URC Devotion

Daily Devotion 9th November 2018

Fri, 09/11/2018 - 06:00
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Johannes Olearious (1611-1684) translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) 
revised by John Bell (b 1949) Comfort, comfort now my people;
speak of peace - so says your God.
Comfort those who sit in darkness,
burdened by a heavy load.
To Jerusalem proclaim:
God shall take away your shame.
Now get ready to recover;
guilt and suffering are over

Hear the herald's proclamation
in the desert far and near,
calling all to true repentance,
telling that the Lord is near.
Oh, that warning cry obey!
For your God prepare a way.
Let the valleys rise to greet him
and the hills bow down to meet him.

Straighten out what has been crooked;
make the roughest places plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble,
live as fits God's holy reign.
Soon the glory of the Lord
shall on earth be shed abroad.
Human flesh shall surely see it;
God is ready to decree it.
Olearius was a German pastor and hymnwriter.  This hymn is based on Isaiah 40 and set to the wonderful tuen by Louis Bourgeois (1510-1561) Genevan 42.  Bourgeois worked with Calvin to develop tunes to the Psalms which were, firstly, taught to the children who would then teach their parents.  Elizabeth I of England was very disparaging about these "Genevan jigs" - no doubt todays' tune was one she had in mind!

You can watch and download this video which was put together by Andy Braunston which contains this hymn and images to help churches reflect on it.  It can be freely used in any church.  

A rather more lively, jig like,  rendition showing how the song could be sung is here. Isaiah 40: 1-5 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ Reflection If this hymn doesn’t make you want to dance, you may be singing it wrong!  This is one of the gems I first met in Common Ground, and you can also find it in Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise (the rebadged version of the Scottish Church Hymnary 4).  Even if your church is a bit shy of singing in parts, a little investment in learning the catchy three-part harmony will help you make the most of this hymn in worship.  Settings like this make a powerful contribution to worship - by singing the words ourselves rather than just hearing them we lodge them much more in our consciousness, and by setting them to a memorable tune the effect is even greater.  You’ll also find these five verses from Isaiah set as the first recitative, aria and chorus of the Messiah, but I suspect most churches would find those rather more challenging to incorporate in worship!

These verses are quoted in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s stories of John the Baptist, and if you use the Revised Common Lectionary, they are set as part of the readings for the Second Sunday of Advent in Year B.  I am struck by the emphasis on comfort, rather than the heavier emphasis on repentance in stories about John the Baptist (for example, the ‘brood of vipers’ in Matthew 3:7). They serve as a reminder that our God is a loving and forgiving God, not merely a vengeful God.  Yes, we have things to repent of, but let us first remember God’s comfort. Is that a message we convey in how we and our churches are? Or are we perceived as judgemental and critical?

And even if we avoid making people feel guilty about who they are, do we place an overwhelming burden on people by making them feel that they should be able to sort out the world’s problems? Prayer Lord,
when you came as a powerless baby,
you reminded us that the weak
can overturn the certainties of the strong;
that the poor can teach
the rich about using our resources;
that the leper can show
the healthy how to live in the Kingdom.
As we worry about our failings and insecurities
help us hear the Prophet’s words of comfort
and with hope in our hearts,
live out that hope in the world.
Amen. Today's Writer Gordon Woods, Elder, St. Columba’s URC, Oxford Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 8th November 2018

Thu, 08/11/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward Come and See the Shining Hope
© Christopher Idle / Jubilate Hymns Ltd
  Come and see the shining hope that Christ's apostle saw;
on the earth, confusion but in heaven an open door,
where the living creatures praise the Lamb for evermore:
Love has the victory for ever!

Amen, he comes! to bring his own reward!
Amen, praise God! for justice now restored;
kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of the Lord:
Love has the victory for ever!

All the gifts you send us, Lord, are faithful, good and true;
holiness and righteousness are shown in all you do:
who can see your greatest Gift and fail to worship you?
Love has the victory for ever!

Power and salvation all belong to God on high!
So the mighty multitudes of heaven make their cry,
singing Hallelujah! where the echoes never die:
Love has the victory for ever
The author, Christopher Idle is a retired Anglican priest and prolific hymnwriter.   A rather splendid recording of this hymn at the Royal Albert Hall can be found here. The tune, Marching Through Georgia, was written towards the end of the American Civil War and became a Unionist anthem. Revelation 5: 11 - 14 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, ‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshipped. Reflection A scene like this can be very difficult to imagine in any shape or form and certainly such revelation as was given to John is so different to what we normally see in daily life. However, these inspired words in the hymn give us that glimpse into Heaven as to what our main purpose in that celestial life will hold. Chris Idle’s words, and use of rousing, well-known music, somehow grasp the excitement and elation of what the scene will hold for us believers when we enter into our eternal new home with Jesus.

My husband has always found great inspiration from these words in Revelation, but longed for some real visual representation of such so as to focus his worship upon the Lamb on the Throne. In our congregation we are blessed that one of our members is an artist and he approached her to ask if she could somehow put such into a painting for display within the church. She thought and prayed hard and long, and came up with two pictures of these verses which we are considering today. Therefore, I hope and pray that you will accept these in place of words as they literally paint the picture far more ably than any amount of my words can. Both are now in place within Tabernacle and serve as a focal point upon which we base our worship of the Lamb of God as well as the reigning Lion of the tribe of Judah. Prayer Our awesome, eternal God,
King of all ages,
You alone are the One
to whom all worship, praise and adoration
should be ascribed.
May our gaze be perpetually on you
and not on passing or temporal images,
reminding ourselves that our final home
is with you, singing our eternal Hallelujahs
knowing that love in the nature and person of Jesus
has the victory for ever. Amen. Today's Writer Verena Walder, Lay Preacher & Elder, Tabernacle URC, Mumbles Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 7th November 2018

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 06:00
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(C) The Rev'd Dr Jan Berry Praise to the God who clears the way
preparing room and space;
for power and pride will lose their sway
as peace comes in their place.

Praise to the God who comes to judge
the truth of word and deed,
who calls our minds and wills to change,
rebuking wealth and greed.

Praise to the God who waits with us
for hope and joy to reign,
who shares our suffering and our loss,
embodied in our pain.

Praise to the God who comes to bring
comfort to all who mourn.
The whole creation 'Glory' sings
as Christ the light is born.
Jan Berry is a retired United Reformed Church Minister who lectured, for many years at our Northern College in Manchester.  

This hymn is published in Singing the Faith at 183 and, there, is set to the tune Creator God by the Anglican priest Norman Warren.  The tune can also be found in Church Hymnary 4 at 55.  You can hear the tune here.  An alternative is to double up the verses and sing the hymn, as a two verse hymn, to the tune Kingsfold which can he heard here. St Mark 1: 1 - 8 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Reflection Recuperation has afforded me the time to watch daytime TV, which I can assure you is no particular pleasure! There is, however, a good deal of interest for anyone who enjoys people-watching.

‘Britain’s worst hoarders’ was clearly designed to leave me open-mouthed at the shocking amount of mess that some people can gather and live with. I fear the producers also intended me to laugh at the stupidity of others, but they failed in this case. More than anything I have been left with questions.
Is there some part of each of us that hoards the unnecessary, even if not visibly in our homes in the form of junk-mail, odd bits of wood, or old toasters (“which might be useful one day”)? What needless clutter do we store within us or more widely as the world?

Jan Berry’s wonderful hymn (vs.1) reminded me that God is not simply hoovering a new path through all the hoarded stuff of our lives, covering the smell with Shake-n-Vac.  As in Mark, we are introduced to the idea that God is clearing out, ready for a new way of life to be built in place of the old.
‘Making way’ for God’s realm requires more than piling the clutter into ever taller heaps, it involves the hiring of a skip (or even better a recycling machine!)

As many hoarders will attest, getting rid of all that we have so carefully gathered up can be an arduous and heart-wrenching process, especially when complicated psychological processes have led us to collect it all in the first place.

Over how many years have we stockpiled our ‘need’ for weapons or accumulated profits ahead of people?

How much unrecognised guilt and grief is locked in your attic? Clearing these things from our lives requires more than a gentle tickle with a duster!

Thank God that no stone,
no stack of 1987’s Reform or that ‘useful’ pack of 50 blank cassette tapes,
no inner pain and damage
no social ill or global suffering
is left unturned,
as space is prepared for God’s new Kingdom. Prayer Great God, we bring our praise and thanks
that you fully clear the way
for the living of your Kingdom
this Wednesday and every day. Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Martin Knight is Minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 6th November 2018

Tue, 06/11/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward Light of the World, You Stepped Down into Darkness
© Tim Hughes
  Light of the world,
You step down into darkness
Opened my eyes let me see
Beauty that made
this heart adore you
hope of a life spent with you

So here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

King of all days
Oh so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above
Humbly you came to the earth you created
All for love's sake became poor

So here I am to worship...

And I'll never know how much it cost
to see my sin upon that cross
And I'll never know how much it cost
to see my sin upon that cross


So here I am to worship…
This can be found in Singing the Faith or, easily, on the Internet.  The music can be downloaded for a small fee - just search around if you haven't got it.

You can hear the song here. St John 8: 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. Reflection November is a month of Remembrance: the Gunpowder plot; Armistice, All Saints and All Souls.  I will always remember this song as it was the first hymn at my ordination 5 years ago. What makes it memorable is that the choir from the primary school where I spent time sang and signed it for me.  Sign language is very important to me as I have always talked with my hands, so it made it more meaningful when they signed the hymn at my own special service. It inspired me to finally learn to sign so that I could communicate with those without a voice.  Sadly the lack of practice after qualifying has made me rusty.

Jesus says he is the Light of the World, bringing light to the darkness on our journey.  How can we bring that light to others? How do we remember those who are in need and bring them the hope of Christ?  Are we out of practice in our sharing of the Gospel with others? If we do not use our gifts we run the risk of losing them. If we share our gifts then others benefit.  

May we shine our light in the darkness so that others can find their way on their journey of faith, so that we can all come to worship the God of beauty; the God of light; the God of love. Prayer Light of the world, you shared in our darkness, that we may see your light.
Hope of the world, you shared in our poverty, that we may see your greatness
King of all days, you shared in our death, that we may see your life
So here we are to worship,
here we bow down,
in total awe of your beauty, your wonder, your magnificence.  
Show us how to be the light in our community,
that all may see and know that You are Love. Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Ruth Watson Minister of Patricroft and Worsley Road URCs Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 5th November 2018

Mon, 05/11/2018 - 06:00
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English Praise version, 1975 Tune Little Conard Hills of the North, rejoice,
river and mountain-spring,
hark to the advent voice;
valley and lowland, sing.
Christ comes in righteousness and love,
he brings salvation from above.

2 Isles of the Southern seas,
sing to the listening earth,
carry on every breeze
hope of a world's new birth:
In Christ shall all be made anew,
his word is sure, his promise true.

3 Lands of the East, arise,
he is your brightest morn,
greet him with joyous eyes,
praise shall his path adorn:
your seers have longed to know their Lord;
to you he comes, the final Word.

4 Shores of the utmost West,
lands of the setting sun,
welcome the heavenly guest
in whom the dawn has come:
he brings a never-ending light
who triumphed o'er our darkest night.

5 Shout, as you journey home,
songs be in every mouth,
lo, from the North they come,
from East and West and South:
in Jesus all shall find their rest,
in him the universe be blest.
Charles Edward Oakley, the author, was an Anglican priest who ended up as rector of St Paul's Covent Garden in London.  He died in 1865 and this hymn was published five years after his death.  It wasn't possible to include a revised version of the hymn (the original words were felt to have colonialist allusions) in Rejoice and Sing and also pair it with the tune Little Cornard (to which is it is, almost always, sung).  Interestingly in the years since Rejoice and Sing was published it has, in revised version, entered various editions of Hymns Ancient and Modern and is also found in Singing the Faith .  It isn't included in Church Hymnary 4 used, primarily, in Scotland.                   

A rather splendid rendition of the hymn can be heard here.
  Isaiah 43: 5-6 Do not fear, for I am with you;
   I will bring your offspring from the east,
   and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up’,
   and to the south, ‘Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
   and my daughters from the end of the earth— Reflection The hymn by Charles Edward Oakley and the reading both place their respective readers (perhaps I should say “singers”) squarely in the crosshairs of a compass centre-point. Every direction is invoked to participate in an encircling carnival. Oakley invokes North, South, East and West to see, and to rejoice. The moment is this one. Now is the time. The writer’s tense is the present moment, but in the sense of what is seen on the horizon.

It seems to me that the Reading is doing something connected but different. The writer's moment is yet to come, the aspect is promise. He speaks of what will be in future tense. In its way, though, the Reading is more specific. It’s action more concrete. Real justice for real sons and daughters, real flesh and blood.

Peter Rollins wrote once that the great stumbling block of Christianity - or one of them - was its insistence on a particular instance over speculative general possibility: the claim on our lives of this moment, this saviour, this place and this hope.

It is easy to believe in the possibility of a saviour, of a possible hope, in another moment. But the claim that divinity inhabits a particular life, and that the divine is active in a particular moment makes a response unavoidable. I must judge if it is true and how it is true. I cannot hide in speculation about possibility or metaphysics. A response of heart and hand - and head – is called out from me. Prayer Put your ear to the ground
and identify the noises around you.
Predominant are anxious, restless footsteps,
frightened footsteps in the dark,
footsteps bitter and rebellious.
No sound yet of hope’s first footsteps.
Glue your ear to the ground again.
Hold your breath
put out your advance antennae.
The Master is on his way,
most likely he will not get here
when things are going well,
but in the bad times
when the going’s unsure and painful.

(From “A Procession of Prayers” compiled by John Carden) Today's Writer The Rev’d Dr John McNeil Scott is Principal of the Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College   Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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A break in the series...

Sun, 04/11/2018 - 18:00
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Dear <<First Name>>

We leave David in his newly established capital having transferred the religious centre to Jerusalem to consolidate his rule and now turn to some new, possibly, to you Advent hymns.  We hope that by looking at these now they may help refresh worship in the Advent season.

Over the time we’ve been producing the Daily Devotions we have, from time to time, reflected on hymns from the Reformed Tradition, on Advent and Christmas hymns as well as Eastertide material.  We thought we’d take a different approach and look at some, possibly, new to you Advent hymns early on and hope they may help in local churches that might be looking for different material this advent.  Producing these in November may seem odd but we think the hymns are worth looking at any point of the year and, this way, they may inspire those who plan worship for Advent.

We will look at:

Hills of the North Rejoice - not at all new but, curiously, omitted from Rejoice and Sing
Light of the World, You Stepped Down into Darkness - a newer song, from the evangelical tradition, by Tim Hughes.
Praise to the God who Clears the Way - a newer song by the Rev'd Jan Berry, one of our own ministers.
Come and See the Shining Hope - a song by Bishop Christopher Idle set to the very jolly tune Marching Through Georgia
Comfort, Comfort Now My People - a hymn based on Isaiah 40 coming from the 16th Century and set to one of the better tunes from Calvin's Geneva which infuriated Queen Elizabeth I.  The tune is tricky but very worthwhile learning.
When Out of Poverty Is Born - a lovely hymn by Church of Scotland minister Kathy Galloway.

Each day we will produce the words of the song and either give a link to the song being sung or to the tune it is set to.  Copyright information will be included and well as where to find the song in hymnbooks.

We hope you enjoy this little break from the David saga.


with every good wish

Andy

Andy Braunston
Coordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC Project

 

  

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(Possibly) New to you Advent Hymns

Sun, 04/11/2018 - 18:00
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Advent Hymns

Dear <<First Name>>

We leave David, for a while, in his newly established capital having transferred the religious centre to Jerusalem to consolidate his rule and now turn to some new, possibly, to you Advent hymns.  We hope that by looking at these now they may help refresh worship in the Advent season.

Over the time we’ve been producing the Daily Devotions we have, from time to time, reflected on hymns from the Reformed Tradition, on Advent and Christmas hymns as well as Eastertide material.  We thought we’d take a different approach and look at some, possibly, new to you Advent hymns early on and hope they may help in local churches that might be looking for different material this advent.  Producing these in November may seem odd but we think the hymns are worth looking at any point of the year and, this way, they may inspire those who plan worship for Advent.  We will reproduce the words, where possible, provide links to the music and comment on them and the Biblical verses that inspired the writers.

Remember, if you would prefer to receive the Devotions as booklets either for your own use or for people in your congregation who might prefer them in a paper format, you can sign up to receive them here.  They are produced a couple of months in advance.  Previous booklets are on the Devotions' Website here.


with every good wish

Andy

Andy Braunston
Coordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC Project

 

  

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Daily Devotion 4th November 2018

Sun, 04/11/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward Psalm 71: 1-10 In you, O LORD, I’ve taken refuge;
protect me ever from disgrace.
Rescue and save me in your justice;
turn to me as I seek your face.

Be my strong rock and my sure refuge
to which I always may resort;
Give the command to help and save me,
because you are my rock and fort.

From wicked hands, my God, O save me,
from cruel hands of violence.
For, Sov’reign LORD, you’ve been my refuge
and since my youth my confidence.

From birth I have relied upon you;
you are the guide of all my ways.
Out of my mother’s womb you brought me;
to you I ever will give praise.

To many I’m a cause of wonder,
but you are still my refuge strong.
My mouth is filled with adoration,
praising your splendour all day long.

When I am old, do not desert me,
or leave me when my strength is gone.
For my opponents speak against me,
conspiring how to bring me down.
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this to the lovely Scots tune Bunillidh here.  It can also be sung to the tune Spiritus Vitea and here you can hear a vocalist sing it. Reflection The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV) describes this Psalm as “an aged worshipper’s prayer for deliverance from personal enemies”. As someone who is rapidly approaching the validity of the description “aged worshipper” (although maybe not as a “cause of wonder”!) perhaps I can resonate with the pleas for God not to “desert me or leave me when my strength is gone”, recognising that God is, has been and always will be “my strong rock and my sure refuge to which I may always resort”. Of course, there have been times in my life when the surety of that strength and refuge have seemed to be elusive.

The word “refuge” gives me pause however. What do we mean by it? Is it somewhere to hide away, to escape from the world and those in it? Proverbs 18:10 uses a slightly different metaphor, describing the name of the Lord as “a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe”. A worship song by Clinton Utterbach often sung with gusto in some Christian gatherings uses these words as part of the refrain.

Towers are often found as strong defensive points in castles: places of refuge, keeping the enemy at bay. Almost by definition, there are no points of contact between those inside and out, except for missiles hurled back and forth.

Sadly, that is how some outside the Church can perceive those within – a “holy huddle”, hurling out condemnations of those whose lifestyles they do not approve of, and surrounded by walls impenetrable to those who do not conform.

We need the refuge of God not as a defence against the world, but as a place of quiet retreat, a storehouse from which to draw provisions which enable us to demonstrate the love of God for the world in the world, never brought down.     Prayer God, our refuge and our strength
our help in times of need
help us to use your strength
not as defence
but as confidence.

The needs of the world around us
are manifest
and at times
seem to be
insurmountable.

But with your gifts
of courage, faith and cheerfulness
we can break out of
our restraints of
defensiveness,
inspiring wonder.

This we pray.   Today's Writer The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon.  He is a member at Upton-by-Chester URC Bible Version   Sing Psalms! © Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank St, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 3rd November 2018

Sat, 03/11/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward from 2 Samuel 6 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.  David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio,[the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart  with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

When they came to the threshing-floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it.  The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God.  David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day…

...So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

...David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, ‘How the king of Israel honoured himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!’ David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord.  I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honour.’ And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death. Reflection David was a pretty boy.  When Samuel picked him out to succeed Saul as King he was the Cinderella of the family – left on the hillside to keep the sheep while his elders and betters met the prophet in Jesse’s house at Bethlehem. He became Prince Charming – red-haired, beautiful eyes and handsome (1 Samuel 16). He ruled for 40 years through good times and bad, always a charmer, especially with other men’s wives. Senior Citizens like me saw the movie: “David and Bathsheba” (Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward 1951). David was chosen to do God’s work not because he was a saint but because he knew in his heart that he was God’s servant before he could be Israel’s king, whether he liked it or not, We are chosen too.

David “danced before the Lord” with all his people -  the cymbals, tambourines, and harps joined in. You don’t get that in “Strictly”. David danced before the Lord, not the Ark. The Ark was only the symbol of God’s presence, accompanying Israel on their wanderings and battles. Their neighbours and enemies had special places where the gods lived: sacred shrines and special stones. But Israel’s God was everywhere and anywhere. The Ark was their reassurance; it was powerful (see “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) but not the reality, David knew that, and that was why he danced wearing nothing more than a linen ephod, not like a king, but like a priest, a servant of God, much to his straight-laced wife’s disgust,  David knew it was better to dance for joy in your boxers than pretend to be what you are not. Reflect on this moment in the great story of our deliverance, from the house of Jesse in Bethlehem and on to Jerusalem to find the King of Kings dancing to his cross so that we might be the forgiven and redeemed people of God (“The Greatest Story Ever Told” Technicolour 1965).   Prayer Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise Thee,
In my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise Thee;
Small it is in this poor sort to enrol Thee,
E’en eternity’s too short to extol Thee George Herbert Today's Writer The Rev’d Peter Moth is a retired minister in the Northern Synod and a member of St Andrew’s URC, Kenton, Newcastle upon Tyne. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 2nd November

Fri, 02/11/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward 2 Samuel 5: 1 -5 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’  So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years. Reflection Anointed by the prophet Samuel when called from tending his father’s flocks (1 Sam 16), David proved himself as a leader in battles and in respect for God.  So the elders of all the tribes at last recognised that the Lord had said David would shepherd his people and become their ruler. This Lord is God who identified himself as 'I am', when he called Moses from looking after flocks to bring the Israelites out of suffering in Egypt (Exodus 3:13-15).

The duplicitous Jacob in his old age identified God, who had renamed him Israel, as his shepherd throughout his life, and he believed God the Shepherd was enabling his son Joseph and his descendants to survive and be fruitful (Genesis 48:15, 49:22-25).

In the steps of leaders who first asked Samuel for a king, later generations longed for another king like David, but God had much more to give.

“A ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel” was quoted by Herod’s advisers to the Magi, combined with Micah 5:2 locating the birth in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:6).  “Son of the Most High … throne of his ancestor David … of his kingdom there will be no end,” the angel said to Mary (Luke 1:32-33).

Then we hear Jesus identifying himself and his mission: "I am the good shepherd".
  • “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
  • “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.” (John 10:11-18)
Prayer Thank you, God, for
shepherding us through our lives.
Thank you for your great work of
bringing all people into your flock.
Please help
us to live the life of Jesus in his mission today. Today's Writer The Rev’d Bernie Collins, retired minister; member of Avenue St Andrew’s URC, Southampton; convenor of URC Mission Committee. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 1st November 2018 All Saints' Day

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 06:00
96 Daily Devotion 1st November 2018 All Saints' Day table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; 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Rejoice and Sing 658 For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

3. For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

4. O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

5. For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

6. For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

7. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

8. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

9. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

10. But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

11. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

William Walsham How 1864
  You can hear a Cathedral Choir sing this hymn here St Matthew 5: 1 - 12 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Reflection
Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, follows the exploits of the last active priest in a state, which had outlawed the Church, in Mexico.  The priest travels incognito from village to village, saying mass, hearing confessions, baptising babies and praying for those who had died.  He is not presented as being at all heroic: a clumsy whisky priest with a daughter from an illicit relationship. However, despite the opportunity he doesn’t escape but, in his imperfections, continues to minister to his flock - after all there’s no one else.  Eventually he is captured, refuses to accept a state pension, renounce his orders and live in safety so, inevitably, he is shot. Awaiting execution it occurs to him that really it wouldn't have been that hard to be a saint and he thinks of today’s reading and the list of beatitudes which mark the lives of the saints.  The irony is that the priest, who thinks he’s a failure, by being executed is a martyr and will be venerated as a saint - though the Church will whitewash his failings.

We believe we are part of the Communion of Saints - fellowship not just with other Christians now but with all those who have gone before and all those yet to come.  As How wrote in his great hymn, we are united with saints of old who nobly struggled to live a life of sanctity, with apostles, evangelists and martyrs as well as with the ordinary, everyday saints as much as with the whisky priests.  Now the saints rest in “the calm of paradise the blessed” but they wait for “lo there breaks a yet more glorious day” when the saints, and us will be called back to life by our risen Lord and we, with them will rejoice as the King of Glory passes by.  

Until then we sinners wait in our present imperfection seeking to be holy and change the world as a place fit for saints. Prayer Remind us, Good Lord,
that Heaven shall not wait for triumphant Hallelujahs,
when earth has passed and we reach another shore.
Remind us, Gentle God, that Jesus is Lord in our present imperfection;
and that his power and love are for now and then for evermore. Amen

after John Bell and Graham Moule’s Heaven Shall Not Wait.   Today's Writer The Rev'd Andy Braunston is Minister of Barrhead, Shawlands and Stewarton URCs in the Synod of Scotland's Southside Cluster.  He is also the co-ordinator the URC Daily Devotions project. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 31st October 2018

Wed, 31/10/2018 - 06:00
96 Daily Devotion 31st October 2018 table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward from 2 Samuel 1: 17 - 27 David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan.  (He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.  He said:

our glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
   How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
   proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
   the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

You mountains of Gilboa,
   let there be no dew or rain upon you,
   nor bounteous fields!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
   the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

From the blood of the slain,
   from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
   nor the sword of Saul return empty.

Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
   In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
   they were stronger than lions.

O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
   who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,
   who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

How the mighty have fallen
   in the midst of the battle!

Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
   I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
   your love to me was wonderful,
   passing the love of women.

How the mighty have fallen,
   and the weapons of war perished!   Reflection “How the mighty have fallen” – it’s a phrase we still use, but the connotations have changed rather. Today, we might use it of a politician who climbed to the top on the bodies of comrades, now disgraced and removed from office. We might use it of an overly-ambitious colleague, once the boss’s pet, now sacked for fraud; the jumped-up cheat who finally got what they deserved.

But when David speaks these words over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, there is no triumph at another’s downfall. There is no sense of ‘serves them right’. Which, to be honest, is rather strange.

How many Psalms are David praying that God would strike his enemies? Lots! “O God, break the teeth in their mouths” he prays in Psalm 58, “The righteous will rejoice when they see vengeance done.” And it’s probably Saul that David it writing about.

It’s quite understandable. Saul has made David’s life a complete misery, trying to murder him almost since they met. It’s right that David should express his anger, fear, frustration to his Lord.

But why this lament then? It sounds more like something you’d write when your best friend dies, or someone you admire. When the person you’d been hoping would walk under a bus (or the Old Testament equivalent) finally gets it, shouldn’t you rejoice? Every good story should end with the goodies triumphing over the baddies.

And surely, it’s a bit hypocritical to pray for God to smite your enemy and then write a lament when he does.

Or perhaps, are people a bit more complicated than just ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’?   Prayer God of Justice, God of mercy,
who causes your sun to rise
on the evil and on the good,
teach us to see others and ourselves through your eyes;
to rightly lament the faults in ourselves
and generously praise you
for the good in others;
be they our friends or our enemies.
That we may be your children,
Through Christ our Lord,
Amen Today's Writer Fay Rowland is a graduate student at Wesley House, Cambridge, and worships at St Botolph’s Anglican Church, Northamptonshire. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 30th October 2018

Tue, 30/10/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward 1 Samuel 31: 1 - 13 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and many fell on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua, the sons of Saul.  The battle pressed hard upon Saul; the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by them. Then Saul said to his armour-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, so that these uncircumcised may not come and thrust me through, and make sport of me.’ But his armour-bearer was unwilling; for he was terrified. So Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.  When his armour-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armour-bearer and all his men died together on the same day. When the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their towns and fled; and the Philistines came and occupied them. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.  They cut off his head, stripped off his armour, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to the houses of their idols and to the people. They put his armour in the temple of Astarte; and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men set out, travelled all night long, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. They came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted for seven days. Reflection I have taken hundreds of funerals over the years: celebrations after a life well lived; gut wrenchingly sad following the death of a child or a life wasted through drugs or alcohol; others where the only response was to commend the deceased to God’s mercy and care after a truly awful life.  In some the family were, frankly, indifferent; in others the family was more interested in the feud (or the will) than the deceased.

In all the funerals I have taken, however, I have always been struck by the respect and professionalism of undertakers.  In my previous ministry I was very involved with one firm, in particular, and was amazed at the care they showed to the body of the deceased; the care of the embalmer, a hairdresser who would come and give women who had died a final hair do, so they looked good - for no charge, and the general sense of gentleness the undertakers always took - mindful the person had been loved and had loved throughout life.
 
A common aspect of almost all human cultures is the respect we give to the bodies of the dead.  Today’s reading, then, is shocking. Saul’s understandable fear about how his body would be desecrated by his enemies, and the fearlessness of the “valiant” men who went to reclaim it and give it a decent burial, reminds me of the women who went to tend to Jesus’ body after his bloody death.  

We have followed Saul’s story over the last few weeks, seen his instability, jealousy, cunning and scheming facing a son-in-law determined to usurp him, a relentless enemy and, at the same time, seeking to consolidate his hold on the throne.  We may not have been very impressed with him but feel he deserved better than this end.

Pray today for those who die, unloved and unlamented, and for those who undertake their final journeys ensuring dignity and grace.   Prayer Lord Jesus,
you had no grave of your own,
your body was brutalised before death,
and no arrangements
could be made for your funeral,
give grace to those who wash corpses,
tend to the dead
and ensure dignity to the deceased,
that as they await resurrection,
we, and they, may sing your glory.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev’d Andy Braunston is minister of Barrhead, Shawlands and Stewarton URCs in the Synod of Scotland’s Southside Cluster. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 29th October 2018

Mon, 29/10/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward from 1 Samuel 24: 1 - 22 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, ‘David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.’  Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to look for David and his men in the direction of the Rocks of the Wild Goats.  He came to the sheepfolds beside the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.  The men of David said to him, ‘Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, “I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.”’ Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak.  Afterwards David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. He said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ So David scolded his men severely and did not permit them to attack Saul. Then Saul got up and left the cave, and went on his way. Afterwards David also rose up and went out of the cave and called after Saul, ‘My lord the king!’ When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance.  David said to Saul, ‘Why do you listen to the words of those who say, “David seeks to do you harm”? This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave; and some urged me to kill you, but I spared you….” See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the corner of your cloak, and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. May the Lord judge between me and you! May the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you...When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, ‘Is that your voice, my son David?’ Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, ‘You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil.  Today you have explained how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. Now I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not wipe out my name from my father’s house.’ So David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold. Reflection What I love most about the stories in the Hebrew Scriptures is not that they are full of magnificent heroes who get everything right (or indeed others who are out and out ‘baddies.’)  Rather, again and again I see God working through frequently flawed and imperfect people … just like you and me!

I find it reassuring and encouraging that the first King of the Hebrews was in many ways a disaster, although actually Saul achieved a huge amount in the face of what I see as a massively challenging health condition.  And likewise David, as we shall explore later, is far from lily-white. But again what I admire about the compilers of the tales is that they included the stories when the characters let themselves down dreadfully! Moses, Samson, Jephthah and indeed David are cases in point and their imperfections were not written out of the Scriptures.

But here, David does the right thing even if not the strategically advantageous thing.  He proves his worth and his loyalty when he has the opportunity to deal with his adversary once and for all.  He chooses, rather, to show mercy to his father-in-law. We live in an era when people, politicians and world leaders, in my view, far too often jump to conflict and confrontation when meeting, talking and working out things peacefully are not only possible, but preferable too.  

Would we have the Syrian refugee numbers, the rise of al-Qaeda / ISIS etc. if that better way had been followed, I wonder?  We follow a Saviour who taught justice, peace and turning the other cheek after all, and one who perhaps, as a Son of David, exhibited the same level of love and mercy and his ancestor, even forgiving his persecutors while on the Cross.   Prayer God of mercy, love and peace,
teach us to hold your ways in mind
in the face of provocation,
hatred, violence and anger.
May we learn
to cut the corners of cloaks off,
rather than cutting the corner
of reason and discussion
and going straight to conflict.  Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Peter Clark is the URC Minister of the Bridport and Dorchester Joint Pastorate (Methodist & URC) Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 28th October 2018

Sun, 28/10/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward Psalm 70 1 Make haste, O God, to save me;
O LORD, come to my aid.
2 May those who seek to kill me
be utterly dismayed.
May all who seek my ruin
be turned back in disgrace,
3 And may all those who mock me
with shame their steps retrace.

4 But may all those who seek you
rejoice in you always;
May those who love salvation
say, “To our God be praise!”
5 Yet I am poor and needy;
come quickly, God, I pray.
You are my help and saviour;
O LORD, do not delay.

You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this to the tune Bremen here Reflection Psalms can be used in a variety of circumstances. The words of Psalm 70 with a few minor but significant changes are also found in Psalm 40:13-17. It is difficult to date the Psalms but generally Psalm 70 is considered the older. Psalm 70 uses the word Elohim, translated in the English as God in verses 1 and 4 as opposed to YHWH, 'the Lord', in Psalm 40. Psalm 70 is regarded as the lament of an individual whereas Psalm 40 is one of thanksgiving.

In the first half of the Psalm the Psalmist asks for help in face of opposition,. Unusually unlike the plea in many Psalms the Psalmist does not ask for enemies to be destroyed. The Psalmist essentially wants them to turn round and flee, rather like a retreating army.

The Psalmist goes on to reflect upon those who are faithful to God. The Psalmist urges those who seek God to rejoice and praise. The Psalmist has moved beyond personal need to pray for others. Then right at the end the Psalmist returns to the plea made at the beginning for God to make haste to save and begs God not to delay.

Psalm 70 is not long;  it does not contain glorious, memorable lines but it can be applied to a variety of situations. If we use it in prayer, we may feel it does not particularly apply to us but even so we may realise the Psalm speaks to others in need of God's help, a help that needs to quickly come.
Common Worship of the Church of England in the opening responses for morning and evening prayer uses words long used in monastic worship:

O God, make speed to save us:
O Lord, make haste to help us.   Prayer Gracious God,
we thank you for the psalmists,
whose words through the ages have addressed human need and concerns.
Whose words speak to our own condition,
with deep sighs of lamentation,
with songs of praise,
with words that bring comfort in distress.
We give thanks  and pray for those
whose concerns are deep,
whose troubles are life sapping.
We pray, God,
that you will quickly help and save...
In Christ's name we pray.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Dr David Whiting, Minister, Sunderland and Boldon URC Partnership Bible Version   Sing Psalms! © Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank St, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotions 27th October 2018

Sat, 27/10/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward from 1 Samuel 22: 6 - 23 Saul heard that David and those who were with him had been located. Saul was sitting at Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. Saul said to his servants who stood around him, ‘Hear now, you Benjaminites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds?  Is that why all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a league with the son of Jesse, none of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today.’ Doeg the Edomite, who was in charge of Saul’s servants, answered, ‘I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech son of Ahitub; he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.’ The king sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and for all his father’s house, the priests who were at Nob; and all of them came to the king. Saul said, ‘Listen now, son of Ahitub.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, my lord.’  Saul said to him, ‘Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, by giving him bread and a sword, and by inquiring of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today?’ Then Ahimelech answered the king, ‘Who among all your servants is so faithful as David? He is the king’s son-in-law, and is quick to do your bidding, and is honoured in your house. Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? By no means! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any member of my father’s house; for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.’ The king said, ‘You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.’ The king said to the guard who stood around him, ‘Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David; they knew that he fled, and did not disclose it to me.’ But the servants of the king would not raise their hand to attack the priests of the Lord. Then the king said to Doeg, ‘You, Doeg, turn and attack the priests.’ Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests; on that day he killed eighty-five who wore the linen ephod.  Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep, he put to the sword. But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. David said to Abiathar, ‘I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible[c] for the lives of all your father’s house. Stay with me, and do not be afraid; for the one who seeks my life seeks your life; you will be safe with me.’ Reflection Saul is in a bad place. Spear in hand, sitting under the tamarisk tree at Gibeah, his capital town, he feels threatened and knows not who to trust. He feels threatened by David and doesn’t trust his own tribe or even his own son, Jonathan.

With this sense of threat and betrayal firmly established in his mind, he hears only the things that affirm and confirm his outlook. He is deaf to all evidence to the contrary. As a result, Doeg’s tale about David and the priests “makes sense” to him but no amount of reasoned explanation from Ahimelech makes a difference.

Saul’s power and authority, when combined with his mindset, compound the negative outcomes. He becomes a terror and a tyrant, slaughtering priests. As a result, he is now at odds with his own people and he drives the sole survivor of the massacre into support for David.

Paying heed to stories because they happen to support my outlook is a widespread human trait. So is dismissing out of hand the stories that challenge my own established views. Today’s tendency to inhabit silos of the like-minded in the social media world only exacerbates the problem. I need to listen carefully, especially to those who are telling me things I do not want to hear. They may be my best friends rather than my enemies. They just might prevent me misusing the power that I have in ways which hurt the innocent.   Prayer Gracious God,
Encourage me to listen to others,
Especially when I do not like what they have to say,
So that I might understand them,
Know myself,
And hear you voice.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev’d Trevor Jamison, Minister, St Columba’s United Reformed Church, North Shields Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 26th October 2018

Fri, 26/10/2018 - 06:00
96 Daily Devotion 26th October 2018 table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward 1 Samuel 21: 10- 22:5  David rose and fled that day from Saul; he went to King Achish of Gath.  The servants of Achish said to him, ‘Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands”?’ David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of King Achish of Gath. So he changed his behaviour before them; he pretended to be mad when in their presence. He scratched marks on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle run down his beard. Achish said to his servants, ‘Look, you see the man is mad; why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?’

David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.  David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. He said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and mother come[a] to you, until I know what God will do for me.’ He left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, ‘Do not remain in the stronghold; leave, and go into the land of Judah.’ So David left, and went into the forest of Hereth. Reflection Gath is really David’s second stop whilst fleeing Saul, after fleeing first to Nob yesterday (in Daily Devotion timescale). But reaching Gath we see David really trying to hide who he really is. Scared of what might happen to him if the King didn’t think he was mad. A very clever technique. Quite the fall from grace from a man who’s lining up to be a king. Those in Gath knew that David had killed thousands, ten-fold more than Saul, so before he had even arrived in Gath, he was being judged.

How many times do we, as Christians, hide our God-given, Jesus-inspired lives simply because we want to avoid confrontation? We stand idle in the face of injustice, we stay silent in the face of inequality.

Despite this façade being put on, Achish showed hostility towards David when he became mad. (I’m surprised he didn’t see right through it!). Although perhaps that’s what David was after, an easy way out! It wasn’t abnormal in those times to show hostility to difference.

And then, towards the end of this passage, despite his moving and escaping and fleeing. We hear of David retaining his trust in God, trust that he will be led to wherever he needs to be, whenever he needs to be.   Prayer Loving Lord,
help us to use our God-given gifts,
showing them off to the world
and not hiding our lights under a bushel.
Help us to trust in you,
that your guiding hand may deliver us
to the right place at the right time
so that Your kingdom may come
and your will may be done. Amen Today's Writer Dan Morrell is the Immediate-Past Youth Assembly Moderator, member at St Andrew’s, Roundhay Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 25th October 2018

Thu, 25/10/2018 - 06:00
96 Daily Devotion 25th October 2018 table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward 1 Samuel 21: 1 -9 David came to Nob to the priest Ahimelech. Ahimelech came trembling to meet David, and said to him, ‘Why are you alone, and no one with you?’  David said to the priest Ahimelech, ‘The king has charged me with a matter, and said to me, “No one must know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.” I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what have you at hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.’  The priest answered David, ‘I have no ordinary bread at hand, only holy bread—provided that the young men have kept themselves from women.’ David answered the priest, ‘Indeed, women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition; the vessels of the young men are holy even when it is a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?’  So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord; his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s shepherds. David said to Ahimelech, ‘Is there no spear or sword here with you? I did not bring my sword or my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.’  The priest said, ‘The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you will take that, take it, for there is none here except that one.’ David said, ‘There is none like it; give it to me.’ Reflection This passage highlights the centrality of both love and the avoidance of sin. Ahimelech was in breach of the law in giving the consecrated bread to David as it was only supposed to be given to priests (Lev. 24:5-9). In giving it to him, Ahimelech was recognising David’s need and putting this above religious ceremony, thus upholding a higher law of love. Centuries later, Jesus used this incident to illustrate that God’s laws should be implemented with compassion (Mat. 12:1-8; Lk. 6:1-5).

It seems David is lying to protect himself. There may have been mitigating circumstances and a war going on but, interestingly, no one condoned hm. We discover in chapter 22 that David’s actions led to the deaths of 85 priests.

The Bible makes it clear that lying is wrong and that, just like other sins, it can lead to all kinds of harmful consequences, intended or otherwise.   Prayer Dear Lord,
Your greatest commandments
are that we should love You
and love one another.
Help us to show our love
in everything we say
and everything we do.
Help us to avoid sin.
Instead, help us to come to You
for guidance before we speak or act.
When we do make mistakes,
help us to acknowledge them
before You and to accept Your forgiveness
and help moving forward.
In Jesus’ name, Amen Today's Writer Jeff Newall is a Lay Preacher and member of Christ the Vine Community Church, Milton Keynes. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 24th October 2018

Wed, 24/10/2018 - 06:00
96 Daily Devotion 24th October 2018 table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward 1 Samuel 20: 35 - 42 In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him was a little boy.  He said to the boy, ‘Run and find the arrows that I shoot.’ As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called after the boy and said, ‘Is the arrow not beyond you?’ Jonathan called after the boy, ‘Hurry, be quick, do not linger.’ So Jonathan’s boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. But the boy knew nothing; only Jonathan and David knew the arrangement. Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said to him, ‘Go and carry them to the city.’ As soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He bowed three times, and they kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more.  Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.”’ He got up and left; and Jonathan went into the city. Reflection Saul and David had originally been close (16:21), but love was replaced by jealousy. The author makes a point of David’s looks (17:42) and that he captured the heart of two of Saul’s children – Jonathan (18:1) and Michal (18:20). David seemed to be quite the catch!

But as we have read, Saul’s jealousy rose to the level of murderous intent, and Jonathan’s secret signal to David confirmed this, leaving David only one course of action – exile.

The depth of relationship between Jonathan and David is a source of inspiration and comfort to many, especially to our local church’s Metropolitan Congregation with its mission to the LGBT community, but not just for a gay interpretation of their relationship.

Over the years, we have welcomed dozens of folk seeking asylum in the UK, who, like David, suddenly found themselves in danger - even in fear of their lives - when their sexuality was discovered or disclosed. Akin to Saul’s anger, the often violent anger and rejection by family, friends and neighbours was real: many, literally, bear the scars and carry them emotionally.

Very often, the only safe way out for them is a careful, yet desperate plan to escape abroad, often with the help of a sympathetic loved-one – just as Jonathan assisted David – but who must take precautions to protect themselves, like Jonathan’s secret signal with the arrows.

This passage is also the last recorded meeting between David and Jonathan, so it is no surprise that they wept together.

Of the 68.5 million refugees worldwide, 3.1 million are seekers of asylum [Source: UNHCR]. That is a lot of tears welling up from long-parting, often never to return.

One recurring theme across the arc of Scripture is to welcome those in need, a Biblical message that remains relevant today.   Prayer Lord Jesus, You say to us:
“Just as you did it to one of the least
of these who are members of my family,
you did it to Me.”
Help us to become
the people You call us to be.
Amen. Today's Writer Walt Johnson, Elder, Wilbraham St Ninian’s URC Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion 23rd October 2018

Tue, 23/10/2018 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward 1 Samuel 20: 19 - 34 Jonathan said to him, ‘Tomorrow is the new moon; you will be missed, because your place will be empty.  On the day after tomorrow, you shall go a long way down; go to the place where you hid yourself earlier, and remain beside the stone there. I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark.  Then I will send the boy, saying, “Go, find the arrows.” If I say to the boy, “Look, the arrows are on this side of you, collect them”, then you are to come, for, as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. But if I say to the young man, “Look, the arrows are beyond you”, then go; for the Lord has sent you away.  As for the matter about which you and I have spoken, the Lord is witness between you and me for ever.’

So David hid himself in the field. When the new moon came, the king sat at the feast to eat. The king sat upon his seat, as at other times, upon the seat by the wall. Jonathan stood, while Abner sat by Saul’s side; but David’s place was empty.

Saul did not say anything that day; for he thought, ‘Something has befallen him; he is not clean, surely he is not clean.’ But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David’s place was empty. And Saul said to his son Jonathan, ‘Why has the son of Jesse not come to the feast, either yesterday or today?’ Jonathan answered Saul, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem;  he said, “Let me go; for our family is holding a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favour in your sight, let me get away, and see my brothers.” For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.’

Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?  For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.’ Then Jonathan answered his father Saul, ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’  But Saul threw his spear at him to strike him; so Jonathan knew that it was the decision of his father to put David to death. Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food on the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, and because his father had disgraced him. Reflection It’s not easy to identify with the characters in this saga, with fights over kingship and the wrestling for power. It seems to belong in a very different world from our own. But there is something here, at this point in the story of Saul and Jonathan, that might remind us of moments in our own lives when we quarrelled with our parents. There may not have been spears thrown at the dinner table, but most of can remember moments of drama, stormings out, doors slammed and relationships stretched to breaking. That line about Jonathan rising from the table in fierce anger and eating no food - and those phrases about grieving and feeling disgraced -  they evoke memories of our own childhood or teenage struggles as well as of our own frustrations with offspring. Saul’s anger towards Jonathan, and the terrible things he says about his mother, might remind us of some of the things we have heard or said in our families, terrible things that we wish could be erased, words that wound like spears leaving hurts that are hard to heal. We might sympathise with Saul’s desire to protect Jonathan (if not with his attitude to women…!), but also with Jonathan who wants the freedom to love and befriend whom he will.

The Bible is reassuringly honest about the way that love and hatred can sometimes come so close to one another. And I can imagine that even for those with the best and warmest of families, there are moments of ‘rising from the table in fierce anger’. Even Jesus, it seems from the Gospel accounts, had ‘moments’ with his own family. And I’m sure that the parable of ‘the prodigal son’ comes from a deep wisdom about family brokenness and pain, but also from a deep faith in the infinite possibilities of redemptive love.   Prayer O God,
who loves us intimately and fiercely,
hold us when we rise in anger,
and help us to remember with grace.
Tend with your love our deepest wounds,
so that we may sit around the family table
in open fellowship and in hopeful love.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr Susan Durber is the minister of Taunton URC. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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