Monday, 20 February 2017

Saint's Days: Fake News

Once upon a time, in a land of volcanoes and dragons, lived a Viking Chief by the name of Trump the Newsslayer. Trump was named after the Viking tradition of noting the first response of the Father upon seeing the new addition to the family. Oxblood the Great's father slew an ox in his son's honour. Rollo was named after his Father passed around a tune of chocolate toffees in celebration. Erik the Red - well his dad just painted the town red and partied for days. But sadly, for Newsslayer, his Father having partied hard during the labour merely stood and emitted noxious fumes at the news.

And so it was done!

Trump was a man who instilled fear in many of the people around him and eschewing the words found in the book of Ecclesiastes in one of the Bibles his forebears had removed from an Island on the East coast during one of their conquests, he treasured the songs of fools and the approbation of the weak-minded rather than the company of the wise.

But his name was made, not by slaying dragons nor by his good words or actions, but by engagement with 'fake news' wheresoever it might be found - even creating it where none was to be found so that the challenges could be laid down. From Bowling Greens and their tragedies through to awful non-happenings on the shores of the Viking lands - Trump's voice was heard!

And although rape, loot and pillaging had gone out of fashion across the globe, the poor were still fair game (especially when so many of them perhaps foolhardily followed him) and the rich and wealthy (of whom ironically, he was one) were a good target against whom to mobilise the rabble and appear valiant.

Suffice to say - 'Fake News' was never eradicated - in fact so much of the contemporaneous writings of the Newsslayer's time describe something rotten not in the state of Denmark but in the town of Washing (aptly named because over the years that it existed there had been  much whitewashing and washing of dirty linen to be found there).

So today - as we remember that martyr to the truth - the irrepressible saint of fake news and the opponent of so many - let us offer up a prayer in his honour:

Trump the Newsslayer


Loving Lord, Living Word, 
Today as we remember Trump.
Fill our words with wisdom, 
May our keystrokes be struck with honesty and integrity. 
May we pursue those who misrepresent the truth,
And hear the voices that need be heard over the noise of deceit,
Keep us faithful to the the goals of justice, mercy, and humility,
And strengthen us to overcome obstacles, 
And withstand the chattering and posturing noise of fools,
In the Name of the Living God. Amen.


ps. Apologies to real Vikings and their descendants everywhere ;-)
pps. Watch out for the many great stories in the 'Annals of Trump' (Coming soon)

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of fools; this also is vanity.

Morning Prayer - Monday 20 February 2017

Psalm 71
In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me. Be for me a stronghold to which I may ever resort; send out to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the evildoer and the oppressor. For you are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence, even from my youth. Upon you have I leaned from my birth, when you drew me from my mother’s womb; my praise shall be always of you.

I have become a portent to many, but you are my refuge and my strength. Let my mouth be full of your praise and your glory all the day long. Do not cast me away in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails. For my enemies are talking against me, and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together. They say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue him and take him, because there is none to deliver him.’

O God, be not far from me; come quickly to help me, O my God. Let those who are against me be put to shame and disgrace; let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.

But as for me I will hope continually and will praise you more and more. My mouth shall tell of your righteousness and salvation all the day long, for I know no end of the telling. I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord God; I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, you have taught me since I was young, and to this day I tell of your wonderful works. Forsake me not, O God, when I am old and grey-headed, till I make known your deeds to the next generation and your power to all that are to come.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens; in the great things you have done, who is like you, O God?

What troubles and adversities you have shown me, and yet you will turn and refresh me and bring me from the deep of the earth again. Increase my honour; turn again and comfort me.

Therefore will I praise you upon the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will sing out as I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.
My tongue also will tell of your righteousness all the day long, for they shall be shamed and disgraced who sought to do me evil.

Ecclesiastes 7.1-14
A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death, than the day of birth.

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for this is the end of everyone, and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of fools; this also is vanity.

Surely oppression makes the wise foolish, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.

Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.
For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to the one who possesses it.

Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked?

On the day of prosperity be joyful, and on the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them.

John 19.1-16
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus;

The Collect
Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever. Amen.

Journal: Sunday

Three different churches and three different service styles ranging from BCP (Book of Common Prayer - 1662) through to Common Worship with a bit of something that drew largely upon the ASB (Alternative Service Book). Who ever said all our services were the same?

I love the BCP services, they are something that once the rhythm is set, become solid gold! The language is Shakespearean (actually, with the King James Bible we taught Shakespeare stuff and gave the English language words and phrases) and the style is penitent rather than party. There's movement, the Commandments and so much more in it - no wonder so many are in love with it.

The Book of Common Prayer is still, as I understand it, the principal Prayer book - ASB came and went - and now the Common Worship has arrived, but only as an add on, a bit of a novelty act in some ways I. The way some use it.

The BCP morning service, which I haven't seems since a chorister is great liturgy and provides an opportunity for an anthem and Bible set to music, is an extravaganza indeed.

The Common Worship service is pretty much just there and fills the service space with enough words to do what you need. It's workmanlike and in some places cut short enough to leave space for the amazingly interminably repetitive 'worship' and devoid of silence offerings so many appear to enjoy as Church today. Much as I love many of the modern songs, I do find myself sighing as those who have to have a new song every week and rush to be the first with the latest offering. But it is less and less about focus on God and more and more venue management - sadly there will never be enough in most of these places to need bouncers :-)

The other service was a 'bare bones' service. It ticked all the boxes and even with me preaching lasted fifty minutes! But it was what the people wanted and it was workmanlike in that it deleivered a balanced service with everything that should be on the plate to get to that which was on the table - so 'job done'.

So often these days we confuse liturgy and worship, separating them and almost making them enemies. We appear to have lost the place of silence, in fact we seem so afraid of it that should more than a handful of second of the stuff appear in a service, we pepper the silence with another piece of music or something trite - and like a meal where seasoning has been overly applied, the result is wind. But it isn't the wind of the Spirit blowing!

Few pastoral encounters today - but enough to keep me humble and busy.

Looking at a quiet week ahead as have a very different week planned.
God; his love, grace and bread will sustain me - and the company is worth having.
So bring it on.q


This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Journal: a week in reflection


The Christian life is about discipline and love, the latter being so very popular, for who among us likes discipline? But this has been a week where discipline has cropped up in so many forms and guises and there're have been blessings, curses, inspiration and depressing meeting of expectations to be found in it all.

Discipline, for me, has two basic strands: Imposed discipline and self-discipline. As the Bible says in Psalm 32: "Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control."

Self-discipline is an essential element if Christianity is going to have any value or meaning for us. ITs great to live in a world where we speak of love, but that love needs to have substance and shape and meaning, but all too often all it has isa desire for something warm, soft and fuzzy. Love is not merely affirming what people do - I'm sorry to say that this is not love. Love corrects as well as affirms and all too often the Church, in all it's affirming of things that common sense, traditional values and Biblical entreaty says should be spoken against - is paving the way to the demise of itself and condemning some to becoming less than they could be.

Galatians six tells us to combat sinful action gently, because to do otherwise is to tempt ourselves to fall into sin, and to offer correction such that the person 'sinning' is corrected. This is the applying of the 'bit and bridle' to a situation to steer people away from the wrong stuff. The problem is that we don't want to look like we are not an approving body, so we approve everything and anything in a hope that this will make us look 'nice'. But you know what?

Church just ain't nice sometimes - it tells people what they don't want to hear because that's its job! It is there to be light - showing up the stuff that isn't right - and to be salt - bringing healing, some taste to the proceedings and stopping the whole thing from becoming rotten.

Most of the burning issues this week were to do with discipline and where necessary I have pointed out the Biblical principles and demands and drawn lines, not harshly (for the potential for me sinning and them continuing to sin is great when we don our Vlad the Impaler kit) but using the voice of reason and informing the other party.

Would telling them they were great and putting aside the Bible and affirming them and a turning a blind eye to whatever it is that they were doing have built the Church? Nah, think not!

Would being sensitive (which means lying to affirm what we'd otherwise be thinking might be wrong) bring them to a place or right thinking or fill our pews? Of course not!!

Church is inclusive - it is a body that accepts all people regardless.

Church is a bunch of people who say, "Come as you are - expect to leave different."

Church is affirming but not permissive.

Wouldn't it be nice if Church, which is merely a bunch of people getting together, took the words of the Bible seriously and worried about being something practical rather than a bunch of bleeding heart 'do gooders' (the words of a non-Christian) and got out there a did good (and God).

Lord, as a new week is about to be unwrapped, may we reveal the Son through our actions and attitudes - May we preach the Gospel in love and living - and may self-discipline be a hallmark of that which others see.

Thank you for your Grace, Your daily bread and Your infinite love.


This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Morning Prayer - Saturday 18 February 2017

Psalm 68
Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered; let those that hate him flee before him. As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away; as wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; let them make merry with gladness. Sing to God, sing praises to his name; exalt him who rides on the clouds. The Lord is his name; rejoice before him. Father of the fatherless, defender of widows, God in his holy habitation!

God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome, but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert.

O God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, The earth shook and the heavens dropped down rain, at the presence of God, the Lord of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You sent down a gracious rain, O God; you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary. Your people came to dwell there; in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor.

The Lord gave the word; great was the company of women who bore the tidings: ‘Kings and their armies they flee, they flee!’ and women at home are dividing the spoil. Though you stayed among the sheepfolds, see now a dove’s wings covered with silver and its feathers with green gold. When the Almighty scattered the kings, it was like snowflakes falling on Zalmon.

You mighty mountain, great mountain of Bashan! You towering mountain, great mountain of Bashan! Why look with envy, you towering mountains, at the mount which God has desired for his dwelling, the place where the Lord will dwell for ever?

The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, even thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them, the Lord of Sinai in holy power. You have gone up on high and led captivity captive; you have received tribute, even from those who rebelled, that you may reign as Lord and God.

Blessed be the Lord who bears our burdens day by day, for God is our salvation. God is for us the God of our salvation; God is the Lord who can deliver from death. God will smite the head of his enemies, the hairy scalp of those who walk in wickedness. The Lord has said, ‘From the heights of Bashan, from the depths of the sea will I bring them back,
‘Till you dip your foot in blood and the tongue of your dogs has a taste of your enemies.’

We see your solemn processions, O God, your processions into the sanctuary, my God and my King. The singers go before, the musicians follow after, in the midst of maidens playing on timbrels. In your companies, bless your God; bless the Lord, you that are of the fount of Israel. At the head there is Benjamin, least of the tribes, the princes of Judah in joyful company, the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali.

Send forth your strength, O God; establish, O God, what you have wrought in us. For your temple’s sake in Jerusalem kings shall bring their gifts to you. Drive back with your word the wild beast of the reeds, the herd of the bull-like, the brutish hordes. Trample down those who lust after silver; scatter the peoples that delight in war. Vessels of bronze shall be brought from Egypt; Ethiopia will stretch out her hands to God.

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; make music in praise of the Lord; He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel, whose power is above the clouds.  How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people! Blessed be God.

Ecclesiastes 6
There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon humankind: those to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honour, so that they lack nothing of all that they desire, yet God does not enable them to enjoy these things, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous ill. A man may beget a hundred children, and live for many years; but however many are the days of his years, if he does not enjoy life’s good things, or has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes into vanity and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is covered; moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything; yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to one place?

All human toil is for the mouth, yet the appetite is not satisfied. For what advantage have the wise over fools? And what do the poor have who know how to conduct themselves before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire; this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what human beings are, and that they are not able to dispute with those who are stronger. The more words, the more vanity, so how is one the better? For who knows what is good for mortals while they live the few days of their vain life, which they pass like a shadow? For who can tell them what will be after them under the sun?

John 18.28-end
Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ (This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ They shouted in reply, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a bandit.

The Collect
Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; 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.


Journal: Friday Fun

What a stonking day with four visits done before Lunch!

I love getting to meet and have a conversation, reminisce, and get to have Communion with people where they are. So many high spots as we celebrated progress with matters medical at one end of the scale and contained our concern at the lack of it elsewhere. Tea drunk, Communion celebrated (for it the Church that celebrates whilst the person serving it up presides), family proclaimed. Pure bliss.

Pastoral conversations today were limited to no more than a handful outside of the Communion but even they were positive and encouraging - no new fires on the horizon - the flames that were once to be found are now (apparently, and hopefully as they seem) dying embers.

Kid's Club was a joy and amidst the games of snooker and pool (no Wii this week) and the birthday celebrations there was the joy of educational progress and more stable life experiences. Not the busiest we've been but having past twenty kids in the place it felt full enough. A wonderful part of the ministry in this place - another of the real joys.

Later there was the finishing off of the Sunday service and all that entails - funny how some seem to think that the Sunday happenings just happen to happen without planning, predation and study. Must remember to offer them a go at it some time :-)

Somehow the 'third of a day off' things didn't happen - hard to stop when you're having such a good time innit?

So Lord, 
for the obvious places where You have been found - I give You thanks,
for the surprising places where You became noticed - I praise You,
for the people whose lives You are changing - I applaud You,
for loving and using me - I'm astounded, humbled and blessed.
May today have sown seed, may tomorrow see me reap the harvest of Your love.


This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 17 February 2017

Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977

Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness; according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my offences. Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my faults and my sin is ever before me.

Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, So that you are justified in your sentence and righteous in your judgement. I have been wicked even from my birth, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

Behold, you desire truth deep within me and shall make me understand wisdom in the depths of my heart. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear of joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice. Turn your face from my sins and blot out all my misdeeds. Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me. Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with your gracious spirit; Then shall I teach your ways to the wicked and sinners shall return to you.

Deliver me from my guilt, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. For you desire no sacrifice, else I would give it; you take no delight in burnt offerings.

The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. O be favourable and gracious to Zion; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will accept sacrifices offered in righteousness, the burnt offerings and oblations; then shall they offer up bulls on your altar.

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

Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who upholds my life. May evil rebound on those who lie in wait for me; destroy them in your faithfulness.

An offering of a free heart will I give you and praise your name, O Lord, for it is gracious. For he has delivered me out of all my trouble, and my eye has seen the downfall of my enemies.

Ecclesiastes 5
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is better than the sacrifice offered by fools; for they do not know how to keep from doing evil. Never be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be quick to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few.

For dreams come with many cares, and a fool’s voice with many words.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay fulfilling it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Fulfil what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not fulfil it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why should God be angry at your words, and destroy the work of your hands?

With many dreams come vanities and a multitude of words; but fear God.

If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and right, do not be amazed at the matter; for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. But all things considered, this is an advantage for a land: a king for a ploughed field.

The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity.

When goods increase, those who eat them increase; and what gain has their owner but to see them with his eyes?

Sweet is the sleep of labourers, whether they eat little or much; but the surfeit of the rich will not let them sleep.

There is a grievous ill that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owners to their hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture; though they are parents of children, they have nothing in their hands. As they came from their mother’s womb, so they shall go again, naked as they came; they shall take nothing for their toil, which they may carry away with their hands. This also is a grievous ill: just as they came, so shall they go; and what gain do they have from toiling for the wind? Besides, all their days they eat in darkness, in much vexation and sickness and resentment.

This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God. For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts.

John 18.12-27
So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing round it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’ Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

The Collect
God of truth, whose servant Janani Luwum walked in the light, and in his death defied the powers of darkness: free us from fear of those who kill the body, that we too may walk as children of light, through him who overcame darkness by the power of the cross,
Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



Thursday, 16 February 2017

Journal: A bit of a fuzzy day

Started well - got excited by the daily Office and even more so by the 09:30 Communion - then managed to sort a funeral a get a few home Communions under the belt before developing a bit of a strange headache/migraine which meant I moved a couple of visits to tomorrow.

To be totally honest, the pastoral conversations today ranged from inspiring to bizarre, but that's the way life usually runs, isn't it? The key is that solutions in place were coming together, new solutions we discussed and developed elsewhere and some situations just need to be put in a box and left under a file of books (but as we can't do that, we started to unravel the wool and try and find an end to work from!) 

There was theology and organisation and stuff to be done in the evening, always a good entertainment source - but in all, although much happened, it was a day when everything was lumped, clumped and fuzzy. A 'stuff done' day, but not necessarily in a way that leaves you feeling defined and definite.

Lord, 
You give us a variety of things to entertain, distract, bless and confuse - and that's variety.
You give us time and the ability to manage it - and that's not always taken properly.
You give us people to bless and to be blessed by - but sometimes we can miss this.
You call us to minister Your grace - may we never forget this.
You see our feet of clay and our foolishness - and continue to live us.
For all this I give you praise :-)


This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Morning Prayer - Thursday 16 February 2017

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

All day long they wound me with words; their every thought is to do me evil. They stir up trouble; they lie in wait; marking my steps, they seek my life. Shall they escape for all their wickedness?

In anger, O God, cast the peoples down. You have counted up my groaning; put my tears into your bottle; are they not written in your book?

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

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

Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; In the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until the storm of destruction has passed by. I will call upon the Most High God, the God who fulfils his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me and rebuke those that would trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.

I lie in the midst of lions, people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.

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

I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.

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.

Ecclesiastes 3.16-4.end
Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?

Again I saw all the oppressions that are practised under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person’s envy of another. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind. Fools fold their hands and consume their own flesh. Better is a handful with quiet than two handfuls with toil, and a chasing after wind.

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. ‘For whom am I toiling’, they ask, ‘and depriving myself of pleasure?’ This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king, who will no longer take advice. One can indeed come out of prison to reign, even though born poor in the kingdom. I saw all the living who, moving about under the sun, follow that youth who replaced the king; there was no end to all those people whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

John 18.1-11
After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’

The Collect
Almighty God,
who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity:
give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise,
that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
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.


Journal: Theodicy and stuff

The night ended with a couple of hours of great conversation on the subject of evil and God's part and out response. It was quite a challenge and quite a journey, and loads of fun. But before we got there I had a trip to buy comestibles of the Communion kind and some material for house groups, so I had a trip into Brum - and that started the day of well (as any trip to a shop what sells books always does).

The filling in this enjoyable sandwich was home Communions and pastoral conversations and so, it has been an almost perfect day I guess. A day in which I find myself smiling consistently and almost foolishly.

Add to this the fact that Anselm popped in with his ontological argument for the existence of God and Epicurus had a pop at God for not giving him however many number he needed to win the lottery!

So the encounters, the challenges, the pace and the overall content was great: Thank You Lord.

Hopefully I looked like Jesus to those around me and I was God's man in the place.

Thankfully God's love and grace were evidence in large quantities.

Lord, for a day passed when I can reflect upon the many blessings you have given me, I can but praise you and head for bed a very happy and content man.

Hallelujah.



This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 15 February 2017

Sigfrid, Bishop, Apostle of Sweden, 1045
Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of the SPCK and the SPG, 1730

Psalm 119.57-80
You only are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to keep your words. I entreat you with all my heart, be merciful to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and turned my feet back to your testimonies. I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.

Though the cords of the wicked entangle me, I do not forget your law. At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgements. I am a companion of all those who fear you, those who keep your commandments. The earth, O Lord, is full of your faithful love; instruct me in your statutes.

You have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word, O Lord. O teach me true understanding and knowledge, for I have trusted in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are gracious and do good; O Lord, teach me your statutes.

The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart. Their heart has become gross with fat, but my delight is in your law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is dearer to me than a hoard of gold and silver.

Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in your word. I know, O Lord, that your judgements are right, and that in very faithfulness you caused me to be troubled. Let your faithful love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

Let your tender mercies come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight.
Let the proud be put to shame, for they wrong me with lies; but I will meditate on your commandments.
Let those who fear you turn to me, even those who know your testimonies.
Let my heart be sound in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.

Ecclesiastes 3.1-15
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by

Galatians 2.1-10
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.

But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us—we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me.

On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

The Collect
Holy God, you know the disorder of our sinful lives: set straight our crooked hearts, and bend our wills to love your goodness and your glory in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Journal: Down time

Today was spent in the company of some really lovely people - so much so that the admin' was fun - amazing how being in the company of some people can raise a smile and make the day skip.

Didn't buy the wife a Valentine's card, but made up for it by buying her neither chocolates or flowers either. Consistency, it seems, is what it is all out. So, a happy wife and slightly less well of card, chollate and florist - sounds like a bargain, doesn't it?

But the school assembly on Valentine was loud, quick and had some electronics and chocolates, so that's another win. In fact there was magic too, but I never got round to using it as the time went so quickly and the children were so full in, no need to do stuff for the sake of it.

270AD, middle of the month, Valentine buys the farm and the world seeks to make money out of it!

2000 years back, a man dies in a cross to show what love is, and we struggle to give it away!!

Thought to myself, "A week without a funeral, that's odd," and then remembered that Inhad one on Monday, so all is well on that front. A couple more just come in and there's a wedding or three on the horizon too. Where are the baptisms?

But today has been a chilled and reflective day, daily bread means I've been fed, man leaving an empty grave shows I've been forgiven, Spirit within me means I'm the light of Christ wherever I go.

Just need to live up to all that now, don't I?

This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 14 February 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genesis 37.12-end
Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

He came to Shechem, and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’ ‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’ The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’ Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers, and said, ‘The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?’ Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, ‘This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.’ He recognized it, and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.’ Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son for many days. All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, ‘No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.’ Thus his father bewailed him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Galatians 2.1-10
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us—we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

The Collect
Holy God, you know the disorder of our sinful lives: set straight our crooked hearts, and bend our wills to love your goodness and your glory in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Journal: Sitting in the sun

Today was different for me on a number of levels.

A first in the Crem'
A realisation in the study
Time spent in the sun
a church Council meeting that flew

The crematorium was a strange place today. Even though I had an early slot they were already running late and this situation was made worse by the fact that one of those present in the service taking place before me collapsed and had to be extracted; so suddenly we were fifteen minutes late.

Now that's nothing new, crises and overruns are the curse of the excellent staff at Sutton Crematorium, and they cope with it extremely well. But the new thing was for me to finish my part of the service at the halfway mark to permit the members of a fraternal society to say their goodbyes in ritual and song. We didn't claw back any of the overrun time (something I try to do if I can when there are timing issues) and in fact I think we added to the slippage if I'm being honest. But it was an  interesting experience regardless.

As a time Lord I know that time is something that can be stretched and manipulated to permit all manner of things to take place without the need to say 'No'. Today I realised that many times this ability to exploit time's malleability is called upon by people imposing their whatever's on me as they cherry pick and vacillate. But today another line has been drawn in the sand and time bending and creating spaces in the time space continuum will be reserved for the most critical situations. This is good news for the man in the remote island in the Pacific who wonders why days where he is are only eighteen hours longs I'm sure!!!

I had the opportunity to spend time with a colleague today, so I took it and we found ourselves sitting in the sun, something I need to be doing at the moment, and praying as God's creation and provision were poured out on us. There were pastoral and theological considerations to be discussed and a host of other stuff besides. And I'm going to be doing it again - the first time for something should often not be the last.

And the church council meeting - everything is stable and solid and pottering through at the moment. No new initiatives, no burning issues - we are in that phone war phase before the annual rounds of annual church meetings kick in - and to be done and dusted by nine o'clock was another first. But I think we need this sometimes to give us a chance instead to chat with each other as we wonder what to do with the time that was left before normal closing time.

The problem with life is that we tend to run along ruts and these ruts prevent us from deviating from what soon becomes the norm and makes life humdrum and stale. But the joy of the new creation that is today is that the day is there for us to rejoice and be glad in it - and although I was, I realise that I have made God's provision stale before the day was even begun.

Like manna, which sustained for the day and was gone at that day's close, being replaced by new stock the next day, the day we have - our daily bread and butter - is there to celebrate God's diversity and devotion to us. But we regularise and ritualistically constrain it to become us running on a treadmill rather than a walk in the sun.

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."  (Ps 16)

This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Can't make it to church - Sunday 12 February 2017

The people of God, the Israelites, are at the border of the Promised Land where Moses, much like Lt Col Tim Collins on the borders of Iraq in 2003, prepares the people to enter this new land – and like Tim Collin’s effort, it’s all there: life, prosperity and blessings - curses, death and destruction. Choosing God gives life, rejecting Him brings death: So take your pick!

Like any other relationship, Choosing God is an ongoing, vital, relationship lived out with the focus of our love (God) each and every day in a total commitment. Just as those troops on the borders of Iraq needed total commitment and a willingness to lay down their lives in selfless commitment, that's what Moses is calling for here. Are you ready and willing to do this?

Hopefully you've said ‘Yes’ – but let’s hope it's not the same ‘Yes’ that the Corinthian believers appear to have; a ‘yes’ that seems just a little stuck in its immaturity. The people are beset by jealousy and quarrelling: All the things that Moses listed as ‘curses, death and destruction’. These are a people who haven't embraced a full on and vibrant faith but rather they live like the world, like people who don't know Jesus, the Christ, at all.

But before we get into a mindset of criticism for the Corinthian believers, let us stop for a minute and consider how different we might be from them. Where I am, with the things I've encountered over the years, I'd have to say the answer is probably: “Not much!”

The next time we find ourselves getting more passionate about being in one camp or another; the next time we find ourselves more bound up in strategies and programmes, looking to build ‘our’ church at the expense of unity and the building of the kingdom of God. Let's remember Moses and his call to us to ‘choose life’ and to put aside the things that we should have left in the playground; to put aside following individuals and to follow that one individual who died that we might have life: Jesus.

Following on from last week’s Gospel we find ourselves again with the Sermon on the Mount and it’s all  about behaviour and attitudes.

“Those who murder will be subject to judgment.”
That’s fair enough, after all, murder is a really serious offence.

But the next bit:
“Anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment,”
that's a bit harsh isn't it?

Then, to make matters worse, the passage is extended  this:
 “Anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court; anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”



Goodness me, not much wiggle room here is there? But this is more about attitude as I understand it rather than the use of one isolated word. The thing about ‘choosing life’ is that we have a daily relationship with God and the people around us too, and we realise that often it's not just the things we do but the things we say that brings the Church down. So when you know you've broken a relationship or acted foolishly, don't carry on regardless but go make your peace and live in relationship with those you might have offended or hurt.

And when it comes to attitudes and relationships, the greatest of these in import and duty of care is perhaps that which relates to marriage. The good news is that divorce amongst married couples is on the decrease (sadly the opposite is claimed for those who live together and this last clause applies equally to them).

But, divorce is only to be used as a last resort and for serious reasons and the things that start the slippery slope to divorce are what goes on in the head rather than what the hands do! “Everybody looks and thinks,” said a person I was counselling, “It's only wrong if I do something about it!” Jesus would say to them, “So stop looking and thinking the things you do before you weaken the relationship!”

He'd also say that divorce is a last resort; something that comes about because the serious, irreconcilable issues, have broken the marriage. But in your marriage; in all your daily relationships – choose life - work at them, repair the breaches, apologise for the wrongs and reach out your hand in acts of fellowship and love.

The Collect
Eternal God, whose Son went among the crowds and brought healing with his touch: help us to show his love, in your Church as we gather together, and by our lives as they are transformed
into the image of Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord, help us to choose life and love today, and every day, looking to build our relationship with You. To work at our relationships and to be seen as a person who strives for love and works to reconcile and rebuild. May we go our our relationship and work to make our lives open, honest and holy – for we are Your Church, called to be light and salt to the world around us – make us a mature, living, and holy people we pray. Amen.


Deuteronomy 30:15-20
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Matthew 5:21-37
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the vows you have made.’But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Post Communion Prayer
Merciful Father,
who gave Jesus Christ to be for us the bread of life,
that those who come to him should never hunger:
draw us to the Lord in faith and love,
that we may eat and drink with him
at his table in the kingdom,
where he is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.



Morning Prayer - Monday 13 February 2017

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

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

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

My confusion is daily before me, and shame has covered my face, At the taunts of the slanderer and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and avenger.

All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you and have not played false to your covenant. Our hearts have not turned back, nor our steps gone out of your way, Yet you have crushed us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to any strange god, Will not God search it out?

For he knows the secrets of the heart. But for your sake are we killed all the day long, and are counted as sheep for the slaughter.

Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord?
Awake, and do not reject us for ever. Why do you hide your face and forget our grief and oppression?

Our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaves to the earth.
Rise up, O Lord, to help us and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

Ecclesiastes 1
The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains for ever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south, and goes round to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.

All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow.
All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been, in the ages before us. The people of long ago are not remembered, nor will there be any remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them.

I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

I said to myself, ‘I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.’ And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.  For in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.

John 17.1-5
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

The Collect
Eternal God, whose Son went among the crowds and brought healing with his touch: help us to show his love, in your Church as we gather together, and by our lives as they are transformed into the image of Christ our Lord.



Journal: Super Sunday

An amazingly enjoyable Sunday which began with an early morning Communion in what felt like a cold store and the two services in the comfort of the home church, the last one being (as always) a sublime and gentle Taizé.

There is a real danger for those of us who minister in that we assume the mentality of it being 'just another day in the office'. But it isn't, it is so very much more than that; Sunday is our weekly mini-Easter. The Eucharistic feast, our Easter celebration, is the reason that Church still exists as it does, for had we not gathered to break bread and drink wine, we would have drifted into something very different indeed.

It is odd but the Communion service is different each and every time, and that's not because I muddle the words or engage in the art of leaving stuff out or 'wuddling my mords' (like what me Mum used to do!) - No, each service is different because the emphasis and import of words and actions in the service changes each and every time.

The joy of taking the bread and the wine and giving thanks as Jesus did in that Passover meal shared in the upper room with this followers - the 'Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam . . . ' moment when we acknowledge our Creator God. The moment when the immensity of the words, "Once for all," bringing to mind the immensity and the completeness of that one atoning act upon the cross that Jesus makes for all humanity.

How can we walk away from this service unchanged?
How can we do it justice other than to offer our lives and experience in our very beings the gift of love which being consumed, consumes us?

Lord, today I have been made different in the encounters with You - may this be true for all of us who 'do' Church and may it be found in the places I visit this week with Your celestial 'happy meal'.

For what satan has meant for evil, You turn to good.

Blessed be your name.


This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. Dialogue, insights and experience of others concerning this entry is always welcome - all grist to the m

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Journal: People are the joy

Started with snow and ended with rain - ain't that the way it always seems to go?

But today I managed to do some great teaching on ethics and had some amazing dialogue with a few people regarding the fact that standards and truth are not the absolutes some people thing they might be. Onwards and upwards as the day took me to engage with more people in the shape of Home Communion visits before the final push - which left me being 'blown out' but that only sought to give me a chance to unwind a little before I got down to some reflection and study.

The truth is that I'd love to be doing just the pastoral and evangelistic stuff - think the paperwork can rest in the laps of those who would rather read a spreadsheet than a BIble :-)

Wife out with the Angels and I'm going to bed with the dog and however many cats feel like joining him.

Lord for the good bits I thank You.
For the thought bits I think I probably thank You even more!
And for the testing bits, where it was me I'm sorry and where it was others, I'll leave them to You.

Let's preach and live the word in a big way tomorrow, all You need to do is whistle and You know how to do that, don't You!

This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. Dialogue, insights and experience of others concerning this entry is always welcome - all grist to the m

Morning Prayer - Saturday 11 February 2017

Psalm 41
Blessed are those who consider the poor and needy; the Lord will deliver them in the time of trouble. The Lord preserves them and restores their life, that they may be happy in the land; he will not hand them over to the will of their enemies. The Lord sustains them on their sickbed; their sickness, Lord, you will remove. And so I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.’

My enemies speak evil about me, asking when I shall die and my name perish. If they come to see me, they utter empty words; their heart gathers mischief; when they go out, they tell it abroad. All my enemies whisper together against me, against me they devise evil, Saying that a deadly thing has laid hold on me, and that I will not rise again from where I lie. Even my bosom friend, whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

But you, O Lord, be merciful to me and raise me up, that I may reward them. By this I know that you favour me, that my enemy does not triumph over me. Because of my integrity you uphold me and will set me before your face for ever.

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

Psalm 42
As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. My soul is athirst for God, even for the living God; when shall I come before the presence of God?

My tears have been my bread day and night, while all day long they say to me, ‘Where is now your God?’

Now when I think on these things, I pour out my soul: how I went with the multitude and led the procession to the house of God, With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among those who kept holy day.
Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me?
O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks,who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

My soul is heavy within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and from Hermon and the hill of Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the thunder of your waterfalls; all your breakers and waves have gone over me. The Lord will grant his loving-kindness in the daytime; through the night his song will be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

 I say to God my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me, and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me?’ As they crush my bones, my enemies mock me; while all day long they say to me, ‘Where is now your God?’
Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? and why are you so disquieted within me?
O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 43
Give judgement for me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked. For you are the God of my refuge; why have you cast me from you, and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me?

O send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling, That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; and on the lyre I will give thanks to you, O God my God.
Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me?

O put your trust in God; for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Joel 3.1-3, 9-end
For then, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgement with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land, and cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down.

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the warriors. Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears; let the weakling say, ‘I am a warrior.’

Come quickly, all you nations all around, gather yourselves there. Bring down your warriors, O Lord. Let the nations rouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the neighbouring nations.

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.

The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake. But the Lord is a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.

So you shall know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it.  On that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Wadi Shittim.

Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood. But Judah shall be inhabited for ever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty, for the Lord dwells in Zion.

John 16.23-end
On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’

His disciples said, ‘Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’

The Collect
Lord of the hosts of heaven, our salvation and our strength, without you we are lost: guard us from all that harms or hurts and raise us when we fall; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Friday, 10 February 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 10 February 2017

Scholastica, sister of Benedict, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543

Psalm 31
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me. Be my strong rock, a fortress to save me, for you are my rock and my stronghold; guide me, and lead me for your name’s sake. Take me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me, for you are my strength. Into your hands I commend my spirit, for you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I put my trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your mercy, for you have seen my affliction and known my soul in adversity.You have not shut me up in the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in an open place.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye is consumed with sorrow, my soul and my body also. For my life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails me because of my affliction, and my bones are consumed. I have become a reproach to all my enemies and even to my neighbours, an object of dread to my acquaintances; when they see me in the street they flee from me. I am forgotten like one that is dead, out of mind; I have become like a broken vessel. For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is on every side; they scheme together against me, and plot to take my life.

But my trust is in you, O Lord. I have said,
‘You are my God. My times are in your hand;
‘deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.
‘Make your face to shine upon your servant, and save me for your mercy’s sake.’

Lord, let me not be confounded for I have called upon you; but let the wicked be put to shame; let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence that speak against the righteous with arrogance, disdain and contempt.

How abundant is your goodness, O Lord, which you have laid up for those who fear you; which you have prepared in the sight of all for those who put their trust in you. You hide them in the shelter of your presence from those who slander them; you keep them safe in your refuge from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord! For he has shown me his steadfast love when I was as a city besieged.

I had said in my alarm,
‘I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes.’ Nevertheless, you heard the voice of my prayer when I cried out to you.

Love the Lord, all you his servants; for the Lord protects the faithful, but repays to the full the proud. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait in hope for the Lord.

Joel 2.28-end
Then afterwards I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

John 16.16-22
‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’ Then some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying to us, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”; and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ They said, ‘What does he mean by this “a little while”? We do not know what he is talking about.’ Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, ‘Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”?

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labour, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

The Collect
O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: grant to us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; 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.