Friday, 31 August 2012

Daily Office - Aug 31

Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, Missionary, 651

Psalm 139
O Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You mark out my journeys and my resting place and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but you, O Lord, know it altogether. You encompass me behind and before and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go then from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I make the grave my bed, you are there also. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea even there your hand shall lead me, your right hand hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will cover me and the light around me turn to night,’ Even darkness is no darkness with you; the night is as clear as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike. For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, my soul knows well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my form, as yet unfinished; already in your book were all my members written, as day by day they were fashioned when as yet there was none of them. How deep are your counsels to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I count them, they are more in number than the sand, and at the end, I am still in your presence. O that you would slay the wicked, O God, that the bloodthirsty might depart from me! They speak against you with wicked intent; your enemies take up your name for evil. Do I not oppose those, O Lord, who oppose you? Do I not abhor those who rise up against you? I hate them with a perfect hatred; they have become my own enemies also. Search me out, O God, and know my heart; try me and examine my thoughts. See if there is any way of wickedness in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

2 Samuel 16:1-14
When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, carrying two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred bunches of raisins, one hundred of summer fruits, and one skin of wine. The king said to Ziba, ‘Why have you brought these?’ Ziba answered, ‘The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine is for those to drink who faint in the wilderness.’ The king said, ‘And where is your master’s son?’ Ziba said to the king, ‘He remains in Jerusalem; for he said, “Today the house of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom.” ’ Then the king said to Ziba, ‘All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.’ Ziba said, ‘I do obeisance; let me find favour in your sight, my lord the king.’
When King David came to Bahurim, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out whose name was Shimei son of Gera; he came out cursing. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; now all the people and all the warriors were on his right and on his left. Shimei shouted while he cursed, ‘Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel! The Lord has avenged on all of you the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, disaster has overtaken you; for you are a man of blood.’
Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, ‘Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.’ But the king said, ‘What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, “Curse David”, who then shall say, “Why have you done so?” ’ David said to Abishai and to all his servants, ‘My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on my distress, and the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.’ So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him. The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary at the Jordan; and there he refreshed himself.

Acts 10:1-16
In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius.’ He stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ He answered, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.’ When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.
About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’ The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.

The Collect
Everlasting God, you sent the gentle bishop Aidan to proclaim the gospel in this land: grant us to live as he taught in simplicity, humility and love for the poor; 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, 30 August 2012

Caption Contest - 29

Here's a bit of a distraction from the daily grind for all the clever people with active brains and a ready wit:

Daily Office - Aug 30

John Bunyan, Spiritual Writer, 1688

Psalm 113
Alleluia. Give praise, you servants of the Lord, O praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised. The Lord is high above all nations and his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, that has his throne so high, yet humbles himself to behold
the things of heaven and earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ashes, to set them with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a place in the house and makes her a joyful mother of children. Alleluia.

Psalm 115
Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory, for the sake of your loving mercy and truth. Why should the nations say, ‘Where is now their God?’ As for our God, he is in heaven; he does whatever he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes have they, but cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear; noses have they, but cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel; feet have they, but cannot walk; not a whisper do they make from their throats. Those who make them shall become like them and so will all who put their trust in them. But you, Israel, put your trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield. House of Aaron, trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield. You that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield. The Lord has been mindful of us and he will bless us; may he bless the house of Israel; may he bless the house of Aaron; may he bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great together. May the Lord increase you more and more, you and your children after you. May you be blest by the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth he has entrusted to his children. The dead do not praise the Lord, nor those gone down into silence; but we will bless the Lord, from this time forth for evermore.Alleluia.

2 Samuel 15:13-end
A messenger came to David, saying, ‘The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom.’ Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, ‘Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword.’ The king’s officials said to the king, ‘Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king decides.’ So the king left, followed by all his household, except ten concubines whom he left behind to look after the house. The king left, followed by all the people; and they stopped at the last house. All his officials passed by him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king.
Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, ‘Why are you also coming with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, while I go wherever I can? Go back, and take your kinsfolk with you; and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.’ But Ittai answered the king, ‘As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.’ David said to Ittai, ‘Go then, march on.’ So Ittai the Gittite marched on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron, and all the people moved on towards the wilderness.
Abiathar came up, and Zadok also, with all the Levites, carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, until the people had all passed out of the city. Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and the place where it remains. But if he says, “I take no pleasure in you”, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.’ The king also said to the priest Zadok, ‘Look, go back to the city in peace, you and Abiathar, with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan son of Abiathar. See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.’ So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.
But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went. David was told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, ‘O Lord, I pray you, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.’
When David came to the summit, where God was worshipped, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and earth on his head. David said to him, ‘If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, “I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant”, then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. Their two sons are with them there, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan; and by them you shall report to me everything you hear.’ So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

Acts 9:32-end
Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralysed. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!’ And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

The Collect
God of peace, who called your servant John Bunyan to be valiant for truth: grant that as strangers and pilgrims we may at the last rejoice with all Christian people in your heavenly city; 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, 29 August 2012

The Acts Church and us

The Acts church presents us with a model of unity, corporate identity and growth and so when people write telling me that they can pay their parish share and have no need to evangelise because numbers are constant, they miss out on one of the realities of an aCts church model. There has to be growth!

Let's dissect the Acts model and see whether it can teach us something worthwhile:

Teaching - they believers met and shared the apostle's teaching. A great starter for ten in that this model demonstrates that we need to be meeting together to learn. Assuming something of the rabbinic teaching methods we could have 'hagadah'; the learning and unfolding of the Scriptures and 'halakah', which is the living and making the daily reality of the Scriptures.

So here we have it, that we engage with the Word of God so that we might understand what we are required to do (the how, why and what) and living out the realities of the Scriptures in our daily life. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy - 'knowing' and 'living' the Scriptures'.

Unity - for the believers were gathered in one place. A pretty easy thing when the believers form a minority in, what was then, a major city. Works well for us today as we find ourselves called to minister and witness to God's love as shown to us through His engagement with His created world and the salvific acts of jesus, the Christ. But the unity is also the unity of belief, for in our pre-Nicene existence error was limited and when present, dealt with swiftly and (as I see it) pretty aggressively! Unity of belief is a real challenge, even to the nature of Jesus and the atonement and all the other basics these days - but there needs to be a core set of beliefs. This is of course a contentious area where some condem others to hell and damnations whilst others simple mock and ridicule the dinosaurs with their 'antiquated' thinking. But there needs to be unity and where this can't be found then it is better to divide and come together where agreement can be found that live in conflict.

Fellowship and Love - Out of the unity came a love for one another that saw the believers living in their own homes and yet, whilst maintaining their own homes and paying their way, supporting others as they had need. The words, "See how these Christians LOVE one another," springs to mind here! LOVE not LOATHE! A love which regarded the other believers as family (an active rendering of the word koinonia) and acted within that context.

Witness - those around them saw how the believers believed and how out of that belief, lived. people responded because they could see the reality of the Christian's faith and the way the word became made real in a lifestyle that was consisten with it.

Someone I met today told me how they'd like to go to church but found, if they did, that what was contained in the building of the same name was a bunch of people who appeared to resent them intruding into their only personal fiefdom of mowing, making the tea and whatever else was on view. It was church for the select and newcomers were definitely no welcome!m If this is who and what Church has become then the final element, Growing, can be forgotten completely. After all, can't see the church the person I met today finding favour with those outside if my sample of one is accurate in their telling of the story!

Growing - It is from the 'finding favour' that the numbers were added. People tend to go to the places where what they see is what they like. Of course the problem with the Acts church is that it was no like the community or the society in which it was found and this 'counter cultural' element is part of the difference that attracts. So, if we keep striving to make the Church look exactly like the world why should be be surprised when the world stops choosing to enge with Church and increase the numbers of believers - they already have what's on offer! It's called the world! Time to proclaim Jesus and stand for the Bible truths (and if you don't believe it's true then you're a goal down in terms of believing - after all if you can't believe the documents and you can't believe the Christ )and in the Christ) then you have a major hill to climb.

Prayer - Something that we don't do enough of (well I don't I'm sure) and when I do come across it happening it's all about 'telling God what you need!' rather than asking God what you need or how you need to live. Mind you, many I meet wouldn't listen to God if they heard Him because it would infringe their personal liberties, choices and rights to live the way He might wish :-( But people appreciate and respect commitment in others and one of the visible signs of this is in the visibly praying to the invisible God.

Breaking Bread - is another element. We do this because Jesus did it at the end of the last supper and the last cup of blessing and the breaking of bread speaks of unity, love, fellowship and this oneness with each other depicts a oneness with Him! We remember the Passover and the Passover meal in the upper room and the wedding banquet of the Lamb in the now - all points in time coalescing in that one act! Breaking bread is an act of unity - never a weapon of war!

So here you are - a quick splurge from the top of my head. Quick and dirty but not without merit (i hope) and something for those who tell me that they live in an 'Acts Church' to ponder on.

I certainly will be.


Daily Office - Aug 29

The Beheading of John the Baptist

Psalm 110
The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ May the Lord stretch forth the sceptre of your power; rule from Zion in the midst of your enemies. ‘Noble are you on this day of your birth; on the holy mountain, from the womb of the dawn
the dew of your new birth is upon you.’ The Lord has sworn and will not retract: ‘You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.’ The king at your right hand, O Lord, shall smite down kings in the day of his wrath. In all his majesty, he shall judge among the nations, smiting heads over all the wide earth. He shall drink from the brook beside the way; therefore shall he lift high his head.

Psalm 111
Alleluia. I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the faithful and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, sought out by all who delight in them. His work is full of majesty and honour and his righteousness endures for ever. He appointed a memorial for his marvellous deeds; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He gave food to those who feared him; he is ever mindful of his covenant. He showed his people the power of his works in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of his hands are truth and justice; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever; they are done in truth and equity. He sent redemption to his people; he commanded his covenant for ever; holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have those who live by it; his praise endures for ever.

Psalm 112
Alleluia. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and have great delight in his commandments. Their descendants will be mighty in the land, a generation of the faithful that will be blest. Wealth and riches will be in their house, and their righteousness endures for ever. Light shines in the darkness for the upright; gracious and full of compassion are the righteous. It goes well with those who are generous in lending and order their affairs with justice, for they will never be shaken; the righteous will be held in everlasting remembrance. They will not be afraid of any evil tidings; their heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their heart is sustained and will not fear, until they see the downfall of their foes. They have given freely to the poor; their righteousness stands fast for ever; their head will be exalted with honour. The wicked shall see it and be angry; they shall gnash their teeth in despair; the desire of the wicked shall perish.

2 Samuel 15:1-12
After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run ahead of him. Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate; and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgement, Absalom would call out and say, ‘From what city are you?’ When the person said, ‘Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel’, Absalom would say, ‘See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you.’ Absalom said moreover, ‘If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.’ Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them, and kiss them. Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgement; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
At the end of four years Absalom said to the king, ‘Please let me go to Hebron and pay the vow that I have made to the Lord. For your servant made a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram: If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will worship the Lord in Hebron.’ The king said to him, ‘Go in peace.’ So he got up, and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then shout: Absalom has become king at Hebron!’ Two hundred men from Jerusalem went with Absalom; they were invited guests, and they went in their innocence, knowing nothing of the matter. While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, from his city Giloh. The conspiracy grew in strength, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.

Acts 9:19b-31
and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.
After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

The Collect
Almighty God, who called your servant John the Baptist to be the forerunner of your Son in birth and death: strengthen us by your grace that, as he suffered for the truth, so we may boldly resist corruption and vice and receive with him the unfading crown of 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.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Who cares if you have a stable church?

Another bugbear as I begin a new term and with it a new regime of not letting people stand in my way (always the same since I was in the first year at school - new books, new start and a determination to see homework done and handed in on time - book looked like rag in weeks and homework still always last minute :-) ) and stop Church growing and doing because it is comfortable.

I am meeting more and more people who fall into one of three groups, the most frustrating of these being 'maintenance church'. (i'll tell you about the other two later - promise!).

Now these people are in a church where the congregation stays pretty static. People leave and people arrive and they are comfortable in terms of numbers and (even with the recession) giving. These are the churches that the Pharisees within the church structures love to see for they are not declining and, better still, they are paying their way. The former is a product of the place rather than the minister or pastor and the latter, in these days whereby the mantra, "Can't pay - Can't have!", make these the talisman churches.

The problem is that those who are maintaining are planning on decline as the time comes when an older critical mass reaches the time to check out. Explaining this to a minister I was met with the response that by the time that happened they'd have moved on and so it wouldn't be their problem. This, I think, is a symptom (and the cause) of many of the problems we are facing and the creation of a terrible legacy for our nation too!

A church member once told me that we needed to be doing more for the members of the church and less outside with the people who don't come. Now this YIMBY (Yes in my back yard) was concerned with their needs and the things that served them. They didn't want to go out and do and (to my knowledge) never have regardless of where they were! This is a different situation (but still needs addressing) BUT

We need churches to be engaged with their community, for this is who we are called to serve, and to engage with people outside the church building by taking the Gospel, this means going because of Christ and telling others about His love, especially if your church is stable and the parish share isn't a struggle. And if you have enough to pay your way - how's about looking at those around you who can't and help them - one day it might be the other way around (2Cor 8:13 - 15):

"Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”

A stable church, especially those which are historically comfortable, needs to plan for the times when the famine comes a knocking. Getting out and doing is something that we must all do (in Jesus' name) and not something that is done (like evangelism) when the Parish Share needs a paying?

We need missional churches and missional leaders and enabled members who are trained, equipped and released to do the job and if your minister isn't doing that then you'd better tell them that they're planning for a new career some time soon!

As for who cares? Well I do, because a stable church is a great place to build from!

Christians - Please stop 'making a difference'

And start being different!

I have come to the conclusion that too many Christians are engaged in 'making a difference' to the extent that 'being different' (ie. Christian) is hidden and perhaps even missing.

In the past few weeks I have found people who are engaged in wonderful projects to improve the lot of those in the community by engaging in various programmes and social action groups. The problem is that what appears to be happening in this rapidly post-Christian nation of ours is that the name of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel and 'overt*' acts of Christian witness are now hidden behind the doing of stuff.

*overt - One minister I spoke to informed me that, "They and their church didn't need to spell out what Christianity was, the key was for the church to be engaged and that by doing this they fulfilled the Gospel. People came into their building and people interacted with the church members and this was enough. Start preaching and talking about Jesus and they all left!"

So here I am, first day back after the Summer holidays and there are funerals and services piled up on the desk and encounters to be had between now and then and if I don't mention Christ - His love, sacrifice and obedience then what do I have? The answer is nothing and this, i fear is very much what I find in the hands of many of my colleagues and their members.

+ If we are living in fear when it comes to preaching the Gospel then we are surely living as those who are unsaved.

+ If we cannot bring ourselves to share the love of God as seen in Jesus, the Christ, then what do we have that makes us different from those who pass our doors and never come in? After all, humanists and secularists will endlessly drone on about their good works and their 'christian' (a word which in this context means little I am afraid) acts. Seems to me that far too many of those who consider themselves to be 'Christian' are as 'christian' as the secular and humanist types!

+ We do need to make a difference but we do this by 'being different' and that difference is by being like Christ, something which means obedience to God's Word (living and written) - A reality that so many who want to call themselves Christian seem not to want as they pick and mix whatever it is that will make them happy!

+ We need to be different by reading and understanding God's word and by prayerful engagement with God and from these moving as God would have us move. We need to be able to understand our calling and seek to fulfil it and we cannot do this by hiding who we are and what we believe. But sadly it appears that we do.

Read your Bible so that you will understand what God has done for us and what God is doing for, and in and through, us too.

Pray to God and listen using Scripture, tradition and reason to interpret what you hear (you are trying to hear God aren't you?) and the witness of the Bible and those other Christians around you (and the conviction and confirmation of the Holy Spirit).

Act among those around you in the name of Christ. Take the light that is in you into the dark places (geographically and people-wise) and illumine their hearts and change their lives (and the lives of their communities).

Doing is great, after all that's what the many secularist and humanist 'do-gooders' are into and they are making a difference, but we are called to make a difference that will last and the reason it will last (forever) is because of Jesus. The secularist/humanist types get their reward now and when they die, they die. that's all they expect and I don't expect them to be disappointed (universalists can wail now!)!

But we are engaged in a work that will last until the end of time - well we are if we doing as Christians and proclaiming, living and trusting in the name of Jesus. And if you're not, then stop calling yourself a Christian or man up and take up your Cross and do it properly. Anything else is wasting your time and marginalising Jesus.


Daily Office - Aug 28

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Teacher of the Faith, 430

Psalm 106
Alleluia. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his faithfulness endures for ever. Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord or show forth all his praise? Blessed are those who observe what is right and always do what is just. Remember me, O Lord, in the favour you bear for your people; visit me in the day of your salvation; that I may see the prosperity of your chosen
and rejoice in the gladness of your people, and exult with your inheritance. We have sinned like our forebears; we have done wrong and dealt wickedly. In Egypt they did not consider your wonders,
nor remember the abundance of your faithful love; they rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. But he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his power to be known. He rebuked the Red Sea and it was dried up; so he led them through the deep as through the wilderness. He saved them from the adversary’s hand and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. As for those that troubled them, the waters overwhelmed them; there was not one of them left. Then they believed his words and sang aloud his praise. But soon they forgot his deeds and would not wait for his counsel. A craving seized them in the wilderness, and they put God to the test in the desert. He gave them their desire, but sent a wasting sickness among them. They grew jealous of Moses in the camp and of Aaron, the holy one of the Lord. So the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and covered the company of Abiram. A fire was kindled in their company; the flame burnt up the wicked. They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image; thus they exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that feeds on hay. They forgot God their saviour, who had done such great things in Egypt, wonderful deeds in the land of Ham and fearful things at the Red Sea. So he would have destroyed them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath from consuming them. Then they scorned the Promised Land and would not believe his word, but murmured in their tents and would not heed the voice of the Lord. So he lifted his hand against them and swore to overthrow them in the wilderness, to disperse their descendants among the nations, and to scatter them throughout the lands. They joined themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to the dead. They provoked him to anger with their evil deeds and a plague broke out among them. Then Phinehas stood up and interceded and so the plague was stayed. This was counted to him for righteousness throughout all generations for ever. They angered him also at the waters of Meribah, so that Moses suffered for their sake; for they so embittered his spirit that he spoke rash words with his lips. They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them. They mingled with the nations and learned to follow their ways, so that they worshipped their idols, which became to them a snare. Their own sons and daughters
they sacrificed to evil spirits. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, which they offered to the idols of Canaan, and the land was defiled with blood. Thus were they polluted by their actions, and in their wanton deeds went whoring after other gods. Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, and he abhorred his inheritance. He gave them over to the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. So their enemies oppressed them and put them in subjection under their hand. Many a time did he deliver them, but they rebelled through their own devices and were brought down through their wickedness. Nevertheless, he saw their adversity, when he heard their lamentation. He remembered his covenant with them and relented according to the greatness of his faithful love. He made them also to be pitied by all who had taken them captive. Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting and to everlasting; and let all the people say, Amen. Alleluia.

2 Samuel 12:1-25
and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’
Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.’ David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan said to David, ‘Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.’ Then Nathan went to his house.
The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, ‘While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we tell him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.’ But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, he perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, ‘Is the child dead?’ They said, ‘He is dead.’
Then David rose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the house of the Lord, and worshipped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate. Then his servants said to him, ‘What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you rose and ate food.’ He said, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, “Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.” But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.’
Then David consoled his wife Bathsheba, and went to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he named him Solomon. The Lord loved him, and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

Acts 9:1-19a
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus,

The Collect
Merciful Lord, who turned Augustine from his sins to be a faithful bishop and teacher: grant that we may follow him in penitence and discipline till our restless hearts find their rest in you; 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.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sunday Worship - Sounds of Salvation (SoS)

Something a little different, especially as there are free songs to be found on their site (and of course on Facebook too!).

Here's a promo of their new CD, 'Nuking the Fridge) with 'The Facebook Song' as a backing.

For those of you who book bands for socials, outreach events and the like, I can heartily recommend this Ska machine - why not get skanking* for Jesus?

* Skanking - a combination of running on the spot with arms and legs doing  their own thing at the same time.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Daily Office - Aug 25

Psalm 96
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord and bless his name; tell out his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations and his wonders among all peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; he is more to be feared than all gods. For all the gods of the nations are but idols; it is the Lord who made the heavens. Honour and majesty are before him; power and splendour are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples; ascribe to the Lord honour and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; bring offerings and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him. Tell it out among the nations that the Lord is king. He has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the fields be joyful and all that is in them; let all the trees of the wood shout for joy before the Lord. For he comes, he comes to judge the earth; with righteousness he will judge the world and the peoples with his truth.

Psalm 97
The Lord is king: let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his enemies on every side. His lightnings lit up the world; the earth saw it and trembled. The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declared his righteousness and all the peoples have seen his glory. Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight in mere idols. Bow down before him, all you gods. Zion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of your judgements, O Lord. For you, Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. The Lord loves those who hate evil; he preserves the lives of his faithful and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light has sprung up for the righteous and joy for the true of heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name.

Psalm 100
O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth; serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song. Know that the Lord is God; it is he that has made us and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting, and his faithfulness endures from generation to generation.

2 Samuel 9
David asked, ‘Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and he was summoned to David. The king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’ And he said, ‘At your service!’ The king said, ‘Is there anyone remaining of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?’ Ziba said to the king, ‘There remains a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.’ The king said to him, ‘Where is he?’ Ziba said to the king, ‘He is in the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.’ Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’ He answered, ‘I am your servant.’ David said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.’ He did obeisance and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I am?’
Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba, and said to him, ‘All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. You and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him, and shall bring in the produce, so that your master’s grandson may have food to eat; but your master’s grandson Mephibosheth shall always eat at my table.’ Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, ‘According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so your servant will do.’ Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he always ate at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

Acts 8:4-25
Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralysed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city.
Now a certain man named Simon had previously practised magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, ‘This man is the power of God that is called Great.’ And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.’ Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.’
Now after Peter and John had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many villages of the Samaritans.

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.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Last Supper gets paint job

Following on from the fine brushwork enacted on Martinez's 'ecce homo', here's a 'what if' the same restorer was called into help with another famous piece of work:

I'd certainly like one of these on my wall (and will have shortly)

Happy Bank Holiday weekend all.

Thanks due to Phil Ritchie for making the image known

Prince Harry - What's it all about?

Well the Sun has broken ranks and published that photograph of a naked Prince Harry and of course they've done it to serve the public's need for information. There's no hint of a breach of Harry's personal space of intruding into his private life, after all the Americans (and others) have already printed it so it is in the public domain.

I have been thinking about this issue and whilst I do not approve of some of the excesses that go on in the world, I am grown up enough to know that they occur and when I can, I engage with people to bring understanding and a little bit of wisdom into the equation. But of course, Harry is not one of my parishioners and so the chances of me influencing him and remote.


I can put the whole thing into context and as a picture is worth a thousand words, thought I do it pictorally:

A young soldier in a place where the opportunity to party was offered - I know few young people who turn down a party and fewer soldiers who would pass one by (work hard - play hard - repent tomorrow). He may have made the wrong choices but then again which of us haven't in the past and how many of us will continue to make them tomorrow?

For the secular folk who read this blog, can I suggest that his choices are flawed but this is part of the folly of youth. For the Christians, can I suggest that along with the above you consider matthew 7:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

And a challenge to all of us: What have we done this week for which we are grateful there were no cameras?

Daily Office - Aug 24

Bartholomew the Apostle

Psalm 86
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and in misery. Preserve my soul, for I am faithful; save your servant, for I put my trust in you. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for you are my God; I call upon you all the day long. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For you, Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer and listen to the voice of my supplication. In the day of my distress I will call upon you, for you will answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord, nor any works like yours. All nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wonderful things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you, that I may fear your name. I will thank you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and glorify your name for evermore; for great is your steadfast love towards me, for you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave. O God, the proud rise up against me and a ruthless horde seek after my life; they have not set you before their eyes. But you, Lord, are gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and full of kindness and truth. Turn to me and have mercy upon me; give your strength to your servant and save the child of your handmaid. Show me a token of your favour, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed; because you, O Lord, have helped and comforted me.

Psalm 117
O praise the Lord, all you nations; praise him, all you peoples. For great is his steadfast love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever. Alleluia.

Genesis 28:10-17
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ And he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’

John 1:43-51
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your word: grant that your Church ay love that word which he believed and may faithfully preach and receive the same; 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, 23 August 2012

Twilight - a possible solution?

having seen Twilight I can only say that this image made me smile greatly.

Can't think of a more boring set of films :-)

nb Dandelion - Bringing her home

It wasn't long after we bought our little boat that we were engaged in conversation with another boater who told us a little of the history of the boat. It transpired that she had previously been owned by Christians who had sold her because they'd, "Gone off to do mission work." We also learned that she had been effectively emptied at some stage, the owners having gone returning to find the cooker, 'fridge and much of the contents had all been removed. Little did we know that lightning was going to strike twice (but that's for later).

Having bought the boat we pottered around the Braunston/Hillmorton area for a few weekends to get used to her and then we decided to bring Dandelion down to her new home one the River Stort just outside Harlow. This would be great fun because it meant going down the Grand Union which meant the Blisworth tunnel (3,000 feet of darkness and drips) onto the Paddington arm (which meant a boring stretch and then through central London and then onto the River Lea (and the Lee - the 'ea' being the river and the 'ee' being the created waterway) and finally the Stort itself. The journey itself was one hundred and thirty two miles and it took (as the planner almost correctly calculated) a couple of weeks. What made the journey more fun was that we hadn't realised that the Stort had been closed due to flooding until we arrived.

So here's the map of our first proper cruise and it highlights one of the greatest joys of being on the canals in that you can cruise all day and, especially with meandering stretches of water, find oneself just a few minutes away from where you began the day by car!

There are so many joys to be found with canal cruising in that you pass many places of interest, meet really great people and get up close and personal to nature.  A boat is more than a means of transport, it is an asylum from the madness of the daily round, a place where the slower pace enables you to unwind and forget about the need for a clock and most of all a place where memories are formed.

Daily Office - Aug 23

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 throne shall be established for ever. In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

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
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.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Spanish Fresco meets Mr Bean

You couldn't invent a story like this, but in an almost Mr. Bean-like happening a fresco of Jesus which was painted on the wall of the Sanctuary of Mercy church near Zaragoza has been 'restored' by a member of the church. The painting, ecce homo, by Elias Garcia Martinez has suffered badly due to moisture and the parishioner, fearing it might deteriorate further decided to take up her paintbrushes and save the work.

I have placed the two works by Whistler and Martinez and 'restored' version by Bean and the unnamed parishioner side by side to see whose work wins for the best overall restoration. You can decide for yourself:

Hopefully restorers will be able to remove the 'restoration' and have another go at restoring it in keeping with the original fine brush strokes - if they are unsuccessful they will  cover the wall with a replica of the original.

Volunteers - can't live without them and, sometimes, just live with them :-)

Todd Akin - reviving memories

Many years ago I attended a series of lectures, one of which spoke of a young woman who had suffered a multiple rape, become pregnant as a result and had been procured an abortion. It was this case that had prompted David Steele's private members bill (which became the 1967 Abortion Act).

One of the elements discussed was the low conception rate of those who had been raped and how certain conditions having not been met often meant that whilst the rape had taken place the potential for impregnation was low. I recall the shock at this line of discussion, perhaps because I naively assumed that intercourse (consensual or otherwise) pretty much meant pregnancy, and struggled to get my head around it. I struggled with the 'conditions' bit as I just thought (I was pretty young still as the fact that the Abortion Act was still quite new will testify) that there was a coconut every time.

One of the questions that arose from the lecture was the question of whether pregnancy could be used as an indicator of whether there had been a rape. I guess this is what the American politico was heading towards in his 'legitimate rape' fiasco. To assist us with this question a physiologist contributed as to the conditions for conception and by the end of the lecture (and the ensuing discussions) we had come to the conclusion that whilst there might indeed be a lessened conception rate any conception arising from a rape situation meant that it could never be a true test - pity Todd Akin never sat in with us, he might have chosen to leave this topic alone.

Some final thoughts:

Statistics relating to conception as a result of rape range from something under one percent (0.7) to just under five percent (4.7). Regardless of the numbers, just one pregnancy arising from a rape situation is one too many.

I also struggle with Akin's use of the English language in that what he is trying (I think) to speak of is an incontrovertible incident of rape rather than a 'legitimate rape'. After all, rape can never be viewed as legitimate can it?

Living in a world of unrealised dreams

I meet so many people who could have been something better. They had dreams and aspirations and all of them have turned to dust as they have failed to pass exams and have seen that lucky break vanish in a cloud of 'if only' reasoning.

All too often the person to blame is that most obvious of all people, 'someone else', and topping the list of those who should bear the brunt of the complaints is, I'm sure you've guessed it, God.

God must be the most consistently miserable person the world has ever known. He's also the meanest as he is the source of all ills and turns 'a bit of fun' into something tragic. Got a disaster in the world? Tragedy struck? What's that Skippy, someone's fallen down a well? When something bad has happened and it's all gone wrong - who you gonna blame?

GOD (of course)!!!!

Now I don't know about the way you think but I have come to the conclusion that being God, even though it sounds like a great job, is probably the worst job ever created (and since God created everything I guess that means He's only got himself to blame then!). But wait a minute, let's stop and look at this for a moment and see whether where the finger is really pointed . . . .

Now so many people who tell me that 'my God' has treated them most unfairly and left them in a sad and sorry state rarely tell me the whole story. They live the life they have chosen to live and dance to their own tune. They do what brings them pleasure and they act as if they are the most important person in their world. You can see this is true because they cheat, steal, lie and ignore others to live the way the want to live and have the things they want in their lives. They neither claim to be Christian and will publicly tell anyone who will listen that they are not 'religious'. They dance to their own tune and are proud of the fact that they, like Sinatra's great song, are all about doing it 'My Way!'.

But then the sticky stuff hits the oscillating device and suddenly the same person they have actively fought to keep their lives away from, and wanted to keep away from their lives in equal measure, suddenly gets prayed too, blamed at and generally accused of being Mr. Nasty. Up goes the cry, "Where is God,why doesn't Help us? Why is He doing this to us?"

Well of course He didn't do whatever it is and ironically He will still help, all that needs is for them to stop and engage with Him (engage - not demand, rebuke or generally use the situation to increase the distance). No matter what, God is a god of multiple chances and new opportunities and beginnings - the problem is that we usually fail to take them.

So here's a starter for ten - think we will have to carry on with this thinking some time very soon

Daily Office - Aug 22

Psalm 119:105-128
Your word is a lantern to my feet and a light upon my path. I have sworn and will fulfil it, to keep your righteous judgements. I am troubled above measure; give me life, O Lord, according to your word. Accept the freewill offering of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me your judgements. My soul is ever in my hand, yet I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your commandments. Your testimonies have I claimed as my heritage for ever; for they are the very joy of my heart. I have applied my heart to fulfil your statutes: always, even to the end. I hate those who are double-minded, but your law do I love. You are my hiding place and my shield and my hope is in your word. Away from me, you wicked! I will keep the commandments of my God. Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be disappointed in my hope. Hold me up and I shall be saved, and my delight shall be ever in your statutes. You set at nought those who depart from your statutes, for their deceiving is in vain. You consider all the wicked as dross; therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of you and I am afraid of your judgements. I have done what is just and right; O give me not over to my oppressors. Stand surety for your servant’s good; let not the proud oppress me. My eyes fail with watching for your salvation and for your righteous promise. O deal with your servant according to your faithful love and teach me your statutes. I am your servant; O grant me understanding, that I may know your testimonies. It is time for you to act, O Lord, for they frustrate your law. Therefore I love your commandments above gold, even much fine gold. Therefore I direct my steps by all your precepts, and all false ways I utterly abhor.

2 Samuel 6:1-19
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
When they came to the threshing-floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. David was afraid of the Lord that day; he said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come into my care?’ So David was unwilling to take the ark of the Lord into his care in the city of David; instead David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite for three months; and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
It was told King David, ‘The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.’ So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt-offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. When David had finished offering the burnt-offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

Acts 7:17-43
‘But as the time drew near for the fulfilment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied until another king who had not known Joseph ruled over Egypt. He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die. At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. For three months he was brought up in his father’s house; and when he was abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds.
‘When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites. When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his kinsfolk would understand that God through him was rescuing them, but they did not understand. The next day he came to some of them as they were quarrelling and tried to reconcile them, saying, “Men, you are brothers; why do you wrong each other?” But the man who was wronging his neighbour pushed Moses aside, saying, “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?” When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons.
‘Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: “I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, “Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.”
‘It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, “Who made you a ruler and a judge?” and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, “God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as he raised me up.” He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, “Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.” At that time they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and revelled in the works of their hands. But God turned away from them and handed them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
“Did you offer to me slain victims and sacrifices for forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? No; you took along the tent of Moloch, and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; so I will remove you beyond Babylon.”

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.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

NB Dandelion - The story

Some time back our beloved family narrowboat (thirteen years a family member this August bank holiday) was taken from her mooring and was stripped, trashed and then set fire to. As part of the family all we could do was remove everything from her and start again and these entries will outline her journey to total rehabilitation (I hope),

We bought the boat after visiting family on theirs at Braunston. We weren't looking for a boat but these things happen and before we knew it, there we were boating on our own boat. I have to say that there is a history of being on the cut (as the canals are known) and lived by the Thames with a variety of cruisers too, so I guess it was always a question of when rather than if.

So here's our little boat on her very first outing with us on a sunny September day at Hillmorton:

The start of a journey that has taken us many miles, made us many friends and seen two of our children never know life without a boat.

I hope you'll find this of interest (if you don't, you can ignore these bits :-) ).

Daily Office - Aug 21

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, 20 August 2012

Locked-in syndrome and Assisted dying

I've let this issue for a few days to let the immediate responses pass through and now, as they've done that, I thought I'd throw in my sixpence worth of opinion.

A warning
I would like to move away from the 'all life is sacred' argument (I'm a Christian and so I think we might take that as read, especially in the light of the brand of Christian that I am) and deal with other responses and considerations.

First and foremost I have to say that I despair of those who take themselves off to Switzerland and check out of this life. My despair is increased even more by those who do so before they become ill or their (assumed, desired or demanded) 'quality of life' is impaired (taking for instance Fred and Joan Downes - she had a few weeks left and he had non-life threatening, 'old-age' issues). I also despair of those who find themselves in dire situations through accident or illness such that they are paralysed either completely or in part. My despair is e=increased by the fact that I have worked with men and women who are disabled, paralysed and coping with limb loss and yet manage to have full, and contributing, lives despite this. Seems to me that there are many who simply fold rather than 'man up' and this is, as I understand it, wrong. But hey ho, it is their choice at the end of the day - it's just a poor one.

So back to the issue in hand (hooray the reader cries).

Last week, the High Court turned down Tony Nicklinson's request for doctors to be allowed to help end his life without the risk of prosecution. One of the responses to this was that the issue should be decided upon by the british Parliament and the law regarding this issue settled by them and this I think is the height of lunacy. Ask the politicians to decide whether life can be taken? Why on earth would we want to ask a bunch of what are, generally speaking, a bunch of partisan morons such a question - the world gets madder on a day by day basis. Worse still, I have no confidence that a moral outcome would win the day, after all what generally comes out of Westminster is a pile of vote-winning response rather than making proper, integrity-laden, stands.

I have to laugh at the many who are claiming that the 'religious' (who on earth are they I wonder, I don't seem to meet them in my daily grind?) are hijacking and deciding on this issue. I have to weep at the many who would like to 'ease suffering' and engage in 'rationalising care' and end with the postscript of 'suffering families'.

Here are the words of one who suffers:

"The amount of people who tell my dad he's cruel keeping my mum alive! My mum isn't ventilated, or in any way kept alive artificially. She's fed and cleaned and turned (to stop bed sores). The only way to cause her death is to stop food and water, which sounds like a horrific and drawn out way to die. I'd hate to think politicians would have the power to do that to my mother. And I think they probably would do now that the cost cutting exercise in the NHS has now reached a stage where I'm actually being advised by medical personnel NOT to check my blood sugar! I've had to put up one hell of a fight just to get enought test strips to test my blood sugar at least once per day. This country's gone to the dogs... no, ignore that last statement, I have dogs, they're caring creatures!:

The decision made last week was the right decision for as many as can elect to take themselves off to Switzerland there are more for whom the decision would be made for them. The many who have no voice and for whom life would not continue should others have the right to decide for them. Those who struggle and who families tell me that removing them from this earth would be easier for them and would be 'cost-effective' too. It was the right decision because once we open the doors we provide a means of 'rationalising' costs and these and 'family sensitivities' are often the same result - let them die rather then help them to live as best they can until life is no more.

We live in a world which is dominated by freedom of choice, even when the exercise of our freedoms results in actions and attitudes that are, plain and simply, wrong. That some might rationalise, excuse or even explain with eloquent words and high-sounding philosophies how it would make them happy to engage in something, the outcome is wrong and should be stood against by society.

Sadly, the move towards a secular society means that the moral compass no longer reads true and this has nothing to do with the influence of the religious but the diminishing influence of those people of faith.

But once again, we find many who have a faith remaining tacet when they should be speaking up for the weaker and most vulnerable amongst us.