Reflection for Wednesday 21st September 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Matthew 9: 9-13 2 Corinthians 4: 1-6 Proverbs 3: 13-18 Sep 21

Matthew 9
9 ¶ As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

This passage always reminds me of Spike Milligan’s poem:
Doctor O’Dell fell down a well,
And broke his collar bone,
But doctors should attend the sick,
And leave the well alone

I have just watched a programme about the NHS with the problem of ambulances stuck outside hospitals instead of being able to reply to emergency calls. It must be so disheartening for the ambulance staff. Spike’s poem says that we should be looking after the sick and not those who are well. In the reading today, Jesus tells the religious leaders the same message.

He calls them, and us, to think about who we are passionate about bringing into the Kingdom of God. Jesus has no problem about spending time with sinners. He also has no problem about being seen to spend time with them.

It is not that Jesus did not spend time in worship and prayer. It is what else he did. Who else he chose to spend time with. It is so easy to limit the people we meet to our Christian friends. Here Jesus is reminding us that he desires mercy, not sacrifice. In other words, sacrifice is not enough. Worship the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul, AND love your neighbour as yourself.

It brings into focus, who is our neighbour? The Good Samaritan parable is clear. The priest and the Levite, for various reasons, which to them seemed reasonable, did not help.

Mary’s husband Joseph, would have had great difficulties in doing what was right when he discovered Mary was pregnant with Jesus. The “right” (legal) thing was either divorce, or even stoning. But God spoke to him and told him that the right thing to do was to stand by Mary.

Sometimes the “right” thing in our relationships is the wrong thing to do. God may be calling us to do something different. Obviously, that is dependent on spending time in prayer and asking God for guidance. The Devil is quick in trying to deceive us into wrong thoughts and wrong relationships.
However, is there a sinner that God is calling you to spend more time with?

COLLECT Trinity 14
Merciful God,
your Son came to save us
and bore our sins on the cross:
may we trust in your mercy
and know your love,
rejoicing in the righteousness
that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflection for Monday 19th September 2022

The Rev’d Paul Smith

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Hebrews 13.8 Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever.

I’m writing this for the day of our late Queen’s state funeral. Our prayers today are to thank God for her…her extraordinary life and faithfulness. This doesn’t mean she was a goody-goody; she was very robust and lived a full life with all its joys and sorrows, fun and sadness, and was faithful to God. That is the message for today: faithfulness to God, not being perfect.

I am one of those dwindling number of people who can remember standing in the street outside Westminster Abbey and seeing the old king, George VI, go in for a special service. In addition, standing in the rain in the Strand and watching the Coronation procession! It was the King who quoted the words of Minnie Louise Haskins when WW2 began. They stated a truth both for him, then, and for Queen Elizabeth during her long reign: Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way. So I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night. If anyone could say they had consciously kept hold of God’s hand, it was her. And Jesus did not let her go because he is the same, yesterday, today and for ever.

This is true for all of us. Jesus Christ is the same for each of us now as he was when we first became aware of him. Jesus is always the same; he will not fail us whenever we turn back to him even after a long absence. This means that when we direct our minds to him, we are connecting with the same Jesus into whose hand (metaphorically speaking) George VI and Elizabeth II put theirs.

The last ten days of national mourning and reflection have also been times of personal reflection for many of us, as we have seen from the huge crowds expressing grief sand gratitude. So let us renew ourselves by recalling those words quoted by George VI. All our yesterdays, the present moment and our future are in the hands of God.

Let us pray:
God of love,
we thank you for the life of Queen Elizabeth,
for her service to the nation,
and for her faith in you.
Be close to all of us who mourn
that we may find comfort and hope in your love.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflection for Wednesday 14th September 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection John 3 13-17 Numbers 21 4-9 Philippians 2 6-11 Sep 14

John 3
13 No-one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.)

I became a Christian when I was 40 years old. Peter, the vicar came each week into the school where I was teaching. I used to lead the worship service for the children. He said to me, “You are talking about God. What are you going to do about it?” As you can gather, he did not hold back on his evangelism. I remember a pupil whom I taught to drive, who told me that he did not agree with Peter, but he had to admire his commitment to God.

As a new Christian, together with more people that Peter had witnessed to, I was invited to other activities as well as Sunday mornings: prayer meetings, visits to other churches where there were services full of engaging worship and speakers, as well as many conferences in different parts of the country.

The reason I am mentioning this is because the first verse Peter told us to learn was John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

I do not have the sort of memory that holds on to verses in the way that some people can. However, this one has stuck and I can see why I was encouraged to learn it. Together with verse 17 and 18, it is the keys to the Kingdom of God.

In so many ways, I am grateful for Peter’s unashamed witness in spite of any opposition. And the comment from the pupil reminds me that it is not about the opposition that I may feel about declaring my faith in Jesus, it is about not being afraid to say what I believe. In Acts 3, when Peter prayed in Jesus’ name for the crippled beggar, he was able to walk. Peter and John were put in jail overnight for their witness to Jesus’ power, but the priests had to release them because everyone could see the change in the crippled man.

I need to make sure the Holy Spirit is leading me. My witness has to be the new, changed life that Jesus has given me, so people will be able to see, as well as hear it.

COLLECT Trinity 13
Almighty God,
who called your Church to bear witness
that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself:
help us to proclaim the good news of your love,
that all who hear it may be drawn to you;
through him who was lifted up on the cross,
and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reflection for Monday 12th September 2022

The Rev’d Penny Body

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Reflection 12th September 2022
The Gospel Luke 7.1-10
7After Jesus* had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, 5for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.’ 6And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. 8For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ 9When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ 10When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Our gospel today is a story of faith – the faith of the centurion who understood that Jesus had the authority to heal and of whom Jesus said “not even in Israel have I found such faith”.
Faith is a gift from God. A gift that our beloved Queen was blessed with in abundance. It was a faith that sustained not only her own life, but which underpinned and strengthened people of all faiths, and even none, in our country.
It is a gift that we should never take for granted and is of inestimable value.
It is a gift that sometimes we seem to be born with – we think of all the profound expressions of innate faith we have heard from little children over the years – in our families, in school assemblies, from our own childhoods – and we think of Jesus’s words in the gospels that we need to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Yet faith is not a passive gift – it is one that responds to nurture – to prayer, and meditation on God’s word and a constant seeking – and it rewards in love, peace, trust, kindness, generosity – indeed all the fruit of the Holy Spirit – and a life where care can be laid at God’s feet, and fear be cast out by his perfect love. A life where we are never alone.
So even if our faith is a gift we have somehow lost, or left unattended for some time, doubted or perhaps never known, it is also a gift that God is so pleased to pour upon us and refresh us with. All we need to do is ask and he will give.
And so, as we continue to give thanks for our beloved Queen Elizabeth in so many ways, we especially give thanks for her gift of faith, from God to her and her to us. We give thanks for all the times she was able to put the deepest truths into the simplest words to bring comfort, understanding, encouragement, a sense of hope and a belief that in faith, our small actions really can make a difference in this world.
We thank you Lord for her witness of God’s love and faith in the world and how her faith has helped to kindle that of so many others – younger people who have seen in her a Christian way of life, people of all faiths who have appreciated the honour and respect she gave their own faith, and all of us who have been inspired in our own journeys’ of service to God and each other by her selfless, God centred example.
And we pray, earnestly, for ourselves and for each other, for the continuing replenishment of his gift of faith, and that our lives may witness to God’s love and care, in honour of His name and in memory of His servant, Elizabeth our Queen. Amen.

A prayer on the death of Her Majesty The Queen
Gracious God, we give thanks
for the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth,
for her faith and her dedication to duty.
Bless our nation as we mourn her death
and may her example continue to inspire us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.