Lay Anglicana, the unofficial voice of the laity throughout the Anglican Communion.
This is the place to share news and views from the pews.

Get involved ...

Intercessions for Trinity +19 – Year B – Proper 23 – 11 October 2015 – series 2


The Collect

O God, forasmuch as without you we are not able to please you; mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Job 23.1-9,16-17

Job answered his companions: ‘Today also my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning. O that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his dwelling! I would lay my case before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would learn what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; but he would give heed to me. There an upright person could reason with him, and I should be acquitted for ever by my judge. ‘If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; If only I could vanish in darkness, and thick darkness would cover my face!

Psalm 22.1-15

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, * and are so far from my salvation, from the words of my distress?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer; * and by night also, but I find no rest.
Yet you are the Holy One, * enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
Our forebears trusted in you; * they trusted, and you delivered them.
They cried out to you and were delivered; * they put their trust in you and were not confounded.
But as for me, I am a worm and no man, * scorned by all and despised by the people.
All who see me laugh me to scorn; * they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,
‘He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him; * let him deliver him, if he delights in him.’
But it is you that took me out of the womb * and laid me safe upon my mother’s breast.
On you was I cast ever since I was born; * you are my God even from my mother’s womb.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near at hand * and there is none to help.
Mighty oxen come around me; * fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side.
They gape upon me with their mouths, * as it were a ramping and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint; * my heart has become like wax melting in the depths of my body.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaves to my gums; * you have laid me in the dust of death.


Second Reading: Hebrews 4.12-16

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


Gospel Reading: Mark 10.17-31

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.”’ He said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age –  houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields – but with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’


Read through the readings? Anything strike you? Yes, me too, and not only me, but Jane Williams, who says: ‘Is it just me, or are the readings actually getting harder at this time of year? Not only more difficult to understand, but more sombre? Certainly, today’s reading from Hebrews has taken large quantities of caffeine, and even so I’m not sure that I have got to the bottom of it. ‘ [Sadly the search facility doesn’t seem to be working]

scan 001But, as Jane says, today is the day of testing, but also of mercy. In the intercessions for this day in 2012, I decided on the theme of mercy, which you may like to see here.

Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray to God, in whose love and power all things are possible.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, help us to seek you above all else that is important in our lives, and to pledge our total commitment. As we strive to be of service to you, we discover only our need. We pray to you, our healer, whose mercy is like a refining fire, to touch us with your judgement, and confront us with your tenderness; that, being comforted by you, we may in turn reach out to a troubled world in union with each other, and in the name of your son.

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; in your mercy, Lord, hear our prayer.


¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

We live in a world where the rich grow ever richer, but the poor are always with us, seemingly without relief. We thank you for the many who do indeed try to use their wealth for the common good. Stir up, we beseech you, in the hearts of the unmoved, a degree of compassion for the needy. May those who have found earthly riches  find also the source of true wealth here on earth: in your mercy, do not send the rich empty away.

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; in your mercy, Lord, hear our prayer.


¶The local community

We pray for all those whom you have called. May those who have answered your call be sustained in all that they do as they translate their desire to serve into action. May those who can only respond ‘not yet’ be given the strength and the resolve to respond as they are able. And may those who have heard your call but have turned away from their vocations or have been unable to follow to the end be comforted.

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; in your mercy, Lord, hear our prayer.


¶Those who suffer

Lord, you have told us that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Have mercy on those who would strive with you but are unable, through their frailties, whether of mind, body or spirit. Share your comforting presence with them in their sufferings, and give them your peace in their hearts.

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; in your mercy, Lord, hear our prayer.


¶The communion of saints

Lord, grant the inheritance of eternal life to those who have left this earth…………

Receive them in mercy as they come to your presence, and may they rest in peace and rise in glory.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers….


Prayer after Communion

Holy and blessed God,
you have fed us with the body and blood of your Son
and filled us with your Holy Spirit:
may we honour you,
not only with our lips
but in lives dedicated to the service
of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National  Council of the Churches of Christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Collect (19th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

Intercessions for Trinity +18 – Year B – Proper 22 – 4 October 2015 – series 2


Image ID: 229857658 Copyright: CHOAT via shuterstock

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us your gift of faith that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to that which is before, we may run the way of your commandments and win the crown of everlasting joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and  reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Job 1.1; 2.1-10

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Psalm 26

Refrain: Lord, I love the place where your glory abides.

Give judgement for me, O Lord, for I have walked with integrity; * I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
Test me, O Lord, and try me; * examine my heart and my mind.
For your love is before my eyes; * I have walked in your truth.
I have not joined the company of the false, * nor consorted with the deceitful. R
I hate the gathering of evildoers * and I will not sit down with the wicked.
I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, * that I may go about your altar,
To make heard the voice of thanksgiving * and tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Lord, I love the house of your habitation * and the place where your glory abides. R
Sweep me not away with sinners, * nor my life with the bloodthirsty,
Whose hands are full of wicked schemes * and their right hand full of bribes.
As for me, I will walk with integrity; * redeem me, Lord, and be merciful to me.
My foot stands firm; * in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

Refrain: Lord, I love the place where your glory abides.

Have mercy on us and redeem us, O Lord,
for our merits are your mercies
and in your judgement is our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Second Reading: Hebrews 1.1-4; 2.5-12

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere, ‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honour, subjecting all things under their feet.’ Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, ‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’

Gospel Reading: Mark 10.2-16

Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. Jesus said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’ People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Prayers of Intercession

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, we love the silent presence in the places of prayer. There we see glimpses of your glory shine, and your light is reflected in the faces of those who trust you, and the lives of the quietly faithful. With your grace, we shall walk with integrity: with your compassion, our feet shall stand firm. *

Lord, help us to find again the simplicity and clarity of childhood: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

But Lord, we are reminded not to be too easy with evil, both with our own and with those near and far. We pray for the enemy, both in others and in ourselves, the one who whispers the lie and imprisons the tellers of truth. Forgive us our laziness and our fears, our stupidity and our turning aside. Shed on us, we pray, the painful healing beams of the light of Christ, the living truth.

Lord, help us to find again the simplicity and clarity of childhood: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

Lord, we pray for the many communities that we are involved in: our families, our schools, our colleagues at work and our neighbours at home, as well as our country and those in the wider community of nations. May we contribute to the achievements and the harmony of all these circles, both through our own efforts and the support of others.

Lord, help us to find again the simplicity and clarity of childhood: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord, we bring before you all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit. We pray for all those who find the complexities of life, and its vicissitudes, too difficult to bear. We pray for those with chronic diseases, as well as those who have been surprised by the sudden onset of pain. May they all feel the reality of your living and loving presence amongst them.

Lord, help us to find again the simplicity and clarity of childhood: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

Lord, as you gather to yourself  the children of your Kingdom, we remember those who have recently died……………

May they join the heavenly choirs of cherubim and seraphim as they continuously sing your praise!

Merciful Father, accept these prayers…….


Prayer after Communion

We praise and thank you, O Christ, for this sacred feast:
for here we receive you,
here the memory of your passion is renewed,
here our minds are filled with grace,
and here a pledge of future glory is given,
when we shall feast at that table where you reign
with all your saints for ever.

The intercessions I wrote in the first series are gradually maturing, you may be pleased to hear! Here is what I offered for this Sunday in 2012.  I still think I can improve on them, but I like my introduction:

Today’s lectionary is an example of why it is a good idea to read it well in advance and then forget about it, hoping your subconscious will work out what the theme is. When I read this last Sunday, I could see no link. Today I can see such a link, though it is in some places a gossamer thread rather than a metal chain! The collect is one of my favourites, and the passage from Job is all about the torments inflicted on him by Satan, which failed to make him curse God [and lose his faith]. The psalm is on the theme ‘I have trusted in the Lord and not faltered’ (v.1). The epistle is more complicated, and introduces the note of glory also in the psalm, but  contains the summary of our faith: For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father (v.11). And the gospel includes: whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it. (v.16)

If you prefer Jane Williams’ musings on the lectionary to mine (and you would be right), you can read them here (searching ‘speculate’ will take you to p.112).


*Based on Jim Cotter’s meditation on Psalm 26

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Post Communion (18th after Trinity) © 1973 ICEL: Roman Missal (English Translation) Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000

Diary Of One Christian’s Response To The Refugees: Mike Tricker


courtesy UNHCR

I have struggled all along with Matthew  6:1  Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

However this deed needed doing in public or it would have failed and it wouldn’t have any impact? Christianity is never easy, is it.

It did however make me decide to stay focused and not deviate into politics, and make it about the simple human need.  That stays a good decision in my head.

It kept me clear of a lot of negativity that was prevalent in the beginning.


So I was sat on my laptop reading the news when I saw (about three weeks before the little boy) the picture of a man crying, about (I thought) to get on a boat.

I knew I had to do something, on my own, before the papers had cottoned on, before that small boy mobilised the world. I sent a late night email to Jane, and said more or less that. I have to help, it has to be something direct!

I really felt and feel I was called to action, and had to respond, it was my turn to react to need as a Christian should with action, love and compassion.

“Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.…”

That’s pretty clear and unambiguous, which left me puzzled why a couple of Christians on social media did not feel compelled as well. I decided to behave as I had been called to do.


So I searched around and via Jane (our local deacon)  found the diocese in Truro that was helping already by going to see what was going on in Calais. The church warden there was a real help and he gave me contacts that got me started. My first plan was to fill a van and go! But after speaking to the various agencies out there it was apparent this was NOT what was needed. Organised, Focussed relief of the stuff they need. Shoes, writing pads for the kids with PTSD (the kids have no words for what they have had done to them and those they love so they have to make pictures).

So it was shoes and drawing pads. Simple isn’t it, everyone would want that to happen?  Nope not so, when I raised this on social media myself and Jo were met by quite a strident voice of anger at our actions, on Christian social media and even more so on secular local pages.

Then I found Calaid, which is how the catholic mission in Calais had chosen to reach out to a wider audience (still before the little lad on the beach).

With lots of encouragement from all our clergy, we pressed on.   With a team that knew what it was doing (or seemed to, links into the mission and reacting to what THEY said they wanted I knew I had found our agency).  Some of the other churches reacted well as well, Christchurch offered to send stuff over.


The list went up, cue a little more negativity.   A freind called Margaret gave me some silly socks to take, as her husband Mick’s Christmas present wasn’t too impressive (she must love him).

I was happy at that point as someone had given something!  Also I could fit that in my car.
Then it happened, that poor child face down on the beach, and as we know the dialogue changed. We were ready, organised (ish) and set up to go. Perfect timing as the lord knew it would be.

Calaid had put our name down as the pickup point in Essex, our Facebook page went a little mad, and grew about 100 in 24 hours.  We had 80 on Monday and then it went whoosh!

I went to Men’s Breakfast and was asked to see if I could get a friend in the Gideons to speak for us. On the way home a day later he rang me and offered a 50 foot tarpaulin!

That’s God speaking to both of us, and yes, he is coming to our next men’s breakfast.

Meanwhile Facebook got busier and busier and busier, lots of promises or transport came and went, lots of promises of collections, encouragement. What little negativity was left was washed away by people losing their fear of being the one that spoke out. Now they felt like they had the voice and the right and the narrative changed.


I avoided the local press as I wanted this to stay focussed on the need and not get into a political debate. Action it seemed to me was the way to set an example.

Dialogue comes after success and we were a long way off that, Calaid were struggling with the level of response and it all got little wobbly when the last offer of a van gave way.

I went along to St Andrews to see a medium size pile in the choir vestry.   Also I felt the deed was the response to the anger and not a word needed to be spoken. The narrative change, the growing pile of stuff. That was more powerful than anything I could say. It was also hard to argue with, as so  many wanted to, these are shoes, and they are for people who have none.

Making sure it didn’t collide with the Gateway project, or the women’s refuge, answered the critics that said “need to look after ours at home”; my other work in Street Spirit proved my credentials as someone who saw and reacted to human need at home or abroad. Finally I got left alone to get on with the organising, the dissenting voices died down and St Andrews it seemed filled UP.

All our team kept our church open for the many promised donations (thank you to all of you who did so, including Father Jo, my Allie when it was a bit abusive in the early days, now keeping our church open).


Friday afternoon a medium size pile, Saturday afternoon, quite big. We filled my car.  I was determined to squeeze a little more into my car so I decide to go  for Saturday afternoon’s  late drops on Sunday morning, hoping a little more came.

I really didn’t sleep well the night before, “what ifs” ran round my head, what if I can’t find the place, how I would move it etc. This stuff has to make it…

Sunday morning and Jane opened the vestry and her words were “I thought from my email inbox my church might look like this”.

I wasn’t expecting it however, IT WAS LOTS!

My wife made sure I didn’t have to do this bit alone and helped me pack, my car sagged a little and we were off. As I got close to Dalston I said a little prayer.

I needn’t have worried, the place was teeming with people, Lots of eager hands too all the stuff and placed it in orderly piles, lots of smiling faces all looking very pleased.

Calaid had started from a sister and a brother, going to Calais, just before I wanted to, we got woken up at the same time by him.  They had lit a thing that was now all over the street in Dalston, filling two floors of a large office space and the place was called the “hive”. Well now a swarm of bees were moving this remarkably efficiently from cars into the building.  White van man, old ladies in Fiestas, lots of cars, people walking. Orderly but just incredibly busy.

I got back to St Andrews by ten and the second load fitted precisely, not too little not too much, Exactly two cars worth.

A little tear when I got back to London the second time, the place was HEAVING…. It had got busier and the piles much larger, the workers on the floor were more numerous and more busy.

I was just one among very very many…..

What did learn?

I learnt the reality of Proverbs 3:6


Trust in the Lord with all your heart ,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes


Every line of that came true, every single line (let me break it down line by line)

If you trust him

Even when it seems silly, or when people get angry

And just say “Ok it’s my turn today, I acknowledge that”

He WILL make your paths straight, change the world, and change the narrative, because you’re not alone he calls as many as he needs to set his will in motion.

Don’t be wise in your own eyes, be foolish and wing it, and just go with it and if you follow his will, and his will alone everything will change.

Everything DID change.

The narrative of the whole world, from immigrants after our jobs and benefits, to human beings in need.

From anger to happiness, the good people came forward.

All the things I needed got given

That week I went on training, passed an exam (my first in 40 years),  had a busy week at work, went on a course and everything went smoothly beyond belief.

The thing I worried about which was detracting from other things also didn’t happen.

Gateway had a bumper crop, and all those people who wanted to do baby stuff for calaid are now going to help out for the womens refuge :)

Our church was advertised for a Christian act enough to be known by the local press, our town and lots of others in Essex got to hear about our work.

Bishops were made aware, and so many other people , learned from the contacts I made.

Calaid are probably going to be offered 4 7.5 tonne trucks to take the stuff to Calais, and the angry people saw so many of their arguments made weak just by reality.

That’s his work shown in the power it has, how the world works when we are a human race not a tribe holding on to our goods and chattels as tight as we can.

We all benefit, we have all benefited.


The next one is the 4th of October, we have transport


With our little town, our nation, Europe and our politicians behind it having done a 360 degree turn.

That is his power.


Praise him!


Intercessions for Trinity +17 – Year B – Proper 21- 27 September 2015 – series 2


The Collect

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you: pour your love into our hearts and  draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly city where we shall see you face to face; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Esther 7.1-6,9-10; 9.20-22

The king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.’ Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have won your favour, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me – that is my petition – and the lives of my people – that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.’ Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who presumed to do this?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!’ Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, ‘Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.’ And the king said, ‘Hang him on that.’ So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated. Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.

Psalm 124

Refrain: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

If the Lord himself had not been on our side, * now may Israel say;
If the Lord had not been on our side, * when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us alive * when their anger burned against us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over our soul; * over our soul would have swept the raging waters. R
But blessed be the Lord * who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler; * the snare is broken and we are delivered.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, * who has made heaven and earth.

Refrain: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

O God, maker of heaven and earth,
you save us in the water of baptism
and by the suffering of your Son you set us free;
help us to put our trust in his victory
and to know the salvation won for us
by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Second Reading: James 5.13-20

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


Gospel Reading: Mark 9.38-50

John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’

Two things I love about today’s readings: the first part of the collect, and the line in the gospel: ‘Whoever is not against us is for us’. This is a lot more interesting than its obverse, which we see so often in action today: ‘who is not for us is against us’. I love the presumption that people are naturally good, naturally followers of Christ.

The lectionary today leaves little hiding space for ‘Sunday Christians’, as Jane Williams spells out with a certain relish (search ‘whine’ p109):


Prayers of Intercession

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, we hear your voice saying ‘whom shall I send, and who will go for us? If it be your will, help each one of us to respond ‘Here am I! Send me’.  Help us to take up joyfully whatever mission you may entrust to us. Help us to know that, though the task be daunting, those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.

Lord, show us how to remain close to you, breathing in harmony: in your mercy, hear our prayer.


¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, your Spirit is around us in the air we breathe. Your glory touches us in the light we see, the fruitfulness of the earth and  our joy in its creatures. You have written for us your revelation, as you have granted us our daily bread: teach us how to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest all that you make known to us.

Lord, show us how to remain close to you, breathing in harmony: in your mercy, hear our prayer


¶The local community

Lord, guide us that we may become more sensitive to the needs of all those we live amongst. May we be aware of the need of the reserved for human contact; the need of the noisy for affirmation; the need of the young to know that what they have to say is valued by the community as a whole; the need of the old to know that they are not seen as useless ; and the need of us all to know that we are valued.

Lord, show us how to remain close to you, breathing in harmony: in your mercy, hear our prayer


¶Those who suffer

Lord, when destructive powers rise up and seem to bar our path; when they threaten to sweep all before them like a fire in the forest; when the river of life turns into a raging torrent; in all the dangers of the pilgrim way, we thank you for being our constant companion. Strengthen us to face the perils of the storm when they threaten to overwhelm us, and show us yet again that your all-encompassing love is the strongest force in the universe. *

Lord, show us how to remain close to you, breathing in harmony: in your mercy, hear our prayer.


¶The communion of saints

Lord, we thank you for the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world: and for those whom we knew and loved, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller light of life with you.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers…

*Based on Jim Cotter’s meditation on the psalm.

When I wrote the intercessions for this Sunday in 2012, I apparently decided the theme was our need for help, our vulnerability and our reliance on the divine.

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Post Communion (17th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

Separate Beds And Separate Tables For The Anglican Communion?


Copyright: sutsaiy via Shutterstock. Image ID: 309126473

If asked to describe through an image what it has hitherto meant to be a member of the Anglican Communion, most of us would pick, I think, not the compass rose used by the ACO (from the four corners of the earth) but a version of The Last Supper, at which all of its members are welcome to sit together at The Lord’s Table.

Yesterday, the still new-ish Archbishop of Canterbury proposed a revolution, as he invited the 37 primates to a ‘gathering’ in Canterbury from 11-16 January, 1916. No decennial summer outing, this, but a gathering scheduled between Epiphany and Candlemas, when daylight is at its shortest, and the ground may be under snow. The pathetic fallacy is not always fallacious (hence its ubiquitous use in literature), and the timing is surely a theatrical device designed to set a sombre mood of ‘bleak mid-winter’.

In brief, Archbishop Justin is suggesting that we cease to fall over backwards to hold on to the Anglican Communion as a force seeking to hold everything revolving around the centre (which, had the Anglican Covenant been passed, would have acted as the reference point). Instead, we could aim to be a force seeking to spread out into the world, according to broadly agreed principles (based on the understanding of the Bible by each Church in the Communion). {The Archbishop does not describe it thus, this is my interpretation}.



The immediate press and public reaction is well summarised on Thinking Anglicans. The meeting is to be an opportunity for a “review of the structures of the Anglican Communion.” In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said the invitation was “not a surprise,” and nor was Welby’s stated desire to review the structures of the communion. “He’s been quite open about that from early on.”

 The Guardian ran an article under the headline, “Archbishop of Canterbury urges breakup of divided Anglican Communion,” to which Lambeth Palace responded by tweeting “Just to clarify, the Archbishop of Canterbury is NOT planning to break up the Anglican Communion.” The headline has since been changed. The Guardian reported that the archbishop would propose that the worldwide grouping be reorganized “as a group of churches that are all linked to Canterbury but no longer necessarily to each other.” It quoted an unnamed Lambeth Palace source as saying the proposal would allow Welby to maintain relations with both liberal and conservative churches in the Communion, which have been deeply divided over the issue of human sexuality.


Lay Anglicana Interpretation

Bearing in mind that I am writing only 24 hours after the news broke, and reserve the right to change my mind later…

  • This is almost entirely good news for the liberal catholic churches in the Communion.
  • All those Churches who self-identify as Anglican will be invited to be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, should they so wish, but would still be able to call themselves Anglican if they did not so wish; the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury would derive solely from his occupation of the post and buildings which were the first so to call themselves, and the bilateral relations between the Church of England and each other Anglican Church would be fluid and determined solely by the two parties.
  • The Anglican Communion would no longer be recognisable as we currently know it: not only are separate bedrooms and beds being talked of by the archbishop’s spokesman, but separate tables would logically follow, and some would eat in the dining room, some in the kitchen, some off their knees in the drawing room, and some on the verandah – as in my illustration.
  • This loose federation  would allow like-minded Anglicans across the world to form loose alliances – not necessarily de jure, but de facto.
  • The Church of England would finally be enabled to consider issues like the admittance of LGBT people to the priesthood and episcopate, and same sex marriages, without feeling constrained by the views of GAFCON etc.
  • Members of The Episcopal Church have expressed disquiet over the invitation of ACNA to at least part of the 2016 conference. As the Anglican Communion is presently constituted, this is indeed odd: only TEC officially represents Anglicans from the US. For the sake of consistency, it is to be hoped that Archbishop Justin has also invited AMiE, which represents a similar threat to the hegemony of the Church of England. But, if the looser, federated, Anglican Communion is accepted, any number of groups might spring up which describe themselves as Anglican – it would not matter to the rest because we would not be obliged to agree detailed doctrine with each other. Breakaway groups would be allowed to form ad infinitum.
  • The loose federation envisaged by Archbishop Justin is not a new idea – so far as I can see it represents a return to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886/8 which includes”The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.” This consummation, devoutly to be wished, has long been called for by Lay Anglicana, most recently in November 2013.



What could possibly go wrong?

I leave it to you, dear readers, to fill in this section. The archbishop’s spokesman is said to regard a successful outcome as by no means guaranteed. Luckily, the Archbishop of Canterbury spends much of his day in prayer.




Intercessions for Trinity +16 – Year B – Proper 20 – 20 September 2015 – Series 2


Flowering cherry trees by a waterfall in spring Image: 260680856 by TTphoto


The Collect

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers of your people who call upon you; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Proverbs 31.10-31

A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from far away. She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant-girls. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all her household are clothed in crimson. She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.


Psalm 1

Refrain: The Lord knows the way of the righteous.

Blessed are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, * nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the assembly of the  scornful.
Their delight is in the law of the Lord * and they meditate on his law day and night.
Like a tree planted by streams of water bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither, * whatever they do, it shall prosper. R
As for the wicked, it is not so with them; * they are like chaff which the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked shall not be able to stand in the judgement, * nor the sinner in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, * but the way of the wicked shall perish.

Refrain: The Lord knows the way of the righteous.

Christ our wisdom,
give us delight in your law,
that we may bear fruits of patience and peace
in the kingdom of the righteous;
for your mercy ’s sake.

Second Reading: James 3.13-4.3,7-8a

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Gospel Reading: Mark 9.30-37

After leaving the mountain, Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

To be frank, there are few fireworks or ‘Eureka’ moments among the commentators I have consulted this week. However, Jane Williams (pp 108-109 – search ‘roller-coaster’) is as always, a pleasure to read. Here is her conclusion:


Prayers of Intercession

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, without you we are a rootless people; outside your house we are unable to stand. All our wisdom comes from you; lend us also your gentleness. May we know your truth; and defend it unflinchingly in the face of the lie. Giver of life, save us from the desert of faithlessness, and nourish us with the living water of your word. *

Lord, keep us true to your way that we may yield your fruit in due season: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, we pray for those who are given authority in our society, for those who are born with power over others, those who achieve power, and those who have it thrust upon them (or would have us believe that their rank was not of their own choosing). May they be mindful of the example set by your son, our Lord, who died the death of a slave so that all might be empowered through your grace.

Lord, keep us true to your way that we may yield your fruit in due season: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The local community

Lord, as we try to build our community in the image of you, give us the grace to do so with a servant heart. Help us to be open to each other, and to take pleasure in working alongside those who happen to come along, knowing that we can safely leave judgment and chastisement in your hands. May all that we undertake in your name develop according to your desire.

Lord, keep us true to your way that we may yield your fruit in due season: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Those who suffer

Lord, we pray for all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit. Give them the knowledge that, when hopes are defeated, when the hour seems darkest, when they feel most alone with their pain, they can lean on you, and that you will pour comfort and strength into them for whatever may be the next step on the journey. For underneath are your everlasting arms.

Lord, keep us true to your way that we may yield your fruit in due season: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we give you thanks for the gift of eternal life. We pray for all those who have recently departed this life, especially…….

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers….

In 2012, I think I had some difficulty in deciding on a theme from today’s lectionary. I chose ‘Peace‘

*Inspired by Jim Cotter’s meditation on the psalm

Prayer after Communion

Almighty God,
you have taught us through your Son
that love is the fulfilling of the law:
grant that we may love you with our whole heart
and our neighbours as ourselves;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National  Council of the Churches of Christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Collect (16th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

Milk And Sugar?


A Parsee (Parsi) Family, by William Johnson, Western India ca. 1855-1862 via SMU Central University Libraries @ Flickr Commons

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for  thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13.2)

Did you see Yasmeen’s story on Facebook? She has kindly allowed me to reproduce it here:

I am British/Egyptian and currently live in Egypt. Here there are now hundreds of thousands of Syrians if not more. In the past years since the Syrians started coming here to get away from the violence in their country, I have to say people here have been impressed and humbled by how they have dealt with their misfortunes. They have been very industrious, working hard, starting small businesses and in general doing whatever they can to make a living instead of burdening society. They are well known for their cooking, especially their sweets, and many of them have opened small dessert shops and the less well-off sometimes sell their pastries ready-packaged to passers by.
Keep in mind that Egypt is a country with its own poverty problems already and we have thousands of beggars on the streets. Many of the Syrians who came could easily have joined in the throngs of people waiting for hand-outs. But they are proud, hard- working people who will not accept extra money you try to give them when buying things from them even. They want to work for what they have. They have rented the homes they are now living in too.
Before the Syrian crisis, I knew several Syrian people who are well-educated and well-travelled and some are even dual nationals. But they are very patriotic to their country and although they could have lived in western countries most chose to stay in Syria.
My point is that Syrians are only travelling to the west because they are desperate to survive. Not because they want the western way of life as some are accusing them. Their country was beautiful with breathtaking landscapes and a rich culture. Also, they are hardworking, skillful people who, if given a chance, will gladly work hard and add to society and the economy and not depend on aid.

“Like sugar in milk”

But this is of course not the first time in history that large numbers of displaced people have sought sanctuary in other lands.

Do you know the story of how the Zorastrian Parsis first arrived in India? More than 1,000 years ago, at the time of the Islamisation of Persia, Zoroastrians went in several different directions in an effort to protect their religion and culture. The ones who went to India became known as Parsis, but there are other large Zoroastrian communities on the border of present-day Iran and Afghanistan.

A Zoroastrian priest arrived with a group of refugees in what is now the state of Gujarat. The Qissa  tells how about 18,000 Parsis came in seven junks, five of them landing in Div, one at Variav near Surat and one at Cambay. They asked the local king, Jadi Rana, for asylum But the king pointed to a vessel of milk, filled to the very brim, to signify that his kingdom was already full and could not accept any more additions to the population. In response, the priest asked for some sugar, which he stirred into the milk, where it dissolved without trace – and without a drop being spilled. He asked the king again: “If you take us into your kingdom, we will be like the sugar in the milk: we will become one with your kingdom, and will only make it sweeter.” 

Finding the argument unanswerable, Jadi Rana stipulated only that

  • they were to adopt the local language (Gujarati);
  • their women were to wear the garments of the local women (the Sari);
  • they were to cease to carry weapons; and
  • marriages were only to be performed in the evenings (as the Hindus do).

He then gave shelter to the refugees and permitted them to practice their religion and traditions freely.

Lord Bilimoria discusses the Zoroastrian Parsis in India:

Bilimoria points out that despite their small number, Parsees have achieved international acclaim in almost every field. Among the best known are the conductor Zubin Mehta, Ratan Tata (who turned the Tata Group into a global business), former cricketer Farokh Engineer and the Indian war hero Field Marshal Manekshaw. Parsees excel in the arts too – not many people realise that Freddie Mercury was a Parsee. Bilimoria himself is best known for starting the Cobra beer company, but his first entrepreneurial venture involved supplying Indian-made polo sticks to British outlets, including the exclusive department store Harrods.

He attributes the community’s success to the way Parsees are raised. “You are brought up in this principled way. You see the charitable work that’s being done, the way Parsees not only look after each other but put back into the wider community,” he says. “You just have to go to Bombay, where my father’s family are from, and see the number of Parsee charitable buildings and communities, hospitals, schools – you can’t help but notice it and it’s been done over the generations.”



Who is to say that those who now throw themselves on the mercy of the West would not similarly sweeten our nations were we to welcome them in?

Intercessions for Trinity + 15 – Proper 19 – Year B – 13 September 2015 – Series 2


The Collect

God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Proverbs 1.20-33

Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice.  At the busiest corner she cries out;  at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing  and fools hate knowledge?  Give heed to my reproof;  I will pour out my thoughts to you;  I will make my words known to you.  Because I have called and you refused, have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,  and because you have ignored all my counsel  and would have none of my reproof,  I also will laugh at your calamity;  I will mock when panic strikes you,  when panic strikes you like a storm,  and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.  Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;  they will seek me diligently, but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge  and did not choose the fear of the Lord,  would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way  and be sated with their own devices.  For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.’

Psalm 19

Refrain: The commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

The heavens are telling the glory of God * and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
One day pours out its song to another * and one night unfolds knowledge to another.
They have neither speech nor language * and their voices are not heard,
Yet their sound has gone out into all lands * and their words to the ends of the world.
In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun, * that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber & rejoices as a champion to run his course.
It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again, * and there is nothing hidden from its heat. R
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; * the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart; * the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; * the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, * sweeter also than honey, dripping from the honeycomb.
By them also is your servant taught * and in keeping them there is great reward. R
Who can tell how often they offend? * O cleanse me from my secret faults!
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me; * so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, * O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Refrain: The commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

Christ, the sun of righteousness,
rise in our hearts this day,
enfold us in the brightness of your love
and bear us at the last to heaven’s horizon;
for your love’s sake.

Second Reading:  James 3.1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue – a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Gospel Reading: Mark 8.27-38

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ Jesus asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

In 2012 (see below) I felt that these readings are about zeal, a fervour in the service of Our Lord. And indeed that is one strain running through the whole lectionary. But they are also about wisdom: we need to draw upon our heads as well as our hearts, our intelligence as well as our burning ardour, just as we control our galloping horses with bridles and bits. For discipleship is not a game, it is a serious undertaking which involves sacrifice, even though the ultimate reward is the heavenly one of union with our God in light perpetual.

Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray to the Father, who has called us to follow Christ in all things.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, through your word and your Holy Spirit, you inspire us to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Empower us, we pray, to temper this fervour with the wisdom and the love for one another to welcome all into the Body of Christ, each of us with our own strengths and weaknesses, our own insight into the beauty of your truth.

Lord, may we be fervent in our love for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Creator Lord, yearning and striving to bring harmony out of chaos, so fill with your wisdom the inscape of our being, and so move with the wind of your presence among the landscapes of our world, that the earth may reflect the wonder of the universe, in the glory of the transfigured Christ, at one with you in the cost of creating. *

Lord, may we be fervent in our love for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The local community

Lord, guard our speaking as we meet with others, and save us in our turn from idle gossip about ourselves and our families. Shield us from hasty words and disregard of truth and persuade us that there is a time when we should speak and a time when, in the wisdom we borrow from you, we should remain silent.

Lord, may we be fervent in our love for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Those who suffer

Lord, we pray for compassion. Help us to be truly conscious of the worlds that others inhabit, the crosses that they carry, and the pains that they endure. And, in unfolding ourselves to share in this pain, may we become both more fully human, and also more fully the children of Christ. **

Lord, may we be fervent in our love for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The communion of saints

Lord, hear us as we remember with love all those who have died…..

Help us so to live that, with them, you will not be ashamed of us when you come in your glory.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers…

Prayer after Communion

Keep, O Lord, your Church, with your perpetual mercy;
and, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall,
keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Collect (15th after Trinity) © 1980, 1986 Mowbray, a Cassell Imprint: Prayers for the Alternative Services comp. David Silk Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Post Communion (15th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

*Prayer by Jim Cotter inspired by Psalm 19.

** Based on this prayer, quoted by the Ignatian Spirituality FB page:

A Prayer for Compassion

Oh God, I wish from now on
to be the first to become conscious
of all that the world loves, pursues, and suffers;

I want to be the first to seek,
to sympathize, and to suffer;
the first to unfold and sacrifice myself,

to become more widely human
and more nobly of the earth
than any of the world’s servants.

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


These are the intercessions I wrote for this Sunday in 2012:

Bidding prayer

O Lord, give us boldness to proclaim your redeeming love and saving power in the world; may we be ready to bear the cross and give ourselves for others and the advancement of your kingdom.

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Church

Lord, empower your Church to follow the example of Christ in all things, courageous to face the hard demands of the Gospel. As the moment approaches for the selection of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, we ask you to send your Holy Spirit down upon those charged with the decision. May they find someone who is able to lead all your flock in unity, though not in uniformity, to bring your kingdom to this green and pleasant land.

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The World

Lord, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, and no strength known but the strength of love: so guide and inspire, we pray, the labours of those who seek to establish righteousness and peace among the nations, that all peoples may find their security, not in forces of arms but in the the fellowship of the gospel and the perfect love that casts out fear.

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Our Community

As the Leveson report into the behaviour of the press is prepared for publication, we pray for all who influence our minds through print, broadcast and cyber media. May they be true to the BBC prayer  that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace or purity may be banished… and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful and honest and of good report, may tread the path of wisdom and uprightness.

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Human Need and  Suffering

Enfold, O Lord, within your loving kindness all those who feel rejected, unwanted or alone. Hear our prayer for prisoners and all who are caught up in processes of law; for those enclosed within a private world of desolation by incapacity of mind or body, by age or grief or sickness, or because society has passed them by. Draw near and comfort them wherever they may be; and move the hearts of us and all your people to care more deeply for the pains of others.

Timothy Dudley-Smith

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Communion of Saints

Receive, O Lord, in tranquillity and peace, the souls of your servants who, out of this present life, have departed to be with you. Grant them rest, and give them the life that knows not age, the good things that pass not away.

St Ignatius Loyola

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Intercessions for Trinity +14 – Proper 18 – Year B – 6 September 2015 Series 2


Image ID: 65929720 Copyright: Air0ne via Shutterstock

The Collect

Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading: Proverbs 22.1-2,8-9,22-23

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favour is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord is the maker of them all. Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail. Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the Lord pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them.

Psalm 125

Refrain: Glorious things are spoken of you, Zion, city of our God.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, * which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.
As the hills stand about Jerusalem, * so the Lord stands round about his people, from this time forth for evermore.
The sceptre of wickedness shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the righteous, * lest the righteous turn their hands to evil.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, * and to those who are true of heart.
Those who turn aside to crooked ways the Lord shall take away with the evildoers; * but let there be peace upon Israel.

Refrain: Glorious things are spoken of you, Zion, city of our God.

God of power,
you are strong to save
and you never fail those who trust in you;
keep us under your protection
and spread abroad your reign of peace
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Second Reading: James 2.1-10(11-13)14-17

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?  For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please,’ while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there,’ or, ‘Sit at my feet,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.


Gospel Reading: Mark 7.24-37

Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

The two miracles dealt with in short order by Mark in today’s reading are analysed best by Jeffrey John in ‘The Meaning of the Miracles‘ (pp 111-118 for the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter, and its troubling references to dogs and Gentiles [search ‘dogs’]and 119-128 for Ephphatha and ‘be opened’). You can find Jane Williams here : search ‘Eeyore’.


Prayers of Intercession


Lord, open our lives to your goodness.
Open our eyes to your presence.
Open our ears to your call.
Open our hearts to your love
Open our lips to your praises
And open us to your glory. (David Adam)

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, look down on your Church in all its messy humanity. We thank you for the moments of transcendence which inspire us to continue along our pilgrim journey together as the Body of Christ. And we ask your forgiveness for the moments when we seem lost in a maze of disagreement about form and function. Hasten the day, we beseech you, of the New Jerusalem, when we shall all rejoice together to be branches of one vine and sheep of one fold.

Lord, open our lips to praise you and our lives to your service: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may…love the common good and care for this world in which we live. Lord, seize us with your power and light. Help us to protect all life to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your kingdom of justice and peace, love and beauty.*

Lord, open our lips to praise you and our lives to your service: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The local community

Lord, open our hearts to those we live amongst so that we may be loving and giving, building our community together. And then make us a gift to others in your name. We thank you for the modern miracle that is happening as people whose lives have been destroyed by war seek shelter amongst us. While governments wring their hands, the people of Europe in their hundreds and thousands, Christians and Muslims, Hindus and Jews, are feeding and clothing those who have nothing left but their humanity. May their efforts be perpetually replenished like the loaves and fishes.

Lord, open our lips to praise you and our lives to your service: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Those who suffer

Lord, we know that your greatest gift to those who suffer in body, mind or spirit is simply your presence. Help those in pain to feel your closeness and to draw strength and comfort from it. Help them to undergo what must be undergone, and give them the gift of hope for the morrow, knowing that underneath are your everlasting arms.

Lord, open our lips to praise you and our lives to your service: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we pray for all those who have departed this life, and for those who mourn their passing. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. And may we in due time join them in the feast of eternal life in your presence.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers …

* From the Prayer for the Care of Creation, part of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato Si. September 1st was the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Promulgated by the Church of England.

Prayer after Communion

Lord God, the source of truth and love,
keep us faithful to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,
united in prayer and the breaking of bread,
and one in joy and simplicity of heart,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.


These are the intercessions which I proposed for this Sunday in 2012:


 The Church

Grant to your whole Church grace to show true faith through works of love and mercy. Help us to strengthen the bonds of the Anglican Communion, with those that have sharing with those who have less, while bearing in mind that those who have more money are not necessarily those with greater grace. Take away all prejudice that causes unequal treatment, especially among the autistic and others that feel marginalised by the Church. (Chapman, slightly tweaked)

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Nation

God of the nations, all authority is yours. You touch the hearts of rich and poor alike. As the Paralympic Games end today, we ask you to keep in the minds of those in authority the courage and dignity of those who took part, and the stirring of the hearts of the spectators around the world. May the lessons learned live on as compassion is increased, and the good of all becomes our common aim.

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Community

Lord, teach us to be generous as you have been generous with us. Show us the truth of the saying: ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ . Help us to understand that others, perhaps unknown to us, depend on us for help. Remind us that our world, our parish, need “Good Samaritans” to heal the wounds of our community. In these times of economic hardship, we pray for the food banks that have sprung up – may they be perpetually replenished like the loaves and fishes. Lord, make us a gift to others in your name.

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Sick and the Suffering

Lord, who invited all who carry heavy burdens to come to you, refresh us with your presence and your power. Quiet our understandings and give ease to our hearts by bringing us close to things infinite and eternal. Open to us the mind of God so that through his light we may see light. And crown your choice of us to be your servants by making us springs of strength and joy to all whom we serve. (Evelyn Underhill, tweaked)

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Departed and the Dying

Lord, let us learn to be open to the night.

Let us pray with open hands, not with clenched fists. (Lord Dunsany)

Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with those who mourn, that casting their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love.

We remember before you the whole company of saints, and pray for our loved ones departed. (David Adam)

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Review of ‘Writing On The Word’ by Malcolm Guite

guite advent 001Like the rest of his many fans, I look forward eagerly to publication of the latest poems of everyone’s favourite troubadour. We have not met, but we have corresponded when he allowed me to quote from The Green Man in the guide to St Peter’s Church, Hurstbourne Tarrant. And it pleases me, partly for the sake of symmetry, but chiefly for Malcolm Guite’s fresh insights, to complete the cycle of birth, death and renewal afforded by reading The Green Man and this new book together.

The Revd Malcolm Guite puts it like this in the introduction:

“Advent falls in winter, at the end of the year, in the dark and cold, but its focus is on the coming of light and life, when the Ancient of Days becomes a young child and says, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’  Perhaps only poetry can help us fathom the depths and inhabit the tensions of these paradoxes”.

We begin, appropriately, on Advent Sunday, with Christina Rossetti’s poem of that name. Poems for every day follow, right up until 6 January, with William Blake’s The Divine Image. Each page provides a new insight by perhaps the greatest living poet with a Christian sensibility, so, although you will know many of the poems already (including one or two of Malcolm Guite’s own), each page is also a journey of discovery.

Between the first and the second coming, says Guite, “there are many other advents…in our encounters with the poor and the stranger, in the mystery of the sacraments, in those unexpected moments of transfiguration surely there is also an advent and Christ comes to us. Perhaps that is why the other sense we have of the word ‘advent’ is to find it beginning the word ‘adventure’. The knights in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur say to one another, ‘Let us take the adventure that God sends us’, recognizing that the God in whom we live and move and have our being may come and meet us when and where he pleases, and any door we open may be the door to the ‘chapel perilous’. God may send the adventure, but you will find a door to it through Malcolm Guite and this book.


10 December

(pp 40-42)

In drear nighted December John Keats

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.

…Keats’ felicitous phrase ‘drear nighted December’, sums up the way many people feel in the dreary darkness of encroaching winter. But, much as I love his poetry, I think in this case Keats is wrong about the tree. Indeed it is just because those bleak, rain-lashed December branches do ‘remember their green felicity’, and retain, hidden within themselves, the patterns and energy of their former green-ness, that they will unfold into leaf again in spring and be able, as Larkin said, of trees in May, to ‘begin afresh, afresh, afresh’.

It can be the same with us: we manage to get through the winter, and also perhaps the severer seasons of the heart, because we carry the memories of spring; we are sustained by a kind of parley between memory and hope. So George Herbert, trying to cope with severe experiences of depression and loss, writes in his poem ‘The Flower‘:

Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

But Herbert knew, even in the depths of winter, that

Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.

And so in that great poem of recovery he writes:

And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live…

And what about us? We too, in ‘drear nighted December’, need to remember our ‘green felicity’, and surely that is just what we do in Advent, and in the whole approach to and celebration of Christmas. In the darkest time of the year Christ, the life within us and the seed of light, is sown. The root of Jesse, the stock of that true vine from which we all spring, is planted in our hearts, just when our hearts may feel at their darkest and most ploughed up. So through the dark days of Advent I pray for him to come so deeply and quietly into our hearts that, as Lancelot Andrewes said, ‘He may with one word make all green again’.

Waiting On The Word: A poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

is published by Canterbury Press on 31 August 2015, but advance copies are available.


Author(s): Malcolm Guite

ISBN-13: 9781848258006


For every day from Advent Sunday to Christmas Day and beyond, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it. A scholar of poetry as well as a renowned poet himself, his knowledge is deep and wide and he offers readers a soul-food feast for Advent.

Among the classic writers he includes are: George Herbert, John Donne, Milton, Tennyson,and Christina Rossetti,as well as contemporary poets like Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, and Grevel Lindop. He also includes a selection of his own highly praised work.

Author Information

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is Chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge. A performance poet and singer/songwriter, he lectures widely on poetry and theology in Britain and the US and has a large following on his website,



We rely on donations to keep this website running.