Weekly Reflection • 31 May

Weekly Reflections

Good morning in this cold May morning. How are you today? It is great to be back with you again which gives me much pleasure to warmly welcome you to this short time of encouraging each other in God’s truth.

The week had passed by so quickly that I hardly notice that is has been seven days since we last shared this time together. I pray that you had a good week. As for me, it is time to think back to forty years ago when I graduated from theological studies. I am reminded again that it is solely by God’s grace I am who I am today. It makes me shutter to think of who and what I would have been of not by God’s mercy and grace.

For us in Melbourne it seems like ground hog day again as we once again go into lockdown for the week. Let us pray that we will emerge from this week in a better situation and have kept the spread of this dreaded virus in checked.

Let us now pray together.

Prayer of the Week

A Prayer for those waiting for test results and tested positive

Almighty God and loving heavenly Father, you are eternally our rock, our fortress and our protector: We pray that you be close to all who are waiting to be tested, everyone who is  waiting for their COVID test results, and especially those who have tested positive. In the midst of our uncertainties and anxieties, help us to trust in your unfailing goodness and love. May we always find our healing and peace in your only Son our Lord Jesus Christ; in whose name we pray.[1] Amen.

Trinity Sunday [First Sunday after Pentecost]

O blessed Trinity, in whom we know the Maker of all things, seen and unseen, the Saviour of all, both near and far: by your Spirit enable us so to worship your divine majesty, that with all the company of heaven we may magnify your glorious name,  saying, Holy, holy, holy.  Glory to you, O Lord most high. Amen.

Instead of reading a passage from the Bible, today we are going to read from a hymn entitled “O Jesus I Have Promised”.

This hymn was written by The Revd. John Ernest Bode (13 February 1816 – 6 October 1874) who was an Anglican priest, educator, poet, and hymnist. He was educated at Eton, the Charter House, and then at Christ Church, Oxford. He became a prominent scholar who gave the famous Bampton Lectures (“for the exposition and defense of the Christian faith”) at Oxford in 1855. He was also a rector in Westwell, Oxfordshire, and in Castle Camps.

This hymn, “O Jesus I Have Promised” was written on the occasion of the confirmation of his own two sons and daughter at Castle Camps in 1869. Its tune was written in 1881 by Arthur H Mann, who at one period in his life served as organist and choirmaster at King’s College, Cambridge, famous for its superb choral music.

You can listen to the hymn above or read the words below.

“O Jesus I Have Promised”

1 O Jesus, I have promised  To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,   My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle   If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway   If Thou wilt be my Guide.

2 Oh, let me feel Thee near me;   The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,   The tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,   Around me and with in;
But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,   And shield my soul from sin.

3 Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,   In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,   The murmurs of self-will;
Oh, speak to reassure me,   To hasten, or control;
Oh, speak, and make me listen,   Thou Guardian of my soul.

4 O Jesus, Thou hast promised   To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory   There shall Thy servant be;
And Jesus, I have promised   To serve Thee to the end;
Oh, give me grace to follow,   My Master and my Friend.

5 Oh, let me see Thy footmarks,   And in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly   Is in Thy strength alone.
Oh, guide me, call me, draw me,   Uphold me to the end;
And then to rest receive me,   My Savior and my Friend.[2]


An Audience of One

I remember clearly to almost 50 years ago at a Diocesan Youth Camp where I made the decision to believe and accept Jesus as my Saviour and Lord.  The theme song for that Youth Camp was “O Jesus I Have Promised”.

Its words inspire me on my how I should live my life each day. It is a life that I had promised to serve my Lord Jesus till its end. It is a life that is protected by His grace as I learn listen only to His voice. It is a life lived to follow Him wherever He leads. It is a life that is lived by His grace and strength alone.

It is not as rosy as it sounds. I have my struggles and I need to constantly ask myself this question. “What audience do I play to?” Each day I am seen by many who will make a judgment about the way I handle myself among different audiences. Politicians have learned to play to their audiences, customizing messages for the needs of their particular groups. Musicians have learned to play to their audiences. Workplace believers play to the audiences who will buy their product. As priests, there is a great tendency to play to our congregants each Sunday morning.

However, Christ has called us to play to one audience – the audience of Himself. When we seek to please any other audience in our life, we become susceptible to situational ethics and motivations based on the need for the moment. Our audience becomes a pawn in our hands because we know what they want. Is that wrong? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

Obedience to God is solely to please Him in our lives by loving Him with all that we are, with all that we possess and in all that we do. It comes back to the motive of why we live and how we live. This will often meet the needs of those around us as we love them with God’s love by looking after their interests before ourselves.

However, there are other times when our audiences are asking for something contrary to God’s will. It is when we are pressured to appease our audiences, even though it may go against God’s laws. It is at this juncture when we are asked to go with the flow that we decide which audience is most important in our lives. Is it the audience of One, or the audience of many?

As we meet the situations of each day, be mindful of which audience you are playing to. Ask yourself why you are taking a particular action. Is it to please the audience of One? Or is it to please the audience of others who might negatively impact you should you not play to their tune? [3]

The Morning Collect

Into your hands, O Lord, we commit ourselves this day. Give each of us a watchful, humble, and diligent spirit, that we may seek to know your will in all things, and when we know it, that we may perform it completely and gladly, to the honour and glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[4]

The Blessing

God’s love surround you, God’s Spirit guide you, God’s whisper cheer you, God’s peace calm you, God’s shield protect you, God’s wisdom arm you,
wherever God may lead you. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.[5]

Thank you for sharing this time with me. Let me know how you are doing. I very much look forward to be with you again next week. In the meantime, do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.

[1] Adapted from a prayer by Rev Chris Lancaster

[2] Lyrics: John Ernest Bode (1816-1874); Music: Arthur Henry Mann (1850-1929)

[3] Concept from “Today God Is First”, Volume 1 by Os Hillman (12 October 2008).

[4] Watchful, Humble and Diligent Spirits Source: Gelasian Sacramentary. Source of this version: Freely modified from  Prayers of the Early Church,  ed.  J. Manning Potts,  The Upper Room, Nashville, Tennessee, © 1953 (Public domain in the U.S.)

[5] Copyright © John Birch, 2016