Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Daily Office - Jan 31

John Bosco, Priest, Founder of the Salesian Teaching Order, 1888

Psalm 93
The Lord is king and has put on glorious apparel; the Lord has put on his glory and girded himself with strength. He has made the whole world so sure that it cannot be moved. Your throne has been established from of old; you are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, the Lord on high is mightier. Your testimonies are very sure; holiness adorns your house, O Lord, for ever.

Psalm 97
The Lord is king: let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his enemies on every side. His lightnings lit up the world; the earth saw it and trembled. The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declared his righteousness and all the peoples have seen his glory. Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight in mere idols. Bow down before him, all you gods. Zion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of your judgements, O Lord. For you, Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. The Lord loves those who hate evil; he preserves the lives of his faithful and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light has sprung up for the righteous and joy for the true of heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name.

Genesis 18:16-end
Then the men set out from there, and they looked towards Sodom; and Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice; so that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.’ Then the Lord said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.’ So the men turned from there, and went towards Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham came near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’ And the Lord said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.’ Abraham answered, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?’ And he said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ Again he spoke to him, ‘Suppose forty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of forty I will not do it.’ Then he said, ‘Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.’ He answered, ‘I will not do it, if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.’ Then he said, ‘Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’ And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

Matthew 27:27-44
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’ Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.” ’ The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

The Collect
God our creator, who in the beginning commanded the light to shine out of darkness: we pray that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ may dispel the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, shine into the hearts of all your people, and reveal the knowledge of your glory in the face of 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

The Vicar as Sole Trader

As I sit at my desk (01:53Z) the thought comes to me that when one is 'collared' and released into the cure of souls in a place that one becomes in one and the same moment both a sole trader in both spellings of the word.

I am a soul trader because that is the focus of my calling and yet am also a sole trader in that, just like the many shopkeepers and small businesses around me, I have to balance my books and pay my suppliers. It seems to me that the knotty issue of sustainability, the ability to pay my parish share and keep the lights, heating and comestibles in place means that in running the business I am no different from those around me. The 'higher calling' can, at times, be lost in the stresses of making ends meet and the spectre of 'being shut down' (should we fail to generate enough income - a real issue regardless of where the church is and a fearsome one to boot when you bear the label 'Urban Priority Area') causes some to give up and become impotent. Vision goes and all that is left is to await the day when it all ends!

But that's not for me because I am also a soul trader and the faces and changed lives of those whom our church has touched over the years gives me a hope, not a vain hope but one realised in the fact that we have a God who owns the kettle on a thousand hills (which show's how English God is, after all - what can be wrong if there's tea on offer?), became man and triumphed over the powers that separated us from the father. Hallelujah?

Tonight the Wardens took the church council on a vision evening as a follow-up to a church-wide meeting held a couple of weeks back and I'm sure that although there might be some who mutter 'curse God and die' (remember Mrs Job in chapter two?) I'm also sure that some will not stop to count the cost and will rush to be missional. I'll let you know when I hear what happened with it all!

The Church (universal) is charged with going into all the world and making disciples of people, teaching them to keep all that Jesus commands us to be and do and baptise them in the name of the father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is our 'core business' and when I think of the people who have given their lives to Christ in the place in which I am blessed enough to belong I realise just how good God is at saving souls when we take the time to cast out the nets.

So a word of hope to those who despair - we are winning. A word of caution to those who would seek to mock the work of the Church - we are winning. And to those who worry about the money - Bills do have to be paid but when you can accurately put a price tag on a soul come and let me know what it is and you'll not find any missional church that is in debt. Whose books are you looking at?

Praise the Lord!

Monday, 30 January 2012

More language abuse

Apparently RBS' Stephen Hester and his bonus is 'A important issue' in the minds of the British public. Yes indeed, it is 'A issue' that needs to be addressed!

Gosh - whatever happened to the rule that words that began with a consonant being preceded by 'A' whilst those beginning with a vowel find themselves following 'AN'. Simple stuff isn't it?

Of course we have exceptions, wouldn't be a rule without exceptions, would it? A unit of something or other, A university, an honour and so on. The wonderful combination of consonant and vowel plays a great part in confusing some (all?) sometimes but I recall the words of our English master (Moonbeam) and his exhortations to us that we, Say the words and listen. Does it sound right? If it doesn't, it isn't!)

I was told(by a supposed teacher of English, but having read their letters home I have to say that I very much doubt that this is a true description!) that 'these days' pupils can select what precedes a word on the basis of comfort and regional preference. Then again this person also uses the word 'color' (which is sule a co-lor, so what's a 'lor'?) and other abominations before, and unto the, GOD* and tells me that slowly the two languages (i.e. English and American) are coalescing such that one day we can all have an coffee and donut and it won't be a unique experience!

Looks like I'm becoming a grumpy old fart when it comes to English and though this might indeed be true, I will reman AN old fart and will have CDs (not CD's) and it will not be AN issue!

Aaaargh

If you struggle with apostrophes, have a listen to this (but be careful -it's loud.

*GOD - Greater Oxford Dictionary

Daily Office - Jan 30

Charles, King and Martyr, 1649

Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; In the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until the storm of destruction has passed by. I will call upon the Most High God, the God who fulfils his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me and rebuke those that would trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness. I lie in the midst of lions, people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth. They have laid a net for my feet; my soul is pressed down; they have dug a pit before me and will fall into it themselves. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise. Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn. I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.

Psalm 96
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord and bless his name; tell out his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations and his wonders among all peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; he is more to be feared than all gods. For all the gods of the nations are but idols; it is the Lord who made the heavens. Honour and majesty are before him; power and splendour are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples; ascribe to the Lord honour and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; bring offerings and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him. Tell it out among the nations that the Lord is king. He has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; Let the fields be joyful and all that is in them; let all the trees of the wood shout for joy before the Lord. For he comes, he comes to judge the earth; with righteousness he will judge the world and the peoples with his truth.

Genesis 18:1-15
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, ‘My lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’ And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.’ Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ And he said, ‘There, in the tent.’ Then one said, ‘I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?’ The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, and say, “Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?” Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.’ But Sarah denied, saying, ‘I did not laugh’; for she was afraid. He said, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’

Matthew 27:11-26
Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said, ‘You say so.’ But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?’ But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’ Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ All of them said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’ So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

The Collect
King of kings and Lord of lords, whose faithful servant Charles prayed for those who persecuted him
and died in the living hope of your eternal kingdom: grant us by your grace so to follow his example
that we may love and bless our enemies, through the intercession of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Daily Office - Jan 29

Psalm 71:1-6,15-17
In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me. Be for me a stronghold to which I may ever resort; send out to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the evildoer and the oppressor. For you are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence, even from my youth. Upon you have I leaned from my birth, when you drew me from my mother’s womb; my praise shall be always of you. My mouth shall tell of your righteousness
and salvation all the day long, for I know no end of the telling. I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord God; I will recall your righteousness, yours alone. O God, you have taught me since I was young, and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.

Jeremiah 1:4-10
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.’ Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’

Mark 1:40-45
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

The Collect
God our creator, who in the beginning commanded the light to shine out of darkness: we pray that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ may dispel the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, shine into the hearts of all your people, and reveal the knowledge of your glory in the face of 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, 28 January 2012

Unsung heroes

Have you ever stopped to think about the people you come across who run Scouts, Guides, Air, Army and Sea Cadets; St John's Ambulance, youth clubs Boy's and Girl's brigade and so many other groups that it would probably fill a page (at least)?

The discipline and commitment of those who turn up half an hour before the start time of a Kid's Club and set up the equipment, arrange the signing-in sheets and sort the refreshments. That done, these same people open the doors, stop the fights and squabbles over use of the equipment, answer question, hear problems and wonder how they might avoid deafness because of the noise levels! Then, after a couple of hours the same people put it all away again, clean up and leave the place as they find it and then return to do it all over again a few days later and keep doing it, week after week.

Three hours, twice a week, forty to fifty times a year (every year) is a rather large commitment. If we take it as three hundred man hours (women hours too!), it seems to me that volunteers on this basis offer two months of work (assuming 37.5hr week) for free. Now this is commitment and giving on a splendid scale. Multiply this by two or three (in some cases) and you will realise that we have a great many unsung people working with our children for a great many hours and all without pay (and often, without thanks too!)

So here's a thought.

Next week say 'Thank You' to those who work with our children and are making a difference - we owe it to them and those two words would mean a lot to them I'm sure.

So next week is the official Vic the Vicar 'Hug a Volunteer' Week.

Pax

Daily Office - Jan 28

Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Philosopher, Teacher of the Faith, 1274

Psalm 68
Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered; let those that hate him flee before him. As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away; as wax melts at the fire,so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; let them make merry with gladness. Sing to God, sing praises to his name; exalt him who rides on the clouds. The Lord is his name; rejoice before him. Father of the fatherless, defender of widows, God in his holy habitation! God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome, but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert. O God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, The earth shook and the heavens dropped down rain, at the presence of God, the Lord of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You sent down a gracious rain, O God; you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary. Your people came to dwell there; in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor. The Lord gave the word; great was the company of women who bore the tidings: ‘Kings and their armies they flee, they flee!’ and women at home are dividing the spoil. Though you stayed among the sheepfolds, see now a dove’s wings covered with silver and its feathers with green gold. When the Almighty scattered the kings, it was like snowflakes falling on Zalmon. You mighty mountain, great mountain of Bashan! You towering mountain, great mountain of Bashan! Why look with envy, you towering mountains, at the mount which God has desired for his dwelling, the place where the Lord will dwell for ever? The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, even thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them, the Lord of Sinai in holy power. You have gone up on high and led captivity captive; you have received tribute, even from those who rebelled, that you may reign as Lord and God. Blessed be the Lord who bears our burdens day by day, for God is our salvation. God is for us the God of our salvation; God is the Lord who can deliver from death. God will smite the head of his enemies, the hairy scalp of those who walk in wickedness. The Lord has said, ‘From the heights of Bashan, from the depths of the sea will I bring them back, ‘Till you dip your foot in blood and the tongue of your dogs has a taste of your enemies.’ We see your solemn processions, O God, your processions into the sanctuary, my God and my King. The singers go before, the musicians follow after, in the midst of maidens playing on timbrels. In your companies, bless your God; bless the Lord, you that are of the fount of Israel. At the head there is Benjamin, least of the tribes, the princes of Judah in joyful company, the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Send forth your strength, O God; establish, O God, what you have wrought in us. For your temple’s sake in Jerusalem kings shall bring their gifts to you. Drive back with your word the wild beast of the reeds, the herd of the bull-like, the brutish hordes. Trample down those who lust after silver; scatter the peoples that delight in war. Vessels of bronze shall be brought from Egypt; Ethiopia will stretch out her hands to God. Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; make music in praise of the Lord; He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel, whose power is above the clouds. How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people! Blessed be God.

Genesis 17:1-22
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.’ God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.’ God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’ Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, ‘Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘O that Ishmael might live in your sight!’ God said, ‘No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.’ And when he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.

Matthew 27:1-10
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.’ After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.’

The Collect
Eternal God, who enriched your Church with the learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas:
give to all who seek you a humble mind and a pure heart that they may know your Son Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day Reflection


I made this for a time of reflection in an HMD service a few years back and thought it mught prove to be a useful resource for others - if anyone wants this contact me and I'll send you a link.

Vic

Daily Office - Jan 27

Psalm 61
Hear my crying, O God, and listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you with fainting heart; O set me on the rock that is higher than I. For you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent for ever and take refuge under the cover of your wings. For you, O God, will hear my vows; you will grant the request of those who fear your name. You will add length of days to the life of the king, that his years may endure throughout all generations. May he sit enthroned before God for ever; may steadfast love and truth watch over him. So will I always sing praise to your name, and day by day fulfil my vows.

Psalm 65
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; to you that answer prayer shall vows be paid. To you shall all flesh come to confess their sins; when our misdeeds prevail against us, you will purge them away. Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there. We shall be satisfied with the blessings of your house,n even of your holy temple. With wonders you will answer us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, O hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. In your strength you set fast the mountains and are girded about with might. You still the raging of the seas, the roaring of their waves and the clamour of the peoples. Those who dwell at the ends of the earth tremble at your marvels; the gates of the morning and evening sing your praise. You visit the earth and water it; you make it very plenteous. The river of God is full of water; you prepare grain for your people, for so you provide for the earth. You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges; you soften the ground with showers and bless its increase. You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths overflow with plenty. May the pastures of the wilderness flow with goodness and the hills be girded with joy. May the meadows be clothed with flocks of sheep and the valleys stand so thick with corn that they shall laugh and sing.

Genesis 16
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, ‘You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived for ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!’ But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her. The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am running away from my mistress Sarai.’ The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her.’ The angel of the Lord also said to her, ‘I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.’ And the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin.’ So she named the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are El-roi’; for she said, ‘Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?’ Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Matthew 26:57 - end
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.” ’ The high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’ Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?’ Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’ When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ 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 are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.

The Collect
Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence: renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power; 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, 26 January 2012

Honesty, Integrity and truth!

One of the problems I have with the 'Integrity test' is the ease with which interchangeability of the words 'Integrity' and 'Honesty' occurs, for they are not one and the same. This is followed closely by the issue of context, an especially prickly issue in the wonderful world that is Christianity, and how sometimes doing what is wrong might well be considered to be right!

As I understand it, Integrity is about being a 'whole person' (cf. Integer - a 'whole' or complete number) and honesty is about being truthful. Two sides of the same coin, sisters who act as one but are not one and the same.

I recall a lecture on the topic of honesty, integrity and truth in which the question, "If a murderer comes to your door, and asks where your friend is, are you morally obliged to tell the truth? was raised with regard to Emmanuel Kant's attitude to truth and honesty. Kant's answer to this was a resounding 'Yes' even if it resulted in the death of the friend by foul means. In a nutshell Kant put forward the view that a lie (i.e. dishonesty) was always wrong regardless of the situation or outcome. There is no such thing as a 'good' lie (how many of us parent's have told their children that?) and eventually all lies will result in harm and wrong regardless of the reason for it. Truth is the only way. Contrast this with the struggles of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the issue of doing wrong to serve a greater good and his decision to support those who sought to murder a man (Hitler) to prevent the murder of millions.

Of course Kant could merely have answered that although he knew the whereabouts, integrity demanded that he remained silent on the matter! Integrity also meant that Bonhoeffer broke the rules in working to support the murder of a man even though it broke the rules - but he was still honest (and so maintained his integrity?).

Finding ten pence on the floor and pocketing it is not an entirely dishonest act but raise the figure to a tenner, fifty, a hundred and above and suddenly magnitude changes the situation! If one says, "Hey, I've found a fiver - that's handy," then where is the dishonesty? They haven't lied to anyone, not even themselves, and haven't acted to take someone's property so there's no theft from the person (I know someone will tell me it's stealing by finding) and so they are in fact 'honest' and probably would also consider themselves 'lucky' too! (But are they?)

Here's something to chew on:

Honesty deals with what is truthful - Integrity deals with what is right. I know honest people whose integrity is weak and I know people with little integrity and yet they are predominantly honest. Integrity demands that one is honest to the views, standards and opinions that make us who we are but honesty is, at a base level, recognition of that which is true and thereby may not always possess integrity.

My other problem is that of context. Consider question C: Driving faster than the speed limit. The obvious answer, as I understand it, has to be the three-pointer in that this act is 'sometimes' justified. My reason for this is the reality that the 'blue light' services (Ambulance, Fire and Police) often break the law in this area as they seek to discharge their duty (and if they have a collision whilst doing so are subject to prosecution too!). If we were to say 'never' then we would be lying (for who out there thinks a fire appliance should drive at thirty and keep in the stream of traffic when a house with people trapped in it is burning?). we could opt for a 'rarely' but the incidence of blue lights and the like says this isn't 'rare'. We could say always, but then everyone would be doing it!

Now the legalistic among us would undoubtedly say that that there is a line and should it be crossed then the person is wrong - but like Kant, if avoiding this wrong causes a death where can it be seen to be right? And yet if by crossing the line another life is lost (RTA as an example) then of course it can't be seen as right either.

The question of integrity and honesty also has to draw upon moral absolutes and as we become less of a Christian nation and as we reside less confidently upon our judeo-Christian heritage it is this that causes our attitudes, and behaviour, to weaken. This can be seen in the area of underage sex, extramarital relations and others.

Our society increasing works on a 'means justify the end' shifting morality and so it should come as no surprise that 'Lying in your own interests' is gaining favour. This too manifests in the attitude that the act isn't wrong but getting caught is and this, coupled with a desire for scapegoats and a bit of self-righteousness manes that attitudes harden towards those who 'take from us' i.e. Welfare 'scroungers'.

I'll leave you to do the thinking on the other questions (have fun):
A. Avoiding paying the fare on public transport.
B. Cheating on taxes if you have a chance.
F. Not reporting accidental damage you have done to a parked car.
G. Throwing away litter in a public place.
H. Driving under the influence of alcohol.
I. Making up a job application.
J. Buying something you know is stolen.

Some of these are obvious but others, taken contextually are perhaps as cut and dried as the words might make us think at first glance!

Pax

Thought for the day

Be on your guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.
Mark 13: 33

Daily Office - Jan 26

Timothy and Titus, Companions of Paul

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 48
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised, in the city of our God. His holy mountain is fair and lifted high, the joy of all the earth. On Mount Zion, the divine dwelling place, stands the city of the great king. In her palaces God has shown himself to be a sure refuge. For behold, the kings of the earth assembled and swept forward together. They saw, and were dumbfounded; dismayed, they fled in terror. Trembling seized them there; they writhed like a woman in labour, as when the east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish. As we had heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, the city of our God: God has established her for ever. We have waited on your loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple. As with your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is full of justice. Let Mount Zion rejoice and the daughters of Judah be glad, because of your judgements, O Lord. Walk about Zion and go round about her; count all her towers; consider well her bulwarks; pass through her citadels, That you may tell those who come after that such is our God for ever and ever. It is he that shall be our guide for evermore.

Genesis 15
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. Then he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’ But he said, ‘O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgement on the nation that they serve, and afterwards they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’ When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.’

Matthew 26:47-56
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’ At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

The Collect
Heavenly Father, who sent your apostle Paul to preach the gospel, and gave him Timothy and Titus to be his companions in faith: grant that our fellowship in the Holy Spirit may bear witness to the name of Jesus, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Integrity Test

The BBC have provided a quick 'Integrity Test' (thinking of using it at our next chapter meeting) with the answer for each being:

1. Never justified.

2. Rarely justified.

3. Sometimes justified.

4. Always justified.

The use of the test is simple, look at the question and decide which answer best fits your view on that subject. This means that there is a minimun score of ten (saint) and a maximum of forty (sinner). So here's the questions, have a go and add the numbers (bit like a 'Cosmo quiz' apparently!:

A. Avoiding paying the fare on public transport.

B. Cheating on taxes if you have a chance.

C. Driving faster than the speed limit.

D. Keeping money you found in the street.

E. Lying in your own interests.

F. Not reporting accidental damage you have done to a parked car.

G. Throwing away litter in a public place.

H. Driving under the influence of alcohol.

I. Making up a job application.

J. Buying something you know is stolen.

Declining integrity?

Or is it honesty that is in decline (or perhaps, more accurately, both)? This is an interesting question as radio news coverage of this report glibly mixed integrity and honesty (much as they do with 'sex' and 'gender') as if they were one and the same. But of course they're not for, to some extent, each influences and begets the other.

A study carried out by the Essex Centre for the Study of Integrity (ECSI) found that we are apparently less honest than we used to be at the turn of the century. Societal standards have altered such that extra-marital relations, drink driving, lying and underage sex are now, apparently, much more acceptable.

It will probably come as no shock to find that the tolerance diminishes with age and that the younger the person questioned, the more liberal (in a permissive, not Biblical sense so put those pens down - at least for a moment or two!) they became and with age came less acceptance of these, hitherto perceived breaches.

Regarding infidelity, attitudes had gone down from the 2000 figues of 70% saying it was never justified to 50% now.

Those who considered picking up and keeping money found in the street as not being justified diminished to 20% from the previous figure of 40%.

The only issue where opinion had hardened against it was that of benefit fraud which had risen to 85% from the previous 78%.

The numbers of those who thought lying was wrong also fell and this study raises a few interesting (well they are for me) twists and considerations. One of the prevailing responses has been the question:

"Why are young people are becoming more dishonest?"

Professor Paul Whiteley, the study's author and ECSI's director's take on this was:

"We think it is because their role models are not very good - footballers who cheat on their wives, journalists who hack people's phones. Gradually people are tending to become more dishonest, they are more willing to tell lies, more willing to tolerate adultery. It's slow over time and going on in the background but pretty evidentially there."

Some interesting food for thought indeed.

And more thought there will be, but for now tea drunk and off to do another funeral.

Pax

Thought for the day


Seek good, not evil, that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.

Amos 5: 14

Daily Office - Jan 25

The Conversion of Paul
Last Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Psalm 66
Be joyful in God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; sing the glory of his praise. Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great strength your enemies shall bow before you. ‘All the earth shall worship you, sing to you, sing praise to your name.’ Come now and behold the works of God, how wonderful he is in his dealings with humankind. He turned the sea into dry land; the river they passed through on foot; there we rejoiced in him. In his might he rules for ever; his eyes keep watch over the nations; let no rebel rise up against him. Bless our God, O you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heard, Who holds our souls in life and suffers not our feet to slip. For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs. You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but you brought us out into a place of liberty. I will come into your house with burnt offerings and will pay you my vows, which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer you fat burnt sacrifices with the smoke of rams; I will sacrifice oxen and goats. Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul. I called out to him with my mouth and his praise was on my tongue. If I had nursed evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me, But in truth God has heard me; he has heeded the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, nor withheld his loving mercy from me.

Psalm 147:13-21
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.

Ezekiel 3:22-27
Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there; and he said to me, Rise up, go out into the valley, and there I will speak with you. So I rose up and went out into the valley; and the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. The spirit entered into me, and set me on my feet; and he spoke with me and said to me: Go, shut yourself inside your house. As for you, mortal, cords shall be placed on you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people; and I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be speechless and unable to reprove them; for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God’; let those who will hear, hear; and let those who refuse to hear, refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

Philippians 3:1-14
Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh—even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Collect
Almighty God, who caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul: grant that we who celebrate his wonderful conversion may follow him in bearing witness to your truth; 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, 24 January 2012

A Vicar with style?

If we're talking about the dress sense sort of style and me the answer has to be 'obviously not' unless we were using the word in conjunction with the word  'bad' that is.  But I do have to say that I am slowly developing style in the way that I deal with people as can be seen in these two encounters.

Whilst visiting a church, having spilled some tea I popped into the toilet to get some paper towels and as I walked into the room I found myself eye to eye with a lady sitting upon the throne, door wide open, aghast that she was no longer alone! Quick as a flash I said, "It's O.K., don't get up," and took a couple of paper towels and left. Now years ago I would have turned and run, but now I have become the ultimate in polished and suave vicarness and am therefore proving my selectors right in their choice I'm sure. Mind you the lady involved always blushes and scuttles off when she sees me so perhaps this tells me that not all are applauding my British reserve and unflappability!

A while back (must be almost a year) I visited a school to talk about Ash Wednesday and having asked the assembled children if they knew what day it found that none of them did. So, hoping to give them a datum from which they might evermore discern when Ash Wednesday was I asked what the day before had been. Obviously having read the script and being subject to excellent teaching they answered in union, "Tuesday!' "And did you have anything special to eat last night, "I prompted. "Pancakes!" they mercifully cried and up went a sea of hands from volunteers eager to tell me of their culinary experiences. we had a few tales of pancakes shared with parents, siblings, grandparents and the like and then one of the assembled informants, hand waving wildly, finally getting their turn told the assembled school: "I had two pancakes last night!" "Excellent, I cried (looking to move things back to Ash Wednesday), but there was more, "I got Daddy's pancake too because my Mummy says he's been giving Auntie Pauline's one!"

Pandemonium! The student teacher who was sitting in with me leapt from her chair, eyes blazing in what looked a bit like panic. I indicated that all was well and told to our proud and pancake-replete student how lucky they were - "Two pancakes! WoW!" And then, without flinching moved us swiftly back to ash and how we all do things wrong at times!

Now I have to be honest and say that when I started out in this role I found the school stuff to be a real challenge  at times because I like to ask rhetorical questions (don't I?) and this incident showed me how I'd managed to settle (at last) somewhere above the high-water mark).

There are days when we get our ministerial  encounters just right and rise above the things that once would have caused us to stumble, fumble and confound whatever it was that those who saw a calling in us saw. When they come we can but learn from them, taking what is good and determining not to repeat that which is bad, and keep on ministering in the conviction that we are called and better still forgiven.

Keep looking at Him and the waves will merely provide a gently audio background to the journey to His arms? After all where there are clumsy clergy there is always a gracious God!


Pax

Thought for the day


Crown Him as your Captain in temptation's hour!

Daily Office - Jan 24

Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, Teacher of the Faith, 1622
Seventh Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Look upon him and be radiant and your faces shall not be ashamed. This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the one who trusts in him. Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing. Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good. Come, my children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is there who delights in life and longs for days to enjoy good things? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from lying words. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them. He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken. But evil shall slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord ransoms the life of his servants and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.

Psalm 36
Sin whispers to the wicked, in the depths of their heart; there is no fear of God before their eyes. They flatter themselves in their own eyes that their abominable sin will not be found out. The words of their mouth are unrighteous and full of deceit; they have ceased to act wisely and to do good. They think out mischief upon their beds and have set themselves in no good way; nor do they abhor that which is evil. Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens and your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness stands like the strong mountains, your justice like the great deep; you, Lord, shall save both man and beast. How precious is your loving mercy, O God! All mortal flesh shall take refuge
under the shadow of your wings. They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house; they shall drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light. O continue your loving-kindness to those who know you and your righteousness to those who are true of heart. Let not the foot of pride come against me, nor the hand of the ungodly thrust me away. There are they fallen, all who work wickedness. They are cast down and shall not be able to stand.

Genesis 13:2-end
Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. He journeyed on by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them living together; for their possessions were so great that they could not live together, and there was strife between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites lived in the land. Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders; for we are kindred. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’ Lot looked about him, and saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastwards; thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord. The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northwards and southwards and eastwards and westwards; for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring for ever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’ So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Matthew 26:17-35
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

The Collect
Holy God, who called your bishop Francis de Sales to bring many to Christ through his devout life and to renew your Church with patience and understanding: grant that we may, by word and example, reflect your gentleness and love to all we meet; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Thought for the day



so, which season is yours?

Daily Office - Jan 23

Sixth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me out of the roaring pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a rock and made my footing sure. He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many shall see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not turn to the proud that follow a lie. Great are the wonders you have done, O Lord my God. How great your designs for us! There is none that can be compared with you. If I were to proclaim them and tell of them they would be more than I am able to express. Sacrifice and offering you do not desire but my ears you have opened; Burnt offering and sacrifice for sin you have not required; then said I: ‘Lo, I come. ‘In the scroll of the book it is written of me that I should do your will, O my God; I delight to do it: your law is within my heart.’ I have declared your righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I did not restrain my lips, and that, O Lord, you know. Your righteousness I have not hidden in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your loving-kindness and truth from the great congregation. Do not withhold your compassion from me, O Lord; let your love and your faithfulness always preserve me, For innumerable troubles have come about me; my sins have overtaken me so that I cannot look up; they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed who seek after my life to destroy it; let them be driven back and put to shame who wish me evil. Let those who heap insults upon me be desolate because of their shame. Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad; let those who love your salvation say always, ‘The Lord is great.’ Though I am poor and needy, the Lord cares for me. You are my helper and my deliverer; O my God, make no delay.

Psalm 108
My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise. Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn. I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens and your glory over all the earth. That your beloved may be delivered, save us by your right hand and answer me. God has spoken in his holiness: ‘I will triumph and divide Shechem and share out the valley of Succoth. ‘Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my sceptre. ‘Moab shall be my washpot, over Edom will I cast my sandal, across Philistia will I shout in triumph.’ Who will lead me into the strong city? Who will bring me into Edom? Have you not cast us off, O God? Will you no longer go forth with our troops? O grant us your help against the enemy, for earthly help is in vain. Through God will we do great acts, for it is he that shall tread down our enemies.

Genesis 11:27-12:9
Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran. Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on by stages towards the Negeb.

Matthew 26:1-16
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.’ Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, ‘Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.’ Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, ‘Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’
Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

The Collect
Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence: renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power; 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.

Songs of Praise . . .

Thoughts of despair!

Passing through last night I decided to have a quick look at the news and turned to the BBC only to find 'Songs of praise'. Apart from a sublime woodwind piece (spoiled only by people singing over it!) there was little to cheer my missional bones as the camera panned, time and time again, over a sea of wrinklies (AKA the fighting force of the Church). No matter where the camera went there were no teens and the question, "Where are the young people?", rattled around in my brain.

Children's church of the future?

Perhaps this was a service for the older generation? A quick look at the billing denied that!

Perhaps Colchester is a place with no young, had the Pied Piper of Chelmsford been through? A quick look at the demographics put paid to that thought too!

Tea drunk I rushed off to our local RC church for an excellent unity service and what a shock, there weren't any really young people there either (unless you count toddlers and babes in arm that is).

So the thought that has pulled me out of bed at this wonderfully quiet and time to chat with God hour is this. What makes for a relevant and authentic church with younger people? Something I will be asking, exploring and commenting on over the coming days I'm sure.

Hope I don't keep you up with my praying - but don't go back to sleep, I'm not!

Pax

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Daily Office - Jan 22

The Third Sunday of Epiphany
Fifth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Psalm 113
Alleluia. Give praise, you servants of the Lord, O praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the Lord be praised. The Lord is high above all nations and his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, that has his throne so high, yet humbles himself to behold the things of heaven and earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ashes, To set them with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a place in the house and makes her a joyful mother of children. Alleluia.

Jonah 3: 1-5,10
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

John 3: 16-21
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’

The Collect
Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence: renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power; 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, 21 January 2012

That's (not) entertainment!

One evening, after a particularly stressed week behind the altar, I sat down for a bit of R&R with the Mrs. Vicarage and a DVD. "It's a Will Smith film," she said and so I sat back for a bit of light relief. The film? 'The Pursuit of Happyness!" I sat transfixed and descending deeper into a pit of despair as Will's character slept on a subway station toilet's floor with his son. OK. there was sunshine at the end, but the journey left me even more mentally and emotionally exhausted than I was at the beginning.

Tonight we decided to have a family film night and ended up with 'The Beaver', a film chosen because the clip shown at the cinema looked funny and because it was billed as a 'comedy'. Wow, what a journey - a man with a depressive illness and a beaver puppet stuck on the end of his arm (well it was until near the end anyway!). Like 'Happyness' there was a ray of sunshine at the end but it was a long wait and although I'd appreciate (and use it) in a different setting, tonight wasn't the night!

In an attempt to recover from what we had just seen we chucked the other DVD on the player and sat back to enjoy the other film 'The Dilemma'' which was also billed as a comedy. Sadly if this is comedy then something has gone very wrong with my comedy gland because it was abysmal. I found myself stressed and thinking I was back at work and although there are comedic episodes the film was a total cringefest. I don't think I have been so embarrassed and frustrated at the erros of judgment made and the potential for being made to look awful since Norman Wisdom's pathetic character hit the silver screen.

So, anyone out there seen a film that didn't produce what was hoped in the way of lightness, laughter, plot or something? Let's have a go at nominating the very best and the worst of the films we've seen and we can even have a special 'Christian' category so all you out there can nominate 'Left Behind'!!!!

So let's start it off with a nomination for the 'Worst Comedy' - The Dilemma


The floor is yours

Be the difference!


Says it all!

When the going get rough

Regardless of what our calling is, we all have one and the greatest of these is our baptismal calling which having confirmed us as members of the Church calls us to reject rebellion against God and takes us into the world.

In the world we are called to tell, teach and make disciples.
In the home it calls us to be students of the Word and to be diligent (i.e. do it) in prayer. Everywhere we are called to be witnesses to the atoning power of Christ's blood and to live our new life.

Life is a variable and has many peaks and troughs, highs and lows. We all have times of darkness and despair and sunlight and joy; Easy water and wild water which hides rocks and hazards to the soul.

Being Christian is easy when we are living in the pluses but when the minus signs begin to accumulate we tend to cling to that which we know and sadly this is often the opposite of the 'Fruit of the Spirit' in Galatians five. Instead of the 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness' we find instead varying degrees of 'division, sadness, despair, impatience, cruelty (in word and deed) and wickedness'.

It seems that when the 'going gets tough' some stop coming,
Some start swearing, kicking and fighting,
Some open a bottle and look to a different spirit,
Some take their eyes off God and look to the world and its distractions,
Some crawl into their caves and refuse to come out.

People often tell me how 'lucky' I am that I am immune from the above options. Would that it was true for when we the going gets tough, we ALL have the potential to select one (or all) of the wrong options. Then I have to tell them that I try not to slip into one (or more) of the wrong choices and that I do this by:

Reading my Bible - Conversing with God (Prayer) - Selecting the right company (Yes, I try to avoid those who will make me worse when I'm wobbling) and keeping my mouth shut (always a tough task, but the potential to say the wrong thing in the wrong way or use the wrong words is something we all have).

And when they ask what I do when things are going well?

Reading my Bible - Conversing with God - Selecting the right company and keeping my mouth shut (still a tough task).

What about you?

Daily Office - Jan 21

Agnes, Child Martyr at Rome, 304
Fourth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Psalm 122
I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem; Jerusalem, built as a city that is at unity in itself. Thither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as is decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. For there are set the thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house of David. O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. ‘Peace be within your walls and tranquillity within your palaces.’ For my kindred and companions’ sake, I will pray that peace be with you. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do you good.

Psalm 128
Blessed are all those who fear the Lord, and walk in his ways. You shall eat the fruit of the toil of your hands; it shall go well with you, and happy shall you be. Your wife within your house shall be like a fruitful vine; your children round your table, like fresh olive branches. Thus shall the one be blest who fears the Lord. The Lord from out of Zion bless you, that you may see Jerusalem in prosperity all the days of your life. May you see your children’s children, and may there be peace upon Israel.

Psalm 150
Alleluia. O praise God in his holiness; praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the blast of the trumpet; praise him upon the harp and lyre. Praise him with timbrel and dances; praise him upon the strings and pipe. Praise him with ringing cymbals; praise him upon the clashing cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Alleluia.

Genesis 11:1-9
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the Lord said, ‘Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Matthew 25:31-end
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

The Collect
Eternal God, shepherd of your sheep, whose child Agnes was strengthened to bear witness in her living and her dying to the true love of her redeemer: grant us the power to understand, with all your saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love that surpasses knowledge, even 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, 20 January 2012

Daily Office - Jan 20

Richard Rolle of Hampole, Spiritual Writer, 1349
Third Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not be afraid, and though there rise up war against me, yet will I put my trust in him. One thing have I asked of the Lord and that alone I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to seek his will in his temple. For in the day of trouble
he shall hide me in his shelter; in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me and set me high upon a rock. And now shall he lift up my head above my enemies round about me; Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy upon me and answer me. My heart tells of your word, ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face from me, nor cast your servant away in displeasure. You have been my helper; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path, because of those who lie in wait for me. Deliver me not into the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and those who breathe out violence. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 149
Alleluia. O sing to the Lord a new song; sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful. Let Israel rejoice in their maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king. Let them praise his name in the dance; let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre. For the Lord has pleasure in his people and adorns the poor with salvation. Let the faithful be joyful in glory; let them rejoice in their ranks, With the praises of God in their mouths and a two-edged sword in their hands; To execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples; To bind their kings in chains and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute on them the judgement decreed: such honour have all his faithful servants. Alleluia.

Genesis 9: 8-19
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’ The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.

Matthew 25:14-30
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Collect
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; 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.