Friday, 23 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 23 June 2017

Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely, c.678

Psalm 31
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me. Be my strong rock, a fortress to save me, for you are my rock and my stronghold; guide me, and lead me for your name’s sake. Take me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me, for you are my strength. Into your hands I commend my spirit, for you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I put my trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your mercy, for you have seen my affliction and known my soul in adversity. You have not shut me up in the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in an open place.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye is consumed with sorrow, my soul and my body also. For my life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails me because of my affliction, and my bones are consumed. I have become a reproach to all my enemies and even to my neighbours, an object of dread to my acquaintances; when they see me in the street they flee from me. I am forgotten like one that is dead, out of mind; I have become like a broken vessel. For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is on every side; they scheme together against me, and plot to take my life.

But my trust is in you, O Lord. I have said,  You are my God.  My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Make your face to shine upon your servant, and save me for your mercy’s sake.’

Lord, let me not be confounded for I have called upon you; but let the wicked be put to shame; let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence that speak against the righteous with arrogance, disdain and contempt.

How abundant is your goodness, O Lord, which you have laid up for those who fear you; which you have prepared in the sight of all for those who put their trust in you. You hide them in the shelter of your presence from those who slander them; you keep them safe in your refuge from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the Lord! For he has shown me his steadfast love when I was as a city besieged. I had said in my alarm,  I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes.’ Nevertheless, you heard the voice of my prayer when I cried out to you. Love the Lord, all you his servants; for the Lord protects the faithful, but repays to the full the proud. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait in hope for the Lord.

Job 17.3-end
 Lay down a pledge for me with yourself; who is there that will give surety for me?
 Since you have closed their minds to understanding, therefore you will not let them triumph.
 Those who denounce friends for reward - the eyes of their children will fail.

 He has made me a byword of the peoples, and I am one before whom people spit.
 My eye has grown dim from grief, and all my members are like a shadow.
 The upright are appalled at this, and the innocent stir themselves up against the godless.
 Yet the righteous hold to their way, and they that have clean hands grow stronger and stronger.
 But you, come back now, all of you and I shall not find a sensible person among you.
 My days are past, my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart.
 They make night into day; “The light”, they say, “is near to the darkness.”
 If I look for Sheol as my house, if I spread my couch in darkness,
 if I say to the Pit, “You are my father”, and to the worm, “My mother”, or “My sister”,
 where then is my hope?
 Who will see my hope?
 Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
 Shall we descend together into the dust?’

Romans 8.18-30
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The Collect
Eternal God, who bestowed such grace upon your servant Etheldreda that she gave herself wholly to the life of prayer and to the service of your true religion: grant that we, like her, may so live our lives on earth seeking your kingdom that by your guiding we may be joined to the glorious fellowship of your saints; 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, 22 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 22 June 2017

Alban, first Martyr of Britain, c.250

Psalm 37
Fret not because of evildoers; be not jealous of those who do wrong. For they shall soon wither like grass and like the green herb fade away.

Trust in the Lord and be doing good; dwell in the land and be nourished with truth. Let your delight be in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him, and he will bring it to pass. He will make your righteousness as clear as the light and your just dealing as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait for him; do not fret over those that prosper as they follow their evil schemes. Refrain from anger and abandon wrath; do not fret, lest you be moved to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.

Yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; you will search for their place and find them gone. But the lowly shall possess the land and shall delight in abundance of peace.

The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash at them with their teeth. The Lord shall laugh at the wicked, for he sees that their day is coming.

The wicked draw their sword and bend their bow to strike down the poor and needy, to slaughter those who walk in truth. Their sword shall go through their own heart and their bows shall be broken.

The little that the righteous have is better than great riches of the wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.

The Lord knows the days of the godly, and their inheritance shall stand for ever. They shall not be put to shame in the perilous time, and in days of famine they shall have enough.

But the wicked shall perish; like the glory of the meadows the enemies of the Lord shall vanish; they shall vanish like smoke. The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous are generous in giving. For those who are blest by God shall possess the land, but those who are cursed by him shall be rooted out.

When your steps are guided by the Lord and you delight in his way, Though you stumble, you shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds you fast by the hand.

I have been young and now am old, yet never have I seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging their bread. All the day long they are generous in lending, and their children also shall be blest.

Depart from evil and do good and you shall abide for ever. For the Lord loves the thing that is right and will not forsake his faithful ones.

The unjust shall be destroyed for ever, and the offspring of the wicked shall be rooted out. The righteous shall possess the land and dwell in it for ever.

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and their tongue speaks the thing that is right. The law of their God is in their heart and their footsteps shall not slide.

The wicked spy on the righteous and seek occasion to slay them. The Lord will not leave them in their hand, nor let them be condemned when they are judged.

Wait upon the Lord and keep his way; he will raise you up to possess the land, and when the wicked are uprooted, you shall see it.

I myself have seen the wicked in great power and flourishing like a tree in full leaf. I went by and lo, they were gone; I sought them, but they could nowhere be found.

Keep innocence and heed the thing that is right, for that will bring you peace at the last. But the sinners shall perish together, and the posterity of the wicked shall be rooted out.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord shall stand by them and deliver them; he shall deliver them from the wicked and shall save them, because they have put their trust in him.

Job 16.1-17.2
Then Job answered:
 I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all.
 Have windy words no limit?
 Or what provokes you that you keep on talking?
 I also could talk as you do, if you were in my place;
 I could join words together against you, and shake my head at you.
 I could encourage you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.

 If I speak, my pain is not assuaged, and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me?
 Surely now God has worn me out; he has made desolate all my company.
 And he has shrivelled me up, which is a witness against me;
 my leanness has risen up against me, and it testifies to my face.
 He has torn me in his wrath, and hated me; he has gnashed his teeth at me;
 my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
 They have gaped at me with their mouths; they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
 they mass themselves together against me.
 God gives me up to the ungodly, and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
 I was at ease, and he broke me in two; he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
 he set me up as his target; his archers surround me.
 He slashes open my kidneys, and shows no mercy; he pours out my gall on the ground.
 He bursts upon me again and again; he rushes at me like a warrior.
 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and have laid my strength in the dust.
 My face is red with weeping, and deep darkness is on my eyelids,
 though there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure.

 O earth, do not cover my blood; let my outcry find no resting-place.
 Even now, in fact, my witness is in heaven, and he that vouches for me is on high.
 My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God,
 that he would maintain the right of a mortal with God, as one does for a neighbour.
 For when a few years have come, I shall go the way from which I shall not return.
 My spirit is broken, my days are extinct, the grave is ready for me.
 Surely there are mockers around me, and my eye dwells on their provocation.

Romans 8.12-17
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

The Collect
Eternal Father, when the gospel of Christ first came to our land you gloriously confirmed the faith of Alban by making him the first to win a martyr’s crown: grant that, following his example, in the fellowship of the saints we may worship you, the living God, and give true witness to Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 21 June 2017

Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Look upon him and be radiant and your faces shall not be ashamed. This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the one who trusts in him.

Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing. Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

Co me, my children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Who is there who delights in life and longs for days to enjoy good things?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from lying words. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry.

The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit.

Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them. He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken. But evil shall slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The Lord ransoms the life of his servants and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.

Job 15
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
‘Should the wise answer with windy knowledge, and fill themselves with the east wind?
 Should they argue in unprofitable talk, or in words with which they can do no good?
 But you are doing away with the fear of God, and hindering meditation before God.
 For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty.
 Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; your own lips testify against you.

 Are you the firstborn of the human race?
 Were you brought forth before the hills?
 Have you listened in the council of God?
 And do you limit wisdom to yourself?
 What do you know that we do not know?
 What do you understand that is not clear to us?
 The grey-haired and the aged are on our side, those older than your father.
 Are the consolations of God too small for you, or the word that deals gently with you?
 Why does your heart carry you away, and why do your eyes flash,
 so that you turn your spirit against God, and let such words go out of your mouth?

 What are mortals, that they can be clean?
 Or those born of woman, that they can be righteous?
 God puts no trust even in his holy ones, and the heavens are not clean in his sight;
 how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, one who drinks iniquity like water!

 I will show you; listen to me;
 what I have seen I will declare - what sages have told,
 and their ancestors have not hidden, to whom alone the land was given,
 and no stranger passed among them.
 The wicked writhe in pain all their days, through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless.
 Terrifying sounds are in their ears; in prosperity the destroyer will come upon them.
 They despair of returning from darkness, and they are destined for the sword.
 They wander abroad for bread, saying, “Where is it?”
 They know that a day of darkness is ready at hand; distress and anguish terrify them;
 they prevail against them, like a king prepared for battle.
 Because they stretched out their hands against God, and bid defiance to the Almighty,
 running stubbornly against him with a thick-bossed shield;
 because they have covered their faces with their fat, and gathered fat upon their loins,
 they will live in desolate cities, in houses that no one should inhabit,
 houses destined to become heaps of ruins; they will not be rich, and their wealth will not endure,
 nor will they strike root in the earth; they will not escape from darkness;
 the flame will dry up their shoots, and their blossom will be swept away by the wind.
 Let them not trust in emptiness, deceiving themselves; for emptiness will be their recompense.
 It will be paid in full before their time, and their branch will not be green.
 They will shake off their unripe grape, like the vine, and cast off their blossoms, like the olive tree.
 For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of bribery.
 They conceive mischief and bring forth evil and their heart prepares deceit.’

Romans 8.1-11
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 20 June 2017

Psalm 32
Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered.
Happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

For I held my tongue; my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. Your hand was heavy upon me day and night; my moisture was dried up like the drought in summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and my iniquity I did not hide. I said,
‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful make their prayers to you in time of trouble; in the great water flood, it shall not reach them. You are a place for me to hide in; you preserve me from trouble;you surround me with songs of deliverance.

‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go;
 I will guide you with my eye.
 Be not like horse and mule which have no understanding;
 whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle,or else they will not stay near you.’

Great tribulations remain for the wicked, but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord. Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

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

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness stands like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; you, Lord, shall save both man and beast.

How precious is your loving mercy, O God!
All mortal flesh shall take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house;
they shall drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light.

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

Job 14
‘A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble,
 comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last.
 Do you fix your eyes on such a one?
 Do you bring me into judgement with you?
 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
 No one can.

 Since their days are determined, and the number of their months is known to you,
 and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass, look away from them, and desist,
 that they may enjoy, like labourers, their days.

 For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
 and that its shoots will not cease.
 Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground,
 yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.
 But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they?
 As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up,
 so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more,
 they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep.
 O that you would hide me in Sheol,
 that you would conceal me until your wrath is past,
 that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!

 If mortals die, will they live again?
 All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come.
 You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands.
 For then you would not number my steps, you would not keep watch over my sin;
 my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover over my iniquity.

 But the mountain falls and crumbles away, and the rock is removed from its place;
 the waters wear away the stones; the torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
 so you destroy the hope of mortals.
 You prevail for ever against them, and they pass away;
 you change their countenance, and send them away.
 Their children come to honour, and they do not know it;
 They are brought low, and it goes unnoticed.
 They feel only the pain of their own bodies, and mourn only for themselves.’

Romans 7.7-end
What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means!

Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.
I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’
But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.

Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Monday 19 June 2017

Sundar Singh of India, Sadhu (holy man), Evangelist, Teacher of the Faith, 1929

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 30
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have raised me up and have not let my foes triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you have healed me. You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit.

Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; give thanks to his holy name. For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, his favour for a lifetime. Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

In my prosperity I said,
‘I shall never be moved. You, Lord, of your goodness, have made my hill so strong.’
Then you hid your face from me and I was utterly dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried; to the Lord I made my supplication:
‘What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?
 Will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; O Lord, be my helper.’

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Job 13
‘Look, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it.
 What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you.
 But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.
 As for you, you whitewash with lies; all of you are worthless physicians.
 If you would only keep silent, that would be your wisdom!
 Hear now my reasoning, and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
 Will you speak falsely for God, and speak deceitfully for him?
 Will you show partiality towards him, will you plead the case for God?
 Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
 Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another?
 He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality.
 Will not his majesty terrify you, and the dread of him fall upon you?
 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes, your defences are defences of clay.

 Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may.
 I will take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hand.
 See, he will kill me; I have no hope; but I will defend my ways to his face.
 This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him.
 Listen carefully to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears.
 I have indeed prepared my case; I know that I shall be vindicated.
 Who is there that will contend with me?
 For then I would be silent and die.
 Only grant two things to me, then I will not hide myself from your face:
 withdraw your hand far from me, and do not let dread of you terrify me.
 Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me.
 How many are my iniquities and my sins?
 Make me know my transgression and my sin.
 Why do you hide your face, and count me as your enemy?
 Will you frighten a windblown leaf and pursue dry chaff?
 For you write bitter things against me, and make me reap the iniquities of my youth.
 You put my feet in the stocks, and watch all my paths;
 you set a bound to the soles of my feet.
 One wastes away like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten.

Romans 7.1-6
Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Can't make it to church - Sunday 18th June 2017

Today, the first Sunday after Trinity. marks the beginning of 'ordinary' time - a liturgical season that stretches almost all the way to Advent; the final Sunday of the liturgical year being 'Christ the King' (the current year being 'A').

Today, it seems to me, is all about Covenant and Calling - so very fitting as we are in the ordination season that is Petertide!

Covenant (con venire) - a coming together, an agreement between two parties (God and the Jews in our Old Testament reading) that sets conditions and brings benefits. a true 'friends with benefits' relationship!

Calling - a word we tend to use with regard to vocation these days, but look wider and see how, in the Bible, God has 'called' to people to engage with Him and develop a relationship. The call of God says, "Come and be my friends, my people, my co-workers, my voice - and my priests!"

It's around 1,300 BC and, having left Egypt and spent a few months trudging through the wilderness, the Israelites are camped at the foot of Mount Sinai - somewhere they will be for a while - and Moses has parked up and popped up the hill for a word with God. Like many a family travel before SatNav, Moses is off getting directions.

And Moses comes back with a message from God. A message for a people God is already in relationship with for they are the descendants of the house of Jacob, Israelites, the people He has delivered from captivity - His people! A lecturer I had called this an 'I-you-I' (IUI) moment: God reminds the people of who He is and what He's done and how they should respond and the outcomes of that.

'I did this - if you do this - I will'. "I brought you out and if you keep my commands you will be My treasured possession. a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."

This sets a big calling upon the people before Moses for they are being called to be more than 'a nation', they are being called in the same sense we use vocation today, to be called out, to be different, to minister God's grace: 'Called out; (ekklesia). This is truly a covenant and calling moment. One which neatly moves us nicely into the Gospel passage where those with whom Jesus has a relationship find themselves in another 'IUI' moment.

Jesus tells the Twelve the what and how and who and sends them off to do the 'stuff' and 'proclaim the Good News'.

Did you notice that He is only sending them to the Jews - He tells them, "Avoid the Gentiles and the Samaritans!" Remember the conversation with the Canaanite woman who asks Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus tells her that He has come for the lost sheep of Israel and she replies that even the dogs (what the Jews called Gentiles) could eat the crumbs under the table.

This is not an anti-Gentile message but a recognition that for Jesus' coming to fulfil the law and the prophets, the first point of call is, quite logically, to those who live under them. First to the Jews and then to the Gentile - Jerusalem

Jesus calls us in the same manner today: Who we are through our relationship with Him sees us called and sent out, perhaps not as the twelve were sent  - to be itinerant missionaries - to be a priesthood, to make God know and to be called out to minister the love of God as made real in our lives through the ministry of Jesus, the Christ.

A call for all of us!

And yet as many will argue from a place of personal weakness and inability. All too often I hear people tell me, "I would, but ...!"

Paul stops us short and says, "There's no 'but' in it - we have Jesus, the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, the fulfilment of the hope we have and the remedy for the desires that distract!" Jesus is the answer - to everything - for everyone (Jew and Gentile)!

There are problems and there us suffering and over all there is Grace. Love is the seed from which hope is sown and when this is God's love which we have through our relationship with Him won by the Christ, nothing can overcome or inhibit us. And when we were far off, separate and antagonistic to God, Jesus died for us - how can we not live with and for Him now?

So this is a day where we remember and celebrate our relations with God and look to our calling as individuals, and corporately, and think on the IUI and our relationship with God and the calling that is ours.

The Collect
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Exodus 19.2-8a
After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

Romans 5.1-8
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Matthew 9.35 - 10.23
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Post Communion Prayer
Eternal Father, we thank you for nourishing us with these heavenly gifts: may our communion strengthen us in faith, build us up in hope, and make us grow in love; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Friday 16 June 2017

Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253
Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, Philosopher, 1752

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.

Psalm 19
The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
One day pours out its song to another and one night unfolds knowledge to another.
They have neither speech nor language and their voices are not heard,
Yet their sound has gone out into all lands and their words to the ends of the world.

In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun,
that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a champion to run his course.
It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey, dripping from the honeycomb.

By them also is your servant taught and in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can tell how often they offend?
O cleanse me from my secret faults!
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Job 11
Then Zophar the Naamathite answered:
‘Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and should one full of talk be vindicated?
 Should your babble put others to silence, and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
 For you say, “My conduct is pure, and I am clean in God’s sight.”
 But O that God would speak,  and open his lips to you, and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
 For wisdom is many-sided. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.

 Can you find out the deep things of God?
 Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
 It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
 Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
 Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.
 If he passes through, and imprisons, and assembles for judgement, who can hinder him?
 For he knows those who are worthless; when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?
 But a stupid person will get understanding, when a wild ass is born human.

 If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands towards him.
 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents.
 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear.
 You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
 And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning.
 And you will have confidence, because there is hope;
  you will be protected and take your rest in safety.
 You will lie down, and no one will make you afraid; many will entreat your favour.
 But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.’

Romans 6.1-14
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

The Collect
Most merciful redeemer, who gave to your bishop Richard a love of learning, a zeal for souls and a devotion to the poor: grant that, encouraged by his example, we may know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit are alive and reign, one God, now and for ever.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 15 June 2017

The Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion

Evelyn Underhill, Spiritual Writer, 1941

Psalm 147
How good it is to make music for our God, how joyful to honour him with praise.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond all telling.

The Lord lifts up the poor, but casts down the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the lyre;
Who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth;
Who makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve our needs.
He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens when they cry.
He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, no delight in human strength;
But the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their trust in his steadfast love.

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

Deuteronomy 8.2-16

Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The clothes on your back did not wear out and your feet did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you.

Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.

Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid waste-land with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good.

1 Corinthians 10.1-17
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

The Collect
Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament you have given us the memorial of your passion: grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may know within ourselves and show forth in our lives the fruits of your redemption; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 14 June 2017

Richard Baxter, Puritan Divine, 1691

Psalm 119.1-32
Blessed are those whose way is pure, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies and seek him with their whole heart,
Those who do no wickedness, but walk in his ways.

You, O Lord, have charged that we should diligently keep your commandments.
O that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes. Then should I not be put to shame, because I have regard for all your commandments.

I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, when I have learned your righteous judgements.
I will keep your statutes; O forsake me not utterly.
How shall young people cleanse their way to keep themselves according to your word?

With my whole heart have I sought you; O let me not go astray from your commandments.
Your words have I hidden within my heart, that I should not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; O teach me your statutes.

With my lips have I been telling of all the judgements of your mouth.
I have taken greater delight in the way of your testimonies than in all manner of riches.
I will meditate on your commandments and contemplate your ways.
My delight shall be in your statutes and I will not forget your word.
O do good to your servant that I may live, and so shall I keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of your law.

I am a stranger upon earth; hide not your commandments from me.
My soul is consumed at all times with fervent longing for your judgements.
You have rebuked the arrogant; cursed are those who stray from your commandments.
Turn from me shame and rebuke, for I have kept your testimonies.

Rulers also sit and speak against me, but your servant meditates on your statutes.
For your testimonies are my delight; they are my faithful counsellors.

My soul cleaves to the dust; O give me life according to your word.
I have acknowledged my ways and you have answered me; O teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your commandments, and so shall I meditate on your wondrous works.

My soul melts away in tears of sorrow; raise me up according to your word.
Take from me the way of falsehood; be gracious to me through your law.
I have chosen the way of truth and your judgements have I laid before me.
I hold fast to your testimonies; O Lord, let me not be put to shame.
I will run the way of your commandments, when you have set my heart at liberty.

Job 9
Then Job answered:
‘Indeed I know that this is so; but how can a mortal be just before God?
 If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand.
 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength — who has resisted him, and succeeded?
 he who removes mountains, and they do not know it, when he overturns them in his anger;
 who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble;
 who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who seals up the stars;
 who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the Sea;
 who made the Bear and Orion,  the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
 who does great things beyond understanding, and marvellous things without number.

 Look, he passes by me, and I do not see him; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
 He snatches away; who can stop him?
 Who will say to him, “What are you doing?”

 God will not turn back his anger; the helpers of Rahab bowed beneath him.
 How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him?
 Though I am innocent, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
 If I summoned him and he answered me, I do not believe that he would listen to my voice.
 For he crushes me with a tempest, and multiplies my wounds without cause;
 he will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness.
 If it is a contest of strength, he is the strong one!
 If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?
 Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me;
 though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
 I am blameless; I do not know myself; I loathe my life.
 It is all one; therefore I say, he destroys both the blameless and the wicked.
 When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;  he covers the eyes of its judges -
 if it is not he, who then is it?

 My days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good.
 They go by like skiffs of reed, like an eagle swooping on the prey.
 If I say, “I will forget my complaint; I will put off my sad countenance and be of good cheer”,
 I become afraid of all my suffering, for I know you will not hold me innocent.
 I shall be condemned; why then do I labour in vain?
 If I wash myself with soap and cleanse my hands with lye,
 yet you will plunge me into filth, and my own clothes will abhor me.
 For he is not a mortal, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together.
 There is no umpire between us, who might lay his hand on us both.
 If he would take his rod away from me, and not let dread of him terrify me,
 then I would speak without fear of him, for I know I am not what I am thought to be.

Romans 5.1-11
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The Collect
Holy God, faithful and unchanging: enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth, and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love, that we may truly worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Tuesday 13 June 2017

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my lamentation. Hearken to the voice of my crying, my King and my God, for to you I make my prayer. In the morning, Lord, you will hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal to you, and look up. For you are the God who takes no pleasure in wickedness; no evil can dwell with you.

The boastful cannot stand in your sight; you hate all those that work wickedness. You destroy those who speak lies; the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord will abhor. But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy, I will come into your house; I will bow down towards your holy temple in awe of you.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness, because of my enemies; make your way straight before my face. For there is no truth in their mouth, in their heart is destruction, their throat is an open sepulchre, and they flatter with their tongue. Punish them, O God; let them fall through their own devices. Because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them sing out their joy for ever. You will shelter them, so that those who love your name may exult in you. For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; and with your favour you will defend them as with a shield.

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

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

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

Job 8
Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:
‘How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
 Does God pervert justice?
 Or does the Almighty pervert the right?
 If your children sinned against him, he delivered them into the power of their transgression.
 If you will seek God and make supplication to the Almighty,
 if you are pure and upright,
 surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore to you your rightful place.
 Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.

 For inquire now of bygone generations,
 and consider what their ancestors have found;
 for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing,
 for our days on earth are but a shadow.
 Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?

 Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh?
 Can reeds flourish where there is no water?
 While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant.
 Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish.
 Their confidence is gossamer, a spider’s house their trust.
 If one leans against its house, it will not stand;
 if one lays hold of it, it will not endure.
 The wicked thrive before the sun, and their shoots spread over the garden.
 Their roots twine around the stoneheap; they live among the rocks.
 If they are destroyed from their place,
 then it will deny them, saying, “I have never seen you.”
 See, these are their happy ways, and out of the earth still others will spring.

 See, God will not reject a blameless person, nor take the hand of evildoers.
 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.
 Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.’

Romans 4.13-end
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

The Collect
Holy God, faithful and unchanging: enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth, and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love, that we may truly worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Can't make it to church - Sunday 11th June 2017

Today is 'Trinity Sunday. A day (more often than not) when the person standing up the front and doing the sermon seeks to show how little they understand the Trinity as they confuse their listeners over what the Trinity really is!

The Trinity causes real problems for some because the word is never used in the Bible and so, in their eyes, it's just not right!

Another bunch are going to struggle today becuase the explanation they will use is just plain wrong!
Here are a few wrong 'uns:
1. The Trinity is like a person, who is a son (or daughter), mother (or father), and a husband (or wife),
2. The Trinity is like and egg, which has a shell, a white, and a yolk,
3. The Trinity is like the sun, which also has light and heat,
4. The Trinity is like water, which is liquid, ice or steam,

The problem with the Trinity lies in the problem that what we have is ONE God, not three,and this God is of 'one substance' with three distinct natures or persons.
They are ALL THREE as the same time.
They are all the same substance.

Many of the explanations are modal. Yes, it's water, but it can only be one of the three states any any time. The same goes for the son, father, husband model. They operate in one mode at a time.

The egg, which is quite popular with many, is a real problem becuase whilst it is all, together, called 'egg' - it is made up of three different, and separate, part. One substance? Nah!

The sun explanation is even worse because the heat and light are products of it. This is like saying that God is the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are created by Him. They are not equal, they are created by the Father.

It's about now that some of you will be looking to St Patrick and will be shouting, "God is green and has three leave!" Well first and foremost, this explanation is 'partialism' and many end up giving their audience three gods out of it! The good news is that, as I understand it, St Patrick never used this analogy - so there's a win!

Perhaps this little video might be of assistance - it's one of my favourites:

I like this because it got me thinking about ways of presenting the Trinity - after all, some will be preaching today that, "We don't need to understand the Trinity, we just need to accept and believe it!"

This is wrong teaching: As Christians we need to question, challenge and strive for understanding - after all, we don't leave our brains at the doors, do we?

And the readings? well they're not great defences of the Trinity but they are important.

The Gospel passage (what we call the 'Great Commission') tells Jesus' followers to 'get out there and make disciples' (not converts) 'in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit' (phew, that's handy) - baptising them (that's the membership ritual) and teaching them to 'obey' Jesus' commands (something I find less and less of us doing - we all choose our own way!).

The 2 Corinthians passage is an ending - it calls on us to seek to build the Church (and it surely needs some restoration, doesn't it?) and for us to encourage one another in unity of mind - living in peace with each other.

What can we say about this passage other than the fact that I don't see too much of the stuff called for in the Church I often encounter. A house divided against itself cannot stand - could this be the reason we are doing so badly in some settings?

And if you're nodding - what are you (and me) going to do about it?

So we are left with he Isaiah passage - a promise that God will renew us, strengthening us and enabling us to do the stuff. Doesn't need much explanation this passage, does it?

If we keep God's commands, live and work in unity and make disciples - the strength (and everything else) we need to get the job done will be ours.

Now that's a promise to be claimed, innit?

The Collect
Holy God, faithful and unchanging: enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth, and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love, that we may truly worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Isaiah 40.12-17,27-31
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Who can fathom the Spirit[a] of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

2 Corinthians 13.11-13
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All God’s people here send their greetings.

Matthew 28.16-20
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Post Communion Prayer
Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and live and reign in the perfect unity of love: hold us firm in this faith, that we may know you in all your ways and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory, who are three Persons yet one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Thursday 8th June 2017

Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, Nonjuror, Hymn Writer, 1711

Psalm 143
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and in your faithfulness give ear to my supplications; answer me in your righteousness. Enter not into judgement with your servant, for in your sight shall no one living be justified. For the enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like those long dead. My spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate. I remember the time past; I muse upon all your deeds; I consider the works of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul gasps for you like a thirsty land.

O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me; hide not your face from me lest I be like those who go down to the Pit. Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning, for in you I put my trust; show me the way I should walk in,
for I lift up my soul to you. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies, for I flee to you for refuge.

Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God; let your kindly spirit lead me on a level path. Revive me, O Lord, for your name’s sake; for your righteousness’ sake, bring me out of trouble. In your faithfulness, slay my enemies, and destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for truly I am your servant.

Psalm 146
Praise the Lord, O my soul: while I live will I praise the Lord; as long as I have any being,
I will sing praises to my God.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in any human power, for there is no help in them. When their breath goes forth, they return to the earth; on that day all their thoughts perish.

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

The Lord looses those that are bound;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land; he upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.

The Lord shall reign for ever, your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

Job 4
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
‘If one ventures a word with you, will you be offended?
 But who can keep from speaking?
 See, you have instructed many; you have strengthened the weak hands.
 Your words have supported those who were stumbling,
 and you have made firm the feeble knees.
 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
 it touches you, and you are dismayed.
 Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?

‘Think now, who that was innocent ever perished?
 Or where were the upright cut off?
 As I have seen, those who plough iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.
 By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
 The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions are broken.
 The strong lion perishes for lack of prey, and the whelps of the lioness are scattered.

‘Now a word came stealing to me, my ear received the whisper of it.
 Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on mortals,
 dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake.
 A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh bristled.
 It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance.
 A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice:

“Can mortals be righteous before God?
 Can human beings be pure before their Maker?
 Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error;
 how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust,
 who are crushed like a moth.
 Between morning and evening they are destroyed; they perish for ever without any regarding it.
 Their tent-cord is plucked up within them, and they die devoid of wisdom.”

Romans 2.17-end
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? You that boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’

Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.

The Collect
O God, from whom all blessings flow, by whose providence we are kept and by whose grace we are directed: help us, through the example of your servant Thomas Ken, faithfully to keep your word, humbly to accept adversity and steadfastly to worship you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Morning Prayer - Wednesday 7th June 2017

Psalm 119.153-end
O consider my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me; according to your promise, give me life.

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
Great is your compassion, O Lord; give me life, according to your judgements.

Many there are that persecute and oppress me, yet do I not swerve from your testimonies.
It grieves me when I see the treacherous, for they do not keep your word.

Consider, O Lord, how I love your commandments; give me life according to your loving-kindness.
The sum of your word is truth, and all your righteous judgements endure for evermore.

Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of your word.
I am as glad of your word as one who finds great spoils.

As for lies, I hate and abhor them, but your law do I love.
Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgements.

Great peace have they who love your law; nothing shall make them stumble.
Lord, I have looked for your salvation and I have fulfilled your commandments.
My soul has kept your testimonies and greatly have I loved them.
I have kept your commandments and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding, according to your word.
Let my supplication come before you; deliver me, according to your promise.

My lips shall pour forth your praise, when you have taught me your statutes.
My tongue shall sing of your word, for all your commandments are righteous.

Let your hand reach out to help me, for I have chosen your commandments.
I have longed for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.

Let my soul live and it shall praise you, and let your judgements be my help.
I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; O seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

Job 3
After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. Job said:
‘Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, “A man-child is conceived.”
 Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, or light shine on it.
 Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
 Let clouds settle upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.
 That night—let thick darkness seize it!
 let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
 let it not come into the number of the months.
 Yes, let that night be barren; let no joyful cry be heard in it.
 Let those curse it who curse the Sea, those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan.
 Let the stars of its dawn be dark;
 let it hope for light, but have none; may it not see the eyelids of the morning -
 because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb, and hide trouble from my eyes.

 Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?
 Why were there knees to receive me, or breasts for me to suck?
 Now I would be lying down and quiet; I would be asleep;
 then I would be at rest with kings and counsellors of the earth who rebuild ruins for themselves,
 or with princes who have gold, who fill their houses with silver.
 Or why was I not buried like a stillborn child, like an infant that never sees the light?
 There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.
 There the prisoners are at ease together; they do not hear the voice of the taskmaster.
 The small and the great are there, and the slaves are free from their masters.

 Why is light given to one in misery, and life to the bitter in soul,
 who long for death, but it does not come, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures;
 who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad when they find the grave?
 Why is light given to one who cannot see the way, whom God has fenced in?
 For my sighing comes like my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water.
 Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.
 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes.’

Romans 2.1-16
Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.

The Collect
O Lord, from whom all good things come: grant to us your humble servants, that by your holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by your merciful guiding may perform the same; through 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.