Category Archives: Faith

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 14th January 2018

The Second Sunday of Epiphany.


Audio expires after approximately 90 days.

Father who gave us the perfect gift of love, in Your son, we thank You that Your love is renewed every day. Let Jesus light brighten the dark places of our minds and of this world. In His light, show us how to build Your kingdom of peace and justice for everyone of all faiths or none and that hope becomes action toward that goal.

You called Samual as a child, yet he did not know who was calling him. Like Eli enlightened Samuel to Your call, show each of us how in our own way, and in the most appropriate way for people we encounter we can enlighten those who do not hear, or do not know who is calling them.

We pray for those who died at sea on the Sanchi oil tanker, when it collided with a cargo vessel. May they find peace with You Father and their families and those who loved them feel your comforting support and from it draw strength. We pray too for the environment, that oil the Sanchi was carrying does not cause pollution to the sea and contamination of the environment.

For America, we pray for the families of the dead in the mudslides in California. God above give comfort the their families, strength to the aid workers, healing to the injured, wisdom to the medics treating them and generosity to communities helping those now without homes.

We pray for all homeless wherever they may be and whatever the cause of their homelessness. May they be found warmth and shelter especially at this cold time of year. Help too those struggling to find work or relying on food banks.

We pray for everyone of faith wherever they may be. Where they are small in number, oppressed or persecuted, give them strength and encouragement. Where there is doubt, help them find certainty and where there is danger, help them find courage.

We pray for the injured and unwell, distressed and anxious, those coping with poor mental health and the bereaved that they may find healing and relief. Guide medical staff of hospitals and care homes. Bless carers whose love and compassion brings Your blessing to those in their care. We pray for those awaiting treatment and we bring to You those in need of Your support, comfort and healing known and unknown to us.

Almighty God and Father, let us live by Your justice and may Your light show us the way and lead us when it is hard to see.

Merciful Father Accept this prayer for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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Intercession Prayer for Sunday 26th November 2017

: The Sunday Next Before Advent.


Audio expires after approximately 90 days.

Eternal God of love, father of Jesus Christ. You sent Your Son into this world that You created, to live amongst us as servant and king. We remember Jesus’ own words “My kingdom is not of this world.” so let us acknowledge Him as king of the world to come to which he has ascended. We pray to You in his name for the world, the church and for ourselves.

Father of all people wherever they may be, let Jesus’ reign bring peace and understanding to the world as we seek to become like Him; servants, peacemakers and healers with compassion and integrity.

Give relief to the continuing crisis in Yemen. May humanitarian aid be given by countries that can afford to, to the 20 million people, more than half of them children, needing food, medicines and shelter.

May leaders and politicians who try to secure peace and enable reconciliation between opposing factions be blessed with wisdom.

Father strengthen and heal those injured in the attack on the al-Rawda mosque in Egypt and comfort the bereaved. Guide the leaders and those in power to seek justice, not revenge.

Strengthen those trying to protect the vulnerable, showing compassion to people whose lives have been affected by injury or bereavement. Support and comfort anyone suffering loss or distress of any kind.

Father of life, you created us and knows each of us better than we know ourselves. In Your tender compassion give to those ill or injured in body or mind your healing as best befits each one, whether the cause of distress be physical or hidden in the mind.

Father of love, as we approach the season of Advent, shield us from the temptation to be drawn into the commercialism of the season. Let us see through the advertisers claims of the “perfect” gift, which may be as simple as giving someone a little time, to make a big difference.

Eternal God of life and love, in the darkness of winter, and in the darkness of our broken world, may your light shine through Jesus to give us courage and hope. Light up our hearts as we praise you and our minds as we hear your word. Give strength to those who seek to bring your light into the dark places of our world.

Merciful Father Accept this prayer for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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Writing It Off

Or paying it back.

Depiction by Jan van Hemessen (c. 1556) showing the moment the king scolds the servant.

In recent years we have from time-to-time had news reports of banks setting aside funds to cover debts that have to be written off. Debts being written off happened in Jesus’ time too, mostly in jubilee years. We hear of it at other times, most notably in The Parable Of The Unmerciful Servant . In those days there is no evidence of money being set aside to cover writing off of bad debt.

The parabable, as they all are, is of course a fictional story to make a point or illustrate a truth. I wonder though if, in this instance, in the modern world the point becomes somewhat lost.

The parable tells of two servants. The first owes money to his master or king and the second owes a smaller sum to the first servant, who we might therefore reasonably assume is of higher rank than the second.

We are told that the first servant owed his master 10,000 talents, a huge sum (equating to thousands if not millions of pounds/dollars et-al today) that he would have no prospect of ever repaying. The second servant owed the first 100 denarii, a trifling sum compared to the first servant’s debt.

The king or master forgives the debt of the first servant but that servant does not in turn forgive the debt of the second. The first servant had the second thrown into prison for his debt.

The first servant’s debt was probably an exaggeration to make a point, but does the exaggeration detract from the point? With such an immense amount of money, the master must have known the servant would have no prospect of repaying it. So why had the servant had been lent so much at all?

The danger is that by focussing on such a large sum of debt, some of the point of the parable becomes ‘watered down’. Today’s generation may well focus more on the money than the hypocritical actions of the servant. Particularly taking into account the ease with which credit (and debt relief) seems to be available today.

 

 

The Poor In Spirit

A little trouble with the Beatitudes, or one of them.

The Sermon on the Mount (fresco) By Fra Angelico 1387 – 1455

We find the Beatitudes in Matthew 5: 1-12. I have had trouble for a long time with the first beatitude, found in verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (UK NIV).

The meaning of the other beatitudes seems, to me, quite clear, not so the first one. I have never been comfortable with understanding what is meant by “poor in spirit”.

As an aside, nevertheless possibly relevant, there is some opinion that considers the term “blessed” in the Beatitudes is interchangeable and could be replaced with “happy”.

However back to my original trouble, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. What does “poor in spirit” mean? The nearest I can come to finding a meaning that I can associate with the phrase is poverty of spirit. The problem with this is that it could mean lacking in spirit, possibly lacking in belief in God. Another possibility is that “poor in spirit” refers to people whose spirit gives them a sinful nature and could be happy because of it.

Both possibilities I suggest seem to be at odds with receiving a blessing. All the other beatitudes confer a blessing for a virtue, but being poor in spirit seems prima facie to be an imperfection or disbelief, maybe disobedience. What would seem to make more sense might be ‘Blessed are those who seek forgiveness”.

Any thoughts?

Talented

A different interpretation of the parable of the talents.

I have already given a few thoughts on Jesus’ Parable of The Talents in Untalented. Here I am revisiting that parable, from a different point  view. 

I think it is generally assumed that the servants were honest, but were they?

We are told in the parable that the servants knew that the master harvested “where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed” It might be inferred from that, that the master is not completely honest?

If the master were not honest, might not the servants, to whom he has entrusted sums of money also be dishonest? How can we be sure that the servants, to whom the talents were entrusted, were honest in how they ‘invested’ the master’s money ?

We know that on the master’s return, two of the servants returned to him double what he had entrusted them with. The third returned exactly what he had been given, but can we be sure the servants did not make more than they returned? Suppose they gave back to the master only what they thought they could get away with, keeping any more for themselves.

Even if they gave to the master everything they had earned, while he was away, how do we know it was earned honestly? Perhaps it was used as seed funding for cons or cheating. Maybe profiteering by buying goods and selling at inflated prices. It might have been lent out at exorbitant rates of interest, like modern day payday loans.

I do not suggest any other interpretation is wrong. I offer a possible alternative interpretation, that does not seem to be contradicted by the text.

 

Ruth: Chapter 4.

A modern re-telling of the Old Testament story of Ruth.

Previous chapter here.

The next weekend Nadzia was sitting in the back of Bozydar’s car behind Ruth, on their way to Nadzia’s inherited house. They went first to Oporow, where Nadzia signed papers at the adwocat’s office and collected keys from him. Then they drove on out to Smolec, to Nadzia’s property.

‘That can’t be mine.’ Nadzia exclaimed as the house came into sight. ‘It is.’ replied Ruth. ‘I can’t live in a place that big, not on my own.’ ‘We might as well take a look inside since we’re here anyway’ added Bozydar, as he drew the car up in front of the door. Ruth helped Nadzia out of the car and together they went up the steps to the door. Bozydar had to help Nadzia unlock it, as the lock hadn’t been used for a while and was stiff.

As they wandered through the house, looking around, Nadzia said to Ruth, ‘If I still had all my family, I’d love this place but I can’t live here on my own.’ Coming to the kitchen Ruth said as they looked around, ‘This would be good for our little business. So much easier to work here than in our tiny kitchen.’

Bozydar took Ruth and Nadzia home, but didn’t linger as he often would when taking Ruth back. After leaving the ladies he drove hurriedly back to his own home, and pausing only to make a drink began making a series of phone calls to various relatives, and to one other number that he had to look up, though he had the name and address.

For the next few days Ruth hardly saw Bozydar. When she did he seemed preoccupied and not his usual self and when he dropped her off he left quickly, seemingly with something on his mind. Ruth began to worry that she had upset him in some way.

Five days after the visit to Nadzia’s inherited house, Ruth didn’t see Bozydar at all. Unbeknown to Nadzia and Ruth that same day Bozydar had assembled a cohort of his family, for a family conference. He had something important he needed to discuss with them. Bozydar’s Mother, his Father had died years before he met Ruth, his two brothers with their wives and his unmarried sister were all assembled in his home.

Bozydar’s family had arrived early in the evening. It was well after midnight by the time they had all left. After they had, Bozydar went to bed but barely slept that night. After scarcely four hours in bed and less sleep, he gave got up and made coffee, not because he wanted it but simply as something to do. He made cup after cup that he didn’t really want until it was a time he could reasonably phone Ruth. He arranged with her to collect her the next Saturday morning. He wouldn’t say why, asking only that she bring Nadzia accompany them.

10:00am promptly Bozydar arrived to pick up the two ladies. He drove off still without telling them where he was taking them or why. It took about half an hour driving before Bozydar turned into a road in Smolec. They had all been there before but Bozydar had arrived by a different route. Ruth was the first to realise where they were and a moment later Nadzia gave a startled exclamation ‘What are we doing here.’ as they pulled up at the house she had inherited.

As Nadzia turned to the house getting out of Bozydar’s car, she was even more surprised when the front door swung back and her adwocat Dominik Dąbrowski, stood at the top of the step smiling and beckoning them in. ‘What are you doing here? We don’t have an appointment.’ ‘No.’ he replied ‘we don’t but I have some good news and wanted to tell you personally. I’ve found you a buyer for the house already. It’s a good price. You won’t be rich but with a little care, you should be able to live comfortably for the rest of your life. You just need to sigh these papers he added’.

‘Who’s the buyer,’ Nadzier asked ‘who wants my house?’ I can’t see the name on these papers.’ ‘The buyers adwocat is acting on his behalf until the sale is complete.’ Dominik Dąbrowski said. ‘I am not allowed to tell you the name until after you sign the papers.’ he added. ‘It’s what you wanted, what have you to lose. Sign them.’ Nadzia looked at Ruth as she spoke, ‘You think it’s allright?’ she asked. Ruth nodded and held out a pen. Nadzia hesitated for a few moments longer before taking the pen and letting it hover over the papers for an instant before adding her signature.

Underlining her signature Nadzia looked up at her adwocat. Dominik Dąbrowski spoke up ‘I can now tell you who the buyer is,’ he paused a moment ‘or maybe I should let him introduce himself.’ he said taking a step back and leaving the room still and silent with just the four of them. ‘Well’ said Nadzia ‘how long do we have to wait for him?’. ‘No time at all.’ uttered Bozydar stepping forward.

Both Nadzia’s and Ruth’s eyes widened as they realised who had bought the house. ‘I’ve been busy with my family this last few days’ Bozydar said. They’ve lent me the money I couldn’t raise myself to buy this house. But it’s not a house I want, it’s a home. You said it was too big for you Nadzia,’ he went on ‘but it’s not too big for a family.’ A family of three perhaps at first, then later, well later who knows.

‘You’re asking us to come and live with you?’ Ruth asked Bozydar. When he looked directly at her before continuing his eyes softened meeting hers, ‘That’s partly what I’m asking, but it’s not all. I’m asking Nadzia if she would come and live with us, Ruth.’ Bozydar paused, his voice softening as his eyes had earlier. ‘I’m asking you to marry me?’

Ruth could barely speak as she turned to Nadzia with tears in her eyes. The older woman just smiled and nodded.

Previous chapters:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Ruth: Chapter 3.

A modern re-telling of the Old Testament story of Ruth.

Chapter 2 here if you missed it.

It didn’t take Nadzia too long to notice how often Bozydar was bringing Ruth home, or the time she lingered at the door of their small home watching him drive away each time.

After this had gone on for a while, one evening over their meal Nadzia broached the subject that one day Ruth would want a home of her own, and maybe starting her own family. Although Ruth wasn’t happy about the thought of leaving Nadzia, she could see the sense of it. The home they shared was only just big enough for them.

“What about our business.” Ruth asked. “There’s no reason we can’t continue that. And besides, I’m getting a few extra orders from friends of people you’ve sold food to who have heard of us. We’re going viral.” added Nadzia.

A few days after their discussion, Nadzia heard Bozydar drop off Ruth and before driving away ask her out for an evening. ‘Where’s he taking you’ Nadzia couldn’t resist asking as Ruth came in. ‘Oh my what big ears you have.’ Laughed Ruth. ‘He’s asked me to a social evening that he gives every year for his staff. I haven’t said yes yet.’ ‘You will, won’t you’ Nadzia said, ‘and since you’re not an employee, you’ll be his date for the night. You like him, I know you do.’

On the night of the social, although Nadzia was already in bed, she couldn’t resist getting up and peeping out of the window for a moment when she heard Bozydar’s car draw up outside their home. Usually Nadzia heard the car door shut and a few seconds later drive away. Tonight it went quiet as the engine was turned off. Nadzia returned to her bed and smiled to herself as she went back to sleep.

A few weeks later, Ruth was in no hurry to leave Nadzia, even though she was growing closer and closer to Bozydar, property details started landing on the doormat with the daily post. It saddened them both a little but they could see the practicalities.

Then one day in amongst the property details an official looking letter addressed to Nadzia dropped onto the doormat too. She opened it with some trepidation and began to read through it, her face slowly brightening as she did so. ‘It seems,’ Nadzia told Ruth later ‘that through a number of distant family deaths I have inherited some property that would have become Elek’s.’ Then she asked Ruth, who confirmed what Nadzia thought, to read it too to make sure she had understood it correctly.

‘Do you think Bozydar might drive us over there to look it over’ Nadzia asked Ruth. ‘I’ll ask him. He’s picking me up later. Perhaps he could take us at the weekend.’

Previous chapters:

Chapter 1.
Chapter 2.