Category Archives: Lent Reflection

The Synoptic Problem Revisited

Today at our weekly ecumenical Bible study on the following Sunday’s Gospel we were looking at the following passage:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,

“One does not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

“He will command his angels concerning you”,
    and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’

Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

“Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.”’

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

This led me to reflect on the Synoptic Problem.  When I was training the predominant theory (simply put) was that Mark was written first, then Matthew, based on Mark and then Luke based on both.  However, one of my lecturers discussed the theory that Luke preceded Matthew.  This appealed to me as someone who likes things categorised; that Luke told stories and then Matthew rearranged them into more organised blocks.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.”’

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,

“Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.”’

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

“He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you”, and

“On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’

Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

There were two things that I noticed:

  • Matthew had an extra “but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” to the first response.
  • The order of the temptations is different.

Why might this be?

If Matthew wrote first then why would Luke remove the second half of the quote?  If Luke wrote first, then Matthew (as a Jew writing for Jews) might have included the second half of the Old Testament quote as he already knew it, and knew that it would point his readers to a known reference.

Why would Luke change the order of the temptations if Matthew wrote first?  I am sure you may come up with your own answers, but if Luke wrote first Matthew might change them so that they reflect a movement from the personal, to personal aggrandisement to power.

I am far from an expert in these matters, but from time to time I like to think about these things!

Lent – So what now?

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.

 

Through fasting, prayer and acts of service
you bring us back to your generous heart.
Through study of your holy word
you open our eyes to your presence in the world
and free our hands to welcome others
into the radiant splendour of your love.
As we prepare to celebrate the Easter feast
with joyful hearts and minds…

I have just finished presiding at the first of our two Ash Wednesday services (the other is 7:30 this evening at St John’s), where these words were said.

The challenge for me, and I guess for all of us who want to follow a “Holy Lent”, is what to do to engage with this.  The problem is that what I need is not the same as what you need, so I can’t just take something off the shelf.  I can, of course, read a Lent book, or follow one of the many daily programmes available (Christian Aid, Tear Fund, 40 Acts, and others), join a Lent Group, take up some additional daily Bible Reading or Prayer, but is that going to:

open my eyes to God’s presence in the world
and free my hands to welcome others
into the radiant splendour of God’s love

As an incumbent I feel as though I have two roles: one as spiritual leader, and one as MD of a small business.  It is all to easy to find myself spending too much time on one, and not enough on the other!  So this Lent, as well as some of the other things I shall be doing I am going to blog every day (except my day off, naturally) as a way of engaging with God in the world.  It won’t be a pious blog, but I hope that in doing this I will engage more with what God is doing, and a little less with my “To Do List”.

I wrote a blog post many years ago, before I was an incumbent, and I am trying to reengage with that kind of ministry.

Yesterday Henri Nouwen’s daily email read:

We  are afraid of emptiness. Spinoza speaks about our “horror vacui,” our horrendous fear of vacancy. We like to occupy-fill up-every empty time and space. We want to be occupied. And if we are not occupied we easily become preoccupied; that is, we fill the empty spaces before we have even reached them. We fill them with our worries, saying, “But what if …”

It is very hard to allow emptiness to exist in our lives. Emptiness requires a willingness not to be in control, a willingness to let something new and unexpected happen. It requires trust, surrender, and openness to guidance. God wants to dwell in our emptiness. But as long as we are afraid of God and God’s actions in our lives, it is unlikely that we will offer our emptiness to God. Let’s pray that we can let go of our fear of God and embrace God as the source of all love.

This practise is to help move me towards that kind of ministry, and away from the busyness, from “running the business”.

An hour at the cross (part 3)

John 21:15-19

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

What must it have been like for Peter?  He betrayed Jesus, and he went back to his nets – perhaps a second betrayal from the one who was to be the “Rock”?

And Jesus asks him if he loves him – and again, and again – no wonder he felt hurt.  And then Jesus tells him that he will face martyrdom, and at the end of his ministry asks the same question as at the beginning: “Follow me”.

Can you remember the first time that you decided to follow Jesus?  Perhaps the naivety – the not knowing what the implications were?

Have you discovered the implications of following Jesus?  Have you failed, once, twice, three times – and more?  Have you accepted God’s forgiveness?  Have you forgiven yourself?

Has Jesus called you again – reminding you of his love for you; of your love for him?  Has he called you to follow him again, but this time knowing what he is asking?  Knowing that you will fail – have you dared to say yes?

Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess we have failed you as did your first disciples.
We ask for your mercy and your help.

Our selfishness betrays you: Lord, forgive us. Christ have mercy.

We fail to share the pain of your suffering: Lord, forgive us. Christ have mercy

We run away from those who abuse you: Lord, forgive us. Christ have mercy.

We are afraid of being known to belong to you: Lord, forgive us.
Christ have mercy

May the Father forgive us by the death of his Son
and strengthen us to live in the power of the Spirit all our days.  Amen.

I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you. Let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things  to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours.
So be it.  Amen

Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

An hour at the cross (part 2)

Matthew 26: 69-75

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’  But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’  When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.  ’Again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’  After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’  Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed.  Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter put himself into danger – the confidence of the previous reading is still there – the other disciples were nowhere to be seen – he could have run away to some safe place, but he didn’t.  And then it happened – there he was busy thinking of something else and he is challenged, and he responded unthinkingly, like someone taking an unintended chocolate biscuit during Lent; and again, and again.  And then… and then he remembers his promise and shows remorse.

How often do you put yourself in a place of risk?  Risk of challenge, risk of change, risk of failure?

How often do you act unthinkingly?  Doing things you have no intention of doing?

What do you wish to do differently in future?

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


 

An hour at the cross (part 1)

Friday

The Lord be with you
And also with you.

The pattern for today will be 3 lots of a reading – some reflections – about 10 minutes silence for personal reflection and a prayer.  At the end there will be a confession and final prayers.

In what I say my aim is to provide something for you to reflect on in the silence that follows.  If you find something that you engage with please feel free to stay with it and stop listening to me – what you reflect on for yourself is more important than what I say.

Through Holy week we have been looking at Discipleship – what kind of disciple we are; the implications of discipleship; and what happens when we fail.  Today we will look at different places we may be on our journey of faith, on our journey of discipleship , through the story of Peter.

Matthew 26:33-35

Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.  ’Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

Peter has already been named the Rock on which Jesus will build his church.  He has also been told to “Get behind me Satan”.  Now again he speaks up with certainty – .  Do you know that certainty?  Would you promise to give up everything?  Or are you cautious – only prepared to promise when you are certain?

We often miss “And so said all the disciples” – there are no further stories about what happened to their promises.  But how were they made?  Did they feel they had no choice?

Do we feel able to choose which promises we make to God, those which we make of our own free will?

Is it wrong to make ambitious promises to God?  Or should you only promise that which you know you can deliver?

Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus we see the cost of our sin and the depth of your love: in humble hope and fear may we place at his feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


 

Holy Wednesday Reflection

Wednesday

John 13.21-32

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

In what follows my aim is to provide something for you to reflect on in the silence that follows.  If you find something that you engage with please feel free to stay with it and stop listening to me – what you reflect on for yourself is more important than what I say.

So far this week we have looked at what kind of disciple we are, and how to use our gifts and then the implications of living out our discipleship and where it might lead us to.  Today we are going to look at how we deal with our own failure to accept God’s will for us.

How often do we fail God?

Can we accept forgiveness for the times we betray Jesus?

Can we accept God’s will for us?

Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me – What?  Only one?  Did the disciples not betray Jesus by falling asleep while he prayed –by running away when he was arrested – by disappearing for his crucifixion?  Did Thomas not betray Jesus by insisting on proof?  Did Peter not betray Jesus by denying him three times?

And what about you?  How often, and in how many ways do you betray Jesus?

We are called to follow him – to go where he goes – we know his disciples did not understand at the end, and yet earlier in his mission he sent them out to “cure the sick … and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”

What are you afraid of?  What stops you reaching out to those Jesus reached out to?  To those who are different to you; to those who society has rejected?

Do you find yourself judging those on the outside?  Do you judge yourself by God’s standards?  Can you forgive yourself for your failings the way Jesus forgives the disciples?  Can you accept God’s forgiveness when you get things wrong?

Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him

Can you see the glory of the crucifixion?  Do you see it as triumph or as tragedy?

When your plans do not come to fruition – when God does not seem to answer your prayers – how do you feel?

How easy do you find it to accept that God’s plan might be different to yours?  That God’s will might be different to yours?

How often do we fail God?

Can we accept forgiveness for the times we betray Jesus?

Can we accept God’s will for us?

Lord Jesus Christ, we confess we have failed you as did your first disciples.
We ask for your mercy and your help.

Our selfishness betrays you: Lord, forgive us.  Christ have mercy.

We fail to share the pain of your suffering: Lord, forgive us.
Christ have mercy.

We run away from those who abuse you: Lord, forgive us. Christ have mercy.

We are afraid of being known to belong to you: Lord, forgive us.
Christ have mercy.

May the Father forgive us by the death of his Son and strengthen us to live in the power of the Spirit all our days.
Amen.

Loving God, we thank you for the forgiveness you shower on us.  Help us to accept that you are a God of forgiveness who loves to set us free from the effects of our sin.  Help us too in our attempts to resist temptation and to hold fast to you.

We ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Hear the teaching of Jesus:
‘Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’
Go now to do God’s will;
and the blessing …

Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ Amen

Holy Tuesday Reflection

Tuesday

John 12.20-36

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

In what follows my aim is to provide something for you to reflect on in the silence that follows.  If you find something that you engage with please feel free to stay with it and stop listening to me – what you reflect on for yourself is more important than what I say.

Yesterday we explored what kind of Disciple we were, what our giftings were and how best we could use our gifts.  Today we look at the implications of doing so.

What does living out our discipleship mean?

What does following Jesus look like?

What does it mean to be where Jesus is?

unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain – Is Jesus talking about himself or all of us here?  Whichever, elsewhere he also calls us to take up our cross and follow him.  He goes on to say:

Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life – What does this mean?  Do we have to have to be miserable?  How do we reconcile this with Jesus promise of “life in all its fullness”?

What is your experience of chasing after life?  What about the times you have been less selfish?  Which have led to greater joy?

Have you put your trust in something other than God?  Possessions, health, family, work, your own ability?  Do you remember a time when it worked?  If so how did it feel?  Do you remember a time it let you down?  And if so how did that feel?

Can you remember a time that you have put your trust in God?  Do you remember a time you felt let down?  If so how did it feel?  Do you remember a time that you felt supported?  If so how did that feel?

Whoever serves me must follow me – What do you think it means to follow Jesus?  The disciples literally followed Jesus – leaving behind homes and families.  What are we called to give up if we follow Jesus?

What are the rewards in this life of following Jesus?

where I am, there will my servant be also – Where was Jesus?  Rarely with the religious leaders.  They accused him: “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!”  Jesus said “Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” and ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven’.

With whom did Jesus spend his time?

Where do you spend your time?

Who do you think of as sinners?  What is your attitude towards them?  Do you shun them, or do you welcome them, or do you seek them out?

‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

What did Jesus think of the righteous?

Do you consider yourself righteous or a sinner?

What does living out our discipleship mean?

What does following Jesus look like?

What does it mean to be where Jesus is?

O God, you know my foolishness and my sins are not hidden from you:
Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

Let not the flood overwhelm me nor the depths swallow me up;
let not the pit shut its mouth upon me:
Christ, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.

Hear me,O Lord, as your loving kindness is good; turn to me as your compassion is great:
Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

May God who loved the world so much that he sent his Son to be our Saviour
forgive us our sins and make us holy to serve him in the world,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Loving God – thank you for your call to each of us to follow you.  Help us as we struggle within ourselves to let go of our trust in things other than you, and to rely on you and you alone.  Give us wisdom and strength to discern what you are calling us to today, and to take up that call.

We ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak;
help the afflicted; honour everyone;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Holy Monday Meditation

Monday

John 12.1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

 

In what follows my aim is to provide something for you to reflect on in the silence that follows.  If you find something that you engage with please feel free to stay with it and stop listening to me – what you reflect on for yourself is more important than what I say.

What kind of Disciple are you?

What are your giftings?

Are you Mary, Martha, Judas, Lazarus?  None of them?  All of them?

Don’t be fooled – there is good and bad in all of them.  None of them are all good, or all bad – though some of them might seem like it.

Let’s look at them one at a time.

Lazarus – We know little about Lazarus – we know that he was a brother to Mary and Martha, and that he died and Jesus brought him back from the dead.  We know nothing about what he did – and yet… and yet … he was one of the strongest witnesses to Jesus – to the extent that the Chief Priests wanted to put him to death.  It wasn’t what he did that was his witness – it was what Jesus had done for him, it was who he was.

Rather than ask yourself what you have done for Jesus, ask rather what has Jesus done for you?  Who do people think you are?

Judas – What good is there in Judas?

Judas took on responsibility – he served acting as treasurer for the disciples; he was passionate, there was a strong desire to do what he thought right – what he thought would lead to the right outcome; and he was penitent he recognised he had done wrong and felt remorse for it.

And yet he betrays Jesus for a false idea of Messiahship.  And in a bizarre way he is proved right – although not in the way that he thought.  Jesus had to die to fulfil his destiny – without a betrayal how was that to happen?  Without a Judas there would be no Christianity!  Was Judas betrayal the ultimate act of service he could render to Jesus?

But…  Judas substitutes his thoughts, his ideas, his desires for those of Jesus.  He “knows” what God wants to happen – and goes all out to make sure that it does.

Do you serve as passionately as Judas?  Are you as penitent when you have done something wrong, or do you find it difficult to accept that you have been wrong?  Can you get carried away with your ideas, your views on what is right?  Can you find it difficult to let God make the decisions?

Mary – Mary is a generous and attentive person.  We have heard today of her pouring out the nard – and in another passage we hear of her sitting at Jesus feet learning from him – and Jesus takes her side when others question her behaviour.  However, there may have been a reluctance to act in Mary – when Lazarus died she stayed at home, and Martha’s complaints about her were about her lack of activity.

Are you as generous towards Jesus as Mary was?  Are you as passionate about learning from Jesus as Mary was?  Do you sit back – or do you act?

Martha – Martha is perhaps best known as a grumbler – the one who asked why Mary wasn’t helping her.  Yet Martha is practical – in both that story and this it is Martha who is serving, and when Lazarus dies it is Martha who goes to meet Jesus and has the faith to ask him bring him back from the dead.

Can you be a grumbler?  Complaining when others are using their gifts to do something else?  Are you practical, always willing to serve?  Do you have Martha’s faith – trusting in Jesus?

What kind of Disciple are you?

What are your giftings?

Do you need to explore areas of your weakness to deepen your discipleship?

How best can you use your gifts in God’s service?

 

 

Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess we have failed you as did your first disciples.
We ask for your mercy and your help.  When we take our ease
rather than watch with you:  Lord, forgive us.  Christ have mercy.

When we bestow a kiss of peace yet nurse enmity in our hearts:
Lord, forgive us.  Christ have mercy.

When we strike at those who hurt us rather than stretch out our hands to bless:  Lord, forgive us.  Christ have mercy.

When we deny that we know you for fear of the world and its scorn:
Lord, forgive us.  Christ have mercy.

May God who loved the world so much that he sent his Son to be our Saviour
forgive us our sins and make us holy to serve him in the world,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Loving God, thank you for the gifts you have given each one of us.  Help us to discern what they are, discovering those that are new to us, as well as those we know well.
You know that all gifts can be used for good or ill, so help us too to use them in the way that you would wish, using them in your service to help build your kingdom here on earth.

We ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord

Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith,
a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven;
and the blessing …