Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Military Chaplaincy

Just a thought but I wondered if any of those who pass by this blog might consider getting involved as Chaplain to the uniformed cadet or Armed Forces Chaplain's branches?

The Cadet forces' Chaplains find themselves presented with varying degrees of opportunities for pastoral engagements with young people. The 'Padre's Hours' bring challenges, opportunities and discussion. It's not 'God-Bothering' or sermons, it's real down-to-earth dialogue and getting the younger generation to think, challenge and stand up for themselves. There are pastoral care issues for cadets, staff and families and, of course, the opportunities for church parades at relevant times (Trafalgar Day, Battle of Britain, Remembrance, etc.).

The Armed forces' Chaplains are engaged with much the same as the cadet role with the added edge of deployment, casualty notification and all the issues that being an adult and serving (regular or reserve) bring.

Bottom line is that within the military chaplaincy roles there is an opportunity to bring Christ into the lives of a particular group of people and through the Values and Standards teaching engage with them and the Gospel.

Never thought about it before?

Here's your opportunity . . . . .

Daily Office - Jul 31

Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus, 1556

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.

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

1 Samuel 15:1-23
Samuel said to Saul, ‘The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” ’
So Saul summoned the people, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot-soldiers, and ten thousand soldiers of Judah. Saul came to the city of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley. Saul said to the Kenites, ‘Go! Leave! Withdraw from among the Amalekites, or I will destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.’ So the Kenites withdrew from the Amalekites. Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. He took King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the cattle and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was valuable, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed.
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: ‘I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.’ Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the Lord all night. Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, and Samuel was told, ‘Saul went to Carmel, where he set up a monument for himself, and on returning he passed on down to Gilgal.’ When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord.’ But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of cattle that I hear?’ Saul said, ‘They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.’ Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.’ He replied, ‘Speak.’
Samuel said, ‘Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, “Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.” Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?’ Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But from the spoil the people took sheep and cattle, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.’ And Samuel said,
‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,he has also rejected you from being king.’

Luke 23:26-43
As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’

The Collect
Almighty Lord and everlasting God, we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of your laws and the works of your commandments; that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Daily Office - Jul 30

William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson,
Anti-Slavery Campaigners 1833, 1797 and 1846


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

Psalm 30
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have raised me up and have not let my foes triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you have healed me. You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit. Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; give thanks to his holy name. For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,
his favour for a lifetime. Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. In my prosperity I said, ‘I shall never be moved. You, Lord, of your goodness, have made my hill so strong.’ Then you hid your face from me and I was utterly dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried; to the Lord I made my supplication: ‘What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness? ‘Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; O Lord, be my helper.’ You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

1 Samuel 14:24-46
Now Saul committed a very rash act on that day. He had laid an oath on the troops, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food before it is evening and I have been avenged on my enemies.’ So none of the troops tasted food. All the troops came upon a honeycomb; and there was honey on the ground. When the troops came upon the honeycomb, the honey was dripping out; but they did not put their hands to their mouths, for they feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the troops with the oath; so he extended the staff that was in his hand, and dipped the tip of it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened. Then one of the soldiers said, ‘Your father strictly charged the troops with an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food this day.” And so the troops are faint.’ Then Jonathan said, ‘My father has troubled the land; see how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if today the troops had eaten freely of the spoil taken from their enemies; for now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.’
After they had struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon, the troops were very faint; so the troops flew upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the troops ate them with the blood. Then it was reported to Saul, ‘Look, the troops are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.’ And he said, ‘You have dealt treacherously; roll a large stone before me here.’ Saul said, ‘Disperse yourselves among the troops, and say to them, “Let all bring their oxen or their sheep, and slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.” ’ So all of the troops brought their oxen with them that night, and slaughtered them there. And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.
Then Saul said, ‘Let us go down after the Philistines by night and despoil them until the morning light; let us not leave one of them.’ They said, ‘Do whatever seems good to you.’ But the priest said, ‘Let us draw near to God here.’ So Saul inquired of God, ‘Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?’ But he did not answer him that day. Saul said, ‘Come here, all you leaders of the people; and let us find out how this sin has arisen today. For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, even if it is in my son Jonathan, he shall surely die!’ But there was no one among all the people who answered him. He said to all Israel, ‘You shall be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.’ The people said to Saul, ‘Do what seems good to you.’ Then Saul said, ‘O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant today? If this guilt is in me or in my son Jonathan, O Lord God of Israel, give Urim; but if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.’ And Jonathan and Saul were indicated by the lot, but the people were cleared. Then Saul said, ‘Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.’ And Jonathan was taken.
Then Saul said to Jonathan, ‘Tell me what you have done.’ Jonathan told him, ‘I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand; here I am, I will die.’ Saul said, ‘God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan!’ Then the people said to Saul, ‘Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great victory in Israel? Perish the thought! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground; for he has worked with God today.’ So the people ransomed Jonathan, and he did not die. Then Saul withdrew from pursuing the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place.

Luke 23:13-25
Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’
Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

The Collect
God our deliverer, who sent your Son Jesus Christ to set your people free from the slavery of sin: grant that, as your servants William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson toiled against the sin of slavery, so we may bring compassion to all and work for the freedom of all the children of God; 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, 28 July 2012

Occasional Offices - Hatch, Match & Despatch

It's nearly eight am and, daily office done and dusted (so now we're both up!), I begin to prepare for an early wedding. Looking at the league tables I see that weddings are lying a poor second to funerals but were still way ahead ahead of baptisms when we hit the halfway mark for 2012.

I think we often miss the fact that the occasional offices are more than just something we 'have to do'. I meet clergy who grumble when someone has the temerity to encroach upon their 'day off'. I meet others who do the service without any wedding preparation ("What's the point, they're only coming for the building?") and, by virtue of their lack of engagement, find in weddings a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Actually, weddings are a happy moment. The white dress, the shine of the shotgun, the dressing-up and so many other things conspire to make this a 'special day' for the punters and with just a bit of work on our (the DogCollars) part it could be even more special. It could be the pin in the map of life that marks step one in relationships between the couple and God. Not only that some of the things we tell and teach in preparation and the way we sell the Church (even though we give it away for free there is still marketing to be done!) in the interface with those coming all add up to either a warm feeling or a closed door.

The same is true of funerals for in them we find the potential for the development of real relationships as we become someones neighbour when they are in need. The trouble is that I know some who have two funeral sheets; one for 'believers' and the other for 'the lost'. I know so many clergy who offer nothing outside their rigidly structured service. Funerals are, for me, the best part of the job and I reckon that to do one well takes upwards of half a day when the visiting, preparing and doing (not including post-service involvement when required or VAT). When I said this to a bunch of people recently they told me it was, "Half and hour in the undertakers, half an hour in the crem/church/graveside - job done!" If this is the reality is it any wonder people pay for those who are other than clergy to give them what they want in a service? Seems we don't even manage to bring God into it (and I have listened to more than a few by arriving half an hour early for my slot at the Crem') so what's the point of having us do their services for Him or them?

And of course there's baptisms. That wonderful service that every time brings surprise from the family when you tell them, "No charge - God's grace is free!" So why is it when I ask about baptism prep' the answer is (almost) always in the negative? The rite of initiation is something that needs to be taken seriously (as do all the offices) but also need to be customer-facing, friendly and taking the opportunity for engagement. So why the hell don't we take these opportunities?

Here's a raft of things I encounter from talking to other clergy about their offices:

Baptismal preparation is often left out because people don't come.

We don't do baptismal preparation because the families don't like it.

People go somewhere else when we tell them they need to come for three months before we will baptise.

We ask baptism families to do an Alpha.

I just get the sheet and do the funeral with that and the words I ask the family for regarding the deceased.

I try not to do weddings as they take up my Saturdays and no one ever come back.

We don't do wedding preparation because they've already got loads of kids from other relationships.

I usually meet my wedding couple for the first time on the Friday before, the office do all the paperwork and meet them to arrange the service.

I never see any of the baptism couples again.

I never see any of my wedding couples again.

I never see any of my funeral families again.

Discuss

Daily Office - Jul 28

Psalm 20
May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend you; send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you out of Zion; remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice; grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your mind. May we rejoice in your salvation and triumph in the name of our God; may the Lord perform all your petitions. Now I know that the Lord will save his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven, with the mighty strength of his right hand. Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will call only on the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen, but we are risen and stand upright. O Lord, save the king and answer us when we call upon you.

Psalm 21
The king shall rejoice in your strength, O Lord; how greatly shall he rejoice in your salvation! You have given him his heart’s desire and have not denied the request of his lips. For you come to meet him with blessings of goodness and set a crown of pure gold upon his head. He asked of you life and you gave it him, length of days, for ever and ever. His honour is great because of your salvation; glory and majesty have you laid upon him. You have granted him everlasting felicity and will make him glad with joy in your presence. For the king puts his trust in the Lord; because of the loving-kindness of the Most High, he shall not be overthrown. Your hand shall mark down all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them like a fiery oven in the time of your wrath; the Lord will swallow them up in his anger and the fire will consume them. Their fruit you will root out of the land and their seed from among its inhabitants. Because they intend evil against you and devise wicked schemes which they cannot perform, you will put them to flight when you aim your bow at their faces. Be exalted, O Lord, in your own might; we will make music and sing of your power.

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.

1 Samuel 13:19-14:15
Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, ‘The Hebrews must not make swords or spears for themselves’; so all the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen their ploughshares, mattocks, axes, or sickles; The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the ploughshares and for the mattocks, and one-third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. So on the day of the battle neither sword nor spear was to be found in the possession of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
Now a garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash. One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armour, ‘Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.’ But he did not tell his father. Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree that is at Migron; the troops that were with him were about six hundred men, along with Ahijah son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, carrying an ephod. Now the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. In the pass, by which Jonathan tried to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on one side and a rocky crag on the other; the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. One crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.
Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armour, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will act for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.’ His armour-bearer said to him, ‘Do all that your mind inclines to. I am with you; as your mind is, so is mine.’ Then Jonathan said, ‘Now we will cross over to those men and will show ourselves to them. If they say to us, “Wait until we come to you”, then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. But if they say, “Come up to us”, then we will go up; for the Lord has given them into our hand. That will be the sign for us.’ So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, ‘Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.’ The men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armour-bearer, saying, ‘Come up to us, and we will show you something.’ Jonathan said to his armour-bearer, ‘Come up after me; for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.’ Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armour-bearer following after him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armour-bearer, coming after him, killed them. In that first slaughter Jonathan and his armour-bearer killed about twenty men within an area about half a furrow long in an acre of land. There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison and even the raiders trembled; the earth quaked; and it became a very great panic.

Luke 23:1-12
Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, ‘We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.’ Then Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He answered, ‘You say so.’ Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘I find no basis for an accusation against this man.’ But they were insistent and said, ‘He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.’
When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.

The Collect
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Daily Office - Jul 27

Brooke Foss Westcott, Bishop of Durham, Teacher of the Faith, 1901

Psalm 17
Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint; listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips. Let my vindication come forth from your presence; let your eyes behold what is right. Weigh my heart, examine me by night, refine me, and you will find no impurity in me. My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards; I have heeded the words of your lips. My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments; my feet have not stumbled in your paths. I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; incline your ear to me, and listen to my words. Show me your marvellous loving-kindness, O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who assault me, from my enemies who surround me to take away my life. They have closed their heart to pity and their mouth speaks proud things. They press me hard, they surround me on every side, watching how they may cast me to the ground, like a lion that is greedy for its prey,
like a young lion lurking in secret places. Arise, Lord; confront them and cast them down; deliver me from the wicked by your sword. Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand from those whose portion in life is unending, whose bellies you fill with your treasure, who are well supplied with children
and leave their wealth to their little ones. As for me, I shall see your face in righteousness; when I awake and behold your likeness, I shall be satisfied.

Psalm 19
The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. One day pours out its song to another and one night unfolds knowledge to another. They have neither speech nor language and their voices are not heard, yet their sound has gone out into all lands and their words to the ends of the world. In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun, that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a champion to run his course. It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey, dripping from the honeycomb. By them also is your servant taught and in keeping them there is great reward. Who can tell how often they offend? O cleanse me from my secret faults! Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

1 Samuel 13:5-18
The Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude; they came up and encamped at Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. When the Israelites saw that they were in distress (for the troops were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns. Some Hebrews crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
He waited for seven days, the time appointed by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people began to slip away from Saul. So Saul said, ‘Bring the burnt-offering here to me, and the offerings of well-being.’ And he offered the burnt-offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt-offering, Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him. Samuel said, ‘What have you done?’ Saul replied, ‘When I saw that the people were slipping away from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines were mustering at Michmash, I said, “Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favour of the Lord”; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt-offering.’ Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel for ever, but now your kingdom will not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.’ And Samuel left and went on his way from Gilgal. The rest of the people followed Saul to join the army; they went up from Gilgal towards Gibeah of Benjamin.
Saul counted the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. Saul, his son Jonathan, and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin; but the Philistines encamped at Michmash. And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies; one company turned towards Ophrah, to the land of Shual, another company turned towards Beth-horon, and another company turned towards the mountain that looks down upon the valley of Zeboim towards the wilderness.

Luke 22:63-end
Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ They kept heaping many other insults on him.
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us.’ He replied, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ All of them asked, ‘Are you, then, the Son of God?’ He said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!’

The Collect
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Daily Office - Jul 26

Anne and Joachim, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Psalm 14
The fool has said in his heart,‘There is no God.’ Corrupt are they, and abominable in their wickedness; there is no one that does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of earth, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks after God. But every one has turned back; all alike have become corrupt: there is none that does good; no, not one. Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as if they ate bread and do not call upon the Lord? There shall they be in great fear; for God is in the company of the righteous. Though they would confound the counsel of the poor, yet the Lord shall be their refuge. O that Israel’s salvation would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Psalm 15
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? Who may rest upon your holy hill? Whoever leads an uncorrupt life and does the thing that is right; who speaks the truth from the heart and bears no deceit on the tongue; who does no evil to a friend and pours no scorn on a neighbour; in whose sight the wicked are not esteemed, but who honours those who fear the Lord. Whoever has sworn to a neighbour and never goes back on that word; who does not lend money in hope of gain, nor takes a bribe against the innocent; whoever does these things shall never fall.

Psalm 16
Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge; I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord, all my good depends on you.’ All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, upon those who are noble in heart. Though the idols are legion that many run after, their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, neither make mention of their names upon my lips. The Lord himself is my portion and my cup; in your hands alone is my fortune. My share has fallen in a fair land; indeed, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, and in the night watches he instructs my heart. I have set the Lord always before me; he is at my right hand; I shall not fall. Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my flesh also shall rest secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Death, nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit. You will show me the path of life; in your presence is the fullness of joy and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

1 Samuel 12
Samuel said to all Israel, ‘I have listened to you in all that you have said to me, and have set a king over you. See, it is the king who leads you now; I am old and grey, but my sons are with you. I have led you from my youth until this day. Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.’ They said, ‘You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from the hand of anyone.’ He said to them, ‘The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.’ And they said, ‘He is witness.’
Samuel said to the people, ‘The Lord is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of the land of Egypt. Now therefore take your stand, so that I may enter into judgement with you before the Lord, and I will declare to you all the saving deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your ancestors. When Jacob went into Egypt and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your ancestors cried to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought forth your ancestors out of Egypt, and settled them in this place. But they forgot the Lord their God; and he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of King Jabin of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. Then they cried to the Lord, and said, “We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served the Baals and the Astartes; but now rescue us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you.” And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak, and Jephthah, and Samson, and rescued you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you lived in safety. But when you saw that King Nahash of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, “No, but a king shall reign over us”, though the Lord your God was your king. See, here is the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; see, the Lord has set a king over you. If you will fear the Lord and serve him and heed his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well; but if you will not heed the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king. Now therefore take your stand and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain; and you shall know and see that the wickedness that you have done in the sight of the Lord is great in demanding a king for yourselves.’ So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
All the people said to Samuel, ‘Pray to the Lord your God for your servants, so that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of demanding a king for ourselves.’ And Samuel said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and do not turn aside after useless things that cannot profit or save, for they are useless. For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.’

Luke 22:47-62
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’ When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, ‘Lord, should we strike with the sword?’ Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!’
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, ‘Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.

The Collect
Lord God of Israel, who bestowed such grace on Anne and Joachim that their daughter Mary grew up obedient to your word and made ready to be the mother of your Son: help us to commit ourselves in all things to your keeping and grant us the salvation you promised to your people; 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, 25 July 2012

Daily Office - Jul 25

James the Apostle

Psalm 7
O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all who pursue me, and deliver me, lest they rend me like a lion and tear me in pieces while there is no one to help me. O Lord my God, if I have done these things: if there is any wickedness in my hands, if I have repaid my friend with evil, or plundered my enemy without a cause, then let my enemy pursue me and overtake me, trample my life to the ground, and lay my honour in the dust. Rise up, O Lord, in your wrath; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies. Awaken, my God, the judgement that you have commanded. Let the assembly of the peoples gather round you; be seated high above them: O Lord, judge the nations. Give judgement for me according to my righteousness, O Lord, and according to the innocence that is in me. Let the malice of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; for you test the mind and heart, O righteous God. God is my shield that is over me; he saves the true of heart. God is a righteous judge; he is provoked all day long. If they will not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent his bow and made it ready. He has prepared the weapons of death; he makes his arrows shafts of fire. Behold those who are in labour with wickedness, who conceive evil and give birth to lies. They dig a pit and make it deep and fall into the hole that they have made for others. Their mischief rebounds on their own head; their violence falls on their own scalp. I will give thanks to the Lord for his righteousness, and I will make music to the name of the Lord Most High.

Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon; He makes Lebanon skip like a calf and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning; the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare; in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’ The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore. The Lord shall give strength to his people; the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Psalm 117
O praise the Lord, all you nations; praise him, all you peoples. For great is his steadfast love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever. Alleluia.

2 Kings 1:9-15
Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty men. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, ‘O man of God, the king says, “Come down.” ’ But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, ‘If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.’ Then fire came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. He went up and said to him, ‘O man of God, this is the king’s order: Come down quickly!’ But Elijah answered them, ‘If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.’ Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. So the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and entreated him, ‘O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. Look, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.’ Then the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.’ So he set out and went down with him to the king,

Luke 9:46-56
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’
John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

The Collect
Merciful God, whose holy apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ and followed him even to death: help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world, to be ready at all times to answer your call without delay; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Daily Office - Jul 24

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my lamentation. Hearken to the voice of my crying, my King and my God, for to you I make my prayer. In the morning, Lord, you will hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal to you, and look up. For you are the God who takes no pleasure in wickedness; no evil can dwell with you. The boastful cannot stand in your sight; you hate all those that work wickedness. You destroy those who speak lies; the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord will abhor. But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy, I will come into your house;
I will bow down towards your holy temple in awe of you. Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness, because of my enemies; make your way straight before my face. For there is no truth in their mouth, in their heart is destruction, their throat is an open sepulchre, and they flatter with their tongue. Punish them, O God; let them fall through their own devices. Because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them sing out their joy for ever. You will shelter them, so that those who love your name may exult in you. For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; and with your favour you will defend them as with a shield.

Psalm 6
O Lord, rebuke me not in your wrath; neither chasten me in your fierce anger. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak; Lord, heal me, for my bones are racked. My soul also shakes with terror; how long, O Lord, how long? Turn again, O Lord, and deliver my soul; save me for your loving mercy’s sake. For in death no one remembers you; and who can give you thanks in the grave? I am weary with my groaning; every night I drench my pillow and flood my bed with my tears. My eyes are wasted with grief and worn away because of all my enemies. Depart from me, all you that do evil, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. All my enemies shall be put to shame and confusion; they shall suddenly turn back in their shame.

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

1 Samuel 10:17-end
Samuel summoned the people to the Lord at Mizpah and said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.” But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said, “No! but set a king over us.” Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.’

Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the family of the Matrites was taken by lot. Finally he brought the family of the Matrites near man by man, and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the Lord, ‘Did the man come here?’ and the Lord said, ‘See, he has hidden himself among the baggage.’ Then they ran and brought him from there. When he took his stand among the people, he was head and shoulders taller than any of them. Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the one whom the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.’ And all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’
Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship; and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people back to their homes. Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went warriors whose hearts God had touched. But some worthless fellows said, ‘How can this man save us?’ They despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.
Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh-gilead.

Luke 22:31-38
‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’
He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’

The Collect
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Church - Rearranging the deckchairs - 4

Looking at the 2010-11 statistics for the Church of England I note that the Diocese of Lichfield clergy figures look like this:

Full-time stipendiary         300
Part-time stipendiary          17
Non-stipendiary                  72
Ordained Local Ministers    56
Total clergy numbers        445   (I notice the official figure is 498 clergy for 2009)

As I'm only looking at a ballpark figure to provide some sort of feel for the numbers we will be taking these as being somewhere near correct for the beginning of the period 2012 - 2020.

It is during this period that we are being told that some 61% of the clergy will be leaving us through retirement and other 'natural' loss. This means that on these figures we will be losing two hundred and seventy-two clergy during the period which when added to the thirty clergy destined to be lost by planned clergy losses (also known as redundancy) brings us to a total reduction (before additions by ordination and other means) of three hundred and two clergy (or a total population remaining of one hundred and forty-three clergy). This means we are left with one hundred and sixty-four clergy before we start ordaining (or otherwise adding).

So before we ordain (Stipendiary, NSM and OLM) we have something between one hundred and forty-three and one hundred and sixty four clergy to service the needs of some five hundred and sixty-seven churches.

There are a number of possible ways forward with such reduced numbers and if an average of twenty-eight  new ministers (stipendiary, non-stipendiary and OLM) is correct (I was told it was but I can not validate this figure!) then over the six-year period we will be adding eighty-four new priests to the total  (Assuming a three-year curacy). The rough working figures then see us with something between two hundred and twenty-seven and two hundred and forty-eight clergy and (before closures) five hundred and eighty-seven churches.

Taking the median of two hundred and thirty-eight clergy this means we will have around two point four churches each.

The issue before us is that we don't have enough clergy to take on the churches and even if we did, unless they were free, we wouldn't have the money to pay for them anyway!

So whilst some are complaining that the church has gone money mad I guess we should look at the figures (only for a minute because we are heading back to the Gospel very shortly) and feel some sympathy for the bean counters whom many are pointing the finger (and quite rightly in some instances - but that's something else for some time ahead too!).

I will leave you with my addled mathematics - all done with the aid of a fag packet and some crude and rudimentary maths. Mind you, work into the equation the sum of £50 per stipendiary and you'll be sweating along with the rest of the financial types.

pax

Daily Office - Jul 23

Bridget of Sweden, Abbess of Vadstena, 1373

Psalm 1
Blessed are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the assembly of the scornful. Their delight is in the law of the Lord and they meditate on his law day and night. Like a tree planted by streams of water bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither, whatever they do, it shall prosper. As for the wicked, it is not so with them; they are like chaff which the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked shall not be able to stand in the judgement, nor the sinner in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall perish.

Psalm 2
Why are the nations in tumult, and why do the peoples devise a vain plot? The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed: ‘Let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their cords from us.’ He who dwells in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak to them in his wrath and terrify them in his fury: ‘Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.’ I will proclaim the decree of the Lord; he said to me: ‘You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. ‘Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Now therefore be wise, O kings; be prudent, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and with trembling kiss his feet, lest he be angry and you perish from the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all they who take refuge in him.

Psalm 3
Lord, how many are my adversaries; many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say to my soul, ‘There is no help for you in your God.’ But you, Lord, are a shield about me; you are my glory, and the lifter up of my head. When I cry aloud to the Lord, he will answer me from his holy hill; I lie down and sleep and rise again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of hordes of the peoples that have set themselves against me all around. Rise up, O Lord, and deliver me, O my God, for you strike all my enemies on the cheek and break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord: may your blessing be upon your people.

1 Samuel 10:1-16
Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, ‘The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage: When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; they will say to you, “The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying about you, saying: What shall I do about my son?” Then you shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt-offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. For seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.’
As he turned away to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all these signs were fulfilled that day. When they were going from there to Gibeah, a band of prophets met him; and the spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them. When all who knew him before saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, ‘What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’ A man of the place answered, ‘And who is their father?’ Therefore it became a proverb, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’ When his prophetic frenzy had ended, he went home.
Saul’s uncle said to him and to the boy, ‘Where did you go?’ And he replied, ‘To seek the donkeys; and when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.’ Saul’s uncle said, ‘Tell me what Samuel said to you.’ Saul said to his uncle, ‘He told us that the donkeys had been found.’ But about the matter of the kingship, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

Luke 22:24-30
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Collect
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday Worship - You Make Beautiful Things



Take some time to listen and praise God today

Church - Rearranging the deckchairs - 3

'We have a gospel to proclaim
Good news for men in all the earth;
The gospel of a Saviour’s name:
We sing His glory, tell His worth."


I wonder how many of us have sung this hymn? Edward Burns words are sound and the music old and this is another area that I find we are addressing, or at least discussing, greatly as the angle between floor and the leve seas increase! Not only that but we are now concerned with the 'when' of church attendance too; adding to this the mixed economy of traditional and fresh expression of being church for good measure.

Here are a few things we need to be thinking of:

Some churches (people and building) are not the right targets for drums guitars and modern music.
In fact, some places cry out for a cessation of the 'modern is good' and a focus upon the English Church choral music and even a bash with the Book of Common Prayer (1662). But this is, to many of my colleagues, a return to the past days and the source of decline. I suggest that we tell that to the members of the Prayer Book Society and the many who travel to places where the music of organ and choir draws them.

All church buildings are right for multiple congregations. It is not wrong to cater for the BCP people as the day start (and perhaps with evensnog, ends too!) and to move on to a Common Worship generation, fitting somewhere between beginning and end contemporary music and the Gospel being preached in another way too! The many that I meet who rend their garments (but sadly rarely their hearts) over the fact that the congregations 'don't meet' and work at 'getting them to worship together' always appear to forget that they will, but it might just have to be when they all stand before the throne!

Not everyone can come to church on a Sunday (we will have to discuss what 'church' and 'Church' are sometime) so we open our doors when they can. It isn not rocket science. If someone wants something and (because of work, life or something else) can only seek it out during certain times then the venue that caters for that need will find itself graced by their presence. We had a man who, due to work schedules, could only do church on a Wednesday and so we started a Wednesday Communion service at a time he could do. Sadly I think he came once, but the response to the need generated something that others have benefitted from!

Flexibility is the key. We need to be doing church when people can make it. This is not bowing to consumer pressure, it is providing the ability to come together when people can come together.

My biggest problem (and I'm sure you can see that I have many) is the fact that the answer is always 'yes'. When people ask for a service or want something from the Church I have (99% of the time) that one answer (and then I work out how it's going to happen). Our doors are open and we engage with, and work for, the community. The object is that we have the Church outside the building that many think bears the same name and the community (AKA 'not the Church') inside it.

Now I know some have taken me to task for this thought but the reality is that the building is the community's and the church (the people) are the Lord's. We get so precious about our buildings and how (and who) they are used but at the end of the day our job is, quite simply, to worship God and to bless what God is doing in the lives of the 'not the Church' people and, having made them aware of the fact that God is active and engaged in their lives, to bring them into Church so they can invite others into the building.

We are in the position we are in because we have failed to teach and act in the Biblical truths of:

Evangelism - Worship - Prayer - Discipleship - Tithing - Teaching

We have failed to live outside the culture in which we find ourselves and have embraced it at every turn in a false hope of being 'popular' and this mess of popularist pottage has brought us to where we are.

We do not condemn, for this is the work of him against who we contend, but we do not bless that which God does not bless either. God does not just want us to be happy because we do what pleases us but want us to be happy because we seek to be obedient and find happiness where it is rightfully to be found - in Him, living as He commands.

This is all so simple and yet we look to more reports, strategies and plans rather than grasp the nettle and be as Church should be.

Happy Sunday - May God bless you and yours and may our lives shine with His love, mercy and truth.

pax

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Church - Rearranging the deckchairs - 2

One of the interesting discussions I found myself engaged in this week surrounded the issue of young people. One of the amazing successes was the image of St Paul's actually being filled with eighteen to thirty year olds such that they didn't all fit for a commissioning service! (Hallelujah or what?)

Again I have heard a number of people explaining how we need to get involved with the younger part of our society and evangelise them at source (i.e. schools, colleges, leisure and the like) but I have a question with this, and it is this:

If we catch fish how will we clean them and what do we think we will be bringing them back to?

It is superb that we are going to target particular people groups but that's not a new thing now is it?

It is excellent that we are coming up with multimedia, flashing lights, relevant music and conversation but again that's what the coffee bars of the fifties did and where are those from that generation?

Telling is easy and inculturation (I hear the mumbled words of Paulo Freire and notice, once again, the cover of 'Pedagogy' as it calls me to delve inside once more) essential. Understand the language of the people group and using their language translate the Gospel truths from where we own them to a place where they receive them.

And when we win them, what do we bring them back to? A place where cultures clash or co-exist uneasily (and perhaps by those who were there first, unwanted)? We need to change our language and become wonderfully different to those places and people around us. I think a quote (from 'Pedagogy) that I had on my wall when doing some postgrad stuff back in the nineties might suffice here:

“The multitude is always in the wrong.”

So come one people - let's be different and do it the way we used to in the first century and present the values, standards and attitudes that make us a wonderful minority and our faith a wondrous minority sport - and keep doing it until the pool is fished up and the nets need no more mending because the fisherman and the Carpenter are reunited around a table to feast and sing Hallels.

Praise to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who builds the Church, holds it in His hand and empowers it through His Spirit.

Church - Rearranging the deckchairs - 1

I have been reading the Church in Wales review document and take from it much that I consider to be extremely positive and helpful as we rethink 'Church' in our particular brand label.

The mobilising the laity to fulfil their baptismal calling and become a full and effective member of the church family to which they belong has already been addressed and so we will move on.The concept of larger ministry areas is in many ways a return to the Minster model of doing church whereby there is a centralised support structure and a group of churches in relationship with each other and with the centre. The interesting thing here is a rationalisation of those churches which remain in that the situation where, if we were honest, unsustainable churches would vanish and with it the heavy workload of sustaining these spiritual 'money pits'. My take would be that where there is growth or potential for growth then we should do all we can to keep the banner flying, but we need to stop throwing good money (and time) after bad! A recipe for tears I am sure but a necessary step I fear.

So here's you starter for ten.

How do you see the potential changes running out in terms of mobilising people, rationalising parishes and reducing the buildings?

Have a go - you never know who's reading your comments (as I have found out again recently ;-) )

Pax

Daily Office - Jul 21

Psalm 147
Alleluia. How good it is to make music for our God, how joyful to honour him with praise. The Lord builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds. He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond all telling. The Lord lifts up the poor, but casts down the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the lyre; Who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth; Who makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve our needs. He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens when they cry. He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, no delight in human strength; But the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their trust in his steadfast love.
13 Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion; For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you. He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat. He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes. He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost? He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel. He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws. Alleluia.

1 Samuel 9:15-10:1
Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: ‘Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of my people, because their outcry has come to me.’ When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, ‘Here is the man of whom I spoke to you. He it is who shall rule over my people.’ Then Saul approached Samuel inside the gate, and said, ‘Tell me, please, where is the house of the seer?’ Samuel answered Saul, ‘I am the seer; go up before me to the shrine, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, give no further thought to them, for they have been found. And on whom is all Israel’s desire fixed, if not on you and on all your ancestral house?’ Saul answered, ‘I am only a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel, and my family is the humblest of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin. Why then have you spoken to me in this way?’
Then Samuel took Saul and his servant-boy and brought them into the hall, and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, of whom there were about thirty. And Samuel said to the cook, ‘Bring the portion I gave you, the one I asked you to put aside.’ The cook took up the thigh and what went with it and set them before Saul. Samuel said, ‘See, what was kept is set before you. Eat; for it is set before you at the appointed time, so that you might eat with the guests.’
So Saul ate with Samuel that day. When they came down from the shrine into the town, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul upon the roof, ‘Get up, so that I may send you on your way.’ Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.
As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, ‘Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.’
Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, ‘The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage:

Luke 22:14-23
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’ Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.

The Collect
Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Church - Just shut up and get on with the job!

Why (I hear you all cry)?

The reason is simple. A couple of days back I wrote these most innocent words:

"Lower clergy numbers can mean a stronger and enabled and released laity and from this a flourishing Church."

OK, I guess I could have finished the sentence with . . . "can be the result," but I didn't as I was rushing out to attend a gathering of mission-minded types (more about that later). But my grammar (or lack of it) wasn't the reason for the brickbat. What has caused the anger is that I think there can be anything positive about the reductions in stipendiary clergy.

So here we go:

The reality is that the days of having a stipendiary minister in the majority of our church buildings are coming to an end. The 'Parson in every parish' and even the parochial system as it has been since the first of the enclosure Act (and subsequent inclosure Acts) came to be are surely soon to be something from days gone by.

What we have before us is a situation whereby congregations (AKA 'churches') will find themselves with a Non-Stipendiary Minister (also known as a SSM - Self Supporting Minister) or an Ordained Local Minister (OLM) in the ministerial role. Alongside them will be a stipendiary, that is paid, full-time, minister who will support, pastor and guide that church and a few others (in what we will call 'clusters').

This model will mean that the members of the church will need to become mobilised and motivated (and trained, equipped and released) to do many of the roles that hitherto have been, generally, left to the 'paid' help. The gifts of the Spirit that serve the whole (rather than exalt the individual) will need to be in evidence in those who call themselves 'Church'. The desire, and ability, to take the Gospel out of the church doors and into the streets, homes, schools, workplaces and places of leisure and relaxation will need to be made an everyday reality for every member.

Yes indeedy people, this is the century where the Church returns to its roots and we see 'all-member ministry' become 'ALL MEMBER ministry!'. An exciting prospect and one that is perhaps just a little scary because:

1. Those who are stipendiary will have to become effective evangelists, teachers, pastors and spirit-led.

2. Those who are non-stipendiary will need to become well-rounded shepherds of the flock they are charged to pastor. They will need to be more than adequate teachers and caring pastors who are not only Spirit-led but can lead others into that reality AND be willing, able and desirous of the evangelistic role. The local church will need to be effective in evangelism and community involvement and will need to become the prayer houses that Church has always supposed to have been.

3. The members will need to become 'MEMBERS'! A bunch of enthusiastic, prayer-filled, Spirit-led and equipped, motivated and mobilised people. The club is closing and in it's place we are opening drill halls (with a great line in bread and wine, a 'brothers arms' reality that looks like family and and a place to party together when the battle is done).

Yes it's going to be a potentially exciting and enlivening time. 'Church' will mean what it should - the corporate (corporeal?) Body of Christ being 'militant here on earth'.

Simples

Exciting

Blinking Hard Work

Amazing times of triumph and telling of stories in the bar afterwards.

Medal ceremony for those who have been in when we are 'needing them not just feeding them' will take place just after our Commanding Officer arrives back ;-)

Daily Office - July 20

Margaret of Antioch, Martyr, 4th century
Bartolomé de las Casas, Apostle to the Indies, 1566


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

Psalm 144
Blessed be the Lord my rock, who teaches my hands for war and my fingers for battle; My steadfast help and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I trust, who subdues the peoples under me. O Lord, what are mortals that you should consider them; mere human beings, that you should take thought for them? They are like a breath of wind; their days pass away like a shadow. Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains and they shall smoke. Cast down your lightnings and scatter them; shoot out your arrows and let thunder roar. Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and take me out of the great waters, from the hand of foreign enemies, whose mouth speaks wickedness and their right hand is the hand of falsehood. O God, I will sing to you a new song; I will play to you on a ten-stringed harp, You that give salvation to kings and have delivered David your servant. Save me from the peril of the sword and deliver me from the hand of foreign enemies, whose mouth speaks wickedness and whose right hand is the hand of falsehood; So that our sons in their youth may be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters like pillars carved for the corners of the temple; Our barns be filled with all manner of store; our flocks bearing thousands, and ten thousands in our fields; Our cattle be heavy with young: may there be no miscarriage or untimely birth, no cry of distress in our streets. Happy are the people whose blessing this is. Happy are the people who have the Lord for their God.

1 Samuel 9:1-14
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. He had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.
Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, had strayed. So Kish said to his son Saul, ‘Take one of the boys with you; go and look for the donkeys.’ He passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he passed through the land of Benjamin, but they did not find them.
When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the boy who was with him, ‘Let us turn back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and worry about us.’ But he said to him, ‘There is a man of God in this town; he is a man held in honour. Whatever he says always comes true. Let us go there now; perhaps he will tell us about the journey on which we have set out.’ Then Saul replied to the boy, ‘But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What have we?’ The boy answered Saul again, ‘Here, I have with me a quarter-shekel of silver; I will give it to the man of God, to tell us our way.’ (Formerly in Israel, anyone who went to inquire of God would say, ‘Come, let us go to the seer’; for the one who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) Saul said to the boy, ‘Good; come, let us go.’ So they went to the town where the man of God was.
As they went up the hill to the town, they met some girls coming out to draw water, and said to them, ‘Is the seer here?’ They answered, ‘Yes, there he is just ahead of you. Hurry; he has come just now to the town, because the people have a sacrifice today at the shrine. As soon as you enter the town, you will find him, before he goes up to the shrine to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterwards those eat who are invited. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.’ So they went up to the town. As they were entering the town, they saw Samuel coming out towards them on his way up to the shrine.

Luke 22:1-13
Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.
Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ ‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ ” He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’ So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

The Collect
Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Daily Office - Jul 19

Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and his sister Macrina, Deaconess, Teachers of the Faith, c.394 and c.379

Psalm 143
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and in your faithfulness give ear to my supplications; answer me in your righteousness. Enter not into judgement with your servant, for in your sight shall no one living be justified. For the enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like those long dead. My spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate. I remember the time past; I muse upon all your deeds; I consider the works of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul gasps for you like a thirsty land. O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me; hide not your face from me lest I be like those who go down to the Pit. Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning, for in you I put my trust; show me the way I should walk in, for I lift up my soul to you. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies, for I flee to you for refuge. Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God; let your kindly spirit lead me on a level path. Revive me, O Lord, for your name’s sake; for your righteousness’ sake, bring me out of trouble. In your faithfulness, slay my enemies, and destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for truly I am your servant.

Psalm 146
Alleluia. Praise the Lord, O my soul: while I live will I praise the Lord; as long as I have any being, I will sing praises to my God. Put not your trust in princes, nor in any human power, for there is no help in them. When their breath goes forth, they return to the earth; on that day all their thoughts perish. Happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God; Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps his promise for ever; who gives justice to those that suffer wrong and bread to those who hunger. The Lord looses those that are bound; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous; the Lord watches over the stranger in the land; he upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked he turns upside down. The Lord shall reign for ever, your God, O Zion, throughout all generations. Alleluia.

1 Samuel 8
When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’
So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’
But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to their voice and set a king over them.’ Samuel then said to the people of Israel, ‘Each of you return home.’

Luke 21:29-end
Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.

The Collect
Lord of eternity, creator of all things, in your Son Jesus Christ you open for us the way to resurrection that we may enjoy your bountiful goodness: may we who celebrate your servants Gregory and Macrina press onwards in faith to your boundless love and ever wonder at the miracle of your presence among us; 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, 18 July 2012

Daily Office - Jul 18

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

Psalm 119.153-end
O consider my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. Plead my cause and redeem me; according to your promise, give me life. Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes. Great is your compassion, O Lord; give me life, according to your judgements. Many there are that persecute and oppress me, yet do I not swerve from your testimonies.
It grieves me when I see the treacherous, for they do not keep your word. Consider, O Lord, how I love your commandments; give me life according to your loving-kindness. The sum of your word is truth, and all your righteous judgements endure for evermore. Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of your word. I am as glad of your word as one who finds great spoils. As for lies, I hate and abhor them, but your law do I love. Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgements. Great peace have they who love your law; nothing shall make them stumble.
Lord, I have looked for your salvation and I have fulfilled your commandments. My soul has kept your testimonies and greatly have I loved them. I have kept your commandments and testimonies, for all my ways are before you. Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding, according to your word. Let my supplication come before you; deliver me, according to your promise. My lips shall pour forth your praise, when you have taught me your statutes.
My tongue shall sing of your word, for all your commandments are righteous. Let your hand reach out to help me, for I have chosen your commandments. I have longed for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Let my soul live and it shall praise you, and let your judgements be my help. I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; O seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

1 Samuel 7
And the people of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord, and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. They consecrated his son, Eleazar, to have charge of the ark of the Lord.
From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.
Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, ‘If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.’ So Israel put away the Baals and the Astartes, and they served the Lord only.
Then Samuel said, ‘Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.’ So they gathered at Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the Lord. They fasted that day, and said, ‘We have sinned against the Lord.’ And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.
When the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it they were afraid of the Philistines. The people of Israel said to Samuel, ‘Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, and pray that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.’ So Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it as a whole burnt-offering to the Lord; Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. As Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel; but the Lord thundered with a mighty voice that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion; and they were routed before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as beyond Beth-car.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’ So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.
Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all these places. Then he would come back to Ramah, for his home was there; he administered justice there to Israel, and built there an altar to the Lord.

Luke 21.20-28
‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfilment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

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