74 CV Thought for the Day –Trinity IX
Evensong readings:- Didymus
Job ch.28 OR
Eccles/Sirach ch.42, vv15-end.
Hebrews ch.11, vv17-31.
Gospel: Luke ch.12, vv13-21
Please note that I have also included the alternative name for Ecclesiasticus – Sirach.
This week’s readings are varied and thought provoking. I have extolled many times the 28th chapter of Job. It appears rather out of context in Job, appearing more like a retrospective insertion. It is one of the great passages of the OT, and if you enjoy the Shakespearean poetry of William Tyndale, read it in the King James as well. A copy is attached. True wisdom the fear and love of God.
The reading from Sirach is also well worth studying, especially if you read the whole chapter. The reading itself reflects on the glory of Creation and the loving God who willed it and made it. The tenor of the reading is not so remarkably different from that of Job in extolling God’s power and love. There is a Proverbs type feel to the first 9 verses, urging the readers not to be influenced by gossip and to be careful.
The following six verses about daughters are very amusing and salutary from a father’s viewpoint, even though they may excite a righteous anger in daughters. Of course daughters are precious beyond gold and jewels, but sometimes …? Remembering the spirited discussions on past Saturday mornings on the subject of our daughters’ dress allowance, perhaps even two millennia ago such discussions were not unknown. Perhaps I had better move on to Hebrews.
Hebrews’ author is in a reflective historical mood, looking over the figures of the past, and the guidance and love that sustained them to the end of their lives. It does not tell us much but encourages the mind to travel back into the distant past, to the problems that were there to be overcome.
The reading from Luke comes from his unique section, and is short and sharp. Jesus is urging those listening to be faithful and prudent, but not to worry since God will look after his own. I remember a priest quoting his grandmother on this subject: “worry is like an armchair – comfortable, but gets you nowhere.”
On Saturday we remember St.Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuitical order. Ignatius was a Catholic from the Basque country in northern Spain, and in his youth was something of a dandy and womaniser, who entered military service assisting the Duke of Nájera. At the age of 30 he was injured by a cannonball. He nearly lost his leg and in the healing process had a religious experience, which turned him away towards the church, and eventually he was canonised. He worked tirelessly for the church, and some of his prayers are fondly remembered.
Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my whole will, all that I have and all that I possess. You gave it all to me, Lord; I give it all back to you. Do with it as you will, according to your good pleasure. Amen
Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.
Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it.
2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.
3 He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.
4 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.
5 As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.
6 The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.
7 There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen:
8 The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.
9 He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots.
10 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.
11 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.
12 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?
13 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.
14 The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.
15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.
19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.
20 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?
21 Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.
22 Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.
23 God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.
24 For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven;
25 To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.
26 When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:
27 Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.
28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
72 CV Thought for the Day – Trinity VII
Evensong readings:- Didymus
Job Ch.13, v13 – ch.14, v6
or Ecclus (Sirach) ch.18, vv1-14
Heb ch.2, vv5-end
Gospel: Luke ch.10, vv 38-end.
We have a plethora of readings this week to choose from. There is a thread which stretches from the psalm, through the Hebrews and Sirach readings to the Gospel. That thread is the advice – listen. Now, not when one can find time – now.
The psalmist was clearly upset at the success of well, shall we say, the ungodly, but was strong in his (or her) determination to follow God. Sirach was more earthly in his reading, glorifying God and his infinite power, in contrast with weak, susceptible and flawed mankind. His advice was to trust a loving God.
The Book of the Hebrews, often incorrectly ascribed to Paul, was written in classical Greek by an unknown author somewhere between the mid-60s and the mid-90s AD. Various suggestions have been put forward and then refuted, including Luke and Barnabas. It is a book that considers the division between Judaism and Christianity, and upholds the crucial importance of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Hebrews dwells strongly on the humanity of Jesus. His humanity is one of the major lessons of Christmas worship, born of a human mother and suffered a cruel death as can all humans. It contrasts the teaching, ministry and salvation of Jesus with the emptiness of Judaism.
At one time, it was supposed that there was a conference of the leaders of Judaism held at Jamnia, which debated the composition of the Hebrew Bible. It was thought to have refuted the Messianic claim on behalf of Jesus. The theory, for that is what it was, explained the thrust and the anger of the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of the Hebrews. However, in the absence of any evidence of such a conference at that time anywhere, not only at Jamnia, the theory has withered on the vine.
It is to our Lord we should turn, for his vignette at the house of Lazarus with Martha and Mary. Haven’t we all been too busy at one time or another to consider priorities? Yes, I like to get those things that are important done and out of the way, so as to leave time for reflection and lesser things. Many work in this way. If one doesn’t, things get forgotten. But how important are these things, not just measured on our assessment, or on our imposed timescale?
Martha did listen as we see below. If you look at John ch.11, vv20-2 you will read of her mighty declaration of faith in Jesus, that he could raise their brother Lazarus from death. Mary follows on with a similar declaration. And he did.
In our prayers, with all that we have to give thanks for, and all the issues in the world today, please remember the spectre of racism that has emerged again recently in soccer. Good people have been vilified because of their colour and ethnicity, despite the richness of their contribution to society over the years. People who came to this country to help with the work that we did not care to do, settled here. They and their descendants are part of our community. We must thank God for those who have come to join us in what has become their homeland as well as ours.
70 CV Thought for the Day – Trinity V by Didymus
Evensong readings:- Psalm.64 Jeremiah ch.20, vv1-11 Luke ch.10, vv1-11/16-20
All acts of worship in the Christian church include the most precious of prayers – the Lord’s Prayer. It is a masterpiece of brevity, as is the translation into English, and nothing is omitted.
The language of the first translations was very different from today’s, making understanding a slower process. We have so many alternative word forms now, that we need to remember that many words had a wider and broader descriptive sweep which has been lost, often even the words themselves as well. Our liturgy often urges us to “beseech”, a word used elsewhere only at the Globe Theatre or in Stratford-upon-Avon. Nowadays we ask, plead, demand, enquire, question, implore, petition, intercede – and so on
It can also serve as a Rosary. (This should not be taken by my friends as evidence of a slide towards the use of incense, lace cuffs and wearing wide-brimmed hats.) Like a Rosary, it could be used as a discipline in our prayer life, reminding us of our need to give thanks, to confess and forgive, and so on all in God’s love. Just think about it.
For example –
I cannot say “our” if my faith doesn’t have room for others and their needs.
I cannot say “Father” if I do not bring that relationship into my life, and remember that God is Father to us all, whether we like them or not.
I cannot say “Which art in Heaven” when all my concerns are earthly
I cannot say “Thy will be done” if I am unwilling or resentful for having it done in my life.
I cannot say “On earth as it is in Heaven” unless I am willing to serve him here and now.
I cannot say “Give us this day our daily bread” without making an effort for it, or by ignoring the needs of others. Bread is not only physical nourishment but spiritual too.
I cannot say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” if I continue to bear a grudge – against anyone.
I cannot say “Lead us not into temptation” if I continue to stay where I can be tempted.
I cannot say “Deliver us from evil” if I am not prepared to fight evil in the real and spiritual worlds.
I cannot say “Thine is the Kingdom” if I am not prepared to give the King the disciplined obedience of a loyal subject.
I cannot say “Thine is the Power” if I fear whatever my friends and neighbours might say about me.
I cannot say “Thine is the Glory” if I am more concerned to seek glory for myself
I cannot say “Amen” unless I can say this prayer with consideration and love, cost what it may.
AMEN (So be it)
Evensong readings:- Psalm 104, vv1-13, 31-35 – Rev. ch.4 – Gospel: Mark ch.1, vv1-13
Today marks the completion of our journey through the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the rest of the church year, festivals excepted, we will reflect on that earthly life and its meaning to us. The Gospel of Mark tells us of the coming of Jesus, heralded by John the Baptist. This is examined in Advent, and the Baptism is celebrated after Epiphany. Read the whole reflection from the link at the top.
57CV Thought for the Day – Easter by Didymus
57 CV EASTER (click for PDF version)
Luke ch.24, vv13-35 as set.
John ch.20, vv1-15, (in place of OT)
These two readings which must be familiar to us, are attached, using the KJV translation, which is beautiful if not quite so clear as later translations.
Reading the daily papers is helpful in guiding prayer to those whose lives are afflicted: “to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn. There is no shortage of subjects – Burma, the Uighur people, the violence of the Middle East, totalitarianism, dictatorships, poverty, enslavement, disease, simply the savage cruelty of one human to another. The glory of God’s Creation doesn’t sell a lot of newspapers. Sadly.
There is much to cause anger, unfortunately, and recently I saw the report of a two-year old child who was abandoned and left to starve by her young mother who went off partying. The sight of this beautiful child, treated in a way that defies description, makes one weep, and seeth with anger. Children may grow up to be contrary or difficult at times, but if we do not treasure them as the most precious of jewels, we have lost the plot.
Anger is not inappropriate at Easter when we consider the gratuitous cruelty described in the Gospels that was suffered by our Lord. What would he have done in this particular case? It was surely a more common experience 2000 year ago. One of the reasons for his quiet acceptance of death on the Cross was to atone for the sinful state of humankind. Whether one believes Genesis or Darwin, humankind is mortal, susceptible, and likely to follow evil, and is insignificant by comparison with our Creator. Jesus died for feckless young mothers, too. As he pointed out, it is not what goes into the body that brings evil, for that goes out; it is what is in the soul of human beings which allows evil to flourish.
“We come from God, we belong to God, and to God we will return” is a saying my Rector told me years ago. In his death and Resurrection, Jesus showed us the way back to God. His death was not intended to be a memorial, but an inspiration. If we believe, he will be with us, spiritually at our side, as we make our stumbling footsteps in faith.
Easter is a time of renewed life, and we can see around us, Cornwall emerging from its winter bath into the glory of Spring, a sight that is precious to us. We give thanks for this gift, one of so many, along with our prayer for those in need.
A Happy Easter to Everyone
THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them; Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
The Gospel of John ch.20
Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Pethers reflections on the readings for Passion Sunday
52CV Thought for the Day – Lent II
3CV Thought for the Day – Lent III
Evensong readings:- Didymus
Exodus Ch.5 v1 – Ch.6v1
Phil Ch.3, v.4b-14
Matt Ch.10, v.16-22
52CV Thought for the Day – Lent II
Evensong readings:- Didymus
Genesis ch.12, vv1-9
Hebrews ch.11, vv1-3,8-16
John ch.8, vv51-end.
This week our readings all point to Abram, as he was originally named.
Both Genesis and Hebrews dwell on the gift of the land and the
prophesy of founding a great nation. The Gospel links the ministry of
Jesus to the founder of the Hebrew – Jewish nation. Jesus, berating a
hostile disbelieving crowd, who have claimed to be sons (or children)
of Abraham, reminded them that God was immortal. One can imagine
that it didn’t go down well with the crowd. Abraham was the Father of
the three great faiths, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. So let us look at
him in depth.
Peter's thoughts for the First Sunday in Lent
As Peter lays out his pages so beautifully in word I am just converting the originals to PDF files which are readable on most devices and posting a link….. 50 CV SUNDAY BEF LENT
45CV- Thought for the Day – Epiphany I The Baptism of Christ
Evensong readings:- by Didymus
Isaiah ch.42, vv1-9
Eph ch.2, vv1-10
Gospel: Matthew ch.2, vv1-10
In Epiphanytide we examine the epiphanies of the Wise Men, the Baptism, the Wedding at Cana and the Naming of Christ at Candlemas. An epiphany as I wrote last week, is an awareness of God, or a proximity or vision, or where Jesus was actually seen. The importance of the Baptism is that through it, Jesus was empowered with the Holy Spirit.
The Baptism is described in all four Gospels, differently in detail. Mark and Luke’s Gospels are brief, occupying 2-3 verses, while Matthew and John’s Gospels are rather longer. Matthew alone includes the remark of a puzzled John, confronted with the human presence of God, the one for whom he was the herald.
“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
We need to remember that Jesus, born of Mary, was as human as we are. By comparison with God, perhaps a ridiculous thought maybe, but we are less, far less, fallible and sinful, as Genesis alludes, and in need of baptism. Jesus was both the Son of God and a human being, the one perfect and the other imperfect. As a human being, he represented the whole of humanity, and its need for forgiveness. Hence John’s bafflement.
All are agreed that the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and a voice was heard proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus, empowered, then started his earthly ministry by living in the wilderness.
Baptism is a sacrament – an outward visible sign of an inward spiritual grace. Sadly, it has been abandoned by so many nowadays. It affirms the belief held by the baptised in the Christian faith, which is why infant baptism is confirmed later personally in a second stage before a bishop. The spiritual aspect of baptism is important, and there is a tendency to regard the Baptism of Jesus as different, which in one sense of course is true, but in a general sense, surely it is not. The Christian faith has a spiritual aspect which may open our minds, hear our prayers or even call us to serve.
The readings seem to have little to do with the Baptism, particularly the Gospel. The reading from the second part of the Book of Isaiah is a description of the mission of Jesus, later repeated more briefly in the third part (Ch.61). With the introduction of a third lockdown and the danger of a more infectious strain of the CV19 virus, I feel that the initial words of the second part in ch.40 are appropriate:-
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord‘s hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord[a]; make straight in the desert
a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
I have found two commercial images that show, firstly, one where one can almost hear John talking to Jesus, and secondly the divine moment at the Baptism. Please excuse the watermark on the first.
CV 35 Thought for the Day – All Saints (Trinity 21)
Evensong readings:- by
Isaiah ch.65, vv17 – end Didymus
Hebrews ch.11, v32 – ch.12, v2
What can one say about All Saints, other than to thank God for the wisdom, example and life of the saints. People whose lives simply do not bear thinking about for the pain and savagery often meted out to them. John Wycliffe, whose translation of the NT so enraged the RC church that Pope Martyn V ordered that his body be exhumed in 1428 (43 years after his death), burnt and the ashes thrown into the River Swift at Lutterworth. The extent of human savagery can be unthinkable, like so much of the treatment of other wonderful people in those years. Why has the peace loving faith of Christ stirred up such hatred?
All Souls, which follows after All Saints, is when we recall our own loved ones, family and friends, who have gone before us. Death is a sad ever-present in our lives, especially with the virus now threatening our lives. In our funeral prayers we pray to God that in his love that we will be comforted. While the sting of death is with us it feels like just words, but if we look back, God does. God’s hand is clearer in retrospect, sadly.
Last Wednesday we remembered Saint Simon and St.Jude, whose likenesses in stained glass is illustrated. The old illustration below is of a Galilean sunset.
In thinking recently about Tyndale and Luke, the influence of language on our faith is, I’m sure, far greater than we acknowledge. The tension between those of us who are older and love the King James Bible, and those seeking to modernise church language and cast out the KJV is well known. I remember a Rural Dean who, having been asked where I would get a lectern version of the KJV, asked me “What on earth do you want that for?” Clearly, for some, Tyndale laboured in vain.
I have recently been reading an article on the Book of Revelations, more as a duty rather than for pleasure you will understand. Two thoughts occurred. The first was my astonishment at the ability of some authors to write at great length on subjects, almost to the point where the original purpose (explanation) had been lost. I feel for priests who are expected to read the avalanche of books that are reviewed in the monthly magazines. And those who write them.
The second thought was that the English language in not compartmented, but moves imperceptibly from simple factual prose into more colourful terms, on through poetry and metaphor, into the realms of apocalyptic. Our Lord Jesus Christ understood the power of parable and metaphor, and his parables are the jewels of the NT. His use of metaphor in John Ch.6, or in Ch.15 as the True Vine, or the simple use of the wind to illustrate the existence of the spirit, are of the greatest importance and effect. In the same way, poetry can express faith well, be it Betjeman or Rowan Williams. Bishop Walsham How gave us some fine hymns which are poems as well. What language says is vital, but the way in which it is said is equally so. Often a passage is clearer when we look at different translations, which is a blessing of the internet (so long as it’s working – Ed)
The reading from Third Isaiah is an excellent example of the use of metaphor with a new heaven and peace among animals although the message of the prophecy promises a recreated Jerusalem, with peace and good fortune for God’s returning people. The reading from Hebrews is often specified at this time. Hebrews was not written by or for Paul and quite probably it was written after Paul’s death and the tragedy of Masada in 67-8AD. It is an approximate recap of Hebrew history, but the most familiar verses are the last two, which have more than a whiff of Paul.
In our prayers this week obviously we need to give thanks for the many saints. The Anglican church has not created saints, but it respects those who are. We also give thanks for all that God has given us in love, our families and friends, and the Creation as it has influenced our lives and loves.
We must be aware of our shortcomings, to put it mildly, despite which we are still loved and cherished by God.
CV 34 Thought for the Day – Trinity 20 and Bible Sunday
Evensong readings:- by
Isaiah Ch.55, vv 1-11 Didymus
Luke Ch.4, vv 14-30
Trinity Gospel Mark Ch.12, vv28-34
Today is the last Sunday of Trinity according to Common Worship, or not according to the Book of Common Prayer. This nonsense came from the Alternative Service Book (1980), which interposed All Saints and the Sundays before Advent. Well, it all depends on one’s churchmanship. At least the ASB got Pentecost right.
The important thing about this Sunday is that it is Bible Sunday. Christianity would have grown far more slowly without this wonderful collection of books – for a bible is a collection of books and not one book. The name comes from the Phoenician port of Byblos, which was the area where reeds were grown, which were used to make primitive paper. The Hebrew Bible grew out of the Torah, the five books of Moses, which formed the basis of Jewish law. During the centuries following 9BC, further books were added until it was agreed by 2BC. The Christian bible OT varies slightly between the Roman, Orthodox and Anglican churches, mainly over the inclusion of the books of the OT apocrypha. The latter consists of the books that should be respected, although they were judged to be insufficiently theologically sound to be included in the OT canon. The historical books overlap with Kings and Chronicles, but there certainly are events which challenge credulity and logic.
The NT consists of the four Gospels and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles as its core, together with the letters that Paul wrote, had written, or inspired, and the pastoral letters of James, John, Peter and Jude. Bringing up the rear is the preacher’s Nemesis, the Book of Revelations. The four Gospels are the most precious parts of the book to the Christian, and their strength is in their four different testimonies to one man, our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the inspiration for the rest of the NT, and each translation casts a slightly different light on his teaching. The NT also has a considerable apocrypha, longer and in my view rather less sound due to the emergence of Gnosticism and corrupted texts.
A number of original bibles, called codices, existed in different languages. The Codex Vaticanus was the basis used by the Roman church, but errors in copying and with interpretation by priests led to more and more errors. Concern arose, and John Wycliffe started to use his own translations into English in the late 14th century. The reform movement went across Western Europe, causing great anger in the Roman church at the threat to its authority. Through the martyrdom of William Tyndale and the work of Myles Coverdale, the emergence of the Anglican or Episcopal church, the English translation was born. The rapid proliferation of English Bibles, among others of course, was powered by the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. The King James Bible of 1611 was the Authorised Version, which was the only translation for a few centuries. Then came the Revised Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version, but other churches have similar translations. The New International Version, known as “The Nearly infallible Version” is one of the latest. Simplified translations have been published, one of the best being the Good News Bible, which I have found to be an excellent aid in reading Paul’s letters, which are circumlocutory to put it mildly.
There are 66 books in the Anglican Bible, 39 in the OT, 27 in the NT. The OT consists of 17 historical books 3 of wisdom, 2 of poetry and 17 of prophecy. The NT consists of the Gospels, Acts, 13 Pauline letters (not all written by Paul), 8 pastoral letters and the Book of Revelations. It has been said that the OT is a history book, a book of wisdom, of poetry, a joke book and a romantic novel.
What the Bible is, is important. What it says to us is far, far more important, because it is the nearest we can approach the words of Jesus. That is priceless. Some, with memories of the past or a love of elegant English, love the King James. Others prefer the newer versions with more fairness towards women in the Christian life. The church strives to bring the words of Jesus to people, which was the reason for the ASB in 1980, and the development of Common Worship in 2000, both seeking to bring more modern language into worship.
So we need to value both the beauty of the past and the words of today. We also need to give thanks for the love of God, which brought his word to us over the centuries, and inspired the many whose efforts have brought scripture to our hands, eyes and ears.
“O ye of little faith. Wherefor did ye doubt?”
A scroll as used in a synagogue.
A page of a printed Gutenberg bible.
33 CV LUKE AND TRINITY 19CV 33 (link as a pdf file)
Thought for the Day – St.Luke and Trinity 19 Eensong readings:- by Didymus
Ecclesiasticus ch.38,vv1-14 & Colossians ch.4, vv7-end
Last week, we looked at Luke, the Evangelist, the Saint, and patron of Doctors and artists. Today we look at the work of Luke, his Gospel and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Luke’s Gospel has been described by many as the most beautiful book in the world, with very good reason. We read and understand it through the prism of Tyndale and Coverdale’s wonderful translation in the language that Shakespeare used. We meet events and characters both real and fictional who are part of our faith and of our secular lives – the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and many others.
We have no exact idea about the commission that Luke was given, but his account stretches from the birth of John the Baptist to the Resurrection of Jesus, fuller historically than any of the others. It disagrees with Matthew not on the substance so much as the chronology, but is based mostly on Mark’s Gospel. People have wondered whether Luke met Jesus, but surely if he had, he would have indicated the event in some way. Luke’s presence on Paul’s second and third journeys suggests to me that his faith was either born or strengthened through his travelling with Paul, before meeting the Disciples in Antioch and Jerusalem.
Luke’s first chapters deal with the dramatic birth of John the Baptist, the angelic visitation, the birth and naming. Neither Mark nor John attempt an account of the Nativity, but Luke’s account differs significantly from Matthew’s. Indeed apart from the three names there is little resemblance. Matthew’s Gospel was probably based on first-hand knowledge, closer to Jesus than Luke would have been. Luke’s account seems to me to be a reconstruction of events based on second-hand information, but that is just my impression. We know that Luke had met Mark through his association with Paul, and he may well have met Mary in old age. This is suggested by the Magnificat, Mary’s song of joy, which is close to Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel ch.2, which Mary would have known as a child. “Song” is also used to describe passages either sung or spoken in scripture. So it is yet another case of “Read it and find what it says to you.”
Luke gave us the Benedictus, Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis, which have passed into Matins and Evensong liturgy. A great deal of the Christmas tradition arises from Luke’s Gospel. The bulk of the Gospel is the most wonderful and precious treasury of Our Lord’s teaching, through parables, through direct communications, or even denunciations. A summary of Luke’s Gospel is attached. Although Luke’s Gospel is based on the structure of Mark’s, it contains nearly a third which is unique, from the last verses of Ch.9 to the beginning of Ch.18. This has baffled many expert theologians, and the general conclusion is that the source, referred to as “Q”, was lost.
Luke continues to the Passion of Our Lord including the institution of the Last Supper, and the appalling cruelty meted out by the Romans and the stubborn disbelieving Jews. His last chapter describes the events of the Resurrection, and includes the story of the Road to Emmaus, very much a favourite in which we share something of the Disciples’ astonishment at their hitherto unknown companion, painted by Caravaggio. We give thanks for our Gospel authors.
Evensong readings:- by
Proverbs Ch.2, vv1-11 Didymus
1 John ch.2, vv1-17
Gospel: Mark ch.10, vv2-16
Autumn has now arrived, so we are told, and with it, shortening days, early evenings with just a breath of cold to encourage the lighting of an evening fire. It is a time when the colours of summer are heightened and transformed briefly into the glory of an autumn treescape, reds, golds, browns of all shades before the early winter winds strip it away. I remember driving in the Malvern Hills some years ago now, and the brilliance of the many trees on the slopes which was without exaggeration, spellbinding.
My mother-in-law was a Scot, and she talked of “the gloaming”, that interval between sunset and the onset of dewfall and darkness. It is for many a time of silence, and there is a particular feel which is hard to define, a particular scent, all of which seems to say to us, the day is ending. Cardinal Newman’s graveside prayer sums it up perfectly:
O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.
There are two sets of readings for this weekend, either Trinity17 or a Patronal, and I have quoted the former. I am fond of Proverbs – it has that sort of “sit down my boy/girl and listen to your father/mother” quality about it, especially this reading. Do read it. Likewise John’s first pastoral letter, believed to have been written by the hand that wrote the fourth Gospel. Again, do read it, for its teaching is simple and direct.
The Gospel tells us how far we have sunk from Jesus’ words. The gift of human love has not been used well. The flesh very easily overcomes the senses in youth or even in maturity. I suppose that we, being fallible, cannot be expected to choose our partners or spouses successfully every time. There is however the imperative to try to make things work, rather than treat your marriage lightly and trade it in for a better option. Then again, love can grow cold and can be very hurtful. It is very fortunate that we can pray for God’s forgiving mercy when we do get things wrong.
By far the most important event in the centuries that followed after Biblical times is celebrated on Tuesday. We remember William Tyndale, the priest who translated much of the Bible into English. The Anglican Church doesn’t create saints, but it respects those who have been recognised. If the Anglican Church had created saints, William Tybdale would have been one of the first. He was born in 1494, and was trained at Magdalen College in Oxford before being ordained priest. His mission was to bring the words of Christ to the people in the pews in a language that they could understand. Although martyred at the age of 42, he succeeded in that mission.
Until then the Christian Church in Britain was controlled by Rome, which used the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible for services and preaching. Some had translated passages into English since 7-8th centuries, but John Wycliffe had produced a much fuller translation as his Bible in the 1380s. As a result of this perceived assault on the Church’s dictatorial control, possession of a translation invoked the death penalty. The copies of the Vulgate in use contained mistakes, and the understanding of the priests of their scripture and liturgy were far from perfect. Even a Dutch RC priest, Desiderius Erasmus was so concerned at the inaccuracies of the Vulgate that he translated it and sent the text to the Pope.
In the early 15th century, the RC Church actually had three popes, which was resolved by the Council of Constance taking overall control until the situation was resolved. Meanwhile the venom of the RC church in the early 15th century was such that Wycliffe’s corpse was exhumed from Lutterworth in Leicestershire, burnt and thrown into the nearby river. This was the Church of the Inquisition, of Mary Tudor and the Crusades, fortunately a very far cry from today’s RC Church.
So the RC Church pursued Tyndale. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 enabled Tyndale, who had to flee for his life to Belgium, to print his translations. The more that the RC Church bought them up for burning, the more were printed. Eventually Tyndale was discovered and arrested, and on October 6th 1536, he was strangled and his body burnt. Although he had criticised Henry VIII’s divorce, Tyndale’s dying prayer was “that the eyes of the King of England would be opened”.
Within a year they were, for Henry authorised the use of the Matthew Bible in English churches, using most of Tyndale’s work, with missing sections completed by Miles Coverdale, Bishop of Exeter. Within three years, I believe, Henry had ordered a Bible in each church and a person to read it. Later, his work was included in the Geneva Bible, so called because during the reign of Mary Tudor, translation continued on the Continent, and it was this Bible that travelled to America with the Pilgrims.
Tyndale’s work formed the overwhelming proportion of the 1611 King James Bible, in which the words of Jesus and his Disciples are couched in the language of Shakespeare and the 15-16th century speech. It is one of the cornerstones of literature degree courses. While not always easy to understand for those unfamiliar with it, it is one of the major works of literature.
That is why we remember William Tyndale.
CV 32 Thought for the Day – Trinity 18 St.Luke
Evensong readings:- Proverbs ch.3,vv1-18
1 John ch.3, 1-15 Gospel: Mark ch.10, vv17-31
This weekend’s readings continue through Proverbs and John’s first pastoral letter. Both passages, as last week, are well worth reading as I said last week. That is not a preacher’s device for waving texts aside, for they are valuable. They continue in the same vein as last week, teaching wisdom, the search for faith and the strength to resist evil. Since it requires an almost superhuman strength to set evil aside in all its forms, one can see how valuable is the sacrament of confession and absolution. Without it we would be condemned and lost.
We also continue revisiting Mark’s Gospel, which underpins the two other synoptic Gospel and undoubtedly is the basis on which the fourth stands. The passage is a famous and important one. It is the rock against which, metaphorically, the church collides constantly and unsuccessfully. “Parting with one’s brass” as they say in Yorkshire, is not easy, to give away what one has struggled to win to survive in comfort. Yet we are surrounded by many who are struggling, literally, to survive and improve their lives and their families’’lives.
If readings fail to strike a spark, one can look elsewhere. Next week we shall celebrate the memory and work of St.Luke. Luke is of towering importance to us, and while I shall look at his work next week, this week let us look at the man himself.
Luke is an enigma. His work is so familiar, so fundamental – and yet we know little about him. Over half of Matins and Evensong come from his Gospel, and yet we cannot tell whether he was Jewish, of the diaspora (Jews who have left Israel to live and work elsewhere), a Hellenised Jew (A Jew having adopted the Greek way of life), a Syrian, or a Greek. The consensus among students is that he lived in Antioch in Syria, and was educated and trained as a physician. For that reason Luke is regarded as the patron saint of doctors and surgeons. His work shows a greater understanding of people’s problems, especially women and their role in Jewish society.
He is mentioned several times in Paul’s letters, and at one point remained in Greece in Troas. Luke must have been well known as a Christian and an authority for a Roman to contact him and commission a treatise which was his Gospel. A later idea that surfaced centuries later was that Luke was an artist, which, frankly, seems unlikely, despite a Dutch painting of Luke painting the infant Christ with his mother, Mary. On the other hand, why not, even if Luke never wielded a brush?
Luke is likely to have been something like ten years younger than Jesus, of an age with Paul. Wikipedia claims that Luke died at 84years, and his Gospel was produced between 80 and 85 AD.
In our prayers let us remember the many young people now at a time of great change in their lives. They have finally reached their universities, finding their feet in an unfamiliar world, looking after themselves, making new friends, and yet have this black cloud of infection hanging over them. Not all are ignoring common sense precautions.
Pray also for those people who brave great danger in order to find a better life for themselves and their families in other countries such as ours, away from warfare, disease and poverty.
CV 30 Thought for the Day – Trinity 16 by Didymus
Ezekiel ch.37, vv15-end.
1John ch.2, vv22-end
Gospel: Mark ch.9, vv38-end
Last week I talked about St.Matthew, whose name is on the Gospel, originally thought to have been the first, until it was realised that Mark’s Gospel must have appeared first in order to be used in Matthew’s. While I commented on the authorship and form, to do the Gospel of Matthew justice as one of the four most important parts of the Bible, it is essential to appreciate what this Gospel gives us.
Matthew’s concern was to show that the coming of Jesus was prophesied, and he lays considerable stress on the role of King David, which of course would resonate strongly with the Jews. His lineage is stylised with that belief in mind. A small number of miracles are recorded uniquely in Matthew, such as the healing of the two blind men, and the dumb man who was possessed. His account of the Nativity is probably the nearest we will have since neither Mark nor John give an account, and Luke’s Gospel seems to be a reconstruction, significantly different from Matthew’s. Matthew gives us the Wise Men, the Massacre of the Innocents and Joseph’s dream and the escape to Egypt. There is the Sermon on the Mount, which is a summary of Jesus’ teaching and guidance. There are as far as I can make out, ten parables unique to Matthew, amongst which are the ten virgins, the lazy servant and the sheep and goats.
Matthew shows a growing anger with the Pharisees in particular who would not believe the evidence of their own eyes, and this is evident from the blackness of the later chapters. There is the increasing threat of condemnation and oblivion implied by the parables that he recalls, rather than forgiveness to the penitent. I think that one of the crowning glories of Matthew’s Gospel is the last few verses of the last chapter – the Great Commission. Jesus throws open the whole of humanity to his Disciples, and to us, to go out and preach the eternal Gospel to everyone. And Jesus, in spirit, will always be with us.
The reading from Ezekiel is the most well-known, the valley of dry bones. Both this reading and the passage from John’s first pastoral letter stress the power of God. If we know something in our lives of God, then we will want to follow the words of Jesus and obey him. The three pastoral letters are thought to have been written by the John of the fourth Gospel. The Gospel is Mark’s account of the Transfiguration, which is repeated in Matthew and Luke. This almost indescribably wonderful event is thought to have taken place on Mt Hermon, north of Caesarea Phillippi, and the source of the river Jordan. It took place at the time of the festival of Tabernacles, when the Jews recalled their nomadic heritage, living in tents and shelters. It was the reason why Peter sought to build tabernacles for Moses and Elijah, to extend their time with the Disciples. The Transfiguration illustrated the divinity of Jesus, and confirmed his destiny – The Cross.
In our prayers we must remember Geraldine and Rose, who are to be priested at Bodmin on Friday. Also remember Jeffrey, who preached at St.Michaels during his training. They have chosen a brave and difficult path, which promises to be harder in future from the look of things.
The illustrations are both of St.Matthew.
27 CV TRINITY 13 Thought for the Day.
Evensong readings:- by
Ezekiel ch.12 v21-ch.13 v16 Didymus
Acts ch.19, vv1-20
Gospel Mark ch.7, vv24-end
The compilers of the Lectionary certainly keep preachers on their toes, as
we leap from Elisha to Ezekiel this week. Ezekiel was the third great
prophet after Isaiah and Jeremiah, although there are of course some who
would dispute that.
Ezekiel was born in about 625BC, and was training to be a priest. At
an age of about 30, he had a vision of the future, which was very much at
variance with what was the general opinion in Judea, assisted by false
prophecies from the many who claimed to see the future. King Josiah had restored much of the Mosaic
faith, and Judea had played politics with Egypt to avoid the Assyrian conquest that Samaria had suffered……….
Thought for the Day – Trinity 10
Evensong readings:-by Didymus
2 Kings ch.4,vv1-37. Acts ch.16, vv1-16
Gospel: John ch.6, vv51-58.
Well, here we are, already halfway through Trinity, with the feast of St. Pumpkin and All Marrows (Harvest) in sight, and not much church to bring us together, perhaps worst of all, no music. I was listening to Classic FM yesterday, thinking about what to write, when Verdi’s “Va pensiero” was announced (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, aka Psalm 137). As I turned the volume up, the great choir swelled into that indescribably beautiful chorus. Somehow it seemed to fit us in our restricted community as well.
Thought for the Day – Trinity I by Didymus
The readings for Evensong this weekend are a strange pair as is often the case. The first traces David’s history and his use of deception in the form of madness or spiritual possession. Many of the Hebrew patriarchs like Jacob and David were refreshingly weak at times, offering us poor mortals hope!
INTRODUCTION and MEDITATION – THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
September 2020 Didymus
A long while ago in the Pre-Reformation Diocese of Chichester, a
new and somewhat inexperienced churchwarden was coming to terms
with leading Bible Studies. A lady had demanded, in terms that brooked
no refusal, that the Vicar should lead Bible studies. That was not included
in the latter’s understanding of his office, and after an introductory
meeting he made sure that he was in Brighton at meeting times. This was
not a surprise and I reflected that it was my own fault, or perhaps it was
God’s intention. God has a very odd sense of humour at times – look at
the Church and its members for example.
So that churchwarden, aided by Bible Reading Fellowship notes,
battled on. The notes were well meant but hardly searching, and we
staggered on to completion. One of our members was a lady of
impregnable faith, and in answer to my plea for ideas, she simply said
“Read John!” I owe Frances a debt of gratitude that cannot be fully paid
for pushing me into the Gospel that, for me, sits at the core of my faith.
CV 25 Thought for the Day – Trinity 11
by 2Kings ch.6, vv8-23. Didymus
Acts Ch.17, vv15-end.
Gospel John Ch.6, vv56-69.
to Reader: All preaching starts with the
unspoken words “I think …”. The answers that follow are prefaced in
the same way, perhaps with “I am sure”
, or some similar variation indicating an opinion……….. (Click the l;ink to read on)
Trinity is the occasion when preachers tied themselves in knots to explain – to their bemused congregations – the human understanding of our three experiences of God. I like the simple approach: “Don’t try to understand it, it works, believe me. Trust me – I’m your preacher”. ……………