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9 August 2020

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity


FIRST READING (click to expand)

The first book of Kings 19.9-18

Elijah came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’

God said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind;
and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’

Then the LORD said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’

PSALM (click to expand)

Psalm 85. verses 8-13

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
and will make a path for his steps.

SECOND READING (click to expand)

Romans 10. Verses 5-15

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that ‘the person who does these things will live by them.’

But the righteousness that comes from faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down) ‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

But what does it say?
‘The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart’
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

GOSPEL (click to expand)

The Holy Gospel according to St Matthew 14.22-33

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.

When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.

And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake.

But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’

He said, ‘Come.’

So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’


The Meaning of Life: Week Four


So Like Peter

At first the fear
then the questioning.
“If it is really you,
tell me to come to you”,
asking the impossible.
Humans don’t walk on water!
Rather we submerge rapidly,
struggling as we descend to the depths,
But, with his eyes on Jesus face,
perhaps an encouraging hand stretched out,
Peter did walk,
maybe tentatively, but he did walk
across the heaving surface.

His tine footing faltered.
Water lashed his ankles
Sheer panic prevailed.
Humans don’t walk on water!
In such dire straits
only one source of help.
‘Save me Lord!’
An immediate response.
Firm grip banishing danger,
but then a challenging rebuke
for a short-lived faith.

There is a sadness reverberating through the centuries.
So many of us step out on a seemingly impossible venture,
only to fail as our initial confidence deserts us.
Yet within such failure a strength,
a reminder that we are not asked to do the impossible alone,
but to rely on the ongoing power of the Spirit,
enabling, strengthening,
achieving the unbelievable.

Lord help us to trust in your strength,
not in our own,
Help us to remember that failures are not the end,
but with you can be new beginnings.


A reflection on Love and prayer by Bishop George Appleton, who became Archbishop in Jerusalem. This is an extract.

“If we really love people,

we shall want to support them in trouble,

to be concerned when they are ill,

to encourage them in difficulties,

to be their friend whatever happens,

wanting them to be made strong in their inmost being.

We can do all that if we offer ourselves as a link with the source of spiritual energy and love.

There is a connection between love and prayer.

When we are ill, in grief or in trouble most of us find it difficult to pray.

God can use the concern and love of others as a channel of blessing and strengthening.

Intercession is a spiritual operation of love.

‘O God of love, may those for whom I am praying experience you as the God of love and a sure support.

May this experience be stronger than the trouble that threatens to overwhelm them.

May they so experience your love as a love that will overcome any sense of loneliness and hopelessness, even failure, and enable them to go forward with quiet trust, unfailing hope and grateful love.’


“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” Isaiah 59 v I.

Lord, you didn’t encourage Peter to do something he would fail at, but something at which you knew he could succeed. We want to be strong and capable but, like Peter, we are all a mixture of faith and doubt, courage and cowardice. We are all susceptible to fear and anxiety, but you hear us call out to you and it is precisely at our moments of vulnerability that your hand touches us. Peter was doing well until he took his eyes off you but you did not let him sink. Lord, be with us in the storms of life. Help us to trust you even when the waves are big, higher than us, and we feel afraid. Help us to pray, to trust and to focus unwaveringly on you and not on the waves. Amen

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