Thursday, 31 March 2016

Morning Prayer - Thursday 31 March 2016

Thursday of Easter Week

Psalm 114
When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of a strange tongue, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea saw that, and fled; Jordan was driven back. The mountains skipped like rams, the little hills like young sheep.

What ailed you, O sea, that you fled?
O Jordan, that you were driven back?
You mountains, that you skipped like rams, you little hills like young sheep?

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Who turns the hard rock into a pool of water, the flint-stone into a springing well.

Psalm 148
Alleluia.
Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you his angels; praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you stars of light.
Praise him, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens.

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

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

Exodus 13.1-16
The Lord said to Moses: Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine.

Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day on which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, because the Lord brought you out from there by strength of hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this observance in this month. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen in your possession, and no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory. You shall tell your child on that day, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” It shall serve for you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead, so that the teaching of the Lord may be on your lips; for with a strong hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt. You shall keep this ordinance at its proper time from year to year.

‘When the Lord has brought you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your ancestors, and has given it to you, you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your livestock that are males shall be the Lord’s. But every firstborn donkey you shall redeem with a sheep; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. Every firstborn male among your children you shall redeem. When in the future your child asks you, “What does this mean?” you shall answer, “By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from human firstborn to the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord every male that first opens the womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.” It shall serve as a sign on your hand and as an emblem on your forehead that by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.’

1 Corinthians 15.29-34
Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead?
If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptised on their behalf?
And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour?

I die every day!

That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,  ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’

Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’
Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Collect
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 30 March 2016

Wednesday of Easter Week

Psalm 113
Alleluia.
Give praise, you servants of the Lord, O praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the Lord be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations and his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, that has his throne so high, yet humbles himself to behold the things of heaven and earth?

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ashes, To set them with princes, with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a place in the house and makes her a joyful mother of children.
Alleluia.

Psalm 147.13-end
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion; For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you.

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

Exodus 12.37-end
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds. They baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt; it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.

The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. At the end of four hundred and thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. That was for the Lord a night of vigil, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. That same night is a vigil to be kept for the Lord by all the Israelites throughout their generations.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; no bound or hired servant may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the animal outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. The whole congregation of Israel shall celebrate it. If an alien who resides with you wants to celebrate the passover to the Lord, all his males shall be circumcised; then he may draw near to celebrate it; he shall be regarded as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it; there shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.

All the Israelites did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. That very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, company by company.

1 Corinthians 15.20-28
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

The Collect
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.



Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 29 March 2016

Easter Season

Tuesday of Easter Week

Psalm 112
Alleluia.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord and have great delight in his commandments. Their descendants will be mighty in the land, a generation of the faithful that will be blest. Wealth and riches will be in their house, and their righteousness endures for ever.

Light shines in the darkness for the upright; gracious and full of compassion are the righteous. It goes well with those who are generous in lending and order their affairs with justice, For they will never be shaken; the righteous will be held in everlasting remembrance. They will not be afraid of any evil tidings; their heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their heart is sustained and will not fear, until they see the downfall of their foes. They have given freely to the poor; their righteousness stands fast for ever; their head will be exalted with honour. The wicked shall see it and be angry; they shall gnash their teeth in despair; the desire of the wicked shall perish.

Psalm 147.1-12
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.

Exodus 12.14-36
This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a solemn assembly, and on the seventh day a solemn assembly; no work shall be done on those days; only what everyone must eat, that alone may be prepared by you. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt: you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance. In the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day, you shall eat unleavened bread. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether an alien or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your settlements you shall eat unleavened bread.

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, “What do you mean by this observance?” you shall say, “It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.” ’ And the people bowed down and worshipped.

The Israelites went and did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.
At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron in the night, and said, ‘Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone. And bring a blessing on me too!’

The Egyptians urged the people to hasten their departure from the land, for they said, ‘We shall all be dead.’ So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading-bowls wrapped up in their cloaks on their shoulders. The Israelites had done as Moses told them; they had asked the Egyptians for jewellery of silver and gold, and for clothing, and the Lord had given the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And so they plundered the Egyptians.

1 Corinthians 15.12-19
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The Collect
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen


Monday, 28 March 2016

Lahore - News, attitudes, actions and prayer

There I was, thinking the Lahore would be big news on the BBC News front page, but sadly not:



Mind you I should be grateful that it makes the smaller items on the bottom right, up there with the FA Cup means something I guess.

But once again it's Brussels that claims the headlines (perspective here being that although Lahore has 70 dead, the 35 who died in Belgium are nearer, and since one of the dead was British, this becomes bigger, more popularist, news!).

Seems that we are getting as parochial with our news as the Americans: They tend to look out to the East from New York and see the twinklng lights of California! Iinternational news is discussing things in the Northwest of the country!). Living, as we do, in this global village of ours we need to report and respond to awfulness in the same way whether it occurs in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Antipodes or theIndian sub-continent or anywhere.

We need to stand in prayer and disgust against wickedness wheresoever it is to be found - our response should be a robust 'No' and 'Never Again' should be the byword for genocide and acts of terror wherever they occur no matter who the target is.

I turned on the radio and found people ringing in to talk about the Muslim involvement in Lahore. Sadly, whilst it is easy to point to the acts of terrorists and to stir up dissent against Muslims, it seems that none of those I heard managed to mention the 'real' involvement of the majority* of Muslims in Lahore. Perhaps you'd like to read it now:


Radicalisation begins with ignorance and is fuelled by intolerance.

Please pray for the victims of the Lahore attrocity and their families and for all inhabitants of that place:


* Here 'majority' means more than the smaller number who committed the attrocity in question.
Simple really - I'm sure there is no further explanation needed.

My bookshelf!

Just been doing some admin and I chanced to look at my book system:


Now what do Karl Barth, Terry Pratchett and Charles M Shultz tell you about me

and my theology?

:-)

Made me laugh: One up from foot washing?



One of those typos that make Easter all the more special?

Morning Prayer - Monday 28 March 2016

Easter

Psalm 111
Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the faithful and in the congregation. 

The works of the Lord are great, sought out by all who delight in them. His work is full of majesty and honour and his righteousness endures for ever.
He appointed a memorial for his marvellous deeds; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. R
He gave food to those who feared him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He showed his people the power of his works in giving them the heritage of the nations.

The works of his hands are truth and justice; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever; they are done in truth and equity.
He sent redemption to his people; he commanded his covenant for ever; holy and awesome is his name.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have those who live by it; his praise endures for ever.

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

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

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

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

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

Exodus 12.1-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

1 Corinthians 15.1-11
Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

The Collect
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Morning Prayer - Saturday 26 March 2016

Psalm 142
I cry aloud to the Lord; to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before him and tell him of my trouble. When my spirit faints within me, you know my path; in the way wherein I walk have they laid a snare for me. I look to my right hand, and find no one who knows me; I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for my soul. I cry out to you, O Lord, and say: ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Listen to my cry, for I am brought very low; save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name; when you have dealt bountifully with me, then shall the righteous gather around me.’

Hosea 6.1-6
‘Come, let us return to the Lord; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.’

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?

Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early. Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have killed them by the words of my mouth, and my judgement goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings.

John 2.18-22
The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

The Collect
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


40 Acts - Day 40: ' SACRIFICE '


Lent is usually marked by giving up: chocolate, TV, social media, whatever it is—we 'sacrifice' those everyday pleasures as a discipline. But how much of a sacrifice have we made? How far should our sacrifice go? Today – as Lent concludes and we look forward to the new hope that Easter brings - we’re turning it up a notch. We’re going to ask you to commit to a life of sacrifice, beyond just simple abstinence. It’s time to reconnect to the ancient view of sacrifice, to offer up our very best to God. The kind of sacrifice which opens our hearts and minds to a life of true generosity.


Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 
Ephesians 5: 1-2

When Pastor Tony Morley heard about the desperate need for a new kidney facing a member of his congregation, he and his wife Joyce prayed. Seeing the impact that the three-times-a-week dialysis was having on the young woman, he offered himself as a potential live organ donor and started the lengthy process to determine if he was a match. Tony shared his story with the Stewardship team recently. In his own words:
“John 13 tells us to ‘Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.’

“Love is incredibly practical. Joyce and I discussed this. She is a nurse so we had an idea of what we were getting into, and we talked about the risk with major surgery as well as the practical recovery issues.”

The results came back – positive. Tony was a match and given the all clear for surgery.

The operation went well, but Tony’s recovery was far from perfect, taking twelve weeks instead of the usual six. From Tony’s perspective, this was also a gift, providing him time to reflect on how and why he chose to give his kidney. “We were connected by similar pasts” he discovered, with both having lost loved ones to kidney disease.

The transplant was a success and his recipient rejoices in a functioning kidney and a heart full of gratitude for the generosity and sacrifice of her donor.

It’s a big story and one that few of us can, or may get the chance to, replicate.

And today, this Holy Saturday, we stand in the shadow of an even bigger story - of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Many of us taking part in 40acts will be looking to tomorrow, recognising and accepting the hope that Jesus gave us by offering His best, His life, in place of our own. Some of you might still be exploring and questioning whether you believe the Easter narrative is true – our prayer for you this weekend is that you’ll discover comfort and truth in the resurrection of Jesus.

In Romans 12 v 1 we read: “in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”

It can be easy at times to fall into the trap of saying to ourselves, “What have I got to offer, that God might possibly want or use?” or “Is my gift good enough?” and limit our own experience of generosity as a result.

Today, we challenge you to go all in. To be a living, breathing, all-day-everyday sacrifice. Something alive and active – so much more than just a ‘giving up’. An offering, a giving of our best to God. And He, as creator of all things and originator of all gifts, is ready to receive them with arms outstretched.

Throughout 40acts, we have been blown away by the daily examples of you, us, our community, offering up our best. We have been humbled by the stories of those who felt God saying, “This is what I want from you today,” even if it meant stepping firmly out of a comfort zone, sacrificing self in favour of others, or stretching ourselves beyond self-imposed limits.

As we reach the end of Lent for another year, let’s look back and celebrate what we’ve achieved together, and reflect on the lessons we’ve learned about ourselves and our giving along the way.

We might not all give a kidney like Pastor Tony, but our best gifts are yet to come.

What generous act are you being called to make today, or commit to, beyond 40acts?

For the rest of the year? For the rest of your life?

What will you sacrifice to do Life generously?


Today's blog was written by the 40acts Team from Stewardship
Find out more about us here.



To see today's page in full - Click Here 

Friday, 25 March 2016

Morning Prayer - Friday 25 March 2016

Passiontide

Good Friday

Psalm 69
Save me, O God, for the waters have come up, even to my neck. I sink in deep mire where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters and the flood sweeps over me. I have grown weary with crying; my throat is raw; my eyes have failed from looking so long for my God.  Those who hate me without any cause are more than the hairs of my head; Those who would destroy me are mighty; my enemies accuse me falsely: must I now give back what I never stole?

O God, you know my foolishness, and my faults are not hidden from you. Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me, O God of Israel. For your sake have I suffered reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother’s children.

Zeal for your house has eaten me up; the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me.
I humbled myself with fasting, but that was turned to my reproach. I put on sackcloth also and became a byword among them. Those who sit at the gate murmur against me, and the drunkards make songs about me. But as for me, I make my prayer to you, O Lord; at an acceptable time, O God.

Answer me, O God, in the abundance of your mercy and with your sure salvation. Draw me out of the mire, that I sink not; let me be rescued from those who hate me and out of the deep waters. Let not the water flood drown me, neither the deep swallow me up; let not the Pit shut its mouth upon me.

Answer me, Lord, for your loving-kindness is good; turn to me in the multitude of your mercies. Hide not your face from your servant; be swift to answer me, for I am in trouble. Draw near to my soul and redeem me; deliver me because of my enemies. You know my reproach, my shame and my dishonour; my adversaries are all in your sight.

Reproach has broken my heart; I am full of heaviness. I looked for some to have pity, but there was no one, neither found I any to comfort me. They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.

Let the table before them be a trap and their sacred feasts a snare.

Let their eyes be darkened, that they cannot see, and give them continual trembling in their loins. Pour out your indignation upon them, and let the heat of your anger overtake them.

Let their camp be desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute the one whom you have stricken, and increase the sorrows of him whom you have pierced. Lay to their charge guilt upon guilt, and let them not receive your vindication.

Let them be wiped out of the book of the living and not be written among the righteous.

As for me, I am poor and in misery; your saving help, O God, will lift me up. I will praise the name of God with a song; I will proclaim his greatness with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an offering of oxen, more than bulls with horns and hooves. The humble shall see and be glad; you who seek God, your heart shall live. For the Lord listens to the needy, and his own who are imprisoned he does not despise.

Let the heavens and the earth praise him, the seas and all that moves in them; For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; they shall live there and have it in possession. The children of his servants shall inherit it and they that love his name shall dwell therein.

Genesis 22.1-18
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.’ Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together.

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, ‘By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.’

Hebrews 10.1-10
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach. Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshippers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desire but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God” (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’

When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Collect
Almighty Father,
look with mercy on this your family for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed and given up into the hands of sinners  and to suffer death upon the cross; who is alive and glorified with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen



Thursday, 24 March 2016

40 Acts - Day 38: ' #WashDay '


Today is Maundy Thursday, the day when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. 

It was a simple act that said so much about service, humility, love and much more besides. 
So in the spirit of that, prepare to get wet.



Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7 NIV


Like anything that happens every year, it’s easy to take the events of Maundy Thursday for granted. Year after year in our churches, we re-enact Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet.

Sometimes this is done literally by washing each other’s feet in a service. Sometimes Christians go out in their local high street and offer free shoe-shining. While this can be appreciated – it is, after all, a very public act of service and offers a chance to stop and chat to strangers on the street – it is not a gift everyone can accept, especially if they are wearing trainers rather than leather shoes.

Because of our familiarity with the story, it’s easy to forget quite how that first foot-washing must have felt. The disciples had walked through dusty streets to reach the Upper Room. Their feet were dirty, hot, sweaty. Smelly perhaps. And yet Jesus knelt before them and gently took their feet in his hands.

If you’ve ever had your feet washed, you’ll know it’s a disturbingly intimate event. One thing, perhaps, to have your feet washed by a servant – but by Jesus? No wonder Peter protested and tried to refuse the gift he was offering.

At one level, this was simply an act of love: a leader humbly serving his people with his head bowed. At another, the action is ripe with symbolism. By washing their feet, Jesus was preparing them for that deeper, life-changing washing away of sins. You are washed clean; you are forgiven.

This year, why not try to transform your community by washing? Have a look at www.washday.org for ideas on how to make a difference by an act of washing in the service of others.

Today's blog was written by Sarah Meyrick from Diocese of Oxford.
Find out more about them and support their chosen charity here.

To see today's challenge in full - click HERE




Morning Prayer - Thursday 24 March 2016

Passiontide

Maundy Thursday

Psalms 42 & 43
As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. My soul is athirst for God, even for the living God; when shall I come before the presence of God? My tears have been my bread day and night, while all day long they say to me, ‘Where is now your God?’ Now when I think on these things, I pour out my soul: how I went with the multitude and led the procession to the house of God, With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among those who kept holy day.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me? O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God. My soul is heavy within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and from Hermon and the hill of Mizar.  Deep calls to deep in the thunder of your waterfalls; all your breakers and waves have gone over me. The Lord will grant his loving-kindness in the daytime; through the night his song will be with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me, and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me?’ As they crush my bones, my enemies mock me; while all day long they say to me, ‘Where is now your God?’

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? and why are you so disquieted within me? O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
Give judgement for me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked. For you are the God of my refuge; why have you cast me from you, and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me?  O send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling, That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; and on the lyre I will give thanks to you, O God my God.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me? O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Leviticus 16.2-24
The Lord said to Moses:
Tell your brother Aaron not to come just at any time into the sanctuary inside the curtain before the mercy-seat that is upon the ark, or he will die; for I appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat. Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bull for a sin-offering and a ram for a burnt-offering. He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and shall have the linen undergarments next to his body, fasten the linen sash, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy vestments. He shall bathe his body in water, and then put them on. He shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin-offering, and one ram for a burnt-offering.

Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin-offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin-offering; but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, so that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

Aaron shall present the bull as a sin-offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house; he shall slaughter the bull as a sin-offering for himself. He shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of crushed sweet incense, and he shall bring it inside the curtain and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, so that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy-seat that is upon the covenant, or he will die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy-seat, and before the mercy-seat he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times.

He shall slaughter the goat of the sin-offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the curtain, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it upon the mercy-seat and before the mercy-seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the sanctuary, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins; and so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which remains with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. No one shall be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the sanctuary until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement on its behalf, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat, and put it on each of the horns of the altar. He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and hallow it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel.

When he has finished atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.

Then Aaron shall enter the tent of meeting, and shall take off the linen vestments that he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there. He shall bathe his body in water in a holy place, and put on his vestments; then he shall come out and offer his burnt-offering and the burnt-offering of the people, making atonement for himself and for the people.

Luke 23.1-25
Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, ‘We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.’ Then Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He answered, ‘You say so.’ Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘I find no basis for an accusation against this man.’ But they were insistent and said, ‘He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.’

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’

Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

The Collect
God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ was obedient to the end and drank the cup prepared for him: may we who share his table watch with him through the night of suffering and be faithful. Amen.



Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Terrorist Attacks - an exercise in Selectivity?

The awful happenings in Brussels yesterday has seen people changing their avatars to include the colours of the Belgian flag in support for them in the face of acts of terror against an innocent people.

In fact the Church of England even offered a public prayer for Brussels:



The same prayer was offered up and placed in the media when Paris saw terrorism hit on the 7th January 2016.

Sadly though - on the 13th March 2016 - Thankfully thoughwhen terrorist attacks in Ankara claimed the lives of 37 people and saw 125 injured - the outcry, the appearance of people standing with this nation and prayers being offered up were nowhere to be found.

Four days earlier, the Church of England offered up many prayers (9th March 2016) for Syria on the resumption of UN peace talks and to draw attention on what was to be the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict on March 15 (two days after Ankara).

A few years back, after a Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) service, as I rubbed shoulders with the great and the good as they munched the sandwiches and drank their tea and coffee, I was drawn into a conversation with some of what I had, until then, considered to be some of the brighter people of our community. The discussion centred on the awfulness of genocide and how events like HMD were, "So very distressing."

One of those in the group made the observation, "Thank goodness we don't have genocide anymore!"

Without thinking I jumped in and pointed to the atrocities that were Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur and the genocide that surrounds us in recent history - that are going on today. The comment that came back from the, until then assumed 'bright' person, shook me to the core:

"Oh yes, but when we said 'Never Again' we meant in Europe!"

Thankfully, rather than make a scene I chose to walk away - but I often wonder, when I see prayers for Paris, Belgium and places close to us in Europe whether singling one place out for prayer whilst ignoring the plight of others is really communicating something positive about us.

After all - didn't Jesus tell us that even the wicked pray for their friends?

I was drawn to Matthew 5. 43-48 and the words:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
   But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
   so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. 
   For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the 
   unjust.

   For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
   Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
   And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? 
   Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
   You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Now please don't misunderstand me - I am as grateful to see prayers for Syria, Paris and Brussels as I am sad to see that there is a need for them. BUT  we need to have balance and perspective.

As I write this I see that there have been 96 terror attacks around the world.

They have taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Places that are just not as 'sexy' in terms of media attention as Europe and perhaps Israel and Palestine (for they are old news now aren't they?).

So when we pray - pray for the whole world - Please.




ps. Not a pop at the C of E or anyone - just a point as to how easy it gets to become just a little myopic.


40 Acts - Day 37: ' Testify '


Our testimonies are often the best advertisements for Jesus. You don't have to have a perfect life. You don't have to have all your ducks in a row. But being able to articulate how God changed your life is generous because it offers someone else hope. It says to them, 'If he can do it for me, he'll do it for you too.'


Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.
Psalm 66:16 NLT


You’ve got a story to tell. You might not think so, but you do.

Maybe it’s an adventure story, packed with excitement and suspense. The time you got stranded in Marrakesh. The hunch you followed to set up your own business.

Or maybe it’s a drama. The lost laptop. The relationship crisis. The car that wouldn’t start when you were already late.

Maybe it’s a tragedy. The dreams you lost – or never had. The addictions. The betrayals. The grief.

Or maybe it’s a love story. The parents who believed in you when no one else did. The friends who stuck with you, through thick and thin. The one that got away. The one who stayed.

Probably, your story is a mixture of all of these things. But whatever it is, it matters. As we speak of God’s work in our lives, we are reminded, ’God is for me and he’s for you too. We’re all in this together.’

You don’t need to be strong or brave to have a good story. God has used my weakness to reach others and your words will do the same. In his hands, your story can pierce darkness and rekindle hope. It’s a gift and he calls you to give it.

Sharing our story is not about spotlighting ourselves, but about pointing to our Saviour. You are never the hero of your story; Jesus is. But for this reason, we speak. We speak of the God who made us and faced hell to bring us life. We speak of the arms that carry us, through the furnace and through the storm. We speak of beauty and we speak of brokenness. We speak of his story, and we’re awed by the fact that it’s our story too.

No one can testify to Jesus in the way that you can. 
Today – will you share him?  
And will you share yourself?

Today's blog was written by Emma Scrivener. 
Find out more about them and support their chosen charity here.

To see today's challenge in full - click Here

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 23 March 2016

Passiontide

Wednesday of Holy Week

Psalm 102
O Lord, hear my prayer and let my crying come before you. Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; when I call, make haste to answer me, For my days are consumed in smoke and my bones burn away as in a furnace. My heart is smitten down and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread.

From the sound of my groaning my bones cleave fast to my skin. I am become like a vulture in the wilderness, like an owl that haunts the ruins. I keep watch and am become like a sparrow solitary upon the housetop. My enemies revile me all the day long, and those who rage at me have sworn together against me. I have eaten ashes for bread and mingled my drink with weeping, Because of your indignation and wrath, for you have taken me up and cast me down. My days fade away like a shadow, and I am withered like grass.

But you, O Lord, shall endure for ever and your name through all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is time to have mercy upon her; surely the time has come. For your servants love her very stones and feel compassion for her dust. Then shall the nations fear your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory, When the Lord has built up Zion and shown himself in glory; When he has turned to the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their plea.

This shall be written for those that come after, and a people yet unborn shall praise the Lord. For he has looked down from his holy height; from the heavens he beheld the earth, That he might hear the sighings of the prisoner and set free those condemned to die; That the name of the Lord may be proclaimed in Zion and his praises in Jerusalem, When peoples are gathered together and kingdoms also, to serve the Lord.

He has brought down my strength in my journey and has shortened my days. I pray, ‘O my God, do not take me in the midst of my days; your years endure throughout all generations.
‘In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; They shall perish, but you will endure; they all shall wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they shall be changed; but you are the same, and your years will not fail. The children of your servants shall continue, and their descendants shall be established in your sight.’

Jeremiah 11.18-20
It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, ‘Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!’

But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind, let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.

Luke 22.54-71
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, ‘Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.

Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ They kept heaping many other insults on him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us.’ He replied, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ All of them asked, ‘Are you, then, the Son of God?’ He said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!’

The Collect
True and humble king, hailed by the crowd as Messiah: grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory. Amen.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

40 Acts - Day 36: ' Wild Card '


Today you get the chance to play your ‘wild card’. It’s the act we left a big question mark over so we could let you—the 40acts community—give us direction.

What you told us was (1) there were some acts you went all out on and would love to repeat and (2) there were some you bailed out on and would like another chance to try.

The Bible is full of people who received second chances, and even third and fourth chances: Peter, Jonah, Mark, Samson, David, the list goes on.

So that gave us an idea: let’s make today the day of the Second Chance. Another chance to embrace the challenge you loved or another chance to step up to the one you missed first time round.

So seize your moment– this is your second chance.


Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time
Jonah 3:1

It was Sunday morning in the perpetually crowded post-church coffee scrum and there she was. I'd heard about this girl and I'd seen her a couple of times from afar but we'd never met.

This was the moment to introduce myself. I had an accent (she's American, I'm British), so what could go wrong? After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression, right? So I channeled my inner Hugh Grant, walked over to her and confidently made “a move".

We started dating shortly after that but it was short lived. Our lives were headed in different directions and while we remained friends that was it all it was to be.

Years later, I had cause to go back to the States and as we were still in touch, we met for a coffee. It caught me by surprise but in that moment I realised that while life was now more complicated, there seemed to be no real reason why this couldn't work again. A restless redeye flight home, and a couple of missed calls later, we talked about giving “us” a second chance.

If you ask my wife about our first encounter, she will have no recollection of a conversation with the englishman who ummed and erred amongst the sugar sachets and stirrers.

So, I’m thankful for multiple second chances. We often remember those first times but how often do we remember the second chances?

A first time may initially be more memorable but a second chance makes us more aware of what life could have been without it. It is a gift and this week we remember the greatest gift of all. Grace - a life-giving gift, generously given over and over again. A gift that gives us all more than just a second chance.

Today's blog was written by Jon March, Vicar at St Luke's Kentish Town
Find out more about him and support his chosen charity here.

To see today's challenge in full - Click Here

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 22 March 2016

Passiontide

Tuesday of Holy Week

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not be afraid, and though there rise up war against me, yet will I put my trust in him. One thing have I asked of the Lord and that alone I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to seek his will in his temple. For in the day of trouble he shall hide me in his shelter; in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me and set me high upon a rock. And now shall he lift up my head above my enemies round about me; Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy upon me and answer me.

My heart tells of your word, ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face from me, nor cast your servant away in displeasure. You have been my helper; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path,
because of those who lie in wait for me. Deliver me not into the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and those who breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.

Lamentations 3.1-18

I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long.

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago.

He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked.

He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding; he led me off my way and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate; he bent his bow and set me as a mark for his arrow.

He shot into my vitals the arrows of his quiver; I have become the laughing-stock of all my people, the object of their taunt-songs all day long. He has filled me with bitterness, he has glutted me with wormwood.

He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.’

Luke 22.24-53
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’

He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ [[ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.]] When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’ When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, ‘Lord, should we strike with the sword?’ Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!’

The Collect
True and humble king, hailed by the crowd as Messiah: grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory. Amen.


Monday, 21 March 2016

40 Acts - Day 35: ' Buoyancy Aid '


We all live in the centre of our own narrative, but it's helpful to remember that everyone around us has their own story too. It has highs and lows, and sometimes those lows are seemingly invisible. Today we're each going to be a lifesaver for someone going through a tough time at the moment. Ask their friends and family what that person needs instead of asking them, and be sensitive to the person's privacy and dignity.


Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15 NIV

I sat there as she told me about how her ex-partner used to beat her black and blue; how he once kicked her in the head so much she ended up in a coma. She shared how the cocktail of prescription drugs she now took as a result of the abuse was robbing her of sleep and the ability to think straight. She was overwhelmed and exhausted.

‘God, what on earth do I say?!’

I’d met this lady through my work with Christians Against Poverty (CAP). Her abusive relationship had left her financially and emotionally bankrupt. Praise God she had found us and was beginning to get help with her debts, but right now things were still tough. I believed that God had a plan for her but to say it out loud in that moment just seemed so trite. I had no idea what she’d been through, or what I could say to ease her pain. I just felt so useless.

But then I felt the Holy Spirit encourage me to realise that I didn’t need to fix this: I just needed to give this lady my time, love and compassion. So I did. I didn’t say much, except for a simple prayer at the end, but with tears in her eyes she hugged me tight and thanked me for listening. It didn’t feel like much to me but the fact that someone cared meant a lot to her.

Sometimes we have no words to make things better but I believe we can still offer support by coming alongside people in their pain. In Romans 12:15 Paul says, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.’ Sometimes people just need to know they’re not alone.

Today's blog was written by Kathy Freeman from Christians Against Poverty.
Find out more about them and support their chosen charity here.


To see today's challenge in full - Click HERE



Morning Prayer - Monday 21 March 2016

Passiontide

Monday of Holy Week

Psalm 41
Blessed are those who consider the poor and needy; the Lord will deliver them in the time of trouble.

The Lord preserves them and restores their life, that they may be happy in the land; he will not hand them over to the will of their enemies.

The Lord sustains them on their sickbed; their sickness, Lord, you will remove. And so I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.’ My enemies speak evil about me, asking when I shall die and my name perish. If they come to see me, they utter empty words; their heart gathers mischief; when they go out, they tell it abroad. All my enemies whisper together against me, against me they devise evil, Saying that a deadly thing has laid hold on me, and that I will not rise again from where I lie. Even my bosom friend, whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. But you, O Lord, be merciful to me and raise me up, that I may reward them. By this I know that you favour me, that my enemy does not triumph over me. Because of my integrity you uphold me and will set me before your face for ever.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.

Lamentations 1.1-12a
How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal.

She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies.

Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives now among the nations, and finds no resting-place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.

The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter.

Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the Lord has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe.

From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.

Jerusalem remembers, in the days of her affliction and wandering, all the precious things that were hers in days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was no one to help her, the foe looked on mocking over her downfall.

Jerusalem sinned grievously, so she has become a mockery; all who honoured her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans, and turns her face away.

Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her future; her downfall was appalling, with none to comfort her. ‘O Lord, look at my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!’

Enemies have stretched out their hands over all her precious things; she has even seen the nations invade her sanctuary, those whom you forbade to enter your congregation.

All her people groan as they search for bread; they trade their treasures for food to revive their strength. Look, O Lord, and see how worthless I have become.

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.

Luke 22.1-23
Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ ‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ ” He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’ So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’ Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; 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.