Reflection for Friday 29 July

Nigel Price

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John 12.1-8

Mary Anoints Jesus

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

Reflection

Many of you will have heard me speaking of my association with Alton Abbey in Hampshire.  In fact before I started going to the Abbey I was helping a convent, The Sisters of Bethany, with their financial matters.  The Sisters are a religious order for women within the Anglican Communion.  They also have Associates and those associates are: a body of close friends who unite their life in prayer to that of the community and who are accepted as members of an extended community family. They live in their homes and accept a simple rule of life which is the expression of a shared concern to love and serve God and one another after the example of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

If you would like to learn more about the order, which is based in Southsea in Hampshire, this is their website: The Society of the Sisters of Bethany

We have met this family before, of course. Martha has made a great dinner for Jesus and Mary, not wanting to be outdone, doesn’t just sit at the feet of Jesus but anoints his feet and wipes them with her hair.  To do that, she would have had to let her hair down.  Now it is hard for us to imagine just how shocking that would have been in mixed company in those days.  It just wouldn’t be done and the onlookers must have been totally shocked.  Imagine if you were at a polite dinner party and suddenly one of the hosts starts stripping off all her clothes! So there is a real tension in the room. What on earth would Martha be thinking – surely her sister has gone way over the top this time.

The other disciples are a bit uncomfortable about the extravagance of her action.  Judas voices it, but John clearly tells us that this is a hypocritical response, for Judas has been helping himself to money.

But what about the reaction of Jesus. Perhaps he realises that Mary has been keeping the perfume to anoint his body after death, and that is going to happen much earlier than she expects.  But the suggestion is that she should keep the perfume, not to raise money for the poor, but for a more important purpose, for his coming death.  A death that perhaps would be the action to put the world to rights, including the world of poverty.

So where do you stand? With the reckless Mary who risks everything? Or with Judas, who on this occasion appeared to be the prudent, reliable one, anxious to provide for the needs of the poor?  Or are you back in the kitchen with Martha?  It’s your call, just what do you make of Jesus and his words?

And so we pray the Collect for Mary, Martha and Lazarus:

The Collect

God our Father,
whose Son enjoyed the love of his friends,
Mary, Martha and Lazarus,
in learning, argument and hospitality:
may we so rejoice in your love
that the world may come to know
the depths of your wisdom,
the wonder of your compassion,
and your power to bring life out of death;
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
our friend and brother,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Reflection for Wednesday 27th July 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Matthew 13 44-46 Jeremiah 15 10, 16-E Psalm 59 1-4, 18-E July 27

Matthew 13
44 ¶ “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

REFLECTION
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to hidden treasure in a field. It reminds us of the metal detector enthusiasts hoping to find treasure by wandering about in fields. Sometimes they find something, sometimes not, but they are all hoping for that incredible find that will be worth millions. The second example of a merchant finding a pearl of great value reminds me of the wonderful episode in Only Fools and Horses, where Del Boy hopes to strike it rich and one day be a millionaire. It turns out he has it already in the form of a special watch. But he doesn’t realise it’s worth.

The first example is about wandering about, searching everywhere, but not really knowing what to look for. Many people are searching to fill their “God slot”. They know there is something missing but in spite of searching everywhere, they can’t find it. They have a spiritual need but do not see it in the organised church. They try to use different “detectors” to no avail. It is only when they sell all they have, i.e. turn from their old life to follow Jesus, that they find that treasure.

The second example is about not realising that you have that treasure. We can make that mistake even when we have given our life to God. We can underestimate the change that new life brings by carrying on with life in much the same way as before, not changing very much, just simply going to church on a Sunday. Jesus says that is not enough. We have to “sell everything”. Our lives have to be changed every day of our Christian walk. No dropping back.

Each day thanking God for the treasure that we have in our relationship with the Almighty God who loves and cares too much to let us to go back to our old ways.

COLLECT Trinity 6
Merciful God,
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you in all things and above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
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 Friday 22 July 2022

Nigel Price

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Today we celebrate St Mary Magdalene.

John 20.1-2, 11-18

The Resurrection of Jesus

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Reflection

Throughout school and university I was pretty much always known as ‘Price’. When I started work, things were a little more relaxed and suddenly I was being called Nigel, even in formal situations.  Something a little like that change happens here. Up to now God has been ‘the father’ or ‘my father’ and the followers of Jesus were ‘servants, disciples or friends’.  Now suddenly they are referred to as ‘brothers’ and it is ‘my father and your father’.  This is a new relationship and the disciples are being called into a new world, much as I found myself in a new world all those years ago.  Now they can know God and be intimate children with him.

And as this happens, Mary stands there, weeping.  Perhaps something in the news this week has caused you to weep.  Think back to it.  Stand there with Mary and cry those tears again, together.  Don’t be hasty, but savour the moment.  Bend down to look into that empty tomb with her.  And then the surprise, be comforted as Jesus speaks to you; calls you by your name.  Tell him why you are weeping and listen to him as he speaks.  Feel his healing power as it brushes over you on its way to that situation that preys on your mind.  And know that you have just made a very small but significant change in the world.

And so we pray the Collect for St Mary Magdalene:

The Collect

Almighty God,
whose Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of mind and body
and called her to be a witness to his resurrection:
forgive our sins and heal us by your grace,
that we may serve you in the power of his risen life;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
 now and for ever. Amen

Reflection for Wednesday 20th July 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Jeremiah 1: 1, 4-10 Psalm 70 Matthew 13: 1-9 July 20

Jeremiah 1
1 ¶ The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
4 ¶ The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”
7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

REFLECTION
In Luke 10 verse 2, Jesus says to the 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.”

Particularly in small church congregations, we regularly pray for more workers. At the church we attended in Derbyshire, we prayed for more people to come to church. After a while we realised that we needed to pray, but not just for more people, instead we needed to pray specifically for mature Christians to come and join us. It took a long while for the prayers to be answered, but then we began to see them coming. A group from a Professional Christian Rock Band joined us and brought with them their friends and families. They were young, had young children and they were full of energy!

With a congregation of older members, when people are asked, “Would you like to be on a committee, or help with an activity?” the response often is, “I would like to, and I have done that before, for many years, but now I just don’t have the energy that I used to have.”

In the passage from Jeremiah, he is a young man. He protests that he doesn’t have the experience. He feels he is too young for what God is asking and older people will not listen to him. When we are older, we need young people to stir us up. We get stuck in our ways. You can imagine how a Christian Rock Band stirred us up. We didn’t suddenly start singing Rock Music in our Sunday Services, but their enthusiasm was infectious to all of us. And their special young people’s events were tremendous.

When Jeremiah protested, God said to him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”

At those times when, you are asked to take on something you don’t think you are capable of, think of Jeremiah. And if you pray and God is saying, yes, this what want you to do, then it doesn’t matter how much you protest, God has a plan for you, and he says do not be afraid. He is with you.

Is God telling you about something now?

COLLECT Trinity 5
Almighty God,
send down upon your Church
the riches of your Spirit,
and kindle in all who minister the gospel
your countless gifts of grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reflection for Monday 18th July 2022

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The Gospel – Matthew 12 verses 38 to 42

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.

Reflection

When I looked at the gospel reading for today I thought – this looks familiar – and sure enough it is the same reading I have reflected on for the third Monday in July both in 2020 and 2021- so I hope you will not mind re-visiting last year’s in particular.

Whenever I think about signs from God, I think about the Ignatian Prayer of Examen -the reflective prayer that helps us to look back over a period of time – a day – a week – a month – whatever we choose – and try to discern the signs of God’s presence in our lives.

God is always with us, in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary – but we don’t always notice him or see his signs. Many of you by now will be familiar with this prayer – but in case it might be new to you – or as a refresher – I thought today was a good opportunity to have a quiet reflection and see where we have seen the signs of God in our lives over the past day or so.

So first of all, choose somewhere comfortable to be, where you won’t be disturbed and take some time to become still. Choose something like listening to all the sounds you can hear around you for a few minutes, or focussing on your breathing or concentrating on the different sensations you can feel in your body.

When you feel ready, become aware of God’s presence with you and review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.

Ask for God’s light and pray that he will show you what has been most significant.  Gently notice what catches your attention. There is no need to work too hard at remembering every single thing – let what will emerge.

Now reflect on your feelings during the day. Notice particularly moments of life, energy, joy, love, compassion – these are feelings Ignatius calls being “drawn towards God”. Notice too moments that seemed drained of life, full of confusion, distress or dis-ease or when you felt you were being drawn away from God.

And then, ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to one thing during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Go deeper into this moment. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.

How did you react to it at the time? How might you want to respond to God about it now? What would you want to say to him? What is he saying to you? The Ignatian way here is “to talk with Jesus as you would with a friend”.

End your prayer, by looking forward and ask God to give you light for tomorrow. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.

I hope, as you pray this prayer, that you will notice how God has been with you at different times during the day even though you may not have been fully aware of him at the time. Unlike the Pharisees who were asking Jesus to perform a sign to order – in re-living his presence with us over the day we see that Jesus himself is the sign – present always in our lives.

Collect for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God,

by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified:

hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,

that in their vocation and ministry

they may serve you in holiness and truth

to the glory of your name;

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Friday reflection from Nigel Price

Reflection for Friday 15th July 2022

Today we celebrate St Swithun , Bishop of Winchester for ten years in the 800s. But, rather than that, we all know that the weather on St Swithun’s Day will hold for the next 40 days, so we look set for a dry spell!

Matthew 12.1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
Jesus replied, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for them to eat, but only for the priests.
Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and yet are innocent? But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.
If only you had known the meaning of ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Reflection

The Pharisees were a bit like the investigative journalists of our current time, on the trail of someone doing good who they wish to ‘catch out’.  To discredit and remove from the running. Because everyone has something to be ‘discovered’.  So they ask about the behaviour of his followers, in the same way perhaps that there has been a lot of attention to ‘parties’ recently.

But Jesus doesn’t take the easy route of explaining, well they were hungry and maybe human hunger trumps the sabbath law. He raises the stakes much higher, bringing King David into the equation.  He challenges them, reminding them what David did in the temple, bursting in and giving the consecrated bread to his men who needed food.  This is not just using an excuse to get around a law, it is not saying that people are more important than things, it is saying that Jesus and his followers are more important than the Temple.

And in saying that he is claiming that he is the true King and that he and his followers matter more than the Temple and all that goes on in it.  No wonder the Pharisees were so incensed.

Are we trying to uphold systems today in our community above the needs of real human beings?  And what would it mean for the son of man to be the master of them?

And so we pray the Collect for St Swithun:

The Collect

Almighty God,
by whose grace we celebrate again
the feast of your servant Swithun:
grant that, as he governed with gentleness
the people committed to his care,
so we, rejoicing in our Christian inheritance,
may always seek to build up your Church in unity and love;
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 Wednesday 13th July 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Matthew 11: 25-27 July 13

Matthew 11
25 ¶ At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

REFLECTION
I say that I don’t want to lose my child-like faith. When I say this, the reply comes back that it is important to study the full meanings in the Bible. To explore more about the background. I shouldn’t be content to be like a child. I need to grow as a Christian and not stay as a child in my faith.
Hebrews 5: 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

What I mean is that, I am sure of my faith in Jesus. I am happy to study and find out more by reading the Bible, but the core of my faith is that Jesus died on the cross to turn me from my sinful life, and he rose again that I can have a new life and relationship with God. That is the most important thing. The studies are an extra. In any loving relationship we want to find out more about each other, but love is what holds us together.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Jesus says in today’s reading, verse 25, God has hidden things from the wise and the learned. No matter how much study, how clever we think we are, the most important thing is to know the core of our belief in God’s love through Jesus’ sacrifice. If I lose that, then no amount of study will get it back.

Then in Verse 27, it says that no-one knows God like the Son and those whom the Son chooses to reveal to them. God is beyond our understanding. How could we possibly fully understand God! No amount of study can fully bridge that gap, only faith in Jesus can. And I don’t want to lose that basic, child-like, faith.

One of the reasons I like being in the Church of England is that we get non-believers in church as times. They come for weddings, funerals, baptisms. They also come just to light a candle and pray, or simply to wander into church. We mustn’t be so overbearingly preachy that we put them off, but neither should we downplay our faith in God’s saving Grace through Jesus. The Holy Spirit has brought them in, even if they don’t really know why, now we have our part to play.

COLLECT
God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reflection for Monday 11th July 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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I was very interested to read Sajid Javid’s account of his resignation and what had put the thought into his mind. It came, I understand, whilst listening to a sermon at a prayer breakfast event at Parliament, and the sermon was on the importance of integrity in public life. And God’s Word spoke to him, and he acted on that which he heard. So those of us who pray for our leaders and those in authority, we can be thankful that our prayers have been answered, that God’s word spoke. Now, Sajid Javid is a non-practising Muslim by faith. However, his wife is described as a churchgoing Christian; not just a Christian, but a churchgoing Christian! And he has admitted that the only faith practised in their household is Christian. And so we pray that the witness of a faithful Christian wife, as the Scripture says, will be doing its work in the life of Sajid Javid and his responsibilities in government.

Our reading is about faith in family life. It’s from Matthew Chapter ten, beginning at verse 34. (NIV)

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,

    a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

So families can be a place where we learn faith and share faith and support each other in faith and bring each other to faith. This is certainly true for me as my elder sister’s Christian witness and encouragement to me brought me to a place of faith. But, families can also be places where there is tension over faith. Sometimes our faith is undermined by our family commitments, by the values that our families have that we perhaps own just out of inheritance. Jesus says here that our priority as Christians is first to follow Jesus and then to our families. And we pray, don’t we, that those two aims following Jesus and looking after our family might be the same. But if push comes to shove, when the chips are down, (whatever metaphor you want to use), Jesus comes first.

Jesus doesn’t necessarily come to bring peace in our lives. I hope you enjoy a peaceful life. I hope you have significant relationships around you, as do I. I have relationships that are supportive and encouraging in my life and in my faith. I hope you also have some degree of comfort. However, this text reminds us that these are not given. These are not to be promised. Because our peace will be compromised, if we follow Jesus Christ, it will bring us into places of conflict. As we seek to prioritize our faith and the values that that faith brings as we encounter those, those even in our own families, who do not wish to hold those values.

But Jesus encourages us. It is not all bad. Even if we were to lose our life in this world, we will find it in following Jesus Christ. verse 39. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life, for my sake will find us. Find it?

Help us, Lord Jesus, to put our lives into the perspective of our faith and the faith in the cross. We thank you for our families. And we thank you for the privilege of family life and love and friendship. But help us to remember, Lord, that our first priority and loyalty is to you and to all that you call us to be as children of God. Amen.

Gracious Father,

by the obedience of Jesus

you brought salvation to our wayward world:

draw us into harmony with your will,

that we may find all things restored in him,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Reflection for Friday, 8th July 2022

Nigel Price

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Matthew 10.16-23

Behold, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  But beware of men; for they will hand you over to their councils and flog you in their synagogues.  On My account, you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to respond or what to say. In that hour 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 rise against their parents and have them put to death.  You will be hated by everyone because of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. Truly I tell you, you will not reach all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Reflection

I am not good on roller coasters – in fact I would never willingly go on one. It sort of started in my childhood, when my aunty, who was game for anything, took me to the fair and I was promptly sick on a fairly innocuous ride.  I rather think that the disciples would have felt like being on one of those rides that plummet vertically from a great height.  So far they have been going along with Jesus and at the start of this chapter they must have felt that things were going to be great, but with these words they are looking over a precipice. And there is no way back!

In our relatively comfortable existence in the Western world, we do not expect to be hauled off to court for what we believe, or be beaten up because we speak about Jesus. We certainly don’t expect to be before governors or monarchs charged with treason. We rather take it for granted that society is basically tolerant.

But the message of Jesus was truly revolutionary and his followers were thought to be dangerous.  And I wonder if the question we face today is not so much ‘isn’t it sad that the rest of the world is not as tolerant as we are?’, but rather ‘are we so complacent that Christianity is no longer seen as revolutionary and world changing?’

It is interesting that Jesus urges the disciples to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Christians may often find it difficult to be both, but without innocence, shrewdness becomes manipulative; whilst without shrewdness, innocence becomes naivety. We face different challenges and problems, but those qualities are what we need if we are going to share the work of Jesus in our world today.

And so we pray the Collect:

The Collect

God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Reflection for Wednesday July 6th 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Hosea 10 1-3, 7-8, 12 July 6

Hosea 10
1 ¶ How prosperous Israel is — a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit. But the richer the people get, the more pagan altars they build. The more bountiful their harvests, the more beautiful their sacred pillars.
2 The hearts of the people are fickle; they are guilty and must be punished. The LORD will break down their altars and smash their sacred pillars.
3 Then they will say, “We have no king because we didn’t fear the LORD. But even if we had a king, what could he do for us anyway?”
7 Samaria and its king will be cut off; they will float away like driftwood on an ocean wave.
8 And the pagan shrines of Aven, the place of Israel’s sin, will crumble. Thorns and thistles will grow up around their altars. They will beg the mountains, “Bury us!” and plead with the hills, “Fall on us!”
12 I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plough up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

REFLECTION
Are we better off when we have lots of money? There have been Lottery winners who have not managed it well and lost all the money. Where others have used the money for good causes and enjoyed the benefit of being able to do that. It depends on their character before they won the lottery.
This time of high price rises, is going to be very challenging for some people. Those with no savings who need every penny they can get just pay for essentials, are in a very different position from those who have savings and are simply able to cut back on luxuries. The programmes on TV that mix families of the two groups, or ask wealthy people to try and live on the small amount that some people have, are an eye-opener for many.

Well, in Hosea Chapter 10, we read about people who are rich in money but do not appreciate that they need to thank God for this. They are taking for granted that their life should be like it is. They believe they are entitled to their wealth and position. When young people mimic their parents’ attitudes and statements, but they haven’t yet learnt how to express those subtly, they just sound arrogant.

The people that Hosea was talking to were like that. They could not see what they were doing wrong. Their life was fine. They were happy with the gods of other nations and didn’t see the need to thank the one true God. We can smile at the thought of people worshipping a bronze or golden statue. But we sit and worship the TV in the living room. I don’t spend much time using a mobile phone, but I spend a lot of time using a laptop. (Writing this for instance!) It seems a distant memory that in an emergency we had to find a telephone box. I got my first mobile phone because I was a driving instructor and I realised that if we broke down or had an accident, my pupils would wonder why I hadn’t got a mobile phone. And in those days, there were still large areas where there was no coverage. I remember later on how the North Devon Link Road had parts with no signal. I can’t imagine travelling a long distance now without the security of my mobile phone.

I have just mentioned the word, “security”. Why is my security in a mobile phone rather than in God? I know he will never let me down. Jesus is always by my side through his Holy Spirit. And yet I say my phone is my security. Hosea is still speaking to us now. He prophesies the impending doom from relying on worldly gods. The things we value too highly and put above God in our lives.

Hosea in verse 12: I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plough up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

COLLECT Trinity 3
God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.