Saturday, 9 January 2016

I have not posted any blog posts for some time now but I have decided to re-start the blog.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A way to pray

I am reading a story by Shalom Asch, a Jewish writer,which is set in the yeshiva of a small Jewish village. Asch tells the story of a pious young boy, not great at learning but great at praying. He describes is praying thus: "And the way he prayed was a treat to watch. You should have seen him! He just stood and talked, as one person talks to another, quietly and affectionately without any tricks of manner."
So much has been written over the centuries about prayer, but this seems a pretty good way of going about it. God is not impressed by fine words and phrases or clever techniques, nor by great learning. He just wants a simple, open trusting heart.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Mark 3:22-30

This reading is the Gospel reading for today. Two thoughts came to me as  I listened.
Jesus is challenged by the scribes in an offensive way that clearly riles him. They actually accuse him of being a Satanist, one who is possessed by Beelzebub. Now in the Old Testament, the word Beelzebub translates as Lord of the Flies and is often used as a reference to a Caananite deity, a false God. They  say that Jesus has his power through Satan. Jesus, no false God but God made man, goes on to point out the nonsense of what they say in the well-known words about a house being divided.Jesus then says "But no-one can make his way into a strong man's house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house." The strong man is the one who is filled with the Spirit of God and who lives in that Spirit, who lets grace direct his life and submits his will to the will of the Father. But, because God has allowed us the grace of a free will, there is the constant danger that the strong man might be bound by Satan, by following his own will and yielding to the siren song of the tempter. The strong man can always be tempted,  as a burglar can attempt to invade his property, but the man who remains strong in the Lord will be safe.
Jesus then goes on to issue a dire warning: "I tell you solemnly all men's sins will be forgiven them and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin." In the context of this reading, we have the scribes calling Jesus a false God, denying his divinity and abusing the Spirit of God within him. As it is becoming more and more fashionable to deny God and Christ, particularly in the aggressive atheism that is being promoted by some,  Jesus' warning to the scribes is a timely reminder to those who would turn people away from God.

Psalm 96

Psalm 96(95) is one of the Psalms in the readings for Week 3 of Morning Prayer of the Church. Verse 10 says: "Proclaim to the nations: God is King."
It is a duty laid on us by God to announce to the world that there is a God and that he has temporal authority as King of creation. It is in Jesus Christ that the kingship of God is fulfilled by the will of the Father.

It is a simple message that God through the Psalmist gives us, but it is a message preceded by that command:Proclaim to the nations. The message is not just for me or for any single individual. It is for the world and everyone in it. The message must be proclaimed so that all can hear the truth, and so that none can claim to be ignorant of God and his message of salvation. God is just and therefore He commands that we make it possible for all to know of and to accept his plan of salvation and to enter into the Kingdom and to know Jesus the King.
So there you are. God is;and God is King over the place where you live. The choice is now yours.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

53 million plus

53 million plus; that's the number of abortions in the USA in the past 37 years.Pretty near the population of the UK which makes you think.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The shape of things to come

I was talking to a priest recently, who said that people need to begin to realise how much things are about to change. Such is the shortage of priests in the Lancaster Diocese, that the present arrangement of parishes and avilability of Masses is sustainable for  just a few more years. The majority of Diocesan priests are getting old and there is no possibility of vocations, even if there was an immediate surge, being able to replace those who retire or die.

It's interesting that we are also at the beginning of the Year of Faith, when the Holy Father is calling on us to grow in faith; for those who have lapsed to consider returning and for evangelisation to open the door to new converts. So we have this contrast of declining numbers of pastors in this Diocese, and probably most of the Western world,  at a time where the Church is seeking to grow in faith and in numbers.

I do not know what plans there are in the Diocese to manage this existential problem. Can the situation regarding the decline in the number of priests be improved, before we reach the critical mass point where the church in this area is no longer sustainable? Or is there an alternative that allows communities to meet and to share the Eucharist and fellowship?

We must first and foremost pray and trust in God. Then we must avoid bitter reaguard actions to defend the indefensible ie keeping the status quo. And we should perhaps look at the future with some eager anticipation. If we trust God then we walk confidently forward with him. It is
possible that where he leads us is better than where we are coming from.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Trading Places

In last Sunday's readings there is an interesting parallel between the first reading and the Gospel. Moses says of those diagnosed as lepers that they must live outside the camp. And so the leper who approached Jesus would have lived outside of the local communities. When Jesus healed him, he was immediately able to return to normal life and to enter his home town. Jesus, on the other hand, "could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside where nobody lived." Jesus experienced what the leper had experienced. Jesus took on the leper's role as outcast. In the same way, but to a much greater degree, Jesus took on the role of outcast, when He died on the Cross outside the city to take away the leprosy of our sin. As he traded places with the leper so he traded places with each sinner; so that cleansed we might return again in to the community of God's Kingdom.