Friday, 28 February 2014

Morning Prayer - Feb 28

Psalm 55
Hear my prayer, O God; hide not yourself from my petition. Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaining. I am alarmed at the voice of the enemy and at the clamour of the wicked; For they would bring down evil upon me and are set against me in fury.

My heart is disquieted within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and a horrible dread has overwhelmed me. And I said: ‘O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest.
‘Then would I flee far away and make my lodging in the wilderness.
‘I would make haste to escape •from the stormy wind and tempest.’
Confuse their tongues, O Lord, and divide them, for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go about on her walls; mischief and trouble are in her midst. Wickedness walks in her streets; oppression and guile never leave her squares. For it was not an open enemy that reviled me, for then I could have borne it; Nor was it my adversary that puffed himself up against me, for then I would have hid myself from him. But it was even you, one like myself, my companion and my own familiar friend. We took sweet counsel together and walked with the multitude in the house of God. Let death come suddenly upon them; let them go down alive to the Pit; for wickedness inhabits their dwellings, their very hearts.

As for me, I will call upon God and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening and morning and at noonday I will pray and make my supplication, and he shall hear my voice. He shall redeem my soul in peace from the battle waged against me, for many have come upon me.

God, who is enthroned of old, will hear and bring them down; they will not repent, for they have no fear of God. My companion stretched out his hands against his friend and has broken his covenant; His speech was softer than butter, though war was in his heart; his words were smoother than oil, yet are they naked swords.

Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you, and will not let the righteous fall for ever. But those that are bloodthirsty and deceitful, O God, you will bring down to the pit of destruction. They shall not live out half their days, but my trust shall be in you, O Lord.

Genesis 33.1-17
Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.

But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, ‘Who are these with you?’ Jacob said, ‘The children whom God has graciously given your servant.’ Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, ‘What do you mean by all this company that I met?’ Jacob answered, ‘To find favour with my lord.’ But Esau said, ‘I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.’ Jacob said, ‘No, please; if I find favour with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favour. Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.’ So he urged him, and he took it.

Then Esau said, ‘Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you.’ But Jacob said to him, ‘My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; and if they are overdriven for one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.’

So Esau said, ‘Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.’ But he said, ‘Why should my lord be so kind to me?’ So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house, and made booths for his cattle; therefore the place is called Succoth.

Titus 3
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure.

I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone. But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned.
When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Make every effort to send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way, and see that they lack nothing. And let people learn to devote themselves to good works in order to meet urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive.

All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with all of you.

The Collect
Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image:
teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,
now and for ever.  Amen.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Morning Prayer - Feb 27

George Herbert, Priest, Poet   1633

Psalm 78.1-39
Hear my teaching, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will pour forth mysteries from of old,
Such as we have heard and known, which our forebears have told us. We will not hide from their children,
but will recount to generations to come, the praises of the Lord and his power and the wonderful works he has done. He laid a solemn charge on Jacob and made it a law in Israel, which he commanded them to teach their children, That the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn, that they in turn might tell it to their children; So that they might put their trust in God and not forget the deeds of God, but keep his commandments, And not be like their forebears, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The people of Ephraim, armed with the bow, turned back in the day of battle; They did not keep the covenant of God and refused to walk in his law; They forgot what he had done and the wonders he had shown them. For he did marvellous things in the sight of their forebears, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. He divided the sea and let them pass through; he made the waters stand still in a heap. He led them with a cloud by day and all the night through with a blaze of fire. He split the hard rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink as from the great deep. He brought streams out of the rock and made water gush out like rivers.
Yet for all this they sinned more against him and defied the Most High in the wilderness. They tested God in their hearts and demanded food for their craving. They spoke against God and said, ‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? He struck the rock indeed, so that the waters gushed out and the streams overflowed, but can he give bread or provide meat for his people?’

When the Lord heard this, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob and his anger went out against Israel, For they had no faith in God and put no trust in his saving help. So he commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven. He rained down upon them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. So mortals ate the bread of angels; he sent them food in plenty. He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens and led out the south wind by his might. He rained flesh upon them as thick as dust and winged fowl like the sand of the sea. He let it fall in the midst of their camp and round about their tents. So they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they desired. But they did not stop their craving; their food was still in their mouths, When the anger of God rose against them, and slew their strongest men and felled the flower of Israel

But for all this, they sinned yet more and put no faith in his wonderful works. So he brought their days to an end like a breath and their years in sudden terror. Whenever he slew them, they would seek him; they would repent and earnestly search for God. They remembered that God was their rock and the Most High God their redeemer. Yet they did but flatter him with their mouth and dissembled with their tongue. Their heart was not steadfast towards him, neither were they faithful to his covenant. But he was so merciful that he forgave their misdeeds and did not destroy them; many a time he turned back his wrath and did not suffer his whole displeasure to be roused. For he remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes by and does not return.

Genesis 32.3-30
Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, instructing them, ‘Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, “I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now; and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favour in your sight.” ’

The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, ‘We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.’ Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, thinking, ‘If Esau comes to one company and destroys it, then the company that is left will escape.’

And Jacob said, ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, “Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good”, I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. Yet you have said, “I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.” ’

So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. These he delivered into the hand of his servants, each drove by itself, and said to his servants, ‘Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.’ He instructed the foremost, ‘When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, “To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?” then you shall say, “They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.” ’ He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, ‘You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, and you shall say, “Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.” ’ For he thought, ‘I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.’ So the present passed on ahead of him; and he himself spent that night in the camp.

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’

Titus 2
But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behaviour, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to answer back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Saviour.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to alla, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you.

The Collect
King of glory, king of peace,
who called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honours to be a priest in the temple of his God and king:
grant us also the grace to offer ourselves with singleness of heart in humble obedience to your service;
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, 26 February 2014

Morning Prayer - Feb 26

Psalm 77
I cry aloud to God; I cry aloud to God and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I have sought the Lord; by night my hand is stretched out and does not tire; my soul refuses comfort. I think upon God and I groan; I ponder, and my spirit faints. You will not let my eyelids close; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I consider the days of old; I remember the years long past; I commune with my heart in the night; my spirit searches for understanding. Will the Lord cast us off for ever? Will he no more show us his favour?nHas his loving mercy clean gone for ever? Has his promise come to an end for evermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he shut up his compassion in displeasure?vAnd I said, ‘My grief is this: that the right hand of the Most High has lost its strength.’
I will remember the works of the Lord and call to mind your wonders of old time.
I will meditate on all your works and ponder your mighty deeds.

Your way, O God, is holy; who is so great a god as our God?nYou are the God who worked wonders and declared your power among the peoples. With a mighty arm you redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.

The waters saw you, O God the waters saw you and were afraid; the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side; The voice of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the ground; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the great waters, but your footsteps were not known. You led your people like sheep by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Genesis 31.25-32.2
Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsfolk camped in the hill country of Gilead. Laban said to Jacob, ‘What have you done? You have deceived me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword. Why did you flee secretly and deceive me and not tell me? I would have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre. And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? What you have done is foolish. It is in my power to do you harm; but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, “Take heed that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.” Even though you had to go because you longed greatly for your father’s house, why did you steal my gods?’ Jacob answered Laban, ‘Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsfolk, point out what I have that is yours, and take it.’ Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.

So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. And he went out of Leah’s tent, and entered Rachel’s. Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. Laban felt all about in the tent, but did not find them. And she said to her father, ‘Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me.’ So he searched, but did not find the household gods.

Then Jacob became angry, and upbraided Laban. Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is my offence? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? Although you have felt about through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsfolk and your kinsfolk, so that they may decide between us two. These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. That which was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself; of my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. It was like this with me: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you for fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked you last night.’
Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, ‘The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about their children whom they have borne? Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I; and let it be a witness between you and me.’ So Jacob took a stone, and set it up as a pillar. And Jacob said to his kinsfolk, ‘Gather stones,’ and they took stones, and made a heap; and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed. Laban said, ‘This heap is a witness between you and me today.’ Therefore he called it Galeed, and the pillar Mizpah, for he said, ‘The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other. If you ill-treat my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, though no one else is with us, remember that God is witness between you and me.’

Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘See this heap and see the pillar, which I have set between you and me. This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor’—the God of their father—‘judge between us.’ So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, and Jacob offered a sacrifice on the height and called his kinsfolk to eat bread; and they ate bread and tarried all night in the hill country.

Early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them; then he departed and returned home.

Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; and when Jacob saw them he said, ‘This is God’s camp!’ So he called that place Mahanaim.


Titus 1
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that is in accordance with godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began—in due time he revealed his word through the proclamation with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Saviour,

To Titus, my loyal child in the faith we share:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour.

I left you behind in Crete for this reason, that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you: someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious. For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.

There are also many rebellious people, idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision; they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what it is not right to teach. It was one of them, their very own prophet, who said,
‘Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons.’
That testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply, so that they may become sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths or to commandments of those who reject the truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

The collect
Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image:
teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,
now and for ever.  Amen.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

St George's Church, Ypres

In 1927 the Menin Gate was consecrated and it was then that this the stone for this church was laid and dedicated. Designed by the same architect (Sir Reginald Blomfield) this is a meeting place for the families of those who gave their lives and a memorial to those who died in military service and their regiments.

An interesting aspect is the memorial plaques from schools commemorations masters, pupils and staff who lost their lives in the 1914-18 conflict (Eton having in excess of one thousand such men).

The question, for me at least is whether or not this was really a war in which we find 'lions led by donkeys'?


As the rain falls we make our way out of Wipers (Ypres) to what the Staffords called 'Gullivelt' and consider those who fought in the first World Ward from the Indian continent and their sacrifice and acheievements.



Doing so, the words of today's collect are calling me to discern God's likeness in those around me echo in my head as the outworking of what failure to do so surrounds me.



Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth
and made us in your own image:
teach us to discern your hand in all your works
and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,
now and for ever.  Amen.

Morning Prayer - Feb 25

Psalm 73
Truly, God is loving to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped. For I was envious of the proud; I saw the wicked in such prosperity; For they suffer no pains and their bodies are sleek and sound; They come to no misfortune like other folk; nor are they plagued as others are; Therefore pride is their necklace and violence wraps them like a cloak. Their iniquity comes from within; the conceits of their hearts overflow. They scoff, and speak only of evil; they talk of oppression from on high. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue ranges round the earth; And so the people turn to them and find in them no fault. They say, ‘How should God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?’
Behold, these are the wicked; ever at ease, they increase their wealth.
Is it in vain that I cleansed my heart and washed my hands in innocence?

All day long have I been stricken and chastened every morning.
If I had said, ‘I will speak as they do,’ •I should have betrayed the generation of your children.
Then thought I to understand this, but it was too hard for me, Until I entered the sanctuary of God and understood the end of the wicked: How you set them in slippery places; you cast them down to destruction. How suddenly do they come to destruction, perish and come to a fearful end! As with a dream when one awakes, so, Lord, when you arise you will despise their image.
When my heart became embittered and I was pierced to the quick, I was but foolish and ignorant; I was like a brute beast in your presence. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with your counsel and afterwards receive me with glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire in comparison with you. Though my flesh and my heart fail me, God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. Truly, those who forsake you will perish; you will put to silence the faithless who betray you. But it is good for me to draw near to God; in the Lord God have I made my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Genesis 31.1-24
Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, ‘Jacob has taken all that was our father’s; he has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.’ And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him as favourably as he did before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your ancestors and to your kindred, and I will be with you.’ So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was, and said to them, ‘I see that your father does not regard me as favourably as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength; yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, “The speckled shall be your wages”, then all the flock bore speckled; and if he said, “The striped shall be your wages”, then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father, and given them to me.

During the mating of the flock I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats that leaped upon the flock were striped, speckled, and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, “Jacob,” and I said, “Here I am!” And he said, “Look up and see that all the goats that leap on the flock are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and return to the land of your birth.” ’ Then Rachel and Leah answered him, ‘Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has been using up the money given for us. All the property that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children; now then, do whatever God has said to you.’

So Jacob arose, and set his children and his wives on camels; and he drove away all his livestock, all the property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean, in that he did not tell him that he intended to flee. So he fled with all that he had; starting out he crossed the Euphrates, and set his face towards the hill country of Gilead.
On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. So he took his kinsfolk with him and pursued him for seven days until he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night, and said to him, ‘Take heed that you say not a word to Jacob, either good or bad.’

 2 Timothy 4.9-end
Do your best to come to me soon, for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds. You also must beware of him, for he strongly opposed our message.

At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained in Corinth; Trophimus I left ill in Miletus. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
The Collect
Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image:
teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,
now and for ever.  Amen.

Monday, 24 February 2014

WWI Battlefield Tour

This week I am continuing February's personal development theme with a World War One battlefield tour that sees me in Ypres. Last week it was Stafford and an excellent two-day preaching course and today it was the cemetery at the site of the largest evacuation hospital there was during the conflict - Lijssenthoek.

Tomorrow we have a full day of visits and this sets the scene for the rest of the week with the pinnacle being the Menin Gate on Thursday and some more visits on the the Friday.

I will be posting images and thoughts from the various places in the hope that they will be as much of a blessing to you as the places will be for me.

That said I was really touched by the fact that interspersed amongst the Commonwealth graves were very different headstones  - these were square rather than rounded. It transpired that amongst our dead were members of the German forces who were given a Christian burial and are maintained along with those they fought against. I found this touching and full of integrity - reminding me to Attaturk's words of those who fell at Gallipoli - for they were now that's nation's sons having fallen there. Combatants who fell together and have become brothers in arms united by conflict and honoured in death.

The term 'squarehead'  which I grew up with has its roots in the square headstones such as I saw in the cemetery today.


Morning Prayer - Feb 24

Psalm 71
In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me.

Be for me a stronghold to which I may ever resort; send out to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the evildoer and the oppressor. For you are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence, even from my youth. Upon you have I leaned from my birth when you drew me from my mother’s womb; my praise shall be always of you.

I have become a portent to many, but you are my refuge and my strength. Let my mouth be full of your praise and your glory all the day long. Do not cast me away in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails. For my enemies are talking against me, and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.
They say,
‘God has forsaken him pursue him and take him, because there is none to deliver him.’

O God, be not far from me; come quickly to help me, O my God.
Let those who are against me be put to shame and disgrace; let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.

But as for me I will hope continually and will praise you more and more.
My mouth shall tell of your righteousness and salvation all the day long, for I know no end of the telling.
I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord God;
I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, you have taught me since I was young, and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.
Forsake me not, O God, when I am old and grey-headed, till I make known your deeds to the next generation and your power to all that are to come.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens; in the great things you have done, who is like you, O God? What troubles and adversities you have shown me, and yet you will turn and refresh me and bring me from the deep of the earth again. Increase my honour; turn again and comfort me.

Therefore will I praise you upon the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will sing out as I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.
My tongue also will tell of your righteousness all the day long, for they shall be shamed and disgraced who sought to do me evil.

Genesis 29.31-30.24
When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben; for she said, ‘Because the Lord has looked on my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.’ She conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also’; and she named him Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘Now this time my husband will be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons’; therefore he was named Levi. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord’; therefore she named him Judah; then she ceased bearing.

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I shall die!’ Jacob became very angry with Rachel and said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’ Then she said, ‘Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, that she may bear upon my knees and that I too may have children through her.’ So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife; and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, ‘God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son’; therefore she named him Dan. Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, ‘With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed’; so she named him Naphtali.

When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Then Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. And Leah said, ‘Good fortune!’ so she named him Gad. Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. And Leah said, ‘Happy am I! For the women will call me happy’; so she named him Asher.

In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’ But she said to her, ‘Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?’ Rachel said, ‘Then he may lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.’ When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and said, ‘You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he lay with her that night. And God heeded Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. Leah said, ‘God has given me my hire because I gave my maid to my husband’; so she named him Issachar. And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. Then Leah said, ‘God has endowed me with a good dowry; now my husband will honour me, because I have borne him six sons’; so she named him Zebulun. Afterwards she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah.

Then God remembered Rachel, and God heeded her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach’; and she named him Joseph, saying, ‘May the Lord add to me another son!’

2 Timothy 4.1-8
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
The Collect
Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image:
teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,
now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Can't make it to church today?

Today's readings are a really mixed bag in that the Old Testament is the creation account from Genesis, there are some wise words from Paul in Romans about 'our present sufferings' - the Gospel brings us to a place where we are encouraged to 'Seek first the kingdom of God'. Three quite disparate passages with more than a few connections - but which make sense to us where we are, especially if we find ourselves consistently stuck within our own four walls - I hear you say?

I'm going to be a little cheeky and use three words to sum up the passages:

Good

Incomparable

Therefore

The creation narrative speaks of a God who makes wonderful things - things that are good and though sin and selfishness has broken and marred His image in us, His glory in us, through Jesus, the Christ, brings us to a place whereby we might consider the sufferings of this present time incomparable with regard to the glory about to be revealed to us.

Jesus is at work in us and our redemption is nigh - we pass through but a short time of travail (yet it feels like an eternity doesn't it?) and move towards the diadema - the victor's crown. Therefore - what a word - Therefore. It means 'because' or 'for this reason' and in our Gospel Jesus, having told us that we 'do not store our treasures on earth where moth, rust and thief can destroy - but in heaven' and then comes that word; THEREFORE; and for this reason we live our lives looking to the things that are also incorruptible. We seek God's kingdom in our dealings - our attitudes - our responses to travail and trial.

Today we will be faced with choices and many times we, well I know I will, may well make the wrong ones. I know I will put myself at the front when I should have preferred others. I know I will make choices that serve me rather than God and this is our challenge - to live lives that are good and in ways that when compared to those who do not know God are indeed incomparable - BECAUSE

Because Jesus dies for me

Because I know where my treasure lies

Because I know that this is but a brief hiccough when I consider eternity

And so I will strive to be an overcomer and live my life each day taking care of the things before me but with my eyes, heart and intentions seeking to proclaim His kingdom.

How's about you?



Genesis 1.1 - 2.3
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.

And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.

And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.

And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.

And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.


Romans 8.18-25
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Matthew 6.25-34
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Blue Sky Thought - Room

I like this as it made me sigh and then think:



Morning Prayer - Feb 22

Psalm 68
Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered; let those that hate him flee before him.

As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away; as wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; let them make merry with gladness.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; exalt him who rides on the clouds.
The Lord is his name; rejoice before him.
Father of the fatherless, defender of widows, God in his holy habitation!
God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome, but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert.

O God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the wilderness,
The earth shook and the heavens dropped down rain, at the presence of God, the Lord of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You sent down a gracious rain, O God; you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary.

Your people came to dwell there; in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor. The Lord gave the word; great was the company of women who bore the tidings:
‘Kings and their armies they flee, they flee!’ and women at home are dividing the spoil.
Though you stayed among the sheepfolds, see now a dove’s wings covered with silver and its feathers with green gold.

When the Almighty scattered the kings, it was like snowflakes falling on Zalmon. You mighty mountain, great mountain of Bashan! You towering mountain, great mountain of Bashan!

Why look with envy, you towering mountains, at the mount which God has desired for his dwelling, the place where the Lord will dwell for ever? The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, even thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them, the Lord of Sinai in holy power. You have gone up on high and led captivity captive; you have received tribute, even from those who rebelled, that you may reign as Lord and God.
Blessed be the Lord who bears our burdens day by day, for God is our salvation.
God is for us the God of our salvation;
God is the Lord who can deliver from death.
God will smite the head of his enemies, the hairy scalp of those who walk in wickedness.

The Lord has said, ‘From the heights of Bashan, from the depths of the sea will I bring them back, ‘Till you dip your foot in blood and the tongue of your dogs has a taste of your enemies.’

We see your solemn processions, O God, your processions into the sanctuary, my God and my King. The singers go before, the musicians follow after, in the midst of maidens playing on timbrels. In your companies, bless your God; bless the Lord, you that are of the fount of Israel. At the head there is Benjamin, least of the tribes, the princes of Judah in joyful company, the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali.

Send forth your strength, O God; establish, O God, what you have wrought in us. For your temple’s sake in Jerusalem kings shall bring their gifts to you. Drive back with your word the wild beast of the reeds, the herd of the bull-like, the brutish hordes. Trample down those who lust after silver; scatter the peoples that delight in war. Vessels of bronze shall be brought from Egypt; Ethiopia will stretch out her hands to God.

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; make music in praise of the Lord;
He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice.
Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel, whose power is above the clouds.
How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people!
Blessed be God.

Genesis 29.1-30
Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying there beside it; for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well, and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.

Jacob said to them, ‘My brothers, where do you come from?’ They said, ‘We are from Haran.’ He said to them, ‘Do you know Laban son of Nahor?’ They said, ‘We do.’ He said to them, ‘Is it well with him?’ ‘Yes,’ they replied, ‘and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with the sheep.’ He said, ‘Look, it is still broad daylight; it is not time for the animals to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.’ But they said, ‘We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.’

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them. Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father.

When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, ‘Surely you are my bone and my flesh!’ And he stayed with him for a month.
Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?’ Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’ Laban said, ‘It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.’ So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.’ So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?’ Laban said, ‘This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me for another seven years.’ Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. (Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.) So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He served Laban for another seven years.

2 Timothy 3
You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth. But they will not make much progress, because, as in the case of those two men, their folly will become plain to everyone.
Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and my suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. 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
Almighty God,
who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity:
give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise,
that, among the many changes of this world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
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, 21 February 2014

Morning Prayer - Feb 21

Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness; according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my offences. Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my faults and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, So that you are justified in your sentence and righteous in your judgement. I have been wicked even from my birth, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

Behold, you desire truth deep within me and shall make me understand wisdom in the depths of my heart. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear of joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice. Turn your face from my sins and blot out all my misdeeds. Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me. Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with your gracious spirit; Then shall I teach your ways to the wicked and sinners shall return to you. Deliver me from my guilt, O God,
the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
For you desire no sacrifice, else I would give it; you take no delight in burnt offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

O be favourable and gracious to Zion; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will accept sacrifices offered in righteousness, the burnt offerings and oblations; then shall they offer up bulls on your altar.

Psalm 54
Save me, O God, by your name and vindicate me by your power.
Hear my prayer, O God; give heed to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, and the ruthless seek after my life; they have not set God before them.
Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who upholds my life.

May evil rebound on those who lie in wait for me; destroy them in your faithfulness. An offering of a free heart will I give you and praise your name, O Lord, for it is gracious. For he has delivered me out of all my trouble, and my eye has seen the downfall of my enemies.

Genesis 27.41-28.end
Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’ But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah; so she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, and stay with him for a while, until your brother’s fury turns away—until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?’

Then Rebekah said to Isaac, ‘I am weary of my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women such as these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?’

Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, ‘You shall not marry one of the Canaanite women. Go at once to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father; and take as wife from there one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and numerous, that you may become a company of peoples. May he give to you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your offspring with you, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien—land that God gave to Abraham.’ Thus Isaac sent Jacob away; and he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.
Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he charged him, ‘You shall not marry one of the Canaanite women’, and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please his father Isaac, Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael, and sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ And he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.’

2 Timothy 2.14-end
Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’, and, ‘Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.’

In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work. Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

The Collect
Almighty God,
who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity:
give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise,
that, among the many changes of this world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
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, 20 February 2014

Blue Sky Thought - Marriage (1)

A wonderful piece of advice makes up today's thought:



Happy Anniversary :-)

Morning Prayer - Feb 20

Psalm 56
Have mercy on me, O God, for they trample over me; all day long they assault and oppress me. My adversaries trample over me all the day long; many are they that make proud war against me.

In the day of my fear I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise. In God I trust, and will not fear, for what can flesh do to me? All day long they wound me with words; their every thought is to do me evil. They stir up trouble; they lie in wait; marking my steps, they seek my life. Shall they escape for all their wickedness? In anger, O God, cast the peoples down.

You have counted up my groaning; put my tears into your bottle; are they not written in your book?
Then shall my enemies turn back on the day when I call upon you; this I know, for God is on my side.
In God whose word I praise,
in the Lord whose word I praise,
in God I trust and will not fear: what can flesh do to me?

To you, O God, will I fulfil my vows; to you will I present my offerings of thanks, For you will deliver my soul from death
and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; In the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until the storm of destruction has passed by.
I will call upon the Most High God, the God who fulfils his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me and rebuke those that would trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.

I lie in the midst of lions, people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.
They have laid a net for my feet; my soul is pressed down; they have dug a pit before me and will fall into it themselves.

My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise. Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn. I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.

Psalm 63
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul is athirst for you. My flesh also faints for you, as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So would I gaze upon you in your holy place, that I might behold your power and your glory.

Your loving-kindness is better than life itself and so my lips shall praise you. I will bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your name.

My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips, When I remember you upon my bed and meditate on you in the watches of the night. For you have been my helper and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.
My soul clings to you; your right hand shall hold me fast. But those who seek my soul to destroy it shall go down to the depths of the earth; Let them fall by the edge of the sword and become a portion for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God; all those who swear by him shall be glad, for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

Genesis 26.34-27.40
When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.
When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, ‘My son’; and he answered, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. Then prepare for me savoury food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.’

Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘I heard your father say to your brother Esau, “Bring me game, and prepare for me savoury food to eat, that I may bless you before the Lord before I die.” Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savoury food for your father, such as he likes; and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.’ But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, ‘Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.’ His mother said to him, ‘Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my word, and go, get them for me.’ So he went and got them and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared savoury food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the savoury food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.

So he went in to his father, and said, ‘My father’; and he said, ‘Here I am; who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.’ But Isaac said to his son, ‘How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?’ He answered, ‘Because the Lord your God granted me success.’ Then Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.’ So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.’ He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. He said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ He answered, ‘I am.’ Then he said, ‘Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.’ So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come near and kiss me, my son.’ So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said,
‘Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!’

As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau came in from his hunting. He also prepared savoury food, and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, ‘Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.’ His father Isaac said to him, ‘Who are you?’ He answered, ‘I am your firstborn son, Esau.’ Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, ‘Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him?—yes, and blessed he shall be!’ When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me, me also, father!’ But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.’ Esau said, ‘Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright; and look, now he has taken away my blessing.’ Then he said, ‘Have you not reserved a blessing for me?’ Isaac answered Esau, ‘I have already made him your lord, and I have given him all his brothers as servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?’ Esau said to his father, ‘Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me, me also, father!’ And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

Then his father Isaac answered him:
‘See, away from the fatness of the earth shall your home be, and away from the dew of heaven on high.
 By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother;
 but when you break loose, you shall break his yoke from your neck.’

2 Timothy 1.15-2.13
You are aware that all who are in Asia have turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain; when he arrived in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me —may the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! And you know very well how much service he rendered in Ephesus.

You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer. And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules. It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself.

The Collect
Almighty God,
who alone can bring order
to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity:
give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise,
that, among the many changes of this world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
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, 19 February 2014

Church and Delegation (1)

One dogcollar I've come across had the idea that team meant people did what they were told to to do and yet, when asked, they were 110% certain (weren't good at maths either!) that they were a shining example of delegation and collaborative excellence.

Delegation can be found in many examples in the NT Church - perhaps the best of these being the creation of deacons in Acts chapter six. There was a bit of division apparent between Jewish and Greek believers over the support the Greek widows weren't getting (or were getting in a perhaps less favourable way to the Jewish widows).

Here we have the perfect opportunity for a split and the remedy, the creation of deacons, suggests that this was merely overwork and overstretched administration, something that is always present when any organisation outgrows its structures. This is why it's good to put the structures in place at the beginning so that as things grow, the mechanisms are ready to accommodate the growth and avoid the problems that organisational lag can bring.

The early church was organised but demand was outstripping the ability to meet it smoothly and when gaps appear so too do stresses and divisions. For instance one church I was in had the Vicar's wife and the Vicar and many of the PCC involved in it and they were always shining and smoothly run. Another had a few of the zealots and this was always wanting, but rarely getting, when it cam to their ministry area. Soon the tensions were obvious as the 'have nots' felt marginalised and ignored. The situation didn't get any better when someone donated kit to the 'have everything' group for their having more was the match that started the fire that saw some leave!

Most of the time we have problems in church there is poor administration and clergy who just 'weren't aware!' and this is why delegation is so very important because it's easy to miss things from the top of the pyramid (and whether it is a pyramid needs to be addressed) but simple for those one the ground where the need is real and obvious - and so we delegate.

Let's take a look at Acts 2. 2-4:
'Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, 
“It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” '

One of the important things in any organisation is that everyone should be doing what they can in the right place that they should be doing it! Everyone has a role to play in church and often I find the clergy are out there doing stuff that others should be doing and this adds to their workload and removes the opportunities to be doing what is right for others. This is not about 'being superior' but about acknowledging roles and accepting responsibilities.

When I came to one church I was told off because I washed up, swept and generally helped. My reason was that I didn't want to look like I was lording it and because it's who I am. I still do it but am sensitive to the fact that for some the tasks I might be doing are their primary, and perhaps only, tasks. So we need to look at the areas that need to be addressed and managed in our churches and work out who should be doing them and how they should be doing it - and then consider the relationships and structures that are needed to assist and support them so they do it!

We'll take a look at this some more tomorrow.

Enjoy




Oh Vicar - all you do is work (2)

Yeah, of course I do!

Just because I don't take days off here and there doesn't mean I'm not energised by stuff other than Church (although theology  and faith - the two F's - are one of my biggest hobbies) and another of these has to be the area of Gospel Magic.

Last year, in the run up to Christmas I found myself doing four 'shows' (AKA assemblies, Lunch Clubs and the like) during which I performed 37 different tricks). Here's some of them (many are too large to fit in the photo'):


I love doing magic and the opportunity that services, assemblies and the like provide do mean that 'doing magic' is often part of my work life too - but it's fun and I enjoy the time required in the study (often in the early hours) practicing handling and methods, patter and misdirections.

But it's fun I tell you, fun, fun FUN!

(And Yes I do also have a straitjacket routine :-)  )

Blue Sky Thought - God and Hate

I think this is perhaps one of the truest and most obvious (and obviously ignored) provocative thought there can be. I tire of those who are content to have a god that is made in their own image and struggle with the so many obviously self-made 'religions'. (yes I know . .  thanks you Fil ;-) )

Enjoy:


Morning Prayer - Feb 19

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.

Genesis 25.7-11, 19-end
This is the length of Abraham’s life, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with his wife Sarah. After the death of Abraham God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.
These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.’
When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterwards his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!’ (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?’ Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

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
Almighty God,
who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity:
give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise,
that, among the many changes of this world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
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, 18 February 2014

Oh Vicar - all you do is work (1)

Can I just say that that's not true - I do find time for myself and have a number of interests and hobbies that creep into and out of the picture from time to time. OK, there are times of famine insofar as those that call me away from the parish are concerned but my books, music, writing, theology and other stuff all continue to create some space for my and help maintain what little sanity I might have.

So here's one of my passions for you to understand how I've suffered (and indeed been blessed) over the course of my life supporting the Gooners:


From Sheffield and Bob Stokoe's Sunderland through to oh so many cup finals I've been there - winning, losing and carrying on - a football team is for life, not just the seasons when they are winning.

There's also Southend United, Reading, Wycombe Wanderers, Marlow and (of course) Tamworth FC - with a late entry into the 'love list' of the Baggies too - boing boing!!

Football - not so much a sport  - more of a faith statement

Church: Thinking about structures

As a missioner (of sorts) and one of the biggest issues I come across has nothing to do with the Gospel or evangelism or even 'paying the share' but has to do with the size and structure of a church.

So many people want large churches but fail to realise that this means the end to being a 'family' church.  When I say this the listener throws up their hands and starts explaining how they want families and how families are oh so important. So I have to explain that somewhere around the forty to fifty member mark the church runs like a family - often, but not always, with the minister are the father (but always invariably the primus inter pares*) and above this we find more pastoral support structures which evolve into programmes and stratification before eventually giving way to a corporate structure (which I'm increasingly seeing relabelled as a 'modern minister' model).

Church and management are words that should go together but the problem is that they seem to mix like Guinness and Lemonade (if you fancy a bit of fun ask for a Guinness shandy some time - two drinks in one!).

Many of those who are spiritual eschew structures and anything that sounds like management whilst some I meet have well organised and well-oiled machines running like clockwork but without love, joy, peace and all the other fruit and traits that speak of Jesus and new life. But there is a balance and this is one of the rarest things to behold and yet a joy when we do. I know because I've seen it (but just don't seem to be able to make it mine!).


When talking to one dogcollar recently I was amazed at the passion they had for their sub-fifty church to become a 'large church'. They were longing for the day when they might become a 'midi' church and continue on to the diadema that is a 'larger churches day' at the cathedral. I have to say that having been at them the journey would definitely be better than the arriving but hey ho, you've got to have a dream and talk about the things you'd like to do. After all as hymn 999 in hymns Ancient and Ancienter so rightly continues: 'You gotta have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?'

The problem is that I see people organising church out of existence (and yet we really do need structures, organisation and processes - accountability, lines of support (and management)  and job descriptions and the like). The problem is I do see churches where there's so much dissipation and chaos that any talk of a God of order is taking the mickey. Letting the lunatics run the asylum is not delegation and the Stalinist approach to church management only fuels transfer growth (at best) and the end of church-going (at it's worst).

One of the greatest aids to growth is a mixed-mode, mixed-economy Church. One where Emerging church emerges and lives alongside Fresh Expresssions and traditional church models and all live in harmony. One where churches send their members out to 'make Christ known' and do this as the end in itself, not as press gangs who will bring back impressed church members to the mother ship.

So, following on from some troubles conversations and some querulous folk who are exploring what it means to be leading church and are confused by what they see in the place they belong, I thought I might intersperse the baptism dialogue (which will continue at a pace at which other might keep up and perhaps take the lead) with some thinking about collaboration and delegation and how it is neither 'do what you want' or 'do what I tell you to' but us reasoning together and walking in step with our eyes on the cross and our hands joined in fellowship and common purpose.




* First amongst equals

Blue Sky Thought - Fear

This Magritte thought is a challenge to the many who would rather look away or remain impotent rather than engage and encounter  . . .