Monday, 31 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Monday, 31 December 2018

Christmas Season

John Wyclif, Reformer, 1384

Psalm 102
O Lord, hear my prayer and let my crying come before you. Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; when I call, make haste to answer me, for my days are consumed in smoke and my bones burn away as in a furnace. My heart is smitten down and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. From the sound of my groaning my bones cleave fast to my skin. I am become like a vulture in the wilderness, like an owl that haunts the ruins. I keep watch and am become like a sparrow solitary upon the housetop. My enemies revile me all the day long, and those who rage at me have sworn together against me. I have eaten ashes for bread and mingled my drink with weeping, because of your indignation and wrath, for you have taken me up and cast me down. My days fade away like a shadow, and I am withered like grass.

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

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

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

Isaiah 59.15b-end
Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one,  and was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm brought him victory, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle. According to their deeds, so will he repay; wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render requital. So those in the west shall fear the name of the Lord, and those in the east, his glory; for he will come like a pent-up stream that the wind of the Lord drives on.

And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord. And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and for ever.

John 1.29-34
The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’

The Collect
Almighty God, who wonderfully created us in your own image and yet more wonderfully restored us through your Son Jesus Christ: grant that, as he came to share in our humanity, so we may share the life of his divinity; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Saturday, 29 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 29 December 2018

Christmas Season

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170

Psalm 19
The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. One day pours out its song to another and one night unfolds knowledge to another. They have neither speech nor language and their voices are not heard, yet their sound has gone out into all lands and their words to the ends of the world. In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun, that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a champion to run his course. It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey, dripping from the honeycomb. By them also is your servant taught and in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can tell how often they offend?
O cleanse me from my secret faults!

Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Psalm 20
May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend you; send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you out of Zion; remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice; grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your mind. May we rejoice in your salvation and triumph in the name of our God; may the Lord perform all your petitions.

Now I know that the Lord will save his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven, with the mighty strength of his right hand.

Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will call only on the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought down and fallen, but we are risen and stand upright.

O Lord, save the king and answer us when we call upon you.

Isaiah 57.15-end
For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. For I will not continually accuse, nor will I always be angry; for then the spirits would grow faint before me, even the souls that I have made. Because of their wicked covetousness I was angry; I struck them, I hid and was angry; but they kept turning back to their own ways. I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss up mire and mud. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.

John 1.1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

The Collect
Lord God, who gave grace to your servant Thomas Becket to put aside all earthly fear and be faithful even to death: grant that we, disregarding worldly esteem, may fight all wrong, uphold your rule, and serve you to our life’s end; 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.



Friday, 28 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Friday, 28 December 2018

Christmas Season

The Holy Innocents

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 refugunder 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Genesis 37.13-20
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.”

Matthew 18.1-10
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes!

‘If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.

‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

The Collect
Heavenly Father, whose children suffered at the hands of Herod, though they had done no wrong: by the suffering of your Son and by the innocence of our lives frustrate all evil designs and establish your reign of justice and peace; 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.


Thursday, 27 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 27 December 2018

Christmas Season

John, Apostle and Evangelist

Psalm 21
The king shall rejoice in your strength, O Lord; how greatly shall he rejoice in your salvation!
You have given him his heart’s desire and have not denied the request of his lips.
For you come to meet him with blessings of goodness and set a crown of pure gold upon his head.
He asked of you life and you gave it him, length of days, for ever and ever.

His honour is great because of your salvation; glory and majesty have you laid upon him.
You have granted him everlasting felicity and will make him glad with joy in your presence.
For the king puts his trust in the Lord; because of the loving-kindness of the Most High, he shall not be overthrown.

Your hand shall mark down all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them like a fiery oven in the time of your wrath; the Lord will swallow them up in his anger and the fire will consume them. Their fruit you will root out of the land and their seed from among its inhabitants.

Because they intend evil against you and devise wicked schemes which they cannot perform, you will put them to flight when you aim your bow at their faces. Be exalted, O Lord, in your own might; we will make music and sing of your power.

Psalm 147.13-end
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion; for he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you. He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.

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

Exodus 33.12-23
Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, you have said to me, “Bring up this people”; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, “I know you by name, and you have also found favour in my sight.” Now if I have found favour in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favour in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’ He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.’

The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favour in my sight, and I know you by name.’ Moses said, ‘Show me your glory, I pray.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, “The Lord”; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But’, he said, ‘you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’ And the Lord continued, ‘See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.’

1 John 2.1-11
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him’, but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, ‘I abide in him’, ought to walk just as he walked.

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says, ‘I am in the light’, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

The Collect
Merciful Lord, cast your bright beams of light upon the Church: that, being enlightened by the teaching of your blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John, we may so walk in the light of your truth that we may at last attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ your incarnate Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Christmas Season

Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr

Psalm 13
How long will you forget me, O Lord; for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long shall I have anguish in my soul and grief in my heart, day after day?
How long shall my enemy triumph over me?

Look upon me and answer, O Lord my God; lighten my eyes, lest I sleep in death; lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed against him,’ and my foes rejoice that I have fallen. But I put my trust in your steadfast love; my heart will rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has dealt so bountifully with me.

Psalm 31.1-8
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.

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

Jeremiah 26.12-15
Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, ‘It is the Lord who sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you. But as for me, here I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the Lord sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.’

Acts 6
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.’ What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’ They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. They set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.’ And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

The Collect
Gracious Father, who gave the first martyr Stephen grace to pray for those who took up stones against him: grant that in all our sufferings for the truth we may learn to love even our enemies and to seek forgiveness for those who desire our hurt, looking up to heaven to him who was crucified for us, Jesus Christ, our mediator and advocate, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Monday, 24 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Monday, 24 December 2018

Advent

Christmas Eve

Psalm 45
My heart is astir with gracious words; as I make my song for the king, my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. You are the fairest of men; full of grace are your lips, for God has blest you for ever. Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one; gird on your majesty and glory. Ride on and prosper in the cause of truth and for the sake of humility and righteousness. Your right hand will teach you terrible things; your arrows will be sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies, so that peoples fall beneath you.

Your throne is God’s throne, for ever; the sceptre of your kingdom is the sceptre of righteousness. You love righteousness and hate iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows. All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes and cassia; from ivory palaces the music of strings makes you glad. Kings’ daughters are among your honourable women; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Hear, O daughter; consider and incline your ear; forget your own people and your father’s house. So shall the king have pleasure in your beauty; he is your lord, so do him honour. The people of Tyre shall bring you gifts; the richest of the people shall seek your favour. The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is embroidered cloth of gold. She shall be brought to the king in raiment of needlework; after her the virgins that are her companions. With joy and gladness shall they be brought and enter into the palace of the king.

‘Instead of your fathers you shall have sons, whom you shall make princes over all the land.I will make your name to be remembered through all generations; therefore shall the peoples praise you for ever and ever.’

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

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

Isaiah 52.13-53.end
See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Just as there were many who were astonished at him—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals—so he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

2 Peter 1.1-15
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

The Collect
Almighty God, you make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of your Son Jesus Christ: grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him when he shall come to be our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Saturday, 22 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 22 December 2018


Advent

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

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

Psalm 125
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever. As the hills stand about Jerusalem, so the Lord stands round about his people, from this time forth for evermore. The sceptre of wickedness shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous turn their hands to evil. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are true of heart. Those who turn aside to crooked ways the Lord shall take away with the evildoers; but let there be peace upon Israel.

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

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

Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord keeps the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you hasten to rise up early and go so late to rest, eating the bread of toil, for he gives his beloved sleep.

Children are a heritage from the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his gift. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.

Happy are those who have their quiver full of them: they shall not be put to shame when they dispute with their enemies in the gate.

Isaiah 52.1-12
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! 
Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall enter you no more. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion! 

For thus says the Lord: You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money. For thus says the Lord God: Long ago, my people went down into Egypt to reside there as aliens; the Assyrian, too, has oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what am I doing here, says the Lord, seeing that my people are taken away without cause? Their rulers howl, says the Lord, and continually, all day long, my name is despised. Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore on that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I. 


How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. 

Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of it, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the Lord. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rearguard. 

Jude
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, who are beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgement of the great day. Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in the same way these dreamers also defile the flesh, reject authority, and slander the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct. Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam’s error for the sake of gain, and perish in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love-feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved for ever.

It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘See, the Lord is coming with tens of thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage.

But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; for they said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.’ It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.

The Collect
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Friday, 21 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Friday, 21 December 2018

Advent

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not suffer your foot to stumble; he who watches over you will not sleep. Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord himself watches over you; the Lord is your shade at your right hand, so that the sun shall not strike you by day, neither the moon by night.
The Lord shall keep you from all evil; it is he who shall keep your soul.
The Lord shall keep watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth for evermore.

Psalm 122
I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’
And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem; Jerusalem, built as a city that is at unity in itself. Thither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as is decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. For there are set the thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house of David.

O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls and tranquillity within your palaces.’ For my kindred and companions’ sake, I will pray that peace be with you. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do you good.

Psalm 123
To you I lift up my eyes, to you that are enthroned in the heavens. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, or the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us.  Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of the arrogant, and of the contempt of the proud.

Isaiah 51.17-end
Rouse yourself, rouse yourself! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl of staggering. There is no one to guide her among all the children she has borne; there is no one to take her by the hand among all the children she has brought up. These two things have befallen you—who will grieve with you?—devastation and destruction, famine and sword—who will comfort you?
Your children have fainted, they lie at the head of every street like an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.

Therefore hear this, you who are wounded, who are drunk, but not with wine: Thus says your Sovereign, the Lord, your God who pleads the cause of his people: See, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; you shall drink no more from the bowl of my wrath. And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, ‘Bow down, that we may walk on you’; and you have made your back like the ground and like the street for them to walk on.

2 Thessalonians 3
Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

Take note of those who do not obey what we say in this letter; have nothing to do with them, so that they may be ashamed. Do not regard them as enemies, but warn them as believers.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the mark in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

The Collect
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Thursday, 20 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 20 December 2018

Advent

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains tremble in the heart of the sea; though the waters rage and swell, and though the mountains quake at the towering seas.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place of the dwelling of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; therefore shall she not be removed; God shall help her at the break of day. The nations are in uproar and the kingdoms are shaken, but God utters his voice and the earth shall melt away. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Come and behold the works of the Lord, what destruction he has wrought upon the earth. He makes wars to cease in all the world; he shatters the bow and snaps the spear and burns the chariots in the fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.’

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and be glad in him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, on that day at Massah in the wilderness, when your forebears tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my works. Forty years long I detested that generation and said, “This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways.” So I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest.”’

Isaiah 51.9-16
Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord!
Awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago!
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon?
Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep;
who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to cross over?

So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

I, I am he who comforts you; why then are you afraid of a mere mortal who must die, a human being who fades like grass? You have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. You fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction. But where is the fury of the oppressor?

The oppressed shall speedily be released; they shall not die and go down to the Pit, nor shall they lack bread. For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name. I have put my words in your mouth, and hidden you in the shadow of my hand, stretching out the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’

2 Thessalonians 2
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

The Collect
God for whom we watch and wait, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son: give us courage to speak the truth, to hunger for justice, and to suffer for the cause of right, with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Advent

Psalm 144
Blessed be the Lord my rock, who teaches my hands for war and my fingers for battle; my steadfast help and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I trust, who subdues the peoples under me.

O Lord, what are mortals that you should consider them; mere human beings, that you should take thought for them? They are like a breath of wind; their days pass away like a shadow.

Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains and they shall smoke. Cast down your lightnings and scatter them; shoot out your arrows and let thunder roar. Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and take me out of the great waters,
from the hand of foreign enemies, whose mouth speaks wickedness and their right hand is the hand of falsehood.

O God, I will sing to you a new song; I will play to you on a ten-stringed harp, You that give salvation to kings and have delivered David your servant.

Save me from the peril of the sword and deliver me from the hand of foreign enemies, whose mouth speaks wickedness and whose right hand is the hand of falsehood; so that our sons in their youth may be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters like pillars
carved for the corners of the temple; our barns be filled with all manner of store; our flocks bearing thousands, and ten thousands in our fields; our cattle be heavy with young: may there be no miscarriage or untimely birth, no cry of distress in our streets.

Happy are the people whose blessing this is.
Happy are the people who have the Lord for their God.

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 51.1-8
Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many. For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me,  and my justice for a light to the peoples. I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope.  Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be for ever, and my deliverance will never be ended.

Listen to me, you who know righteousness, you people who have my teaching in your hearts; do not fear the reproach of others, and do not be dismayed when they revile you. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my deliverance will be for ever, and my salvation to all generations.

2 Thessalonians 1
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgement of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering. For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marvelled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfil by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Collect
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Advent 

Psalm 70
O God, make speed to save me; Lord, make haste to help me.
Let those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion; let them be turned back and disgraced who wish me evil.
Let those who mock and deride me turn back because of their shame.
But let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say always, ‘Great is the Lord!’

As for me, I am poor and needy; come to me quickly, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.

Psalm 74
O God, why have you utterly disowned us?
Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?

Remember your congregation that you purchased of old, the tribe you redeemed for your own possession, and Mount Zion where you dwelt. Hasten your steps towards the endless ruins, where the enemy has laid waste all your sanctuary. Your adversaries roared in the place of your worship; they set up their banners as tokens of victory.

Like men brandishing axes on high in a thicket of trees, all her carved work they smashed down with hatchet and hammer. They set fire to your holy place; they defiled the dwelling place of your name and razed it to the ground. They said in their heart, ‘Let us make havoc of them altogether,’ and they burned down all the sanctuaries of God in the land.

There are no signs to see, not one prophet left, not one among us who knows how long. How long, O God, will the adversary scoff?
Shall the enemy blaspheme your name for ever?
Why have you withheld your hand and hidden your right hand in your bosom?

Yet God is my king from of old, who did deeds of salvation in the midst of the earth. It was you that divided the sea by your might and shattered the heads of the dragons on the waters; you alone crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him to the beasts of the desert for food. You cleft the rock for fountain and flood; you dried up ever-flowing rivers.

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the moon and the sun. You set all the bounds of the earth; you fashioned both summer and winter.
Remember now, Lord, how the enemy scoffed, how a foolish people despised your name. Do not give to wild beasts the soul of your turtle dove; forget not the lives of your poor for ever. Look upon your creation, for the earth is full of darkness, full of the haunts of violence. Let not the oppressed turn away ashamed, but let the poor and needy praise your name.

Arise, O God, maintain your own cause; remember how fools revile you all the day long. Forget not the clamour of your adversaries, the tumult of your enemies that ascends continually.

Isaiah 50
Thus says the Lord: Where is your mother’s bill of divorce with which I put her away?
Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?
No, because of your sins you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was put away.
Why was no one there when I came?
Why did no one answer when I called?
Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem?
Or have I no power to deliver?
By my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a desert; their fish stink for lack of water, and die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering.

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backwards.
I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness and has no light, yet trusts in the name of the Lord and relies upon his God?
But all of you are kindlers of fire, lighters of firebrands.
Walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled!
This is what you shall have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.

1 Thessalonians 5.12-end
But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Beloved, pray for us.

Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

The Collect
God for whom we watch and wait, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son: give us courage to speak the truth, to hunger for justice, and to suffer for the cause of right, with Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.


Monday, 17 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Monday, 17 December 2018

Advent 
Eglantyne Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save The Children’, 1928
O Sapientia

Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me out of the roaring pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a rock and made my footing sure.

He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many shall see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not turn to the proud that follow a lie.

Great are the wonders you have done, O Lord my God. How great your designs for us! There is none that can be compared with you. If I were to proclaim them and tell of them they would be more than I am able to express.

Sacrifice and offering you do not desire but my ears you have opened; burnt offering and sacrifice for sin you have not required; then said I: ‘Lo, I come. In the scroll of the book it is written of me that I should do your will, O my God; I delight to do it: your law is within my heart.’

I have declared your righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I did not restrain my lips, and that, O Lord, you know. Your righteousness I have not hidden in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your loving-kindness and truth from the great congregation.

Do not withhold your compassion from me, O Lord; let your love and your faithfulness always preserve me, for innumerable troubles have come about me; my sins have overtaken me so that I cannot look up; they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed who seek after my life to destroy it; let them be driven back and put to shame who wish me evil. Let those who heap insults upon me be desolate because of their shame.

Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad; let those who love your salvation say always,
‘The Lord is great.’

Though I am poor and needy, the Lord cares for me. You are my helper and my deliverer; O my God, make no delay.

Isaiah 49.14-25
But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Your builders outdo your destroyers, and those who laid you waste go away from you. Lift up your eyes all around and see; they all gather, they come to you. As I live, says the Lord, you shall put all of them on like an ornament, and like a bride you shall bind them on.

Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land—surely now you will be too crowded for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away. The children born in the time of your bereavement will yet say in your hearing: ‘The place is too crowded for me; make room for me to settle.’ Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has borne me these? I was bereaved and barren, exiled and put away—so who has reared these? I was left all alone—where then have these come from?’

Thus says the Lord God: I will soon lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster-fathers, and their queens your nursing-mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.

Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?
But thus says the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued; for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.

1 Thessalonians 5.1-11
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

The Collect
God for whom we watch and wait, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son: give us courage to speak the truth, to hunger for justice, and to suffer for the cause of right, with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Can't make it to church - Sunday, 16 December 2018

I am so very often surprised by the number of people who appear to miss the fact that John the Baptist (who we focus on today as the third Sunday in Advent) is loud, proud, and not just a little bit rude with his message. When they ask him what they should do to prepare for the coming of the Messiah his response is simple: "STOP SINNING!"

What else could he say to them? Take a look at those who come to him in today's Gospel (Luke 3.7-18):

To the crowds he points them to God, not the fact that they are Jews. Does this thinking apply to us as Christians? Be afraid, for I think that it does! Are we producing fruit 'in keeping with our repentance'? Does the gratitude for our salvation have any substance in the way we live or do we think that attending church, wearing a cross (fish), and dropping money in the offering makes us fit for heaven?

Do you think the crowds were asking themselves how much bad stuff they were laying up alongside, or instead of, the treasures they should have been storing up in heaven?  Yet this is what John was calling them to focus on. John was calling them (and us) to look at the ways they (we) can raise their game and live differently.

Are these the choices that those around John the Baptist were thinking of when they ask: "What should we do then?" How do you reckon they respond when he tells them to share what they have (two shirts is just a starting place) with those who have nothing? 

When John tells the crowd to, "Be generous and give to those who have need as God gives to our needs,” how do you think they respond? 

When the tax collectors asked John what they should do his answer was simple: "Stop stealing." There’s no wiggle room there, is there?

When the the soldiers came and asked what they should do, they were told to act rightly (we call this Professional, Appropriate, and Lawful in our armed forces). Justice, mercy and humanity (Micah 6) also spring to mind here.

He didn't tell anyone that God wanted them to be happy doing what they saw as fit and right to do (regardless of what the Bible might teach). He didn't tell them to give more money - because God doesn't want your money, He wants your hearts and lives filled with love and generosity in things, actions, and in spirit.

He told the people before him to live a godly and righteous life in the things and the places they were returning to after the show - and that is exactly what the prophecy of Malachi some four hundred years before called the people to do. And they didn't and so, with the arrival about to be made public, John is trying to get the people to get their lives in order so they look at least a little bit presentable. This is not a harsh rebuttal but an act of generosity for it’s giving those hearing his words the chance to turn around (that’s a clever use of ‘repent’ innit?) – and this is what we are also doing when we encourage people to change their lives before it’s too late.

Living our lives well, looking and sounding and acting like Jesus, in the world is one of the most important witnesses we can make to our being people of faith. You don't need a dog collar or a title or a medal - you need to exhibit the generous heart of God and that needs a cross – and gratitude, rejoicing in the freedom from sin and reconciliation with the godhead that that brings. Here we find the fruits of gladness become made real in our generous and right living. It’s so simple really, isn’t it?

And on a day when we are called to rejoice - For the third Sunday of Advent is called 'Gaudete' Sunday (Gaudetemeans rejoice) – rejoicing is the natural response to the fact that God has taken away the punishment of his people and has ‘turned back’ their enemy. The reality in the words of Zephaniah given some time around 620 BC is the same reality that Jesus’ death on the cross brings for the Christian too. Jesus’ death brings defeat for our enemy (satan) and he (Jesus) bears in His body the punishment for us. He takes our place. What love. What generosity to pay a bill that wasn’t His to be paying! Jesus is the mighty warrior who save; them one who no longer rebukes but rejoices over us with songs of deliverance.

And the Apostle Paul gets into the act with his letter to the church in Phillipi, a communication which I think affirms all we have here, for when he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice,” he is nodding towards the fact that to rejoice is a choice of attitude. It is the expression of our gratitude for all God has given and done for us. The outworking of this for your lives is to, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” 

So we are righteous and holy people who are living out they love of God in gentleness (gentle as dove and cunning as serpents – we are not pushovers). We trust God and pray, ask, thank and experience a peace that no one, and nowhere, provides.

What a great set of readings we had before us today.

How do the words above and the readings below shape us as Christians?

What do they say to those who claim to have no faith and how do we communicate what the words here have for them?


The Collect
God for whom we watch and wait, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son: give us courage to speak the truth, to hunger for justice, and to suffer for the cause of right, with Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Zephaniah 3.14-20
Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel!Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem,“Do not fear, Zion;  do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

“I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals, which is a burden and reproach for you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honour in every land where they have suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honour and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the Lord.

Philippians 4.4-7 
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!   Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3.7-18
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptised by him, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.’

‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked.
John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’

Even tax collectors came to be baptised.  ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’
‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’
He replied,  ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.’

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, ‘I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.




Post Communion Prayers
We give you thanks, O Lord, for these heavenly gifts; kindle in us the fire of your Spirit that when your Christ comes again we may shine as lights before his face; who is alive and reigns now and for ever. Amen.



Saturday, 15 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 15 December 2018

Advent 
Ember Day

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

One generation shall praise your works to another and declare your mighty acts.
They shall speak of the majesty of your glory, and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts, and I will also tell of your greatness.
They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, long-suffering and of great goodness.
The Lord is loving to everyone and his mercy is over all his creatures.

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

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.

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

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

The Lord watches over those who love him, but all the wicked shall he destroy.

My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Isaiah 49.1-13
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’
But I said, ‘I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—he says,
‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’

Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers,
‘Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’

Thus says the Lord:
In a time of favour I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out’, to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’
They shall feed along the ways, on all the bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. And I will turn all my mountains into a road, and my highways shall be raised up. Lo, these shall come from far away, and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones.

1 Thessalonians 4.13-end
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

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


Friday, 14 December 2018

Morning Prayer - Friday, 14 December 2018

Advent 
John of the Cross, Poet, Teacher of the Faith,1591
Ember Day


Psalm 85
Lord, you were gracious to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the offence of your people and covered all their sins. You laid aside all your fury and turned from your wrathful indignation.

Restore us again, O God our Saviour, and let your anger cease from us. Will you be displeased with us for ever? Will you stretch out your wrath from one generation to another? Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your mercy, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

I will listen to what the Lord God will say, for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful, that they turn not again to folly. Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other; truth shall spring up from the earth and righteousness look down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give all that is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness shall go before him and direct his steps in the way.

Psalm 86
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and in misery. Preserve my soul, for I am faithful; save your servant, for I put my trust in you. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for you are my God; I call upon you all the day long. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer and listen to the voice of my supplication. In the day of my distress I will call upon you, for you will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord, nor any works like yours. All nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wonderful things; you alone are God.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you, that I may fear your name. I will thank you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and glorify your name for evermore; for great is your steadfast love towards me, for you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave.

O God, the proud rise up against me and a ruthless horde seek after my life; they have not set you before their eyes. But you, Lord, are gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and full of kindness and truth. Turn to me and have mercy upon me; give your strength to your servant and save the child of your handmaid. Show me a token of your favour, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed; because you, O Lord, have helped and comforted me.

Isaiah 48.12-end
Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called: I am He; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they stand at attention.

Assemble, all of you, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The Lord loves him; he shall perform his purpose on Babylon, and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken and called him, I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way. Draw near to me, hear this! From the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there. And now the Lord God has sent me and his spirit.

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.
O that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your prosperity would have been like a river, and your success like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it forth to the end of the earth; say, ‘The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob!’ They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split open the rock and the water gushed out.

‘There is no peace’, says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’

1 Thessalonians 4.1-12
Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you knows how to control your own body in holiness and honour, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one wrongs or exploits a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly towards outsiders and be dependent on no one.

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