your law; nothing shall make them stumble.

Lord, I have looked for your salvation and I have fulfilled your commandments.
My soul has kept your testimonies and greatly have I loved them.

I have kept your commandments and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.
Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding, according to your word.
Let my supplication come before you; deliver me, according to your promise.

My lips shall pour forth your praise, when you have taught me your statutes.
My tongue shall sing of your word, for all your commandments are righteous.

Let your hand reach out to help me, for I have chosen your commandments.
I have longed for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.

Let my soul live and it shall praise you, and let your judgements be my help.
I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; O seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

1 Samuel 7
And the people of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord, and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. They consecrated his son, Eleazar, to have charge of the ark of the Lord.

From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.
Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, ‘If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.’ So Israel put away the Baals and the Astartes, and they served the Lord only.

Then Samuel said, ‘Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.’ So they gathered at Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the Lord. They fasted that day, and said, ‘We have sinned against the Lord.’ And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.

When the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it they were afraid of the Philistines. The people of Israel said to Samuel, ‘Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, and pray that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.’ So Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it as a whole burnt-offering to the Lord; Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. As Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel; but the Lord thundered with a mighty voice that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion; and they were routed before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as beyond Beth-car.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’ So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.

Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all these places. Then he would come back to Ramah, for his home was there; he administered justice there to Israel, and built there an altar to the Lord.

Luke 21.20-28
‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfilment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

The Collect
Eternal God, who made Benedict a wise master in the school of your service and a guide to many called into community to follow the rule of Christ: grant that we may put your love before all else and seek with joy the way of your commandments; 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.