• Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned, forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.

    Luke 6:37
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    • Morning Prayer
      on Sun 9th August 2020 10:00am
      at St Mary's Church, Doneraile
    • The Eucharist
      on Sun 9th August 2020 10:00am
      at St Mary's Church, Castletownroche
    • Morning Prayer
      on Sun 9th August 2020 11:45am
      at St James' Church, Mallow
    • Morning Prayer
      on Sun 16th August 2020 10:00am
      at St Mary's Church, Castletownroche
    • The Eucharist
      on Sun 16th August 2020 10:00am
      at St Mary's Church, Doneraile
    • The Eucharist
      on Sun 16th August 2020 11:45am
      at St James' Church, Mallow
    • Morning Prayer
      on Sun 23rd August 2020 10:00am
      at St Mary's Church, Doneraile
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Trinity 2 – 21st June 2020

Dear Friends

You will be aware that there has been a lot of discussion in the press regarding the change of restrictions in regard to the Government’s 5 stage plan

The Representative Church Body and the House of Bishop’s released an advisory document regarding the protocols required in the re-opening of Church Buildings.

There are many factors to be taken into consideration, not least the number of people in the diocese available to take services due to health restrictions etc.

The Church Wardens, Rev. Tony and myself are working, with the diocese, to see what is possible for the Mallow Union. We will let you know as soon as possible what the situation is.

In the meantime, as for each Sunday during the lockdown period, attached are the readings, collect, psalm and reflection for tomorrow

Best wishes

Alan

Collect (the daily prayer for this week)
Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
Send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen

A prayer for Father’s Day
For those who are fathers, we ask for wisdom and humility in the face of the task of parenting. Give them the strength to do well by their children and by You. In Your Holy name, O God, we pray. Amen.

Genesis 21: 8-21
The child (Isaac) grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.’ The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named after you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.
When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, ‘Do not let me look on the death of the child.’ And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.
God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Psalm 86
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, ♦︎
for I am poor and in misery.
Preserve my soul, for I am faithful; ♦︎
save your servant, for I put my trust in you.
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for you are my God; ♦︎
I call upon you all the day long.
Gladden the soul of your servant, ♦︎
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, Lord, are good and forgiving, ♦︎
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer ♦︎
and listen to the voice of my supplication.
In the day of my distress I will call upon you, ♦︎
for you will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord, ♦︎
nor any works like yours.
All nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, ♦︎
and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wonderful things; ♦︎
you alone are God.
Turn to me and have mercy upon me; ♦︎
give your strength to your servant
and save the child of your handmaid.
Show me a token of your favour,
that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed; ♦︎
because you, O Lord, have helped and comforted me.
Romans 6: 1b-11
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 10: 24-39
‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Reflection

The Old Testament reading for this Sunday is one of the most important texts in the Bible which exposes the root of one of the longest of conflicts between two peoples. A conflict which is still very current today

A little of the context behind today’s reading can be helpful. Sometime around 2,000 BC. God called a man, Abram, to leave his home in Ur (modern day Iraq) and go to a new land that God would show Him.

God promised to give Abram a son through his wife Sarai. Through this son, a mighty nation would arise and he would have an uncountable number of descendants, more numerous than the stars or grains of sand in a desert.
However, it seemed an impossible promise as Abram was already 75 years old, and he and Sarai, 65 years old, had no children

Nevertheless, Abram Followed God’s command, and took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and the wealth and persons that they had acquired, and traveled to Shechem in Canaan (modern day Israel) However, there was a severe famine in the land of Canaan, so Abram, Sarai and Lot and their households travelled south to Egypt. It is possible that Sarai acquired her Egyptian handmaid Hagar (who we read about in today’s reading) during this stay. Later, after a run-in with Pharaoh, Abram & Sarai move back to Canaan.

After having lived in Canaan for ten years and still childless, Sarai suggested that Abram have a child with her Egyptian handmaid Hagar, in order to fulfil the promise made to him by God; to which Abram agreed. However, this arrangement resulted in tension between Sarai and Hagar. At one point, Hagar fled from her mistress but returned after angels consoled her. In due time Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son Ishmael when Abram was eighty-six years old.

However, God tells Abraham that the divine plan would be brought to fruition through the descendants of Abram and Sarai, not the offspring of Abram and Hagar. As we read in last week Bible reading, Abram and Sarai are then visited by three men. One of the visitors told Abram that within the next year, Sarai, despite being past childbearing age (she is 90) would have a son. The promise is restated by God (a sign of which is a change of names to Abraham and Sarah) And so it was that Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham, and they called the child “Isaac”

On a later occasion, the feast celebrating the weaning of Isaac, Sarah happened upon Ishmael mocking Isaac and was so disturbed that she requested that both he and Hagar be banished. Abraham was initially distressed by this but relented when told by God to do as his wife had asked. And this is where we are in the first reading this morning

The birth of Isaac meant that the covenant of grace could continue. With the promised child born through the union of Abraham and Sarah, there could now be descendants as numerous as the sands on the shore populating the Promised Land forever. From the line of Isaac would come the One who would bless all the nations of the world.

“Do not be distressed about Ishmael,” says God. “I will make the son of Hagar into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” When the boy cries out later in the story, huddled under a bush, dying of thirst, the Bible says, “God heard the boy crying….” God heard the boy and provided water and a way to live in the desert and a wife from his mother’s home country of Egypt. In the end God made him into a great nation.

Out of the two stepsons of Abraham, – Ishmael and Isaac – came the tribes of the Arabs – descended from Ishmael and the tribes of the Jews – descended from Isaac. It is to these events, in Genesis, in the life of Abraham held in common, that the great religions of the Jews (and by extension Christians) and Muslims look to as heritage and foundation. The split with the family recorded in today’s story is the root of the present-day conflict in the Middle East

There are so many lessons that come from the life of Abraham, not least the common heritage of Arabs and Jews which underpin all the relationships between the two peoples, right up to the present day. However, there are personal lessons as well for each one of us

Abraham and Sarah wanted God’s promise to come true so badly, but they had a hard time trusting God. They could not see how it would possibly happen, so they tried to make it happen on their own by Abraham having a son with Hagar. They thought that if they tried hard enough, they could do themselves what God had promised to do! It can be hard for us to trust God – sometimes we may think he has gone slightly mad (note last week that Sarah laughed out loud when the 3 visitors suggested she would have a child).

What we do see is that Ishmael came into the world by natural means, from the relationship between Hagar and Abraham , but the plan of God was always going to be fulfilled by Isaac’s birth which was in effect a supra-natural event. Perhaps we too have difficulty in believing that God has a purpose for our lives, beyond what we can see or imagine ourselves. It means that we have to enter the realm of trust and that for God all things are possible.

To trust someone requires us to know the person well. To trust God means we also need to know him well. To get to know someone well requires that we spend time with them, learn about them, listen to them. The same is true with God, spending time with God, through prayer and bible reading, which isn’t an academic acquiring of knowledge, it is the developing of a relationship of trust between ourselves and the God of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael.