"Consider this ...."

It’s always fascinating to watch small children when they’re out for a walk. They take note of everything with a keen interest, examining their world in minute detail. They are captivated by things that grown up’s hurry past unseeing- like the veins of a leaf, petals from a flower, a snail’s shell. They may not make speedy progress but, for them, the journey is as important as the destination; the getting to as satisfying as the getting there.

The Christian life is often characterised as a journey and, as such, allows for similar opportunities for growth, maturing and lifelong learning, if only we keep our eyes, ears and minds open. Faith is not static and, although we are encouraged to press on towards the goal of salvation, we are also encouraged to be still and to grow in our awareness of God, other people, and ourselves.

These offerings are written to provide a moment for you to draw aside, reflect, and pray. They are based on the weekly Collect, Scripture readings and Post-Communion Prayer of the Church of Ireland. Wherever you may be on your own journey of faith, you are welcome to join us and to consider this…

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The Tenth Sunday after Trinity

Collect:
Let your merciful ears, O Lord,
be open to the prayers of your humble servants;
and that they may obtain their petitions,
make them to ask such things as shall please you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Readings:
Old Testament: Hosea 11:1-11
Psalm: 107:1-9, 43
New Testament: Colossians 3:1-11
Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website.

Post Communion Prayer
O God,
as we are strengthened by these holy mysteries,
so may our lives be a continual offering,
holy and acceptable in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I wonder what worries you – for many people worries about money would come very near the top of the list. It’s all too easy to think that our value depends on the size of our bank balance or in how much we earn each year.

The story is told of a man and his sisters; they had received a huge inheritance from their parents, but they spent very little of it and did all they could to keep their wealth for themselves.

The man influenced five of his six sisters in such a way that they never married, and they lived in the same house in New York City for 50 years. When the last sister died in 1931, her estate was valued at more than $100 million. Her only dress was one that she had made herself, and she had worn it for 25 years.

These people were probably one of the richest families in the city – but they gave the appearance of being the poorest. They were judged by their appearance. So often we judge people by material standards, what their job is, how much they earn, where they live, how they dress and so on. These are the standards of the world.

It was the same in Jesus day. In today’s gospel reading Jesus tells two stories, both of which have a remarkably modern twist.

The eldest son had inherited the family wealth and intended to hang on to it. His brother was upset – he wanted his share and asked Jesus to sort it out. Jesus’ response was to tell him not to be greedy, life was more than how much money he had.

In the second story a man had grown so many crops that he had nowhere to put them so he decided to knock down his barns and build even bigger ones – then he could be confident that he had enough food for the future and be happy. But God’s response was that he would die that night and so have no use for any of his possessions. Cultivating his relationship with God would have been of far more value than his crops.

A Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ you have taught us that we cannot love God and money, and that all our possessions are a trust from you. Teach us to be faithful stewards of our time, our talents and our money that we may help others and extend your kingdom.

Revd Janice Elsdon

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The Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Collect
Almighty God,
who sent your Holy Spirit
to be the life and light of your Church:
Open our hearts to the riches of his grace,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Hosea 1: 2-10
The Psalm - Psalm 85
The Second Reading - Colossians 2: 6-15, [16-19]
The Gospel Reading - Luke 11: 1-13
Click here to view the readings vis the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Holy Father,
who gathered us here around the table of your Son
to share this meal with the whole household of God:
In that new world where you reveal the fulness of your peace,
gather people of every race and language
to share in the eternal banquet
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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The Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Collect
Blessed are you, O Lord,
and blessed are those who observe and keep your law:
Help us to seek you with our whole heart,
to delight in your commandments
and to walk in the glorious liberty
given us by your Son, Jesus Christ.

The First Reading - Amos 8: 1-12
The Psalm - Psalm 52
The Second Reading - Colossians 1: 15-28
The Gospel Reading - Luke 10: 38-42
Click here to view the readings vis the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Strengthen for service, Lord,
the hands that holy things have taken;
may the ears which have heard your word
be deaf to clamour and dispute;
may the tongues which have sung your praise be free from deceit;
may the eyes which have seen the tokens of your love
shine with the light of hope;
and may the bodies which have been fed with your body
be refreshed with the fulness of your life;
glory to you for ever.

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The Seventh Sunday after Trinity

COLLECT
Lord of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things:
Graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

READINGS
1st Reading: Amos 7:7-17
Psalm: 82
2ndReading: Colossians 1:1-14
Gospel: Luke 10 25-37
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website.

POST COMMUNION PRAYER
Lord God,
whose Son is the true vine and the source of life,
ever giving himself that the world may live:
May we so receive within ourselves
the power of his death and passion
that, in his saving cup,
we may share his glory and be made perfect in his love;
for he is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.

When I was a child I knew all those who lived in the same small village - I can still recall their names, I can still remember the insides of some of the houses that I was taken into. And the visiting was not one sided; it was unusual for a day to pass without someone dropping in for a chat or to pass on a piece of information. One of my earliest memories is of a neighbour rushing in to pass on the news that the king had died – there must have been a real sense of shock because the scene is etched in my memory.

But, I hear you cry, things are different now. Yes they are different; there are some ‘dormitory towns’ so called because most of the inhabitants their days at work, returning to their house only to sleep. Near London travel times of up to two hours are not uncommon. There is no chance for people in such areas to get to know the names of those who live near them, let alone form any sort of relationship with them.

Even in less pressured neighbourhoods the sort of relationships that were common when I grew up are, I suspect, rare. We don’t know our neighbours.

That brings me to the well-known question posed in today’s gospel reading; “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus answered the question by telling a story, the story that we have come to know as the Good Samaritan. This story would have shocked the Jews; to say that there was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans was to put it mildly, the Jews couldn’t stand the Samaritans.

But in this story the Samaritan was the one who responded, he was the one who stopped and cared for the injured man, he was the one who paid to ensure that the man was cared for as he recovered. This was in sharp contrast to the religious Jews that one might have expected to stop and help. They walked past on the other side.

This story answered the lawyers question; I wonder does it answer any questions that you have today. The question “Who is my neighbour?” is a relevant one in the wake of the referendum result and all the discussion on immigration. It seems to me that, it may be that some living in our streets today, even some of our neighbours, may be questioning if they are really welcome in our midst. It is up to us to follow the example of the Good Samaritan and reach out to such people.

The words of a hymn by Sydney Carter may have been inspired by this story. The full text can be found at:
http://www.namethathymn.com/hymn-lyrics-detective-forum/index.php?a=vtopic&t=1145

When I needed a neighbour
Were you there, …………..

And the refrain
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there?



Revd Janice Elsdon

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The Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Collect
Merciful God,
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
Pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - 2 Kings 5. 1-14
The Psalm - Psalm 30
The Second Reading - Galatians 6: [1-6], 7-16
The Gospel Reading - Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website.

Post Communion Prayer
God of our pilgrimage,
you have led us to the living water.
Refresh and sustain us
as we go forward on our journey,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

I think that at this time in which we commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, and subsequent specific battles such as the battle of the Somme we are reminded of the terrible human costs of liberty and freedom.
In recent weeks we have had press articles, television programmes and new publications depicting some of the horror those who left these, and other shores, had to experience in the Great War and especially at the battle of the Somme.
And yet, and yet, no matter what has been written, no matter what images have been printed or transmitted, they all fail, in my opinion, to convey adequately the terrible cost, the catastrophic suffering, resulting from mans inhumanity to man.
A few years ago I had the great privilege to accompany, as chaplain, groups of 17 year old lads from secondary schools on a journey of remembrance to the Somme and Flanders Fields, The lads, or should I say young men, represented schools from both protestant and catholic tradition. The trip was the culmination of a programme provided by Newtownabbey Borough Council, aimed at, amongst other things, gaining an understanding of how so many men from both the North and indeed South of Ireland marching off to Europe, both Catholic and Protestant - Protestant and Catholic with differing ideologies - Protestant and Catholic who were to stand together - to fight together against a common foe, and to die together on the battlefield.
It’s, I think, impossible to fully visualise the conditions under which those men in this, and indeed in other areas, had to live in the trenches, the rats, the lice, the water (sometimes waist high), and to endure the bombardment from enemy shell fire that reduced woods to matchwood.
It was sobering to visit the many cemeteries where men and boys from the 36th Ulster division, the 16th Irish Division and indeed others, including cemeteries where the fallen from Germany lay, and where I conduced services and acts of remembrance.
The neat Portland stone headstones standing row by row in neat sections seemed somehow at odds with the mud, the barbed wire, the ground churned up by shell fire from which those fortunate to have a grave were recovered - so much to remind us of those who paid the supreme sacrifice - the terrible loss of human life in the horror of war.
Yet the gravestones and inscriptions we saw reminded us that these were not just some unknown person. They had fathers, mothers, wives, sons and daughters. They were human beings just like you and me - so many teenagers and young men in their twenties. We remember their lives,
and we are thankful for their service - For the liberty they fought and died for so that you and I could be free.
I’m sure, like any who may have visited these sites, once you visit them you never are the same again. For me personally the futility of war has resonated ever since.
How important it is that we never forget the sacrifice made for our liberty, our freedom, our democracy.
Isn’t it right and proper that we remind our Children what these commemorations are all about, right and proper to remind them of the message from those no longer with us, ‘When you go home, tell them of us and say ‘For their tomorrow, we gave our today’.
In verse 2 of our reading from Galatians chapter 6, we are urged to ‘bear one another burdens’. I suppose for us all in everyday life there are times when we need practical help - perhaps to lift something that is heavy or perhaps for us to offer practical help to others as they struggle when carrying something heavy, for example to help an elderly person carrying a heavy shopping bag.
But on the other hand there are the burdens that we don’t actually see, (but perhaps could - if we really listened), - breaking hearts, pain filled lives, financial struggles, loneliness, fear, illness and I could go on and probably you could too.
However at this time of commemoration I can’t help but feel for all those, who, on the battlefields of the Somme lay for days horribly injured, crying out for help, crying out for their mothers – dying in agony and there was no one to help them, to help them carry their burdens.
And yet, thank God, when it was possible, the chaplains who stood side by side with their colleagues, were able to provide comfort and assurance, record messages for loved ones, could point them to the one who took the load, the burden, of our sin upon Himself, the one whom we read of in Romans 8:34, ‘‘It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us’. He is indeed the great burden bearer.
The challenge for each of us however is that every child of God today can be used as an instrument through whom burdens can be lifted, through whom a care can be shared, through whom encouragement given, through whom restoration or forgiveness offered and who can work for peace.
So perhaps we could ask ourselves if we are prepared to, ‘bear one another’s burdens’ – to be a channel of Gods peace!

Revd Campbell Dixon MBE

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