Saturday, 31 May 2014

A God who gives everything???

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.'
And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.'

These words from Luke 9 accompany me everywhere I go. They challenge me when I encounter the flaky people who engage in the error that is to be found in the 'Word of Faith' (WoF) approach to Christianity and keep me focused on the important and real. Especially when they seem to forget that Jesus' words have power and yet theirs, as they proclaim and appear to be telling God what to do, even when they might claim the words of Matthew 21:

'Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea’, it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.'

Now don't get me wrong for I am not doubting the words above - but I do doubt those who might think that they can command God to give what they want. we can ask in the knowledge that we have a God who gives His children good things but, like any good parent, He doesn't give us everything we ask for. There is context and balance and so much more to be taken into account.

I continue to struggle when I see so many of the merchants of prosperity living lifestyles of sacrifice and giving, especially when it is the sacrifice and giving of others, others who appear to be lacking in money, possession and wit*!

I'm sure you know who I'm talking about. They preach something that is almost correct and yet there is enough deviation from God's truth that eventually the follower finds themselves well off track - and often still in the same place they were but just a little poorer from all the merchandise, teaching conferences and 'seed gifts'.

The Jewish way of thinking was that health and wealth were affirmations of God's blessing and this persists with those who see prosperity and health as endorsements of that same God in the same old blessings. Yet looking at many who will preach prosperity, with the ever present caveat that if you don't receive there's sin, unconfessed and perhaps unknown, that stops the blessing from coming on through. The Jews also sought God's judgement on people while they lived because they assumed that dying wicked and rich meant they were home free (always good to read the imprecatory Psalms innit) but that denied a judgement later.

This might offend some but I see little to separate many of the WoF folk from those engaged in witchcraft for both seek to control the spiritual realms for their own ends and by their own faith bring that which they want into being. Sadly, both deny Jesus - even though, ironically) they spout the Bible and yet seek to control God - telling Him what to bring them in a confused understanding of what it means when we say 'Jesus is the servant of all mankind'.

So today - wherever we are, whatever needs we have, we can bring them to God in the knowledge that He does hear and does give His children 'good things' - the problem is that broccoli is a good and healthy option when chocolate might not be.

Rarely hear of people praying for the healthy option - they appear to be praying for:

Money - not wisdom

Good health - not a healthy attitude

Themselves - not others


*Wit meaning brainpower (not clever and/or humorous utterances - mind you, it's hard not to laugh innit

Morning Prayer - May 31

The Visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

Psalm 85
Lord, you were gracious to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the offence of your people and covered all their sins.
You laid aside all your fury and turned from your wrathful indignation.

Restore us again, O God our Saviour, and let your anger cease from us.
Will you be displeased with us for ever?
Will you stretch out your wrath from one generation to another?
Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your mercy, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

I will listen to what the Lord God will say, for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful, that they turn not again to folly. Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other;Truth shall spring up from the earth and righteousness look down from heaven.

The Lord will indeed give all that is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness shall go before him and direct his steps in the way.

Psalm 150
O praise God in his holiness; praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the blast of the trumpet; praise him upon the harp and lyre.
Praise him with timbrel and dances; praise him upon the strings and pipe.
Praise him with ringing cymbals; praise him upon the clashing cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

1 Samuel 2.1-10
Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God.
 My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.

‘There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.
 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
 The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts.  He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail.

The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.’

Mark 3.31-35
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’

The Collect
Mighty God,
by whose grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary and greeted her as the mother of the Lord:
look with favour on your lowly servants that, with Mary, we may magnify your holy name and rejoice to acclaim her Son our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Vicar's a Time Lord! - A cautionary tale

A long time ago, when the world was young, there was a man who could control time.

When the situation was such that more time was needed to be available for him to get things done then he merely slowed time down such everything that needed to be accomplished was carried out in the same time slot that was ordinarily available to the mere mortals around him - except there was more of it for him!

Whilst the general populace thought that there was but one day left before an event, the time lord, thanks to his time-shifting abilities managed to make it such that he could get three days work in - and so all rejoiced as the event ran like clockwork (and on time too!) with no one any the wiser (although the people were amazed at the work rate of the man in question).

As the man's life progressed he came to faith and later became a Vicar, a role where the special skills and abilities he possessed really came to the fore. Fetes, services and festivals were always delivered without a hitch and without the slightest blip for, when anything that might have previously been a problem appeared on the horizon, the Vicar would merely bend time to make sure enough was available to make sure everything necessary was done to make whatever it was happen.

Our time lord Vicar  became aware of a strange phenomenon which at first he supposed was the result of all of his twisting and stretching of time. It was a most troubling and extremely bizarre phenomenon because it seemed that wherever he was time ran like clockwork and all the people worked normally. The weird bit was that the moment he left, so to (it seemed to him) did time itself! It's true, as soon as he was somewhere else, in the place he'd left, time stopped until he returned!

The moment he appeared things started getting done but as soon as he departed everything stopped again! Busy groups of people were, immediately he left, rendered still, silent and completely inactive and yet, should he walk back in to their presence, they start moving and acting as if they'd never stopped. Bizarrely, none of them seemed to have any realisation that they'd been in what seemed to be suspended animation the minute the Vicar had left!

'It must be a folding of the time-space continuum,' he thought to himself as he returned from his two-week's holiday to find nothing had been done while he was away and it seemed to him that everyone was exactly where he'd left them.

He repeated the exercise time and time again and yet, without fail, found that the same thing happened (or rather didn't) to the extent that he was ready to promote his empirical hypothesis, on the basis of his experiment and measured research,  to the state whereby it was to become known as 'Vicar's law'.

Now I'm sure that there are many out there who are totally aware that the time-space continuum had not been corrupted or distorted by the Vicar's stretching of time at all and this is the reason that 'Vicar's Law' never made it into print or onto the stages whereby accolades and plaudits were heaped upon him. No journals have ever carried the research because, as I'm sure you will already know is this:

What our hero had observed was no figment of his imagination but was a reality many Clergy live with!

For the reality is this:

Time really continued as normal when he was absent.

The terrible reality, which is just a little too terrible to contemplate, is this:

The people had been doing nothing for almost all of the time but he was just too busy (or perhaps too polite) to mention, or even notice!

It was only when he was absent that the fact that the others were doing nothing became obvious!

(glad that's not the case where I am)

Morning Prayer - May 30

Joan of Arc, Visionary, 1431
Josephine Butler, Social Reformer, 1906
Apolo Kivebulaya, Priest, Evangelist in Central Africa, 1933

Psalm 20
May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend you; send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you out of Zion; remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice; grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your mind. May we rejoice in your salvation and triumph in the name of our God; may the Lord perform all your petitions.

Now I know that the Lord will save his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven, with the mighty strength of his right hand. Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will call only on the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen, but we are risen and stand upright. O Lord, save the king and answer us when we call upon you.

Psalm 81
Sing merrily to God our strength, shout for joy to the God of Jacob. Take up the song and sound the timbrel, the tuneful lyre with the harp. Blow the trumpet at the new moon, as at the full moon, upon our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob, the charge he laid on the people of Joseph, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

I heard a voice I did not know, that said:
‘I eased their shoulder from the burden; their hands were set free from bearing the load.
‘You called upon me in trouble and I delivered you; I answered you from the secret place of thunder and proved you at the waters of Meribah. 
‘Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you: O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
‘There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not worship a foreign god.
‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I shall fill it.’
But my people would not hear my voice and Israel would not obey me. So I sent them away in the stubbornness of their hearts, and let them walk after their own counsels.

O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! Then I should soon put down their enemies and turn my hand against their adversaries. Those who hate the Lord would be humbled before him, and their punishment would last for ever. But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat and with honey from the rock would I satisfy them.

Numbers 20.1-13
The Israelites, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died there, and was buried there.

Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron. The people quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink.’ Then Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting; they fell on their faces, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.

So Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he had commanded him. Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’ These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarrelled with the Lord, and by which he showed his holiness.

Luke 7.11-17
Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favourably on his people!’ This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

The Collect
God of compassion and love,
by whose grace your servant Josephine Butler followed in the way of your Son in caring for those in need:
help us like her to work with strength for the restoration of all to the dignity and freedom of those created in your image;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Ascension Day - May 29

Today, just a few days since we had Jesus telling His disciples that He would not leave them as orphans, we find Him leaving! But of course He's already told them that He has to go:

'Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.' (John 16)

In the John passage Jesus tells the followers to 'Stay in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.’ (Luke mentions it in the Acts passage - see italicised section).

So here we have jesus physically leaving earth and with it the final stage of His plan of salvation which began with Gabriel's visit to Mary, begins. He must go so that the 'Age of the Spirit' may begin - and with it the promise that we will see many greater miracles than those seen whilst Jesus walked the earth.

How very cool is that?

So Jesus has gone up and God's Word made man, crucified, risen and now ascended - leaves us to await the coming of His Holy Spirit to come and clothe us with that power from on high.

Crucified, risen and ascended God,
As we look to your ascension, and await your return,
We look also to the coming of the Holy Spirit to enliven and empower.
Breathe into our lives that confidence to live and witness to you,
To receive the fullness of your blessing in body, mind and soul,
Now and until you come again as Messiah,

Acts 1.1-11
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Psalm 47
Clap your hands together, all you peoples; O sing to God with shouts of joy. For the Lord Most High is to be feared; he is the great King over all the earth.
He subdued the peoples under us and the nations under our feet. He has chosen our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loves.

God has gone up with a merry noise, the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.
O sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with all your skill.
God reigns over the nations; God has taken his seat upon his holy throne.

The nobles of the peoples are gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For the powers of the earth belong to God and he is very highly exalted.

Ephesians 1.15-23

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Luke 24.44-53
Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

The Collect
Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Post Communion
Eternal God, giver of love and power,
your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world
to preach the gospel of his kingdom:
confirm us in this mission,
and help us to live the good news we proclaim;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Morning Prayer - May 28

Lanfranc, Prior of Le Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, Scholar, 1089
Rogation Day

Psalm 132
1 Lord, remember for David all the hardships he endured; how he swore an oath to the Lord and vowed a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
‘I will not come within the shelter of my house, nor climb up into my bed;
‘I will not allow my eyes to sleep, nor let my eyelids slumber,
‘Until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.’

Now, we heard of the ark in Ephrathah and found it in the fields of Ja-ar.
Let us enter his dwelling place and fall low before his footstool.

Arise, O Lord, into your resting place, you and the ark of your strength.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness and your faithful ones sing with joy.
For your servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.

The Lord has sworn an oath to David, a promise from which he will not shrink:
‘Of the fruit of your body shall I set upon your throne.
‘If your children keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their children also shall sit upon your throne for evermore.’

For the Lord has chosen Zion for himself; he has desired her for his habitation:
‘This shall be my resting place for ever; here will I dwell, for I have longed for her.
‘I will abundantly bless her provision; her poor will I satisfy with bread.
‘I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful ones shall rejoice and sing.
‘There will I make a horn to spring up for David; I will keep a lantern burning for my anointed.
‘As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame; but on him shall his crown be bright.’

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

Numbers 17.1-11
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites, and get twelve staffs from them, one for each ancestral house, from all the leaders of their ancestral houses. Write each man’s name on his staff, and write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff for the head of each ancestral house. Place them in the tent of meeting before the covenant, where I meet with you. And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout; thus I will put a stop to the complaints of the Israelites that they continually make against you. Moses spoke to the Israelites; and all their leaders gave him staffs, one for each leader, according to their ancestral houses, twelve staffs; and the staff of Aaron was among theirs. So Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant.

When Moses went into the tent of the covenant on the next day, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted. It put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the Lord to all the Israelites; and they looked, and each man took his staff. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Put back the staff of Aaron before the covenant, to be kept as a warning to rebels, so that you may make an end of their complaints against me, or else they will die.’ Moses did so; just as the Lord commanded him, so he did.

Luke 7.1-10I
After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.’ And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

The Collect
God our redeemer,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us  to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Morning Prayer - May 27

Rogation Day

Psalm 124
If the Lord himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say; If the Lord had not been on our side, when enemies rose up against us; then would they have swallowed us alive when their anger burned against us; then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over our soul;
over our soul would have swept the raging waters.

But blessed be the Lord who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth. Our soul has escaped
as a bird from the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken and we are delivered.

7 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who has made heaven and earth.

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

Psalm 126
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with songs of joy.
Then said they among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’

The Lord has indeed done great things for us, and therefore we rejoiced.
Restore again our fortunes, O Lord, as the river beds of the desert.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed, will come back with shouts of joy, bearing their sheaves with them.

Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord keeps the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you hasten to rise up early and go so late to rest, eating the bread of toil, for he gives his beloved sleep.

Children are a heritage from the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his gift. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy are those who have their quiver full of them: they shall not be put to shame when they dispute with their enemies in the gate.

Numbers 16.36-end
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to take the censers out of the blaze; then scatter the fire far and wide. For the censers of these sinners have become holy at the cost of their lives. Make them into hammered plates as a covering for the altar, for they presented them before the Lord and they became holy. Thus they shall be a sign to the Israelites. So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers that had been presented by those who were burned; and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar—a reminder to the Israelites that no outsider, who is not of the descendants of Aaron, shall approach to offer incense before the Lord, so as not to become like Korah and his company—just as the Lord had said to him through Moses.

On the next day, however, the whole congregation of the Israelites rebelled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, ‘You have killed the people of the Lord.’ And when the congregation had assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned towards the tent of meeting; the cloud had covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Get away from this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment.’ And they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take your censer, put fire on it from the altar and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them. For wrath has gone out from the Lord; the plague has begun.’ So Aaron took it as Moses had ordered, and ran into the middle of the assembly, where the plague had already begun among the people. He put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped. Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. When the plague was stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Luke 6.39-end
He also told them a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.

‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

‘Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.’

The Collect
God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Made me Laugh: Is it Mercury free?

I love this image - it's such a wonderful commentary on the role of the leader (regardless of time, reputation or circumstance):

Morning Prayer - May 26

Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, 605
John Calvin, Reformer, 1564
Philip Neri, Founder of the Oratorians, Spiritual Guide, 1595

Psalm 65
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; to you that answer prayer shall vows be paid. To you shall all flesh come to confess their sins; when our misdeeds prevail against us, you will purge them away.

Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there. We shall be satisfied with the blessings of your house, even of your holy temple. With wonders you will answer us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, O hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. In your strength you set fast the mountains and are girded about with might.

You still the raging of the seas, the roaring of their waves and the clamour of the peoples. Those who dwell at the ends of the earth tremble at your marvels; the gates of the morning and evening sing your praise.

You visit the earth and water it; you make it very plenteous. The river of God is full of water; you prepare grain for your people, for so you provide for the earth.

You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges; you soften the ground with showers and bless its increase.

You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths overflow with plenty.

May the pastures of the wilderness flow with goodness and the hills be girded with joy.
May the meadows be clothed with flocks of sheep and the valleys stand so thick with corn that they shall laugh and sing.

Psalm 67
God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

O let the nations rejoice and be glad, for you will judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase, and God, our own God, will bless us.
God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

Numbers 16.1-35
Now Korah son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, along with Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—descendants of Reuben—took two hundred and fifty Israelite men, leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men, and they confronted Moses. They assembled against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, ‘You have gone too far! All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. So why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’ When Moses heard it, he fell on his face. Then he said to Korah and all his company, ‘In the morning the Lord will make known who is his, and who is holy, and who will be allowed to approach him; the one whom he will choose he will allow to approach him. Do this: take censers, Korah and all your company, and tomorrow put fire in them, and lay incense on them before the Lord; and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the holy one. You Levites have gone too far!’ Then Moses said to Korah, ‘Hear now, you Levites! Is it too little for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to allow you to approach him in order to perform the duties of the Lord’s tabernacle, and to stand before the congregation and serve them? He has allowed you to approach him, and all your brother Levites with you; yet you seek the priesthood as well! Therefore you and all your company have gathered together against the Lord. What is Aaron that you rail against him?’

Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab; but they said, ‘We will not come! Is it too little that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also lord it over us? It is clear you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Would you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come!’

Moses was very angry and said to the Lord, ‘Pay no attention to their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, and I have not harmed any one of them.’ And Moses said to Korah, ‘As for you and all your company, be present tomorrow before the Lord, you and they and Aaron; and let each one of you take his censer, and put incense on it, and each one of you present his censer before the Lord, two hundred and fifty censers; you also, and Aaron, each his censer.’ So each man took his censer, and they put fire in the censers and laid incense on them, and they stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. Then Korah assembled the whole congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole congregation.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying: Separate yourselves from this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment. They fell on their faces, and said, ‘O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one person sin and you become angry with the whole congregation?’

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Say to the congregation: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. So Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram; the elders of Israel followed him. He said to the congregation, ‘Turn away from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, or you will be swept away for all their sins.’ So they got away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrance of their tents, together with their wives, their children, and their little ones. And Moses said, ‘This is how you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works; it has not been of my own accord: If these people die a natural death, or if a natural fate comes on them, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord.’

As soon as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them was split apart. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, along with their households—everyone who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they with all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. All Israel around them fled at their outcry, for they said, ‘The earth will swallow us too!’ And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.

Luke 6.27-38
‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose servant Augustine was sent as the apostle of the English people:
grant that as he laboured in the Spirit to preach Christ's gospel in this land,
so all who hear the good news may strive to make your truth known in all the world;
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.

Night Prayer - May 25

O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us.
In your resurrection, O Christ, let heaven and earth rejoice. Alleluia.

Blessed are you, Sovereign Lord, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to you be glory and praise for ever.
From the deep waters of death you brought your people to new birth by raising your Son to life in triumph.Through him dark death has been destroyed and radiant life is everywhere restored.
As you call us out of darkness into his marvellous light may our lives reflect his glory and our lips repeat the endless song. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - Blessed be God for ever.

Ye choirs of new Jerusalem, your sweetest notes employ,
the Paschal victory to hymn in strains of holy joy.

How Judah’s lion burst his chains and crushed the serpent’s head;
and brought with him, from death’s domains, the long-imprisoned dead.

Triumphant in his glory now his sceptre ruleth all,
earth, heaven, and hell before him bow, and at his footstool fall.

While joyful thus his praise we sing, his mercy we implore,
into his palace bright to bring and keep us evermore.

All glory to the Father be, all glory to the Son,
all glory, Holy Ghost, to thee, while endless ages run. Alleluia, Amen.

That this evening may be holy, good and peaceful, let us pray with one heart and mind.

Silence is kept as we reflect upon the day now past

As our evening prayer rises before you, O God, so may your mercy come down upon us to cleanse our hearts and set us free to sing your praise now and for ever. Amen.

Psalm 87
The Lord has chosen Zion for himself.
His foundation is on the holy mountains.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you, Zion, city of our God.

I record Egypt and Babylon as those who know me; behold Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia: in Zion were they born. And of Zion it shall be said, ‘Each one was born in her, and the Most High himself has established her.’
The Lord will record as he writes up the peoples, ‘This one also was born there.’ And as they dance they shall sing, ‘All my fresh springs are in you.’

Lord, as you call us to your city founded on the rock of ages,
let the springs of living water rise within us to eternal life;
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalm 36.5-10
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness stands like the strong mountains, your justice like the great deep; you, Lord, shall save both man and beast.

How precious is your loving mercy, O God! All mortal flesh shall take refuge under the shadow of your wings. They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house; they shall drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light. O continue your loving-kindness to those who know you and your righteousness to those who are true of heart.
With you, O God, is the well of life.

O God, the well of life, make us bright with wisdom,
that we may be lightened with the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

Zechariah 8.1-13
The word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts shall be called the holy mountain. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts? Thus says the Lord of hosts: I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Let your hands be strong—you that have recently been hearing these words from the mouths of the prophets who were present when the foundation was laid for the rebuilding of the temple, the house of the Lord of hosts. For before those days there were no wages for people or for animals, nor was there any safety from the foe for those who went out or came in, and I set them all against one another. But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, says the Lord of hosts. For there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, the ground shall give its produce, and the skies shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. Just as you have been a cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.

Revelation 21.22 - 22.5
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

The Lord is my strength and my song: he has become my salvation.
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord has become my salvation.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
The Lord is my strength and my song: he has become my salvation.

The Magnificat
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. Alleluia..
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;  he has looked with favour on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed; the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm and has scattered the proud in their conceit, Casting down the mighty from their thrones  and lifting up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, to remember his promise of mercy, the promise made to our ancestors,  to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. Alleluia..

Prayers - Thanks and praise are given for the day now closed.

(And we intercede for peace and for those we know and their needs)

The Collect of the day
God our redeemer,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,
so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Rejoicing in God’s new creation, as our Saviour taught us, so we pray
Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,  your will be done,  on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

May the risen Christ grant us the joys of eternal life. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord. Alleluia, alleluia. Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Can't make it to church? May 25

I was recently stopped in the street by someone who wanted to talk about the 'Can't make it to church?' blog entry. Their reason for stopping me was to say that they'd been away from church for a long time and found that they were starting to feel that they were missing out because of it. Just wanted to say 'Thank You' for that act of encouragement (as I'm sure you'll be reading it).

So what's in the box for us today I wonder?

We begin with Paul outside the Areopagus, which was a bit like him standing outside of Westminster or the Capitol building these days, talking to the people gathered there about religion. 'You lot are great,' he says, 'You even have an altar to the 'unknown god' - perhaps you'd like to know who he is'. And so he begins to unwrap Jesus to them in ways that need brain and philosophy and rhetoric and the like. This is what we should be doing today, for the needs haven't changed - only the calendar!

making the words of the Psalm flesh Paul says, 'Come and listen, all you who fear God,  and I will tell you what he has done for my soul'. Here's a wonderful hint, for the Psalms as such a source of wealth when it comes to getting our own heads straight and out witnessing sound. Better still, the words he would have used would probably have sounded much like those in the 1 Peter reading (why not have a quick look now?) as he makes Jesus known to them all in the promise and reality of faith, baptism and new life in Him - and in Him is new life indeed from God who is not unknown but is, as the third member of the Trinity, so often thought of as unseen: The Holy Spirit.

Today's Gospel reading is one of my favourites for a number of reasons. Perhaps it's the association with one of my lecturers (now long gone) or the fact that was one of the first passages to make me look past the words on a page and understand how we can, for the best of reasons, lose much because of assumption and learning.

So in a nutshell John tells us that the Holy Spirit is a 'HE' not an it. Now, reading your Bible you might ask me how I work that out, but my notes (still here somewhere) tell me that John uses 'it' (because that's grammatically correct) at the beginning of our passage (in bold) rather than the 'him' that appears. Here we have not a neuter but a masculine entity. But better still - if you go back to the 'another counsellor' bit there's something even more brill'. The term in Greek is 'Allos Parakletos' and this brings two fantastic bits of news to wherever you are reading this:

'Allos' means 'of the same kind or type' - but it's not like the same like body shapes on a car but more like when we do colour printing. If you've ever read something where the printing is slightly off and you get the colours bleed so that's everything is a little blurred and out of focus then you know what allos is not! For allos is what you see when you have a clear and crisp image of the thing because the printing is 'dot for dot' the same (it's all about  'registration').


Jesus and the Holy Spirit (that other comforter, advocate or counsellor) are 'dot for dot' the same - there is not a micron of difference between then and this means that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, that brooded over creation in Genesis One IS Jesus - they are exactly the same - now that's worthy of a Hallelujah (and me an Anglican too!).

The other state is 'heteros' which means 'of a different kind' - this would fit humans (male and female) car models and the like - they're the same, but they're not identical! Simple really innit?

And the third bit of cool stuff is that 'parakletos' means 'one who comes alongside.

You can't help someone up unless you come alongside and reach out.

You can't comfort someone unless you come alongside and put your arm around them.

You can't bring healing without coming close enough to reach out and touch them.

And today, wherever you are, whatever your situation this is what God, unseen and yet tangible, wants to do for you, for those whom you pray for - to come alongside and bring Jesus (dot for dot) into their presence - coming alongside to bring love, strength, comfort and healing.

Father, we thank you that you, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one and the same and that there is no substantial difference in you. Come close to us, wherever we are, and bring your healing, peace and comfort. Help us to know you as Father, Son and Holy Spirit more each day we pray. Amen,

 Acts 17.22-31
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.”

Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

Psalm 66.7-18
Bless our God, O you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heard, who holds our souls in life and suffers not our feet to slip. For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.
You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but you brought us out into a place of liberty.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings and will pay you my vows,  which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer you fat burnt sacrifices with the smoke of rams; I will sacrifice oxen and goats.

Come and listen, all you who fear God,  and I will tell you what he has done for my soul. I called out to him with my mouth and his praise was on my tongue.

If I had nursed evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me, But in truth God has heard me; he has heeded the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, nor withheld his loving mercy from me.

1 Peter 3.13-22
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

John 14.15-21
‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows (it) him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’

The Collect
Risen Christ,
by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples:
help your Church to obey your command
and draw the nations to the fire of your love,
to the glory of God the Father

Post Communion
God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life:
may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness,
through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Morning Prayer - May 24

John and Charles Wesley, Evangelists, Hymn Writers, 1791 and 1788

Psalm 146
Praise the Lord, O my soul: while I live will I praise the Lord; as long as I have any being,
I will sing praises to my God.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in any human power, for there is no help in them. When their breath goes forth, they return to the earth; on that day all their thoughts perish.

Happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth,the sea and all that is in them; who keeps his promise for ever; Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong and bread to those who hunger.

The Lord looses those that are bound; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land; he upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.
The Lord shall reign for ever, your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

Psalm 150
O praise God in his holiness; praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the blast of the trumpet; praise him upon the harp and lyre.
Praise him with timbrel and dances; praise him upon the strings and pipe.
Praise him with ringing cymbals; praise him upon the clashing cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Numbers 14.26-end
And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying: How long shall this wicked congregation complain against me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites, which they complain against me. Say to them, ‘As I live’, says the Lord, ‘I will do to you the very things I heard you say: your dead bodies shall fall in this very wilderness; and of all your number, included in the census, from twenty years old and upwards, who have complained against me, not one of you shall come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become booty, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have despised. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ I the Lord have spoken; surely I will do thus to all this wicked congregation gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.

And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report about the land—the men who brought an unfavourable report about the land died by a plague before the Lord. But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh alone remained alive, of those men who went to spy out the land.

When Moses told these words to all the Israelites, the people mourned greatly. They rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, ‘Here we are. We will go up to the place that the Lord has promised, for we have sinned.’ But Moses said, ‘Why do you continue to transgress the command of the Lord? That will not succeed. Do not go up, for the Lord is not with you; do not let yourselves be struck down before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will confront you there, and you shall fall by the sword; because you have turned back from following the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.’ But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, even though the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, had not left the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them, pursuing them as far as Hormah.

Luke 6.12-26
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
‘Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
‘Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

The Collect
God of mercy,
who inspired John and Charles Wesley with zeal for your gospel:
grant to all people boldness to proclaim your word and a heart ever to rejoice in singing your praises;
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, 23 May 2014

Morning Prayer - May 23

Psalm 138
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods will I sing praise to you.
I will bow down towards your holy temple and praise your name, because of your love and faithfulness; for you have glorified your name and your word above all things.

In the day that I called to you, you answered me; you put new strength in my soul.
All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth. They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, that great is the glory of the Lord.

Though the Lord be high, he watches over the lowly; as for the proud, he regards them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will preserve me; you will stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand will save me.
The Lord shall make good his purpose for me; your loving-kindness, O Lord, endures for ever; forsake not the work of your hands.

Psalm 149
O sing to the Lord a new song; sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.

Let Israel rejoice in their maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance; let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre.
For the Lord has pleasure in his people and adorns the poor with salvation.

Let the faithful be joyful in glory; let them rejoice in their ranks, With the praises of God in their mouths and a two-edged sword in their hands; to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples; To bind their kings in chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. To execute on them the judgement decreed: such honour have all his faithful servants.

Numbers 14.1-25
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become booty; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us choose a captain, and go back to Egypt.’

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the Israelites. And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the Israelites, ‘The land that we went through as spies is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only, do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they are no more than bread for us; their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.’ But the whole congregation threatened to stone them.

Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will this people despise me? And how long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.’

But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for in your might you brought up this people from among them, and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O Lord, are in the midst of this people; for you, O Lord, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go in front of them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if you kill this people all at one time, then the nations who have heard about you will say, “It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land he swore to give them that he has slaughtered them in the wilderness.” And now, therefore, let the power of the Lord be great in the way that you promised when you spoke, saying,

“The Lord is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the parents
upon the children to the third and the fourth generation.”

Forgive the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have pardoned this people, from Egypt even until now.’

Then the Lord said, ‘I do forgive, just as you have asked; nevertheless—as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord—none of the people who have seen my glory and the signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tested me these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors; none of those who despised me shall see it. But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me wholeheartedly, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.’

Luke 6.1-11
One sabbath while Jesus was going through the cornfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ Jesus answered, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?’ Then he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’

On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

The Collect
Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

As some vote - the majority won't

Many others will make their voice heard by refraining from doing so, and it is them that are most likely to hand over power to the wrong people. I once thought that 'people get the government they deserve' (at least that's what I've been led to believe Alexis de Tocqueville said regarding democracy) but now I think that people get the government others condemn them to have - and this is not because they majority voted for it but because the majority declined to vote!

Those who refrain from voting are, sadly, in my view quite pathetic (yes, I know that might be considered to be rude). Those who bleat about not having a voice or not being able to make a difference or not really being interested condemn the world to disaster and consign the future into the hands of people who are not fit for role.

So here's a heartfelt plea:

Morning Prayer - May 22

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 148
Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you his angels; praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you stars of light.
Praise him, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord; for he commanded and they were created.

He made them fast for ever and ever; he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps; fire and hail, snow and mist, tempestuous wind, fulfilling his word; mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars; wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and birds on the wing; kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world; young men and women, old and young together; let them praise the name of the Lord.

For his name only is exalted, his splendour above earth and heaven. He has raised up the horn of his people and praise for all his faithful servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

Numbers 13.1-3, 17-end
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites; from each of their ancestral tribes you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.’ So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the Lord, all of them leading men among the Israelites.

Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, ‘Go up there into the Negeb, and go up into the hill country, and see what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the towns that they live in are unwalled or fortified, and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be bold, and bring some of the fruit of the land.’ Now it was the season of the first ripe grapes.

So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. They went up into the Negeb, and came to Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the Anakites, were there. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) And they came to the Wadi Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them. They also brought some pomegranates and figs. That place was called the Wadi Eshcol, because of the cluster that the Israelites cut down from there.

At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us; it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Yet the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the land of the Negeb; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea, and along the Jordan.’

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’ Then the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we are.’ So they brought to the Israelites an unfavourable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’

Luke 5.27-end
After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him.

Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’

Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’

Then they said to him, ‘John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.’ Jesus said to them, ‘You cannot make wedding-guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.’ He also told them a parable: ‘No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, “The old is good.” ’

The Collect
Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Morning Prayer - May 21

Helena, Protector of the Holy Places, 330

Psalm 30
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have raised me up and have not let my foes triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you have healed me. You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit.

Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; give thanks to his holy name. For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, his favour for a lifetime. Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

In my prosperity I said,
‘I shall never be moved. You, Lord, of your goodness, have made my hill so strong.’

Then you hid your face from me and I was utterly dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried; •
to the Lord I made my supplication:
‘What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?
 Will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
‘Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; O Lord, be my helper.’
 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness;
 Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Psalm 147.13-end
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion; For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you.
He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost?
He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel
He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws.

Numbers 12
While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); and they said, ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?’ And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth. Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, ‘Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.’ So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. And he said, ‘Hear my words:

When there are prophets among you, I the Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face—clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?’ And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.

When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam and saw that she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, ‘Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like one stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother’s womb.’ And Moses cried to the Lord, ‘O God, please heal her.’ But the Lord said to Moses, ‘If her father had but spat in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp for seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.’ So Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days; and the people did not set out on the march until Miriam had been brought in again. After that the people set out from Hazeroth, and camped in the wilderness of Paran.

Luke 5.12-26
Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do choose. Be made clean.’ Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. ‘Go’, he said, ‘and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.’ But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, ‘Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’

When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the one who was paralysed—‘I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.’ Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’

The Collect
Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.