Thursday, 23 March 2017

A prayer for London in a time of loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Prayer - Thursday 23 March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise. Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn. I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Journal: where did that day go to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 22 March 2017

Lent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journal: A day off

Well, a third of a day off anyway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's do this again tomorrow, eh?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 21 March 2017

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Reformation Martyr, 1556
Lent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Journal: And Jesus said . . .

"What you need is a meeting!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 20 March 2017

Morning Prayer - Monday 20 March 2017

Joseph of Nazareth

Lent

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

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

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

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

Psalm 147.1-12
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.

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

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

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

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

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

The Collect
God our Father, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph the carpenter to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary: give us grace to follow him
in faithful obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.