Soul Food - 5th February
On Saturday I led a “Holy Spirit day” in the Peter hall which I hope and pray was spiritually enriching for people. On Sunday I was at St. Peter’s for the 8am and 10am followed by chairing the friends of St. Peter’s AGM. After that I lost at scrabble (current score: Louise 307 – Me 305) and it was topped off by the Taize service at All Saints East Budleigh. Then I fell asleep in front of the television and as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was off!
Mentally exhausting but spiritually rewarding as this weekend was, I wouldn’t really have it any other way. The services in the morning were of course “The presentation of Christ in the Temple” otherwise known as Candlemas (because that used to be the day the church used to bless all the candles they intended to use that year). My sermon was based on the New Testament reading from Hebrews which stressed the humanity of Jesus. If you’d like to read what I said, just click here; https://revmartinjacques.blogspot.com/2020/02/candlemas.html
Next Sunday – 3rd before Lent
This morning I am at All Saints and St. Michael’s, Trevor Jones is at St. Peter’s in the morning and I am back at St. Peter’s in the evening for choral evensong at 6pm.
Isaiah 58: 1-9. The people wonder why God does not answer them in their distress. God tells Isaiah to tell the people exactly why this is so with a voice like a trumpet (verse 1). Isaiah’s voice needs to be loud and clear to pierce their armour-plated complacency surrounding their religious devotion. Their religion is debased because it is self-serving and hypocritical and used to cloak their failure to live as God would have them live. A life filled with Justice and charity is what God requires as well as worthy religious devotion.
1 Corinthians 2: 1-12. This is not a piece of writing that is against human intellect and reasoning as such but only as it sets itself up in opposition to God’s wisdom as revealed in Christ crucified. Paul infers that conversion is a gift of God rather than a product of clever human persuasion or rhetoric. That doesn’t stop us being involved intellectually of course – Paul is actually the greatest example of this – but faith is a gift of God and so just as other gifts of the Spirit, if we want at have or bestow faith we should pray for it.
Matthew 5: 13-20. Was Jesus a legalist? He warns people that if ignore the law or teach others to do likewise are doomed. This has cause philosophical problems from the beginning. Jesus says he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it. In the sermon on the mount he explains that the law of love is much more rigorous than the written law (Do not murder becomes do not even get angry for example) and our righteousness must exceed the scribes and Pharisees. The Spirit of the law, the law of love, is the highest form of service to God and its demands are limitless and referring back to the Isaiah reading today is what God always expected from us. We find these demands quite impossible of course which is why we need a saviour like Jesus to save us from our sins.
Dinner club – 2020
Our first dinner club of the year is at East Devon Golf club on Thursday 27th February. I have already arranged the speaker for this first one of the season, our area dean, Fr. Robert Sellers, a very lively and amusing man who I’m sure will keep us well entertained with anecdotes from his life. The cost is £20.00 per person and because a new seating configuration is operational at the Golf club it means that numbers will need to be restricted to 90 people, so book early with Fran to avoid disappointment.
Music at St. Peter’s.
A new short series of concerts are starting this Friday in February.
The concert starts at 1.30pm with optional lunch at 1pm. (£5 or £8 respectively). The programme is as follows;
7th February: Clifton Trio
14th February: Andrew Millington on organ
6th March: Stephen Tanner on organ
13th March: Stephen Tanner and Andrew Downton – organ and piano duets
Thought for the day
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26).
This promise of God (I WILL) like many of the promises of God can flounder in the thorns and weeds of life. I think Jesus told us a parable about that! It occurred to me on Saturday that this is why being immersed frequently in God’s spirit by prayer and contemplation is so vital for all believers in God’s promise to give us hearts of flesh. For most people, growing into being more like Jesus (known by the daunting word sanctification) is an ongoing battle, a process, that needs constant attention. It is axiomatic that the change effected by prayer is most often the person doing the praying, so in an age looking for spiritual “results”, or self-improvement, becoming a calmer, warmer, more loving person would be the tangible effect of prayer (not discounting any other effect obviously). I am often aware that I can develop a crusty calloused heart. The answer to that situation is to ask for the Spirit of God to come and soften my heart according to his promise. I recommend the same to anyone.
The Prayer for Today
I pray for a softened heart, for an unselfish love, for a compassionate spirit. I thank you for Your holy presence, for the love and gift of Jesus! … Holy Spirit, I pray for Your wisdom and guidance in my heart…and in the hearts of those I love.
Love and peace,