Sunday, 30 April 2017

Can't make it to church - 30 April 2017

Two weeks have passed since Easter Sunday morning and as we continue to reflect upon the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, and celebrate the life of the early Church through the accounts of the book of Acts, we find ourselves also being reminded that there is a judgement to come and that God doesn't have favourites - we all get the same exam paper and the marking is fair. Today brings words that some will find tough - but they need to be clearly stated and so I can make no apology for it!

So let's get stuck in to the Acts and see what this holds for us:

Those around Peter, having heard from his lips the testimony that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, and believing this to be true, ask the question, "What must we do to be saved?"

The answer now, as then, is simple:

Repent: this means acknowledge and turn away fro doing wrong - it's a one-eighty degree moment.

Believe: accept that Jesus is Lord of all and commit ourselves to Him and His word (and we need to know it to keep it so this means reading our Bibles).

Be baptised: it's not a wet witness, it's a transaction, a recognition, and something that brings about a real change in us and the way we think and live.

Receive the Holy Spirit: the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit, inspires, informs and encourages us to keep God's word and live as we should. It is that whisper in the ear, that 'holy hunch' and that helping hand that lifts us in times of trouble.

So there's a simple start for us all - the way to salvation is laid out before us. And the 1 Peter passages makes it clear that this is all we have before us. This is what being a believer is all about - loving and living for God. The, at the end of it all we will be subject to judgement - measured against the mark without favour or 'mate's rates' - after all as John 3.16 says: "whoever believe in Him (Jesus) will not perish but have everlasting life."

If we look at the end of John, chapter three we find the words:
"And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s judgement.”

If you'd like a cherry on the cake, how's about Hebrews chapter five:
"And just as each person is destined to live once, the die, then be judged, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him."

We need to recognise and respond to the call on our lives and the salvation that comes through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. Nothing has changed from the situation we read of in Acts to that before us today - the choices and the outcomes are clear!

Moving on to the Gospel reading we find the account of Jesus and a couple of His followers, who He joins, as they walk the road to Emmaus.  I get the feeling that it's been a bit heavy today (no choice, sorry) and so will give you one 'take away' from the Gospel reading: Jesus was recognised in the breaking of bread. His body broken and blood poured out for us is made real in us when we break bread. It is in this meal that we recognise who Jesus is and find our selves strangely touched and enabled.

The next time you take the bread and drink the wine - ask God to make Himself preheat in your life and seek the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Remember that the Eucharist (the Communion) is more than a mere memorial - it is a transaction and a being made aware that we are one with God through the body and blood of Christ: and live joyfully in God's resurrection power.

Christ IS risen!

The Collect
Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope: strengthen us to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.


Acts 2.14a,36-41
 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this.
“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”

Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

Those who believed what Peter said were baptised and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all

1 Peter 1.17-23
And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favourites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.

Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.Love each other deeply with all your heart.

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.



Luke 24.13-35
That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognising him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognised him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”

Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognised him as he was breaking the bread.

Post Communion Prayer 
Living God, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in all his redeeming work; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.




Saturday, 29 April 2017

Morning Prayer - Saturday 29 April 2017

Easter Season

Catherine of Siena, Teacher of the Faith, 1380

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.

Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul has a desire and longing to enter the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young: at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Blessed are they who dwell in your house: they will always be praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion, Who going through the barren valley find there a spring, and the early rains will clothe it with blessing. They will go from strength to strength and appear before God in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; listen, O God of Jacob. Behold our defender, O God, and look upon the face of your anointed. For one day in your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of ungodliness. For the Lord God is both sun and shield; he will give grace and glory; no good thing shall the Lord withhold
from those who walk with integrity.

O Lord God of hosts, blessed are those who put their trust in you.

Deuteronomy 4.32-40
For ask now about former ages, long before your own, ever since the day that God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of heaven to the other: has anything so great as this ever happened or has its like ever been heard of? Has any people ever heard the voice of a god speaking out of a fire, as you have heard, and lived? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by terrifying displays of power, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? To you it was shown so that you would acknowledge that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, while you heard his words coming out of the fire. And because he loved your ancestors, he chose their descendants after them. He brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, giving you their land for a possession, as it is still today. So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Keep his statutes and his commandments, which I am commanding you today for your own well-being and that of your descendants after you, so that you may long remain in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.

John 21.20-end
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

The Collect
God of compassion, who gave your servant Catherine of Siena a wondrous love of the passion of Christ: grant that your people may be united to him in his majesty and rejoice for ever in the revelation of his glory; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Journal: Saturday's coming

Been a different day from the norm, probably because it was set aside for study, prep and admin? That said, I was doing a wedding rehearsal this evening, not one of my more common services. As ever the run through worked easily - not lost a Bride yet - and the joy of knowing the couple and having a relationship with them and the family made it quite special.

Funerals have slowed down now such that I'm about to hit what I think is the thirtieth the of the year and there are a few baptisms on the horizon too. Occasional offices are sometimes more frequent than the name suggests.

I'm enjoying a return to writing theological material and the slow progress being made in trying to find some more postgrad and the frustrations this brings have been out aside for a bit. Mind you, I need to call in the support people to work through my daily hours and help me rationalise things to get more study and prayer as i have become so busy that I'm doing nothing other than keep the wheels spinning. the irony here is that I used to work with people on this and now I find myself doing so much that I'm doing nothing. A tough place to be found residing.

The week past fits the pattern many experience, especially the fact that we knock ourselves out getting stuff in place before we have time off and then, upon our return, find ourselves hammering through work to catch up because we were away. A colleague told me that I needed to aim for something between thirty-eight and forty-two hours a week as this game space for the crises but provided time to live in. Failing (happily rather than miserably) at this at the moment, but the goal is gradual change so that by the time I hit the end of September I might be running somewhere near.

The odd thing about the time thing is the fact that although I wear many hats, the demand placed by them is minimal really - a service here, another there, the occasional meeting. the same is true of time for personal study and private prayer - prayer is trickling along at about seven hours a week, but this is a 'cat's lick and a promise' fulfilled by my daily office routine. So watch this space Lord, although those who know me will shake their heads in anticipation of a failed attempt - I'm heading for the things that matter.

But rather than a promise for the future I look to the day of promise that has passed and give You praise for all it has contained.
I thank You for the people I have met - especially Stephanie who needs a touch from You for the growth on her foot - and for the many, unmanned, but loved people I have encountered on the journey today.

Lord, help me to do more and to find the still waters.

Morning Prayer - Friday 28 April 2017

Easter Season

Peter Chanel, Missionary in the South Pacific, Martyr, 1841

Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; In the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until the storm of destruction has passed by.

I will call upon the Most High God, the God who fulfils his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me and rebuke those that would trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.

I lie in the midst of lions, people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.

They have laid a net for my feet; my soul is pressed down; they have dug a pit before me and will fall into it themselves. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise. Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn.

I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.

Psalm 61
Hear my crying, O God, and listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you with fainting heart; O set me on the rock that is higher than I. For you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent for ever and take refuge under the cover of your wings.

For you, O God, will hear my vows; you will grant the request of those who fear your name. You will add length of days to the life of the king, that his years may endure throughout all generations.

May he sit enthroned before God for ever; may steadfast love and truth watch over him. So will I always sing praise to your name, and day by day fulfil my vows.

Deuteronomy 4.15-31
Since you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, take care and watch yourselves closely, so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves, in the form of any figure—the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. And when you look up to the heavens and see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples everywhere under heaven. But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now.

The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he vowed that I should not cross the Jordan and that I should not enter the good land that the Lord your God is giving for your possession. For I am going to die in this land without crossing over the Jordan, but you are going to cross over to take possession of that good land. So be careful not to forget the covenant that the Lord your God made with you, and not to make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God.

When you have had children and children’s children, and become complacent in the land, if you act corruptly by making an idol in the form of anything, thus doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to occupy; you will not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. The Lord will scatter you among the peoples; only a few of you will be left among the nations where the Lord will lead you. There you will serve other gods made by human hands, objects of wood and stone that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the Lord your God and heed him. Because the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.

John 21.15-19
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

The Collect
Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek the good of others and  walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace, to the praise of God the Father. Amen.


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Journal: keep on swimming

I love Thursdays - they start with a Communion service and more often than not end with a surprise!

Today was another fag paper between the stuff day, which meant it was full on and fun. Like a day at Disneyland - but without the people in costumes walking around.

Another amazing funeral, full house and nice and gentle. Everything you'd want as a goodbye for a loved one.

Another amazing home Communion. Beginning to get to know a relatively new person I visit.

Cherry on the cake moment was a few pastoral visits - don't get to do them as much as I should.

End of day came with cadets and stumps drawn just before ten meant an early night.

The variety and the blessing of seeing doors open in the ministry of others makes it obvious that there is a plan to all this. Need to stop this being so busy though, thinks it obscures the opportunities God lays out for me. I've committed myself to doing less - but don't see it happening. Not a good admission for someone who used to reach time management that, is it?

Been doing some theological thinking today and that has awakened things in me that need to be dialogues with and a new GPS needs turning on: One that says 'turn around' a lot.

Lord - another day goes and a new dawn beckons.
Give me ears that hear Your voice and eyes that watch for the road signs You place along my journey.

Thank You for the reality that content fallible and flawed people - and one sinless and obedient man.

Morning Prayer - Thursday 27 April 2017

Easter Season

Christina Rossetti, Poet, 1894

Psalm 28
To you I call, O Lord my rock; be not deaf to my cry, lest, if you do not hear me, I become like those who go down to the Pit. Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.

Do not snatch me away with the wicked, with the evildoers, who speak peaceably with their neighbours, while malice is in their hearts. Repay them according to their deeds and according to the wickedness of their devices.

Reward them according to the work of their hands and pay them their just deserts. They take no heed of the Lord’s doings, nor of the works of his hands; therefore shall he break them down and not build them up.

Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard the voice of my prayer.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart has trusted in him and I am helped;
Therefore my heart dances for joy and in my song will I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people, a safe refuge for his anointed.
Save your people and bless your inheritance; shepherd them and carry them for ever.

Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation;
the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon; He makes Lebanon skip like a calf and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning;
the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare; in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’

The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people;
the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Deuteronomy 4.1-14
So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you. You have seen for yourselves what the Lord did with regard to the Baal of Peor—how the Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, while those of you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today.

See, just as the Lord my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!’ For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?

But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children—how you once stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people for me, and I will let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me as long as they live on the earth, and may teach their children to do so’; you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain while the mountain was blazing up to the very heavens, shrouded in dark clouds. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, which he charged you to observe, that is, the ten commandments; and he wrote them on two stone tablets. And the Lord charged me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy.

John 21.1-14
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

The Collect
Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek the good of others and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace, Amen.


Journal: I'm different!

I can't describe the feelings that the closing day has brought me. Well I can but it would sound trite and the potential to do it an injustice is so great I guess I can but say, "Wow!".

Somewhere in today there was a gentle funeral service, some wonderful home Communion visits, some funeral prep which left me positive and blessed, some pastoral encounters and an evening spent with a great bunch of people as we studied and formed our individual theological positions and found ourselves united in it.

I was once told that life is like a giant slinging tile puzzle, you can't lift the tiles to set the order - the classic 'fifteen tile game' being something I think we all know - so you have to move in sometimes unexpected directions to get them into the right place; and when you do you have numbers or letters in the right sequence or a picture or whatever. This is what the Christian life is like with the objective being to see Jesus at the end of the game!

During the course of the day I was told on a few occasions that I am, "Not like 'normal vicars'!" As thankful as I am for being able to maintain my personal brand of weirdness, I have to say that I don't think I've met a normal cleric yet. So today I challenge one of those who had uttered the comment as to what they meant. At first they were a bit shocked and quickly told me that they meant it as a compliment. I responded by telling them that that's what I'd taken it as and was merely wondering what is was that made me 'abnormal'. "Not abnormal. Different!" Was the response; and before I could ask how, they told me. 

At the end of the encounter I found myself feeling blessed by who I am for in the words used to describe me were little squares on another person's puzzle and they were moving to show the face of Jesus becuase of their encounters with me. And through their encounters with me they were encountering Jesus, the Christ. 

This is all I life for, to make Christ known and to make for a passionate, engaged and redeemed image of the invisible God in every person I meet.

Please God, don't ever let me be whatever a normal cleric looks like, let be look and smell and be like  Jesus in the lives of those I encounter. May I be a pleasing aroma, a child who basks in the love of the Father at whose feet he plays, a man of the word and one who will always come alongside.

Lord for the day past I thank You.
For the noise and the mayhem that is me, I ask that you use what You can and recycle what distracts.
For those for whom I have been a blessing - thank You.
For those I have failed to help as I should - bless them and give me another opportunity.
For those who frustrate me and cause me to stumble by my wrong responses: bless them and change me.

As the song has it:
Lord You have my heart and I will search for yours: Jesus, take my life and lead me on.
Lord You have my heart and I will search for yours: Let me be to You a sacrifice.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Easter Season

Psalm 16
Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge; I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord, all my good depends on you.’ All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, upon those who are noble in heart. Though the idols are legion that many run after, their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, neither make mention of their names upon my lips. The Lord himself is my portion and my cup; in your hands alone is my fortune.

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

Psalm 30
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have raised me up and have not let my foes triumph over me.

O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you have healed me. You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit. Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; give thanks to his holy name. For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, his favour for a lifetime. Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

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

Then you hid your face from me and I was utterly dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried; to the Lord I made my supplication:
‘What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?
 Will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me;
 O Lord, be my helper.’

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness;
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Deuteronomy 3.18-end
At that time, I charged you as follows: ‘Although the Lord your God has given you this land to occupy, all your troops shall cross over armed as the vanguard of your Israelite kin. Only your wives, your children, and your livestock—I know that you have much livestock—shall stay behind in the towns that I have given to you. When the Lord gives rest to your kindred, as to you, and they too have occupied the land that the Lord your God is giving them beyond the Jordan, then each of you may return to the property that I have given to you.’ And I charged Joshua as well at that time, saying: ‘Your own eyes have seen everything that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so the Lord will do to all the kingdoms into which you are about to cross. Do not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’

At that time, too, I entreated the Lord, saying: ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your might; what god in heaven or on earth can perform deeds and mighty acts like yours! Let me cross over to see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and the Lebanon.’ But the Lord was angry with me on your account and would not heed me. The Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you! Never speak to me of this matter again! Go up to the top of Pisgah and look around you to the west, to the north, to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, because it is he who shall cross over at the head of this people and who shall secure their possession of the land that you will see.’ So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.

John 20.19-end
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The Collect
Almighty Father, you have given your only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through the merits 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.

Journal: living under this world's yellow sun

The day now past has been one of challenge, blessing and a little personal pain today; not bad for a day billed as "off'. It started with breakfast and the company of a friend. One of the people who will listen to me and make, not always comfortable, comments and observations and provide part of what in combination with others is an effective spiritual direction process.

It's good to reflect and make oneself vulnerable to people - something we clergy do too little of - for it makes us human and exposes our feet of clay. The problem I find that hits me most is that unlike Superman,  living under the yellow sun of earth  doesn't seem to give me super powers at all! In fact there are times when I struggle to leap small obstacles with a single bound and am not only slower than a crawling bullet, but am wounded by words too! Yes indeed you - I'm frail, fallible and human.

Part two of today came in the shape of a service which unexpectedly arrived at my doorstep. But it was soon sorted, done, and gave me a sense of blessing too. When everyone is human then only the few - in this case the one - is truly revealed to be super. And so God was brought into the presence of others and I was blessed to be able to bless. That's what days off are for: Blessings!

So by the time the afternoon was with me we (the two made one through marriage) decided to take in a 'wrinkly film' (£3 each with a tea or coffee handed to you - a real bargain indeed). The film:Collateral Beauty - billed by some an a little over emotional, self-indulgent, offering.

But I got much from it even though it was so very obvious, over-egged and had too many words at time; yet was still effective and, for me at least, at times little painful. It's not often people will find me mention Timmy, a son who was loved much and who, attracting a litany of health issues, graced this world for just shy of ten years.

Howard the Will Smith character) is, Scrooge like, visited by love, time and death as he struggles over the loss of a child. Now it wasn't so much the film that touched me and entered into places I thought were dealt with and boarded up but the opportunity to let words and images resonate with the crystal glass memories and pains that lie hidden deep within the boarded up places.

The problem we have with loss is that we either bury the feelings of pain and grief with our loved ones or we nod at them and pass them by on the other side of the road, hoping no to have to stop and engage with them (a bit like some of the people life conspires to bless us with :-) ).

So yesterday I grieved over the loss of a son and touched the heart of God, another Father who shares the loss of a child, and was equally touched and blessed by the whole painful encounter. Tomorrow I will stand with people and in the resonance of today will bring them to a place of grief, loss, celebration and continuance of life. This yellow sun and the vulnerability it brings to my every day is indeed a blessing for it illuminates the hand which holds me and makes me safe.

Film done, it was time to write funeral services and edit sound tracks so that they fit the bill for my trip to the Crem'. It is so easy to 'do' funerals as if they were a row of identical objects on a conveyor belt. But the time taken to craft words that speak of the life, the joys, the pain, which shape and mound us is essential. The simplicity of finding words for a treasure is overtaken by the opportunity to be an apologist for a life lived in painful experience and broken relationships. This is the joy and the challenge we encounter when in the company of another person's dead.

The day ended with wedding stuff - and boy do I struggle with weddings! Unlike funerals where people need a neighbour, someone who will come alongside and help make sense of things, weddings often turn out to be a long line of service providers with the cleric and a required, yet not always required part, of the whole thing. But for this one I am involved with people I am involved with and so it's part of the family rather than part of the package. And that's a joy I will enjoy this coming Saturday.

So another 'day off' ends and I have had fun and pain and revelation and more besides.

Lord, for all the facets of the day I give You thanks and praise.
For my dead, and the dead of others - I give you thanks and commend them to Your grace, love, care and mercy. Bring Your healing into the presence of those whose loved one I will do services for this week.
For those I have been a blessing to today: I thank You.
For those who have blessed me and shown me kindness - thank You for them.
Lord, bring me sleep and refreshment - may tomorrow be filled with encounter and opportunity to make Your love and life real in the people before me.
Lord, I love You,


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Easter Season

Mark the Evangelist

Psalm 37.23-41
When your steps are guided by the Lord and you delight in his way, Though you stumble, you shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds you fast by the hand. I have been young and now am old, yet never have I seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging their bread. All the day long they are generous in lending, and their children also shall be blest.

Depart from evil and do good and you shall abide for ever. For the Lord loves the thing that is right and will not forsake his faithful ones. The unjust shall be destroyed for ever, and the offspring of the wicked shall be rooted out. The righteous shall possess the land and dwell in it for ever.

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and their tongue speaks the thing that is right. The law of their God is in their heart and their footsteps shall not slide. The wicked spy on the righteous and seek occasion to slay them. The Lord will not leave them in their hand, nor let them be condemned when they are judged.

Wait upon the Lord and keep his way; he will raise you up to possess the land, and when the wicked are uprooted, you shall see it. I myself have seen the wicked in great power and flourishing like a tree in full leaf. I went by and lo, they were gone; I sought them, but they could nowhere be found. Keep innocence and heed the thing that is right, for that will bring you peace at the last.

But the sinners shall perish together, and the posterity of the wicked shall be rooted out. The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord shall stand by them and deliver them; he shall deliver them from the wicked and shall save them, because they have put their trust in him.

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

Let them praise the name of the Lord; for he commanded and they were created.
He made them fast for ever and ever; he gave them a law which shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and mist, tempestuous wind, fulfilling his word; Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars; Wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and birds on the wing; Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world; Young men and women, old and young together; let them praise the name of the Lord. For his name only is exalted, his splendour above earth and heaven.

He has raised up the horn of his people and praise for all his faithful servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near him.
Alleluia.

Isaiah 62.6-10
Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent.

You who remind the Lord, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth. The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink the wine for which you have laboured; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in my holy courts.

Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples.

Acts 12.25 - 13.13
Then after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark.

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

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

Then Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and returned to Jerusalem;

The Collect
Almighty God, who enlightened your holy Church through the inspired witness of your evangelist Saint Mark: grant that we, being firmly grounded in the truth of the gospel, may be faithful to its teaching both in word and deed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Monday, 24 April 2017

Journal: Trying not to look

Many years back there was a fad surrounding a piece of writing which went by the name 'desiderata' a word which translates from the Latin into 'things we need, desire or want' - a poem by Max Erhmann. It even made the record charts in the early seventies and graced my wall (alongside posters of Crick and Watson, William Shockley, Che Guevara and Oppenheimer) too.

It was the 'footprints' of its time and although I never heard anyone say 'Amen' after reading it in church, it influenced many of us during the era of the hippy (love and peace man!). But the words remain and resonate even to this day, even though I let the idiots, the foolish, the incompetent and the downright lazy rob me of them and the words of Jesus, the Christ, in my daily struggles. Tonight's reflections brought Erhmann's words to the front of the mind, so here they are:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Lord help me to look the other way and ignore those who would cause me to stumble. 
To pick my battles and to refrain from casting pearls before swine.
To leave the foolish to their folly rather than expend energy trying to polish a turd.
They are yours and, to be honest, you are most welcome to them as they build things of this world and seek applause where they should be seeking and making disciples.

The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.

As for me and my house - we will seek the Lord :-)

How will we pray this week?

It seems to me that so often people regard prayer as an opportunity to tell God what they want!

For many, prayer is the opportunity to return to the childhood days - when you wanted something, all we needed to do was . . .

Climb on his knee and tell Him what we wanted!

And for so many of us, this is the model of prayer we've adopted and used in our Christian lives.

The question has to be: How will you pray this week?

God knows our needs before we even ask. We pray to remind ourselves how important people and things are, not to tell God what we want Him to do.

Perhaps, for many of us, having lost sight of this can best be explained by this . . .


There are others of us who will be totally bound up in the formulaic ACTS - a great thing to teach people to pray, moving past the 'gimme, gimme.gimme' praying. But so often ACTS is the end point, not the starting point - so if that's what we think prayer is, then we need to grow our prayer life a bit more.



And of course there's that prayer we ought to be saying every day:


Let's try to pray for people and things in a different, more engaged, less demanding way this week and perhaps, where we can be the answer - we will determine to be the answer!


Can't make it to church - 23 April 2017

So here we are, Easter Sunday has been and gone and soon the response to, "He is risen. Alleluia!" will have dropped back to it's normal tired, "He is risen idea!". So let's make hay while the sun shine, eh?

Today we find Peter showing us how to give an answer of the hope that we have in Jesus, the Christ. It's called a 'kerygma' (ker ug ma) - a word that comes from the word 'herald' (in Greek that's 'kerux' ) and it's a model for all of us to take up, adopt and adapt and make our own. The answer we give for the hope that we have is both personal and tailored to the people listening to it - that's why Peter speaks as he does because he's using the understanding the people around him have (don't forget that he's in Jerusalem) and making the story accessible to them.

This is one of the reasons that so many of us struggle in sharing Jesus: we neither make it ours or tailor it to the people who are listening to us!

The 1 Peter reading is important as it is part of a complete picture we will be building up over the coming weeks. Today we find him speaking of God's great mercy - the coming, dying and rising of Jesus the Christ - by which we are born again: People of the second Adam, no longer of this world but in it.

We have, through the cross of Jesus, the Christ, become a new people! And that has to be worth a 'Hallelujah!'

We will see trials, troubles and tribulations but regardless of the battle's outcome - the war has been won for us by the sacrifice of the new Adam. Do I hear a 'hallelujah' ? Love Him, follow Him, learn about Him and proclaim Him to those around us. And surely, in the twinkling of an eye, he will be with us again - make it soon Lord, make it soon.

Here in first Peter the metaphor is of the devotion of the heart to God, both as it is refined, and in the joy it produces. This is faith. This is life in Christ. This is what 1 Peter is all about.

The Gospel is one of my favourites for we see Thomas join the disciples, who are still hiding in the same room they were on that Easter Sunday afternoon, 'seeing and believing'. So many people label Thomas 'the doubter' and yet he was the one in John (11.6) who was willing to head for Bethany with Jesus and die with him when the 'believers' weren't.

In a nutshell - doubt is not a sin, nor does it have to be something that weakens Church or us!

Doubt is the place where our faith is tested and made real. If you've never doubted then could it be that you might also never have fully believed?

Now that's a question for us all to to wrestle with, isn't it?

Some things need to be tested and challenged - as Christians we are people with brains who take things on faith and challenge them by thinking, study and the practice or reason. We do not 'leave our brains at the church door' - in fact I'd have to say that following like sheep is so often the province of the non-theists. If you don't believe me, ask those who oppose theistic thinking their reason and they will rarely give their own answer; instead they will roll out something one of their tiny gods have spouted - untested and repeated as if the words given were themselves the Gospel truth.

We give an answer for eh hope that we have - and we do it using study, reasons and rational thinking - even for the things which defy logic! Without it, we are not believers but foolish sheep.

So pick up your bibles, read theological(and other) books, ask questions and get stuck in to finding our how we might go about giving an answer to those that ask and develop some understanding as to what our faith is about and the person in whom faith is placed, eh?

The Collect
Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek the good of others and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace, to the praise of God the Father. Amen.




Acts 2.14a,22-32
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.

‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know - this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him,

“I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;  therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover, my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption.  You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”

‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.”

This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.


1 Peter 1.3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

John 20.19-31
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.




Post Communion Prayer
Lord God our Father, through our Saviour Jesus Christ you have assured your children of eternal life
and in baptism have made us one with him: deliver us from the death of sin and raise us to new life in your love, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.




Morning Prayer - Monday 24 April 2017

Easter Season

George, Martyr, Patron of England, c.304

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

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

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

The Lord looses those that are bound;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land; he upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.

The Lord shall reign for ever, your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Alleluia.

Joshua 1.1-9
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, ‘My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’

Ephesians 6.10-20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

The Collect
God of hosts, who so kindled the flame of love in the heart of your servant George that he bore witness to the risen Lord by his life and by his death: give us the same faith and power of love that we who rejoice in his triumphs may come to share with him the fullness of the resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Morning Prayer - Saturday 22 April 2017

Easter Season

Psalm 116
I love the Lord, for he has heard the voice of my supplication; because he inclined his ear to me on the day I called to him. The snares of death encompassed me; the pains of hell took hold of me; by grief and sorrow was I held. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I beg you, deliver my soul.’

Gracious is the Lord and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord watches over the simple; I was brought very low and he saved me. Turn again to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has been gracious to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

I believed that I should perish for I was sorely troubled; and I said in my alarm, ‘Everyone is a liar.’

How shall I repay the Lord for all the benefits he has given to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.
I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. O Lord, I am your servant, your servant, the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from my bonds. I will offer to you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord. I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the house of the Lord, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Alleluia.

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

Song of Solomon 8.5-7
Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?

Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your mother was in labour with you; there she who bore you was in labour.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.

John 11.17-44
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

The Collect
Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen.


Friday, 21 April 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 21 April 2017

Easter Season

Psalm 115
Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory, for the sake of your loving mercy and truth.Why should the nations say,‘Where is now their God?’

As for our God, he is in heaven; he does whatever he pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes have they, but cannot see;
They have ears, but cannot hear; noses have they, but cannot smell;
They have hands, but cannot feel; feet have they, but cannot walk; not a whisper do they make from their throats.

Those who make them shall become like them and so will all who put their trust in them.

But you, Israel, put your trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield. House of Aaron, trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield. You that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield.

The Lord has been mindful of us and he will bless us;
may he bless the house of Israel;
may he bless the house of Aaron;
May he bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great together.
May the Lord increase you more and more, you and your children after you.
May you be blest by the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth he has entrusted to his children. The dead do not praise the Lord, nor those gone down into silence; But we will bless the Lord, from this time forth for evermore.
Alleluia.

Psalm 149
Alleluia.
O sing to the Lord a new song; sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful. Let Israel rejoice in their maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king. Let them praise his name in the dance; let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre. For the Lord has pleasure in his people and adorns the poor with salvation.

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

Song of Solomon 7.10-8.4
I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields, and lodge in the villages; let us go out early to the vineyards, and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. The mandrakes give forth fragrance, and over our doors are all choice fruits,
new as well as old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.

O that you were like a brother to me, who nursed at my mother’s breast!
If I met you outside, I would kiss you, and no one would despise me. I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, and into the chamber of the one who bore me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranates. O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me!
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!

Luke 8.41-end
Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.

As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her haemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’

While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.’ When Jesus heard this, he replied, ‘Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.’ When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, ‘Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, ‘Child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.

The Collect
Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 20 April 2017

Easter Season

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

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

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

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

Praise him, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord; for he commanded and they were created. He made them fast for ever and ever; he gave them a law which shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and mist,
tempestuous wind, fulfilling his word;
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle,
creeping things and birds on the wing;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and women,
old and young together;
let them praise the name of the Lord.

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

Song of Solomon 5.2-6.3
I slept, but my heart was awake. Listen! my beloved is knocking.
‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is wet with dew,  my locks with the drops of the night.’

I had put off my garment; how could I put it on again?
I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them?
My beloved thrust his hand into the opening, and my inmost being yearned for him.

I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh,my fingers with liquid myrrh, upon the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and was gone. My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but did not find him; I called him, but he gave no answer. Making their rounds in the city the sentinels found me; they beat me, they wounded me, they took away my mantle, those sentinels of the walls. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, tell him this: I am faint with love.

What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women?
What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you thus adjure us?

My beloved is all radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand.
His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves beside springs of water, bathed in milk, fitly set.
His cheeks are like beds of spices, yielding fragrance.
His lips are lilies, distilling liquid myrrh.
His arms are rounded gold, set with jewels.
His body is ivory work, encrusted with sapphires.
His legs are alabaster columns, set upon bases of gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars.
His speech is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Where has your beloved gone, O fairest among women?
Which way has your beloved turned,that we may seek him with you?
My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock among the lilies.

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

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

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 19 April 2017

Easter Season

Psalm 113
Alleluia.
Give praise, you servants of the Lord, O praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the Lord be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations and his glory above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God, that has his throne so high, yet humbles himself to behold the things of heaven and earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ashes, to set them with princes, with the princ es of his people.
He gives the barren woman a place in the house and makes her a joyful mother of children.
Alleluia.

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

Song of Solomon 3
Upon my bed at night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.
‘I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares;I will seek him whom my soul loves.’
I sought him, but found him not. The sentinels found me, as they went about in the city.
‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves?’
Scarcely had I passed them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!
What is that coming up from the wilderness, like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of the merchant?
Look, it is the litter of Solomon!
Around it are sixty mighty men of the mighty men of Israel, all equipped with swords and expert in war, each with his sword at his thigh because of alarms by night. King Solomon made himself a palanquin from the wood of Lebanon. He made its posts of silver, its back of gold, its seat of purple; its interior was inlaid with love.
Daughters of Jerusalem, come out. Look, O daughters of Zion, at King Solomon, at the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, on the day of the gladness of his heart.

Matthew 28.16-end
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

The Collect
Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen.