Saturday, 20 October 2018

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 20 October 2018

Psalm 147
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.

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.

2 Kings 25.22-end
He appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan as governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had left. Now when all the captains of the forces and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite. Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, ‘Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials; live in the land, serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.’ But in the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men; they struck down Gedaliah so that he died, along with the Judeans and Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. Then all the people, high and low, and the captains of the forces, set out and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.

In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, King Evil-merodach of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison; he spoke kindly to him, and gave him a seat above the other seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes. Every day of his life he dined regularly in the king’s presence. For his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion every day, as long as he lived.

1 Timothy 5.17-end
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain’, and, ‘The labourer deserves to be paid.’ Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

The sins of some people are conspicuous and precede them to judgement, while the sins of others follow them there. So also good works are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.

The Collect
God, our light and our salvation: illuminate our lives, that we may see your goodness in the land of the living, and looking on your beauty may be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Friday, 19 October 2018

'Third Places : Last Chance Saloon?

The concept of the ‘third place’ and the potential it has with regard to the establishment of new (fresh) expressions of Church is one of the challenges the Mission Shaped Ministry course presents. The problem is that so often we find ourselves discussing it and getting excited as we look at ways of engaging in ‘churcification’ rather than inculturation and Church becoming something real for those who aren’t Church.

The term ‘Third Place’ comes from work by American sociologist Ray Oldenburg as described in his book 'The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community'.

Oldenburg recognised that the people before him were increasingly living lives lived between two places, namely their homes and their workplaces. Working in the City of London’s finance sector this truth was obvious and evident: Work began with the train - happened in the workplace - ended with the train home. Home was the ‘other’ place where we ate, relaxed and slept!

Some of my fellow workers had a place which wasn’t work or home; a place where they socialised, relaxed, engaged with, and were engaged with. This was the place (A ‘Third Place’) where they seemed to come alive.

One friend went to a bookshop where along with books there was tea, coffee and food on offer. They went every week and listened to writers being interviewed and new books released. Soon they were in a reading group and their fellow readers became a new family for them. They even ended up marrying someone they’d met there!

Another person popped into a local pub and found they had a jazz club. Soon it became a regular weekly thing and as time progressed they had a circle of friends and there were meals, concerts, trips abroad and they’d learnt to play an instrument and joined a band.

We probably all know someone who has found their own ‘third place’. For some time it was rowing and flying clubs that shared this label until church that became my third place. It was a place where I socialised and became part of a family and belonged. It was a place where I found myself going to twice on a Sunday and two or three times during the week!

One of the most important things about a third place is that it is a place where people feel at ease and can socialise in a safe and enabling way. The problem is that we can end up making church a one day offering, but let’s be honest and admit that for many of the churchgoers we know it’s all about one day with one service time slot!

We probably all know somebody whose third place is a pub or bar and more often than not they will be found there more than once a week. They consider themselves to be part of the place and they have a special relationship with the regulars. This is true of the Tamworth micropub, the King’s Ditch, where regulars come to enjoy the beers and ciders on offer and to engage in conversation with those around them (and there’s no music to separate those who come from those around them - what’s on offer is naked community).

Just like pubs and other third places with opening hours, the same is true with church with its early, later and evening opening hours (and was also true for the early Church too). The third place is a place of belonging, conversation and welcome. It’s a place which opens up so much to those who are isolated and trapped in their daily living.

The message of salvation through Jesus, The Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross is about being incarnate; that is ‘being flesh’. This what a third place also offers those who come: Engagement with real people. Jesus is the realest person I know, so doesn’t it make sense that the third places welcome Him And encourage relationships to be forged with Him there too?

I’d like to challenge you to think about your third places.

Do you take Jesus there with you or do you leave him at the door (isn't that denying Him)?

When you are in your third place are you prepared to “Give an answer for the hope that you have in Jesus?”

If you don’t have a third place, where could you find one? What would you look for?

Have a think about my questions. We will be coming back to them some time soon.



Morning Prayer - Friday, 19 October 2018

Henry Martyn, Translator of the Scriptures, Missionary in India and Persia, 1812

Psalm 142
I cry aloud to the Lord; to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before him and tell him of my trouble. When my spirit faints within me, you know my path; in the way wherein I walk have they laid a snare for me. I look to my right hand, and find no one who knows me; I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for my soul.

I cry out to you, O Lord, and say:
‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Listen to my cry, for I am brought very low; save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name; when you have dealt bountifully with me, then shall the righteous gather around me.’

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 pillar 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.

2 Kings 24.18-25.12
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. Indeed, Jerusalem and Judah so angered the Lord that he expelled them from his presence.

Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it; they built siege-works against it all round. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine became so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city wall; the king with all the soldiers fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all round the city. They went in the direction of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; all his army was scattered, deserting him. Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence on him. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah; they bound him in fetters and took him to Babylon.

In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. All the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon—all the rest of the population. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest people of the land to be vine-dressers and tillers of the soil.

1 Timothy 5.1-16
Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.

Honour widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once; she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. But refuse to put younger widows on the list; for when their sensual desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry, and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge. Besides that, they learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house; and they are not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us. For some have already turned away to follow Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are really widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so that it can assist those who are real widows.

The Collect
Almighty God, who by your Holy Spirit gave Henry Martyn a longing to tell the good news of Christ and skill to translate the Scriptures: by the same Spirit give us grace to offer you our gifts, wherever you may lead, at whatever the cost; 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, 18 October 2018

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 18 October 2018

Luke, the Evangelist

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.

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 55
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.

I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;  let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,  so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Luke 1.1-4
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

The Collect
Almighty God,  you called Luke the physician, whose praise is in the gospel, to be an evangelist and physician of the soul: by the grace of the Spirit and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel, give your Church the same love and power to heal; 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.


Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, Martyr, c.107

Psalm 119.153-end
O consider my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me; according to your promise, give me life.
Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
Great is your compassion, O Lord; give me life, according to your judgements.

Many there are that persecute and oppress me, yet do I not swerve from your testimonies.
It grieves me when I see the treacherous, for they do not keep your word.
Consider, O Lord, how I love your commandments; give me life according to your loving-kindness.
The sum of your word is truth, and all your righteous judgements endure for evermore.

Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of your word.
I am as glad of your word as one who finds great spoils.
As for lies, I hate and abhor them, but your law do I love.
Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgements.

Great peace have they who love your law; nothing shall make them stumble.
Lord, I have looked for your salvation and I have fulfilled your commandments.
My soul has kept your testimonies and greatly have I loved them.
I have kept your commandments and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding, according to your word.
Let my supplication come before you; deliver me, according to your promise.
My lips shall pour forth your praise, when you have taught me your statutes.
My tongue shall sing of your word, for all your commandments are righteous.

Let your hand reach out to help me, for I have chosen your commandments.
I have longed for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and it shall praise you, and let your judgements be my help.

I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; O seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

2 Kings 23.4-25
The king commanded the high priest Hilkiah, the priests of the second order, and the guardians of the threshold, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. He deposed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who made offerings to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and all the host of the heavens. He brought out the image of Asherah from the house of the Lord, outside Jerusalem, to the Wadi Kidron, burned it at the Wadi Kidron, beat it to dust and threw the dust of it upon the graves of the common people. He broke down the houses of the male temple prostitutes that were in the house of the Lord, where the women did weaving for Asherah. He brought all the priests out of the towns of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beer-sheba; he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on the left at the gate of the city. The priests of the high places, however, did not come up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but ate unleavened bread among their kindred. He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, so that no one would make a son or a daughter pass through fire as an offering to Molech. He removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the Lord, by the chamber of the eunuch Nathan-melech, which was in the precincts; then he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. The altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, he pulled down from there and broke in pieces, and threw the rubble into the Wadi Kidron. The king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Destruction, which King Solomon of Israel had built for Astarte the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. He broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the sacred poles, and covered the sites with human bones.

Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin—he pulled down that altar along with the high place. He burned the high place, crushing it to dust; he also burned the sacred pole. As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount; and he sent and took the bones out of the tombs, and burned them on the altar, and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, when Jeroboam stood by the altar at the festival; he turned and looked up at the tomb of the man of God who had predicted these things. Then he said, ‘What is that monument that I see?’ The people of the city told him, ‘It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.’ He said, ‘Let him rest; let no one move his bones.’ So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. Moreover, Josiah removed all the shrines of the high places that were in the towns of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the Lord to anger; he did to them just as he had done at Bethel. He slaughtered on the altars all the priests of the high places who were there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
The king commanded all the people, ‘Keep the passover to the Lord your God as prescribed in this book of the covenant.’ No such passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, even during all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem.

Moreover, Josiah did away with the mediums, wizards, teraphim, idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

1 Timothy 3
The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.
Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be married only once, and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:
He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

The Collect
Feed us, O Lord, with the living bread and make us drink deep of the cup of salvation that, following the teaching of your bishop Ignatius and rejoicing in the faith with which he embraced a martyr's death, we may be nourished for that eternal life for which he longed; 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, 16 October 2018

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, and Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, Reformation Martyrs, 1555

Psalm 132
Lord, remember for David all the hardships he endured; how he swore an oath to the Lord and vowed a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
‘I will not come within the shelter of my house, nor climb up into my bed;
‘I will not allow my eyes to sleep, nor let my eyelids slumber,
‘Until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.’

Now, we heard of the ark in Ephrathah and found it in the fields of Ja-ar. Let us enter his dwelling place and fall low before his footstool.

Arise, O Lord, into your resting place, you and the ark of your strength. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness and your faithful ones sing with joy. For your servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.

The Lord has sworn an oath to David, a promise from which he will not shrink:
‘Of the fruit of your body shall I set upon your throne. If your children keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their children also shall sit upon your throne for evermore.’

For the Lord has chosen Zion for himself; he has desired her for his habitation:
‘This shall be my resting place for ever; here will I dwell, for I have longed for her.
‘I will abundantly bless her provision; her poor will I satisfy with bread.
‘I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful ones shall rejoice and sing.
‘There will I make a horn to spring up for David; I will keep a lantern burning for my anointed.
‘As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame; but on him shall his crown be bright.’

Psalm 133
Behold how good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, Even on Aaron’s beard, running down upon the collar of his clothing.

It is like the dew of Hermon running down upon the hills of Zion. For there the Lord has promised his blessing: even life for evermore.

2 Kings 22.1-23.3
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.

In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the Lord, saying, ‘Go up to the high priest Hilkiah, and have him count the entire sum of the money that has been brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people; let it be given into the hand of the workers who have the oversight of the house of the Lord; let them give it to the workers who are at the house of the Lord, repairing the house, that is, to the carpenters, to the builders, to the masons; and let them use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no account shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.’

The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.’ When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, ‘Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the Lord.’ Shaphan the secretary informed the king, ‘The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.’ Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.

When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah, saying, ‘Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.’

So the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the prophetess Huldah the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; she resided in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter, where they consulted her. She declared to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord, I will indeed bring disaster on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. Because they have abandoned me and have made offerings to other gods, so that they have provoked me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. But as to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place, and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and because you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. Therefore, I will gather you to your ancestors, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring on this place.’ They took the message back to the king.

Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.

1 Timothy 1.18-2.end
I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For
there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all—this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

The Collect
God, our light and our salvation: illuminate our lives, that we may see your goodness in the land of the living, and looking on your beauty may be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Monday, 15 October 2018

Jesus and Divorce

(Can't make it to church - Sunday, 7 October 2018)

So here we are again and it's another Sunday where we find the Pharisees trying to trip Jesus up with a question about divorce – as much of a prickly issue theological argument then as it is a sensitive issue now. This was (and still is) one ‘the’ big sex-related controversies: and it was no different in Jesus time thanks to a division between supporters of the two differing rabbinic camps led by rabbis Hillel and Shammai (who we will meet shortly).

I don’t think we can look at the Mark passage without consulting Matthew, for together they form a key to Jesus’ words. Not only that but we need to consider divorce in Deuteronomy 24.1-4 to get an understanding of the context of divorce.

In our Gospel reading Mark reports the Pharisees as asking: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”  Matthew reports the same encounter with the Pharisees with them posing the question as, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?

Now it’s important that when we look to the Bible for answers we look for consensus and consistency, this way we don’t cherry pick the words we want to have that support our views (we call this ‘proof texting’).

A bill of divorce doesn’t end a marriage but permits remarriage. If a couple who were married dissolved that marriage then neither would be able to remarry because to do so would mean that they were in (as an Elim colleague used to say) ‘a perpetual state of adultery’. Marriage was supposed to be for life, but as Jesus is reported as saying in both the Matthew and Mark readings, “Moses gave a bill of divorce because people’s hearts were hard.”

An engagement ring doesn’t make a couple, but recognises that there is a couple. It is something that follows the act of relationship. A marriage doesn’t just happen – you can’t just walk up to a stranger and marry them – the marriage is a recognition that the relationship is already there: It affirms what already is. So too with a bill of divorce. It doesn’t end a marriage but recognises that the marriage has ended and spiritually and legally (but rarely emotionally) severs the ties and permits remarriage. It’s like resetting the odometer on a car!

But of course resetting the odometer changes the mileage but the age and condition and other factors regarding it are still in existence.

So the first point to make a note of is: Divorce doesn’t end a marriage but recognises that the marriage is ended and removing the impediment to remarriage that is adultery, permits remarriage.

In Deuteronomy 24.1-4, we find that a man who marries a woman who ‘becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her’, can give her a certificate of divorce and send her away! A practical solution from Moses for a contentious and divisive situation. For if a man sent his wife away then she could not return to her family and she could not enter into a relationship that God would bless as the relationship would be adulterous. The bill of divorce removed the religious objections and ensured that her living by immoral means, or dying through neglect and starvation, were removed at a stroke. Harmony (of sorts) in the community.

Then in walk two rabbis with their interpretations of the whole issue. Shammai held that divorce was only permitted for serious breaches of the marital relationship (like adulterous) whilst Hillel was a little more liberal and said that there had to be a reason, any reason – like they were old, ugly, fat, could cook, and the like – and these two views divided the population into two distinct camps.

This is the context in which Jesus is being tested on by the Pharisees question. Which camp will he offend? Obviously, within the context of Moses and the lawful side, it is ‘lawful’ to divorce and yet Jesus wants to deal with the heart rather than the law for this is what the real issue is. He’s not looking to support one camp or the other but to get to the universal issue regarding divorce.

Marriage was for life, but this changed because of the hardness of our hearts. Because people separated, Moses had to find a way of maintaining the community and keep the people right before God.without finding a religious way of permitting remarriage then those who did it would be religiously unclean and face being stoned too! This is where our Genesis passage comes in with the making of a companion for Adam and the two becoming one flesh. The beginning of a life-long commitment. The way it should be and yet in today’s society, the way it is no longer. This is a reality in and amongst our fallen and self-governing world.

The reason for divorce under Moses’ authorship is adultery. But Jesus is pointing at the people before Him with the law to support Him and make them uncomfortable.divorce recognises the breach that has occurred and responds to permit remarriage. But for those who divorced to marry another, then adultery was not the cause but the result!

There was a practice amongst some where they divorced and remarried and then divorcing the new wife would simply remarry the former wife. This meant they could play away from home without the sin of adultery being a reality thanks to clever use of the legal. But reading the Deuteronomy passage below you’ll see that remarriage to a previously divorced partner is not permitted! How uncomfortable must Jesus has made this Pharisees!!!

Jesus goes on to make sure that no one is left in any doubt that the regulations regarding divorce and remarriage apply equally to men and women. Divorce is there to permit serious reasons for the marriage to permit remarriage, nothing else.

Now some say that divorce must result in a single (and therefore celibate) life because they take the Gospel readings out of context and quite often ignore completely the Deuteronomy reading altogether. To this I can but point to Deuteronomy four and our Genesis passage and make the observation that it is not good for us to be alone! And add the cherry: “Those whom God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Today’s issue is so big that whilst the Genesis passage underpins the divorce discussion it would be easy to miss the Hebrews passage and yet there is an important point to be taken from it as we consider divorce in the context of being right with, and before, God. The same Jesus who speaks to the Pharisees, who sees past the law into the heart, is that same person spoken of in the Hebrews passage. Let us never lose sight of who Jesus is and what He did for us on the cross and does in us by His Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

Let us keep the laws and walk to His heartbeat in love, fidelity, compassion and forgiveness.




Genesis 2.18-24
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,  “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.


Hebrews 1.1-4; 2.5-12
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honour and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

Mark 10.2-16
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses command you?” he replied.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Post Communion Prayer
Holy and blessed God, you have fed us with the body and blood of your Son and filled us with your Holy Spirit: may we honour you, not only with our lips but in lives dedicated to the service of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect
Faithful Lord, whose steadfast love never ceases and whose mercies never come to an end: grant us the grace to trust you and to receive the gifts of your love, new every morning, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Matthew 19
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”


Deuteronomy 24.1-4
If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled.























Can't make it to church - Sunday, 14 October 2018

For many there are some very familiar passages today - sadly I'm going to shoot an old favourite sermon illustration and bury it and ask the question, "What did the rich man do in the end?"

But let's start with our reading from Amos, a man who lived in the eight century (750 BC) in one of the most happy and prosperous times Israel had under King Jeroboam. Jeroboam regained all the territories his predecessors had lost, subdued Moab and much of Aram, taking Damascus) and even made peace with Judah (he did hold them hostage first but that's families for you).

The passage finds Amos speaking to a nation that seem to have it all. Money, power and might. The problem was that the King was a bit like many of the clergy in that he favoured those who had money, status and power. God, seeing past the prosperity and possession only saw death, unless they turned things around: "Seek the LORD and live," he cries out.

Deuteronomy 10 tells us that God cannot be bought. He cannot be bribed. He brings justice to the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger in the land. He is just. His word is ever sure. Live for Him and live like Him. Hate that which is evil and the destruction that corruption surely brings and perhaps God will turn his judgement from the people.

Seek Good – seek God –And live!      Can the message be any simpler?
The answer to this must be, “No!” Looking at our Hebrews passage we find the reminder that God’s word is like a scalpel: It cuts through and cuts out. Have you ever thought about scalpels? They are an instrument of judgement. The person wielding it looks at the object before them, makes a judgement (is this good or bad) and acts accordingly. This is what the word of God (the written word and Jesus, the living word) does: Informs, challenges and acts.
But if we leave the wrong parts to flourish the local area becomes tainted and this causes, in the extreme cases, for the body to die. Jesus, as our High Priest. As one who wields the scalpel and shows love, brings Grace, and is mercy – he is the one Amos calls the fallen people of Israel to turn to then (for Jesus, the Christ, is also the Godhead).
Do you have something wrong in you today? 
The answer is simple: “Cut it out! – throw it away – stop it!

With these thoughts and examples in mind we find ourselves encountering Jesus and someone with power, possessions, a proclaimed faith, and eternal life. 

The man comes up to Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus responds with, “Why do you call me good No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.’”

Jesus, fully man, hits the first ball by pointing out that He is there to point to God and doesn’t want to be put on the throne of empty praise. He wants true love of God not the praise of humans. Isn’t this what Amos called for in the people of Israel? That they hate evil and seek Good – “Only God is good.,” says Jesus. Isn’t this what the scalpel that is the word of God does> Cutting out what is wrong and keeping what is good that there might be life in all the fullness there can be?

So the man tells Jesus that he’s kept the commandments since he was a boy. But Jesus, scalpel-like, acts by telling the man that keeping the commandments is great, but without love of the author of them, they merely regulate what we do. What God wants is our hearts also and so the answer is simple: 

The first part is “To ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second part is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19 respectively)
Now many sermons have been given about the man sadly walking off because he can’t give up everything. They tell us how the man forfeited eternal life and kept loving money and possessions. The reality is that we just don’t know what he did. We know he was challenged and went off to think, moan, reject, accept – or at least respond in some way – but we won’t know until the Christ returns. (One of my first questions will be, “Lord, where’s the rich bloke from Mark ten? Did he give away the money and choose you? – assuming I’m there that is ;-) ).

Jesus tells the disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

And preachers across the world seize the opportunity to talk about camels and holes in the walls of Jerusalem and greedy merchants dragging the camels through it to avoid taxation. But the sadness is that there I can find no such hole – it’s another Biblical urban myth (like Mary Magdalene being a hooker).

The Jews had a theology that said those who had wealth, possessions, were healthy we blessed by God and those who weren’t were under a curse because they had something wrong in their lives. This caused them to ask: “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus answers, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” How were true and what a clean cut the scalpel makes. We can’t do it, we need God to do it in us and with us. Rather than ask (or tell) God what we need and what He needs to do to make it happen, the reality is that we have a God who will strengthen us and stand with us in our dark and distressing moments. Our prayer should be, “God give me strength,” rather than “God, give me this, that and that too!”

Peter says to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you.” He’s wondering what that means in the light of Jesus’ words – perhaps he’s hoping to hear the words, “Relax mate, you’re all in!” 

 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

The problem with this last quote is that we think of it in terms of money, power, possessions – have we heard nothing. It’s the things of the heart, not the pocket or the blind obedience that bring eternal life. I have seen people give up all and be richer than the richest people I know. We don’t have a prosperity ministry – we have a love of God ministry!

And the first last and last first? The Gentiles came into the kingdom after the Jews. Perhaps this tells us something about following God rather than keeping the law. But Jew and Gentile make it don’t they? Regarding the ‘eye of the needle’, the gate many point to was created in the 16thcentury! 

A common expression in the ancient near east, when wanting to convey how difficult something was, pointed to how hard it was for an elephant or camel to pass through a needle’s eye. We find it in the teachings of the rabbis (In the Talmud) and other places. We don’t swing cats to check out room size either!

The Collect
God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit’s gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; 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.




Amos 5.6-7,10-15
Seek the Lord and live, or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire; it will devour them, and Bethel will have no one to quench it. There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.

There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth. You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,  you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offences and how great your sins.

There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.
Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.

Psalm 90.12-17
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendour to their children.
May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

Hebrews 4.12-16
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Mark 10.17-31
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”


Post Communion Prayer
God our Father, whose Son, the light unfailing, has come from heaven to deliver the world from the darkness of ignorance: let these holy mysteries open the eyes of our understanding that we may know the way of life, and walk in it without stumbling; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.