Monday, 24 July 2017

Morning Prayer - Monday 24 July 2017

Psalm 123
To you I lift up my eyes, to you that are enthroned in the heavens. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, or the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of the arrogant, and of the contempt of the proud.

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

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

Psalm 125
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever. As the hills stand about Jerusalem, so the Lord stands round about his people, from this time forth for evermore.

The sceptre of wickedness shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous turn their hands to evil. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are true of heart. Those who turn aside to crooked ways the Lord shall take away with the evildoers; but let there be peace upon Israel.

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

Restore again our fortunes, O Lord, as the river beds of the desert. Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed, will come back with shouts of joy,

Ezekiel 10.1-19
Then I looked, and above the dome that was over the heads of the cherubim there appeared above them something like a sapphire, in form resembling a throne. He said to the man clothed in linen, ‘Go within the wheel-work underneath the cherubim; fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.’ He went in as I looked on. Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the house when the man went in; and a cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord rose up from the cherub to the threshold of the house; the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the glory of the Lord. The sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.

When he commanded the man clothed in linen, ‘Take fire from within the wheel-work, from among the cherubim’, he went in and stood beside a wheel. And a cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim, took some of it, and put it into the hands of the man clothed in linen, who took it and went out. The cherubim appeared to have the form of a human hand under their wings.

I looked, and there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub; and the appearance of the wheels was like gleaming beryl. And as for their appearance, the four looked alike, something like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved; but in whatever direction the front wheel faced, the others followed without veering as they moved. Their entire body, their rims, their spokes, their wings, and the wheels—the wheels of the four of them—were full of eyes all round. As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing ‘the wheel-work’. Each one had four faces: the first face was that of the cherub, the second face was that of a human being, the third that of a lion, and the fourth that of an eagle.

The cherubim rose up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the river Chebar. When the cherubim moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to rise up from the earth, the wheels at their side did not veer. When they stopped, the others stopped, and when they rose up, the others rose up with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in them.

Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house and stopped above the cherubim. The cherubim lifted up their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight as they went out with the wheels beside them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord; and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

2 Corinthians 6.1-7.1
As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,
‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you,    and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
‘I will live in them and walk among them,  and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
 Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord,
 and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be your father,
 and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.

The Collect
Creator God, you made us all in your image: may we discern you in all that we see, and serve you in all that we do; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.




Saturday, 22 July 2017

Morning Prayer, Saturday 22 July 2017

Mary Magdalene

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 32
Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered.
Happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

For I held my tongue; my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. Your hand was heavy upon me day and night; my moisture was dried up like the drought in summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and my iniquity I did not hide.
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful make their prayers to you in time of trouble; in the great water flood, it shall not reach them. You  are a place for me to hide in; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance.
‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go;
 I will guide you with my eye.
 Be not like horse and mule which have no understanding;
 whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle,
 or else they will not stay near you.’

Great tribulations remain for the wicked, but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord.

Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

Psalm 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.

1 Samuel 16.14-23
Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. And Saul’s servants said to him, ‘See now, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skilful in playing the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better.’ So Saul said to his servants, ‘Provide for me someone who can play well, and bring him to me.’ One of the young men answered, ‘I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skilful in playing, a man of valour, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him.’ So Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, ‘Send me your son David who is with the sheep.’ Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, and sent them by his son David to Saul. And David came to Saul, and entered his service. Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armour-bearer. Saul sent to Jesse, saying, ‘Let David remain in my service, for he has found favour in my sight.’ And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

Luke 8.1-3
Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

The Collect
Almighty God, whose Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of mind and body and called her to be a witness to his resurrection: forgive our sins and heal us by your grace, that we may serve you in the power of his risen life; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 20 July 2017

Margaret of Antioch, Martyr, 4th century
Bartolomé de las Casas, Apostle to the Indies, 1566

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

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

Psalm 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.

Ezekiel 3.12-end
Then the spirit lifted me up, and as the glory of the Lord rose from its place, I heard behind me the sound of loud rumbling; it was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, that sounded like a loud rumbling. The spirit lifted me up and bore me away; I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the Lord being strong upon me. I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who lived by the river Chebar. And I sat there among them, stunned, for seven days.

At the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, I have made you a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, and you give them no warning, and do not speak to warn the wicked from their wicked way, in order to save their life, those wicked persons shall die for their iniquity; but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness, or from their wicked way, they shall die for their iniquity; but you will have saved your life. Again, if the righteous turn from their righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before them, they shall die; because you have not warned them, they shall die for their sin, and their righteous deeds that they have done shall not be remembered; but their blood I will require at your hand. If, however, you warn the righteous not to sin, and they do not sin, they shall surely live, because they took warning; and you will have saved your life.

Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there; and he said to me, Rise up, go out into the valley, and there I will speak with you. So I rose up and went out into the valley; and the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. The spirit entered into me, and set me on my feet; and he spoke with me and said to me: Go, shut yourself inside your house. As for you, mortal, cords shall be placed on you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people; and I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be speechless and unable to reprove them; for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God’; let those who will hear, hear; and let those who refuse to hear, refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

2 Corinthians 3
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ towards God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, chiselled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory!

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

The Collect
Almighty God, send down upon your Church the riches of your Spirit, and kindle in all who minister the gospel your countless gifts of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 19 July 2017

Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and his sister,
Macrina, Deaconess, Teachers of the Faith, c.394 and c.379 

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.

Ezekiel 2.3-3.11
He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them. And you, O mortal, do not be afraid of them, and do not be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns surround you and you live among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words, and do not be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house.

But you, mortal, hear what I say to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you. I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it. He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe.

He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.

He said to me: Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them. For you are not sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel—not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to them, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me; because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. See, I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads.

Like the hardest stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not fear them or be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. He said to me: Mortal, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart and hear with your ears; then go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them. Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God’; whether they hear or refuse to hear.

2 Corinthians 2.5-end
But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent—not to exaggerate it—to all of you. This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said farewell to them and went on to Macedonia.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.


The Collect
Lord of eternity, creator of all things, in your Son Jesus Christ you open for us the way to resurrection that we may enjoy your bountiful goodness: may we who celebrate your servants Gregory and Macrina press onwards in faith to your boundless love and ever wonder at the miracle of your presence among us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 18 July 2017

Elizabeth Ferard, first Deaconess of the Church of England , Founder of the Community of St Andrew, 1883 

Psalm 106
Alleluia.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his faithfulness endures for ever. Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord or show forth all his praise?

Blessed are those who observe what is right and always do what is just. Remember me, O Lord, in the favour you bear for your people; visit me in the day of your salvation; That I may see the prosperity of your chosen and rejoice in the gladness of your people, and exult with your inheritance.

We have sinned like our forebears; we have done wrong and dealt wickedly. In Egypt they did not consider your wonders, nor remember the abundance of your faithful love; they rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. But he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his power to be known. 

He rebuked the Red Sea and it was dried up; so he led them through the deep as through the wilderness. He saved them from the adversary’s hand and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. As for those that troubled them, the waters overwhelmed them; there was not one of them left.

Then they believed his words and sang aloud his praise. But soon they forgot his deeds and would not wait for his counsel. A craving seized them in the wilderness, and they put God to the test in the desert. He gave them their desire, but sent a wasting sickness among them. They grew jealous of Moses in the camp and of Aaron, the holy one of the Lord. So the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and covered the company of Abiram. A fire was kindled in their company; the flame burnt up the wicked.

They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image; Thus they exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that feeds on hay. They forgot God their saviour, who had done such great things in Egypt, Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham and fearful things at the Red Sea. So he would have destroyed them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath from consuming them.

Then they scorned the Promised Land and would not believe his word, But murmured in their tents and would not heed the voice of the Lord. So he lifted his hand against them and swore to overthrow them in the wilderness, To disperse their descendants among the nations, and to scatter them throughout the lands.

They joined themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to the dead. They provoked him to anger with their evil deeds and a plague broke out among them. Then Phinehas stood up and interceded and so the plague was stayed. This was counted to him for righteousness throughout all generations for ever.

They angered him also at the waters of Meribah, so that Moses suffered for their sake; For they so embittered his spirit that he spoke rash words with his lips. They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them. They mingled with the nations and learned to follow their ways, So that they worshipped their idols, which became to them a snare. Their own sons and daughters they sacrificed to evil spirits.

They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, Which they offered to the idols of Canaan, and the land was defiled with blood. Thus were they polluted by their actions, and in their wanton deeds went whoring after other gods. Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, and he abhorred his inheritance.

He gave them over to the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. So their enemies oppressed them and put them in subjection under their hand. Many a time did he deliver them, but they rebelled through their own devices and were brought down through their wickedness.

Nevertheless, he saw their adversity, when he heard their lamentation. He remembered his covenant with them and relented according to the greatness of his faithful love. He made them also to be pitied
by all who had taken them captive.

Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting and to everlasting; and let all the people say, Amen.
Alleluia.

Ezekiel 1.15-2.2
As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. Their rims were tall and awesome, for the rims of all four were full of eyes all round. When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

Over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a dome, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads. Under the dome their wings were stretched out straight, one towards another; and each of the creatures had two wings covering its body. When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army; when they stopped, they let down their wings. And there came a voice from above the dome over their heads; when they stopped, they let down their wings.

And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form. Upwards from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all round; and downwards from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendour all round. Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendour all round. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking.
He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me.

2 Corinthians 1.15-2.4
Since I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double favour; I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been ‘Yes and No.’ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not ‘Yes and No’; but in him it is always ‘Yes.’ For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God. But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment.

But I call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth. I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.

So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. For I wrote to you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

The Collect 
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified: hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Monday, 17 July 2017

Morning Prayer - Monday 17 July 2017

Psalm 98
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things. His own right hand and his holy arm have won for him the victory. The Lord has made known his salvation; his deliverance has he openly shown in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his mercy and faithfulness towards the house of Israel, and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Sound praises to the Lord, all the earth; break into singing and make music. Make music to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the voice of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn sound praises before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea thunder and all that fills it, the world and all that dwell upon it.
Let the rivers clap their hands and let the hills ring out together before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth. In righteousness shall he judge the world and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 99
The Lord is king: let the peoples tremble; he is enthroned above the cherubim: let the earth shake.
The Lord is great in Zion and high above all peoples.
Let them praise your name, which is great and awesome; the Lord our God is holy.  Mighty king, who loves justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the Lord our God; bow down before his footstool, for he is holy.

Moses and Aaron among his priests and Samuel among those who call upon his name, they called upon the Lord and he answered them. He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud; they kept his testimonies and the law that he gave them. You answered them, O Lord our God; you were a God who forgave them and pardoned them for their offences.
Exalt the Lord our God and worship him upon his holy hill, for the Lord our God is holy.

Psalm 101
I will sing of faithfulness and justice; to you, O Lord, will I sing. Let me be wise in the way that is perfect: when will you come to me?

I will walk with purity of heart within the walls of my house.
I will not set before my eyes a counsel that is evil.
I abhor the deeds of unfaithfulness; hey shall not cling to me.

A crooked heart shall depart from me; I will not know a wicked person. One who slanders a neighbour in secret I will quickly put to silence. Haughty eyes and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me. One who walks in the way that is pure shall be my servant. There shall not dwell in my house one that practises deceit. One who utters falsehood shall not continue in my sight.

Morning by morning will I put to silence all the wicked in the land, To cut off from the city of the Lord all those who practise evil.

Ezekiel 1.1-14
In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was on him there.

As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire. The living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning.

2 Corinthians 1.1-14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted to us through the prayers of many.

Indeed, this is our boast, the testimony of our conscience: we have behaved in the world with frankness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God—and all the more towards you. For we write to you nothing other than what you can read and also understand; I hope you will understand until the end—as you have already understood us in part—that on the day of the Lord Jesus we are your boast even as you are our boast.

The Collect
Almighty God, send down upon your Church the riches of your Spirit, and kindle in all who minister the gospel your countless gifts of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Morning Prayer - 13 July 2017

Psalm 90
Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth, or the earth and the world were formed, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust and say: ‘Turn back, O children of earth.’

For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday, which passes like a watch in the night. You sweep them away like a dream; they fade away suddenly like the grass. In the morning it is green and flourishes; in the evening it is dried up and withered.

For we consume away in your displeasure; we are afraid at your wrathful indignation. You have set our misdeeds before you and our secret sins in the light of your countenance. When you are angry, all our days are gone; our years come to an end like a sigh.

The days of our life are three score years and ten, or if our strength endures, even four score; yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow, for they soon pass away and we are gone. Who regards the power of your wrath and your indignation like those who fear you?

So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

Turn again, O Lord; how long will you delay?
Have compassion on your servants.

Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Give us gladness for the days you have afflicted us, and for the years in which we have seen adversity.

Show your servants your works, and let your glory be over their children.

May the gracious favour of the Lord our God be upon us; prosper our handiwork; O prosper the work of our hands.

Psalm 92
It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; To tell of your love early in the morning and of your faithfulness in the night-time, Upon the ten-stringed instrument, upon the harp, and to the melody of the lyre. For you, Lord, have made me glad by your acts, and I sing aloud at the works of your hands.

O Lord, how glorious are your works!
Your thoughts are very deep. The senseless do not know, nor do fools understand, That though the wicked sprout like grass and all the workers of iniquity flourish, It is only to be destroyed for ever; but you, O Lord, shall be exalted for evermore. For lo, your enemies, O Lord, lo, your enemies shall perish, and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild oxen; I am anointed with fresh oil. My eyes will look down on my foes; my ears shall hear the ruin of the evildoers who rise up against me.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon. Such as are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be vigorous and in full leaf; That they may show that the Lord is true; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Job 40
And the Lord said to Job:
 'Shall a fault-finder contend with the Almighty?
  Anyone who argues with God must respond.’

Then Job answered the Lord:
 ‘See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
   I lay my hand on my mouth.
   I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but will proceed no further.’

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
  ‘Gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you declare to me.
   Will you even put me in the wrong?
   Will you condemn me that you may be justified?
   Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?

   Deck yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendour.
   Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on all who are proud, and abase them.
   Look on all who are proud, and bring them low; tread down the wicked where they stand.
   Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below.
   Then I will also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can give you victory.

   Look at Behemoth, which I made just as I made you; it eats grass like an ox.
   Its strength is in its loins, and its power in the muscles of its belly.
   It makes its tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are knit together.
   Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like bars of iron.

   It is the first of the great acts of God - only its Maker can approach it with the sword.
   For the mountains yield food for it where all the wild animals play.
   Under the lotus plants it lies, in the covert of the reeds and in the marsh.
   The lotus trees cover it for shade; the willows of the wadi surround it.
   Even if the river is turbulent, it is not frightened; it is confident though Jordan rushes against its mouth.
   Can one take it with hooks or pierce its nose with a snare?

Romans 15.22-end
This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things.

So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain; and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

The Collect
Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Monday, 10 July 2017

Morning Prayer - 10 July 2017

Psalm 80
Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, you that led Joseph like a flock; Shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim, before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your mighty strength and come to our salvation.
Turn us again, O God; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry at your people’s prayer?
You feed them with the bread of tears; you give them abundance of tears to drink. You have made us the derision of our neighbours and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
Turn us again, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You made room around it, and when it had taken root, it filled the land. The hills were covered with its shadow and the cedars of God by its boughs. It stretched out its branches to the Sea and its tendrils to the River. Why then have you broken down its wall, so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes The wild boar out of the wood tears it off, and all the insects of the field devour it.
Turn again, O God of hosts, look down from heaven and behold;

Cherish this vine which your right hand has planted, and the branch that you made so strong for yourself. Let those who burnt it with fire, who cut it down, perish at the rebuke of your countenance. Let your hand be upon the man at your right hand, the son of man you made so strong for yourself. And so will we not go back from you; give us life, and we shall call upon your name.
Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Psalm 82
God has taken his stand in the council of heaven; in the midst of the gods he gives judgement:
‘How long will you judge unjustly and show such favour to the wicked?
‘You were to judge the weak and the orphan; defend the right of the humble and needy;
‘Rescue the weak and the poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
‘They have no knowledge or wisdom; they walk on still in darkness:
  all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
‘Therefore I say that though you are gods and all of you children of the Most High,
‘Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals and fall like one of their princes.’

Arise, O God and judge the earth, for it is you that shall take all nations for your possession.

Job 33
 But now, hear my speech, O Job, and listen to all my words.
 See, I open my mouth; the tongue in my mouth speaks.
 My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely.
 The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
 Answer me, if you can; set your words in order before me; take your stand.
 See, before God I am as you are; I too was formed from a piece of clay.
 No fear of me need terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy on you.

 Surely, you have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard the sound of your words.
 You say, “I am clean, without transgression; I am pure, and there is no iniquity in me.
 Look, he finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy;
 he puts my feet in the stocks, and watches all my paths.”

 But in this you are not right. I will answer you: God is greater than any mortal.
 Why do you contend against him, saying, “He will answer none of my words”?
 For God speaks in one way, and in two, though people do not perceive it.
 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on mortals,
 while they slumber on their beds, then he opens their ears,
 and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn them aside from their deeds,
 and keep them from pride, to spare their souls from the Pit,
 their lives from traversing the River.
 They are also chastened with pain upon their beds, and with continual strife in their bones,
 so that their lives loathe bread, and their appetites dainty food.
 Their flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen; and their bones, once invisible, now stick out.
 Their souls draw near the Pit, and their lives to those who bring death.
 Then, if there should be for one of them an angel, a mediator, one of a thousand,
 one who declares a person upright,  and he is gracious to that person, and says,
   “Deliver him from going down into the Pit; I have found a ransom;
    let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigour”;
    then he prays to God, and is accepted by him, he comes into his presence with joy,
    and God repays him for his righteousness.
    That person sings to others and says,
      “I sinned, and perverted what was right, and it was not paid back to me.
       He has redeemed my soul from going down to the Pit, and my life shall see the light.”

 God indeed does all these things, twice, three times, with mortals,
 to bring back their souls from the Pit, so that they may see the light of life.
 Pay heed, Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.
 If you have anything to say, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you.
 If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.’

Romans 14.13-end
Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.

Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

The Collect
Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Can't make it to church - 9 July 2017

The Zechariah reading is for me (and hopefully others) a walk down memory lane as I find Jesus and Palm Sunday racing into my mind's eye and the words of Handel's Messiah echoing in my ears (yes, I know it's silent!). And that's right and fitting for this is a real 'Messiah' rich passage.

Those who stood opposed to God's people have been brought down but there's more, not only have they been defeated but the promised King is portrayed, entering Jerusalem in triumph and riding on a donkey! A donkey????

It was all going so well until the donkey turned up wasn't it? But rather than something farcical as the donkey rather than a big Arabian steed rigged out in its finery might suggest, what we have before us is a humble King rather than a poser!

One of the things that bugs me is the Holy Roman Empire and what happens to Church because of it. One minute we are all about humility and love and Grace and then it;s all about power and wealth and influence. All the gentle, loving, gave-filled stuff goes out of the window. This is a call to set aside all the power language and living and instead get out there and proclaim God's peace to the world we inhabit until the shalom of jesus, the Christ, is made real.

So let's get the shalominess flowing, because when we do we will find healing, restoration and God's kingdom made manifest in all the created world. After all, this is what jesus died to make real isn't it?

The Romans presents us with a real challenge as it brings before us what can often be one of the hardest words in the English language: 'NO!"

We know what we want and yet we do what we do not want? What a contrary bunch of people we are!

At Bible college we got really bound up in this passage as we decided what paul was saying about himself and us together. But I think it's simpler than the theologians might have had me believe for, at the end of the day, what this passage is about has parallels in the excesses we see in the live of those who have are addicted to certain things.

I have friends who told me that taking drugs open their minds and enriched their lives and yet in the end they were controlled and bound by the very things that were supposedly going to set them free. The were doing the things they knew to be wrong because of the control they had given to it.

A young woman in our area once told us how she equated sex with love and therefore sex set her free to love, and be loved more; and yet eventually she found herself doing things (and having things done to her) because what she though would set her free had made her a prisoner trapped in a cell of her own making.

These two examples show how weanifest in our lives - and if we call upon the Lord He will empower us and lead us into the paths of righteousness.

What a great promise that is, isn't it? The enemy will be defeated and the humble King will enter in in triumph into our lives.

Hallelujah or what?

Which brings us to the Matthew reading and the two points I'd like you to take from it (for there are a number of possible messages) are this:

We are all like the children playing and fighting in the street that this passage draws on. We, today, just like then, struggle with the things of God and of Jesus, His Son and Messiah. hearing the call they find themselves splitting hairs and being divided; just like those struggling to decide whether it's hospital or Mums and Dads (weddings or funerals) they want to play and as a result they end up playing neither of them.

Unless we make a choice we are destined to do nothing and to find ourselves still arguing when the Lord returns.  So listen to what is on offer and make your choice before it's too late.

and the second point, which resonates with the Romans rather nicely is this:

Jesus came to take upon Himself the burden of our sin. He offers to come alongside and to share the load. All too often we  find the world and the false people in it portraying themselves as one who will come alongside and help actually add to the burden that is upon us. Jesus speaks in Matthew of those leaders who burden the people - This is not what jesus does, He truly takes away our sins and all the religious baggage that so many would like to lay upon us.

Truly, those whom the Son sets free are free indeed. So what we need to do is 'Choose life' in Jesus, for in Him we will find we have it in abundance. So be in partnership (yoked) now rather than in condemnation later. Better an obedient relatio make sin ours and pass control over us to it to do with us as it pleases. Our body takes upon itself the things of the flesh (where 'flesh' means the sinful stuff we submit our bodies too). try as we might we, having handed ourselves over to sin, need the salvation won for us by the Christ to be made real and mnship which brings restoration and lightness the load now than something much less beneficial and harder to bear later!

The Collect
Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Zechariah 9:9-12
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, He will proclaim peace to the nations
His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

Romans 7:13-25
Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means!
Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Are we playing the same game?

Matthew 11:16-30
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, 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, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.”


Post Communion Prayer
Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken, you have fed us at the table of life and hope: teach us the ways of gentleness and peace, that all the world may acknowledge the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Abuses of Trust and Power: whose problem is it?

There are many (too many) who would respond to this question with the answer, "The Church's".

Is this a fair response?  The answer has to be, "Nah, don't think so!"

There there are many stories relating to sexual impropriety and abuse of trust and power doing the rounds of late, and they pose a number of questions and even more learning outcomes. To set for ourselves some sort of datum from which we can work and perhaps establish some norms and set standards, let us reflect on the media times that have come into my consciousness so far this year (you will undoubtedly know of others, but let's see where this takes us before we start posting names and other cases, eh?):

The Gibb report (An abuse of faith) which relates to a former Bishop Peter Ball and what appears to be a fair degree of complicity from senior clerics and the institution.

The news stories relating to the Revd Andrew Sloane, who misappropriated £14,500 of church funds to pay for rent boys.

The Netflix series 'Keepers' and the awful tales of complicity, cover-up and betrayal by the Catholic church in Baltimore relating to sexual abuse and the murder of Nun.

The film 'Philomena' - a true story of forced adoption,  abuse of power and trust, cover-up and lies from the Catholic Church relating to Philomena Lee and the search for her son, Anthony.

The data handed to an Australian commission on abuse in the Catholic church suggesting that in the period 1950 - 2010 some 1,265 Catholic priests, brothers and nuns had their names passed on to some 93 Catholic authorities as abusers by 4,444 people. Following the commission's report, Australia's senior cleric, Cardinal George Pell, was quoted as saying, "The Church had made 'enormous mistakes' and 'catastrophic' choices by refusing to believe abused children, shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish and over-relying on counseling of priests to solve the problem."

Sadly,  just over a week ago Cardinal Pell was charged  with a number of historic sex offences and is awaiting a visit to the magistrate's court. Regardless of the outcome, that's sure to open a bigger can of worms!

This week I've read of an eighty year old Muslim man (Mohammed Haji Sadiq) who apparently  taught at a Cardiff' mosque and abused children there for something up to thirty years before being caught and convicted.

There's been numerous football coaches accused of sexual (and other) abuse this year.

A doctor associated with US Gymnastics has been committed for trial for sexual abuse of some of those under his care. There was also a recent piece in the news of a Canadian ski coach who also abused those he taught.

The Rochdale sexual abuse scandal, complete with cover-ups, looking the other way by authorities and the accusations that this was an 'Asian' problem (not helped by the "Rotherham' and other cases in the news) makes for poor and uncomfortable reading. Add to this the Jersey care home scandal and the abuse by foster parents, by natural parents, by adoptive parents, family members and friend of the family, the abuse by media stars, DJs, and entertainers and what do we have?


Only this week a Reigate Scout leader was jailed for 26 years for sexual abuse and I've found another eight stories relating to Scouting. These were all historical, the reason for this being that the organisation, being aware of past problems, has become more proactive and alert to safeguarding needs..

The BBC's Panorama programme recently looked at abuse in the uniformed cadet organisations. Statistics produced during the programmes the statistics on the left were quoted.


The reality is that sexual (and other) abuse can occur in every area of life and the perpetrator can be almost anyone. I remember the sixties when the jokes about sexual abuse and Scout leaders were always going the rounds and now they are one of the better examples of safeguarding practice.

My problem with abuse, regardless of what form it takes or the group in which it has occurred, is the breach of trust that causes it to happen and the institutional deceit that seems to raise its ugly head to work at concealing the sin (for sin it is) and further destroy any remaining trust in the organisation that might have existed.

Worse still is the fact that people judge Jesus and the Church as a whole when individuals act to abuse. Now I have to say that we, as the Gibbs report shows, don't help ourselves in this area and the lies, cover up, misdirection and ignoring of the abused only seek to show Church to be full of hypocrites and liars.

BUT NOT EVERY CHRISTIAN DESERVES OR FITS THIS LABEL!


We need to be vigilant but not paranoid.

We need to be trusting but not naive.

We need to protect the weak, the vulnerable and the young - remembering that everyone is vulnerable at some time in their life.

Gentle as doves, cunning as serpents and protective of all as if they were our own.

Pax

Morning Prayer - 8 July 2017

Psalm 76
In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. At Salem is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. There broke he the flashing arrows of the bow, the shield, the sword and the weapons of war.

In the light of splendour you appeared, glorious from the eternal mountains. The boastful were plundered; they have slept their sleep; none of the warriors can lift their hand. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot fell stunned.

Terrible are you in majesty: who can stand before your face when you are angry?
You caused your judgement to be heard from heaven; the earth trembled and was still, When God arose to judgement, to save all the meek upon earth.

You crushed the wrath of the peoples and bridled the wrathful remnant.
Make a vow to the Lord your God and keep it; let all who are round about him bring gifts to him that is worthy to be feared. He breaks down the spirit of princes and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 79
O God, the heathen have come into your heritage; your holy temple have they defiled and made Jerusalem a heap of stones. The dead bodies of your servants they have given to be food for the birds of the air, and the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the field. Their blood have they shed like water on every side of Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become the taunt of our neighbours, the scorn and derision of those that are round about us.

Lord, how long will you be angry, for ever?
How long will your jealous fury blaze like fire?
Pour out your wrath upon the nations that have not known you, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon your name. For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his dwelling place.

Remember not against us our former sins; let your compassion make haste to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and wipe away our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the heathen say,
‘Where is now their God?’

Let vengeance for your servants’ blood that is shed be known among the nations in our sight.
Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you, and by your mighty arm preserve those who are condemned to die.

May the taunts with which our neighbours taunted you, Lord, return sevenfold into their bosom.
But we that are your people and the sheep of your pasture will give you thanks for ever, and tell of your praise from generation to generation.

Job 32
So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became angry. He was angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God; he was angry also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, though they had declared Job to be in the wrong. Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job, because they were older than he. But when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouths of these three men, he became angry.

Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite answered:
 I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.
 I said, “Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.”
 But truly it is the spirit in a mortal, the breath of the Almighty, that makes for understanding.
 It is not the old that are wise, nor the aged that understand what is right.
 Therefore I say, “Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.”

 See, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say.
 I gave you my attention, but there was in fact no one that confuted Job,
 no one among you that answered his words.
 Yet do not say, “We have found wisdom; God may vanquish him, not a human.”
 He has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches.

 They are dismayed, they answer no more; they have not a word to say.
 And am I to wait, because they do not speak, because they stand there, and answer no more?
 I also will give my answer; I also will declare my opinion.
 For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me.
 My heart is indeed like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins, it is ready to burst.
 I must speak, so that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer.
 I will not show partiality to any person or use flattery towards anyone.
 For I do not know how to flatter - or my Maker would soon put an end to me!

Romans 14.1-12
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written,
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

The Collect
God our saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and in power; hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Friday, 7 July 2017

Morning Prayer - 7 July 2017

Psalm 55
Hear my prayer, O God; hide not yourself from my petition. Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaining. I am alarmed at the voice of the enemy and at the clamour of the wicked; For they would bring down evil upon me and are set against me in fury. My heart is disquieted within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and a horrible dread has overwhelmed me.

And I said:
‘O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest.
 Then would I flee far away and make my lodging in the wilderness.
 I would make haste to escape from the stormy wind and tempest.’

Confuse their tongues, O Lord, and divide them, for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go about on her walls; mischief and trouble are in her midst. Wickedness walks in her streets; oppression and guile never leave her squares.

For it was not an open enemy that reviled me, for then I could have borne it; Nor was it my adversary that puffed himself up against me, for then I would have hid myself from him. But it was even you, one like myself, my companion and my own familiar friend. We took sweet counsel together and walked with the multitude in the house of God. Let death come suddenly upon them; let them go down alive to the Pit; for wickedness inhabits their dwellings, their very hearts.

As for me, I will call upon God and the Lord will deliver me. In the evening and morning and at noonday I will pray and make my supplication, and he shall hear my voice. He shall redeem my soul in peace from the battle waged against me, for many have come upon me. God, who is enthroned of old, will hear and bring them down; they will not repent, for they have no fear of God.

My companion stretched out his hands against his friend and has broken his covenant; His speech was softer than butter, though war was in his heart; his words were smoother than oil, yet are they naked swords. Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you, and will not let the righteous fall for ever. But those that are bloodthirsty and deceitful, O God, you will bring down to the pit of destruction. They shall not live out half their days, but my trust shall be in you, O Lord.

Job 31
‘I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin?
 What would be my portion from God above, and my heritage from the Almighty on high?
 Does not calamity befall the unrighteous, and disaster the workers of iniquity?
 Does he not see my ways, and number all my steps?

 If I have walked with falsehood, and my foot has hurried to deceit -
 let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity! -
 if my step has turned aside from the way, and my heart has followed my eyes,
 and if any spot has clung to my hands; then let me sow, and another eat;
 and let what grows for me be rooted out.

 If my heart has been enticed by a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbour’s door;
 then let my wife grind for another, and let other men kneel over her.
 For that would be a heinous crime; that would be a criminal offence;
 for that would be a fire consuming down to Abaddon, and it would burn to the root all my harvest.

 If I have rejected the cause of my male or female slaves, when they brought a complaint against me;
 what then shall I do when God rises up?
 When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him?
 Did not he who made me in the womb make them?
 And did not one fashion us in the womb?

 If I have withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
 or have eaten my morsel alone, and the orphan has not eaten from it - for from my youth I reared the orphan like a father,
 and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow - if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
 or a poor person without covering,  whose loins have not blessed me,
 and who was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have raised my hand against the orphan,
 because I saw I had supporters at the gate; then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,
 and let my arm be broken from its socket.
 For I was in terror of calamity from God, and I could not have faced his majesty.

 If I have made gold my trust, or called fine gold my confidence; if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great,
 or because my hand had acquired much; if I have looked at the sun when it shone,
 or the moon moving in splendour, and my heart has been secretly enticed,
 and my mouth has kissed my hand; this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges,
 for I should have been false to God above.

 If I have rejoiced at the ruin of those who hated me, or exulted when evil overtook them—
 I have not let my mouth sin by asking for their lives with a curse -
 if those of my tent ever said, “O that we might be sated with his flesh!” -
 the stranger has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveller -
 if I have concealed my transgressions as others do, by hiding my iniquity in my bosom,
 because I stood in great fear of the multitude, and the contempt of families terrified me,
 so that I kept silence, and did not go out of doors - O that I had one to hear me!

 (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!) O that I had the indictment written by my adversary!
 Surely I would carry it on my shoulder; I would bind it on me like a crown;
 I would give him an account of all my steps; like a prince I would approach him.

 If my land has cried out against me, and its furrows have wept together;
 if I have eaten its yield without payment, and caused the death of its owners;
 let thorns grow instead of wheat, and foul weeds instead of barley.’

The words of Job are ended.

Romans 13.8-end
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.
Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy.

Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The Collect
God our saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and in power; hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Morning Prayer - 6 July 2017

Thomas More, Scholar, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Reformation Martyrs, 1535

Psalm 78.1-39

Hear my teaching, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will pour forth mysteries from of old, Such as we have heard and known, which our forebears have told us. We will not hide from their children, but will recount to generations to come, the praises of the Lord and his power and the wonderful works he has done.

He laid a solemn charge on Jacob and made it a law in Israel, which he commanded them to teach their children, That the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn, that they in turn might tell it to their children; So that they might put their trust in God and not forget the deeds of God, but keep his commandments, And not be like their forebears, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The people of Ephraim, armed with the bow, turned back in the day of battle; They did not keep the covenant of God and refused to walk in his law; They forgot what he had done and the wonders he had shown them. For he did marvellous things in the sight of their forebears, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

He divided the sea and let them pass through; he made the waters stand still in a heap. He led them with a cloud by day and all the night through with a blaze of fire. He split the hard rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink as from the great deep. He brought streams out of the rock and made water gush out like rivers.

Yet for all this they sinned more against him and defied the Most High in the wilderness. They tested God in their hearts and demanded food for their craving. They spoke against God and said,
‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
‘He struck the rock indeed, so that the waters gushed out and the streams overflowed, but can he give bread or provide meat for his people?’

When the Lord heard this, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob and his anger went out against Israel, For they had no faith in God and put no trust in his saving help. So he commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven. He rained down upon them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. So mortals ate the bread of angels; he sent them food in plenty.

He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens and led out the south wind by his might.
He rained flesh upon them as thick as dust and winged fowl like the sand of the sea.
He let it fall in the midst of their camp and round about their tents.

So they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they desired. But they did not stop their craving; their food was still in their mouths, When the anger of God rose against them, and slew their strongest men and felled the flower of Israel. But for all this, they sinned yet more and put no faith in his wonderful works. So he brought their days to an end like a breath and their years in sudden terror. Whenever he slew them, they would seek him; they would repent and earnestly search for God. They remembered that God was their rock and the Most High God their redeemer.

Yet they did but flatter him with their mouth and dissembled with their tongue. Their heart was not steadfast towards him, neither were they faithful to his covenant. But he was so merciful that he forgave their misdeeds and did not destroy them; many a time he turned back his wrath and did not suffer his whole displeasure to be roused. For he remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes by and does not return.

Job 30
 But now they make sport of me, those who are younger than I,
 whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock.
 What could I gain from the strength of their hands?
 All their vigour is gone.
 Through want and hard hunger they gnaw the dry and desolate ground,
 they pick mallow and the leaves of bushes, and to warm themselves the roots of broom.
 They are driven out from society; people shout after them as after a thief.
 In the gullies of wadis they must live, in holes in the ground, and in the rocks.
 Among the bushes they bray; under the nettles they huddle together.
 A senseless, disreputable brood, they have been whipped out of the land.

 And now they mock me in song; I am a byword to them.
 They abhor me, they keep aloof from me; they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.
 Because God has loosed my bowstring and humbled me, they have cast off restraint in my presence.
 On my right hand the rabble rise up; they send me sprawling, and build roads for my ruin.
 They break up my path, they promote my calamity; no one restrains them.
 As through a wide breach they come; amid the crash they roll on.
 Terrors are turned upon me; my honour is pursued as by the wind,
 and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.

 And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me.
 The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.
 With violence he seizes my garment; he grasps me by the collar of my tunic.
 He has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes.
 I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me.
 You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me.
 You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.
 I know that you will bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.

 Surely one does not turn against the needy, when in disaster they cry for help.
 Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?
 Was not my soul grieved for the poor?
 But when I looked for good, evil came; and when I waited for light, darkness came.
 My inward parts are in turmoil, and are never still; days of affliction come to meet me.
 I go about in sunless gloom; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
 I am a brother of jackals, and a companion of ostriches.
 My skin turns black and falls from me, and my bones burn with heat.
 My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.

Romans 13.1-7
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due.


The Collect
God our saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and in power; hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.