Wednesday, November 30, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 30 Nov (St Andrew)

Andrew first found his brother Simon and said to him: 'We have found the Messiah.'John 1.41

The natural reaction of those who truly believe in the truth that Christ teaches is a desire to share that truth with others. We are all called to be evangelists; and we all have a part to play in the mission to bring Christ to all people.

Monday, November 28, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 28 Nov 2016

'For I tell you many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.' 
Luke 10.24

God grants great gifts to his faithful people. Not least among them is to see and hear things with the eyes and ears of faith that are denied to many in their pride and arrogance. Stay strong in your humility that you may not lose these wondrous gifts.

prayer diary Monday 28 Nov 2016

'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word and my servant will be healed.' 
Matthew 8.7

This demonstration of faith earned great praise from Jesus himself. Humility lies at the heart of faith; an understanding that we have no entitlement to all that God gives us or anything we seek from him. Like the Centurion we are not worthy. But if we humbly ask in faith, we shall indeed receive.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent: Joy and Fear

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today, as I have already mentioned is the first Sunday of Advent. That means it is also the first day of the New Year for our Liturgical Calendar – and so, as I always like to say at this time of year: Happy New Year! It helps serves as a good reminder that the Church does not always make its way through time according to the dictates of the Calendar of the World. The secular world is essentially entering into the season of partying and shopping and other consumer excesses that mark the lead up to Christmas – or the holiday season as many prefer to call it these days; while we in the Church have entered into the season of Advent, a season that has a penitential aspect to it, though perhaps not as strong a one as during Lent. It is a time when we hold two things in tension, both associated with the name of the season – Advent – which means coming. And the person coming on the both the occasions referred to is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The first 'coming' which this season marks is the coming of Christ as a tiny baby in the stable in Bethlehem. It is, quite naturally, a joyful thing to mark and remember. God himself is coming into the world to save us from our sins and open for us the door that had been closed for us by the sin of our first parents, the door to heaven. And so we can not help by smile and be happy … with that happiness made all the greater at the thought of a child being born, a new life coming into the world, the quite natural feeling of joy and wonder that comes from such an event. A baby is such a precious thing – and, wonder of wonders, this baby is the king of the universe!

But that joy is held in tension with a certain trepidation, the feeling of dread that comes with the other coming to which this season of Advent is intended to remind us. And that is the second coming of our Lord Jesus. For that tiny baby grew up, preached the good news of the Gospel, giving witness to the truth of his word by the working of great signs and wonders, died upon the cross for the remission of our sins, rose from the dead, and then Ascended back to heaven, having promised that he would come again at the end of the ages to judge the living and the dead. 

And that, I think, is something that would give anyone but a saint a certain twinge of worry. For which of us is confident that we are ready to meet our maker? And without warning –for as we read in our Gospel Christ himself has told us that he will come at an unexpected hour. At that hour, all time for amendment of life will be gone – all our sins in thought, word, and deed, things that we have done and things we have failed to do will be called to account. And we may well tremble at the thought there will be those that we have not truly repented of and asked God's pardon for and been forgiven.

But – and there is a but – we must never allow the trepidation to outweigh the joy or cause us to forget it altogether. Because I said we hold these two in tension – and that means we keep them both in mind, not remember one to the exclusion of the other. Yes, Christ will one day come to judge the living and the dead. But that not something to consider in isolation. Because something else has already taken place – God became man to save us from our sins and has died for them. 

And during his time on earth he gave us so much to help us on our way to heaven: among them his living Word, which we hear now in Sacred Scriptures; his Church which he founded; and the sacraments of his Church, which are channels of God's grace and strengthen and help us on our pilgrim journey through this life. Concerning the sacraments, we may think of baptism and the way in which it changes us at the most profound level of our being, making us brothers and sisters of Christ and members of his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; we may think of Confession and Absolution, of which our Bishop spoke so eloquently and passionately when he visited us some weeks ago, and the way in which it cleanses us of our sins when we truly repent; and we may think of the Holy Eucharist, where we are given the Body and Blood of our Saviour to eat and drink – for as he told us my flesh is true food, and my blood true drink – to feed our souls and give them the kind of life for which they were intended – Christ himself having told us that we must partake of this sacrament if we are to have life in us.

So yes, we may well tremble at the thought of standing before the judgement throne at any moment – whether because our life on this earth has ended, or because the Son of Man has come on clouds and in great glory, marking the end of the ages. But we face the reality that that time will one day come strengthened by the thought of another reality – that Christ has already come – and he came to prepare us for the day when he comes again – he came so that his faithful followers need have nothing to fear on the day when he comes again. For just as his first coming was a day of great joy for all those of good will, so his second coming is a day of joy for all those who love God.

And as I finish, I leave you with this thought. The second coming of Christ is not what brought death and judgement into the world – that was as a result of our first parents' disobedience. But because of his first coming his second is an an event we may also face with hope as well as trepidation – the hope that this life will end in the place we were made for – in heaven with our creator. Which means that even though we must always keep the joy and the trepidation of which this season is intended to remind us in tension with one another, ultimately it is joy that must win out, for it is that joy that serves to remind us that those who love Christ have nothing to fear. Amen.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 26 Nov 2016

Andrew first found his brother Simon and said to him: 'We have found the Messiah.'John 1.41

The natural reaction of those who truly believe in the truth that Christ teaches is a desire to share that truth with others. We are all called to be evangelists; and we all have a part to play in the mission to bring Christ to all people.

Friday, November 25, 2016

prayer diary Friday 25 Nov 2016 (Day of discipline and self-denial)

'Heaven and earth will pass away; but my words will not pass away.' 
Luke 21.33

The teaching of Christ, which we receive through the Church he founded for our salvation, is unchanging and eternal. Resist those who try to tempt you into turning from what he gave us by saying that this teaching or that no longer matters.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 24 Nov 2016

'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its destruction has come near.' 
Luke 21.20

Christ holds the fall of Jerusalem up to us as a model or type: it rejected him and his teaching and so brought about its end. So too do we, if we refuse Christ, also reject the salvation that he offers and destine ourselves for destruction.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 23 Nov 2016

'They will arrest you and persecute you … you will be hated by all because of my name … by your endurance you will gain your souls.' 
Luke 21.12-19

Christ gives his followers a choice: comfort in this life; or eternal life in the next. Choose wisely. The salvation of your souls depends upon it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 22 Nov 2016

'When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow at once.' 
Luke 21. 9

The troubles of this world cause us anguish and grief and indeed confusion. Why must such terrible things happen? But we must not let them trouble us unduly, for they they are part of this life, even if we cannot understand why they should be.

Monday, November 21, 2016

prayer diary Monday 21 Nov 2016

''Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.' 
Luke 21.3

True generosity does not lie in sharing what you can easily spare, but what you can ill afford to do without. Real poverty of spirit is to be found in those who will place the needs of others over their own.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

long live Christ the King!

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

This Sunday, as I mentioned already, is the Feast of Christ the King. It is a recent addition to the Church calendar, having been added by Pope Pius XI in 1925. The pope did so to remind the world, in the face of growing secularism, who its true king was – Christ. It seems like such an obvious thing to do; after all, Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords, the eternal Word through all things were made, the King of Kings before who every knee must bend and every tongue confess that he is indeed Lord of all. The wonder is not that the Church should instigate a day in honour of his kingship, but rather that the Church waited so long. Perhaps this is why it wasn't long before other Christian denominations, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, also began marking the day.

As I said, Pope Pius did so as a way of fighting the dangers that secularism posed for the world – because the world needs the Church and secularism tries at the very least to silence it and drive it out if it can. Sadly, the dangers posed by the forces of secularism were even greater than Pius had feared. The very next year a rebellion began in Mexico, where the people rose up against the men leading their country who had a vision of a world without God. It was soon after followed by the Spanish Civil War, a war where one side wished to see all religion trodden underfoot. The secularist 'visionaries' in both countries rounded up many of those who were faithful to Christ. And they gave them a choice: renounce Christ or die. And many – men, woman, and children – refused to deny their faith. They died with these words on their lips: Viva Cristo Rey – long live Christ the King.

One such martyr during the Spanish Civil War was 25 year old Fr. Martin Martinez Pascual. When the persecutions began in his home district he went into hiding. But when the government forces arrested his father, questioning him about the priest's whereabouts, he turned himself in, hoping they would release his father. Not long after he was taken with a group of other priests to the local graveyard where they were all shot. Moments before his death they had him pose for a photograph with one of his executioners. In it, Fr Pascual was smiling. And his last words were 'Viva Cristo Rey – long live Christ the King.'

Another martyr, this time in Mexico was José Luis Sánchez del Río. He was just 14 when he joined the anti-secularist forces. Because of his youth they made him the flag-bearer for his troop. During a battle his general's horse was shot from under him. José gave him his own horse instead. On foot, he was easily captured by the enemy and imprisoned in the sacristy of the local church. In an attempt to get him to deny Christ, first they hung another prisoner in front of him, but José stood fast. Then they tortured him. What he suffered was so gruesome that I will not write it here. But one can only wonder at the mentality of the men who would inflict such torments on a boy. Just before they executed him, they told him that if he said 'death to Christ the King' they would spare his life. Instead he cried out 'Viva Cristo Rey – long live Christ the King'; and so they killed him.

Christ was the king of José, Fr Pascual, and martyrs like them. And what loyal subjects of their king they were. Christ is also our king. But I think those martyrs would be shocked and shamed by the way some of us use his name. To them it was sacred; many of us act as if it were some kind of four-letter word. We may contrast that with the way Muslims treat the name of Muhammad. They regard him as a prophet, not God; yet to treat his name or his image with disrespect is looked upon with horror by his followers. In a Muslim country such behaviours would be punishable by law; and even elsewhere a follower of Islam would regard it as a grave insult to both them and their faith if anyone were to dishonour the name of their prophet in their presence. But when the name of the one we know to be God himself is treated irreverently most of us hardly seem to notice; often, I suspect, because many of us treat it no better ourselves.

Such behaviour should sadden and worry us. Sadden us because we should be dismayed if we treat our King no better than that – the one, whom our Gospel this morning reminds us, who died on the Cross to save us from our sins. And it should worry us because such behaviour not only shows us to be not very loyal subjects of our King, it is also a serious sin – you all remember, I hope, the words of the Commandment, where we are told 'thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.' And Christ is our God. God literally commands us in the most fundamental laws that he has given us that treat his name as holy – yet we do not always do so.

But as we draw to a close, we might also wish to remind ourselves of what joy awaits those who are loyal subjects, subjects who use the name of their king reverently, and live their lives as his faithful followers. They are like the good thief who hung on the cross near him. He, you will remember, rebuked the other thief for the way he spoke to the Messiah; and then he humbly turned to our Saviour and said to him: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And the one who was a king even though he hung on the cross said to him: ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ Words that we surely all long to hear; and words that all will hear whose every breath and action proclaim these words: long live Christ the King. Amen.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 19 Nov 2016

'Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.' 
Luke 20. 38

Christ would brook no contradiction from anyone, no matter how powerful, as to the reality of life after death, and that the resurrection from the dead awaits us all. He proved his words by his own rising from the dead. Therefore we have nothing to fear – except the consequences of our own actions.

Friday, November 18, 2016

prayer diary Friday 18 Nov 2016 (Day of discipline and self-denial)

'My house shall be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.' 
Luke 19.46

One of the few times we see Christ angry, and the only time we see him moved to violent action, is in the presence of those who disrespect the house of God. Consider well, then, your own behaviour, when you stand in the sacred places of our faith.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 17 Nov 2016

As he came near and saw the city (of Jerusalem) he wept over it. 
Luke 19.41
The Holy City rejected the Son of God and destined itself for destruction. So too do we seal our own fate on the basis of accepting or rejecting Christ.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 16 Nov 2016

'I tell you, to all who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even more will be taken away.' 
Luke 19.26

God gives his gifts to all. Those who make the best of them to his greater glory in the world will be rewarded at the end of days; and those who refuse to make use of them, or use them vainly, will be left with nothing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 15 Nov 2016

Then Jesus said to (Zacchaeus): Today salvation has come to this house 
Luke 19. 9

Zacchaeus did more than merely acknowledge Jesus with his lips; he repented of the sins he had committed and took action to make reparations for them. We must also remember that if we hope for salvation in the next life we must turn totally and completely from our sins in this one.

Monday, November 14, 2016

prayer diary Monday 14 Nov 2016

'Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.' 
Luke 18. 42

Consider carefully Christ's words. First he heals; then he says that the man's faith has saved him. Blind though the man was, he saw more clearly than most around him who Jesus was. And that spiritual clarity of vision was what saved him, not from the griefs of this world, but from the perils of the next.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

they will lay their hands on you and persecute you

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today is Remembrance Sunday, when we think of those who have given their lives in war in the service of their countries. Our Gospel reading this morning* speaks of another kind of sacrifice – the persecutions that Christians may face, even to the point of losing their lives. Sadly, such persecution is not something that belongs to the bad old days of the Roman Empire before the Emperor Constantine effectively made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. It continues today – and perhaps on a scale undreamed of in the time when Christians were being thrown to the lions in the Colosseum. Red martyrdom, the kind where those who believe in Christ bear witness to him by the shedding of their blood and the giving of their lives, is rampant. We may not hear much about it in the media, because it suits its agenda more to portray Christians as persecutors than victims, but thousands die every year in places like the middle-east, Korea, and Africa – and tens of thousands more face torture, imprisonment, legalised discrimination, and all kinds of violence and other forms of persecution. And while we may not face such vile physical mistreatment in the West, it is becoming ever more difficult to express orthodox Christian points of view publicly without being facing scorn or attack in the media … and particularly on social media. Those who have traditional views on morality are judgmental or bigots; to defend life at its earliest or end stages is to be a misogynist or lacking in compassion; and to believe that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life is to be either simple minded or in some way prejudiced against those who believe otherwise ...

So persecution is a reality. But is it something we should fear? I think not. First of all, it is something that Christ warned us that we would face. Sadly, there will always be those who react to the truth of the Christian message with hatred and evil. And I say sadly not because of the suffering that this brings upon good people – although of course this is something to be deplored – but because it ought to make us fearful for the eternal destiny of those who wreak such evil upon God's faithful children. To behave with such hatred against Christ's Word, Christ's Church, and Christ's disciples is to surrender oneself to the power of the evil one and to become his tools – a terrible fate for anyone created by God to be with him forever in heaven. However, the fact that the Church faces such persecution in this world ought on another level to make us glad – it shows God's faithful are doing something right, for the powers of darkness would not pursue an enemy that they did not consider to be a threat.

There is also another positive to the suffering that some face in the world today. Even as the evil they face saddens us, it also ought to strengthen us. Faced with the threat of death – a threat that they know to be real and one that their persecutors will not hesitate to carry out – they refuse to renounce their faith. They will not deny Christ – and they will die rather than do so. Their courage should stiffen the backbones of those in more privileged parts of the world. They can die for the faith; therefore we can face the little inconveniences that may come by being true to Christ without fear.

Their faith unto death may also have a positive effect in that it may serve to bring many who are lost in the darkness of the world into the light of Christ's Church. It was in the third century that Tertullian said that 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.' His words were based on the evidence of his own eyes – Christians dying for Christ convinced many of the truth of the Gospel in a way that was uniquely persuasive. Their sacrifice saved many souls – sometimes even those of the ones who had taken their lives. Such faithful witness helps strengthen and renew the Church. And even as we weep for the suffering of the martyrs, we may take comfort from the knowledge that by it, by enduring to the end, they have won life for themselves, the only life that ultimately matters, eternal life in heaven.

There is one final reason why we might look on persecutions as having something positive about them. Our Lord, both in today's Gospel elsewhere in Sacred Scriptures, intimates that a time of intense tribulation will occur before he comes again. I am not suggesting that we are entering into the end times: it would be a little vain to presume that the suffering of this age are greater than that of the ages before ours; and our Lord told us specifically that the day and the hour of that time could not be known to us and therefore it is not something for us to speculate upon. But such persecutions may serve to remind us of the fact that we indeed do not know the day or the hour of when he will return or when our own time on this earth may end. In that way these persecutions may serve to remind us to live our lives with the thought ever in our minds that at any moment our time in the life may end and we will suddenly find ourselves standing before the judgement throne. This is something that is important for all Christians to remember – especially those who are unlikely to have the opportunity to attain their place in heaven by enduring a martyr's death. Instead their martyrdom, their witness, is to be the way in which they die daily to self, denying themselves, and taking up their cross to follow Christ faithfully in the Gospel way. And it is indeed something to rejoice in, because by it do we lovingly give our lives in service of God; and by it we have the hope of one day entering into his presence in heaven. Amen. 

*Luke 21: 5-195 And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." 7 And they asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" 8 And he said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is at hand!' Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once." 10 Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be a time for you to bear testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; 17 you will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 12 Nov 2016

'And will God not grant justice to his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?' 
Luke 18.7

Christ taught his disciples to pray by word and deed, not just occasionally, but always. To be a Christian is to be a person of prayer. Pray constantly, therefore, by at your first waking moment asking God to make your every thought, word, and deed as a prayer to him.

Friday, November 11, 2016

prayer diary Friday 11 Nov 2016 (Day of discipline and self-denial)

'Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too will it be in the days of the Son of man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all.'
Luke 17. 26-27

No one knows the day not the hour of the Lord's return. But we must be ready and live as if it were to happen within the moment. Otherwise for the sake of what matters not at all we will have given up the one thing that does matter – eternity.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 10 Nov 2016

'For in fact the kingdom of God is among you.' 
Luke 17. 21

The kingdom is present where those faithful to Christ and his teaching are. It is with us in the worship of his Church, the prayers of his faithful, and the daily living of all Christians. How can it not be? For Christ is with us always.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 9 Nov 2016

'Get up; go on your way; your faith has made you well.' 
Luke 17. 19

True health, true well-being lies beyond the physical in the realm of the spiritual. What does it matter if the body is healthy if the soul is crippled with sin? Therefore, look to your faith; being right with God is above all else in this life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 8 Nov 2016

'So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say 'we are worthless slaves; we have only done what we ought to have done.' 
Luke 17. 10

Do not feel proud of yourself for obeying God's law; for by that pride you fail to show the the humility he wills for all his children; worse, this pride may lead you into thinking yourself better than others and judging them. Pride over your obedience in one aspect of Christian living runs the risk of falling into sin in another.

Monday, November 7, 2016

prayer diary Monday 7 Nov 2016

'It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.' 
Luke 17.2

Christ has harsh words indeed for those who lead others into sin. Consider how it is that you might cause others to stumble: the example of your life; tempting others to engage in sinful practices with you; or simply keeping silent when faced with the wrongdoing of others, thereby giving the impression it has your approval.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

the God of the living not the dead

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Gospel reading this morning* details a debate which took place between our Lord and some Sadducees. Sadducees were religious leaders who were very powerful in Jewish society; one of their main roles was the maintainable of the Temple in Jerusalem … which of course would explain why the group essentially died out after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in the year of our Lord 70. They had a different theological perspective on a number of religious issues to other groups with Jewish society such as the Pharisees. One of these was that they only held a very small number of books of Sacred Scripture to be authoritative – the first five books of the Old Testament, in fact, what is also called the Pentateuch, to whom Tradition ascribes authorship to Moses. They also did not believe in the Resurrection of the dead, as our reading mentions,

It is this latter belief, in fact, that they wish to debate with Jesus. And they decide to do so by employing the rhetorical technique of reductio ad absurdum – which is taking an idea and arguing it to its logical extreme and exposing by doing so the flaws that lie at the heart of the idea against which one is attempting to refute. It is a perfectly good way of winning an argument. A good example of it would be someone playing cards saying that their lucky rabbit's foot is going to help them win the next hand; to which an on-looker might respond that it hadn't done the rabbit much good – and if it really works, why waste it on a hand of cards – why not use it to buy a lottery ticket, cure all they dying down at the local hospital, and bring about world peace? The Sadducees are essentially trying to make Jesus' promises concerning the Resurrection of the dead and eternal life in heaven look foolish.

So they use the idea of a woman who has had seven husbands. They could have simply left it at that; but given that they found the five books of Scripture I already mentioned authoritative, perhaps this is why they drew from the law of Moses also concerning the practice of Levirate marriage. This was where when a man died before any children were born to the marriage it was the duty of his brother, or nearest male relative, to marry the widow and beget an heir for the dead man in his place. Presumably for the Sadducees the idea of seven brothers having to take turns being the husband of the same woman only added to the humorous effect they were trying to achieve.

Jesus refutes their attempt in two ways. First he explains to them that their argument is based on a false premise, the idea that at the Resurrection something like marriage will matter. But it will not, for marriage is something for this age, but not the age to come. And this makes perfect sense for, as the example the Sadducees themselves chose about Levirate marriage shows, marriage has as a very important part of it the procreation of children. At the end of time God's plan will have been fulfilled, there will be no necessity for the begetting of new life, and therefore their will be no need for marriage. Whatever the relationship between the woman and the seven brothers will be in that age, it will not be that of husband and wife.

And then, to completely undermine their position, Jesus decides to prove to them from Scripture the truth of his claims concerning the Resurrection. And because they only take seriously the five books of the Pentateuch he draws his proof from there, the words spoken to Moses himself by God out of the burning bush. There God identified himself as being the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, and the God of Isaac. And he spoke of being their God in present tense, not the past. He said 'I am' the God of these men, not 'I was.' He is still their God, even though they have perished from this life; and therefore their lives must have continued beyond the earthly one.

Jesus has turned the tables on them; and the ones who were trying to make him look foolish now look foolish instead. The scribes who were present were impressed with the manner in which Jesus did so; the Sadducees, as we may well imagine, were not. However, Jesus has done more here than merely win an argument. He has once again assumed the role of being the supreme arbitrator of what it is that Scripture truly means. This is, of course, to speak with divine authority. And he has also made some very specific promises about what life after death entails. The Resurrection of the dead is sure; after it we are immortal, as the angels are, and are children of God. (It is important to note here that we will not, as people lately have a tendancy to think, be angels – for angels are pure spirit and at the Resurrection we will be united with our bodies and therefore not be pure spirit.) Earthly concerns are left behind; and they are replaced with life in heaven. And he has affirmed that right belief is important; something for us to consider when the heretical notion of indifferentism is so prevalent, the notion that all religions are pretty much the same and it doesn't really matter what any one believes. This can not be true – otherwise why would Christ have taken such trouble to correct the Sadducees on this point – and run such risks to do so also? For it was incidents like this that caused them to hate him and conspire against him to take his life.

But our Lord thought right belief – orthodoxy – was more than just important, it was essential … for he did not come to win arguments with sects that have long since died out but to save souls so that they might be with him in heaven for all eternity. And knowing and believing the truth that he taught was needed so that on the day of the Resurrection all people – including you and me and all those we love – will be immortal like the angels and never die and be forever children of God. A joyful thought, for which we, along with the angels and saints in heaven, ought always give thanks and praise to the one God who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. 

*Luke 20: 27-3927 There came to Jesus some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; 30 and the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife." 34 And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him." 39 And some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you have spoken well."

Saturday, November 5, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 5 Nov 2016

'Whoever is faithful in in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in little is also dishonest in much.' 
Luke 16.10

Do not tolerate any level of sin in your life. Do not say to yourself 'I am good enough.' Rather ask 'How can I be holier in all that I think, do, and say?'

Friday, November 4, 2016

prayer diary Friday 4 2016 (Day of discipline and self-denial)

'The children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation that are the children of light.' 
Luke 16. 8

The love you show to those in need by helping them materially is a way of winning souls for heaven. Always remember that your generous giving is both ministry and mission.

prayer diary Friday 4 2016 (Day of discipline and self-denial)

'The children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation that are the children of light.' 
Luke 16. 8

The love you show to those in need by helping them materially is a way of winning souls for heaven. Always remember that your generous giving is both ministry and mission.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 3 Nov 2016

'Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep that was lost.' 
Luke 15. 6

Great is the joy in heaven over a single repentant sinner. But do you accept that you are lost, that you are a sinner, and that you need to repent and be saved? Or are you stubborn in your heart and think that sin is something other people do?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 2 Nov 2016

'Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.' 
Luke 14. 27

We should not be afraid to take up our cross; it was through Christ's cross that our salvation was made possible. Unless we take up our own, by a denial of self and a commitment to the Gospel life whatever the cost in this world, then we reject the salvation he offers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 1 November 2016 (All Saint's Day)

Blessed are you when people hate you … on account of the Son of Man … for surely your reward is great in heaven. 
Luke 6. 22-23

Today is the day we remember the unnamed, uncounted thousands who have been faithful to Christ until the last. Many wear the martyrs crown; more still lived quiet unnoticed lives of faith. All are now saints in heaven. Give thanks for their witness; and pray that you will one day join them.