Friday, 17 August 2018

Visiting other churches - Part the second (Summer 2018)

As is our usual practice during the time away from the normal daily existence that is the Summer holidays we found ourselves being Church in a different place to home - Sad to say this is not always a blessing or a joy.

This year we found ourselves visiting a couple of churches in the Weston Super Mare area - the second church visited was a Service of the Word' in a smaller, pretty central, rural church. This is what we experienced.

EVENING
It was rather nice to find ourselves lazying around and being beckoned by church bells to a service near to the camp site. We'd already checked the times and the fact that the services alternated between mornings on week and evenings the next meant that if we were to to, it would be the evening service.

So up we got and down the road we trotted. It was a lovely little rural church and we were greeted at the door with the relevant paperwork (hymn book, order of service and a copy of the Psalm) and then engaged with a bit more by another of the members of the congregation. The service was that strange evening service fusion which saw traditional and modern collide and being a bit of BCP (Book of Common Prayer) groupie I find I struggle with the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis ending with 'Holy Spirit' rather than 'Holy Ghost' as the latter is my default position.

But that said we had an organist (how I hate Wesley and all the other substitutes for an organ that are increasingly plaguing the church) and twenty-two souls made a creditable fist of the singing. It was gentle and apart from the odd glitches with the sound system (batteries might be included but not always changed) all was well.

The sermon was a gentle affair and resonated with the words of the morning service we'd attended (good to see God being consistent in the message when the reading differed). All in all it was exactly what it promised on the packet and provided a nice rounding off of the day.

A few liturgical moments for me as the Gospel was announced and people stood but in fact it was merely, in that context, a second reading (no acclamation and a 'Thanks be to God' at the end). Not a big issue and thankfully there was no Paschal candle lit to cause me pain (why do so many of the churches I visit persist in lighting the Paschal candle for every service - it's just lazy liturgy!!).

But as with the morning, we were welcomed, blessed and touched by God - so another big thumbs up. Seems that the Weston Super Mare area has some competent and Spirit-led churches. I recommend a visit just because it's nice to see the rural communities doing church - how I'd love for the same percentage of the local population to be found in the urban churches.

I wonder how many other clergy and regular church-goers visit local churches when away - be nice to hear more stories.





Visiting other churches - Part the first (Summer 2018)

As is our usual practice during the time away from the normal daily existence that is the Summer holidays we found ourselves being Church in a different place to home - Sad to say this is not always a blessing or a joy.

This year we found ourselves visiting a couple of churches in the Weston Super Mare area. The first was for a main Sunday morning Communion service in an evangelical setting and the second was a 'Service of the Word' in a smaller, pretty central, rural church.

MORNING
As we walked in we were pointed towards the tea and coffee that was on offer. Passing up on the offer (you can only drink so much tea in the morning and breakfast had only recently finished) we made our way like good Anglicans to a seat near the back of the church. we were engaged with by regulars and the conversations continued even after they realised we were just passing through (been to more than one place where the locals realising you weren't going to sign up moved on to canvass other strangers).

The service is presented to the congregation by monitors mounted on the pillars around the church building (three on each side) and a couple of larger bits of kit on the stage area.  Good viewing angles and the songs, readings and service were easily visible (I didn't ask about large-print sheets, but assume that a church who had got the  first bit right would also cater for hose who would struggle with a paperless church.

A nice touch was the countdown to the service start and as the seconds ticked away the sound level got progressively louder until at 00:00, having reached a crescendo, it stopped and the Vicar welcomed those present and prayed. It was good to see the Vicar playing tag with a younger person - and as they shared that part of the service we were blessed to see a positive and creative way of encouraging all-member and all-age ministry.

We sang a couple of what seemed to be 'child friendly' songs and then the children disappeared off for their thing and we sang some more, had an update from a former member who was working 'up North', had the readings, a sermon and as the time for the Communion approached, we stopped and chatted to the people around us.

Unlike many of the places we've visited, this was a pause with a purpose as during this the parents were encouraged to collect their children and to help them make sense of the Communion that was to follow. Even more unlike many of the services in churches like the one we were in, the congregation were asked to stand during the Eucharistic prayer ('D' for those who like to know those things) and we we invited at the end to visit one of the four stations in the building (non-alcoholic and gluten-free as suited the communicant). What a joy as we did things 'properly' with respect and decorum a forethought for all to often we get a mumbled prayer and nothing that even approaches consecration of the Anglican kind.

There was a news bulletin on the screens before the sermon and this spoke of what was on offer, the ministry and vision of the church and made more sense that the usual 'mostly inaccurate' piece of paper we normally get posing as information. A great use of the video screens around the place and a cool way of keeping people in the loop and belonging.

There was a word from the front before it all came to an end and prayer ministry was offered for those who had been touched by the service, moved by the Spirit of God or brought their problems in at the beginning and wanted them prayed over. There was even a proper blessing!!

The whole experience was positive and the journey through it was gentle and (in the proper sense of the word) ''Intentional'. It felt like there everything was done with a purpose and that there was a direction and a sense of God in everything that happened throughout. The Vicar seemed to gently stroll through the whole thing ready to catch things should they fall but also moving sensitively to God's prompting throughout.

The only (slight but obvious) niggle for me was the fact that the screens didn't always keep up with the things going on (essential when you don't know the songs). As a former PA/Sound and Video person I know the problems of keeping the person on the desk and the poor soul doing AV focussed on the task before them as the slightest distraction has the potential to render the techies naked and vulnerable. But it's Summer and perhaps they were covering the role or had a chatty guy riding the sliders (guilty as charged :-) ).

But I have to say that should you visit Weston Super Mare, St Paul's is most definitely worth a visit on a number of levels. Ticked all the boxes and saw me leave feeling blessed and that I'd been in the presence of God with family.

Thank you Andrew and the team.



Morning Prayer - Friday, 17 August 2018

Psalm 88
O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you. Let my prayer come into your presence; incline your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles; my life draws near to the land of death.

I am counted as one gone down to the Pit; I am like one that has no strength, Lost among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.

You have laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness in the abyss. Your anger lies heavy upon me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves. You have put my friends far from me and made me to be abhorred by them. I am so fast in prison that I cannot get free; my eyes fail from all my trouble.

Lord, I have called daily upon you; I have stretched out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
Will the shades stand up and praise you?
Shall your loving-kindness be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Shall your wonders be known in the dark or your righteous deeds in the land where all is forgotten?
But as for me, O Lord, I will cry to you; early in the morning my prayer shall come before you.

Lord, why have you rejected my soul?
Why have you hidden your face from me?
I have been wretched and at the point of death from my youth; I suffer your terrors and am no more seen. Your wrath sweeps over me; your horrors are come to destroy me; All day long they come about me like water; they close me in on every side. Lover and friend have you put far from me and hid my companions out of my sight.

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.” ’

2 Samuel 7.18-end
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it. Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another nation on earth whose God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for himself, doing great and awesome things for them, by driving out before his people nations and their gods? And you established your people Israel for yourself to be your people for ever; and you, O Lord, became their God. And now, O Lord God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it for ever; do as you have promised. Thus your name will be magnified for ever in the saying, “The Lord of hosts is God over Israel”; and the house of your servant David will be established before you. For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, “I will build you a house”; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant; now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue for ever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed for ever.’

Acts 7.54-8.3
When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.

And Saul approved of their killing him.
That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.

The Collect
O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, that we, running the way of your commandments, may receive your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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, 16 August 2018

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 16 August 2018

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 16 August 2018

Psalm 90
Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth, or the earth and the world were formed, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust and say: ‘Turn back, O children of earth.’ For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday, which passes like a watch in the night. You sweep them away like a dream; they fade away suddenly like the grass.

In the morning it is green and flourishes; in the evening it is dried up and withered. For we consume away in your displeasure; we are afraid at your wrathful indignation. You have set our misdeeds before you and our secret sins in the light of your countenance. When you are angry, all our days are gone; our years come to an end like a sigh. The days of our life are three score years and ten, or if our strength endures, even four score; yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow, for they soon pass away and we are gone.

Who regards the power of your wrath and your indignation like those who fear you? So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

Turn again, O Lord; how long will you delay? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Give us gladness for the days you have afflicted us, and for the years in which we have seen adversity. Show your servants your works, and let your glory be over their children.

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

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

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

For lo, your enemies, O Lord, lo, your enemies shall perish, and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild oxen; I am anointed with fresh oil. My eyes will look down on my foes; my ears shall hear the ruin of the evildoers who rise up against me.

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

2 Samuel 7.1-17
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your

Acts 7.44-53
‘Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David, who found favour with God and asked that he might find a dwelling-place for the house of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says,

“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
 What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?
 Did not my hand make all these things?”

‘You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are for ever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do.

Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?
They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.’

The Collect
God of glory, the end of our searching, help us to lay aside all that prevents us from seeking your kingdom, and to give all that we have to gain the pearl beyond all price, through our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Psalm 98
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things. His own right hand and his holy arm have won for him the victory.

The Lord has made known his salvation; his deliverance has he openly shown in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his mercy and faithfulness towards the house of Israel, and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

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

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

In righteousness shall he judge the world and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 138
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods will I sing praise to you.

I will bow down towards your holy temple and praise your name, because of your love and faithfulness; for you have glorified your name and your word above all things.

In the day that I called to you, you answered me; you put new strength in my soul.

All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth. They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, that great is the glory of the Lord.

Though the Lord be high, he watches over the lowly; as for the proud, he regards them from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will preserve me; you will stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand will save me.

The Lord shall make good his purpose for me; your loving-kindness, O Lord, endures for ever; forsake not the work of your hands.

Psalm 147.1-12
Alleluia.
How good it is to make music for our God, how joyful to honour him with praise.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds. He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond all telling. The Lord lifts up the poor, but casts down the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the lyre; who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth; who makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve our needs.

He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens when they cry. He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, no delight in human strength; but the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their trust in his steadfast love.

Isaiah 7.10-15
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

Luke 11.27,28
While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’

The Collect
Almighty God, who looked upon the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary and chose her to be the mother of your only Son: grant that we who are redeemed by his blood may share with her in the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.Amen.


Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Maximilian Kolbe, Friar, Martyr, 1941

Psalm 87
His foundation is on the holy mountains.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you, Zion, city of our God.

I record Egypt and Babylon as those who know me; behold Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia: in Zion were they born. And of Zion it shall be said, ‘Each one was born in her, and the Most High himself has established her.’

The Lord will record as he writes up the peoples, ‘This one also was born there.’
And as they dance they shall sing, ‘All my fresh springs are in you.’

Psalm 89.1-18
My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord: with my mouth will I proclaim your faithfulness throughout all generations. I will declare that your love is established for ever; you have set your faithfulness as firm as the heavens. For you said: ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant: “Your seed will I establish for ever and build up your throne for all generations.” ’

The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones; for who among the clouds can be compared to the Lord?

Who is like the Lord among the host of heaven?
A God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible above all those round about him.

Who is like you, Lord God of hosts?
Mighty Lord, your faithfulness is all around you.

You rule the raging of the sea; you still its waves when they arise.
You crushed Rahab with a deadly wound and scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; you established the world and all that fills it.
You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name.
You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand and high is your right hand.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before your face.
Happy are the people who know the shout of triumph: they walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance.
In your name they rejoice all the day long and are exalted in your righteousness.
For you are the glory of their strength, and in your favour you lift up our heads.
Truly the Lord is our shield; the Holy One of Israel is our king.

2 Samuel 5.1-12
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, ‘You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back’—thinking, ‘David cannot come in here.’ Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David. David had said on that day, ‘Whoever wishes to strike down the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, those whom David hates.’ Therefore it is said, ‘The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.’ David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inwards. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar trees, and carpenters and masons who built David a house. David then perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

Acts 7.1-16
Then the high priest asked him, ‘Are these things so?’ And Stephen replied:

‘Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, “Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.” Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and maltreat them for four hundred years. “But I will judge the nation that they serve,” said God, “and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.” Then he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

‘The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favour and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan, and great suffering, and our ancestors could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there on their first visit. On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five in all; so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, and their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

The Collect
O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, that we, running the way of your commandments, may receive your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Monday, 13 August 2018

Morning Prayer - Monday, 13 August 2018

Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor, Teacher of the Faith, 1667
Florence Nightingale, Nurse, Social Reformer, 1910
Octavia Hill, Social Reformer, 1912

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

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

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

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

Psalm 82
God has taken his stand in the council of heaven; in the midst of the gods he gives judgement:
‘How long will you judge unjustly and show such favour to the wicked?
‘You were to judge the weak and the orphan; defend the right of the humble and needy;
‘Rescue the weak and the poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
‘They have no knowledge or wisdom; they walk on still in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

‘Therefore I say that though you are gods and all of you children of the Most High,
‘Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals and fall like one of their princes.’

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

2 Samuel 3.12-end
Abner sent messengers to David at Hebron, saying, ‘To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and I will give you my support to bring all Israel over to you.’ He said, ‘Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall never appear in my presence unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to see me.’ Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ishbaal, saying, ‘Give me my wife Michal, to whom I became engaged at the price of one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.’ Ishbaal sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping as he walked behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go back home!’ So he went back.

Abner sent word to the elders of Israel, saying, ‘For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. Now then bring it about; for the Lord has promised David: Through my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from all their enemies.’ Abner also spoke directly to the Benjaminites; then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin were ready to do.

When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. Abner said to David, ‘Let me go and rally all Israel to my lord the king, in order that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.’ So David dismissed Abner, and he went away in peace.

Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for David had dismissed him, and he had gone away in peace. When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, ‘Abner son of Ner came to the king, and he has dismissed him, and he has gone away in peace.’ Then Joab went to the king and said, ‘What have you done? Abner came to you; why did you dismiss him, so that he got away? You know that Abner son of Ner came to deceive you, and to learn your comings and goings and to learn all that you are doing.’

When Joab came out from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah; but David did not know about it. When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gateway to speak with him privately, and there he stabbed him in the stomach. So he died for shedding the blood of Asahel, Joab’s brother. Afterwards, when David heard of it, he said, ‘I and my kingdom are for ever guiltless before the Lord for the blood of Abner son of Ner. May the guilt fall on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house; and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge, or who is leprous, or who holds a spindle, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks food!’ So Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.

Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, ‘Tear your clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourn over Abner.’ And King David followed the bier. They buried Abner at Hebron. The king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. The king lamented for Abner, saying, ‘Should Abner die as a fool dies?  Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered; as one falls before the wicked you have fallen.’

And all the people wept over him again. Then all the people came to persuade David to eat something while it was still day; but David swore, saying, ‘So may God do to me, and more, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down!’ All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; just as everything the king did pleased all the people. So all the people and all Israel understood that day that the king had no part in the killing of Abner son of Ner. And the king said to his servants, ‘Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? Today I am powerless, even though anointed king; these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too violent for me. The Lord pay back the one who does wickedly in accordance with his wickedness!’

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
Holy and loving God, you dwell in the human heart and make us partakers of the divine nature in Christ our great high priest: help us who remember your servant Jeremy Taylor to put our trust in your heavenly promises and follow a holy life in virtue and true godliness; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 11 August 2018

Clare of Assisi, Founder of the Minoresses (Poor Clares), 1253
John Henry Newman, Priest, Tractarian, 1890

Psalm 76
In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. At Salem is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. There broke he the flashing arrows of the bow, the shield, the sword and the weapons of war. In the light of splendour you appeared, glorious from the eternal mountains. The boastful were plundered; they have slept their sleep; none of the warriors can lift their hand. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot fell stunned.

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

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

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

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

Remember not against us our former sins; let your compassion make haste to meet us, for we are brought very low.

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and wipe away our sins for your name’s sake.

Why should the heathen say, ‘Where is now their God?’
Let vengeance for your servants’ blood that is shed be known among the nations in our sight.
Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you, and by your mighty arm preserve those who are condemned to die.

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

2 Samuel 2.1-11
After this David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?’ The Lord said to him, ‘Go up.’ David said, ‘To which shall I go up?’ He said, ‘To Hebron.’ So David went up there, along with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David brought up the men who were with him, every one with his household; and they settled in the towns of Hebron. Then the people of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

When they told David, ‘It was the people of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul’, David sent messengers to the people of Jabesh-gilead, and said to them, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord, and buried him! Now may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you! And I too will reward you because you have done this thing. Therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant; for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.’

But Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ishbaal son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and over all Israel. Ishbaal, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for two years. But the house of Judah followed David. The time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

Acts 5.27-end
When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’

When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. Then he said to them, ‘Fellow-Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!’

They were convinced by him, and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonour for the sake of the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.

The Collect
God of peace, who in the poverty of the blessed Clare gave us a clear light to shine in the darkness of this world: give us grace so to follow in her footsteps that we may, at the last, rejoice with her in your eternal glory; 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.