Church of England Diocese of Liverpool St. Oswald, Netherton

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - 21ST SEPTEMBER

21st September 2020

Reading: 1 Peter 1: 13-21

13So then, have your minds ready for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant. 15Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy. 16The scripture says, “Be holy because I am holy.”

17You call him Father, when you pray to God, who judges all people by the same standard, according to what each one has done; so then, spend the rest of your lives here on earth in reverence for him. 18For you know what was paid to set you free from the worthless manner of life handed down by your ancestors. It was not something that can be destroyed, such as silver or gold; 19it was the costly sacrifice of Christ, who was like a lamb without defect or flaw. 20He had been chosen by God before the creation of the world and was revealed in these last days for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from death and gave him glory; and so your faith and hope are fixed on God.

Thought for the week

During this week we remember three very different Christian men, but whose examples of faith filled living can inspire and encourage us.

Matthew, the Evangelist who wrote the Gospel that appears first in the New Testament, was different from the other Apostles. He was not a popular man. Many people felt that he was unworthy to be a chosen as a follower of Jesus. Matthew worked for the Romans as a tax collector. The Romans ruled Palestine and the Jewish people in the time of Jesus. They forced the Jewish people to pay taxes to them. Many of the tax collectors cheated the people by charging more taxes than required and keeping the extra money for themselves. The Jews considered tax collectors to be traitors.

In Chapter 9 of his Gospel, Matthew tells a story about how Jesus called him to follow him and how the Jewish people felt about tax collectors. You can read it in Matthew 9:9-13. In this story, the Pharisees, a group of Jews who strictly followed all the laws of their religion, call tax collectors “sinners." Jesus knew in his heart that Matthew was not a sinner or a cheat.

Matthew wrote his Gospel for Jewish people who had become followers of Christ. He wanted his audience to know that Jesus was the Messiah that God had promised to send to save all people. Matthew’s Gospel makes clear that Jesus is the fulfilment of everything said by the prophets in the Old Testament.

Matthew is also the only Evangelist who shares the eight Beatitudes with his readers. His Gospel faithfully reports how Jesus described who will be truly blessed by God in the Kingdom and the attitudes and actions that are required for those who follow the new Law Jesus came to bring.

After Jesus’ Ascension, Matthew preached the Gospel, as Jesus asked his disciples to do. It is believed that he established Christian communities in Ethiopia and other sections of the continent of Africa. Tradition tells us that he died as a martyr.

What was important to Matthew was believing in and living as a follower of Christ. Matthew helps us to remember that it is our faith in Jesus that makes us truly rich!

The top translator and overseer of the KJV translation, Lancelot Andrewes was perhaps the most brilliant man of his age. A man of high ecclesiastical office during both Elizabeth’s and James’s reigns, bishop in three different cities under James, Andrewes is still highly regarded in the Church of England.

Ordained at 25, Andrewes worked his way up the ecclesiastical ladder to dean of Westminster and chaplain to Queen Elizabeth. Nicolson calls him “an ecclesiastical politician who in the Roman Church would have become a cardinal, perhaps even pope” as well as a minister who was “deeply engaged in pastoral care, generous, loving, in public bewitched by ceremony, in private troubled by persistent guilt and self-abasement.” He would wait every day, no matter how busy he was, in the transepts of his church “for any Londoner in need of solace or advice.”

A man of intense piety who spent five hours every morning in prayer, Andrewes kept in that chapel a book of private devotions which, when published after his death, became a classic Anglican guide to prayer. According to some accounts, he died with that book in his hands, stained with the many tears he had cried over the years as he prayed for himself and others. He is quoted as saying:

“Two things I recognize, O Lord, in myself:

Nature, which Thou hast made;

Sin, which I have added.”

This was the man who met, in the famous Jerusalem Chamber in the abbot’s house at Westminster, with the First Westminster Company of Translators. There, in Nicolson’s words, this “scholarly, political, passionate, agonized” man, “in love with the English language, endlessly investigating its possibilities, wordly, saintly, serene, sensuous, courageous,” set upon the King James Bible the stamp of his own character, “as broad as the great Bible itself.”

In 1882 Wilson Carlile established the Church Army with a vision to train ordinary Christian men and women to reach those most in need with the gospel.

Wilson Carlile was born in Brixton, London, on 14 January 1847, the eldest of 12 children. At the age of 14, Wilson left school and followed in his grandfather’s footsteps as a silk mercer. The youthful Wilson travelled regularly around the Continent for his trade, becoming proficient in several languages. He would later preach the gospel in French, German, Italian and English. He was also a gifted musician and played the trombone, piano and organ. Although Wilson grew up in a middle class family, the Carliles could trace their origins to the Royal House of Scotland. They were also connected by marriage to the Royal Houses of England and France. Throughout his life, Wilson suffered from spinal weakness. “God threw me on my back so that I could look up to him more,” he quipped. It was during one of these bouts of poor health that the 26-year old Wilson began to read a book entitled Grace and Truth by Dr WP Mackay. He later described how he came to faith: “At the beginning of the chapter I was a rank outsider. Before I got to the end, I had thrown myself at the feet of Christ and cried ‘My Lord and my God!’” In 1870, Wilson married Flora Vickers, with whom he had five sons. He was ordained a deacon in 1880. Shortly after, he became curate at St Mary Abbots in Kensington, where he preached to one of the most fashionable congregations of Victorian London. By an ironic twist of fate, he would shortly become, as nicknamed by the then Bishop of London, the ‘Archbishop of the Gutter’. Church services were considered by the working people of the time as the exclusive preserve of the privileged. Since the working class refused to step foot inside a church, the enthusiastic young preacher began holding small, open air services at the time of day when coachmen, valets and grooms would be taking their evening stroll. During these open air campaigns, Wilson came to a conclusion that would dominate his thinking for the rest of his life. He reflected that: “The humble testimonies of working people attracted quite as much as did my own preaching and, in fact, they seemed to produce even a deeper effect on their own class. So I felt I ought to go forth and try to train working men as church evangelists.”

Three men whose lives of faith have and continue to impact the mission of God. May we be inspired to pray, to read God’s word and to share the good news in all that we are and do.

Prayer

I am ever Thine.

If Thou cast me out, who shall take me in?

If Thou disregard me, who shall look on me?

More canst Thou remit, than I commit;

more canst Thou spare, than I offend.

Let not hurtful pleasures overcome me;

at the least let not any perverse habit overwhelm me;

From evil and unlawful desires;

From vain, hurtful, impure imaginations;

from the illusions of evil spirits;

from pollutions of soul and of body;

Good Lord, deliver me.

Lancelot Andrewes, The Private Devotions of Lancelot Andrewes