Saturday, 31 March 2012

Daily Office - Mar 31

John Donne, Priest, Poet, 1631

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. He shall refresh my soul and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full. Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord keeps the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you hasten to rise up early and go so late to rest, eating the bread of toil, for he gives his beloved sleep. Children are a heritage from the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his gift. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy are those who have their quiver full of them: they shall not be put to shame when they dispute with their enemies in the gate.

Exodus 11
The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go from here; indeed, when he lets you go, he will drive you away. Tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbour and every woman is to ask her neighbour for objects of silver and gold.’ The Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, Moses himself was a man of great importance in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s officials, and in the sight of the people.
Moses said, ‘Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as has never been nor will ever be again. But not a dog shall growl at any of the Israelites—not at people, not at animals—so that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Then all these officials of yours shall come down to me, and bow low to me, saying, “Leave us, you and all the people who follow you.” After that I will leave.’ And in hot anger he left Pharaoh.
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’ Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

Hebrews 13:17-end
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.
Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honourably in all things. I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you very soon.
Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been set free; and if he comes in time, he will be with me when I see you. Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you.

The Collect
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; 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.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Daily Office - Mar 30

Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, and are so far from my salvation, from the words of my distress? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer; and by night also, but I find no rest. Yet you are the Holy One, enthroned upon the praises of Israel. Our forebears trusted in you; they trusted, and you delivered them. They cried out to you and were delivered; they put their trust in you and were not confounded. But as for me, I am a worm and no man, scorned by all and despised by the people. All who see me laugh me to scorn; they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying, ‘He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him deliver him, if he delights in him.’ But it is you that took me out of the womb and laid me safe upon my mother’s breast. On you was I cast ever since I was born; you are my God even from my mother’s womb. Be not far from me, for trouble is near at hand and there is none to help. Mighty oxen come around me; fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side. They gape upon me with their mouths, as it were a ramping and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint; my heart has become like wax melting in the depths of my body. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaves to my gums; you have laid me in the dust of death. For the hounds are all about me; the pack of evildoers close in on me; they pierce my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; they stand staring and looking upon me. They divide my garments among them; they cast lots for my clothing. Be not far from me, O Lord; you are my strength; hasten to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword, my poor life from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth, from the horns of wild oxen. You have answered me! I will tell of your name to my people; in the midst of the congregation will I praise you. Praise the Lord, you that fear him; O seed of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel. For he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor; neither has he hidden his face from them; but when they cried to him he heard them. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; I will perform my vows in the presence of those that fear you. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord shall praise him; their hearts shall live for ever. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow before him. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he rules over the nations. How can those who sleep in the earth bow down in worship, or those who go down to the dust kneel before him? He has saved my life for himself; my descendants shall serve him; this shall be told of the Lord for generations to come. They shall come and make known his salvation, to a people yet unborn, declaring that he, the Lord, has done it.

Psalm 126
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with songs of joy. Then said they among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has indeed done great things for us, and therefore we rejoiced. Restore again our fortunes, O Lord, as the river beds of the desert. Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed, will come back with shouts of joy, bearing their sheaves with them.

Exodus 10
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his officials, in order that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them—so that you may know that I am the Lord.’
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you refuse to let my people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country. They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They shall devour the last remnant left you after the hail, and they shall devour every tree of yours that grows in the field. They shall fill your houses, and the houses of all your officials and of all the Egyptians—something that neither your parents nor your grandparents have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.” ’ Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh.
Pharaoh’s officials said to him, ‘How long shall this fellow be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God; do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?’ So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, ‘Go, worship the Lord your God! But which ones are to go?’ Moses said, ‘We will go with our young and our old; we will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, because we have the Lord’s festival to celebrate.’ He said to them, ‘The Lord indeed will be with you, if ever I let your little ones go with you! Plainly you have some evil purpose in mind. No, never! Your men may go and worship the Lord, for that is what you are asking.’ And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt, so that the locusts may come upon it and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.’ So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night; when morning came, the east wind had brought the locusts. The locusts came upon all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever shall be again. They covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was black; and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left; nothing green was left, no tree, no plant in the field, in all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Do forgive my sin just this once, and pray to the Lord your God that at the least he remove this deadly thing from me.’ So he went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. The Lord changed the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand towards heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.’ So Moses stretched out his hand towards heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. People could not see one another, and for three days they could not move from where they were; but all the Israelites had light where they lived. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses, and said, ‘Go, worship the Lord. Only your flocks and your herds shall remain behind. Even your children may go with you.’ But Moses said, ‘You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt-offerings to sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must choose some of them for the worship of the Lord our God, and we will not know what to use to worship the Lord until we arrive there.’ But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was unwilling to let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, ‘Get away from me! Take care that you do not see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.’ Moses said, ‘Just as you say! I will never see your face again.’

Hebrews 13:1-16
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honour by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’
Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them. We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

The Collect
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; 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, 29 March 2012

Restricted sites

What a great day thus far - loads of assemblies, couple of funeral visits, a funeral and more besides to keep me distracted.

After first assembly was talking to school administrator and attempted to access 'Vic the Vicar' to show her a graphic that I thought she'd enjoy only to find that the 'web-content filtering sofware' prohibits access to the site. Now she'll probably get an email warning her about trying to visit sites of dubious content - seems everyone's a critic these days :-)

Still, everything else has been good and didn't have a repeat of an end of term assembly at one school where I asked them what day it was going to be on the next friday. Quick as a flash one of the smaller kids put their hand up and impressed I asked them for the answer. problem was the answer wasn't what I had perhaps hoped for as I was duly informed that it would be 'bloody Friday!'

"I think you mean 'Good Friday'," I said (helpfully).

"No, it's bloody Friday," came the response, "Daddy said that we have to go and visit Nanna on bloody Friday!"

Hey ho! Never a dull moment with children and assemblies it seems :-)

And better still the administrator of the first school today will never be able to read this "Happy Easter Libby!"

:-)

Lottery Money

Tuesday saw me visiting the local supermarket and whilst waiting to buy a newspaper I found myself standing behind a woman who was buying her lottery tickets for the week. Having passed over the little red slips with her numbers, and paid the sixteen pounds required, she waited for the person serving her to get her numbers. As she waited she turned to a friend who was with her and, smiling, told them that she must be lucky one day and it would be good if it was this week as she had so many bills they couldn't pay.

I wanted to tell her that the chance of her winning the jackpot was about one in fourteen million and even the tenner that three numbers brings was about one in fifty-seven, but I didn't think it would make her day. I stood there listening to the conversation and thought about the fact that she had a 44% chance of winning nothing and a 42% chance of the tenner and so the odds were stacked against her.

I once attended a lecture on chance, hope and certainty and during this we stopped at the lottery. The speaker suggested that if we were 'those sort of people who did the lottery' then we'd be better off buying our ticket a couple of hours before the draw as this would give us a chance that we might see some prize money. This got me thinking about the lucky dips and the ways they were constructed. "Was there more chance of a hitherto unissued number being successful, " I mused. Then the speaker burst the train of thought with the words:


"If you are wondering why you have more chance of seeing the lottery money if you buy it within a couple of hours of the draw, it is simply this. Statistically, there's more chance of you dying before Wednesday if you buy it on a Monday or Tuesday or on Thursday or Friday if you buy your Saturday ticket then, than there is of winning. Buy it just before and there's a good chance you will still be 'in it to win it' - and then you only have the odds against winning to contend with!"


I struggle with the issue of lottery funding because time and time again I find myself being confronted by situations where those who are obviously struggling financially increase their struggle in the hope that salvation lies in the shape of six numbers. The lottery isn't done to help good causes, even though so many claim this is their reason for doing it, and regardless of the talk of who'd benefit, the reality is that the person most thought of when putting down the money is the person putting down the money!


I often find myself ministering to people with problems caused by gambling and when I explain that gambling in itself might not be wrong but there are limits and if paying for the privilege of doing whatever it is damages you or your family then that limit has been reached (and exceeded).


I was really glad when the lottery lady left for as she did she was explaining that she had sixteen times the chance of winning!  Now 1/14,000,000 = 0.000007142857% and sixteen tickets raises this to 0.000114285714% that's an improvement in your chances of 0.00010707142843 (that an eleven thousandth of a percent!)


Still more chance of being hit by lighting :-(


Pax

Daily Office - Mar 29

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 125
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever. As the hills stand about Jerusalem, so the Lord stands round about his people, from this time forth for evermore. The sceptre of wickedness shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous turn their hands to evil. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are true of heart. Those who turn aside to crooked ways the Lord shall take away with the evildoers; but let there be peace upon Israel.

Exodus 9:13-end
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For this time I will send all my plagues upon you yourself, and upon your officials, and upon your people, so that you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But this is why I have let you live: to show you my power, and to make my name resound through all the earth. You are still exalting yourself against my people, and will not let them go. Tomorrow at this time I will cause the heaviest hail to fall that has ever fallen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Send, therefore, and have your livestock and everything that you have in the open field brought to a secure place; every human or animal that is in the open field and is not brought under shelter will die when the hail comes down upon them.” ’ Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried their slaves and livestock off to a secure place. Those who did not regard the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the open field.
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand towards heaven so that hail may fall on the whole land of Egypt, on humans and animals and all the plants of the field in the land of Egypt.’ Then Moses stretched out his staff towards heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire came down on the earth. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; there was hail with fire flashing continually in the midst of it, such heavy hail as had never fallen in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the open field throughout all the land of Egypt, both human and animal; the hail also struck down all the plants of the field, and shattered every tree in the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were, there was no hail.
Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord! Enough of God’s thunder and hail! I will let you go; you need stay no longer.’ Moses said to him, ‘As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. But as for you and your officials, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.’ (Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they are late in coming up.) So Moses left Pharaoh, went out of the city, and stretched out his hands to the Lord; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured down on the earth. But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned once more and hardened his heart, he and his officials. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.

Hebrews 12:14-end
Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal. You know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears.
You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’ This phrase ‘Yet once more’ indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.

The Collect
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

When growth means 're-order' - I

Despite the common elements that make up a church building, each and every one of these is unique and this is due to architecture, personal taste and clerical whim! Once church I know of has absolutely no sight lines from the side pews and so, once you're out of the main body of the congregation you're working with, at best, what the theatre proprietors would call 'restricted view' seats. They have considered rotating the church ninety degrees so that they face north/south (or vv) and taking out a few pillars and using a nice girder having but two thin metal uprights instead. Fortunately there are no 'Victorian' or other 'we don't go to church but we demand the right to call it ours' societies involved!

Mind you, where there are I am strongly coming to the opinion that we should let them have the care, maintenance and upkeep of the blinking building and we'll take the Church somewhere more fitting our needs. So be warned - if you want to have a say then you need to be ready to pay (and keep on paying) for the bricks you so love to issues dictums over!!!

Another place I visit has had the congregation facing East, the traditional direction, and West at different times in its recent past. One way saw the people and the sanctuary in the same place and the other took the table and the 'stuff' behind a wooden panelled screen. Don't have problem with this and it's a good creative was of adapting the building and yet maintaining the 'historic' bits. Seems like a win/win to me.

Yet another has removed its pews so that they can have more 'adaptable' space for creative worship and whilst the theory was good the practice has been less than that which was hoped for. The reason for this is that whilst the church does indeed have a lovely carpeted and flexible space, this reduces drastically in size as the chairs are taken and stacked. This something that often gets overlooked in that pews are 'density seating' and require no storage but once you have moveable seating you also need space to store it or you find your newly gained space vanishes quite rapidly (and there's always those helpful sorts who will stack them so high that they become a health and safety risk instead!).


So I guess a word to the wise - you will have a nice open space if you take out the pews but this will vanish once you decide to let the congregation sit and the space taken by chairs is often more than the pews when configured for BOPS (bums on pews) and the open space decreases quite markedly unless you have another space to store the chairs. Not only that but the sight of stacked chairs often makes what was once a fairly controlled, albeit traditional, space something of a nightmare unless managed well. And there's the added joy of finding yourself given the job of stacking and putting out the chairs (yippee - you're the caretaker!).

Just some off the top of the head thinking.

Pax

Daily Office - Mar 28

Psalm 55
Hear my prayer, O God; hide not yourself from my petition. Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaining. I am alarmed at the voice of the enemy and at the clamour of the wicked; For they would bring down evil upon me and are set against me in fury. My heart is disquieted within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and a horrible dread has overwhelmed me. And I said: ‘O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest. ‘Then would I flee far away and make my lodging in the wilderness. ‘I would make haste to escape from the stormy wind and tempest.’ Confuse their tongues, O Lord, and divide them, for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go about on her walls; mischief and trouble are in her midst. Wickedness walks in her streets; oppression and guile never leave her squares. For it was not an open enemy that reviled me, for then I could have borne it; Nor was it my adversary that puffed himself up against me, for then I would have hid myself from him. But it was even you, one like myself, my companion and my own familiar friend. We took sweet counsel together and walked with the multitude in the house of God. Let death come suddenly upon them;
let them go down alive to the Pit; for wickedness inhabits their dwellings, their very hearts. As for me, I will call upon God and the Lord will deliver me. In the evening and morning and at noonday
I will pray and make my supplication, and he shall hear my voice. He shall redeem my soul in peace
from the battle waged against me, for many have come upon me. God, who is enthroned of old,
will hear and bring them down; they will not repent, for they have no fear of God. My companion stretched out his hands against his friend and has broken his covenant; His speech was softer than butter, though war was in his heart; his words were smoother than oil, yet are they naked swords. Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you, and will not let the righteous fall for ever. But those that are bloodthirsty and deceitful, O God, you will bring down to the pit of destruction. They shall not live out half their days, but my trust shall be in you, O Lord.

Psalm 124
If the Lord himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say; If the Lord had not been on our side, when enemies rose up against us; Then would they have swallowed us alive when their anger burned against us; Then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over our soul; over our soul would have swept the raging waters. But blessed be the Lord who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken and we are delivered. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who has made heaven and earth.


Exodus 9:1-12
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, the hand of the Lord will strike with a deadly pestilence your livestock in the field: the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing shall die of all that belongs to the Israelites.” ’ The Lord set a time, saying, ‘Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.’ And on the next day the Lord did so; all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but of the livestock of the Israelites not one died. Pharaoh inquired and found that not one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the people go.
Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw it in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become fine dust all over the land of Egypt, and shall cause festering boils on humans and animals throughout the whole land of Egypt.’ So they took soot from the kiln, and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses threw it in the air, and it caused festering boils on humans and animals. The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils afflicted the magicians as well as all the Egyptians. But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.

Hebrews 12:3-13
Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children - ‘My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,  or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.’
Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

The Collect
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; 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, 27 March 2012

When growth means 'build'

Last Sunday was another one of those mornings where there wasn't an empty seat in the house and this brings home in an extremely aggressive manner the fact that we need to build!


One of the greatest blessings that a church can have is to find itself growing but there needs to be some awareness about growth and the problems it brings. The first of these relates to the available space. Let's call it the seventy percent rule - which goes like this:

We all look for growth as a sign that we are being effective in making disciples and preaching the Gospel and yet whilst we pray, plan and get out there and 'do the stuff', we often overlook the place we are seeking to bring the new sheep into. One of the first considerations is that of space (there are others and we will discuss them over the coming days).

A few years back we found ourselves with loads more seats than people and the spaces cried out to us to be filled. So we open our doors and took the Church outside the building and invited the world into it. We engaged with people and slowly, one by one, people came into relationship; first with us and then with God. Slowly but surely we found the seats begin to be filled and we were excited that we were running out of space.

More recently we have had days when all the seats were filled and new faces appeared on a Sunday never to be seen again. "Was it the preaching?" we asked ourselves. "Was it the peace?" I prayed and considered what it might have been that saw people not want to be part of our, even if I say so  myself, extremely welcoming and friendly little asylum?

Recently I met a couple who had been to a service and then vanished and so I asked them what had caused them not to come again. The answer was twofold. The first difficulty they had was lay in the feeling that the place was so crowded; the second was that the peace was a little overwhelming!

Within the missioner/church growth circles there is an empirical rule that tells us that once a congregation reaches seventy percent of its available space it ceases to grow. It doesn't matter how good the preaching is (phew!), how brilliant the music is, what refreshments you serve or how lovely the existing members are - once you've reached seventy percent of your available space you are about to plateau (or even decline as some feel a little claustrophobic and leave). So here's a simple test:

1. Count the number of seats you generally have available in your worship space.

2. Now multiply that number by 0.7 (we have 40 seats 40*.7 = 28) this is you 'comfort factor'  (CF)

3. Take a look at the service register and see what your average attendance was over the past few weeks (removing any anomalies). Our average for the first three weeks of January was 37 adults and 9 children)

4. Ask the question, "Is the average attendance greater than the comfort factor (ours was 28). If the answer to this is 'Yes' then you have to provide more seats and if you have a problem here because of the space isn't available then you need to move the venue or build!

Now this is a real problem for some for a number of reasons, namely:

i. Putting our more chairs will make it look like we have less people!

  • This is true. One of the biggest problems when considering growth is the fact that some want to feel cramped because this says that the fellowship is successful.
  • Not putting out more chairs will keep those members you have cosy and crammed in, but will not grow and we are about growing the kingdom not supporting our own wants!
ii. We don't have any more space available to us.

  • If you are in the happy position of renting a space (says he remembering the happy days of using schools, gymnasia and community centres - and lugging all the kit in and out!) then the answer is simple - a change of venue is indicated. Perhaps a larger room within the current venue or a 'We are growing so much we have to move' move.
  • If you own the building and cannot use a bigger space within it then, if it is possible, re-ordering (if you can do it without cramping sight-lines and squeezing the people in like sardines) is the first step. 
  • Having done this, the next step is to see how you can physically alter the building to provide more useable space. This might mean removing walls or extending and if this is not possible, then
  • It's time to build a new building (or perhaps find a church with space who would be willing to engage in a shared-accommodation project with you.

iii. We need to build but don't have the money.

  • Yeah, us too. Watch this space (or give us advice on how to raise the funds - we've managed £40k internally)

One of the temptations that some succumb to when the comfort factor is reached (or exceeded) is to explore the 'second-service' option. The problem with this is that you can destroy the dynamic that causes the growth (they might just like each other) and can bring about one large congregation service and one smaller congregation service. The larger flourishes and the smaller feels second-class (or elite) and differences grow. The family feeling is lost.

Some churches opt for early and later services and in my experience this often shakes down into the older folk and the younger/family congregations respectively. Multiple services means different congregations and this is a great way forward if you have BCP (Book of Common Prayer) early on and Common Worship (CW) or something a little spiky at the later but if you go down this route be aware that you are about to house two churches in the same building and making them one might be another challenge to be considered but we will look at the multiple service route shortly.

I hope this might stimulate some of those who come across this blog to consider whate their situation is in regard to comfort factors and available space - feel free to challenge and suggest, provide anecdotes and examples - all grist to the mill and most welcome.

pax

Daily Office - Mar 27

Psalm 35
Contend, O Lord, with those that contend with me; fight against those that fight against me. Take up shield and buckler and rise up to help me. Draw the spear and bar the way against those who pursue me; say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’ Let those who seek after my life be shamed and disgraced; let those who plot my ruin fall back and be put to confusion. Let them be as chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord thrusting them down. Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. For they have secretly spread a net for me without a cause; without any cause they have dug a pit for my soul. Let ruin come upon them unawares; let them be caught in the net they laid; let them fall in it to their destruction. Then will my soul be joyful in the Lord and glory in his salvation. My very bones will say, ‘Lord, who is like you? You deliver the poor from those that are too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who would despoil them.’ False witnesses rose up against me; they charged me with things I knew not. They rewarded me evil for good, to the desolation of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting; When my prayer returned empty to my bosom, it was as though I grieved for my friend or brother; I behaved as one who mourns for his mother, bowed down and brought very low. But when I stumbled, they gathered in delight; they gathered together against me; as if they were strangers I did not know they tore at me without ceasing. When I fell they mocked me; they gnashed at me with their teeth. O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my soul from their ravages, and my poor life from the young lions. I will give you thanks in the great congregation; I will praise you in the mighty throng. Do not let my treacherous foes rejoice over me, or those who hate me without a cause mock me with their glances. For they do not speak of peace, but invent deceitful schemes against those that are quiet in the land. They opened wide their mouths and derided me, saying ‘We have seen it with our very eyes.’ This you have seen, O Lord; do not keep silent; go not far from me, O Lord. Awake, arise, to my cause, to my defence, my God and my Lord! Give me justice, O Lord my God, according to your righteousness; let them not triumph over me. Let them not say to themselves, ‘Our heart’s desire!’
Let them not say, ‘We have swallowed him up.’ Let all who rejoice at my trouble be put to shame and confusion; let those who boast against me be clothed with shame and dishonour. Let those who favour my cause rejoice and be glad; let them say always, ‘Great is the Lord, who delights in his servant’s well-being.’ So shall my tongue be talking of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.

Psalm 123
To you I lift up my eyes, to you that are enthroned in the heavens. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, or the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of the arrogant, and of the contempt of the proud.

Exodus 8:20-end
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you will not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you, your officials, and your people, and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies; so also the land where they live. But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people live, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I the Lord am in this land. Thus I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign shall appear tomorrow.” ’ The Lord did so, and great swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh and into his officials’ houses; in all of Egypt the land was ruined because of the flies.
Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and said, ‘Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.’ But Moses said, ‘It would not be right to do so; for the sacrifices that we offer to the Lord our God are offensive to the Egyptians. If we offer in the sight of the Egyptians sacrifices that are offensive to them, will they not stone us? We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as he commands us.’ So Pharaoh said, ‘I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, provided you do not go very far away. Pray for me.’ Then Moses said, ‘As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his officials, and from his people; only do not let Pharaoh again deal falsely by not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.’
So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord did as Moses asked: he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his officials, and from his people; not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and would not let the people go.

Hebrews 11:32-12:2
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, without us, be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Collect
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Raising the cost of communion

I noticed yesterday that the bread I use at communion, having been freshly baked, being above the ambient temperature at Birmingham airport meant that I had to stop the service and ask those intending to take communion to add another twenty percent of their offering to the plate before we continued!

Had we decided to use the 'flying saucer' bread wafers we would have been in the clear as these are exempt regardless of the their temperature as the box proudly proclaims that 'no yeast was harmed in the making of these wafers'!

I have also realised that our Good Friday tradition of offering 'hot' Cross Buns will also mean that we have to charge a twenty percent levy. I have formed a sub-committee to assess whether we could get around this situation by providing 'Cold Cross Buns' instead but I'm sure the traditionalists will not be happy.

This is, as ever, merely the tip of the iceberg in that the government spokesperson who outlined the efficacy of the 'hot bread products'  taxation class took great pains to point out that where a 'service' is offered, additional tax applies. The little treasure(r) will soon be having a field day as this probably means that we will also have to raise the level of giving by twenty percent across the board regardless of whether you take communion or not (and then add another if you make the 'expensive' choive for communion).


All destined to cause yet more problems somewhere I'm sure, after all - as one of the congregation mentioned last week - it's hardly good service to have been in the place for forty minutes before you get round to serving the bread and wine!

Pax

Daily Office - Mar 26

The Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Psalm 111
Alleluia. I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the faithful and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, sought out by all who delight in them. His work is full of majesty and honour and his righteousness endures for ever. He appointed a memorial for his marvellous deeds; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He gave food to those who feared him; he is ever mindful of his covenant. He showed his people the power of his works in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of his hands are truth and justice; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever; they are done in truth and equity. He sent redemption to his people;
he commanded his covenant for ever; holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have those who live by it; his praise endures for ever.

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.

1 Samuel 2:1-10
Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.
‘There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.’

Romans 5:12-21
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Collect
We beseech you, O Lord, pour your grace into our hearts, that as we have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Psalm 107: 1-22
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his steadfast love endures for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this, those he redeemed from the hand of the enemy, And gathered out of the lands
from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some went astray in desert wastes and found no path to a city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul was fainting within them. So they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress. He set their feet on the right way till they came to a city to dwell in. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children. For he satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good.  Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound fast in misery and iron, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed down their heart with heaviness; they stumbled and there was none to help them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and out of the shadow of death, and broke their bonds asunder. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness
and the wonders he does for his children. For he has broken the doors of bronze and breaks the bars of iron in pieces. Some were foolish and took a rebellious way, and were plagued because of their wrongdoing. Their soul abhorred all manner of food and drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them, and saved them from destruction. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children. Let them offer him sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his acts with shouts of joy.

Exodus 24: 3-8
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, ‘All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt-offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’ Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, ‘See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’

Hebrews 12:18-29
You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’ This phrase ‘Yet once more’ indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.

The Collect
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; 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, 24 March 2012

Vocations - Looking at language

One of the consistent things that I find occurring when it comes to helping people discern their calling to ministry is the use of language.

People will often come in speaking of 'authority', a word that will cause many to immediately harbour doubts about the reason for the calling that is being claimed, when what they mean is perhaps more correctly labelled as 'testing, submission and of having been approved'.

On my journey, one of the important things in ordination was the fact that those who are ordained are:
  1. Recognised as having a 'calling' to something within their own fellowship,
  2. Are approved by that fellowship and sent to the DDO (Diocesan Director of Ordinands) or vocations adviser,
  3. Are examined and, perhaps after additional elements (readings groups, etc.), are sent to a selection conference (BAP),
  4. At the BAP the person is engaged to help clarify the nature of the calling and the best way it can be developed,
  5. Having been selected, training tales place and once this is completed the person is offered to the wider church (sending diocese having first choice if there is a suitable 'title post') and ordained.
What we have here is a process by which those who ordained can demonstrate that they are:

i. Have been tried, tested and approved

  • The selection process
  • The training experience
  • The Title post

ii. Are in submission to those above.
  •  It is here that, taking the model of Nehemiah, that we can see that those ordained have authority because they submit to authority.
  • Just as an officer in the forces is saluted because they hold a commission, it is the queen (whose commission they hold) who is being saluted, not the person - this is devolved power through submission to the monarch.
  • Are 'primus inter pares' (first among equals). This doesn't make them the 'Daddy' but makes them someone who is collaborative and supportive of others - true authority.
The motto of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) is 'Serve to Lead'.

On the first day at that place one of the staff asked us who the greatest leader was. Being in the big concrete sleeping bag that bears the name of a certain great leader theirs was the first name out of the bag, quickly followed by many others until, exasperated the Colour Sargeant asked where the padres were and who was it they worked for?

yes, the answer was 'Jesus'! Someone regarded by as a great leader because He came to serve. This is the true nature of authority - submission and service.

I hope this helps clarify some of the thinking around vocations

Pax





*Those who were not selected (this is not 'rejected'*) will be offered help in discerning their vocation and may return to a BAP at a later date or find their calling fulfilled in  a different area of ministry. This is not the end of 'calling' (of which our baptismal calling is the greatest calling we have).

Daily Office - Mar 24

Walter Hilton of Thurgarton, Augustinian Canon, Mystic, 1396
Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980

Psalm 32
Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered. Happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile. For I held my tongue; my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. Your hand was heavy upon me day and night; my moisture was dried up like the drought in summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful make their prayers to you in time of trouble; in the great water flood, it shall not reach them. You are a place for me to hide in; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance.  ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go; I will guide you with my eye. ‘Be not like horse and mule which have no understanding; whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle, or else they will not stay near you.’ Great tribulations remain for the wicked, but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord. Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

Exodus 7:8-end
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When Pharaoh says to you, “Perform a wonder”, then you shall say to Aaron, “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, and it will become a snake.” ’ So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord had commanded; Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff, and they became snakes; but Aaron’s staff swallowed up theirs. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water; stand by at the river bank to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was turned into a snake. Say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you to say, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness.’ But until now you have not listened. Thus says the Lord, ‘By this you shall know that I am the Lord.’ See, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall be turned to blood. The fish in the river shall die, the river itself shall stink, and the Egyptians shall be unable to drink water from the Nile.” ’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, “Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over its rivers, its canals, and its ponds, and all its pools of water—so that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout the whole land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.” ’
Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and of his officials he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the river, and all the water in the river was turned into blood, and the fish in the river died. The river stank so that the Egyptians could not drink its water, and there was blood throughout the whole land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts; so Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart. And all the Egyptians had to dig along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the river.
Seven days passed after the Lord had struck the Nile.

Hebrews 11:1-16
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’ For it was attested before he was taken away that ‘he had pleased God.’ And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, ‘as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.’
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

The Collect
Merciful Lord, absolve your people from their offences, that through your bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins which by our frailty we have committed; grant this, heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Daily Office - Mar 23

Psalm 102
O Lord, hear my prayer and let my crying come before you. Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; when I call, make haste to answer me, for my days are consumed in smoke and my bones burn away as in a furnace. My heart is smitten down and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. From the sound of my groaning my bones cleave fast to my skin. I am become like a vulture in the wilderness, like an owl that haunts the ruins. I keep watch and am become like a sparrow solitary upon the housetop. My enemies revile me all the day long, and those who rage at me have sworn together against me. I have eaten ashes for bread and mingled my drink with weeping, because of your indignation and wrath, for you have taken me up and cast me down. My days fade away like a shadow, and I am withered like grass. But you, O Lord, shall endure for ever and your name through all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is time to have mercy upon her; surely the time has come. For your servants love her very stones and feel compassion for her dust. Then shall the nations fear your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory, when the Lord has built up Zion and shown himself in glory; When he has turned to the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their plea. This shall be written for those that come after, and a people yet unborn shall praise the Lord. For he has looked down from his holy height; from the heavens he beheld the earth, that he might hear the sighings of the prisoner and set free those condemned to die; That the name of the Lord may be proclaimed in Zion and his praises in Jerusalem,when peoples are gathered together and kingdoms also, to serve the Lord. He has brought down my strength in my journey and has shortened my days. I pray, ‘O my God, do not take me in the midst of my days; your years endure throughout all generations. ‘In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; ‘They shall perish, but you will endure; they all shall wear out like a garment. ‘You change them like clothing, and they shall be changed; but you are the same, and your years will not fail. ‘The children of your servants shall continue, and their descendants shall be established in your sight.’

Exodus 6:2-13
God also spoke to Moses and said to him: ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name “The Lord” I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they resided as aliens. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.” ’ Moses told this to the Israelites; but they would not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go and tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his land.’ But Moses spoke to the Lord, ‘The Israelites have not listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh listen to me, poor speaker that I am?’ Thus the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, and gave them orders regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, charging them to free the Israelites from the land of Egypt.

Hebrews 10:26-end
For if we wilfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy ‘on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know the one who said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet ‘in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.’ But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

The Collect
Merciful Lord, absolve your people from their offences, that through your bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins which by our frailty we have committed; grant this, heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Daily Office - Mar 22

Psalm 53
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God. They have all fallen away, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one. Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? There they shall be in great terror, in terror such as has not been. For God will scatter the bones of the ungodly; they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them. O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

Psalm 86
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all day long. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me. There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. O God, the insolent rise up against me; a band of ruffians seeks my life, and they do not set you before them. But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant; save the child of your serving girl. Show me a sign of your favour, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Exodus 4:27- 6:1
The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went; and he met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him, and all the signs with which he had charged him. Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and performed the signs in the sight of the people. The people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.’ ” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has revealed himself to us; let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord our God, or he will fall upon us with pestilence or sword.” But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their work? Get to your labours!” Pharaoh continued, “Now they are more numerous than the people of the landa and yet you want them to stop working!” That same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people, as well as their supervisors, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as before; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you shall require of them the same quantity of bricks as they have made previously; do not diminish it, for they are lazy; that is why they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on them; then they will labour at it and pay no attention to deceptive words.”
So the taskmasters and the supervisors of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get straw yourselves, wherever you can find it; but your work will not be lessened in the least.’ ” So the people scattered throughout the land of Egypt, to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, the same daily assignment as when you were given straw.” And the supervisors of the Israelites, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and were asked, “Why did you not finish the required quantity of bricks yesterday and today, as you did before?”
Then the Israelite supervisors came to Pharaoh and cried, “Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ Look how your servants are beaten! You are unjust to your own people.” He said, “You are lazy, lazy; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Go now, and work; for no straw shall be given you, but you shall still deliver the same number of bricks.” The Israelite supervisors saw that they were in trouble when they were told, “You shall not lessen your daily number of bricks.” As they left Pharaoh, they came upon Moses and Aaron who were waiting to meet them. They said to them, “The Lord look upon you and judge! You have brought us into bad odor with Pharaoh and his officials, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.”

Hebrews 10:19-25
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The Collect
Merciful Lord, absolve your people from their offences, that through your bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins which by our frailty we have committed; grant this, heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Give until they leave

I thought this was one of the funniest clips relating to giving in church that I have seen for a while, so I thought I'd share it with you all.

video

Ebb and Flow

I have received an email relating to the blog from a lady asking me three questions:

1. How is it you appear to post lots and then so little?

2. Why don't you do more theology like the other blogs?  and

3. Why don't you nail your colours to the mast and make a stand against those with whom you disagree?

The reason that you find 'feast and famine' is quite simply a reflection of the working day and those things that occur within it. Some days I manage to get back to the palace and will reflect on those things that have occurred and the blog is part of my personal reflection process. I talk things out on the screen and leave them hanging to be considered, revisited and generally dealt with in some way. The natural ebb and flow of the daily engagements, the challenges and the funny all have the potential to find their way onto the blog.

That said, I have noticed that some of those who blog appear to have their lives totally taken up with clever things that they have sourced or sought. A conversation with a prolific blogger caused me some discomfort as I became aware that they were not engaging with me (and others) but merely seeking 'copy' for their blog. The blog is a servant of me and my ministry and (hopefully) a source of challenge and information for some of those I am engaged with in various ways, it is not my master!

The second question regarding theology is an interesting one as I think that there is a great deal of theology in what is to be found in this place. What I think the question is asking is, "Why don't you use theologyspeak?" The answer is that as one who seeks to be a theologian my task is to make the difficult concepts and issues that occur in Christian living understandable and to encourage those who stumble upon the simple concepts to make them everyday occurences. One of the courses of study I undertook challenged us to write about theological issues without the theological shorthand (eschatalogical, soterological, theodicy and the like).

A lecture I was most privileged to attended this week was full of what someone described as 'proper theology' as we considered 'kenosis, hierarchy and power and discussed the impact of this topic on eschatology and soteriology as we developed a reality which we called 'kenarchy' (a fantastic concept which disarms liberation theologians and also empowers them)'. As we were getting ready to go, one of my clergy colleagues told one of those they'd come with that, "It must have been good, didn't undertsand a word!' Now, I'm sure they were only joking, but this is what so many people assume theology is for - big words and more confusion.

When it comes to 'nailing colours to the mast, I think I have, and do. I am not prepared to trade insults for this benefits no one and serves only to polarise. I am always willing to dialogue, but not willing to be labelled, shouted at or abused for the sake of a man-made issue - that said, I am prepared to endure same for the Gospel and the name of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). I don't think anyone who has read this blog will be left in any doubt that my humour is flawed (as is the man) and my heart is set on God and His work of making disciples, coming alongside others (paraclete) and preaching the Gospel in and out of season. I don't see a place for condemning in the Christian life but then again neither do I see any call to deny that which we hold to be true (as long as it conforms with Biblical standards that is).

I used one of those word cloud applications on the blog to see what words it came up with and what it focussed on and (happilly) this is what came out the other end:



Seems about right!

I hope this answers the questions and hopefully those who pop by will understand why I don't write on the same topic areas as others and why you won't find such wonderfully worded theology that you need to lie down after readings it - I think the humour does that on its own :-)

Daily Office - Mar 21

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Reformation Martyr, 1556

Psalm 63
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul is athirst for you. My flesh also faints for you, as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So would I gaze upon you in your holy place, that I might behold your power and your glory. Your loving-kindness is better than life itself and so my lips shall praise you. I will bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your name. My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed and meditate on you in the watches of the night. For you have been my helper and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand shall hold me fast. But those who seek my soul to destroy it shall go down to the depths of the earth; Let them fall by the edge of the sword and become a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God;
all those who swear by him shall be glad, for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

Psalm 90
Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth, or the earth and the world were formed, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust and say: ‘Turn back, O children of earth.’ For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday, which passes like a watch in the night. You sweep them away like a dream; they fade away suddenly like the grass. In the morning it is green and flourishes; in the evening it is dried up and withered. For we consume away in your displeasure; we are afraid at your wrathful indignation. You have set our misdeeds before you and our secret sins in the light of your countenance. When you are angry, all our days are gone; our years come to an end like a sigh. The days of our life are three score years and ten, or if our strength endures, even four score; yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow, for they soon pass away and we are gone. Who regards the power of your wrath and your indignation like those who fear you? So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. Turn again, O Lord; how long will you delay? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Give us gladness for the days you have afflicted us, and for the years in which we have seen adversity. Show your servants your works, and let your glory be over their children. May the gracious favour of the Lord our God be upon us; prosper our handiwork; O prosper the work of our hands.

Exodus 4:1-23
Then Moses answered, ‘But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, “The Lord did not appear to you.” ’ The Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A staff.’ And he said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ So he threw the staff on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses drew back from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Reach out your hand, and seize it by the tail’—so he reached out his hand and grasped it, and it became a staff in his hand—‘so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’
Again, the Lord said to him, ‘Put your hand inside your cloak.’ He put his hand into his cloak; and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. Then God said, ‘Put your hand back into your cloak’—so he put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored like the rest of his body—‘If they will not believe you or heed the first sign, they may believe the second sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.’
But Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.’ But he said, ‘O my Lord, please send someone else.’ Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, ‘What of your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do. He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.’
Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, ‘Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living.’ And Jethro said to Moses, ‘Go in peace.’ The Lord said to Moses in Midian, ‘Go back to Egypt; for all those who were seeking your life are dead.’ So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses carried the staff of God in his hand.
And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord: Israel is my firstborn son. I said to you, ‘Let my son go that he may worship me.’ But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.” ’

Hebrews 10:1-18
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach. Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshippers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God” (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’
When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, ‘he sat down at the right hand of God’, and since then has been waiting ‘until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.’ For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds’, he also adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’ Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

The Collect
Father of all mercies, who through the work of your servant Thomas Cranmer renewed the worship of your Church and through his death revealed your strength in human weakness: by your grace strengthen us to worship you in spirit and in truth and so to come to the joys of your everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Mediator and Advocate, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.