Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Epiphany Season 

Psalm 45
My heart is astir with gracious words; as I make my song for the king, my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. You are the fairest of men; full of grace are your lips, for God has blest you for ever. Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one; gird on your majesty and glory. Ride on and prosper in the cause of truth and for the sake of humility and righteousness. Your right hand will teach you terrible things; your arrows will be sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies, so that peoples fall beneath you.

Your throne is God’s throne, for ever; the sceptre of your kingdom is the sceptre of righteousness. You love righteousness and hate iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows. All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes and cassia; from ivory palaces the music of strings makes you glad. Kings’ daughters are among your honourable women; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Hear, O daughter; consider and incline your ear; forget your own people and your father’s house. So shall the king have pleasure in your beauty; he is your lord, so do him honour. The people of Tyre shall bring you gifts; the richest of the people shall seek your favour. The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is embroidered cloth of gold. She shall be brought to the king in raiment of needlework; after her the virgins that are her companions. With joy and gladness shall they be brought and enter into the palace of the king.

‘Instead of your fathers you shall have sons, whom you shall make princes over all the land. I will make your name to be remembered through all generations; therefore shall the peoples praise you for ever and ever.’

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

Genesis 14
In the days of King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim, these kings made war with King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea). For twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in the hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the edge of the wilderness; then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar. Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar, four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits; and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way; they also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner; these were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.

After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth;  and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’

And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything. Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the people, but take the goods for yourself.’ But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have sworn to the Lord, God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal-thong or anything that is yours, so that you might not say, “I have made Abram rich.” I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their share.’

Matthew 26.36-46
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’

The Collect 
God of all mercy, your Son proclaimed good news to the poor, release to the captives, and freedom to the oppressed: anoint us with your Holy Spirit and set all your people free to praise you in Christ our Lord. Amen.


Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Epiphany Season 

Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Philosopher, Teacher of the Faith, 1274 [Lesser Festival]

Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Look upon him and be radiant and your faces shall not be ashamed.

This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the one who trusts in him. Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing. Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

Come, my children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is there who delights in life and longs for days to enjoy good things? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from lying words. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit.

Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them. He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken. But evil shall slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord ransoms the life of his servants and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.

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

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens and your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness stands like the strong mountains, your justice like the great deep; you, Lord, shall save both man and beast. How precious is your loving mercy, O God! All mortal flesh shall take refuge under the shadow of your wings. They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house; they shall drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light.

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

Genesis 13.2-end
Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. He journeyed on by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them living together; for their possessions were so great that they could not live together, and there was strife between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites lived in the land.

Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders; for we are kindred. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’ Lot looked about him, and saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastwards; thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.

The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northwards and southwards and eastwards and westwards; for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring for ever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’ So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Matthew 26.17-35
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
“I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

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


Saturday, 25 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 25 January 2020

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

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

Come now and behold the works of God, how wonderful he is in his dealings with humankind. He turned the sea into dry land; the river they passed through on foot; there we rejoiced in him. In his might he rules for ever; his eyes keep watch over the nations; let no rebel rise up against him.

Bless our God, O you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heard, who holds our souls in life and suffers not our feet to slip.  For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs. You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but you brought us out into a place of liberty.

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

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul. I called out to him with my mouth and his praise was on my tongue. If I had nursed evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me, but in truth God has heard me; he has heeded the voice of my prayer.

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

Psalm 147.13-21
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion; for he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you. He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.

He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost?
He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel.
He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws.
Alleluia.

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

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

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

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

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

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Collect
Almighty God,  who caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul: grant that we who celebrate his wonderful conversion  may follow him in bearing witness to your truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Friday, 24 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Friday, 24 January 2020

Epiphany Season
Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, Teacher of the Faith, 1622 [Lesser Festival]
Seventh Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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 149
Alleluia. O sing to the Lord a new song; sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful. Let Israel rejoice in their maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king. Let them praise his name in the dance; let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre. For the Lord has pleasure in his people and adorns the poor with salvation.

Let the faithful be joyful in glory; let them rejoice in their ranks, with the praises of God in their mouths and a two-edged sword in their hands; to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples; to bind their kings in chains and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute on them the judgement decreed: such honour have all his faithful servants. Alleluia.

Genesis 9.8-19
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.

Matthew 25.14-30
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.

But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.”

But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

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


Thursday, 23 January 2020

Peter Ball: a 'so called bishop!'

A number of people have stopped me this week to talk about Peter Ball. Some were angry that another bishop in the Church of England had spoken of the man as a 'so called bishop'. They weren't looking to defend a man the didn't even know but were angry because they felt it was a distancing of the Church from the whole thing.  Here's a brief account of a conversation with a woman outside the church this week as I waited for a funeral to arrive:

"He wasn't a 'so called' bishop, he was an actual bishop who had the support of other bishops around him and from the people at the very top," said one angry and rather erudite woman.

She took me to task for the systemic failings and told me how I should be ashamed of being part of such a deceitful body. I explained that I was and that my view was that things like this were a shameful thing which needed the whole Church (yep - all the denomination and grouping) to examine themselves, actively unite to repent of the things we have in us that are wrong and work together to be the body Jesus, the Christ, died to make us. With that, she said, "That's alright then," turned on her heels and left!

How grateful I was for that engagement. To be given the chance to exchange views and to be able to respond in a balanced and positive way. The damage was not undone, but at least one person had managed to deal with their anger positively.

My only hope is that she spreads the conversation on to her family, friends and anyone else she talks to.

For those who read this - if you have been affected by the Peter Ball debacle or have been affected directly (by association or personally) - please seek out someone to discuss it with. If you're angry with the church (local or denomination) take it to them and if you don't get heard (or satisfaction) then take it to someone else.



Survivor's story: Church of England sex abuse scandal

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 23 January 2020

Epiphany Season 
Sixth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 76
In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. At Salem is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. There broke he the flashing arrows of the bow, the shield, the sword and the weapons of war.

In the light of splendour you appeared, glorious from the eternal mountains. The boastful were plundered; they have slept their sleep; none of the warriors can lift their hand. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot fell stunned.

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

You crushed the wrath of the peoples and bridled the wrathful remnant. Make a vow to the Lord your God and keep it; let all who are round about him bring gifts to him that is worthy to be feared. He breaks down the spirit of princes and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 148
Alleluia. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights. Praise him, all you his angels; praise him, all his host. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you stars of light. Praise him, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord; for he commanded and they were created. He made them fast for ever and ever; he gave them a law which shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps; fire and hail, snow and mist, tempestuous wind, fulfilling his word; mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars; wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and birds on the wing; kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world; Young men and women, old and young together; let them praise the name of the Lord. For his name only is exalted, his splendour above earth and heaven. He has raised up the horn of his people and praise for all his faithful servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near him. Alleluia.

Genesis 8.15-9.7
Then God said to Noah, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’ So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families.

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelt the pleasing odour, the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.
As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.’

God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.
Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind. And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.’

Matthew 25.1-13
‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Collect
Eternal Lord, our beginning and our end: bring us with the whole creation to your glory, hidden through past ages and made known in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 22 January 2020,

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

Psalm 81
Sing merrily to God our strength, shout for joy to the God of Jacob. Take up the song and sound the timbrel, the tuneful lyre with the harp. Blow the trumpet at the new moon, as at the full moon, upon our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob, the charge he laid on the people of Joseph, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

I heard a voice I did not know, that said: ‘I eased their shoulder from the burden; their hands were set free from bearing the load. You called upon me in trouble and I delivered you; I answered you from the secret place of thunder and proved you at the waters of Meribah. Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you: O Israel, if you would but listen to me! There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not worship a foreign god. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I shall fill it.’

But my people would not hear my voice and Israel would not obey me. So I sent them away in the stubbornness of their hearts, and let them walk after their own counsels. O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! Then I should soon put down their enemies and turn my hand against their adversaries. Those who hate the Lord would be humbled before him, and their punishment would last for ever. But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat and with honey from the rock would I satisfy them.

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

Genesis 8.1-14
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided; the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters gradually receded from the earth. At the end of one hundred and fifty days the waters had abated; and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared.

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set its foot, and it returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took it and brought it into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more.

In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and saw that the face of the ground was drying. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

Matthew 24.29-end
‘Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, “My master is delayed”, and he begins to beat his fellow-slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Collect
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches  of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 21 January 2020

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

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

Now, we heard of the ark in Ephrathah and found it in the fields of Ja-ar. Let us enter his dwelling place and fall low before his footstool. Arise, O Lord, into your resting place, you and the ark of your strength. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness and your faithful ones sing with joy. For your servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.

The Lord has sworn an oath to David, a promise from which he will not shrink: ‘Of the fruit of your body shall I set upon your throne. If your children keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their children also shall sit upon your throne for evermore.’

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

Psalm 147.1-12
Alleluia. 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.

Genesis 7.11-end
In the six-hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. The rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons, entered the ark, they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind—every bird, every winged creature. They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.

The flood continued for forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings; everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred and fifty days.

Matthew 24.15-28
‘So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; someone on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; someone in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, “Look! Here is the Messiah!” or “There he is!”—do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, “Look! He is in the wilderness”, do not go out. If they say, “Look! He is in the inner rooms”, do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

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


Monday, 20 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Monday, 20 January 2020

Epiphany Season 
Richard Rolle of Hampole, Spiritual Writer, 1349
Third Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 145
I will exalt you, O God my King, and bless your name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless you and praise your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; his greatness is beyond all searching out.

One generation shall praise your works to another and declare your mighty acts. They shall speak of the majesty of your glory, and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts, and I will also tell of your greatness. They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful, long-suffering and of great goodness.

The Lord is loving to everyone and his mercy is over all his creatures. All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your mighty power, to make known to all peoples your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.

The Lord is sure in all his words and faithful in all his deeds. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all those who are bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open wide your hand and fill all things living with plenty.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving in all his works. The Lord is near to those who call upon him, to all who call upon him faithfully. He fulfils the desire of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over those who love him, but all the wicked shall he destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Psalm 146
Alleluia. Praise the Lord, O my soul: while I live will I praise the Lord; as long as I have any being, I will sing praises to my God. Put not your trust in princes, nor in any human power, for there is no help in them. When their breath goes forth, they return to the earth; on that day all their thoughts perish.

Happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God; who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps his promise for ever; who gives justice to those that suffer wrong and bread to those who hunger.

The Lord looses those that are bound; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous; the Lord watches over the stranger in the land; he upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked he turns upside down. The Lord shall reign for ever, your God, O Zion, throughout all generations. Alleluia.

Genesis 6.11-7.10
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.’ Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.’ And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came on the earth. And Noah with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. And after seven days the waters of the flood came on the earth.

Matthew 24.1-14
As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

The Collect
Eternal Lord, our beginning and our end: bring us with the whole creation to your glory, hidden through past ages and made known in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Saturday, 18 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Saturday, 18 January 2020

Epiphany Season 

Amy Carmichael, Founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship, Spiritual Writer, 1951

First Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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

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

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

The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning; the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare; in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’

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

Psalm 33
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, for it is good for the just to sing praises. Praise the Lord with the lyre; on the ten-stringed harp sing his praise. Sing for him a new song; play skilfully, with shouts of praise. For the word of the Lord is true and all his works are sure. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Lord.

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all their host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers up the waters of the sea as in a waterskin and lays up the deep in his treasury. Let all the earth fear the Lord; stand in awe of him, all who dwell in the world. For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to naught; he frustrates the designs of the peoples. But the counsel of the Lord shall endure for ever and the designs of his heart from generation to generation. Happy the nation whose God is the Lord and the people he has chosen for his own.

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

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

Genesis 6.1-10
When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not abide in mortals for ever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favour in the sight of the Lord.

These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Matthew 22.34-end
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
“The Lord said to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand,
   until I put your enemies under your feet’ ”?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’ No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

The Collect
Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Friday, 17 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Friday, 17 January 2020

Epiphany Season 

Antony of Egypt, Hermit, Abbot, 356
Charles Gore,Bishop, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, 1932

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

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
O let the nations rejoice and be glad,
for you will judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase, and God, our own God, will bless us.
God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

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

May the mountains bring forth peace, and the little hills righteousness for the people.
May he defend the poor among the people, deliver the children of the needy and crush the oppressor.
May he live as long as the sun and moon endure, from one generation to another.
May he come down like rain upon the mown grass, like the showers that water the earth.
In his time shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more.

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

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute;
the kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring gifts.
All kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall do him service.

For he shall deliver the poor that cry out, the needy and those who have no helper.
He shall have pity on the weak and poor; he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

Long may he live; unto him may be given gold from Sheba;
may prayer be made for him continually and may they bless him all the day long.

May there be abundance of grain on the earth,standing thick upon the hilltops;
may its fruit flourish like Lebanon and its grain grow like the grass of the field.

May his name remain for ever and be established as long as the sun endures;
may all nations be blest in him and call him blessed.

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

Genesis 4.1-16, 25-26
Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.’ Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.’

Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field.’ And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.’ Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.’ And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.’ To Seth also a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to invoke the name of the Lord.

Matthew 22.15-33
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses said, “If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.” Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman herself died. In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.’

Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.’ And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.

The Collect
Most gracious God, who called your servant Antony to sell all that he had and to serve you in the solitude of the desert: by his example may we learn to deny ourselves and to love you before all things; 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, 16 January 2020

Church: What is it good for? The building

Continuing on a theme (this is number five in the series) that came out of the response of those around me regarding Church and where the response has sounded a lot like the Whitfield and Strong song ‘War’ for the answer has been: “Absolutely nothing!”, we continue with their assessment that Church is a 'damaged place'. This is an interesting response and I really had to press to understand what the people in front of me meant. But their response sound become obviously one of two parts.

The first half focussed on the building and how 'churches always have their begging bowls out' whilst the second looked at the people - those were coming, those who had been part once, and those who had been damaged by it ('it' meaning generally the local expression of the whole).

The Building
So often people have asked me why the 'church' thinks it has a right to ask them for money so they can maintain their fine historic (ours is late Elizabethan). You know the building I mean, it's the one they never go into - and wouldn't even if they dead because they'd go to the Crem'.

Courageously the person with the begging bowl continues unabated (or any more dismayed than they were before the person in front of them appeared) and tells them how they should contribute to maintain a special part of the village / town / city*. (delete or amend as necessary) and it's history. How Norman the Great or Harold the Conquered, Ethelred the wind passer (I know, I didn't do history!!) or some other long dead worthy prayed, slept or passed water there.

I had to applaud a chap who, upon being asked to help in the upkeep of the church building, asked whether the 'church' might be able to make a donation ('Alms for the poor' he called it) to his cricket club and their crumbling pavilion. "After all, he said, "We've had England and County players begin their journey from this village because of this club. How many saints have you given birth to?").

It’s a fair point made well!

The problem with so many of our church buildings is that they are are generally old, have building preservation orders on them, and being ‘listed’ means expensive repairs and handcuffs when it comes to updating and modifying.  Many of our buildings are pretty and architecturally valuable, contain great art in the windows, effigies, statuary, monuments, artwork and the like: But they are generally not fit for purpose.

What do we do with them, these architectural treasures? If we close them then this is perceived as concrete (and stone) evidence of the decline and demise of Church. The locals raise up and moan about the closure; which, considering the numbers who come, is a bit like a teatotaller complaining that the local pub is closing (one that does sell food of course). People tell me that the ancient church building in the centre of our town is, “Their church!” Yet they don't come into it, not even at Christmas and Easter. Some / many / a few, have never ever been across the threshold, and yet were it to close they’d be up in arms about it.

Close the building and have the church (don’t lose sight of the fact that its the people, not the building, that's called ‘church’) meet elsewhere and you’ll find some of the stale wart (sic) members refusing to come because (like the Sadducees of the Bible, it’s the building and not the person worshipped in it that is the focus of their passions. Move it into a home and the people would again complain. Everyone knows what they don’t like and yet rarely seem to know what belief demands.

Once church building I worked in was cold, unfriendly and pretty useless. The church council attempted to get permission to install heating, toilets, a kitchen and generally make the building supportive of the congregation’s needs.Sadly, the local Victorian society jumped up and complained that it would alter the ‘feel’ of the place, after all it was a Victorian building (one of the many build during the expansion and movement of the population out of the centre of London and in from the countryside as things industrial came together to create the suburbs).

The end result was that the church building remained as it was, people went to other newer and warmer, more comfortable, buildings and the Victorian society (many of whom had never visited the building ad probably never will) went  off happy that they had triumphed over modern evils.

The conundrum here is that the charm of so many buildings is the Saxon this and the Norman that, the Georgian wotsit and the Victorian thingy; all of which conspire to reflect the changes and the fingerprints of the past ages. But why should other generations not continue to make their mark and give ownership to other ages (the new Elizabethans for instance)?

Of course there are terrible abuses (and even damage) that can be made. Where.I am it seems that much of the valuable and historic was destroyed in the name of modernity. Th results are a wind tunnel, concrete structures and a generally unspectacular and unappealing sea of grey with a few treasures rising up from it.

But the buildings must change or they will fall into disuse and decay as the original inhabitants pop their clog or move away to other, more suitable places.

We (the Church) do make enough of our buildings an this results in the begging bowl mentality. We should be making God’s love known to people. We should be reaching out and doing the stuff! We must not forget our duty to be the ‘curators of a town’s memories’ but must also be free to keep the building made of bricks effective as a place for a church made of people.

At the end of the day (and I know some clergy and church treasurers and others will hate me for saying this) we don't want your money, we want your lives to be given to God. And the stones? All buildings will fall eventually, let’s build in heavenly places where they sand for ever.

Where your treasure is, there also will be found your heart. If your heart isn't in the church building or the worship of God - please stop handcuffing the Church because of your soppy sentimentality (and by the way, there was nothing at all romantic in the sinking of the Titanic. It was cold, wet and few stood at the front with their arms outstretched as Celine Dion sang!).

And Church, please stop trying to manipulate and embarrass people into giving for our precious buildings, unless we are willing to contribute to the buildings of those outside our doors. there are times and needs which make it right, but learn to cut your cloth and find clever solutions to the needs rather than wheelbarrows of cash poorly spent.

Ooh, that might start a few fires :-)

Happy Thursday - we will do ‘broken people’ next ...

Pax

Morning Prayer - Thursday, 16 January 2020

Epiphany Season 

Psalm 21
The king shall rejoice in your strength, O Lord; how greatly shall he rejoice in your salvation! You have given him his heart’s desire and have not denied the request of his lips. For you come to meet him with blessings of goodness and set a crown of pure gold upon his head. He asked of you life and you gave it him, length of days, for ever and ever.

His honour is great because of your salvation; glory and majesty have you laid upon him. You have granted him everlasting felicity and will make him glad with joy in your presence. For the king puts his trust in the Lord; because of the loving-kindness of the Most High, he shall not be overthrown.

Your hand shall mark down all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them like a fiery oven in the time of your wrath; the Lord will swallow them up in his anger and the fire will consume them. Their fruit you will root out of the land and their seed from among its inhabitants.

Because they intend evil against you and devise wicked schemes which they cannot perform, you will put them to flight when you aim your bow at their faces. Be exalted, O Lord, in your own might; we will make music and sing of your power.

Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord’s and all that fills it, the compass of the world and all who dwell therein. For he has founded it upon the seas and set it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord, or who can rise up in his holy place?’ Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, who have not lifted up their soul to an idol, nor sworn an oath to a lie; they shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a just reward from the God of their salvation.’ Such is the company of those who seek him, of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates; be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ‘Who is the King of glory?’ The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord who is mighty in battle.’

Lift up your heads, O gates; be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ‘Who is this King of glory?’ ‘The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.’

Genesis 3
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him,
‘Where are you?’

He said,
‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’

He said,
‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’

The man said,
‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’

Then the Lord God said to the woman,
‘What is this that you have done?’

The woman said,
‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’

The Lord God said to the serpent,
‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’

To the woman he said,
‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’

And to the man he said,
‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it”, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’

The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all who live. And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.

Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’—therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.

Matthew 22.1-14
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

The Collect
Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Epiphany Season 

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.

Psalm 20
May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend you; send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you out of Zion; remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice; grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your mind. May we rejoice in your salvation and triumph in the name of our God; may the Lord perform all your petitions.

Now I know that the Lord will save his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven, with the mighty strength of his right hand. Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will call only on the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen, but we are risen and stand upright. O Lord, save the king and answer us when we call upon you.

Genesis 2.4-end
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground—then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Matthew 21.33-end
‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’

Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

The Collect
Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Morning Prayer - Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Epiphany Season 

Psalm 8
O Lord our governor, how glorious is your name in all the world!
Your majesty above the heavens is praised out of the mouths of babes at the breast.
You have founded a stronghold against your foes, that you might still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have ordained, what is man, that you should be mindful of him; the son of man, that you should seek him out?

You have made him little lower than the angels and crown him with glory and honour.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands and put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and whatsoever moves in the paths of the sea.

O Lord our governor, how glorious is your name in all the world!

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.

Genesis 1.20-2.3
And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Matthew 21.18-32
In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, ‘How did the fig tree wither at once?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be lifted up and thrown into the sea”, it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.’

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

The Collect
Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.