Friday, 31 May 2013

And another train

And here's the penultimate train in the pile I have:

Hornby R.2196: GWR 'Nunney Castle' Limited Edition

Cheapest I've seen this for is around the £120 mark - so if you want a 'God's Wonderful Railway' bargain - this is the time to get one!

Thank you to those who have passed the details lof these trains on - I think the money needed to help with sponsoring some training will actually materialise.

ps. Not taking bids or playing bidding wars - just selling them for someone through church.

Why I struggle with Dr Who!

Having been a Dr Who fan since the very first airing in 1963 I have to say that I never thought I'd find myself deserting him. You name him, I've watched him! From Hartnell to Tennant (including Peter Cushing's large screen depiction) I've been there (often hiding behind the settee in the earlier days)! Daleks, Cybermen and beyond, I've had my share of nightmares and then . . .  as if by magic the end of The Doctor and the series long themes (is this to satisfy the Americans who, to be honest, I never thought 'got' The Doctor and need one episode stories to work with their short-term attention problems (probably lost them already ;-)  ).

But it just gets so weak when, when . . .

Well, take a look at the image below - it says it all for me:

A weak story line that crosses timelines and breaks rules and now(if I understand things correctly) we've not only painted ourselves into a River Song corner but have managed to make an extra Time Lord to help them out of a corner that didn't exist!!!

Model Locomotive - Manchester United

This is a train with carriages and bears the name of the Premier League winners (aaargh!)

Hornby R.2017: LNER Class B17/4 'Manchester United' train set (lowest price -new - I've found is £79.99) - probably great for someone who likes trains and doesn't like football (Wonder if Lichfield Diocese's Mr. Barrett might want this ;-)  ). Brand new and in original box - unused (and released in 1997)!

Anyway, here's a picture:

Hornby Locomotives - for sale (1)

I've been given some Hornby Locomotives to sell for a good cause and having tried to raise some money with these have found myself struggling with people who were looking to buy the trains cheaply and sell them on through their own shops. Now much as I have nothing against commerce and the retail sector, I do struggle when people are trying to make a buck out of other people's good intentions.

So I've decided to list some of the trains on my blog with photographs and descriptions.

All of them are brand new and in the original box, many of them are 'Limited Editions' and come with certificates of authenticity.

If you know anyone who is into trains and might like them - please ask them to contact me,


Hornby R.242: BR Britannia Class 'Robert Burns' Limited Edition
Hornby R.2036: BR 4-6-2 A3 'St Frusquin' (Limited edition)
Hornby R.2135: BR 0-6-0 Class 4F '44313' Loco
Hornby R.376: LNER A4 Pacific 'Gadwall' Limited Edition
I've found the Robert Burns and St Frusquin for sale (cheapest being £69.95) and the tank loco (cheapest £48) - the A4 (which I'd love) cheapest I've found was £100.

Anyone who wants to make me an offer between silly and the cheapest I've found them, I'd be most grateful (and the young person who will benefit from career training even more so I would imagine)

More later :-)

A week in the sun (and rain)

The past week has seen me sunned, rained upon and chilled (in both senses of the word) as 'we' (the family) have taken ourselves off for a few days camping on the edge of the peak district.

We managed a day out in Stoke on Trent which saw us split up to see films (Iron Man 3 for the children and The Great Gatsby for the adults), visit the Emma Bridgewater pottery and find a real, family owned book/art/model/jigsaw puzzle shop (in the shape of Webberleys). Sadly the Bible Bookshop had closed but the Ann Summers around the corner was doing a fair trade (which led me to wonder if perhaps they should have stocked the Song of Songs?) and even though it rained the experience was pleasing and enjoyable.

The very next day, despite the rain, we visited Bolsover Castle where a very welcoming and friendly young lady made the experience most enjoyable (pity the 'Gloomy Gus' characters who were on duty weren't quite so cheerful) and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 'folly' really wasn't but contained som superb architecture and paintings.  From the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing) through to the moods (Melancholy, Anger, Sanguinity and a 'make your choice' panel for good measure) the paintings were impressive and the buildings, views (think there was one behind the low cloud and rain) and the like make this an ideal day out for a visit.

Then off we trudged to the Merlin attraction (hear a moaning Dad say that it was called Merlin because they'd managed to transform dense material - I think he meant 'us' - into gold) of Alton Towers. Sadly the newest attraction (the Smiler) caused many gloomy faces at it wasn't ready for action (it started today - of course!) - still the weather held out and the rides were fun. I do tire of the many marketing opportunities, especially the photographs) that besets those who brave the place though!

And then, after a great barbecue and loads of Christian music, we ended the holiday with sun this morning and a dry tent to pack away (Thank you Lord!).

So that's it for another year - batteries charged and into battle - have I mentioned how much I love my job?

Happy Friday

Daily Office - May 31

Blessed Virgin Mary visits Elizabeth

Psalm 85

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

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

I will listen to what the Lord God will say, 
for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful, that they turn not again to folly.

Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other;

Truth shall spring up from the earth and righteousness look down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed give all that is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness shall go before him and direct his steps in the way.

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

Samuel 2.1-10
 Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.
‘There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.

The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail.
The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.’

Mark 3.31-35
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’

The Collect
Mighty God,
by whose grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary and greeted her as the mother of the Lord:
look with favour on your lowly servants
that, with Mary, we may magnify your holy name and rejoice to acclaim her Son our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Daily Office - May 30

Corpus Christi
The Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion

Psalm 147
How good it is to make music for our God, • how joyful to honour him with praise.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem • and gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted • and binds up all their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars • and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; • his wisdom is beyond all telling.
The Lord lifts up the poor, • but casts down the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; • make music to our God upon the lyre;
Who covers the heavens with clouds • and prepares rain for the earth;
Who makes grass to grow upon the mountains • and green plants to serve our needs.
He gives the beasts their food • and the young ravens when they cry.
He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, • no delight in human strength;
But the Lord delights in those who fear him, • who put their trust in his steadfast love.

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

Deuteronomy 8.2-16
Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The clothes on your back did not wear out and your feet did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you. Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.

Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid waste-land with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good.

1 Corinthians 10.1-17
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 baptized 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.

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.

The Collect
Lord Jesus Christ,
we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament
you have given us the memorial of your passion:
grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries
      of your body and blood
that we may know within ourselves
and show forth in our lives
the fruits of your redemption;
for you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Daily Office - May 29

Psalm 119.1-32
Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

How can young people keep their way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments.
I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Deal bountifully with your servant, so that I may live and observe your word.
Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
I live as an alien in the land; do not hide your commandments from me.
My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments;
take away from me their scorn and contempt, for I have kept your decrees.
Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Your decrees are my delight, they are my counsellors.
My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to your word.
When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
Put false ways far from me; and graciously teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your ordinances before me.
I cling to your decrees, O Lord; let me not be put to shame.
I run the way of your commandments, for you enlarge my understanding.

Job 9
Then Job answered:

‘Indeed I know that this is so; but how can a mortal be just before God?
If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength - who has resisted him, and succeeded? -
he who removes mountains, and they do not know it, when he overturns them in his anger;
who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble;
who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
who seals up the stars;
who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the Sea;
who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
who does great things beyond understanding, and marvellous things without number.

Look, he passes by me, and I do not see him;
he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
He snatches away; who can stop him?
Who will say to him, “What are you doing?”
‘God will not turn back his anger; the helpers of Rahab bowed beneath him.
How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him?
Though I am innocent, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
If I summoned him and he answered me, I do not believe that he would listen to my voice.
For he crushes me with a tempest, and multiplies my wounds without cause;
he will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness.
If it is a contest of strength, he is the strong one!
If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?

Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me;
though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.

I am blameless; I do not know myself; I loathe my life.
It is all one; therefore I say, he destroys both the blameless and the wicked.
When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
he covers the eyes of its judges - if it is not he, who then is it?
‘My days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good.
They go by like skiffs of reed, like an eagle swooping on the prey.
If I say, “I will forget my complaint; I will put off my sad countenance and be of good cheer”,
I become afraid of all my suffering, for I know you will not hold me innocent.
I shall be condemned; why then do I labour in vain?
If I wash myself with soap and cleanse my hands with lye,
yet you will plunge me into filth, and my own clothes will abhor me.

For he is not a mortal, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together.
There is no umpire between us, who might lay his hand on us both.
If he would take his rod away from me, and not let dread of him terrify me,
then I would speak without fear of him, for I know I am not what I am thought to be.

Romans 5.1-11
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity
and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:
keep us steadfast in this faith,
that we may evermore be defended from all adversities;
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 May 2013

Daily Office - May 28

Lanfranc, Prior of Le Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, Scholar, 1089

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray.

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you.
The boastful will not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house,
I will bow down towards your holy temple in awe of you.

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
For there is no truth in their mouths; their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves; they flatter with their tongues.
Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover them with favour as with a shield.

Psalm 6
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror;
they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.

Psalm 8
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals[a] that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Job 8
Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:

'How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
 Does God pervert justice?
 Or does the Almighty pervert the right?

If your children sinned against him, he delivered them into the power of their transgression.
If you will seek God and make supplication to the Almighty,
if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore to you your rightful place.
Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.

‘For inquire now of bygone generations, and consider what their ancestors have found;
 for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing, for our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?

‘Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh?
 Can reeds flourish where there is no water?
 While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant.
 Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish.
 Their confidence is gossamer, a spider’s house their trust.
 If one leans against its house, it will not stand;
 if one lays hold of it, it will not endure.

The wicked thrive[c] before the sun, and their shoots spread over the garden.
Their roots twine around the stoneheap; they live among the rocks.
If they are destroyed from their place, then it will deny them, saying, “I have never seen you.”
See, these are their happy ways, and out of the earth still others will spring.

‘See, God will not reject a blameless person, nor take the hand of evildoers.
 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.
 Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.’

Romans 4.13-end
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’) - in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already[b] as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith[c] ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity
and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:
keep us steadfast in this faith,
that we may evermore be defended from all adversities;
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, 27 May 2013

Daily Office - May 27

Psalm 1
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 2
Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
‘Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.’
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’
I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss his feet,
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 3
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me; many are saying to me,
‘There is no help for you in God.’
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
I cry aloud to the Loed, and he answers me from his holy hill.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
I am not afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Rise up, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people!

Job 7
‘Do not human beings have a hard service on earth,
and are not their days like the days of a labourer?
Like a slave who longs for the shadow,
and like labourers who look for their wages,
so I am allotted months of emptiness,
and nights of misery are apportioned to me.

When I lie down I say, “When shall I rise?”
But the night is long, and I am full of tossing until dawn.
My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt;
my skin hardens, then breaks out again.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to their end without hope.

‘Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.
The eye that beholds me will see me no more;
As the cloud fades and vanishes, so those who go down to Sheol do not come up;
they return no more to their houses, nor do their places know them any more.
‘Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
 I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
 I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Am I the Sea, or the Dragon, that you set a guard over me?
When I say, “My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint”,
then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions,
so that I would choose strangling and death rather than this body.

I loathe my life; I would not live for ever.
Let me alone, for my days are a breath.

What are human beings, that you make so much of them,
that you set your mind on them,
visit them every morning, test them every moment?
Will you not look away from me for a while,
let me alone until I swallow my spittle?

If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity?
Why have you made me your target?
Why have I become a burden to you?
Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be.’

Romans 4.1-12
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’
Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.

So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness irrespective of works:
‘Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.’

Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised?
We say, ‘Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.’

How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity
and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:
keep us steadfast in this faith,
that we may evermore be defended from all adversities;
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 May 2013

Some Trinitarian examples

Need to get a Trinity service sorted?

Here aree some threes that might assist (assuming you have Father, Son and Holy Spirit):

3 states of matter (solid, liquid and gas - water, ice and steam)
3 Billy Goats Gruff
3 Coins in a Fountain
3 French Hens (song)
3 Days of the Condor
3 Bones in the Human Ear
3 Miles in a League
3 Old King Cole's Fiddlers
3 Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, Anne)
3 Goals in a Hat Trick (hockey)
3 Little Pigs
3 Sheets to the Wind
3 Times a Lady
3 Minute Egg
3 Piece Suit
3 Feet in a Yard
3 Books in Lord of the Rings
3 Ring Circus
3 Ships of Christopher Columbus
3 Sheets to the Wind
3 Books in a Trilogy
3 Witches in Macbeth
3 Heads on the Dog Cerberus
3 Little Kittens They Lost Their Mittens
3 Wheels on a Tricycle
3 Stooges
3 Blind Mice
3 Wise Men
3 Legged Race
3 Ring Circus
3 Wheeler
3 Point Landing
3 Cheers
3 Strikes & You're Out
3 Cornered Hat
3 Is A Crowd
3 Dimensional
3 Faces of Eve
3 Mile Island
3 Musketeers
3 R's
3rd time's a charm
3 Cheers
3 Bee Gees
3 Sides of a triangle
3 Capitals of South Africa
3 Races in the Triple Crown (horse racing)
3 Angles in a Triangle
3 Cousins of Donald Duck: Huey, Dewey and Louie
3 Dog Night
3 Ring Circus
3 Alous (Matty, Jesus and Felipe)
3 Kennedys (John, Robert and Teddy)
3 Trimesters in a Pregnancy
3 Flavors in Neapolitan Ice Cream
3 Bean Salad
3 To Get Ready
3 Stars in Orion’s belt
3 Parts To An Atom: protons, neutrons, and electrons.
3 Caloric Sources: Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins
3 Quarks in a Baryon.
3 Primary hues in white light red, green, and blue.
3 Parts to the Personality: Id. Ego, super-ego
3 Earth Divisions: Core, Mantle, Crust.
3 Rock Formations: Igneous- Metamorphic- Sedimentary.
3 Times A Lady
3 Bags Full in Baa Baa Black Sheep
and three characters (Master, Dame  and little boy what lives down the lane)
3 Barleycorns in an Inch
3 Hands on a Clock (with the Seconds Hand)
3 Is a Crowd
3 King Lear's Daughters (Regan, Goneril and Cordelia)
3 Colors in the Flag
3 Legged Race
3 Men and a Baby (movie)
3 Minute Egg
3 Card Monte
3 Great Pyramids at Giza
3 on a Match
3 Point Basket
3 Miles in a League
3 Men in a Tub Rub a Dub Dub
3 Holes in a Bowling Ball
3 Balls on a Pawn Brokers Sign
3 Colours in a Set of Traffic Lights
3 Lines in a Haiku Poem
3 Life lines in Who Wants to be a Millionaire
3 Leaves on a Shamrock
3 Minutes in a Boxing Round
3 Scruples in a Dram
3 Teaspoons in a Tablespoon
3 Valves on a Trumpet
3 Shakes of a Tail
3 Megajoules in a Kilowatt Hour
3 Laws of Motion
3 Legs on a Milking Stool
3 Monastic Vows (Poverty, Chastity and Obedience)
3 Points for a Field Goal in (American) Football
3 Penny Opera
3 Ring Circus
3 Wise Men, Casper, Melchior, Balthasar
3 Tenors (Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti)
3 Gorgons (Medusa, Stheno and Euryale)
3 Greek Fates Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos
3 Roman Graces: Aglaia, Euphrosyne, Thalia.
3 Parts to a Chimera: Lion Head, Goat Body, SnakeTail
3 Roman Furies Alecto, Megaera, Tisiphone
3 Greek Harpies: Aello, Ocypete, and Celaeno.
3 Times Peter denied Christ.
3 Body Types: Endomorph, Mesomorph, Ectomorph
3 Ring Notebooks
3 Notes in a Triad (chord)
3 Bases in a Codon
3 Domains: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucaryota
3 Germ layers: Endoderm, Mesoderm, Ectoderm
3 Species of Homo: Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo sapiens
Cu*m Laude, Magna Cu*m Laude, and Suma Cu*m Laude
Frankencense, Gold and Myrrh
Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
Hegel’s Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis
The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth
Of the People, By the People, For the People
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
Veni, Vidi, Vici
Faith, Hope and Charity
Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Paper, Rock, Scissors
Peter Paul and Mary
Winken, Blinken, and Nod
Snap, Crack, and Pop
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Small, Medium and Large
Alvin, Simon and Theodore (chipmunks)
The Three Bears
Bad news comes in threes
Trouble comes in threes

Made me Laugh: iPad in the kitchen

This was perhaps a little predictable but nevertheless still made me howl:

Thanks to the many who have pointed me to this :-)

Trinity Sunday

A day when heresies and errors abound as we find modal, adopt, tritheistic and many other entertaining sermons and illustrations on offer. And what will yours be?
Here's a quick (and light) guide for those consumers tomorrow:

Arianism: Arius, a 4th century priest in Alexandria, held the view that Jesus, being 'created' was therefore inferior to the Father and not eternal. Jesus just isn't God!

Corrective: Creator not created! 'Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.' (John 1.3) Equal (and co-eternal) with the Father, 'I and the Father are one.’ (John 10.30), ‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’(John 8.58).

A 5th century error that Jesus was a normal bloke who was merely 'adopted' through His baptism or as some teach by the power of the Holy Spirit (Jesus was a 'normal' man until he became pentecostal - I've heard it!). His ministry was an example of Spiritual Gifts!

Corrective: The eternal Jesus: ‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’(John 8.58). Jesus, the creator - always was, is and will be: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.' (John 1.1-3). Eternal: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’(Revelation 1.8)

Modalism: Here we have a god who can be but one part of the Trinity at any given time. Creator God - Saviour Jesus and Enabling Holy Spirit. God takes upon Himself the role needed and switches between the three as the needs demand.

Corrective: Take a look at Jesus' baptism: Jesus is being dunked, the Spirit is making an appearance and the Father has the talking part: 'As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3. 16-17)

Tritheism: Here we have all three members of the Trinity making an appearance because they are three separate and individual gods with three characters and desires, actions and roles. All three are but ONE God.

Corrective: ‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.' (John 17. 20-22)

Polytheism: A belief in 'many gods' - an extension of the three god (tritheistic) thinking into many gods of which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are but three.

Corrective: There is only one God, ‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no saviour. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed - I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he.(Isaiah 43.10-13)

So tomorrow, when someone tells you about:
Clover and how God is green with three parts  = Tritheism
or how God is water, ice and steam= Modalism
or like and egg - shell, white and yolk = Tritheism;
God is like a woman who is Mother, Sister and Wife (or Husband, Brother and Son) = Modalism;
God is like a 3-in-one shampoo (cleans, conditions and mends split ends!) = Modalism and/or Tritheism

If we really want to communicate the Trinity - the best bet is to teach that which the Council of Nicea (the FIRST Ecumenical Council - 352AD) taught, and it goes like this:

God is of 'one substance'  person with three distinct persons Of course we can get more into this and head for Nicea (325AD) and get to grips with the 'substance' (ousia) and we find that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one ousios (homo ousious), not similar (homoi ousious), not different (hetero ousios). One substance, three distinct and separate wills - all in accord.

Equal, co-eternal, engaged (fully) in creation, eternal: Three and yet one (and that's where all of the analogies fall and lead us into the error). This little drawing below is often useful here:

And if you need more help - let's call up the services of St Patrick to help us clear things up a little:

We need to stop trying to explain things and start teaching them!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Daily Office - May 25

The Venerable Bede, Monk at Jarrow, Scholar, Historian, 735

Psalm 147

How good it is to make music for our God, how joyful to honour him with praise.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond all telling.
The Lord lifts up the poor, but casts down the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the lyre;
Who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth;
Who makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve our needs.
He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens when they cry.
He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, no delight in human strength;
But the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their trust in his steadfast love.

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

Job 6
Then Job answered:

‘O that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances!
For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
therefore my words have been rash.
For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison;
the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
Does the wild ass bray over its grass, or the ox low over its fodder?
Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any flavour in the juice of mallows?
My appetite refuses to touch them;
they are like food that is loathsome to me.

‘O that I might have my request, and that God would grant my desire;
that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
This would be my consolation;
I would even exult in unrelenting pain;
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should be patient?
Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?
In truth I have no help in me, and any resource is driven from me.

‘Those who withhold kindness from a friend forsake the fear of the Almighty.
My companions are treacherous like a torrent-bed, like freshets that pass away,
that run dark with ice, turbid with melting snow.
In time of heat they disappear; when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
The caravans turn aside from their course; they go up into the waste, and perish.
The caravans of Tema look, the travellers of Sheba hope.
They are disappointed because they were confident; they come there and are confounded.
Such you have now become to me; you see my calamity, and are afraid.
Have I said, “Make me a gift”?
Or, “From your wealth offer a bribe for me”?
Or, “Save me from an opponent’s hand”?
Or, “Ransom me from the hand of oppressors”?

‘Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone wrong.
How forceful are honest words!
But your reproof, what does it reprove?
Do you think that you can reprove words, as if the speech of the desperate were wind?
You would even cast lots over the orphan, and bargain over your friend.

‘But now, be pleased to look at me; for I will not lie to your face.
Turn, I pray, let no wrong be done.
Turn now, my vindication is at stake.
Is there any wrong on my tongue?
Cannot my taste discern calamity

Romans 3.21-end
But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

The Collect
God our maker,
whose Son Jesus Christ gave to your servant Bede
grace to drink in with joy the word
that leads us to know you and to love you:
in your goodness
grant that we also may come at length to you,
the source of all wisdom,
and stand before your face;
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 May 2013

Do you need a 'soft kitty' moment?

I think I might deserve one!

Motorcycle Funerals

Today was one of those times when I wished I'd remembered my cloak as the wind howled and the temperature remained fixed at about seven or eight degrees Celcius. It was more like a September morning than almost being June!

The only bright spot was that I'd gotten to 'do' my first motorcycle hearse funeral - sadly I didn't get to ride pillion though - and it was indeed an impressive way for any biker to leave this world.

So here's a snap of it (especially for the pillion rider) to remind people that we can make sure that every detail of a funeral is pretty much open to us (and a something for the pillion rider too - a new experience for him too).

Oh yeah, almost forgot to add, the rain joined the cold and wind just as we started to do the service - so it completed the biker's picture perfectly. Always seemed to rain more than it was sunny when I was riding :-)

Want to stop turning a deaf eye?

Then take a look at the poster below and sign up if you're near to Tamworth and if you're not, then why not think about running a course in your own patch?

This is one of the most worthwhile areas of engagement a church can have in its community - so stop missing out on meeting and understanding a wonderful bunch of people ( AKA 'the deaf') and start learning to use you eyes as ears and you hands as your tongue:

When social media becomes antisocial

I see a number of Police Forces around the country have posted something like this:

We would urge people to consider the very real impact of their online comments in relation to this matter.
We have received a number of reports from local members of the public about tweets and Facebook comments that could potentially incite racial hatred and violence.
These are currently being investigated. If such communications are reported to us and they do breach the law, those messages may be monitored; captured and robust police action will be considered.
(This version comes from the Lincolnshire Police force)

It seems to me that immediacy of the electronic communications world can lead us into many potentially dodgy places and open us up to criticism and more besides (as Emma Way found after tweeting about knocking a cyclist of his bike!).

I find myself dealing with situations where people have posted stuff as a kneejerk and found themselves starting WWIII as a result and it is not just terrible things like the Woolwich murder that has raised the passion - communication is great but not always beneficial!

Daily Office - May 24

John and Charles Wesley, Evangelists, Hymn Writers, 1791 and 1788

Psalm 142

A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A Prayer.

With my voice I cry to the Lord; with my voice I make supplication to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.
When my spirit is faint, you know my way.
In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.
Look on my right hand and see - there is no one who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me; no one cares for me.

I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’
Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low.
Save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.
Bring me out of prison, so that I may give thanks to your name.
The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

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

O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them,
or mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow.
Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down;
touch the mountains so that they smoke.
Make the lightning flash and scatter them;
send out your arrows and rout them.
Stretch out your hand from on high;
set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters,
from the hand of aliens, whose mouths speak lies, and whose right hands are false.

I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
the one who gives victory to kings, who rescues his servant David.
Rescue me from the cruel sword,
and deliver me from the hand of aliens,
whose mouths speak lies, and whose right hands are false.

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars, cut for the building of a palace.

May our barns be filled with produce of every kind;
may our sheep increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields, 
and may our cattle be heavy with young.
May there be no breach in the walls, no exile, and no cry of distress in our streets.

Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall;
happy are the people whose God is the Lord.

Job 5
‘Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.
I have seen fools taking root, but suddenly I cursed their dwelling.
Their children are far from safety, they are crushed in the gate,
and there is no one to deliver them.

The hungry eat their harvest, and they take it even out of the thorns;
and the thirsty pant after their wealth.
For misery does not come from the earth, nor does trouble sprout from the ground;
but human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward.

‘As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause.
He does great things and unsearchable, marvellous things without number.
He gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields;
he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.
He takes the wise in their own craftiness; and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope at noonday as in the night.

But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth, from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.

‘How happy is the one whom God reproves;
 therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up; he strikes, but his hands heal.
He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no harm shall touch you.
In famine he will redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword.

You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
and shall not fear the wild animals of the earth.
For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals shall be at peace with you.
You shall know that your tent is safe,
you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
You shall know that your descendants will be many,
and your offspring like the grass of the earth.
You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
as a shock of grain comes up to the threshing-floor in its season.
See, we have searched this out; it is true.
Hear, and know it for yourself.’

Romans 3.1-20
Then what advantage has the Jew?
Or what is the value of circumcision? 
Much, in every way. For in the first place the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.
What if some were unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?
By no means! Although everyone is a liar, let God be proved true, as it is written,
‘So that you may be justified in your words, and prevail in your judging.’
But if our injustice serves to confirm the justice of God, what should we say?
That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
By no means! For then how could God judge the world?
But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?
And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), ‘Let us do evil so that good may come’? Their condemnation is deserved!

What then? Are we any better off?
No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10 as it is written:
‘There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
 there is no one who has understanding,
 there is no one who seeks God.
 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
 there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.’
‘Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.’
‘The venom of vipers is under their lips.’
‘Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.’
‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
 ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known.’
 ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’

Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

God of mercy,
who inspired John and Charles Wesley with zeal for your gospel:
grant to all people boldness to proclaim your word
and a heart ever to rejoice in singing your praises;
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 May 2013

Woolwich Murder

First things first - we mourn the loss of a Husband, Father and Son.

A man who fought for his nation who was cruelly and wickedly murdered.

We pray for his family, friends and comrades and we stand, resolute for what is right - done in the right way.

Drummer Lee Rigby2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

dona eis requiem

As wicked and foolish people respond out of pain, anger and downright stupidity can I add something that needs to be made as widely known as possible?

We will honour Lee, and all our fallen brothers in arms, if we uphold our values and standards.

We will honour God is we see justice (not vengeance), act mercifully and exercise humility (Micah 6.6-8)

We will not be shaken - we will not be beaten - we will not flinch nor refuse the battle - we remain resolute and strong - one family regardless of cap badge or service.

May God bring justice to those wicked individuals who deny others peace and freedom.

Honi soit qui mal y pense

 evil be to him who thinks evil

Psalm 1 - a model for church growth?

I have always been of the impression that Psalm one is the model for church growth and the more I think of it, the more convinced I am. My&nbsp;reasons&nbsp;for this are that as it lists the three stages of falling into sin I assume that satan, having neither invention or tactical awareness merely chooses to use that which God has made for his own ends. This means that he has merely taken what works and used it and the psalmist tells us this:<br /><br />

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Here we have the three elements of church growth:

Walk in Step
One of the hardest things for many of those in church is for them to get out of their buildings and get involved with those outside their doors.

'But we are a welcoming church,' they cry,
'We sit here and wait for them, but they never come in!'

So they stop and have a think and then they try again with a different strategy . . .
and see no new people come through their doors; and so they say:

'We became an 'inviting' church. We invited everyone, putting leaflets through door and we even put an advert' in the local paper. But no one came!'

Of course they didn't, because they needed someone to 'bring' them to church and the only way that happens is by building relationships with the people outside the church doors. We need to go out there and get in step with them; but not to adopt their attitudes and practices (and not to criticise and attack them either) but to build relationships.

If people get to know us and find that we're not the pains they thought we were then they build relationships and it is these relationships that will eventually (and 'eventually' can be a very long time indeed) lead them into the church building with a degree of confidence that they are not just 'scalps'; for the great evangelistic machine. Unless we relate and become relevant to the people in our community then regardless of how welcoming or inviting or anything else we are, we are not (generally) going to see growth.

This is the next stage and it's important because it means that they've stopped to engage. They are no longer tabbing on through but have considered you to be worth a stop and chat. This is where some of the important stuff happens for this is the place where you are Christian but you don't push, press or proselytise. So often I find people going for the jugular because they've stopped to talk and to do so is to encourage them to not just walk, but probably run (in the opposite direction).

I had a conversation with a well-meaning and kindly Christian who told me that whenever they saw a neighbour they gave them a tract telling them how they were sinners and outlining the ways they might repent and be saved. When I tried to explain that the concept of needing to be saved was not only alien to many, but was also highly offensive for it said, 'You are not a right person!'

And we all like to hear that don't we?

That said, I don't think we can ever deny Christ and if mentioning Jesus in some context that applies to us occurs we don't actively decide to divert the topic or circumstance - do we? We just do not push Him to the point of alienating or embarrassing others.

If people have allowed us to walk with them (it's them that controls the engagements, not us) and have decided to stop and engage then we need to handle that offer of relationship gratefully and gently; and if we do, they end up sitting and chatting, drinking tea, coffee and dunking biscuits wit us.

It is here that we can engage more fully. This is the place of Fresh Expressions and START courses (eventually) and is the place where Jesus, God, the cross, resurrection and most importantly - forgiveness and love - are to be found.

When people are sitting comfortably, then we can begin (how I miss the Home service and 'children's hour').

In Step, Stop and sit - a three-part model for church growth that demands time, engagements, the ability to share the story of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the cross and new life (they called it the kerygma [keruggma] in the early Church - everyone learnt it and shared it with others). Being an evangelist isn't the job for someone in the pulpit, a tent or a football ground mission event, it's what we are called, each and every one of us, to be and do.

So congratulations if you have a welcoming, inviting and engaged church, but if you don't - get outside of your church building and leave it open for the community and get down and alive with the world outside - and you, and others will be like a tree in the desert which is tended and cared for and planted by streams of living water.

Perffick picture - innit?

Daily Office - May 23

Psalm 143
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness;
answer me in your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgement with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
For the enemy has pursued me,
crushing my life to the ground,
making me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
I remember the days of old,
I think about all your deeds,
I meditate on the works of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.Selah

Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me,
or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

Save me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.
For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life.
In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.
In your steadfast love cut off my enemies,
and destroy all my adversaries,
for I am your servant.

Psalm 146
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
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 strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Job 4
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:

‘If one ventures a word with you, will you be offended?
But who can keep from speaking?
See, you have instructed many;
you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have supported those who were stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
‘Think now, who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
As I have seen, those who plough iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same.
By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
and the teeth of the young lions are broken.
The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the whelps of the lioness are scattered.
‘Now a word came stealing to me,
my ear received the whisper of it.
Amid thoughts from visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on mortals,
dread came upon me, and trembling,
which made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh bristled.
It stood still,
but I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
there was silence, then I heard a voice:
“Can mortals be righteous before God?
Can human beings be pure before their Maker?
Even in his servants he puts no trust,
and his angels he charges with error;
how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed like a moth.
Between morning and evening they are destroyed;
they perish for ever without any regarding it.
Their tent-cord is plucked up within them,
and they die devoid of wisdom.”

Romans 2.17-end
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? You that boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’
Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but

O Lord, from whom all good things come:
grant to us your humble servants,
that by your holy inspiration
we may think those things that are good,
and by your merciful guiding may perform the same;
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

So you think you're having a bad day?

Then stop and take a look at this short clip and realise that you've probably got less to worry about than you thought:

Lord - give other the grace to endure the things my stupidity makes happen
Give me the wisdom to be less stupid as I get older
Help me not to fall into the pit

Meat-Eating Vegetarians

Seems to be just one issue in the news at the moment after the Church of Scotland (CofS) voted, as one of their spokespersons put it, 'to uphold traditional views and support diversity'.

This appears, at more than first glance, to be akin to a Vegetarian Society approving and endorsing the eating of meat, the caveat being that each of the local groups must approve of one of theirs being a meat-eater. Not for them the understanding that they might have meat in their cupboards and 'fridges but were still keeping to the Veggie code as long as they never ate the stuff - now apparently, using the CofS it is now possible to uphold the 'non-meat' mantra of the vegetarian and partake of the hitherto forbidden fruit as well - excellent news as one can't beat a bacon sandwich in the morning!!

I am troubled because the wording in so many places speaks of 'affirming the traditional teaching of the church as favouring vegetarian ministers  yet permits local groups to select meat eaters in leadership roles should they wish'.

I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with the 'favouring' because I dislike the 'having favourites' mentality, it speaks of something unfair. Still, they continue:

'This has been one way or another, a massive vote for the peace and unity of the vegetarian community,' said a spokesperson, 'For here we have 'a compromise' and now vegetarians everywhere can live at peace in a 'mixed economy' - which oddly they always have done, it's called the world; a place where meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, burger fans and others have always mingled on an 'whatever floats your boat' basis. There are two places - the world and the club and both live, think, feel and act differently from each other.

I asked a staunch veggie friend whether they could work in such a setting and they admit that whilst happy to live in a world where others make their choices, they choose to be a vegetarian and work on the theory that you either are, or are not, a vegetarian. 'You can't be a bit vegetarian, ' they said, 'But then again we live in the world where there are many choices, preferences and tastes. It's not like it's Church because they're not the world but in it, aren't they?' 

Interestingly they also said that they were really frustrated at people who claimed to be veggies and yet, in reality, weren't - 'The two are very different and it's not just about what we eat, it's about how we view things and see ourselves. If we had veggie clubs (which I don't think we do) then we would not be permitting people to eat meat within it because that's not what we believe! is right or healthy'

All very interesting stuff isn't it? Tofu or A Big Mac - if that was the choice I'd opt for tea and toast ;-)

Daily Office - May 22

Psalm 119.153-end
O consider my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.

Plead my cause and redeem me; according to your promise, give me life.

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.

Great is your compassion, O Lord; give me life, according to your judgements.

Many there are that persecute and oppress me, yet do I not swerve from your testimonies.

It grieves me when I see the treacherous, for they do not keep your word.

Consider, O Lord, how I love your commandments; give me life according to your loving-kindness.

The sum of your word is truth, and all your righteous judgements endure for evermore.

Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of your word.

I am as glad of your word as one who finds great spoils.

As for lies, I hate and abhor them, but your law do I love.

Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgements.

Great peace have they who love your law; nothing shall make them stumble.

Lord, I have looked for your salvation and I have fulfilled your commandments.

My soul has kept your testimonies and greatly have I loved them.

I have kept your commandments and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding, according to your word.

Let my supplication come before you; deliver me, according to your promise.

My lips shall pour forth your praise, when you have taught me your statutes.

My tongue shall sing of your word, for all your commandments are righteous.

Let your hand reach out to help me, for I have chosen your commandments.

I have longed for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.

Let my soul live and it shall praise you, and let your judgements be my help.

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

Job 3
After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. Job said:
‘Let the day perish on which I was born,
   and the night that said,
   “A man-child is conceived.”
Let that day be darkness!
   May God above not seek it,
   or light shine on it.
Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
   Let clouds settle upon it;
   let the blackness of the day terrify it.
That night—let thick darkness seize it!
   let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
   let it not come into the number of the months.
Yes, let that night be barren;
   let no joyful cry be heard in it.
Let those curse it who curse the Sea,
   those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan.
Let the stars of its dawn be dark;
   let it hope for light, but have none;
   may it not see the eyelids of the morning—
because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb,
   and hide trouble from my eyes.

‘Why did I not die at birth,
   come forth from the womb and expire?
Why were there knees to receive me,
   or breasts for me to suck?
Now I would be lying down and quiet;
   I would be asleep; then I would be at rest
with kings and counsellors of the earth
   who rebuild ruins for themselves,
or with princes who have gold,
   who fill their houses with silver.
Or why was I not buried like a stillborn child,
   like an infant that never sees the light?
There the wicked cease from troubling,
   and there the weary are at rest.
There the prisoners are at ease together;
   they do not hear the voice of the taskmaster.
The small and the great are there,
   and the slaves are free from their masters.

‘Why is light given to one in misery,
   and life to the bitter in soul,
who long for death, but it does not come,
   and dig for it more than for hidden treasures;
who rejoice exceedingly,
   and are glad when they find the grave?
Why is light given to one who cannot see the way,
   whom God has fenced in?
For my sighing comes like my bread,
   and my groanings are poured out like water.
Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me,
   and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
   I have no rest; but trouble comes.’

Romans 2.1-16
Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.

The Collect
O Lord, from whom all good things come:
grant to us your humble servants,
that by your holy inspiration
we may think those things that are good,
and by your merciful guiding may perform the same;
through 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.