Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Daily Office - Oct 31

Martin Luther, Reformer, 1546

Psalm 119:1-32
Blessed are those whose way is pure, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies and seek him with their whole heart, those who do no wickedness, but walk in his ways.
You, O Lord, have charged that we should diligently keep your commandments.
O that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes. Then should I not be put to shame, because I have regard for all your commandments. I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, when I have learned your righteous judgements. I will keep your statutes; O forsake me not utterly. How shall young people cleanse their way to keep themselves according to your word?
With my whole heart have I sought you; O let me not go astray from your commandments. Your words have I hidden within my heart, that I should not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; O teach me your statutes. With my lips have I been telling of all the judgements of your mouth. I have taken greater delight in the way of your testimonies than in all manner of riches. I will meditate on your commandments and contemplate your ways. My delight shall be in your statutes and I will not forget your word. O do good to your servant that I may live, and so shall I keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of your law. I am a stranger upon earth; hide not your commandments from me. My soul is consumed at all times with fervent longing for your judgements. You have rebuked the arrogant; cursed are those who stray from your commandments. Turn from me shame and rebuke, for I have kept your testimonies. Rulers also sit and speak against me, but your servant meditates on your statutes. For your testimonies are my delight; they are my faithful counsellors. My soul cleaves to the dust; O give me life according to your word. I have acknowledged my ways and you have answered me; O teach me your statutes. Make me understand the way of your commandments, and so shall I meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away in tears of sorrow; raise me up according to your word. Take from me the way of falsehood; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth and your judgements have I laid before me. I hold fast to your testimonies; O Lord, let me not be put to shame. I will run the way of your commandments, when you have set my heart at liberty.

Leviticus 8
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
Take Aaron and his sons with him, the vestments, the anointing oil, the bull of sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread; and assemble the whole congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Moses did as the Lord commanded him. When the congregation was assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting, Moses said to the congregation, “This is what the Lord has commanded to be done.”
Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward, and washed them with water. He put the tunic on him, fastened the sash around him, clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod on him. He then put the decorated band of the ephod around him, tying the ephod to him with it. He placed the breastpiece on him, and in the breastpiece he put the Urim and the Thummim. And he set the turban on his head, and on the turban, in front, he set the golden ornament, the holy crown, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them. He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the basin and its base, to consecrate them. He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him. And Moses brought forward Aaron’s sons, and clothed them with tunics, and fastened sashes around them, and tied headdresses on them, as the Lord commanded Moses.
He led forward the bull of sin offering; and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bull of sin offering, and it was slaughtered. Moses took the blood and with his finger put some on each of the horns of the altar, purifying the altar; then he poured out the blood at the base of the altar. Thus he consecrated it, to make atonement for it. Moses took all the fat that was around the entrails, and the appendage of the liver, and the two kidneys with their fat, and turned them into smoke on the altar. But the bull itself, its skin and flesh and its dung, he burned with fire outside the camp, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Then he brought forward the ram of burnt offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, and it was slaughtered. Moses dashed the blood against all sides of the altar. The ram was cut into its parts, and Moses turned into smoke the head and the parts and the suet. And after the entrails and the legs were washed with water, Moses turned into smoke the whole ram on the altar; it was a burnt offering for a pleasing odour, an offering by fire to the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Then he brought forward the second ram, the ram of ordination. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, and it was slaughtered. Moses took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. After Aaron’s sons were brought forward, Moses put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet; and Moses dashed the rest of the blood against all sides of the altar. He took the fat—the broad tail, all the fat that was around the entrails, the appendage of the liver, and the two kidneys with their fat—and the right thigh. From the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord, he took one cake of unleavened bread, one cake of bread with oil, and one wafer, and placed them on the fat and on the right thigh. He placed all these on the palms of Aaron and on the palms of his sons, and raised them as an elevation offering before the Lord. Then Moses took them from their hands and turned them into smoke on the altar with the burnt offering. This was an ordination offering for a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the Lord. Moses took the breast and raised it as an elevation offering before the Lord; it was Moses’ portion of the ram of ordination, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was on the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his vestments, and also on his sons and their vestments. Thus he consecrated Aaron and his vestments, and also his sons and their vestments. And Moses said to Aaron and his sons, “Boil the flesh at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and eat it there with the bread that is in the basket of ordination offerings, as I was commanded, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it’; and what remains of the flesh and the bread you shall burn with fire. You shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the day when your period of ordination is completed. For it will take seven days to ordain you; as has been done today, the Lord has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. You shall remain at the entrance of the tent of meeting day and night for seven days, keeping the Lord’s charge so that you do not die; for so I am commanded.” Aaron and his sons did all the things that the Lord commanded through Moses.

2 Timothy 1:1-14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

The Collect
Blessed Lord,
who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
help us so to hear them,
to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them
that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word,
we may embrace and for ever hold fast
the hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Frankenstorm - Who you gonna call?

I love this too - for having prayed I can also enjoy the compilation image and remember some very good films to boot!


So who you gonna call America?

Obama

Romney

or perhaps . . . . .  Ghostbusters?

Frankenstorm - Beauty in the beast

I couldn't resist posting this most amazing image of the storm and its awesome power and beauty combined.

As you gaze upon it please pray for those who have suffered from the effects of Sandy (and perhaps sing a verse of 'How great Thou art too?).


Making Church without straw - 1

Regarding the blog entry on the Church becoming increasingly marginalised that I wrote yesterday, I have received this:

"There can be but one response to your questions.

It's not as easy as you make it out to be!!!

I have work, family and other interests that all take place along with church life. I don't have the priveleged position of being paid to do church work all day so that I can engage with other things outside of church like you.

You place so much guilt upon people like me because of the choices I make and this is extremely unfair. I think you need to be more realistic and loving towards others."

God and I were discussing the issue of what being Church means and during our conversation I found myself reflecting on the plight of God's people and their brick-making efforts whilst they were living in Egypt. The task just got harder and harder as the constituent materials were withheld - all because they'd asked Pharaoh for a bit of time off to worship the LORD. Seems that whenever we set out to serve the LORD we find ourselves up against it.

Of course the bricks and straw story (Exodus 5) ends up with Moses complaining to God about having got them into trouble and chapter six takes us to a place where God tells Moses that by the time he's finished, the Egyptians will be ordering them to leave - captivity over man!

A minister recently described being in ministry as being like making bricks without straw.  The bemoaned the fact that they were expected to keep up production (just like the Israelites) without the people and opportunities to make it happen. "If only we had more people involved," they cried, "We could really be effective for Christ!" Picking up the baton, another started talking about how they had decided to drop a project they'd started last year because the help had dropped of to such an extent that it was only the wardens and the minister's own family who were doing and coming!

The response to yesterday's blog and the comments from ministers leads us back into one of the most contentious issues that consistently faces Church life (and ministry), namely the:



Church -  Life - Work Balance 

and this is something we need to consider as we seek 'more straw' for the living bricks that make Church a reality. There are many thoughts on this, for instance having asked five people what priorities they have, I was given:

1. God - Self - Family - Work - Church - Everything Else
2. Family - Work - God - Church - Everything Else
3. God - Work - Family - Everything Else
4. God - Church - Family - Work - Everything Else, and
5. God - Family - Work - Church - Everything Else

Over the next few days we will be looking at the work/life balance and I'd welcome any suggestions for the order you have decided on (and why).

Pax

Daily Office - Oct 30

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

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

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

Exodus 29:38-30:16 (ESV)
“Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. And with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that iI am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.
“You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. A cubit shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth. It shall be square, and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top and around its sides and its horns. And you shall make a moulding of gold around it. And you shall make two golden rings for it. Under its moulding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you. And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. You shall not offer unauthorised incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it. Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the Lord.”
The Lord said to Moses, “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give a ransom for his life to the Lord when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as an offering to the Lord. Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when you give the Lord’s offering to make atonement for your lives. You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to remembrance before the Lord, so as to make atonement for your lives.”

1 Timothy 6:11-end (NRSV)
But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge; by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith.

The Collect
Blessed Lord,
who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
help us so to hear them,
to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them
that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word,
we may embrace and for ever hold fast
the hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our 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, 29 October 2012

Winterval - No more than we deserve?

I wonder how many people remember Winterval - that great British festival organised by Birmingham City Council over the Christmas period between 1997 and 1998. This was a two year dual-edged experiment (for it encouraged visitors and spending as well as secularising Christmas). Its published aims were that of making Christmas an 'inclusive' time for those of no faith and be attractive (and attract to the city) those of the world faiths (for it included Diwali and Hanukkah as well as Christmas).

At the end of the day, what we are supposed to believe about Winterval is that it was all about attracting visitors to Birmingham and getting them to part with their money in the shops, eating places and events. To be honest, regardless of the intention, I cannot but feel that what was true was that it was little more than a cynical attempt at hijacking Christmas and denying the faith of the majority of those in the city (even though some areas are now 100% non-British origin populated).

In parallel with the first Winterval, in a London borough, the council stated its intention to use money earmarked for Christmas-related activities and decorations to support a political group elsewhere. Ironically it was the raised voices of the Hindus and Sikhs that caused Christmas to continue as it always had. More ironic still is the fact that the 'Christian' voice was muted and largely impotent!

So many people bemoan the 'fact' that Christianity is becoming increasingly marginalised and recount the many ways in which Christianity as a public (or national) faith is seen to be acted against and in decline.

So many Christians harangue me (sorry - I mean engage me in conversation) and, having pinned me to the wall with their posturing, tell me how us 'church leaders' need to make a stand and 'stop the rot'! And I, more often than not nod in agreement and utter soothing words which agree with them and salve their fears and calms their ire! I agree that we (The Church) need to be 'more visible' and 'more relevant' (actually I really hate that trite, often meaningless little phrase) and 'more _ _ _ _ _' (insert your pet desire!) and eventually they move on to drone on at someone else!

Rude? Yes, I certainly am! Here's the reason why . . .

More often than not the self-same person who has pinned me to the wall and pointed out how the church is being increasingly marginalised; of how the church is not given the opportunities to be what it should be and act as it should act is actually the problem - not the solution.

It is. far too often, them that is the bird lime of the faith world that causes the living bricks that are the Church crumble and fall from their place!

It is them who call for the Church to be afforded opportunities, given respect and included in the running of our communities.

BUT

These are (far too often) the same people who think they are doing Christ a favour by turning up on a Sunday morning, mumbling through their prayers, dropping money into the hat as it passess, singing the songs that bless them and doing the same the next week. Church is something to 'do' rather than be and this is the real reason that we are seeing a marginalised faith in the shape of Christianity.

If you are one of those who wants to see a mainstream Christian faith then you need to examine yourself and ask yourself some really hard questions; we all do.

If all I am prepared to offer is myself for an hour (or so) a week, usually on a Sunday when I can meet my friends, sing my favourite songs and be home by lunch, then what does my faith really mean to me?

Three Questions

Do I want to live the way God is calling me to live or do I want a Christianity that lets me take what I want from my faith life and live the way I'm calling me to live?

Do I want to be part of a faith that calls me to get stuck in and be about our Father's business; to be making a difference; to be engaged where the need is?

Do I want to reverse the marginalisation that I think the Church is being subjected to?

If you have answered 'Yes' to any of the above then I have to ask one final question, namely:

What are you going to do about it?

I know of a town where the local council have come to the realisation that Christmas is about more than Father Christmas and presents. They have realised that CHRISTmas (not Argostide) is a name that points to the person of Jesus (THE CHRIST) and have asked the Christians in that town to be involved with the town's celebrations that coincide with the Christmas tree lights being lit.

All they want is a nativity that tells the Christmas story and puts Jesus into the running order.

Now, if this was your town, what would you do?

Me, I'd rip their arms off in my haste to get out there and tell the nativity story.

Them? You can count those who have come forward to make it happen on the digits of a solitary person!

Marginalised? Perhaps it's what we Christians deserve.

Don't let us be put to shame, O LORD,
for we have cried out to you;
we turn up at church every week,
we speak of the great plans we have for others to do for you!

But let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.
Let those you act against you feel your wrath.
Those who would marginalise and render impotent your church be dealt with severely.



hang on Lord, what do you mean that's me?



Daily Office - Oct 29

James Hannington, Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Martyr in Uganda, 1885

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.

Exodus 22:21-27
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.
If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.
If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them.
If you take your neighbour’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbour’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbour cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.

1 Timothy 6:1-10
Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honour, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.
Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

The Collect
Most merciful God,
who strengthened your Church by the steadfast courage
of your martyr James Hannington:
grant that we also,
thankfully remembering his victory of faith,
may overcome what is evil
and glorify your holy name;
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, 28 October 2012

Sunday Worship - Handel's timeless Messiah

I awoke this morning with Handel's Messiah banging through my head and that of the 'Young Messiah' variant too! So often we miss what is before us and cling to the traditional as if it were the only way. Recalling an apology from a first version of 'Hymns Ancient and Modern' regarding the inclusion of the 'tunes' and 'doggerel that are, of course, the self same hymns we treasure as classics today - here's a portion of the 'Young Messiah' to bless both man and God. Happy Sunday

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Daily Office - Oct 27

Psalm 147
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grown on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Extol the Lord, Jerusalem; praise your God, Zion. He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat. He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation;they do not known his laws. Praise the Lord.

2 Kings 25:22-end
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliahl son of Ahikam,m the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maakathite, and their men. Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.”
In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.
In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honours higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.

1 Timothy 5:17-end
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.

The Collect
God, the giver of life,
whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church:
by the Spirit’s gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ
and make us eager to do your will,
that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life;
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, 26 October 2012

Well it made me laugh - 2

Having served my curacy in a church with an exceptionally great reredos I find this amazingly funny - it never ceases to make me smile - I hope it does the same for you:

video

Daily Office - Oct 26

Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, Scholar, 899
Cedd, Abbot of Lastingham, Bishop of the East Saxons, 664


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.

2 Kings 24: 18 - 25:12
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. Indeed, Jerusalem and Judah so angered the Lord that he expelled them from his presence.
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it; they built siege-works against it all round. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine became so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city wall; the king with all the soldiers fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all round the city. They went in the direction of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; all his army was scattered, deserting him. Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence on him. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah; they bound him in fetters and took him to Babylon.
In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. All the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon—all the rest of the population. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest people of the land to be vine-dressers and tillers of the soil.

1 Timothy 5: 1 - 16
Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.
Honour widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once; she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. But refuse to put younger widows on the list; for when their sensual desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry, and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge. Besides that, they learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house; and they are not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us. For some have already turned away to follow Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are really widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so that it can assist those who are real widows.

The Collect God, our maker and redeemer,
we pray you of your great mercy
and by the power of your holy cross
to guide us by your will and to shield us from our foes:
that, after the example of your servant Alfred,
we may inwardly love you above all things;
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, 25 October 2012

Church and Discipleship - A Guest writes. . .


Our guest contributor writes:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of church and discipleship – partly due to a course called 'Closing the Back Door', currently running at our church.

In last week’s session, George Fisher (the course leader) used a quote from a retired Anglican priest:

“The big issue when we volunteer is that we set the agenda – when, how much, where and what it is we will volunteer. We are not tied down to anything or anyone. The person in charge often treats volunteers like royalty, tip-toes around mistakes and finds it hard to hold volunteers accountable.

When you are a disciple you don’t give up your time. You realise that you possess (or own) no time of your own. God created you, gave you life and time in this life, so it is his time! Disciples are more committed than loyal; they act without regard for admiration or recognition!’

It got me thinking about the difference in attitude between disciples and volunteers.

A volunteer is identified as one who gives their time voluntarily (i.e. is unpaid); and can also then withdraw that gift at any time. This is why many church leaders find themselves ‘tip-toeing around volunteers’, because any perceived offense or disagreement can send volunteers storming out of the door leaving the leader to pick up the slack. Volunteers fit in their voluntary commitment around their life, so that a change in their circumstances can also lead to a sudden withdrawal of labour. When the church event clashes with another life event, then church is put aside. This can also be true of a Sunday service; many church members make an active decision not to attend church because they ‘have something else on’.

By contrast a disciple is described as a follower, student or devotee. A disciple is committed to a journey of knowledge and growth, and so is less likely to turn away. They are more likely to deal with difficult situations and even use them as growth experiences. A disciple fits their life around their commitment – as the above quote states: when you are a disciple you don’t give up your time. Church is not just something that the disciple does when it suits, but is an immoveable commitment on their diary. Non-attendance is limited to reasons of illness or holiday.

It strikes me that the difference between a volunteer or discipleship mind-set is influenced heavily by the way we perceive church. For many – certainly for ‘volunteers’ – church is an organisation (much like a club) that they have joined and they choose which activities to attend, whether that is a service or other church event. However, just as Jesus did not tell us to go and find volunteers, he also did not tell us to start an organisation. He calls us to make disciples and he calls the church his Bride. Jesus sees the church in a much different way to the reality that it often is: he emphasises the place of relationship; the relationship between a bride and her groom.

Our daughters have developed a habit of watching “Don’t Tell the Bride’ – one of those awfully addictive low-quality TV programmes. A couple are given £12,000 to pay for their wedding, on the provision that the groom does the planning and arranging. The couple have no contact for three weeks, during which the groom books the venue, buys the dress, plans the hen-do and makes all other arrangements for the big day. What I find most interesting is the difference between the vision of the bride and groom. Usually, the bride dreams of a fairy-tale affair, straight out of a bridal magazine. What the groom arranges tends to be much more personal, reflecting aspects of their relationship and personalities. Although the bride is sometimes reticent at first, she is almost always won over by the end and acknowledges that her groom has given her ‘the best wedding ever’. He is able to do this because he knows his bride, sometimes better than she knows herself, and loves her. This is the relationship of the groom and bride: of Christ and his church! Our vision of church is often quite different to his; he sees a living bond that reflects our personality and his, not a structured set of committees and meetings.

St Paul describes the Church as the Body of Christ: once again a reference to a living organism rather than an organisation. All parts are dependent upon each other in a mutual relationship. However, quite often our churches seem to suffer from a debilitating illness where some parts only work at certain times (perhaps for a couple of hours on Sunday morning), but at other times are disconnected from the rest of the body – or more particularly, from the head. Can you imagine what it must be like to have a body that doesn’t respond to what your head tells it to do? I saw an interview with a paralympic athlete who suffered from cerebral palsy. She described how she had recently learned to skip; a simple action that most children learn by about five or six-years-old, but a huge accomplishment for her. When the body isn’t properly connected to the head, even the simplest actions become difficult.

The quote from G Allan Kerr I used earlier continues:

‘In baptism we are freed from the power of sin, death and the devil and we are freed from idolatry of self; to be freed from self is to be open for call; to be open for call is truly to be open to God.’ 

When we are freed from self, we are able to be better connected to something outside of ourselves.

So which are you:

a volunteer giving time freely to a favourite organisation,

or

a disciple of Christ and integral member of his body, organically and inextricably attached to him and others? 

Is church something you fit in to your busy schedule, or something that orders your world? 

If you don’t know, then ask yourself what difference would it make if you stopped going to church; how would your life change and how would you notice?

Daily Office - Oct 25

Crispin and Crispinian, Martyrs at Rome, c.287

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 soulwhile 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.

2 Kings 23:36-24:17
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as all his ancestors had done. In his days King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up; Jehoiakim became his servant for three years; then he turned and rebelled against him. The Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, bands of the Arameans, bands of the Moabites, and bands of the Ammonites; he sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets. Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, for all that he had committed, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to pardon. Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? So Jehoiakim slept with his ancestors; then his son Jehoiachin succeeded him. The king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for the king of Babylon had taken over all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Wadi of Egypt to the River Euphrates. Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; he reigned for three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his father had done.
At that time the servants of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it; King Jehoiachin of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself, his mother, his servants, his officers, and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign. He carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which King Solomon of Israel had made, all this as the Lord had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem, all the officials, all the warriors, ten thousand captives, all the artisans and the smiths; no one remained, except the poorest people of the land. He carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon; the king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the elite of the land, he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valour, seven thousand, the artisans and the smiths, one thousand, all of them strong and fit for war. The king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

1 Timothy 4
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.
If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.
These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The Collect
God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit's gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; 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.

Fair Trade in Tamworth

Christmas is coming and so is the opportunity to not only bless those you love with presents but to bless those who produce the things we give by treating them fairly.

So if you live in (or near) to Tamworth, why not drop in and make the world a fairer place this Christmas.

Pax

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Church Vs Fitness Centre

This week began on a high as I joined with other ministers from across the town for a two-day session facilitated by Neil Hudson of LICC*.

One of the things that resonated with me was Neil's account of him joining a gym which goes a little like this . . . .

Having arrived at the gym our hero is greeted by a fine example of fitness and muscles all bound into one who asks why he is considering joining a gym. The true answer is that he (Neil) would like to look like the man questioning him but instead (feet shuffling slightly) he mumbles something about 'general fitness".

Our Adonis asks, "So how often will you be visiting the gym?" and the response, "A couple of times a week," brings back the response, "Not enough, you need to do more than that to get fit!.

Swiftly, Neil modifies his position and ups the ante to 'three days' in the hope that this will suffice but this is met by another question asking him to think back to the previous week and think about what he would have to have given up to make it three visits to the gym.

Time for a 'freeze frame' here as we hit point to consider the first!
Had this been church we were talking about - would we have challenged those considering coming to join us about how they were going to meet their commitment to membership? I think not!
Let us continue . . . . 

A few days later, our hero and the hunk pass one another in the corridor and although they acknowledge one another in passing, there is no dialogue of the sort that might occur had it been a church building and this says much in that:

point to consider the second
There was no engagement from Adonis whereby the new member was congratulated for being there. What was going on was that the new member was merely being regarded in the light of their stated intentions being a true representation. There was no 'Thank You' for coming or neediness on the part of the gym but perhaps Neil should have been thanking them for being there and making the place available to him and being willing to take time to educate, bring about change lifestyles, attitudes and a healthier outlook (and potentially longe and better life).

It's interesting that in the gym setting the members take advice, instruction and correction from those who are on the staff whilst in church we often try to avoid these things in case the new member leaves!

So off the new member goes to test himself and extend his capabilities and consider all that his personal trainer has shown him. He consider the things that are bad for his physical body and as he struggles on the road that leads to fitness and well-being he readily accepts correction and suggestions of how he might 'raise his game' so that he can run his race and receive the crown of general 'well fuit' approbation!

Point to consider the third
What we have in this example is two different setting with the same desires (albeit that one is spiritual and the other physical) and, were we (The Church) to be bold enough to take up the practice of the trainer and attitudes of the the gym, would more than likely find the same responses and progress made in the new member.

People who join a gym (and see it through) know what they want and are willing to do what it takes to run the race and reach their goal.

People who join a church are similar but we don't challenge them to ascertain how they might make their commitment reality  and how we can aid this (so how are you going to come of a Sunday - and if you can't when would you like us to be open for you?).

The road to hell is paved with good intentions (and unused gym memberships) - the reason for this is that we all like the idea of a sound and fit body but intentions and practice are rarely one and the same thing unless we have desire and people who will challenge, demand and, most importantly, provide the place, means and relationships to make our intentions concrete.

We live in a world of physically and spiritually unfit people - when are we available?

My local gym bears the message


'open when you need us to be - here when you want us to help'.

Pity the Church hasn't learned this ;-)




*LICC - London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

Daily Office - Oct 24

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.

2 Kings 23:4-25
The king commanded the high priest Hilkiah, the priests of the second order, and the guardians of the threshold, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. He deposed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who made offerings to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and all the host of the heavens. He brought out the image of Asherah from the house of the Lord, outside Jerusalem, to the Wadi Kidron, burned it at the Wadi Kidron, beat it to dust and threw the dust of it upon the graves of the common people. He broke down the houses of the male temple prostitutes that were in the house of the Lord, where the women did weaving for Asherah. He brought all the priests out of the towns of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beer-sheba; he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on the left at the gate of the city. The priests of the high places, however, did not come up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but ate unleavened bread among their kindred. He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, so that no one would make a son or a daughter pass through fire as an offering to Molech. He removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the Lord, by the chamber of the eunuch Nathan-melech, which was in the precincts; then he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. The altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, he pulled down from there and broke in pieces, and threw the rubble into the Wadi Kidron. The king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Destruction, which King Solomon of Israel had built for Astarte the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. He broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the sacred poles, and covered the sites with human bones.
Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin—he pulled down that altar along with the high place. He burned the high place, crushing it to dust; he also burned the sacred pole. As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount; and he sent and took the bones out of the tombs, and burned them on the altar, and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, when Jeroboam stood by the altar at the festival; he turned and looked up at the tomb of the man of God who had predicted these things. Then he said, ‘What is that monument that I see?’ The people of the city told him, ‘It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.’ He said, ‘Let him rest; let no one move his bones.’ So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. Moreover, Josiah removed all the shrines of the high places that were in the towns of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the Lord to anger; he did to them just as he had done at Bethel. He slaughtered on the altars all the priests of the high places who were there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
The king commanded all the people, ‘Keep the passover to the Lord your God as prescribed in this book of the covenant.’ No such passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, even during all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem. Moreover, Josiah did away with the mediums, wizards, teraphim, idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

1 Timothy 3
The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.
Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be married only once, and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:
He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

The Collect
God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit's gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; 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, 23 October 2012

Daily Office - Oct 23

Psalm 132
Lord, remember for David all the hardships he endured; how he swore an oath to the Lord and vowed a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: ‘I will not come within the shelter of my house, nor climb up into my bed; 'I will not allow my eyes to sleep, nor let my eyelids slumber, ‘Until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.’ Now, we heard of the ark in Ephrathah and found it in the fields of Ja-ar. Let us enter his dwelling place and fall low before his footstool. Arise, O Lord, into your resting place, you and the ark of your strength. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness and your faithful ones sing with joy. For your servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of your anointed. The Lord has sworn an oath to David, a promise from which he will not shrink: 'Of the fruit of your body shall I set upon your throne. ‘If your children keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their children also shall sit upon your throne for evermore.' For the Lord has chosen Zion for himself; he has desired her for his habitation: ‘This shall be my resting place for ever; here will I dwell, for I have longed for her. ‘I will abundantly bless her provision; her poor will I satisfy with bread. ‘I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful ones shall rejoice and sing. ‘There will I make a horn to spring up for David; I will keep a lantern burning for my anointed. ‘As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame; but on him shall his crown be bright.’

Psalm 133
Behold how good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, even on Aaron’s beard, running down upon the collar of his clothing. It is like the dew of Hermon running down upon the hills of Zion. For there the Lord has promised his blessing: even life for evermore.

2 Kings 22:1-23:3
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the Lord, saying, ‘Go up to the high priest Hilkiah, and have him count the entire sum of the money that has been brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people; let it be given into the hand of the workers who have the oversight of the house of the Lord; let them give it to the workers who are at the house of the Lord, repairing the house, that is, to the carpenters, to the builders, to the masons; and let them use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no account shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.’
The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.’ When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, ‘Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the Lord.’ Shaphan the secretary informed the king, ‘The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.’ Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.

When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah, saying, ‘Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.’
So the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the prophetess Huldah the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; she resided in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter, where they consulted her. She declared to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord, I will indeed bring disaster on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. Because they have abandoned me and have made offerings to other gods, so that they have provoked me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. But as to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place, and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and because you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. Therefore, I will gather you to your ancestors, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring on this place.’ They took the message back to the king.
Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.

1 Timothy 1:18-2.end
I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all - this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

The Collect
God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit's gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; 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, 22 October 2012

Daily Office - Oct 22

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

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

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

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

2 Kings 21:1-18
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; he reigned for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, following the abominable practices of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he erected altars for Baal, made a sacred pole, as King Ahab of Israel had done, worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, ‘In Jerusalem I will put my name.’ He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. He made his son pass through fire; he practised soothsaying and augury, and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. The carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the Lord said to David and to his son Solomon, ‘In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name for ever; I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander any more out of the land that I gave to their ancestors, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.’ But they did not listen; Manasseh misled them to do more evil than the nations had done that the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.
The Lord said by his servants the prophets, ‘Because King Manasseh of Judah has committed these abominations, has done things more wicked than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has caused Judah also to sin with his idols; therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such evil that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line for Samaria, and the plummet for the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will cast off the remnant of my heritage, and give them into the hand of their enemies; they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their ancestors came out of Egypt, even to this day.’
Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he caused Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, all that he did, and the sin that he committed, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? Manasseh slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the garden of his house, in the garden of Uzza. His son Amon succeeded him.

1 Timothy 1:1-17
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope,
To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Collect
God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit's gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; 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, 20 October 2012

Daily Office - Oct 20

Psalm 120
When I was in trouble I called to the Lord; I called to the Lord and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you? What more shall be done to you, deceitful tongue? The sharp arrows of a warrior, tempered in burning coals! Woe is me, that I must lodge in Meshech and dwell among the tents of Kedar. My soul has dwelt too long with enemies of peace. I am for making peace, but when I speak of it, they make ready for war.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not suffer your foot to stumble; he who watches over you will not sleep. Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord himself watches over you; the Lord is your shade at your right hand, so that the sun shall not strike you by day, neither the moon by night. The Lord shall keep you from all evil; it is he who shall keep your soul. The Lord shall keep watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth for evermore.

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

2 Kings 20
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’ Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord: ‘Remember now, O Lord, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Turn back, and say to Hezekiah prince of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; indeed, I will heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.’ Then Isaiah said, ‘Bring a lump of figs. Let them take it and apply it to the boil, so that he may recover.’
Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?’ Isaiah said, ‘This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: the shadow has now advanced ten intervals; shall it retreat ten intervals?’ Hezekiah answered, ‘It is normal for the shadow to lengthen ten intervals; rather let the shadow retreat ten intervals.’ The prophet Isaiah cried to the Lord; and he brought the shadow back the ten intervals, by which the sun had declined on the dial of Ahaz. At that time King Merodach-baladan son of Baladan of Babylon sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. Hezekiah welcomed them; he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armoury, all that was found in his storehouses; there was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, ‘What did these men say? From where did they come to you?’ Hezekiah answered, ‘They have come from a far country, from Babylon.’ He said, ‘What have they seen in your house?’ Hezekiah answered, ‘They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.’
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord: Days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord. Some of your own sons who are born to you shall be taken away; they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’ Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?’ The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah, all his power, how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? Hezekiah slept with his ancestors; and his son Manasseh succeeded him.

Philippians 4:2-end
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
The Collect
O God, forasmuch as without you we are not able to please you; mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; 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.