"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 Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God:
Increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading

Jeremiah 32: 1–3a, 6–15

The Psalm

Psalm 91: 1–6, 14–16

The Second Reading

1 Timothy 6: 6–19

The Gospel Reading

Luke 16: 19–31

Post Communion Prayer

All praise and thanks, O Christ,
for this sacred banquet,
in which by faith we receive you,
the memory of your passion is renewed,
our lives are filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory given,
to feast at that table where you reign
with all your saints for ever.

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The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Collect

Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
Teach us to offer ourselves to your service,
that here we may have your peace,
and in the world to come may see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading

Jeremiah 8: 18 – 9: 1

The Psalm

Psalm 79: 1–9

The Second Reading

1 Timothy 2: 1–7

The Gospel Reading

Luke 16: 1–13

Post Communion Prayer

Eternal God,
we have received these tokens of your promise.
May we who have been nourished with holy things
live as faithful heirs of your promised kingdom.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Jeremiah must have been a real hoot to be with, the life and soul of the party! Sometimes we sell the Hebrew prophets short, because we assume they’re just parrots for God. But if you read them (and I suggest you should- it’s very refreshing!) you can clearly see their various personalities coming to the fore. Jeremiah is one of the most demonstrative of his feelings about the message he had to deliver and about his love for the people he was called to take to task.

Anyway, here he is, a theological Private Fraser, wailing over his doomed people. No wonder he wasn’t very popular. There’s probably an inner Jeremiah within each of us, that tendency to declare our religiosity through miserableness, and express our spirituality through whingeing.

I think that both Jeremiah and St Paul are great chaps, and I mean no disrespect to either of them. But sometimes we holy Joe’s don’t sell ourselves too awfully well at all. We’re too doom-and-gloomy, too prone to define ourselves by what we aren’t, what we don’t believe, and what we’re against. Sometimes it feels that our halo is a couple of sizes too small, and is restricting our joy supply.

The gospel reading describes Jesus telling his disciples a brilliant story in which the model and hero is a crook. The man faces the sack for fiddling his master’s accounts. His response is inspired: to go round his boss’ debtors and award them all a huge discount. Not only does this get back at his master, but it will also ingratiate him with them, and might even open up a new career with one of them.

And then comes the punchline: “the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” Not that we should be dishonest, but that we should learn from the dishonest steward and attempt to connect with people in such a way as to appeal to them rather than repel them.

Consider this: there’s a bumper sticker that reads (in slightly modified form): God loves you: everyone else thinks you’re a blighter. Is my halo on a bit too tight, and would I be a nicer person if I took it off?


Revd Mark Niblock

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The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

Collect
O Lord,
Hear the prayers of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Jeremiah 4: 11-12, 22-28
The Psalm - Psalm 14
The Second Reading - 1 Timothy 1: 12-17
The Gospel Reading - Luke 15: 1-10
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website.

Post Communion Prayer
God of mercy,
through our sharing in this holy sacrament
you make us one body in Christ.
Fashion us in his likeness here on earth,
that we may share his glorious company in heaven,
where he lives and reigns now and for ever.


In Luke 15 we have arguably, two of the three best remembered sections of scripture - we have the story or parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and then if we read on we have the parable of the lost son.

Have you ever lost anything? I know I have, lost the car keys, lost the tape measure, lost my wallet, (which for a Ballymena man is serious business)! Now what do we do about it? - We search until we find the lost item.

And then of course there are those instances when you are looking everywhere for your glasses - until someone points out to you that you are wearing them – and when that happens - that’s a time to start worrying!

I’m sure those of you who are reading this can look back on experiences where you too suffered a loss of something and it can hurt.

Getting back to the gospel reading above, we find Jesus speaking or addressing an unlikely crowd – so much so that he attracted the displeasure and criticism of the religious people of the day – the scribes and the Pharisees. What was the object of their criticism? – Simply that Jesus was associating with the wrong sort, but not only associating with the wrong sort - but actually dining with them! Chapter 15 verse I, ‘Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.’ Verse 2, ‘And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

Tax collectors or toll collectors were hated – they fleeced the poor people, taking taxes for the Roman authorities and also for the local Kings such as Herod to keep him in the style to which he had become accustomed and adding a bit here and there to line their own pockets – adding to the abject poverty many of they were experiencing.

Sinners could be anyone from, for example, the woman taken in adultery, gentiles and other people considered unclean by the religious authorities.

Such people, for these religious leaders were the untouchables – they would not associate with them – would not worship with them – they were people to be avoided.

But Jesus saw them from a different light; he saw them as objects of God’s love. He saw them as poor lost human beings and he was concerned about them and he wanted to reach out to them. Luke put it this way, ch 19 and 10; ‘For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’

Jesus saw them, as he sees people today, not as we or they are, but what we could be by his grace. Unlike the Pharisees and the scribes he does not expect us to reach a certain level of perfectiveness or holiness before we are acceptable to God, he wants us to realise that we simply need to come to him just the way we are, to trust him to save us, to tell Him we have done wrong and that if we turn from that wrong, that sin, and put our faith in him, we will be saved. If we do so we have that great assurance that he will never turn us away. John 6:37 ‘and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

This great truth is reinforced by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15-16. ‘The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life.’

That’s encouraging isn’t it!

I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ Who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray,
Threw His loving arms around me,
Drew me back into His way.

Revd Campbell Dixon MBE

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The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Collect One
Keep, we beseech thee,
O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy;
and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall,
keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect Two
God,
who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
Grant that your people may be fervent
in the fellowship of the gospel;
that, always abiding in you,
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Jeremiah 18: 1-11
The Psalm - Psalm 139: 1-5, 12-18
The Second Reading - Philemon 1-21
The Gospel Reading - Luke 14: 25-33
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website.

Post Communion Prayer
Eternal God,
we have received these tokens of your promise.
May we who have been nourished with holy things
live as faithful heirs of your promised kingdom.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

I remember very few sermons from my youth but there is one that has stayed with me throughout the years. It was on the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity and I must have been in my early teens at the time. The minister preached on the collect for the day, which we now have as Collect One. He suggested that this was a prayer that could be used to pray for a person as well as for the church and I have used this prayer in that way many times since.

He said that as we pray for this person in order to make the prayer more personal .we could use their name instead of the word church. As we use this prayer we are praying that God, in his mercy, will watch over them. And because, left on their own, they are bound to fail he will protect them from anything that will cause them harm, and lead them to follow those things that will lead them to know him and the salvation that he came to bring.

Used in this way this is a prayer that we can pray for anyone in any situation, and also for ourselves. It’s a good prayer to pray for someone when we are not in close contact with them and we don’t have any idea what their needs are.

And of course it’s a prayer that we can pray for the church, for the church we attend, or the church where we live. We can pray it for the church in a particular country, or for the church worldwide.

And if you are reading this on the cathedral website please use it to pray for us in St. Anne’s Cathedral.

I end with another prayer for the church which you might like to use,


God the Holy Spirit, come in power and bring new life to the Church; renew us in love and service, and enable us to be faithful to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Revd Janice Elsdon

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