Sunday 24 January 2021

Scripture

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’ As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him. Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him. (Mark 1:14-21)

Reflect

It’s thought that James and John, and so also their father, Zebedee, were relatives of Jesus. And so this incident is quite a family affair! Another set of brothers with whom they sail the sea in search of fish have already left their boat to follow Jesus. Soon each of them will be elevated among those numbered ‘The Twelve’. With a play on words, Jesus toys with the language of their work. He speaks so they can understand. Attuned to catching fish, he dares them use their skills to net people in a new way – for the kingdom of God is close at hand. This is just the beginning of their journey with him. Perhaps they have little idea how life will change for them, for us. They drop their nets at once and, some time in the days to come, they’ll take up a new tool of their new found trade. “Take up your cross and follow me,” they will hear him say. As for them, so for us. We’re in the same boat.

Prayer

God our Father, the call of Jesus to follow him is given to us and all. Help us to be faithful disciples, to turn away from all that separates us from you, and to embrace your Kingdom of Love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Oh

Saturday 23 January 2021

Scripture

Jesus went home, and once more such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind. (Mark 3:20-21)

Reflect

Ever felt that you’ve been misunderstood by people? Have you had a plan or an idea that someone just hasn’t grasped? Or has someone, in their eagerness to judge, made a snap decision about what kind of person you are, labelled you as ‘this’ or ‘that’ simply as a means of disregarding you because you don’t fit into their own personal ideas and objectives? You’re in good company! In today’s gospel reading, Jesus’ family think he has gone too far. They actually think he is out of his mind. Certainly there is much pressure on him as people seek him out in great numbers. Yes he is causing quite a stir. So much so that he hasn’t got time to eat properly. The demands of his ministry are beginning to take their toll. And so his family seek to bring him home. Even those closest to us may not understand us at times. Prophets, even in our own day, can be maligned, and sometimes they begin as a solitary voice before their message gains momentum. Let’s pray that we may perceive the prophetic voices in our own society today, and seek ways in which we can speak the word of God into situations that need to hear it.

Prayer

God our Father, help us to perceive with wisdom the prophets of our day, and may we bring your presence and power to placed and people in need. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday 22 January 2021

Scripture

Jesus went up into the hills and summoned those he wanted. So they came to him and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to preach, with power to cast out devils. And so he appointed the Twelve: Simon to whom he gave the name Peter, James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom he gave the name Boanerges or ‘Sons of Thunder’; then Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the man who was to betray him. (Mark 3:13-19)

Reflect

That walk to the interview. The march to the headteacher’s office. The journey to the hospital for test results. The summons to the boss’s office. These are all moments filled with emotion! Fear, worry, anxiety, helplessness, concern, anticipation. And so Jesus takes his position uphill. Calls forward and upward those he wants to appoint to a special role, to share in the Messianic journey. And so they make that uphill journey. What was going through their minds as they trekked and talked together? Their role was a great one. Filled with the responsibility of love, the power to preach, the authority to confront devils. It’s a turning point in their life with Christ. Wrestling with our own calling can be much like a journey as we try to discover what God asks of us, to be frustrated sometimes by not knowing, or to lack the courage to make the decision to do it. But there is no need to worry, no need to fear. We are all called to be companions of Christ which means he is always with us.

Prayer

Lord God, whatever you ask us to do, may we have the strength to do it as companions of him whose uphill call to the Twelve filled them with authority from on high. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday 21 January 2021

Scripture

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lakeside, and great crowds from Galilee followed him. From Judaea, Jerusalem, Idumaea, Transjordania and the region of Tyre and Sidon, great numbers who had heard of all he was doing came to him. And he asked his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, to keep him from being crushed. For he had cured so many that all who were afflicted in any way were crowding forward to touch him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw him, would fall down before him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he warned them strongly not to make him known. (Mark 3:7-12)

Reflect

Can you consider a chaotic situation you’ve experienced or seen? Times of public protest turning into riots. The bad old days of hooliganism on the terraces. A late night, drunken fight in the streets. Bullets shot into the crowd of a generation seeking freedom and democracy. Scenes which are frightening and deadly. It’s from a frenzied crowd scene that Jesus makes a getaway as they gather around him in desperation to be relieved from their suffering. Jesus is far from a simple ‘miracle worker’ strutting his stuff to entertain and receive accolade and admiration. On many occasions, when he heals, he tells people not to tell anyone. The miracles he performs are signs that the Kingdom of God is in our midst. He heals because he cares, and the signs he shares are meant to draw people closer to God, to believe in the One he has sent. Whilst people flock to him in great numbers as their last hope, their only hope, he slips away by boat. He isn’t escaping from their need or ignoring their pain. All who are involved in caring and consoling, in helping and healing need also to extend the same care to themselves. We can stand outside the chaos at times in order to gain a fresh perspective and to be more ready to speak peace to violence, and healing to pain.

Prayer

God our Father, as we reach out to those in need and give of ourselves, help us also to care for ourselves so that, having known your peace, we may bring your peace to others Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Scripture

Jesus went into a synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the sabbath day, hoping for something to use against him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up out in the middle!’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it against the law on the sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?’ But they said nothing. Then, grieved to find them so obstinate, he looked angrily round at them, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was better. The Pharisees went out and at once began to plot with the Herodians against him, discussing how to destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6)

Reflect

How can healing happen when there is anger and grief around? Surely, healing is about gentleness, calmness, sensitivity, peace, care, compassion. And yet, in the gospel reading, Jesus experiences anger. He’s grieved. He’s irritated by the obstinacy of those who surround him and who try to catch him out, who question him for doing good. There are many things in the world today that may cause us to rage. The disease of poverty and injustice, of racism and inequality and so many other things such as anger at the presence of sickness and suffering. We can and should be enraged at times about stuff that is wrong, things that unbalance life and bring grief. Jesus himself was angry at times but at the heart of his anger was his love of justice and peace, his love of the poor, and his compassion for those in need. Anger can be good if it’s source and aim is love.

Prayer

God our Father, help us to recognise what makes us angry. May our anger be used in your service and to help transform the world with your justice. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday 19 January 2020

Resting or rising

Scripture 

One sabbath day, Jesus happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples began to pick ears of corn as they went along. And the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing something on the sabbath day that is forbidden?’ And he replied, ‘Did you never read what David did in his time of need when he and his followers were hungry – how he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the loaves of offering which only the priests are allowed to eat, and how he also gave some to the men with him?’ And he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; the Son of Man is master even of the sabbath.’ (Mark 2: 23-28)

Reflect

These days, there seems to be a growing tendency for us to give meaning to our lives by being busy – or appearing to be busy! It seems that we have to justify our days by sharing what we’ve done and telling everyone how little time we have left to do anything else! There will, of course, be times of great busyness and fulfilling all our responsibilities but there is also the need for rest. Whilst Jesus should have been resting – according to Sabbath customs – he is seeking out food for him and his disciples. He has recognised what is important in the here and now. Sometimes we are so caught up with doing things that we overlook what is really important, or we may feel obliged to say “yes” to this or that demand placed upon us. Alternatively, we may be resting when really we should be rising! Perhaps today, whether resting or rising, we can begin to look afresh at what we actually need to do or not do. To learn to do what is most important or what is not important at all!

Prayer

God our loving Father, help us to know the right things to do and give us, we pray, the strength to do it so that rising or resting we may give glory to you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday 18 January 2021

Friends of our feelings

Scripture

One day when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they could not think of fasting. But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast. (Mark 2:18ff)

Reflect

There is much sorrow in the world, in our lives. There is much that fills us with sadness, much that causes concern. We may look around us and feel the world is out of control, and ask what possible difference we could make. From these moments of madness, those timed of sadness, can often emerge cause for joy and inspiration, and many blessings can be caught if only we look for them. Why should Jesus’ disciples fast when he is with them, he asks. There will be time for fasting later. If you are happy, now, rejoice in your happiness. If you are sad, now, then it’s worth remembering that it’s ok not to be ok. We can learn to be sensitive to our sadness, value the times of happiness, befriend our feelings, and bring them to God. Both in our sadness and gladness, God is doing something new, he is always close. He is never far away.

Prayer

God our loving Father, help us to befriend our feelings, and to seek your presence in all that we do and all that we feel so that, sad or glad, we may be recognise the presence of Jesus your Son who is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

for the journey

We’ve only just packed up our Christmas decorations, and already we’re looking forward to the next great season of the Church! It’s time to move on!

On February 2nd, as we celebrate the Feast of Candlemas and the presentation of the 6 week old Jesus in the Temple, our journey through the Church’s year takes an important turn. As Simeon prophecies that Mary’s heart will be broken, the reality of the Incarnation strikes home.

Ash Wednesday (February 17th) is the beginning of Lent, and the journey to the events of Christ’s saving death and resurrection.

For each of the 40 days of Lent, in addition to our usual prayer posts, we’ll be reflecting on the Eucharist with a daily meditation, along with other resources for prayer and reflection.

As a Pilgrim People, we are always on the move, as we journey from here to eternity. In the Eucharist, God has given us food for the journey.

Sunday 17 January 2021

Scripture

As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour. One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock. (John 1:35-42)

Reflect

At the moment, we’re missing many things including holidays! In between those lockdown days – when restrictions were lifted – many people sneaked off abroad to seek the sun, take a break, see other sights. Sightseeing holidays can often be exhausting as we trawl around old cities, seeking out historical sites and places of interest. And then, on the return home, we can bore our friends with holidays pics! Seeing things second hand is just not the same! In the gospel reading, Andrew has set his sights on something, or rather someone, he has been seeking for some time. John the Baptist has pointed him in the right direction, and Jesus invites him closer still. “Come and see.” So sure that Jesus is the expected One, Andrew brings his brother, Simon, to Jesus too. Having set his eyes on Christ, he naturally wants to lead others to him. Who, in your life, has helped to draw you closer to Christ? Parents, family, friends? And who have you helped to see Jesus as Lord? And is there some way today or in the days to come that we can enable others to see Jesus too?

Prayer

God our Father, I’m thankful to those who have led me to you and inspired me in my life with Christ. Help me to show others to Jesus, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday 16 January 2021

Spiritual Diagnosis

Jesus went out to the shore of the lake; and all the people came to him, and he taught them. As he was walking on he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus, sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.  When Jesus was at dinner in his house, a number of tax collectors and sinners were also sitting at the table with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many of them among his followers. When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’ (Luke 2:13-17)

Reflect

Have you ever had to sit in an ‘A and E’ department, counting down the long waiting time, looking around you and wondering if everyone actually needs to be here, and thinking that you may be seen quicker if so many of them weren’t here. And do you wonder, too, if some of them are looking at you thinking the same thing! Jesus is castigated in today’s gospel reading for dealing with someone whom the religious authorities think is ‘spiritually sick.’ Surely, Jesus shouldn’t be wasting his time with such people when there are other more worthy and upstanding members of the public with whom to pass the time of day. In response, Jesus doesn’t defend Levi. He agrees with their diagnosis. But it’s because of such sinners, he says, that he has come in the first place. It’s those of us who have separated ourselves from God through sin that Jesus needs to claim back, to heal. There is such an important relationship between healing and forgiveness. Both are liberating actions, saving works. Being forgiven begins the process of healing in so many ways. We can’t peer into the soul of another and make a spiritual diagnosis. But we can open our own hearts to the Lord.

Prayer

Loving Father, you search us and you know us through and through. Help us to be honest with ourselves and honest with you so that your healing and forgiveness will take root in our lives and help us grow in your love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.