Thursday 12 August

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God of our pilgrimage,
you have willed that the gate of mercy
should stand open for those who trust in you:
look upon us with your favour
that we who follow the path of your will
may never wander from the way of life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Mark 4.1–20
Again he began to teach beside the lake. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the lake on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that
“they may indeed look, but not perceive,
   and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.” ’
 And he said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’

Psalm 78.1-39
    Hear my teaching, O my people;
   incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
    I will open my mouth in a parable;
   I will pour forth mysteries from of old,
    Such as we have heard and known,
   which our forebears have told us.
    We will not hide from their children,
      but will recount to generations to come,
   the praises of the Lord and his power
      and the wonderful works he has done.
    He laid a solemn charge on Jacob
      and made it a law in Israel,
   which he commanded them to teach their children,
    That the generations to come might know,
      and the children yet unborn,
   that they in turn might tell it to their children;
    So that they might put their trust in God
   and not forget the deeds of God,
      but keep his commandments,
    And not be like their forebears,
      a stubborn and rebellious generation,
   a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
      and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
    The people of Ephraim, armed with the bow,
   turned back in the day of battle;
      They did not keep the covenant of God
   and refused to walk in his law;
      They forgot what he had done
   and the wonders he had shown them.
      For he did marvellous things in the sight of their forebears,
   in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
      He divided the sea and let them pass through;
   he made the waters stand still in a heap.
      He led them with a cloud by day
   and all the night through with a blaze of fire.
      He split the hard rocks in the wilderness
   and gave them drink as from the great deep.
      He brought streams out of the rock
   and made water gush out like rivers.
      Yet for all this they sinned more against him
   and defied the Most High in the wilderness.
      They tested God in their hearts
   and demanded food for their craving.
      They spoke against God and said,
   ‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
      ‘He struck the rock indeed, so that the waters gushed out
      and the streams overflowed,
   but can he give bread or provide meat for his people?’
      When the Lord heard this, he was full of wrath;
   a fire was kindled against Jacob
      and his anger went out against Israel,
      For they had no faith in God
   and put no trust in his saving help.
      So he commanded the clouds above
   and opened the doors of heaven.
      He rained down upon them manna to eat
   and gave them the grain of heaven.
      So mortals ate the bread of angels;
   he sent them food in plenty.
      He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens
   and led out the south wind by his might.
      He rained flesh upon them as thick as dust
   and winged fowl like the sand of the sea.
      He let it fall in the midst of their camp
   and round about their tents.
      So they ate and were well filled,
   for he gave them what they desired.
      But they did not stop their craving;
   their food was still in their mouths,
      When the anger of God rose against them,
   and slew their strongest men
      and felled the flower of Israel.
      But for all this, they sinned yet more
   and put no faith in his wonderful works.
      So he brought their days to an end like a breath
   and their years in sudden terror.
      Whenever he slew them, they would seek him;
   they would repent and earnestly search for God.
      They remembered that God was their rock
   and the Most High God their redeemer.
      Yet they did but flatter him with their mouth
   and dissembled with their tongue.
      Their heart was not steadfast towards him,
   neither were they faithful to his covenant.
      But he was so merciful that he forgave their misdeeds
      and did not destroy them;
   many a time he turned back his wrath
      and did not suffer his whole displeasure to be roused.
      For he remembered that they were but flesh,
   a wind that passes by and does not return.