"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 5th Sunday before Advent


Blessed Lord,
who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
Help us to hear them,
to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them
that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word,
we may embrace and for ever hold fast
the blessed hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The First Reading

Joel 2: 23–32

The Psalm

Psalm 65

The Second Reading

2 Timothy 4: 6–8, 16–18

The Gospel Reading

Luke 18: 9–14

The story is told about a young man; he worked in a very large firm and on the day in question he was very happy. He had just pulled off a good deal and been praised by his bosses. The bonus he received was a good one and he had given a small proportion of it to the local church restoration fund. The thanks he had received from the minister pleased him. Feeling smug and full of his own importance he bought a new suit and since the next day was Sunday he decided to go to church. He wore the new suit and sensed the approval of those around. It seemed that the word was getting out about his donation. They were pleased with him. No doubt God was looking on him with approval too. He was after all a good chap. It was in this frame of mind that he went to receive communion.

At the communion rail he found himself next to an elderly man, dressed in a shabby coat and old boots that were nearly falling apart. There was even a smell suggesting that it was a while since this man had seen soap and water. But what was even worse in the eyes of this young man was the muttering. The man seemed to be talking to himself and the young man was distracted from thinking about himself. The young man was very distressed - why should this man be near him – people would notice him and his shabby clothes and not look at the young man in his new suit.. And then, on the way back to his seat he heard the words the old man was saying; "Lord, I am not worthy, Lord I am not worthy"

In this week’s gospel reading we heard a similar story told by Jesus, It was a story he told “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:” If you are not familiar with the story I suggest that you find a Bible and read it, (Luke 18:9-14) I wonder if you agree that it was a story that could have been told with the young man we have just heard about in mind.

A prayer in the service of Holy Communion begins with these words “We do not presume to come to this your table merciful Lord, trusting in our won righteousness …..”. They are words to reflect on this week.

Rev. Janice Elsdon


The 21st Sunday after Trinity


Merciful Lord,
Grant to your faithful people pardon and peace,
that we may be cleansed from all our sins
and serve you with a quiet mind;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading

Jeremiah 31: 27–34 or Genesis 32:22–31

The Psalm

Psalm 119: 97–104 or Psalm 121

The Second Reading

2 Timothy 3: 14 – 4: 5

The Gospel Reading

Luke 18: 1–8

Post Communion Prayer

Father of light,
in whom is no change or shadow of turning,
you give us every good and perfect gift
and have brought us to birth by your word of truth.
May we be a living sign of that kingdom,
where your whole creation will be made perfect
in Jesus Christ our Lord.


A few weeks ago I gave Jeremiah a bit of a hard time for being somewhat on the dour side. Today’s first reading exonerates him a little, because he’s actually being uncharacteristically positive and hopeful. The people of Judah, having suffered the horror of foreign conquest and exile, are being promised that, like seed being sown in a bare field, so would life and normality once more spring up in Jerusalem and Judah. What now looks like a desolation will soon burst with life once more. Hooray for Jeremiah, good call!

In the Gospel reading Jesus tells a brilliant story about a crooked judge and a crabbed lady. I love the characterisation and the threat- because in actual fact the Greek phrase that the NRSV renders as “wear me out” is ambiguous. It literally refers to ‘closing my eye’, which of course could refer to the weariness of sleep caused by being worn out by the incessant yammering. However, there’s another option: you can also have your eye closed by someone giving you a shiner, so the judge could be saying (and I think that Jesus meant it this way!): ‘I’d better give that ould doll what she wants or she’ll end up giving me a black eye.’

The judge couldn’t care less about justice: no respect for God or people. Yet he was worn down by the determination of an unimportant nobody. Jesus is comparing by way of contrast our relation to God in prayer, with us as the rhyming widow and the judge in contrast to the gracious compassion of our good God. Just like the people to whom the first reading may have been directed, in the end this widow got what she yearned for, even though it looked impossible. Trust and determination paid off.

The epistle reading counsels a young pastor to keep in mind respect for and humility towards the teaching of the Scriptures. Sometimes we come across quite unusual content in our Bibles. Sometimes we really have to think hard about what it really means. Sometimes we’re shocked at the earthy language. But, if nothing else, reading our Scriptures- both Old and New Testaments- prove that we have a God who is never predictable, never particularly respectable and certainly never dull, but who throbs with life, love and a passionate desire to be loved in return.

Revd Mark Niblock


The 20th Sunday after Trinity - Harvest Thanksgiving

Eternal God,
you crown the year with your goodness
and give us the fruits of the earth in their season:
Grant that we may use them to your glory,
for the relief of those in need
and for our own well-being;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 26.1-11
Psalm: 100
2ndReading: Philippians 4.4-9
Gospel: John 6.25-35

Lord of the harvest,
with joy we have offered thanksgiving for your love in creation
and have shared in the bread and wine of the kingdom.
By your grace plant within us such reverence
for all that you give us
that will make us wise stewards of the good things we enjoy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Some years ago we had a visitor – he was a doctor from Tanzania who was studying here. In the course of our conversation I enquired after his family. He replied something like this “I spoke to my wife last and they are well; Thank God they are not starving.” I was shocked by these words as I realised that for this doctor and his family starvation was a real possibility. His words of thankfulness were from the heart.

There are many in the world today who live with the reality of the threat of starvation. For them it is only a bad harvest away. And there are many others in the world who are literally starving.

Here it is the season when people in churches meet together to give thanks for the harvest. We may sing “all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.” When I was a child I remember the service of harvest thanksgiving being delayed until the harvest was actually in, so that those words had real meaning especially for those in the farming community.

Here in the city the awareness of that link is not as strong. We are shielded from the immediacy of our dependence on the harvest - a fact that my Tanzanian friend was only too conscious of. I wonder if we have lost some of that sense of thanksgiving for the harvest.

Giving thanks for the harvest is not a new idea; in today’s Old Testament reading we read the instruction given to the Jews “Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house” (Deut. 26:11) Their celebration included bringing the best part (the first fruits) of their harvest to the place where God was worshipped as a sign of their thankfulness.

So as we give thanks at this time, churches are filled with flowers, fruit, vegetables and increasingly these days with tins and packets of food. As we rejoice in these tangible signs of harvest, signs of God’s faithfulness to us, let us remember in our prayers those, like that doctor’s family, for whom the harvest is vital, all that stands between them and starvation.

And let us give thanks to God for his goodness to us.

All good gifts around us
are sent from heaven above,
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
for all his love.

Revd Janice Elsdon


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December 2014

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