Thursday 21st September
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5: 7-10
Reflection: Today is the UN annual International Day of Peace - a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. Never has our world needed peace more.
This year’s theme is Actions for Peace: a call to action that recognises our individual and collective responsibility to foster peace, with the ambition that fostering peace will contribute to creating a culture of peace for all.
António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, says that, "Peace is needed today more than ever. War and conflict are unleashing devastation, poverty, and hunger, and driving tens of millions of people from their homes. Climate chaos is all around. And even peaceful countries are gripped by gaping inequalities and political polarization."
The Archbishop of Canterbury reflects that, “Peace-building is creating an architecture through which peace can develop: processes, structures, relationships and values that lead towards - even incentivise - non-violent action and disagreeing well, reducing or removing the drivers of violent conflict.
It points to the peace that Christians believe Jesus has enabled in our relationship with God and which he will bring to the world. Making peace is a key part of the identity of the God we follow. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says ‘blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ When we create peace, we show our family resemblance, mirroring God’s own identity.”
Yesterday’s reflection (as today’s is not yet online) by Archbishop Justin on the UN Peace Day in this week of praying for Peace:
(Hope this accessible even for non-Insta users)
Music for worship with prompts for prayer: The Blessing movingly sung in Ukrainian with subtitles in English and prompts for our prayers for peace. Sung (2022) by Light Up Worship.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPLwVQIOqWM
Prays for Ukraine:
For the people, rural and urban, of all faiths and none
For the security of those who are staying… and the safety of those who are fleeing
For President Zelenskyy, city mayors, and other political leaders
For our brothers and sisters in Christ, churches and church leaders
For the military, voluntary and emergency services
For the international community to support Ukraine appropriately
Image for the UN International Day of Peace:
Thursday 14th September
Bible Reading: For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch… No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married… I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. Isaiah 62:1,4,6-7 (NIVUK)
Reflection: On the 5th September 1999 was the first prayer room that became the start of the 24/7 prayer movement.
Pete Grieg, the unwitting founder of the movement wrote on the 5th September this year: “It seems fitting to thank God for that first unsuspecting prayer room which has somehow spread into the lives of more than two million people, in more than 12,000 locations, most denominations, and more than half the nations on earth, catalysing many new communities and ministries like Prayer Spaces in Schools, 24-7 Ibiza, the Order of the Mustard Seed, and of course this one: Lectio 365.
These words, more than any other passage in the entire Bible, helped us find our bearings when 24-7 Prayer suddenly, unexpectedly, began spreading around the world. Perhaps we weren’t completely mad. Maybe God was stationing us as ‘watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem’, mobilising non-stop prayer… Christ had an all-consuming passion for a house of prayer, and, in that first prayer room, I think we were catching something of that same passion as we prayed night and day ‘for Zion’s sake… till her vindication shines out like the dawn.’
The task of watchmen on the walls of any city is not just to cry out but to look out; not just to speak but to see the approaching heralds and harbingers before anyone else. What signs can I see, however far off, that God might be approaching, preparing to intervene?”
As part of Pete Grieg’s own personal walk with God, earlier this year on the 11th of June he embarked on a 300-mile pilgrimage from the Holy Island of Iona to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, following in the footsteps of the 7th century Celtic Saint, St Aidan. To dip into, or follow Pete along the entirety of his pilgrimage – just click this link Pete Greig’s pilgrimage along St Aidan’s Way
Thursday 7th September
Bible Reading: The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
From there he went on towards the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
Then Abram set out and continued towards the Negev.
Where there came a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. Genesis 12: 3-9
Reflection: Abraham is called the Father of the Jewish nation… and what a wonderful paternal example he has shown them, and us. Even at 75 Abram, still not yet the father of Isaac, he and Sarai set out for a new beginning. This new beginning must have seemed perilously daunting – yet Abram and Sarai went – and in doing so God was with them, with them in a new place, as they made a fresh start… not one that was without its issues or problems, but they were prepared to up-sticks, and move again, to a place where they would experience the next step in what God had in store for them.
It was a pretty drastic, definitely a life-changing step – we’re not all called to pack up and move to a new location… Most of the time the new beginnings are more inevitable, new school, finishing education, or are part of life’s plan – marriage children, jobs… but whatever they are, all new beginnings bring change and are new beginnings that we do with God, God with us.
Then too, September is also a time for new beginnings beyond our personal lives – our country, our world, needs us to step up. There are challenges that we must face afresh as citizens of both the UK and of the world. Now is the time to pick up the challenges of poverty here at home, but also the incredible debt that has built up again across the world – do you remember the Make Poverty History Campaign? We were fortunate to be at Greenbelt on the Friday of Bank Holiday – it’s 50th year – and Gordon Brown challenged us to campaign again for the industrialised countries to write off the huge debt of the developing world and we were challenged as Christians to campaign here at home for a more equal society – which will inevitably mean sacrifices for those of us who are currently comfortably off… how prepared are we to put our faith in action?
Worship through music: The power of Your love written (1992) by Geoff Bullock, sung (2013) by Hillsong https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9_0jiO5ZRM
Thursday 31st August
Welcome to a bumper edition as summer comes to its conclusion and today it really feels like autumn is on its way! Our study groups are up and running and soon our harvest thanksgivings will begin…
Firstly an update: Tom’s current total from his epic bike ride is £5,200… and the total keeps rising! Many, many thanks to all!
Bible Reading: He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. Mark 16: 15-20
Reflection: Today, is the 31st August, the day when we think of St Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne - a great example and challenge for our lives today. He died on this day in the year 651 AD.
Aidan was born in Ireland - not much else is known about his early life.
At the request of King Oswald, he was sent as a missionary to Northumbria, but prior to Aidan – the missionary Corman had been sent… he returned claiming he had had no success in his missionary work, that the people were unteachable and too stubborn! It is said that Aidan criticised the methods used by Corman, suggesting perhaps Corman should have taken a gentler approach… and so Aidan went out as a missionary.
He worked closely with King Oswald, who is said to have acted as his interpreter.
Aidan’s approach to mission had an enthusiasm for preaching coupled with a concern for the poor - he was renowned for his charitable acts. As well as founding churches and monasteries, he was involved in ministerial training and sought to strengthen the faith of those he met, however rich or poor.
He is described as a humble man who was loved and respected.
What an amazing guy with great relevance to us today!
Firstly, he travelled ceaselessly…. spreading the Good News to both Anglo-Saxon nobility and the socially disenfranchised. Aidan models love, care and desire to spread the gospel to the whole of society across all social divides – from the richest to the poorest – no one excluded and, apparently, Aidan ‘patiently talked to people at their own level’. This idea is crucial as we strive to be church that is inclusive and accessible, it means meeting people as they are, discerning their needs, being patient and showing no judgement. This is how Jesus spoke to many of those whom he encountered in his ministry – he met them as they were, spoke to them sometimes with reassurance, sometimes using parables and contexts people could easily relate to, and then sometimes he challenged or rebuked when necessary… but no one was excluded and people were spoken to with love, respect and care.
While not all of us are called to spread the gospel in such an explicit way as Aidan, we are all called to bear witness to that Gospel message in the way we live our lives - in love and service to all people.
Secondly, Corman returned having given up, saying the people were too stubborn, unteachable and unresponsive. So, (phew!) it isn’t about trying to convert everyone we meet… rather it’s about not giving up on people, meeting people as they are but, more than that, the idea of not giving up on people is important as we reach out to people around us… not constant nagging/bombarding – but rather making sure we are there if people need us, that our backs are not turned and that we haven’t closed a door and walked away.
Thirdly, Aidan was charitable and dedicated to the less fortunate. He gave his time, his respect and perhaps most importantly his love to those on the margins of society – we, too, are ALL called, first and foremost, to love.
Jesus demonstrated these same qualities, touching the untouchable, giving hope to the hopeless and seeking out the lost.
Where do we see those who are in need? How can we meet people as they are? How can we not turn our backs? How can we give charitably, whether financially or otherwise? Can we use Aidan’s example to reach out to those around us and bear witness to unconditional love of God in our own lives?
Prayer: The collect for St Aidan:
you sent the gentle bishop Aidan
to proclaim the gospel in this land;
grant us to live as he taught
in simplicity, humility and love for the poor;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord
Worship through music: Aidan’s Song © Anna Raine; uploaded by the Northumbrian Community for 31st August 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJrUXyeOx1s
Thursday 24th August
The Teddy Bear’s Picnic in aid of the David Nott Foundation: raised £1,160!! AND on top of that the Romsey Ukulele Group donated £500 directly to the Foundation a great success and many thanks to ALL who supported the event!
Watch out for an article coming soon in the Romsey Advertiser written by Elly Nott
David Nott is now back in Ukraine and is currently teaching another batch of 60+ surgeons - the money we raised will be well spent! THANK YOU!
Bible Reading:Psalm 31 (extracts)
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God…
14 But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.’
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
17 Let me not be put to shame, Lord,
for I have cried out to you...
19 How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
‘I am cut off from your sight!’
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.
Reflection: Some reflections of what we have observed and as Christians could learn from the Lionesses:
1. They have shown us that there is joy in following our calling.
We too can find joy in serving where we are put.
2. They are a great lesson in resilience and hope in hard circumstances – like us they experienced off days - like them, we too can pick ourselves up and not let it get to us.
3. They showed us that overcoming adversity involves realising our interdependence - we are team, we are family and as such are stronger when we pull together.
4. We saw that leadership is important… let’s pray for our leaders: church wardens, Tom, Bishops, Archbishops… those that lead our groups - of all ages and stages, those that lead and preach.
5. They demonstrate the benefit of building a positive legacy - we are aways building the church of tomorrow… forming firm foundations and growing leaders.
Worship through music: Joy of the Lord written (2015) and recorded (2021) by Rend Collectivehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCtXS5kAEow
Thursday 17th August
Bible Reading: He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” Matthew 13:24-30
Reflection: Three and a half weeks ago our Sunday morning passage was the Parable of the Weeds amongst the Wheat. Since then, with apologies to those who already knew, I have discovered something new and thought I would share it. It gives a very different angle to the passage from the interpretation I spoke on!
The word translated ‘weeds’ is apparently a specific plant called ‘darnel’. It has been called ‘wheat's evil twin’ because, as it grows, it looks almost exactly like wheat, but its seeds can make you dizzy, off-balance and nauseous. Throughout human history, darnel has been both ‘a menace, and [an] intoxicant’. Small doses can give you a high, but large doses can be fatal! Thankfully the servants in this story can differentiate between the growth of God's Kingdom and the alluring substitutes that are ultimately harmful.
Worship through music: Thy Kingdom Come, O God written (1867) by Lewis Hensley, tune 'St Cecilia', written (1863) by Leighton George Hayne, sung by the choir of St Mary's Collegiate Church, up loaded with video background by Chet Valley Churches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3S9faT7odc
Thursday 10th August
Bible Reading:Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.’
He told them still another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough.’
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.’ Matthew 13:31-35
Reflection: Last Monday was the day when the church celebrates the life of Ignatius of Loyola. In his text of the Spiritual Exercises, he popularised the Examen (or examination of conscience), a prayer to help you see where God is active in your day, usually done for 15 to 20 minutes at the end of a day. It must have been quite a thing to envisage a sculpture about the examen? This sculpture depicts two identical figures of St. Ignatius. (The faces were created using a cast of St. Ignatius' death mask, kept in the Museum of the Church of the Gesù in Rome!)
Both figures are made of the same mould. Facing each other, their gaze is intense, staring at each other… staring at the same 'self'. One sculpture is white, the other one dark; the examen encourages us to look at the positives and the negatives of the day – in a good way. Notice the dancer-like pose that suggests how it is easy for us to dance around certain topics, events, shortcomings…
Saint Ignatius gave us these five steps to pray the examen every day, in order to notice God's presence more easily:
Presence: remembering that we're in the presence of God
Gratitude: recalling things that happened during the day for which we are especially grateful.
Review: reviewing our day from start to finish, noticing where we experienced God's presence.
Sorrow: reflecting on the things we regret doing and ask for forgiveness.
Grace: concluding by asking for God's grace for the next day.
Worship through music: Lord I Need You (2011) sung by Chris Tomlin, written by Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, and Matt Maher… a sort of a modern-day version of the hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour".
Thursday 3rd August
Bible Reading: Isaiah 45:1-8
‘This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armour,
to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
I will go before you and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honour,
though you do not acknowledge me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.
‘You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it;
I, the Lord, have created it.
Reflection: As I write this, the rain is pouring down. I've looked out the window for sightings of cats and dogs(!), but I've only seen raindrops!
Our son and daughter-in-law live in Manchester and they LOVE the rain! They like nothing more than an early Saturday morning walk in the Peak District clad in raincoats and walking boots!
But we are Southerners…
Do you like the rain?
We tend to not like rain very much. It gets in the way of our obsession with comfort. Rain gets in the way of the comfort and flexibility of a dry day. Rain gets in the way of what we wear, of dry shoes and our choice of clothes. Rain makes outdoor entertainment and activities difficult – rain makes school holidays expensive!
Few of us, our son and d-i-l excepted (!), look out the window on a rainy day and say, "What a great day!" But that's exactly what God's people in the Old Testament did. When you're living in desert-like places, a rainy day is a good day, a very good day – we got a tiny window into that in June!
In the Bible, rain is often used as a metaphor for blessing. The Bible talks about blessings raining down on us. Perhaps there's a connection between the way we tend to respond to rain and our response to blessing.
We associate rain with difficulty, failure, want – maybe causing us to question God’s love.
Yet God does bless us – often in surprising ways, maybe they don't always seem like a blessing – even the rain! Supposing we take a look out the window and thank God for the rain, asking for eyes to see the surprising blessings of the rain, both physically and spiritually?
Worship through music: Let it Rain (is there anybody)written and sung (2019) by Crowder with Mandisa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIlw7BInVw0
Thursday 27th July
Bible Reading: On the road to Emmaus
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. Luke 24:13–14
Reflection: The spirituality of small talk
I love chatting over coffee after church, arguably - and Tom would urge us too – conversation together after our services is a hugely important part of being together, of us being church.
Whether it’s over coffee after the Sunday service or as we wait for a mid-week meeting, small talk is an important, if ubiquitous, part of our universal human experience.
We talk about the weather, the morning so far, how our weeks have been, perhaps what we are watching on TV, how busy we are right now, maybe even the football?! We ask the polite questions, avoid over-sharing with our answers, but we know it is hugely important.
And as we engage in these conversations, we feel a little safer with each other. We allow ourselves to know and be known some more. These conversations, because of their context and brevity, may sometimes be called “small talk” but they are far, very far from trivial.
Notice how the travellers on the road to Emmaus talk about ‘everything that had happened’ for some distance of their seven-mile journey. And what ‘everything’ includes: where they were, what they said, who they met. The inconsequential details nestled amidst the enormous drama. The weather, the football, their route so far and the route ahead. Ok, perhaps they didn’t talk about the football. They were walking away from Jerusalem with heavy hearts – the political saviour they had hoped for had been executed in humiliation. But it’s not such a leap to imagine that their interaction – like so many of our interactions – included its share of “small talk”.
It’s significant that before Jesus appeared, he allowed the travellers to talk for a while – so our conversations after church, in the middle of the week, will include listening and hearing, as well as speaking - modelling something of Jesus’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, because, really, there's no such thing as small talk - every conversation connects, which means that every conversation counts.
Worship through music: Take My Life and Let It Be – lyrics (1874) Frances R. Havergal, tune and recorded (2017) Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA9zA7O6bH0
Thursday 20th July
Bible Reading: No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ Joshua 1: 5-9
Reflection: Yesterday evening I had the privilege of meeting Cally Magalhães. (Cally is a friend, of my friend Cathy, from their Harpenden school days.) Cally comes over as the a very ordinary person that she is, brought up in Harpenden, with not an easy home life, she achieved her dream of becoming a ballerina, dancing with the Royal Ballet, only then to discover that she has curvature of the spine and needed to stop dancing immediately. A wonderful story in (very) short, she found faith in Jesus, eventually moving to live in Sau Paulo, Brazil, where now, through the Eagle Project* which she founded, is going into youth prisons doing psycho-drama with boys. I won’t spoil the story – please do read it for yourself (Dancing with Theives**) – but those who were at Braishfield two weeks ago or at St Andrew’s/St Mary’s last Sunday will have heard a little of how her story has impacted me. Last Sunday’s gospel reading was the Parable of the Sower; we often see ourselves as the good soil, but no soil stays good for ever, it needs ploughing/turning over and nourishment. It feels to me that last week reading Cally’s book, and now this week meeting her, a very normal person, has provided some turning over and nourishment of the soil of my faith.
We are all ordinary people, yet with God, we can be extraordinary – not the way Cally is, as amazing as that is, but in an extraordinary way that is personal to us.
If you would like to read her book (she has offered to sign copies too!)
It is also available as an audio book, read by Cally.
Worship through music: The Lord's My Shepherd written (1996) and sung (2013) by Stuart Townend.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN4tPkX0MG0
Thursday 13th July
Bible Reading: First century Jews from far and wide, made pilgrimage to Jerusalem, this is part of the Pentecost account:
Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” Acts 2:5-11
Reflection: Pete Greig, found himself as the leader of a movement called 24/7 Prayer. It is an exciting venture, worth a Google!
A number of years ago they launched an app – Lectio 365 – with a short daily time of guided prayer and then, a few years later, a shorter prayer time for the evening. Last month Pete Greig spent 3 weeks walking the 300 miles from Iona to Lindisfarne, in the footsteps of the 7th century Celtic saint Aidan. (Introduction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzdtgHvKN7s)
What a privilege, through Lectio 365, to have “walked” this pilgrimage… Pilgrimage provides an opportunity to find out more about ourselves and give space to hear God. Where do we go to encounter God? What helps us spend time noticing God? Is there a special place or space… maybe share that with someone this week? If we are in a dry patch, or have never felt God’s presence like that, maybe a walk, a garden, some time alone noticing, spotting God in creation, might help…
Worship through The Pilgrim Podcast https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=The+pilgrim+podcast
Thursday 6th July
6023 miles ridden!
8 countries travelled through!
£4261 raised so far… but you can still donate to this brilliant cause…
Bible Reading: On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37
Reflection with images: Jericho is the oldest continually-inhabited city in the world. Jericho sits in the Dead Sea valley below the elevated range that holds Jerusalem.
There are some particularities about the road between Jerusalem and Jericho that make this parable more poignant, even more powerful.
Over the 18 mile walk from Jerusalem to Jericho you would be “going down” half a mile in elevation, leaving a semi-dry area, for a totally barren and parched one - the majority of which would be in desert-like conditions,
This road was a major thorough-fare for trading caravans, soldiers and the pilgrims who visiting Jerusalem. Given the isolated terrain, people on this road were easy targets for bandits, who found plenty of hiding places and escape routes into the desert. When Jesus set the scene “a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho” his listeners would have immediately recognized the dangers that this journey posed.
By all assumptions, the Samaritan was heading home starting with this route from Jerusalem to Jericho through Judea.
It seems that Samaritans, are related by blood to those Israelites of ancient Samaria who, following the Assyrians conquest of Israel in 722 BC, were not deported. It wasn’t a good relationship – a feud -the Jews called them "half-breeds"; in turn the Samaritans, rather than going to Jerusalem to worship, built their own temple… which the Jews considered to be pagan! The feud grew, and by Jesus’ time, the Jews hated the Samaritans so much that if travelling between Judea and Galilee they would cross the river Jordan rather than travel through Samaria!
So while the Samarians were not considered foreigners, they were most definitely considered unwanted outsiders…
Can we think of a community or a section of society which is being treated as outsiders? Is there a person we know that seems like an outsider, or we treat as an outsider in any of the settings we find ourselves? How do we react to these outsiders…
And when it’s us? What does it feel like to be an outsider… How do we react when we find ourselves in that situation?
Regardless of ANYTHING that we are or have been, regardless of ANYTHING anyone is or has been, regardless of ANYTHING we/they may have done, background or education, Christ loves unconditionally… people the world over have always struggled to love others and especially those that we perceive to be different from ourselves. This call is radical, counter-cultural, life-changing for us and for ALL. We all have prejudices, we all see colour, race and categorise people – however much we like to think we don’t, however much we hope we will never treat anyone as an outsider… yet we do, and being self-aware enough to recognise moves us a step along the way to allowing change in us… because this change has to start with us, us modelling love, God’s love and acceptance of ALL.
Worship through music: Two very different renditions... of the same message!!
Love One Another Newsboys (2019) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ6a4ptyyF8
Blessed Be the God and Father written by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, sung (2012) The Choir of Salisbury Cathedral, directed by David Halls
(Wesley wrote this anthem for an Easter Sunday evensong at Hereford Cathedral, which at the time had only treble voices and a lone bass!)