Reflection for Friday 22nd October 2021

The Reve’d Derek Arnold

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DAILY REFLECTION 22 October 2021
Today’s reflection is by our Team Rector, Rev’d Derek Arnold and can be heard on the Website http://tcmc.church

READING Luke 12.54-59
Interpreting the Times
He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

REFLECTION
How good are most of us at spotting the signs? I mean, even in the simplest of things, like whether a plant is doing well and whether it will grow or not. For most of recorded history, the world’s principal occupation is farming. And as you will know, farmers are very dependent on just the right amount of sun and rain at the right times to make a living and most of them become very skilled at interpreting the natural signs.

However, in our reading from Luke’s gospel, Jesus is announcing an earth-shattering event which would be so important that it would eclipse everything else. But for some reason those that were normally good at interpreting the natural signs were not able to or seemed to be intentionally ignoring the signs of the times.

The events of that time were full of meaning. Jesus was not just another Rabbi and not even another prophet. Even the tenor of life would turn to strife and anguish. The advent of the carpenter of Nazareth is the most significant happening in all human history. But those who were skilled at spotting meaning, connections, and relationships in all around them looked at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and saw almost nothing. But Like a down pour or a sunny day there were signs that the kingdom would soon be here.

There were some, like the twelve disciples who choose to follow Jesus and many others would join them. But Jesus said, in these strange and unsettling words, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division,” Jesus revealed that his coming would result in conflict for some of those who would choose to follow him and maybe that was what they saw but chose not to speak out.

In this reading Jesus distinguishes between those who will not see his crucial place at the centre of human life and history, and those who as his disciples are beginning to glimpse, however dimly, the meaning of it all. And with what we know, do we chose to follow him, or not?

THE COLLECT
God, our light and our salvation:
illuminate our lives,
that we may see your goodness in the land of the living,
and looking on your beauty
may be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflection for Tuesday 19th October 2021

Jon Ellis

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Reflection 2021 10 19 Morning Prayer Readings 2 Chronicles 34 1-18

I try to vary the Reflections and today there is a long reading from Chronicles.

2 Chronicles 34 1-18
1 ¶ Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for thirty-one years.
2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images.
4 Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them.
5 He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem.
6 In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them,
7 he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
8 ¶ In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the LORD his God.
9 They went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the money that had been brought into the temple of God, which the Levites who were the doorkeepers had collected from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the entire remnant of Israel and from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
10 Then they entrusted it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the LORD’s temple. These men paid the workers who repaired and restored the temple.
11 They also gave money to the carpenters and builders to purchase dressed stone, and timber for joists and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin.
12 The men did the work faithfully. Over them to direct them were Jahath and Obadiah, Levites descended from Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, descended from Kohath. The Levites— all who were skilled in playing musical instruments—
13 had charge of the labourers and supervised all the workers from job to job. Some of the Levites were secretaries, scribes and doorkeepers.
14 ¶ While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD that had been given through Moses.
15 Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan.
16 Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to him: “Your officials are doing everything that has been committed to them.
17 They have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the supervisors and workers.”
18 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

REFLECTION
Josiah was a good king. He followed on from a succession of evil kings and he was determined to reform the people’s ways. He got rid of the false worship of other Gods. He tore down their temples and in place he appointed new holy priests and set about restoring the temple. He chose good people to do the work. Then they found the “Book of the Law”.

The following verse from today’s reading, verse 19, goes on to say: When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes. The Book of the Law was probably the book of Deuteronomy that had been lost during the reign of the evil kings. Now it was found, Josiah realised that even more drastic changes had to be made to bring the nation back in line with God’s commands.

This passage is about turning from the old ways and back to God’s ways. We can see it requires wholesale changes to the way of life that there had been. New temple, new priests, new direction. But then, despite all that effort, they discover there is more. It is not enough to worship God, there is more. It has to involve keeping the commands of God. The way that individually we live our lives. And the “bible” to do that is The Bible. That includes both the New and the Old Testaments. Our worship must be every day and every way, grounded in God’s word, not just on Sundays in church.

COLLECT
God, our light and our salvation:
illuminate our lives,
that we may see your goodness in the land of the living,
and looking on your beauty
may be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflection for Monday 18th October 2021

The Rev’d Penny Body

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Reflection 18th October 2021 – Festival of St Luke the Evangelist
Luke 10 1-9
10After this the Lord appointed seventy* others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”*

Reflection
Today is St Luke’s day – Luke the physician and Luke the evangelist whose name lives on in both his gospel and so many hospitals and hospices around the world. And thinking particularly about Luke the physician brought me to thinking more widely about our healing ministry today.
Healing is fundamental to God’s purpose for the world – it is his desire to heal brokenness in all its forms and bring all people and creation back into full relationship with one another and with him. And Jesus’s healing of the sick and broken-hearted – and the continuing healing ministry of the disciples and the church today – is the outward sign and the forerunner of God’s deepest healing of all creation.
When Jesus healed people, he sometimes did so at a distance – like the centurion’s servant -but often his healing involved touch. In Luke’s gospel chapter 4 we read “At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.”
We have lost many things through Covid – and it is a matter of profound sadness that healing touch is surely one of them. A simple touch of someone’s hand to say “I am here”, “I am with you in your distress” to a prayerful laying on of hands or anointing with oil in the sacrament of healing. Touch is so important.
And in this, and so many ways, it feels that we have entered survival mode in dealing with the pandemic and its aftermath as structures and supply chains seem broken, fuel and other goods have become short and services seem overwhelmed. And the longer a period of crisis continues the more normal it can begin to feel, until we find we have forgotten how things used to be.
But survival mode is far removed from healing mode and God’s purpose for us. Survival is hard and stressful. It can be dry, devoid of the water of life, and it can be selfish and unyielding. Healing is full of love and compassion.
So as we remember St Luke today, I pray that healing mode may overcome mere “survival” in our communities, churches and nation. I know that is easy to say and harder to do when the problems that oppress us are so grave. But as people of Jesus – healing people – we can still put his healing ministry at the heart of our lives together.
Even though we may continue to be restricted in our physical human touch – we can still look at each other with Jesus’s eyes of love and compassion, listen with open ears of acceptance and generosity, speak with words of patience and gentleness and in so doing offer each other, and the world, a space of safety and hospitality in which to heal.
And that healing, just as in the days of Jesus’s own ministry on earth, always remains a sign and a sacrament of God’s healing purpose for all – a sign of sure and certain hope. Amen

The Collect for St Luke – Physician and Evangelist
Almighty God,
you called Luke the physician,
whose praise is in the gospel,
to be an evangelist and physician of the soul:
by the grace of the Spirit
and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel,
give your Church the same love and power to heal;
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

Reflection for Friday 15th October 2021

The Rev’d DerekArnold

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DAILY REFLECTION 15 October 2021
Today’s reflection is by our Team Rector, Rev’d Derek Arnold and can be heard on the Website http://tcmc.church

READING Luke 12.1-7
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

REFLECTION
As Jesus looked upon the huge crowds waiting to hear him, he warned his disciples against hypocrisy, that is, by trying to appear good when in reality the person’s heart is far from God. Once again Jesus attacks the Pharisees, who he thought could never keep their attitudes hidden for ever.
He reminds the disciples that a day will come when the inner life of men will be exposed. This is what the pharisees have not understood and everything they do has been contaminated with the leaven of hypocrisy. And according to Jesus the Pharisees are power-hungry imposters rather than the devoted religious leaders they portray themselves to be.
It is so easy for us to be disappointed and angry at the blatant hypocrisy of the Pharisees, but each one of us must resist the temptation to settle for the appearance of respectability, when are hearts are also far from God.
Have you noticed how the fear of opposition and being ridiculed can weaken our ability to witness for Christ? Quite often we would rather cling to peace and comfort, even at the cost of our relationship with God.
In verses 4and 5, Jesus tells us that we should nor fear God, who controls eternal, not merely temporal, consequences. And don’t allow our fear of a person, or a group, stop us from standing up for the things of Christ.
Our true value is what God estimates our worth to be, and not what our peers think. Other people will evaluate and categorise us according to how they see us perform, what we achieve and for some people, how we look. However God cares us, as he does for all his creatures, because we belong to him.
As I always say, we need to truly trust in him, the one who brought us into being if we really want to face life without fear.

THE COLLECT
Faithful Lord,
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love,
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Reflection for Thursday 14th October 2021

Nigel Price

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This week I am continuing to read from the Psalms. That set for today is Psalm 130 and parts of it are often used in Celtic evening prayer.

Psalm 130 (NIV)
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Reflection
This Psalm is about repentance and trust. The Psalmist seems to be saying, trust in the Lord and He will save you from the mess that sinning brings about.
The depths would be watery deeps and seem to suggest that the writer is gravely ill and feels that he is sinking into the underworld of death. In the ancient world it was very much believed that illness and sin went together.
The watchmen are probably Levites who wait for the first crack of dawn in order to carry out the morning sacrifices. As a penitential Psalm it was a great favourite of Luther’s.
Often the structure of the Psalm is begun in absolute despair but moving on to praise and thank God with an air of optimism. Here, this has the feeling of a personal prayer. First there is an acknowledge of past sins, of which there seem to many, at least as perceived by the writer. But then there is the realisation that God forgives all who repent. So at last he puts his trust in the Lord, knowing that if all Israel do the same they will be saved.
Have you reached the point when you can confidently put your hope in the Lord?

So we pray:
The Collect
O God,
forasmuch as without you
we are not able to please you;
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit
may in all things direct and rule our hearts;
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

Reflection for Tuesday 12th October 2021

Jon Ellis

Reflection Romans 1 16-25 Luke 11 37-41 Oct 12

ROMANS 1
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is for ever praised. Amen.

REFLECTION

In verse 16, Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel, the Good News of Jesus, because it is the power of God.
A truly powerful statement! How much do we grasp its significance? God has given us, by his grace, through the Holy Spirit, to be stronger than the worldly temptations. His wisdom, purpose, power and goodness are stronger than any of the sinful desires of our hearts and the lies of serving created things rather than the Creator who has made everything, including you and me. Do our actions show that we are not ashamed of the gospel or do we undervalue it our lives? Are we actually frightened to mention it in case it might upset others? We have the answer to life. All we have to do, is to accept the gift the Creator has given us. Simple!

Paul gives us striking reasons why we should not be ashamed. He says, “The righteous will live by faith.” God is righteous and calls us to be too. He will never stand for godlessness and wickedness in his kingdom. When we follow Jesus there has to a change in us. Jesus calls us to be in the world, but not of the world. It is all too easy to be sucked in by the sins that Paul mentions. 2000 years after this was written, we are still surrounded by “created things” to worship. Take a moment to think of the ones you have a problem with. … What about the TV programme storylines we watch, the books we read, the activities we like doing? Would we be embarrassed by doing this if Jesus was sat next to us?

Today’s Gospel reading is from Luke 11:37-41, in which Jesus chastises the Pharisees for making a big deal out of ceremonially washing their hands when their true motives show that inside, their hearts were not clean. They were hypocrites because their lives did not match their actions. That is an argument that many non-believers level at Christians who they see are not living the life they profess to follow.

We may try to say we are “all on a path” and “No-one is perfect” but that must not hide a life that is falling far short of Jesus’ example to us. Our confessions are meaningless if after them we simply go back to the way we were, without thinking of what we are saying to God.

Each day we have to try to start afresh and pray for God’s help in following Jesus. He did not say it is easy. In fact, he said it was going to be hard. Remembering what Jesus has done for us, his sacrifice to save us from being sucked back into worldly values, is a constant reminder to do our best to run the race of life to reach the goal of living the life we are called to in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. The Good News is that God loves each one of us and the Holy Spirit is with us to make the impossible, possible!

COLLECT
Faithful Lord,
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love,
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflection for Monday 11th October 2021

The Rev’d Penny Body

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Reflection 11th October 2021

Luke 11.29-32

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31The queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! 32The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

Reflection

Jesus is chastising the Jews for asking for a sign as proof of his identity. The people of Nineveh recognised the authentic voice of God in the preaching of Jonah and repented. The Queen of the south recognised the authentic voice of God in the wisdom of Solomon and travelled from the ends of the earth to listen to him. But the Jews did not recognise in Jesus the authentic voice of God – they couldn’t see that the greatest sign God could ever send was his Son Jesus himself.

We do not have the physical Jesus in front of us, showing us personally the nearness of his kingdom, teaching us what following him means in the daily reality of our lives – and I wonder whether you, like me, sometimes struggle to know whether what we are hearing is the authentic voice of God – or something else. It’s important to know. We seek to be obedient to God, but we need to know it is his voice we are being obedient to.

So – how can we know? What tools have we been given to help us discern his order and purpose for our lives? Well, as Jesus told his disciples – he did not leave us alone when he ascended to the right hand of his Father, but sent the Holy Spirit – to guide and shine with the brightness of God himself within us. We have the Word of God, available to us through his Holy Scripture, which, as we allow it to dwell richly within us, transforms our hearts and minds, attuning us to him. We have the examples of the lives of the saints, who we will celebrate in a few weeks’ time, and the whole tradition of Christian thought and theology to inform us. We have our reason – the ability to use our minds to weigh up alternatives – to consider the evidence. We have each other, wise souls who have walked alongside Jesus with us, with whom we can share our thoughts – our concerns – who can help us reflect and to see God where we might miss him. And we have prayer – the unbelievable gift of being able to sit quietly on earth, in communication and blissful connection with God in heaven.

So – though we do not have Jesus in front of us, as the Jews of the time did – we have so much of him to guide us if we are perplexed and need to discern the true voice of God. We have been given a whole toolbox. And though God may sometimes send an overwhelming sign, discerning his true word, in my experience, is usually more about listening to Jesus – a diligent and prayerful examination of all the information we have – using all the tools at our disposal.

Does what we are hearing match up with what we believe Jesus says in the gospels? How do we feel about what we believe God might be saying – do we feel drawn closer to him – or feel God far away? When we sit in prayer do we feel peace or confusion? What do our wise Christian friends think?  What are the costs of the decision – have we counted them and can we meet them? And so gradually, with time and prayer, do we come to her and know the authentic voice of God and so fulfil our and his desire, to follow him in faith and love. Amen.

The Collect for the 19th Sunday after Trinity
Faithful Lord,
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love,
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen