Category Archives: TFTD

Thought for the Day : Wednesday 30 June

Thought for the Day by Katharine Salmon (St Chad’s)

Readings: Romans 15

In this brief passage, Paul tells us something of his plan and pattern of ministry. He tells us of his desire to go to places where the gospel had not been heard. He tells us about his desire to see people converted to Christ who have never heard His name named. He tells us about his desire, not simply to be the one who sees a person make a profession of faith in Christ, but the one who sees a person built up by the Holy Spirit, changed, transformed, growing, a real disciple. He tells the Romans why he wrote to them and why he wrote so boldly and he gives a beautiful estimation what he sees in them in terms of the spirits work in sanctification. Paul is not just describing for us something that has no relevance to other Christians but himself. Paul is sharing with us his designs in ministry and his desires in ministry and his goals in ministry and his pattern in ministry because he wants these things to capture our hearts too. He wants us to think in these terms in the way we relate to one another. He wants us to think in these terms as we view ourselves as disciples in the world who are witnesses to Christ’s love.

This passage reminds me of the words often given to St Francis of Assisi. Preach the Gospel- use words if necessary! We don’t know if St Francis ever said this, but sharing our faith and love in relevant ways is something we can all do.

How do we share our faith with others? Do we give others an answer for the hope we have, even after the last challenging fifteen months?

I love the rainbow as a symbol of hope. In the last month, many Christians have focussed on support and care for the LGBT community in Pride month. In school, this has involved being allies and showing we care for others and we welcome all.

Are we a welcoming church for all? I hope so!


Just to let everyone know that it has been decided by the Clergy Team that we shall have a break from TFTD’s during July and August.

Since the start of the pandemic, our team of about thirty contributors have written an average of one contribution each month, inspiring us with the richness, variety and depth of their insights, experiences, reflections and interpretations of so many passages from scripture, with much thought and prayerful consideration going into each daily offering.  We offer them all our sincere appreciation.

The future of TFTD’s after the summer break will be considered in the light of  any return to normal patterns of worship in our churches and other developments with the pandemic.

We wish everyone a relaxing and fulfilling time over the summer.

Thought for the Day : Tuesday 26 June

Thought for the Day by Hilary Larkin (St Chad’s)

Readings: Isaiah 49:1-6 and Acts 11:1-18

Peter and Paul (Apostles)

Today is the feast day that honours St Peter and St Paul, the two main leaders of the early Christian Church, who’s teaching led to the worldwide growth of Christianity. They were both martyred in Rome by the Emperor Nero between AD 64 and 68, though not on the same day and probably only actually met each other once.

Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, he was always eager to serve Him and recognised Jesus as the Messiah, was impulsive, passionate and sometimes full of doubt – he denied knowing Jesus after His arrest on Good Friday, and wept bitterly with remorse and shame when he realised what he’d done. Despite his failings Jesus gave him the name Peter, meaning a rock, and commissioned him to found the early Church, which he did after Pentecost.  Peter endured much for his faith and teaching, was imprisoned in AD44 and eventually executed by crucifixion in Rome around AD66.

Paul, earlier known as Saul, before his conversion was a very religious and legalistic Jew who persecuted and tried to prevent the early Christians from teaching about Jesus. After his dramatic conversion, on the road to Damascus in AD35, he repented and devoted his life to bringing people to Jesus. Paul, who was the younger of the two, took on the mantle of leading the early church when Peter was aging and imprisoned. He put himself in great danger on his Missionary Journeys in Asia Minor and Europe being imprisoned and persecuted for his faith and teaching and was executed by being beheaded with a sword around AD63.

Some of the early Christians had felt that a Gentile convert needed to become a Jew first, which meant being circumcised. They also saw the sharing of food that was not kosher to be unacceptable. In Acts11 we see Peter carefully explaining step by step an earlier vision he had had that led him to having a change of heart about the Gentiles. He convinced these critics that they could share food with the Gentile believers and also did not need to be circumcised first, as Christians were baptised by the Holy Spirit. Those that had been disapproving of Peter were led to see that God had broken through to other nations and opened them up to the Christian Life.

Paul too instructed Gentiles into the church. Both Peter and Paul fulfilled the call of God in the second servant song, which we read in Isaiah 49, the servant was to be a light for all nations and God’s salvation was to be global. This is also taken up by Simeon (Luke 2 v32) who sees the fulfillment of Isaiah’s servant to be the infant Jesus Christ who will become ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of the people Israel’.

Our Christian faith owes a lot to Peter and Paul. They both allowed God to lead them and to have a change of heart when they saw their ways were not God’s ways. They led the early church to see that following Jesus and becoming a Christian was offered to all people of all nations. And that slavishly obeying traditional rules and habits does not in itself earn God’s approval. Christ has set us free and we are saved by God’s grace.

Thought for the Day : Monday 28 June

Thought for the Day by Robin Fishwick

Readings: Job 33 and Romans 14:13-23

“God speaks in one way and in two, though people may not perceive it”

I have to admit that the book of Job is one of my favourite books of the Bible. I am told that the book is a retelling of an earlier and more straight forward story; one where Job is a righteous man, tested by God with all kinds of afflictions, but remains faithful and uncomplaining throughout his ordeal. The retelling of the story that ends up in scripture deals much more closely with life as we really experience it. In this version, Job doesn’t take his affliction meekly (he does at first, but not later) and holds God to account to the injustices of life.

The major part of the book is a series of dialectics with Job’s “comforters” in which Job debunks a series of arguments which try to prove to Job that his suffering is his fault. Those of us who are involved in pastoral work (I think most of those reading this) will do well to avoid following the practices of Job’s comforters.

Many years ago, when I was a young Catholic, I was in the Legion of Mary, a Catholic lay organisation assisting in the pastoral work of the church. I remember on one occasion visiting an old man in hospital who had had both feet amputated. The old man was bemoaning his misfortune, almost in tears, grieving the loss of his mobility. Peter Butterley, an Irishman in his fifties, was a senior member of the Legion who had taken me on the visit and sympathised with the old man with the words “Oh Jesus! That’s wicked!” As a zealous young Catholic I was horrified at these words. Not only was Brother Butterley blaspheming, but he was also calling God’s Purpose into question, describing it as “wicked” (I might need to point out that this was long before the term “wicked” had any positive connotations!). However, as the years went by, I came to realise that Peter Butterley was right in the very  ay in which Job’s Comforters were wrong.

I’m sure the reason why (spoiler alert) God gets so angry with Job’s comforters near the end of the book is that they are more concerned with proving themselves right than with offering Job any emotional support. Although they do, in all credit to them, go to visit Job and sit with him, they fail to be with him in any real sense. Quite the opposite, the longer they argue with him, the more they want to distance themselves from him, even if that means pushing him further into isolation and despair. They do not want their faith contaminated with the inconvenience of Job’s truth but ironically don’t realise that this very fear of contamination arises not from faith, but from a lack of it.

Elihu names one, nay, two ways in which God speaks to us – through dreams and visions and through the infliction of suffering. He reminds me of the 17 year old Robin Fishwick, full of certainty and empty of emotional intelligence. No, Elihu, God speaks to us in many other ways than that. Brother Butterley really was  “an angel, a mediator, one in a thousand”. It took me a while to realise this but he was the way in which God spoke to the old man; in kindness, connectedness and solidarity.

Thought for the Day : Friday 25 June

Thought for the Day by Richard Barton (All Hallows’)

Reading: Romans 13:1-14

The government are always right! It says so in the Bible!

Ever since the start of the pandemic there has been a predictable debate about the need for government restrictions on movement and freedom. From the hesitation over initiating a lockdown back in March 2020 to the arguments over when full freedoms can or should resume, the debate has been framed largely by the usual political positions. Those endorsing strong state intervention in the cause of public health versus those advocating guarding against the curtailment of liberties and the risk a of totalitarian state, with or without invocation of the issues of the economic declines associated with lockdowns. Indeed, the church or churches have been involved in this debate in terms of what freedoms churches should have in opening their doors during a pandemic. I recall in April 2020 the pastor of an independent small church in London being interviewed about how they were continuing with communal worship despite the pandemic and government regulations because “God would protect them” and that the government had no powers over their rights to worship.

Paul in his letter to the Romans might be understood to disagree with that view “Everyone must obey the state authorities”! This passage has been hotly debated and abused by many throughout history including the support of the South African government’s apartheid regime by the Dutch Reform church. There is also an irony here, as Paul himself was imprisoned in Rome and martyred by the Roman state. Clearly the state does not always get it right.

Perhaps the current pandemic shows the fine balance between state sanction and human liberties.

If you read further in Romans 13 perhaps Paul’s letter should be seen as more as an exercise of a thinking through an issue. In verse 8 he states “the only obligation you have is to love one another”. So yes it comes back to love, yet again! Somehow as complex and diverse modern societies, through the means of democracy, we have to find the right ways to express that love for all people, keeping them safe from infection but respecting their freedoms. In the UK this is the role of the representatives we elect and hopefully trust in this role, but is often compromised by the tendency to polarity.

Perhaps a vision to always keep in mind is a statement made by many politicians but most recently reworked by Jo Cox, MP in Batley, who was murdered in 2016 and who we remembered last Sunday. “There is more we have in common than that which divides us.”

I am grateful to Adriaan van Klinken who used Jo Cox’s words to lead our intercessions last Sunday at All Hallows and reminded me of this powerful quote.

Thought for the Day : Thursday 24 June

Thought for the Day by Peter Hemming (St Chad’s)

Readings: Malachi 3:1-6 and  Luke 3:1-7

John the Baptist

In the Hebrew scriptures, the final book of the Tanakh (the Law, the Prophets and the Writings) is 2 Chronicles; this is the last few verses. 2 Chronicles takes the Jews ‘back to Jerusalem’. Here, in our Christian Bibles, our last book of the OT is Malachi which looks forward to our New Testament, the story of Jesus and the emerging church.

We read Malachi in this light – looking forwards to Jesus, as John the Baptist does. Yet, even though John was Jesus’ cousin (well that’s the idea) he didn’t really understand Jesus’ ministry and role. 

Every day in Morning Prayer, the Gospel Canticle set is the Benedictus, (Luke 1 vv 68-79). We might be forgiven for thinking that John the Baptist, portrayed as ‘the one who will go before the face of the Lord to prepare the way for him’, must have ‘got it all right’!  

Where ‘Legalistic remorse’ says, “I broke God’s rules”, and ‘Real repentance’ says, “I broke God’s heart”’, it seems as though John really thought that Jesus ought to be declaring God’s rules and making clear that the conservative and legalistic ‘Jewish’ position mattered.

Break the rules and you’re cut off from God.

Jesus on the other hand seems to have had other priorities! He appears to have been far less bothered about any formal Jewish position and more concerned with His chief role as the coming Messiah.

Later in Luke, we hear of John sending messengers to Jesus to ask: ‘“Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”’ At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, illnesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So, he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’ (Read Luke 7 vv 20-23)

Despite everything, Jesus was not what John expected the Messiah to be. He didn’t wade in heavily on Sin and keeping the Law; he was clearly far more accepting of the outsider; he was interested in showing that God’s love and care extended way beyond Judaism and God’s chosen people.

In Jesus we are all chosen.

Will you accept your ‘chosen-ness’ and respond to Jesus’ calling to be His disciple? 

Thought for the Day : Wednesday 23 June

Thought for the Day by Clive Barrett (St Michael’s)

Reading: Romans 12:9-21

Overcome Evil with Good

Mid-50s CE, Easter plus 20. Paul writes to new Christians in Rome whom he has never met. His words will be heard, read out, rhythmically (try it yourself!) He’s in full flow, a skilled orator delivering an impassioned sermon, moving his hearers. You hear his voice, his passion, his person.

Paul knows Hebrew scriptures and he knows the Jesus story. He knows first-hand, the difference it makes being Christian, in Christ.

Paul’s audience should not conform to the world, but be themselves transformed. It’s about Love, with a capital L, empowering them/us, how we are, how we engage with other people. This is Sermon on the Mount stuff, 20 years before Matthew’s gospel.

Community harmony matters. No-one is better than another. Look out for each other. Rejoice together. Weep together.

Extend this love to everyone, even people you don’t like. Bless those who harm you. Don’t repay evil for evil. Try to live in peace. Never harm anyone else – that’s God’s prerogative, not yours. Give enemies food and drink, like Jesus fed Judas at the Last Supper; they’ll not have a leg to stand on.

(To discover who your “enemies” are, ask the Government: they’ll say refugees, foreigners, “scroungers”, … – so that’s whom you should love!)

This is not an “implication” of the Gospel, an add-on to doctrinal belief. Faith is not a to-do list, not about Law and laws. Paul describes a whole mindset, alien to governments and newspapers. This new world-view, this attitude to life, transforms who we are:

Love, hope, patience, nonviolence, non-retaliation, perseverance, prayer, generosity, humility, blessing… these are the defining characteristics of being Christian. Even more than the finer points of doctrine, being in Christ is about our being, who we are, how we are. Each person transformed.

You, transformed.

We are the people who overcome evil with Love.

If you would like to read an academic study of this subject, I recommend Jeremy Gabrielson, Paul’s Non-Violent Gospel: The Theological Politics of Peace in Paul’s Life and Letters, 2013.

Thought for the Day : Tuesday 22 June

Thought for the Day by Kevin Ward (St Michael’s)

Reading: Job 28

This chapter of Job is full of problems. It doesn’t quite fit in with the dialogue between  Job and his friends, or Job’s complaints as they are developed in the surrounding chapters.  The Hebrew text itself is  uncertain and its meanings often difficult to make sense of. Overall, however, there is a clear intention: to show the wonders of the creation. Human beings have powers which other animals and birds (even the eagle) are incapable of. But even human ingenuity falls short  of God’s creative powers. Mining well illustrates the ingenuity and inventiveness of human beings. Only they are able to exploit the mineral riches hidden deep in the earth. I was puzzled by the idea that ‘miners put an end to darkness’, since the verse is immediately followed by an account of how they work ‘in gloom and deep darkness’, opening shafts  in the wild places, far away from human habitation. It made more sense when I learnt that the Hebrew colloquial word for miners is ‘lamp folk’ – those who are able to penetrate the darkness with the lamps which they wear around their heads. Mining is hazardous at the best of times,but in an age before Davey’s safety lamp, this must have been an even more  hazardous undertaking.

In ancient times,  miners extracted gold and silver, iron and copper, and precious stones. Its only with the industrial revolution that coal mining became a major industry, literally fuelling the industrial revolution. Mining itself, however, did not become the nucleus of large-scale urbanisation, unlike the textile factories, or iron and steel manufacture, around which great cities like Birmingham and Sheffield emerged. Mines remained separate  – in the Welsh valleys, the Yorkshire coalfields,  the Durham countryside. My maternal grandfather was a Durham miner, working in collieries such as Cornsay and Esh Winning,  sadly now  forlorn  rural villages in a post-industrial landscape. My mum’s three brothers all followed their father down the pit. When I visited as a child it seemed like another world, remote from industrial Bradford, even though Bradford, of course,  could not have developed without coal. In my childhood, Bradford’s beautiful Yorkshire stone buildings had turned completely soot black. I could hardly understand my granddad’s Geordie speech. I was shocked when we were turned out of the living room while a great iron bath was put in front of the fire so that the workers could bathe when they returned from their shift, black as soot. There was no bathroom, and the toilet was in the front yard. I did eventually pick up a little of the lingo: bait  (packed lunch),  bairn, filem (film), ‘stepping out’ (with your boy or girl friend), ‘he’s a canny lad’  ‘why aye, man’. My sister and I visited Esh Winning a couple of years ago. We couldn’t find the house in Coronation Terrace (named for George V’s coronation in 1911 or George VI’s in 1936?).

We asked directions from an old man. “Thats long since gone, pet. Who was your grandaddy,  then?…. Oh Charlie Dixon…Yes, I knew him, I remember him.’ My granddad had been fined for picking up a few nuggets of coal, strewn around the colliery,  during the depression. He was unemployed and there was no money to light a fire.  I guess the whole family were ‘Labour’; solidarity was built into this community. Alas, now the red wall is crumbling.

Many years later I visited Johannesburg  and Kimberley  in South Africa,  centres of gold and diamond extraction.  Here, great cities have grown around the mines. In the centre of Kimberley is ‘de groot gat’ – the Great Hole. Even the interior of Kimberley’s cathedral looks like a mine. The tiny windows  let in little  natural light. Unlike  Durham, in these places a strong community could not easily be created, impeded by capitalist and segregationist government policies. Wives were not allowed to live with their husbands, who were segregated in all-male compounds, with separate hotels for Sotho, Zulu, Xhosa,  Tswana, and Mozambicans. They were  on short-term contracts, to prevent unionisation.  The evils of apartheid!

Job concludes this section by pondering on the mystery of creation. Wisdom is difficult to find – like precious metals and ‘black diamonds’ , Wisdom is concealed from the eyes of the living, from the birds, even from Death. Humans have made great discoveries, their ingenuity has produced the riches, ‘the wealth of the nations’; also injustice and discrimination and class division. Wisdom eludes us:  even we humans  ‘ have only heard a rumour of it with our ears’.  We are bound to conclude, with Job, that ‘the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’

Thought for the Day : Friday 18 June

Thought for the Day by Toby Parsons (All Hallows’)

Readings: Romans 11:1-12

Stumbling but not falling

“What they sought so earnestly they did not obtain.”

I wonder if this sentiment from today’s passage in Romans 11 resonates with you? 

Have you thrown your heart and soul into planning something, only for it to all fall apart? Have you revised incredibly hard, but not got the exam results you hoped for? Did you feel on Monday that the efforts to move on from covid have been frustrated, at least for another four weeks?

We don’t always get what we want. And sometimes it’s not entirely clear why.

In today’s reading, most of the Israelites end up losing their focus and missing the target. Unless you were one of the 7,000 who were particularly blessed by God’s grace, you’d have found it all going rather wrong.

And if we stopped reading at verse 10, we might go into the rest of our day burdened by an image of darkened eyes and bent backs.

But Paul goes on to ask – did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?

And we can take heart in the answer – not at all!

The stumbling of some led to the salvation of others. It spread the message of God beyond the Israelites and helped shape a more inclusive faith.  And not only did it bring these riches at the time, it promised far greater things to come for everyone, whether Israelite or Gentile.

We will inevitably stumble – even when we try our hardest. But God can and does work with that, drawing out the good from each situation. We don’t always see it straight away. But it’s there.

And it’s just a taster of what’s to come, when God makes all things new and our stumbling ceases.

Thought for the Day : Thursday 17 June

Thought for the Day by Bob Shaw (St Michael’s)

Readings: Job 23 and Romans 10:11-21

Following the daily pattern of readings from the Anglican lectionary has ensured that we hold on to our links with the Old Testament. This is very important because here we discover the roots of Our Lord’s own teaching. It also enables us to maintain a positive relationship with our Jewish and Muslim neighbours, something we can so easily forget.

The Old Testament readings set for us since Pentecost have been focussing on the Book of Job. This book has produced expressions that we still find in English literature. The ‘Patience of Job’ refers to someone willing to endure intense suffering. The expression ‘Job’s Comforter’ describes a person who means to sympathize with you in your grief but says that you brought it on yourself and so adds to your sorrow. Revisiting the Book of Job during this time of global pandemic is also timely in view of its subject matter especially here in Chapter 23 where God seems far off and evil triumphant.  Our Lord himself endured the experience of undeserved cruel suffering on the cross where He cried out in a loud voice ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’Jesus has brought us salvation but at what cost!

Clearly we don’t have all the answers to our questions but thankfully we share a faith where the experience of suffering and death does not have the last word. Thank God, Jesus was raised from death to life and in today’s New Testament passage from Romans we are reassured by St. Paul that Jesus is now Lord of all humanity, Jews and Gentiles alike, including you and me! His generosity is offered to all who call on Him, for all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

So, in spite of all our doubts, in the words of St Julian of Norwich

All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.

Thanks be to God

Thought for the Day : Tuesday 15 June

Thought for the Day by Phil Gardner (All Hallows’)

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