Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Caption Contest: Snail's Pace

Saw this and it made me smile, and wonder what the animal was on too, and as I did I thought, now this is one for the clever people who like coming up with smart explanations :


Clergy - what should we pay for? [3]

I have received a great question regarding this thread, it goes like this:

"Are we facing the problems we have regarding paying for clergy because of the Clericalism of the Church of England. Do other denominations suffer less than us because they have leadership styles that draw upon all the members rather than one leader or group of leaders?"

I guess the first step here is to assess what the other churches do and a quick finger in the air shows me that even where the church style is congregational we generally find that leaders (Pastor, Minister, Vicar or Elder) are paid and unpaid. Some of the congregations pay directly for their leaders and where the ability to do this is limited then the leader is unpaid, where there is money to pay for the leader/s they do - it's as simple as that!

I struggle with clericalism but then again I struggle with much of the anticlerical stuff too. There was a bit of a wally who used to talk about taking the grip of the clergy off of the stuff that is Church and handing it back to the people (a sentiment with which I am in full agreement by the way). The reality was that whilst they sought a decline in ordained clergy and the empowering of members, what was happening was that we saw no coherent leadership or planning and panic mode recovery of situations where nothing had been done. I am all for leaders who lead regardless of renumeration issues but also return to the number of Elim ministers I have worked with whose one desire was to be able to stop their day job and concentrate all their time on the ministry before them. This desire to be able to do the stuff without the distraction of a day job seems to indicate that the stipend is a sound concept.

Now, oddly enough, my original ambition was to be a minister who worked in the world as saw the world as my parish - as happened with the train and the church it became and the people with whom I engaged in the workplace - but I was persuaded to take the stipendiary route and have to say I have no regrets at this.

The reality though is that it's not about clericalism but about paying for the privilege of having someone spin the plates, visit the sick and generally get stuck in on a 7*24*365 basis (although I do feel some sell their vocations a little short regarding this, but that's for a different discussion) and they do this because they have been 'called out' (ekklesia) to do that roll.

The majority of the churches, groups, denominations and settings I have looked at pay for their leaders when they can and some do it even when they can't because of the generosity of others through relationships or by means of the Common Purse (Parish Share). Some groupings, denominations and the like do perhaps suffer less because they work on the basis that the ability and desire to pay, for this engenders the ability in others, is the key to whether payment is made and so a cash strapped church is freed from the need to pay what they cannot afford. The problem is (and I have just run someone to check as they have an unpaid pastor) is that those who rely upon lay led leadership do find that the tensions between 'ruling elders' and the rest and the lack of cohesive direction is a price that is paid when the price of leaders is not paid. A real conundrum that isn't it?

So the answer to the question appears to be, "No, the problem isn't that we pay the clergy to do stuff, it's a much deeper issue than that and looks at changing church needs, the ability to pay, numbers of people coming forward to be ordained and a good many other issues. It's not about clericalism - it's much wider, deeper and demanding that that alone."

With this I find more to add to the scales and more to to be considered in this evermore weighty issue.

Pax


Made me smile and then made me pray: Do you think they're friendly?

I have to be honest and say that this raised a smile this morning.


It also reminded me of a set of heroes that I have had for many years through reading the book 'Through Gates of Splendour'. The book details the work of a bunch of men who sought to bring the Gospel to the natives of the Ecuadorian rain forests and paid the ultimate price.

A prayer:

Almighty God, who called your faithful servants Nate Saint, Ed Mccully, Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian to be witnesses and martyrs to the Huaorani peoples in the rain forests of Ecuador, and by their labors and suffering raised up a people for your own possession: Pour forth your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Precious in your sight, O Lord, is the death of your saints, Whose faithful witness, by your providence, has its great reward: We give you thanks for your martyrs Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian, who purchased with their blood a hearing for the Gospel among the forest-dwellers of Ecuador, especially the Huaorani people, and for their wives, who shared with them in their work and witness; and we pray that with them we also may obtain the crown of righteousness which is laid up for all who love the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Morning Prayer - September 30

Jerome, Translator of the Scriptures, Teacher of the Faith, 420

Psalm 32
Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered. Happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile. For I held my tongue; my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. Your hand was heavy upon me day and night; my moisture was dried up like the drought in summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and my iniquity I did not hide.

I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful make their prayers to you in time of trouble; in the great water flood, it shall not reach them. You are a place for me to hide in; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance.

‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go; I will guide you with my eye. Be not like horse and mule which have no understanding; whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle, or else they will not stay near you.’

Great tribulations remain for the wicked, but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord. Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

Psalm 36
Sin whispers to the wicked, in the depths of their heart; there is no fear of God before their eyes. They flatter themselves in their own eyes that their abominable sin will not be found out. The words of their mouth are unrighteous and full of deceit; they have ceased to act wisely and to do good. They think out mischief upon their beds and have set themselves in no good way; nor do they abhor that which is evil.

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

How precious is your loving mercy, O God! All mortal flesh shall take refuge
under the shadow of your wings. They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house; they shall drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light.

O continue your loving-kindness to those who know you and your righteousness to those who are true of heart. Let not the foot of pride come against me, nor the hand of the ungodly thrust me away. There are they fallen, all who work wickedness. They are cast down and shall not be able to stand.

1 Kings 8.63-9.9
Solomon offered as sacrifices of well-being to the Lord twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. The same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord; for there he offered the burnt-offerings and the grain-offerings and the fat pieces of the sacrifices of well-being, because the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to receive the burnt-offerings and the grain-offerings and the fat pieces of the sacrifices of well-being.

So Solomon held the festival at that time, and all Israel with him—a great assembly, people from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi of Egypt—before the Lord our God, for seven days. On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents, joyful and in good spirits because of all the goodness that the Lord had shown to his servant David and to his people Israel.

When Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all that Solomon desired to build, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. The Lord said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you made before me; I have consecrated this house that you have built, and put my name there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. As for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel for ever, as I promised your father David, saying, “There shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.”

‘If you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut Israel off from the land that I have given them; and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a taunt among all peoples. This house will become a heap of ruins; everyone passing by it will be astonished, and will hiss; and they will say, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this house?” Then they will say, “Because they have forsaken the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, worshipping them and serving them; therefore the Lord has brought this disaster upon them.” ’

Acts 16.25-end
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

When morning came, the magistrates sent the police, saying, ‘Let those men go.’ And the jailer reported the message to Paul, saying, ‘The magistrates sent word to let you go; therefore come out now and go in peace.’ But Paul replied, ‘They have beaten us in public, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they going to discharge us in secret? Certainly not! Let them come and take us out themselves.’ The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens; so they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. After leaving the prison they went to Lydia’s home; and when they had seen and encouraged the brothers and sisters there, they departed.

The Collect
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in 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.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Clergy - what should we pay for? [2]

Continuing with this thread there is a question that some have asked me as to whether we should be paying for them at all. This, and the discussion of stipends and common purse, need to be looked at and so we will do the 'should we be paying for clergy' question here and come back to the other issues later.

Where I am are various styles of 'unpaid' clergy - these are called Non Stipendiary Ministers (NSM) or Self Supporting Ministers (SSM), Ordained local Ministers and House for Duty* (HfD). Now the word 'unpaid' (not one I use) is rather frowned upon by many and yet still used by some. Self Supporting has given way to Non Stipendiary because (they tell me). "We don't like 'non' people!" Actually I think the distinction is moot and perhaps just a little pouty - but that's me, innit? If you are not in receipt of a stipend (yes, we will discuss stipends soon) then you are 'non-stipendiary'! How difficult is this (it's up there with the 'history' foolishness!).

Nomenclature issues aside - the reality is that many are looking to those who fit into this category of ministry where cost to the diocese is reduced to solve the cashflow problems that have come through a variety of reasons to haunt the CofE. In case you're wondering what they might be, three of the reasons I've been given thus far are:
1. Poor or imprudent financial management of the assets,
2. Diminishing per capita giving, and
3. Diminishing numbers of communicant or committed members.

One model, which many refer to as the 'Minster' model (but they are wrong), looks to a stipendiary minister in the central (AKA 'the big') church and 'assistant clergy (unpaid) in the other churches within the team. The problem is that we need to keep the lights on in churches and provide some form of leadership and because we demand an ordained leadership (all to do with epiclesis** and presbyteros*** - two important issues in my book - but that's for another day).

As someone who is a committed proponent of all-member ministry I am a firm supporter of releasing church members into leadership positions (lay and ordained) and think this should be the force behind our actions. Sadly though, even though many ask me what's my problem as the end result is the same, there are some who seek to find people to do the job as a means of saving cash rather than equipping, enabling and releasing them because it's what we (meaning me and others like me) are called to do! It has the feel of one of Dostoevsky's comedies.

The question though (at last) is should we be paying for our clergy? If we didn't pay them then we would have the issues of renumeration, housing, support services, clergy reviews and the like.

If we restricted payment to those who work in the revenue generating areas, this would this cut the expenditure - a view  held when I came to Lichfield diocese for there was a proposal at the Diocesan Synod to save money by cutting 'sector ministry' roles' These are the people who do non-parochial roles, working for the diocese, and so are a cost centre rather than a means of income. Regardless of how much they bring in, parochial clergy do bring something in from the members and so making sure we don't muzzle the ox that tread the grain we shoot those who don't! A very shortsighted view indeed.

Talking about the issue in 1943, the House of Bishops said of the stipend:

" Has been rightly regarded not as pay in the sense in which that word is understood in the world of industry today, not as reward for services rendered…

but rather as a maintenance allowance to enable the priest to live without undue financial worry, 

to do his work effectively in the sphere to which he is called and, if married, 

to maintain his wife and bring up his family in accordance with a standard which might be described as neither of poverty or riches…"

In 2001, the Clergy Stipends Review Group's report "generosity and sacrifice" (GS1408) gave us this:

"The stipend is part of the remuneration package which is paid for the exercise of office. It reflects the level of responsibility held. This package acknowledges the dual demands in Scripture of generosity and sacrifice on both those who receive the stipend and those who raise the necessary funds."

So another answer to the question, "What should we pay for?" brings forth the answer that it is there to provide clergy with the ability to give their whole time to the work of the Church without distraction from other secular employment.

Having had the discussion many years back where those who were stipendiary were accused by an NSM of, "Taking money from the Church whist they (being NSM) gave to the Church for free out of their love for it!" Now this was an invitation to a punch-up and as the discussion continued one of those present asked what time they gave to the Church, the response being some Sunday services (but not all or even every Sunday) and some time during the week. They gave 'what they wanted to give'! The shot that set fire to the world around us that day was, "Not only that but you expect me to work all day and then ask me to go to evening meetings too!" 

Goodness me, the number of clergy who pointed out that they were working all day and going to the same meetings as them - was not a nice experience. The bottom line is that some have secular jobs and give what they can when they can (Thank You) and some work and give what they choose to give (Thank You again) when they =choose to give it. Regardless of the realities, the situation is that people are bringing stuff in and doing stuff and for that we are truly grateful. The stipend removes the external daily toil from the workload and permits a focussed and consistent application of the dogcollar's time and energies and this brings a different, but equally valid, 'Thank You'.

So there is a justification for paying for ministers if it means that they are fully therefore committed to the work of the Church - but this needs to be done sensibly and sensitively for indeed it is not pay, but it needs to reflect the responsibility and workloads, pressures and challenges (mental, emotional, spiritual and fiscal) and deal with them in a mature fashion (anyone considered the secondary costs of living in some areas perhaps?).

More grist to the mill - more stuff to reflect upon and get us all thinking (looking forward to some intelligent dialogue from this and the other stuff that is to come).

Sorry is it meanders a little  - head full of cotton wool and lungs full of yeuk!)

Happy Monday



*HfD is just a little different as we will see later.
**epiclesis - invoking the Holy Spirit = blessing, consecrating and the like (see part 1)
***presbyteros = being a Priest is what we are and not what we do - it's about changes in being (ontology)

Morning Prayer - September 29

Michael and All Angels

Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Look upon him and be radiant and your faces shall not be ashamed. This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the one who trusts in him. Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing. Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

Come, my children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.Who is there who delights in life and longs for days to enjoy good things?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from lying words. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them. He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken. But evil shall slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord ransoms the life of his servants and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.

Psalm 150
Alleluia.
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.
Alleluia.

Daniel 12.1-4
‘At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end. Many shall be running back and forth, and evil shall increase.’

Acts 12.1-11
About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.

The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his wrists. The angel said to him, ‘Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.’ He did so. Then he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.

The Collect
Everlasting God,
you have ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and mortals in a wonderful order:
grant that as your holy angels always serve you in heaven,
so, at your command, they may help and defend us on earth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen..

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Can't make it to Church? September 28

This week's readings give us an interesting bag of things to look at and consider.

The Exodus story is interesting and I have always thought that the image of journeying away from the wilderness of Sin was surely what we should all be doing, but of course Sin is a place rather than a state of mind - isn't it? So here we are with the Israelites who are on their way from captivity and walking towards God's promised land. They are tired and fed up because they journey has been long (and will be even longer still) and yet in the chapter before they've received food from heaven (Manna) and having food they are now complaining that they are thirsty. God responds by providing water and the name of the place at Horeb where it appeared is the response that every leader has asked at some time during a journey (new building, new project, service and the like):

‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

Our Psalms sings of this and all the mercies God showed the Israelites - grumpy bunch of wotsits :-)

The Philippians passage provides us with some great food for thought because is asks another question:

Are you happy because you are Christ's  - comforted by His love and one with the Holy Spirit?

Because if you are then love each other, encourage those around you and seek to bless them! Do the stuff you do to be part of the family rather than to stand in the limelight and get praise. Be like Jesus who although being God put that aside and emptied Himself of it all to became a servant to all (not just the powerful - but everyone).  The emphasis on 'emptied' is important because it's what we call kenosis - and this small word speaks pages about Jesus and His ministry because it talks of Jesus as a man who had revelations, insights and struggles in the way that we do. Many assume that Jesus knew everything and was just God playing at man but the act of kenosis is akin to someone with six numbers in the lottery putting it in the bin - He really was man and so the, "Well He was God wasn't He?" comments fall to the ground because although He was (and is) he was truly man and so His obedience and ministry is in so very many ways the same as that which is open to every one of us.

The Gospel reading leads us into something that is a most useful technique when being challenged, the art of responding to a question with a question. Here the issue is that of authority - an issue that crops up weekly in some churches as the leaders ask Jesus who gave Him permission to do stuff. So Jesus asks them first to give Him a datum (a line to work from) so He can understand their thinking, and this is about John the Baptist and his baptism. They are stymied because the answer will with either damn them before the crowd or show them to be disobedient to God.  Point made Jesus talks of two sons. The first says he will do stuff, but doesn't, whilst the other says he won't do stuff and at the eleventh hour relents and does. So here's our third question:

"Which son are you?"


So, three questions for us and these relate to our corporate (Church) life and our personal too. It is easy to feel God is with us when things are going right but when the going gets tough and the parish share is building up and the members are growing down or the health or job prospects or wealth are tested and the car has broken down - then that question, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’, becomes a very real and most challenging one.

Add to this the fact that it's easy for us to be happy Christians when we have few needs but the question that needs to be answered is simple:  "Are you happy because you are Christ's  - comforted by His love and one with the Holy Spirit?" This is a tough one because, following on from the first question it causes us to examine whether relationship with God is the source of our happiness or not - and sometimes the answer (if we are honest) is perhaps not what we'd claim.

The final shot is obviously the most challenging for many because many I meet talk a game that says "I'm willing to do the stuff," and yet the reality is that they don't do it! Is this you? Do you say you'll be at a service and then fail to appear (always, of course, with the good reason!) or make positive noises about church things but are never there to be counted when the work is being done? This question: "Which son are you?" is perhaps the most telling and the hardest to own up to. Letting our 'yes be yes' and our 'no be no' is a key element.

So let's pray (the Collect): 

Lord God, defend your Church from all false teaching and give to your people knowledge of your truth, that we may enjoy eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father God - help us to be honest in all our thoughts, words and deeds,
To recognise that you are indeed with us
and to live in the joy that that reality brings.
We pray that your hand will be seen in the lives of all people
And pray for those who bear your name across the world.
Be with us today, make your presence known, and your love apparent,
help us in our unbelief and fill us with your Spirit. Amen.




Exodus 17.1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

Psalm 78.1-4,12-16
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. 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.

Philippians 2.1-13
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Matthew 21.23-32
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.



Post Communion Prayer
Keep, O Lord, your Church, with your perpetual mercy;
and, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall,
keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

My apologies for the absence of this post over the past two weeks - caused by absence and illness - (ab)normal service is now resumed :-)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Clergy - What should we pay for? [1]

The answer to the above questions, in my book,  is 'Absolutely Everything!'

Recent conversations with friends, colleagues, clergy and the bloke who stopped me and asked how long we got before the Bishop 'moved us' have all included (with varying degrees of knowledge)  the issue of the clergy vacancy. The expectations cover all stages from totally unrealistic through to, "Yeah, in your dreams," and yet some of the most unrealistic were from within the church and from those who should perhaps know better!

Some job descriptions stop just a tad short of including sending the poor cleric up the chimney and yet others, looking like a doable role, stun the poor soul reading the advert into something approaching catatonia when they see the dreaded 0.5. Just in case you think the 0.5 post is there for short clerics, let me explain:

There have been some interesting trends and some constructive thinking over the past few years. One involved asking clergy whether they'd be happy to note down the time that school work took and that which related to church schools was work and all other was effectively our hobby (I kid you not). This was repeated over a number of areas (church club = work, veteran's club = hobby and so on) and the end result was that a good idea of what should be paid for by the church and what was merely 'our personal interest' could be separated. When I was asked what I thought the Church should be paying for, the response was simple = everything!

The reasoning for my response comes from the fact that there are some who appear to be looking to reduce the role of minister to something that resembles the sessional youth worker! Where we have a service that demands the presence of a priest, which usually means that an epiclesis* is involved, we budget for one and in so doing restrict our priestly requirement to Communion, marriage and (for some places) Baptism**! So we pay for the presence of priest on Sunday and then, realising, we need one for the Wednesday midweek communion service and subsequent home communions to those who otherwise couldn't make it add another day to the pile.  This done, we add to the mix another day to enable hospital visits and other 'Vicar' type stuff (Vestry hour, meeting Wardens, parishioners and the like) and bingo, that's the 0.5 post put to bed.

I have been involved in some amazing conversations about paying our way where the mantra 'can't pay, can't have' has been paraded before an assembled clergy whose expressions said it all:


 And so, with that, I'll leave you to have a reflect on this first shot. A shot that builds nicely upon the question of giving to God that for which we have not paid and asks where is our treasure? For that is surely the key to much of this issue.

Happy Saturday :-)




* epiclesis - an invocation or calling down upon or blessing involving the Holy Spirit. This is the bit where we bless people at the end or consecrate the bread and wine or bless the rings or the couple or the water in which (or which will be poured over to enable) the rite of baptism.

** when I was ordained, baptism was not allowed until I'd been priested and so this was a 'priest's job' - that said I have found many handing this over to deacons and I've heard of some who have allowed their Lay Minister's to do the service too (which is still, as I understand it, wrong).

Morning Prayer - September 27

Psalm 20
May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend you; Send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you out of Zion; Remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice; Grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your mind.

May we rejoice in your salvation and triumph in the name of our God; may the Lord perform all your petitions.

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

Psalm 21
The king shall rejoice in your strength, O Lord; how greatly shall he rejoice in your salvation!

You have given him his heart’s desire and have not denied the request of his lips. For you come to meet him with blessings of goodness and set a crown of pure gold upon his head.

He asked of you life and you gave it him, length of days, for ever and ever. His honour is great because of your salvation; glory and majesty have you laid upon him. You have granted him everlasting felicity and will make him glad with joy in your presence. For the king puts his trust in the Lord; because of the loving-kindness of the Most High, he shall not be overthrown.

Your hand shall mark down all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them like a fiery oven in the time of your wrath; the Lord will swallow them up in his anger and the fire will consume them. Their fruit you will root out of the land and their seed from among its inhabitants. Because they intend evil against you and devise wicked schemes which they cannot perform, You will put them to flight when you aim your bow at their faces. Be exalted, O Lord, in your own might; we will make music and sing of your power.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.

Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

1 Kings 8.1-30
Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. All the people of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests carried the ark. So they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. The poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, when they came out of the land of Egypt. And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

Then Solomon said,
‘The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.
I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in for ever.’
Then the king turned round and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. He said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David, saying, “Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any of the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.” My father David had it in mind to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, “You did well to consider building a house for my name; nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.” Now the Lord has upheld the promise that he made; for I have risen in the place of my father David; I sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. There I have provided a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.’

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. He said, ‘O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, “There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.” Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David.

‘But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! Have regard to your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day towards this house, the place of which you said, “My name shall be there”, that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays towards this place. Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray towards this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling-place; heed and forgive.

Acts 15.36-16.5
After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.’ Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

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

Friday, 26 September 2014

Christian New Media Awards - Most Inspiring Leadership Blog

Yesterday I received an email which last year left me a little confused and  a bit stunned as it told me that I have been shortlisted as one of the finalists in the 'Most Inspiring Leadership Blog' category of the Christian New Media Awards .

Last year I was rather sad to find that the day it all happened was that before Remembrance Sunday (when for many reasons I am extremely busy) - this year, being the week before Remembrance Sunday (Saturday 1st November), I am hoping to be able to make it because the sessions on offer during the day are rather immense and extremely useful.

So there you have it - watch this space *


* I have to add that last year I was a little embarrassed by it and this I am rather pleased because it gives me a chance to get criticism and comment about my scruffy scribbling and manic mutterings and this can only be positive and constructive on a number of levels (and 'Yes' I would like to win it!).


Made me smile: Be careful little eyes what you see

Seems someone has their head switched on when it comes to reading matter and what is required after reading some books. Perhaps they could add some copies to the top shelves of the magazine racks too!




Morning Prayer - September 26

Wilson Carlile, Founder of the Church Army, 1942
Ember Day

Psalm 17
Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint; listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips. Let my vindication come forth from your presence; let your eyes behold what is right. Weigh my heart, examine me by night, refine me, and you will find no impurity in me.
My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards; I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments; my feet have not stumbled in your paths.

I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; incline your ear to me, and listen to my words. Show me your marvellous loving-kindness, O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them.

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings. From the wicked who assault me, from my enemies who surround me to take away my life. They have closed their heart to pity and their mouth speaks proud things. They press me hard, they surround me on every side, watching how they may cast me to the ground, Like a lion that is greedy for its prey, like a young lion lurking in secret places.

Arise, Lord; confront them and cast them down; deliver me from the wicked by your sword. Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand from those whose portion in life is unending, Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, who are well supplied with children and leave their wealth to their little ones. As for me, I shall see your face in righteousness; when I awake and behold your likeness, I shall be satisfied.

Psalm 19
The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. One day pours out its song to another and one night unfolds knowledge to another. They have neither speech nor language and their voices are not heard, Yet their sound has gone out into all lands and their words to the ends of the world.

In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun, that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a champion to run his course. It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey, dripping from the honeycomb. By them also is your servant taught and in keeping them there is great reward. Who can tell how often they offend?
O cleanse me from my secret faults!
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

1 Kings 6.1, 11-28
In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.

Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, ‘Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes, obey my ordinances, and keep all my commandments by walking in them, then I will establish my promise with you, which I made to your father David. I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.’

So Solomon built the house, and finished it. He lined the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar; from the floor of the house to the rafters of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the house with boards of cypress. He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the rafters, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary, as the most holy place. The house, that is, the nave in front of the inner sanctuary, was forty cubits long. The cedar within the house had carvings of gourds and open flowers; all was cedar, no stone was seen. The inner sanctuary he prepared in the innermost part of the house, to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord. The interior of the inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high; he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid the altar with cedar. Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold, then he drew chains of gold across, in front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. Next he overlaid the whole house with gold, in order that the whole house might be perfect; even the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold.

In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house; the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one was touching one wall, and a wing of the other cherub was touching the other wall; their other wings towards the centre of the house were touching wing to wing. He also overlaid the cherubim with gold.

Acts 15.22-35
Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers, with the following letter: ‘The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the believers of Gentile origin in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that certain persons who have gone out from us, though with no instructions from us, have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds, we have decided unanimously to choose representatives and send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.’

So they were sent off and went down to Antioch. When they gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. When its members read it, they rejoiced at the exhortation. Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. After they had been there for some time, they were sent off in peace by the believers to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, and there, with many others, they taught and proclaimed the word of the Lord.

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Presenting to God that which has cost me nothing.

I met someone this week who asked me about the free tea, coffee and cake sessions we put on in the church building on Monday and Thursday morning. They were confused by the word 'free' because this didn't make sense to them unless of course it meant payment was in kind rather than coins and they were assuming that the kind looked like them coming to our church.

"No, you don't have to come to our church to come in and have a cup of tea or coffee and some biscuits or cake," I said, "We do it because Jesus came to serve and we, wanting to be like Him, are merely doing the same." Their response was, "But I sometimes go to nnnnnn church, so doesn't that mean I have to pay?" Back came the standard response, "No, it's free, we do it because it provide people with the potential for community and makes a lonely existence less lonely. Regardless of whether you come to this church or not, there is no charge!"

The conversation moved on to another well worn track regarding the joint difficulty people have in receiving stuff for nothing and the Church has in providing the stuff without sticking out its begging bowl. The former being known as 'Grace' and the latter servanthood and ministry - very important concepts that we need to engender and exhibit within our church congregations and deliver to all we meet.

Far too often we worry about making ends meet for the services we provide and attempt to address the shortfall by asking those who avail themselves of them to 'pay up'. I Recently took part in an occasional office (baptism, wedding or funeral) where, at the conclusion of the service, those leaving the building faced something that was, to be quite brutal, only a few degrees short of a mugging! To cap it all, walking into the vestry after the service, I found the two 'muggers' counting their spoil and, as they did, they complained abut the paucity of cash on the plate.

I tried to explain how the money to pay for the services we offer (generally) came from the members of that church. I say 'generally" because some time back I provided something visually appealing and value-added  on the understanding that the group we were doing the service for would pay for the means of enhancing it and all I can say is that I'm glad I never held my breath - so there are exceptions to the rule (aren't there always?). The response to this was amazing, seems some people in Church can get energised and passionate after all - just a pity it isn't about the Gospel!

The reason we (the Church) exists is to reconcile us (that's you and me and them who aren't us)  and God by means of the Cross of Jesus, the Christ. We seek to live as signposts to the love of God (again as shown through Christ) and the all-embracing and all-encompassing acceptance that is the Gospel (of love and Grace). This is a freewill act of offering ourselves as servants, sacrificially at times (just like Jesus and His giving of Himself), to change the lives of those around us and to demonstrate (words can be used, but perhaps a little more sparingly (YAWN) than is usual) the reality of finding faith in, and peace through, Jesus.

So here's a ticklist for those who lead and are led and a challenge for those who do nothing (but that's not you I'm sure):

1. Are we meeting the needs of those around us (we do know what they need don't we?)?

2. Are we exciting people around us to get involved, opening our doors and getting out there (leaving the doors open for those who come (and they will - not immediately - but they will)?

3. Are we doing stuff because it's who we are rather than as a bait to entice people into the trap?

4. Are we doing whatever it is we are doing whilst looking to others to pay? If we are then perhaps one of the many readings (in this case it's 2 Sam 24) on giving to God that which we own (and have therefore paid for) needs some consideration:

'That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” So David went up to do what the LORD had commanded him. When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. “Why have you come, my lord the king?” 

Araunah asked. David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the LORD there, so that he will stop the plague.” 
“Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the LORD your God accept your sacrifice.” 

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. David built an altar there to the LORD and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the LORD answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.'

Simples innit?


Morning Prayer - September 25

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

Psalm 14
The fool has said in his heart,‘There is no God.’ Corrupt are they, and abominable in their wickedness; there is no one that does good.

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of earth, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks after God. But every one has turned back; all alike have become corrupt: there is none that does good; no, not one. Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as if they ate bread and do not call upon the Lord?

There shall they be in great fear; for God is in the company of the righteous. Though they would confound the counsel of the poor, yet the Lord shall be their refuge. O that Israel’s salvation would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Psalm 15
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?
Who may rest upon your holy hill?

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

Psalm 16
Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge; I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord, all my good depends on you.’ All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, upon those who are noble in heart.

Though the idols are legion that many run after, their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, neither make mention of their names upon my lips. The Lord himself is my portion and my cup; in your hands alone is my fortune. My share has fallen in a fair land; indeed, I have a goodly heritage.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, and in the night watches he instructs my heart.
I have set the Lord always before me; he is at my right hand; I shall not fall.
Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my flesh also shall rest secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Death, nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit. You will show me the path of life; in your presence is the fullness of joy and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

1 Kings 4.29-5.12
God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east, and all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, children of Mahol; his fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He would speak of trees, from the cedar that is in the Lebanon to the hyssop that grows in the wall; he would speak of animals, and birds, and reptiles, and fish. People came from all the nations to hear the wisdom of Solomon; they came from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.
Now King Hiram of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father; for Hiram had always been a friend to David. Solomon sent word to Hiram, saying, ‘You know that my father David could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. So I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to my father David, “Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.” Therefore command that cedars from the Lebanon be cut for me. My servants will join your servants, and I will give you whatever wages you set for your servants; for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.’

When Hiram heard the words of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly, and said, ‘Blessed be the Lord today, who has given to David a wise son to be over this great people.’ Hiram sent word to Solomon, ‘I have heard the message that you have sent to me; I will fulfil all your needs in the matter of cedar and cypress timber. My servants shall bring it down to the sea from the Lebanon; I will make it into rafts to go by sea to the place you indicate. I will have them broken up there for you to take away. And you shall meet my needs by providing food for my household.’ So Hiram supplied Solomon’s every need for timber of cedar and cypress. Solomon in turn gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty cors of fine oil. Solomon gave this to Hiram year by year. So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty.

Acts 15.1-21
Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.’

The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.’

The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, ‘My brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first looked favourably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written,

“After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, so that all other peoples may seek the Lord - even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.”

Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood. For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues.’

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

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Morning Prayer - September 24

Psalm 119.1-32
Blessed are those whose way is pure, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies and seek him with their whole heart, those who do no wickedness, but walk in his ways.

You, O Lord, have charged that we should diligently keep your commandments. O that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes. Then should I not be put to shame, because I have regard for all your commandments. I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, when I have learned your righteous judgements. I will keep your statutes; •
O forsake me not utterly.

How shall young people cleanse their way to keep themselves according to your word?

With my whole heart have I sought you; O let me not go astray from your commandments. Your words have I hidden within my heart, that I should not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O Lord; O teach me your statutes.

With my lips have I been telling of all the judgements of your mouth. I have taken greater delight in the way of your testimonies than in all manner of riches. I will meditate on your commandments and contemplate your ways. My delight shall be in your statutes and I will not forget your word.

O do good to your servant that I may live, and so shall I keep your word.Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of your law. I am a stranger upon earth; hide not your commandments from me. My soul is consumed at all times with fervent longing for your judgements. You have rebuked the arrogant; cursed are those who stray from your commandments.

Turn from me shame and rebuke, for I have kept your testimonies. Rulers also sit and speak against me, but your servant meditates on your statutes. For your testimonies are my delight; they are my faithful counsellors.

My soul cleaves to the dust; O give me life according to your word. I have acknowledged my ways and you have answered me; O teach me your statutes. Make me understand the way of your commandments, and so shall I meditate on your wondrous works.

My soul melts away in tears of sorrow; raise me up according to your word. Take from me the way of falsehood; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth and your judgements have I laid before me. I hold fast to your testimonies; O Lord, let me not be put to shame. I will run the way of your commandments, when you have set my heart at liberty.

1 Kings 3

Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt; he took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David, until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the Lord.

Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt-offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you.’ And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?’

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honour all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.’

Then Solomon awoke; it had been a dream. He came to Jerusalem, where he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He offered up burnt-offerings and offerings of well-being, and provided a feast for all his servants.

Later, two women who were prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. One woman said, ‘Please, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. We were together; there was no one else with us in the house, only the two of us were in the house. Then this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. She got up in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your servant slept. She laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, I saw that he was dead; but when I looked at him closely in the morning, clearly it was not the son I had borne.’ But the other woman said, ‘No, the living son is mine, and the dead son is yours.’ The first said, ‘No, the dead son is yours, and the living son is mine.’ So they argued before the king.

Then the king said, ‘One says, “This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead”; while the other says, “Not so! Your son is dead, and my son is the living one.” ’ So the king said, ‘Bring me a sword’, and they brought a sword before the king. The king said, ‘Divide the living boy in two; then give half to one, and half to the other.’ But the woman whose son was alive said to the king—because compassion for her son burned within her—‘Please, my lord, give her the living boy; certainly do not kill him!’ The other said, ‘It shall be neither mine nor yours; divide it.’ Then the king responded: ‘Give the first woman the living boy; do not kill him. She is his mother.’ All Israel heard of the judgement that the king had rendered; and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to execute justice.

Acts 14.8-end
In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.’ Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, ‘It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.’ And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Morning Prayer - September 23

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my lamentation. Hearken to the voice of my crying, my King and my God, for to you I make my prayer. In the morning, Lord, you will hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal to you, and look up. For you are the God who takes no pleasure in wickedness; no evil can dwell with you.

The boastful cannot stand in your sight; you hate all those that work wickedness. You destroy those who speak lies; the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord will abhor. But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy, I will come into your house; I will bow down towards your holy temple in awe of you.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness, because of my enemies; make your way straight before my face. For there is no truth in their mouth, in their heart is destruction, their throat is an open sepulchre, and they flatter with their tongue.

Punish them, O God; let them fall through their own devices. Because  of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them sing out their joy for ever. You will shelter them, so that those who love your name may exult in you. For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; and with your favour you will defend them as with a shield.

Psalm 6
O Lord, rebuke me not in your wrath; neither chasten me in your fierce anger. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak; Lord, heal me, for my bones are racked. My soul also shakes with terror; how long, O Lord, how long? Turn again, O Lord, and deliver my soul; save me for your loving mercy’s sake. For in death no one remembers you; and who can give you thanks in the grave? I am weary with my groaning; every night I drench my pillow and flood my bed with my tears. My eyes are wasted with grief and worn away because of all my enemies.

Depart from me, all you that do evil, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.
All my enemies shall be put to shame and confusion; they shall suddenly turn back in their shame.

Psalm 8
O Lord our governor, how glorious is your name in all the world!
Your majesty above the heavens is praised out of the mouths of babes at the breast. You have founded a stronghold against your foes, that you might still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have ordained, what is man, that you should be mindful of him; the son of man, that you should seek him out?
You have made him little lower than the angels and crown him with glory and honour.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands and put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and whatsoever moves in the paths of the sea.
O Lord our governor, how glorious is your name in all the world!

1 Kings 1.32-2.4;2.10-12
King David said, ‘Summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.’ When they came before the king, the king said to them, ‘Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon.There let the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him king over Israel; then blow the trumpet, and say, “Long live King Solomon!” You shall go up following him. Let him enter and sit on my throne; he shall be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.’ Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, ‘Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, so ordain. As the Lord has been with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.’

So the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and led him to Gihon. There the priest Zadok took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ And all the people went up following him, playing on pipes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth quaked at their noise.

Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished feasting. When Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, ‘Why is the city in an uproar?’ While he was still speaking, Jonathan son of the priest Abiathar arrived. Adonijah said, ‘Come in, for you are a worthy man and surely you bring good news.’ Jonathan answered Adonijah, ‘No, for our lord King David has made Solomon king; the king has sent with him the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and they had him ride on the king’s mule; the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan have anointed him king at Gihon; and they have gone up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise that you heard. Solomon now sits on the royal throne. Moreover, the king’s servants came to congratulate our lord King David, saying, “May God make the name of Solomon more famous than yours, and make his throne greater than your throne.” The king bowed in worship on the bed and went on to pray thus, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who today has granted one of my offspring to sit on my throne and permitted me to witness it.” ’

Then all the guests of Adonijah got up trembling and went their own ways. Adonijah, fearing Solomon, got up and went to grasp the horns of the altar. Solomon was informed, ‘Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon; see, he has laid hold of the horns of the altar, saying, “Let King Solomon swear to me first that he will not kill his servant with the sword.” ’ So Solomon responded, ‘If he proves to be a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the ground; but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.’ Then King Solomon sent to have him brought down from the altar. He came to do obeisance to King Solomon; and Solomon said to him, ‘Go home.’

When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: “If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.”

Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned for seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

Acts 13.44-14.7
The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul. Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

The same thing occurred in Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them. But the residents of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. And when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to maltreat them and to stone them, the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; and there they continued proclaiming the good news.

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit. one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Made me laugh: Naff Beemer

Today I needed something to make me smile but, as I'm suffering, not laugh (as it hurts) but laugh I did at this classic:


video

Happy Monday

Can't make it to church - an apology

To those who read this blog piece on a regular basis I have to apologise for its omission over the past two Sundays - the first Sunday saw me in France and out of internet communication and the second I was in bed with a kidney infection thing!

Normal service will be resumed asap.

Again, my apologies,

Vic

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Morning Prayer - September 20

Psalm 147
Alleluia.
How good it is to make music for our God, how joyful to honour him with praise.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond all telling. The Lord lifts up the poor, but casts down the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the lyre; Who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth; Who makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve our needs.
He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens when they cry.
He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, no delight in human strength;
But the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their trust in his steadfast love.

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

2 Samuel 24
Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.’ So the king said to Joab and the commanders of the army, who were with him, ‘Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and take a census of the people, so that I may know how many there are.’ But Joab said to the king, ‘May the Lord your God increase the number of the people a hundredfold, while the eyes of my lord the king can still see it! But why does my lord the king want to do this?’ But the king’s word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to take a census of the people of Israel. They crossed the Jordan, and began from Aroer and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, towards Gad and on to Jazer. Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites; and they came to Dan, and from Dan they went round to Sidon, and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beer-sheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Joab reported to the king the number of those who had been recorded: in Israel there were eight hundred thousand soldiers able to draw the sword, and those of Judah were five hundred thousand.

But afterwards, David was stricken to the heart because he had numbered the people. David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, I pray you, take away the guilt of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.’ When David rose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, ‘Go and say to David: Thus says the Lord: Three things I offer you; choose one of them, and I will do it to you.’ So Gad came to David and told him; he asked him, ‘Shall three years of famine come to you on your land? Or will you flee for three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to the one who sent me.’ Then David said to Gad, ‘I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into human hands.’

So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from that morning until the appointed time; and seventy thousand of the people died, from Dan to Beer-sheba. But when the angel stretched out his hand towards Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented concerning the evil, and said to the angel who was bringing destruction among the people, ‘It is enough; now stay your hand.’ The angel of the Lord was then by the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David saw the angel who was destroying the people, he said to the Lord, ‘I alone have sinned, and I alone have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.’
That day Gad came to David and said to him, ‘Go up and erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ Following Gad’s instructions, David went up, as the Lord had commanded. When Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming towards him; and Araunah went out and prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’ David said, ‘To buy the threshing-floor from you in order to build an altar to the Lord, so that the plague may be averted from the people.’ Then Araunah said to David, ‘Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him; here are the oxen for the burnt-offering, and the threshing-sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.’ And Araunah said to the king, ‘May the Lord your God respond favourably to you.’

But the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will buy them from you for a price; I will not offer burnt-offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings and offerings of well-being. So the Lord answered his supplication for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

Acts 13.1-12
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now listen—the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun.’ Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

The Collect
God of all tribes and peoples and tongues,
who called your servant John Coleridge Patteson to witness in life and death to the gospel of Christ amongst the peoples of Melanesia:
grant us to hear your call to service and to respond trustfully and joyfully
to Jesus Christ our redeemer, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.