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2 Timothy 3:14-4.5
Luke 18:1-8

Last time I was up here, I talked about hospitality, from hospitality, prayer and evangelism. Today prayer and evangelism are back in focus. Not only are we encouraged in them but urged to them. In today’s first reading, “solemnly urged” indeed, to proclaim the message we have learnt, even if it is costly – if we have to “endure suffering”.

Now I don’t know if we all feel equipped to go out and proclaim the message we have to share – I’m never sure I do, to be honest, and I suspect I’m not alone. I suspect the very thought of going out evangelising would be pretty akin to enduring suffering. So having been so urged in the first reading, are we given any help to prepare us for this?

Well yes, I think we are. Today’s gospel brings our need for prayer into focus. Then Jesus told them a parable about the need to pray always and not to lose heart…will God not grant justice to his chosen ones?

Now I’m happy to put my hand up to owning that sometimes or even often I think prayer almost as tricky as evangelism. I don’t know how others feel about prayer – perhaps more comfortable than with evangelism – but Luke calls us today to remember that all begins with prayer, and that we build on prayer to have the confidence and capacity to do other things. Prayer is important in itself, and it underpins other activities.

Often in chapel, we pray for more…

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Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepters and thrones,
and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.
Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem,
because all gold is but a little sand in her sight,
and silver will be accounted as clay before her.
I loved her more than health and beauty,
and I chose to have her rather than light,
because her radiance never ceases.
All good things came to me along with her,
and in her hands uncounted wealth.
I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom leads them;
but I did not know that she was their mother.
I learned without guile and I impart without grudging;
I do not hide her wealth,
for it is an unfailing treasure for mortals;
those who get it obtain friendship with God,
commended for the gifts that come from instruction.
Wisdom of Solomon, 7:1-14

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There was a lovely article in the Telegraph last week, just after I’d tweeted about the beauty of Choral Evensong. It wasn’t my usual place for evensong, but it was quite nice to hear a different choir in a different chapel. Still beautiful. There is indeed something both timeless and instant about Evensong, distant yet wrap-around-lemsip-chair-like, formal yet personal, transcendant yet immanent. Using the phrase more…

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for those of a religious persuasion or not. It’s so beautiful needed to reshare. Thankyou @RevArun.

more…

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One of the things about communication media today is it produces a lot of noise. I myself am guilty of producing a lot of noise. But if you listen beyond the noise (and there probably has to be noise, in order to provide the cover) then there is something else to be heard. Because more…

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I’m reading a book on prayer (I should be reading on Patristics, but that’s another matter) and I’m smiling at an example at the back of the book. In discussions on prayer sometime last year after a prisons group meeting, we noted that intercessions often included the professions – ‘the doctors and nurses who care for people in the hospital, homes and hospices around  our city’ after the Bishops and the government and leaders. Whilst these people are clearly doing a great job and deserve our prayers, they get them a lot more often than we remember before God the others doing other – seemingly almost invisible if not insignificant and yet still important – jobs. How often do our intercessions make mention of the public convenience cleaners operators (or whatever their ‘official’ title is – the toilet cleaners, at any rate) or the road sweepers and binmen (ditto)? Not that often, I’ll wager.

So it was nice to see this prayer today, remembering that conversation, as I did last week with a student at Robinson over breakfast who said he’d learnt very quickly that the most important people are – despite what you are told about this being your tutor – the porters and the ‘bedders’ (well, we are in Oxbridge). Perhaps we should all pray it a little more often:

We commend to you all who work, and especially those whose occupations seem menial and beneath notice. We thank you for the many invisible services that enrich our common life. Help us to value all who work in them, and threat them with respect and honour.

Thanks, Doug Chaplin, on behalf of the cleaners and the road sweepers and the bin men and all similar hardworking folks.

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