Jean Trafford RIP

Our lives can change in a flash, and as we get older one thing which quite rapidly change things for the worst is a FALL. A moment’s inattention or distraction is all it takes – as it did for this loved one and dear friend Jean. For her it meant long weeks in hospital then a spell at home and then back into hospital again. No wonder she came to be weary of it all and so  Jean passed from this life to the next. Albert and Jamie you will obviously miss her warm presence as we all do.

Macclesfield Bus Station is not the most cheerful place but it was always good to see Jean there and Albert and Jamie, and we miss her presence on the No 11 bus – good to talk to and always with a keen interest in other people. Not for her or us the anonymous life of cities where nobody speaks to their neighbours. The great hymn writer George Herbert (the Vicar of a village near to Salisbury) in a poem about Prayer, speaks of us seeing heaven in the ordinary things of life, as I believe we do. We see it most of all in human love like the love of Jean and Albert and Jamie, with a whole host of friends and neighbours; and we see it in this the season of springtime when things come back to life after the winter.

And we are truly blessed with our skies around Kerridge and Bollington, and the Trafford household particularly blessed with the view from their kitchen window and garden – the view out towards Alderley Edge. And in early evening the sky brightened with pinks and gold and blues and green – easy surely to believe in heaven at such a view and in our bright hope of Eastertide, and the heaven were Jean rests, free from pain and sadness, and safe in the love of the God in which Jean had such trust.

Roy Arnold

The story of Zaccheus (Luke 19: 1-10)

Canon Roy Arnold

The Gospel tells us the story of Zacchaeus, who was a very, very rich man – the chief tax-collector in the prosperous city of Jericho – but not a popular man because tax collectors were collaborators with the hated Roman occupiers, and noted for making a bit of cash on the side for themselves. But one day – going about his business in town – he heard a stir and wanted to know it was all about. Actually it was Jesus just passing through Jericho, but Zacchaeus couldn’t see him because of the crowd and also because he wasn’t very tall. So he started to run up the road and scrambled up a sycamore tree. It was a surprise – up among the branches – when he heard his name being called.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Jericho (photo by Tango7174)
Church of the Good Shepherd, Jericho (photo by Tango7174)

“Zacchaeus, come on down”. It was Jesus who was calling and much to the surprise of Zacchaeus, Jesus was saying that he wanted to stay at his house, despite the muttering of the crowd about Jesus mingling with tax collectors and sinners. Actually, I believe that Jesus could see into the heart of this man called Zacchaeus – that he wanted something more in his life, he wanted forgiveness maybe; he wanted to feel loved; no longer to be an outcast. And this is what he heard Jesus saying directly to him (and the men muttering in the crowd) “Today salvation has come to this house, because this too is a son of Abraham. For the son of man came to seek and to save the lost”, using the word lost in the sense of getting lost as in a strange city or place.

I guess that most can feel lost at times. People can get lost in their search for riches, as I think Zacchaeus had done; for the love of money is the root of evil and a frequent way of getting on the wrong track. Or people can get lost when they take to the bottle, or drugs. And also we can get lost when the experience of our lives change. I must admit that I am not particularly enjoying getting old, despite having a bus pass. But then I could be old or a child in war-torn Syria.

There are all sorts of ways in which we can feel lost, some our own fault and or by actions of others; or by illness or loss, but lost is lost (as Mrs May might have said). But Zacchaeus was found – up a tree – by Jesus, the same Jesus who can show me and you the right way to go. By that light of God which Jesus brings to us when we are lost, as the old hymn has it:

Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom; lead thou me on. The night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on. Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene. One step enough for me.

One step out of our lostness, or one step towards the life which is to come. One step; a step to follow Jesus. Just one step is probably all it takes. So we pray that Jesus, the Light of the World, will be with us this day, that we may ever live and walk as children of the light, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

All Saints – 30 October 2016

Canon Roy Arnold

A while ago I came across one of the books I had in my childhood, and was amused to find on the second page my name and address as follows: ROY ARNOLD, 41 HIGH STREET, BOLLINGTON, NEAR MACCLESFIELD, CHESHIRE, ENGLAND, EUROPE, THE WORLD. I guess that maybe you wrote that sort of thing in your books or on the cover of exercise books at school.

And I thought that it might be an idea this morning, to remind us of our place in the Church right now in a similar way. So in imagination put your own name here, at the front of your mind. And then, where we are now, at St Oswald’s Church seated next to – well whoever it is – and the company of all the people who are here in Church this Morning And then add as well the names of any who aren’t here this morning; away on holiday, or ill, or in hospital or Nursing Homes. And then count in our friends at Church in St Gregory’s and the Christian Life Church. And then outside Bollington, at Pott Shrigley and Prestbury and Rainow; at St Paul’s in Macclesfield with Michael in charge… and on through all the churches in this Deanery under the charge of Veronica as Rural Dean. And so on, adding in the churches of Chester Diocese and, going the whole hog, throwing in all Churches of any denomination in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland where acts of worship similar to here in our church are going on right now.

But there’s more to come as we recall the hymn which tells us that “our brethren neath the western skies” will be taking over where our worship leaves off while we sleep. Christians at worship throughout the world; a stupendous chorus of praise – even more than the 14 million who watched the Bake Off Final on Wednesday night. Many, many more because now we must add in the all who belong to the Church in the closer company of God; including we hope some of our own loved ones who are in heaven. All whom we have loved and lost awhile; our daughter Rachel, my Mother and Father and so on. And of course you can put in the names of your loved ones here. How or where we can hope to see them all maybe we cannot know; all standing around the throne of God, and maybe all of them joining with us as we say the Our Father. They on the other side of death and we on this – which is the special theme of All Saints tide starting today, as we remember that we are part of the Communion of Saints stretching across time and space. With our prayers, whether offered alone or together, and being caught up in the great outpouring and praise and worship of the whole people of God.

all-saintsAnd the golden evening will brighten in the west and soon to faithful warriors will come their rest. And from earths wide bounds, from oceans furthest coast, through gates of pearl will stream the countless host, singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Our effectiveness in this heavenly choir depends, of course, upon our joining in. Singing together from the same hymn-sheet as the saying goes, using the same script, taking note of the teaching of Jesus. And not least of those last words from this morning’s Gospel where he tells us “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” A specific direction to me. Now residing at my home in Bollington, near Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, Europe and The World. And to you, whoever you are and wherever you live.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

A golden rule. Easy to remember. Difficult to do.

Michaelmas – 29 September 2016

Canon Roy Arnold

When the Protestant Reformation swept into Britain from Germany in the time of King Henry VIII and his short-lived son Edward, the more radical of the Protestants had it in mind to clear out anything that smacked of the old Catholic ways such as altars, vestments, candles and devotion to saints. And also the keeping of Saint’s Days, but with Saint’s Days they ran into a major snag because some of these were part and parcel of the legal and educational setup.

Not least Michaelmas (which we are celebrating today) because Michaelmas marked the start of the new Legal Year and also the start of University Terms. And it was (like Lady Day in March) a Quarter Day connected with the payment of rents and debts, and with the hiring of new servants and labourers. After much thought they decided that it was best to stick to the status quo and leave Saint’s Day alone because they were too interwoven with legal issues and education and practical life to tamper with.

mikharkhangel1Another of the customs of Michaelmas was to ordain new clergy – deacons and priests – because of the obvious connection between the role of the clergy and the ministry of angels. For both angels and clergy have been given the task of being God’s Messengers, informing and teaching people about the love of God. But here I dip back into Reformation history because one of the main teachings of the Reformation was that it was not just the clergy who were servants and messengers for God; this work has been given to all who call themselves Christians. And God doesn’t have favourites, nor does He have First and Second Class messengers and servants. This forms the Reformation Teaching which we call THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS

Maybe you might recall that it was at Michaelmas in 1963 that I was ordained as a Deacon and the following year as a Priest. But through all these years of Ministry I have always kept in mind that important thought of THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS; that it is together – clergy and lay people together – being about our Father’s business, as Jesus was. So we must help the Angels out (or be helped by them) in the work of carrying the message of the love of God to a world which so badly needs it. God’s love for us, and our returning love for him, and ideally for everyone we meet as we live our daily lives.

Heavenly Father,

We pray to you this day that we (like the angels) may truly be messengers telling of your love, spreading this great good news.

And being like Jesus, we ask that
your love may shine through our eyes,
your spirit inspire our words,
your wisdom fill our minds,
your mercy control our hands,
your will capture our hearts,
your joy pervade our being
until we are changed into his likeness from glory to glory.

We pray for peace in our warring world, and for that same peace in our own lives; whether we are happy and in good health or if are worried or ill or sad. May the peace of God which passes all understanding may settle in us all and we pray for our loved ones and our friends, for us here at St Oswald’s and throughout the wide boundaries of the Christian Church and today we remember especially Mary Houghton who died this week.

All this we pray through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen

Referendum Day – 23 June 2016

Canon Roy Arnold

I finished writing this sermon a week ago on the Monday before the death of Jo Cox MP.

StEtheldredaAs well as being the big day to vote whether we wish to stay in or out of the European Union, it is also the day we remember Etheldreda; an Anglo Saxon Princess and Abbess of Ely which Abbey she founded. She was born in Suffolk near Newmarket and died on this day in the year 638 after a life known for its prayerfulness and simplicity and prophecy. Apart from her posh name Etheldreda she was also known as Audrey, and in October-time in Ely they had an annual event called St Audrey’s Fair, which sadly got a name for second rate and shoddy goods and from which we get our derogatory term “tawdry” (meaning just that: cheap and nasty).

Which (in my opinion) is how I would describe the Referendum Campaign now thankfully reaching its last few hours: cheap and nasty. It was dressed up as a once in a lifetime chance to choose our political destiny but we all perhaps know that its real object was to save Mr Cameron’s bacon and pacify the strong anti-European element of his Party. A ploy which blew up his face when seemingly lifelong friends and colleagues turned against him and became the Leave Campaign with the might of Mr Farage (with his majority of one seat in the Commons). And then it all became like a Pantomime; you know., where the actors and actresses engage in one of those OH YES IT IS…OH NO IT ISN’T routines, in this case egged on by our so called free press – sadly not free of powerful influences by (ironically non-elected) folk such Rupert Murdoch and the editors or owners of the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Telegraph. The result, almost inevitably will be a win – whichever way it goes – that will leave large swathes of the population disgruntled and disaffected and certainly a nation sadly divided.

In – or Out – or shake it all about. Sadly our political leaders are not like St Audrey – uncomplicated and prayerful and able to see into the future – but are all too human like us. Whether it be David Cameron with this shambles of the EU Referendum or Tony Blair with his disastrous invasion of Iraq; they make mistakes and misjudgements like we all do, but with more widespread and toxic results. Tomorrow we must accept the democratic results of the vote; but maybe (as the old Prayer for Unity had it) recognising the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. It will take -I believe – all our best efforts and prayers to overcome this state of affairs and try to build bridges and a better way of being a united nation. Maybe as Britons we have never been good at making our minds up one way or other about really important matters such as Private Education (Eton and Harrow) or Tytherington Secondary School, or between a National Health Service or private health providers… or the EU. Having said this I reckon that most of us would not want to live anywhere else but Britain. So whatever the result of the referendum, perhaps we might take advice from the last few lines of the poem called Desiderata…

…the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals…
…in the noisy confusion of life keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

 

Saint Anselm

Canon Roy Arnold
anselmToday as we visit the Church’s Gallery of Saints we come to St Anselm. He was born in Northern Italy in 1033. At an early age set out to travel extensively in Europe, visiting many monasteries and places of learning, eventually settling at the Abbey of Bec near Rouen in Normandy where he made his reputation as a Christian Writer and Scholar. He eventually became the Abbot of the monastery, but he found opposition to his rule, surprisingly from a man by the name of Osborne. After sorting out Osborne (good idea), Anselm was called to cross the English Channel to become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1089, some 23 years after the Normans Conquered England in 1066 – the year Britain became more inextricably joined to Europe…

Anselm didn’t have an easy time as Archbishop – having fallen out with the King he was twice sent into exile – but in so many ways I would put Anselm down as being ahead of his times, not least in his attitude towards the role of women in Society and in the Church. He believed that although we refer to God as our Father we must not forget that God (and therefore Jesus) is like a Mother to us as well. Let me quote a prayer that Anselm wrote about the year 1109.

Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you, you are gentle with us as a mother with her children and despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness, and through your gentleness we find comfort in fear. Your warmth gives live to the dead and your touch makes sinners righteous. Jesus in your mercy, heal us and in your love and tenderness remake us. In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness and for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.

In a world mainly dominated by men there were, even at that time, many powerful women but I would like to think that it was Anselm’s deep studies about the life of Jesus where he learnt about the need for the Church, and all of us as members of the Church, to truly value the role of both men and women. For one reason or another, women make up a good proportion of churchgoers, so I am proud of the fact that the Church of England recognises this fact in the Ordination of Women, not only as Priests but also now as Bishops. Something which perhaps Anselm never even dreamt about.

And on this, the 90th birthday of Elizabeth II we thank God for this living proof of a Christian woman who has fulfilled, I believe, every aspect of her role as a family woman and as monarch of this nation and Commonwealth. As we can all say: “God Save the Queen!”

Good News: 24 January 2016

Canon Roy Arnold

The word Gospel means Good News although News as we know it now from Newspapers, Radio and Television is normally anything but good. In fact it is often downright depressing. But Jesus, when he was at the start of his preaching ministry, chose a text from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah about God’s really good news for the poor and for the blind and the oppressed and those in prison. He was preaching in his home town of Nazareth (and down the ages to me and you) and saying this is to be the theme of his message about Good News to the poor and others.

Of course there are many ways of being poor. People can be poor in cash-terms or poor in spirit; and there are many ways of being oppressed and imprisoned, for we can be imprisoned by our doubts and our fears, oppressed by depression – being continually in the dumps – or blind to the love of God.

And maybe this can happen to us all, from time to time, when we take too much notice of the Rolling News on the BBC and ITV and the media in general, which forms a background of misery to our modern lives. Obviously we cannot bury our heads in the sand and not be aware of the plight of migrants and the movement of Stock Markets or the violence and cruelty of our world. But we must not let ourselves get oppressed and imprisoned by it all, particularly when there is nothing we can do about it most of the time. Our opponent whom we call the Devil wants us to swallow the poison of this bad news making us feel lost and hopeless and imprisoned by it all.

But Jesus came to tell us of our release from such imprisonment and to look up and see how much good news there is all around – good news which by far outweighs the bad. Remember this: things which make headlines only get there by being bad news, while we fail to notice the small print of life because it is the small acts of kindness and love and caring which are greater than the glaring headlines. Not least because we can and do contribute to the sum of good news when we ourselves are loving and kind and generous in our own lives. In fact if we are truly following Jesus and paying attention to what he said long ago in Nazareth, we can live positive lives as underlined at the very end of our Old Testament reading this morning when Nehemiah told us (the people of God) we must obey God and then (he said) go on our way, and eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions for those for whom nothing is prepared. And not to be downcast, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH.

dietAnd here incidentally is some good news for those of you who are still dieting after Christmas – according to this book you CAN eat the fat and drink sweet wine…but not cakes and bread.

But here’s some even better news, set out in the words of an ancient prayer written by St Gregory, saying “O Good Jesus, O Good Jesus, Word of the Father and brightness of His glory. Teach us to do your will, that guided by your spirit we may come to that blessed city of everlasting day where all are one in heart and mind, where there is safety and eternal peace, happiness and delight where you live with the father and the holy spirit, world without end. Amen.”

Remember that, as people trying to follow Jesus to the city of everlasting day, we are called to bring Good News and to be Good News. The Good News which may be difficult to swallow sometimes but which we must hold on to by the skin of our teeth.

Last night we watched the scenes of horror from the Nazi concentration camps. Difficult to watch – and difficult to believe the Good News Jesus brought – but maybe it showed what happens when people forget God.

The Good News is that the joy of the Lord is our strength and it is the basis of our faith that God loves us. And sometimes it is best to stop trying to love God and to let him love us. As he will in this life and the next.


Luke 4:14-21

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

1st Sunday of Christmas 2015

Canon Roy Arnold

Well that was quick wasn’t it? He was only born on Friday and now he’s 12 years old already. Jesus I am talking about. Actually – although slightly accelerated in the case of Jesus in the Gospel – it is only what most parents experience with their children. It seems no sooner are they born they are starting primary school and then sitting their GCSEs. And then wanting a car and then getting married (or at least a partner) and leaving to live in Exeter or Hong Kong or even Rainow.

With Jesus we see him – so soon after Christmas – as a 12 year-old visiting Jerusalem for the Passover with his parents after a normal Jewish childhood. Now at 12, coming of age according to Jewish Law and at (at that age I believe) realising for the first time about his special relationship with God; that it God who was his Father and not Joseph. To be fair, we are all God’s children but Jesus was especially God’s son and he came to live with us on earth to teach us about God and heaven.

As our Collect for today reminded us, he came to share in our humanity so that we might share the life of his divinity. In the meantime, in our Gospel story we hear of his not being on the coach back to Nazareth, about his earthly parents’ anxiety; about him being in the temple – like a student – with the wise men of the faith. And eventually having a good telling off by his Mum and going back home with his parents to Nazareth, but with Mary treasuring all these things in her heart.

And then Jesus himself (back in small town Nazareth) getting on with everyone and especially getting to know his father God, and generally getting on with experiencing the up and downs of human life, and so (as our Post Communion Prayer reminds us) sharing the life of an earthly home and bringing us all at last to our home in heaven.

All this was to the be the task of this baby born so long ago but in our memory and the memory of the Christian Church born just last Friday. And then, when he was about 30, starting his ministry of teaching and healing and so infuriated by his popularity, the self-righteous and those who thought they knew all about God (and loving the power and social standing that went with that knowledge) they had him tried and crucified. But then he rose again on the third day and continued his teaching and healing by living on in his disciples and in me and you.

One of those early followers, whom he called on the road to Damascus – in Syria no less – was St Paul who (in his letter to the Colossians and to me and you) left us an excellent summary of what was and is expected of us if we are to follow Jesus and to get to that home in Heaven. St Paul says we must clothe ourselves with compassion and kindness and humility, with meekness and patience; and if anyone has a complaint against anyone we must forgive them because we (by God) nave been forgiven so much. For that forgiveness and for so much else as well we must always be thanking God. Perhaps practising singing for when we join the united choirs of heaven… And whatever we do, doing it the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God who is his Father and ours through Jesus. And yes we must love him as the baby born as of last Friday (we cannot help but love a newborn infant) but especially we must follow the adult Jesus up hill and down dale, until we come within sight of the New Jerusalem. And in the words of an ancient prayer “….with Christ as our morning star, when the night of this world is past he will bring us to the light of life and to the opening of a new and everlasting day.” And so – if we deserve it – we shall find ourselves with Jesus and home at last. Our earthly journey done.

Through the New Year of 2016, almost upon us, let us – me and you – try to follow the Jesus way.

Christmas 2015

Canon Roy Arnold

I don’t often quote the Pope in sermons but the present Pope said recently:

“Christmas again. There will be lights and there will be parties and bright trees and even nativity scenes all decked out, while the world continues to make war. It is all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war and Jesus weeps.”

Of course we may put it all down to Muslim extremists, but there we would be wrong. For this Christmas sees the 75th anniversary of the so called Christmas Blitz and not so far away either – certainly visible from White Nancy and the hills beyond Pott Shrigley – as after several nights bombing by the Luftwaffe, Manchester burned. Manchester Cathedral was hit, the Free Trade Hall, Manchester Eye Hospital and many homes. 600 people died and over 2000 were injured and perhaps Jesus wept even more to see two great Christian Countries such as Germany and Britain at war; and more if you count in Russia and France and all the rest. Fighting not one, but two Great World Wars, the Second as a consequence of the First.

What hope might there be when Christians fight with Christians. As the Pope has said; we just haven’t got the message. One Christmas Carol says it all:

“Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long; beneath the angel strains have rolled two thousand years of wrong; and man at war with man hears not the love song which they bring. O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing.”

and yet another popular hymn asks:

“When comes the promised time that war shall be no more and lust, oppression, crime shall flee thy face before?”.

Sadly, on the Eve of Christmas 2015 we are still waiting for the answer to that question even though we can in fact rejoice that now there is peace over the battlefields and once ruined cities of yesteryear. Yet now there are new battles going on, perhaps right now, and bewildered people flee from the wreckage of their homes and livelihoods. All the more reason why we should truly welcome the Prince of Peace – even now waiting in the wings to come again as on this very night.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for us to get the message that He brings.

 

Advent Sunday 2015

Canon Roy Arnold

Today we begin another year in the long history of the Christian Church on this Advent Sunday 2015… but first there is a farewell to note today… because this is Angela’s last Sunday with us before she moves to Hampshire to be near her son Simon in his new home at Upham, near where Mike Hall used to live.

Angela came to Bollington to look after her young grandsons – now fine young men – after the sad death of their mother and not so long after the death of her own husband John who was Vicar of a lively Church in Hounslow in the Diocese of London.

Her introduction to Bollington was by Jessie Beard on the doorstep with a cake, more than 20 years ago, since when Angela – in her own quiet way – has added her friends in Bollington to a wide range of friends elsewhere. And as well as looking after her family (some of them in Australia and some near Bristol) she has sailed up the Amazon and to the Galapagos Island as well as frequent visits to the Isle of Wight.

I would like to personally thank Angela for her generosity (not least to St Oswald’s Church) and to us, and no doubt many of you as well, for her Prayers and for her friendship. We wish you well Angela in your new home although we shall miss you, and we hope you will pop back to see us often.

The picture shows Angela (second left) standing by the handrails at the chancel steps.
Her gift to the parish, much appreciated by many of us!


Appropriately enough, turning to our Reading for this Advent Sunday, we read of St Paul thanking God for dear friends in Thessalonia and saying how much he has been missing them and hoping for their return. And on the subject of a returning friend he goes on to remind us of the important teaching of the Church that one day Jesus himself is going to return, not as a baby again but as our Judge.

Despite the fact that most of our great Advent hymns remind us of this Second Coming of Jesus (to judge both the living and the dead) we always seem to end up with Advent as a preparation for Christmas, rather than the Second Coming of Jesus. Yet as we avidly watch the news on TV night after night, we may well wonder what our world is coming to. But then we are normally rescued from such shock and awe with yet another advert or shopping at Sainsburys or Strictly Come Dancing… unaware of the trap that awaits us, which is the Doomsday trap.

Surprisingly the early Christians stood up and raised their heads because they believed that their redemption was drawing near. 2000 years later – perhaps tired of waiting – we get on with other things, and leave all this End of the World business to such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I rather believe it is not to be ignored not least because it is a significant part of the teaching of Jesus; foretelling that He will come again and to all people who live on the face of the earth and we will all stand before him as our Judge.

The question is… what will he judge us on? I guess the answer to that will be on the evidence of the way we have lived our lives, and such things as love and simple kindness and forgiveness.
Psalm 90 advises to count our days and apply our hearts unto wisdom, which might be a good idea so that we may love mercy and walk humbly with our God. Our Post Communion Prayer for today when we get to it reminds us, not to be dozing in sin but to be active in God’s service and joyful in his praise, which I believe Jesus wants his Church to be; doing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

As to whether Heaven exists (or not) is a matter of faith and hope, but if heaven does exist, how can we ensure that we actually get there. Perhaps shocking to us, the young Muslim gunmen in Paris last Friday but one believed that it was by killing their perceived enemies and then themselves into the bargain that was for them they believed, a guaranteed way to heaven. But we have been taught differently; that our way to heaven is the way of love – by being peacemakers and thirsty for right and justice to prevail, and by being merciful and kind.

And so in this season of Advent when we consider the thought of God’s judgement of us all and when our politicians are pondering whether to bomb ISL, we pray that they may judge aright and not least remembering St Paul (quoting the Old Testament) may bear in mind the words “vengeance is mine says the Lord. I will repay.”

Vengeance is mine says the Lord. I will repay.

It is God who will have the last say.


1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.