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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

TUESDAY THE TWENTY-FOURTH OF JANUARY, 2017
* THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI TIM-OI *

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, we are a living part of your eternal plan, a means by which your kingdom will be revealed in all its glory. Make your intention for our lives clear to us, foster our vocation, appoint us to our task and support us as we carry out our work no matter what obstacles others may put in our way. Amen.

PSALM THIRTY-ONE ( abridged )

Into your hands I commend my spirit.

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Incline your ear to me;
make haste to deliver me.

Be my strong rock, a fortress to save me,
for you are my rock and my stronghold;
guide me, and lead me for your name's sake.
Take me out of the net
that they have laid secretly for me,
for you are my strength.

Into your hands I commend my spirit,
for you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in trouble;
my eye is consumed with sorrow,
my soul and my body also.
For my life is wasted with grief,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails me because of my affliction,
and my bones are consumed.

I have become a reproach to all my enemies
and even to my neighbours,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
when they see me in the street they flee from me.
I am forgotten like one that is dead, out of mind;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I have heard the whispering of the crowd;
fear is on every side;
they scheme together against me,
and plot to take my life.

But my trust is in you, O Lord.
I have said, "You are my God.
My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.
Make your face to shine upon your servant,
and save me for your mercy's sake."

How abundant is your goodness, O Lord,
which you have laid up for those who fear you;
which you have prepared in the sight of all
for those who put their trust in you.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from those who slander them;
you keep them safe in your refuge from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the Lord!
For he has shown me his steadfast love
when I was as a city besieged.
I had said in my alarm,
"I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes."
Nevertheless, you heard the voice of my prayer
when I cried out to you.

Love the Lord, all you his servants;
for the Lord protects the faithful,
but repays to the full the proud.
Be strong and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait in hope for the Lord.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Into your hands I commend my spirit.

Lord Jesus Christ,
when scorn and shame besiege us
and hope is veiled in grief,
hold us in your wounded hands
and make your face shine on us again,
for you are our lord and God. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi (by Tim)

Today Saint Laika’s remembers the ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman priest in the Anglican Communion. Florence was born in Hong Kong in 1907. As a student, she was baptised and later studied at Union Theological College in Canton, China. She became a professional church worker, serving first in Kowloon, and later in Macao.

In May, 1941 she was ordained as a deaconess. Some months later Japanese invaders took over Hong Kong, and priests were no longer able to travel to Macao to celebrate the sacraments. Even so, Florence continued to minister to the people of Macao. Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong decided that Florence should be ordained as priest, so that a sacramental ministry might resume in Macao. On the twenty-fifth of January, the feast of Saint Paul’s Conversion, Bishop Hall ordained her to the priesthood.

When World War II came to an end, Florence Li Tim-Oi’s ordination was the subject of much controversy. She made the personal decision not to exercise her priesthood until it was acknowledged by the wider Anglican Communion. Undeterred, she continued to minister with great faithfulness, and in 1947 was appointed rector of St. Barnabas Church in Hepu, where, on Bishop Hall’s instructions, she was still to be called priest.

When the Communists came to power in China in 1949, Florence undertook theological studies in Beijing to further understand the implications of the Three-Self Movement (self-rule, self-support, and self- propagation) which now determined the life of the churches. She then moved to Guangzhou to teach and to serve at the Cathedral of Our Saviour. Florence suffered greatly for Christ and the church. For sixteen years, from 1958 onwards, during the Cultural Revolution, all churches were closed. Florence was forced to work first on a farm and then in a factory. Accused of counter revolutionary activity, she was required to undergo political re-education. Finally, in 1974, she was allowed to retire from her work in the factory.

In 1979 the churches reopened, and Florence resumed her public ministry. Then, two years later, she was allowed to visit family members living in Canada. While there, to her great joy, she was licensed as a priest in the Diocese of Montreal and later in the Diocese of Toronto, where she finally settled, until her death on the twenty-sixth of February, 1992.

Scripture. In the seventh chapter of "Hebrews," at verses twelve and thirteen, we read:

"For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for Christians living in China in particular those who are persecuted for their faith and those whose worship of God is hindered by the authorities.

... for female priests in particular those whose own denomination does not recognise their ministry.

... for those campaigning for the ordination of women within churches that do not presently allow female priests.

... that the ministry of ordained women and women in church leadership roles may renew the Church and make it kinder.

... for the people of Estonia who are celebrating their independence from Russia today.

... for those affected by adverse weather conditions, in particular those who have died, been injured or made homeless due to severe weather in the US South. DETAILS

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Raindrops of My Life" by Florence Li Tim-Oi:

In 1946, I received a letter from Bishop Hall’s secretary (also a lawyer), asking me to come to Hong Kong.  At the meeting, I was quickly told that Bishop Hall had broken church canon law to ordain me as a priest, and hence had been denounced by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Either Bishop Hall must resign as bishop or I must give up the title of priest.

When first told of this problem I was quite perturbed.  I gave serious thought as to whether I should step down or stay on.  Through a moment of deep meditation in which I prayed for God’s guidance, and the constant working of the Holy Spirit, I suddenly saw the light.  I realised that I should see my personal prestige as worthless for I was merely a small servant of the Lord.

I voluntarily and whole-heartedly supported Bishop Hall in upholding his holy office as bishop.  He was a man of deep spirituality.  Not only was he influential in the Chinese Church, but his international contributions were also large.  I was willing to give up my title as priest, but I knew that having been ordained, I had to follow the order throughout my life. This is my philosophy of life.  No one can take away the peace that comes from completing one’s responsibilities to history and fulfilling God’s will.

CLOSING PRAYER

Gracious God, we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much-beloved daughter, to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in the Anglican Communion: By the grace of your Spirit inspire us to follow her example, serving your people with patience and happiness all our days, and witnessing in every circumstance to our saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

NOW LIGHT A CANDLE

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Speeding: Poor To Be Fined More Severely Than The Rich

Speeding fines in England are to rise. For serious offences the fine will be one and a half times the offender's weekly salary which seems fair. However, the upper limit of the fine is to be one thousand pounds which means that people who earn more than six hundred and sixty-seven pounds a week will not be punished as severely as those earning less than that amount and the more the offender earns the less they will be punished. For example, a company executive earning two hundred and fifty thousand pound a year will be fined approximately a fifth of their weekly salary, not the one and a half times of their salary that low earners will have to pay.

This is unfair and not necessary. It is as easy to work out one and half times the salary of a fat cat as it is to work out one and a half times the salary of a lean moggie. Shame of legislators who came up with this perversion of justice!

Advice, Yes; Help, No.

I do not need a therapist, I need a personal assistant. Someone to arrange a better future for me. Not just tell me what to do (there's enough of you out there doing that already) but actually make the phone calls and fill in the forms.

For some reason, psychology professionals have it stuck in their heads that the patient has to do everything for themselves otherwise they will not get better. Bollocks! No surgeon tells a heart attack victim to jolly well get on and perform open heart surgery on himself. Personally, I think the health professionals will not get involved in the practicalities of changing lives because they know full well that 99% of the time what they so enthusiastically recommend is not achievable in reality.

"Go out and get a job and you'll get better."

"Yeah, right. I'm here because I was sacked from my job for being ill, idiot."

Two Quotes To Get Us Through The Next Four Years

“A sense of humour is going to get us through better than indignation.”
(Lionel Shriver on Donald Trump’s inauguration)

"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
(Molly Ivins 1944-2007)

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

FRIDAY THE TWENTIETH OF JANUARY, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

You know each of us by name, O God,
and in your sight we have found favour,
yet our minds cannot comprehend the vision of your glory
or the vastness of your love.
Grant that as we glimpse your greatness,
reflected in your many gifts,
we may always return to you
the praise that is yours alone.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.

PSALM THIRTY ( abridged )

You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead.

I will exalt you, O Lord,
because you have raised me up
and have not let my foes triumph over me.

Lord my God, I cried out to you
and you have healed me.
You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead;
you restored me to life from among
those that go down to the Pit.

Sing to the Lord, you servants of his;
give thanks to his holy name.
For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,
his favour for a lifetime.
Heaviness may endure for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness;
therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead.

Lord, you hide your face
when we trust in ourselves;
strip us of false security
and re-clothe us in your praise,
that we may know you
as the one who raises us from death,
as you raised your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Deacons and their Bishops in the Ancient Church (by Tim)

Today, on this feria day at Saint Laika’s, we continue our sojourn in the ancient church by remembering two deacons and their bishops, who suffered much for Christ.

We first learn of the deacon in the sixth chapter of "Acts." They were created to take care of the physical needs of the Greek speaking widows in the church. One of the distinguishing features of Christianity was their practice of radical community, where believers sold their goods and gave the money to the church for the care of those in need. Over time it was the deacons who were entrusted with this practical work.

In this they worked closely with the bishop the leader of the community. They looked after widows and orphans, they tended those who were sick, and, in general, made sure there were no needy among them. Through the second and third centuries the charity of Christians was often extended to non-believers. In times of famine they fed the hungry, when plague struck, they nursed the sick and buried the dead. Through the ministry of the deacons the church gained credibility and respect even among the non-believers. In the persecution of Diocletian, the last and most savage persecution before the Christian church gained legitimacy in the Roman Empire, they were targeted for arrest in the hopes of gaining the treasure of the church.

This week we remember the ancient feast day of Vincent of Saragossa, a Spanish deacon, who was arrested, together with his bishop, Valerius. Valerius suffered from a speech impediment and counted on Vincent to be his spokesman, his preacher, and the caretaker of the church’s money.

Also this week is the ancient feast day for Agathangelus, a deacon from Rome, along with his bishop Clement of Ancyra, whom he met in Rome, and followed back to Turkey to serve Christ there.

From Spain to Turkey, the Roman Empire spanned the known world. Both of these faithful deacons met their death during the persecution of Diocletian, as did bishop Clement who was judged by Diocletian himself. Only Valerius, because of his speech impediment, was spared death. He was sent into exile and soon died there.

Scripture. In the first chapter of "Philippians," verses one to six, we read:

"To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for deacons and for all who carry out the diaconate role in our churches.

... for church treasurers and accountants.

... for those who were killed or injured when a car was deliberately driven into pedestrians in central Melbourne, Australia. DETAILS

... for the people of the U.S.A. as Donald Trump is inaugurated to the presidency of their nation.

... for the firefighters and members of the public who were killed or injured when a high-rise building in  the Iranian capital, Tehran, caught fire and collapsed. DETAILS

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:

The question why evil should exist at all is one to be treated by itself. It does exist and that fact has to be dealt with by believer and infidel alike.

Taking the world as it is, with evil actually there, what do we find ?

We find first that the evil principle if left to itself destroys itself. Even for success in selfish competition, some co-operation is indispensable. Even success in thieving depends on honour among thieves. The animals that survive tend to be those that rise above sheer individual selfishness to family affection and loyalty to the pack or herd. The most widespread fact about life may be competition or self-seeking but the prevailing principle even in that competition is mutual aid, co-operation, loyalty, love. In human history the lesson is written plainer still. What we call progress is just the widening of the area in which love is operative and service is given. Loyalty at first is only to the tribe; strangers are enemies, and have few rights, if any. It is a great advance when men realise that the fundamental laws of morality are universal and that it is as wrong to defraud a foreigner as to defraud a fellow countryman. Gradually it is learnt that to refrain from injury is not enough, and that only in service to humanity does the individual or the nation attain the destined goal.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, whose deacons Vincent and Agathangelus, upheld by you, were not terrified by threats nor overcome by torments, strengthen us to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith; through Jesus Christ our lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

NOW LIGHT A CANDLE

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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

THURSDAY THE NINETEENTH OF JANUARY, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

When we stand at the edge of fear and worry,
God invites us to step into the waters of faith and trust.

When we stand at the edge of the world's pain and need,
Jesus invites us to step into the land of humble service.

When we stand at the edge of our hunger and thirst:
the Spirit invites us to sit at the table of grace.<

God-ever-with-us:
you draw us near to your heart,
so that, cradled in compassion,
we might see the brokenness
of all who are around us.
Teacher-beside-us:
you draw us near to yourself,
so that, by following you,
we may discover the deep joy
of serving the broken of the world.
Spirit-within-us:
you draw near to us with your peace,
so that, reconciled and restored to God,
we may be the healers to a world shattered by despair.
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we draw near to you in this time,
we lift our prayers to you.
Lord hear our prayers. Amen.

( Thom Shuman )

PSALM TWENTY-NINE

The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders;
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation;
the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
he makes Lebanon skip like a calf
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning;
the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe
and strips the forests bare;
in his temple all cry, 'Glory!'

The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people;
the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Open our ears, glorious Lord Christ,
to hear the music of your voice
above the chaos of this world;
open our eyes to see the vision of your glory,
for you are our king, now and for ever. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

The Martyrs of Ancient Times

We often bring you a devotion about servants of Christ in more modern times, some well known, some less known. It is good to see how people in each generation serve Christ in so many and various ways. These next days, we go back in time to the ancient days, to the days of persecution, to the time when the church was so much less organised than today, to ancient saints hardly remembered today, who nevertheless, kept faith with Christ, at great risk to themselves.

Tomorrow, the twentieth of January, is the ancient feast of Fabian, bishop of Rome, who lived in the early to mid third century. When you think of the bishop of Rome today, you think perhaps of pomp and splendour or of someone who wields the power to shape the conviction of people all over the world. The stories surrounding Fabian show a simpler church.

It is said that after the death of Pope Antherus, a crowd had gathered to await the selection of a new bishop. Fabian was a layman in the crowd that day. According to the historian Eusebius, a dove flew into the building and landed on Fabian's head. The people immediately interpreted this to be an omen, and unanimously acclaimed Fabian their new pope. One can scarcely imagine such a thing happening today, yet he proved to be a capable leader. He organised the city of Rome into parishes and appointed scribes to record the lives of the martyrs for posterity.

In the year AD 239 the Roman emperor, Decius instituted a new, empire-wide persecution of Christians. Christians before that time had also suffered greatly for their faith, but the persecutions were local rather than universal. Now Decius was after the church leaders with a view toward total extinction.

Of course Fabian was at the top of the list. He was captured and brutally executed. The courage with which he went to his death was an inspiration to thousands who followed him in martyrdom. His broken tombstone in Rome still exists. On it three words can be discerned: “Fabian," "bishop," and "martyr.”

Fabian shares this day with Sebastian, who lived a bit later in the third century. He had a military background. Some sources say he was a member of the Praetorian Guard. He was spreading the faith in Christ through the military when he was discovered. The Emperor Diocletian ordered him to be tied to a stake in the middle of a field and to be shot to death with arrows. This aspect of Sebastian’s story has been captured numerous times in Western art. He actually survived his wounds and later was beaten to death for allegedly insulting the emperor. This earned him the title "The saint who died twice.”

Scripture. In "First Corinthians," chapter fifteen, verses forty-seven to forty-nine, Paul compares Adam to Christ.

"The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for those who are persecuted because of their faith in Christ.

... for Isidro Baldenegro, a prominent Mexican environmentalist has been shot dead in his home state of Chihuahua after receiving death threats. For all who risk their lives campaigning to stop big business and governments harming the environment and local peoples. DETAILS

... for those who died when an avalanche enveloped the Hotel Rigopiano in the town of Farindola, Italy, last night and for all working to rescue any survivors. DETAILS

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:

The Spirit that brings order and beauty out of chaos in the physical world seeks ever to do the same in the moral world. But to create the physical universe was easy to omnipotence; the word produced its own fulfilment. God said, "Let there be light" and there was light.

To make of the life of men a thing of ordered beauty was infinitely difficult even for omnipotence. For here were hearts to be won and wills to be inspired; no overmastering force could ever accomplish this. The task can only be wrought out by patience and anguish, by cross and passion, by agony and bloody sweat. But Love was equal to the need. The sacrifice was offered, and therein the Spirit's masterpiece was wrought.

Greater than systems of stars and planets, lovelier than buttercups and bluebells is the gracious loveliness of God in Christ the saviour. There the creator Spirit was for the first time perfectly revealed; there the response from the side of the creation was for the first time perfectly offered, as a first-fruit of the harvest yet to be garnered.

Sunsets do not rejoice in their own beauty nor forests give thanks to the Lord who made them. He rejoices in them, but they cannot share his joy. Some day, on this earth or elsewhere, there will be a human race living as one brotherhood and fellowship in the bonds of a love that unites all to the
common father and saviour and in him to one another, their whole life one act of ceaseless thanksgiving. Then will God be perfectly manifest in the moral as in the physical creation. Order and beauty will have supplanted ugliness and discord; for God, who is truth and beauty and love, will then be all in all; and the moving of the Spirit on the face of the waters will have issued in such perfection of loveliness in the world as fitly to answer the creator's love.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, you called Fabian and Sebastian to lay down their lives in service to your son. Grant that we may never hesitate to suffer for the sake of your son, and in times of trial and persecution to remain steadfast in our faith; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

NOW LIGHT A CANDLE

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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

WEDNESDAY THE EIGHTEENTH OF JANUARY, 2017
* AMY CARMICHAEL *

OPENING PRAYER

Holy Lord,
whose presence inspires and consoles,
you continue your promise
from generation to generation.
With the dawning light of day
you awaken creation
to the wonders
that await.
As the sun sets
you pause on the mountain-top
to offer a vision of what lies ahead.

Living presence of God,
whose living amongst creation
continue to inspire
that we might live in the promise of God
and mark our lives
with a love
that reaches beyond emotion:
for your love
asks for activity,
in worship and service.

Embracing Spirit of God,
whose embrace offers both impetus and consolation,
you provoke within us
the recognition of our need of forgiveness.
With your overwhelming grace
we recognise the many ways in which we fail
to demonstrate your love from within.

Forgive us
when we are demanding of attention,
and want to know the answers now;
when we are reluctant to stand alongside those
in need of our support;
when we have not been willing
to allow others to speak on our behalf.

Loving Lord,
in your forgiveness
you answer our questions of how
and who to love,
drawing the breadth of your community wider.
Help us to be truly welcoming
and Christlike in our hospitality. Amen.

( MaryAnn R. Rennie )

PSALM TWENTY-EIGHT ( abridged )

The Lord is my strength and my shield.

To you I call, O Lord my rock;
be not deaf to my cry,
lest, if you do not hear me,
I become like those who go down to the Pit.
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you,
when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.

Blessed be the Lord,
for he has heard the voice of my prayer.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart has trusted in him and I am helped;
therefore my heart dances for joy
and in my song will I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people,
a safe refuge for his anointed.

Save your people and bless your inheritance;
shepherd them and carry them for ever.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

The Lord is my strength and my shield.

Hear us, Shepherd of your people,
forgive us our sins
and, in a world of pretences,
make us true in heart and mind;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Amy Carmichael: “a chance to die”

Today, Saint Laika’s remembers Amy Carmichael, a remarkable woman and servant of Christ who spent fifty-five years without furlough, serving the people of India.

Carmichael prepared for her life’s work by teaching a Sunday morning class for the "shawlies," i.e. the mill girls who wore shawls instead of hats, in the church hall of Rosemary Street Presbyterian in Belfast. Her mission among the shawlies grew and grew until they needed a hall to seat five hundred people. At this time Amy saw an advertisement in "The Christian," by which an iron hall could be erected for five hundred pounds that would seat five hundred people. A donation of five hundred pounds from Miss Kate Mitchell, and another of a plot of land from a mill owners led to the erection of the first "Welcome Hall" on the corner of Cambrai Street and Heather Street in 1887.

In the same year, she heard Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, speak about missionary life. Soon afterwards, she became convinced of her calling to missionary work. She was commissioned by the Church of England Zenana Mission. She began in Bangalore, India. Carmichael's most notable work was with girls and young women, some of whom were saved from customs that amounted to forced prostitution. Hindu temple children were primarily young girls dedicated to the gods then usually forced into prostitution to earn money for the Hindi priests.

Carmichael founded the Dohnavur Fellowship in southern India in 1901 to continue her work. There was already a school there, and Dohnavur had been a centre for German missionary work, but she transformed Dohnavur into a sanctuary for over one thousand children who would otherwise have faced a bleak future.

Once, Amy Carmichael received a letter from a young lady who was considering life as a missionary.

She asked Amy, "What is missionary life like?"

Amy wrote back saying simply, "Missionary life is simply a chance to die."

By 1913, the Dohnavur Fellowship was serving one hundred and thirty girls. In 1918, Dohnavur added a home for young boys, many born to the former temple prostitutes. Meanwhile, in 1916 Carmichael formed a Protestant religious order called Sisters of the Common Life. India outlawed temple prostitution in 1948.

Amy Carmichael died in India in 1951 at the age of eighty-three.

Scripture: In the tenth chapter of "Mark," verses fourteen and fifteen, Jesus says

"Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for child prostitutes and those who seek to rescue them.

... for those who work to provide education to children who live in poverty.

... for the people of Gambia who celebrate their independence from Great Britain today, that the current political unrest in their country may not escalate and may soon be peacefully and democratically resolved.

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Things As They Are" by Amy Carmichael:

"I beseech thee, show me thy glory!"

Shall we pray it, meaning it now, to the very uttermost? The uttermost may hold hard things, but, easy or hard, there is no other way to reach the place where our lives can receive an impetus which will make them tell for eternity. The motive power is the love of Christ. Not our love for him only, but his very love itself. It was the mighty, resistless flow of that glorious love that made the first missionary pour himself forth on the sacrifice and service.

And the joy of it rings through triumphantly, "Yea, and if I be poured forth... I joy and rejoice with you all!"

Yes, God's glory is our plea, highest, strongest, most impelling and enduring of all pleas. But oh, by the thought of the myriads who are passing, by the thought of the coming of the Lord, by the infinite realities of life and death, heaven and hell, by our saviour's cross and passion, we plead with all those who love him, but who have not considered these things yet, consider them now!

Let him show us the vision of the glory, and bring us to the very end of self, let him touch our lips with the live coal, and set us on fire to burn for him, yea, burn with consuming love for him, and a purpose none can turn us from, and a passion like a pure white flame, "a passion for
the glory of God!"

Oh, may this passion consume us! burn the self out of us, burn the love into us; for God's glory we ask it, Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

Loving Lord, you sent Amy Carmichael to minister to the children of India. Inspired by her example of faithful service, help us be more attentive to the needs of children today who are being exploited or abused for shameful profit; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

TUESDAY THE SEVENTEENTH OF JANUARY, 2017
* ANTHONY OF EGYPT AND PACHOMIUS *

OPENING PRAYER

Holy God, creator of life,
you call us out of our dark places,
offering us the grace of new life.
When we see nothing but hopelessness,
you surprise us with the breath of your spirit.
Call us out of our complacency and routines,
set us free from our self-imposed bonds,
and fill us with your spirit of life, compassion, and peace,
In the name of Jesus, your anointed one, we pray. Amen.

( Nancy Johnson )

PSALM TWENTY-SEVEN ( abridged )

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid?

Though a host encamp against me,
my heart shall not be afraid,
and though there rise up war against me,
yet will I put my trust in him.

One thing have I asked of the Lord
and that alone I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the fair beauty of the Lord
and to seek his will in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he shall hide me in his shelter;
in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me
and set me high upon a rock.

And now shall he lift up my head
above my enemies round about me;
therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation
with great gladness;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call;
have mercy upon me and answer me.

My heart tells of your word, 'Seek my face.'
Your face, Lord, will I seek.
Hide not your face from me,
nor cast your servant away in displeasure.
You have been my helper;
leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

Though my father and my mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me up.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and he shall comfort your heart;
wait patiently for the Lord.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

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

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Anthony and Pachomius: called to the desert to serve the Lord

Today Saint Laika’s dips deep into the well of history to commemorate Anthony and Pachomius , two Egyptian Christians of the third and fourth centuries, who discovered their deepest calling to serve Christ in the Egyptian desert.

Anthony was born about AD 251 and was the son of a well-to-do family. When he was eighteen his parents died, leaving him sole guardian of his younger sister.

Six months later, while attending worship, he heard the scripture passage of Jesus and the rich young man, in which Jesus says, "If you would be perfect, go, sell all you have, give to the poor, and follow me (Matt. 19:21)."

He took this as a personal invitation from God and sold most of his inherited property, gave much of the money to the poor and, after providing for his sister’s care and future well-being, began living in the manner of a mountain hermit, living in a cave and praying for the salvation of the world. At the age of thirty-five, he moved to Pispir and remained there in solitude for twenty years. During that time, many came to live near him and copy his holy life. He became their spiritual leader, teaching them by word and by example the life of the ascetic. Anthony also taught them to perform manual labour between prayer times as an additional contribution to society. Anthony died in 356 at the age of one hundred and five and was buried secretly by Macarius and Amatas, two of his most loyal monks.

Pachomius was born in the Upper Thebaid in Egypt and as a young man was a soldier in the Roman army. In AD 314, at the age of twenty-two, he converted to Christianity and three years later became a hermit, living in the desert. Pachomius realised that a community of monks working together could accomplish more good, both for themselves and society, than hermits living isolated by themselves. He created a rule to govern a monastic community that balanced the communal life and the solitary life, a rule that became the basis for almost every monastic order to come after, especially that of Saint Benedict. The monks live in a communal environment, each one working for the betterment of the whole. By the time of his death in AD 348, he led eight monasteries with a total of about three thousand monks.

It is hard to estimate the impact of monasticism on both East and West. In the West, Benedict would adopt their rule and send his monks out, not to the desert but to the wilds of Europe clearing and cultivating land, settling populations around agriculture. The monastic role in preserving the ancient culture of the Greeks is well documented, as they copied by hand, many works which would have been lost to us.

Scripture. In the tenth chapter of "Mark," at the twenty-first verse, we read:

"Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’"

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for monks and hermits and all who seek God through self-denial.

... for the lonely.

... for those suffering from diseases of the skin.

... for domestic animals.

... for the people of Minorca who celebrate their independence from Islamic rule today.

... for those killed by a gunman at the BPM electronic music festival in the Mexican resort of Playa del Carmen, in Quintana Roo state. DETAILS

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:

As we come into Christ's presence we shall not ask to know of times or seasons. We shall not be dismayed by wars or rumours of wars, nor speculate on the arrival of a millennium of peace and goodwill, though we shall do our utmost to prepare the way for it. But we shall bear witness to our ascended Lord, through fellowship with whom the Holy Ghost is come upon us with a gift of power that we can utilise for his service if we will. We shall be his witnesses, declaring to men that only from him comes the Spirit who gives men power to live as sons of God. And we shall make our own communion with our Lord more constant, more intimate, more affectionate, so that his Spirit may work in us in ever greater power to the accomplishment of his joying purpose for the world.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, you called Anthony and Pachomius to leave the world behind and serve you in the solitude of the desert. May the example of their lives teach us to deny ourselves and to love you above all others things; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

MONDAY THE SIXTEENTH OF JANUARY, 2017
* EIVIND BERGGRAV *

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, stop us from using you as an excuse not to engage with the world. Immerse us in your creation, inspire us to care for it and do not allow us to separate the religious from the secular, for all is sacred in the kingdom where your will will be done just the same as it is in heaven. Amen.

PSALM TWENTY-SIX

Lord, I love the place where your glory abides.

Give judgement for me, O Lord,
for I have walked with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.

Test me, O Lord, and try me;
examine my heart and my mind.
For your love is before my eyes;
I have walked in your truth.
I have not joined the company of the false,
nor consorted with the deceitful.
I hate the gathering of evildoers
and I will not sit down with the wicked.

I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord,
that I may go about your altar,
to make heard the voice of thanksgiving
and tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Lord, I love the house of your habitation
and the place where your glory abides.

Sweep me not away with sinners,
nor my life with the bloodthirsty,
whose hands are full of wicked schemes
and their right hand full of bribes.

As for me, I will walk with integrity;
redeem me, Lord, and be merciful to me.
My foot stands firm;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Lord, I love the place where your glory abides.

Have mercy on us and redeem us, O Lord,
for our merits are your mercies
and in your judgement is our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Eivind Berggrav: no quisling in Christ’s service (transferred from Sunday)

(Citizens in the USA are honouring Doctor Martin Luther King Junior today. Saint Laika's remembers Doctor King on the fourth of April, the anniversary of the day of his assassination.)

Today Saint Laika’s remembers Eivind Berggrav, bishop of Oslo, primate of Norway, who stood up for Christ and the people of Christ against the Nazis in his land.

Open up a dictionary and look up the word “quisling.” It will be defined in some way as “a collaborator with an enemy power,” “a traitor to one’s country.” The word refers to Vidkun Quisling , a Norwegian fascist politician who collaborated in the Nazi takeover of Norway in World War II, and was installed by the Nazis as the head of a puppet government there.

Quisling found Berggrav a formidable foe. He led the other six bishops in Norway in opposing Nazi measures. He insisted on the right of pastors to keep the confidences of their parishioners. He demanded the non-interference of Nazis in the spiritual performance of pastoral duties. He insisted that Jewish citizens be accorded the same rights as all other Norwegians.

Berggrav consolidated a united church front against the Nazis. In response, Quisling stripped him of the title of bishop, declared him an ordinary, private citizen, and placed him under house arrest. This was done on Maundy Thursday in 1942.

The Lutheran Church of Norway was the established church in Norway. When Quisling acted against Berggrav, the church responded. By Easter Sunday, all the bishops and seven hundred and ninety-seven of the eight hundred and sixty-one clergy resigned their positions in the church. Berggrav took the church underground to continue to minister to people independent of the Quisling regime..

Norway was liberated in 1945. Quisling was executed for treason.

After the war, Berggrav was active in the reorganisation of the church. He was active in the World Council of Churches, and the Lutheran World Federation. He died on the fourteenth of January, 1959.

Quote: “It is inappropriate for a Christian to say that the freedom of God’s church or of God’s word is not yet directly threatened and we ought not take suffering and strife upon us just for the sake of ‘secular matters.’ There are no such things as ‘secular matters’ for a Christian conscience. The moment that God calls on him to assume them they are God’s concern. This is why the expression, ‘to suffer for Jesus’ sake’ and ‘to suffer for righteousness sake’ stand side by side in the Sermon on the Mount.”

Scripture. In the thirty-fourth chapter of "Ezekiel," at verses fifteen and sixteen, we read:

"I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the people of Norway.

... for the members of the Lutheran Church of Norway.

... for an end to fascism.

... for citizens of occupied countries and for an end to their oppression.

... for those killed, injured or made homeless when a Turkish cargo plane crashed into a village near Manas airport in Kyrgyzstan. DETAILS

... that peace talks soon resume between Israel and Palestine and for an end to all provocations that make this less likely.

... for the deescalation of the brewing hostility between Serbia and Kosovo. DETAILS

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:

If our conception of sin and of righteousness needs to be deepened, quite equally is this true of our thought of judgment. Men have persisted in thinking of the divine judgment as being the infliction upon them by an arbitrary despot of penalties not growing out of their crimes but specially imposed. So we are told that because, rightly or wrongly, many men have ceased to believe in the reality of hell, they find in their thought of a future life no constraining motive of conduct. If so, the motive which had been supplied by the thought of a future life cannot have been remarkably Christian. We do not show discipleship to Christ when we lay plans for securing an eternity of self-centred enjoyment. Fear of punishment and hope of reward are always selfish emotions, unless the reward we hope for is the joy of fellowship with one whom we love and the punishment we fear is just exclusion from that fellowship.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Eivind Berggrav, who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock. We pray that, following his example, we may attain our full maturity in Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

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Where Is The Love?

I do not need God to be there for me. I do not even need God to love me. What Christ achieved for me on the cross, the forgiveness of my sins, is enough. Therefore, if people claim that God is with me and that God loves me I want to see both at work within my life. Otherwise they are just platitudes. Even if they are true they are worth nothing because there is no substance to what they insist upon.

The bishops of the Church of England claim that they care for people like me but their complete lack of action, their abject fear of getting involved with the messy stuff of life, show that their claims are bogus. People who tell me that God cares for me are likening God to the bishops who have hurt me or ignored me because God has, quite honestly, been as much use as those aforementioned mitre wearers. That would be no use whatsoever.

The Loneliness Of A Long Term Unemployed Priest

I am so incredibly lonely. However, not only am I completely friendless (at least in the non-internet world) but people actively dislike me. I am pretty certain that my exclusion from the Church is ultimately down to the fact that Bishop Wharton just did not like me, even before I fell ill. Something abut me, perhaps they way I spoke or my body language, annoyed him. If I was a likeable person I think somebody in authority in the Church would have reached out the hand of friendship by now, but they haven't because they simply don't want to. The prospect of being with me and for me is not attractive to them. My problem is that whatever is wrong with me, the repulsiveness, would appear to be part of my personality and not a surface detail I can consciously change.

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH OF JANUARY, 2017
MARGARET FELL AND GEORGE FOX

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, speak to me, but do so quietly and with kindness. Touch that which is me within myself with your love and send your Holy Spirit to be my constant friend. Amen.

PSALM TWENTY-FIVE ( abridged )

Remember, Lord, your compassion and love.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
O my God, in you I trust.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord,
and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you have I hoped all the day long.

Remember, Lord, your compassion and love,
for they are from everlasting.

Remember not the sins of my youth
or my transgressions,
but think on me in your goodness, O Lord,
according to your steadfast love.

For your name's sake, O Lord,
be merciful to my sin, for it is great.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am alone and brought very low.
The sorrows of my heart have increased;
O bring me out of my distress.
Look upon my adversity and misery
and forgive me all my sin.

O keep my soul and deliver me;
let me not be put to shame, for I have put my trust in you.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Remember, Lord, your compassion and love.

Free us, God of mercy,
from all that keeps us from you;
relieve the misery of the anxious and the ashamed
and fill us with the hope of peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

George Fox and Margaret Fell: tremble at the word of the Lord

Today Saint Laika’s remembers George Fox and Margaret Fell, innovative thinkers and devoted servants of Christ, who are known best as the founders of the Society of Friends, sometimes known as the Quakers. George Fox died on this day in 1691.

The seventeenth century was a period of great upheaval in England. The sixteenth century had bequeathed to the future an established church and the "Book of Common Prayer." But there was pushback and dissent among many citizens against the Church, the bishops, sacraments. In large measure the entire Reformation was a reaction against the medieval Catholic Church, and the turmoil of the seventeenth century was also more of the same. The Puritans felt a need to purify the Church of England from Roman Catholic trappings. The Baptists rejected the Medieval church’s acceptance of infant baptism. Others rejected the notion of bishops with their power to ordain. Tensions were heightened by the Stuart kings vacillations between reform and return to Catholicism.

George Fox was a truly original thinker. He experienced great disappointment in his own spiritual journey from the outward expressions of Christianity in England.

He wrote of it this way: “I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, 'There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.'"

Relying on this “inner voice” as he would call it, he completely recast Christianity as an inward movement of the Spirit. All externals were gone: clergy, sacraments, outward rites. Preaching from his own inner convictions he gathered together groups of people who found meaning in what he said. The Society of Friends, he called them.

For following his inner voice, he suffered several stints in jail. At Derby in 1650 he was imprisoned for blasphemy; a judge mocked Fox's exhortation to "tremble at the word of the Lord", calling him and his followers "Quakers". That name stuck to the movement. It’s their unofficial name to this day. After a time of both struggle and growth, the movement found success in North America.

Margaret Fell first encountered George Fox in 1652.She became convinced of the rightness of his theology and opened her home and resources to the movement. Her most famous writing was “Women's Speaking Justified” a rationale for women having the same right to preach and teach as men. After he husband died in 1658, she married George Fox several years later.

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 brought an end to the Stuart monarchy and William of Orange was invited over to be king. The Act of Toleration, passed in 1689, ended the persecution of religious minorities. Tired out by the struggle and in failing health, George Fox died on the thirteenth of January, 1691. Margaret carried on the work until her death in 1702

Scripture. In "Psalm Thirty-Six," verses seven to nine, we read:

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for members of the Society of Friends.

... that we never allow the trappings of the Christian religion to come between God and ourselves.

... for those affected by adverse weather, in particular those who have been advised to leave their homes for their own safety.

... that the present distrust between Russia and the West does not escalate into open hostility.

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "An Epistle To Convinced Friends" by Margaret Fell:

Therefore, dear Friends, abide in the cross, and keep your minds to that which is pure; so that you may come to witness the enmity slain, the handwriting of ordinances blotted out, and nailed to the cross, and you crucified to the world and the world to you; and consider one another, and provoke one another to love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of yourselves, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as you see the day approaching. And dwell in love and unity, in the pure eternal light; there is your fellowship, there is your cleansing and washing. And here is the mystery to all the disobedient ones. And the everlasting God, of light, life and power, keep you all faithful to your own measure; that so the resurrection and the life ye may witness, and the living bread ye may feed on, which, whosoever eateth of, shall never die. So God Almighty be with you, and preserve you all faithful in Christ Jesus.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives various gifts to each one of us. We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant George Fox, and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a greater appreciation of the inner voice that speaks from your heart to ours; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

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Hypocrisy In The Church Of England

The level of hypocrisy in the Church of England is astounding to say the least. The way the bishops, archdeacons and other "important" churchpersons behave would make a Pharisee on a street corner gasp with admiration. The following has been taken from the Church of England's official guidance procedure in respect of clergy grievances. I have been asking for reconciliation for years and I am either ignored or told that it is just not possible (Justin Welby told me that through my area dean).

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

THURSDAY THE TWELFTH OF JANUARY, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, eternal lover of creation, send us friends so that we may be fully human and help us to become the friend of others. May the Holy Trinity be our example of true friendship. Amen.

PSALM TWENTY-FOUR ( abridged )

The Lord of hosts: he is the King of glory.

The earth is the Lord's and all that fills it,
the compass of the world and all who dwell therein.
For he has founded it upon the seas
and set it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

"Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord,
or who can rise up in his holy place?"

"Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,
who have not lifted up their soul to an idol,
nor sworn an oath to a lie;
they shall receive a blessing from the Lord,
a just reward from the God of their salvation."

Such is the company of those who seek him,
of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

The Lord of hosts: he is the King of glory.

O Lord of hosts,
purify our hearts
that the King of glory may come in,
your son, Jesus our redeemer. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Aelred of Rievaulx thanks you for being a friend

At the beginning of the story of the raising of Lazarus in "John," chapter eleven, John makes mention of the fact that Jesus “loved” Martha and Mary, and Lazarus. In fact when Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus, they did not tell him that Lazarus was ill, they told him, “He whom you love is ill.” What is all this talk of love?

Aelred of Rievaulx was one of those gifted monastics out of Great Britain’s Middle Ages who had the gift of insight and the ability to make his mark on the world through his writing and example. He was born in 1109 in Durham and grew up and was educated in the court of King David of Scotland. He made close and fast friends with the King’s stepsons, Simon and Waldef. Aelred felt the calling to be a monk and entered the Cistercian order in 1133.

On his way back from Rome, where he had been sent to conduct business by the Archbishop of York, he traveled to Clairveux, the famous Cistercian mother house, to meet with Saint Bernard, who was abbot there. Bernard encouraged him to write, and Aelred completed his first work called “Mirror of Perfection” in 1143. In 1147, Aelred was elected abbot of Rievaulx (a large and prominent Cistercian Monastery). He held that position for twenty years until he died of a painful kidney disease in 1167. It was during this time that he studied the Biblical texts like "John" eleven and others, and developed his understanding of spiritual friendship.

Of course, monks and nuns were pledged to a life of chastity and celibacy and there had developed in many of the religious orders an aversion to what was called “particular friendships.” The idea was that monks in their monasteries and nuns in their cloister should not become “too attached” to any one brother or sister. Perhaps it was the fear of homosexuality that pushed this issue so strongly. A monk or nun was to love everyone equally, and not to favour one over another. Of course this left them cut off from intimacy, and was psychologically destructive.

Aelred concluded from his studies that Jesus never spoke against particular friendships, and in fact, had several personal friends, whose company he enjoyed. In his most significant book “Spiritual Friendship,” Aelred discusses this. He writes:

“No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of all our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in time of trouble, and with whom we may share our happiness in time of joy.”

Friendship, Aelred teaches, is both a gift from God and a creation of human effort. While love is universal, freely given to all, friendship is a particular love between individuals, of which the example is Jesus and John the beloved disciple.

Scripture. In the thirteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, at the first verse, we read:

"Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."

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INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for our friends, for friendship and that we may be a good friend to others.

... for those who are lonely.

... for those held hostage by terrorists.

... for the people of Cyprus, that the reunification talks may be successful.

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:

What is the aim of every true educator?

It is not to give to his pupils such stimulus and support as will make them dependent upon him at every turn; rather it is to help them in the development of their own capacities in such a way that they may learn to be independent of him. They will always be his debtors but they will owe him most just in the degree that he avoids imposing his own personality upon them and allows them to absorb what they can, guiding, steadying, restraining, quickening, but never imposing. The greatest teachers do not implant in their pupils a body of beliefs or a fixed habit of mind; they evoke a spirit which is identical in all so far as it is of loyalty and devotion, but is different in each so far as it expresses itself in activities or methods.

The process of evoking this spirit is always the same. Educational theories vary from age to age; the curriculum of schools may be indefinitely altered; but the fundamental educational process remains always unaffected. It is the development of the less mature mind through intercourse with the more mature mind and with the deposit of other minds in the form of social traditions and conventions.

Our spiritual growth follows the same principles. We live among people who have certain standards of life and conduct; these are the product or deposit of countless souls in the generations gone by. By those standards our lives are shaped; by those standards to a very great extent our consciences are formed. But we are brought up also in the Church which is the school of Christ; there, too, we find traditional beliefs and requirements which represent, in a sort of summary, the experience of Christ's pupils. We meet with souls who have developed far towards perfect discipleship, and by our intercourse with them are led to further stages of our own development. Above all, this school of Christ is dominated by the person of Christ himself; all things are referred to him as the supreme arbiter and even when corruption sets in, as it is likely to do from time to time in any society composed of human beings, it is by the standard of Christ's teaching and by his living power that reformation is achieved.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, you endowed the abbot Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship and the wisdom to lead others in the way of holiness: Grant to your people that same spirit of mutual affection, that, in loving one another, we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the gift of your eternal goodness; through the same Jesus Christ our saviour and lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

WEDNESDAY THE ELEVENTH OF JANUARY, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

Lord of the cosmic revolution, ours is not a passive faith, we are the workers in the fields of the kingdom of God. Send us out to proclaim the reality of our salvation in the world today so that others may made aware that they are loved by you. Give us the courage to evangelise not only in our actions but also in words. Send your Holy Spirit to help us in this task. Amen.

PSALM TWENTY-THREE

I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The Lord is my shepherd;
therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul
and guide me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

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.
You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil
and my cup shall be full.

Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

O God, our sovereign and shepherd,
who brought again your Son Jesus Christ
from the valley of death,
comfort us with your protecting presence
and your angels of goodness and love,
that we also may come home
and dwell with him in your house for ever. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Julia Chester Emery: blessed with a clear vision of global mission

Saint Paul teaches us that every one of us has been given spiritual gifts. Julia Chester Emery was blest with a passion for global mission and she devoted the better part of her life to supporting and strengthening the Global Mission within the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Born in 1852, in 1876 she became secretary of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Board of Missions which had been established by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1871. She held her position for over forty years. During that time she visited every diocese and missionary district within the United States, encouraging and expanding the work of the Woman’s Auxiliary.

She founded the United Thank Offering. This worked by giving each woman a small box with a slit in the top and encouraging her to drop a small contribution into it whenever she felt thankful for something. Once a year, the women of the parish presented these at a Sunday service. The money was sent to national headquarters to be used for missions.

In 1908 she served as a delegate to the Pan-Anglican Congress in London. From there she traveled around the world, visiting missions in remote areas of China, in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Hawaii and then all the dioceses on the Pacific Coast before returning to New York. In this way she hoped to ignite the faith of Episcopal women with the same passion for global mission for when she had returned to New York. She then set about sharing the stories of global mission with anyone who would listen.

Through her leadership a network was established within the Women’s Auxiliary, which shared a vision of and a commitment to the Church’s mission. An emphasis on educational programmes, a growing recognition of social issues, and the development of leadership among women, were among its stated goals.

"Miss Julia," as she was known, died on the ninth of January, 1921, in New York City, and was buried at the cemetery of Saint James the Less in Scarsdale, New York.

Scripture: In the twelfth chapter of "Romans," verses six to eight, we read:

"We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for Christian missionaries and those who work to support them.

... for those affected by adverse weather conditions and for those out clearing up and restoring power after storms.

... for President Barack Obama as he approaches the end of his period of office, that he may continue to be a calming and reconciling influence in our world.

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:

The aim of the divine education of mankind is to train men away from self till they centre their lives on God, because that alone is their true welfare. It is the old paradox. You cannot have salvation as long as you want it. Only when God has so drawn you into the embrace of his love and into obedience to his will that in devotion to Him you cease to care about yourself, can your self be saved. Therefore before the hope of immortality was kindled in men's hearts, the knowledge of God was given, so that those hearts should first of all go out to him.

"Thou hast made us for thyself, and our souls are restless until they find rest in thee."

That remains true even though we have the assurance of our own immortality and of that of our friends. Such assurance, apart from the knowledge of God, may lull us with a false security and be a positive peril to our spiritual health.

As long as we are concerned with our own feelings and desires and purposes be they never so self-abnegating and generous we are shut out from true fellowship. For there is a very deadly form of selfishness that haunts self-sacrifice, and many virtuous people are utterly without good-fellowship. It is when we cease to think about our desires or feelings or experiences and give ourselves wholly to the object before us, that we find fellowship. Bring together two people of different temperaments and set them to understand each other the result is probably a quarrel. Bring them together to work out a practical problem as colleagues, or to face pain and death as comrades, at once there is fellowship between them.

But only one object is lofty and great enough to unite in fellowship all men of all types: it is the supreme reality which we call God.

CLOSING PRAYER

God of all creation, you call us in Christ to make disciples of all nations and to proclaim your mercy and love: grant that we, after the example of your servant Julia Chester Emery, may have vision and courage in proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our saviour and lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

TUESDAY THE TENTH OF JANUARY, 2017
NARCISO PICO

OPENING PRAYER

Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for your people, inspire within us the desire and willpower to do as you would do in this world where evil so often predominates and people are frightened into doing nothing to stop bad things happening. Help us to be good people who dare to do good things no matter what the cost to our own wellbeing. Help us to do that which is right and not that which is expedient and in our own self-interest. Amen.

PSALM TWENTY-TWO ( abridged )

Be not far from me, O Lord.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,
and are so far from my salvation,
from the words of my distress?
O my God, I cry in the daytime,
but you do not answer;
and by night also, but I find no rest.

Yet you are the Holy One,
enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
Our forebears trusted in you;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
They cried out to you and were delivered;
they put their trust in you and were not confounded.

But as for me, I am a worm and no man,
scorned by all and despised by the people.
All who see me laugh me to scorn;
they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,
"He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him deliver him, if he delights in him."

But it is you that took me out of the womb
and laid me safe upon my mother's breast.
On you was I cast ever since I was born;
you are my God even from my mother's womb.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near at hand
and there is none to help.

Be not far from me, O Lord;
you are my strength; hasten to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my poor life from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion's mouth,
from the horns of wild oxen.
You have answered me!

Praise the Lord, you that fear him;
O seed of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel,
for he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor;
neither has he hidden his face from them;
but when they cried to him he heard them.

All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
For the kingdom is the Lord's
and he rules over the nations.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Be not far from me, O Lord.

Restless with grief and fear,
the abandoned turn to you:
in every hour of trial,
good Lord, deliver us,
O God most holy, God most strong,
whose wisdom is the cross of Christ. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Narciso Pico: servant of the poor, martyr

On the tenth of January, 1991, Father Narciso Pico, a priest of the Philippine Independent Church, was gunned down by two men, while coming out of a coffee shop down the block from his church in Pontevedra, about five hundred kilometres southeast of Manila. Father Pico had been documenting human rights violations on the large plantations around Pontevedra, and had been active in the area of workers’ rights and land reform.

Upon hearing of his death, his bishop remarked, "His murder advances the real work of a priest who is unafraid to preach the truth, no matter what."

The Philippine Independent Church came into existence in the year 1902 after formally separating from the Roman Catholic Church. In 1898 the United States defeated Spain and took over the running of the Philippine Colony. From 1898 until 1902 the Filipino-American war was fought which ended with the defeat of the Filipino Army. Many Filipinos felt that the Catholic Church had favoured the wealthy and rich landowners who had favoured the cause of the United States. From its origin the Philippine Independent Church has been formed to encourage the aspirations of the people for freedom, democracy free from foreign influence, and the liberation of workers in their struggle against oppression.

In the case of Father Narciso Pico, it was suspected but never proven that his murderers were under the command of the Philippine Army. His life had been threatened many times, but he very much saw his ministry as the empowerment of the poor. His parish in Pontevedra had twenty thousand members.

A priest from the Church of Ireland, happened to be visiting in the Philippines at the time Father Pico was murdered. At the invitation of Father Pico’s bishop, he attended the wake.

He later wrote: “Narciso Pico had lived in the knowledge that he might face such a death. He knew that his efforts to be the servant of all, to care for the poorest of people were attracting the attention of those who wanted no change in the country. Pico was under no illusions about what it meant to walk in the way of Jesus, if anything happened to him, hadn’t the same happened to Jesus?”

Scripture: In "Psalm Seventy-Two," verses twelve to fourteen, we read:

For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the people of the Philippines, that their land may be without corruption and violence. For those who work to bring freedom from oppression.

... for transgender men and women detained in prison.

... for enslaved and abused domestic workers.

... for all affected by adverse weather conditions.

... for those killed or injured when a suspension bridge near the city of Villavicencio in Colombia collapsed. DETAILS

... for those who suffer from mental illness that they may receive the care they need.

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:

The heart of religion is communion with the eternal. We rise above the tumult and conflict, above even the moral effort, of our normal life to the realm of eternal truth where the ideal is always realised, and perfection alone is actual. Our Lord taught us to pray that God's will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. In our best worship we ascend in heart and mind to the heaven where that will is always done.

We cannot permanently live there. Duty calls us back to the world of moral striving; our faults of character stand out in the clear light of the divine presence and we sink from adoration to penitence even as Isaiah exclaimed, "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips," so soon as his eyes had seen the Lord of Hosts and his ears heard the song of the attendant seraphim. But though we cannot dwell permanently on the heights of adoration, all our spiritual health depends upon our rising to them from time to time, and it is good for us to fix in our minds by deliberate meditation the various aspects of our vision in those sacred moments.

Among these, and perhaps chief among them, is the eternity, the changeless perfection, of God. The world in which we live is always changing; it derives its whole meaning from the changes that take place in it. The development of natural science has shown us that this is true of the animal and physical world as well as of human history. In the first impetus of this idea men began to speak of the evolution of God and to insist that he, too, derives his significance and value from the changes that pass over him.

No doubt the course of history, natural and human, deeply concerns the creator. No doubt his purpose in creation is progressively realised, and to that extent there is a progress from glory to glory which may be ascribed to God himself. But if we take this development to be the last word, we make nonsense of the
universe, and we deny the intimations that come through worship at its best and truest.

When we lift our souls to God in adoration we do not have to ascertain afresh each time what degree of perfection he has now attained. He is always the same; our understanding of his glory may develop but he himself is unchanging.

Men change; if they cease to change they are dead. But God does not change; his very life is eternal changelessness.

CLOSING PRAYER

Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth. Inspire us with the memory of Narciso Pico, whose love for the poor and needy of Pontvedra led him to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your son’s victory over sin and death; for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

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The Church Of England And Mental Illness

Today the prime minister of Britain, Theresa May, pledged an overhaul of mental health facilities. The NHS will be expected to make access to mental health services easier and quicker. The prime minister wants to tackle the "hidden injustice" and stigma of mental illness" and transform" attitudes to mental health problems. To bring this about every secondary school will be offered mental health first aid training. Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, have been appointed to carry out a review on improving support in the workplace and employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off.

It would be a truly liberating thing if employers would stop discriminating against those who are suffering, or have suffered, from mental health problems. It would be valuable witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the nature of the Kingdom of God if the Church of England, as an employer, was to lead by example. However, I strongly suspect that even if the bishops pay lip service to reform, in private they will continue to take advantage of the Church's exemption from much employment legislation to discriminate against the church's poorly employees even to the point of summary dismissal of the mentally ill without due process.

I can, with all honesty, state that the Church of England bishops are capable of such appalling bigotry and malpractice because I am a victim of their fear filled abuse of the mentally ill within their care.

Here is my story.

I was ordained into the diaconate of the Church of England in the diocese of Newcastle back in 1995. A year later I was ordained into the priesthood. My first curacy was in the parish of Newsham, near Blythe in Northumberland. Although I did not know it when I accepted the post, the vicar, Richard Pringle, was a bully of a man, very unpredictable in his behaviour. He would shout at me in front of the congregation and would physically push me around during services. However, it was his inappropriate behaviour around children and young people that was most disturbing. He would take every opportunity to touch and hug them and would even encourage them to sit on his lap. He had no friends his own age (early forties) and hung around the clubs in town that were frequented by teenagers. His conversations with children and young people could be very suggestive. Once, at coffee after the Sunday morning service, a boy and a girl (aged about fourteen I would guess) were sitting on the front of the stage in the hall, giggling and pushing into each other gently with their shoulders (harmless flirtation). Pringle walked up to them and said out loud, "If anyone is going to give (girl's name) a medical examination, it is going to be me."

That made me shudder but things were to get worse. A mother from the congregation approached me and informed me that Pringle had taken her teenage son to a sauna and photographed him in the nude.

The diocese was in interregnum at the time so I immediately reported the incident to the archdeacon, Peter Elliott. He told me that he would have a word with Pringle. I do not know if he did but one thing is for certain, as I found out later, nobody else was informed and no action was taken. I should have known that Elliott would not be interested enough in the situation to do anything about it because when I mentioned to him during the interview that Pringle always holidayed in places notable for providing easy sexual access to young males he replied, "I don't care what Richard Pringle gets up to as long as he doesn't do anything wrong on my patch."

Although I was removed from the parish and placed with a vicar, Michael Webb, who was as different from Richard Pringle as you could possibly get and who was an excellent training incumbent, my bad experience as Pringle's curate led to me experiencing bouts of severe, clinical depression. I struggled on and even managed to gain a first incumbency as priest in charge of a couple of small parishes on the Northumberland coast. Unfortunately, not long after taking up the post I became so poorly with depression and anxiety that I needed to be hospitalised on various occasions for periods of up to three months. I was off work for over a year.

During the two years of my illness the new bishop, Martin Wharton, came to visit me once and none of my colleagues stayed in touch with me. It was at this point that I started to realise that I would be a social leper because of my illness for the rest of my life.

I later asked Wharton why he had only visited me the once and he replied, "You are not my only priest, Jonathan."

With the help of an occupational therapist I worked hard on my recovery (only those who have suffered from severe depression will know how painful and arduous dragging oneself out of the depths of the illness can be) and eventually I was ready to return to work. The bishop sent Richard Langley, the archdeacon of Lindisfarne, to see me. He asked me what I wanted to do and I told him that I would like to return to work, looking after just one of the two parishes to begin with, with the intention of being responsible for both parishes in the near future. Langley told me that would not be possible and that the bishop wanted me to retire. If the Church had not been exempt from employment law (an exemption granted to them by the government to allow them to continue to discriminate against women and gay people) the diocese would have had to, by law, agree to my request for a phased return to work.

Upset at this I arranged to see Martin Wharton at his office. He reiterated the archdeacon's demands stating that he did not believe a priest who had suffered from mental health problems should ever be allowed to be a parish priest. I argued with him and told him that he had a duty of Christian care but he was far more worried about how much it would cost to keep me employed than he was about my welfare. He told me he would think about it.

A couple of weeks later I received a letter from his office stating that I would be demoted to assistant curate and placed in the parish of St. Francis, High Heaton, Newcastle. Furthermore, I had to report regularly to work consultants and counsellors who were appointed by Wharton and to whom they had to report (there was absolutely no confidentiality). I also had to undergo annual work assessments that were far more intrusive and aggressive than those every other priest had to endure (they even included a lay Christian, who just happened to be a doctor appointed by Wharton). Worst of all I was placed on a two year contract with the possibility of being dismissed immediately on the bishop's whim.

I got on with my job and, because the incumbent was reluctant to visit people or go into hospitals (something I feel honoured to do), I was quite well liked by the congregation (with the exception of some of the vicar's special friends). At the end of the two years I had to fight for my job again as Wharton was still determined to get me off the books. My contract was extended for a further two years, same draconian conditions.

At the end of this second period of employment I received a letter from Wharton stating that my contract would not be extended. I wrote back saying that it was against the law of the land to sack an employee who was officially disabled for being disabled. Wharton obviously did not believe that I was disabled as he then sent me to a private psychiatrist to be assessed. I do not know what Wharton expected but I guess it was not what happened. The psychiatrist reported back that I was officially disabled. He also stated that I was perfectly capable of being a parish priest. In fact, he said that although I was slightly "eccentric" I would make an excellent parish priest (I still have a copy of his report should my honesty on this matter ever be challenged). The bishop then deigned to give me a one year contract.

I worked for a further three years, the last couple of years being without any contract whatsoever, although I still received my wages at the end of each month. Eventually, the vicar of Saint Francis' decided to move on and Wharton used this as an opportunity to get rid of me for good.

I would point out that during the eight years that I was at the church of Saint Francis I did not have a single day off because of any illness, mental or physical.

When a vicar leaves his post and the parish moves into a interregnum it is the local area dean who becomes responsible for the services of the parish. In our case the area dean, Kevin Hunt, passed the responsibility for the services to the two lay readers and myself. Now, I am not one for being in charge and I prefer to work collaboratively. However, I do like the services I preside at to be well put together and coherent. So, I immediately went to the choir master and organist and asked them to join with me to choose the hymns each week. The following week they came back to me and told me that they alone would choose the hymns (which is never their responsibility, I was, in fact, being far more inclusive than I had to be, mainly because I like working with others rather than on my own). When I replied that this would not be possible the organist, the choir master and choir went on strike.

The bishop told me that I had to leave the sorting out of the situation to the churchwardens. The archdeacon, Geoff Miller, told me I was not to discuss the matter with anyone. I completely obeyed both these directions even though no such rules applied to the organist or choir. A rumour started, which Miller chose to believe even after I had told him it was not true, that I had shouted at the organist. But neither of us had exchanged cross words with each other. Kevin Hunt came to a parish meeting but he refused to say that the choir was in the wrong as far as church law was concerned and that he had handed responsibility for the content of the services to the lay readers and myself. It was a nightmare. Nobody would stand up for me except the lay readers. It was as if the whole thing had been contrived to bring me down and it succeeded in doing just that. Bishop Martin Wharton fired me and evicted my wife and myself from my clergy house, our only home. In May 2010 I presided at my last holy communion at Saint Francis' and I have not worked since.

I moved into Durham diocese hoping for a fresh start but nobody will help me. Justin Welby was both insulting and aggressive towards me once he had spoken to Bishop Wharton (Welby had been quite supportive up until that point) and the new bishop won't speak to me and did not respond to my request to meet him. The archdeacons refuse to answer my emails or acknowledge job applications that I put in. The area dean of the church in Durham that I was worshipping at refused to allow me to join the chapter. A person who I thought was a friend chose preferment to remaining my friend (that hurt). Kevin Hunt, who used to meet up with me for a drink once a month, made excuses not to see me gain when he was promoted to the post of residentiary canon of Newcastle Cathedral (that really hurt and led me to believe that all those years he was just spying on me for the bishop). I have been almost completely cut off from the diocese. An email to the new Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman, telling her of my ordeal under her predecessor and asking for help, elicited no response. The bishop of Glasgow, Gregor Duncan, wrote to me after I had driven all the way to his city to ask him for help, to tell me I would not be welcome in his diocese because I would "bring too much baggage with me." No colleague, bar Jenny Lancaster, a female priests from the church I worked in under the vicar, Michael Webb, have kept in touch with me. No bishop or archdeacon in the Church of England, although many know of me, my situation and my requests for assistance, have come forward with offers of help.

Of course, I am not the only priest who has been "disappeared" by his diocesan bishop following a bout of mental illness. I know of many myself. But I am one of the few who have stood up to the abuse and shouted about it publicly. My blog, "Of Course, I Could Be Wrong..." (which I started up after five years of enduring Martin Wharton's prejudice) shouted very loudly about the the Church of England's discrimination against the disabled, gays, women and anybody else who are not the "right sort of people." I am sure that my style of open blogging has made me even more unpopular within the Church. On the other hand my blogging helped me remain relatively sane and introduced me to many people (albeit mostly living on the other side of the world) who do do as Jesus would do rather than as the CEO of a banking concern would do. I have somehow managed to maintain a priestly ministry on the internet without the support of the church which ordained me.

Basically, I appear to be an embarrassment because I am a person who has mental health problems. Certainly, I have not received anything like the care, accommodation and understanding that I would have been legally entitled to if I had been working for a secular employer, let alone the care Theresa May is now asking employers to provide for their mentally ill staff. As I said at the beginning, it would seem extremely unlikely that the Church of England will get on board our prime minister's social justice express, especially in respect of troublesome, uncomfortable-making minorities such as the mentally ill.

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

MONDAY THE NINTH OF JANUARY 2017

OPENING PRAYER

Come, Holy Spirit,
fill us.

Come, Holy Breath,
live in us.

Come, Holy Wind,
move through us.

Where we are guided by prejudice,
fill us with love.

Where we are guided by pessimism,
fill us with joy.

Where we are guided by misunderstanding,
fill us with peace.

Where we are guided by superficial quick-fixes,
fill us with patience.

Where we are guided by self-interest,
fill us with kindness.

Where we are guided by apathy,
fill us with goodness.

Where we are guided by convenience,
fill us with faithfulness.

Where we are guided by complacency,
fill us with meekness.

Where we are guided by temptation,
fill us with self-control.

Come, Holy Spirit,
fill us

Come, Holy Breath,
live in us.

Come, Holy Wind,
move through us. Amen.

PSALM TWENTY-ONE

The king puts his trust in the Lord.

The king shall rejoice in your strength, O Lord;
how greatly shall he rejoice in your salvation!
You have given him his heart's desire
and have not denied the request of his lips.
For you come to meet him with blessings of goodness
and set a crown of pure gold upon his head.
He asked of you life and you gave it him,
length of days, for ever and ever.
His honour is great because of your salvation;
glory and majesty have you laid upon him.
You have granted him everlasting felicity
and will make him glad with joy in your presence.
For the king puts his trust in the Lord;
because of the loving-kindness of the Most High,
he shall not be overthrown.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

The king puts his trust in the Lord.

Crown us, O God, but with humility,
and robe us with compassion,
that, as you call us into the kingdom of your son,
we may strive to overcome all evil
by the power of good
and so walk gently on the earth
with you, our God, for ever. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Harriet Bedell and Mary Slessor: showing forth Christ

Today Saint Laika’s remembers Harriet Bedell who spread the gospel with a life of service among the native Americans, and Mary Slessor who did the same among the native peoples of Nigeria.

Harriet Bedell, was born in Buffalo, New York on the nineteenth of March, 1875. She was trained as a schoolteacher but was inspired several years later by an Episcopalian missionary who spoke at her church describing the many needs of missionary work. In 1906 she applied to and was accepted by the New York Training School for Deaconesses, where her one-year course of study included instruction in religious matters, missions, teaching, hygiene, and hospital nursing. Following her training she was sent as a missionary-teacher to the Cheyenne Indians at Whirlwind Mission in Oklahoma. While there she cared for the sick and the poor, organised social services for the tribe, performed the duties of the rector in his absence, and provided education for the women and children. She provided religious instruction, hoping to win the confidence of the native Americans and convert them to Christianity.

Later she served in a remote part of Alaska, where she was consecrated a deaconess in the Episcopal Church. The Great Depression of the early 1930’s caused that work to stop due to lack of funds. Deaconess Bedell traveled back to New York to plead for more contributions, but she was never to return. Through speaking engagements following her service in Alaska, Bedell was invited to visit a Seminole Indian reservation in southern Florida. Appalled by their living conditions, she began her campaign to improve the quality of life among the Mikasuki-Seminole peoples by living and working with them, not merely teaching them. She sought to revive the doll making and basket weaving skills which had become nearly extinct. She spent the rest of her life among the Seminoles, and died on the eighth of January, 1969.

Mary Slessor was a Scottish Presbyterian from a working class family, who had developed a keen interest in foreign missions through her involvement at her local church. At the age of twenty-eight, having successfully completed training, she was assigned to the Calibar region of Nigeria. After many years of work with the Efik people of Calabar, she moved more deeply into the territory, where only minimal contact with the West had been established. There she lived and worked among the Okoyong tribe.

For the last four decades of her life, Slessor suffered intermittent fevers from the malaria she contracted during her first station to Calabar. However, she downplayed the personal costs, and never gave up her mission work to return permanently to Scotland. The fevers eventually weakened Slessor to the point where she could no longer walk long distances in the rainforest, but had to be pushed along in a hand-cart. She died in early January, 1915.

Scripture. In Psalm Ninety-Six, verses two and three we find these words:

"Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous works among all the peoples."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for missionaries who proclaim the love of God through their words and actions.

... for the people of Republika Srpska who whose national day is today.

... for those affected by adverse weather conditions.

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

READING

From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:

We have not been sufficiently thorough in our interpretation of God by means of his full revelation of himself in Christ. We have often kept a conception of God based on the Old Testament, and even on sources of far less value, and have added something from the New Testament side by side with this. In the result popular thought has conceived the heavenly Father as only a stern potentate and Christ as only the gentle saviour. Justice becomes concentrated in one, and mercy in the other. In the Middle Ages there was a similar tendency to concentrate all gentleness in the Blessed Virgin Mary and to regard our Lord as only the stern judge. All such divisions are false in principle. If we are Christians we are to think of God in terms of Christ. Christ is the crown, and therefore the criterion, of all revelation. Whatever in other revelation conflicts with the revelation made in him must be a distortion due to the frailty or limitations of the human soul through whom that other revelation came.

But we must be firmly honest with our selves. It is Christ as he truly lived in whom the Father is revealed, and to find out that truth we must constantly read the Gospels with close attention and alert imagination. The very familiarity of the words makes it easy to read or hear them without really bringing before our minds that of which they speak. Meanwhile, a conception is formed by hymns that we happen to like, or pictures that we happen frequently to see, and such conceptions, casually formed, are usually one sided at best.

The Divine character, as we see it in the life of Christ, is not one sided either in sternness or in gentleness. Both are found there as occasion calls for them.

CLOSING PRAYER

Holy God, you chose your faithful servants Mary Slessor and Harriet Bedell to live the gospel amidst the indigenous peoples of North America and Nigeria: Fill us with compassion and respect for all people, and empower us for the work of ministry throughout the world; through Jesus Christ our lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

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