Of Course, I Could be Wrong

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Free From Debt

I was not expecting to be sacked by a bishop of the Church of England back in May 2010. I had assumed that, as long as I followed the rules, I would have a job until I retired. What I had not realised was that suffering from clinical depression was against the rules. So, I was not prepared for my sudden descent into poverty; like most people I had debts (credit card and an overdraft); nothing huge but enough to have debt collectors bugging me for repayment for the last seven years. It's not nice dreading the postman's call and being scared to answer the phone.

However, all that is now over. Today I paid off the last of my debts and it's a great feeling.

I will never get credit again and I am stuck with a bank account that allows me to do nothing but spend the cash that is in it, but I am, actually happy about that. Not being able to borrow money is a foolproof way of never getting into debt. The system may think it is punishing me. I think they are helping me to be a better Christian (and, honestly, I need all the help I can get).

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

FRIDAY THE EIGHTEENTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* Alberto Hurtado *

OPENING PRAYER

Strengthen me, O God, by the grace of your Holy Spirit. Grant me inner strength so that I might empty my heart of all useless care and anguish. O Lord, grant me heavenly wisdom, that I may learn above all things to seek and to find you, above all things to relish and to love you, and to think of all other things as being, what indeed they are, at the disposal of your wisdom. Amen.

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN ( abridged )

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures for ever.

The Lord is at my side; I will not fear;
what can flesh do to me?
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put any confidence in flesh.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put any confidence in princes.

The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.
Joyful shouts of salvation
sound from the tents of the righteous:
"The right hand of the Lord does mighty deeds;
the right hand of the Lord raises up;
the right hand of the Lord does mighty deeds."

I shall not die, but live
and declare the works of the Lord.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter and give thanks to the Lord.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have become my salvation.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing,
and it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures for ever.

Saving God,
open the gates of righteousness,
that your pilgrim people may enter
and be built into a living temple
on the cornerstone of our salvation,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Alberto Hurtado: Chile’s tireless advocate for the poor

Today we tell the story of Alberto Hurtado, a Jesuit priest and founder of Chile’s “Home of Christ” movement to provide for the children of the poor.

Alberto’s father died when Alberto was only four years old. And he and his mother were forced to live with and be shuffled around to other members of his family.

Thanks to a scholarship, he began to study with the Jesuits in Santiago. As he grew older he continued with them and was awarded a degree in law. Afterwards, he became a Jesuit. He earned further doctorates in pedagogy and psychology. He began his career as a college professor and priest in 1935. But his concern for the poorest of the poor was never far from him. He began to involve his college students in teaching catechism to the poor. By 1940 he had been appointed executive director of "Catholic Action Youth Movement."

Wealthy Catholic conservatives were angered by the progressive labour teachings of the Catholic Church, and Hurtado ran afoul of them by exposing the unequal pastoral care given to Chile’s poor. They accused him of being a communist.

He began to construct a series of shelters called “Hogar de Christo” (Home of Christ), where children in need of food and shelter were taken in. It was said that he used to drive an old green pick-up truck through the streets of Santiago at night, looking for people in trouble and in need of help. He was a person of tremendous personal charisma, and because of that, he attracted many supporters and collaborators in his work. Soon Hogar de Christo had spread throughout Chile. It is estimated that between 1945 and 1951 more than eight hundred and fifty thousand children received some help from the movement.

In 1947 he began a new chapter in his work: that of the trade unions. He founded the "Chilean Trade Union Association." Following the teachings of the Catholic Church on work and workers rights, he trained people to install Christian values in the trade unions of Chile. He published numerous books, articles, and periodicals on labour issues. Always, at heart, a priest, he counselled many, heard confessions, and led many people to a deeper relationship with Christ.

He died of pancreatic cancer on this day in 1952 and became a saint in the Roman Catholic Church in 2005.

Quote: “I hold that every poor man, every vagrant, every beggar is Christ carrying his cross. And as Christ, we must love and help him. We must treat him as a brother, a human being like ourselves.”

Scripture. In the second chapter of "James" at the fifth verse we read:

"Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?"

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the poor and those who care for them.

... for an end to poverty throughout the world.

... for trade unionists and all who campaign for the fair payment of workers and for their welfare.

... for the people of Barcelona and Cambrils; for those who were killed or injured when motor vehicles were driven into crowds of pedestrians in their towns by terrorists.

... 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 "The Foundation of our Love of Neighbour"by Alberto Hurtado:

A Christian without an intense concern to love, is like a farmer unconcerned about the earth, a sailor uninterested in the sea, a musician who is careless about harmony. Yes, Christianity is the religion of love, as one poet put it, and as Christ had already told us: "The first commandment of the Law is to love the Lord thy God with your whole heart, with your whole mind, with all your strength;" and then added immediately, "And the second is like to this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself for the love of God." (cf. Mt 22, 37-39).

In this love for our brothers that the Master commands of us, he himself went before us. We were created out of love and when we had fallen into sin, the Son of God became man to make us sons of God (what some even now consider supreme foolishness). In the Incarnation the Word united himself mystically with all human nature.

It is necessary then to accept the Incarnation with all its consequences, by extending the gift of our love not only to Jesus Christ but also to his mystical body. And this is a basic point in Christianity: to forsake the least of our brothers is to forsake Christ himself; to alleviate any one of them is to alleviate Christ, in person. When you wound one of my members you wound me; in the same way, to touch a man is to touch Christ himself. For this reason Christ told us that all the good and all the evil we might do to the least of men, we do to him.

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord Jesus Christ, you stumble through our streets in the person of the poor, the hungry, and the sick. Thank you for raising up among us Alberto Hurtado, your servant, who taught us to see you and to come to your aid. Help us to persevere in this work until that day when we will see you in your glory. Amen.

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

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On Charlottesville

The two most common responses to hatred are hating back and puffing oneself up with self-righteousness. Both increase the original hatred and corrupt the minds of those who were originally the good guys. The righteous response is almost impossible for most people, including myself, and can be extremely costly. It is the response advocated and practiced by Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ among (just a few) others.

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

WEDNESDAY THE SIXTEENTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* Brother Roger of Taizé *

OPENING PRAYER

Prince of Peace, we often find ourselves in the wilderness, discouraged, afraid and tired. Give us the grace and the courage to pursue your kingdom, to bring those who are isolated and oppressed into the light, to bring peace to the nations, and to those we meet. Amen.

PSALM

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim God’s help day by day,
tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples.

It was the Lord who made the heavens.
His are majesty and honour and power
and splendour in his holy place.

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad,
let the sea and all within it thunder praise,
let the land and all it bears rejoice,
all the trees of the wood shout for joy
at the presence of the Lord who comes.

( from Psalm Ninety-Six )

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Brother Roger of Taizé: ecumenical pilgrim

Today Saint Laika’s remembers Roger Louis Schütz-Marsauche, better known to the world as Brother Roger of Taizé.

From 1937 to 1940, Brother Roger studied reformed theology in Strasbourg and Lausanne, where he was a leader in the Swiss Student Christian Movement, part of the World Student Christian Federation. He also struggled with tuberculosis during this time.

At the onset of World War II, he felt called to serve those suffering from the war, so he came to Taizé, a small town in unoccupied France and bought an empty house, from which he and his sister ministered to any and all who would come. He helped many Jews as well as Christians to flee from the Nazis. He kept this up for over two years before receiving word that his life was in danger from the gestapo.

In 1944, he returned to Taizé to found the Community, initially a small semi-monastic community of men living together in poverty and obedience, open to all Christians. As their unique approach to spirituality and worship began to spread, they began to attract young people from all over Europe who were searching for meaning in the post war and post-nuclear weapon era. They would come to participate in the life of the Community, to listen and to worship. In the 1960’s and onward, members of the Community were often sent out to lead meetings all over the world.

Brother Roger always kept a low profile while the Community was gaining fame. His goal remained the reconciliation of all Churches into Christ. His focus was on Christian youth. During a Taizé gathering in Paris in 1995, he spoke to more than one hundred thousand young people who were sitting on the floor of an exhibition hall.

“We have come here to search,” he said, “or to go on searching through silence and prayer, to get in touch with our inner life. Christ always said, Do not worry, give yourself.”

Brother Roger was stabbed to death during the evening prayer service in Taizé on the sixteenth of August, 2005, by a young Romanian woman who was later deemed mentally ill. In a highly unusual move, the funeral of this Protestant monk was presided over by a Catholic cardinal, Walter Kasper, the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who celebrated the Mass with four priest-brothers of Taizé concelebrating.

In his homily he said, "Yes, the springtime of ecumenism has flowered on the hill of Taizé’.”

Scripture. In the "Letter to the Romans," chapter twelve, verses one and two we read:

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect."

INTERCESSIONS

For peace in the world and the liberation of all people, Lord, we pray.

That the leaders of the churches may tirelessly seek visible unity among Christians, Lord, we pray.

For honesty in political life, for justice in society, Lord, we pray.

For those who toil to earn their daily bread, Lord, we pray,

For those without work or resources, Lord, we pray.

For those with no family or home, Lord, we pray.

For those who suffer from loneliness or abandonment, Lord, we pray.

For those who are oppressed or maligned, Lord, we pray.

For those who work with the poor, with foreigners and with the excluded, Lord, we pray.

Living God, however poor our prayer is, we search for you with confidence. And your love carves out a way forward through our hesitations and even through our doubts. Amen.

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 "Brother Roger of Taizé: Taizé Writings":

The peace of your heart makes life beautiful for those around you.

Being wracked with worry has never been a way of living the Gospel. Founding your faith on torment would mean building a house on sand (Mt 7:26—27).

At every moment, do you hear these words of Jesus the Christ: “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. Let your hearts cease to be troubled and afraid.” (Jn 14:27)

This deep-seated peace provides the lightness needed to set out once again, when failure or discouragements weigh on your shoulders.

And sheer wonder comes alive, along with a breath of poetry, a simplicity of life and, for those able to understand it, a mystical vision of the human person.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, we praise you for Brother Roger of Taizé, whom you called to renew the life of your church. Inspired by his example, and guided by your Spirit, may we call the church to its tasks in our own day, and proclaim your reign of love; 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 FIFTEENTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS *

OPENING PRAYER

Almighty and everlasting God,
who stooped to raise fallen humanity
through the child-bearing of blessed Mary:
grant that we, who have seen your glory
revealed in our human nature
and your love made perfect in our weakness,
may daily be renewed in your image
and conformed to the pattern of your son,
Jesus Christ our lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

CANTICLE

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord:
unnumbered blessings, give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my saviour shall my heart rejoice.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name:
make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age the same;
his holy name, the Lord, the mighty one.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might:
powers and dominions lay their glory by;
proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.

Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word:
firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children's children and for evermore.

( Timothy Dudley-Smith )

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Dormition of the Theotokos

Mary, mother of Jesus has been a cause of disunity for western Christians. Some, it is said, make too much of her, believing and teaching as doctrine things never said of her in holy scripture. Others, it is said, make too little of her, ignoring her role in Jesus’ own life and ministry, and ignoring her role in the Church’s life and worship.

We express this feast in the language of the Orthodox Christians, who celebrate her dormition, her falling asleep. In the Bible “falling asleep” is often used as a metaphor for death. But it is a hopeful metaphor, for a “falling asleep” presumes a “waking up.” And for followers of Jesus, that means eternal life.

Also the Orthodox, on this feast day, call attention to her greatest work, that of being the God-bearer, the one who brings God into the world. This was proclaimed in the ancient church at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD.

Martin Luther famously wrote this about the title Theotokos: “Men have crowned all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God."

As a servant of the Word, Mary gladly obeyed God and did what was asked of her. In this she becomes an example for us to follow. So that, having served God faithfully in our lives, we may glorify him in our deaths and share eternal life with Mary and all the saints. We are called to be “God-bearers” too, bringing God into the world by our faith.

The first centuries of the Church tell us nothing about Mary. We last see her in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost. We know not how long she lived, what she did, or how she ended her days. But, in celebrating her dormition, let us make her hope, our hope. And let us, with all God’s saints, look forward with expectation to the eternal life that awaits us.

Scripture. In the "Second Timothy," chapter four, verses six to eight, we read:

"As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

INTERCESSIONS

As we pray to God,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we say with Mary:
Lord, have mercy on those who fear you.
Holy is your name.

Your prophet of old foretold a day
when a virgin would conceive
and bear a son who would be called God-with-us.
Help us to look forward to your deliverance
and to seek the fullness of your kingdom.
Lord, have mercy on those who fear you.
Holy is your name.

Your angel declared to Mary that she was to be
the mother of the Saviour.
Help every Christian person to be open to your word
and obedient to your will.
Lord, have mercy on those who fear you.
Holy is your name.

Mary rejoiced with Elizabeth and sang your praise,
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord."
Help us to live joyful lives that sing your praise.
Lord, have mercy on those who fear you.
Holy is your name.

Mary bore a son of David’s line,
a king whose reign would never end.
Bless the nations of the world
with Christ’s gift of peace.
Lord, have mercy on those who fear you.
Holy is your name.

The child Jesus grew in wisdom and stature
in the home of Mary and Joseph.
Strengthen our homes and families,
and keep under your protection
all those whom we love.
Lord, have mercy on those who fear you.
Holy is your name.

At the foot of the cross of Christ
stood his mother,
and from the cross she received
his lifeless body in her arms.
Give comfort and healing to all who suffer
and all who watch the suffering
of those they love.
Lord, have mercy on those who fear you.
Holy is your name.

The apostle John saw a vision
of a woman in heaven,
robed with the sun.
Bring us with all those who have died
in the faith of Christ
to share the joy of heaven
with Mary and all the saints.
Lord, have mercy on those who fear you.
Holy is your name.

Almighty and everlasting God,
your handmaid Mary magnified your name
and rejoiced in your saving love:
trusting in that same love,
we ask all these our prayers
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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 the "First Letter of Cyril of Alexandria to Nestorius:

And thus is he said, albeit he have his being before the ages and be begotten of the Father, to be born after the flesh too, of a woman; not as though his divine nature received the beginning of being in the holy virgin, nor yet as though a second birth were needed on its own account, along with that of the Father. For it were alike idle and foolish to say that he who is before every age and co-eternal with the Father, needs a second beginning of being. But since for us and for our salvation, the Word having united the human nature to himself personally, proceeded forth of a woman, He is therefore said to have been born in the flesh. For not mere man was first born of the holy virgin, and then the Word of God came down upon him, but united from the very womb, he is said to have undergone birth in the flesh, as making his own the birth of his own flesh.

Thus shall we confess one Christ and lord; not as if co-worshipping a man with the Word but as worshipping one and the same, because not alien to the Word is his body with which he sits with the father, not as though two sons sit with the father but one in union with his own flesh. But if we reject the personal union as either impossible or as uncomely, we fall into saying, two sons; for we must needs sever and say that the one is man by himself, honoured with the title of son; by himself again, the Word of God, having of nature both the name and fact of sonship.

We must not therefore sever into two sons, the one lord Jesus Christ, for it will nothing aid the right utterance of the faith so to do, even though one should allege unity of persons, for the scripture has not said that the Word united to himself the person of a man, but that he has been made flesh. And the Word's being made flesh is nought else than that he partook of flesh and blood in like way with ourselves and made our body his own and proceeded man of a woman, not casting away the being God and his generation of God the Father, but even while in assumption of flesh remaining what he was.

Thus does the declaration of the exact faith everywhere set forth to us, thus shall we find that the holy Fathers thought, thus were they bold to call the holy virgin mother of God: not as though the nature of the Word or his Godhead took a beginning of being from the holy virgin, but in that the holy body souled with a reasonable soul was born of here, whereunto the Word united personally is said to have been born after the flesh.

CLOSING PRAYER

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Mary, mother of your incarnate son. Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; 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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The Bishop Of Durham Is Sorry ( I Don’t Think )

I received a letter from the bishop of Durham this morning in response to my request to be removed from the authority of the Church of England bishops.

He says that he is sorry that I feel this is the course I have to take.

Why do bishops and their ilk talk such bullshit? He knows my story. He knows what I have been put through and he knows what I need to find peace and resolution. If he was in the slightest bit sorry for my decision he would offer me an alternative course of action or, at the very least, talk to me about it (he is, after all, my pastor). But no. He has not responded to any of my attempts to contact him and nor have his "senior" clergy. They have locked every gate I have tried to walk through and, basically, made it very obvious that they do not want me in their church.

Fair enough, they may even be right about me. But why then pretend to be sorry about it all?

Hypocrites and dissemblers, the lot of them!

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

MONDAY THE FOURTEENTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* Jonathan Daniels *

OPENING PRAYER

O holy and ever-blessed Lord, teach us, we beseech you, to love one another, to exercise forbearance and forgiveness towards our enemies; to recompense no person evil for evil, but to be merciful even as you, our Father in Heaven, are merciful: that so we may continually follow after you in all our doings, and be more and more conformed to your image and likeness. Amen.

( New Church Book of Worship )

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN

Alleluia.

O praise the Lord, all you nations;
praise him, all you peoples.
For great is his steadfast love towards us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever.
Alleluia.

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.

Alleluia.

Gracious God,
we praise you for your faithfulness
and pray that every nation
may find your blessing
in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Jonathan Daniels: hid with Christ in God

Today Saint Laika’s remembers Jonathan Daniels, a seminary student from the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was shot and killed in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 whilst working for the cause of equal rights for African-Americans. This is especially poignant as this remembrance comes after a weekend of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, perpetrated by white supremacists and others in the neo-Nazi movement.

Doctor Martin Luther King had issued a call for others to join him in Selma, Alabama, to march to the state capitol, on behalf of the civil rights movement.

Daniels tells in his own words what happened to him during evensong at the seminary: “I was singing the Magnificat with the special love and reverence I have always felt for Mary's glad song. Then it came. 'He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things.' I knew then that I must go to Selma. The Virgin's song was to grow more and more dear in the weeks ahead.”

He went to Selma, but realising how ineffective his own witness would be if he simply returned to Cambridge, he received permission to complete his semester off campus, and he stayed in Selma through the spring of 1965, returning to Cambridge only to take exams and turn in papers.

Jonathan devoted many of his Sundays in Selma to bringing small groups of black people, mostly high school students, to church with him in an effort to integrate the local Episcopal church. In August, he and others were arrested for picketing local businesses and spent six days in jail. Upon their release, they entered a local store, where a man met them with a loaded shotgun. He aimed his gun at one of the women in the group, and Jonathan pushed her out of the way and took the shotgun blast himself, which was fatal.

He had written: “I lost fear (of Selma) when I began to know in my bones and sinews that I had been truly baptised into the Lord's death and resurrection, that in the only sense that really matters I am already dead, and my life is hid with Christ in God."

Scripture. In the "Book of Proverbs," the fourth chapter from verse twenty-three to twenty-six, we read:

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forwards and your gaze be straight before you. Keep straight the path of your feet and all your ways will be sure.

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for those who campaign, peacefully, for an end to racial inequality, race hatred and all claims of racial supremacy.

... for the people of Charlottesville, Virginia, in particular those who were killed or injured when a car was driven into a crowd of pedestrians on Saturday.

... for an end to racism and segregation within our churches and congregations.

... for the people of Pakistan who celebrate seventy years of independence today; that there may be a real and lasting peace between Pakistan and India and that their territorial arguments may be resolved.

... for those killed or injured when Islamist militants attacked a restaurant in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. DETAILS

... for an end to the cholera epidemic in Yemen that has, so far, resulted in the death of nearly two thousand people; for an end to the civil warfare in Yemen that is causing the spread of disease, hunger and thirst. DETAILS

... for the hundreds of people who have been killed and all who have been injured or made homeless by a mudslide that has occurred near Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown. 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 the decree of the Holy and Grand Council, Constantinople, September, 1872:

The apostle Paul has commanded us to take heed unto ourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made us overseers, to govern the Church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood; and has at the same time predicted that grievous wolves shall enter among us, not sparing the flock, and that of our own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them; and he has warned us to beware of such.

We have learned with astonishment and pain that such men have lately appeared among the Bulgarian people within the jurisdiction of the Holy Ecumenical Throne. They have dared to introduce into the Church the idea of phyletism, or the national church, which is of the temporal life, and have established, in contempt of the sacred canon, an unauthorised and unprecedented church assembly, based upon the principle of the difference of races.

Being inspired in accordance with our duty, by zeal for God and the wish to protect the pious Bulgarian people against the spread of this evil, we have met in the name of our saviour, Jesus Christ. Having first besought from the depths of our hearts the grace of the Father of light, and consulted the gospel of Christ, in which all treasures of wisdom are hidden, and having examined the principles of phyletism with reference to the precepts of the gospel and the temporal constitution of the Church of God, we have found it not only foreign, but in enmity to them, and have perceived that the unlawful acts committed by the aforesaid unauthorised phyletismal assembly, as they were severally recited to us, are one and all condemned.

Therefore, in view of the sacred canons, whose rulings are hereby confirmed in their whole compass; in view of the teachings of the apostles, through whom the Holy Spirit has spoken; in view of the decrees of the seven ecumenical councils, and of all the local councils; in view of the definitions of the fathers of the Church, we ordain as follows:

Art. 1. We censure, condemn, and declare contrary to the teachings of the gospel and the sacred canons of the holy fathers the doctrine of phyletism, or the difference of races and national diversity in the bosom of the Church of Christ.

Art. 2. We declare the adherents of phyletism, who have had the boldness to set up an unlawful, unprecedented Church assembly upon such a principle, to be foreign and absolutely schismatic to the only holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

CLOSING PRAYER

O God we give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one: 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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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

FRIDAY THE ELEVENTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* Clare of Assisi *

OPENING PRAYER

Almighty God, giver of life, grant unto us your life, that we may truly live; your love, that we may greatly rejoice; that we, knowing trouble, and acquainted with grief, may, through the goodly deliverance of faith and hope, come to the large joy of the peace that passes all understanding. Of your loving-kindness hear our supplications, we beseech you, through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.

( George Dawson )

CANTICLE

Gaze upon the Lord of love,
gaze upon his face of grace;
gaze upon the living One
who holds you in close embrace.

Gaze upon the Lord of love,
gaze upon his coming poor
from the highest of the heavens
to our lowly earthly shore.

Look upon his loving way,
look upon his open heart,
look upon his sacred cross,
from death’s dust to bring new start.

If you learn from suffering,
if you open to life’s pain,
and allow your heart to weep,
then with him you’ll always reign.

Gaze upon the Lord’s dear cross,
the wounds of each day’s love,
gaze on his life, and know the
splendours of God’s heaven above.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Clare of Assisi: following the good road

It’s difficult to characterise the times that produced such holiness in people like Clare of Assisi. The quality of church life was spiritually impoverished. There were “bishops of bling” all over western Europe. The gap was wide indeed between the way of life spoken of in the "Book of Acts" and the lifestyle of twelfth century clergy. There was corruption everywhere. Such times produced a reaction among Christian people. Movements of reform were created, and some, like the Waldensians and the Cathars, could not be contained within the institutional church. Others, like the Franciscans, got a toehold in the church, and were tolerated, and later flourished.

Francis of Assisi espoused radical poverty. In the year 1212, Francis preached a sermon on “Lady Poverty” which made a strong impression on eighteen year old Clare Offreduccio, daughter of a wealthy family in Assisi. She approached Francis and begged to become a member of his order. Francis placed her in a convent of Benedictine nuns nearby. Her parents were horrified when they heard what she had done.

They brought her back home by force; but one night, in a gesture both tactical and symbolic, she slipped out of her house through "the door of the dead" (a small side door that was traditionally opened only to carry out a corpse) and returned to the house of the Franciscans.


Within a short time, other women had joined her. They were housed at a dwelling next to the Church of San Damiano in Assisi. They were called “the Poor Ladies of San Damiano.” Their practices were severe. They begged for their food and served the poor and neglected. Eventually they came to be known as “the Poor Clares.” That is still their name and heritage today.

In 1253 her final illness began. She received visitors daily. Even the Pope came to see her. She gave one consistent message to them: embrace holy poverty.

She told them: “Go forth in peace, you have followed the good road.”

She died on this day in 1253.

Scripture: In the "First Letter of Peter," the fourth chapter, verses one and two, we read:

"Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for members of the Order of Saint Clare.

... for those who become poor in order to serve the poor.

... for those who suffer from ailments of the eye.

... for the people of Chad who celebrate their national day today.

... for those killed or injured when a coach crashed into the wall of a tunnel whilst traveling from Chengdu to Luoyang in China. DETAILS

... for the migrants who have drowned after being forced off boats by smugglers near the coast of Yemen. 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

Clare of Assisi's letter to Ermentrude:

I know that you, dearest sister, have fled the filth of the world, with the help of God's grace; for which I rejoice and give thanks with you and again rejoice that you tread the paths of virtue strenuously with your daughters. Be faithful, dearest, to him to whom you are promised until death, and you will be crowned by him with the laurel of life.

This labour of ours is brief, but the reward is eternal; let the noises of the fleeting world and its shadow not confound you; let the empty spectres of the deceiving world not drive you mad; shut your ears to the whispers of hell and, strong, break down its attempts against you; willingly bear adverse evils and let provident goods not puff you up; for the one requires faith, the other demands it; what you promised God, faithfully render, and he will repay you.

Dearest, look on heaven that invites us, and bear the cross and follow Christ who preceded us; indeed, after various and many tribulations we shall enter through him into his glory.

Love with your whole heart God and Jesus, his son, crucified for our sins, and never let his memory escape your mind; make yourself mediate continually on the mysteries of the cross and the anguish of the mother standing beneath the cross. Pray and be always vigilant and the work that you began well, finish and the ministry you assumed, fulfil in holy poverty and sincere humility.

Do not fear, daughter, God is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works, he will pour out his blessing on you and your daughters and he will be your helper and your best consoler; he is our redeemer and our eternal reward.

Let us pray God for each other, for in bearing each other's burden of charity we shall fulfil the law of Christ.

CLOSING PRAYER

O God, through his poverty of your son, Jesus Christ, deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same 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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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

THURSDAY THE TENTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* Lawrence the Deacon *

OPENING PRAYER

O sovereign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, you love to us your servants, the sheep of your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love. Amen.

( Liturgy of St. Mark )

CANTICLE

When Lawrence was led out to die,
love made him prodigal of life,
no armour would he use but faith
against the persecutor’s strife.

The first of seven chosen men
selected at the Pope’s behest,
a deacon’s office to fulfil,
in virtue he surpassed the rest.

He was a leader in the fight,
although no sword hung by his side,
and with a smile in face of death,
he could the torturer deride.

We praise your triumph here on earth,
so, holy Lawrence, lend your aid,
may each of us your favour feel,
receiving grace for which we prayed.

For all the care with which you served
and loved the city’s poor in Rome,
what lustre must enhance your crown
for ever in the Father’s home!

To Father, Son, and Spirit too,
be honour, homage and renown,
who will reward your prayers for us
by granting an eternal crown. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Lawrence the Deacon: protecting the church’s treasure

We take time today to remember Lawrence, a deacon of the ancient church, who was put to death in Rome on the tenth of August, 258, in a persecution instigated by the Roman emperor, Valerian.

In the ancient church, the work of deacons took its lead from the "Book of the Acts of the Apostles." The deacons were to take care of the poor, the widows, and all who were in need. By the third century, the church, though still illegal according to Roman law, was organised enough to be making a real difference in the quality of life for many people. Simply put, they took care of people for whom the Roman emperor and his government had nothing to offer. The deacon was entrusted with the church’s money for such work.

In early August of 258, Valerian issued his decree against the Christians. In Rome this decree was carried out immediately. The pope at the time, Sixtus II, was found in the catacombs under the city, and executed on the 6th. of August. Lawrence was captured also and executed on the tenth of August. These are the facts we know for certain.

But as with many of the ancient saints stories have been handed down which add colour to the bare facts. No one is able to say for sure whether they are true or simply folklore. Two such stories have circulated about Lawrence and they appear in written form in the works of Saint Ambrose (340-397).

The first is that when captured, Lawrence was commanded to turn over to the emperor the treasure of the Church of Rome. Lawrence asked for three days to gather it. During those three days, he gave away the money, and assembled a large group of impoverished people, widows, orphans, those disfigured by disease.

He appeared before the emperor and proclaimed: “These are the treasures of the Church!”

The second story is related to the first. Enraged by Lawrence’s deception, the emperor ordered a large gridiron to be prepared stacked with hot coals. Lawrence would face death slowly by being roasted over the coals.

Before he died, he is alleged to have said to his executioner: “Turn me over please, I’m done on this side.”

Scripture. In the sixth chapter of "Matthew," verses nineteen to twenty-one, Jesus tells the crowd:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the deacons of the Church, for church treasurers and all who care for those in need in the name of Christ.

... for those who stand up to and condemn corrupt or cruel leaders.

... for archivists and librarians, brewers, butchers, chefs, cooks, confectioners and restauranteurs, comedians, cutlers, glaziers and stained glass workers, laundry workers, paupers, schoolchildren, students and seminarians, vine growers, vintners and wine makers; for the people of Sri Lanka and the people of all places, institutions and churches that claim Lawrence as their patron and for those suffering from lumbago.

... for the people of Ecuador who celebrate their national day today.

... for those who are fearful that there may be a nuclear war.

... for those living with heart problems.

... 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

A sermon preached by Augustine of Hippo on the feast day of Saint Lawrence:

The Roman Church commends this day to us as the blessed Lawrence’s day of triumph, on which he trod down the world as it roared and raged against him; spurned it as it coaxed and wheedled him; and in each case, conquered the devil as he persecuted him. For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ. The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord’s supper when he said Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Saint Lawrence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death.

And we too, brethren, if we truly love him, let us imitate him.

After all, we shall not be able to give a better proof of love than by imitating his example; "for Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, so that we might follow in his footsteps."

In this sentence the apostle Peter appears to have seen that Christ suffered only for those who follow in his footsteps, and that Christ’s passion profits none but those who follow in his footsteps. The holy martyrs followed him, to the shedding of their blood, to the similarity of their sufferings. The martyrs followed, but they were not the only ones. It is not the case, I mean to say, that after they crossed, the bridge was cut; or that after they had drunk, the fountain dried up.

The garden of the Lord, brethren, includes – yes, it truly includes – includes not only the roses of martyrs but also the lilies of virgins and the ivy of married people and the violets of widows. There is absolutely no kind of human beings, my dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all. It was very truly written about him: who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgement of the truth.

So let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death.

The Apostle says, speaking of the Lord Christ, "Who, though he was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal to God."

What incomparable greatness! But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and found in condition as a man. What unequalled humility!

Christ humbled himself: you have something, Christian, to latch on to. Christ became obedient. Why do you behave proudly? After running the course of these humiliations and laying death low, Christ ascended into heaven: let us follow him there.

Let us listen to the Apostle telling us, "If you have risen with Christ, saviour the things that are above us, seated at God’s right hand."

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, who called your deacon Lawrence to serve you with deeds of love, and gave him the crown of martyrdom: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfil your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, 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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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

WEDNESDAY THE NINTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* Herman of Alaska *

OPENING PRAYER

Most merciful God, descend into my soul
which you have prepared for your reception
by the desire which you have breathed into it.
Before ever I cried to you,
you, most merciful, called and sought me
that I might find you and finding love you.

Even so I sought
and found you, Lord,
and desire to love you.
Increase my desire,
and grant me what I ask.

See, I love you,
but too little;
strengthen my love.

When my spirit aspires to you,
and meditates on your unspeakable goodness,
the burden of the flesh becomes less heavy,
the tumult of thought is stilled,
the weight of mortality is less oppressive.
Then fain would my soul find wings,
that she might rise in tireless flight
ever upwards to your glorious throne,
and there be filled with the refreshing solace
that belongs to the citizens of heaven. Amen.

( Augustine of Hippo )

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN ( abridged )

Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

I love the Lord,
for he has heard the voice of my supplication;
because he inclined his ear to me
on the day I called to him.

The snares of death encompassed me;
the pains of hell took hold of me;
by grief and sorrow was I held.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
"O Lord, I beg you, deliver my soul."

Gracious is the Lord and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord watches over the simple;
I was brought very low and he saved me.

Turn again to your rest, O my soul,
for the Lord has been gracious to you.
For he has delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.

How shall I repay the Lord
for all the benefits he has given to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call upon the name of the Lord.
I will fulfil my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
I will offer to the Lord
a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the Lord.
I will fulfil my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Alleluia.

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.

Refrain: Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

As we walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
may we call upon your name,
raise the cup of salvation,
and so proclaim your death, O Lord,
until you come in glory. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Herman of Alaska: the simple monk of the Aleuts

Today Saint Laika’s reaches out to the Orthodox world to remember Herman of Alaska, a monk of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was sent with seven other monks, to bring the Christian faith to Alaska. They landed on Kodiak Island in 1794. Their faith soon became the faith of the Aleutian people. The monks were called upon to protect the Aleuts from abuse and mistreatment predominantly from Russian traders who had a ready market for the otter furs that the Aleuts hunted. The monks themselves suffered abuse for taking the side of the islanders. That, coupled with inclement weather, illness, and hardship, left Herman as the last surviving monk, as the others either died or returned to Russia.

Herman himself was a simple monk. He was never ordained to the priesthood. He built a hermitage for himself on nearby Spruce Island and lived among the Aleuts as one devoted to prayer and teaching. The Islanders cared for him until he died in 1837. He was named a saint of the Orthodox Church on the ninth of August, 1970.

Scripture. In the "Gospel of Luke," the ninth chapter, in verses forty-six through forty-eight, we read:

"An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest.

"But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’"

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the native peoples of Alaska and for those who serve them in the name of Christ.

... for the indigenous peoples of the world. DETAILS

... for the people of Singapore, who celebrate their national day today

... for an end to the war of words between North Korea and the USA and for an end to the threat of war between the two countries.

... for those injured when a car was driven into a group of soldiers in Paris. DETAILS

... that there will be no violence in Kenya following yesterday's presidential election.

... for those killed, injured or left homeless when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck China's south-western province of Sichuan. 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 "Wisdom of the Sadhu" by Sundar Singh:

Both water and oil come from the earth. And though they are similar in many ways, they are opposites in their nature and their purpose. One extinguishes fire, the other gives fuel to the fire. Similarly, the world and its treasures are creations of God along with the soul and its thirst for spiritual truth. But if we try to quench the thirst of our soul with the wealth and pride and honours of this world, then it is like trying to extinguish fire with oil. The soul will only find peace and contentment in the One who created it along with its longing. When we turn to the living Master, we receive water that satisfies our soul. This water is a well of spiritual life that springs up deep within us.

It is pointless to seek peace in the things of this world. Peace and satisfaction are not to be found there. It is like the boy who found an onion and peeled away layer after layer, hoping to find something inside. When he had peeled away the innermost skin, he found nothing else. So this physical existence and all that it contains is empty and hollow until we discover the true source of peace. The water of life cannot be contained in earthen tanks, but those who approach the Risen One with a pure heart will find the answer.

CLOSING PRAYER

Holy God, we remember Herman, who came from Russia to bring the good news of Christ’s love to your native people in Alaska, and to defend them from oppression. Help us, we pray, to make no peace with oppression and to follow his example in proclaiming the gospel; 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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Mutually Assured Stupidity

Okay, I do get why it is a very bad idea for North Korea to have nuclear weapons. What I don't get is why North Korea cannot have them but the United States of America can. The idea of trying to stop a country being able to threaten other countries with nuclear weapons by threatening them with your own nuclear weapons is surreal.

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

TUESDAY THE EIGHTH OF AUGUST, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

Let all your works praise you, O Lord, and your servants rejoice in thanking you. True is your word, which counts us worthy of pity, and faithful your help for our heart’s trust to rest upon. O God, your strength is made perfect in those who have not cared for themselves, but sought the eternal; then you bring forth truth to victory. Make known to me your ways, O God, and let me walk in your truth. Go on, O God, victoriously, and open me the gate of hope, out of darkness into light. Since you have not taken me away in the midst of my day, but upheld my soul in life, suffer not my feet to slip. Grant me a work of your love to do, and prosper it in my hands. Let me not die until I have fulfilled your will; and let me enter with joy into rest. Amen.

( Rowland Williams )

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN

The Lord has been mindful of us
and he will bless us.

Not to us, Lord, not to us,
but to your name give the glory,
for the sake of your loving mercy and truth.

Why should the nations say,
"Where is now their God?"

As for our God, he is in heaven;
he does whatever he pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak;
eyes have they, but cannot see;
they have ears, but cannot hear;
noses have they, but cannot smell;
they have hands, but cannot feel;
feet have they, but cannot walk;
not a whisper do they make from their throats.
Those who make them shall become like them
and so will all who put their trust in them.

But you, Israel, put your trust in the Lord;
he is their help and their shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the Lord;
he is their help and their shield.
You that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord;
he is their help and their shield.

The Lord has been mindful of us
and he will bless us;
may he bless the house of Israel;
may he bless the house of Aaron;
May he bless those who fear the Lord,
both small and great together.

May the Lord increase you more and more,
you and your children after you.
May you be blest by the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.

The heavens are the heavens of the Lord,
but the earth he has entrusted to his children.

The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor those gone down into silence;
But we will bless the Lord,
from this time forth for evermore.
Alleluia.

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 has been mindful of us and he will bless us.

Living God,
defend us from the idols
which our hearts enthrone,
that we may not go down into silence
but be raised to our heaven of heavens
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

“The Gleaners”

When I was a boy attending a Roman Catholic elementary school, I was introduced to the painting called “The Gleaners” by Jean-Francois Millet. It was an example of a religious theme, I was told. I was introduced to the story of Ruth, in the "Old Testament," and the Mosaic law regarding leaving some of the harvest for the poor. It was all rather benign.

I was not introduced to the controversy this painting stirred in France, or the political statement it made about rural poverty in the face of the piles of grain in the background which belonged to the wealthy landowners. My teacher said nothing of the growing movement called socialism, which this picture championed. The Biblical law was based on compassion and community, but there is no touch of the Biblical sense of community and compassion in the contrasting embodiments of grinding poverty in the foreground and the rich harvest in the sunlit distance beyond.

The painting is surprisingly contemporary as we discuss the growing disparity between the super wealthy and the growing ranks of the poor. It is important to remember that from ancient days, God was reminding us of our duties toward the poor.

Scripture. In the book of "Leviticus," chapter twenty-three, verse twenty-two, we read:

"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the LORD your God."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for all contemporary “gleaners” who scavenge among the refuse of supermarket and restaurant bins; feed off the charity of food banks or homeless centres.

... that the eyes of the rich will be opened to the suffering of the poor and that their hearts will be filled with compassion.

... for artists who use their talents to show us the truth about the societies we live in.

... for young people awaiting exam results.

... for peace on the streets of Northern Ireland and an end to community events that enflame sectarian hatred. DETAILS

... that the taboos that surround various illnesses and physical abnormalities may be eradicated from society. DETAILS

... for an end to corruption in the South African government.

... 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 "Homily Fifty" by John Chrysostom:

Would you do honour to Christ's body? Neglect him not when naked; do not honour him with silken garments in church and neglect him as he perishes outside from cold and nakedness. For he that said, "This is my body," and by his word confirmed the fact, also said, "You saw me hungry, and fed me not" and, "Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me."

Let us learn therefore to be strict in life and to honour Christ as he himself desires. For to him who is honoured that honour is most pleasing which it is his own will to have, not that which we account best. Since Peter too thought to honour him by forbidding him to wash his feet, but his doing so was not an honour, but the contrary.

Even so, honour him with this honour which he ordained, spending your wealth on poor people. Since God has no need at all of golden vessels, but of golden souls.

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord God, you came to give honour to the least, those forgotten, overlooked and misjudged. You came to give first place to the last, those left behind, misunderstood and undervalued. You came to give a warm welcome to the lost, those who are orphaned, abandoned and destitute.

Help us to be your ears to listen to their cries.
Help us to be your voice speaking out love and acceptance.
Help us to be your feet walking beside those in need.
Help us to be your hands to clothe, feed and shelter them.

You came for the least,
the lost and last of this world.
Lord, hear our prayer. 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 SEVENTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* John Mason Neale *

OPENING PRAYER

Oh! give your servants patience to be still and hear your will, courage to venture wholly on your arm that will not harm, the wisdom that will never let us stray out of our way, the love that now afflicting knows best when we should rest. Amen.

CANTICLE

To the name of our salvation,
laud and honour let us pay,
which for many a generation
hid in God’s foreknowledge lay;
but with holy exultation
we may sing aloud today.

Jesus is the name we treasure;
name beyond what words can tell;
name of gladness, name of pleasure,
ear and heart delighting well;
name of sweetness, passing measure,
saving us from sin and hell.

It is the name for adoration,
name for songs of victory,
name for holy meditation
in this vale of misery,
name for joyful veneration
by the citizens on high.

It is the name that whoso preacheth
speaks like music to the ear;
who in prayer this name beseecheth
sweetest comfort findeth near;
who its perfect wisdom reacheth,
heavenly joy possesseth here.

Jesus is the name prevailing
over every name by right;
at this name, in terror quailing,
powers of hell are put to flight;
God, in mercy never failing,
saves by this name of might.

Therefore we in love adoring,
this most blessèd name revere;
holy Jesus, thee imploring
so to write it in us here,
that hereafter, heavenward soaring,
we may sing with angels there.

( Translated from Latin into English by John Mason Neale )

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

John Mason Neale: ancient voices from the poorhouse

Today Saint Laika’s remembers John Mason Neale, who brought to life the ancient song of the Church from a poorhouse where he ministered to those in need.

John Mason Neale was born in London in 1818. He won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, and while studying there came under the influence of the Oxford Movement, an association of Anglican clergy and laity, who were interested in the pre-reformation church. Neale founded the Cambridge Camden Society for the study of ecclesiastical art, architecture and ritual. He was ordained in 1842, but ill health prevented him from taking his first parish.

In 1845, the leading figure in the Oxford Movement, an Anglican priest, John Henry Newman, relinquished his identity as an Anglican and converted to Roman Catholicism. The outcry this provoked led many of the clergy in the Oxford Movement to be viewed with suspicion. Neale was one of them. He was offered and accepted the position of warden at Sackville College, a poorhouse. This was not considered a position of distinction, but like many clergy in the Oxford Movement who took refuge in urban ministry, it was all Neale could get.

In 1854, together with the daughter of a neighbouring parish priest, Neale founded an order of Anglican nuns, the Sisterhood of Saint Margaret. His churchmanship was so suspect that he was once beaten and mauled while attending the funeral of one of his Saint Margaret sisters. His own bishop inhibited his ability of function as a priest from 1847 to 1863. People feared that after Newman’s defection, Neale and others were intent on subverting the Church of England, and returning it to the Roman Catholic Church. So an inhibited priest, eking out a living as poorhouse warden, turned to the ancient hymns of the church, written in Greek, Syriac, and Latin, and began to translate them into English verse. We have Neale to thank whenever we sing a hymn like “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” or, “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation,” or “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” to name only a few.

By the time of his death on the sixth of August, 1866, he had acquired a world-wide reputation as a writer of prose and verse.

Scripture. In the "Second Book of Chronicles," chapter twenty, at verse twenty and twenty-one, we read:

"Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God and you will be established; believe his prophets.’

"When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy splendour, as they went before the army, singing, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.’"

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for hymn writers and translators of holy verse.

... for priests and other church ministers who have been prevented from carrying out their full vocation because of differences of opinion between those with power in the church and themselves.

... for the people of Côte d'Ivoire and Jamaica who celebrate their national days today.

... for the lonely, especially those who feel lonely even when among other people.

... for people starting new jobs.

... for people who are house-hunting; for all looking for a new place to live; for the homeless.

... for those affected by the tornado that hit the city of Tulsa in Arizona; for those who were injured and those who homes or businesses have been damaged.

... for people suffering from longterm chronic pain.

... that North Korea stops developing nuclear weapons.

... for the safety of the people of Kenya as they elect a new president tomorrow; that there will be no violence following the announcement of the result.

... 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 "Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament" by John Mason Neale:

With the blessed sacrament thus set before us, with the Lord of Glory in his very flesh and blood presented to our eyes, how satisfied is faith! How satisfied is love! Hope only remains for the present unsatisfied.

How satisfied is our faith! for what greater, what more glorious truth can she be called to embrace? Here she may put forth all her strength and energy: sight fails, understanding fails. How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

And faith answers, "Be not afraid; believe only, and thou shall be made whole."

Love, too is satisfied; for what greater proof of responsive love than when that Eternal Wisdom proclaims, "Come, eat of my bread, and drink of my wine that I have mingled," than when man shall eat angels' food, and he sends us meat enough? Enough to supply all our wants through the desert of this world: enough to satisfy the hundred thousand congregations who have this day received the body that was taken of Mary, and drank of the blood that streamed down from the cross: enough, by a miracle infinitely surpassing that of the five loaves, in multiplying this celestial food a million of times, that the Church may be supported during one more day of her pilgrimage.

But hope yet remains unsatisfied. This is not the end and the sum of her wishes. She desires to see, as well as to believe; to look on her lord face to face, and not under the shadow of a sacramental veil: she desires that the master should reveal himself to her under his own dear form, in the garden of Paradise, as once to Saint Mary in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. That, too, will be in time, but not till the time when hope itself shall have met with its own blessed end.

Then will be heard those most happy words, "Behold my hands and feet, that it is I, myself."

CLOSING PRAYER

God of Majesty, whom saints and angels delight to worship. We remember before you your servant, John Mason Neale, who made art and music for your people. Help us to glimpse your beauty here on earth, and lead us to stand before your unveiled glory in eternal life; 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

FRIDAY THE FOURTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* Jean-Baptiste Vianney *

OPENING PRAYER

I love you, O my God,
and my only desire is to love you
until the last breath of my life.

I love you, O my infinitely lovable God,
and I would rather die loving you,
than live without loving you.

I love you, Lord
and the only grace I ask
is to love you eternally.

My God, if my tongue cannot say
in every moment that I love you,
I want my heart to repeat it to you
as often as I draw breath. Amen.

( Jean-Baptiste Vianney )

CANTICLE

God's love was revealed among us
so that we might live through Jesus.

Beloved, let us love one another,
for love is of God;
everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God,
for God is love.

In this the love of God was revealed among us,
that God sent his only Son into the world,
so that we might live through him.
In this is love,
not that we loved God but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.

Beloved, since God loved us so much,
we ought also to love one another.
For if we love one another, God abides in us,
and God's love will be perfected in us.

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.

God's love was revealed among us
so that we might live through Jesus.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Jean-Baptiste Vianney, the Cure d’Ars

Today Saint Laika’s remembers John Baptist Vianney, a French priest who lived through the French Revolution and its aftermath, in the late eighteenth, through the mid nineteenth century, and spent forty-one years of his life in the village of Ars.

The French Revolution was a major overthrow of the social order beginning with the abolishment of serfdom in 1789, the outlawing of Catholicism and an embrace of radical new ideas such as a ten day week, and a complete renaming of the calendar. The great cathedral of Notre Dame was renamed the "Temple of Reason." It made the American Revolution of 1776 seem mild in comparison. It was into this tumult that John Baptist Vianney was born in 1786.

Religious instruction was banned until 1802, and when the revolution itself was overthrown, France embraced Napoleon, whose thirst for empire-building in Europe led France to be plunged into a series of devastating wars. John Vianney was an army deserter and spent much of the early years of the nineteenth century in hiding. In 1810 amnesty was declared for all deserters, and John Vianney surfaced again.

He had received very little education as a child. And when he was able to go to school he was labeled “slow.” He had a desire to become a priest, and very nearly was rejected by his bishop for his difficulty in learning. He was finally ordained a priest in 1829. And he was sent to a small, out of the way village of two hundred and forty people named Ars.

One of the most disastrous consequences of the revolution was the religious ignorance of the people. Vianney struggled to redress that, but his sermons were poor and the fruits of his labours were not to be found in the pulpit. What made John Vianney the outstanding example of holiness, was his ability to connect with people through the confession of their sins. He was extremely insightful, and a real help to the people who came to him for confession. Soon his reputation began to spread, and people were flocking to Ars, keeping him in the confessional for between twelve and sixteen hours a day. He was known for his gentleness and mercy toward sinners, and for the effective advice he gave that helped people to live better lives.

He died on this day in 1859.

Scripture. In the "First Letter of John," chapter one, verses eight and nine, we read:

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for confessors and spiritual directors.

... for village clergy.

... that we appreciate the God-given talents of all people.

... for children struggling at school and all who find academic learning difficult.

... for the people of Burkina Faso and the Cook Islands who celebrate their national days today.

... for people living with complications of diabetes, that they may be healed.

... for those living with Parkinson's Disease and that a cure for their illness may be discovered soon.

... for stray and feral pets and for those who care for their welfare.

... for victims of acid attacks.

... 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

A catechism on prayer by Jean-Baptiste Vianney:

Consider, children, a Christian’s treasure is not on earth, it is in heaven. Well then, our thoughts should turn to where our treasure is.

Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love. To pray and to love, that is the happiness of man on earth.

Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When the heart is pure and united with God it is consoled and filled with sweetness; it is dazzled by a marvellous light. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax moulded into one; they cannot any more be separated. It is a very wonderful thing, this union of God with his insignificant creature, a happiness passing all understanding.

We had deserved to be left incapable of praying; but God in his goodness has permitted us to speak to him. Our prayer is an incense that is delightful to God.

My children, your hearts are small, but prayer enlarges them and renders them capable of loving God. Prayer is a foretaste of heaven, an overflowing of heaven. It never leaves us without sweetness; it is like honey, it descends into the soul and sweetens everything. In a prayer well made, troubles vanish like snow under the rays of the sun.

Prayer makes time seem to pass quickly, and so pleasantly that one fails to notice how long it is. When I was parish priest of Bresse, once almost all my colleagues were ill, and as I made long journeys I used to pray to God, and, I assure you, the time did not seem long to me. There are those who lose themselves in prayer, like a fish in water, because they are absorbed in God. There is no division in their hearts. How I love those noble souls! Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Colette saw our Lord and spoke to him as we speak to one another.

As for ourselves, how often do we come to church without thinking what we are going to do or for what we are going to ask. And yet, when we go to call upon someone, we have no difficulty in remembering why it was we came.

Some appear as if they were about to say to God: "I am just going to say a couple of words, so I can get away quickly."

I often think that when we come to adore our Lord we should get all we ask if we asked for it with a lively faith and a pure heart.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, you made your priest, John Vianney, wonderful in his pastoral care of souls. Following his example, may we be willing to encourage and exhort others to live out their lives in faith toward you, and in loving service to others; 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

THURSDAY THE THIRD OF AUGUST, 2017
* George Freeman Bragg, Jr. and W. E. B. Du Bois *

OPENING PRAYER

O God, our heavenly Father, who has commanded us to love one another as your children, and has ordained the highest friendship in the bond of your Spirit, we beseech you to maintain and preserve us always in the same bond, to your glory, and our mutual comfort, with all those to whom we are bound by any special tie, either of nature or of choice; that we may be perfected together in that love which is from above, and which never fails when all other things shall fail. Send down the dew of your heavenly grace upon us, that we may have joy in each other that passes not away; and, having lived together in love here, according to your commandment, may live for ever together with them, being made one in you, in your glorious kingdom hereafter, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

( Hickes’ Devotions )

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord.

When Israel came out of Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of a strange tongue,
Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

The sea saw that, and fled;
Jordan was driven back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the little hills like young sheep.

What ailed you, O sea, that you fled?
O Jordan, that you were driven back?
You mountains, that you skipped like rams,
you little hills like young sheep?

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the hard rock into a pool of water,
the flint-stone into a springing well.

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.

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord.

Strike the rock of our hard hearts, O God,
and let our tears of joy and sorrow
mould us to bear the imprint of your love,
given in Christ our risen Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

George Freeman Bragg, Jr. and W. E. B. Du Bois

Today Saint Laika's remembers two African American men who helped black Americans find their voice in the generations following the Civil War. In the aftermath of the Civil War, with the end of slavery, many states passed discriminatory laws against black Americans. They came to be known as Jim Crow laws. The phrase "Jim Crow" has often been attributed to "Jump Jim Crow", a song-and-dance caricature of blacks performed by white actor Thomas D. Rice in blackface, which first surfaced in 1832.

Booker T. Washington was one leading African-American voice. In 1895 his “Atlanta Compromise” called for avoiding confrontation over segregation and instead putting more reliance on long-term educational and economic advancement in the black community. Washington mobilised a nationwide coalition of middle-class blacks, church leaders, and white philanthropists and politicians, with a long-term goal of building the community's economic strength and pride by a focus on self-help and schooling.

But his voice was not the only voice in those days. W.E.B. DuBois, an African-American living in the North, rose to national prominence as the leader of a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the "Atlanta Compromise" and insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite.

He was one of the co-founders of the "National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP)" in 1909. He was a tireless advocate for civil rights for blacks. He lived to the age of ninety-five, and died in 1963, just one year before the "American Civil Rights Act" of 1964 was signed into law, which embodied many of the reforms DuBois had championed his entire life.

George Freeman Bragg was a contemporary of W.E.B. DuBois. He was an Episcopalian and became a priest in 1888. He helped the Episcopal Church confront its own racism and colonialism with regard to blacks. The Church was good at providing charity to its black members, but did little to help them to independence by raising up lay and clergy leadership. Bragg himself was responsible for leading at least twenty African American men into the Episcopal priesthood. He was the editor of the "Afro-American Churchman." He died in 1940.

Scripture. In "Psalm One Hundred and Thirteen," verses five to eight, we read:

Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the descendants of slaves in the U.S.A., that they may achieve full and equal citizenship, in reality as well as on paper.

... for an end to all systems that segregate one group of people from another and attitudes that regard one group of people as of less worth than another.

... for black ministers of religion.

... for communities and individuals threatened by wild fires and for the firefighters working to put out the fires.

... for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

... for people who feel vulnerable and threatened when away from their homes; for the safety of people traveling alone.

... for those on or about to go on vacation, that they may find refreshment.

... for those who are about to retire, that they may find new purpose and opportunity in their lives.

... for mental health patients living in acute units and secure facilities.

... for babies who have died from cot death syndrome and for their parents and siblings.

... 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 "The Souls of Black Folk" by W.E.B. Du Bois:

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanise America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.

This, then, is the end of his striving: to be a co-worker in the kingdom of culture, to escape both death and isolation, to husband and use his best powers and his latent genius.

Away back in the days of bondage they thought to see in one divine event the end of all doubt and disappointment; few men ever worshipped Freedom with half such unquestioning faith as did the American Negro for two centuries. To him, so far as he thought and dreamed, slavery was indeed the sum of all villainies, the cause of all sorrow, the root of all prejudice; Emancipation was the key to a promised land of sweeter beauty than ever stretched before the eyes of wearied Israelites. In song and exhortation swelled one refrain—Liberty; in his tears and curses the God he implored had Freedom in his right hand. At last it came, suddenly, fearfully, like a dream. With one wild carnival of blood and passion came the message in his own plaintive cadences:—

"Shout, O children!
Shout, you're free!
For God has bought your liberty!"

Years have passed away since then,—ten, twenty, forty; forty years of national life, forty years of renewal and development, and yet the swarthy spectre sits in its accustomed seat at the Nation's feast. In vain do we cry to this our vastest social problem:—

"Take any shape but that,
and my firm nerves
shall never tremble!"

The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep disappointment rests upon the Negro people, a disappointment all the more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the simple ignorance of a lowly people.

CLOSING PRAYER

Gracious God, we thank you for the witness of W. E. B. DuBois, passionate prophet of civil rights, and for the witness of George Freeman Bragg, tireless priest and shepherd of the flock, who advanced the dignity of African-Americans in both church and state. We pray that we, like them, may use our gifts to do justice in the Name of 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 SECOND OF AUGUST, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

Bestow your light upon us, O Lord, so that, being rid of the darkness of our hearts, we may attain unto the true light. Amen.

( Sarum Breviary )

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN ( abridged )

From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised.

Alleluia.
Give praise, you servants of the Lord,
O praise the name of the Lord.

Blessed be the name of the Lord,
from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised.

The Lord is high above all nations
and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
that has his throne so high,
yet humbles himself to behold
the things of heaven and earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ashes,
to set them with princes,
with the princes of his people.

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.

From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised.

From the rising of the sun to its setting
we praise your name, O Lord;
may your promise to raise the poor from the dust
and turn the fortunes of the needy upside down
be fulfilled in our time also,
as it was in your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

William Wilberforce:
the conscience of a politician
(transferred from Sunday)

William Wilberforce was a member of the British Parliament, who persistently introduced legislation to abolish slavery in the British Empire.

Slavery was a complex issue, with racial and economic implications, through the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century. The holding of slaves led the United States into a bloody civil war in the 1860’s. But in Britain, similar conflict was avoided because of the careful and persistent work of William Wilberforce. He introduced his first anti-slavery motion in the House of Commons in 1788, and when it was defeated, he reintroduced the same legislation in 1789, and every year until 1806, when Parliament finally voted to abolish the slave trade. Having gained that important victory, Wilberforce pressed on with his campaign to free all slaves throughout the Empire. Parliament finally passed this measure just four days before Wilberforce died, the twenty-ninth of July, 1833. In 1834, over eight hundred thousand slaves were set free.

The backbone of Wilberforce’s strong passion for justice was his daily practice of prayer and spiritual reading. And he was profoundly influenced by William Laws book, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.”

Quote. “If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”

Scripture. In Paul’s brief letter to Philemon, he sends Onesimus, a runaway slave, back to Philemon, and comments:

“Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for those enslaved in our world today and for an end to all forms of slavery and forced labour.

... for the people of the Republic of Macedonia who celebrate their national day today.

... for those facing stressful situations at work.

... for those suffering from cancer and complications from cancer.

... for those suffering from chronic joint and muscular pain.

... for those who have died from a drug overdose, in particular those who died after misusing fentanyl or other opioid pain medications.

... for those killed or injured when a suicide bomber and a gunman attacked a mosque in the Afghan city of Herat. DETAILS

... for the malnourished children of Yemen, now at risk of dying from cholera. DETAILS

... for those whose lives have been damaged by problem gambling.

... 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 "A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Middle and Higher Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity" by William Wilberforce:

That the sacred name of religion has been too often prostituted to the most detestable purposes; that furious bigots and bloody persecutors, and self-interested hypocrites of all qualities and dimensions, from the rapacious leader of an army, to the canting oracle of a congregation, have falsely called themselves Christians, are melancholy and humiliating truths, which (as none so deeply lament them) none will more readily admit, than they who best understand the nature, and are most concerned for the honour of Christianity. We are ready to acknowledge also without dispute, that the religious affections, and the doctrine of divine assistances, have almost at all times been more or less disgraced by the false pretences and extravagant conduct of wild fanatics and brain-sick enthusiasts. All this, however, is only as it happens in other instances, wherein the depravity of man perverts the bounty of God. Why is it here only to be made an argument, that there is danger of abuse? So is there also in the case of all the potent and operative principles, whether in the natural or moral world. Take for an instance the powers and properties of matter. These were doubtless designed by Providence for our comfort and well-being; yet they are often misapplied to trifling purposes, and still more frequently turned into so many agents of misery and death. On this fact indeed is founded the well-known maxim, not more trite than just, that “the best things when corrupted become the worst;” a maxim which is especially just in the instance of religion. For in this case it is not merely, as in some others, that a great power, when mischievously applied, must be hurtful in proportion to its strength; but that the very principle on which in general we depend for restraining and retarding the progress of evil, not only ceases to interpose any kindly check, but is actively operative in the opposite direction. But will you therefore discard religion altogether? The experiment was lately tried in a neighbouring country, and professedly on this very ground. The effects however with which it was attended, do not much encourage its repetition. But suppose religion were discarded, then liberty remains to plague the world; a power which though when well employed, the dispenser of light and happiness, has been often proved, and eminently in this very instance, to be capable when abused, of becoming infinitely mischievous. Well then, extinguish liberty. Then what more abused by false pretenders, than patriotism? Well, extinguish patriotism. But then the wicked career to which we have adverted, must have been checked but for courage. Blot out courage and so might you proceed to extinguish one by one, Reason, and speech, and memory, and all the discriminating prerogatives of man.

CLOSING PRAYER

Just and eternal God, we give you thanks for the stalwart faith and persistence of your servant William Wilberforce who held fast to a vision of justice in which no child of yours might suffer in enforced servitude and misery. Grant that we, drawn by that same gospel vision, may persevere in serving the common good and caring for those who have been cast down, that they may be raised up through Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, 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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Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

TUESDAY THE FIRST OF AUGUST, 2017
* Joseph of Arimathaea *

OPENING PRAYER

Almighty and eternal God, there is no number of your days or of your mercies: you have sent us into this world to serve you and to live according to your laws. O dear Lord, look upon us in mercy and pity: let your Holy Spirit lead us through this world with safety and peace, with holiness and religion, with spiritual comforts and joy in the Holy Spirit; that when we have served you in our generation, we may be gathered to our fathers, having the testimony of a holy conscience, in the confidence of a certain faith, and the comforts of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope, and perfect charity with you our God and all the world; that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, may be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

( Jeremy Taylor )

PLAGAL

As the sun hid its very rays at the Saviour’s death, and the curtain of the temple was rent in twain, Joseph of everlasting memory approached Pilate beseeching him in this manner;

Give me this stranger, who from infancy has been as a stranger, a sojourner in the world.

Give me this stranger, whom his own race has hated and delivered unto death as a stranger.

Give me this stranger, who in a strange manner is a stranger to death.

Give me this stranger, who has received the poor as guests.

Give me this stranger, whom the jews from envy estranged from the world.

Give me this stranger, that I may hide him in a tomb, for as a stranger he has no place to lay his head.

Give me this stranger, whose mother seeing his dead body cries out:”O my son and my God, I am sorely wounded within me and my heart is rent, seeing you as one dead: but in your resurrection I take courage and magnify you”.

Thus entreating Pilate with these words, noble Joseph receives the body of the Saviour: and wrapping it with fear in a linen with myrrh, he places in a tomb him who bestows upon all eternal life and great mercy.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Joseph of Arimathaea: the Holy Grail to England bourne

Today Saint Laika’s remembers Joseph of Arimathaea, and to those without an English or Anglican background, he is well worth remembering as the one who buried the body of Jesus in his own new tomb, which had been hewn out of rock. He is identified in the three synoptic gospels as a disciple of Jesus, a member of the ruling council, and as one who was looking forward to the kingdom of God. All of this is praiseworthy, and deserving of a day of remembrance.

James Kiefer, in his brief biography of Joseph notes: “The folk-tales of a community are part of the heritage of a community.” And it is the folk-tales and legends about Joseph of Arimathaea which have so endeared him to the English people. There are tales of Joseph bringing Jesus as a teen to England on a trip to transport tin to the Middle East. There are tales of his bringing the Holy Grail (the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper) to England, to Glastonbury, in particular, where a great thorn tree grew around it to protect it. Cromwell’s soldiers cut it down, but a cutting from that tree was later replanted in the same place and is there to this day. Pilgrims to Glastonbury are pleased to purchase leaves from the Glastonbury Thorn as a remembrance of their visit.

The pertinent question to ask yourselves on this day to remember Joseph of Arimathaea, is how eager are you for the kingdom of God? And what gifts have you been given that might help God’s kingdom be seen in the midst of this sometimes dark and difficult world?

Scripture. In Luke’s gospel, chapter twenty-three, from the fiftieth to the fifty-third verse, we read:

“Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathaea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. “

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for members of councils, synods, committees and governments, that they may fulfil their duties for the good of those they serve and without hatred or prejudice.

... for those who prepare the dead for burial, for pall bearers,  gravediggers and cemetery and crematorium staff.

... for the people of Switzerland who celebrate their national day today.

... for the people of Venezuela following the arrest of opposition leaders; for those killed or injured in recent rioting. 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 a sermon by Nikolai Velimirovich:

At that time Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, who also waited for the Kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

This Joseph is mentioned by all four Evangelists, specifically in connection with the dead Lord’s burial. John calls him a disciple of Jesus secretly (19:38); Luke, a good man and a just (23:50), Matthew, a rich man (27:57).

The Evangelist does not call Joseph rich from vanity, to show that the Lord had rich men among his disciples, “but in order to show how it was that he was able to get Jesus’ body from Pilate. To a poor and unknown man, it would not have been possible to penetrate to Pilate, the representative of Roman power.” (Jerome: “Commentary on Matthew“).

He was noble in soul: he feared God and waited for the Kingdom of God. In addition to his outstanding spiritual traits, Joseph was also a rich man of good standing. Mark and Luke call him a counsellor. He was, then, one of the elders of the people, like Nicodemus. Also, like Nicodemus, he was a secret admirer and disciple of the Lord Jesus. But, even though these two men were secret followers of Christ’s teaching, they were nevertheless ready to lay themselves open to danger by standing together with Christ.

Nicodemus once asked the embittered Jewish leaders to their faces, when they were seeking an excuse to kill Christ: “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him?” (John 7:51).

Joseph of Arimathaea laid himself open to even greater danger by taking thought for the Lord’s body when his known disciples had fled and dispersed, and when the wolves, having killed the shepherd, could at any moment fall on the sheep. That what Joseph was doing was dangerous is indicated by the Evangelist by the word “boldly”. He needed, then, more than courage; he needed daring to go to Caesar’s representative and ask for the body of a crucified felon. But Joseph, as Nicephorus says, “in his greatness of soul, threw off his fear and shook off all subservience, showing himself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

CLOSING PRAYER

Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathaea, with reverence and godly fear, prepared the body of our lord and saviour for burial, and laid it in his own tomb: Grant to us, your faithful people, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; 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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MadPriest Has Left The ( Church ) Building

I have left the Anglican Communion, specifically the Church of England. I have also removed myself from the diocesan mailing list. I am hoping this will stop the pain, that I will stop thinking about getting my job back first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I am hoping that the nightmares will stop.

What a bloody waste of time and effort this life of mine has been.

This 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.

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

MONDAY THE THIRTY-FIRST OF JULY, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

May it please the supreme and divine Goodness
to give us all abundant grace
ever to know his most holy will
and perfectly to fulfil it. Amen.

( Ignatius of Loyola )

CANTICLE

There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord,
for you to reveal yourself to us.
There is a longing in our hearts for love
we only find in you, our God.

For justice, for freedom, for mercy:
hear our prayer.
In sorrow, in grief, be near:
hear our prayer, O God

For wisdom, for courage, for comfort:
hear our prayer.
In weakness, in fear, be near:
hear our prayer, O God.

For healing, for wholeness, for new life:
hear our prayer.
In sickness, in death, be near:
hear our prayer, O God.

Lord save us.
Take pity, light in our darkness.
We call you we wait, be near:
hear our prayer, O God

There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord,
for you to reveal yourself to us.
There is a longing in our hearts for love
we only find in you, our God.

( Anne Quigley )

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Ignatius of Loyola: God’s soldier

Although it is a feria day at Saint Laika’s, some church calendars remember Ignatius of Loyola today, who after a hedonistic period in his youth and young adulthood, was seriously wounded whilst fighting as a soldier in the defence of Pamplona. A cannonball shattered his leg, and left him with a permanent limp.

During his recovery, he read a life of Jesus Christ which transformed him. He left military service and began a period of intense devotion, centring on Thomas å Kempis’ “Imitation of Christ.” It was during this time that he wrote out his “Spiritual Exercises” which remains to this day a viable model of a deepened spiritual life and a serious commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

As he was gaining an education at the university of Salamanca, he took to preaching on street corners to the general population, and this brought him twice before the Spanish Inquisition. He was imprisoned but eventually acquitted. He was forbidden to preach as a layman.

In 1534 he founded an order of laymen entitled “The Society of Jesus.” People nicknamed them “Jesuits” and in 1537, realising the limitations that his lay status placed upon them, they were ordained as priests. Noted for their education and zeal, they served both as missionaries in foreign lands and, within Europe, as agents of the Catholic Church determined to win Protestants back to Roman Catholicism. He saw his Society grow from ten to a thousand men over the course of his life.

He died suddenly on the thirty-first of July, 1556.

Prayer of Saint Ignatius of Loyola:

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve; to give, and not to count the cost; to fight, and not to heed the wounds; to toil, and not to seek for rest; to labour, and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will. Amen.

Scripture. In the tenth and eleventh chapters of "The First Letter to the Corinthians," we read:

“Do everything for the glory of God. Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for members of the Society of Jesus.

... that, through prayer and meditation, we may come to know the will of God in our lives and to know God more fully.

... for the men arrested in Nigeria over the weekend for "performing homosexual acts" and all people, throughout the world, who are persecuted because of their sexual identity or sexual orientation identity. 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 a letter from Ignatius of Loyola to Francisco de Borja, Duke of Gandía (September 20, 1548):

As to fasts and abstinences, I would advise you in our Lord to strengthen your stomach and your other physical powers, rather than to weaken them. My reason is that, in the first place, when a soul is so disposed to lose its own life rather than offend God's majesty by even the slightest deliberate sin and is, moreover, comparatively free from the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil (a condition of soul which I am sure your lordship by God's grace enjoys), I should like very much to see your lordship imprint on your soul the truth that since both body and soul are gifts from your Creator and Lord, you should give Him a good account of both. To do this you must not allow your body to grow weak; for if you do, the interior man will no longer be able to function properly. Therefore though I once highly praised fasting and abstinence, even from many ordinary foods, and for a certain period was pleased with this program, I cannot now praise it when I see that the stomach, because of these fasts and abstinences, cannot function naturally or digest any of the ordinary meats or other items of diet which contribute to the proper maintenance of the body.

I should rather have you seek every means of strengthening the body. Eat, therefore, whatever food is allowed, and as often as you find it convenient; but it should be done without offence to the neighbour. We should love the body insofar as it is obedient and helpful to the soul, since the soul, with the body's help and service, is better disposed for the service and praise of our Creator and Lord.

CLOSING PRAYER

O God, grant that we, following the example of your servant Ignatius, may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of 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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Poor Pay More For Pollution

We bought a diesel car because the government, at the time, told us that it was the most environmentally friendly choice (next to not driving a car). Now, due to the pronouncements of our current government we couldn't sell our car if we wanted to. In itself that is no problem. Our car is reliable and, if we keep it serviced, could last for decades (Volvos are known for their longevity). However, the government is encouraging local authorities to ban diesel cars from town centres and it is only a matter of time before road tax for diesel cars is increased to ridiculous levels.

Of course, the well off who now own diesel cars are in the position to cope with the loss of value of their car and will be able to replace it with a less polluting model. The less well off, like me, do not have that option. We cannot just go out and by a new car without getting a reasonable trade in value on our old car. In other words we are stuck with both a polluting car and the penalties for owning it.

As always with indirect taxation and fixed penalties it is the poor who suffer whilst the rich hardly notice the cost and inconvenience.

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

FRIDAY THE TWENTY-EIGHTH OF JULY, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, what is my confidence which I have in this life? Is it not you, O Lord, my God, whose mercies are without number? Where has it ever been well with me without you, or where could it be ill with me, when you were present? I rather choose to be a pilgrim on earth than without you to possess heaven. Where you are, there is heaven; and where you are not, there is death and hell. There is none that can help me in my necessities, but only you, my God; you are my hope, you are my confidence. Although you expose me to diverse temptations and adversities, yet you order all this to my advantage; in which trial of me you ought no less to be loved and praised, than if you did fill me full of heavenly consolations. Amen.

( Thomas à Kempis )

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND TWELVE ( abridged )

The righteous will be held in everlasting remembrance.

Alleluia.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord
and have great delight in his commandments.

Light shines in the darkness for the upright;
gracious and full of compassion are the righteous.
It goes well with those who are generous in lending
and order their affairs with justice,
for they will never be shaken;
the righteous will be held in everlasting remembrance.
They will not be afraid of any evil tidings;
their heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
They have given freely to the poor;
their righteousness stands fast for ever;
their head will be exalted with honour.
The wicked shall see it and be angry;
they shall gnash their teeth in despair;
the desire of the wicked shall perish.

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 righteous will be held in everlasting remembrance.

Generous God,
save us from the meanness
that calculates its interest and hoards its earthly gain;
as we have freely received,
so may we freely give;
in the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

The Philadelphia Eleven

Today is a good day to remember the anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church USA, and the tumult and the drama that surrounded the occasion.

It became apparent as 1974 progressed, that the movement to ordain women to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church of the USA was in danger of stalling. The presiding bishop at the time was personally opposed to the idea. Opposition forces were gathering momentum, with talk and threats of schism. A proposal to ordain women failed to gain approval at the 1973 Triennial Convention. Bishops favourable to the ordination of women said they would not do so until legislation could pass the Triennial Convention. But that meant 1976 at the earliest. In December, 1973 when five women deacons presented themselves at an ordination service in New York, Bishop Paul Moore allowed them to participate but declined to lay hands on their heads at the moment of ordination.

On the twenty-ninth of July, 1974, three retired bishops proceeded with the ordination of eleven women deacons at Philadelphia’s Church of the Advocate. The women who became known as the “Philadelphia Eleven” were Merrill Bittner, Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Alison Cheek, Emily Hewitt, Carter Heyward, Suzanne Hiatt, Marie Moorefield, Jeannette Piccard, Betty Schiess, Katrina Swanson, and Nancy Wittig.

The US House of Bishops at first reacted by a motion to declare these ordinations “null and void.” However being persuaded that the conditions for ordination had been met, they declared instead that the women were “irregularly ordained.” But the courageous witness of these women pushed the cause forward and in 1976 the Triennial Convention passed a motion to ordain women both to the priesthood and the episcopate.

Scripture: In the "Book of Hebrews," chapter seven, verses thirteen through fifteen 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. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests."

Today give thanks for the courage of faithful Christians to give witness, within the Church, to new ideas, and new situations.

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the ministry of women in the churches.

... that we may have the courage and wisdom to not let our comfort in the old ways stop us from supporting ideas that will bring new life to the Church.

... that the bishops and leaders of our churches may stop being gatekeepers and stumbling blocks and embrace, instead, the prophetic task of their ministry.

... for those living with hepatitis and for those seeking to prevent, treat and cure the disease. DETAILS

... for the people of Peru who celebrate their national day today.

... for the people of Yemen as hunger and cholera spread due to the civil war in their country. 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 "As Christ Submits to the Church" by Alan G. Padgett:

The third group called to silence is women. This group is not composed of all women all the time but rather of specific women who were asking questions and speaking in the service. The larger context of these verses demands that we understand these questioning women to be a disruption of the peace and order of the service. This is the reason Paul wrote that 'women should keep silent in the churches' (v. 34). Paul's concern is not just with women (for men too are called to be silent in church); his broader concern is with silence, peace, and order in the worship assembly. This perspective allows us rightly to understand the rest of this chapter, 14:34-40. Paul next tells these specific women to 'be in submission.' We tend to think of this as submission to MEN, but the larger context makes this improbable. Our patriarchal and man-centered culture over the millennia has distorted the meaning of this command to submit. Rather than commanding submission to men, the apostle is commanding SUBMISSION TO THE ORDER OF THE WORSHIP SERVICE, that is, submission to the Holy Spirit. This reading helps us understand the next phrase: 'even as the law says.' Normally LAW in Paul refers to the Old Testament, but it can also have a wider meaning. Nowhere in the Old Testament are women called to be silent, nor are they called to submit to their husbands. Yet there is excellent evidence for biblical and broadly Jewish concern for SILENCE IN WORSHIP before God or the Word of God or while learning from the rabbis (e.g., Deut. 27:9-10; Job 33:31-33; Isa. 66:2; Hab. 2:20). It may well be that this is the 'law' Paul has in mind: not about the silence or submission of women, but about silence in the worship service in general (but applying to women in this case).

CLOSING PRAYER

Compassionate God, open our hearts to receive you so that we may recommit ourselves and our churches to be in solidarity with women.

You have visited us through the women who have been filled with your Spirit. You have blessed us all with dreams for a common future and gifts for a common life, in all things keep us faithful to the message of your gospel, that as women and men we may together bear witness to your love in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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

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Charlie Gard: The Cost Of Compassion

I can't help wondering how many babies are not going to get the care and treatment they need because the NHS has been forced to spend so much money on the legal fees and other expenses of the Charlie Gard case.

I understand that this poorly babe's parents must be in immense emotional pain but they are, in my opinion, being very selfish. They are putting their wants before those of their child and they seem to have no regard for the affect their demands will be having on the health system that has given them far more time with Charlie than nature, left alone, would have allowed them.

Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

THURSDAY THE TWENTY-SEVENTH OF JULY, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

O Lord, in whose hands are life and death, by whose power I am sustained, and by whose mercy I am spared, look down upon me with pity. Forgive me that I have until now so much neglected the duty which you have assigned to me, and suffered the days and hours of which I must give account to pass away without any endeavour to accomplish your will. Make me to remember, O God, that every day is your gift, and ought to be used according to your command. Grant me, therefore, so to repent of my negligence, that I may obtain mercy from you, and pass the time which you shall yet allow me in diligent performance of your commands, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

( Samuel Johnson )

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN ( abridged )

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the faithful and in the congregation.

The works of the Lord are great,
sought out by all who delight in them.
His work is full of majesty and honour
and his righteousness endures for ever.

The works of his hands are truth and justice;
all his commandments are sure.
They stand fast for ever and ever;
they are done in truth and equity.

He sent redemption to his people;
he commanded his covenant for ever;
holy and awesome is his name.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have those who live by it;
his praise endures 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 gracious and full of compassion.

Gracious God, you are full of compassion;
may we who long for your kingdom to come
rejoice to do your will
and acknowledge your power alone to save;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

When the Church killed in the name of Christ

Among the more important dates in world history, the twenty-sixth of July, 1826, would be no more than an interesting footnote. It was on this day in Spain that the last execution was carried out under the authority of the Holy Inquisition. This was the execution of the school teacher, Cayetano Ripoll, for the teaching of deism in his school.

Today we are rightly angered whenever, in the name of God, someone or some group kills others in defence of their religious beliefs. Christians are sobered to remember that under the auspices of the Roman Inquisition, and later, the Spanish Inquisition, thousands were put to death between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries.

The inquisition began in the twelfth century and was meant to target the Cathari, a group of Christians in Southern France who practiced an alternative form of Christianity, a reaction to perceived corruption in the Catholic Church. Jan Hus of Bohemia was one of the most famous victims, put to death in 1414. Following the Protestant Reformation, the Inquisition was used as a tool to suppress Protestants. Jews were also killed when they were suspected of converting to Christianity merely to avoid deportation under Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. In its later stages, many women were executed for the crime of witchcraft. Today we hear of fatwas issued against certain individuals or groups. Throughout these earlier centuries the word to be feared was “auto-da-fe”, it originally stood for the judgment of the Inquisitorial Tribunal. But by the sixteenth century, it had become synonymous with burning at the stake.

Scripture: In the "Gospel of Luke," the ninth Chapter at verses fifty-two through fifty-five, we read:

"And Jesus sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem.

"When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’

"But he turned and rebuked them."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... that all may be free to believe or not believe without the threat of punishment by religious authorities and adherents to particular religions.

... for transgender members of the United States military and for the eradication of presidential bigotry.

... that, throughout the world, mental health may be given equal status with physical health and that there will be an end to those with mental health problems dying because of lack of funding.

... for an end to homophobia in sport.

... 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 "Wisdom of the Sadhu" by Sundar Singh:

It is said that a person suffering from jaundice sees everything with a yellow tint. People whose lives are coloured by sin or guided only by the understanding of their minds also see reality coloured by their own infirmity. When we shape and fashion spiritual truths according to our own ideas, it is not surprising if, in the end, we reject not only moral values, but also the reality of God. But the Master’s work is to release seeking hearts from sin and death. He continues this work in the hearts of those who seek his help without regard to the opinion of others.

The blindness that sin brings about can be illustrated in many ways. Leprosy makes one’s limbs numb and insensitive to pain and injury. People affected with this disease unwittingly receive wounds and allow the injuries to fester until the body is no longer able to survive. In the same way, sin deadens the heart and clouds the mind until people no longer have any sense of shame or disgust. Eventually, however, their eyes will be opened and they will see how sin has damaged and ravaged their souls; then there will be great sorrow and pain.

Many people are immersed in sin and don’t even notice its great weight just like a diver may be covered by tons of water without feeling its load. But if when the diver emerges from the water he tries to carry even a small bucket full, he will feel how heavy it is. The Master came to seek and save those who struggle with the burden of sin. He freely gives us rest and release from sin, but first we must feel the weight of it and turn to him for help.

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, in penitence we come before you, acknowledging the sin that is within us. We feel the guilt of all those who, bearing the name Christian, slay their fellow human beings because of their race or faith or nation. Forgive us and cleanse us by your grace. Turn us toward the love offered by your son, that your word of hope may be heard clearly throughout the world, 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

WEDNESDAY THE TWENTY-SIXTH OF JULY, 2017

OPENING PRAYER

O Jesus! True liberty of angels, paradise of delights, remember the horror and sadness which you endured when your enemies, like furious lіons, surrounded you, and by thousands of insults, spits, blows, lacerations and other unheard-of cruelties, tormented you at wіll. In consideration of these torments and insulting words, I beseech you, O my saviour, to delіver me from all my enemies, visible and invisible and to bring me, under your protectіon, to the perfectіon of eternal salvation. Amen.

( Bridget of Sweden )

PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND NINE ( abridged )

O Lord my God,
save me for your loving mercy's sake.

Keep silent no longer, O God of my praise,
for the mouth of wickedness and treachery
is opened against me.
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue;
they encompassed me with words of hatred
and fought against me without a cause.
In return for my love, they set themselves against me,
even though I had prayed for them.
Thus have they repaid me with evil for good,
and hatred for my good will.

But deal with me, O Lord my God, according to your name;
O deliver me, for sweet is your faithfulness.
For I am helpless and poor
and my heart is disquieted within me.
I fade like a shadow that lengthens;
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting
and my flesh is dried up and wasted.
I have become a reproach to them;
those who see me shake their heads in scorn.
Help me, O Lord my God;
save me for your loving mercy's sake,
and they shall know that this is your hand,
that you, O Lord, have done it.

I will give great thanks to the Lord with my mouth;
in the midst of the multitude will I praise him;
because he has stood at the right hand of the needy,
to save them from those who would condemn them.

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.

O Lord my God,
save me for your loving mercy's sake.

Lord, when we are repaid with evil for good,
help us not to return evil for evil,
but to bear witness to your steadfast love,
shown in the face of your dear Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Bridget of Sweden:
mystic and visionary
(transferred from Sunday)

Saint Bridget (or Birgitta) of Sweden was born in the early years of the fourteenth century into an influential family, whose father was the “lawspeaker” (governor) of the province of Upland. She married and raised a family and became known for her works of charity, particularly toward unwed mothers and their children. When she was in her early thirties, she was summoned to be lady-in-waiting to the new Queen of Sweden, Blanche of Namur. In 1341 she and her husband went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

In 1344, shortly after their return, her husband died. After this, Bridget developed the idea of establishing the religious community which was to become the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines. One distinctive feature of the pre-Reformation houses of the order was that they were double monasteries, with both men and women forming a joint community, though with separate cloisters.

Bridget was a mystic and visionary, best known for her “Revelations” an account of her dreams of the Crucified Christ and his Mother.

She died on the twenty-third of July, 1373.

Scripture. In the seventh chapter of the "Book of Daniel," verses thirteen and fourteen, we read:

"As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed."

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for mystics.

... for men and women living in religious communities together.

... that we may be inspired by Christ's suffering to live out our faith with authenticity.

... for the people of Liberia and the people of the Maldives who celebrate their national days today.

... 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 "The Prophecies and Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden":

A holy angel spoke to the bride and said, “There are two spirits, one uncreated and one created. The uncreated Spirit has three characteristics: first, he is hot; second, sweet; and third, pure. First, he gives off warmth, and his warmth does not come from created things but from himself, since he, together with the Father and the Son, is creator of all things and almighty. He gives off warmth when the whole soul burns for the love of God. Second, he is sweet, when nothing pleases the soul and nothing delights it but God and the recollection of his deeds. Third, he is so pure that no sin can be found in him, nor any deformity or corruption or mutability. He does not give off warmth like earthly fire, and he does not make things melt like the visible sun, but his warmth is the inner love and desire of the soul that fills the soul and engrosses her in God. He is sweet to the soul, not as a desirable wine or fleshly lust or any other worldly thing, but instead, the sweetness of this Spirit is incomparable to all temporal sweetness and unimaginable to those who have not tasted it. Third, this Spirit is as pure as the rays of the sun in which no blemish can be found.

The second spirit that is created also has three characteristics. He is burning, bitter, and unclean. First, he is burning and consuming like fire, for he completely enkindles the soul he possesses with the fire of lust and evil desire, so that the soul that is filled by him can neither think nor desire anything other than fulfilling this desire; and the consequence of this is that her temporal life is sometimes lost along with all honour and consolation. Second, he is bitter as gall, since he so inflames the soul with his evil lust, that future joys seem like nothing to her and eternal goods but foolishness. And all the things that are of God and which she, the soul, is obligated to do for God, become as bitter and despicable to her as vomit and gall. Third, he is unclean, since he makes the soul so vile and inclined to sin that she does not feel ashamed for any sin, and she would not abstain from any sin, if she did not fear being shamed and judged before men more than before God. This is why this spirit is like a burning fire, because he burns of desire to do evil and enkindles others along with itself. This is why he is bitter, because all good is bitter to him and he wants to make it bitter for others as well as for himself. This is why he is unclean, because he delights in impurity and wants that others shall become like himself.

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord God, you revealed the secrets of heaven to your servant Bridget, as she meditated on the suffering and death of your son. Encourage us to persevere in the course that is set before us, and help us also to be living signs of the gospel and, at the last, to share in your eternal joy; 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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Yet More On Mary Magdalene

I suggest that highlighting the fact that Mary Magdalene was a woman of independent means, in control of her own money and her own actions, in a society which made such things almost impossible, is a far more liberating way to respond to her character than inventing a "sordid" past for her.

Daily Prayer at Saint Laika’s

TUESDAY THE TWENTY-FIFTH OF JULY, 2017
* James ( the Greater ) *

OPENING PRAYER

Loving God,

I think you for choosing me to be your disciple and for the gift of your Son, Jesus. Help me proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel by word and by deed today and every day. Open my heart to the outcast, the forgotten, the lonely, the sick and the poor. Grant me the courage to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, joyfully obedient to God. Amen.

( Pope Francis )

CANTICLE

Christ was believed in throughout the world
and taken up in glory.

Christ Jesus was revealed in the flesh
and vindicated in the spirit.
He was seen by angels
and proclaimed among the nations.
Believed in throughout the world,
he was taken up in glory.
This will be made manifest at the proper time
by the blessed and only Sovereign,
who alone has immortality,
and dwells in unapproachable light.

To the King of kings and Lord of lords
be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

Christ was believed in throughout the world
and taken up in glory.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

James: how shall we call him?

Today Saint Laika’s remembers Saint James. You would be easily forgiven for asking which one. The Saint Laika’s Calendar remembers James three times in the year. Today, the twenty-third of October and the first of May.

Today we are remembering Saint James, the son of Zebedee, sometimes called Saint James the Greater. On the first of May we remember Saint James, the son of Alphaeus, also known as Saint James the Lesser, and on the twenty-third of October we remember Saint James of Jerusalem, also known as Saint James, the brother of the Lord. Since we know so little about any of these disciples, it’s important to tread gently.

James , the son of Zebedee, was one of the twelve apostles, the brother of the apostle John. He appears to be part of an inner circle of apostles, since the scriptures often mention that “Peter, James, and John,” were privy to special moments in Jesus’ story, such as his transfiguration on the mountain, his raising the dead girl to life, and his agony in the garden.

James was the first of the apostles to be killed for his faith. The twelfth chapter of the book of "Acts" mentions that he was killed somewhere near the year 42 AD.

There were early church traditions associating James the Greater with Spain. The Church of Saint James of Compostela became known as the burial site of James and throughout the Middle Ages it was one of the chief places of pilgrimage in all the Western world.

Scripture. In the "Book of Acts," chapter twelve, verses one and we find this simple fact.

"About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword."

(This was King Herod Agrippa I, grandson of King Herod, who met the Magi in Matthew, chapter two)

INTERCESSIONS

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for all pilgrims today, especially those traveling to Compostela.

... for those seeking a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

... for all who suffer persecution for their faith in the present day.

... for the people of Puerto Rico who celebrate Constitution Day today.

... for terminally ill babies and their parents.

... for those with autism, in particular those being cared for away from home.

... for those affected by forrest fires in the French Riviera and Corsica. 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 a homily on Matthew by John Chrysostom:

The sons of Zebedee press Christ, "Promise that one may sit at your right side and the other at your left."

What does he do? He wants to show them that it is not a spiritual gift for which they are asking, and that if they knew what their request involved, they would never dare make it.

So he says, "You do not know what you are asking."

That is, what a great and splendid thing it is and how much beyond the reach even of the heavenly powers.

Then he continues, "Can you drink the cup which I must drink and be baptised with the baptism which I must undergo?"

He is saying, “You talk of sharing honours and rewards with me, but I must talk of struggle and toil. Now is not the time for rewards or the time for my glory to be revealed. Earthly life is the time for bloodshed, war and danger.”

Consider how by his manner of questioning he exhorts and draws them.

He does not say, “Can you face being slaughtered? Can you shed your blood?”

How does he put his question?

"Can you drink the cup?"

Then he makes it attractive by adding, "Which I must drink," so that the prospect of sharing it with him may make them more eager.

He also calls his suffering a baptism, to show that it will effect a great cleansing of the entire world.

The disciples answer him, "We can!"

Fervour makes them answer promptly, though they really do not know what they are saying but still think they will receive what they ask for. How does Christ reply?

"You will indeed drink my cup and be baptised with my baptism."

He is really prophesying a great blessing for them, since he is telling them: “You will be found worthy of martyrdom; you will suffer what I suffer and end your life with a violent death, thus sharing all with me. But seats at my right and left are not mine to give; they belong to those for whom the Father has prepared them.”

Thus, after lifting their minds to higher goals and preparing them to meet and overcome all that will make them desolate, he sets them straight on their request.

Then the other ten became angry at the two brothers. See how imperfect they all are: the two who tried to get ahead of the other ten, and the ten who were jealous of the two! But, as I said before, show them to me at a later date in their lives, and you will see that all these impulses and feelings have disappeared. Read how John, the very man who here asks for the first place, will always yield to Peter when it comes to preaching and performing miracles in the "Acts of the Apostles." James, for his part, was not to live very much longer; for from the beginning he was inspired by great fervour and, setting aside all purely human goals, rose to such splendid heights that he straightway suffered martyrdom.

CLOSING PRAYER

O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you will pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

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