Saturday, 3 December 2016

Morning Prayer - Saturday 3 December 2016

Francis Xavier, Missionary, Apostle of the Indies, 1552
Advent

Psalm 9
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with my whole heart;I will tell of all your marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will make music to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies are driven back, they stumble and perish at your presence. For you have maintained my right and my cause; you sat on your throne giving righteous judgement.

You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. The enemy was utterly laid waste. You uprooted their cities; their very memory has perished. But the Lord shall endure for ever; he has made fast his throne for judgement. For he shall rule the world with righteousness and govern the peoples with equity. Then will the Lord be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in the time of trouble. And those who know your name will put their trust in you, for you, Lord, have never failed those who seek you. Sing praises to the Lord who dwells in Zion; declare among the peoples the things he has done. The avenger of blood has remembered them; he did not forget the cry of the oppressed. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider the trouble I suffer from those who hate me, you that lift me up from the gates of death; That I may tell all your praises in the gates of the city of Zion and rejoice in your salvation.

The nations shall sink into the pit of their making and in the snare which they set will their own foot be taken. The Lord makes himself known by his acts of justice; the wicked are snared in the works of their own hands. They shall return to the land of darkness, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever.

Arise, O Lord, and let not mortals have the upper hand; let the nations be judged before your face. Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but mortal.

Psalm 10
Why stand so far off, O Lord?
Why hide yourself in time of trouble?
The wicked in their pride persecute the poor; let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
The wicked boast of their heart’s desire; the covetous curse and revile the Lord.
The wicked in their arrogance say, ‘God will not avenge it’; in all their scheming God counts for nothing. They are stubborn in all their ways, for your judgements are far above out of their sight; they scoff at all their adversaries.
They say in their heart, ‘I shall not be shaken; no harm shall ever happen to me.' Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit and fraud; under their tongue lie mischief and wrong.
They lurk in the outskirts and in dark alleys they murder the innocent; their eyes are ever watching for the helpless.
They lie in wait, like a lion in his den; they lie in wait to seize the poor; they seize the poor when they get them into their net.

The innocent are broken and humbled before them; the helpless fall before their power. They say in their heart, ‘God has forgotten; he hides his face away; he will never see it.’
Arise, O Lord God, and lift up your hand; forget not the poor.

Why should the wicked be scornful of God? •
Why should they say in their hearts, ‘You will not avenge it’?
Surely, you behold trouble and misery; you see it and take it into your own hand.

The helpless commit themselves to you, for you are the helper of the orphan.
Break the power of the wicked and malicious; search out their wickedness until you find none.
The Lord shall reign for ever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.

Lord, you will hear the desire of the poor; you will incline your ear to the fullness of their heart, To give justice to the orphan and oppressed, so that people are no longer driven in terror from the land.

Isaiah 44.24 - 45.13
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth; who frustrates the omens of liars, and makes fools of diviners; who turns back the wise, and makes their knowledge foolish; who confirms the word of his servant, and fulfils the prediction of his messengers; who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited’, and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt, and I will raise up their ruins’; who says to the deep, ‘Be dry - I will dry up your rivers’; who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose’; and who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be rebuilt’, and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him - and the gates shall not be closed: I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things.

Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the Lord have created it.

Woe to you who strive with your Maker, earthen vessels with the potter!
Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to anyone who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labour?’

Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands?
I made the earth, and created humankind upon it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.  I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness, and I will make all his paths straight; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward, says the Lord of hosts.

Revelation 22.6-end
And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.’

‘See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’

And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.’

‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises falsehood.

‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

The Collect
Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal; through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Friday, 2 December 2016

Short periods of boredom insterspersed with . . .

. . . So many blessings, it make sure your head spin!

Today started at twenty to four with, as always, my daily Office. This was quickly followed by a bit of a read and then, unusually for me, an nap as the wretched cold began to bite again (no, it's not man 'flu').

Woke up and did some admin' (we live in difficult times indeed) and then OFF to breakfast meeting with the architect to discuss potential building plans. All very exciting with the prospect of servicing and transforming the community we serve becoming just a little closer. So many questions to answer before we get planning permission but it feels like the project it is on the way to become real. Hallelujah or what?

On to next meeting, arriving later than I would have liked, where we looked at remembrance and related issues and then, another rush and into another meeting, this time about law and policing and helping the community.y to understand the facts and feel safer because of it! No sooner has this meeting ended than I find myself rushing back to set up our 'Kid's Club' work: 120 minutes of exquisite joy or amazing pain depending on how they are doing. Unbeaten at table football (misspent youth) and pool (even more misspent) and taught two young ladies how to play Battleship's too!  The relationships we have and the opportunities for conversation with them on life the universe and everything is wonderful.

Think there might have been a leak in a nearby, hithertounknown, testosterone factory tonight as they kept chasing each other and ca.uing mayhem (bless them)!

KId's Club finishes and no sooner have we packed it all away, set out the room for Sunday services and tidied stuff, and I find myself off to another meeting; sensitivity of the utmost import with this one. That done, it's back and into the church building to do some more tidying up of things.

Between then and now there was a quick bit of the pastoral stuff and a bit of a chill (tired thanks to the cold - not used to tired, don't think I'll order a subscription!).

So many conversations amid the meetings and so many challenges, blessings and opportunities tinged with the odd niggly bits; like why do people read to you the things you have in hand?

So thank You Lord for the ability to be part of so much and have so much fun.

Thank You Lord for the mundane, for without it how would we know what the special bits are?

Thank You Lord for those who are being drawn close through the things you do in their lives - good job I stand back or else I'd probably mess it all up.

More sadness came as a member of on of the churches passes into glory - may they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Midnight is here and I'm having an early night in readiness for my equally early start - PTL


Morning Prayer - Friday 2 December 2016

Advent 

Psalm 25
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies triumph over me.Let none who look to you be put to shame, but let the treacherous be shamed and frustrated.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you have I hoped all the day long.

Remember, Lord, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions, but think on me in your goodness, O Lord, according to your steadfast love.

Gracious and upright is the Lord; therefore shall he teach sinners in the way. He will guide the humble in doing right and teach his way to the lowly. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful to my sin, for it is great.

Who are those who fear the Lord? Them will he teach in the way that they should choose. Their soul shall dwell at ease and their offspring shall inherit the land. The hidden purpose of the Lord is for those who fear him and he will show them his covenant. My eyes are ever looking to the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am alone and brought very low. The sorrows of my heart have increased; O bring me out of my distress. Look upon my adversity and misery and forgive me all my sin. Look upon my enemies, for they are many and they bear a violent hatred against me. O keep my soul and deliver me; let me not be put to shame, for I have put my trust in you. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for my hope has been in you. Deliver Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Psalm 26
Give judgement for me, O Lord, for I have walked with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind. For your love is before my eyes; I have walked in your truth. I have not joined the company of the false, nor consorted with the deceitful.I hate the gathering of evildoers and I will not sit down with the wicked. I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, that I may go about your altar, To make heard the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Lord, I love the house of your habitation and the place where your glory abides. Sweep me not away with sinners, nor my life with the bloodthirsty, Whose hands are full of wicked schemes and their right hand full of bribes. As for me, I will walk with integrity; redeem me, Lord, and be merciful to me. My foot stands firm; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

Isaiah 44.9-23
All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit; their witnesses neither see nor know. And so they will be put to shame. Who would fashion a god or cast an image that can do no good? Look, all its devotees shall be put to shame; the artisans too are merely human. Let them all assemble, let them stand up; they shall be terrified, they shall all be put to shame.

The blacksmith fashions it and works it over the coals, shaping it with hammers, and forging it with his strong arm; he becomes hungry and his strength fails, he drinks no water and is faint. The carpenter stretches a line, marks it out with a stylus, fashions it with planes, and marks it with a compass; he makes it in human form, with human beauty, to be set up in a shrine. He cuts down cedars or chooses a holm tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it can be used as fuel. Part of it he takes and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Then he makes a god and worships it, makes it a carved image and bows down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he roasts meat, eats it, and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, ‘Ah, I am warm, I can feel the fire!’ The rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, bows down to it, and worships it; he prays to it and says, ‘Save me, for you are my god!’

They do not know, nor do they comprehend; for their eyes are shut, so that they cannot see, and their minds as well, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, ‘Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals, I roasted meat and have eaten. Now shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?’ He feeds on ashes; a deluded mind has led him astray, and he cannot save himself or say, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a fraud?’

Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you, you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.

Revelation 21.22-22.5
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

The Collect
Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal; through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


A day of many parts

The day started with the usual routine of daily Office, usually occurs anywhere in the morning from 03:30 onwards (usually finding itself at 04:30 it seems as the first thing I do when I wake). This is the opportunity to read the Bible and pray, setting up the day that follows as the spiritual equivalent of porridge for it sustained me throughout the day, in the stillness before the dawn aririves.

I blog the readings each morning (there is a growing group of people who use the condensed form I post as part of their introduction to doing the Office) as part of growing discipline in myself and others.  So, Office done, there's some post-production work on a recording to be sorted and then it's into the church building to set up for the Thursday Communion and the drop-in that follows it. Chairs out, orders of service and Bibles on the seats, lay up for the Communion, fill the urn (and turn it on - always important). Then it's the tables and chairs, biscuits and stuff for the two hours that follow after the Eucharist is done.

I rejoice at the Psalm in Communion today (118) it's like a sweet jar full of old favourite sentences and they bounce around my head all day: The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone - Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord - Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Words that sustain.

How sad that we have lost the Psalms as part of our public worship in so many places - sadder still the contraction to just two readings! Jesus, the Christ, is the capstone which holds it all together - Hallelujah! We share the word and celebrate the resurrection and recommit ourselves to shime in the dark places of our town - for we are salt and light.
What does that look like?
How will you use me to make You known today?
Where will my feet take me and what do I need other than You?
So many questions and challenges buzzing, then and now as bed is made my hiding place with you.

The drop-in was amazing, so many people with so many issues, yet laughed and encounter and the joy of being family for those who known the Christ and those perhaps a little far off - just as it shou,d be for first they stop, then the sit and then they recline - aren't people amazing and isn't God great?

Onto a meeting and finding joy in the shape of a nearby church and the steps to be taken there - little steps bring a great distance in the passage of time - the key is to take them! Back to the START course where it transpired that when looking at who our hero is Jesus want mine! Shock or what?
We talk and look at the heroes society has in its sportsmen and women: overpaid, indulged, living wrong lives and et emulated and applauded, is that what a hero is? Move on to great leaders, commanders, businessmen and women: is victory or success the key to making a hero? Nah, when we look past their achievements and their fine words we find feet of clay,

As we talk about why I live the life I do, flawed fallible, excited and generally weird I mention that I am, and do, because Jesus is MY LOVE, and that's the word - it is LOVE, not HERO, that we need to be thinking of and looking to emulate, to please and to follow. How absolutely amazingly wonderfully brilliant is that? His love endures for ever.

Buzzing I prepare and head of to ke a bunch of ten ann eleven year olds around a church building and share some of the wonderful treasures, explaining symbolism and imagery, and making the love of God as seen in Jesus, God made man, known. Making time running around the church and pointing out stuff that is usually missed - making connections - explaining liturgicalbits and giving little hooks  and sowing seeds. How I love this life which so many others seem to think is a job. I'm working, and for, with the person I love - can it get any more wonderful?

And it does - for I find myself in the ditch it's the woman I love, half a pint and a pork pie and some time to chat and meet new people and enjoy the woman whose lives surrounds and sustains me also.

Lord, I am just so very blessed!

All before me was joy today: The engagements, the conversations, the opportunities seen and taken. The written word and the living Word filling and sustaining and guiding me.

Thanks for a great day - same again tomorrow please?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 1 December 2016

Charles de Foucauld, Hermit in the Sahara, 1916
Advent

Psalm 42
As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. My soul is athirst for God, even for the living God; when shall I come before the presence of God? My tears have been my bread day and night, while all day long they say to me, ‘Where is now your God?’ Now when I think on these things, I pour out my soul: how I went with the multitude and led the procession to the house of God, With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among those who kept holy day.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me?
O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

My soul is heavy within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and from Hermon and the hill of Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the thunder of your waterfalls; all your breakers and waves have gone over me. The Lord will grant his loving-kindness in the daytime; through the night his song will be with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my rock,
‘Why have you forgotten me, and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me?’
As they crush my bones, my enemies mock me; while all day long they say to me, ‘Where is now your God?’

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me?
O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 43
Give judgement for me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked. For you are the God of my refuge; why have you cast me from you, and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me? O send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling, That I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness; and on the lyre I will give thanks to you, O God my God.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me?
O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Isaiah 44.1-8
But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you in the womb and will help you: Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring. They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like willows by flowing streams. This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’, another will be called by the name of Jacob, yet another will write on the hand, ‘The Lord’s’, and adopt the name of Israel.

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let them proclaim it, let them declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be. Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.

Revelation 21.9-21
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using. The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth cornelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass.

The Collect
Almighty God, as your kingdom dawns, turn us from the darkness of sin to the light of holiness, that we may be ready to meet you in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

So many good things in one day

Yesterday closed with some sadness over the loss of a life and today ends with nothing but joyful stuff to send me to sleep. The key is people and God I guess.

Cherry on the cake is battled for by year one and two children and an assembly on Christmas and people at the other end of the scale in a care home who were engaged and lucid (had a great conversation and went back into recent and distant past with clarity - them, not me!). Sprinkles came in the shape of a patronal service - I get such a buzz from doing the Eucharistic stuff and the opportunity, if it presents itself will never be passed up easily.

Those little godincidence moments in which we get the opportunity to make Jesus, the Christ, known; how amazing are they? To talk and find that the person is speaking Jesus and doesn't realise - sublime. To join the dots and see them see a picture emerging is priceless.

Sad bits came today when I remembered people who have been heroes of the faith and stumbled, revealing what was behind the image I was so inspired by. We all have feet of clay and all fall short of the glory of God, but to wilfully and actively seek that which is contrary to God's best for our lives - and in doing so cause others to fall too - that is just tragic. Musing over the person who came to faith in Christ and then managed to make it something so 'folk' through a lack of basic discipleship and their own, hard to overcome, life attitudes. What was done 'wrongly' when they became Christian and what lessons are to be learnt: It isn't about scalps or compliance, neither is it about filling the Church building. How do we help people to be released into something so much bigger than us and our narrow horizons so that they might flourish and grow in the fruits of the Spirit and the freedom that is in Christ?

But the smiles tonight have to be for the Nativity scene in the heads of small children: Mary, Joseph and Jesus, some angels and three kings and the three Chefs - what a great world it is when you're five and Christmas is coming!

Night Boss - more of the same tomorrow please -  love You.

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 30 November 2016

Andrew the Apostle
Advent

Psalm 47
Clap your hands together, all you peoples; O sing to God with shouts of joy. For the Lord Most High is to be feared; he is the great King over all the earth. He subdued the peoples under us and the nations under our feet. He has chosen our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loves.

God has gone up with a merry noise, the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.O sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with all your skill. God reigns over the nations; God has taken his seat upon his holy throne. The nobles of the peoples are gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For the powers of the earth belong to God and he is very highly exalted.

Psalm 147.1-12
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.

Ezekiel 47.1-12
Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate that faces towards the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

Going on eastwards with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, ‘Mortal, have you seen this?’

Then he led me back along the bank of the river. As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on one side and on the other. He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’

John 12.20-32
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

The Collect
Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ and brought his brother with him: call us by your holy word, and give us grace to follow you without delay  and to tell the good news of your kingdom; 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.


You only had to do one job!

It's Wednesday morning and outside it's a balmy three degrees below zero: The world is a cold place indeed and yet where there is an absence of something, however small, where that missing thing is to found, that little being made real makes a difference.

I am increasing finding myself hearing the phrase, "You only had one job . . ."
Which continues by pointing out the missed opportunity to do that 'one job'.
Perhaps it was merely done inefficiently, or it could be that the task before was missed completely.

Depending on who it is using the phrase and the context, this is one of the funniest or most damning comments I know. It can be a response to a messed up attempt to do something and raises a smile in speaker and recipient of the words - it can also bring pain as are reminded of the fact that the one task we had we failed to do! I often struggle with the image of standing before Jesus and having Him use it with regard to His Church, but don't think I am creating harsh and critical Jesus here because that's neither the intention of the reality, but I am sure He will be having a 'bit of a chat' with some of us when the whistle blows :-(

Everywhere I go these days I'm encountering Christian who tell me how kind, loving and affirming Jesus is - and that is so very true - but they then continue and try to take me to a place where Jesus applauds and affirms us all in our inactivity and in the botched, half-hearted, attempts at that 'one job' He has left us to do.

But what is this 'one job'?

When asked what the greatest commandment was (Matt 22 // Mk 12 // Lk10) Jesus responds with the words:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
 This is the first and greatest commandment.
 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Perhaps this is the 'one job'; but if it is then how are we doing with it and what does it look like to have us loving God with all that we are?
How are we loving our neighbours 'as ourselves?'
What And what would the world look like if we were doing this 'one job' to the best of our abilities?

In conversation recently I discovered that the same person who gave a token gift (because giving is something we have to do) each week as their offering had recently bought themselves a massive gift to support their hobby. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking them; how can I when I am as guilty as the next person when faced with the choice of sticking all my money on the plate or buying something I want. We don't stop and think, "Ooh, I want that but the Church needs the money more!"
Do we?

Consider these questions:
Have you ever seen someone who has a need and chosen to go a different route rather than engage with them and it?
Have you ever avoided bumping in to someone rather than be called upon to offer a helping hand or a lift or something that draws upon your time and effort?

I bet you have because I have have; it is part of our fallen and flawed human condition!
The problem is that we think about where we need to be or what we want to be doing and don't think, "There's a neighbour, what would I want someone to do for me if I was them?"

Do we?

Perhaps the 'one job' is to be found in the 'Great Commission' as found in Matthew 28 (// Lk 16):\\: "Then Jesus came to them and said,
'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
  baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' ”

What if this is the 'one job'?
How are we, as individuals doing? How as we, collectively, as Church, getting on with this? Are we standing in the authority we have in Christ and making a difference; Are we making disciples or merely looking to boost our Sunday attendance numbers and by so doing increase the money in the plate?

I can only ask these questions and seek to answer them for myself.
I'm not trying to put you on the spot, merely asking you to stand next to me!

Are we seeking to make obedient disciples or merely recruit committed members of a club which affirms all that we do and tells us that all will be well?

Do we speak of giving in the model Jesus, the Christ, gave us (that means sacrificial) or are we happy to leave it at paying our parish share and the other bills?

One last contestant for the position of being that 'one job' comes in the shape of the 'misseo dei'; the 'mission of God'

God has acted to reconcile us to Himself through the coming of Jesus (fully man, fully God) and His death on a cross for us. There He paid the price of our sins that we might be in relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and, being born again - that is 'made a new creation' - might live new lives here on earth and spend eternity with Him.

What if this 'one job' is to be in step with Jesus and to be out there blessing what He is doing in our cities, towns and villages?

How are we doing this 'one job'?

To do this we need to be praying and using our spiritual eyes to see where God is doing stuff and get in step with Him.

Here we are, the first week of Advent and preparing ourselves for His first Advent whilst looking for His second. What is that 'one job' we need to be doing to ensure that when He returns (and I am convinced that He will, aren't you?) he fist words from His lips won't be, "You only had one job . . .

pax