Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 18 January 2017

Epiphany Season 
Amy Carmichael, Founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship, Spiritual Writer, 1951
First 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.

Amos 8
This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’
Then the Lord said to me, ‘The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings on that day,’ says the Lord God; ‘the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!’

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practise deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.’

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?

On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head;
I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.

The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

In that day the beautiful young women and the young men shall faint for thirst.
Those who swear by Ashimah of Samaria, and say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan’,
and, ‘As the way of Beer-sheba lives’—they shall fall, and never rise again.

1 Corinthians 7.1-24
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is well for a man not to touch a woman.’ But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practising self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

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.

Journal:Where did that day go?

Talk about the best ladies plans - today went exactly as it wasn't planned and before I knew it everything was everywhere and it was ranks as one of the hardest days I have doing this ministry thing!

As priest and pastor we are called to watch over the sheep and to keep them safe, but the wickedness of some people and the potential for sheep to stray from the greenest grass and head for the rocky places presents a challenge for us. Today I found myself leaving the ninety-nine sheep whilst I headed off to rescue that one which had become caught up in the brambles. It was like going out on a cold, wet, day with high winds and poor terrain to unravel the fleece from the thicket and set the poor thing free - with the fear that it would return to the promise of whatever enticed it again. But we can only bring them back into the fold and trust that they will remain safe, resisting the call to wander off and the enticing promise of things that look better than they really are.

Meanwhile around me I had mental illness, cloaked by other concerns, prowling and seeking ways to snatch other sheep, more illness, the problems that getting older brings and so much more it makes your head hurt to think of them. There were those who make demands and those who hide in the shadows and hide their, often more demanding and challenging, situations - the latter recognised but left on the plain to be dealt with on another day.

Alongside everything else today there were glimpses of the 'abused turned abuser' sheep - today these were not one of my flock and yet I can leave no sheep to their own folly, for their demise leaves them rotting, and poisoning, the same stream that sustains others! I struggle with sin in myself and others and yet it is the potential for any of us to become predator, or worse still a 'Judas Sheep', and become an agent of death (spiritual gather than physical - but it's still death). The old man in us sometimes simply refuses to be put to death as we cling to the world rather than look to the Christ for what we need.

But all we can do is our best and trust that rescued, our sheep will learn, and if they don't?

Well we keep on tryIng to protect them!

Lord, I pray for the sheep:

That the predators would be kept from the door and the sheep would remain in the fold,

That the shepherds would be faithful and attentive, applying balm to the wounded and rescuing the lost,

That the sheep would be safe from without, and within,  and would hear the head Shepherd's voice and follow Him,

That we would have the wisdom to follow what is true and to live as you would have us live, using the brains we have been given, the hearts we have had restored, and the Christ who leads us on.

For the skills and abilities I have used today I can but praise you. We walk this path and we become who we are by experience, your indwelling Spirit and by desire. Grant all of us the desire to look, smell and be like You I pray.

And tomorrow? Bless those whom I will engage with; those with whom I will feast on in the Eucharistic triumph, those with whom I will fellowship, and those I will be called to bring back yet again. Keep me safe, and well, and fill me with Your healing and love that I might be a faithful shepherd.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Can't make it to church - 15 January 2017

The Magi have arrived and, having seen the word made flesh, God’s solution for the world, are on their way back home (avoiding Herod) and so here we are with Jesus having been baptised last Monday, reflecting upon that and perhaps wondering about the three passages we have before us.

Our Old Testament passage comes from Isaiah, a book many consider to be worthy of the title, ‘fifth Gospel’ because of what it contributes to the Jesus story; so let’s begin with that as we seek to see not just what it says but what was going on when it was said – an important task.

Isaiah bring us words for a broken, defeated and deported people – everything has gone wrong for them and in exile, doubt and dismay are the only possessions many have carried with them. They are helpless, broken and hopeless but Isaiah’s words bring a glimmer of light into their darkness with the promise of return, restoration and the ministry of a servant. This is a message for those ‘far away’ from their homes for the physical exile and for all who are far from God: God, in the ministry of His servant (who is of course Jesus) will be their salvation.

It is fitting that as the visit of the Magi is fresh in our memory we read the words:
“Kings will stand … Princes will bow low.”

The world has seen and affirmed these words in this our Epiphany season. Jesus is the reconciliation and the salvation for the Jews and for the Gentiles – this truly is Good News (which is what ‘Gospel’ means). Words of hope for a dispossessed people – words of life for us as we read them today – Jesus is the hope of the Jews and a light for the Gentiles. That has to be worth a Hallelujah.

Moving on to Paul’s opening words to the people of Corinth draws a line for them, and us, to move forward from:
'To you who have been called by God to be his own holy people; a people who, calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, have been made holy. “He their Lord and ours.” '

We are not just ‘called’ but 'equipped' as God gives us the ‘spiritual gift’ we need to sustain us and to build the kingdom of God and in doing so, “Has invited US into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We are not only heirs of the promise of God made real in the cross and resurrection but we are not just family but part of the family firm – we are co-workers with Jesus. How cool is this?

But we must never lose sight of the fact that we live with Jesus outside of the work hours as well as within!

Not only that but God’s Grace is upon us and is ours – the gift of life, forgiveness and love – we who were ‘far off’ have been drawn near and are reconciled to God and made family with one another and with Him and as one we minister His love to all and worship Him, the eternal God, as a royal priesthood, as co heirs with the Christ, as a light to the world.

Can it get any more exciting than this? Let’s take a look at the Gospel reading and see …
 Jesus has been baptised and now John is reflecting upon the event and describes Jesus as the, “Lamb of God.”

We encounter the words, “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world …” most Sundays (or not depending upon your liturgy) as the words we use in our services and they roll off the tongue, but do they reside in our heads or our hearts I wonder?

Do we understand what we are saying and what theology we are making ours as we use them?

I think we need to return to the Old Testament and Genesis where we find in Egypt a captive people. Moses has fought with Pharaoh and this culminates in the the death of a lamb whose blood holds back the work of the angel of death and wins for the people of God their salvation. This is the Passover (for the angel of death ‘passed over’- that is ‘stayed His hand’) and Jesus is for us the Passover (or ‘paschal’) lamb.

Just as the shedding of the blood of the paschal lamb set God's people free from captivity in Egypt, so too does the blood of Jesus, who has become for us our paschal lamb by the shedding of His blood upon the cross, set us free from captivity to sin. This ‘once shed’ blood acts as a permanent marker over us, setting us free, giving us life, making us one with God in each and every aspect of our being.
Jesus is our ‘sin offering’. Jesus is our sustenance – our daily bread. Jesus is our realised hope – having taken death and defeated it by the power of love and that one, atoning, act of obedience.
Truly He is the ‘lamb of God’ in whom we find forgiveness, love and enabling by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. We are called, we are forgiven, we are made whole in Him.
Blessed be His holy name.

As we stop to reflect and pray let us think of Peter - given the name ‘Cephas’ - and ask God what name he has given us and what this means for us and those around us as we consider our calling.

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.
Post Communion Prayer
God of glory,
you nourish us with your Word who is the bread of life:
fill us with your Holy Spirit that through us the light of your glory may shine in all the world.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Isaiah 49:1-7
Listen to me, all you in distant lands!
Pay attention, you who are far away!
The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.
He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword.
He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”

I replied,
“But my work seems so useless!
  I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.
  Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”
And now the Lord speaks—
    the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant,
    who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him.
The Lord has honoured me, and my God has given me strength.
He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.
    I will make you a light to the Gentiles,
    and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel,
says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations,
    to the one who is the servant of rulers:
“Kings will stand at attention when you pass by.
 Princes will also bow low because of the Lord, the faithful one,
 the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

1 Corinthians 1:1-9
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes.
I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 1:29-42
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognise him as the Messiah, but I have been baptising with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptise with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples.As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.

Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?”he asked them.

They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 17 January 2017

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

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
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.

Amos 7
This is what the Lord God showed me: he was forming locusts at the time the latter growth began to sprout (it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings). When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,
‘O Lord God, forgive, I beg you!
‘How can Jacob stand?
‘He is so small!’
The Lord relented concerning this; ‘It shall not be,’ said the Lord.

This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord God was calling for a shower of fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said,
‘O Lord God, cease, I beg you!
‘How can Jacob stand?
‘He is so small!’

The Lord relented concerning this;
‘This also shall not be,’ said the Lord God.

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’

Then the Lord said,
‘See, I am setting a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel;
‘I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
‘and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
‘and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’

Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, ‘Amos has conspired against you in the very centre of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, “Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.” ’

And Amaziah said to Amos, ‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.’

Then Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycomore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” ‘Now therefore hear the word of the Lord. You say, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.”

Therefore, thus says the Lord:
“Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,  and your land shall be parcelled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.” ’

1 Corinthians 6.12-end
‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything. ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’, and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her?

For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’ But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?

For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

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.

Journal: Another manic Monday

Today started well around 3am this morning and raced headlong into Tuesday before I had a chance to blink. Almost expecting it to be a day of meetings with a slight chance of pastoral in the early afternoon with a brief spell of Kid's Club before a PCC set in to end the day.

But of course, like Michael Fish and the unannounced storms, the forecast missed a 'bit of a blow' and the day provided some unseen challenges and a brief spell of fog descended turning to confusion and a little pocket of dismayed.

There was an unexpected outbreak of sun as, having only mentioned someone that morning my prayers were answered by a telephone call from one of their family asking me to visit them - now how's about that then? Coincidence or God's provision? I prayed about the person and the fact that they'd been off the radar and apparaently moved away in the morning Office, mentioned them in the Monday meeting, and before PCC could start had been called (on a separate matter) and had the opportunity to re-engage with them through bread and wine (and another cup of tea): Bargain!

How cool are you God? What an answer to prayer - now, about the Premier League ....

There were some interesting challenges over the course of the day - some fires were put out, some fires were transferred to others in the style of the film 'Jeremiah Johnson' - which if you haven't seen it goes like this:

Bear Claw: "Are you sure you can skin grizzlies? 

Jeremiah Johnson: "Just as fast as you can catch them!"

Bear Claw returns and rushes into the cabin followed by a grizzly bear - jumping out the back window with the cry: "Skin that one and I'll go get you another!"

Yes indeedy folks, there are times when I am glad that someone else has taken on a grizzly experience for me - and when it's a long standing challenge which is destined to rung around the ring road of life with the driver happy to drive without any hope of turning off the road, I'm grateful for someone else sitting in the passenger seat for a while; although I know I'm Catarina be back in the passenger seat before long.

Some fires were lit today and they will be Tuesday's challenges to keep my hands from being idle and mu knees from rising.

But today I lay before you my encounters and conversations - may they have allowed to to be seen and heard.

I lay before You all that I did well and stand back, not for praise, by to acknowledge that these were the work and influence of Your Holy Soirit.

I lay before You the things that showed my size eleven feet of clay and the man I would like to be less off - inspire me, correct me and make me your man and more of your image - sorry Lord.

I lay before You the many needs of those around me - You are Jehovah Shammah - we are not alone and You truly answer by fire.

For the food I have been give, the life I have within me and the forgiveness you call me to show others, Lord I bless Your name - bring on tomorrow ...

Monday, 16 January 2017

Morning Prayer - Monday 16 January 2017

Epiphany Season 

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
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.

Amos 6
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria, the notables of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel resorts!

Cross over to Calneh, and see; from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is your territory greater than their territory, O you that put far away the evil day, and bring near a reign of violence?

Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall;  who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

The Lord God has sworn by himself (says the Lord, the God of hosts): I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds; and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.

If ten people remain in one house, they shall die. And if a relative, one who burns the dead, shall take up the body to bring it out of the house, and shall say to someone in the innermost parts of the house, ‘Is anyone else with you?’ the answer will come, ‘No.’ Then the relative shall say, ‘Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.’

See, the Lord commands, and the great house shall be shattered to bits, and the little house to pieces. Do horses run on rocks? Does one plough the sea with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood—you who rejoice in Lo-debar, who say, ‘Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves?’
Indeed, I am raising up against you a nation,

O house of Israel, says the Lord, the God of hosts, and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi Arabah.

1 Corinthians 6.1-11
When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints?
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters?

If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, but a believer goes to court against a believer—and before unbelievers at that?

In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.
Why not rather be wronged?
Why not rather be defrauded?
But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that.

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

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.

The scores are in

... and seven days have been reflected on (and counted) and I think I can say it has been a week in which whilst not all of it was enjoyable, none of it was that bad.

Today was interesting as I more than once I found myself wondering where the lunatics that might run the asylum were to be found and found myself gently chastised for preaching what was before me in the word and in the flesh. I was told people need to be praised and encouraged not told things that will depress them. But, oddly perhaps, I found the words to be fitting and saw nothing but a call to action rather than dissatisfaction as a lifestyle.

Jesus, God's living word has come - the servant whose ministry is a light to the Gentiles and exactly what those 'far off' seek in their neediness and distressed situation. The call of God and the reconciliation with Him through the Christ coming as Isaiah's servant - the Messiah - and dying for us combined with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, sublime. Jesus - our paschal lamb who takes away the sin of the world - in the brokenness of his body, in the bread and wine, in the paucity of our response - how can we not look around and take our place in the family of faith and join the family firm as co-heirs, cohabitors, and co-workers?

But instead we complain about the situations before us looking for someone to be doing what is needed when surely that someone is us? If you have the right to complain then you have the right and responsibility to act. Can it get any simpler?

But overall I enjoyed today for I got to sing God's praises and share His word, and His peace, and be Church. Overall I have had a great week and as it becomes history I look forward to the coming day and the opportunities God gives us to reach out and make a difference because of Him.

Sad spot is that I don't rue the fact that I have led no one to Christ this week as much as I would have hoped I did - I've shown His love to those near but somehow in the daily round been distracted from 'making Him known' to those far off - and this sits uneasily with me. "How I'll they know unless somebody tells them?" But I have the sneaky feeling that habit, circumstance and experience are making me something less than I would like to be.

Lord, for the encounters, the challenges, the blessing, the tears and the joy this closing week has provided, I thank You. Make me your man in the places I find myself this week and help me to become just that bit more like You I pray.

Come on new day - let's get busy.

And in a never to be repeated monitoring of the week, the scores on the doors were:

Communicated 142
Hours worked: 72
telephone calls made:183
Texts: sent: 151
Emails sent: 212. (Emails ignored: far too many :-). )

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A quieter day

What a really nice day it was yesterday - there was some interesting challenge and some great blessing and space to relax and reflect and from that, to rejoice.

The week now done has brought a number of challenges, opportunities and joys; it has also provided as few frustrations and the potential for the odd sigh or two along with the odd tear or two as well: But that's life, isn't it?

I've been saddened by the ineptitude of some around me and even more saddened by the needy who crave success in numbers and opinion rather than merely get down and get on with the stuff they are called to do and the people they are called to be. Those who are looking to enhance their career and to place themselves in the right place to be noticed. Part of me hopes they get what they want (although if they do they will be yet another pebble on the scale pan marked 'nuisance') and the other part prays that that they do their career planning and their 'dancing for the grown ups' a very long way away!

There's nothing I can look back in regarding the week that causes me to rue what I have done or the man I have been - a miracle and a blessing indeed - but there has been much that has caused me to count the cost and to earnestly pray as those around me fail to have the wherewithal to pay it. So we look to the God who 'owns the cattle on a thousand hills' and His son.

We all fall short and at the end of the day all we have is to be found in the choices we have, and others, have made. We meet the challenges head on or we sidestep or hide from them, using the cover of dealing with it on another day until the days are used up and the options are reduced to zero.

There are so many Bible passages that cheer, inspire or caution - each resides within us, standing to attention like a soldier on parade when numbering off. This week Hebrews 3 has been a real friend to me:

"Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. ”

We have no idea of the day or time when our temporary stay here will end, nor any prior notice of the day when the Lord will return and so we live each day as if it were our last whilst relishing and enjoying it as if it were our first.

For a week almost done I can but pray for those who have needs, commend into your care those who have gone, and pray for those who remain.

May I preach true today and have walked straight in the week gone - and now, 'today' may I restore, comfort and enable all around me (including the man I see before me in the mirror) by the power and I dwelling of Your Holy Spirit.

Comm: 77
Hrs 61
telephone: 161
Texts: 134
Email: 208