Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 22 February 2017

Psalm 77
I cry aloud to God; I cry aloud to God and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I have sought the Lord; by night my hand is stretched out and does not tire; my soul refuses comfort. I think upon God and I groan; I ponder, and my spirit faints.
You will not let my eyelids close; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old; I remember the years long past; I commune with my heart in the night; my spirit searches for understanding.

Will the Lord cast us off for ever?
Will he no more show us his favour?
Has his loving mercy clean gone for ever?
Has his promise come to an end for evermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he shut up his compassion in displeasure?

And I said, ‘My grief is this: that the right hand of the Most High has lost its strength.’
I will remember the works of the Lord and call to mind your wonders of old time.
I will meditate on all your works and ponder your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy; who is so great a god as our God?
You are the God who worked wonders and declared your power among the peoples. With a mighty arm you redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.

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

Ecclesiastes 8
Who is like the wise man?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
Wisdom makes one’s face shine, and the hardness of one’s countenance is changed.

Keep the king’s command because of your sacred oath. Do not be terrified; go from his presence, do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is powerful, and who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ Whoever obeys a command will meet no harm, and the wise mind will know the time and way. For every matter has its time and way, although the troubles of mortals lie heavy upon them. Indeed, they do not know what is to be, for who can tell them how it will be? No one has power over the wind to restrain the wind, or power over the day of death; there is no discharge from the battle, nor does wickedness deliver those who practise it. All this I observed, applying my mind to all that is done under the sun, while one person exercises authority over another to the other’s hurt.

Then I saw the wicked buried; they used to go in and out of the holy place, and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the human heart is fully set to do evil. Though sinners do evil a hundred times and prolong their lives, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they stand in fear before him, but it will not be well with the wicked, neither will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not stand in fear before God.

There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked, and there are wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun.

When I applied my mind to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how one’s eyes see sleep neither day nor night, then I saw all the work of God, that no one can find out what is happening under the sun. However much they may toil in seeking, they will not find it out; even though those who are wise claim to know, they cannot find it out.

John 19.31-end
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 

These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The Collect
Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever. Amen.


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 21 February 2017

Psalm 73
Truly, God is loving to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped. For I was envious of the proud; I saw the wicked in such prosperity; For they suffer no pains and their bodies are sleek and sound; They come to no misfortune like other folk; nor are they plagued as others are; Therefore pride is their necklace and violence wraps them like a cloak. Their iniquity comes from within; the conceits of their hearts overflow.

They scoff, and speak only of evil; they talk of oppression from on high.
They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue ranges round the earth; And so the people turn to them and find in them no fault. They say,
‘How should God know?
‘Is there knowledge in the Most High?’
Behold, these are the wicked; ever at ease, they increase their wealth. Is it in vain that I cleansed my heart and washed my hands in innocence?

All day long have I been stricken and chastened every morning. If I had said, ‘I will speak as they do,’ I should have betrayed the generation of your children. Then thought I to understand this, but it was too hard for me, Until I entered the sanctuary of God and understood the end of the wicked: How you set them in slippery places; you cast them down to destruction. How suddenly do they come to destruction, perish and come to a fearful end!

As with a dream when one awakes, so, Lord, when you arise you will despise their image. When my heart became embittered and I was pierced to the quick, I was but foolish and ignorant; I was like a brute beast in your presence. R Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with your counsel and afterwards receive me with glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing upon earth that I desire in comparison with you.

Though my flesh and my heart fail me, God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

Truly, those who forsake you will perish; you will put to silence the faithless who betray you. But it is good for me to draw near to God; in the Lord God have I made my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Ecclesiastes 7.15-end
In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing. Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of the one, without letting go of the other; for the one who fears God shall succeed with both.

Wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten rulers that are in a city.

Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.

Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.

All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, ‘I will be wise’, but it was far from me. That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness. I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters; one who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. See, this is what I found, says the Teacher, adding one thing to another to find the sum, which my mind has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.

John 19.17-30
and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’

This was to fulfil what the scripture says,
‘They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.’
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The Collect
Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever. Amen.


Journal: a joyous day

Time off is upon me and I'm loving it. That said still had to organise some funerals that have just come in and do some telephone calls but enjoying time with the wife.

God continues to bless, provide and wipe slate clean and that's more than any of us deserve - but thankfully Grace has that covered!

Praying for:
P, who has gone into hospital with a trip to the theatre for heart surgery tomorrow,
D, who had a mental health review today,
C, who needs a home and some stability.
K, for continued progress with their life.
L, for the bargain bucket of needs they, and their family, have,
LA & LP that God would continue to bless and that the journey would be gentle,

Lord, hear our Prayer.

(Feel free to pray for the needs above and stand with me in prayer for them)


This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Saint's Days: Fake News

Once upon a time, in a land of volcanoes and dragons, lived a Viking Chief by the name of Trump the Newsslayer. Trump was named after the Viking tradition of noting the first response of the Father upon seeing the new addition to the family. Oxblood the Great's father slew an ox in his son's honour. Rollo was named after his Father passed around a tune of chocolate toffees in celebration. Erik the Red - well his dad just painted the town red and partied for days. But sadly, for Newsslayer, his Father having partied hard during the labour merely stood and emitted noxious fumes at the news.

And so it was done!

Trump was a man who instilled fear in many of the people around him and eschewing the words found in the book of Ecclesiastes in one of the Bibles his forebears had removed from an Island on the East coast during one of their conquests, he treasured the songs of fools and the approbation of the weak-minded rather than the company of the wise.

But his name was made, not by slaying dragons nor by his good words or actions, but by engagement with 'fake news' wheresoever it might be found - even creating it where none was to be found so that the challenges could be laid down. From Bowling Greens and their tragedies through to awful non-happenings on the shores of the Viking lands - Trump's voice was heard!

And although rape, loot and pillaging had gone out of fashion across the globe, the poor were still fair game (especially when so many of them perhaps foolhardily followed him) and the rich and wealthy (of whom ironically, he was one) were a good target against whom to mobilise the rabble and appear valiant.

Suffice to say - 'Fake News' was never eradicated - in fact so much of the contemporaneous writings of the Newsslayer's time describe something rotten not in the state of Denmark but in the town of Washing (aptly named because over the years that it existed there had been  much whitewashing and washing of dirty linen to be found there).

So today - as we remember that martyr to the truth - the irrepressible saint of fake news and the opponent of so many - let us offer up a prayer in his honour:

Trump the Newsslayer


Loving Lord, Living Word, 
Today as we remember Trump.
Fill our words with wisdom, 
May our keystrokes be struck with honesty and integrity. 
May we pursue those who misrepresent the truth,
And hear the voices that need be heard over the noise of deceit,
Keep us faithful to the the goals of justice, mercy, and humility,
And strengthen us to overcome obstacles, 
And withstand the chattering and posturing noise of fools,
In the Name of the Living God. Amen.


ps. Apologies to real Vikings and their descendants everywhere ;-)
pps. Watch out for the many great stories in the 'Annals of Trump' (Coming soon)

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of fools; this also is vanity.

Morning Prayer - Monday 20 February 2017

Psalm 71
In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me. Be for me a stronghold to which I may ever resort; send out to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the evildoer and the oppressor. For you are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence, even from my youth. Upon you have I leaned from my birth, when you drew me from my mother’s womb; my praise shall be always of you.

I have become a portent to many, but you are my refuge and my strength. Let my mouth be full of your praise and your glory all the day long. Do not cast me away in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails. For my enemies are talking against me, and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together. They say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue him and take him, because there is none to deliver him.’

O God, be not far from me; come quickly to help me, O my God. Let those who are against me be put to shame and disgrace; let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.

But as for me I will hope continually and will praise you more and more. My mouth shall tell of your righteousness and salvation all the day long, for I know no end of the telling. I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord God; I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, you have taught me since I was young, and to this day I tell of your wonderful works. Forsake me not, O God, when I am old and grey-headed, till I make known your deeds to the next generation and your power to all that are to come.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens; in the great things you have done, who is like you, O God?

What troubles and adversities you have shown me, and yet you will turn and refresh me and bring me from the deep of the earth again. Increase my honour; turn again and comfort me.

Therefore will I praise you upon the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will sing out as I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.
My tongue also will tell of your righteousness all the day long, for they shall be shamed and disgraced who sought to do me evil.

Ecclesiastes 7.1-14
A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death, than the day of birth.

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for this is the end of everyone, and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of fools; this also is vanity.

Surely oppression makes the wise foolish, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.

Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.
For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to the one who possesses it.

Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked?

On the day of prosperity be joyful, and on the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them.

John 19.1-16
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus;

The Collect
Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever. Amen.

Journal: Sunday

Three different churches and three different service styles ranging from BCP (Book of Common Prayer - 1662) through to Common Worship with a bit of something that drew largely upon the ASB (Alternative Service Book). Who ever said all our services were the same?

I love the BCP services, they are something that once the rhythm is set, become solid gold! The language is Shakespearean (actually, with the King James Bible we taught Shakespeare stuff and gave the English language words and phrases) and the style is penitent rather than party. There's movement, the Commandments and so much more in it - no wonder so many are in love with it.

The Book of Common Prayer is still, as I understand it, the principal Prayer book - ASB came and went - and now the Common Worship has arrived, but only as an add on, a bit of a novelty act in some ways I. The way some use it.

The BCP morning service, which I haven't seems since a chorister is great liturgy and provides an opportunity for an anthem and Bible set to music, is an extravaganza indeed.

The Common Worship service is pretty much just there and fills the service space with enough words to do what you need. It's workmanlike and in some places cut short enough to leave space for the amazingly interminably repetitive 'worship' and devoid of silence offerings so many appear to enjoy as Church today. Much as I love many of the modern songs, I do find myself sighing as those who have to have a new song every week and rush to be the first with the latest offering. But it is less and less about focus on God and more and more venue management - sadly there will never be enough in most of these places to need bouncers :-)

The other service was a 'bare bones' service. It ticked all the boxes and even with me preaching lasted fifty minutes! But it was what the people wanted and it was workmanlike in that it deleivered a balanced service with everything that should be on the plate to get to that which was on the table - so 'job done'.

So often these days we confuse liturgy and worship, separating them and almost making them enemies. We appear to have lost the place of silence, in fact we seem so afraid of it that should more than a handful of second of the stuff appear in a service, we pepper the silence with another piece of music or something trite - and like a meal where seasoning has been overly applied, the result is wind. But it isn't the wind of the Spirit blowing!

Few pastoral encounters today - but enough to keep me humble and busy.

Looking at a quiet week ahead as have a very different week planned.
God; his love, grace and bread will sustain me - and the company is worth having.
So bring it on.q


This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Journal: a week in reflection


The Christian life is about discipline and love, the latter being so very popular, for who among us likes discipline? But this has been a week where discipline has cropped up in so many forms and guises and there're have been blessings, curses, inspiration and depressing meeting of expectations to be found in it all.

Discipline, for me, has two basic strands: Imposed discipline and self-discipline. As the Bible says in Psalm 32: "Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control."

Self-discipline is an essential element if Christianity is going to have any value or meaning for us. ITs great to live in a world where we speak of love, but that love needs to have substance and shape and meaning, but all too often all it has isa desire for something warm, soft and fuzzy. Love is not merely affirming what people do - I'm sorry to say that this is not love. Love corrects as well as affirms and all too often the Church, in all it's affirming of things that common sense, traditional values and Biblical entreaty says should be spoken against - is paving the way to the demise of itself and condemning some to becoming less than they could be.

Galatians six tells us to combat sinful action gently, because to do otherwise is to tempt ourselves to fall into sin, and to offer correction such that the person 'sinning' is corrected. This is the applying of the 'bit and bridle' to a situation to steer people away from the wrong stuff. The problem is that we don't want to look like we are not an approving body, so we approve everything and anything in a hope that this will make us look 'nice'. But you know what?

Church just ain't nice sometimes - it tells people what they don't want to hear because that's its job! It is there to be light - showing up the stuff that isn't right - and to be salt - bringing healing, some taste to the proceedings and stopping the whole thing from becoming rotten.

Most of the burning issues this week were to do with discipline and where necessary I have pointed out the Biblical principles and demands and drawn lines, not harshly (for the potential for me sinning and them continuing to sin is great when we don our Vlad the Impaler kit) but using the voice of reason and informing the other party.

Would telling them they were great and putting aside the Bible and affirming them and a turning a blind eye to whatever it is that they were doing have built the Church? Nah, think not!

Would being sensitive (which means lying to affirm what we'd otherwise be thinking might be wrong) bring them to a place or right thinking or fill our pews? Of course not!!

Church is inclusive - it is a body that accepts all people regardless.

Church is a bunch of people who say, "Come as you are - expect to leave different."

Church is affirming but not permissive.

Wouldn't it be nice if Church, which is merely a bunch of people getting together, took the words of the Bible seriously and worried about being something practical rather than a bunch of bleeding heart 'do gooders' (the words of a non-Christian) and got out there a did good (and God).

Lord, as a new week is about to be unwrapped, may we reveal the Son through our actions and attitudes - May we preach the Gospel in love and living - and may self-discipline be a hallmark of that which others see.

Thank you for your Grace, Your daily bread and Your infinite love.


This place of reflection is here for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared in this current form for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Morning Prayer - Saturday 18 February 2017

Psalm 68
Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered; let those that hate him flee before him. As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away; as wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; let them make merry with gladness. Sing to God, sing praises to his name; exalt him who rides on the clouds. The Lord is his name; rejoice before him. Father of the fatherless, defender of widows, God in his holy habitation!

God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome, but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert.

O God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, The earth shook and the heavens dropped down rain, at the presence of God, the Lord of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You sent down a gracious rain, O God; you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary. Your people came to dwell there; in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor.

The Lord gave the word; great was the company of women who bore the tidings: ‘Kings and their armies they flee, they flee!’ and women at home are dividing the spoil. Though you stayed among the sheepfolds, see now a dove’s wings covered with silver and its feathers with green gold. When the Almighty scattered the kings, it was like snowflakes falling on Zalmon.

You mighty mountain, great mountain of Bashan! You towering mountain, great mountain of Bashan! Why look with envy, you towering mountains, at the mount which God has desired for his dwelling, the place where the Lord will dwell for ever?

The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, even thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them, the Lord of Sinai in holy power. You have gone up on high and led captivity captive; you have received tribute, even from those who rebelled, that you may reign as Lord and God.

Blessed be the Lord who bears our burdens day by day, for God is our salvation. God is for us the God of our salvation; God is the Lord who can deliver from death. God will smite the head of his enemies, the hairy scalp of those who walk in wickedness. The Lord has said, ‘From the heights of Bashan, from the depths of the sea will I bring them back,
‘Till you dip your foot in blood and the tongue of your dogs has a taste of your enemies.’

We see your solemn processions, O God, your processions into the sanctuary, my God and my King. The singers go before, the musicians follow after, in the midst of maidens playing on timbrels. In your companies, bless your God; bless the Lord, you that are of the fount of Israel. At the head there is Benjamin, least of the tribes, the princes of Judah in joyful company, the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali.

Send forth your strength, O God; establish, O God, what you have wrought in us. For your temple’s sake in Jerusalem kings shall bring their gifts to you. Drive back with your word the wild beast of the reeds, the herd of the bull-like, the brutish hordes. Trample down those who lust after silver; scatter the peoples that delight in war. Vessels of bronze shall be brought from Egypt; Ethiopia will stretch out her hands to God.

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; make music in praise of the Lord; He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel, whose power is above the clouds.  How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people! Blessed be God.

Ecclesiastes 6
There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon humankind: those to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honour, so that they lack nothing of all that they desire, yet God does not enable them to enjoy these things, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous ill. A man may beget a hundred children, and live for many years; but however many are the days of his years, if he does not enjoy life’s good things, or has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes into vanity and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is covered; moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything; yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to one place?

All human toil is for the mouth, yet the appetite is not satisfied. For what advantage have the wise over fools? And what do the poor have who know how to conduct themselves before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire; this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what human beings are, and that they are not able to dispute with those who are stronger. The more words, the more vanity, so how is one the better? For who knows what is good for mortals while they live the few days of their vain life, which they pass like a shadow? For who can tell them what will be after them under the sun?

John 18.28-end
Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ (This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ They shouted in reply, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a bandit.

The Collect
Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; 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.