Reflection for Friday 11 November 2022

Nigel Price

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Psalm 119

The Glories of God’s Law

Happy are those whose way is blameless,
   who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
   who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
   but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts
   to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast
   in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
   having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
   when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I will observe your statutes;
   do not utterly forsake me.


Today we celebrate Martin of Tours; it is also Remembrance Day, when we remember at 11am the time when the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War on 11 November 1918.  The 11th November 2011 was also a special day, as it was when our younger son was married – in an Anglican church in Dubai where he was living and working at the time.  So it has often meant that we are away at this time of year, looking after children while the parents go away to celebrate; a special time for us as well, as we immerse ourselves into the children’s lives and activities.

Martin was born around 330 of pagan parents. His father was a soldier, who enlisted Martin in the army at the age of fifteen. One winter day he saw an ill-clad beggar at the gate of the city of Amiens. Martin had no money to give, but he cut his cloak in half and gave half to the beggar. In a dream that night, Martin saw Christ wearing the half-cloak. He had for some time considered becoming a Christian, and this ended his wavering. He was promptly baptized. At the end of his next military campaign, he asked to be released from the army, saying: “Hitherto I have faithfully served Caesar. Let me now serve Christ.” He was accused of cowardice, and offered to stand unarmed between the contending armies. He was imprisoned, but released when peace was signed.

At Poitiers he founded the first monastery in Gaul, which lasted until the French Revolution.  In 371 he was elected bishop of Tours. His was a mainly pagan diocese, but his instruction and personal manner of life prevailed. In one instance, the pagan priests agreed to fell their idol, a large fir tree, if Martin would stand directly in the path of its fall. He did so, and it missed him very narrowly.

He died on or about 11 November 397 and his shrine at Tours became a sanctuary for those seeking justice.

It is a happy coincidence that the Feast of Martin, a soldier who fought bravely and faithfully in the service of an earthly sovereign, and then enlisted in the service of Christ, is also the day of the Armistice which marked the end of the First World War. On it we remember all those who have risked or lost their lives in what they perceived as the pursuit of justice and peace.

And so we pray the Collect for Martin of Tours:

The Collect

God all powerful,
who called Martin from the armies of this world
to be a faithful soldier of Christ:
give us grace to follow him
in his love and compassion for the needy,
and enable your Church to claim for all people
their inheritance as children of God;
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 9th November 2022

Jon Ellis

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Psalm 23
1 ¶ [A psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23 is probably the best-known Psalm. Before David became king, he was a shepherd. He, of course, became famous because he used his shepherd’s skills to kill Goliath. Where everyone else was frightened of hand-to-hand combat with the fierce-some Philistine giant, David saw it from a different point of view. He was used to dealing with wild beasts coming to attack his sheep and he knew how to deal with them. He was very skilled with a sling-shot and stones. Simple effective weapons.

To David’s brothers on the battlefield, his confidence seemed foolish and arrogant. How could David fight with the enemy that they were afraid of! But therein lies the message we learn from David. His confidence was in God. God would show him the way. God would protect him.

So, King David’s psalms are full of references to the Lord being our shepherd. Just as David could face any danger in order to protect his sheep, because he knew the Lord would be with him. David practised his skills with sling-shot. He cared for every one of his sheep.

Psalm 23 uses all the situations of the shepherd: green pastures, quiet waters, and dangerous valleys. And contrasts them with God’s blessings, anointing, and love. Whatever happens to us in life, easy or difficult times, it is good to read this heart-filled psalm that David wrote, to remind us that God is always with us. We just have to turn to him.

Living Bible Version
23 Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!
2-3 He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honours him the most.
4 Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.
5 You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!
6 Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.

God, our refuge and strength,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
that earth may know the peace of heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reflection for Monday 7th November 2022

Nigel Price

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Today we celebrate Willibrord of York, Bishop and Apostle of Frisia.

WILLIBRORD (658–739), pioneer of the English missionaries who crossed the seas to proclaim the gospel to the non-Christian peoples of the continent of Europe. Born in Northumbria, Willibrord as a boy came under the influence of the great Wilfrid, archbishop of York. From 678 to 690 he was in Ireland, and while there he became filled with the desire, which never left him, to preach the gospel to non-Christians.
In 690 Willibrord went to Friesland in the Netherlands, which became his home for forty-nine years. Pepin I gave Willibrord the land near Utrecht on which later Willibrord was to build his cathedral. In 695 he was consecrated archbishop by the pope, who intended to establish Utrecht as a regular province of the church with archbishop and diocesan bishops. This goal was never attained, and after the death of Willibrord, Utrecht gradually lost its importance.

None of the correspondence of Willibrord has survived, and we have hardly anything from his hand. This makes it difficult to get a clear idea of his personality and his work. He seems to have been characterized not so much by brilliance as by steadfast continuance in the work that he had set himself to do. It is clear that his aims were greater than his achievements. He penetrated Denmark and brought back thirty boys who presumably were to be trained as missionaries to their own people, but nothing came of this. It is not clear whether he ever consecrated other bishops. He did, however, in 698 found the Monastery of Echternach in Luxembourg, which later became a great centre of missionary work.
Willibrord opened a door to the evangelists of the rising English church, worked out a model of what a missionary should be, and set an example followed by many successors. The churches in the Netherlands are right in regarding him as the apostle of Frisia and the founder of the church in their land.
I suppose the conclusion from this short summary of a venerated saint’s life is that there is hope for us all. There is nothing wrong in aiming high, and if we do not reach the heights we have set for ourselves, there is nothing to be ashamed about, since we have tried and we have got as far as we are able. And we may encourage by our actions others to achieve greater things.

God, the Saviour of all,
you sent your bishop Willibrord from this land
to proclaim the good news to many peoples
and confirm them in their faith:
help us also to witness to your steadfast love by word and deed
so that your Church may increase and grow strong in holiness;
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 4th November 2022

Nigel Price

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John 16.12-15

‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


Perhaps when you have been in Exeter and walking between the Cathedral and the cafes around the Green you may have spotted a statue. It is of Richard Hooker. Yesterday we remembered the anniversary of his death in 1600 at the relatively early age of 46.

The statue, of white marble, was erected in 1907 depicting the ‘judicious Hooker’ seated with his book. Richard was born in Heavitree in 1554 and educated at Exeter Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He became an Anglican priest and influential theologian; his work during the Reformation helped shape England and some see him as the father of Anglicanism.

he book that rests on his knee in the middle of the Cathedral Green is ‘Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity’ in which he urges that the newly formed Anglican Church should ‘hold up the highest ideal of a church rooted in antiquity, ever studious in Scriptural and primitive Christianity, and, at the same time, large minded, open and tolerant’. Wise words then and words that the church would do well to take heed of in our present unsettled times.

The Collect
God of peace, the bond of all love,
who in your Son Jesus Christ +-
have made the human race your inseparable dwelling place:
after the example of your servant Richard Hooker,
give grace to us your servants ever to rejoice
in the true inheritance of your adopted children
and to show forth your praises now and ever;
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 2nd November 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Revelation 2: 12-E Daniel 2: 25-E Ps 119: 153-E Wednesday Nov 2

Revelation 2
12 ¶ “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.
13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.
15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
18 ¶ “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.
23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you):
25 Only hold on to what you have until I come.
26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—
27 ‘He will rule them with an iron sceptre; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’— just as I have received authority from my Father.
28 I will also give him the morning star.
29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Today is All Saints Day. The Reading is from Revelation written by John who was one of Jesus’s disciples. In the Gospel of John, he uses the phrase “The disciple whom Jesus loved”. Now in his old age he tells us his visions and dreams. He was in exile on the island of Patmos. Revelation is written in “apocalyptic” form – a type of Jewish literature that uses symbolic imagery to communicate hope in the ultimate triumph of God to those who are being persecuted.

Do you have dreams? I remember speaking to someone who was shocked when I said I didn’t dream. Apparently, there are all sorts of reasons for that. I do dream now.

What do you dream about? I don’t know about you, but my dreams are a weird mixture of visions that seem to somehow relate to situations I have been in or think about. They are not like John’s. His visions are about the seven churches in persecution. His sees the glorified Christ. A vision of the future – judgement and ultimate triumph of God over evil.

John was, by this time, in his seventies. The age that many of us in church are. Recently we have had many funerals of people our age. It certainly brings into focus our mortality. What are my visions? What do I see as important for the years I have ahead. On the Christmas card I get from one of my cousins, she tells me of the latest place in the world she has visited this year. She says that next year she plans to visit another country because she hasn’t been there yet. I have no desires like that. I don’t have that sort of dream.

Writing these Reflections has been something new for me. When John was exiled, he must have spent much time thinking and writing. If that had happened to me, I would probably have spent the time walking all around the island admiring the scenery. I wouldn’t have studied or written much at all. But it is important to consider what we do with our lives. Especially as we start seeing people that we know reaching the end of our lives on earth. The last time we went to the crematorium it was for a humanist funeral. Apparently, most of them are now. John’s warnings and hope of end times and still just as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.

Almighty God,
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:
grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living
that we may come to those inexpressible joys
that you have prepared for those who truly love 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.

Reflection for Monday 31st October 2022

The Rev’d Alison Roberts

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A reflection for the last day of October just before we slip into the gathering darkness as November sneaks in on us and catches our senses by surprise.

Luke 14: 12-14  NRSV

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers and sisters or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

I love to organise a party or gathering with friends and dear ones. But in our Gospel reading this morning Jesus is challenging us to think about who we include in our lives and who we don’t and why we don’t.

It’s easy to imagine that inviting the folk we know and love best and want to sit
around our table and share food and laughter is a good plan. But Jesus is
challenging us to open ourselves up equally to those we don’t know as well as
those we do.

But as usual Jesus longs for us to see the bigger picture, to use his metaphor, we
need to extend our invitation lists and increase our capacity to meet with one
another and learn to appreciate and love one another.

You can read this passage as literally being all about throwing parties with Jesus

wanting to check our invitation lists, or you can maybe see a bigger picture. Of Jesus encouraging  us to  extend  our hearts and  to  embrace a world  where everyone, everyone is included; surely that would be God’s Kingdom on earth!

The original painting is mural sized, was created in public during a multi-day international conference organised by the Joni and Friends Organisation, where it hangs today. Models for the painting were attending the conference people with actual disabilities, powerfully staged for the occasion.

‘Joni and Fiends’ is a Christian organisation that has been advancing disability ministry and changing the church and communities around the world since 1979.

‘Sometimes we meet a stranger whose world is so different from ours that we begin to question our own. When we engage in dialogue with someone from another culture or economic class, we can get a glimpse of what our culture, class or ourselves look like from the perspective of that other person. This is always a humbling experience; it shows that many of the things we have taken for granted are arbitrary and that others have consequences that we never realised. When this happens, two types of changes occur. The ‘inward’ change is to call into question our concept of self: the ‘outward’ change is to restructure our political beliefs and practices.’ (Barnett Pearce 1994)

Patient Lord, we know that all our destinations are the same no matter who we are, we are on a journey that is bringing us all together in the end and we know that no one gets ‘home’ until we all get there together…..

God of our hearts,

So much has happened
So much has changed to us Lord….
We’ve known death and birth;
We’ve been brave and scared;
We’ve hurt, we’ve helped;
We’ve been honest, we’ve lied;
We’ve destroyed, we’ve created;
We’ve been with people, we’ve been lonely;
We’ve been loyal, we’ve betrayed;
We’ve decided, we’ve waffled;
We’ve laughed and we’ve cried
You know our frail hearts and our frayed history –
And now another day begins…..
O God, help us to believe in beginnings
And in our beginning again,
No matter how often we’ve failed before.
Lord help us to make beginnings;
To begin going out of our weary minds into fresh dreams,
Daring to make our own bold tracks in the land of now,

To begin forgiving, that we experience mercy.
To begin questioning the unquestionable, that we may know truth. To begin disciplining, that we may create beauty.

To begin sacrificing, that we may accomplish justice.
To begin risking, that we may make peace.
To begin loving, that we may realise joy.
Help us to be a beginning for others,
To be a singer to the songless.
A storyteller to the aimless,
a befriender of the friendless.

To become a beginning of hope for the despairing, of assurance for the doubting.
Of reconciliation for the divided, to become a beginning of freedom for the oppressed. Of comfort for the sorrowing, of friendship for the forgotten.
To become a beginning of beauty for the forlorn, of sweetness for the soured. Of gentleness for the angry, of wholeness for the broken.
Of peace for the frightened and violent of the earth.
Lord help us to believe in beginnings,
To make a beginning.
To be a beginning, so that we may not just grow old, but grow new each day of this wild, amazing life
You call us to live, with the passion of Jesus Christ. Amen

Reflection for Monday 24th October 2022

Nigel Price

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Romans 15.1-6

Please Others, Not Yourselves

We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbour for the good purpose of building up the neighbour. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Yesterday was Bible Sunday and this is one of the readings set for the day.  Paul is urging the young church in Rome, which he has never visited, to put aside their disagreements and remain united and focussed on what is of utmost importance – the spreading of the Gospel.  He asks them not to indulge their own preferences but to put their friends and neighbours first.  There was a big argument going on about whether the Laws on eating and drinking should be enforced, but in truth the Law has no power to save us; it just tells us where we fall short.  And Paul was always turning to the Old Testament scriptures for a continual reminder.  So how much richer are we, when we can turn to whole Bible for instruction.

What do you do to ensure that you receive a daily reminder of all the wealth of instruction contained in our Bibles?  I commend to you the various daily reading booklets that are available.  Have a browse in the Good Living bookshop in Bideford, or any other Christian Bookshop, to see if there is one that suits you.

And so we pray the Collect:

The Collect (Additional)

Merciful God,
teach us to be faithful in change
and uncertainty,
that trusting in your word
and obeying your will
we may enter the unfailing joy
of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reflection for Friday 28th October 2022

Nigel Price

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Ephesians 2.19-22

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.


Paul says that the Gentiles are no longer foreigners, but full members of the family of God.  The Greek word he uses for foreigner is xenos and they were to be found in every Greek city.  Their life was not easy.  One wrote ‘it is better for you to be in your own homes, whatever they may be like, than to be in a strange land’.  The foreigner was always regarded with suspicion and dislike.  They were always on the fringe.

Imagine someone feeling lonely in a strange city, walking out in the streets in the evening, hoping to meet someone for company.  He sees a family sitting round their table or fire, lights on, in happy fellowship.  And as he looks in the curtains are closed and he feels shut out, even more alone.

There are many in this country who are experiencing these feelings.  But, as Paul says, this must not happen in the family of God.  It must not happen in our churches.  However tempting it is to put up barriers, close our doors, hide behind our Communion tables keeping the sacred places only for our own members, however tempting it is we must resist.  God is not exclusive, even if his churches sometimes try to be.

The unity of the church comes not from our organisation, our rituals, our liturgy; it comes from Christ.  Where Christ is, there is the church.  The church exists to provide a home where the Spirit of Christ can dwell and where all people who love Christ may meet in that Spirit.  Let’s all try to show that love even to the strangers and aliens.

And so we pray the Collect:

The Collect (Additional)

Almighty God,
who built your Church
upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone:
so join us together in unity of spirit by their doctrine,
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to 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

Reflection for Wednesday 26th October 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Ephesians 6 1-9 Luke 13 22-30 Psalm 145 10-20 Oct 26

Ephesians 6
1 ¶ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
2 “Honour your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise
3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
6 Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,
8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.

As we get older, our children do too. No longer is it a case of telling them how to behave because we know best. Now they start to tell us what they think if best for us. Our relationship changes. When our children were young, they lived with us, then they moved out to have their own homes. They married and their family was now their partner and their children. As grandparents we began a new role. Sometimes that involved being the baby sitter. Sometimes, that took over our lives. The cherished retirement became tied to school times and holidays.

Then there comes a time when our children can start to be concerned for our well-being. Maybe it would be better if we moved nearer to them so they can keep an eye out for us. Do we leave our friends to move many miles away where our children live?

The next stage is the decision that we don’t want to burden our children. Should we go into a nursing home? The costs are horrendous and we will have to sell the house. But that was a nest egg to bequeath to our children…
Do we stay at home and refuse advice? “I can manage” even when I can’t really.

Or there is the horror of dementia. Will I be unable to think properly and be a huge problem for my partner and children? What do I think about assisted suicide?

Well, today’s reading says that what is important is, that we to care for each other. It doesn’t matter what the relationship is, the right question is, “Am I considering other people, or only myself?”

COLLECT Last Trinity
Merciful God,
teach us to be faithful in change and uncertainty,
that trusting in your word
and obeying your will
we may enter the unfailing joy of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflection for Friday 21st October 2022

Nigel Price

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Ephesians 4.1-6

Unity in the Body of Christ

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.


This Sunday is Bible Sunday – more of that on Monday – but one of our hymns at St Mary’s will be ‘Thou whose almighty word’.  It continues ‘chaos and darkness heard’, and whatever your political persuasion there can be no denying that over the last six weeks we have endured chaos.  That state of affairs seems like to continue for at least another week as the Conservatives scrabble to find a new leader.  Interviews for the post of Team Rector will be held next month and it is important that we do not fall into the same trap of thinking that we have to choose the best candidate from those who apply.  It is imperative that that we choose the right person and that means that if none of them are ‘right’ we do not appoint and we advertise again.  That would be disappointing, but is so much better than appointing the wrong person!

Paul, writing to the Ephesians, sets out the basis on which Christianity is founded – unity.  There is one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.  One God.  In everything there is God – a God-created, God-controlled, God-sustained, God-filled world.  That may be hard to assimilate at the moment, but sometime things have to descend into chaos before ‘chaos and darkness heard and took their flight’.  Christians can rely on that sure and certain hope which, in faith, will bring us through the storms.  So we pray:


God, our judge and saviour,
teach us to be open to your truth
and to trust in your love,
that we may live each day
with confidence in the salvation
which is given through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen