Friday 30 June 2017

Morning Prayer - 30 June 2017

Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness; according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my offences. Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my faults and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, So that you are justified in your sentence and righteous in your judgement. I have been wicked even from my birth, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

Behold, you desire truth deep within me and shall make me understand wisdom in the depths of my heart. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear of joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice. Turn your face from my sins and blot out all my misdeeds.

Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me. Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with your gracious spirit; Then shall I teach your ways to the wicked and sinners shall return to you. Deliver me from my guilt, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. For you desire no sacrifice, else I would give it; you take no delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

O be favourable and gracious to Zion; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will accept sacrifices offered in righteousness, the burnt offerings and oblations; then shall they offer up bulls on your altar.

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.

Job 24
 Why are times not kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days?
 The wicked remove landmarks; they seize flocks and pasture them.
 They drive away the donkey of the orphan; they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.
 They thrust the needy off the road; the poor of the earth all hide themselves.
 Like wild asses in the desert they go out to their toil,
 scavenging in the waste-land food for their young.
 They reap in a field not their own and they glean in the vineyard of the wicked.
 They lie all night naked, without clothing, and have no covering in the cold.
 They are wet with the rain of the mountains, and cling to the rock for want of shelter.

 There are those who snatch the orphan child from the breast, and take as a pledge the infant of the poor.
 They go about naked, without clothing; though hungry, they carry the sheaves;
 between their terraces they press out oil; they tread the wine presses, but suffer thirst.
 From the city the dying groan, and the throat of the wounded cries for help;
 yet God pays no attention to their prayer.

 There are those who rebel against the light, who are not acquainted with its ways, and do not stay in its paths.
 The murderer rises at dusk to kill the poor and needy, and in the night is like a thief.
 The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight, saying, “No eye will see me”; and he disguises his face.
 In the dark they dig through houses; by day they shut themselves up; they do not know the light.
 For deep darkness is morning to all of them; for they are friends with the terrors of deep darkness.

 Swift are they on the face of the waters;
 their portion in the land is cursed; no treader turns towards their vineyards.
 Drought and heat snatch away the snow-waters; so does Sheol those who have sinned.
 The womb forgets them; the worm finds them sweet;
 they are no longer remembered; so wickedness is broken like a tree.

 They harm the childless woman, and do no good to the widow.
 Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power; they rise up when they despair of life.
 He gives them security, and they are supported; his eyes are upon their ways.
 They are exalted a little while, and then are gone;
 they wither and fade like the mallow;
 they are cut off like the heads of grain.
 If it is not so, who will prove me a liar, and show that there is nothing in what I say?’

Romans 11.1-12
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.’ But what is the divine reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
‘God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’

And David says,
‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling-block and a retribution for them;
 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs for ever bent.’

So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

The Collect
Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 28 June 2017

Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, Teacher of the Faith, c.200

Ember Day

Psalm 119.57-80
You only are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to keep your words. I entreat you with all my heart, be merciful to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and turned my feet back to your testimonies. I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.

Though the cords of the wicked entangle me, I do not forget your law. At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgements. I am a companion of all those who fear you, those who keep your commandments. The earth, O Lord, is full of your faithful love; instruct me in your statutes.

You have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word, O Lord. O teach me true understanding and knowledge, for I have trusted in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are gracious and do good; O Lord, teach me your statutes.

The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart. Their heart has become gross with fat, but my delight is in your law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is dearer to me than a hoard of gold and silver.

Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in your word. I know, O Lord, that your judgements are right, and that in very faithfulness you caused me to be troubled. Let your faithful love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

Let your tender mercies come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight.
Let the proud be put to shame, for they wrong me with lies; but I will meditate on your commandments.
Let those who fear you turn to me, even those who know your testimonies.
Let my heart be sound in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.

Job 22
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
 Can a mortal be of use to God?
 Can even the wisest be of service to him?
 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous, or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?
 Is it for your piety that he reproves you, and enters into judgement with you?
 Is not your wickedness great?
 There is no end to your iniquities.
 For you have exacted pledges from your family for no reason, and stripped the naked of their clothing.
 You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry.
 The powerful possess the land, and the favoured live in it.
 You have sent widows away empty-handed, and the arms of the orphans you have crushed.
 Therefore snares are around you, and sudden terror overwhelms you,
 or darkness so that you cannot see; a flood of water covers you.

 Is not God high in the heavens?
 See the highest stars, how lofty they are!
 Therefore you say, “What does God know?
 Can he judge through the deep darkness?
 Thick clouds enwrap him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the dome of heaven.”
 Will you keep to the old way that the wicked have trod?
 They were snatched away before their time; their foundation was washed away by a flood.
 They said to God, “Leave us alone”, and “What can the Almighty do to us?”
 Yet he filled their houses with good things - but the plans of the wicked are repugnant to me.
 The righteous see it and are glad; the innocent laugh them to scorn,
 saying, “Surely our adversaries are cut off, and what they left, the fire has consumed.”

 Agree with God, and be at peace; in this way good will come to you.
 Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart.
 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored,
 if you remove unrighteousness from your tents,
 if you treat gold like dust, and gold of Ophir like the stones of the torrent-bed,
 and if the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver,
 then you will delight in the Almighty, and lift up your face to God.
 You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows.
 You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.
 When others are humiliated, you say it is pride; for he saves the humble.
 He will deliver even those who are guilty;
 they will escape because of the cleanness of your hands.’

Romans 10.1-10
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that ‘the person who does these things will live by them.’ But the righteousness that comes from faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down) ‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

The Collect
God of peace, who through the ministry of your servant Irenæus strengthened the true faith and brought harmony to your Church: keep us steadfast in your true religion, and renew us in faith and love, that we may always walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Morning Prayer - 27 June 2017

Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher of the Faith, 444

Psalm 48
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised, in the city of our God. His holy mountain is fair and lifted high, the joy of all the earth. On Mount Zion, the divine dwelling place, stands the city of the great king. In her palaces God has shown himself to be a sure refuge.

For behold, the kings of the earth assembled and swept forward together. They saw, and were dumbfounded; dismayed, they fled in terror. Trembling seized them there; they writhed like a woman in labour, as when the east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish. As we had heard, so have we seen
in the city of the Lord of hosts, the city of our God: God has established her for ever.

We have waited on your loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple. As with your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is full of justice. Let Mount Zion rejoice and the daughters of Judah be glad, because of your judgements, O Lord. Walk about Zion and go round about her; count all her towers; consider well her bulwarks; pass through her citadels, That you may tell those who come after that such is our God for ever and ever. It is he that shall be our guide for evermore.

Psalm 52
Why do you glory in evil, you tyrant, while the goodness of God endures continually?
You plot destruction, you deceiver; your tongue is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than the word of truth.
You love all words that hurt, O you deceitful tongue.
Therefore God shall utterly bring you down; he shall take you and pluck you out of your tent and root you out of the land of the living.

The righteous shall see this and tremble; they shall laugh you to scorn, and say:
‘This is the one who did not take God for a refuge, but trusted in great riches and relied upon wickedness.’

But I am like a spreading olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the goodness of God for ever and ever. I will always give thanks to you for what you have done; I will hope in your name, for your faithful ones delight in it.

Job 21
Then Job answered:
‘Listen carefully to my words, and let this be your consolation.
 Bear with me, and I will speak; then after I have spoken, mock on.
 As for me, is my complaint addressed to mortals?
 Why should I not be impatient?
 Look at me, and be appalled, and lay your hand upon your mouth.
 When I think of it I am dismayed, and shuddering seizes my flesh.
 Why do the wicked live on, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
 Their children are established in their presence, and their offspring before their eyes.
 Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them.
 Their bull breeds without fail; their cow calves and never miscarries.
 They send out their little ones like a flock, and their children dance around.
 They sing to the tambourine and the lyre, and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.
 They spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol.
 They say to God, “Leave us alone! We do not desire to know your ways.
 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
 And what profit do we get if we pray to him?”
 Is not their prosperity indeed their own achievement?
 The plans of the wicked are repugnant to me.

 How often is the lamp of the wicked put out?
 How often does calamity come upon them?
 How often does God distribute pains in his anger?
 How often are they like straw before the wind, and like chaff that the storm carries away?
 You say, “God stores up their iniquity for their children.”
 Let it be paid back to them, so that they may know it.
 Let their own eyes see their destruction, and let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
 For what do they care for their household after them, when the number of their months is cut off?
 Will any teach God knowledge, seeing that he judges those that are on high?
 One dies in full prosperity, being wholly at ease and secure,  his loins full of milk and the marrow of his bones moist.
 Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having tasted of good.
 They lie down alike in the dust, and the worms cover them.

 Oh, I know your thoughts, and your schemes to wrong me.
 For you say, “Where is the house of the prince?
 Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?”
 Have you not asked those who travel the roads, and do you not accept their testimony,
 that the wicked are spared on the day of calamity, and are rescued on the day of wrath?
 Who declares their way to their face,  and who repays them for what they have done?
 When they are carried to the grave, a watch is kept over their tomb.
 The clods of the valley are sweet to them; everyone will follow after, and those who went before are innumerable.
 How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
 There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.’

Romans 9.19-end
You will say to me then, ‘Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is moulded say to the one who moulds it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

As indeed he says in Hosea,
  Those who were not my people I will call “my people”,
  and her who was not beloved I will call “beloved”. ’
  And in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people”,
  there they shall be called children of the living God.’

And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, ‘Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.’ And as Isaiah predicted,
  If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us,
  we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.’

What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling-stone, as it is written,
  See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall,
  and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’

The Collect
Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday 26 June 2017

Morning Prayer - 26 June 2017

Psalm 44
We have heard with our ears, O God, our forebears have told us, all that you did in their days, in time of old; How with your hand you drove out nations and planted us in, and broke the power of peoples and set us free. For not by their own sword did our ancestors take the land nor did their own arm save them, But your right hand, your arm, and the light of your countenance, because you were gracious to them.

You are my King and my God, who commanded salvation for Jacob. Through you we drove back our adversaries; through your name we trod down our foes. For I did not trust in my bow; it was not my own sword that saved me; It was you that saved us from our enemies and put our adversaries to shame. We gloried in God all the day long, and were ever praising your name.

But now you have rejected us and brought us to shame and go not out with our armies.
You have made us turn our backs on our enemies, and our enemies have despoiled us.
You have made us like sheep to be slaughtered, and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a pittance and made no profit on their sale.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbours, the scorn and derision of those that are round about us.
You have made us a byword among the nations; among the peoples they wag their heads.

My confusion is daily before me, and shame has covered my face, At the taunts of the slanderer and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and avenger. All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you and have not played false to your covenant. Our hearts have not turned back, nor our steps gone out of your way, Yet you have crushed us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death.

If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to any strange god, Will not God search it out? For he knows the secrets of the heart. But for your sake are we killed all the day long, and are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord?
Awake, and do not reject us for ever.

Why do you hide your face and forget our grief and oppression?
Our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaves to the earth.
Rise up, O Lord, to help us and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

Job 19
Then Job answered:
 How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words?
 These ten times you have cast reproach upon me; are you not ashamed to wrong me?
 And even if it is true that I have erred, my error remains with me.
 If indeed you magnify yourselves against me, and make my humiliation an argument against me,
 know then that God has put me in the wrong, and closed his net around me.
 Even when I cry out, “Violence!” I am not answered; I call aloud, but there is no justice.
 He has walled up my way so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths.
 He has stripped my glory from me, and taken the crown from my head.
 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, he has uprooted my hope like a tree.
 He has kindled his wrath against me, and counts me as his adversary.
 His troops come on together; they have thrown up siege-works against me, and encamp around my tent.

 He has put my family far from me, and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.
 My relatives and my close friends have failed me;  the guests in my house have forgotten me;
 my serving-girls count me as a stranger; I have become an alien in their eyes.
 I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer; I must myself plead with him.
 My breath is repulsive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family.
 Even young children despise me; when I rise, they talk against me.
 All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.
 My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
 Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me!
 Why do you, like God, pursue me, never satisfied with my flesh?

 O that my words were written down!
 O that they were inscribed in a book!
 O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock for ever!
 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
 and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God,
 whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
  My heart faints within me!

 If you say, “How we will persecute him!” and, “The root of the matter is found in him”;
 be afraid of the sword, or wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
 so that you may know there is a judgement.’

Romans 9.1-18
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named after you.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. For this is what the promise said, ‘About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.’ Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, not by works but by his call) she was told, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.’

What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses,
‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’
So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then he has mercy on whomsoever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomsoever he chooses.

The Collect
Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Oh no - Not another church sex scandal!

The release of the report 'An abuse of faith' makes for eighty-one pages of (largely) uncomfortable reading and will undoubtedly lead us into the public spotlight and open us up to vilification from many. Although relating to what many are referring to as 'historic', the conversations will be happening in the 'now ' and needs an understanding of the facts and the way forward - accentuating positives and learning from the errors - that this sad situation presents.

To this end, may I suggest that take some time to read the report (you can find it by clicking here )?

Following Ball's conviction in 2015 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned an independent inquiry which was chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, who in the foreword of the report writes:

"This report considers the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball, a bishop of the Church of England who abused many boys and men over a period of twenty years or more. That is shocking in itself but is compounded by the failure of the Church to respond appropriately to his misconduct, again over a period of many years. Ball's priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused. The Church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others.

We were asked to consider changes necessary to ensure that safeguarding in the Church is of the highest possible standard. The Church has made significant progress in recent years in its understanding of abuse. We have no doubt that the Church has a genuine commitment to meeting its responsibilities towards the victims of abuse. However we can see how difficult it is to make change across the complex structures of the Church. Progress has been slow and continuing, faster improvement is still required. It is the leadership of the Archbishops and Bishops which will determine whether change is effective."

The report has eleven recommendations for the Church focusing on a range of issues including:
i.   focusing on getting the right support in place for survivors, 
ii.  the leadership of bishops, 
iii.  strengthening guidance, 
iv.  reviewing the Archbishops' Lists, and
v.   the effectiveness of our disciplinary measures with regards to safeguarding related cases."

Then David, staff in hand, chose five smooth stones* from the stream, 
put them in his shepherd's bag and, sling in his hand, 
approached the enemy.

This statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby is, I think, rather helpful:

"Abuse of Faith makes harrowing reading: the Church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward. This is inexcusable and shocking behaviour and although Dame Moira notes that most of the events took place many years ago,  and does not think that the Church now would conduct itself in the ways described we can never be complacent, we must learn lessons. I fully endorse the recommendations in the report and will ensure that the House of Bishops addresses how we can implement these as soon as possible, working with the National Safeguarding Team. For the survivors who were brave enough to share their story and bring Peter Ball to justice, I once again offer an unreserved apology. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systemic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades."  


Sunday 25 June 2017

Can't make it to church - 25 June 2017

In a week where the news has been full on the failings of the Church of England through the actions of wicked people, and compounded by the actions of foolish people who perhaps, placing the public face and the approval of the public, deceived and concealed. We can never put integrity and humility before truth, justice and compassion.

Today's readings offer us a most timely call. A call to return to basics, the teachings - and the lifestyle - of Jesus.

And we begin with Jeremiah's complaint against God - that God had deceived him - a serious and disturbing complaint indeed. So let's begin with a quick think about the context - the 'what's going on for him to say this' moment.

Jeremiah, born around 645 BC, was living when the Babylon was the force to be reckoned with - when the people of God were exiled - a time when there was so much wrong with those around him. And he was called to speak God's words into all this.

Have you ever felt like you are doing it, life, on your own? Are you struggling today?
Have you ever turned to God and asked Him where He is and why it was that we were going it alone?

I bet you have. I know I have engaged in those 'Where are you?' or 'What are you doing?' moments. Well that is exactly what Jeremiah is going though today. God has called him and told him that He'd be with Jeremiah: "You won't have to go it alone - I am with you!"

Well today Jeremiah is speaking the words we have all spoken but there's an edge here because although the best bet might be to shut up and keep out of the way - the call on Jeremiah is so great that this is impossible. He keeps getting back in the ring because the call on his life is not only what he is called to do but it is also what he is called to be. And this is the same for us all - regardless of how many punches come in - we keep on and we get up and get back into the ring. And yet, even when we feel deserted and alone, even when we shout out to God because He is absent - He will never leave us or forsake us, He will never take His love or His enabling - we just need to look in our corner of the ring and see Him there, ready to tend to our wounds, refresh us with Living Water and cheer us on.

The problem is that when engaged in the battle we can't see who is behind us or who is in our corner.

Are we Jeremiah today? 
I know that I have been this week and am grateful for today's reminder that God has not deceived us - we are not alone!

Not only are we not alone but the Gospel gives us the words in the image above as a reminder that not only is this true  but that we are precious and are never outside of the 'Father's care'. So to add to the words Jeremiah has brought us to, we need to add the words from Matthew:

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

In the Romans passage, Paul pops in to the conversations and calls us to live lives empowered by the fact that we are forgiven and strengthened by the knowledge that we are God's and that He never deserts us we climb back into the ring and contend with the people, the desires, and those things which act to separate us from God. 

There is a view doing the round that seeks to convince us that whatever we do, the Grace of God (that forgiveness and redemption power) is always greater than our sin. (and this is true) and that whenever we fail and fall to sin, God's Grace covers it (this is also true).  BUT, these same people then tell us that because we 'cannot out sin God's Grace' (also true) we need to look at living in assurance rather than struggle to overcome the sin; after all, God is bigger than it and forgives us. "Why struggle when would merely nod to God and leave it to Him to forgive us - be happy?" (and this is wrong).

Paul reminds us that just because God covers our sins - our weaknesses and failing - it doesn't gibe us permission to abuse His grace, but instead calls us to live better lives because of that very same grace. we have to get into the ring and contend - it's what 'living like Jesus' is all about!

Today, and the days ahead, may we all find in ourselves the strength to get back in the ring and take on the things that cause us to stumble, to fear and cry out, "Where the heck are You God? and, looking to our corner, praise Him that however many ounces are coming in.

We are not alone.

Jeremiah 20.7-13
You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!  Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”

All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonour will never be forgotten. Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause.

Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.

Romans 6.1b-11
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 10.24-39
‘The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

‘So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

‘Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘“a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

The Collect
Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Post Communion Prayers
Loving Father, we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son: sustain us with your Spirit, that we may serve you here on earth until our joy is complete in heaven, and we share in the eternal banquet with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday 23 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 23 June 2017

Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely, c.678

Psalm 31
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me. Be my strong rock, a fortress to save me, for you are my rock and my stronghold; guide me, and lead me for your name’s sake. Take me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me, for you are my strength. Into your hands I commend my spirit, for you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I put my trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your mercy, for you have seen my affliction and known my soul in adversity. You have not shut me up in the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in an open place.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye is consumed with sorrow, my soul and my body also. For my life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails me because of my affliction, and my bones are consumed. I have become a reproach to all my enemies and even to my neighbours, an object of dread to my acquaintances; when they see me in the street they flee from me. I am forgotten like one that is dead, out of mind; I have become like a broken vessel. For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is on every side; they scheme together against me, and plot to take my life.

But my trust is in you, O Lord. I have said,  You are my God.  My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Make your face to shine upon your servant, and save me for your mercy’s sake.’

Lord, let me not be confounded for I have called upon you; but let the wicked be put to shame; let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence that speak against the righteous with arrogance, disdain and contempt.

How abundant is your goodness, O Lord, which you have laid up for those who fear you; which you have prepared in the sight of all for those who put their trust in you. You hide them in the shelter of your presence from those who slander them; you keep them safe in your refuge from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the Lord! For he has shown me his steadfast love when I was as a city besieged. I had said in my alarm,  I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes.’ Nevertheless, you heard the voice of my prayer when I cried out to you. Love the Lord, all you his servants; for the Lord protects the faithful, but repays to the full the proud. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait in hope for the Lord.

Job 17.3-end
 Lay down a pledge for me with yourself; who is there that will give surety for me?
 Since you have closed their minds to understanding, therefore you will not let them triumph.
 Those who denounce friends for reward - the eyes of their children will fail.

 He has made me a byword of the peoples, and I am one before whom people spit.
 My eye has grown dim from grief, and all my members are like a shadow.
 The upright are appalled at this, and the innocent stir themselves up against the godless.
 Yet the righteous hold to their way, and they that have clean hands grow stronger and stronger.
 But you, come back now, all of you and I shall not find a sensible person among you.
 My days are past, my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart.
 They make night into day; “The light”, they say, “is near to the darkness.”
 If I look for Sheol as my house, if I spread my couch in darkness,
 if I say to the Pit, “You are my father”, and to the worm, “My mother”, or “My sister”,
 where then is my hope?
 Who will see my hope?
 Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
 Shall we descend together into the dust?’

Romans 8.18-30
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The Collect
Eternal God, who bestowed such grace upon your servant Etheldreda that she gave herself wholly to the life of prayer and to the service of your true religion: grant that we, like her, may so live our lives on earth seeking your kingdom that by your guiding we may be joined to the glorious fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday 22 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 22 June 2017

Alban, first Martyr of Britain, c.250

Psalm 37
Fret not because of evildoers; be not jealous of those who do wrong. For they shall soon wither like grass and like the green herb fade away.

Trust in the Lord and be doing good; dwell in the land and be nourished with truth. Let your delight be in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him, and he will bring it to pass. He will make your righteousness as clear as the light and your just dealing as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait for him; do not fret over those that prosper as they follow their evil schemes. Refrain from anger and abandon wrath; do not fret, lest you be moved to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.

Yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; you will search for their place and find them gone. But the lowly shall possess the land and shall delight in abundance of peace.

The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash at them with their teeth. The Lord shall laugh at the wicked, for he sees that their day is coming.

The wicked draw their sword and bend their bow to strike down the poor and needy, to slaughter those who walk in truth. Their sword shall go through their own heart and their bows shall be broken.

The little that the righteous have is better than great riches of the wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.

The Lord knows the days of the godly, and their inheritance shall stand for ever. They shall not be put to shame in the perilous time, and in days of famine they shall have enough.

But the wicked shall perish; like the glory of the meadows the enemies of the Lord shall vanish; they shall vanish like smoke. The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous are generous in giving. For those who are blest by God shall possess the land, but those who are cursed by him shall be rooted out.

When your steps are guided by the Lord and you delight in his way, Though you stumble, you shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds you fast by the hand.

I have been young and now am old, yet never have I seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging their bread. All the day long they are generous in lending, and their children also shall be blest.

Depart from evil and do good and you shall abide for ever. For the Lord loves the thing that is right and will not forsake his faithful ones.

The unjust shall be destroyed for ever, and the offspring of the wicked shall be rooted out. The righteous shall possess the land and dwell in it for ever.

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and their tongue speaks the thing that is right. The law of their God is in their heart and their footsteps shall not slide.

The wicked spy on the righteous and seek occasion to slay them. The Lord will not leave them in their hand, nor let them be condemned when they are judged.

Wait upon the Lord and keep his way; he will raise you up to possess the land, and when the wicked are uprooted, you shall see it.

I myself have seen the wicked in great power and flourishing like a tree in full leaf. I went by and lo, they were gone; I sought them, but they could nowhere be found.

Keep innocence and heed the thing that is right, for that will bring you peace at the last. But the sinners shall perish together, and the posterity of the wicked shall be rooted out.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord shall stand by them and deliver them; he shall deliver them from the wicked and shall save them, because they have put their trust in him.

Job 16.1-17.2
Then Job answered:
 I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all.
 Have windy words no limit?
 Or what provokes you that you keep on talking?
 I also could talk as you do, if you were in my place;
 I could join words together against you, and shake my head at you.
 I could encourage you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.

 If I speak, my pain is not assuaged, and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me?
 Surely now God has worn me out; he has made desolate all my company.
 And he has shrivelled me up, which is a witness against me;
 my leanness has risen up against me, and it testifies to my face.
 He has torn me in his wrath, and hated me; he has gnashed his teeth at me;
 my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
 They have gaped at me with their mouths; they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
 they mass themselves together against me.
 God gives me up to the ungodly, and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
 I was at ease, and he broke me in two; he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
 he set me up as his target; his archers surround me.
 He slashes open my kidneys, and shows no mercy; he pours out my gall on the ground.
 He bursts upon me again and again; he rushes at me like a warrior.
 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and have laid my strength in the dust.
 My face is red with weeping, and deep darkness is on my eyelids,
 though there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure.

 O earth, do not cover my blood; let my outcry find no resting-place.
 Even now, in fact, my witness is in heaven, and he that vouches for me is on high.
 My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God,
 that he would maintain the right of a mortal with God, as one does for a neighbour.
 For when a few years have come, I shall go the way from which I shall not return.
 My spirit is broken, my days are extinct, the grave is ready for me.
 Surely there are mockers around me, and my eye dwells on their provocation.

Romans 8.12-17
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

The Collect
Eternal Father, when the gospel of Christ first came to our land you gloriously confirmed the faith of Alban by making him the first to win a martyr’s crown: grant that, following his example, in the fellowship of the saints we may worship you, the living God, and give true witness to Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 21 June 2017

Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Look upon him and be radiant and your faces shall not be ashamed. This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the one who trusts in him.

Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing. Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

Co me, my children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Who is there who delights in life and longs for days to enjoy good things?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from lying words. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry.

The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit.

Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them. He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken. But evil shall slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The Lord ransoms the life of his servants and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.

Job 15
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
‘Should the wise answer with windy knowledge, and fill themselves with the east wind?
 Should they argue in unprofitable talk, or in words with which they can do no good?
 But you are doing away with the fear of God, and hindering meditation before God.
 For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty.
 Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; your own lips testify against you.

 Are you the firstborn of the human race?
 Were you brought forth before the hills?
 Have you listened in the council of God?
 And do you limit wisdom to yourself?
 What do you know that we do not know?
 What do you understand that is not clear to us?
 The grey-haired and the aged are on our side, those older than your father.
 Are the consolations of God too small for you, or the word that deals gently with you?
 Why does your heart carry you away, and why do your eyes flash,
 so that you turn your spirit against God, and let such words go out of your mouth?

 What are mortals, that they can be clean?
 Or those born of woman, that they can be righteous?
 God puts no trust even in his holy ones, and the heavens are not clean in his sight;
 how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, one who drinks iniquity like water!

 I will show you; listen to me;
 what I have seen I will declare - what sages have told,
 and their ancestors have not hidden, to whom alone the land was given,
 and no stranger passed among them.
 The wicked writhe in pain all their days, through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless.
 Terrifying sounds are in their ears; in prosperity the destroyer will come upon them.
 They despair of returning from darkness, and they are destined for the sword.
 They wander abroad for bread, saying, “Where is it?”
 They know that a day of darkness is ready at hand; distress and anguish terrify them;
 they prevail against them, like a king prepared for battle.
 Because they stretched out their hands against God, and bid defiance to the Almighty,
 running stubbornly against him with a thick-bossed shield;
 because they have covered their faces with their fat, and gathered fat upon their loins,
 they will live in desolate cities, in houses that no one should inhabit,
 houses destined to become heaps of ruins; they will not be rich, and their wealth will not endure,
 nor will they strike root in the earth; they will not escape from darkness;
 the flame will dry up their shoots, and their blossom will be swept away by the wind.
 Let them not trust in emptiness, deceiving themselves; for emptiness will be their recompense.
 It will be paid in full before their time, and their branch will not be green.
 They will shake off their unripe grape, like the vine, and cast off their blossoms, like the olive tree.
 For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of bribery.
 They conceive mischief and bring forth evil and their heart prepares deceit.’

Romans 8.1-11
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 20 June 2017

Psalm 32
Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered.
Happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

For I held my tongue; my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. Your hand was heavy upon me day and night; my moisture was dried up like the drought in summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and my iniquity I did not hide. I said,
‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful make their prayers to you in time of trouble; in the great water flood, it shall not reach them. You are a place for me to hide in; you preserve me from trouble;you surround me with songs of deliverance.

‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go;
 I will guide you with my eye.
 Be not like horse and mule which have no understanding;
 whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle,or else they will not stay near you.’

Great tribulations remain for the wicked, but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord. Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

Psalm 36
Sin whispers to the wicked, in the depths of their heart; there is no fear of God before their eyes. They flatter themselves in their own eyes that their abominable sin will not be found out. The words of their mouth are unrighteous and full of deceit; they have ceased to act wisely and to do good. They think out mischief upon their beds and have set themselves in no good way; nor do they abhor that which is evil.

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness stands like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; you, Lord, shall save both man and beast.

How precious is your loving mercy, O God!
All mortal flesh shall take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house;
they shall drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light.

O continue your loving-kindness to those who know you and your righteousness to those who are true of heart. Let not the foot of pride come against me, nor the hand of the ungodly thrust me away. There are they fallen, all who work wickedness. They are cast down and shall not be able to stand.

Job 14
‘A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble,
 comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last.
 Do you fix your eyes on such a one?
 Do you bring me into judgement with you?
 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
 No one can.

 Since their days are determined, and the number of their months is known to you,
 and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass, look away from them, and desist,
 that they may enjoy, like labourers, their days.

 For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
 and that its shoots will not cease.
 Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground,
 yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.
 But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they?
 As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up,
 so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more,
 they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep.
 O that you would hide me in Sheol,
 that you would conceal me until your wrath is past,
 that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!

 If mortals die, will they live again?
 All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come.
 You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands.
 For then you would not number my steps, you would not keep watch over my sin;
 my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover over my iniquity.

 But the mountain falls and crumbles away, and the rock is removed from its place;
 the waters wear away the stones; the torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
 so you destroy the hope of mortals.
 You prevail for ever against them, and they pass away;
 you change their countenance, and send them away.
 Their children come to honour, and they do not know it;
 They are brought low, and it goes unnoticed.
 They feel only the pain of their own bodies, and mourn only for themselves.’

Romans 7.7-end
What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means!

Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.
I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’
But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.

Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Monday 19 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Monday 19 June 2017

Sundar Singh of India, Sadhu (holy man), Evangelist, Teacher of the Faith, 1929

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh,
they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not be afraid,
and though there rise up war against me, yet will I put my trust in him.

One thing have I asked of the Lord and that alone I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to seek his will in his temple. For in the day of trouble he shall hide me in his shelter; in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me and set me high upon a rock.

And now shall he lift up my head above my enemies round about me; Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy upon me and answer me. My heart tells of your word, ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face from me, nor cast your servant away in displeasure. You have been my helper; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path, because of those who lie in wait for me.

Deliver me not into the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and those who breathe out violence.I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 30
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have raised me up and have not let my foes triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you have healed me. You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit.

Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; give thanks to his holy name. For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, his favour for a lifetime. Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

In my prosperity I said,
‘I shall never be moved. You, Lord, of your goodness, have made my hill so strong.’
Then you hid your face from me and I was utterly dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried; to the Lord I made my supplication:
‘What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?
 Will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; O Lord, be my helper.’

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Job 13
‘Look, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it.
 What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you.
 But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.
 As for you, you whitewash with lies; all of you are worthless physicians.
 If you would only keep silent, that would be your wisdom!
 Hear now my reasoning, and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
 Will you speak falsely for God, and speak deceitfully for him?
 Will you show partiality towards him, will you plead the case for God?
 Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
 Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another?
 He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality.
 Will not his majesty terrify you, and the dread of him fall upon you?
 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes, your defences are defences of clay.

 Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may.
 I will take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hand.
 See, he will kill me; I have no hope; but I will defend my ways to his face.
 This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him.
 Listen carefully to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears.
 I have indeed prepared my case; I know that I shall be vindicated.
 Who is there that will contend with me?
 For then I would be silent and die.
 Only grant two things to me, then I will not hide myself from your face:
 withdraw your hand far from me, and do not let dread of you terrify me.
 Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me.
 How many are my iniquities and my sins?
 Make me know my transgression and my sin.
 Why do you hide your face, and count me as your enemy?
 Will you frighten a windblown leaf and pursue dry chaff?
 For you write bitter things against me, and make me reap the iniquities of my youth.
 You put my feet in the stocks, and watch all my paths;
 you set a bound to the soles of my feet.
 One wastes away like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten.

Romans 7.1-6
Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Sunday 18 June 2017

Can't make it to church - Sunday 18th June 2017

Today, the first Sunday after Trinity. marks the beginning of 'ordinary' time - a liturgical season that stretches almost all the way to Advent; the final Sunday of the liturgical year being 'Christ the King' (the current year being 'A').

Today, it seems to me, is all about Covenant and Calling - so very fitting as we are in the ordination season that is Petertide!

Covenant (con venire) - a coming together, an agreement between two parties (God and the Jews in our Old Testament reading) that sets conditions and brings benefits. a true 'friends with benefits' relationship!

Calling - a word we tend to use with regard to vocation these days, but look wider and see how, in the Bible, God has 'called' to people to engage with Him and develop a relationship. The call of God says, "Come and be my friends, my people, my co-workers, my voice - and my priests!"

It's around 1,300 BC and, having left Egypt and spent a few months trudging through the wilderness, the Israelites are camped at the foot of Mount Sinai - somewhere they will be for a while - and Moses has parked up and popped up the hill for a word with God. Like many a family travel before SatNav, Moses is off getting directions.

And Moses comes back with a message from God. A message for a people God is already in relationship with for they are the descendants of the house of Jacob, Israelites, the people He has delivered from captivity - His people! A lecturer I had called this an 'I-you-I' (IUI) moment: God reminds the people of who He is and what He's done and how they should respond and the outcomes of that.

'I did this - if you do this - I will'. "I brought you out and if you keep my commands you will be My treasured possession. a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."

This sets a big calling upon the people before Moses for they are being called to be more than 'a nation', they are being called in the same sense we use vocation today, to be called out, to be different, to minister God's grace: 'Called out; (ekklesia). This is truly a covenant and calling moment. One which neatly moves us nicely into the Gospel passage where those with whom Jesus has a relationship find themselves in another 'IUI' moment.

Jesus tells the Twelve the what and how and who and sends them off to do the 'stuff' and 'proclaim the Good News'.

Did you notice that He is only sending them to the Jews - He tells them, "Avoid the Gentiles and the Samaritans!" Remember the conversation with the Canaanite woman who asks Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus tells her that He has come for the lost sheep of Israel and she replies that even the dogs (what the Jews called Gentiles) could eat the crumbs under the table.

This is not an anti-Gentile message but a recognition that for Jesus' coming to fulfil the law and the prophets, the first point of call is, quite logically, to those who live under them. First to the Jews and then to the Gentile - Jerusalem

Jesus calls us in the same manner today: Who we are through our relationship with Him sees us called and sent out, perhaps not as the twelve were sent  - to be itinerant missionaries - to be a priesthood, to make God know and to be called out to minister the love of God as made real in our lives through the ministry of Jesus, the Christ.

A call for all of us!

And yet as many will argue from a place of personal weakness and inability. All too often I hear people tell me, "I would, but ...!"

Paul stops us short and says, "There's no 'but' in it - we have Jesus, the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, the fulfilment of the hope we have and the remedy for the desires that distract!" Jesus is the answer - to everything - for everyone (Jew and Gentile)!

There are problems and there us suffering and over all there is Grace. Love is the seed from which hope is sown and when this is God's love which we have through our relationship with Him won by the Christ, nothing can overcome or inhibit us. And when we were far off, separate and antagonistic to God, Jesus died for us - how can we not live with and for Him now?

So this is a day where we remember and celebrate our relations with God and look to our calling as individuals, and corporately, and think on the IUI and our relationship with God and the calling that is ours.

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Exodus 19.2-8a
After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

Romans 5.1-8
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Matthew 9.35 - 10.23
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Post Communion Prayer
Eternal Father, we thank you for nourishing us with these heavenly gifts: may our communion strengthen us in faith, build us up in hope, and make us grow in love; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday 16 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 16 June 2017

Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253
Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, Philosopher, 1752

Psalm 17
Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint; listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips. Let my vindication come forth from your presence; let your eyes behold what is right. Weigh my heart, examine me by night, refine me, and you will find no impurity in me.

My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards; I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments; my feet have not stumbled in your paths.
I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; incline your ear to me, and listen to my words.
Show me your marvellous loving-kindness, O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them.

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings,
From the wicked who assault me, from my enemies who surround me to take away my life.
They have closed their heart to pity and their mouth speaks proud things.
They press me hard, they surround me on every side, watching how they may cast me to the ground,
Like a lion that is greedy for its prey, like a young lion lurking in secret places.

Arise, Lord; confront them and cast them down; deliver me from the wicked by your sword.
Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand from those whose portion in life is unending,
Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, who are well supplied with children and leave their wealth to their little ones.

As for me, I shall see your face in righteousness; when I awake and behold your likeness, I shall be satisfied.

Psalm 19
The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
One day pours out its song to another and one night unfolds knowledge to another.
They have neither speech nor language and their voices are not heard,
Yet their sound has gone out into all lands and their words to the ends of the world.

In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun,
that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a champion to run his course.
It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey, dripping from the honeycomb.

By them also is your servant taught and in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can tell how often they offend?
O cleanse me from my secret faults!
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Job 11
Then Zophar the Naamathite answered:
‘Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and should one full of talk be vindicated?
 Should your babble put others to silence, and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
 For you say, “My conduct is pure, and I am clean in God’s sight.”
 But O that God would speak,  and open his lips to you, and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
 For wisdom is many-sided. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.

 Can you find out the deep things of God?
 Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
 It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
 Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
 Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.
 If he passes through, and imprisons, and assembles for judgement, who can hinder him?
 For he knows those who are worthless; when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?
 But a stupid person will get understanding, when a wild ass is born human.

 If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands towards him.
 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents.
 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear.
 You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
 And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning.
 And you will have confidence, because there is hope;
  you will be protected and take your rest in safety.
 You will lie down, and no one will make you afraid; many will entreat your favour.
 But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.’

Romans 6.1-14
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

The Collect
Most merciful redeemer, who gave to your bishop Richard a love of learning, a zeal for souls and a devotion to the poor: grant that, encouraged by his example, we may know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit are alive and reign, one God, now and for ever.