Friday, 31 March 2017

Journal: 'Don't they know who we are?'

Had a great conversation in which my explanation of the Brexit negotiations (The first call for the EU negotiations is to preserve the interests of the member states and those who live and conduct business in it) was met with: "But don't they know who we are?"

I don't think I'd want that put into the mix after watching  'I, Daniel Blake', 'Viceroy's House' and 'United Kingdom' because I fear they might already know enough :-(

Today saw the final funeral of the month, preparations for the second ADCM of the year, the last home Communion of the week (been a good week - managed to get round to eight households), a generally strange Kid's Club (for reasons I can't quite put a finger on) and a bit of the old spiritual warfare - or as we have it in the vicaring business: "A pretty ordinary day!"

The UK, having decided it is no longer playing in Europe, is expected to resolve a number of issues before the European nations start talking about trade. Now I can't see what this is any surprise as I'd want to know whether I want you in my house before I start to talk about working with you, so why should U.K. / EU relationships be any different?

As the pawns begin to be moved I notice that there is a hint of attitude that says that Europe could do very nicely without the UK's participation in security and defence matters, which means,"Don't threaten to take your toys away, because we'll merely say "Not a problem, bye!" and move on!"

I am saddened by this whole thing and don't expect this, like any divorce, to be a joyous and positive experience for either of the parties, but the stance, "Do you know who we are - you can't live without us," is weak and destined to see tears before bedtime. This is not the opportunity for us to 'become great again' but the opportunity to go it alone is terms of trade whilst adhering to EU rules and regulations (if we want to trade in the EU that is) without having any say in their creation. This is not a regaining of independence and the days when the world was painted red on the maps. This is an opportunity for a different UK (should that be England and Wales?) where the disenfranchised, the poor, homeless and unemployed can be dealt with properly - but all I hear is immigration.

Today has been a day where God's call on this nation to seek Justice, exhibit mercy and live as a nation who, rather than ask,"Don't why know who we are?" instead lives humbly because we know who we are.

God calls us to welcome those who are strangers in our midst and we have the instruction to treat them as if they were nationals: To treat them as we'd wish to be treated. A grain of corn first has to die before it can bring forth a harvest. Perhaps there is something about our nation that needs to die before we can become something that flourishes and is fruitful too?

Lord, for the encounters today: I praise You.
For the places Your light has shone because I have carried Your light, I give you thanks.
For a nation which seeks to leave and yet retain all the benefits of membership, I pray for an awakening and an awareness of what we have begun and pray for the relationships with those outside our nation and for the relationships within it.

Lord, graciously hear us and take not Your Holy Spirit from us.

Morning Prayer - Friday 31 March 2017

John Donne, Priest, Poet, 1631

Psalm 102
O Lord, hear my prayer and let my crying come before you. Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; when I call, make haste to answer me, For my days are consumed in smoke and my bones burn away as in a furnace. My heart is smitten down and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread.

From the sound of my groaning my bones cleave fast to my skin. I am become like a vulture in the wilderness, like an owl that haunts the ruins. I keep watch and am become like a sparrow solitary upon the housetop. My enemies revile me all the day long, and those who rage at me have sworn together against me. I have eaten ashes for bread and mingled my drink with weeping, Because of your indignation and wrath, for you have taken me up and cast me down. My days fade away like a shadow, and I am withered like grass. But you, O Lord, shall endure for ever and your name through all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is time to have mercy upon her; surely the time has come. For your servants love her very stones and feel compassion for her dust. Then shall the nations fear your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory, When the Lord has built up Zion and shown himself in glory; When he has turned to the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their plea.

This shall be written for those that come after, and a people yet unborn shall praise the Lord. For he has looked down from his holy height; from the heavens he beheld the earth, That he might hear the sighings of the prisoner and set free those condemned to die; That the name of the Lord may be proclaimed in Zion and his praises in Jerusalem, When peoples are gathered together and kingdoms also, to serve the Lord.

He has brought down my strength in my journey and has shortened my days. I pray, ‘O my God, do not take me in the midst of my days; your years endure throughout all generations.
‘In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; They shall perish, but you will endure; they all shall wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they shall be changed; but you are the same, and your years will not fail. The children of your servants shall continue, and their descendants shall be established in your sight.’

Jeremiah 19.14-20.6
When Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, he stood in the court of the Lord’s house and said to all the people: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am now bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks, refusing to hear my words.

Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur struck the prophet Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. The next morning when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, The Lord has named you not Pashhur but ‘Terror-all-around.’ For thus says the Lord: I am making you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall kill them with the sword. I will give all the wealth of this city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and carry them to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house, shall go into captivity, and to Babylon you shall go; there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.

John 11.1-16
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

The Collect
Merciful Lord, absolve your people from their offences, that through your bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins which by our frailty we have committed; grant this, heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Journal: As Q1 ends

I'm actually looking forward to a week where there are no funerals to be conducted. As much as I enjoy them immensely and regard them as one of the best bits of the ministerial role, this last month has effectively seen a funeral for every working day; many of those I did the service for being people I knew.

Today though has been a day where bread and wine were to the fore and I managed to fit in an early Communion service at St Francis' before heading off out to enjoy visiting friends. It's odd, but after all these years it still doesn't feel like work when I'm out visiting - and I hope it never does get to feel like that. The evening saw me engaged with cadets, always a joy.

It's been a day when the benefits system of our land has been to the fore as well as I have been exposed to the challenges faced by others as they find benefits stopped, suspended and changed. The problem is that the mechanisms in place are inadequate and unable to manage to stop one benefit and start the other so that the outcome is something consistent and contiguous: And that means pain and fear and frustration for the claimant as they deal with the situation before them.

Some struggle so much that they become frozen in time, like a rabbit in the headlights, and this is not helped by the often low quality provision before them!

Lord, help us to stand with the marginalised and the poor, the disposed and the damaged people before us. You call us to act in their behalf and to make things work for them in terms of equity and justice. Mobilise your church we pray.

I thank You for the work of foodbanks and the charities with offer friendship, counsel and support - strengthen the arms of those who work with them and the consciences of those who might give aid to support them.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 30 March 2017

Psalm 53
The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ Corrupt are they, and abominable in their wickedness; there is no one that does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the children of earth, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way; all alike have become corrupt; there is no one that does good, no not one.

Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as if they ate bread, and do not call upon God?

There shall they be in great fear, such fear as never was; for God will scatter the bones of the ungodly. They will be put to shame, because God has rejected them.

O that Israel’s salvation would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Psalm 86
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and in misery. Preserve my soul, for I am faithful; save your servant, for I put my trust in you. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for you are my God; I call upon you all the day long. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer and listen to the voice of my supplication. In the day of my distress I will call upon you, for you will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord, nor any works like yours. All nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wonderful things; you alone are God.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you, that I may fear your name. I will thank you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and glorify your name for evermore; For great is your steadfast love towards me, for you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave.

O God, the proud rise up against me and a ruthless horde seek after my life; they have not set you before their eyes. But you, Lord, are gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and full of kindness and truth. Turn to me and have mercy upon me; give your strength to your servant and save the child of your handmaid. Show me a token of your favour, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed; because you, O Lord, have helped and comforted me.

Jeremiah 19.1-13
Thus said the Lord: Go and buy a potter’s earthenware jug. Take with you some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests, and go out to the valley of the son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. You shall say: Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah have known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent, and gone on building the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as burnt-offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it enter my mind; therefore the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter. And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at; everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its disasters. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and all shall eat the flesh of their neighbours in the siege, and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.

Then you shall break the jug in the sight of those who go with you, and shall say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, so that it can never be mended. In Topheth they shall bury until there is no more room to bury. Thus will I do to this place, says the Lord, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth. And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Topheth—all the houses upon whose roofs offerings have been made to the whole host of heaven, and libations have been poured out to other gods.

John 10.22-end
At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’

The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’ Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods”? If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods”—and the scripture cannot be annulled—can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, “I am God’s Son”? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.

He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there.

The Collect
Merciful Lord, absolve your people from their offences, that through your bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins which by our frailty we have committed; grant this, heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Journal: Hope

As Christians we talk a lot about hope, but what is it? Seems to me that if we can't speak about hope - if we can't communicate it with others - then there's little hope for the Church!

If our hope is eternity sitting on a cloud playing a blessed harp then I think I might opt for something a little more attractive: I've always fancied halls filled with real ale, well-endowed women and a bit of carousing myself. But it isn't either of those things, this hope stuff, it's about something very different indeed.

Our hope stems from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.

Our hope finds its fulifillment in a full-on, engaged and worshipping life as the people of God now and in the New Jerusalem, that holy city where we will commune with Him, and worship before Him for eternity.

Heaven is eternity in God's presence and hell is separation from God. It's a bit like living in the sun or in a cave!

Hope in Jesus begins with us singing 'O come, o come, Emmanuel' as people looking to be 'right with God' and to know His healing and life giving presence and ends with us looking to the east, as the new day is heralded in and the darkness is dispelled, with the words 'Come Lord Jesus, come!'.

Last night I was quite taken up with an analogy of the Christian life in which coming to faith is like passing our driving test. Having done so we get into the car that is our earthly life and set off for home (which is heaven, our eternity with God): The challenge is for us to get there with as few collisions, scrapes and ditches driven into as possible and to have broken as few people as possible on the way.

But we are not a people of fear. For too long we have peddled the Christ as some cosmic 'get out of hell free' card and have cudgelled people into living rightly with the threat of hell and damnation. So much for a God of love! But He is and He, seeing our sins, calls us to take remedial driving lessons as  the car is pulled out of the ditch and the cyclist we've hit is rescued from the tree, but he doesn't take away the car or put up a 'road closed' sign. He doesn't tot up the penalty points to take away our licence, but looks to restoration and better driving skills - using others to restore us gently (Gal 6) so that they don't end up with road rage because of our errors.

And we make our journey by means of the Holy Spirit - who navigates and keeps our tanks full - and our Highway Code - the Bible - ensures that we keep to the limits and avoid crossing the wrong lines.

This, surely is our hope!

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 29 March 2017

Psalm 63
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul is athirst for you. My flesh also faints for you, as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So would I gaze upon you in your holy place, that I might behold your power and your glory. Your loving-kindness is better than life itself and so my lips shall praise you. I will bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your name.

My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips, When I remember you upon my bed and meditate on you in the watches of the night. For you have been my helper and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand shall hold me fast.

But those who seek my soul to destroy it shall go down to the depths of the earth; Let them fall by the edge of the sword and become a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all those who swear by him shall be glad, for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

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

You sweep them away like a dream; they fade away suddenly like the grass. In the morning it is green and flourishes; in the evening it is dried up and withered. For we consume away in your displeasure; we are afraid at your wrathful indignation. You have set our misdeeds before you and our secret sins in the light of your countenance. When you are angry, all our days are gone; our years come to an end like a sigh.

The days of our life are three score years and ten, or if our strength endures, even four score; yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow, for they soon pass away and we are gone. Who regards the power of your wrath and your indignation like those who fear you?

So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

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

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

Jeremiah 18.13-end
Therefore, thus says the Lord: Ask among the nations: Who has heard the like of this?

The virgin Israel has done a most horrible thing.
Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion?
Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams?
But my people have forgotten me, they burn offerings to a delusion; they have stumbled in their ways, in the ancient roads,
and have gone into bypaths, not the highway, making their land a horror, a thing to be hissed at for ever. All who pass by it are horrified and shake their heads. Like the wind from the east, I will scatter them before the enemy. I will show them my back, not my face, on the day of their calamity.

Then they said, ‘Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah—for instruction shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us bring charges against him, and let us not heed any of his words.’

Give heed to me, O Lord, and listen to what my adversaries say! Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them. Therefore give their children over to famine; hurl them out to the power of the sword, let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men meet death by pestilence, their youths be slain by the sword in battle. May a cry be heard from their houses, when you bring the marauder suddenly upon them! For they have dug a pit to catch me, and laid snares for my feet. Yet you, O Lord, know all their plotting to kill me. Do not forgive their iniquity,  do not blot out their sin from your sight.Let them be tripped up before you; deal with them while you are angry.

John 10.11-21
‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’

Again the Jews were divided because of these words. Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’

The Collect
Merciful Lord, you know our struggle to serve you: when sin spoils our lives and overshadows our hearts, come to our aid
and turn us back to you again; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Journal: Films make you mad!

In an effort to separate myself from work I have been taking some time off during the day each week to watch a film at the local cinema. It takes me out of communication with the world and hides me away in a dark place for a couple of hours. I even get to have a brew and take it in with me - how good is that?

So I might not be getting around to a day off (I've promised to 'tell all' truth next week at quarter's end) but I'm having some time off: and it's been a most annoying and madness inducing experience.

The films I have seen thus far are:

Viceroy's House: About the partition of India and the stitch-up the British government engaged in with Mountbattens. Showed something extremely uncomfortable about this nation of ours in terms of arrogance, deceit and distastefulness.

I, Daniel Blake: A most uncomfortable watch indeed. It took me back to my time working in the wonderful world of the Employment Agency with those looking for work and the poor Employment Advisors who worked in the Jobcentres. An American contracting company providing a less than able provision with the goal of minimising payments and providing less than adequate services to the jobless population - and all in MY name! I was ready to learn the 'red flag' and head for Westminster by the time this fly on the wall offering was done. GRrrrr!

United Kingdom: My father used to say that Winston Churchill was a dictator who was needed to fight another dictator and that I should be in no doubt that he was never anyone's 'real' hero. Stiff words coming from a bloke who thought Margaret Thatcher was a bit of a lefty politician!

This film added another notch to my slowly emerging dislike of the man as he promised one thing if elected and delivered something very different once he was. But that's politics, isn't it?

But the arrogance of the British government and the colonial machinery takes your breath away and makes one disgusted at the heritage that being English lays upon us.

"Oxford teaches - film educates". Those were the words I was handed in a tutorial many years ago. "We can offer you books and anecdotes and the stillness to assimilate them but the silver screen makes them flesh; but not always truthfully!" my tutor continued. Books may be written with poor scholarship and equally poor language and you will see through this, but a well crafted film will send barbs into your flesh and make you aware just as Eve became aware as she ate the apple.

Sin lies in the action, not the object. Did the apple posses any power other than attract? Surely the act of taking from the tree brought an awareness of what sin was because it caused the separation between man and God. The focus of our desires is always present and before us, but it is the action that is sin.

This is true regardless of what is placed under the glass cover and beheld with desire: Things sexual, monetary, physical and intellectual - all of them qualify. It isn't what the object is, but the way we deal with us wanting it and the lines we are willing to cross to make it ours, or should I say 'possess  us'?

Lord, help me to see the lines and never cross them such that I become sinful and damage self or others. Help me to see the best in people and to love wholeheartedly, and yet never lose sight of the ability of each of us to place on a pedestal that thing which causes us to lose our soul (as did the ring bring both physical and spiritual death in Gollum's tale of woe).

Lord have mercy upon us for our past - and as Brexit is made real today - in our future as we consign ourselves into a very different reality.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 28 March 2017

Psalm 54
Save me, O God, by your name and vindicate me by your power. Hear my prayer, O God; give heed to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, and the ruthless seek after my life; they have not set God before them.

Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who upholds my life.

May evil rebound on those who lie in wait for me; destroy them in your faithfulness. An offering of a free heart will I give you and praise your name, O Lord, for it is gracious. For he has delivered me out of all my trouble, and my eye has seen the downfall of my enemies.

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

Lord, how long will you be angry, for ever?
How long will your jealous fury blaze like fire?

Pour out your wrath upon the nations that have not known you, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon your name. For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his dwelling place.

Remember not against us our former sins; let your compassion make haste to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and wipe away our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the heathen say, ‘Where is now their God?’

Let vengeance for your servants’ blood that is shed be known among the nations in our sight. Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you, and by your mighty arm preserve those who are condemned to die. May the taunts with which our neighbours taunted you, Lord, return sevenfold into their bosom. But we that are your people and the sheep of your pasture will give you thanks for ever, and tell of your praise from generation to generation.

Jeremiah 18.1-12
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.
But they say, ‘It is no use! We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.’

John 10.1-10
‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

The Collect
Merciful Lord, you know our struggle to serve you: when sin spoils our lives and overshadows our hearts, come to our aid and turn us back to you again; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Journal: Sound of silence

One of the greatest funeral challenges comes in the shape of the unsaid eulogy. Now usually I make sure that I have sufficient notes to do something regardless of whoever it is that is doing the eulogy, but the temptation to scrimp on a person's history is always with us and when a eulogy turns into a poem, you can find yourself on thin ice! Just saying.

Yesterday was an action packed event with a church service, a couple of crem' visits (with a Warden's meeting in the space between), kid's club and a dinner to speak at. Add to this a garnish of administration (which, like the poor will always be with us) and you have yourself a fairly rammed sixteen hours of vicaring.

Reflecting in the day I found myself ticking 'hoped for' many boxes.
Dead honoured - yep.
Gospel preached - every opportunity I had.
Pastorally engaged - pretty much, although wilted a bit by the afternoon with my engagement and wasn't as sparkly and whatever as I could have been.
Prayer - felt a bit of a 'cat's lick and a promise' day once daily office was squared away.
Abrasiveness - kept being smiley and suffered fools (and there were a few yesterday) pretty well: Must be growing up a bit!
Worship - loads of it.
Paperwork and admin' - enough to avoid drowning :-)

So Lord, we've come through another day together and survived.
Thank You for today - let's do it again tomorrow, perhaps with a bit of 'slow time' in it. (Did I really used to teach time management?)

Morning Prayer - 27 March 2017

Psalm 70
O God, make speed to save me; O Lord, make haste to help me. Let those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion; let them be turned back and disgraced who wish me evil. Let those who mock and deride me turn back because of their shame.

But let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say always, ‘Great is the Lord!’ As for me, I am poor and needy; come to me quickly, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.

Psalm 77
I cry aloud to God; I cry aloud to God and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I have sought the Lord; by night my hand is stretched out and does not tire;
my soul refuses comfort. I think upon God and I groan; I ponder, and my spirit faints. You will not let my eyelids close; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I consider the days of old; I remember the years long past; I commune with my heart in the night; my spirit searches for understanding.
Will the Lord cast us off for ever?
Will he no more show us his favour?
Has his loving mercy clean gone for ever?
Has his promise come to an end for evermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he shut up his compassion in displeasure?

And I said, ‘My grief is this: that the right hand of the Most High has lost its strength.’ I will remember the works of the Lord and call to mind your wonders of old time. I will meditate on all your works and ponder your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy; who is so great a god as our God?

You are the God who worked wonders and declared your power among the peoples. With a mighty arm you redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.

The waters saw you, O God; the waters saw you and were afraid; the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side; The voice of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the ground; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the great waters, but your footsteps were not known. You led your people like sheep by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Jeremiah 17.5-18
Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.

The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.

Like the partridge hatching what it did not lay, so are all who amass wealth unjustly; in mid-life it will leave them, and at their end they will prove to be fools.

O glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, shrine of our sanctuary! O hope of Israel! O Lord!
All who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be recorded in the underworld, for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise. See how they say to me, ‘Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come!’

But I have not run away from being a shepherd in your service, nor have I desired the fatal day. You know what came from my lips; it was before your face. Do not become a terror to me; you are my refuge on the day of disaster; Let my persecutors be shamed, but do not let me be shamed; let them be dismayed, but do not let me be dismayed; bring on them the day of disaster; destroy them with double destruction!

John 9.18-end
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’ His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, ‘Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.’ He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.

The Collect
Merciful Lord, you know our struggle to serve you: when sin spoils our lives and overshadows our hearts, come to our aid and turn us back to you again; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Journal: Do we have enough Steel?

What a day! One of those slightly challenging, just a tad depressing, and more than a little interesting days you hope other people get!

When I first started out I had this naive view that said, "If you build it they will come and the. They will get stuck in and do it with you." I later realised that this needed to be modified to: "They will watch and suggest other things you could do too!" I had mistakenly assumed excitement and challenge were all we needed but, as a colleague at the time told me, "You cNt lead them, you have to get behind and drive them, like a sheltered!"

Well I noticed that the shepherds I'd seen in Israel seemed to walk on and the sheep followed him. Surely this should be the case. 'The sheep know my voice' and all that sort of thing. Recently I've been 'blessed' by the number of well-meaning people who are worried about how much I do. Many of them tell me to do less but that on a parallel with telling the chap who used to row you across the Thames near to where I grew up that he needed to do less and so should only row halfway each time. It gets nobody no where; well not unless someone is willing to row the rest of the way that is.

Ssitting in a boat (figuratively speaking) stuck in the middle of the stream with no one rowing is not the time to berate people for their inactivity. Neither is it a time to reach for a sketch pad and begin to lay out some strategic planning for when the vessel finds terra firma or launch into a tirade about those who could have rowed had they bothered to get onboard. But this is the place so many churches and their congregations find themselves.

"I might just as well tell them to vote labour," said a colleague in a twee and trendy posh place as they spoke of the congregations response to evangelism. Oddly, another in a posh university tow was saying something similar about his university town and his cap and gowned intellectuals (but this time the party was Comservative) on the same issue.

During my apprenticeship I found myself turning components on a lathe. It was a precise job and took concentration and a bit of skill, which is why we apprentices had to do it. One day, having made a few I went to the metal store and found we had no stock left. Bill Stroud, the bloke teaching me, asked me how much there had been before I started. Of course I hadn't checked!

"How were you expecting to finish without having enough stock?" He asked. "Unless you make sure you have enough in, or order to be in when you need it, you'll be no use to anyone, will you?" He continued. I muttered a few things and looked at my feet. "Right he said, " leading me to another store with the metal I needed - lesson learned?"

It was, and later Bill taught me to turn down locomotive wheels and make steam engines and more besides. But the 'how much have you got - what do you need to get the job done - if not get it' rule never left me; and that's why I realise that we haven't got enough to do the job now!

Given half a dozen committed and on fire people I could do loads of stuff, but it takes all the people we can get to carry the church and make sure we have enough to get the job done.

Lord, help me to motivate and mobilise the Church in the right way to take up their own cross and follow You.

Help them to understand what this Jesus thing is all about and to share it because the excitement of it bubbles up out of them rather than merely give them a job.

Help me when those around me do little and yet see that little as something so very big. Give all of us perspective and let that be the case in the shadow of the cross to nail it home.

Lord, give me the stock to get the job done.

Journal: Did someone say 'red feathers'?

The exit music at a funeral today associated them with a hooly-hooly skirt - what a super track to leave by, does it get any better than that? Today has been more of the same, and there's been as many funerals for me this month that I usually get in three months in an average year; so I guess it looks like funerals is all I do. But it isn't and in fact today was rammed to the gunwales with stuff, including Home Communions and pastoral stuff too.

One of the challenges is to deal with the absurdities of life that cross our parh without getting warped and bitter, blaisé, cynical or cruel. The madness that causes conflict and confusion can often tread on our toes and cause us to lose clarity of focus and the reds mists rise - but Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek and to step back from throwing the pebble in our hand before it all becomes too late. But we aren't allowed to ignore the situation because that would really mean that we are permitting whatever is happening it is to continue.

Lord help me to live and to give without counting the cost and Judging the lost.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 24 March 2017

Walter Hilton of Thurgarton, Augustinian Canon, Mystic, 1396
Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980
Paul Couturier, Priest, Ecumenist, 1953


Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, and are so far from my salvation, from the words of my distress?

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer; and by night also, but I find no rest. Yet you are the Holy One, enthroned upon the praises of Israel. Our forebears trusted in you; they trusted, and you delivered them. They cried out to you and were delivered; they put their trust in you and were not confounded.

But as for me, I am a worm and no man, scorned by all and despised by the people. All who see me laugh me to scorn; they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying, ‘He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him deliver him, if he delights in him.’

But it is you that took me out of the womb and laid me safe upon my mother’s breast. On you was I cast ever since I was born; you are my God even from my mother’s womb. Be not far from me, for trouble is near at hand and there is none to help.

Mighty oxen come around me; fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side. They gape upon me with their mouths, as it were a ramping and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint; my heart has become like wax melting in the depths of my body. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaves to my gums; you have laid me in the dust of death.

For the hounds are all about me; the pack of evildoers close in on me; they pierce my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; they stand staring and looking upon me. They divide my garments among them; they cast lots for my clothing. Be not far from me, O Lord; you are my strength; hasten to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword, my poor life from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth, from the horns of wild oxen. You have answered me!

I will tell of your name to my people; in the midst of the congregation will I praise you. Praise the Lord, you that fear him; O seed of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel. For he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor;
neither has he hidden his face from them; but when they cried to him he heard them.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation; I will perform my vows in the presence of those that fear you. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord shall praise him; their hearts shall live for ever. All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow before him. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he rules over the nations.

How can those who sleep in the earth bow down in worship, or those who go down to the dust kneel before him?

He has saved my life for himself; my descendants shall serve him; this shall be told of the Lord for generations to come. They shall come and make known his salvation, to a people yet unborn, declaring that he, the Lord, has done it.

Jeremiah 15.10-end
Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. The Lord said: Surely I have intervened in your life for good, surely I have imposed enemies on you in a time of trouble and in a time of distress. Can iron and bronze break iron from the north?

Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn for ever.
O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance do not take me away; know that on your account I suffer insult. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.

Therefore, thus says the Lord:
If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord.

I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

John 8.48-end
The Jews answered him, ‘Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?’ Jesus answered, ‘I do not have a demon; but I honour my Father, and you dishonour me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.’

The Jews said to him, ‘Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, “Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.” Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?’

Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, “He is our God”, though you do not know him. But I know him; if I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ Then the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’

So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

The Collect
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; 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.

Journal: A good send off

what a stunning day! It was another long one but it totally rocked as we did a back-to-back services with Communion and then a funeral for one of our lovely ladies. Add to this some home Communions and a bit of admin (which like the poor, will always be with us) and that's a day nicely discharged.

The funeral was amazing and the place was so full we had people standing - a real tribute to a superb woman. We had tears, laughter, hymns and a Mikey Cyrus song sung too. Who said Anglicans were caught up in boring church :-)

The Crem' was nicely balanced and ticked all the right boxes too and the gathering afterwards was a joy to behold. Oddly, though I don't usually go to the wake thing I've found myself at two this week and enjoyed them and the interaction. Perhaps I should impose myself more?

Another high spot came in the delivery of a Royal Signals flag for a funeral I have next week. Having asked around, no one seems to have one and so the only answer was to add to my collection of the things. This is a real value-added element and something that makes the service for some people.

Now planning to scatter ashes on the spot in the country where a young courting couple spent their romantic evenings fifty years before - a nice touch and something I've only done once before (found out later it was the place where the plans for their first child were laid down - which made for red faces for some, including the first child!!!!). Ever been sorry you asked about the significance of a place or something?

Home Communions are just so very cool and it's nice to see faces light up because you've arrived rather than because you're leaving (and I know a few that applies to) which is the view some have of clergy.

Mental health is a big issue and it's getting bigger by the day. One is so interesting that having mentioned it to some people who deal with that sort of thing, they've decided to make it a problem shared, which is unusual - but welcome. If only there were more support workers, crisis team staff, mental health units and enthusiasm for this area. So the prayer continues (as does the standing in the gap).

Lord, for all I have seen and been and done today, help me to be a blessing and to learn from all that has been. May tomorrow with its funerals, visits and unexpected be filled with You and Your presence.

And thank you for today.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

A prayer for London in a time of loss

Lord, in a day where wicked hands have acted to take life, we look to you whose desire is for healing, peace, unity and concord in our world.

We commend to you the lives of those taken and pray for those who have suffered loss.

We bring before you those who have been injured in body, mind, and spirit.

We pray for those who, perhaps far off, fear for their loved ones caught up in this violence.

You call us to be a people who always seek justice and show mercy; Lord, may this be our strong resolve as we seek to stand to protect others;

We pray for our Police and others who run towards danger to serve and protect others.

We pray for our nation, and for the world, that it might know your peace and love.

Shine your light in the darkness and give us hope through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Morning Prayer - Thursday 23 March 2017

Psalm 56
Have mercy on me, O God, for they trample over me; all day long they assault and oppress me. My adversaries trample over me all the day long; many are they that make proud war against me. In the day of my fear I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise. In God I trust, and will not fear, for what can flesh do to me?

All day long they wound me with words; their every thought is to do me evil. They stir up trouble; they lie in wait; marking my steps, they seek my life. Shall they escape for all their wickedness?

In anger, O God, cast the peoples down. You have counted up my groaning; put my tears into your bottle; are they not written in your book?

Then shall my enemies turn back on the day when I call upon you; this I know, for God is on my side. In God whose word I praise, in the Lord whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not fear: what can flesh do to me?

To you, O God, will I fulfil my vows; to you will I present my offerings of thanks, For you will deliver my soul from death and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; In the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until the storm of destruction has passed by. I will call upon the Most High God, the God who fulfils his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me and rebuke those that would trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.

I lie in the midst of lions, people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth. They have laid a net for my feet; my soul is pressed down; they have dug a pit before me
and will fall into it themselves.

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.

Jeremiah 14
The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:

Judah mourns and her gates languish; they lie in gloom on the ground, and the cry of Jerusalem goes up. Her nobles send their servants for water; they come to the cisterns, they find no water, they return with their vessels empty. They are ashamed and dismayed and cover their heads, because the ground is cracked. Because there has been no rain on the land the farmers are dismayed; they cover their heads. Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn because there is no grass. The wild asses stand on the bare heights, they pant for air like jackals; their eyes fail because there is no herbage.

Although our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name’s sake; our apostasies indeed are many, and we have sinned against you. O hope of Israel, its saviour in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveller turning aside for the night? Why should you be like someone confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot give help? Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us!

Thus says the Lord concerning this people: Truly they have loved to wander, they have not restrained their feet; therefore the Lord does not accept them, now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.

The Lord said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Although they fast, I do not hear their cry, and although they offer burnt-offering and grain-offering, I do not accept them; but by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence I consume them.
Then I said: ‘Ah, Lord God! Here are the prophets saying to them, “You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place.” ’ And the Lord said to me: The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name though I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come on this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword. There shall be no one to bury them—themselves, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them.

You shall say to them this word: Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter—my people—is struck down with a crushing blow, with a very grievous wound. If I go out into the field, look—those killed by the sword!
And if I enter the city, look—those sick with famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land, and have no knowledge.

Have you completely rejected Judah?
Does your heart loathe Zion?
Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us?

We look for peace, but find no good; for a time of healing, but there is terror instead. We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, the iniquity of our ancestors, for we have sinned against you. Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake; do not dishonour your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us. Can any idols of the nations bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Is it not you, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for it is you who do all this.

John 8.31-47
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’

They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.’

The Collect
Eternal God, give us insight to discern your will for us, to give up what harms us, and to seek the perfection we are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Journal: where did that day go to?

I knew it was going to be busy but . . .  That has to be the label for today!

Started early and ended in the next day as funeral preparation, a funeral, a sneakily added home Communion, music practice, bishops certificate (I'm sure that should have an apostrophe) and then a tidy up of the church building for a funeral and more admin were found to be in the box marked 'today'.

A nice funeral - not sure why we went in so late but the person in front wasn't going to rush even though they could see it was drifting away from them. But we made a good fist of it and clawed five minutes back for the next persona and did it all with the star of the day taking their bow. The Gospel was preached and the dead honoured: Doesn't get much better than that really.

That said, there appears to be an increasing trend, a return to the early days when I started doing funerals, to plaster saint those who have gone; not sure I'd be comfortable saying what the person in front of me said. The day is coming when the hearts of all will be revealed and the deeds done in the darkness witless be exposed to the light, so we need to check that the things we are and do accordingly - and one of the ways of doing this is the examen; an action much like this.

There were so many joys to be found in today:
1. Lord, for the opportunity realised and taken to bring bread and wine into the day of one person, I give You thanks. To be able to stand as friend and priest is the ultimate joy for me and to minister You in word and sacrament, and proclaim your love, is a privilege and joy beyond measure.

2. For the. opportunity to minister your grace and proclaim your gift of life realised as we pay our respects to a departed loved one, my gratitude for the role and the access to things it receives knows no bounds. As I think of those who have gone before and those left behind, commending them to Your grace, love and mercy, and holding those who remain in Your love and my prayers, I offer You my hands and heart.

3. I thank You for the opportunity to correct error. Help me always to study Your word that I may neither preach, nor live, in error. Take my mind and discipline me to be true and authentically Yours. may I revel in the label 'born again' and may I never be captured by the disease of numbers and the lure of the clink of coins.

4. For the places today where my careless word or thoughtless action has wounded, I lay this and those I may have wounded before You. Create in me a clean heart and a willing mind to minister Your Grace to all. Those who have been blessed by our encounters I can but credit to You and give You thanks.

Lord, You know my needs and my very thoughts are known to You before a word leaves my lips.
You know my needs and my wants and deal with them accordingly.
You provide my daily bread and prepare a way before me that I might follow Jesus, the Christ.
Forgive me my sins as a model for the way I should forgive others, minister to me as You would have me minister to others that I might learn and be made whole in, and for, and through, You.
For You are my hope, my health, my love and my life.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 22 March 2017


Psalm 38
Rebuke me not, O Lord, in your anger, neither chasten me in your heavy displeasure. For your arrows have stuck fast in me and your hand presses hard upon me. There is no health in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no peace in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; their weight is a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness. I am utterly bowed down and brought very low; I go about mourning all the day long. My loins are filled with searing pain; there is no health in my flesh. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I roar aloud because of the disquiet of my heart.

O Lord, you know all my desires and my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me; the light of my eyes is gone from me. My friends and companions stand apart from my affliction; my neighbours stand afar off. Those who seek after my life lay snares for me; and those who would harm me whisper evil and mutter slander all the day long.

But I am like one who is deaf and hears not, like one that is dumb, who does not open his mouth. I have become like one who does not hear and from whose mouth comes no retort. For in you, Lord, have I put my trust; you will answer me, O Lord my God. For I said, ‘Let them not triumph over me, those who exult over me when my foot slips.’

Truly, I am on the verge of falling and my pain is ever with me. I will confess my iniquity and be sorry for my sin. Those that are my enemies without any cause are mighty, and those who hate me wrongfully are many in number. Those who repay evil for good are against me, because the good is what I seek.

Forsake me not, O Lord; be not far from me, O my God. Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation.

Jeremiah 13.1-11
Thus said the Lord to me, ‘Go and buy yourself a linen loincloth, and put it on your loins, but do not dip it in water.’ So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord, and put it on my loins. And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, ‘Take the loincloth that you bought and are wearing, and go now to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.’ So I went, and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. And after many days the Lord said to me, ‘Go now to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.’ Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. But now the loincloth was ruined; it was good for nothing.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Thus says the Lord: Just so I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own will and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. For as the loincloth clings to one’s loins, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord, in order that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. But they would not listen.

John 8.12-30
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ Then the Pharisees said to him, ‘You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.’ Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgement is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.’ Then they said to him, ‘Where is your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Again he said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.’ Then the Jews said, ‘Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, “Where I am going, you cannot come”?’

He said to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.’

They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’ They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father.

So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.’ As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

The Collect
Eternal God, give us insight to discern your will for us, to give up what harms us, and to seek the perfection we are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Journal: A day off

Well, a third of a day off anyway!

Before the world starts the, "You have to take your day off," tirade, I had to square away some of the funerals in terms of getting the CDs burnt, the service paperwork done, a regimental flag found (ended up buying one from ebay), and other arrangements made. The next seven days have as many funerals (and there's none on the weekend) so it's a bit of a marathon. In fact with nineteen, which was not only the average age of the US soldier in Vietnam, is now but the high water mark of my monthly funeral service tally. A new record - can't be bad can it?

The day started with the usual daily Office (usually done between 04:30 and 06:00 depending on what's ahead - the busier I am, the earlier it gets done) and soon found itself taken up by funeral stuff. By 07:30 I'd had a brew and was well into the first set of stuff.

It's odd but I have come to realise that the world at large assumes that service just happen. If only this were true, but the reality is that to get liturgy and content in the right place, to do the right stuff about people, get names right, make sure the tensions in the service (any service, every service) are created and resolved: This takes work. Thankfully there are colleagues who work at providing quite poor liturgy as a spur for me to keep in working at it!

So notes written up, myriad numbers of telephone calls made (seems I spoke to one FD nine times during the course of the morning), service and other related sheets put together, printed and put in their relevant envelopes - I found myself done such that lunch and a film became ours a little before half one. A great day thus far, and for that, time with the other half was my reward and joy for the second part of the day.

We went to the wrinkly film club. It so unlike my earlieat film club experiences where I'd buy a ticket (3p) and head to the toilet to let my mates in through the fire exit before we sang the rousing 'We are the boys and girls well known as, the minors of the ABC . . . '.

Today's extravaganza coat £3 and came with a brew (Tea, the nectar of the gods - unless it's the stuff most churches dish up after the service). The film was 'I, Daniel Blake' and it didn't take long to see why they'd checked for concealed weapons before we entered, after all the Job Centre is only across the road from the cinema! This is a must see for people and I think it's a film we need to show to Church sometime. The film is about a man and his dealings with the benefits and employment related processes in the U.K. It made me angry, reduced me to tears and brought back so many memories of when I worked in that sector. Church was seen in it as perhaps one of the only true moments of hope.

Film finished, we left ready to have a fight - the adrenaline was flowing - with the shops as I purchased more comestibles to feed my heavy administrative appetite before heading home. Got home and then (without a brew) went and did a food shop and saw no one I knew; which is so very odd it made me stop and think for a moment. A trip out without encountering a single soul:; had the apocalypse begun?

Home again (without any sense of a bit of  'jiddedy jig' or a fat pig in eveidence) a bit more funeral admin before an episode of 'The Undertaker' (I kid you not) - my TV of choice at the moment and then a snuggle in the settee with a good wife (left the book elsewhere) and a chick flick on Netflix. Bliss.

Early to bed tonight (before midnight) and now all is quiet in the house and the breathing next to me is regular as a little hushed it's time to reflect on where me and God have been today. It's now that I realise how many opportunities for engagement I've had today thanks to the telephone - something we clergy (and the world) seem to have forgotten as we text and email our way through the day.

Lord, for the opportunities to enter the homes of others through a bit of copper I can but thank You. For the difference a call has made - the making of a virtual incarnacy theirs - I give You praise. Not as good as a simple touch and a real presence, but today I will give You thanks because as I was in one place, You, and another person were standing with me in the work of being Church as they visited someone in hospital.

Lord, help me to raise up born again believers who give without counting the cost. Help me to walk I Your footsteps and experience the security and life-changing reality that this brings and may others walk in those footsteps behind me - for aren't we called 'leaders' as well as followers.

Father for the daily bread, the forgiveness of my sins, the fact that today I do not think I have out You to the test but walked as friends in partnership as family: I love You so very much. Bless all I am and do tomorrow - may my encounters speak of You and my life show Your love and the work of Your hand.

Let's do this again tomorrow, eh?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 21 March 2017

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Reformation Martyr, 1556

Psalm 6
O Lord, rebuke me not in your wrath; neither chasten me in your fierce anger.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak; Lord, heal me, for my bones are racked. My soul also shakes with terror; how long, O Lord, how long? Turn again, O Lord, and deliver my soul; save me for your loving mercy’s sake. For in death no one remembers you; and who can give you thanks in the grave?

I am weary with my groaning; every night I drench my pillow and flood my bed with my tears. My eyes are wasted with grief and worn away because of all my enemies. Depart from me, all you that do evil, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. All my enemies shall be put to shame and confusion; they shall suddenly turn back in their shame.

Psalm 9
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will make music to your name, O Most High.

When my enemies are driven back, they stumble and perish at your presence. For you have maintained my right and my cause; you sat on your throne giving righteous judgement. You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. The enemy was utterly laid waste. You uprooted their cities; their very memory has perished. But the Lord shall endure for ever; he has made fast his throne for judgement.

For he shall rule the world with righteousness and govern the peoples with equity. Then will the Lord be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in the time of trouble. And those who know your name will put their trust in you, for you, Lord, have never failed those who seek you. Sing praises to the Lord who dwells in Zion; declare among the peoples the things he has done. The avenger of blood has remembered them; he did not forget the cry of the oppressed.

Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider the trouble I suffer from those who hate me, you that lift me up from the gates of death; That I may tell all your praises in the gates of the city of Zion and rejoice in your salvation.

The nations shall sink into the pit of their making and in the snare which they set will their own foot be taken. The Lord makes himself known by his acts of justice; the wicked are snared in the works of their own hands.  They shall return to the land of darkness, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever. Arise, O Lord, and let not mortals have the upper hand; let the nations be judged before your face. Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but mortal.

Jeremiah 11.18-12.6
It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, ‘Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!’ But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind, let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.

Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the people of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, ‘You shall not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will die by our hand’—therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: I am going to punish them; the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; and not even a remnant shall be left of them. For I will bring disaster upon the people of Anathoth, the year of their punishment.

You will be in the right, O Lord, when I lay charges against you; but let me put my case to you. Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and bring forth fruit; you are near in their mouths yet far from their hearts. But you, O Lord, know me; You see me and test me—my heart is with you. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and set them apart for the day of slaughter. How long will the land mourn, and the grass of every field wither? For the wickedness of those who live in it the animals and the birds are swept away, and because people said, ‘He is blind to our ways.’

If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you fall down, how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan? For even your kinsfolk and your own family, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you.

John 7.53-8.11
Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’

The Collect
Father of all mercies, who through the work of your servant Thomas Cranmer renewed the worship of your Church and through his death revealed your strength in human weakness: by your grace strengthen us to worship you in spirit and in truth and so to come to the joys of your everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Mediator and Advocate, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Journal: And Jesus said . . .

"What you need is a meeting!"

Well that's what so many who call themselves Church seem to think!

In fact, it seems to me, on reading the Bible, that's exactly what He never said. We don't blow God's socks off by having all those business meetings and it seems that we don't ring his bell with all the Church services we put on either. It's odd that so many of the people I meet think that the way to a successful church lies in business meetings and more church services: "If we create a Gantt chart, He must come" (He'd be rude not to after all that planning, wouldn't He?)

I thought of Isaiah 1 and How God did a 'Vic' as He got stuck in:
"Oi, you lot. Stop it with all those sacrifices— they mean nothing to me. I'm up to here with them- pack it in!
And your offerings - they're just stuff - and you think you make a pleasant smell in my nostrils? Stop the stink, it's worse than the Arsenal on Boxing Day with the awful aftershaves and cheap cigars!

All those services - I hate with all my being - they're not a blessing, they're a burden to me; I am sick and tired of them. And when you pray: I have to stick my fingers in my ears and sing Ed Sheeran  to avoid listening I'm so sick of it all!"

It was at this point that I was drawn back to the day I'd had yesterday. God seemed to be shouting at me so much last night (how rude some might say) and I was getting excited (quietly, so as not to distract from the decisions and discussions). What a super day: Got to, and through, Birmingham in record time such that we were forty-five minutes early for the first appointment and managed to fit in an extra hospital visit elsewhere for my passenger and return home before the Archers (gave up listening a few years back!) contaminated Radio Four again. This was what we are called to be: engaged and taking His light and life into the world. This is where we are called to be (no, not Birmingham, please try to keep up Clarence (thank you Joyce Grenfell) - rejoicing I. The presence of others i the presence of a God. Celebrating God made visible in the person before you and in the love of the mega-visible God that is Jesus, the Christ.

Back home there was time for beans on toast before the telephone rang and I found myself off to enjoy an encounter with madness. I'm beginning to think that there must be a leak in the local factory as there's so much of it around at the moment - will, it makes a change from the chaos that occurs when the hormone factory has the same problem I guess!

Madness comes in many shapes and sizes and (band excepted) it's never pleasant. Sometimes it comes out of the blue and we as Church need to step up and provide care, protection and the sort of Prayer God loves to listen to as we stand in the gap and offer protection and love. Sometimes, when the corners are laid out  and the image before you starts to take shape, you realise that there is something quite damaging emerging and this is where the tension begins.

Sometime we see something which, if we act, cause people to think we might be a bit bonkers ourselves and this is usually enough to cause us to hold back. BUT, when that issue manifests itself as something difficult (or even tragic) later on, everyone asks the question, "Why didn't you do something about it?" Too often I have faced the problem of being a time waster when challenging things only to be told (occasionally at the funeral) how right I was.

My job is to seek healing for the mentally ill and protection for those who encounter it in others. This is the business of Church God is interested in and unstop His ears, focuses His eyes and speaks His healing into. As we bandy around the 1:4 mental health statistic and talk of how 'everyone' has, or will be, affected by the fallout from mental health issues, God calls us to be aware but look to the one person before us and be Church to them.

And then came kid's club and it was a mixed feast: Clashes, fed-up kids as school and them clash and pronouncements are made over them, chocolate cake, pool, chess and some food conversations. This is such a blessing - amazed we don't have to turn volunteers away.

Then, almost immediately following on we had the PCC meeting. Some good stuff done and a chance to look at the end of year figures and stuff in preparation for the annual meeting. But I've done this bit to death and so look to the important stuff.

We love numbers and planning meetings and name badges and titles and stuff. God loves people and engaging with them and having names that speak of what He is and does. Tonight I look to Jehovah Jireh, the God who 'sees to it' and pray for the intervention of Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.

Lord, we are poor and weak and fragile. Our knees grow weak at times and our minds become places of chaos and despair. We see what has never been and fear what will never be. Touch those broken in heart, mind and spirit. Bring Your healing and Your presence to bind up the broken-hearted and make Church the family it should be.

For paperwork signed tonight and for wrongs righted and hope made ours in Jesus, I praise You. Give us rest that we might rise tomorrow and engage the enemy once again in spirit and in truth.
Praise Your holy and life-giving name.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Monday 20 March 2017

Joseph of Nazareth


Psalm 25
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies triumph over me. Let none who look to you be put to shame, but let the treacherous be shamed and frustrated. Make me to know your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you have I hoped all the day long. Remember, Lord, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions, but think on me in your goodness, O Lord, according to your steadfast love. Gracious and upright is the Lord; therefore shall he teach sinners in the way. He will guide the humble in doing right and teach his way to the lowly. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

For your name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful to my sin, for it is great. Who are those who fear the Lord? Them will he teach in the way that they should choose. Their soul shall dwell at ease and their offspring shall inherit the land. The hidden purpose of the Lord is for those who fear him and he will show them his covenant. My eyes are ever looking to the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am alone and brought very low. The sorrows of my heart have increased; O bring me out of my distress. Look upon my adversity and misery and forgive me all my sin. Look upon my enemies, for they are many and they bear a violent hatred against me. O keep my soul and deliver me; let me not be put to shame, for I have put my trust in you. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for my hope has been in you. Deliver Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

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.

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

Isaiah 11.1-10
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on himt he spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Matthew 13.54-58
He came to his home town and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.’ And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.

The Collect
God our Father, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph the carpenter to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary: give us grace to follow him
in faithful obedience to your commands; 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.