Speak Lord: our protector

Prophet, Emil Nolde. Collection of the Barber Institute,
Birmingham.(c) 2018, Allen Morris

The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst.

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion,
Israel, shout aloud!

Rejoice, exult with all your heart,
daughter of Jerusalem!

The Lord has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away.

The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear. 

When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem:
Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; 
he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.

First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Advent
Zephaniah 3:14-18

The Lord sets us free. He is our saviour.

  • How will you live your freedom?
  • How do you express your joy in his gifts to you?

Taste and See: ours to share

People of Les Halles, Paris. Model in Eglise St Eustache, Paris. (c) 2011, Allen Morris

Accept, we pray, O Lord, these offerings we make,
gathered from among your gifts to us,
and may what you grant us to celebrate devoutly here below
gain for us the prize of eternal redemption.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer over the Offerings
1st Sunday of Advent

‘Love God and love your neighbour.’ This is how Jesus reminded his hearers of the spiritual tradition of Israel.

In Advent/Christmas we will spend more time than usual in prayer (?) making offering to God.

  • What and how will we share with our neighbour?

Taste and See: Past it but still getting ready?

Olympic Stadium. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for the 1st Sunday of Advent

Perhaps the time for running is past. I can’t see too many of our Sunday assembly literally running forth, even to meet Christ at his coming. The spirit may still be willing but the flesh is weak!

But if the flesh is weak, all the more reason for attending to the state of the spirit. If we long for the Lord’s coming then let that longing dominate our choices and actions in these coming days of Advent, and help us dedicate time and energy to recognising what he means to us. Let the longing for him counter those things that would tempt us away from Advent-ing with him, and rob of us of the sense of real and new celebration when Christmas does come.

Those who still can run know the importance of training for the main event. Those who spend more time in their armchairs need to remember that too!

Speak Lord: That we might follow

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

His ways are faithfulness and love
for those who keep his covenant and law.
The Lord’s friendship is for those who revere him;
to them he reveals his covenant.

Common Psalm I for Advent
Psalm 24:4-5,8-9,10,14 

During Advent 2019 our parish is using one of the Common Psalms provided in the Lectionary for the season to encourage the singing of the psalm. So, during Advent, Living Eucharist will feature this psalm, rather than the other ordinarily set. 

We will be using it on Sundays and on weekdays, and singing it either in unison or antiphonally according to circumstances.  

The language of the psalm anticipates the imagery used in Isaiah and by John the Baptist – of journeying to the Lord and with the Lord.

  • What is there about your journey in life that is in tension with what God calls you to?
  • How might you better follow the Lord where he leads?

Judaean Desert. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: God’s glory, our Glory

DSC04555 traherne.jpgGlory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News I preach, and in which I proclaim Jesus Christ, the revelation of a mystery kept secret for endless ages, but now so clear that it must be broadcast to pagans everywhere to bring them to the obedience of faith.

This is only what scripture has predicted, and it is all part of the way the eternal God wants things to be. He alone is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.

Second reading for the 4th Sunday of Advent
Romans 16:25-27

Paul speaks of the triumph of Christ, made known in his ministry and in his victory over death.

This triumph is made known to us, shared with us in faith and in the Sacraments, shared with us so we might live from it and that we might continue to share the gift with others. It is the Christmas/Easter gift that God wishes the whole world to receive and rejoice in.

Detail from Traherne Window by Tom Denny, Hereford Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of your promise of newness

Žilvinas Kempinas Ikon Gallery 2016.jpg

There is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, ‘a day’ can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and fall apart, the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up.

Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.

Second reading for Second Sunday of Advent
2 Peter 3:8-14

What wonders we wait for. Life is grace here and now and graced again and again. But but there is something more we wait and long for.

For here, now, life is marred too, again and again. And we wait for God who will bring that marring and miring to an end, and who offers to bring us and all to new and glorious life – ‘the place where righteousness will be at home’, and we too.

We advance the progress of that which is beyond this time and this place by seeking to live lovingly and well, to enjoy peace and share peace.

  • How might you do that today? And tomorrow?

Image is a detail from work by Žilvinas Kempinas displayed at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2016. (c) Allen Morris, 2016.

Speak Lord: News and Good!


DSC06301The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:

Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.

and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent
Mark 1:1-8

It begins…

Ansd with what confidence and assurance Mark’s Gospel begins.

So much of the Gospel is concerned with challenge, failure, confusion and ambiguity, but there is no doubt that Mark is very clear about the importance of what he speaks and of whom he speaks. This is Gospel, and this is about the Son of God, and it is fulfilment of prophecy.

And the Gospel begins with ALL responding to John, welcoming the one who prepares the way, ALL of Judaea and ALL of Jerusalem make their way to him.

What follows in the 16 chapters of this the shortest Gospel demonstrates how hard it is for many of these to accept the newness of the Gospel and to let go of old ways that hide the glory of God and thwart his will.

As then, so now… We may find ourselves to be faithful to our religion and its expectations, but are we faithful to the love of God and neighbour? That’s the question.

  • So, are you, and how do you know?
  • If you are not, and are ashamed of that, then this is the Gospel for you, to encourage repentance and to instil fresh hope and even courage…

John the Baptist. St John Lateran, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris


Speak Lord: hear us and lead us

2016-09-15 13.53.59a Birmingham shop front.jpg

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
shine forth from your cherubim throne.
O Lord, rouse up your might,
O Lord, come to our help.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again;
give us life that we may call upon your name.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Responsorial Psalm for the first Sunday of Advent
Psalm 79:2-3,15-16,18-19

As Advent begins we do well to ask what do we need saving from, healing of. What do we turn from and what do we look for help to turn to?

The goodness and love of God calls us to wholeness and love. And we will see that in the paradox of the new-born in the poverty of a stable in Bethlehem.

In our often more comfortable and well-worn-in environment, what keeps us from wholeness? What keeps us from love?

The psalmist urges us to join in a prayer to God to help us, guide us, lead us, save us.

Set by Isla Shaw for Act One of Importance of Being Earnest. Birmingham Rep. September 2016. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.



Speak Lord: Grace and Peace

DSC04658 Cathedral Marseille

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ. I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

Second reading for the first Sunday of Advent
1 Corinthians 1:3-9

We have received grace upon grace and yet Paul prays, as we pray for more.

These spiritual gifts, grace, peace, are gifts that we can never do without, and are never called to do without. There are many, many things which seek to draw us from grace, and many, many that threaten to rob us of peace. Yet, these gifts come from God and if we are rooted in him they can never be taken from us.

Sometimes we may let them slip: we may place them in jeopardy, or letting them go find ourselves in trouble. And double the trouble by looking elsewhere than to God for the recovery of the gifts lost…

Advent offers us a time of quiet recollection as we face the darkest days of the year to recollect the coming of the light that is never-ending, and his gifts that are ours for evermore, if we will accept them, again, and again…

  • Where is grace and peace absent in your life? Why?
  • Pray for their restoration.
  • Thank God for his steadfastness.

Cathedral, Marseille. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.



Speak Lord: Wake us up!

IMG_2263a HMS Belfast.jpg

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake. So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Advent
Mark 13:33-37

With all the noise of the secular Xmas going on around us, even the the idea of the opportunity to sleep our way through the coming weeks might seem like a distant dream.

But Jesus calls us to a spiritual awaking, an awareness of the presence and the call of God who is always and everywhere with us.

In this first weeks of Advent the focus of the Church’s Liturgy tends towards the anticipated Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time. But in between the First Coming of  the Incarnation and Nativity, and the Second Coming there is the abiding presence of Jesus Christ to us, not least (as we were reminded in last Sunday’s Gospel in our neighbour and especially those in need).

HMS Belfast, London. (c) 2009, Allen Morris