Sunday, Trinity 18


Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us your gift of faith that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to that which is before, we may run the way of your commandments and win the crown of everlasting joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


God, our judge and saviour, teach us to be open to your truth and to trust in your love, that we may live each day with confidence in the salvation which is given through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post Communion

We praise and thank you, O Christ, for this sacred feast: for here we receive you, here the memory of your passion is renewed, here our minds are filled with grace, and here a pledge of future glory is given, when we shall feast at that table where you reign with all your saints for ever.Post Communion


Old Testament

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

Genesis 32:22–31



1    I lift up my eyes to the hills;
from where is my help to come?

2    My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.

3    He will not suffer your foot to stumble;
he who watches over you will not sleep.

4    Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5    The Lord himself watches over you;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand,

6    So that the sun shall not strike you by day,
neither the moon by night.

7    The Lord shall keep you from all evil;
it is he who shall keep your soul.

8    The Lord shall keep watch over your going out and your coming in,
from this time forth for evermore.

Psalm 121


But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

2 Timothy 3:14–4:5


Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” ’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’

Luke 18:1–8

Sermon on Sunday, Trinity 18

One of the most difficult passages for the present generation is this –

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”

Do you think this generation grasps the necessity of all this education, for reproof and correction? The days of the switch and cane are gladly gone far into the mists of time, the reproof and correction we need are example and maybe the well-timed, sharp word. Teaching is something that is not really on the agenda nowadays, as everyone just stares at screens large and small, on the table or concealed in their hands. No one is willing to raise their eyes to any one else, let alone a teacher, are they?

As for “training in righteousness” – is that really something anyone today understands, let alone whether anyone would pursue such a programme? Righteousness is something left to the monks and nuns of centuries ago who have nothing to do with this world of deals, laws and offers. “Training for righteousness” sounds too sanctimonious, too old-fashioned, for modernity. Just think whether you have heard anyone talking about “righteousness” recently.

I wonder “Why?” Why doesn’t anyone delve deep into the realm of ethics to make the world a better place? Why do we bob along on the surface accepting everything as it is? Why, oh, why, do we keep making the same mistakes over and over again? Why are we doomed to moral failure here and now? So many questions loom out of our reading the Bible, don’t they?

The substance of this passage from the letter to Timothy is certainly foreign to conversations in the 21st century. The lessons of the bible are not the instructions of our contemporaries, are they? Profit and exploitation are the opposite of the mind-set of the Bible. People then were also subject to the same temptations as now. The pursuit of profit at the cost of humanity is the mark of the world of today’s commerce. It would seem that slavery, modern or ancient, is a sign of a morally bankrupt attitude.

How do we escape from these wicked chains of the world? How can we negate the world’s evil propensities? What will break the spiral of despair for the sake of what is right? This is not a new moral dilemma. I suppose it has to be through education in the very broadest sense, the point being made in our epistle – though that sort of teaching does not seem to be part of our modern culture’s curriculum.

We have to acknowledge the place of that Other in our lives – the teacher. Who might that be – my friend, my mother, my father, my neighbour, the stranger with whom I had that fleeting conversation? Any other person in our experience could be that teacher of righteousness, that very important figure in the history of religions, if only we would plumb the depths of life in all its fullness. With that teacher everything changes for us.

Let’s try to understand this through an alternative collect for today, which is

God, our judge and saviour, teach us to be open to your truth and to trust in your love, that we may live each day with confidence in the salvation which is given through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Truth and love are ineffable, we cannot put our finger on them, can we? However, on our better days we will confess the truth, won’t we? We will declare our love to anyone who will listen. We know that all of this comes from elsewhere. The truth is not something we make up – it has to bubble up into our lives – like love, truth just pops up, it is inspired.

The Bible is there in our background, as one of our sources for truth and love. And it has been there for a long time. Somehow the Bible has come into being, with its source beyond the everyday world we inhabit.

I think that we are like the Bible, don’t you? Inspiration has flooded over us and we are transformed. For instance, we are now full of confidence because we know of truth and love – we know of our salvation, don’t we? We are truly living that life of abundance, even though we may be poor in the perception of the world of celebrity and bling. We know we need no gold for our joy, rather our joy is in being with the Other, whether that be the Teacher of Righteousness or the stranger. Our joy is being there in the world with the other person, in that world which oftentimes is strange and cruel.

In this everyday world of misperception, there is confusion and bad faith. We know this, don’t we? In this everyday world, we are caught up in things which do not make us proud, as when we don’t stand up for the poor, the widow and children. We are like so many who have passed by on the other side.

In the world of the extraordinary, where we see our ownmost possibility clearly, we are inspired to be kind, patient, loving – all those things the Church counts as “fruits of the Spirit”. Faith, hope and love are the foundation of all that we find good. Do these show themselves as arising from ourselves, or do we say they are inspired, actions which have their origin in something outside of our ordinary mentality? That is the inspired, when something arises in our hearts which does not impose itself from our everyday experience.

I suppose this is why we read this passage with hope. That is why we agree that the Bible is inspired. The Bible is for our education, because it leads us out of the crowd so we can think for ourselves and move to our ownmost possibility. It corrects and chastises us because we are aware of what we do every day. We know that we have failed so many. It educates us by leading us out of the crowd to our very selves, as individuals before one another.

We face ourselves in our destiny, our ownmost possibilities. To each their own. As it should be. But in my self I am confronted by the other, that other who reminds me who I am. That alien who scares me, the stranger who questions my values.

And yet, I am comforted by that other who is so very different from me, the one who might greet me with warmth and take my hand with gentleness. Here we are in the midst of the alien world where Others force us to appraise ourselves, but here in the world we become ourselves because the other inspires us in a way we do not completely comprehend, just as we do not completely take in the inspiration of the Lord.