Choral Evensong and Celebration

We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to our Festal Choral Evensong on Sunday 12th June at 2.30pm. This service offers a traditional Evensong with choral works and readings. It is also a special service to celebrate the installation of Revd Bruce Rienstra – who many of you know already! Bruce has been with us since the end of January but Covid restrictions led to the delay of a big welcoming service, which is happily now happening. After the service everyone is welcome to come for drinks and nibbles at a nearby location. Mail us if you would like to come! anglican.church.haarlem@gmail.com

 

In an empty, candle-lit church our choir, Martin and Rev Robert Frede came together to offer you our traditional Nine Lessons and Carols. Undaunted by the unusual silence and stillness, the choir did a great job and we are very proud and grateful to them for making this possible. We hope you enjoy this wonderful service.

 

Time for Prayer and Reflection

+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

Opening sentence

One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life;
to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple.

To whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life,
and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory

Scripture Reading the Book of Ruth Chapter 4

A Story ends but seeds are sown for another story
or
The End of the Beginning
Reflections on Ruth Chapter 4

We have been through a journey, of sorts, reading through and reflecting on aspects the Book of Ruth. The Book of Ruth shows us the value of stories. A story which starts in unsettled times, times which required some hard decisions. The decisions required journeying out, leaving the normal behind but knowing where you wish, hope, to get to but not sure it would work out. It was a dangerous, stressful and uncertain journey and yet despite of this Naomi and Ruth arrive safely, I imagine exhausted but relieved nonetheless. In our imagination we have walked, Naomi and Ruth, from Moab, modern day Jordan, back to the home country and the town of Bethlehem and having arrived set about building a new life, finding food and building relationships. It was something to celebrate.

The Book of Ruth ends with some negotiating by Boaz in order that he can marry Ruth and bring the security that Naomi desires for Ruth. These practice details are important and effectively make a contract that cements Naomi’s and Ruth’s role in the establishing a lineage that take us from Boaz through to David, the descendants Boaz’s son are Obed (Servant of God), Obed’s son is Jesse, and Jesse is the father of David, King David. Our scriptures point out the importance of the union of Boaz and Ruth. Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem, and the roots of David are in Bethlehem. Ruth and Boaz give the explanation as to why Jesus was born in Bethlehem according to Luke’s account of the Nativity!

The Carol ‘Oh little town of Bethlehem’ is probably one of the favourite Christmas Carols. Singing the carols and writing this piece brought back memories of Bethlehem. We have visited Bethlehem, as pilgrims, on a few occasions, our favourite place in Bethlehem is The Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR). It started as a Leonard Cheshire Home and was handed over to the Bethlehem Arab Society in 1975 and the current site was developed in the 1990’s.

The BASR is a non-profit non-government organisation that is nationally recognised for the comprehensive medical and rehabilitation services it gives to beneficiaries from all over Palestine. The hospital is open to all, regardless of gender, age, religion or social class and is committed to enhancing the overall quality of a patient’s life. The hospital has a holistic approach to treatment with specialist departments in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and also surgery. Integration into community life is a key objective.

Edmund Shehadeh the director writes:

“Our goal is to change people’s attitudes towards disability so that the disabled are recognized as fellow human beings with great potential.”
(Source McCabe Pilgrimages)

We visited the centre and had lunch there, rather than a commercial restaurant. There was a peace there despite signs of the opposite. There, in this peace, children were being nursed but then looking up we could see bullet holes in the glass of a new extension. Bethlehem was a dangerous place, a Palestinian town surrounded by Israeli troops and road blocks, when we visited. The words of the Carol ‘Oh little town of Bethlehem’ had a rough edge

‘Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by

The next line the next line gives hope

Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hope and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight

The Rehabilitation Centre was a light of hope that did reach out bringing together those two unlikely bedfellows Hope and Fear.

As we continue our journey through 2021, with our hope and fears let us try to see the flame of the everlasting light shining through in the gracious generosity, care and compassion of friends, family and strangers. We are all on the journey, let us walk together.

In silence let us reflect on our time together was we journeyed through the Book of Ruth.

Lord, we thank you that you were there during our journey. You know we were not always conscious of your presence, but you equally know at times we have struggled with all the events of the last year. There have been trials, losses and really tough days but Christmas did remind us of Your light. Thank you that your light reminds of the new life you bring and the peace, hope and joy. Fill us with this peace, hope, and joy. May your Spirit direct our hearts and minds and remind us you are with us as we celebrate and journey through this New Year but also strengthened that you are with us when things seem broken. Amen

The Lords Prayer – Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Christmas may be over and we have mixed feeling about last Christmas but that does not stop us singing O little town of Bethlehem.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to all on earth!
For Christ is born of Mary
And, gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wond’ring love.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel!

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us. Amen
Teresa of Avila

Derek Akker

 

Photo by Yacoub Hazboun, “https://freeimages.com/”

This week Rev Derek Akker draws our attention to John Chrysostom, a Saint whose words are just as relevant today as they were 1600 years ago.  Although 1600 years ago, certain criticisms were not taken lightly…. John Chrysostom (349 – 407) was a Bishop, Doctor of the Church and an Early Church Father.   He was given the name Chrysostomos, meaning “golden mouthed,” after his death.

The Golden Mouth

I remember a holiday in Crete in the late 1980’s. We were staying at a small fishing village about 6 miles (10km) from Agios Nikolaos. The tavernas owner had seen my prayer book and thought I was a priest. Trying to explain I was still training got no where so I was ‘Papa’ for the remainder of the holiday. I was also introduced to Bishop Andreas. During our stay we attended the small Orthodox church where Bishop Andreas presided. It was a special feast day for Maria, the Taverna’s owner and she had baked bread, which was to be blessed (not consecrated) during the service. It was the first time I had experienced a full Orthodox service. Three hours later we adjourned to the Taverna. The local custom seemed to have a different approach to church attendance, some would arrive in time to hear the Gospel then adjourn to a bar returning just before the administration of Holy Communion.

The bread that had been blessed was brought to us at the pool side and shared amongst the guests. It was different to normal bread and very dry and did provoke some discussion. It was appreciated and seen by the guests as a lovely gesture.

Why am I telling this story? Well it was my introduction to the Divine Liturgy of St Chrysostom, although I was unaware of this fact at the time. A few weeks later, however, I attended, with fellow ordinands, a Greek Orthodox church in Manchester as part of our training. It was explained that the liturgy was one of the stable pieces of liturgy within the Greek Orthodox Church that has barely changed over the centuries. We followed part of the service, which was in Greek, but we had the text in English. There was a beauty and a rhythm to the liturgy and it was possible to enter into the worship.

John was noted for his ability to apply scripture to everyday circumstances, teaching people how to bring the Gospel in to all that they did. His preaching did get him into serious trouble with Empress Eudoxia as the gap between the rich ruling class and the poor was often a feature of his preaching. He also had to tackle the issue of an undisciplined clergy who lived in luxury, which I image did not make him popular amongst some clergy.

In spite of the threats made against him by the Empress he kept to his convictions which led to two periods of exile. The latter one proved fatal, he was forced to walk a tortuous journey, those guarding him showed little concern, and he died before reaching Pontus. (Pontus is located in the modern day eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey)

His practical sensibility has given his words an enduring quality and are still an inspiration to people today, some 1600 years after his death.

To get a sense of his “golden mouth” and his ability to apply the Gospel to everyday life, here are some quotes and later prayers from Saint John Chrysostom:

“If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice.”

“No matter how just your words may be, you ruin everything when you speak with anger.”

“Sin is a wound; repentance is a medicine. Just as there are for the body wounds and medicines, so for the soul are sins and repentance. However, sin has the shame and repentance possesses the courage.”

“The saints are exceedingly loving and gentle to mankind, and even to brute beasts…Surely we ought to show them (animals) great kindness and gentleness for many reasons, but, above all, because they are of the same origin as ourselves.”

“Admit the sin to annul it. This requires neither labour nor a circuit of words, nor monetary expenditure, nor anything else whatsoever such as these. Say one word, think carefully about the sin and say, ‘I have sinned.’”

Let us reflect on the quotations above:

Let us sit comfortably and relax as we pray:

O Lord, enlighten my heart that evil desires have darkened.
O Lord, send down Thy grace to help me, that I may glorify Thy name.
O Lord Jesus Christ, write me in the book of life and grant unto me a good end.
O Lord, sprinkle into my heart the dew of Thy grace.
O Lord, quicken in me a good thought.
O Lord, give me tears and remembrance of death, and contrition.
O Lord, implant in me the root of all good: Thy fear in my heart.
O Lord, grant that I may love Thee from all my soul and mind, and in everything do Thy will.  Amen.

Our time of prayer continues with a compilation of prayers by St John Chrysostom, in modern English. Slowly take in the words, there is no rush, come back to them and read them again if necessary.

Lord,
God of inconceivable power,
incomprehensible glory,
immeasurable mercy,
unspeakable kindness,
look on us in your tender love
and show your rich mercy and compassion
to us and those who pray with us.

We remember
where we dwell
and every other city and country,
and all the faithful who dwell in them.
Remember, O Lord,
all who travel,
all who labour under sickness or slavery.
Remember them, and give them health and safety.
Remember, O Lord, all in your Holy Church
who bring forth good fruit,
who are rich in good works and remember the poor.

Lord our God,
of might inconceivable,
of glory incomprehensible,
of mercy immeasurable,
of goodness unspeakable;
……
grant that we may live our life here
without trouble and in security,
and enjoy eternal life
by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory and might
together with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and forever.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Take care, keep safe and be kind to yourself and others
Derek

You may have noticed I keep inviting you to ‘imagine’. Using your imagination while on a pilgrimage can enhance and enrich the whole experience. Before you start to worry too much about using your imagination recall the stories / parables Jesus told. Each story requires the listeners to use their imagination to grasp the meaning of the story.

Our pilgrimage continues as we join Jesus and his disciples as they leave Caesarea Philippi. The disciples are to begin a six day walk toward a mountain top experience. On route Jesus points to the future, his death and resurrection. The man, Peter, who was the ‘rock’ on which the Church would be built shows he has still a lot to learn and earns a rebuke from Jesus. This episode ends with the account of Jesus’ transfiguration.  Some now feel that this event happened on nearby Mt. Hermon rather than on the traditional and smaller site of Mt. Tabor.

I think it is good that we do not know the precise mountain, all we know is that Jesus led Peter, James and John ‘up a high mountain’. So, whether it was Mount Hermon or Tabor it does not matter.

Mount Hermon

or Mount Tabor

As you slowly read the account of the Transfiguration enter into this mountain top experience. Sensing the divine nature of Jesus the Christ, ponder a while the vision of our Lord.

. . . he (Jesus) was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

The gospel account moves quickly from the Transfiguration to the reality of the culmination of Jesus’ ministry.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ And the disciples asked him, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognise him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17. 2-13)

I remember, in my teens, hearing a recording of Martin Luther King’s ‘I’ve been to the Mountaintop’ speech (April 3 1968):   “Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” 

The following day Martin Luther King was assassinated.

A stark reminder that no matter how uplifting a mountaintop experience is you need to move on.

St Paul in his letter to the Philippians gives us a beautiful piece of writing that brings together the glory, the humility, the suffering, humanity and the divinity of our Lord.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2.5-11)

Let us pray

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Is there a sentence or two that have stuck in your mind from our reading?
Read them again and hold on to them for a minute or two.

Creator God, you are the source of all life and motivation.May we journey in faith and love, rejoicing and eager to serve you.
Grant us a glimpse of your glory as we seek to follow you –
The Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

Join in and sing or listen to ‘How lovely on the mountains’

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of them,
Who bring good news, good news,
Proclaiming peace, announcing news of happiness,
Our God reigns, Our God reigns.
Chorus:
Our God reigns, Our God reigns,
Our God reigns, Our God reigns.

Waste places of Jerusalem, break forth with joy,
We are redeemed, redeemed.
The Lord has saved and comforted His people:
Your God reigns, your God reigns!
Chorus:
Our God reigns, Our God reigns,
Our God reigns, Our God reigns.

Ends of the earth, see the salvation of your God,
Jesus is Lord, is Lord.
Before the nations, He has bared His holy arm,
Your God reigns, your God reigns!
Chorus:
Our God reigns, Our God reigns,
Our God reigns, Our God reigns.

We close this time of prayer and reflection with:
May God the Father who created you, guide your footsteps,
May God the Son who redeemed you, share your journey,
May God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you, lead you on his life’s pilgrimage,
And the blessing of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you wherever you may go. Amen.
Prayers from Pilgrimage Prayers by Jenny Child (Canterbury Cathedral)

Derek Akker

This week Rev Derek Akker takes us further on our Stay Pilgrimage to Caesarea Philippi .

Pilgrimages to the Holy Land by there very nature involve much travelling and on and off buses. In our case it was the Nazareth Transport Company. I did have a photo taken of me patting a donkey in front of the sign Nazareth Transport Company. As serious as pilgrimages are you do need lighter moments.

In our Stay pilgrimage we are going to leave Galilee for the day, but first a prayer.

Creator God, you are the source of all life and motivation.
May we journey in faith and love, rejoicing and eager to serve you.
Grant us a glimpse of your glory as we seek to follow you –
The Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

We travel, in our imagination some 40km, 25 miles north of Galilee is Caesarea Philippi, formerly Banias.
Jesus and the disciples will have walked the 40km or so to Caesarea Philippi. (Walking non stop at a reasonable pace would mean over 8 hours walking. I think we are fairly safe saying that this took more than a day). After this long walk the disciples are greeted by this picture, a rock face, a former religious shrine to the god Pan, often portrayed as being half man, half goat and playing a flute and flowing cold water. I think flowing cold water would be a very welcome sight after such a long walk.

Pilgrimages are not something that should be rushed and are crammed with endless information. It is often moments with few words that can bring you to a point where you sense something that is hard to put into words. This may be one of those moments.

I invite you to imagine you are here in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus is stood at the foot of this rock face and you hear him ask his disciples:

 . . . ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

We don’t know how the disciples initially responded to hearing these words, we only have Peter’s affirmation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

Let us ponder on Peter’s affirmation.
Why not think back to moments where you have, in the stillness of your heart, affirmed your belief in Jesus, the Christ. These do not have to be the blinding flash type of experiences; it may be a ‘Oh! I get that’ type of moment or where your heart felt strangely warmed.
Give thanks to the Lord for those moments where you have felt closer to the Lord.

The Lord’s Prayer 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Join in and sing or listen to ‘Be still’ – click here.

Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the holy One, is here
Come bow before him now with reverence and fear
In him no sin is found we stand on holy ground
Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the holy One, is here

Be still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around
He burns with holy fire, with splendor he is crowned
How awesome is the sight our radiant king of light
Be still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace
No work too hard for Him, in faith receive from him
Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place

May God the Father who created you, guide your footsteps,
May God the Son who redeemed you, share your journey,
May God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you, lead you on his life’s pilgrimage,
And the blessing of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you wherever you may go. Amen.

Prayers from Pilgrimage Prayers by Jenny Child (Canterbury Cathedral)

Derek Akker

By Rev Derek Akker.

I have been fortunate to visit the Holy Land on a number of occasions, on two of these occasions Sue accompanied me and on one occasion Sue assisted me in leading a pilgrimage. On the last two pilgrimages our local guide, Oliver, was always keen to remind us to be careful about how we viewed the sites we visited. They often could not be verified historically so at best they were the sites that pilgrims have associated with biblical events across the centuries. With these words of caution in our minds let us have a short, selective trip to the Holy Land.

What could a Stay Pilgrimage mean as you read this? It is a journey and search of hopefully spiritual significance. It is a journey in our mind to places of importance to our belief and faith.

The late Bishop of Jerusalem, Samir Hanna Kaffity, who Sue and I met on two occasions described himself as an Israeli, Palestinian Christian. One of his favourite sayings to pilgrims was a reminder that when visiting the sites, the stones, also to remember the ‘leaving stones’, those whose homes are in Palestine and Israel. Palestinian Christians were and still are a persecuted minority.

Most pilgrimages start in Jerusalem and then go onto Bethlehem, Jericho and the Dead Sea. I am going to leave those areas behind us. Once we had left these busy, crowded and at times stifling sites in and around Jerusalem it is a pleasure to be driven north to the region of Galilee and beyond. There were still other pilgrims but on the whole, it was more relaxed and offered more time to be reflective

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An Opening Prayer 
God of our pilgrimage, you have given us a desire to take the questing way and set out on our journey.Help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, that whatever we encounter, we may seek to glorify you by the way we live. Amen

As we begin our time of prayer and reflection find a comfortable place to sit, slowly breath in and out, trying to calm yourself and become relaxed. Take a look at the photograph of Galilee taken from the Mount of the Beatitudes. Take in the calmness of the lake, the hills that mark out its shoreline. In the foreground are the slopes that across the centuries have been associated with the Sermon on the Mount. Clearly, Galilee was a place of significance for Jesus and his ministry. It is a place where Jesus walked, talked and listened. It is a very special place.

I invite you to imagine you are sat on the hillside and you hear Jesus saying these words:

‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  ‘Pray then in this way: (praying slowly, pausing at the end of each line)

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6.5-15)

Pause for a moment, how do you feel after reading the Lord’s Prayer slowly with the picture of Galilee in front of you? It’s the location where Jesus taught his disciples this prayer, a prayer handed down to us.

Prayer Before a Five Pound Note

This is another of the prayers of Michel Quoist I remember from my teens. When I say remember I mean I could recall the essence of the prayer. It struck me because a £5 note was something I saw but seldom held. It was more than my weekly wage in 1963, as an apprentice aircraft engineer. Today it is worth about £88 or €100, according the web page I consulted. It was not an insignificant amount.

I suppose if the prayer was to be written today in would include the Credit or Debit Card and the contactless facility that is available. Personal banking and the handling of money has changed so much since the early 1960’s, I did not have a bank account then. While how we deal with personal finance has changed what Michel Quoist wrote regarding the bank note still can speak to us today.

Why not sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, relax, take a few slow deep breaths and pick up a £5, €5 note or your debit card and slowly and prayerfully read Michel Quoist’s prayer. Do not rush, let each line speak to you.

Firstly, some words from the New Testament :

Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten.3Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days.4Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. (James 5:2-4)

Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:33-34)

 

Lord, see this note, it frightens me.

You know its secrets, you know its history.

How heavy it is!

It scares me, for it cannot speak.

It will never tell all it hides in its creases….

 

It is heavy, heavy, Lord.

It fills me with awe, it frightens me.

….

 

Through how many hands has it passed, Lord?

And what has it done in the course of its long, silent trips?

 

It has offered white roses to the radiant fiancee.

It has paid for the baptismal party, and fed the growing baby.

It has provided bread for the family table.

Because of it there was laughter among the young, and joy among the adults.

It has paid for the saving visit of the doctor,

It has bought the book that taught the youngster,

It has clothed the young girl.

 

But it has sent the letter breaking the engagement.

It has paid for the death of a child in its mother’s womb.

It has bought the liquor that made the drunkard.

It has produced the film unfit for children.

And has recorded the indecent song.

It has broken the morals of the adolescent and made of the adult a thief.

It has bought for a few hours the body of a woman.

It has paid for the weapons of the crime and for the wood of the coffin.

 

O Lord, I offer you this note with its joyous mysteries, and its sorrowful mysteries.

I thank you for all the life and joy it has given.

I ask your forgiveness for the harm it has done.

But above all, Lord, I offer it to you as a symbol of all of the labours of men and women , indestructible money, which tomorrow will be changed into your eternal life.

 

God bless

Take care and be kind to yourself and others                 Fr Derek

This week, we have been shocked by the events in the United States and moved by the protests across the world following the brutal death of George Floyd.  We respond through learning and prayer as we pray for the eradication of racial injustice in our societies.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all one (as St Paul writes, ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Galatians 3.28). And so we pray:

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate cruelty to these our neighbours. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (American Book of Common Prayer)

O God who created all people in your holy image, who loves the stranger, who cares for the downtrodden: walk with those who face discrimination, protect them from harm, help them see Christ in our community. Guide those who fan the fires of discrimination to open their eyes to the beauty of all your creation and respect the human dignity of all people. Open our hearts to those who face hatred and injustice because of their race, their background, their ethnicity, that we might better help them belong;  through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

With thanks to Chichester Cathedral for this reflection and prayers.

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Lifeline 179 May 20