Readings for Week 22 in Year 1
Monday: 1 Thessalonians 4. 13-18; Psalm 96; Luke 4. 16-30
Tuesday: 1 Thessalonians 5. 1-11; Psalm 27. 14, 13f; Luke 4. 31-37
Wednesday: Colossians 1.1-8; Psalm 34. 9-22; Luke 4. 38-44
Thursday: Colossians 1. 9-14; Psalm 98; Luke 5. 1-1
Friday: Colossians 1. 15-20; Psalm 100; Luke 5. 33-39
Saturday: Colossians 1. 21-23; Psalm 54; Luke 6. 1-5
Our church of Saint John the Baptist, Newton has quite a few distinctive features – the pulpit, a pre-reformation altar, the platform coming out from the tower; they with the wallpaintings combine to make St John’s rightly a Grade 1 listed church. One distinctive feature which doesn’t contribute to its listing but is still unusual is its dedication- to the Beheading of St John the Baptist on 29th August (rather than the far more common dedication to his birth, six months and a day before Christmas). The remnant of the wallpainting next to where the altar would have been before the Tudor construction of the Chancel shows a picture of this – you can make out the sword stretching out towards Saint John’s head.
Saint John the Baptist came to make straight the way of the Lord, to prepare the people of Israel for the Messiah. He called them to repentance and new life; he baptised them as a sign of this. He would speak God’s truth to the powerful and important, like all the prophets before him, and like many of them, he would pay the price for that truth-saying. The poem on this week’s sheet show’s the result of a drunken king showing off before his guests ‘thus wine and women we do see men’s minds to folly win; for Herod did too soon agree and gave consent to sin.’ So we will give thanks for Saint John the Baptist’s faithfulness and courage, for his obedience to God’s will and for all that he did to re-awaken the people of Israel’s sense of faith and need for a re-call to their Covenant with God. We will recognise as well our own need to be re-called and renewed. We give thanks for 800+ years of witness at Newton and pray for the work we are called to do in the lord’s service and that we be as faithful as His servant John.
Afghanistan has become a political disaster-area with, it seems, no hope for those who will be left behind because of the withdrawal of troops. People who have worked with our forces and played their part in the peace-keeping efforts are now people abandoned and no amount of governmental hand-wringing takes away the fault (and the blood) that lies on their hands. Praying for peace and stability there really seems an uphill task but nonetheless we commend them to God and pray for welcome and charity for those who have escaped.
Next Saturday there is a memorial thanksgiving for Morfydd Cooke at All Saints and noon and on Saturday 11th there is a similar service for the late Nigel Hutchinson in Saint John’s, with the time yet to be confirmed. We give thanks for these two faithful witnesses.
I’m giving up on weather commentary after the bemoaned rain last Saturday turned into a sunny afternoon. Let’s wait and see!
Don’t forget the 200 Club tomorrow at 10.30 in the Schoolroom…….
When bloody Herod reigned king
Within Judea land,
Much woes his cruel will did bring,
By power of his command.
Amongst the rest, with grief opprest,
Was good St. John there slain,
Who on this day midst sport and play,
A Martyr’d death did gain.
King Herod, being in his tower,
Herodias dancing spied,
As In all her painted pride;
Clad in bright gold for to behold
King Herod’s heart admired
He bid her crave what she should have,
Though she his crown desired.
A kingly crown I do not wish,
But Saint John’s head, she said;
Wherefore, all bleeding in a dish,
Before me be it laid.
Which was the thing she of the king
Desired with right good will,
Whose death was wrought, and to her brought:
Such minds have harlots still.
Thus wine and women, we do see,
Men’s minds to folly win;
For Herod did too soon agree,
And gave consent to sin.
For on this day, as Scriptures day,
St. John did lose his head,
Whilst she did sing before the King,
As he at table fed.
Roxburghe Ballad about 1700