Thursday 30 September

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Gracious God,
you call us to fullness of life:
deliver us from unbelief
and banish our anxieties
with the liberating love of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Mark 14.43–52
Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’ All of them deserted him and fled.
A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

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.