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Our Christ Church prayer app has really developed a real community feel. Lots of prayer posts, in fact I thought it best to turn off the alerts as it just kept sounding off! Wonderful.

04/07 – We have today the well-known account of the healing of the ten lepers by Jesus in Luke 17:11-19. We often read this and reflect on the fact only one returned to Jesus, but perhaps there is a giveaway comment in the text. Jesus tells the lepers to show themselves to the priests, as required under Mosaic law when a person is healed. In obedience, they left and as they walked they were healed. Their act of faith was to leave, though not healed, obeying Jesus. So, you may ask, what’s the giveaway? The one leper returns and Jesus says “Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Except this foreigner, does that mean he was not a Jew? Yes, he was a Samaritan. Therefore he did not have to go to show himself to a Jewish priest. The message seems clear: the individual who turned to Christ and recognised the work of God in him, represented people who were not seen by the Jews as chosen. However, Jesus did see him as valued, and treated him the same. Jesus seems to be showing the people and the temple leaders that what He offers is not exclusive but an open invitation. Thinking back, to the wedding banquet in 14:7-14 and the great dinner in 14:15-24, at the end Jesus said, “For I tell you none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.” In the parable those invited had rejected the invitation; the nine lepers turned their backs on Jesus; unknowingly they declined His invitation. When we go out each day we do not know to whom Jesus is extending His invitation, but we are the invitation card, like the slave in the parable, sent out to bring people in, whoever and wherever they were. How many times do we prejudge, decide in advance who we can share the Good News with? We have to open our eyes to those around us and listen intently to their voices. They may share their hunger, their loss of direction and hope. We can open the door to Jesus for them. It is their choice to accept His invitation. Once again, we find ourselves being challenged by the gospel. Lord God, Your Word, Jesus has a powerful message that challenges and questions us. Give us more strength, Lord God, that we can be faithful and serve Him despite our own weakness. May we share the good news with each other and so go out into Your world.

03/07 – Again we leave the lectionary as today the Church remembers Thomas the Apostle with a reading from John 11:10-16, where Thomas (the twin) gets a mention. The context is Jesus going to Lazarus, this time the brother of Martha and Mary, who was ill, though Jesus knew he would die and told the disciples that Lazarus had fallen asleep. Jesus then had to spell it out by saying Lazarus was dead. Jesus had decided to go to him, though after waiting a couple of days. His disciples were concerned that by going to Judea there may be attempts by the Jews to stone Him again (John 10:31), putting their lives at risk. Thomas at the end of the passage, realising Jesus was determined to go, said to the others “let us also go, that we may die with Him,” as they would also have been at risk of being stoned to death. (In 11:45 after Lazarus has been brought back to life the Jews do indeed plot to kill Jesus.) Tomorrow, when we pick up on Luke, we will have missed 17:1-10, so let’s look at the missing section, as once again it does seem to fit. Jesus warns the disciples that “occasions of stumbling are bound to come,” but He warns them not to lead others to stumble: “be on your guard.” He talks about forgiveness, even if someone who has sinned against you, does it seven times more, providing they say “I repent”, you must forgive them. After this, the disciples say, “Lord, increase our faith!” Jesus doesn’t actually say He will. He just says if they had enough faith (the size of a mustard seed), then they could command a mulberry tree to plant itself in the sea, and it would. Finally, Jesus moves on to a slave/master relationship. After a day’s work, would a master offer to get his slave a meal? No, he would still expect the slave to serve him first. “Do you thank a slave for doing what is commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done.’” It does rather beg the question why so many of us expect ‘thank you’ or signs of appreciation and recognition. It is a basic human need to be valued by others, but is this where our value should be in the heavenly realms and with Jesus? It runs almost against our psychological needs, but is that because our eyes aren’t sufficiently God-orientated? Is Thomas, in saying that the disciples should go with Jesus and be prepared to die, perhaps stating the obvious? This, from a man who ’stumbled’ when it came to believing the other disciples when Jesus was seen resurrected. Did He lack faith? Had he not picked up on the hints Jesus gave? Well, nor had the others. So often our faith is increased by doing God’s will. When Thomas said “My Lord, my God” (Jn 20:28) was that an act of reconciliation, of redemption? The reading from Luke can be used as an overlay of our conduct as Christians and in our reading of Acts and the letters (Epistles). Let us pray, ‘increase our faith Lord.’

02/07 – Lazarus and the rich man (notable that he has no name, but the ‘poor’ Lazarus does). The account is in Luke 16:19-end: the rich man who had it all while he was alive, but now in Hades, in the flames, is being tormented to see Lazarus with Father Abraham. But the chasm between the two is fixed and cannot be crossed. And as for the rich man’s brothers, well the information is there for them to get their lives in order, not even someone rising from the dead will have an effect. We should really have picked up on this rich/poor divide by now, since 6:20: “blessed you who are poor”, and 6:25: “woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” You could say that the rich/poor divide was even in Jesus’ birth. In 12:13, we have the parable of the rich fool, when he is warned by Jesus to be on his guard against all kinds of greed. If you remember, the parable Jesus told after that encounter ended in the sudden death of the rich man, who had stored up treasures for himself but was not rich towards God. On the other side of the balance is the teaching of Jesus about possessions and trusting God for our provision. Put into the mix the Pharisees, their love of wealth and the meals they invited lots of people to and we have quite a target audience for Lazarus and the rich man parable. This also seems to provide a pause on the somewhat relentless hammering Jesus gave the Pharisees, though it does seem they provided a very easy target! If Jesus were here today, which group would he have in sight to give the contrasts he needs to make the points? The emphasis on the poor has given rise to a huge number of charities, organisations and political movements in an attempt to redress the balance. However, can they ever achieve their aim? The reality is the wealthy, for the most part, fail to take the message of injustice and poverty to heart, especially it seems, if it is going to hit their lifestyle or pockets. Where wealth is a demigod it is difficult for the One True God to make inroads. Even the warnings that Jesus gives are dismissed; not only has God been dethroned, so has judgement, heaven and hell, or any sense of divine justice. Not, perhaps, that it had any effect anyway when wealth is the focus of life. What are we to do? We are taken back to the previous chapters of Luke, but I leave you to read them again. Lord God, the message of Jesus seems so clear, show us how we live it and share it. Show us how, we as your people, can help others to question their values, but mostly to look honestly at their faith in Jesus, or search out the truth in Christianity. Lord God, we are the light in Your world, empower us to burn more brightly, with confidence, to restore Your order, not human division.

01/07 – Really, the first of another month, slow down! And what a reading to start the month off with Luke 16:1-18. The dishonest manager or shrewd steward, depending on how you want to look at it. What does it mean by the manager squandering the rich man’s property? What is the steward doing when he reduces the prices? Some suggest he is cutting his own commission, he is reducing what he can have to invest it forward to the future. It is for that that the master commends the steward. Note that the master challenges the steward over his behaviour and, it seems, the steward accepts the charge. Jesus, in saying that “the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light,” is in a way asking a question: Do we, as ‘the children of light’ invest our kingdom resources, the gifts God gives us, as wisely? The people of this age think about how their wealth serves them; do we think how our wealth serves God? Jesus repeats the impossibility of serving two masters, we cannot serve God and wealth. A direct challenge to the ‘lovers of money’, the Pharisees. Jesus challenges their attitude by saying “for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God”. The last verse (18) about adultery may seem a bit random and out of context, but is it? It is about proper relationship and fidelity, an everyday, relatable example, but again interchangeable with man’s relationship with wealth. We don’t have a right to that mobility when it comes to our relationship with God. Some point to this verse as an extension of the verse before about law, that not one letter of the law will be dropped, and is an example of Jesus’ moral teaching. Maybe it goes back to verse 15, that ‘God knows your hearts’. Is Jesus challenging the fickle nature of human relationships and easy dissatisfaction? In verse 13, Jesus has again talked about slaves not being able to serve two masters, “either hate the one or love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other”. In God’s kingdom integrity and faithful devotion to God are the essence of our character as Christians. The statement and resulting question that Jesus asks brings it all together: “Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful also in much. If then you have not been faithful with dishonest wealth, who will entrust you with true riches?” That needs some thinking about, but put it in the context of our relationship with God and the provision God has given us. If you would really like some more mental challenge, go back to the parable of the prodigal son and see how this passage leads us on from that one, does this somehow build on that?  Lord God, we need wisdom, we need to use what you give us to win others for You. Keep us faithful to You among all the distractions around us.

30/06 – Luke 15:11-end is the parable of the prodigal son, one I imagine we all know well. It is logical that this follows on from the lost sheep and lost coin as it amplifies the message Jesus is putting across that the Father seeks the lost and awaits their return. It is quite possible a lot of our lives follow this pattern, perhaps brought up with some understanding of God but drawn away in our youth, careers, friendships to just time off for bad behaviour! The impetuous nature of youth. Hopefully not ending up eating from a pig trough. Then life changes, a return to our senses and a desire to return, from somewhere deep within our being. So we rediscover God again. ‘I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.’ Flip that over into the context of the Pharisees and scribes: is Jesus once again giving them signals that they can still come to Him before it is too late, and so find their way to God? Or, are the people, the crowds following Jesus, those returning to the Father, when the leaders, personified in the elder brother, feel resentful that they have served yet miss out, been diligent, but no celebration for them? Like the elder brother, they didn’t get the point; they didn’t have ears to hear, or eyes to see. A parable that works now, in Jesus’ time and for John Newton, repentant slave trafficker. If you remember in 14:15 a guest at the table said the blessing: “blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.” However, those there were excluding themselves through their own unwillingness to listen to Jesus. In the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees we see parallels today in people around us. Jesus came to offer, through repentance, forgiveness; in justification, restoration. We need to give praise to our God for Jesus His Son and for the work of the Holy Spirit and the salvation we have. Lord God, You long for the lost to return, for the sinner to say sorry and live life a different way. You call us to find those lost and bring them to You. Give us strength through the Holy Spirit to cause celebrations in heaven as people come back to you. May You, our Lord, be able to talk of us in the heavenly realms.

29/06 – Monday the church remembers Peter and Paul, the Apostles, with the account of Peter’s vision of the large sheet and the three times Peter was challenged to eat unclean food. Shortly after that, the men arrived from Caesarea to ask Peter to go back with them, and when he was there the Holy Spirit came upon the gentiles, “just as it had upon us at the beginning”. The account is from Acts 11:1-18.  As before, this interrupts the continuity of Luke’s gospel account and leaves us with a missing section before we resume on Tuesday. The missing bit is Luke 15:1-10, the parable of the lost sheep and of the lost coin. How well this fits with the reading from Acts! It starts with our friends the Pharisees and scribes complaining that Jesus was associating with sinners and tax collectors, eating with them as well. Isn’t it interesting that after Peter returned from Caesarea he was criticised by those in Jerusalem for taking the gospel to sinners (Cornelius, a centurion, and his household). The parallel is so obvious between the two situations, the teaching by Jesus and the action by Peter. What is interesting is that those in Jerusalem must have known these two parables, the lost sheep being in Matthew 18 as well. However, they couldn’t apply the teaching themselves. For that matter, it was an ongoing issue for Peter and he must have been quite relieved to hand over the mission to the gentiles to Paul! But back to the point, Jesus wasn’t just telling stories to entertain but rather to educate and challenge, to change the listeners’ understanding, ‘if they had ears to hear’ that is. Peter had to receive a vision and be challenged to change his mindset. Is it so surprising that Christians have got things so wrong throughout history? So often our circumstances, along with society’s values and prejudices, can blind us from understanding the teaching of Jesus correctly. That is why study and reading the bible is so important. But sometimes we have to read it both within the context of our ‘moment’ and outside it. Sometimes the ‘moment’ can colour the truth in a way this is not right. Apartheid was supported by some Christian denominations, as was slavery, and it took a massive change of attitudes (in Britain led by Christians) to instigate change that brought our understanding and treatment of others closer to the expectations of Jesus. Let us pray for our home groups as we study the bible together, for those who teach from the bible and interpret the bible, sometimes to support their own views. We need to pray we find our way to understanding Jesus without blinkered eyes. We need to pray for all those who have a public preaching and teaching role, for the educators at theological and bible colleges, for those who teach our young, many in schools who have little understanding of the bible. Pray for those who educate our young in churches, especially here at Christ Church, that they, the teachers and the those taught, may grow in faith and knowledge. 

28/06 – Acts 27:13-end is the reading this Sunday. Paul continues his trip to Phoenix, a harbour in Crete. The moderate southerly wind changed to violent wind, a north-easterly which ran down from Crete. They were pounded by the storm and the crew started to throw the cargo overboard. They started to lose hope of being saved, but Paul urged them to keep up their courage, saying there would be no loss of life, quoting an angel. They were subjected to the storm for fourteen days; the crew let down anchors and lowered the boats, hoping to leave, but Paul draws the attention of the centurion to what they planned so the boats were cut loose. There were two hundred and seventy-six persons on board and Paul urged them to have food to help them survive. He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to eat. That morning they saw a beach and managed to run the boat aground but the stern started to break up. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners but the centurion stopped them and he ordered people to jump overboard and swim ashore; others used planks and other pieces of the ship. All safely landed on the island of Malta. It is hard to imagine the storm and the fear there must have been, the unknown direction of the boat or when they would reach land. Despite the fear, still Paul trusted God and he was able to reassure people and make his voice heard. Though he was a prisoner he commanded respect, was listened to and trusted. How would we behave in that situation, either taking in what Paul said or putting ourselves in Paul’s place? Would we trust God and rise above our fears? Somehow that is what we need to do, put our concerns and worries into God’s hands and trust Him. Lord God, still our fears, Lord remove our anxieties and strengthen us as we walk with You. As we move into the unknown future, not knowing how the Covid-19 virus will be controlled, we ask You continue to pour Your peace and calm on all those who are isolated or still fear being ill. 

27/06 – Let’s start with the end of the reading of Luke 14:25-end. “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Jesus has addressed the Pharisees, those invited to the meal as well. One could say He has put them firmly in their place, but not the one they think they have the right to. The trouble is that as salt they had a purpose, but they had become tasteless and “how can its saltiness be restored?” Well, it can’t, it has to be thrown away. Those chosen have failed to reveal God to the people or recognise their Messiah. Jesus confronts them as a people set aside for God with their corruption, their lack of faithfulness, their unwillingness to go the distance. Jesus says, “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” It’s aimed at everyone: the crowd following Him, His disciples and the people He was invited to share the meal with. Are we ever made aware of the cost of discipleship? Is it suggested we work out the cost of following Jesus when we turn to Jesus as our Lord? Jesus repeats about giving up possessions; we have read about His teaching earlier on God’s provision and trusting the Father to provide (12:32), about not being tied down by worldly values. The material Luke includes before that is about working out the cost of building a tower before you start or facing ridicule if you cannot complete on the job. Or the king asking for terms of peace when his ten thousand are facing twenty thousand of the other king’s troops. The religious leaders had become corrupt and failed to understand the cost of their role in leading the people to God. Like the fig tree with no fruit, now we have salt with no taste; the fig tree was to be cut down, the salt to be thrown away, discarded, rejected, not even fit for the manure heap! No goodness in it whatsoever. There are a couple of things we can learn from this and all that went before. Firstly, we need to see that even Jesus could not win over people who should know better. Why do we get disheartened when we share the good news with people and they reject it? The rejection Jesus faced cost Him His life, but that was all in God’s plan. Was it really Judas that betrayed Jesus? The second thing we can learn is that it does have a cost, but I’m not sure it is one we can estimate or negotiate. We have to accept that, as soon as we align ourselves to Jesus and become important to Him, we are vulnerable to attack; that can be the cost. It is why praying for the leadership of the Church, worldwide, is so important. It’s why we need to pray for all those in our church who put themselves forward to serve Jesus in so many different and vital ways. Why we need to pray for all those who share their faith daily with family, friends, colleagues and strangers. 12:33,34 “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”

26/06 – The meal invitation continues, as Jesus questions the Pharisee’s invitation list in Luke 14:12-24. Jesus really doesn’t hold back on the punches! He says, “when you give a luncheon or a dinner do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.” Then after one of the dinner guests said “blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Jesus tells of invitations handed out, then when the meal was ready, the guests made ridiculous excuses not to attend. It ends with the master inviting the poor, blind, crippled and lame. Still the banqueting space is not full so those in the road and lanes are compelled to come in. Interesting word ‘compelled’, the opposite to an invitation, being compelled means they cannot really refuse. The other interesting feature is that the master is now inviting travellers, people who would not know him. Could this mean that the invitation has been extended beyond those of Israel, the Jews, to those outside, the gentiles? Have God’s chosen forfeited their invitation and missed out on the banquet, which still went on despite them! We are back with “you were not willing”! Also the comment made by Jesus in 13:30, “those who are the last will be first, and first who will be last.” The sections we have been reading have been a continuous string of rebukes to the Pharisees and those who are unfaithful, and it doesn’t end yet. What are we to make of it? Perhaps that comes later. In the meantime we must learn where those talked about have gone wrong and fallen short. The danger of assuming they’re ok when the truth is they were not, – far from it. Again, this reading is often used as a reason to serve those who are vulnerable or excluded to be fed. It’s a staple part of the ‘social gospel’, but again it misses the point. Of course it’s not wrong in any way to feed the poor and excluded. But this passage is a reprimand to people who have really lost the plot. They are deluded in thinking they have an automatic right to the kingdom of God. It’s about people answering the call of Jesus to join His banquet, to follow Him and be a faithful servant. I’m not sure this is even spaced repetition! It is unrelenting; Jesus is really making a point. Lord, we know You died for us, we know that all You have done we have through grace, not through works. But help us not to be complacent, to feel privileged, or to think that in some way we have a right to feast in your Father’s kingdom with You. Help us to see the lessons in what we read and to be humble and faithful in expressing our love for You in all we do. 

25/06 – In Luke 14:1-11 we again have Jesus going to eat a meal with a Pharisee, but this time the leader of the Pharisees. This is the third invitation Jesus had to eat with Pharisees, (7:36, 11:37); each time something happens that challenges the Pharisees, in fact after the second time we read that the “scribes and Pharisees began to be very hostile toward Him”. From the very beginning the Pharisees and teachers of the law realised that Jesus was different; in 5:17 Luke writes that “they had come from every village in Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem.” Even though Jesus had healed on the sabbath, the disciples picked grain and eaten it, they wanted to know more, or just trap Him; after all, Jesus had condemned them (11:53) and warned people against them (beware the yeast of the Pharisees 12:1). Now he makes another comment about them by highlighting  the way people at the meal “chose the places of honour”. Jesus talks of a host who asks a guest to move, much to their disgrace, to a lower place. He suggests that the best thing to do would be to start at the lowest place and find you are asked to move up, “you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.” The closing statement in today’s reading is “for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Have we not heard that before from Jesus? We are left wondering what will happen next. Jesus was radical in the way he approached things. He wouldn’t let a corrupt leadership mislead the people. He constantly warned them, but they were deaf, absorbed in their own status and self-importance. The really sad thing is, we still see that in Christian leaders today; so many fall. But the thing Jesus did, was not to stop trying to reach them, by eating with them, teaching them. But as with yesterday’s reading, when Jesus said “you were not willing”, they simply could not grasp the truth. The question we have to ask ourselves is, not do we hear, but do we listen and reflect and understand things that sometimes may be hard truths? When I was training we were urged to be ‘reflective practitioners’, to learn by reflecting on our experiences and understanding our reactions. How much are we held captive by who and what we have become, rather than change to be who and what Jesus wants us to be, to be true servants, not only of Jesus but of each other? Lord God, Your Son reveals to us fresh and challenging ways to live our lives. We want to be willing to answer His call to serve Him in Your creation. We pray for ourselves and for others in His service that we may be united together in one purpose.

24/06 – The church dedicates this day to remembering the birth of John the Baptist, so the reading goes back to 3:1-17. However, tomorrow the reading jumps forward to chapter 14, missing out Luke 13:22-35 (end of the chapter). So I am going to look at this section today (rather than chapter 3), in order to bring continuity. This is the passage where Jesus talks about the narrow door and people knocking to enter and Jesus (the owner of the house) will say ”I do not know where you came from; so go away from me.” From v33 onwards Jesus is told, interestingly by Pharisees, that Herod wants to kill Him. Jesus calls Herod a fox and goes on to predict His death in Jerusalem. In terms of chapter breaks this is close to the central point of Luke (24 chapters in all). It ends with the section where Jesus is often thought to turn maternal by saying “How often I have desired to gather your children (Jerusalem’s) together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” I often hear that quoted as showing Jesus’ softer side but to some extent that misses the whole point; the point is “you were not willing!” It takes us back to those who wanted to enter the house but Jesus didn’t recognise them, which takes us back to the barren fig tree, the inability to read the times and the faithful and unfaithful servants. Jesus is not being soft, rather the opposite; He is revealing the stubbornness, rebellious, unrepentant nature of the people. Look back, we’ve been here before, repent or perish, family divisions, unfaithful servants, the rich fool and the warning against hypocrisy at the start of chapter 12. In v10 Jesus says “Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” It seems this whole section is a warning to people who do lots of ‘good works’ thinking it will buy them a place in the kingdom without ever acknowledging Jesus, even though when He returns they will be the first to say ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’ from Psalm 118:26, a song of victory, perhaps misplaced for them? The important thing is our relationship with Jesus, being faithful to Him, not blowing our own trumpets but blowing it for God, so the walls of rebellion against Him fall. We need to be faithful and loyal, knowing that however small we may view what we do for Him, it has a disproportionate effect in bringing in the kingdom thanks to the Holy Spirit. Praise be to the Lord our God!

23/06 – Perhaps I missed something yesterday that leads into this reading today of Luke 13:10-21. What I missed was that the fig tree was in a vineyard. Two things are worth noting in this, fig trees can be associated with religious teachers who would sit in their shade to teach. Also the fig tree was used as a metaphor for Israel ( Hosea 9:10 & 1 Kings 4:25). Why a fig tree in a vineyard? As we probably know vines are climbing plants and need support; in biblical times other trees were planted in vineyards as support for the vines and in both the readings cited vines and figs are mentioned together. In the reading today we find Jesus in the synagogue, where he sees a woman deformed by a spirit for eighteen years. Jesus calls to her, and placing His hands on her He frees her from her deformity. Result – an indignant synagogue leader complains to the people saying Jesus should not have healed on a sabbath day. Jesus’ response is to say that even the synagogue leaders would take their donkey to water, what hypocrites! Then Jesus gives two examples of the kingdom of God, the first, a mustard seed growing into a large tree and the second flour and yeast that make the dough rise. What Jesus did and his response delighted the people. Jesus had talked about repentance, about trusting God the Father, about being ready to do God’s work. Now He demonstrates that in front of the very people who should be leading the people by example, trees supporting the vines perhaps, but fruitless figs and condemned for that (v7). The kingdom of God is going to be transformational, not because of big things but actually because of the small, hard to see things. How encouraging is that! There is a warning here about hypocrisy, about teaching truth and not being bound by law. Lord God, we pray that we may be used by You as yeast, as small seeds for Your kingdom. Guide us not to be talkers but doers. Lord God, may the leaders in Your Church be leaders in what they do, not just what they say; help us all to lead by example.

22/06 – We are back to Luke 13:1-9. The reading follows on from Saturday. Jesus is saying people aren’t punished more because they are greater sinners. A sin is a sin, full stop. That one sin, however minor, that we commit is the separation between us and our God. Jesus is repeating the need to repent. The parable He goes on to tell reinforces the need to repent, but also, perhaps just as crucially, the need to be active and bear fruit. Being a ‘sleeping’ Christian, one who attends church or even doesn’t attend, but does not bear fruit for God the Father (being part of the fig tree) is not one of His. However, I find it really interesting that the gardener (Jesus?) says, “let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” So Jesus will give us the nurturing we need to bear fruit, give us the opportunities. It seems to reflect back onto Sunday’s reading from Acts, that whatever the circumstances God will give us opportunities to reveal Him in our lives and relationships with others. It is up to them to hear the message and respond. If we hold back through fear of failure we are not giving them the chance; is that fair? Ephesians 6:10 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Also, look back in Luke to the verse I quoted yesterday: “for we are what God made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life”. Lord God open our eyes to see the opportunities that lie before us, strengthen our hands to do your work. May we praise You in all we do in Your name. Amen

21/06 – It’s Sunday, so as usual we leave Luke and turn to the book of Acts, 27:1-12. It is an account by Luke of the fateful trip that Paul, accompanied by Luke and Aristarchus, took in the Roman authority’s attempt to take Paul to Rome after he had appealed to the governor. The account is fascinating it seems, because of the factual accuracy of Luke. His account fits meteorological patterns recognisable to sailors even today in the way the wind patterns work. The ship chosen to take them onward after the small coastal boat that was first used was a grain ship heading for Rome, and prepared to take the risk in questionable weather. That fits with the fact grain supplies were low in Rome and the Emperor offered a bonus to ships that made the voyage on the shoulder of safe passage, any later and no sailing ships would have even attempted the voyage as it was too dangerous. Many more facts in the account also confirm Luke’s attention to detail. Perhaps it is worth remembering that, as we read his gospel account of Jesus. Paul, who is under no pressure to make a decision about the voyage, obviously thinks it to be unwise, but the owner, perhaps with the large bonus in view, and the centurion, Julius, who may well have been quite keen to get his prisoner to his destination, decided to take the risk. We are given an insight into Paul’s logic and wisdom; he clearly saw the dangers. Again, it is interesting to see how Paul weighs up the risks; did he always do this as he travelled around, a continuous risk assessment?! He was a man who clearly took risks, but when it was for a purpose, the purpose being to share the good news of Jesus with people. In this situation he could see that there was unlikely to be that opportunity. However, if we continue to read on about the shipwreck, opportunities came and Paul seized on them as he did on the island of Malta where they were washed up. So, even though Paul thought it too risky, God used the situation anyway. There is a very real lesson here in taking and making use of all situations, even when things seem to go wrong! Thinking back to the readings in Luke of the last week, we seem to be called to shine the light of Jesus in the world. Perhaps this reading confronts our fears and reservations as we seek to do that. God can use anything we do, the main thing is to be doing it, like the slaves, lamps lit, ready for action (Luke 12:36 & 43-44) and doing God’s work. Remember “for we are what God made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life”. Ephesians 2:10. Let us continue to pray that God will show us what we need to be doing.

20/06 – Yesterday I said of today’s reading, Luke 12:49-end, that the ’stark reality becomes clearer’. Jesus talks to the crowds around Him, of bringing “fire to the earth”, about bringing division rather than peace to the earth and speaks of families being divided. He speaks clearly of judgement and the need to settle the case with the accuser before reaching the magistrate and having to pay the price for your guilt. We are good at knowing how the weather will change but are ignorant about the present time we live in. Jesus also talks about His coming baptism and, knowing what lies ahead, the stress it puts on Him. Of course today we view baptism as a liturgical ceremony, one of comfort, but in the time of Jesus the word was associated with acts of violence, it was used of people being drowned, of ships sinking and here Jesus uses it to refer to His own death.The whole passage is apocryphal, about future times but coming out of the present. Jesus died and we share in His death through our baptism. We see in history how Jesus’ teaching centred around love, compassion, forgiveness have been rejected in violence and division and how hard it is to read the present, even though, so often, the past already holds the key. We step into that world, the world of today, each of us to be part of God’s solution, hand picked, crafted and called. But we must put our fears aside, be courageous, knowing that, if we listen, then the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say (v12). No one suggests what we are called to be, and called to do; as faithful followers of Jesus it is not easy, not if we take it seriously. But we should know what Christ has done for us, the hope we have to share, the love we have to give. Lord Jesus, You show us the reality of this world, You reveal the divided nature of families though you speak of love. You heal and restore. Teach us Your ways that we may reveal You, Lord, that we can heal in Your name, that families may come together in Your name. Lord, in a world that seems so divided, so lost, empower us, we ask, to do works in Your name that bring You glory and honour.

09/06 – In Luke 10:38-end, Jesus says to a stressed out Martha “you are worried and upset about many things – but few things are needed”. It came about as “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made”, note the phrase; ‘that had to be made’. The backdrop to this exchange is Mary sitting listening to Jesus and Martha’s frustration that her sister was not pulling her weight for this special guest and his disciples. But perhaps the question is – for whom was Martha stressing herself? We get the impression Jesus would rather have her attention than the physical needs provided by Martha’s hospitality. Was it Martha’s own expectations of meeting her guests’ needs that drove her? At the end of that day who would have been satisfied more, Jesus or Martha? The fact is that the satisfaction of doing all the preparations, that Martha felt ‘had to be made’, would be temporary; the next day would bring yet more. Jesus said of Mary, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. What Mary heard and learnt was more enduring, and, unlike Martha’s priorities, ‘will not be taken away’. I’m sure we can all relate to Martha’s frustration with her sister, and under normal circumstances it would be justified. But let’s ask ourselves – what does God expect of us? We all live busy, if not hectic, lives, and even lockdown doesn’t seem to have slowed the pace, just shifted the emphasis. But what does God expect? He expects, longs for, us to put aside our own expectations and self-inflicted burdens when we are in His presence, to focus on Him and listen. That can happen at any time not just when we schedule prayer time. Lord God, may we spot You in times when we burden ourselves, help us to stop and wait on The Holy Spirit to feed us with that which ‘will not be taken away’. Lord may we know that time with You is often not in ‘doing’ but more in ‘being’.

08/06 – Luke 10:25-37. The parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus uses it to give an example of loving your neighbour. It comes from the answer given by the expert in the law to Jesus, having asked Him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked what was written in the law; the man knew his stuff and quoted first Deuteronomy 6:5 and then Leviticus 19:18. But he needed to justify the reason for the question, to vindicate himself. Why? Jesus had said, “do this and you will live”. Was the man concerned what the people would think of him, when the Old Testament clearly refers to eternal life? Psalm 49 talks of God redeeming the righteous from the grave, just one example. Or was he wanting affirmation as to who his neighbour was, the expectation perhaps being that it would be those within the Jewish community? Why would that be? In Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy the definition of neighbour is wider than a fellow Israelite, because “God loves the sojourner”, (Deuteronomy 10:18) and the Israelites themselves were sojourners in Egypt. But ‘neighbour’ had become more exclusive to mean a fellow Israelite over time. In fact ‘neighbour’ and ‘brother in the shared covenant’ became synonymous. Both Jeremiah 31:34 and Zachariah 3:10 highlight that. So even the expert in the law failed to realise that the teaching had moved from what God intended. Jesus brings the focus sharply back to what God had intended for, and desired of, his people Israel. They were called, perhaps mandated, to care for those outside their own group. This brings into really stark focus the terrible injustice that people suffer through prejudice, highlighted in the unrest caused by the mistreatment of black and ethnic minorities, native Indians in America, Aboriginies in Australia, etc. When discrimination is held up against the story of the Good Samaritan there can be no moral justification. I’ve gone on a bit much! Let’s offer to God our prayers, including laying our own prejudices before Him. Let us pray that the world can change and we can model that change, to the glory of our one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

07/06 – John 17:1-11 is a section from the discourse of Jesus before, in John’s account, He crossed the Kidron Valley to a place where there was a garden. There He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Jesus had been speaking to His disciples before looking to heaven and addressing His Father. Jesus had washed their feet, told them of His betrayal, and He had given them a new commandment, 13:34 “that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you should also love one another” – (see also John 15:9). With this in the background the love of Jesus is amplified in His prayer for those whom the Father had given to Him, 17:9, “because they were Yours”. Jesus goes on, “All mine are Yours, and Yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them”. This builds on Luke 10:22, part of the reading for Saturday, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him”. So let’s follow the logic: God gave Jesus the disciples, the followers, who were to glorify Jesus, but also that in them Jesus may be glorified. Jesus revealed to His disciples the truth about God and the power of His love. We are called, like those who travelled and learnt from Jesus, to glorify Jesus through our lives. We are to know that we do not belong to this world, just as Jesus did not belong. Jesus prays “sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth”. He prays for us continually, for all the saints who are called to follow Him. He holds us in His love and calls us to love one another. Heavenly Father we pray for all your saints around the world, in all ages, who bear witness to Your holy name. Strengthen us to be faithful to Your word, revealed in Jesus. Help us to understand and to glorify You through the gift of the Holy Spirit at work in us. May we bear fruit through the power of the Holy Spirit that we may have the joy of Jesus made complete in our lives. Amen

06/06 – At the end of this reading, Luke 10:17-24, we have Jesus saying to His disciples “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!” He carries on to say “many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Before that, as the seventy return saying “even demons submit to us”, Jesus says that He watched “Satan fall like a flash of lightning”. He then says, “no one knows who the son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” What is it the disciples see? We remember Jesus calling His disciples to pay special attention to what they hear and see, in 9:44 “let these words sink into your ears”, 8:18 “pay attention to how you listen”, 8:8 “let anyone with ears listen”, 6:47 “as for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice”. A reverse order and not quite complete, but, for the disciples, Jesus was a constant revelation that they needed to listen to and put their experience of following Him to practical good ultimately, when Jesus was no longer with them. Ever since the disciples had answered Jesus’ call they were blessed by the experience; they were in a unique position: the Son had chosen to reveal God the Father to them. They saw what others longed to see but couldn’t, reiterated in 1 Peter 1:10-12, which I paraphrase; ‘a good news, brought by the Holy Spirit, things into which angels long to look!’ Lord, we thank you that you have given us spiritual eyes that reveal who You are through the work of the Holy Spirit. May we be better still at hearing and seeing You; increase our understanding we ask. Help us to put all that we learn from our walk with You into being faithful servants who witness to You daily. Thank You that You see fit to pour blessings upon us. Give us grateful hearts. May we live to praise You. Amen

04/06 – Luke 10:1-16 ends with this statement  – “whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the One who sent me.” Do you recall 9:48 – “whoever welcomes this child welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me”. Also let’s not forget the start of chapter 9, the mission of the twelve, as we read about the mission of the seventy. There are notable differences especially in the outcome. However, that is tomorrow’s reading! Jesus condemns three towns: Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, an area known as the evangelical triangle where Jesus spent 80% of His time. Jesus compares them to Tyre and Sidon, well north in Lebanon; those two towns were gentile and the three Jesus condemns were Jewish. So, with what Jesus had been doing in the midst of the three Jewish communities, even gentile towns would have recognised who he was and repented, but the Jewish communities did not. Perhaps a reflection on Mark 3:29: “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin,” when the scribes doubted who Jesus served. Have you ever tried to share your faith at home, the workplace or among your friendship group, and felt rejected or put down? Well, you are in good company. Jesus warned the twelve and the seventy about rejection; ‘wipe the dust off your feet’ is the message He gives both groups, and know that “if they reject you they reject Me”. It is clear in the condemnation of the three towns in Galilee that Jesus was not widely accepted for who He was and that in doing so they rejected God, the very person they were so eager to serve. The God, Yahweh, they worshipped, they were safe with. Jesus was disturbing, challenging and confusing. Under those conditions they just couldn’t accept Him for who He was. There was a mismatch they couldn’t resolve or understand. So, rejoice in the difficulties you encounter in sharing Jesus with others; you walk closer to our Lord at those times. He knows your pain first hand; He’s been there, seen it and experienced it. Lord Jesus, thank You for the privilege of being able to share Your word with others. May we learn to shake the dust off our feet and move on, even if it be with those we love and care about. Help us to leave that work to the Holy Spirit. May we rejoice that we have tried and that it is not us people reject but You and our Father in heaven. But Lord Jesus, we pray for them in hope for their future. Lord, may we all receive Your blessing of encouragement as we walk with You and share with each other to build the body of the Church. Amen

03/06 – In Luke 9:51-end we read about the traditional division between Jews and Samaritans, highlighted by the fact Jesus “set His face to go to Jerusalem”.  For Jews the Temple Mount of Moriah in Jerusalem was the most holy place but according to Samaritan teaching it was Mount Gerizim which is around 100 Km north of Jerusalem. Because to the Samaritans Jerusalem was not the holy place of God, they did not see fit to welcome Jesus. Even though they did not accept Jesus or agree about the holy nature of His destination Jesus told the disciples off when they suggested that they brought fire down from heaven to consume the Samaritan people there. Then we turn to people wanting to follow Jesus but not willing to make the sacrifice. The first says he will follow Jesus wherever He goes, but Jesus makes it clear to the first that His is an uncertain journey without home comforts. Jesus then invites the other two to “follow me” but they simply make excuses that Jesus faces head-on. So in this account who is it that Jesus respects most, those who are honest about their different understanding of the holy place of God, or those who make a pretence of wanting to follow Him? The Samaritans do not welcome Him, the three examples that follow pretend they do. The disciples follow, oblivious to the meaning of these encounters. What does it mean for us? Perhaps this is a reason why Christians are so good at inter-faith dialogue and respecting other faiths; Jesus modelled it. At the same time Jesus confronted those who He could see weren’t serious. The faithful twelve, and the followers who would have been present, are a constant backdrop, almost being invisible. Yesterday I touched on recognition and position. Here we have those who are not with Jesus taking centre stage, no miracles, no obvious teaching, just the contrast. Lord Jesus help us to show respect to others who may disagree or have other understandings of holy places but to hold firm to what we understand to be true as revealed by You. And Lord help us not to shy away from talking to people who seek You about the difficulties and challenges that walking with You bring. But Lord, strengthen us to be like the twelve, resolute, present, faithful and sometimes just the paper that Your story is written on. Strengthen us to follow wherever You lead and through the Holy Spirit to check ourselves and our own excuses so we can walk faithfully with You. Amen

02/06 – Back to Luke (9:28-36). There are things about this account of the transfiguration that resonate, not about what happened to Jesus but about His three disciples, Peter, John and James. They “were weighed down by sleep, but since they stayed awake”, they saw what took place. I like the fact that Peter suggests three ‘dwellings’ after the event – “not knowing what he said”; honestly, can you blame him? I also understand why they would be terrified as they entered the cloud that came and overshadowed them. Then a voice from the cloud, then all back to normal! Is it really a surprise that they kept silent and in those days told no-one what they experienced. Would you after that? In terms of human emotions, I get it, they make this extraordinary event believable and relatable.  However, does the way we respond to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, make us a bit unrelatable to people who have no faith or are suspicious? How can we bridge that gap of understanding? The three disciples didn’t try because their experience was ‘out of this world’; they had to wait till the right time, when people were ready. That didn’t mean they stopped their walk with Jesus. They didn’t stop learning and getting things wrong on their journey. We do need to share our testimonies about our faith and in a church family we have safe space, but outside we need the Holy Spirit to guide us and open our mouths and free our voices when the time is right. Lord God, Your disciples had an experience that they found hard to share, but as we know from the Good News about Your Son, they did, for Your glory. Free us, we ask, to tell Your story, to share our journey and the joy we have in You with others. Help us with the gift of discernment from Your Holy Spirit to know the right time to share. Lord God, for Your glory and the kingdom, may lives be changed. Amen

01/06 – We move briefly from Luke to Mark 3:31 to the end of the chapter as today the church remembers the visit of Mary to Elizabeth. The reading though is the account of Mary and Jesus’ brothers visiting Him as they felt His behaviour suggested “He is out of His mind” (Verse 21) and “they went to take charge of Him”. He spoke to the gathered teachers of the law, who were suggesting He was possessed by demons and it was by Beelzebul that Jesus drove out demons. So a parable is used by Jesus to indicate that “if a house is divided against itself, the house cannot stand.” He closes in 28 & 29 by saying “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:31 picks up from this scene as Jesus is told His mother and family are outside looking for Him. His response, which we can all probably recall, is to ask “Who are my mother and my brothers?” He looks at those around and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” What just happened? Well, Jesus is accused of being an agent of Satan, and at the same time as He talks about division within a kingdom His own family demonstrate that division in their failure to understand who and what Jesus was about. The people in the room, the large crowd who had prevented Jesus and His disciples eating, had a better understanding of Jesus than the law teachers or even His own family at that point in His ministry. Jesus in the midst of being misunderstood gathered to Him those who did understand as His family. It is not that He rejects His mother and brothers, but rather that when it came to His ministry they still had to work it out. Remember after the reading of the scroll in Lk 4:24 Jesus said “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”, which got a furious response from those in the synagogue. Jesus leads the way, in walking alone, of being misunderstood even by His disciples. Why are we surprised when we share in His experience? Lord Jesus, help us when we feel isolated, criticised, treated with suspicion or as having been misled, that You have been there before us. Guide us to walk with You, knowing the way is not easy but also knowing that the Holy Spirit will guide us and give us the words to use. Lord build us as Your family we ask. Amen

31/05 – A change from Luke unsurprisingly to Acts 10:34-48 as it is Pentecost Sunday. It refers to Peter’s visit to the household of Cornelius, following his vision on the rooftop of Simon the tanner’s house in Joppa (10:9-16). Much like Peter’s address to the gathered people after the disciples’ upper room experience, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those gathered, we read about it again here but to a smaller, but perhaps more significant group. To gentiles, not Jews. Peter preached the word to those gathered, spoke of the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection and the fact Jesus “commanded us (them) to preach to the people, and to testify He is the one whom God appointed to judge the living and the dead”. The result of his evangelistic preaching was that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, to the astonishment of Peter and those Jews accompanying him. And also, later, to those back in Jerusalem who criticised Peter and asked him to explain what he had done. We know that Peter never really reconciled the work of the Holy Spirit on the Jews and Gentiles alike and was always, it seemed, under pressure from the more traditional Jewish converts to Jesus to look more favourably upon the ministry to the Jewish people. They found it hard to accept that God would send His Son to reach all people, despite Isaiah 42:6, 43:10 calling the Israelites to be “a light to the Gentiles” and to be God’s witnesses. The Holy Spirit pours Himself out on us for a purpose, not just to speak in tongues or prophesy, definitely not so we can seem more special or gifted. His purpose is to enable us to shine the light of the gospel into the darkness of the world. Peter, by going to the Gentile house of Cornelius, was, as far as he was concerned, entering the darkness of non-believers of the one God. But the truth is the Holy Spirit penetrates the darkness, wherever and whatever it is. Lord God, as we remember the pouring out of Your Holy Spirit in tongues of fire upon the disciples, guide us to where You need us and enable us to do Your work, in Your power. May we be faithful to Your will. Amen

30/05 – Today we are taken on a miracle extravaganza, and not limited to the work of Jesus. In the reading from Luke 9:1-17 we read of the disciples being sent out “to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal”. Remember when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter he told them not to tell anyone what had happened? So why the change? Is it that the disciples were now ready and able to give testimony to who Jesus was and what he was about? In the process they could heal as well. At the end of their activity, Jesus “withdrew with them to a town called Bethsaida”. But the crowds followed. It’s interesting, after all they had done glorifying God in word and deed, they then suggest to Jesus the crowd is sent away to find food and lodging. Jesus of course feeds them all with five loaves and two fishes. We know the story well.  But we are missing something right in the middle of all this: verses 7-9, an aside comment about Herod the tetrarch; it must be there for a reason. Is it linked to the disciples taking nothing being set against the extravagant wealth of Herod? Is it about the following that Jesus is gathering undermining the authority of Herod? Or is it simply about the guilt and confusion that Herod is experiencing over the death of John the Baptist? Does he feel threatened by the power of Jesus? We have to remember Herod did not dislike John even though John had condemned his behaviour (3:19-20). Is it possible that the comment “he tried to see Him” (Jesus) carries more weight than we realise? When so much was happening beyond the palace walls, was Herod actually isolated? He was powerless to summon Jesus. He wanted to see Jesus, perhaps to work out who Jesus was. Did he want to see, as in, to understand, Jesus? Don’t forget, as a Jew, the power of the prophets was immense. If it was the return of Elijah, the repercussions for Herod could be, well, life changing! Those who were the ordinary people brushed shoulders with Jesus but Herod, and the elite, were distant and would only encounter Jesus on their own terms. Compare Herod to the centurion (7:2-5) and Jairus (8:41). Almighty God, we long to encounter You in our lives, to be witnesses to Your works and to do them in Your name. Lord, we pray for those who feel they can only engage with You on their own terms, who want to understand but will not move themselves toward You. As we come to remember Pentecost we pray for an outpouring of Your Holy Spirit to break down barriers and move people who know there is more to life to seek You. Help us to use all we have to start that walk with them that they may come to know You. Amen

29/05 – On Monday we looked at two events: the healing of the paralysed man, who had been lowered through the roof, and the forgiving of his sins; and the forgiving of the sins of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair before putting perfume on them in the house of Simon the Pharisee.   Now in Luke 8:40-end we have another senior leader from the synagogue, Jairus, who fell at the feet of Jesus, begging Him to heal his twelve year old daughter. A very public act which drew a large crowd who wanted to see the miracle. Into this, Luke puts the story of the woman suffering from haemorrhages, a very private problem, who secretly wants to be healed. She knew that she only had to touch Him to receive that gift; Jairus knew he only had to ask Jesus. One was prepared to be public, one not, but can you blame her? Jesus didn’t. As Jesus encounters the woman, the daughter of Jairus died. There are parallels with Luke 7:36-end, the public act of faith from the friends and the private act of the woman seeking redemption at the feet of Jesus. But no mention of sins or forgiveness this time. Now it’s all about faith, in verse 48 Jesus says to the woman: “your faith has made you well; go in peace.” To Jairus He says: “Only believe and she will be saved,” affirming what happened with the woman. Jesus brings the daughter back to life, despite the fact people laughed at Him, “knowing that she was dead”. As in Monday’s reading we read about acts of faith, so today we read it as shown by the woman and Jairus. But reflect on the four different encounters and the individual nature of Jesus’ response on each occasion. Jesus sees through to the real issues, not just to those seeking His help, but to those who are around as well. Lord, as we take in the detail of Luke’s account may we understand the personal and yet public nature of Your response. Lord, You speak through the detail to all who would listen, however deaf they may seem to be. Lord God, Jesus our Saviour, speak using us by the power of Your Holy Spirit to change us, so as to bless others. Lord, it may not be in the big, show-stopping miracles, but in the small things that You change us, the private and personal. May Your work be done in us, through us, to bring You glory. Amen 

28/05 – Luke 8:26-39 is again a very familiar story, the Gerasene swine, the man possessed and the demons going into the local herds of pigs, and then drowning, with the permission of Jesus, we are told. It’s an interesting account, so let’s simplify it a bit.  There are two things I will draw out of this complex narrative. The first is that there were “many demons” that found their place in the man, the demons saw their removal as “torment” and did not want to return to the Abyss. The second point is that the demons asked to enter the pigs (swine), that as a result rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.  This is set against a backdrop of a man restored to his right mind who in this new mindset simply wanted to be with Jesus, but Jesus sent him home, where he went proclaiming how much Jesus had done for him. Back to the pigs, and the many demons. There is often more to the healings and deliverances than just a presentation of a miracle. Were we not instructed to listen carefully? The man was violent, confused, had to be guarded, but still sought the wilderness. Could this, is some way, be a picture of humanity? Spend some time reflecting on that. The man healed, is that not the image of a healed humanity? The demons did not want to lose their grip so sought an alternative, but even pigs could not deal with the torment, so in fleeing from it, even they died. Ultimately the demons lost! They were defeated. Now the people of Gerasenes were afraid and asked Jesus to leave. Yes, they had lost their herd of pigs, but was it perhaps because they witnessed the power Jesus had and were fearful for the changes which that could make to them and their lives? They rejected Jesus as the potential cost was too much for them. Is there some way this healing reflects all that is wrong with humanity? There are lots of things that take possession of people’s lives, demons in disguise. They cause behaviour that is not what God wants of His people, His creation. But even as one is freed another is possessed and often it does lead to self-destruction. But there is freedom, a freedom found in Jesus. In letting Him control us and not our possessions and our situations, we have the gift of freedom. By not encouraging others, perhaps our families, colleagues, friends to believe in the ‘gods’ of today, we can signpost Jesus instead. Lord God, we can be captured by items, possessions, things to do, that take us away from You. Help us to discover and know the freedom that is from You. Lord, that anxiety and stress can melt away in You so we, and others known to us, can receive Your healing. Lord God, in these stressful and unusual times, may we lead others to the freedom found in You. Amen

27/05 – Perhaps today the reflection can go down like a storm. The storm in the second part of the reading today, from Luke 8:16-25, that is. Jesus had worked miracles, forgiven sins, taught, shared time with people, Pharisees included. Jesus talks at the start about a lamp not being hidden, “but rather being put on a lamp stand so that those who enter in may see the light.” Again, as with yesterday, Jesus changes emphasis from parable to command – “then pay attention to how you listen”. Why? Because “for those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away”. It seems harsh perhaps, but it is true, so often without attentive listening much can be lost, just as there is much to gain. Is Jesus the light that should not be hidden? Is it that those who come to Him should see Him for who He is, bringing light to the world? Next Jesus goes to the boat, to go to the other side but falls asleep. Up comes the storm, the crew, the disciples, with experienced sailers among them, wake Him. They knew the possible outcome of the storm and needed to warn Him so that He would be prepared to abandon the boat. They did not wake Him to calm the storm or work a miracle, but He did. They were amazed and tried to work out how even the wind and waves obeyed Him. Jesus had just taken His authority up a level where even creation obeyed Him. Surely this is a lamp on a lamp stand that could not be missed! Pay attention to how you listen! We listen with more than just our ears, we understand body language and other things that add information; sometimes things that conflict with the words spoken can discredit it, but not here, this is visual effects to push home who Jesus is and what authority He has. Lord Jesus, may we understand Your authority and power and be prepared to be in awe of it. Help us to listen, to be attentive and full of expectation. Lord, as storms rage around us, in the lives of those about us, in the lives of people in the world, we call upon You to calm the storms, settle the waters so that journeys may continue in Your presence. Guide us to be Your faith-filled crew, knowing Your awesomeness, and being prepared to work in Your name in fullness of faith. Build us up Lord, build Your Church, may Your power be known to those who pay attention to listen to You. Amen

26/05 – Today is the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-15, so well-known it can pass us by in its familiarity, but something new has struck home. A large crowd of people had gathered around Jesus and “He told them this parable”. At the end of verse 8 it says “when He said this He called out, ‘Whoever has ears to hear let him hear.’” Then Luke quotes Jesus referring to Isaiah 6:9. But note Jesus tells the parable but calls out the Isaiah reference; a completely different delivery. The gathered people would have probably known the book of Isaiah, they would have known that the prophet had just had a vision, “I saw the Lord”, the image was awesome and it made Isaiah respond by saying “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among people of unclean lips”. But he has his lips touched with live coal by a seraphim, who said “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for”. Then the Lord said, “whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Note the ‘us’.) Isaiah responds “Here am I. Send me!” It is followed by the quote Luke reports that Jesus used. Isaiah asked how long he must deliver the message for and the Lord basically tells him, as long as it takes, but it will be thankless, cities will be deserted, houses uninhabited, fields ruined, land forsaken, everyone far away, but “the holy seed will be the stump in the land”. Well, if that isn’t the parable of the seed, from the Lord to Isaiah, not sure what it is! But out of the stump in the land, ’the good seed’ will come: God’s people.  No wonder Jesus calls it out; people are deaf and not seeing the truth of who He is, but the seed being sown, that we now sow, will produce a crop in “those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop”. Isaiah is an object lesson in perseverance! Lord God Almighty, the task You call us to is not easy; it takes courage, determination and persistence. Lord God, like Isaiah, we can lack all that we need to bring Your kingdom about; we lack belief that we are called or able. Lord, send Your Holy Spirit to transform us we ask. May we be bold, be strong and know that You the Lord our God are with us. Amen

25/05 – This morning we read of Jesus forgiving the sins of the woman in 7:48, who had washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair before pouring perfume on them, all this in Simon the Pharisees home where Jesus had been invited for dinner. The last time Jesus forgave a person their sins was in 5:20, where the paralysed man was healed and walked out carrying his bed. Today the reading, 7:36-end, again confronts the religious leaders with the problem, can Jesus forgive sins? They have watched Him, heard Him, seen Him perform miracles, but the act of forgiving sins is an act available to God only. 2 Chronicles 7:14, Daniel 9:9 are verses to look at, there are others as well.  The interesting thing is both acts involve action on the part of those before Jesus. In the first the paralysed man is lowered before Jesus, an act of faith by his friends, in this reading it is about the woman’s own act, acknowledging openly her need for forgiveness. She knows Jesus is able to do that even if the Pharisees don’t, blinded as they are by the law, as suggested in the Torah. They simply can’t see the evidence because they are limited by their knowledge and understanding of the Mosaic law. Paul of course writes about us, as Christians, being free of the law. But through this amazing act by this woman, known to be a sinner, she finds redemption, she is not limited, she knows what she sees, hears and feels in the presence of Jesus. Heavenly Father we pray for those who are blinded by their own knowledge and unable to open their hearts and minds to You. Those who feel no need for You in their lives and no acknowledgement of Your sovereignty. Lord open them to Your Holy Spirit and guide us to be part of their discovery of You. Amen 

24/05 – Quite a Revelation today, actually from  book, 21:6; “Then He said to me, ‘it is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”’ We’ve been looking at the unfolding narrative of Luke during the week and here is the Lord of all, the same person who talked, walked and worked miracles. Who shared moments of joy and pain, who wept, shared countless meals and loved in a way beyond our understanding, but in that love sweeps us up to be His. How can we comprehend the timeless God, the ‘Ancient of Days’ yet into the future, the Trinity, present in our own singular moments. He wants us to drink the ‘Water of Life’ that He offers, to be refreshed, rehydrated with His Spirit, with Himself. He wants us to ‘conquer’ all that besets us, so we can be His. Mind-blowing thoughts! We may not think we are worth it, but surprise, surprise, He does – therefore we are. Pause with that thought, hold it, feel the warmth it brings; you are a work of art, without price. Lord God, help us to know our worth, potential and uniqueness with and in You. May we move beyond the limits we put upon ourselves, into Your limitless agenda. Help us to grasp Your possibilities with courage and faith and so change the world around us in the here and now. Amen

23/05 – I find the reading today from Luke 7:18-35 fascinating, just imagine John the Baptist stuck in prison hearing all about Jesus, the very person he had baptised and whose sandals he had said he was not worthy to untie. John and Jesus were possibly related, the term relative or kinswoman is used for the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, many interpret as cousins. Did they know each other as they grew up? John witnessed, according to Luke’s account, the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus and a voice saying “You are my Son, the Beloved, with You I am well pleased”. After all that, can you imagine, John still needs to check Him out, “are You the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Surely not, John wasn’t having doubts, was he? John’s disciples are sent away to report to John all they had seen. Jesus then turns it all around and makes John the subject of His teaching. ‘What did you come to see?’ Jesus asks.  He goes on to say how, by rejecting John’s call to repentance and baptism, they, the Pharisees and lawyers, had rejected God’s purpose for themselves. Jesus rounds on their hypocrisy; they rejected John because he came eating no bread and drinking no wine, and then rejected Jesus because He came eating and drinking.  All this follows the bringing back to life of a young man and many miracles as witness to John of the authority and power of Jesus as the promised Messiah. It’s almost a lesson in disbelief or lost faith! “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you (on account of the Son of Man)” 6:22. We have an object lesson on His teaching; he lived it out. Is it really a surprise that so many today don’t turn to Jesus? Especially those who see themselves above it all, self-sufficient and needing nothing that they themselves cannot provide. Lord God, Your Son shone a light into the darkness of this world and the fallen nature of the human heart. He knew, whatever He did, doubt still remained as did disbelief. Walk with us as we face off against that darkness, the painful rejection we experience, sometimes from those close to us, because of our stand with You, our God. May our presence, our walk with You change hearts and minds as The Holy Spirit uses us to be Your light. Lord, use us so we may see those who doubt return to You, those who reject You, find You and believe. May Your kingdom grow. But Lord may we know Your blessings even when we feel at our lowest. Amen

22/05 – Lord God, pour out Your Spirit on us today that we may walk as children of light and by Your grace reveal Your presence. Amen. A good way to start the morning: ‘Pour out Your Spirit’. We are called in our annual cycle of prayer, in these nine days that follow Ascension, to make prayer and preparation for the Day of Pentecost. The question that hits me between the eyes, I’m afraid, is – why? Shouldn’t we expect God’s Holy Spirit to be with us, impacting us each and every day? Yes, remember when the blessing fell upon the disciples gathered in that upper room; but that can happen, should happen, does happen, to someone, somewhere every day, if not every hour. The reading is from Luke, the raising from the dead of the widow’s only son just outside the gates of Main. So, looking back: teaching, new way of living, healing of the faith-filled centurion’s servant and now, restoration to life, the penultimate unleashing of God’s power to be fully revealed in the raising of Jesus forever from death. Yes, Jesus does a lot more teaching and healing, but here he kicks the door in on Satan’s rule and proclaims God has arrived! What a reading to prepare for us to expect a daily Pentecost! The realisation we must live showing the fruit of the Spirit, which are “love, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Lord, as we prepare to remember Your power in Your Holy Spirit, unleashed on your disciples, and since on your people through time, we praise You. But let us not sit back, but rather be fully ready, each day, to receive Your gift, available in so many ways. In our preparation make us ready for Your unexpected gifts so that Your people, all who know You, may break upon the slumbering world with the transformational power that is Yours; that people will be in awe of You and know that You walk with them. Amen

21/05 – We take a break from Luke as today is a principal feast day – that of the Ascension. That day when Jesus was taken up to heaven (or is that received back, returning to or returning home?). For Jesus came to make His home among us for a while. But for a person going home, disappearing, being lost from sight, there are so often those left and the sadness that can result. In this time of enforced separation how acutely we can feel that. How did the disciples feel when Jesus left them? They didn’t know of the glorious things to come. Do they hear the promise made of the Holy Spirit? We can assume so because they did what Jesus instructed.   The glory of the Ascension, in departure a powerful revelation; though unseen, God cannot be that far away, and and because of the promises Jesus made, our God is not. Lord of lords, Heavenly Father, gracious God, what joy must have been Yours as Your Son returned to You, to be One again. Thank You that through Jesus we may know that joy in heaven. As Psalm 150 puts it: “Praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the blast of the trumpet”. Of course the chorus we know, based on Ps 150, picks up the praise Him theme. So Ascension is full of glory, though tinged with sadness for those left, but full of hope and promise. Almighty God, what great works are Yours. May our eyes and hearts be opened to Your glory. Thank You that we were not left, that you sent Your Holy Spirit. Strengthen us to be heralds of Your word in this needy world. We long for Your glory to be known and all Your people to return to You. Praises, our praises, rise to You. Amen

20/05 – We move on from teaching to action. Luke’s account of the healing of the centurion’s servant in 7:1-10. What have we been served up over the last chapter from verse 17 onwards? It started with healings (v18-19), then “looking at His disciples, he said”. And we recall teaching about a change in the value system, counter cultural behaviour, closing with building on ‘solid ground’, in 6:47 Jesus says “as for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like”. Teaching follows, then the demonstration with a centurion of all people. Mind you, a kind, thoughtful Roman centurion, one who built a synagogue for the local Jews. A man who respected authority, and clearly one who valued people’s time, but also knew the unique status of Jesus and his own unworthiness to be before Him. What are we to learn from such a person, one who also cares for a servant that he would break all religious and political barriers to seek his healing? This man steps out in faith, he shows his faith, he humbles himself, a Roman, to a Jewish teacher, what humiliation! Why, because clearly he cares about others. Even though he has everything, he knows what he lacks and where he can find it: in Jesus. Is it a surprise Jesus turns to the following crowd and says “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith”? Wow, what is Jesus saying, what does he say to us? Can we, like the centurion, stand in the spotlight of Jesus’ gaze as He looks at our faith? I crumble in His awesome presence, but he stretches out His hand, His gaze of love falls on me, and he lifts me up, he never fails in His compassion and love. I put that in the first person but it applies to us all. He forgives our inadequacy but calls us to more, to walk in His footsteps. Lord Jesus thank You for Your love, for holding us close to You. In our fallibility You hold us, help us to see beyond the failings of others, but to walk with them, to hold them in Your presence, however challenging that is to us. Strengthen us to see the faith potential in others and to nurture them to grow in You. Thank You Lord. Amen

19/05 – Such a lot packed into the account from Luke 6:39-end, almost as if Luke is overflowing with memories of Jesus’ teaching. The logic is there, they tumble, one on the other; the ‘Blind leading the blind’, the ‘speck in the other’s eye but a plank in our own’, ‘bad fruit from good trees – no, not possible’, ‘good treasure out of a bad heart – not plausible’. Then he tops it off with the ‘building of a house on a firm foundation’ to stay grounded in the teaching of Jesus. A headlong rush to show how the preceding sections we looked at on Saturday and Monday need to be taken serious note of. Jesus, like any teacher, is saying – take note, apply what I tell you, act on it, and by doing so you are able to call me Lord. Think about each teaching point and pray through how they apply to us. Let them challenge and confront us, allowing ourselves to be guided by the example. Heavenly Father, Your Son, our Lord calls us to a new way of living. He confronts us with the right and wrong ways; soften our hearts to know where we must change; still our minds to be led by You. Lord God, help us to embed Your ways in the difficult and complex lives we lead, that we may make sense of the path You call us to. Lord, give us the confidence to walk with others in their confusion and, with You, hold them as they seek Your ways. Amen

18/05 – Back to Luke as he continues the account of Jesus in putting forward the alternative lifestyle that His disciples (apostles) and followers are called to. The focus changes to what God promises in ‘blessings’ and in what they are to rejoice. Now it’s about how they are to live it out. For all those that hurt and oppress, those who it is difficult to care about, let alone love, Jesus calls them to “do to them as you would have them do to you”. He calls them to ‘difficult’ love, ‘sacrificial’ love, ‘challenging’ love. To forgive, totally, but in giving it will be given back in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over; it will be put back in your lap. That passage (6:27-38) shapes the Christian counter-cultural message and it has challenged and shaken those who expected no forgiveness, no love into the ‘arms of love’ – Jesus Christ. So now we, who are called in the same way, don’t do it because we hope for it to return to us, but because we honour God, we point the way to Jesus, we hope for a new kingdom. So often I hear on TV that there is a hope of a new world order as we come out of the Covid-19 experience. Somehow it seems the experience will reshape society, bring about a new compassionate value system born out of a recalibration of humanity. Are you persuaded by that? Without an alignment to God’s order, to the teaching of Jesus, will society really want to change? What model will it follow? Lord, our Father, so much of what we have is the fruit of Your design, the work and values given to Your people, Your saints, over the centuries. May we, like them, shape the future to Your design, acknowledge You as sovereign God over all. Lord give us Your purpose, set our hearts on fire with love for You. Through the Holy Spirit empower us to make a difference. Amen

17/05 – Sunday is always a departure from the readings during the week. Today, as we look toward Ascension next week, our readings are all about the realisation that, at the end, all that is desired is to be with God. That is our ultimate hope and promise that God gives. I like Job 19:24-25, “O that an iron pen and with lead they (my words v23) were engraved on a rock forever! For I know my redeemer lives and that at the last He will stand upon the earth.” Also in Psalm 73 we journey with the writer, Asaph, through stages of realisation, reaching in the middle a changed viewpoint leading to a shift of focus to the eternal, being in the very presence of God: “Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterwards You will take me into glory.” The psalmist ends with “I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds”. Both of these readings end with a proclamational declaration – it must be told! 1 Thessalonians 4:13-end is the last reading, all about the dead and living being called with the sound of God’s trumpet, so that, (v17) “we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage one another with these words”. There it is again! ‘Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord! Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice’. We need to know the blessings, come to that desire to be in the presence of, the same space as, our God. Lord God may we tell out Your greatness to all who will listen. May we experience You with us and us with You. Lord God give us voice. Amen

16/05 – It’s morning! A new day; well it is in Luke’s continuing account of Jesus as well. We learn in 6:12-27 that Jesus has been praying all night; there were people close at hand, and as the daylight woke them Jesus called the Twelve to be apostles. They all went down the hillside and Jesus delivers the alternative life they, and those who would follow Him, should expect. ‘Join me’, He says, but what a great recruitment speech follows! Blessed are you, the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those who are hated, excluded, or rejected as evil. But hold onto the upside, you’ll share in a kingdom, you’ll be satisfied, laugh, you’re called to rejoice because there is a great reward in heaven. The rub in it all is, if you have wealth, are well fed, laugh a lot, and are well thought of – well, look out! More of course follows in 22-38: a demanding lifestyle shift, a change of gear, perhaps even a new refurbished gearbox! Hearing all this, still the Twelve followed Him. We don’t read of any of them walking away. Lord, our God, we are chosen by You to be Yours. Keep us looking to Your kingdom, to be rejoicing in Your promises, to be joy-filled, and to share what You share with us. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, or planning to do, may we do it with You. Lord help us to turn to face the world, those who face the hardships of life that You highlight, and tell them of Your blessings. May Your kingdom come. Amen

15/05 – This morning we go to Luke 6:1-11. Here Jesus confronts the religious leaders over the Sabbath, and their strict and inflexible interpretation. “Is it lawful to do good?” asks Jesus, “ or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” Jesus is Lord of all. The leaders were full of fury; the Greek word is stronger, ‘blinding, irrational rage’. We live in a world where Jesus is not seen as the Lord of the Sabbath, in fact, is there a Sabbath? Trying to unpack this reading in a text is impossible I think, so I’ll ask one question: Does Jesus ever confront your understanding or values? How do you react? Turn that question to the world, our society, and ask again. Is there a difference in the answer? I pray so, and a clear one at that. As we move into what is being termed as a ‘new normal’ where a lot of rethinking and reimagining is going to take place, will we let Jesus be in it, Lord of it? Lord Jesus, You are one with the Father, we ask that You free us of baggage, the blocks, that hold us back in serving You. Lord, open our minds, free us, to be effective for You, to proclaim You ‘Lord of all’. May we be part of Your harvest team, and witness to You, as Lord, in all we do. Amen

14/05 – Today the Church remembers Matthias, chosen to replace Judas as one of the twelve. That happens in Acts 1:26, but the reading for today is Acts 2:37-47, following on after Pentecost and Peter’s address to the people, the conversion of about 3000. It ends with the new lifestyle of the people in v42-47. The converted had, not only a change of heart, but also a change in the way they lived, set apart but together, hungry for knowledge and fellowship.  What was the result of that? “The Lord added to their number daily.” Again, we find ourselves challenged! We are called to be distinctive, very different, counter-cultural and embedded in our fellowship with each other. How do we live that out without being in a commune? Really not easy, but perhaps possible. It would lead to a loss of privacy but more openness and love. Challenging is an understatement! Lord God, show us Your ways for our lives together in fellowship. Help us to be Your light through our conduct, lifestyle and Your love. We need Your strength, ‘We need You, every hour, we need You, our one defense, teach our song to rise to You’. Lord, in this world we are needed to do Your work, to be Your fragrance in the ‘now’ of this time. Only in Your strength can it be done. Amen

13/05 – This morning we read about the paralytic man lowered through the roof to Jesus (Luke 5:12-26). This account is in Matthew (but no mention of a roof) and Mark as well. I often think about the roof; what exactly did the friends have to do? Mark writes suggesting a ‘digging out’ of the roof but Luke, who writes in perfect Greek (Mark is not as good, apparently), uses words that could be translated as ‘uncovered’ or ‘removed’. How do you make a hole but still have it strong enough to lower a man down? What would the owner of the property have thought? What would those in the crowded room have thought? Were the miracle and claims made by Jesus so mind blowing that how the man got to be in front of Jesus didn’t matter? Also, what does it say about the man’s friends – their determination, risk-taking, faith and hope? Can this be a challenge to us? Do we play safe, be risk averse, make ourselves vulnerable, to enable God to work? Yes, Jesus healed, but only because the man was brought before Him. So often we read about healings as a result of people being brought before Jesus. He didn’t go around seeking them; they, or friends, sought Him. Lord Jesus, our healer and redeemer, give us strength and courage to bring people before you to be healed, to do what it takes to bring them into Your presence. Lord may we see You working, even in our weakness, that we may be built up as Your people. Lead us to those who need You in so many different ways, may You be glorified. Amen

12/05 – Jesus call His first disciples in Luke 5:1-11. Simon has already been witness to the works of teaching and healing of Jesus. Now Jesus requisitions the tools of his trade (expensive ones at that!): his boat and nets. Jesus uses the boat as a teaching platform for those who have sought Him out, before suggesting to Simon that he puts out to deeper water and lowers his nets. Simon’s objections followed (been there done that!). Is Jesus a fisherman? Why should his suggestion be acted on? Yet “if You say so, I will let down the nets”, Simon said. He had his crew with him; it was the family’s boat, and what were James and John thinking as they watched what was happening. As fishing partners they had probably been out that morning as well. They could well have been asking themselves, what on earth is he up to? We know the story – lots of fish, filling two boats. Panic is the result; they start to sink (called overload, I think!). Judging by Simon’s response “Go away from me, Lord”, it was almost too much to handle. What are the lessons for us? Let Jesus take what we have, let Him use it for His purpose, prepare to be amazed, and to walk closer with the Lord, our God. Loving God, we all have things, abilities, that You can use, show us their true purpose and value, transform them and us, for Your works, to bring Your kingdom in so You may change lives, bring hope into the world, that fears will evaporate in the strength of Your love. May Your will be done, loving God. Amen

11/05 – Today we go back to Luke and read 4:38-end. Jesus has been in the synagogue and cast out a demon; He now visits Simon’s house and heals Simon’s mother-in-law of fever. So Simon was a married man (worth noting). More healings that evening; the next morning Jesus goes to a solitary place, but very quickly people find Him and want to stop Him from leaving them. But He’s off to Judea to proclaim the good news. All this seems to be happening at breath-taking speed and, it seems, before He has called His disciples. But if we think about it, what an impact Jesus has made ‘in the power of the Spirit’ (v14). No wonder people followed Him and sought Him out. How can we have such an impact that people will seek Christ through us and the Church, (capital ‘C’ – the wider Church, not just us). We prayed for our Vision yesterday; let us now pray into the need that is around us, seek it out with the Father’s eyes in prayer  and thought, write down what, who, is brought to mind, and hold them, the situation, before God, in Jesus, seeking for answers to those before you. The government has said ‘Stay alert’. How applicable to us, as followers of Jesus! Let us discern the needs around us and then serve Jesus, like Simon’s mother-in-law, as though it is the natural thing to be doing. Father God, open us to be guided by You, with Your Son, our Saviour, in the power of the Holy Spirit to see where we must act for You, the lives we must bring to You. Father we long to know Your will is being done in this place, that people will want to know You and seek You out. Amen. Please write down those God brings before you so we can join together in our mission, praying all the time that people can safely meet together and share the warmth of Your love.

10/05 – This morning let’s pray for the Christ Church vision. Not for our church, but for God’s glory, that His name may be made known. The reading is John 5:19-29; in v.24 Jesus says that those who hear His word and believe will have eternal life. The passage speaks about judgement as well. The opening verse is about the Father/Son relationship, that Jesus looks to the Father to see what He is doing: ‘whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise’, reinforced in 14:10-11. Father God, may we answer Your call to us to find those who are hungry for You, who long for more, who are confused and alone, not knowing where to turn. Father, you want us to see You in Jesus. Open our eyes and our hearts that in our vision, Your vision, for us, our knowledge of You, our faith in You, may be strengthened and we will see You moving in this place, in our community, in us. To Your praise and glory. Amen

09/05 – Today it’s Luke 4:31-37, in which we read about Jesus casting out a demon. But to me it’s the recurring use of ‘authority’ that hits home. At the end of Friday’s reading the people wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff, ‘but He walked right through the crowd’. What a presence Jesus had, now we read His words had authority, and in the casting out of the demons they exclaimed: ‘What words these are! With authority and power He gives orders to unclean sprits and they come out’. Do we really think of Jesus having authority in the here and now, in our situations, in our lives? Today ‘authority’ is a bit of a dirty word; people don’t respect authority so much. Is there a danger we don’t truly acknowledge the authority of Jesus? What difference would it make to our thinking if we really understood and submitted to Him? A bit scary perhaps? A loss of control? Difficult decisions  seeking His will, not our own self-determination? Yet, in a way, we would love to see Jesus reclaim the world, but do we show to others His voice is worth listening to and He has authority? Loads of questions, but the bible calls us to be challenged by God’s word. Lord God, may we understand Your authority, guide us in our understanding. We pray for those who are given authority over us in so many ways, government employees, local and national, shaping what can happen. The police, those on our borders, on rivers and at sea, those working in customs and immigration. Lord so many people, may they hear and know Your authority, and act in ways that bring honour to You. Lord, enable us to do the same. Amen. Authority and might belong to the Lord our God.

08/05 – Today we are reminded to celebrate VE Day, the end of a bloody conflict showing both the worst and the best of humankind. Our reading is Luke 4:14-30, which includes what is called the Nazarene Manifesto, Jesus’ reason for His mission taken from Isaiah 61: He, the Spirit of the Lord ‘has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free’. As well, of course, as preaching Good News to the poor. Much has been written about this passage  and what follows on to the end of the reading. What can it tell us? Is it our mission as well? Is it a spiritual mission or physical, or both? How far do we go in ‘letting the oppressed go free’? It is a really challenging reading on so many levels, spiritual, moral and ethical; how are we called to live this out? Today let us give thanks for all who sacrificed for our freedom, our rights to freedom now under so much pressure around the world. But also that wars may cease, and humanity may learn to walk together, work together to bring real freedom. Jesus gives a road map, clear directions for the way forward, as long as we hold it the right way round and understand what it means. Lord God, help us to understand our role in working with You in Your plans for all that is Your world and creation. We pray for those suffering injustice and persecution, that many hoped WW2 would end. Lord help and strengthen us to faithfully model You in the world, our neighbourhoods, workplaces, friendship groups and families. Lord, bind us together as Your family, in the power of Your love. In Jesus name we ask. Amen

07/05 – Some questions in Luke today as we reflect on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. (Luke 4:1-13) What is our main sustenance? What do we ‘worship’? Who do we put our trust in? Sorry, but I can’t unpack all that in this morning reflection, simply not enough space. But we should ask ourselves those questions. How does Jesus respond? There’s more to life than physical needs, we need our lives to be drawn to God in worship through serving Him and trust God more than we trust ourselves, knowing that we will ‘dash our foot against a stone’. To me  it seems it is about need, focus and trust. Luke writes ‘he (Satan) departed from Him until an opportune time’. Be warned! Lord God, it is all too easy for us to be in a wilderness, but You use that to teach Your children, teach us Lord God. May we listen and serve You in the many ways You give us, always trusting You. Help us to be different, to think differently and make a difference, in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

06/05 – Luke 3:15-22. This morning we read of people being puzzled as to who John was, could he be the Messiah? John disclaimed that role and pointed to Jesus, and warned of the judgement power of He who was to come. Hard stuff, so hard it upset King Herod who added to the evil he had done by locking up John. Luke seems to jump around in time, the present, the future, the present, the future, the past. Luke ends this section with, “when Jesus also has been baptised”, the Holy Spirit came upon Him. In this account are we being shown that the message and messenger were applicable in all time? Even though we look to Jesus, we understand His baptism (Acts 19:3-6) so many are happy to repent, say sorry, but not be saved, just to change their ways for a while anyway. Today we are learning so many lessons about our impact on God’s creation, on each other, on ourselves; we are being urged to change our ways but many are looking for more, wanting a new value system. We have that in the power of God’s Word, Jesus. Lord God, may we, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, live in ‘the way’, Your way. Empower Christian decision-makers around the world to hold firm to You, to model Your values and impact upon others to bring Your light into our world. Lord with You, may they, may we, make a real difference now and in the future. In Your strength we ask this Lord Jesus. Amen

05/05 – Good morning, quite a windy day. We read in Luke 3:1-14 about a wind of change calling out of the desert to the people to repent. The voice of John, son of Zachariah & Elizabeth, the baptiser. We know the story, found in all four gospels, of his call for people to change. But in that he does say something we can miss, “bear fruits worthy of repentance”. In Jesus we have forgiveness through grace, but we are called to be different as a result. John’s words are well worth hearing, as are the words of the epistle writers. And of course Jesus calls us to a new and different way of living. How will we demonstrate that ‘new life’, that difference to others? What can we still change about ourselves? Once we start to mix again with other people will it be only a downloaded app that will show who we have been in proximity with? Or can we walk around, mix, ‘bearing the fruit’, praying for those around, known by name or not. With greater spacing between people we can focus our prayer, as we walk and mix, that God will break in, that we may become the yeast in the community. Father God, strengthen all who believe in you to ‘bear fruit’ for you; help us discover new ways, to seek out those who struggle, are hurt, are fragile, and those who are discontent. Enable us, through Your Holy Spirit, to be purposeful in our prayers. Lord, so many will need to experience Your love and healing, give us spiritual eyes to see the need and serve You. Amen

04/05 – The night has passed, and the day lies open before us. What will we make of this new day, the gift we are given? We read this morning of the 12 year old Jesus staying behind after the annual visit with His parents to Jerusalem for the Passover (Luke 2:41-end). His panicked parents looking for Him, – ever been in that situation? I am sure some of us have, as our child hid in a shop, thinking it was fun. We tell them off, just as Mary told off Jesus, but Jesus was a clever, clear-thinking, studious child, who was impressive in His understanding and answers. He must have had a questioning mind and challenged what He read in the Torah, looking for answers. What an example for us, a challenge to question and discuss scripture, but most of all to shape our lives by it, to be a learning practitioner, in our application of God’s word. Lord Jesus, the Word, before and in all, lead us as you did Your disciples into a true understanding of our Bible; guide us by Your Holy Spirit into understanding of how we are to be. We pray for all those who teach and inform others in Your word, especially in schools, colleges and universities. These are strange times for teachers and students of all ages; we pray that damage will not be done to their learning, most especially to those with parents who cannot help. Lord, we pray that our young may be high on the ‘return’ agenda as the government leads us out of this shutdown. Amen

03/05 – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 is our reading, it’s about the Israelites; though in their desert experience they shared and walked with Moses, shared in the same food, both physical and spiritual, many fell away in their conduct; the reading lists their behaviour. Paul gives us a warning in v.12, “So if you think you are standing watch out you do not fall.” Paul goes on “no testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with that testing He will also provide a way out so you may be able to endure it.” The way out – Jesus is. Paul later writes God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” therefore stand firm, let nothing move you. In so many films you see people in danger of being dragged away, washed away, what do they do? Tie themselves to a rock or solid object, that’s what we need to do spiritually through prayer and bible reading, they go hand in hand. Lord God, may we bind ourselves to You so that we are not pulled away, Lord defend us from arrogance in case we fall. In these times of isolation may we grow closer to You, in Your strength, for ours is weak. May we reach out to each other, our family, friends and neighbours, that when this ends we will all be stronger. But Lord, as we find sanctuary in You, we pray for all those where family is not safe space, where home is a cell and relationships poisoned. Break in, we ask, that their situations may be healed, and we pray for those who will have to pick up the broken pieces of people’s lives after all this is over. Amen

02/04 – We return to Luke and more well known words, those of Simeon (2:21-40). We have jumped forward, past the story of Jesus’ birth to His presentation in the temple. A formality for His parents, but a very unexpected outcome, confusing, with people praising God for their child, but for Mary those words: “a sword will pierce your own souls too”. Anna, a prophet, then restores the positive theme. What should have been routine about the temple presentation was far from normal or predictable, but an encounter for them with the unexpected. In all that praise of God, predictions about Jesus, there was that statement of pain. How often do we forget the cost of our relationship with Jesus? I feel sure those words were often on Mary’s mind, what would it mean? It is hard sometimes to praise, to be joyful, as in the sense of being happy, or to be positive. It is too easy for the negatives to overwhelm the good, and for some right now that is their battle. That applies to people who are Christians as well; there is no exemption certificate for our emotions. If we never know pain how would we know what happiness and joy really are? Lord, we give thanks for all our emotions; we ask you to be present in our own experiences of darkness and light, through them all be with us. We pray for those overwhelmed by their thoughts, not able to see light or feel warmth. Lord Jesus shine Your life-giving light into their hearts, bring balance back to them. We pray also for all those supporting people in dark times, those in mental health services and telephone support. We pray for Mike as he works to support people in crisis. Cover him with Your protection and all others involved. Protect us Lord, and those we know and love, from being overwhelmed and help us keep our eyes on You, praising You with grateful hearts. Amen

01/05 – Greetings. That is how James starts his letter, after saying who he is, “a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Today we turn to James 1:1-12, as today the church remembers Philip and James, Apostles. Verse 2 he writes “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing”. In his time there were so many things stacked against the early Christians, let alone disease. And that is still true in many parts of the world where fellow brothers and sisters face daily ‘the powers and principalities of darkness’. Let us lift our eyes off ourselves and pray for them, in their isolation and fear, longing to live for our Lord Jesus. Father God, in our lockdown, in our isolation, in our fears and worries, we lift those in other  countries where they face greater dangers than us. Lord Jesus walk with them so that they may know Your presence and peace and that they will be given Your strength to endure in their faith. Bless them Lord as they pray in Your name. Amen

30/04 – A mix of prayer and praise, that is what we do, and our Prayer App is testimony to that. But to be able to use it is a gift; to pray for others is a privilege and a duty. Our prayers to God shows our love, implanted in us at our creation. Zechariah proclaims his praise to God in the birth of his son with Elizabeth. Praising God, proclaiming God’s promises, what he is doing and foretelling the special role their son John will have: looking, like us, into a new and changing future. “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (From Luke 1:57-end) He made a prophecy. God is bringing it about – and we in our lives, in our praises, in our prayers, are a vital part of our God’s plan for all in the world, those known and unknown by us, but not unknown by God. Father, we give you thanks that, through Your Son our Saviour, we, like John, can proclaim Your name, and that Your Son prays with us and shares those prayers with you our Father God. Strengthen us as we call upon you, hear our prayers and praise. Lord may we point people ‘who sit in darkness’ to the power of Your light. Amen

29/04 – “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”, the opening lines of Mary’s song, the Magnificat. Luke  1:39-56. This can be said every day of the week as part of the evening prayer. In some traditions people will stand to say this and perhaps cross themselves at the start. Many will know this off by heart like the song of Zachariah, which is said every morning. But read carefully and be challenged. We read of Mary’s praise for what God has done and is doing; what’s He doing? Only changing the world’s order on its head. “Mercy to those who fear Him”, the proud to be scattered, the powerful brought down, the rich sent away empty. If we think about that, where do we sit, what are the prevalent attitudes of today? What are the drivers in today’s attitudes? Mary says God “has looked with favour on the loveliness of His servant”. Every morning  so far Luke has highlighted service, servanthood and in that servanthood a story of personal restoration, but with cost. Being a servant will have a cost; seeing God change the world order, change our accepted order and values may be painful. Can we, are we willing to be, that kind of servant? We are full of praise, we sing to our God and praise Jesus, the greatest servant of us all. Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Father help us to have humility before you and those we walk our lives with, but not in brokenness, or weakness but in Your love, strength and power, to shine the light of our lives on you alone, as Your servants. In Jesus name. Amen

28/04 – ‘Greetings’. The opening words we read when angel Gabriel meets with Mary, the reading for today, Luke 1:16-38, an account we must all be so familiar with. What a startling, perplexing message! Something life-changing, beyond her control. Yes, having a baby, that was most likely on her agenda, but not now, not this way. God’s timing was not hers, that’s for sure! She faced a new reality that day, and her response? “Here I am, the servant of the Lord.” In ‘normal’ days we hold our Servant Group on a Tuesday morning, not for leaders but for servants of the Lord, for that is the role, as Mary says, that like her we are all called to. Let’s all pray that we may be servants, faithful and true, seeking to bring in His glory and light and not our own. Lord, may we diminish so that You may grow, use us O God to lift Your name high above all names. Guide us on new paths in these times to be faithful servants in serving you and each other. “May we enter Your gates with praise and go from Your courts to serve You all our days.” Amen

27/04 – All change! The readings for morning prayer now turn to Luke and remain in that gospel through to August. So 1:1-25 Luke seeks to give a faithful account of Jesus to his friend Theophilus starting with Zachariah and Elizabeth. What do we discover? Follow Luke, be truthful about speaking about the Lord Jesus, investigate scripture that others may know the truth. Learn from Zachariah & Elizabeth, expect the unexpected in our walk with God especially when our relationship with Him becomes routine, formal, a duty. God will break through in our lives, we need to watch for those moments and not be doubtful. There can be a danger we turn from what our God desires of us, if it does not fit our agenda, we may  be content where we are, we may think we don’t have the ability. We can silence ourselves and God’s will for us and His kingdom. Let us praise God and long to say ‘This is what the Lord has done for me’ and that he looks favourably on me. Let us praise God the Trinity in all circumstances. Lord God, pour upon us your Holy Spirit, open our hearts to Your will and unbind us from our fears and doubts so we may hear Your voice. Lord God, this time when life for many has slowed down may we hear you more clearly and known you more dearly. For those who are still in the rush of life and work, Lord be the God of the breakthrough we ask. Amen

26/02 – This morning it is Peter the Apostle who speaks to us. In his first letter (1 Peter 5:1-11) he talks about ‘attitude’ and the way we approach each other. Though some of it is talking to leaders it reaches to us all. He calls us to keep alert, ‘Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith.’ Rich imagery, how would you react if you woke to find a lion in your house! As I wrote earlier in the week about clothing ourselves in the amour of God, have we done that? We need to be vigilant in case we bring dishonour to our Lord. Keep watch, we are urged, and pray for each other; the Christian family around the world undergo the same trials. Father, give us and all those who call upon Your name, the spiritual eyes to see the ‘prowling lion’ and to defend ourselves and each other. May we, Your people, honour You in all we do to the glory of Your name alone. Amen Put your armour on! Our God reigns!

25/04 – The reading jump again today in order to celebrate Mark, the Evangelist, writer of the gospel. But he’s not the focus of my thoughts. We read in Acts 12:25-13:13 about the sending out of Saul (Paul) and Barnabas to Cyprus, the start the first missionary journey. The church was one Saul and Barnabas were members of, (11:25) it seems to be diverse and was led by the Holy Spirit. The reading doesn’t tell us much about the interaction of the church and the Holy Spirit in the sending out of the two, but I think their call was recognised by the whole church even if perhaps the direction of the Holy Spirit was given to one or a few. The church responded in action and sent them. I think we need more of the presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus left Him to guide and work with us for the good of the Kingdom (John 14:16-18). We need to ask to be empowered to use our gifts for the work of God through and with the Holy Spirit. So let us focus our prayers today on calling on the Holy Spirit to bless us as individuals and as a fellowship, Christ’s body, here in Southend. But most of all to hear what He says to build us up as a people. Heavenly Father, Jesus asked you for the Holy Spirit to be with us and in us and as we know at Pentecost that happened and has been happening through time. Father, bless us as your chosen with the Holy Spirit, that in these times we may have a real impact on our world, in what we do, in our prayers for others and ourselves. May we see a difference in your power not our strength. Amen

24/04 – I invite you to go to Colossians 3:12-4:1, yes we are back to that letter again, and read verse 12. “As God’s chosen people’. The whole passage for today is not one I’m going to unpack. But verse 17 covers everything. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through Christ” – whose word should dwell in you richly. Sometimes it is easy to praise and seek God’s presence, but the encouragement is to “do everything in the name of the Lord”. That is not easy, is it? Maybe I speak for myself, to be so in His presence all the time that everything is subject to Him. What a responsibility, an obligation. Not just when the days and tasks are easy but when things are hard and a struggle. For those stuck indoors in flats or bedsits, where even preparing food can be a drudge, especially when the sun is shining and maybe they can see gardens and people outside. We need to pray that in everything they may find a place for God, discover His peace, know that in all that we are going through He is the One true Light. May God’s presence fill our lives so that we may pray that it will fill the darkness in the lives of so many others. Amen

23/04 – I don’t know if any of you feel trapped in the present  lockdown as I do? But today we have, what is possibly one of my favourite readings, Ephesians 6:10-20. The stirring and passionate call to stand up against all that is wrong both in our own worldly existence but also in the spiritual ‘cosmic powers’. To do it we must be equipped with the whole armour of God. Making it our daily routine of dressing ourselves. It is so easy to neglect, but so vital. So this morning be sure to fasten the belt of truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes to proclaim the gospel of peace. Pick up the shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows of the evil one, take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. And be sure to pray in the Spirit at all times. In Joshua 1:9, the other reading for today, God says “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. (Why not write that out and stick it up in your house.) These readings have been chosen because it’s St George’s Day but that is secondary to the vital, power filled, reassuring message that we have before us. Let’s us all be prepared to do spiritual battle today, that God’s kingdom may come and He may reign in the world. Alleluia! Enjoy being in the sunshine of the presence of our Lord and God. Know you are blessed.

22/04 – From Colossians 2:6-7, part of today’s reading (1-15). “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built upon Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving”. I’m sure we’ve all noticed spring has sprung! The leaves are vibrant and fresh in the in uncontaminated condition of new life. The world has not impacted itself upon them. We need to be rooted in our Lord, live our lives in Him to avoid being taken in, damaged, taken captive by the world around us. We can only do that by surrendering to God and asking for the Holy Spirit to be in us. ‘Almighty God, strengthen us to live and walk with you, seeking Your treasures of wisdom and knowledge, that we as one body in Christ, united in His love, and encouraging each other may do your will.’ Amen

21/04 – Colossians 1:15-end. Well worth spending time with Paul in this writing. He holds Christ up as the ‘head and completion’ of all that is, our only reconciliation with God. He presents us ‘Holy and blameless and irreproachable before God’. He goes on to write ‘God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known’. It’s a reminder that, as with Paul, our relationship with Him is not just for ourselves, it is to be shared, we are servants of the Good News in our living out of that hope in the world. Crown us, O God, but with humility, and robe us with compassion, that we may strive to overcome evil with the power of good and so walk gently on the earth with You. Amen

20/04 – The dawn of a new day greets us, darkness has fled and we are filled by light. Colossians 1:1-14 is the reading. What hit me is what we do for Christ must be ‘worthy’ of Him. It must reveal Him in the best possible way. I find v10 interesting, “so you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God”. Note the order, working for God then the knowledge of God, not get the knowledge then do good works. It is by doing what God calls us to do to reveal Him in the world that we gain knowledge of God and grow in Him. May we be a people who do only what is worthy of God in our lives and so learn the will of God “so that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all Spiritual wisdom and understanding”. Amen

19/04 – Today the morning reading is from 1 Corinthians 5:6(b)-8. Doing away with the old yeast, being unleavened. Echos back to the exodus and to John 3:7, when Jesus says to Nicodemus “you must be born again”. Sincere confession is our ‘throwing away of the old yeast’ – it is our route to change, but not change in our own strength but through the wonderful power given to us of the Holy Spirit. When the prayer of forgiveness is said it’s not an ointment on a wound, or a bandage. No, it is total healing, restoration to wholeness, being put back in relationship with God through Christ, ‘our paschal lamb sacrificed for us’. This morning as the sun shines in the gift of this new day may the light of God’s presence, His redeeming grace, set our hearts on fire with love for Him. Be joy filled, hopeful, grateful. But above all else know that you are loved by your creator, wonderfully made, a work of art. Be blessed as you reflect on that, sit a while in His presence.

18/04 – I’ve been asked to continue my daily reflections, so here we are. Acts 4:13-21. Peter & John taken before the Temple leaders, who tell them to stop speaking about Jesus. Peter responded, “whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than God, you must judge, for we cannot stop from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” We are an Easter people, Archbishop John Sentamu reminds us that a gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms. But honestly we are often struggling as people, especially in these times. (I may just be speaking for myself.) My prayer is that, we like Peter & John in this reading, cannot refrain from sharing and living the resurrection hope, to fall back into the arms of our Lord when we find it difficult and be restored in joy. Our ministry is to communicate that joy in our contact with others and to pray with fervent prayers for them. John Sentamu also said “a Christian is only as strong as their prayer life”. Lord God strengthen us in the amazing gift of prayer, help us to listen as well as talk. The prayer group app is a blessing, be blessed, be joy filled, be Easter people. May blessings and answers to prayer flow.

14/04 – In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 this mornings reading Paul is talking about the resurrection promise and for us to understand that as Christ was raised so we also will be raised. In v19 he says that ‘if for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied’. With so many people facing death, either themselves out of loved ones we need to pray for them to understand the everlasting hope there is in Christ. ‘Heavenly Father, with so many facing death of friends and loved ones, may they know the hope that there is in you. May You be their comfort and peace. Help us to share Your light in the dark times of their grief.’ Speaking for myself there is little that is worse than going to a non Christian funeral where there is no hope and no God. Pray that people will turn to find the eternal love of Jesus.

12/04 – Christ IS Risen! Alleluia. Happy Easter. Heavenly Father we give thanks for the gift of life. But we pray this Easter for families who have lost loved ones, but unable to say goodbye. We pray for families where relationships are broken and being together is pain not joy. Especially we pray for children, isolated from friends and support. Father in these times of separation and isolation may the warmth of Your Son burst into broken lives, break down barriers and bring healing. As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of Your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for You. Amen.

As you drive or walk past those who are working (remembering advised Social Distancing if on foot) why not pray for them as they go past. Lift them in a silent prayer to God, He knows them and their situation. Those doing postal deliveries, refuse teams and utility workers, to name a few who keep our neighbourhoods working.

We have a growing prayer team here at Christ Church, if you would like prayer, please add it to the comments box. If it is for others please do not include personal details that could identify them to others.