Thursday, 14 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 14 December 2017

John of the Cross, Poet, Teacher of the Faith,1591

Psalm 53
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. God has looked down from heaven upon the children of earth, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way; all alike have become corrupt; there is no one 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 God?

There shall they be in great fear, such fear as never was; for God will scatter the bones of the ungodly. They will be put to shame, because God has rejected them.

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

Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who upholds my life.

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

Psalm 60
O God, you have cast us off and broken us; you have been angry; restore us to yourself again. You have shaken the earth and torn it apart; heal its wounds, for it trembles. You have made your people drink bitter things; we reel from the deadly wine you have given us. You have made those who fear you to flee, to escape from the range of the bow. That your beloved may be delivered, save us by your right hand and answer us.

God has spoken in his holiness: ‘I will triumph and divide Shechem, and share out the valley of Succoth.
‘Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my sceptre.
‘Moab shall be my washpot; over Edom will I cast my sandal; across Philistia will I shout in triumph.’

Who will lead me into the strong city?
Who will bring me into Edom?
Have you not cast us off, O God?
Will you no longer go forth with our troops?

Grant us your help against the enemy, for earthly help is in vain. Through God will we do great acts, for it is he that shall tread down our enemies.

Isaiah 32
See, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice. Each will be like a hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land. Then the eyes of those who have sight will not be closed, and the ears of those who have hearing will listen. The minds of the rash will have good judgement, and the tongues of stammerers will speak readily and distinctly. A fool will no longer be called noble, nor a villain be said to be h honourable. For fools speak folly, and their minds plot iniquity: to practise ungodliness, to utter error concerning the Lord, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink. The villainies of villains are evil; they devise wicked devices to ruin the poor with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is right. But those who are noble plan noble things, and by noble things they stand.

Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, listen to my speech. In little more than a year you will shudder, you complacent ones; for the vintage will fail, the fruit harvest will not come. Tremble, you women who are at ease, shudder, you complacent ones; strip, and make yourselves bare, and put sackcloth on your loins. Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine, for the soil of my people growing up in thorns and briers; yes, for all the joyous houses in the jubilant city. For the palace will be forsaken, the populous city deserted; the hill and the watch-tower will become dens for ever, the joy of wild asses, a pasture for flocks; until a spirit from on high is poured out on us, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places. The forest will disappear completely, and the city will be utterly laid low. Happy will you be who sow beside every stream, who let the ox and the donkey range freely.

Matthew 15.21-28
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

The Collect
O God, the judge of all, who gave your servant John of the Cross a warmth of nature, a strength of purpose and a mystical faith that sustained him even in the darkness: shed your light on all who love you and grant them union of body and soul in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Samuel Johnson, Moralist, 1784
Ember Day

Psalm 62
On God alone my soul in stillness waits; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall never be shaken. How long will all of you assail me to destroy me, as you would a tottering wall or a leaning fence?

They plot only to thrust me down from my place of honour; lies are their chief delight; they bless with their mouth, but in their heart they curse. Wait on God alone in stillness, O my soul; for in him is my hope. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken. In God is my strength and my glory; God is my strong rock; in him is my refuge. Put your trust in him always, my people; pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.

The peoples are but a breath, the whole human race a deceit; on the scales they are altogether lighter than air. Put no trust in oppression; in robbery take no empty pride; though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it. God spoke once, and twice have I heard the same, that power belongs to God. Steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord, for you repay everyone according to their deeds.

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

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

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

Isaiah 31
Alas for those who go down to Egypt for help and who rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord! Yet he too is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will rise against the house of the evildoers, and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. The Egyptians are human, and not God; their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and the one helped will fall, and they will all perish together.

For thus the Lord said to me, As a lion or a young lion growls over its prey, and - when a band of shepherds is called out against it - is not terrified by their shouting
   or daunted at their noise, so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight upon Mount Zion and upon its hill. Like birds hovering overhead, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it, he will spare and rescue it.

Turn back to him whom you have deeply betrayed, O people of Israel. For on that day all of you shall throw away your idols of silver and idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.
‘Then the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of mortals; and a sword, not of humans, shall devour him; he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be put to forced labour. His rock shall pass away in terror, and his officers desert the standard in panic,’ says the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

Matthew 15.1-20
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.’

He answered them, ‘And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honour your father and your mother,” and, “Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.” But you say that whoever tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God”, then that person need not honour the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God.

You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:  “This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” ’

Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’ He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’

But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’

The Collect
Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, by your Holy Spirit you have appointed various orders of ministry in the Church: look with mercy on your servants now called to be deacons and priests; maintain them in truth and renew them in holiness, that by word and good example they may faithfully serve you to the glory of your name and the benefit of your Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Can't make it to church - Sunday 10 December 2017

Today, being the second Sunday of Advent, we look to the Prophets* to give us a feel for things and the three readings come together give us a bit of a tough picture and some comfort too.

Let’s start with our 2 Peter reading which really starts by telling us to be patient: A timely word about time in this season of waiting. As we wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem there’s a greater wait lurking in the background in the shape of the second coming (the ‘day of the Lord’) we have read so much of in our readings of late. People are always asking me when that day will be, wondering why it’s taken so long – Peter tries to put it into perspective here for us (and them) today – with the words:

“Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.”

We are being told, “Calm down and be patient, He’s coming, He’s just giving you a chance to ‘get it right’!” And actually, as much as I cant wait for Jesus to return, the day of His coming has a bit of terror in there too for everything will be destroyed. Not an easy day then is it?

As much as I look forward to Jesus’ return, suddenly I’m a bit glad of the wait so I can get myself sorted out a bit more! And let’s face it, I think that’s true for all of us (so take your time Lord, I’ll be be busy here getting stuff sorted. Meanwhile the world (and the Church) get caught up in he baby coming and Argos and gifts and food and days off from work and ignore the other coming. A real ‘eat, drink and be merry’ moment – we can leave the thought that ‘tomorrow we may die’ for another day (tomorrow perhaps?).

Of course that is unless He comes today I guess – but be assured, He is coming back – and that’s a challenging thought isn’t it?

Thankfully Isaiah steps in with a bit of comfort for us. So much so that he starts of with the word:

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Here we have a word of encouragement that the sins are dealt with and things are looking up. Phew! That’s a bit of a relief, all we need is to wait doe someone coming, in the wilderness; crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”
Perhaps there’s some good news to be had today, Because the first bit was a bit uncomfortable (wasn’t it?) and all this judgment stuff, well it’s not going to be a popular message now is it?

Isaiah is writing to a bunch of people who I were so wrong that God let them fall to foreign powers and be led off in captivity in foreign lands. But this is a word of consolation, a nod from God to say that they could come off the naughty step!

There would be a way back for them – that the highway in the desert – and though we humans are relatively short lived (like the grass)  - God and his promises (His word) will never fail.So cheer up, there’s something (just as He promised) coming. All we need to do is listen to the voice in the wilderness. And we get to hear about him in our Gospel as Mark tells us about John the Baptist.

Mark begins by taking us back into Isaiah and then immediately turn towards the voice in the wilderness: John the Baptist. Who ‘appeared’ in the wilderness and called the people who heard him to repent, that is turn around and walk away from the wrong stuff they were doing (and had done). To help them draw a line under all that had been He baptised them (a ritual, symbolic, washing away of the dirt of the past). And He told the people of the one who was to come – Jesus, the consolation of Israel – the babe of Bethlehem, the Messiah, the coming King!
 Here we are at week two of Advent with so much frightening stuff (to the extent that some might hope Jesus never returns) that the wait being explained moves over to show how Jesus is the ‘comfort’ we all so truly long for.

Perhaps that’s why the Collect (so named because it is a 'thought collecting' prayer)  is as it is. Meanwhile, just as we empty the clutter in our homes in readiness for those who will visit us over Christmas, so too should we be emptying the clutter that is sin from the spiritual house that are our bodies and or lives.

The Collect
Almighty God, Purify our hearts and minds, That when your Son Jesus Christ comes again as judge and Saviour We may be ready to receive Him, Who is our Lord and our God. Amen.


Isaiah 40.1-11
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:  ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

A voice says, ‘Cry out.’  And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’

‘All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.   The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures for ever.’

You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.  You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’  See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

2 Peter 3.8-15a
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?

You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him.

Mark 1. 1-8
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way’ –
‘a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’


Post Communion prayer
Father in heaven, who sent your Son to redeem the world and will send him again to be our judge: give us grace so to imitate him in the humility and purity of his first coming that, when he comes again, we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith;  through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

* The four Sundays of Advent focus on things from a different perspective each week to help us understand what Jesus first Advent (coming) and the second Advent are all about.  Whilst it seems that many are taking various themes for Advent (Hope. Love, Faith, Peace - sausage, eggs, chips and beans, etc.)

In the Church of England, generally, we look to:
Week one: The Patriarchs (the ‘founders’ of Judaism),
Week two: The Prophets (who spoke for God to the people),
Week three: John the Baptist (the herald of Jesus, the Christ),
Week four: The Virgin (the Mother of Jesus).


Morning Prayer - Tuesday 12 December 2017

Psalm 56
Have mercy on me, O God, for they trample over me; all day long they assault and oppress me. My adversaries trample over me all the day long; many are they that make proud war against me. In the day of my fear I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise. In God I trust, and will not fear, for what can flesh do to me?

All day long they wound me with words; their every thought is to do me evil. They stir up trouble; they lie in wait; marking my steps, they seek my life. Shall they escape for all their wickedness? In anger, O God, cast the peoples down. You have counted up my groaning; put my tears into your bottle; are they not written in your book?

Then shall my enemies turn back on the day when I call upon you; this I know, for God is on my side. In God whose word I praise, in the Lord whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not fear: what can flesh do to me?

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

Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until the storm of destruction has passed by. I will call upon the Most High God, the God who fulfils his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me and rebuke those that would trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness. I lie in the midst of lions, people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.

They have laid a net for my feet; my soul is pressed down; they have dug a pit before me and will fall into it themselves. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise. Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn. I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Isaiah 30.19-end
Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ Then you will defile your silver-covered idols and your gold-plated images. You will scatter them like filthy rags; you will say to them, ‘Away with you!’

He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. On that day your cattle will graze in broad pastures; and the oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat silage, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water—on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the Lord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

See, the name of the Lord comes from far away, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue is like a devouring fire; his breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches up to the neck - to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction, and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads them astray.

You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and tempest and hailstones. The Assyrian will be terror-stricken at the voice of the Lord, when he strikes with his rod. And every stroke of the staff of punishment that the Lord lays upon him will be to the sound of timbrels and lyres; battling with brandished arm he will fight with him. For his burning-place has long been prepared; truly it is made ready for the king, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulphur, kindles it.

Matthew 14.13-end
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

The Collect
O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.


Monday, 11 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Monday 11 December 2017

Psalm 44
We have heard with our ears, O God, our forebears have told us, all that you did in their days, in time of old; How with your hand you drove out nations and planted us in, and broke the power of peoples and set us free. For not by their own sword did our ancestors take the land nor did their own arm save them, But your right hand, your arm, and the light of your countenance, because you were gracious to them.

You are my King and my God, who commanded salvation for Jacob. Through you we drove back our adversaries; through your name we trod down our foes. For I did not trust in my bow; it was not my own sword that saved me; It was you that saved us from our enemies and put our adversaries to shame. We gloried in God all the day long, and were ever praising your name.

But now you have rejected us and brought us to shame and go not out with our armies. You have made us turn our backs on our enemies, and our enemies have despoiled us. You have made us like sheep to be slaughtered, and have scattered us among the nations. You have sold your people for a pittance and made no profit on their sale. You have made us the taunt of our neighbours, the scorn and derision of those that are round about us. You have made us a byword among the nations; among the peoples they wag their heads.

My confusion is daily before me, and shame has covered my face, At the taunts of the slanderer and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and avenger. All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you and have not played false to your covenant. Our hearts have not turned back, nor our steps gone out of your way, Yet you have crushed us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to any strange god, Will not God search it out?

For he knows the secrets of the heart. But for your sake are we killed all the day long, and are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord? Awake, and do not reject us for ever. Why do you hide your face and forget our grief and oppression?
Our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaves to the earth. Rise up, O Lord, to help us and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

Isaiah 30.1-18
Oh, rebellious children, says the Lord, who carry out a plan, but not mine; who make an alliance, but against my will, adding sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt without asking for my counsel, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt; Therefore the protection of Pharaoh shall become your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt your humiliation. For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes, everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.

An oracle concerning the animals of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and distress, of lioness and roaring lion, of viper and flying serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that cannot profit them. For Egypt’s help is worthless and empty, therefore I have called her, ‘Rahab who sits still.’

Go now, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, so that it may be for the time to come as a witness for ever. For they are a rebellious people, faithless children, children who will not hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, ‘Do not see’; and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.’ Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: Because you reject this word, and put your trust in oppression and deceit, and rely on them; therefore this iniquity shall become for you like a break in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose crash comes suddenly, in an instant; its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a sherd is found for taking fire from the hearth, or dipping water out of the cistern.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you refused and said,
‘No! We will flee upon horses’ - therefore you shall flee! and, ‘We will ride upon swift steeds’ - therefore your pursuers shall be swift! A thousand shall flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you shall flee, until you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill.

Matthew 14.1-12
At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.’ The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.

The Collect
Almighty God, purify our hearts and minds, that when your Son Jesus Christ comes again as judge and saviour we may be ready to receive him, who is our Lord and our God. Amen.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Saturday 9 December 2017

Psalm 9
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will make music to your name, O Most High. When my enemies are driven back, they stumble and perish at your presence. For you have maintained my right and my cause; you sat on your throne giving righteous judgement.

You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. The enemy was utterly laid waste. You uprooted their cities; their very memory has perished. But the Lord shall endure for ever; he has made fast his throne for judgement. For he shall rule the world with righteousness and govern the peoples with equity. Then will the Lord be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in the time of trouble. And those who know your name will put their trust in you, for you, Lord, have never failed those who seek you.

Sing praises to the Lord who dwells in Zion; declare among the peoples the things he has done. The avenger of blood has remembered them; he did not forget the cry of the oppressed. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider the trouble I suffer from those who hate me, you that lift me up from the gates of death; That I may tell all your praises in the gates of the city of Zion and rejoice in your salvation.

The nations shall sink into the pit of their making and in the snare which they set will their own foot be taken. The Lord makes himself known by his acts of justice; the wicked are snared in the works of their own hands.

They shall return to the land of darkness, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever. Arise, O Lord, and let not mortals have the upper hand; let the nations be judged before your face. Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but mortal.

Psalm 10
Why stand so far off, O Lord?
Why hide yourself in time of trouble?
The wicked in their pride persecute the poor; let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
The wicked boast of their heart’s desire; the covetous curse and revile the Lord.
The wicked in their arrogance say, ‘God will not avenge it’; in all their scheming God counts for nothing.

They are stubborn in all their ways, for your judgements are far above out of their sight; they scoff at all their adversaries.
They say in their heart, ‘I shall not be shaken; no harm shall ever happen to me.’
Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit and fraud; under their tongue lie mischief and wrong.
They lurk in the outskirts and in dark alleys they murder the innocent; their eyes are ever watching for the helpless.
They lie in wait, like a lion in his den; they lie in wait to seize the poor; they seize the poor when they get them into their net.
The innocent are broken and humbled before them; the helpless fall before their power.
They say in their heart, ‘God has forgotten; he hides his face away; he will never see it.'

Arise, O Lord God, and lift up your hand; forget not the poor. Why should the wicked be scornful of God?
Why should they say in their hearts, ‘You will not avenge it’?
Surely, you behold trouble and misery; you see it and take it into your own hand.
The helpless commit themselves to you, for you are the helper of the orphan.

Break the power of the wicked and malicious; search out their wickedness until you find none.

The Lord shall reign for ever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.
Lord, you will hear the desire of the poor; you will incline your ear to the fullness of their heart,
To give justice to the orphan and oppressed, so that people are no longer driven in terror from the land.

Isaiah 29.15-end
Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the Lord, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, ‘Who sees us? Who knows us?’
You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay?
Shall the thing made say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?

Shall not Lebanon in a very little while become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest?
On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. or the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off  - those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit, who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate, and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right.

Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no longer shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction.

Matthew 13.44-end
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’ When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.
He came to his home town and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.’ And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.

The Collect
Almighty God, as your kingdom dawns, turn us from the darkness of sin to the light of holiness, that we may be ready to meet you in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Friday, 8 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 8 December 2017

The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Psalm 25
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies triumph over me. Let none who look to you be put to shame, but let the treacherous be shamed and frustrated. Make me to know your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you have I hoped all the day long. Remember, Lord, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions, but think on me in your goodness, O Lord, according to your steadfast love. Gracious and upright is the Lord; therefore shall he teach sinners in the way. He will guide the humble in doing right and teach his way to the lowly. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful to my sin, for it is great.

Who are those who fear the Lord?
Them will he teach in the way that they should choose.
Their soul shall dwell at ease and their offspring shall inherit the land.
The hidden purpose of the Lord is for those who fear him and he will show them his covenant.
My eyes are ever looking to the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am alone and brought very low.
The sorrows of my heart have increased; O bring me out of my distress.
Look upon my adversity and misery and forgive me all my sin.
Look upon my enemies, for they are many and they bear a violent hatred against me.
O keep my soul and deliver me; let me not be put to shame, for I have put my trust in you.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for my hope has been in you.
Deliver Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Psalm 26
Give judgement for me, O Lord,
for I have walked with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind.
For your love is before my eyes;
I have walked in your truth.
I have not joined the company of the false, nor consorted with the deceitful.
I hate the gathering of evildoers and I will not sit down with the wicked.
I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, that I may go about your altar, To make heard the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Lord, I love the house of your habitation and the place where your glory abides. Sweep me not away with sinners, nor my life with the bloodthirsty, Whose hands are full of wicked schemes and their right hand full of bribes.

As for me, I will walk with integrity; redeem me, Lord, and be merciful to me. My foot stands firm; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

Isaiah 29.1-14
Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the festivals run their round. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be moaning and lamentation, and Jerusalem shall be to me like an Ariel. And like David I will encamp against you; I will besiege you with towers and raise siege-works against you. Then deep from the earth you shall speak, from low in the dust your words shall come; your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost, and your speech shall whisper out of the dust.

But the multitude of your foes shall be like fine dust, and the multitude of tyrants like flying chaff. And in an instant, suddenly, you will be visited by the Lord of hosts
with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire. And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, all that fight against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night. Just as when a hungry person dreams of eating and wakes up still hungry,
or a thirsty person dreams of drinking and wakes up faint, still thirsty, so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.

Stupefy yourselves and be in a stupor, blind yourselves and be blind!
Be drunk, but not from wine; stagger, but not from strong drink!
For the Lord has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep; he has closed your eyes, you prophets, and covered your heads, you seers.

The vision of all this has become for you like the words of a sealed document. If it is given to those who can read, with the command, ‘Read this’, they say, ‘We cannot, for it is sealed.’ And if it is given to those who cannot read, saying, ‘Read this’, they say, ‘We cannot read.’

The Lord said:
Because these people draw near with their mouths and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote;
so I will again do amazing things with this people, shocking and amazing. The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden.

Matthew 13.24-43
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’

He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’

He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.’

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, who stooped to raise fallen humanity through the child-bearing of blessed Mary: grant that we, who have seen your glory revealed in our human nature
and your love made perfect in our weakness, may daily be renewed in your image and conformed to the pattern of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 7 December 2017


Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher of the Faith, 397

Psalm 42
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.

Psalm 43
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.

Isaiah 28.14-end
Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement; when the overwhelming scourge passes through it will not come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter’; therefore thus says the Lord God, See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: ‘One who trusts will not panic.’ 

And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet; hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter. Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through you will be beaten down by it. As often as it passes through, it will take you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be sheer terror to understand the message. For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on it, and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in it.  For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim, he will rage as in the valley of Gibeon to do his deed—strange is his deed! - and to work his work—alien is his work! Now therefore do not scoff, or your bonds will be made stronger; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord God of hosts upon the whole land. 

Listen, and hear my voice; Pay attention, and hear my speech. 
Do those who plough for sowing plough continually?
Do they continually open and harrow their ground? 
When they have levelled its surface, do they not scatter dill, sow cummin, and plant wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border?
For they are well instructed; their God teaches them. 

Dill is not threshed with a threshing-sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin; but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cummin with a rod. Grain is crushed for bread, but one does not thresh it for ever; one drives the cartwheel and horses over it, but does not pulverize it. This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel,  and excellent in wisdom. 

Matthew 13.1-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’

Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.” 

With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: “You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn - and I would heal them.” 

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’

The Collect
God of hosts, who called Ambrose from the governor's throne to be a bishop in your Church and an intrepid champion of your faithful people: mercifully grant that, as he did not fear to rebuke rulers, so we, with like courage, may contend for the faith we have received; 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, 6 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 6 December 2017

Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326

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 7
O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all who pursue me, and deliver me, Lest they rend me like a lion and tear me in pieces while there is no one to help me. O Lord my God, if I have done these things: if there is any wickedness in my hands, If I have repaid my friend with evil, or plundered my enemy without a cause, Then let my enemy pursue me and overtake me, trample my life to the ground, and lay my honour in the dust.

Rise up, O Lord, in your wrath; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies. Awaken, my God, the judgement that you have commanded. Let the assembly of the peoples gather round you; be seated high above them: O Lord, judge the nations. Give judgement for me according to my righteousness, O Lord, and according to the innocence that is in me. Let the malice of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; for you test the mind and heart, O righteous God.

God is my shield that is over me; he saves the true of heart. God is a righteous judge; he is provoked all day long. If they will not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent his bow and made it ready. He has prepared the weapons of death; he makes his arrows shafts of fire.

Behold those who are in labour with wickedness, who conceive evil and give birth to lies. They dig a pit and make it deep and fall into the hole that they have made for others. Their mischief rebounds on their own head; their violence falls on their own scalp. I will give thanks to the Lord for his righteousness, and I will make music to the name of the Lord Most High.

Isaiah 28.1-13
Ah, the proud garland of the drunkards of Ephraim, and the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of those bloated with rich food, of those overcome with wine! See, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest, like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters; with his hand he will hurl them down to the earth. Trampled under foot will be the proud garland of the drunkards of Ephraim. And the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of those bloated with rich food, will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer; whoever sees it, eats it up as soon as it comes to hand.

On that day the Lord of hosts will be a garland of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people; and a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgement, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are confused with wine, they stagger with strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in giving judgement. All tables are covered with filthy vomit; no place is clean.

‘Whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.’

Truly, with stammering lip and with alien tongue he will speak to this people, to whom he has said, ‘This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose’; yet they would not hear. Therefore the word of the Lord will be to them, ‘Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little’; in order that they may go, and fall backwards, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

Matthew 12.38-end
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!

‘When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but it finds none. Then it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.’

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’

The Collect
Almighty Father, lover of souls, who chose your servant Nicholas to be a bishop in the Church, that he might give freely out of the treasures of your grace: make us mindful of the needs of others and, as we have received, so teach us also to give; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Saturday 2 December 2017

Psalm 145
I will exalt you, O God my King, and bless your name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless you and praise your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; his greatness is beyond all searching out.

One generation shall praise your works to another and declare your mighty acts. They shall speak of the majesty of your glory, and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts, and I will also tell of your greatness. They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, long-suffering and of great goodness.
The Lord is loving to everyone and his mercy is over all his creatures.

All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your mighty power, To make known to all peoples your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.
The Lord is sure in all his words and faithful in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand and fill all things living with plenty.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving in all his works.
The Lord is near to those who call upon him, to all who call upon him faithfully.
He fulfils the desire of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

The Lord watches over those who love him, but all the wicked shall he destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Isaiah 24
Now the Lord is about to lay waste the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor. The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled; for the Lord has spoken this word.

The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth.  The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled, and few people are left. The wine dries up, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. The mirth of the timbrels is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled. No longer do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. The city of chaos is broken down, every house is shut up so that no one can enter. There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has reached its eventide; the gladness of the earth is banished. Desolation is left in the city, the gates are battered into ruins. For thus it shall be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is ended.

They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; they shout from the west over the majesty of the Lord. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea glorify the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, I pine away, I pine away. Woe is me! For the treacherous deal treacherously, the treacherous deal very treacherously.

Terror, and the pit, and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth! Whoever flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit, and whoever climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is torn asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunkard, it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.

On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven in heaven, and on earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together like prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be abashed, and the sun ashamed; for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his elders he will manifest his glory.

Matthew 11.20-end
Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades.

For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.’
At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

The Collect
Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven that he might rule over all things as Lord and King: keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Friday, 1 December 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 1 December 2017

Charles de Foucauld, Hermit in the Sahara, 1916

Psalm 139
O Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You mark out my journeys and my resting place and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but you, O Lord, know it altogether. You encompass me behind and before and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go then from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there your hand shall lead me, your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will cover me and the light around me turn to night,’
Even darkness is no darkness with you; the night is as clear as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.

For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, my soul knows well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my form, as yet unfinished; already in your book were all my members written, As day by day they were fashioned when as yet there was none of them.

How deep are your counsels to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I count them, they are more in number than the sand, and at the end, I am still in your presence.

O that you would slay the wicked, O God, that the bloodthirsty might depart from me!
They speak against you with wicked intent; your enemies take up your name for evil.
Do I not oppose those, O Lord, who oppose you?
Do I not abhor those who rise up against you?
I hate them with a perfect hatred; they have become my own enemies also.

Search me out, O God, and know my heart; try me and examine my thoughts. See if there is any way of wickedness in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

Isaiah 22.1-14
The oracle concerning the valley of vision.

What do you mean that you have gone up, all of you, to the housetops, you that are full of shoutings, tumultuous city, exultant town?

Your slain are not slain by the sword, nor are they dead in battle.
Your rulers have all fled together; they were captured without the use of a bow.
All of you who were found were captured, though they had fled far away.
Therefore I said:
Look away from me, let me weep bitter tears; do not try to comfort me for the destruction of my beloved people.

For the Lord God of hosts has a day of tumult and trampling and confusion in the valley of vision, a battering down of walls and a cry for help to the mountains. Elam bore the quiver with chariots and cavalry, and Kir uncovered the shield. Your choicest valleys were full of chariots, and the cavalry took their stand at the gates. He has taken away the covering of Judah.

On that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest, and you saw that there were many breaches in the city of David, and you collected the waters of the lower pool. You counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall. You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or have regard for him who planned it long ago.

On that day the Lord God of hosts called to weeping and mourning, to baldness and putting on sackcloth; but instead there was joy and festivity, killing oxen and slaughtering sheep, eating meat and drinking wine.
‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’
The Lord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears: Surely this iniquity will not be forgiven you until you die, says the Lord God of hosts.

Matthew 11.2-19
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”

Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!

‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.”

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’

The Collect
God the Father, help us to hear the call of Christ the King and to follow in his service, whose kingdom has no end; for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, one glory. Amen.


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 30 November 2017

Andrew the Apostle

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

God has gone up with a merry noise, the Lord with the sound of the trumpet. O sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with all your skill.

God reigns over the nations; God has taken his seat upon his holy throne. The nobles of the peoples are gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For the powers of the earth belong to God and he is very highly exalted.

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.

Ezekiel 47.1-12
Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate that faces towards the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

Going on eastwards with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, ‘Mortal, have you seen this?’

Then he led me back along the bank of the river. As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on one side and on the other. He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’

John 12.20-32
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

The Collect
Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ and brought his brother with him: call us by your holy word, and give us grace to follow you without delay and to tell the good news of your kingdom; 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, 29 November 2017

An early wake up call

I'm sure many of us have moments when we are woken up by a burning issue. That moment when the ship is grazed by an iceberg and the jolt causes our eyes to open as the captive thoughts rush onto the deck to chatter and look into the darkness and the perils it contains.

This, once more, is my lot today and I find myself thinking about madness and the lack of sound and consistent care for those troubled by it; about estate churches and the wide division between rhetoric and reality; of the plight of the Church and the many proclaimed successes which, to those outside, look very much like a bankrupt corner store rearranging the few remaining goods on the shelf in the hope it will attract new customers!

Today is set aside to be a 'Day of Intercession and Thanksgiving for the Missionary Work of the Church'. As someone who is engaged with things missional I see this as a day when we pray for those engaged in missionary work here at home and further afield. There are mission fields and unevangelised peoples to be engaged with on our own doorsteps as well as many hours journeying across the seas and landscapes to far flung places.  With this in mind perhaps today and the call to prayer might become the spur we need to make us become more aware and intelligent in our prayer .

And having discovered the needs and prayed for them, is this enough?

Shouldn't the prayers we offer up be accompanied by the sleeves being rolled up as the virtual bags are packed and the journey into strange and foreign lands just a few minutes up the road is made?

One of the biggest frustrations I have comes in the shape of those who want to fill the Church with people they have made in their own image. People who live as they live and hold on to the same values and lifestyles as them.

I struggle with people who talk of 'bringing back' the lost. A statement which largely (and often blithely) ignores the reality that the majority of those in our villages, towns and cities have never previously been 'here' (meaning in this context Church or church - local or universal) so how can they return to a place they have never been?

How often do we pass the needs before us without seeing them or the people who own them?

How often do we sigh, shrug and toss the pleas from missions organisations and actions groups?

How often do we pass a needy person (and I don't mean those begging on our streets) and mumble, "Be well, be blessed," and move on thinking that our prayer, platitudes and complacency will find favour with the God we claim to worship?

Overseas
So today please stop and think about those who leave the comforts of home to take the Gospel to other lands and cultures. Pray for them, their families and the task before them. Pray for their safety, for provision and for an open door for the work they undertake. Pray for wisdom in all they do and in those they encounter. Perhaps you could send something (a fiver would do) to support an organisation or a missionary family or project.

Home
Have a look at the needs of this nation of ours and pray for those who are still 'far off' and for those who seek to make Jesus, the Christ, known.

Pray for those in the well-off places; those who have so much they cannot see the poverty they live in.

Pray for those in the poorer places. Places where benefits are the norm and jobs, family life, prevailing attitudes and marginalisation are an everyday reality.

Pray for those who minister in the estates and in the rural areas (which are just different estates from those we think of). Think about the issues of the places we might be happy not to live or visit and pray for the residents and those who minister to them.

Church
Pray for the leaders of the churches of our land that they might have integrity and passion to create, maintain, and encourage those who 'do the stuff' in the difficult places in their own places of influence.

Every church building should be the centre of missionary work - every Christian should be committed to those who are far off whether they be 'leavers' who might be encouraged to return or those who have never been part of Church.

Lord, the kingdom of God is always near,
The Church always stands but one generation from extinction 
And those who are 'far off' are so often just a fingertip away.

We pray for all who take up the challenge to make You known in the world of ours;
For the missions organisations who by their actions seek to make a difference;
For those who minister in our estates and inner-city places;
For those who minister in the real places where pressures are hidden in the beauty of nature.

We pray for those who engage in the mission field of the workplace:
For those who travel to foreign ands to make real the Gospel of love;
For those whose kind act and time given will tell of a God who cares.
Motivate, educate, and enthuse us to be hearts and doers of the word.

We ask this in Jesus' glorious name. Amen







Morning Prayer - Wednesday 29 November 2017

Day of Intercession and Thanksgiving for the Missionary Work of the Church

Psalm 110
The Lord said to my lord,
‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’

May the Lord stretch forth the sceptre of your power; rule from Zion in the midst of your enemies.
‘Noble are you on this day of your birth; on the holy mountain, from the womb of the dawn the dew of your new birth is upon you.’

The Lord has sworn and will not retract:
‘You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.’

The king at your right hand, O Lord, shall smite down kings in the day of his wrath. In all his majesty, he shall judge among the nations, smiting heads over all the wide earth. He shall drink from the brook beside the way; therefore shall he lift high his head.

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.
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 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.

Isaiah 19
An oracle concerning Egypt.

See, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight, one against the other, neighbour against neighbour, city against city, kingdom against kingdom; the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out, and I will confound their plans; they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead and the ghosts and the familiar spirits; I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a hard master; a fierce king will rule over them, says the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts.

The waters of the Nile will be dried up, and the river will be parched and dry; its canals will become foul, and the branches of Egypt’s Nile will diminish and dry up; reeds and rushes will rot away. There will be bare places by the Nile, on the brink of the Nile; and all that is sown by the Nile will dry up, be driven away, and be no more. Those who fish will mourn; all who cast hooks in the Nile will lament, and those who spread nets on the water will languish. The workers in flax will be in despair, and the carders and those at the loom will grow pale. Its weavers will be dismayed, and all who work for wages will be grieved.

The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish; the wise counsellors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel. How can you say to Pharaoh, ‘I am one of the sages, a descendant of ancient kings’?  Where now are your sages? Let them tell you and make known what the Lord of hosts has planned against Egypt. The princes of Zoan have become fools, and the princes of Memphis are deluded; those who are the cornerstones of its tribes have led Egypt astray. The Lord has poured into them a spirit of confusion; and they have made Egypt stagger in all its doings as a drunkard staggers around in vomit. Neither head nor tail, palm branch nor reed, will be able to do anything for Egypt.

On that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the Lord of hosts raises against them. And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the plan that the Lord of hosts is planning against them.
On that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts. One of these will be called the City of the Sun.

On that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the centre of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. It will be a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; when they cry to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a saviour, and will defend and deliver them. The Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians; and the Egyptians will know the Lord on that day, and will worship with sacrifice and burnt-offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. The Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing; they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their supplications and heal them.

On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.’

Matthew 10.16-33
‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

The Collect
God the Father, help us to hear the call of Christ the King and to follow in his service, whose kingdom has no end; for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, one glory. Amen.