Monday, 30 September 2013

Let’s get Missional!

Many words are found in church language yet not all of us fully understand them. Realising this, I thought I’d have a quick go at making sense of them here – so here goes:

Missional
An extremely popular word these days. For me, it was George Carey, as Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) who made me aware of the word  but Priest and theologian, Leslie Newbiggin, who made it real.

Newbiggin used the word to describe the life, ministry and mission of the Church thus:

‘The Church is sent into the world to continue that which he (Jesus) came to do, in the power of the same Spirit, reconciling people to God.’

It is in the reconciling  (mending relationships) between God and the people in it that Church finds its most important role, for we are not (as someone said recently) ‘do gooders’. We are in the world to point to – and look like Jesus!


Missional Church seeks to build bridges and make Jesus, the Christ, known in the world. It looks at ways of being effective and influential and in being involved with, and in, everything around us.

Missional Church is a church with open doors, hands and hearts – welcoming and embracing all who come into contact with it as family and friends.

Fresh Expressions (FE)
I was recently invited to an ‘FE’ evening and the person next to me assumed it meant Further Education (which was a fair guess) - never good when we fail to define the terms, abbreviations and acronyms we use, is it?

A good definition of an FE is:

‘A fresh expression is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.’

In a nutshell – if people who are not part of church would come if there was a Wednesday, 5pm service, then that service would be a Fresh Expression.


One such service is ‘Messy Church’ which seeks to build a church for those with children.
Note – it is a church in its own right, not merely something to bring people into the other Sunday services. This would make it messy outreach!

Fresh Expressions have four marks in that they are:

·     missional – serving people outside church;
·     contextual – listening to people and entering their culture;
·     educational – making discipleship a priority;
·     ecclesial – forming church.

A healthy, effective and flourishing Church consists of the traditional church buildings and services and alongside these we have Messy Church and other services, some in the same building and others in cafés, clubs, pubs, homes and wherever the need is found to be.

These many expressions of church (traditional and fresh) work together for the Kingdom of God and do so across denominations and any other boundaries that might exist. This is exciting Church as it creates new relationships with people and churches around us too.

Hopefully this short piece has given you a feel for what missional church and the opportunities and excitement that is to be found by be part of it?

To find out more take a look at the 'Mission Shaped Ministry' site

and have a look at

Fresh Expressions   too!

Trunk Monkey meets the films

I had to say I found this a little predictable - but having started the trend (and created the desire in some) I feel obliged to keep it going to the bitter end now:

video

There's still a few great clips to come though

Happy Monday

Daily Office - Sept 30

Psalm 80
Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, you that led Joseph like a flock;
Shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim,
before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your mighty strength and come to our salvation.
Turn us again, O God;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry at your people’s prayer?
You feed them with the bread of tears;
you give them abundance of tears to drink.
You have made us the derision of our neighbours and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
Turn us again, O God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You made room around it, and when it had taken root, it filled the land.
The hills were covered with its shadow and the cedars of God by its boughs.
It stretched out its branches to the Sea and its tendrils to the River.
Why then have you broken down its wall,
so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes?
The wild boar out of the wood tears it off,
and all the insects of the field devour it.
Turn again, O God of hosts, look down from heaven and behold;
Cherish this vine which your right hand has planted,
and the branch that you made so strong for yourself.
Let those who burnt it with fire, who cut it down,
perish at the rebuke of your countenance.
Let your hand be upon the man at your right hand,
the son of man you made so strong for yourself.
And so will we not go back from you;
give us life, and we shall call upon your name.
Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Psalm 82
God has taken his stand in the council of heaven;
in the midst of the gods he gives judgement:
‘How long will you judge unjustly and show such favour to the wicked?
‘You were to judge the weak and the orphan;
defend the right of the humble and needy;
‘Rescue the weak and the poor;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
‘They have no knowledge or wisdom;
they walk on still in darkness:
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
‘Therefore I say that though you are gods and all of you children of the Most High,
‘Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals and fall like one of their princes.’
Arise, O God and judge the earth,
for it is you that shall take all nations for your possession.

2 Chronicles 17.1-12
His son Jehoshaphat succeeded him, and strengthened himself against Israel. He placed forces in all the fortified cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim that his father Asa had taken. The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father; he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the ways of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. All Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honour. His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord; and furthermore he removed the high places and the sacred poles from Judah.

 In the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. With them were the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah; and with these Levites, the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them; they went around through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.

The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands around Judah, and they did not make war against Jehoshaphat. Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and silver for tribute; and the Arabs also brought him seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred male goats. Jehoshaphat grew steadily greater. He built fortresses and storage cities in Judah.

Mark 15.1-15
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God,
increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind
and reaching out to that which is before,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
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, 29 September 2013

Things I struggle with (1): Automated posting

A few weeks ago, during Holy Week (that's the week that ends with Good Friday BTW), I read a post from someone which referred to Easter Sunday and the empty tomb. Now I have to be honest and say that I found that just a little premature and so I wrote to them asking why they'd posted the triumph before the agony and received the response that they didn't have any control over what was posted as they merely used a system that automatically posted passages.

I had to say that as much as I think that it's great to publish Bible passages, I also think that there needs to be a relevance and some engagement from, by and with the person posting them. To be honest - if you just post passages because you think it's a 'nice idea' then you're just a little bit wrong! After all, what's the point? Why do you do it?

I post things because they have touched me in some way - I'm challenged, blessed, amused or dialoguing but I don't post for the sake of it and don't like the idea of posting for posting's sake.

So here's a plea - and my first struggle point - If you are going to post make sure it is relevant and timely: Posting about Easter Sunday when it's Maundy Thursday is crass and meaningless and therefore unnecessary and unhelpful too!

There you go - I've come clean and stated my position (I hope clearly),

Pax


Possessed by Possessions - Lazarus and Dives

Today's three readings (Amos 6.1a, 4-7 - 1 Timothy 6.6-19 - Luke 16.19-31) all bring us something to chew over regarding how we live now and how that might just have an impact upon our future hope.

Now I have friends who tell me that everyone 'gets in' regardless of how we live or what we believe and yet today's readings appear to be telling me something just a little different to that - and adding Hebrews 9:27 and John3:16 (to name but two of many passages) to the mix appears to deny their universalist stance even more.

So here's a thought for today: If you are possessed by possessions, live for money and ignore the world around you (and its needs) then you'd better be reconciled to the fact that whilst we bring nothing material into, or out of, the world we do set conditions by our living for a future state and hope.

A quick illustration to aid our thinking?

The love of money is truly the root of all kind of evil - so what choices are we going to make here before it's too late.

Perhaps the story of Lazarus and the rich man informs and influences us in this area?

Made me laugh: New life

This (yes, it's another trunk monkey!) is obviously just what the doctor ordered.

Not one of the best - but still funny (and a great addition to any collection of clips for use in lectures, sermons and the like too).

Enjoy




video

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Made Me Laugh: Brush with the Law

Yes, you've probably guessed that it's yet another 'trunk monkey' offering.

This one made me laugh and later, hearing of a colleague who's had a parking ticket, also made me wonder if they'd have fared better with a trunk monkey too?

video

On reflection - probably not :-)

Happy Saturday

Daily Office -Sept 28

Psalm 76
In Judah God is known, his name is great in Israel.
His abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling-place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.

Glorious are you, more majestic than the everlasting mountains.
The stout-hearted were stripped of their spoil;
they sank into sleep;
none of the troops was able to lift a hand.
At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both rider and horse lay stunned.

But you indeed are awesome!
Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?
From the heavens you uttered judgement;
the earth feared and was still when God rose up to establish judgement,
to save all the oppressed of the earth.

Human wrath serves only to praise you,
when you bind the last bit of your wrath around you.
Make vows to the Lord your God, and perform them;
let all who are around him bring gifts to the one who is awesome,
who cuts off the spirit of princes,
who inspires fear in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 79
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem,
and there was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbours,
mocked and derided by those around us.

How long, O Lord? Will you be angry for ever?
Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?
Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms that do not call on your name.
For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.

Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and forgive our sins,for your name’s sake.
Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
be known among the nations before our eyes.

Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
according to your great power preserve those doomed to die.
Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbours
the taunts with which they taunted you, O Lord!
Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you for ever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

2 Chronicles 15.1-15
The spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, ‘Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law; but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. In those times it was not safe for anyone to go or come, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. They were broken in pieces, nation against nation and city against city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.’

 When Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord. He gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing as aliens with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. They were gathered at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. They sacrificed to the Lord on that day, from the booty that they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep. They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and with all their soul. Whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman. They took an oath to the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with horns. All Judah rejoiced over the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.

Mark 14.66-end
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I do not know or understand what you are talking about.’ And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’ At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.

The Collect
Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Has to be done: RTA made funny

video

Yes indeedy, it's another 'truck monkey' advert'. This time it's one that has universally received laughter and applause - so I'm confident you'll enjoy it as much as me.

And to the person who asked whether I was weird: Of course I am!!!

Have a great journey home and a super weekend of sun and fun

Made me Laugh: Car Theft Deterrent

Another one of the 'Trunk Monkey' adverts and this has been received with stunned, yet wide-eyed, amazement and howls of laughter depending on who the viewer was!

When I first saw this I have to saw that I loved it - and still do:

video

I love it when a company hits on a theme (like Walkers and Lineker) and carries it through for some time and makes it their own brand's leitmotif. Mind you, Ronald and golden arches, Jesus and the Cross? What products/groups do we associate icons or objects with ... discuss (or perhaps not as I'm sure some will struggle with Jesus and Ronald in the same sentence!).

Daily Office - Sept 27

Vincent de Paul, Founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists), 1660

Psalm 55
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.
Give ear to my prayer, O God;
do not hide yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and answer me;
I am troubled in my complaint.
I am distraught by the noise of the enemy,
because of the clamour of the wicked.
For they bring trouble upon me,
and in anger they cherish enmity against me.

My heart is in anguish within me,
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, ‘O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
truly, I would flee far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;
I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
from the raging wind and tempest.’

Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud do not depart from its market-place.

It is not enemies who taunt me-I could bear that;
it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—I could hide from them.
But it is you, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend,
with whom I kept pleasant company;
we walked in the house of God with the throng.
Let death come upon them;
let them go down alive to Sheol;
for evil is in their homes and in their hearts.

But I call upon God, and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice.
He will redeem me unharmed from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
God, who is enthroned from of old,
will hear, and will humble them—because they do not change,
and do not fear God.

My companion laid hands on a friend
and violated a covenant with me
with speech smoother than butter,
but with a heart set on war;
with words that were softer than oil,
but in fact were drawn swords.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

But you, O God, will cast them down into the lowest pit;
the bloodthirsty and treacherous shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

2 Chronicles 14.2-end
Asa did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places, broke down the pillars, hewed down the sacred poles, and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also removed from all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. He built fortified cities in Judah while the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the Lord gave him peace. He said to Judah, ‘Let us build these cities, and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars; the land is still ours because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.’ So they built and prospered. Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah, armed with large shields and spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand troops from Benjamin who carried shields and drew bows; all these were mighty warriors.

Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. Asa cried to the Lord his God, ‘O Lord, there is no difference for you between helping the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let no mortal prevail against you.’ So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. Asa and the army with him pursued them as far as Gerar, and the Ethiopians fell until no one remained alive; for they were broken before the Lord and his army. The people of Judah carried away a great quantity of booty. They defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the Lord was on them. They plundered all the cities; for there was much plunder in them. They also attacked the tents of those who had livestock, and carried away sheep and goats in abundance, and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

Mark 14.53-65
They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, ‘We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.” ’ But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am; and
“you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power”,
and “coming with the clouds of heaven.” ’
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ The guards also took him over and beat him.

The Collect
Merciful God,
whose servant Vincent de Paul,
by his ministry of preaching and pastoral care,
brought your love to the sick and the poor:
give to all your people a heart of compassion
that by word and action they may serve you
in serving others in their need;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Mission Shaped Ministry

Tonight sees the first of two 'taster' sessions for a new Mission Shaped Ministry course that is being held in Tamworth (staffordshire) and I have to be honest, I am excited about it.

We don't know how many will be coming to the thing and that makes it all the more fun - do we cater for thousands or five?

What I do know is that the whole concept of 'Fresh Expressions' and 'mixed economy' Church is the way forward and developing a people who are missional and looking to engage and be relevant is exactly what the Doctor ordered.

Here's a copy of the flyer I have distributed around the area for you to pray over, recommend and enjoy:


Thank You

Trunk Monkey: Road Rage

Another great advert' that makes you laugh, or perhaps merely smile, (well, it did both for me anyway!).

I hope you find this as much fun as I do (especially as there's a number coming up over the next few days).

video

Well done to Suburban - a company with a great eye for making themselves popular even when they don't sell cars where you live methinks

Made me laugh: What are you thinking about?

Yet another one of those extremely clever advert's that make you chuckle - this one from the language experts, Berlitz:

video

There are some really clever people out there making such effective marketing material - this has to be one of the premier league advert's.

Happy Thursday

Daily Office - Sept 26

Wilson Carlile, Founder of the Church Army, 1942

Psalm 78
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

He established a decree in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and rise up and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their ancestors,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The Ephraimites, armed with the bow,
turned back on the day of battle.
They did not keep God’s covenant,
but refused to walk according to his law.
They forgot what he had done,
and the miracles that he had shown them.
In the sight of their ancestors he worked marvels
in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all night long with a fiery light.
He split rocks open in the wilderness,
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
He made streams come out of the rock,
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Yet they sinned still more against him,
rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They tested God in their heart
by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God, saying,
‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
 Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out and torrents overflowed,
 can he also give bread, or provide meat for his people?’

Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of rage;
a fire was kindled against Jacob,
his anger mounted against Israel,
because they had no faith in God,
and did not trust his saving power.
Yet he commanded the skies above,
and opened the doors of heaven;
he rained down on them manna to eat,
and gave them the grain of heaven.
Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
he sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
and by his power he led out the south wind;
he rained flesh upon them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall within their camp,
all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.
But before they had satisfied their craving,
while the food was still in their mouths,
the anger of God rose against them
and he killed the strongest of them,
and laid low the flower of Israel.

In spite of all this they still sinned;
they did not believe in his wonders.
So he made their days vanish like a breath,
and their years in terror.
When he killed them, they sought for him;
they repented and sought God earnestly.
They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God their redeemer.
But they flattered him with their mouths;
they lied to him with their tongues.
Their heart was not steadfast towards him;
they were not true to his covenant.
Yet he, being compassionate,
forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them;
often he restrained his anger,
and did not stir up all his wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and does not come again.

2 Chronicles 13.1-14.1
In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Micaiah daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.

Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah engaged in battle, having an army of valiant warriors, four hundred thousand picked men; and Jeroboam drew up his line of battle against him with eight hundred thousand picked mighty warriors. Then Abijah stood on the slope of Mount Zemaraim that is in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, ‘Listen to me, Jeroboam and all Israel! Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel for ever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord; and certain worthless scoundrels gathered round him and defied Rehoboam son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them.

‘And now you think that you can withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made as gods for you. Have you not driven out the priests of the Lord, the descendants of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes to be consecrated with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods. But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not abandoned him. We have priests ministering to the Lord who are descendants of Aaron, and Levites for their service. They offer to the Lord every morning and every evening burnt-offerings and fragrant incense, set out the rows of bread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand so that its lamps may burn every evening; for we keep the charge of the Lord our God, but you have abandoned him. See, God is with us at our head, and his priests have their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O Israelites, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors; for you cannot succeed.’

Jeroboam had sent an ambush around to come on them from behind; thus his troops were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. When Judah turned, the battle was in front of them and behind them. They cried out to the Lord, and the priests blew the trumpets. Then the people of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the people of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The Israelites fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hands. Abijah and his army defeated them with great slaughter; five hundred thousand picked men of Israel fell slain. Thus the Israelites were subdued at that time, and the people of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors. Abijah pursued Jeroboam, and took cities from him: Bethel with its villages and Jeshanah with its villages and Ephron with its villages. Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah; the Lord struck him down, and he died. But Abijah grew strong. He took fourteen wives, and became the father of twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. The rest of the acts of Abijah, his behaviour and his deeds, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.

So Abijah slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in the city of David. His son Asa succeeded him. In his days the land had rest for ten years.

Mark 14.43-52
Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’ All of them deserted him and fled.

A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

The Collect
Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Arnhem - the final night

Sixty-nine years ago at about this time the Allied forces that were the Market part of operation Market Garden (Market being the airborne element and Garden the ground force) were gathered around Oosterbeek waiting to withdraw. Heading to the Neder Rijn they were ferried across the river to safety whilst a remnant of injured were left behind to cover their tracks.

c. 2,000 killed
c.6,000 captured
c.2,000 escaped
Memorial to 1st Airborne Reconnoissance Squadron
(See image below)


Arnhem was not to be liberated for many months but those who lived there then, and now, remember with gratitude their 'friends' who came and battled so gallantly to deliver them from their captivity.

A final thought for one with whom I share a family link in that we wear the same capbadge and follow the same Captain:


To him and all who have died in pursuit of peace

dona eis requiem


Wot - no Green Goddess?

So today, commencing at noon, there will be a four national hour strike by members of our fire services and standing in the gap, as always, will be members of the British forces. They've been training to operate the equipment and understand firefighting and will, I am confident, be doing a good job. Alongside them will be contract workers (generally ex-brigade members) and fire cover will be in place (hopefully adequately).



The strike is about pensions and whatever one feels about people taking any sort of industrial action I have to say that research undertaken some years back showed a correlation between early death and doing this job, for every time the bells go down the life of a firefighter becomes just a little less.

Every time an appliance leaves the station on a shout the potential for injury, death or mental and emotional damage exists.

The Bible tells us that we don't muzzle the ox that treads the grain - if they're doing the job then they get the rewards and I'm sure that no one who has had a house fire, been flooded out or been involved in, or witnessed the horrors of RTAs would begrudge them a good pension for what is all too often a reduced time in retirement.

So today please pray for:

Those who will cover the fire grounds of the strikers and attend shouts in their place

Those who are striking that an equitable solution will be reached, and

Those who today will need the presence of any of our three blue light services (and those who attend)

Pax

Daily Office - Sept 25

Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, Spiritual Writer, 1626
Sergei of Radonezh, Russian Monastic Reformer, Teacher of the Faith, 1392
Ember Day

Psalm 77
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
I think of God, and I moan;
I meditate, and my spirit faints.

You keep my eyelids from closing;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
and remember the years of long ago.
I commune with my heart in the night;
I meditate and search my spirit:
‘Will the Lord spurn for ever, and never again be favourable?
 Has his steadfast love ceased for ever?
 Are his promises at an end for all time?
 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
 Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’
And I say, ‘It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.’

I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have displayed your might among the peoples.
With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
the very deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
the skies thundered;
your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
your path, through the mighty waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

2 Chronicles 12
When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he grew strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, he and all Israel with him. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand cavalry. A countless army came with him from Egypt—Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians. He took the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem. Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the officers of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.’ Then the officers of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is in the right.’ When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying: ‘They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants, so that they may know the difference between serving me and serving the kingdoms of other lands.’

So King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took everything. He also took away the shields of gold that Solomon had made; but King Rehoboam made in place of them shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house. Whenever the king went into the house of the Lord, the guard would come along bearing them, and would then bring them back to the guardroom. Because he humbled himself the wrath of the Lord turned from him, so as not to destroy them completely; moreover, conditions were good in Judah.

So King Rehoboam established himself in Jerusalem and reigned. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned for seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city that the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put his name there. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. He did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.

Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the records of the prophet Shemaiah and of the seer Iddo, recorded by genealogy? There were continual wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Rehoboam slept with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David; and his son Abijah succeeded him.

Mark 14.26-42
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters; for it is written,
“I will strike the shepherd,
   and the sheep will be scattered.”
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though all become deserters, I will not.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ But he said vehemently, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And all of them said the same.
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.

The Collect
Lord God,
who gave to Lancelot Andrewes many gifts of your Holy Spirit,
making him a man of prayer and a pastor of your people:
perfect in us that which is lacking in your gifts,
of faith, to increase it,
of hope, to establish it,
of love, to kindle it,
that we may live in the light of your grace and glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A bridge too far

The words of Lieutenant General Frederick Browning to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery before operation Market Garden, the Allied attack on Arnhem, proved to be most accurate. The operation (Sunday 17th September 1944 to Tuesday 26th September) which began with paratroopers landing near to Wolfheze on a Sunday afternoon only to see them ferried across the Neder Rijn by Canadian Engineers  in tatters ten days later reflected the difficulty of the operation.

Browning's words, 'I think we may be going a bridge too far,' ring true indeed. The weather which delayed the Poles, the inability of the armoured forces to arrive in two; the charge to the ground force to hold the ground for two days and their response - a promise that they'd hold it for four - was more than honoured. The splitting of the drops into a 'one per day' affair - defeating the efficacy of a parachuted force in delivering a 'coup de main' (a swift slap in the face') and the presence of battle hardened troops and a Panzer divisions all conspired ... and yet this is a place where courage, commitment and folly combine to make one proud of the conduct, courage and commitment of those who march away to war.


The past week I have been privileged to learn of the Arnhem story and to understand just a little more about war and those who cause them to be and those who cause them to end.

War is a place we are driven to by politicians, fuelled by folly and engaged with in courage.

We will remember them

Made me smile - Premier League Table


Well I have to say that it worked for me :-)

What a strange start to the season when five games in Man Utd are below Southampton.

Happy Tuesday guys

:-)

My Books - Things I never knew

One of the things that define me for some is the fact that I am not only anti-semantic (Most of my friends are words) but also have a few books too. It is in the book area that I found myself surprised yesterday as I went through the process of lending some of them to one of ours who is embarking on training for ministry.

I don't about you but I really don't have a clue who is the most prolific author of the books on my shelves but there a natty little facility by the name of 'charts' has appeared on the programme I use. Wondering what it was and did I clicked on the button and this is what I got:



Moving on I found this little piece of information interesting too (must add my Pratchett collection as he'd surely be in at number one!):


Seems that I have catalogued 2,738 books in all and to see Barth sitting in pole position is, to be honest, a bit of a shock :-)  Mind you, McNab and Ryan were a bit of a shock too. Good to see Brueggemann take the inside line on final bend to edge it over Moltmann :-)

Still - goes to show that I'm not all about reading theology and religion I guess.

Still have a large pile of books to be added to the system and think C S Lewis might be moving up the table shortly :-)

And can someone tell the wife that knowing how many pages a version has (or celebrating that nice Mr Dewey's system) is not at all odd?

Daily Office - Sept 24

Psalm 73
Truly God is good to the upright,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For they have no pain;
their bodies are sound and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not plagued like other people.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them like a garment.
Their eyes swell out with fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues range over the earth.

Therefore the people turn and praise them,
and find no fault in them.
And they say, ‘How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?’
Such are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain I have kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
For all day long I have been plagued,
and am punished every morning.

If I had said, ‘I will talk on in this way’,
I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I perceived their end.
Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
They are like a dream when one awakes;
on awaking you despise their phantoms.

When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was stupid and ignorant;
I was like a brute beast towards you.
Nevertheless I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterwards you will receive me with honour.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

Indeed, those who are far from you will perish;
you put an end to those who are false to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
to tell of all your works.

2 Chronicles 10.1-11.4
Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of it (for he was in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. They sent and called him; and Jeroboam and all Israel came and said to Rehoboam, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.’ He said to them, ‘Come to me again in three days.’ So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the older men who had attended his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, ‘How do you advise me to answer this people?’ They answered him, ‘If you will be kind to this people and please them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants for ever.’ But he rejected the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and now attended him. He said to them, ‘What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, “Lighten the yoke that your father put on us”?’ The young men who had grown up with him said to him, ‘Thus should you speak to the people who said to you, “Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us”; tell them, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” ’

 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had said, ‘Come to me again the third day.’ The king answered them harshly. King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men; he spoke to them in accordance with the advice of the young men, ‘My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’ So the king did not listen to the people, because it was a turn of affairs brought about by God so that the Lord might fulfil his word, which he had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat.

 When all Israel saw that the king would not listen to them, the people answered the king,
‘What share do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
 Each of you to your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, O David.’
So all Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who were living in the cities of Judah. When King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labour, the people of Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam hurriedly mounted his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled one hundred and eighty thousand chosen troops of the house of Judah and Benjamin to fight against Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam. But the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God: Say to King Rehoboam of Judah, son of Solomon, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, ‘Thus says the Lord: You shall not go up or fight against your kindred. Let everyone return home, for this thing is from me.’ So they heeded the word of the Lord and turned back from the expedition against Jeroboam.

Mark 14.12-25
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.’ They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, ‘Surely, not I?’ He said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’

The Collect
Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Daily Office - Sept 23

Psalm 71
In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

I have been like a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all day long.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
do not forsake me when my strength is spent.
For my enemies speak concerning me,
and those who watch for my life consult together.
They say, ‘Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken,
for there is no one to deliver.’

O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God,
I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and grey hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come.
Your power and your righteousness, O God,
reach the high heavens.

You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
You will increase my honour,
and comfort me once again.

I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have rescued.
All day long my tongue will talk of your righteous help,
for those who tried to do me harm have been put to shame, and disgraced.

2 Chronicles 9.1-12
When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions, having a very great retinue and camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she discussed with him all that was on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from Solomon that he could not explain to her. When the queen of Sheba had observed the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, and their clothing, his valets and their clothing, and his burnt-offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit left in her.

So she said to the king, ‘The report was true that I heard in my own land of your accomplishments and of you/r wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes saw it. Not even half of the greatness of your wisdom had been told to me; you far surpass the report that I had heard. Happy are your people! Happy are these your servants, who continually attend you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the Lord your God. Because your God loved Israel and wished to establish them for ever, he has made you king over them, so that you may execute justice and righteousness.’ Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, a very great quantity of spices, and precious stones: there were no spices such as those that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

Moreover, the servants of Huram and the servants of Solomon who brought gold from Ophir brought algum wood and precious stones. From the algum wood, the king made steps for the house of the Lord and for the king’s house, lyres also and harps for the singers; there never was seen the like of them before in the land of Judah.

Meanwhile, King Solomon granted the queen of Sheba every desire that she expressed, well beyond what she had brought to the king. Then she returned to her own land, with her servants.

Mark 14.1-11
It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, ‘Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.’
While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, ‘Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

The Collect
Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Daily Office - Sept 21

Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Psalm 49
Hear this, all you peoples;
give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together.
My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.

Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?
Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life, there is no price one can give to God for it.
For the ransom of life is costly, and can never suffice,
that one should live on for ever and never see the grave.

When we look at the wise, they die;
fool and dolt perish together and leave their wealth to others.
Their graves are their homes for ever,
their dwelling-places to all generations,
though they named lands their own.
Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
they are like the animals that perish.

Such is the fate of the foolhardy, the end of those who are pleased with their lot.
Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
Death shall be their shepherd;
straight to the grave they descend, and their form shall waste away;
Sheol shall be their home.
But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.

Do not be afraid when some become rich, when the wealth of their houses increases.
For when they die they will carry nothing away; their wealth will not go down after them.
Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy - for you are praised when you do well for yourself - they will go to the company of their ancestors, who will never again see the light.
Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like the animals that perish.

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

1 Kings 19.15-21
Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’
So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was ploughing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ Then Elijah said to him, ‘Go back again; for what have I done to you?’ He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

2 Timothy 3.14-17
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

The Collect
O Almighty God,
whose blessed Son called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist:
give us grace to forsake the selfish pursuit of gain and the possessive love of riches
that we may follow in the way of your Son Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Love is a dish best served ...

Faithfully!

Recently I have found myself engaged in dealing with a number of incidents where 'love' has been replaced by vitriol, spitefulness and rancour. Relationships have soured and many things have conspired to bring actions and words together with the intention of hurting others. The sad thing is that those who have acted thus appear to have not only achieved their goal but have also, somehow, become part of the collateral damage from their actions as well.

The Bible tells us that those who dig a pit for others are destined to fall into it themselves (Proverbs 26). Those who seek to wound others might achieve their goal but when the target of their hatred has long gone, the melody lingers on and they are not only damaged but find themselves unable to engage in secure or fulfilling relationships ever again. They blame the person who has gone and the more the estranged combatant appears to be be successful and happy  in their post-them life the greater their pain.

We live in a world where people want revenge rather than justice and appear to put more energy into the destruction of relationships than the maintenance or restoration of them and this is wrong. I see people excuse, and accept, the breakdown of relationships amongst their friends with not a thought to encouraging the couples to reconcile and resolve. The ease at which relationships are entered and left and the speed at which some join together and then break apart is something that speaks of a worrying lack of fidelity and commitment.

I often find myself using a formulaic explanation of what marriage (and non-married but cohabitational relationships - so you're not off the hook because you're not married) should be about. I call it the 'F Plan Diet' and it goes like this (perhaps I should (c) it :-)  ):

FAITH - regardless of what has happened, you need to keep faith with one another - to trust and believe in the other person and even when this is difficult, to find a way through the situation to restore the belief.

FACTS - The reality is that once you are together, you are together. If this is a a married relationship then regardless - you are married and this brings some serious elements of commitment, sacrifice and engagement.

FEELINGS - Feelings are the most easily manipulated of all the things that influence our relationships and attitudes. Often they bear little relation to the facts and are often fuelled by well-meaning (and sometimes not so well-meaning) friends, misunderstandings, selfishness and a host of other factors (tired, drunk, absence and the like). When the feelings conspire to damage or break a relationship - or to bring a third-party into the mix - refer to the two points above!

FORGIVENESS - The Bible tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. If there's a problem then discuss it and bring about some resolution and reconciliation before you go to bed, for if you don't you'll wake up to a worse situation! Forgiveness requires us to put ourselves in the other person's shoes and the other person to do the same and to repent (Turn away from, stop, accept that their actions were wrong) and bring about a restoration.

FELLOWSHIP - The Bible tells us to 'love our nearest neighbour as our ourselves' and the person with whom we are in a relationship is that 'nearest neighbour' (and the act of sexual congress makes us 'one flesh' too). Being in fellowship - doing things together, sharing interests (yes, even going shopping!) is not just important but is the very glue of a relationship (and you perhaps thought it was merely the sex!).

FRUIT - The Bible says that the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is:
'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.'

Having these attributes in our life (individually and corporately) can only be good - after all, theyt are all highly desireable (aren't they?).

FUN - Regardless of how much money you have, or how much work you have, there are always way that you can have fun TOGETHER!

So many relationships appear to fall because of the many nights out with friends and the few out with you partner or at home. Relationships take time and need fun - when we were married and broke (still are) we used to walk along the river bank and feed the ducks - the important thing was that we were together and enjoying each other and the place we were in. So here's a quick outline - the people I have spoken to this past week will hopefully find something within it to build their relationships and mend the broken bits, this is my hope and prayer for you :-)

Daily Office - Sept 18

Psalm 119.57-80
You only are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to keep your words.
I entreat you with all my heart, be merciful to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways and turned my feet back to your testimonies.
I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.
Though the cords of the wicked entangle me, I do not forget your law.
At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgements.
I am a companion of all those who fear you, those who keep your commandments.
The earth, O Lord, is full of your faithful love;
instruct me in your statutes.
You have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word, O Lord.
O teach me true understanding and knowledge, for I have trusted in your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
You are gracious and do good; O Lord, teach me your statutes.
The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.
Their heart has become gross with fat, but my delight is in your law.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is dearer to me than a hoard of gold and silver.
Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments.
Those who fear you will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your judgements are right,
and that in very faithfulness you caused me to be troubled.
Let your faithful love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Let your tender mercies come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight.
Let the proud be put to shame, for they wrong me with lies;
but I will meditate on your commandments.
Let those who fear you turn to me, even those who know your testimonies.
Let my heart be sound in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.

2 Chronicles 5
Thus all the work that Solomon did for the house of the Lord was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, and stored the silver, the gold, and all the vessels in the treasuries of the house of God.

 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the Israelites assembled before the king at the festival that is in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites carried the ark. So they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be numbered or counted. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. The poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel after they came out of Egypt.

Now when the priests came out of the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to their divisions), all the levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kindred, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with one hundred and twenty priests who were trumpeters, it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever’, the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

Mark 13.1-13
As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?’ Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
‘As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations. When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

The Collect
O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
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.