THURSDAY THE NINETEENTH OF APRIL, 2018
Almighty and ever-living God, give us new strength
from the courage of Christ our shepherd and lead us to join the saints in heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Come, you faithful, raise the strain of triumphant gladness;
God has brought forth Israel into joy from sadness;
loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke Jacob’s sons and daughters,
led them with unmoistened foot through the Red Sea waters.
It is the spring of souls today; Christ has burst his prison,
and from three days’ sleep in death as a sun has risen;
all the winter of our sins, long and dark, is flying
from his light, to whom we give laud and praise undying.
Now the queen of seasons, bright with the day of splendour,
with the royal feast of feasts, comes its joy to render;
comes to glad Jerusalem, who with true affection
welcomes in unwearied strains Jesus’ resurrection.
Neither might the gates of death, nor the tomb’s dark portal,
nor the watchers, nor the seal hold you as a mortal;
but today amidst the twelve you did stand, bestowing
that your peace which evermore passes human knowing.
Alleluia! now we cry to our king immortal,
who, triumphant, burst the bars of the tomb’s dark portal;
Alleluia! with the Son, God the Father praising,
Alleluia! yet again to the Spirit raising.
( John of Damascus, 675-749 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Alphege: archbishop and first martyr of Canterbury
Since the eleventh century, Christians in England have remembered Alphege (Ælfheah), the first archbishop of Canterbury to die as a martyr to the Christian faith.
Alphege lived during the time when the Northmen were regularly raiding England. His king, Ethelred the Unready, in 994 tapped him to negotiate with the Northmen. He arranged to pay them off to forestall invasion but managed to convert one of them, Anlaf, to Christianity. Upon his conversion, Anlaf vowed never to invade England again. In that same year, he brought the newly baptised King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway to a meeting with King Ethelred.
In 1005 Alphege became Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1011 the Danes overran much of southern England. The payment of the tribute agreed on (the Danegeld) did not stop them and in September they captured Canterbury and held Alphege and other prominent persons for ransom. The Danes asked a fantastically high price to ransom Alphege, and Alphege completely resisted the paying of the ransom. He saw that the others were ransomed, but refused to ask ransom for himself. This infuriated his captors. And one day during a feast with much drinking, the Danes brought him out, repeated their demands, and heard him refuse them once again. In the midst of their drunkenness, someone threw an axe at Alphege and killed him. By his death, Alphege became a hero in Britain.
Eleven years later, when the Dane Canute became king of England, he brought the body of Alphege from London to Canterbury, where people venerated him as a martyr. He was officially sainted in 1078, and future archbishop of Canterbury and martyr, Thomas Becket, was said to have prayed to Saint Alphege, shortly before meeting his own martyrdom at the hands of the soldiers of King Henry the Second in 1119.
Scripture. In the "First Letter of Peter," chapter four, verses twelve and thirteen we read:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
... for peace in the world.
... for the kidnapped; for those being held hostage.
... for carers and caregivers.
... for those undergoing surgery today.
... for those hanging on to life as a result of accident or illness.
... for poorly pets and for those mourning the death of a pet.
... for those exploited by greedy landlords.
... for depressed and suicidal children.
... for those who have died recently 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 in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis:
I hope you will not misunderstand what I am going to say. I am not preaching, and heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.
There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money (the one you have almost forgotten) came when you were very hard-up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done, well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. And as for your behaviour to your wife or husband or sister or brother, if I knew how irritating they could be I would not wonder at it; and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm.
The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much, we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so, that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that it is only for our bad behaviour that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.
Lord Jesus Christ, who willingly walked the way of the cross: strengthen your Church through the example and prayers of your servant Alphege to hold fast the path of discipleship; for with the Father and Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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