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A reflection on psalm 73 from the Rectory 10th September
1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.[ a ]
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity[ b ];
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.[ c ]
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?” 12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments. 15 If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds. Although the psalmist was well aware of the goodness of God towards his people (vs 1), his observation of what was happening in society all around him almost led him to lose his way and throw in the towel. The wicked seemed to be getting away with it, which led him to consider if it was a complete waste of time trying to live his life according to God’s laws. “They seem to live such a painless life; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They aren’t troubled like other people or plagued with problems like everyone else.” (vs 4-5 New Living translation) and he was angry that God did not appear to be doing anything to sort the situation out. It was only when he went to the sanctuary (God’s house) and he was reminded of the destiny of the wicked in the long term that he came to his senses and realised the foolishness of how he had been thinking. He was reminded as John Goldingay in his commentary Psalms for Everyone helpfully puts it of “the fact that faithless people are doing well now does not mean that they will do forever and the fact that innocent people are suffering does not mean that they will forever.” The psalmist realised that God was in heaven and was the source of his help (vs 25) and that although his health my fail and his spirit grow weak God remained the strength of his heart forever (vs 26). Hebrew 12 reminds us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” (New Living Translation) When we consider all the Jesus went through before it came good for him it helps us maintain a proper perspective on our lives and all that we are going through and encourages us to believe that in the long run those who trust in the Lord will have the last laugh!
We're not promised that following God will be easy ...... from the Rectory 26th August
Isaiah 50:7-10 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
8 He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!
9 It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
the moths will eat them up. 10 Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God. Someone recently said to me, you have been through a very difficult time, with so much going on. This led me to reflect again on where my inner strength comes from. As I child I observed the way that mum and dad coped with losing two of their children to a muscle-wasting disease. Their quiet determined faith inspired me to follow their example. Also, knowing that God had chosen me makes me extremely thankful. The Bible never promises that following God will be easy. It is full of passages encouraging us to remain faithful even when the going is tough. Isaiah was well aware of times when things don’t go according to plan: times when God seems distant and remote and it feels as though he does not even hear our prayers, let alone answer them. He compares this to walking in darkness. (vs 10) (The prophet is not refereeing to the darkness of sin but the absence of God’s presence to guide us.) this is sometime referred to as the dark night of the soul. How should react at time like this? Because we know that God loves us and have experienced his faithfulness in the past then we should be determined to continue to press on, trusting God, even though the storms of life relentlessly batter us and there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. we can be 100% confident that in the end God will once again prove faithful and will vindicate us. I love the way that Isaiah puts it in verse 7, he says that he sets his face like flint. In his second letter to the Corinthian Paul also helpfully reminds us that as Christians we are to walk by faith and not by sight.
Remember your blessings ....from the Rectory 19th August
Psalm 57 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed. 2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
3 He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness. 4 I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth. 6 They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves. 7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth. It is thought that David was in hiding in a cave, fleeing for his life, from king Saul when he wrote this psalm. In the midst of this crisis David was able to look back on his life and recall times in the past when God had helped him through difficult and challenging circumstances. This encouraged him to be strong and believe that God would hear his cry for help and once again come to his aid. His recollection of God’s faithfulness towards him spurred him on to sing a song of praise to God. It is so easy to forget all the blessings that God has showered upon us in the past, especially when we are going through difficult times, somehow our problems become all consuming. In his commentary on this psalm John Goldingay (former principle of St Johns college) writes, “Remembering the past is key to living in the present and having hope for the future. It does not make prayer unnecessary: it does make it possible.” He goes on to point out that this command to remember what God has done for us in the past is one of the most frequently repeated exhortations in the whole of the bible. Recently I have found a number of Matt Redman’s songs to be so helpful because they remind us to go on praising God even though life is far from easy. Lord forgive me for living my life As if you were not present. For trusting in my own strength And not yours. Teach me to trust you Especially when the journey Seems difficult and hard. Give me peace That cannot be disturbed By the fiercest storm. Give me the knowledge That no matter how many problems May strew the way ahead You who have the power to still the storm Can bring strength and stillness into my life. Amen
From the Rectory 11th August ... We have nothing to be afraid of
Joshua 1:1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Moses, the great hero and leader of the people has just died, and Joshua has taken cup the mantle. The people face a very difficult and uncertain future. They are camped on the edge of the promised land. Directly in front of them lies the swollen waters of the River Jordan and ahead of them the challenge of finally entering and conquering the land that God had promised to give them. For Joshua too, this must have been a very anxious time. He knew that it was not going to be easy to follow in the footsteps of a great leader like Moses. How would the people respond? Would they be willing to follow him? He was well aware that the people had a track record of being difficult, stubborn and rebellious. No wonder then that God has to reassure Joshua and the people, not once but three times, encouraging them to be strong and courageous, and promising that he would be with them wherever he went. Joshua was up to the challenge. This had been the moment that he had been waiting for, for over forty years and he was not going to miss the chance. Although he was well aware, probably more than all of the people, of the difficult challenges ahead, his faith in God’s ability to help them overcome to odds and defeat the inhabitants of the land, even though on paper they were far stronger than they were, remained constant. Currently, we all face a very difficult and uncertain future. Just as God encouraged Joshua and the people to be strong and courageous so I believe he similarly would encourage us to be strong and courageous. Knowing that God is all-powerful means that we have nothing to be afraid of and we should be reassured by the wonderful promise that he will always be with us. David
Going forward. Towards reopening the church .. from the Rectory
Dear All, As I am sure you are aware the Government has now given the go ahead for churches to reopen for weddings and funerals as well as some services. The priority is to make this as safe as possible for everyone, so clear guidelines have been given. These are very comprehensive, so I will try and summarize the most relevant parts. Amongst other things, this means that we must continue to maintain the 2m social distance, wash our hands, or use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the building. Singing is not allowed, neither we can use services books or bibles. We can have a service of Holy Communion, but the congregation are only allowed to receive the bread. The guidance around children’s work makes working with mixed age groups impossible. Members of the congregation are encouraged to leave as soon as the service has concluded, and refreshments cannot be served. In order to mitigate against the need for extensive cleaning between openings, where possible the church needs to remain closed for 72 hours between uses. Recognising that not everyone is ready or able to return to church Bishop Paul is encouraging us not to rush into anything but to take it slowly. He is hoping that over the summer churches will experiment and it is hoped that by September most churches will be able to reopen. No decision has yet been made as to when we will reopen to the public for worship. The PCC discussed the current guidelines last night and agreed the following:- 1. The churches will continue to be open for personal prayer every Wednesday. St James between 10am and 12 noon & ST Michaels between 2-4pm. (we are encouraged to take the names of everyone who attends and keep it for 21 days, so that if anyone tests positive in that period for covid 19 they can contacted and informed.) 2. We want to continue to stream the service as we have seen a large number of people (many more than the combined number of regular worshipers in both parishes) viewing the services online. 3. Initially, we will only have one service at 10.30am shared across both parishes of Morning Worship. (the restrictions around Holy Communion, in my opinion, make this impractical, as well as detracting from the intimate nature of the sacrament and I can’t justify theologically only the priest being able to receive the wine.) 4. In St James we have worked out that we can have up to 26 people and in St Michaels 30 people while still maintaining the 2m social distance. 5. Following the experiment for the St James day service we will look to the possibility of having another service outside at St Mary’s. 6. In the future it may be possible for all three churches to be open simultaneously and the service to be streamed live in all of them allowing contributions to be made by different people in each location, thereby maximising the number of people who can attend. I am aware that these proposals are far from perfect and that we are still a long way from being able to return to how we operated before the pandemic struck. The rules and restrictions are constantly being reviewed and updated so we need to continue to respond accordingly. I know that not everyone is able to access technology and may feel excluded as a result and are consequently eager to return to meeting together. On the other hand, I don’t want to exclude others, who for legitimate reasons do not feel ready, or able to return to meeting together yet. I sure we are all longing for the day when we can all meet together and lift our voices to praise the name of our awesome Lord together and might be frustrated at the slow progress, we appear to be making towards this. One of the songs that I have been playing a lot recently has been Songs in the Night by Matt Redman. The song affirms our belief that God is able to provide the miracle that we need but that until he does, we will faithfully wait here. While we wait patiently, for this horrific storm to pass, we need to continue to cry out to God in prayer for him to have mercy and to make a way through the current crisis for us. Yours in His Service David
We are fearfully and wonderfully made ..... from the Rectory 21st July
Psalm 139 1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[ a ] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. Since the horrific killing of the black American George Floyd, by a white police officer in May this year there has been a huge public outcry, resulting in the black life matter campaign, demanding an end to racial discrimination. The campaign has gained the support of many sportsmen and woman, many of whom have been the victim of verbal abuse. While of course black lives do matter, as Christians we have something much more prophetic and profound to say to our society, all life matters . Our value to God does not depend on the colour of our skin, our race, or gender. From the moment of conception until the moment we die our life matters to God. That is why, we should be appalled that since the introduction of the legalisation to legalise abortion in this country eight million babies have died. It is also why we should resist the rise of anti-Semitism, which resulted in six million Jews dying in world war two and why we are right to object to the growing pressure to legalise Euthanasia. As psalm 139 beautifully reminds us, we are all created in the image of God and consequently we are all precious and special to him and he desires the very best for us. David
"All things work together for good for those who love the Lord" ...from the Rectory 7th July
Paul Appears before Festus Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take over his new responsibilities, he left for Jerusalem, where the leading priests and other Jewish leaders met with him and made their accusations against Paul. They asked Festus as a favour to transfer Paul to Jerusalem (planning to ambush and kill him on the way). But Festus replied that Paul was at Caesarea and he himself would be returning there soon. So he said, “Those of you in authority can return with me. If Paul has done anything wrong, you can make your accusations.” About eight or ten days later Festus returned to Caesarea, and on the following day he took his seat in court and ordered that Paul be brought in. When Paul arrived, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn’t prove. Paul denied the charges. “I am not guilty of any crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government,” he said. Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?” But Paul replied, “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews. If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!” Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you will go!” A few days later King Agrippa arrived with his sister, Bernice,[ a ] to pay their respects to Festus. During their stay of several days, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. “There is a prisoner here,” he told him, “whose case was left for me by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem, the leading priests and Jewish elders pressed charges against him and asked me to condemn him. I pointed out to them that Roman law does not convict people without a trial. They must be given an opportunity to confront their accusers and defend themselves. “When his accusers came here for the trial, I didn’t delay. I called the case the very next day and ordered Paul brought in. But the accusations made against him weren’t any of the crimes I expected. Instead, it was something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who Paul insists is alive. I was at a loss to know how to investigate these things, so I asked him whether he would be willing to stand trial on these charges in Jerusalem. But Paul appealed to have his case decided by the emperor. So I ordered that he be held in custody until I could arrange to send him to Caesar.” “I’d like to hear the man myself,” Agrippa said. And Festus replied, “You will—tomorrow!” In Romans chapter 8 verse 28 Paul makes an emphatic and sweeping statement. He writes, all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. Sometimes when we are going through a time of crisis it can be incredibly difficult to comprehend how this might be possible. Often it is only as we look back that we see how God has been at work. I’m convinced that this must have been the case for Paul as he experienced the circumstances that we read about in Acts 25. He must have been incredibly frustrated that, for well over two years, he was stuck in prison, apparently unable to fulfil his ministry. However, as we look back now, we can see that without doubt that God was at work. In the short term he got to speak to king Agrippa. In the medium term, he got sent to Rome, this fulfilled a word that God has spoken directly to him, that he would testify for him there. And in the long term, we know that Paul wrote a lot of his letters from prison. These letters were a no doubt a blessing to the churches which received them, and 2000 years latter are still a source of encouragement to us today, especially for those who have also had to face false imprisonment, accusations and criticism. I suspect that Paul would have been astonished in the midst of all these difficulties to know how much good was going to come from them. Already in the current pandemic we are seeing that good is coming from it. Many Christians are spending much more time in prayer and there has been a huge surge in those looking towards the church for help and answers. How will this situation pan out in the medium and long term? Only time will tell. In this life, we may never know, how God uses our faithfulness in the face of the challenges we all face. All we are called to do is trust that God will fulfil his word, for his glory.
From the rectory 30th June.....Dangers of the Last Days
The Dangers of the Last Days You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! Paul’s Charge to Timothy But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work 2 Timothy 3 New Living Translation (NLT) I don’t know about you but as I read this passage from Paul’s letter to Timothy, it sounds to be an apt description of our times. Seeing all that is going on in the world today can be quite disturbing. But as Christians, we should not lose our nerve. We are clearly warned in the bible that these things will happen. It does not mean that something has gone wrong, or that God has lost control. As we approach the last day’s we can expect the situation in the world to get worse. Paul’s instruction to Timothy was very clear, that despite everything that was going on in the world around him, he was to keep his nerve and to continue to remain faithful to the things that he had been taught. For us too, the bible is the only true source of guidance showing us the way that we should live if we want to please God. Sadly, living God’s way is no longer considered to be politically correct and it will make us unpopular. If people are to come to accept the truth, then we must love them unconditionally rather than judge them. Just as the father did when he welcomed his prodigal son when he returned home. (but more of this on Sunday) David
Show your power, oh Lord ....from the rectory 22nd June
I have heard all about you, Lord.
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
remember your mercy. New living bible God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you,
and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 The Message. Over the last few months we have heard a lot about how difficult the current pandemic is proving to be. The implications are without doubt far-reaching and will be long-lasting. Everything has been shaken. Even things that we have taken for granted, like our freedom to do what want and go where we want, when we want to do it, has been taken away. Who would have thought four months ago that so many of us would be desperate for a haircut! But I believe that these are also exciting times and that this is also a season of amazing opportunities for the advancement of God’s kingdom. I don’t believe that God has been caught out by the arrival of the pandemic and that he is at work behind it all. Paul writes in Romans that God works all things together for our good. I’m not alone in sensing that God is doing something significant. During the crisis there has been a huge surge of interest in spiritual matters. Our Facebook services have been getting a lot more views than our average combined Sunday attendance would suggest. Di has been surprised that some of her colleges, even those who in the past have been hostile towards her faith, have been not only watching the services but finding them helpful. Many others are reporting similar things. I don’t think that’s we should be surprised by any of this. In recent years we have seen a significant wave of prayer rise to the Father, crying out for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, from all across the world. We have seen the rise of the 24/7 prayer movement, the Thy Kingdom Come initiative, as well as what is happening at Ffalyd-y-Brenin. Throughout history, prayer has always been the precursor of revival. All this encourages me to go on praying, with increasing expectation, as all those years ago Habakkuk did, at a time when the nation had turned its back on God, we have heard of the great things that you have done in the past, do it again Lord in our time. Show your power, O Lord Demonstrate the justice of your kingdom Prove your mighty word Vindicate your name Before a watching world Awesome are your deeds, O Lord Renew them for this hour Show your power, O Lord Among the people now Show your power, O Lord Cause your church to rise and take action Let all fear be gone Powers of the age to come Are breaking through We your people are ready to serve To arise and to obey Show your power, O Lord And set the people free Graham Kendrick 1988 Make Way Music,
Don't worry about anything!....... from the Rectory 16th June
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 New Living translation Paul’s words are very easy to read but much harder to put into practice. As I was preparing for the service (Sunday 14th June) I was reminded of the tragic story of Joseph Scriven. He was born in Ireland in 1819. After receiving his university degree from Trinity College in London, he quickly established himself as a teacher, fell in love, and made plans to settle in his hometown. Then tragedy struck. The day before his scheduled wedding, his fiancé drowned as a result of a freak horse-riding accident. Overcome with grief, Scriven left Ireland to start a new life in Canada. He established a home in Rice Lake, where he met and fell in love with Eliza Rice. Just weeks before she was to become Joseph Scriven’s bride, she suddenly grew sick. In a matter of weeks, Eliza died. A shattered Scriven turned to the only thing that had anchored him during his life — his faith. Through prayer and Bible study he found not just solace, but a mission. The twenty-five-year-old Scriven took a vow of poverty, sold all of his earthly possessions, and vowed to give his life to the physically handicapped and financially destitute. Ten years later Scriven received word that his mother had become very ill. The man who had taken a vow of poverty did not have the funds to go home to help care for her. Heartsick, and feeling a need to reach out to her, he wrote the story of his life in three short verses. His poem soon became a beautiful hymn that is still a favourite of many people today. It is a reminder to us all of the power of prayer to help us find strength and comfort when we are going through difficult times, that hymn is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Perhaps one of the reasons why it has remained so popular is that it was clearly written as a result personal experience: of the pain of life in a broken and fallen world that so many of us can associate with. What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer! Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there. Suggested Hymns for the 12 noon prayer times Tuesday what a friend we have in Jesus Wednesday Sovereign over us Aron Keys Thursday Blessed be your name Friday Way maker Saturday cornerstone Monday one thing remains
Keep it simple, keep it real, keep it up!
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message translation) Many years ago I read a book by Clive Calver which suggested that churches should stop all their incessant busy-ness. It even proposed that it would be good every once in a while to stop all their meetings except the prayer meeting. The point being was that some times we get so busy that we stop listening to God whilst doing what we think we should be doing. We then often complain that other people aren’t helping. I think that the title of the book was “With a church like this who needs Satan?” He loves to cause us to grumble and get distracted. We had our first lockdown PCC this week via Zoom. We spent some time sharing about how we were finding lockdown. It was very apparent that whilst some had rather enjoyed the tranquillity and having time to look at parts of the Bible that they have never read before others were finding the current situation very difficult. A new report studying the result of the lockdown on churches and their online presence has been written. Our experience echoes that seen across the country that people are looking and watching and it is easier to drop in to an online church. The report Every Welcome to the Future tells us that lockdown has given the church a unique opportunity to re-think and re-grow our congregations but acknowledges that it isn’t good for everybody; we need to do both in the future. When we stopped everything I don’t think that any of us expected it to be for so long and there is still much uncertainty about what we will be able to do in the future or when we will be able to do it. We still don’t know what the future holds but we should use this opportunity to prayerfully reflect on what God might be calling us to in our community. The PCC are extremely grateful to everyone who is doing their best to look after others. To those of you who are making sending cards and making phone calls and caring for one another. The buildings may be open for private prayer sometime soon. If this does happen we hope that we can use it as an opportunity to ask younger able-bodied volunteers from the community at lower risk from the virus to help What we do know is that it will still be sometime before we can return to anything like the old normal for corporate worship though. Recently Bishop Paul led our LLM studies in thinking about relationships. We were reminded that we are designed to be in relationship with God and with one another, it is not surprising that many are finding it difficult that we cannot meet together. In the end, though the only relationship that really sustains us is our relationship with God and nothing helps us more than finding a place to be quiet with Him. You don’t have to say anything just be quiet. Some find simple liturgy like “Lord have mercy” helps. The psalms of lament teach us that it is quite Ok to pour out your sorrows and frustration to God. The recent Thy Kingdom Come campaign reminded us that we have a pattern we can use for prayer in The Lords Prayer John Sentamu has just retired as the Archbishop of York as he celebrated his 71st birthday. In later years he has done several solo walking pilgrimages praying as he went along. He said that he had found that the Lords prayer was sufficient and that KISS was a good reminder-Keep It Simple Stupid! Pete Greig in the first session of the prayer course encourages us to Keep it simple, keep it real, keep it up! Rachel
From the rectory 26th May.... Look not on the size of the problem but on the greatness of God.
1 Samuel 17 David did not just have to defeat the giant Goliath, he also had to overcome considerable opposition from his own brother and even the king before he was able to go out and fight Goliath. David’s older brother was jealous of David’s confident faith in God and maybe even a bit guilty that he did not share the same faith that David had. So he tried to warn him off by telling him to go back to the menial task of looking after the sheep. But David would have none of it and simply turned away and refused to listen to Eliab. Next, Saul tried to dissuade David by pointing out his inexperience: what makes you think you can defeat Goliath, you’re only a boy. God was able to use David to defeat Goliath not because of his ability but because of his availability. While everyone else was overawed by the threat that Goliath posed, standing 9ft tall, David took the opposite point of view. He looked not on the size of the problem but on the greatness of God. Saul and the entire nation thought: He is so big there is nothing that I can possibly do, but on the other hand David thought, he is so big how can I possibly miss! While we might not be facing a literal giant, right now our world is facing the giant challenge of the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19). A ‘giant’ is a big, seemingly insurmountable problem or issue. It would be easy for us to listen to all the doom and gloom stories that are currently circulating, that the virus will always be around, that we might never be able to develop a vaccine, resulting in us losing hope. Or, we can choose to focus on God, who throughout history has always found a way to overcome apparently insurmountable problems. That’s why the song Way Maker has become one of my favourites and why I keep playing it (Tom’s version is fantastic) because It helps me to focus on all that God has done in the past and encourages me to continue to believe in what he will do for us. Suggested songs for the 12 noon prayer times: - Tuesday Hungry I come to you. Wednesday Spirit break out Thursday This is the air I breath Friday Spirit of the living God come fall afresh (Riddle) Saturday. O breath of God come Monday Way Maker