Friday, 26 July 2013

St James Day - 25th July - we pray for all who work at Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations

July 25th is St Jame's feast day. James along with his brother John were fishermen earning a modest and sustainable living from the waters of Lake Galilee 2000 years ago. They were called one day by a charismatic figure in whose footsteps they followed for the next three years and for the rest of their lives sought to continue that which they witnessed and were part of as the first disciples of Jesus Christ. tragically this year St James feast day has been associated with death and destruction as the facts of a train crash outside Santiago Compostela because clear this morning. Some of the passengers were  pilgrims travelling to join in the festivities planned for St James.
Kings Cross has had it moments of tragedy, the kings cross fire of 1987 was  commemorated last year on its 25th anniversary at the church of the blessed sacrament. One of the legacies from that tragedy was a tightening up of safety on al l underground stations, a complete ban on smoking was introduced immediately after the fire and wooden escalators were replaced throughout the system.  With millions of passengers travelling though these stations every year it is their safety that is paramount in the mind and actions of the train companies. Emergency planning, in which faith leaders play an essential role, is an important part of the churches work in our city and it is the church leadership that provides the vital link between the statutory agencies, institutions and in the case of Kings Cross Station the travelling public.   
Merciful God 
whose holy apostle St James
leaving his father and all that he had
was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ
and followed him even to death.
help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world
to be ready at all time to answer to your call without delay.
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

The journey of discipleship, like that of life, is one into the unknown. James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred for his faith, he showed that he was ready to answer that ultimate call of faith to
share in the sufferings of Jesus himself so that he could then partake of the reward and goal of that journey. We pray for those who died in the terrible train crash in spain, for their  families whose lives have been shattered by that loss
 and for all who work within the rail industry who strive to keep us from harm. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Reflection for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity

 Greek Orthodox icon of the prophet Amos

This morning's Old Testament reading sees the prophet Amos doing what he does best, denouncing the abuse of the poor:

Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying,
 “When will the new moon be over
  so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
    so that we may offer wheat for sale?
We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
    and practice deceit with false balances,
buying the poor for silver
    and the needy for a pair of sandals,
    and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

The message is quite clear, those who are responsible for the economic exploitation of others are subject to God's judgement, and it is the task of the prophet to proclaim this.

As Christians, with a share in the prophetic work of Christ, we are called to proclaim this message in our own day. Sadly there are plenty of opportunities.

We live in a world where children die hourly from diseases curable at a cost of a few pence. We live in a country where some of the most vulnerable are being made to bear the cost of a recession they did nothing to cause.

People in power are very happy when the churches offer care to the poor. Recently there has been a lot of interest from 'think tanks' in the ability of churches to provide social care. It is easy for Christians to be uncritically flattered by this attention - it's always nice when people notice us!

But there are real dangers here. We are not called to be a cheap alternative to Social Services. We are called to be prophetic: and that involves denouncing the causes of poverty and human suffering. Let's pray today that we don't give in to the temptation to abandon that calling.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Reflection for the 6th Sunday After Trinity

In today's gospel, Jesus sends out some disciples in pairs. They have important work to do - exactly the same work that Jesus does, the prophetic work of healing the sick and preaching the Kingdom of God. We see here the beginnings of the Church's ministry as a share in Jesus' ministry.

If the contemporary Church were sending out a large number of people to do vitally important work, we would no doubt put a lot of planning into it, establish plenty of committees, do a lot of fundraising, and in general make sure the seventy two raw recruits were - to use a piece of ugly management-speak - well resourced.

So what does the Jesus of Luke's gospel do?

He sends them out without purse, bag, or sandals: without the means to keep money or food, making them utterly dependent, They depend for the first part, of course, on God. Later in Luke's gospel, Jesus will teach his disciples to pray for their daily bread. They will also depend on other human beings - on each other, as well as on those who feed them in their houses. Here Luke's gospel anticipates the book of Acts, where we read about the disciples holding their possessions in common, sharing for the good of all.

This passage serves as a reminder to us, at a time of change in the Church, where a lot of thought is going into mission, and where we are experiencing quite a bit of change. Unless our life as a missionary church begins with reliance on God, which finds expression in liturgy and prayer, and is lived out in generous, sharing, communities, it will have little in common with the mission of Jesus.