Thursday 31 January 2013

Daily Office - Dec 31

John Bosco, Priest, Founder of the Salesian Teaching Order, 1888

Psalm 47
Clap your hands together, all you peoples;  O sing to God with shouts of joy.
For the Lord Most High is to be feared; he is the great King over all the earth.
He subdued the peoples under us and the nations under our feet.
He has chosen our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loves.
God has gone up with a merry noise, the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.
O sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with all your skill.
God reigns over the nations; God has taken his seat upon his holy throne.
The nobles of the peoples are gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham.
For the powers of the earth belong to God and he is very highly exalted.

Psalm 48
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised, in the city of our God.
His holy mountain is fair and lifted high, the joy of all the earth.
On Mount Zion, the divine dwelling place, stands the city of the great king.
In her palaces God has shown himself to be a sure refuge.
For behold, the kings of the earth assembled and swept forward together.
They saw, and were dumbfounded; dismayed, they fled in terror.
Trembling seized them there;
they writhed like a woman in labour, as when the east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish.
As we had heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, the city of our God:
God has established her for ever.
We have waited on your loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple.
As with your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is full of justice.
Let Mount Zion rejoice and the daughters of Judah be glad, because of your judgements, O Lord.
Walk about Zion and go round about her; count all her towers;
consider well her bulwarks; pass through her citadels,
That you may tell those who come after that such is our God for ever and ever.
It is he that shall be our guide for evermore.

Hosea 5.8-6.6
Blow the horn in Gibeah, the trumpet in Ramah.
Sound the alarm at Beth-aven; look behind you, Benjamin!
Ephraim shall become a desolation on the day of punishment;
among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure.
The princes of Judah have become like those who remove the landmark;
on them I will pour out my wrath like water.
Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgement, because he was determined to go after vanity.
Therefore I am like maggots to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Judah.
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound,
then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king.
But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound.
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
   and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I myself will tear and go away;
   I will carry off, and no one shall rescue.
I will return again to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face.
   In their distress they will beg my favour:

‘Come, let us return to the Lord;
   for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;
   he has struck down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
   on the third day he will raise us up,
   that we may live before him.
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
   his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers,
   like the spring rains that water the earth.’

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
   What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
   I have killed them by the words of my mouth,
   and my judgement goes forth as the light.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
   the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings.

1 Corinthians 11.2-16
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power;
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 30 January 2013

Triumphalism - is there ever a place for it?

I'm one of those sad people who believe that God really is the 'Lord of All' and that with one word (although I prefer Jeremy Begbie's 'one chord' or 'one note' - how great to think God 'sang' it all into being) caused everything that is to be. After all, if the Big Bang was 13.7bn years ago then the scientific question has to be what or who caused it! (I'd also be interested to hear how we find ourselves in the right place (as the third rock from the hot thing) to live with all the conditions (temperature, gravity and more besides) to actually support life and the chance of that life being is another great issue to discuss one day too!).

But, what really gets me going is those people who love to greet their neighbour with the:

'God is able'

cry in the morning;  for if a loud shout is a pain and a vexation I'll leave it to you to guess at what order of magnitude this is magnified by!

'Our God is able, ALL you need to do is merely rebuke satan and he will flee,' they cry.
'The power of God is in you to rebuke illness, just claim it and you will be healed!' 

And the sadness is that in all reality that words are true, but not as they understand or use them!

I believe that God heals - in fact in my time as a God-botherer I have prayed for blind people and they saw (I'll have to tell you that story some time) and I believe that when we call upon the LORD, He hears and acts. The problem is that more often than not it is the Christian who 'live with a thorn in their side' who more often than not will quote the Hinns, Meyers, Cerullos and others of the glam Christian Evopersonality types that cause me the most trouble, for they take authority over what is with (or within them) when they should be letting it humble and temper them. They live in victory and yet exist in chains!

You probably know the type - one minute they are limping along and the next they are singing hallelujahs and claiming everything in sight - binding this and claiming that and living in the freedom of God for a few minutes before they swing back the other way. The problem is that their problem wounds others and  makes God look like a woman buying a hat (I know this first hand as my mother usually left with the same thing she cam in with!).

Let's be just a little rational about this and understand that:

i. The Apostle Paul had his problems and so too, will we. I don't think it is always valid to rebuke stuff and bind, cast out or claim in the name of Jesus' to overcome all of ours. What we need is to pray for peace, acceptance, solution, people to come alongside (it's called being a paraclete) and (most of all) God's presence, inspiration and strength.

ii. People die because that is what we do - it's a human condition! When people ask why 'n' died, especially if they were Christian, I have to explain that:

a. If being Christian meant we didn't die a mortal death, then everyone would be in Church.

b. All the time we get is what we get and we need to live it well for tomorrow we may not be here - so 'carpe diem' (or as my predictive texting once had it: 'Carpet Firm'). Be the best you can be today for tomorrow might not come!

c. Death, and illness, are always with us - now I have prayed and seen healings that can only be regarded as miraculous - and I have prayed and watched people make promises, claims and be disappointed (and wound many). 

We need to pray intelligently, listening to God and praying with Him - not ordering Him to do as we command (the clue is that He is God not a blessed genie!).

The trite -'All you need to do is claim it in God's name - rebuke it and it will be gone!' is great, especially when you can see the reality of it in the witness of the person making that statement - but sadly, too often that is rarely the case. 

Our God is able to do the very best for us at all time and in all situations - but when we place ourselves in certain places, the outcomes are limited and the opportunities for redemption when we have painted ourselves into a corner are few an far between.

Now I really like to remind myself of the 'Pain in the flesh' personified - the Apostle Paul and his words in 2 Cor 2.14 (ish - using the Message): 

'In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God.'

The over-reached and realised eschatological wonderland that is triumphalism is a curse.

It is a curse spoken over those with problems because obviously they name it, claim it and yet never feel it and this begets the question, 'Why can't I live up to being a Christian and stand in the victory?'

It is a curse spoken out against God for when these well-meaning (aren't they always?) people call upon God and nothing happens they make Him out to be like Baal in 1 Kings 18 with the result that others ask where He might be - 'Is He on the toilet or otherwise indisposed?' they mock.

In Jesus the final victory is won, but this doesn't mean we won't have to face battles now. We do have authority but we also have discernment and wisdom and the Word (living and written) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and these (and more besides) come together to make us a force to be reckoned with, unless we shoot into the air (and wonder why some around us fall)!

One of the biggest buzzes I ever had was to realise that anyone can resist satan but we have even more clout and authority because 'He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world! We have riches in heaven and riches on earth and we need to discern which we store up where. Too often our possessions possess us. Although we stand before those who oppose us, in ALL things we are more than conquerors (and I've buried a number of obviously healed people - they just still had the disease that killed them!) and we indeed will overcome (as the spiritual tells us).

We aren't fatalistic or defeated but neither do we proclaim, or claim, what obviously isn't.

It is OK to be depressed.

It is OK to be ill.

It's even OK to have terminal illness (and I have had some good teachers on this subject for my role is to help people die well).


Where people make great claims in the lives of others when they don't come near in their own - when they preach about walking in the light when it's obvious they aren't - when they don't see how they don't have a job, or a partner, or a house or a new car or whatever when they are 'a child of the Living God', then they've lost the plot and are in need of a size nine commando boot up the bum!


When they do as for the wrong thing OR tell God what He needs to do OR claims what isn't as if it were in His name - they are wrong, wrong, wrong! (was that clear enough?)

We are indeed in a perpetual victory parade - a parade which I am led to understand relates to the parading of one's defeated foes - and one which has before it an empty cross and a broken and powerless sin (for if the penalty is gone so too is the power!). we live to demonstrate that the hold that sin had over us is no more we lead in triumph (sin behind us and satan humiliated) with Jesus before us (for we know who we follow) for we too are His friends AND servants (hallelujah?).

We have much and many blessing are ours but we need the maturity and understanding (which I don't think the glam Christian Evopersonality types will always make ours - well not unless you send a donation anyway!) to understand what is in the overarching and what is in the now. You can rebuke your headache or you can stop drinking or have an earlier bedtime or stop banging your head against brick walls (real and metaphorical) or just take an analgesic. I'm not against praying - just what, why and how we do it and it hands power to anyone but God, if it wounds others, if it causes others to doubt their salvation or faith than all I can says is this:


I pray that we will all develop the maturity and discernment to learn when we should be praying for something or claim something as if it is when perhaps that's more about us than God; I pray we will learn to learn that illness, weakness, loneliness and need aren't signs of defeat or oppression - after all what gives us the right to prosperity or healthy lives - we were only promised an eternity of being whole and with Him and if you can read this, it hasn't started yet ;-)


Daily office- Jan 30

Charles, King and Martyr, 1649

Psalm 45
My heart is astir with gracious words;
as I make my song for the king, my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are the fairest of men; full of grace are your lips, for God has blest you for ever.
Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one; gird on your majesty and glory.
Ride on and prosper in the cause of truth and for the sake of humility and righteousness.
Your right hand will teach you terrible things;
your arrows will be sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies, so that peoples fall beneath you.
Your throne is God’s throne, for ever;
the sceptre of your kingdom is the sceptre of righteousness.
You love righteousness and hate iniquity;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes and cassia;
from ivory palaces the music of strings makes you glad.
Kings’ daughters are among your honourable women; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
Hear, O daughter; consider and incline your ear; forget your own people and your father’s house.
So shall the king have pleasure in your beauty; he is your lord, so do him honour.
The people of Tyre shall bring you gifts; the richest of the people shall seek your favour.
The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is embroidered cloth of gold.
She shall be brought to the king in raiment of needlework; after her the virgins that are her companions.
With joy and gladness shall they be brought and enter into the palace of the king.
‘Instead of your fathers you shall have sons, whom you shall make princes over all the land.
‘I will make your name to be remembered through all generations; therefore shall the peoples praise you for ever and ever.’

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble;
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains tremble in the heart of the sea;
Though the waters rage and swell, and though the mountains quake at the towering seas.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place of the dwelling of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; therefore shall she not be removed; God shall help her at the break of day.
The nations are in uproar and the kingdoms are shaken, but God utters his voice and the earth shall melt away.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come and behold the works of the Lord, what destruction he has wrought upon the earth.
He makes wars to cease in all the world; he shatters the bow and snaps the spear and burns the chariots in the fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.’
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Hosea 5.1-7
Hear this, O priests!
   Give heed, O house of Israel!
Listen, O house of the king!
   For the judgement pertains to you;
for you have been a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor,  and a pit dug deep in Shittim;
   but I will punish all of them.

I know Ephraim,    and Israel is not hidden from me;
for now, O Ephraim, you have played the whore;
   Israel is defiled.
Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God.
For the spirit of whoredom is within them,
   and they do not know the Lord.

Israel’s pride testifies against him;
   Ephraim stumbles in his guilt;
   Judah also stumbles with them.
With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord,
but they will not find him; he has withdrawn from them.
They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord;
   for they have borne illegitimate children.
   Now the new moon shall devour them along with their fields.

1 Corinthians 10.14-11.1
Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?
What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

‘All things are lawful’, but not all things are beneficial.
‘All things are lawful’, but not all things build up.

 Do not seek your own advantage, but that of others. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, for ‘the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.’ If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice’, then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgement of someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

The Collect
King of kings and Lord of lords,
whose faithful servant Charles prayed for those who persecuted him and died in the living hope of your eternal kingdom:
grant us by your grace so to follow his example that we may love and bless our enemies,
through the intercession of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Daily Office - Jan 29

Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Look upon him and be radiant and your faces shall not be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the one who trusts in him.
Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing.
Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.
Come, my children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is there who delights in life and longs for days to enjoy good things?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from lying words.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit.
Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them.
He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken.
But evil shall slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord ransoms the life of his servants and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.

Psalm 36
Sin whispers to the wicked, in the depths of their heart;
there is no fear of God before their eyes.
They flatter themselves in their own eyes that their abominable sin will not be found out.
The words of their mouth are unrighteous and full of deceit;
they have ceased to act wisely and to do good.
They think out mischief upon their beds and have set themselves in no good way;
nor do they abhor that which is evil.
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness stands like the strong mountains, your justice like the great deep; you, Lord, shall save both man and beast.
How precious is your loving mercy, O God!
All mortal flesh shall take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house;
they shall drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light.
O continue your loving-kindness to those who know you and your righteousness to those who are true of heart.
Let not the foot of pride come against me, nor the hand of the ungodly thrust me away.
There are they fallen, all who work wickedness.
They are cast down and shall not be able to stand.

Hosea 4.1-16
Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel;
for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. 
Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out;
bloodshed follows bloodshed. 
Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish;
together with the wild animals and the birds of the air,
even the fish of the sea are perishing. 

Yet let no one contend,  and let none accuse,
for with you is my contention, O priest. 
You shall stumble by day;
the prophet also shall stumble with you by night, and I will destroy your mother. 
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. 

The more they increased,  the more they sinned against me;
they changed their glory into shame. 
They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. 
And it shall be like people, like priest;
I will punish them for their ways, and repay them for their deeds. 
They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply;
because they have forsaken the Lord  to devote themselves to whoredom. 

Wine and new wine take away the understanding. 
My people consult a piece of wood,  and their divining-rod gives them oracles.
For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have played the whore, forsaking their God. 
They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains, and make offerings upon the hills, under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is good. 

Therefore your daughters play the whore,
and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. 
I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,
nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery;
for the men themselves go aside with whores, and sacrifice with temple prostitutes;
thus a people without understanding comes to ruin. 

Though you play the whore, O Israel, do not let Judah become guilty.
Do not enter into Gilgal, or go up to Beth-aven,  and do not swear, 
‘As the Lord lives.’ 
Like a stubborn heifer, Israel is stubborn;
can the Lord now feed them like a lamb in a broad pasture? 

1 Corinthians 10.1-13
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power;
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 28 January 2013

Daily Office - Jan 28 - Jan 28

Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Philosopher, Teacher of the Faith, 1274

Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me out of the roaring pit,out of the mire and clay;
he set my feet upon a rock and made my footing sure.
He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
many shall see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,  who does not turn to the proud that follow a lie.
Great are the wonders you have done, O Lord my God.
How great your designs for us!
There is none that can be compared with you.

If I were to proclaim them and tell of them they would be more than I am able to express.
Sacrifice and offering you do not desire but my ears you have opened;
Burnt offering and sacrifice for sin you have not required;
then said I: ‘Lo, I come.

‘In the scroll of the book it is written of me that I should do your will, O my God;
I delight to do it: your law is within my heart.’

I have declared your righteousness in the great congregation;
behold, I did not restrain my lips, and that, O Lord, you know.
Your righteousness I have not hidden in my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your loving-kindness and truth
from the great congregation.
Do not withhold your compassion from me, O Lord;
let your love and your faithfulness always preserve me,
For innumerable troubles have come about me;
my sins have overtaken me so that I cannot look up;
they are more in number than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed who seek after my life to destroy it;
let them be driven back and put to shame who wish me evil.
Let those who heap insults upon me be desolate because of their shame.
Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad;
let those who love your salvation say always, ‘The Lord is great.’
Though I am poor and needy, the Lord cares for me.
You are my helper and my deliverer; O my God, make no delay.

Psalm 108
My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise.
Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn.
I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praise to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens and your glory over all the earth.
That your beloved may be delivered, save us by your right hand and answer me.

God has spoken in his holiness:
‘I will triumph and divide Shechem and share out the valley of Succoth.
‘Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my sceptre.
‘Moab shall be my washpot,
over Edom will I cast my sandal,
across Philistia will I shout in triumph.’

Who will lead me into the strong city?
Who will bring me into Edom?
Have you not cast us off, O God?
Will you no longer go forth with our troops?
O grant us your help against the enemy, for earthly help is in vain.
Through God will we do great acts, for it is he that shall tread down our enemies.

Hosea 2.18-3.end
I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will take you for my wife for ever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.  On that day I will answer, says the Lord,
   I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth;
and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,
   and they shall answer Jezreel;
   and I will sow him for myself in the land.
And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah,
   and I will say to Lo-ammi, ‘You are my people’;
   and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’

The Lord said to me again, ‘Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’ So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer of barley and a measure of wine. And I said to her, ‘You must remain as mine for many days; you shall not play the whore, you shall not have intercourse with a man, nor I with you.’ For the Israelites shall remain many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterwards the Israelites shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

1 Corinthians 9.15-end
But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this so that they may be applied in my case. Indeed, I would rather die than that—no one will deprive me of my ground for boasting! If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe betide me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.

For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law.

To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

The Collect
Eternal God,
who enriched your Church with the learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas:
give to all who seek you a humble mind and a pure heart that they may know your Son Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Neonatal Death: Call the Midwife

Tonight's episode of 'Call the Midwife' dealt with the issue of neonatal death; an issue that once it has visited a family never really goes away.

I was doing so well today and then this blinking programme turned up and as the story unfolded I found myself with tears running down my face and myself taken back to the very first time I fund myself in a room with a Mum, easing her to a place where we could pray and ease the child towards the waiting female member of the undertaker's staff.

I have to be honest and say that there are timers when the blessed resonances that all pastoral encounters leave behind not only ground you but also give you exquisitely painful insights into God's love for His child and the pain that separation, for our sake, brought Him.

There will be many for whom the pain is revisited as the wounds of loss are re-examined and made real once again. For those who find tonight's episode may they find healing, wholeness and restoration.

For those who have gone:  May God grant them eternal rest (dona eis requiem).

Friday 25 January 2013

Caption Contest - Ball(boy) Hazard

Topical and fun - an opportunity to you bright people out there to come up with something to make us smile.

Here's a starter:

Benitez (to Eden Hazard): "No what I said was 'get out there and kick that ball boy, we desperately need a goal!' "

Daily Office - Jan 25

The Conversion of Paul
Last Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 66
Be joyful in God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name;
sing the glory of his praise.
Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great strength your enemies shall bow before you.

‘All the earth shall worship you, sing to you, sing praise to your name.’

Come now and behold the works of God, how wonderful he is in his dealings with humankind.
He turned the sea into dry land;
the river they passed through on foot; there we rejoiced in him.
In his might he rules for ever; his eyes keep watch over the nations; let no rebel rise up against him.
Bless our God, O you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heard,
Who holds our souls in life and suffers not our feet to slip.
For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.
You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water;
but you brought us out into a place of liberty.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings and will pay you my vows,
which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer you fat burnt sacrifices with the smoke of rams;
I will sacrifice oxen and goats.

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul.

I called out to him with my mouth and his praise was on my tongue.
If I had nursed evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me,
But in truth God has heard me; he has heeded the voice of my prayer.

Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer,
nor withheld his loving mercy from me.

Psalm 147.13-21
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you.
He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost?
He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel.
He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws.

Ezekiel 3.22-27
Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there; and he said to me, rise up, go out into the valley, and there I will speak with you. So I rose up and went out into the valley; and the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. The spirit entered into me, and set me on my feet; and he spoke with me and said to me: Go, shut yourself inside your house. As for you, mortal, cords shall be placed on you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people; and I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be speechless and unable to reprove them; for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God’; let those who will hear, hear; and let those who refuse to hear, refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

Philippians 3.1-14
Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.

To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh—even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Collect
Almighty God,
who caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul:
grant that we who celebrate his wonderful conversion may follow him in bearing witness to your truth;
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 24 January 2013

Made me Laugh - Created, Not Made?

I have to admit that this image not only made me laugh but gives some perspective to the whole science vs religion debate.

Being someone who has no problem with an old earth (13.7bn years being at good time to fix a bit of a bang and not worrying about whether the days of creation were six an literal or merely epochs or even evolution) I think this answers many of those on both sides of the arguments in a much more lucid (and funny) manner :-)

Deserves the S'Nobel prize perhaps?

Christianity - Free Lamborghini or McLaren anyone?

Here's a really quick splurge from my grey matter onto the electronic paper of this blog and I apologise for typos, rushed edits and and confusuioon but here goes:

Last night saw the second evening of an Alpha course that we are running jointly with our local Methodists and as we chatted about the Cross and addressed the question, 'Why did Jesus die?' I became very aware of the fact that, generally speaking, many churches (and members) I engage with appear  to fail to make the cost of commitment real and obvious.

For me the answer to the question 'Why' is summed up in the words of John 3:16:

'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God didn't send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that through Him (Jesus) it (the world = us) might be saved!'

The 'Why' for God and the 'What' for us are both clearly visible.

God - Die

Us - Believe and accept that salvific act (made ONCE, for ALL, upon a CROSS)

Simples innit?

So here we are, God is offering us, free and gratis something that is precious and unique, namely:

i. Restoration of relationship with God,

ii. The breaking of the power of sin (which is of course death - and by coming back on Easter Sunday He handed it back to satan with the words, 'Whoops, broken it!', and

iii. The becoming of a new creation - through the indwelling and enabling of the Holy Spirit, one that is about to live within the freedom of 'free choice' making the right choices (and wrong choices, when they are taken, less often).

And all we have to do is accept it and keep it on the road. But it is just too easy to have God bear all the cost and us live with all the benefits. There is a cost for us too and many of my friends over the years have paid out (often sacrificially in terms of money, marriages and relationships) to keep cars on the road, aircraft in the air and radios on the airwaves. Others have devoted free time to trains (real and model) or stamp collecting or many of the other hobbies people have, and this is where it gets hard for me when it comes to Christianity.

I know people who put everything on the line for a hobby and know many people who claim to be Christian and yet are willing to do nothing but accept and demand and give the very minimum in time, money and energy.

If I were to offer you one of the top marques of car (Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, etc.) free of charge, how many would take my hand off in the rush to accept it? But to keep a car like that on the road take some real commitment (and it's not just money I'm talking of here).

A friend with one such car told me how it cost him 'a few thousand' every year to keep his beloved super car on the road and yet, he claimed, it was worth it because look at what he had!

God, through the Cross of Christ offers each of us something that cost Him everything and lasts not just for our lifetime but for eternity and yet many of us will commit less to keeping it on the road than we do for our hobbies and pastimes - after all they cry, 'it's a free gift - how can it cost us anything?'

And oddly, these are also more, often than not the same people who complain about the lack of things being done in the church. They are the same people who wished to be served and to be cared for and to be provided for and to be made happy and listened to and obeyed (yep - that too) and yet they don't put anything in to keep the vehicle that is the church or the component that is their life working effectively and efficiently.

Now here's some questions:

Are you the problem or the solution?

Are you willing to pay (and I don't mean with mere money) to keep your faith on the road?

Is your faith an interest (your hobby) or a life-changing, life-long commitment?

Are you willing to pay what it takes or merely willing to take?

The time is coming when we need to realise that if you merely wish to be an associate member (and you're welcome as such) then you will also have to realise that whilst we can guarantee a life membership being open for you in Church, we cannot guarantee and eternal life membership.

Your choice

Daily Office - Jan 24

Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, Teacher of the Faith, 1622
Seventh Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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

Terrible are you in majesty:
who can stand before your face when you are angry?
You caused your judgement to be heard from heaven;
the earth trembled and was still,

When God arose to judgement,
to save all the meek upon earth.
You crushed the wrath of the peoples
and bridled the wrathful remnant.

Make a vow to the Lord your God and keep it;
let all who are round about him bring gifts
to him that is worthy to be feared.

He breaks down the spirit of princes
and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 148
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you his angels;
praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you stars of light.

Praise him, heaven of heavens,
and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;
for he commanded and they were created.
He made them fast for ever and ever;
he gave them a law which shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and mist,
tempestuous wind, fulfilling his word;
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and birds on the wing;
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and women, old and young together;
let them praise the name of the Lord.

For his name only is exalted,
his splendour above earth and heaven.
He has raised up the horn of his people
and praise for all his faithful servants,
the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

Amos 9
I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said:
Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake,
   and shatter them on the heads of all the people;
and those who are left I will kill with the sword;
   not one of them shall flee away,
   not one of them shall escape.

Though they dig into Sheol,
   from there shall my hand take them;
though they climb up to heaven,
   from there I will bring them down.
Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
   from there I will search out and take them;
and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
   there I will command the sea-serpent, and it shall bite them.
And though they go into captivity in front of their enemies,
   there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
and I will fix my eyes on them
   for harm and not for good.

The Lord, God of hosts,
he who touches the earth and it melts,
   and all who live in it mourn,
and all of it rises like the Nile,
   and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt;
who builds his upper chambers in the heavens,
   and founds his vault upon the earth;
who calls for the waters of the sea,
   and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—
the Lord is his name.

Are you not like the Ethiopians to me,
   O people of Israel? says the Lord.
Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt,
   and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?
The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom,
   and I will destroy it from the face of the earth
   —except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,
says the Lord.

For lo, I will command,
   and shake the house of Israel among all the nations
as one shakes with a sieve,
   but no pebble shall fall to the ground.
All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
   who say, ‘Evil shall not overtake or meet us.’

On that day I will raise up
   the booth of David that is fallen,
and repair its breaches,
   and raise up its ruins,
   and rebuild it as in the days of old;
in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom
   and all the nations who are called by my name,
   says the Lord who does this.

The time is surely coming, says the Lord,
   when the one who ploughs shall overtake the one who reaps,
   and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
   and all the hills shall flow with it.
I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
   and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
   and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
I will plant them upon their land,
   and they shall never again be plucked up
   out of the land that I have given them,
says the Lord your God.

1 Corinthians 7.25-end
Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly towards his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancée, he will do well. So then, he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my judgement she is more blessed if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

The Collect
Holy God,
who called your bishop Francis de Sales
to bring many to Christ through his devout life
and to renew your Church with patience and understanding:
grant that we may, by word and example,
reflect your gentleness and love to all we meet;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Daily Office - Jan 23

Sixth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 81
Sing merrily to God our strength, shout for joy to the God of Jacob.
Take up the song and sound the timbrel, the tuneful lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, as at the full moon, upon our solemn feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob,
The charge he laid on the people of Joseph, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
I heard a voice I did not know, that said: ‘I eased their shoulder from the burden;
their hands were set free from bearing the load.
‘You called upon me in trouble and I delivered you; I answered you from the secret place of thunder and proved you at the waters of Meribah.
‘Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you: O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
‘There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not worship a foreign god.
‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I shall fill it.’
But my people would not hear my voice and Israel would not obey me.
So I sent them away in the stubbornness of their hearts, and let them walk after their own counsels.
O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!
Then I should soon put down their enemies and turn my hand against their adversaries.
Those who hate the Lord would be humbled before him, and their punishment would last for ever.
But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat and with honey from the rock would I satisfy them.

Psalm 147.13-end
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you.
He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost?
He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel.
He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws.

Amos 8
This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then the Lord said to me,
‘The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by.
The songs of the temple shall become wailings on that day,’
says the Lord God;
‘the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!’

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
saying, ‘When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale?
We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practise deceit with false balances,  buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.’

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?

On that day, says the Lord God,
I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head;
I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.

The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land;
not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.
They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

In that day the beautiful young women and the young men shall faint for thirst.
Those who swear by Ashimah of Samaria, and say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan’, and, ‘As the way of Beer-sheba lives’ - they shall fall, and never rise again.

1 Corinthians 7.1-24
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is well for a man not to touch a woman.’ But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one dailykind and another a different kind.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practising self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

The Collect
Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly 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 22 January 2013

Daily Office - Jan 22

Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon, first Martyr of Spain, 304
Fifth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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

Now, we heard of the ark in Ephrathah and found it in the fields of Ja-ar.
Let us enter his dwelling place and fall low before his footstool.
Arise, O Lord, into your resting place, you and the ark of your strength.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness and your faithful ones sing with joy.
For your servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.
The Lord has sworn an oath to David, a promise from which he will not shrink:
‘Of the fruit of your body shall I set upon your throne.
‘If your children keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their children also shall sit upon your throne for evermore.’

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

Psalm 147.1-12
How good it is to make music for our God, how joyful to honour him with praise.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond all telling.
The Lord lifts up the poor, but casts down the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the lyre;
Who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth;
Who makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve our needs. R
He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens when they cry.
He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, no delight in human strength;
But the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their trust in his steadfast love.

Amos 7
This is what the Lord God showed me: he was forming locusts at the time the latter growth began to sprout (it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings). When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,
‘O Lord God, forgive, I beg you!
   How can Jacob stand?
   He is so small!’
The Lord relented concerning this;
   ‘It shall not be,’ said the Lord.

This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord God was calling for a shower of fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said,
‘O Lord God, cease, I beg you!
   How can Jacob stand?
   He is so small!’
The Lord relented concerning this;
   ‘This also shall not be,’ said the Lord God.

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’ Then the Lord said,
‘See, I am setting a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel;
   I will never again pass them by;
the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
   and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
   and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’

Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, ‘Amos has conspired against you in the very centre of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said,
“Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.” ’
And Amaziah said to Amos, ‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.’

Then Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
‘Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.
You say, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.”
Therefore, thus says the Lord:
“Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city,
   and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
   and your land shall be parcelled out by line;
you yourself shall die in an unclean land,
   and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.” ’

1 Corinthians 6.12-end
‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything. ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’, and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’ But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

The Collect
Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly 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.

Monday 21 January 2013

Mission or Maintenance (1) - schools

Last week I was challenged by some thinking relating to the wonderful area of what we used to call 'Job Design and Quantification' that would, in my humble opinion, have made the Golgafrinchams* appear highly capable and adept individuals. One of the many interesting elements in this consideration of the clergy roles related to schools in the parish, district or area in which our heroic cleric was located. It went just a little like this:

If you have a church school in your patch then you add some points to the total job workload equation


If you don't happen to have a church school in your patch but have non-church schools


You just happen to be involved there doing assemblies, RE coordination and perhaps even act as a member of the governing body then you award yourself:

NIL POINTS (all a bit Eurovision this isn't it?).

Yes indeedy folks, that's right - NIL POINTS!

Now one of my colleagues who was chair of governors at one school and was engaged in doing assemblies in four or five schools did all of this as part of their 'out of hours interest'. Turns out this isn't part of their job at all - it was their hobby!

Another of colleagues (who rarely went into the local church school for assemblies and was more often than not missing from governor's meeting) who had church schools in their patch had more points (and points could mean posts when reorganisation comes a knocking) with less real engagement in the school or the community that that role should have brought.

All seems a bit wrong when we start legislating for what is part of the job in such a way as we make pastoral and missional engagement something that is other than the clergy role doesn't it? But that's what we are apparently faced with (and that is a real ..... [insert you own word - I'm lost for one]!).

So here's a hint for all those who read this and find they have non church schools in your area - doing them is not, apparently, part of the pastoral or parochial ministry associated with the church, it's merely your hobby.

And, if you don't fancy schools ministry then all you need to do is avoid those with church schools in and you're sorted - all the others are merely a potential hobby and (of course) that's 'just not your calling' is it?

Simple? (Well some people obviously are!!!)


*If you don't know about the Golgafrinchams, can I suggest you read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

Daily Office - Jan 21

Agnes, Child Martyr at Rome, 304
Fourth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 145
I will exalt you, O God my King, and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless you and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; his greatness is beyond all searching out.
One generation shall praise your works to another and declare your mighty acts.
They shall speak of the majesty of your glory, and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts, and I will also tell of your greatness.
They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, long-suffering and of great goodness.
The Lord is loving to everyone and his mercy is over all his creatures.
All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your mighty power,
To make known to all peoples your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.
The Lord is sure in all his words and faithful in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand and fill all things living with plenty.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving in all his works.
The Lord is near to those who call upon him, to all who call upon him faithfully.
He fulfils the desire of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over those who love him, but all the wicked shall he destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

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

Put not your trust in princes,  nor in any human power, for there is no help in them.
When their breath goes forth, they return to the earth; on that day all their thoughts perish.
Happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong and bread to those who hunger.
The Lord looses those that are bound;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land;
he upholds the orphan and widow;
but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.

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

Amos 6
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria, the notables of the first of the nations,  to whom the house of Israel resorts!
Cross over to Calneh, and see; from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is your territory greater than their territory, O you that put far away the evil day,  and bring near a reign of violence?

Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock,
   and calves from the stall; who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

The Lord God has sworn by himself (says the Lord, the God of hosts):
I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds; and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.

If ten people remain in one house, they shall die. And if a relative, one who burns the dead, shall take up the body to bring it out of the house, and shall say to someone in the innermost parts of the house, ‘Is anyone else with you?’ the answer will come, ‘No.’
Then the relative shall say, ‘Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.’
See, the Lord commands, and the great house shall be shattered to bits, and the little house to pieces.
Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plough the sea with oxen?

But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood - you who rejoice in Lo-debar, who say, ‘Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves?’
Indeed, I am raising up against you a nation, O house of Israel, says the Lord, the God of hosts,
and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi Arabah.

1 Corinthians 6.1-11
When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints?

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?

And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels - to say nothing of ordinary matters?

If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?

I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, but a believer goes to court against a believer - and before unbelievers at that? In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that.

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers - none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

The Collect
Eternal God, shepherd of your sheep,
whose child Agnes was strengthened to bear witness in her living and her dying to the true love of her redeemer:
grant us the power to understand, with all your saints,
what is the breadth and length and height and depth
and to know the love that surpasses knowledge,
even Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Daily Office - Jan 19

Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, 1095
Second Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders;
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation;
the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning;
the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe
and strips the forests bare;
in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’

The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people;
the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Psalm 33
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, for it is good for the just to sing praises.
Praise the Lord with the lyre; on the ten-stringed harp sing his praise.
Sing for him a new song; play skilfully, with shouts of praise.

For the word of the Lord is true and all his works are sure.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers up the waters of the sea as in a waterskin and lays up the deep in his treasury.

Let all the earth fear the Lord; stand in awe of him, all who dwell in the world.

For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to naught; he frustrates the designs of the peoples.
But the counsel of the Lord shall endure for ever and the designs of his heart from generation to generation.
Happy the nation whose God is the Lord and the people he has chosen for his own.

The Lord looks down from heaven and beholds all the children of earth.
From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze on all who dwell on the earth.
He fashions all the hearts of them and understands all their works.
No king is saved by the might of his host; no warrior delivered by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; for all its strength it cannot save.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him,
on those who wait in hope for his steadfast love,
To deliver their soul from death and to feed them in time of famine.
Our soul waits longingly for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
Indeed, our heart rejoices in him; in his holy name have we put our trust.
Let your loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, as we have set our hope on you.

Amos 5.18-end
Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord!
   Why do you want the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, not light;
   as if someone fled from a lion,
   and was met by a bear;
or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall,
   and was bitten by a snake.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light,
   and gloom with no brightness in it?

I hate, I despise your festivals,
   and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt-offerings and grain-offerings,
   I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
   I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
   I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sakkuth your king, and Kaiwan your star-god, your images that you made for yourselves; therefore I will take you into exile beyond Damascus, says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

1 Corinthians 5
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you?

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgement in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons—not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber.

Do not even eat with such a one.

For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside. ‘Drive out the wicked person from among you.’

The Collect
Lord God,
who raised up Wulfstan to be a bishop among your people and a leader of your Church:
help us, after his example,
      to live simply,
      to work diligently
      and to make your kingdom known;
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 18 January 2013

Snow and Stockpiling: Biscuits

At last it is snowing and everyone's rushing to buy stuff other people want  in case there's a shortage.

So, which biscuits do you stockpile? 

Add your favourit biscuits to the comments here or add them on Twitter at:


To start the ball rolling, my choice would have to be:


Pink Wafers, and

Jaffa Cakes

Daily Office - Jan 18

Amy Carmichael, Founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship, Spiritual Writer, 1951
First Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 67
God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,
That your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
O let the nations rejoice and be glad,
for you will judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations upon earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase, and God, our own God, will bless us.
God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

Psalm 72
Give the king your judgements, O God, and your righteousness to the son of a king.
Then shall he judge your people righteously and your poor with justice.

May the mountains bring forth peace, and the little hills righteousness for the people.
May he defend the poor among the people, deliver the children of the needy and crush the oppressor.
May he live as long as the sun and moon endure, from one generation to another.
May he come down like rain upon the mown grass, like the showers that water the earth.

In his time shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more.

May his dominion extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May his foes kneel before him and his enemies lick the dust.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring gifts.
All kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall do him service.
For he shall deliver the poor that cry out, the needy and those who have no helper.

He shall have pity on the weak and poor; 
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

Long may he live;
unto him may be given gold from Sheba;
may prayer be made for him continually and may they bless him all the day long.
May there be abundance of grain on the earth, standing thick upon the hilltops;
may its fruit flourish like Lebanon and its grain grow like the grass of the field.
May his name remain for ever and be established as long as the sun endures;
may all nations be blest in him and call him blessed.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wonderful things.
And blessed be his glorious name for ever.
May all the earth be filled with his glory. Amen. Amen.

Amos 5.1-17
Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel: 
Fallen, no more to rise, is maiden Israel;
forsaken on her land, with no one to raise her up. 

For thus says the Lord God:
The city that marched out a thousand shall have a hundred left,
and that which marched out a hundred shall have ten left. 

For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:
Seek me and live; but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beer-sheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing. 

Seek the Lord and live,
or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,
and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it. 
Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground! 

The one who made the Pleiades and Orion,
   and turns deep darkness into the morning,
   and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea,
   and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is his name, 
who makes destruction flash out against the strong,
   so that destruction comes upon the fortress. 

They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
   and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. 
Therefore, because you trample on the poor
   and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
   but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
   but you shall not drink their wine. 
For I know how many are your transgressions,
   and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
   and push aside the needy in the gate. 
Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
   for it is an evil time. 

Seek good and not evil, that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. 
Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. 

Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord:
In all the squares there shall be wailing;
   and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning,
   and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing; 
in all the vineyards there shall be wailing,
   for I will pass through the midst of you,
says the Lord. 

1 Corinthians 4
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they should be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, ‘Nothing beyond what is written’, so that none of you will be puffed up in favour of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.

I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church. But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? 

The Collect
Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;
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.