Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Education - 'Soft Subjects'

Listening to a debate yesterday on 'soft subjects' in the school curricula left me feeling frustrated and potentially homicidal!

We now live in the Orwellian nightmare world where, thanks in a large part to our politicians, we now see funding at school favouring the so-called 'hard' subjects at the expense of the 'soft' ('hard' subjects good, 'soft' subjects bad!).

A couple of weeks back I heard an apparently moronic moron witter on about encouraging the 'proper' subjects in our schools as this would make those leaving 'more employable'. Turns out the 'moron' was an MP (so the cap might well fit!!) and all that they left out of their highly informed and influential point of view was the voicing of a desire to return to the days when Britain was the home of technology, industry, manufacturing and the whole of the globe was red! Another contributor to this debate said that doing art was great preparation for a life of unemployment.

Now, to cap it all I understand that the Russell group of universities are about to release a new handbook and, if the Grauniad are to be believed, it will travel along these lines:

"By not studying at least two of the following subjects – maths, English, geography, history, any of the three pure sciences or a classical or modern foreign language – "many degrees at competitive universities will not be open to you,"

The world of education that I came from focussed on the sciences because I was heading into the world of science and technology and Art, Music and Religious Education were available on the non-academic 'Arts' stream whilst Technical Drawing, Woodwork and Metalwork were available to those who took the 'Technical' path.

Those who took the arts route generally appeared to end up teaching (which is ironic I guess).

Those who took the technical route generally worked in engineering, construction and related industries until they found themselves unemployed in mid-forties onwards. Many of these people now exist in 'benefit world' or in alternative careers (one I know of works at McDonald'sm which isn't a problem but perhaps makes a statement!).

Those who took the academic route seem generally to be split between those who are still employed in offices doing admin' work, those who went into higher education (and mainly now find themselves in early-retirement) and those who have managed to keep a job in their chosen occupation.

The irony is that many of us who were pushed (sorry - I mean 'guided') into the Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry (plus others) appear in later life to have wished they'd done humanities, drawn things, played instruments and took up subjects that would benefit them now. Mind you one of my former scholar colleagues says that geography probably helps him with his daily work :-)

Having had a graduate from 'Bimbo University' work in one of my previous areas of influence (first-class BA in Tourism!!) I take more offence at the soft degrees and whilst I can understand that 'A levels' in media studies, Religious Education (the queen of all sciences), art and design, photography, psychology, business studies and other 'soft' subjects might be seen as an easy option to building a portfolio, there are times when the intended career path demands, or at least is supported by, them.

Here in the Vicar's palace we have one child embarked upon English, Music, Art and Psychology 'A levels'. The next is looking to do Maths, Physics, Art and Computing, One looks towards a career in the wonderful world of performance and arts whilst the other seeks a path that takes them to the world of animation. Both report that at GCSE many of those who opted for Art soon slipped away as they found that the workload was anything but soft and this is also the experience in other 'soft' subjects.

Here's the reality:

Most of us who did degrees find that what we did has little or no connection with the career/s we ended up with.

The pushing of our children into 'hard' subjects because this will get them the places is tosh. We should be encouraging our children to study the subjects that they enjoy (which usually means that they have a passion or skill in and for).

We need to develop a love of science and maths (I remember the passion (of now Prof) George Mathon for the 'art' that is mathematics) and from there see our children study the subjects because of the emerging passion for them (but this means we need inspiration and well as perspiration from our teachers).

We need to stop seeing education as something that can be converted into drinking vouchers. Learning develops passions, skills and abilities in us and we teach to enable people to fulfil their potential as people not as earners.

Soapbox away :-)


Daily Office - Feb 29

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 17
Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint; listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips. Let my vindication come forth from your presence; let your eyes behold what is right. Weigh my heart, examine me by night, refine me, and you will find no impurity in me. My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards; I have heeded the words of your lips. My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments; my feet have not stumbled in your paths. I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; incline your ear to me, and listen to my words. Show me your marvellous loving-kindness, O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who assault me, from my enemies who surround me to take away my life. They have closed their heart to pity and their mouth speaks proud things. They press me hard, they surround me on every side, watching how they may cast me to the ground, Like a lion that is greedy for its prey, like a young lion lurking in secret places. Arise, Lord; confront them and cast them down; deliver me from the wicked by your sword. Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand from those whose portion in life is unending, Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, who are well supplied with children and leave their wealth to their little ones. As for me, I shall see your face in righteousness; when I awake and behold your likeness, I shall be satisfied.

Genesis 42:6-17
Now Joseph was governor over the land; it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. ‘Where do you come from?’ he said. They said, ‘From the land of Canaan, to buy food.’ Although Joseph had recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them. He said to them, ‘You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land!’ They said to him, ‘No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man; we are honest men; your servants have never been spies.’ But he said to them, ‘No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land!’ They said, ‘We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of a certain man in the land of Canaan; the youngest, however, is now with our father, and one is no more.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘It is just as I have said to you; you are spies! Here is how you shall be tested: as Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here! Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, in order that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, as Pharaoh lives, surely you are spies.’ And he put them all together in prison for three days.

Galatians 4:21-5:1
Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, ‘Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than the children of the one who is married.’ Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the scripture say? ‘Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman.’ So then, friends, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

The Collect
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin: give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Daily Office - Jan 28

Psalm 44
We have heard with our ears, O God, our forebears have told us, all that you did in their days, in time of old; How with your hand you drove out nations and planted us in, and broke the power of peoples and set us free. For not by their own sword did our ancestors take the land nor did their own arm save them, But your right hand, your arm, and the light of your countenance, because you were gracious to them. You are my King and my God, who commanded salvation for Jacob. Through you we drove back our adversaries; through your name we trod down our foes. For I did not trust in my bow; it was not my own sword that saved me; It was you that saved us from our enemies and put our adversaries to shame. We gloried in God all the day long, and were ever praising your name. But now you have rejected us and brought us to shame and go not out with our armies. You have made us turn our backs on our enemies, and our enemies have despoiled us. You have made us like sheep to be slaughtered, and have scattered us among the nations. You have sold your people for a pittance and made no profit on their sale. You have made us the taunt of our neighbours, the scorn and derision of those that are round about us. You have made us a byword among the nations; among the peoples they wag their heads. My confusion is daily before me, and shame has covered my face, At the taunts of the slanderer and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and avenger. All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you and have not played false to your covenant. Our hearts have not turned back, nor our steps gone out of your way, Yet you have crushed us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to any strange god, Will not God search it out? For he knows the secrets of the heart. But for your sake are we killed all the day long, and are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord? Awake, and do not reject us for ever. Why do you hide your face and forget our grief and oppression Our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaves to the earth. Rise up, O Lord, to help us and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

Genesis 41:46-42.5
Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure. Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For’, he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.’ The second he named Ephraim, ‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.’ The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.’ And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world. When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why do you keep looking at one another? I have heard’, he said, ‘that there is grain in Egypt; go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.’ So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he feared that harm might come to him. Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to buy grain, for the famine had reached the land of Canaan.

Galatians 4:8-20
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted. Friends, I beg you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong. You know that it was because of a physical infirmity that I first announced the gospel to you; though my condition put you to the test, you did not scorn or despise me, but welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What has become of the goodwill you felt? For I testify that, had it been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you may make much of them. It is good to be made much of for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

The Collect
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; 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.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Thought for the day - Marriage vs Civil Partnerships

For those who struggled with the blog relating to the Coalition for Marriage a couple of days back - here's someone who is in the pro camp (hoping I can use that word without offence :-) ) when it comes to keeping marriage and civil partnerships distinct and separate.

All grist to the mill I guess - enjoy!

ps. Not an invitation to punch-up but it is interesting to see how, even within themselves, the groups divide isn't it?


For those who would like to see another (differing) view of this debate (disccusion, argument?) take a look at the 'Coalition for Equal Marriage' site here .

When Rights Clash - Part the First

I was asked about this and so, as I drink my tea, thought I'd pen some initial thoughts:

The world, like the sea, is full of 'ebb and flow' moments when it come to the minefield that is 'rights' as the history books clearly show.

Black rights - Women's Rights - Animal rights - Gay rights - Welfare Rights - Human rights - Asian rights - Women's Human rights - Civil Liberties - Vegetarian rights - Christian rights and more besides.

In many of them the previously oppressed 'minority groups', having experienced the low tide of life acting against them, sees the tide come in such that we have the ridiculous situation of 'positive discrimination' (here's a clue - if it has the word 'discrimination' in it, positive or negative, it is wrong!) and in some sort of bloodguilt response, society 'makes allowances' or treats them differently such that they oppress those who are assumed to have been the oppressors.

I've been in situations where a vacancy was destined to be filled by someone from a previously oppressed group and I have struggled with this, especially when a less able candidate was chosen because they were ...... (insert category).

I've been in workplace situations where disciplinary action was abandoned due to the offender being a member of a minority group. In fact the group they belonged to suddenly found that rather than be oppressed they were placed in the driving seat and whatever they did was largely ignored because of fear of looking anti whatever they were.

Whenever a group exerts a right that denies, demeans or degrades a member of another group then this is wrong. Whenever a group is showed favouritism or given privileges because of fear of condemnation, or even action, because they were once oppressed, then they do themselves, and their group, no justice.

I meet many who extend the rights of groups into the realm of nation groups and in this etting approve, and applaud, the actions of nations and ethnic groups who have been oppressed who take 'pre-emptive' action and disregard humanitarian and moral codes because of their 'sorely abused' or 'under threat' status.

The Bible calls us to act justly. To show mercy and most of all, to act with humility (that is living as one who sees all as equals) rather than puffing ourselves up and seeking only what we desire regardless of the cost.

So there you are, my thoughts (as requested) - now we need to look at the religious side (which will be another day soon - as another busy week this end of the wire (hallelujah!)


Daily Office - Feb 27

George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633

Psalm 10
Why stand so far off, O Lord? Why hide yourself in time of trouble? The wicked in their pride persecute the poor; let them be caught in the schemes they have devised. The wicked boast of their heart’s desire; the covetous curse and revile the Lord. The wicked in their arrogance say, ‘God will not avenge it’; in all their scheming God counts for nothing. They are stubborn in all their ways,
for your judgements are far above out of their sight; they scoff at all their adversaries. They say in their heart, ‘I shall not be shaken; no harm shall ever happen to me.’ Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit and fraud; under their tongue lie mischief and wrong. They lurk in the outskirts and in dark alleys they murder the innocent; their eyes are ever watching for the helpless. They lie in wait, like a lion in his den; they lie in wait to seize the poor; they seize the poor when they get them into their net. The innocent are broken and humbled before them; the helpless fall before their power. They say in their heart, ‘God has forgotten; he hides his face away; he will never see it.’ Arise, O Lord God, and lift up your hand; forget not the poor. Why should the wicked be scornful of God? Why should they say in their hearts, ‘You will not avenge it’? Surely, you behold trouble and misery; you see it and take it into your own hand. The helpless commit themselves to you, for you are the helper of the orphan. Break the power of the wicked and malicious; search out their wickedness until you find none. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land. Lord, you will hear the desire of the poor; you will incline your ear to the fullness of their heart, To give justice to the orphan and oppressed, so that people are no longer driven in terror from the land.

Psalm 11
In the Lord have I taken refuge; how then can you say to me, ‘Flee like a bird to the hills, 'For see how the wicked bend the bow and fit their arrows to the string, to shoot from the shadows at the true of heart. ‘When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes behold, his eyelids try every mortal being. The Lord tries the righteous as well as the wicked, but those who delight in violence his soul abhors. Upon the wicked he shall rain coals of fire and burning sulphur; scorching wind shall be their portion to drink. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds, and those who are upright shall behold his face.

Genesis 41:25-45
Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, ‘Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind. They are seven years of famine. It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. After them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land. The plenty will no longer be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, for it will be very grievous. And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.’ The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?’ So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.’ And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out in front of him, ‘Bow the knee!’ Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.’ Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.

Galatians 3:23-4.7
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

The Collect
King of glory, king of peace, who called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honours to be a priest in the temple of his God and king: grant us also the grace to offer ourselves
with singleness of heart in humble obedience to your service; 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.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

All the days numbered for me . .

And for our guinea pig!

This morning, when all was still, I came down to find that the stillness that is death had extended to embrace our Guinea Pig, Chestnut, during the night.

The horror scenario that greets many of us as parents at some stage had visited the Vicar household and the breaking of the news to the children was going to range from the teenage shrug to the tears of the younger member (and owner of said Cavies).

Guine Pigs bring nothing into the world and take nothing from it, but on the way through they bring the discipline of care (ably covered by Mum when the carer forgets), the joy of relationship and the lessons of life that deal with death and loss.

So we gave Chestnut a funeral, dried the eyes, hugged the bereaved and now life continues. Valuable lessons learned and joy at the memories of the good times and the little things that caused pleasure to him and to us.

And for the parental role - never realised how many things it encompasses. Makes me glad that I'm not further up the creation/omnipotent food chain. Don't know how God manages it on a 7*24*365 basis :-)

Happy Sunday
 2008 - 2012
A Good Guine Pig Indeed

Quote of the Week - Rowan Races

This morning the Radio Four continuity man had me marvelling as he announced:

"The Archbishop of Canterbury will do the Sunday Worship in ten minutes!"

That must be why he's the Archbishop - takes me at least forty-five minutes to do our morning service!

Running the race

It was good sermon too!

Daily Office - Feb 26

Psalm 771 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.

Exodus 34:1-10
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to me, on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and do not let anyone be seen throughout all the mountain; and do not let flocks or herds graze in front of that mountain.’ So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the former ones; and he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tablets of stone. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name, ‘The Lord.’ The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ And Moses quickly bowed his head towards the earth, and worshipped. He said, ‘If now I have found favour in your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.’ He said: I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord; for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

Romans 10:8b-13
But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

The Collect
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin: give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; 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.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Daily Office - Feb 25

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.

Genesis 41:1-24
After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, and there came up out of the Nile seven sleek and fat cows, and they grazed in the reed grass. Then seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. The ugly and thin cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. And Pharaoh awoke. Then he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. Then seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them. The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Pharaoh awoke, and it was a dream. In the morning his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh. Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, ‘I remember my faults today. Once Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard. We dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own meaning. A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each according to his dream. As he interpreted to us, so it turned out; I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.’ Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was hurriedly brought out of the dungeon. When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.’ Joseph answered Pharaoh, ‘It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favourable answer.’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘In my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile; and seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. Then seven other cows came up after them, poor, very ugly, and thin. Never had I seen such ugly ones in all the land of Egypt. The thin and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows, but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had done so, for they were still as ugly as before. Then I awoke. I fell asleep a second time and I saw in my dream seven ears of grain, full and good, growing on one stalk, and seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouting after them; and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. But when I told it to the magicians, there was no one who could explain it to me.’

Galatians 3:15-22
Brothers and sisters, I give an example from daily life: once a person’s will has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, ‘And to offsprings’, as of many; but it says, ‘And to your offspring’, that is, to one person, who is Christ. My point is this: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one. Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; 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.

Coalition for Marriage - Please read and act

Was asked to post this:

Over 67,000 British citizens have signed the Westminster Declaration of Christian Conscience in 2010 in support of life, marriage and conscience. The government, led by the Prime Minister, intends to change the legal definition of marriage to allow same-sex marriage and is shortly launching a consultation on how (not if) to do it. 

Please take this opportunity to sign the ‘Coalition for Marriage’ Petition which was launched on Monday 20 February and has already gathered over 35,000 signatures. 

This petition simply says:

‘I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.’

What you can do:
  2. Forward this email to friends and colleagues
  3. Join the Facebook page and follow the regular updates
  4. Pray for the campaign
Background information:
  1. ‘Westminster Declaration Supports Coalition for Marriage’
  2. Marriage: ‘the most successful partnership in history’
  3. ‘Ten reasons not to legalise same-sex marriage in Britain’
Please read, add your name (if you agree of course) and 'be the difference'.


Friday, 24 February 2012

Thought for the day - All we like sheep

Some time back the above image (or one very much like it) appeared on the screen in front of us as a graphic in a lecture on Christ as the Good Shepherd. After the lecture I asked the lecturer where he'd got the image from and it transpired it was one of the research students who had put the powerPoint together for him. Amazingly only a few of those present were aware that the image which had been one the screen before them was one of naked people not sheep!

So here's a fuller image and with the reality that 'naked we come into the world and naked we leave' a thought voiced so well in that image:

Happy Friday

Daily Office - Feb 24

Psalm 3
Lord, how many are my adversaries; many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say to my soul, ‘There is no help for you in your God.’ But you, Lord, are a shield about me; you are my glory, and the lifter up of my head. When I cry aloud to the Lord, he will answer me from his holy hill; I lie down and sleep and rise again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of hordes of the peoples that have set themselves against me all around. Rise up, O Lord, and deliver me, O my God, for you strike all my enemies on the cheek and break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord: may your blessing be upon your people.

Psalm 7
O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all who pursue me, and deliver me, Lest they rend me like a lion and tear me in pieces while there is no one to help me. O Lord my God, if I have done these things: if there is any wickedness in my hands, If I have repaid my friend with evil, or plundered my enemy without a cause, Then let my enemy pursue me and overtake me, trample my life to the ground, and lay my honour in the dust. Rise up, O Lord, in your wrath; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies. Awaken, my God, the judgement that you have commanded. Let the assembly of the peoples gather round you; be seated high above them: O Lord, judge the nations. Give judgement for me
according to my righteousness, O Lord, and according to the innocence that is in me. Let the malice of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; for you test the mind and heart, O righteous God. God is my shield that is over me; he saves the true of heart. God is a righteous judge; he is provoked all day long. If they will not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent his bow and made it ready. He has prepared the weapons of death; he makes his arrows shafts of fire. Behold those who are in labour with wickedness, who conceive evil and give birth to lies. They dig a pit and make it deep and fall into the hole that they have made for others. Their mischief rebounds on their own head; their violence falls on their own scalp. I will give thanks to the Lord for his righteousness, and I will make music to the name of the Lord Most High.

Genesis 40
Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody. One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, ‘Why are your faces downcast today?’ They said to him, ‘We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.’ And Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.’ So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, ‘In my dream there was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.’ Then Joseph said to him, ‘This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. But remember me when it is well with you; please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place. For in fact I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.’ When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favourable, he said to Joseph, ‘I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.’ And Joseph answered, ‘This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a pole; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.’ On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand; but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Galatians 3:1-14
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing?—if it really was for nothing. Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’ But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, ‘Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’—in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Ash Wednesday

Rushed into the local shop last night where I was asked what was going on 'over at the church'.

When I replied that it was Ash Wednesday they looked blankly at me until suddenly one of them smiled and said, "Oh yeah, the stop smoking thing!"

Would have fared much better had I told them it was 'Orange Wednesday' I fear!'

Still, you've got to laugh, haven't you?

Daily Office - Feb 23

Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155

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.

Genesis 39
Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favour in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate. Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, she caught hold of his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called out to the members of her household and said to them, ‘See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’ Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, ‘The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’ When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, ‘This is the way your servant treated me’, he became enraged. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favour in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.

Galatians 2:11-end
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

The Collect
Almighty God, who gave to your servant Polycarp boldness to confess the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world and courage to die for his faith: grant that we also may be ready to give an answer for the faith that is in us and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Parish Share - Giving as Partners

I'm most grateful to John Richardson (AKA the Ugley Vicar) for pointing me to the 'Giving as Partners' sheet (which may be found here) on the Church Society website.

The billing:

The Church of England is an institution in crisis.  Contemporary pressures are mounting to change the Church’s practices and teaching.  At the same time, historical factors mean the leadership of the Church is rarely answerable to the ‘membership in the pews’.  In this crisis, money plays a key part.  On the one hand, the funds available to the Church are declining in parallel with the membership.  On the other hand, there are regular calls to ‘Quota Cap’ as a response to perceived abuses within  the Church.
‘Giving As Partners’ addresses these issues in a radical way.  Rejecting Quota Capping, it nevertheless offers a proposal that could change the Church by changing the way churches relate to one another.  Simple in principle, it would create dynamic mission partnerships that would improve the effectiveness of the Church whilst at the same time increasing the likelihood that Quotas would be paid in full.  This could
well be ‘an idea whose time has come’

Makes for some interesting reading - I'm about to embark upon the document and invite others, especially those who have commented on the earlier 'Parish Share' blog pages to perhaps do the same and see where this takeds our discussion.


Ordination - Is there an easy route please?

Had an interesting conversation with someone today regarding an easier path to being ordained. They didn't want to go to college and weren't sure they wanted to go to any form of 'selection' conference because it sounded a bit stressful. Not only that but they only wanted to be ordained and remain in their 'sending' church (where they were already working and doing services.

I asked one of my favourite questions (after the 'how' and 'why' questions), "What would ordination do for you and what could you do without it that you couldn't do now?" The response was a new one for me because the answer was, "Nothing - I'm already doing it now!'

Impressed I asked the questions:

Leading services - Yep!

Worship - Yep!

Praying - Yep!

Preaching - Yep!

Involved in the communion service - Yep (and in fact they told me they were already 'doing communion' when their minister was away)!!

I asked where they were (outside of our diocese) and why they'd called me (because someone they know knows me and thought I'd be able to advise) and then got more involved with the more pressing questions after which it transpired that they were in a multi-benefice setup and the clerical person had told them that they needed to get ordained so they could 'formalise' what they were doing. After more discussion I realised that what they wanted was to be ordained to the group of churches and those alone (what we call an ordained local minister where we are) and no more.

I've suggested that they have a chat to a local ministry advisor in their own patch or even arrange an introduction to their DDO. Oddly, what I find interesting here is that this conversation appears to have been prompted by a cleric who was looking to make their local help more official and I can understand why (five churches in the group is reason enough) but I am also left wondering what I could have done further?

It was only a couple of days ago that I was in a group where I brought up the increasing desire to convert any adequate or able lay person into a minister because of the workloads and pressures and here I am perhaps facing yet another of this being flesh in this instance.

I'm left wondering what some clergy see ordination as being and how they discern calling?

Gis' us a clue? Has anyone else encountered anything like this I wonder?


Thought for the day - Autographed Bible

What a nice idea - not sure it's authentic though.

Then again - are we?

Seems like a good thought for today!


Daily Office - Feb 22

Ash Wednesday

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.

Daniel 9:3-6,17-19
Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, ‘Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his supplication, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine upon your desolated sanctuary. Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the city that bears your name. We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name!’

1 Timothy 6:6-19
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Money and the CofE

I've halted play for a few moments to (try and) answer some questions about money and the CofE.

Hopefully I'm heading in the right direction with these (and if not am sure I will be corrected):

The cost of an ordained minister
The cost of an ordained minister varies from location to location and seems to range from £45-50k. tThe final figure comes about by taking the stipend, National Insurance, training, support services (i.e. diocesan staff), housing costs, Council Tax, Water rates and pension contributions and lumping them together. Once this is done the final figure is divided by the number of stipendiary ministers and there's the figure.

Funding Bishops)
As I understand it the bishops (and their staff) come from central funds.

Funding Cathedrals
Money comes from funds other than diocesan common purse

What does the Church of England do with all its money?
Well it's obviously not good biscuits and a good variety of tea (don't do coffee) is it.

The money that the Church Commissioners have, this includes property, things and other liquid assets (but still not tea :-( ) is used to add to the money that comes in from the giving of the church's own members.

Take a look at the pretty picture below and you'll get an idea as to how, where and what (and you'll see that the 'what' with regard to 'all it's money' means a subsidy of some 21% of the total money needed/used):

I hope this quick response provides some useful answers,


Parish Share - Cue for Conflict?

Having posted my little graphic interpretation of a couple of the issues regarding parish Share I was quite shocked to see some of the comments that came in. It seems that this is not an issue that unites and many of the lines drawn up leave us with the oh so familiar 'have' and 'have not' battle, the 'poor management' debate and the conflict between rural and urban too!

I guess I'd have to start with a hint from Malachi 3 about bringing the 'whole tithe' into the storehouse and parallel that with a quick foray into Acts 2: 42 where we find reference to unity, 'being family' (koinoinia - translates as 'fellowship' but this is nearer family than a cuppa after the service!). The reality is that we should be looking at the churches in our deanery and seek ways of sharing and supporting the work of the Church spiritually (always the first call as without prayer we're merely a social club), practically (not saying praying isn't practical, just mean 'doing' and sharing stuff), financially (which is practical and needs to be embarked upon prayerfully) and in love.

The idea that those who can't pay 'need to pull their socks up' and if they don't they die is pretty simplistic as many of those whom I encounter as struggling are working flat out (just as some I come across who are comfortable and pay without problem are coasting because they maintain numbers, pay their share and have no need to do any more!).

We have two main areas of stress within our churches and these are to be found in the places where deprivation and decline in the community has an impact upon the income of the church within it and yet surely these are the areas where the impact of the church is most needs to be felt? It's a sad fact of life that I see the rural and urban priority areas as the most needy and see the most struggling between the groups as it seems they are fixed to the same stick like the characters of a weather house!

As I write this I see I have received another comments post with loadsa questions and so will leave you with the thoughts thus far and return with some answers - catch you later.


Daily Office - Feb 21

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. 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.

Genesis 37:12-end
Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. He came to Shechem, and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’ ‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’ The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’ Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers, and said, ‘The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?’ Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, ‘This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.’ He recognized it, and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.’ Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son for many days. All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, ‘No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.’ Thus his father bewailed him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Galatians 2:1-10
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us—we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

The Collect
Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross: give us grace to perceive his glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with him and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Thought for the Day - Parish Share

Parish Share - Mutual Support or Daylight Robbery?

Which voice are you listening too?

Daily Office - Feb 20

Psalm 71
In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me. Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. I have been like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all day long. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent. For my enemies speak concerning me, and those who watch for my life consult together. They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken, for there is no one to deliver.” O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed; let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace. But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long, though their number is past my knowledge. I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God, I will praise your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my honour, and comfort me once again. I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have rescued. All day long my tongue will talk of your righteous help, for those who tried to do me harm have been put to shame, and disgraced.

Genesis 37:1-11
Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words. He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?” So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Galatians 1
Paul an apostle — sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead - and all the members of God’s family who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.

The Collect
Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross: give us grace to perceive his glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with him and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Daily Office - Feb 19

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not be afraid, and though there rise up war against me, yet will I put my trust in him. One thing have I asked of the Lord and that alone I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to seek his will in his temple. For in the day of trouble
he shall hide me in his shelter; in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me and set me high upon a rock and now shall he lift up my head above my enemies round about me; Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy upon me and answer me. My heart tells of your word, ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face from me, nor cast your servant away in displeasure. You have been my helper; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path, because of those who lie in wait for me. Deliver me not into the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and those who breathe out violence. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 150
Alleluia. O praise God in his holiness; praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the blast of the trumpet; praise him upon the harp and lyre. Praise him with timbrel and dances; praise him upon the strings and pipe. Praise him with ringing cymbals; praise him upon the clashing cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Alleluia.

Exodus 24:12-18
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’ So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, ‘Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.’ Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

2 Corinthians 3:12-18
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

The Collect
Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross: give us grace to perceive his glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with him and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dawkins - the vox pop view

I have had, as ever, a most varied week that has seen lots of busyness highs made better (and worse) by the views, comments and questions of those whom I encounter. The best (and most consistent of these) has related to that great model of rational thought and logic, Richard Dawkins and his various utterances and views which reached its pinnacle with the conversation between Dawkins and Giles Fraser.

One of the more outspoken of my passing conversationalists asked what I thought about the man and his views and, before I could answer, suffixed the question with, " 'cos I think he's a bit of a pr*t!" Now, not being one to disagree and start conflict unnecessarily I smiled and let them continue (and they did). "Talks about not being a Christian and how all the other stuff's right and then he can't even answer a simple question about evolution. Seems he knows what he doesn't like but doesn't have a clue as to what he does. Like I sad, the man's a ****!" Well I had to agree (would have been rude not to wouldn't it?).

The same day the person behind the shop counter was recounting how funny it was that 'this atheist bloke said 'oh God' when he was asked a question'. As she continued she noticed the dogcollar and blushed but I saved the day (as (n)ever) and confirmed that it was indeed a bit of a laugh (and recounted the 'Thank God I'm an atheist joke which got us all laughing again).

Over the course of the day I found that Dorkins, the radio interview, the 'no council prayers' and many other little issues had made me, and the Bloke I work and live with and for, extremely popular. Seems that the man might be our greatest asset, especially as some of the more intellectual non-Christians I met spoke of his market research survey as being skewed and more than a little desperate (I will have to have a look before I can possibly comment).

So let's look at the conversation and our new bestest friend and marketing man's comments from that Radio Four interview:

Giles Fraser: Richard, if I said to you what is the full title of ‘The Origin Of Species’, I’m sure you could tell me that.

Richard Dawkins: Yes I could.

Giles Fraser: Go on then.

Richard Dawkins: On The Origin Of Species.. Uh. With, Oh God. On The Origin Of Species. There is a sub title with respect to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

Giles Fraser: You’re the high pope of Darwinism… If you asked people who believed in evolution that question and you came back and said 2% got it right, it would be terribly easy for me to go ‘they don’t believe it after all.’ It’s just not fair to ask people these questions. They self-identify as Christians and I think you should respect that.

At least I know the name of the Bible (it's 'The Bible' in case you thought there was more)!

And just to help RD out, the title he was looking for was:
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,
or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Still, at least we know that in public life at least he calls upon God for help ;-)


Naked Church - Caption Contest

I've had this photograph for some twenty plus years now and it remains one of my favourites and so I thought I'd share it with you and see what captions might arise from the image.

Happy Saturday people.


Daily Office - Feb 18

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.

Genesis 35
God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes; then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.’ So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak that was near Shechem. As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities all around them, so that no one pursued them. Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So it was called Allon-bacuth. God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he was called Israel. God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.’ Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him. Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured out a drink-offering on it, and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the place where God had spoken with him Bethel. Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had a difficult labour. When she was in her difficult labour, the midwife said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; for now you will have another son.’ As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided as aliens. Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years. And Isaac breathed his last; he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus. I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother. For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. One thing more—prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you. Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow-workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your 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.