Speak Lord: Life-given…

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I thank you for the wonder of my being.

O Lord, you search me and you know me,
you know my resting and my rising,
you discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
all my ways lie open to you.

For it was you who created my being,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being,
for the wonders of all your creation.

Already you knew my soul,
my body held no secret from you
when I was being fashioned in secret
and moulded in the depths of the earth.

Psalm for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist
Psalm 138(139):1-3,13-15

God knows us better than we know ourselves. God knew us before we even knew there was an ‘us’ to know! He knows our ultimate purpose, whereas we can often barely see our hand in front of our face…

  • When, how, why have you best known yourself?
  • What mistakes about yourself do you most commonly make about yourself?
  • Bring these awarenesses to God in prayer…

Birthplace of John the Baptist, Ein Kerem, Israel. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

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Speak Lord: Once more in our age…

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Paul said: ‘God deposed Saul and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”

‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you.’

Second reading for Solemnity of Nativity of St John the Baptist.
Acts 13:22-26

How patient God is. His promise endures from age to age, and his purpose is worked out gradually across the generations.

The memory of the community of faith extends backwards, recalling the self-revelation of God and our ancestors response to it. And that memory informs our present response. As St Paul affirms, even to us who (probably) are of Abraham’s race only by adoption, that message of salvation teased out and affirmed by Church and synagogue is meant now for us…

Jesse Window. Anglican Parish church, Stafford. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: name us and mission us

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The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

Gospel for Solemnity of St John the Baptist
Luke 1:57-66,80

Zecariah names his son, or rather Zecariah affirms the name chosen for his son by an angel and confirmed by his wife. The name means ‘Beloved of God. And John is, and his teaching will be that we are too, so beloved that. despite our sin and frailty, the Kingdom of God is close to us , and for us.

  • Who will this child turn out to be?
  • Who will we turn out to be?

Stained glass. St John the Baptist church, Cardiff. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Mercy

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With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
(Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.)

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Responsorial Psalm for 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 129(130)

The darker the world, the brighter the light of grace…

The greater our need, the more wonderful and persuasive the offer of love and compassion that the Lord extends to us…

And we have the privilege of seeking to extend that same mercy to others, and looking for mercy and forgiveness when we fail…

  • Where do you struggle?
  • For what can you give thanks?

Stained glass. Sisters of Mercy’ Convent, Handsworth. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Freedom and hope

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Jesus said to the crowds: ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

Gospel for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 4:26-34

The Kingdom is about fullness, harvest, protection and care…

It is about recognising potential, cherishing it and helping it to achieve what is promised…

  • What helps you do the same?
  • What holds you back?

Birds. Memorial Park, Willenhall.  (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Room available…

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The Lord says this:

‘From the top of the cedar,
from the highest branch I will take a shoot
and plant it myself on a very high mountain.
I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel.
It will sprout branches and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar.
Every kind of bird will live beneath it,
every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches.
And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one
who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow,
who withers green trees and makes the withered green.
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.’

1st Reading for 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 17:22-24

The Lord prepares a place of honour, a place of rest and respite, a home for all the humble, the merciful, the  of the world to gather and to be with him.

The Lord raises the lowly and humbles the proud; he greens the withered and withers the green…

  • Which are we?
  • Why does he call us?
  • How will we respond?

Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada (c) 2008, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: from your Glory

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The Lord says this:

‘From the top of the cedar,
from the highest branch I will take a shoot
and plant it myself on a very high mountain.
I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel.
It will sprout branches and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar.
Every kind of bird will live beneath it,
every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches.
And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one
who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow,
who withers green trees and makes the withered green.
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.’

1st Reading for 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 17:22-24

The glory of the Lord is source for our life and our living.

It is that glory that we seek for in our labours and our harvesting… but always it is gift.

Sutton Park. (c) 2017, Allen Morris