Follow the link to the Sunday Service (28th June)

https://youtu.be/Mpefp4gWJQI


'Service on the Green, this coming Sunday, 5th of July at 10.00am.' 

Please observe social distancing of 2 meters or more when on the Green. COVID-19 safety rules will be observed.
Please watch this space for any updates on the opening up of St Nicholas Church building. We will begin with mid week services on Thursdays at 10.00am. We will announce which Thursday we are to begin nearer the time, once the church has been made COVID safe.


Magazine

More details can be found on our COVID - 19 page


Thought for the day diary

Thursday 2nd June 2020 Meeting Jesus when it matters

Mary Magdalene John 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene has a bit of a mixed press in the minds of some people; just what her background was is not really very clear, although it does seem that Jesus delivered her from some kind of oppression/possession. This really does not matter that much. What is important is that she became a follower of Jesus, and after His death and burial she was one of the first to visit the tomb and discover that is was empty. She, as John tells us, then ran to tell Peter, who then went to see, along with another disciple (John himself?). From the other accounts it would seem that other disciples and followers were around as well. At some point, however, Mary finds herself alone and outside the tomb, heart-broken, utterly confused and not a little apprehensive; who after all would raid a tomb and steal a body? What might happen to the followers of a man executed for the goodness of His life and so horribly desecrated in His death?

It is at this point that Mary has her encounter with the Risen Lord. So far we have thought about people who met Jesus in the flesh, and found rebuke and challenge, promise and life in those encounters. Here we see what it means to meet Jesus, Lord over life and now over death itself.

Mary is softened up for this meeting by a vision of angels with whom she has a somewhat inconclusive conversation, and she turns and sees Jesus, and does not realise that is who it is. We might wonder why: the blur of her tears obscuring her view, confusion of mind and heaviness of heart blunting her vision? Well, in any case she really was not expecting to see Him there!

The crucial point is that she does come to recognise the living Lord standing before her. And how? By the hearing of her name as Jesus calls to her. Her response is to try to grasp hold of Him and she is told not to; now is the time for the life of faith, the risen Lord is already on His way to His throne at the side of the Father, His earth-bound life is over.

We are like Mary: we come to Jesus after the Resurrection; ours is a life of faith. We do not see Jesus in person, but we do experience Him by faith, in the power and presence of His Holy Spirit.

And so often, like Mary, we do not see Him standing before us. Yet He is always there. The name of each one of us is on His lips. Ours is to tune in to His voice, to catch His word of acceptance and love, to listen to His call on our lives. So that we can go forward with Him in the joy of His risen life abroad in our lives; with the longing to know Him and follow Him where He leads in our life as His disciples, in this world and beyond it.

When Mary through the garden went,

Her eyes for weeping long, were dim,

The grass beneath her footsteps bent,

The solemn lilies, white and slim,

These also stood and wept for Him.

When Mary through the garden went,

She sought, within the garden ground,

One for whom her heart was rent,

One who for her sake was bound,

One who sought and she was found. (Mary Coleridge)

Alan Byrom



Wednesday 1st July 2020 Meeting Jesus when it matters

Martha John 11:21-27

Quite a forthright lady, Martha. When we see her in Luke's gospel she is berating Jesus for letting her sister Mary sit and listen to Him while there are jobs to be done. Here, as He arrives at her home in Bethany she comes out to meet Him with another reproach.

Her brother Lazarus had become seriously ill and Martha and Mary sent for Jesus to come, hoping no doubt for healing; but Jesus did not arrive, He delayed, knowing, it appears, that Lazarus had already died. This may well speak to many of us when faced with and experiencing bereavement: we prayed for healing, that all might be well, but it was not so. Where was our Lord when we asked for Him? This is Martha's conflict: Jesus loved Lazarus, she knows this, but He did not come at once when he was ill. How can this be so? One thing we need to grasp at some point about our life with Jesus is that it can sometimes be a hard discipline; things just will not be as we want them to be.

In the case of Lazarus, we see that Jesus has a purpose in not going to see the sisters immediately. He knows that through their sadness God will be glorified; that He Himself, will also be glorified. He knows that He will bring Lazarus back to life; he is in effect only asleep, as He tells the disciples. The joy of having their brother restored to his sisters will soon be outweighing their grief now. He knows He will have to deal with a distressed Martha and Mary, but He will use this and the subsequent miracle to bring home to them not only His power, what He can do (bring healing), but His person, Who He really is (God the Son).

Lazarus will come back to life, he tells Martha, he will be raised, and she knows this, it will happen in the end. But then Jesus confronts her with His claim: I am the resurrection. It is through Him that those who face death will live, passing through death itself. And He makes good His claim by going to the tomb and calling Lazarus the dead man to walk out from it.

Did Martha really grasp what Jesus was saying about Himself? She does confess Him as Messiah, Son of God; which is not quite the same thing. It all became so much clearer after the Resurrection itself.

When times seem to be needlessly hard and we feel conflicted in our faith, we do well to remember Martha and her interaction with Jesus. He is in control, He has a loving purpose and He enables us to grasp more and more of who He is; all this through the pains that life throws at us so often.

Alan Byrom



Tuesday 30th June 2020 Meeting Jesus when it matters

An unnamed woman John 4-14

Yesterday we saw Jesus interacting with a man of some importance in the community; they speak pretty much as social equals although Jesus soon takes the leading role in the conversation, pointing Nicodemus to the need for a completely new kind of life.

Today's encounter is very different. Here Jesus speaks with a woman isolated within her community, and they cannot talk as equals in that social context. Indeed, everyone else would say Jesus had no business talking to this woman at all. In a public space like the village well, no Jewish man would ever engage a woman in conversation, but here Jesus starts it all off, much to the astonishment of the woman. In any case, they are both aware that Jesus is a Jew and that she is a Samaritan; these two groups were bitterly hostile to each other for all sorts of historical and religious reasons. How could a Jew ask her for water? Furthermore, the woman is clearly of bad reputation or she would not be drawing water in the heat of the day, by herself, when no-one else would consider doing it. Social distancing with a vengeance.

These are important considerations but in order to reach this woman, Jesus ignores them all. So what do they talk about? Once more Jesus is directing the conversation from the first moment. Just as with Nicodemus He is provoking her to respond to His claims as Messiah. To her He offers to give living water, the life of the Holy Spirit to flow over and through her, bringing cleansing and a refreshing life, freed from all that afflicts her now. This new life is the beginning of something that will take her beyond the confines of her existence here and now and see her safely into the new age of eternal life. A good offer!

The woman is not convinced; she makes a joke of it, this living water. Is it too good to be true; is it just some untrustworthy spin from a Jewish stranger? It is when Jesus tells her something of her immoral way of life that she takes Him more seriously. He is a prophet perhaps, although one from the wrong religion. But Jesus presses on: We must all worship in the Spirit and in the truth; I am the one who will bring this truth to bear in your life, I am Messiah, the one sent from God. It is that claim which strikes home; she goes off to tell other people about this encounter: it is possible that He is the Messiah?

The woman's life may not have been perfect before she met Jesus, but it is in the meeting with Him that she becomes aware of a deeper conflict with God in her living and thinking. This is a spiritual need and she begins to wonder if Jesus can satisfy that longing. When we come face to face with Jesus, we undergo that same probing questioning about ourselves and we come up against the central issue: how will I respond to Him and His claims on my life?

Alan Byrom



Monday 29th June 2020 Meeting Jesus when it matters

Nicodemus John 3:1-8

For the next few days I am going to eavesdrop on conversations Jesus had with a few people in John's gospel. It might be handy to read the verses from the Bible before the thought for the day.

To be a Christian is to know a lot about our Father God and what He has done for us in Christ, but it is even more a matter of meeting Jesus personally, getting to know Him, opening up to Him when we have things on our hearts that bother us, when we have questions that we would like Jesus to say something about. In each of the people we will be observing this week we find there is a conflict within themselves; how will Jesus speak into their difficulty? Maybe we will find this helpful in our own relationship with Jesus.

Right then, Nicodemus was a Jewish leader, a Pharisee, so very devout in religion and a member of the ruling council, so with some political clout. He is an important man, but he comes to Jesus at night, we do not know why. We can sense that there is in this man a conflict between the Jewish faith he has always been committed to and the challenge that Jesus seems to pose to that faith, to the way things have always been taught. He comes to find out more and Jesus immediately begins to stretch his understanding in a way that Nicodemus may well not have expected.

'You want to know what it means to know God as King?', Jesus asks, v3; 'well you must be born again!' Meaning what precisely? It might be better to say, 'born from above', the word used means both things. To know God the Father through Jesus Christ is so great a revolution in living and thinking and believing that it can be said to be the birth into an entirely new quality of life and way of living. The Apostle Paul says something similar: it is like taking off an old coat, the old life, and putting on a completely new life.

Faith in Christ is radical because it calls us back to the very roots of our lives and challenges us to make life-changing, life-enhancing decisions to follow Christ as His disciple. Exhilarating and risky both at once! A life reborn by the action of the Spirit bringing joy and growth in a life of discipleship. No bad thing, to be born a new person, from above, by the Spirit of God!! Just how that works out in practice, well that is the job of a lifetime.

Alan Byrom



Thought for today, 28th June 2020

Jesus said in John's Gospel "I am the door," (John 10 v7)

When Jesus' words and actions are recorded in John's gospel there is an accent on simplicity. Once you have read or heard them, they begin to invite you into something far deeper. Jesus says things like, I am the gateway to the sheep, I am the good Shepherd, I am the vine you are the branches, I am the bread of life. These are the 'I am' declarations but where or what do these declarations of Jesus lead us to?

Each one leads us to a Sacrament. They lead us to Baptism and to Communion and to the other sacraments like marriage and reconciliation. Now the word sacrament is often used in church but not necessarily a word that is fully understood. It is a Latin word in origin 'sacramentum' and it means an oath or a pledge. It is a word that is ascribed to something that is actually indescribable because it is trying to describe the point in which God meets His people. The word Sacrament is trying to describe something that is beautiful yet poignant, tearful yet joyful, anxious yet full of relief, moving yet comfortable, energizing and sustaining, in this world, yet somehow touching the next. How can a word describe all those things? Well sacrament is a human attempt at articulating something about it. In my homily for the day, in the service link above, I try to illustrate what the word sacrament is trying to communicate a little bit more. Rev Philip



Thought for today, 27th June 2020

'Consider it all joy even when you encounter various trials.' (James 1 v2)

God can certainly use our mistakes to teach us, but I don't think that is what James means by the above quote. Some of our trials come from 'life in general'. Things don't go right. Usually it's not one big thing but a lot of little things. We encounter physical, financial, relational or emotional trials that knock us for six. Peter calls this 'the trial of your faith' (1 Peter 1v7). Whatever the size or length of our trial, there is nowhere we can go to escape the trial of our faith. It is like facing a driving test. A pass is a pass and a fail a fail. It doesn't matter how many different instructors you try. The hurdle will never go away or seem easier, if you want a license to drive, you have to reach a certain standard in order to overcome it, you can't 'wing it'. Likewise, you can't outrun God-ordained trials. He knows where to find you!

The good news is, there's no such thing as a purposeless trial! Each trial is designed to launch us to a new spiritual level. The interesting thing about our trials are, they're custom made; they have our name on them. Paul discovered two things about his trials. Firstly, the reason. 'To keep me from becoming conceited' (2 Corinth 12 v7) and secondly, in order for the result 'That Christ' power may rest on me' (2 Corinth 12 v9). Like a tailor measuring you for a suit that will fit perfectly well, the Holy Spirit customizes the trials we encounter to meet our spiritual need, to mold us, and to make us more like Jesus! Rev Philip

Rev Alan Byrom will be returning with his 'thoughts for the day' next week from Monday to Friday.


 

Thought for today, 26th June 2020

'We should make plans - counting on God to direct us.' (Proverbs 16 v9)

Yesterday we looked briefly at this proverb, here are a few more reflections upon it. There must be a balance between faith and careful planning. For example, if you were unemployed, there is no point in saying. "I am just waiting for the Lord to provide a job." You still have to contribute by sharpening up your skills and sending out your CV. We have to play our part. It's like the old soldier's motto. 'Trust in God, but keep your powder dry! Place your life in God's hands, but stay at the ready. You must do all you can to prepare yourself, understanding that the favour you need comes from the Lord.'

To walk by faith does not mean you stop thinking, planning, taking advice, and self-correcting. We trust God for safety when on a car journey, but we wouldn't pass on a blind curve. We should trust God for our health, but we wouldn't chain smoke, stay up all night and subsist on crisps and fizzy drinks. Acting foolishly, expecting God to bail you out when things go amiss, isn't faith, it's presumption. Wisdom says do all you can, then trust in God to do what you cannot do. Faith and careful planning go hand in hand. They always have and they always will.

With that in mind we are going to hold our open-air service on the Green on Sunday the 5th of July. The Government and Diocese have said worship can resume from the 4th. The planning for indoor worship is coming together, but still needs some refinement. Meeting outside and maintaining social distancing is far easier and far safer for the time being. Rev Philip


   

Thought for today, 25th June 2020

'The wise man looks ahead...' (Proverbs 14 v8)

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about the anxiety of not being able to look ahead, illustrated with a little story of being on a runaway train without any control over it. Remember what Jesus said to Peter, "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." (John 21 v18).

The limitations that have been placed upon all of us, so we cannot act in the way we would naturally act, is really problematic. On Monday I was told by the diocese to postpone our outside service on the Green and then the latest announcement from the Government is to allow worship to take place back in the Church building from the 4th of July, with a lot of caveats and systems to put in place.

Solomon says "We should make plans counting on God to direct us" (Proverbs 16 v90). It is God's will for all of us to ultimately succeed because He delights in our success. There is a long check list for the PCC to go through to make our church as COVID safe as possible. The PCC will thoroughly go through the check list before any service takes place in or outdoors. Rev Philip



Thought for today, 24th June 2020

"Even though I walk through the deepest and darkest valley, I shall fear no harm, for You are with me." (Psalm 23v4)

In the Summer of 1982, my friend and I set off from London Euston on the late train back to the northwest. That meant we had to change trains at Crewe for the last leg to Preston. The first leg went fine. We were very tired and looking forward to getting home. A train pulled into Crewe station and even though the signage was poor, we clambered aboard one of the coaches. To our surprise it was a very old coach, very much in the style of a Harry Potter steam railway coach. We weren't all that bothered, being tired and just sat down. The train started to rumble out of the station. Looking around the coach it seemed poorly lit with a strong smell of diesel. I started to feel uncomfortable. There was no one else on board that coach so I decided to go on a walkabout. I slid the door open to the corridor only to be hit with the wind blowing through the coach door window that was still partially open. It was stuck and wouldn't close, I walked down the corridor to find the door shut to the next coach and there was no light in there. I walked to the other coach to find that door locked and no one in sight. Basically, we were moving ever forward into the darkness not knowing if we were on the right train. The train kept increasing in speed, which was disconcerting to say the least. Just to heighten the tension our coach light kept flickering which seemed very reminiscent of a gas mantle. Our imaginations started to run riot. Was there a driver? Was this a ghost train? Where were we going? When will we stop? Will we ever stop? The main problem was the lack of control over direction, speed and destiny.

The direction of travel for the country in the light of COVID-19 and all the problems that entails, both for the health of the nation and the economy, feels to me rather like being on that train. Decisions are being made too soon or not soon enough, but you don't have a say. Vision of what is in front is veiled in a fog and your hands aren't on the controls or the brakes.

What I do know is, even though that train journey back in 1982 felt really long, we did eventually roll into Preston station, familiarity was restored in the end. Rev Philip



Thought for today, 23rd June 2020

Unfortunately, the planned service on the Green this coming Sunday, the 28th, is having to be postponed. This is due to the advice from the Diocese. Having stated that, they recognize the advantages of worshipping outside and hope that we can proceed in the not too distant future. I know that many of you will be disappointed but there are also a considerable number of you that were uncomfortable about going ahead too soon. Taking all this into consideration I believe the decision to postpone is the right one. We will monitor the situation regularly.

Below is an extract from the Diocesan Coronavirus Team to my email, asking if we could go ahead with an outside service.

'It is likely that the number of people allowed to gather outside will be higher than the number of people allowed to gather inside, which will make outside worship more attractive and viable. To sum it up in one sentence:

It's not allowed now, we don't know when it will be, but hope it will be soon, and we do not know on what terms it will be allowed.' (Sam Cheeseman on behalf of the coronavirus team)

'Many waters cannot quench love neither can the floods drown it.' (Song of Songs 8 v7)

Today is Audrey's day! Also known as Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely. A daughter of a king, she desired to commit her life to prayer and chastity. She founded a religious house at Ely for both men and women, over which she ruled as Abbess. At her death on this day in 678, she was revered a s a woman of austerity, prayer, prophecy, an encourager, with concern for those in her care.



Thought for today, 22nd June

Today is St Alban's Day, the first Christian Martyr of Britain. You may already know the story, which was first recorded by the Venerable Bede, which tells of Alban who was a Roman Soldier in the city of Verulamium (now St Albans in Herefordshire). Christians were going through a period of persecution at this time during the reign of Emperor Diocletian and Alban came across a Christian priest who was on the run from the authorities. Alban sheltered him for several days and was very impressed with the priest's devotion in prayer and undeniable faith.

Alban received instruction from the priest and was converted. When the priest's hiding place was discovered, Alban dressed himself in the priest's cloak, to allow the priest to escape and was arrested in his place. Tortured by the Roman authorities, Alban refused to renounce his faith. He was beheaded on this day, probably in the year 250, and so became the first British martyr. His shrine stands today as a place of pilgrimage in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban.

It says in Paul's second letter to Timothy. "Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ. No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier's aim is to please the enlisting officer. In the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules.......'Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things."

To Alban, the enlisting officer that he wished to please was Jesus Christ himself. For Alban that meant sharing in the suffering of Christ as one of His good soldiers.


  

 Thought for today, 21st June 2020

'Saul was David's enemy from that time forward' (1 Samuel 18 v29)

Dr. Seuss wrote hundreds of children's stories. Some of his most famous are of course about The Grinch. Stories like, the day he stole Christmas, were among my children's favourites when they were growing up. The Grinch had some strange traits. When he got really jealous about someone, he would bite himself! Envy does that; it makes you target others but ends up consuming you instead.

In the Old Testament God blessed King Saul and elevated him to the highest position in Israel. But when David's great military accomplishments were recognized by the people, Saul became insecure and threatened. Instead of rejoicing that God had sent David to help him fight the enemy, Saul grew resentful and became 'David's enemy from that time forward.'

Envy is destructive and poisons a person's life. It causes a person to compare themself unfavourably with others. This forces them to forfeit their joy and contentment. They can become ungrateful and self-centered. We should always be able to rejoice in the success of others. We must remember that God made all of us His children, when none of us deserved it. Let's ask God to remind us of the many times He has blessed us when we didn't really deserve it!

Rev Philip



Thought for today, 20th June 2020

'This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it' (Psalm 118 v24)

There is a phrase in the Bible that is used hundreds of times and that phrase is, 'It came to pass.' It is something that registered with me as a small child in Sunday school. Not 'once upon a time' but 'it came to pass'. We should take those words literally, once upon a time leads us very much into a fairy tale or a legend. 'It came to pass' means precisely what says, things in life both good or bad, are not permanent. They were real for sure but not permanent. Life is a continuum of change. Accepting that will not only help you handle the bad times but stop you clinging so tightly to the good ones. There are three principles to help you enjoy the roller coaster of life.

Remember, every day is a gift. Find enjoyment in it and not just some of it. Even though you are always moving toward another goal or objective, learn to squeeze every ounce of joy out of the present. Don't let life slip away while you are waiting for the next big event.

Appreciate the little things. They are all around you- the delight on a child's face, the love of a friend, a good night's sleep, a kind deed, a fresh insight. When you appreciate what you have, it multiplies. So be grateful for the little things and God will give you even more to appreciate.

There are two lies you should never buy into. One is the forever lie, which says your situation will never improve. The other is 'the never lie', which says that if things get worse, you will never be able to handle them. Both are distortions. God's Word says that everything 'comes to pass'. It says in Ecclesiastes, 'To everything there is a season'. Endings bring new beginnings! So, keep trusting God and the cloud you are under right now will give way to sunshine. Rev Philip



Thought for today, 19th June 2020

Job said 'I beg God for help, but there is no answer...' (Job 30 v20)

Sometimes it may feel as though your prayers are not being answered and you wonder if He is listening. What does it mean if He doesn't seem to respond? Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from His silence.

The first thing to remember is that silence isn't the same as absence. King David said in his psalms 'Where can I go to escape your spirit? Where can I go to escape your presence? If I go up to heaven you are there, if I go down into the pit you are there also. (Psalm139)

You have to be very secure with somebody to just sit in silence and be peace with them. Silence takes the emphasis off words and builds an intimacy where words are no longer necessary. If you want to be that comfortable around God, then learn to enter into silence with Him without panic.

Silence also tests your trust level! How much trust is actually involved, if somebody is coaching your every step. It's like a parent running alongside a child who is trying to learn how to ride a bike. At this stage the child lacks confidence but she is going to look strange if at 18 her dad is still trotting beside her. At some point God takes his hands off the handle bars to see how far you have progressed. Your ride might get a bit wobbly for a while but it demonstrates how far you have come and allows your confidence to grow. Rev Philip



Thought for today, 18th June 2020

'Live not as people who do not know the meaning of life, but as those who do' (Ephesians 5 v15)

Before the virus came, a woman, recognizing her advancing years, wrote a letter to her friend: Dear Margaret, I am reading more and dusting less, admiring the garden more and fussing less about the weeds. I'm spending more time with loved ones and less time working. Since life's meant to be enjoyed, not endured, I'm no longer postponing the things that add joy and laughter. I'm using my best china to celebrate 'special events' like the first crocus, or losing a pound, I wear my new jacket to the supermarket and I'm not saving my expensive perfume, I wear it for supermarket workers and bank clerks. The word 'someday' no longer is part of my vocabulary. If it's worth doing its worth doing now!

Don't you wonder what some people might have done differently if they had known they wouldn't be around for the tomorrow we all take for granted? Hugged their loved ones more? Contacted estranged friends to mend fences? Pursued the opportunities they always talked about? I guess we'll never know. But we do know this: realizing our time here is limited, it's the little things that make us regretful: the unwritten letters, the unspoken 'I love you,' the unshared testimonies, the times we forgot to thank God for His blessings.

Each morning you should remind yourself that every minute and every breath is a gift. Maybe life's not the party you hoped for, but it is precious and you should make the most of it. Don't wait till tragedy reorders your priorities. So, start to live as a person who knows the meaning of life.' (Ephesians 5 v15) Rev Philip



Thought for today, 17th June 2020

'Sing to the Lord, all around the world! Worship the Lord with joy; come before him with happy songs!' (Psalm 100 v1-2)

There has been a lot of media coverage and talk about the opening of places of worship. Some opened their doors on the 15th of June for private prayer only. You may have seen Bishop Julian on television opening our Cathedral Church. The Parochial Church Council and I discussed the matter over Zoom and we have decided not to open St Nicholas Church yet but have an open-air service on 'The Green' instead on Sunday the 28th of June at 10.00am, where social distancing will be expected, with as safe a system as possible designed for coming together. Plenty of hand wash and safe distancing. The reason for this decision is as follows.

a) The government decided to move the date forward to open churches from the beginning of July to the 15th of June. All this at a time when Blackpool and Preston were at the epicentre of the virus in the UK. Of course, because the government has said that churches can open, it puts pressure on us as a PCC to open at a time that is not right for the Fylde Coast (in our opinion)

b) In order to fulfil COVID-19 planning for the opening of buildings to the public, we would have to spend endless hours cleaning, meanwhile being selective on who can come through the door of our church. As far as I am concerned, if we let one person into church, we let everybody in. If we can't do that safely, then let's think of something different.

c) If it is OK for people to maraud around our city centres, paying no attention to social distancing, because of something they feel strongly about, or stand in a queue outside a non-essential shop, then why can't we meet on the Green, respecting social distance, to pray and sing a few hymns? When it comes to safeguarding and leadership on this issue, the PCC and I would much prefer to go about things this way. It is far safer than any indoor strategy.

Admittedly some people will still feel they can't attend, due to shielding which is understood and we will pray for you at this service. We will endeavour to put as much as we can on the website either during or just after the service. Rev Philip


Thought for today, 16th June 2020

'Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of His body' (Romans 12 v5)

When my children were small, they used to enjoy watching a TV series called 'The Raggy Dolls'. The cartoon series originally aired on ITV from 1986 until 1994. The series is set in Mr Grimes' Toy Factory, where imperfect dolls are thrown into a reject bin. While unobserved by human eyes, the dolls come to life and climb out of the reject bin to have adventures. The series was designed to encourage children to think positively about disability and difference.

I often think about that series when I think about what it is to be human. Very often individuals recognise they have many imperfections and often that prevents them from reaching their full potential. In fact, we are all raggy dolls really. But when you look at the characters in the Old and New Testament you recognise that they were raggy dolls too. None of them were perfect apart from Jesus, but all of them had an important part to play in God's Revelation.

Abraham was old, Jacob was insecure, Leah was unattractive, Joseph was abused, Moses stuttered, Gideon was poor, Samson was co dependant, Rahab was immoral, David had an affair resulting in all kinds of family problems, Elijah was suicidal, Jeremiah was depressed , Jonah was reluctant, John the Baptist was eccentric to say the least. Peter was impulsive, Martha worried a lot, the Samaritan woman had several failed marriages, Zacchaeus was crooked, Thomas had doubts, Paul had poor health and Timothy was timid. That's quite a variety of misfits, yet God used each one of them. As we serve God's purpose, our lives take on eternal importance. Paul writes 'all this makes you more significant, not less... because of what you are part of (1 Corinthians 12 v14&19) Rev Philip



Thought for today, 15th June 2020

I am fascinated with history. In particular I am fascinated with British history. The Church of course has threaded its way through the last two millennia and has adapted to the changing times. Some would say that is wrong, the Church should remain the same and society should be dictated to by the Church and its Doctrine. I would say that the fundamental fact of the Gospel doesn't change, but how it is communicated and how it is received has to. We have ruins of beautiful Abbey's dotted around our countryside, but I am sure there aren't many people that would still want huge wealthy abbeys dictating to each and everyone of us what we should do with our time and money. Especially, when the Abbeys did function, their objective was to take more money from those living around them to increase their own wealth. Without going through the complexities of the dissolution of the abbeys, I would say we are happy to just enjoy the ruins and the nostalgia instead.

Today in the Anglican Church we remember Richard Baxter, Puritan Divine. He lived between 1615 and 1691. Quite a time of upheaval. In 1633 he found himself at the court of the king. He was so disgusted with the low moral standards there that he returned home to study Divinity. He then took a parish in the Midlands. After the civil war and the restoration of the monarchy he was offered the post of Bishop of Hereford. He was so dissatisfied with the way the church was ordered especially the episcopacy (the bishops) he refused. He continued in the life of the church and became a prolific hymn writer.

One of his most well-loved and long-lived hymns is 'Ye Holy angels bright.'

My soul, bear thou thy part,
Triumph in God above,
And with a well-tuned heart

Sing thou the songs of love.
And all my days let no distress
Nor fears suppress His joyful praise.

(One verse from 'Ye holy angels bright!' Richard Baxter)


 

Thought for today, 14th June 2020

The words for 'Be thou my vision was written by Saint Dallan Forgaill. He lived in the 6th Century in Ireland and it is said that he lost his sight as a small boy. He was very studious and had a very strong faith. It was through his experience he wrote this hymn. As a result, he regained his sight and became an eminent teacher and preacher.

The entire poem was first translated into English in 1905 by Mary Byrne, in Dublin. Eleanor Hull versified the text into what is now the well-loved hymn and prayer suitable for every moment of our lives. That God would be our vision above all else. The earnest prayer is enhanced by such quaint but tender phrases as, Lord of my heart, Thy presence my light, and heart of my own heart. The text states that when we allow God to have first place in our lives, He becomes our treasure. And we will no longer care for the pursuit of riches or man's praise.

The tune that is used mainly for this hymn is called Slane and is the same tune that is used for 'Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all Joy'. The beauty of 'Be thou my Vision' for me is, its spiritual depth. I know that the PC brigade have messed about with some of the words in some modern hymn books, particularly on verse two by changing the word Son to something else. Really, they are missing the point of that verse in my opinion. To me this hymn is a prayer that we can use. It also aligns itself with the Trinity and the second verse particularly identifies with God the Father and God the Son. All four verses resonate with Jesus' life and ministry culminating in the last verse, 'High King of heaven, my victory won'. Oh, that we could say that for ourselves one day!

Rev Philip


    

 Thought for today, 13th June 2020

'Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy.' (Exodus 20 v8)

Yesterday I began to look at what keeping the Sabbath might look like. I suppose most us would agree that the main instruction is to keep a day of rest. There is a story of a man that went to see his GP because he felt he was suffering from burnout. Of course, the doctor told him to slow down. "Doctor", he replied, "I didn't come for a lecture on the burning the candle at both ends, I came for more wax!"

God meant life to have a definite rhythm which requires work, worship, labour, rest. Because the bow that is always bent will eventually break. So, the Sabbath is firstly a day of rest but it is also a day of remembering. William Barclay, who is one of my favourite Biblical commentary writers, said towards the end of his life,

"I'm old, and I've learned that there are very few things in life that really matter, but those few things matter intensely! Worshipping with other believers matters because it reminds you of these important things about God: His Word, His Will, His ways, His promises, His call, His Grace and His family.

The Sabbath for the Christian is also a day of resurrection. For Christians every Sunday is a mini Easter, A time to celebrate new beginnings. It is a symbol of God's love, designed to renew your spirit before taking on the cares of another week. Even though, as yet we cannot come together to worship, we can still keep each and everyone of us in our prayers. If we forget or haven't the time throughout the week, as long as we take time out on this particular day to remember each other, it is still a way to keep the Sabbath. Rev Philip


 

Thought for today, 12th June 2020

'Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy' (Exodus 20 v8)

One church was organizing a trip to the Holy Land. One of the fellow travelers, at one of the preparation meetings, said,

"When I get to read the ten commandments on Mt. Sinai, I'll feel close to God."

Because there were some at that meeting that were not able to go, the vicar quickly responded, "If you want to feel close to God, you could always stay at home and just keep them!"

The 10 commandments are straight forward simple instructions but it is amazing how human beings have complicated them down the centuries. Let's consider the Commandment 'Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy'. On the one hand people have made it heavy. In fact, by Jesus' time there were over 1,500 things you couldn't do on the Sabbath, like bathing, walking too far or even scratching a flea bite! The Sabbath is for rest and celebration; a time to recharge your spiritual battery, not drain it. It should be a milestone, not a millstone of your week!

On the other hand, it is not supposed to be a day where anything goes. These days very often people go anywhere on the Sabbath, except God's house, and will excuse it by saying. 'I'll be there in spirit,' or 'I'm closer to God in the Lake District.

One of the most difficult things that have tested us in recent months is the closure of our Church buildings. There is a void and a feeling of guilt that we cannot worship together in God's house. Having stated that God knows the intentions of the heart. We have tried to be creative in 'being church' in the community and we have more ideas coming up. Please watch this space for more information about what those ideas might be. Tomorrow the 'thought for the day' will focus again on 'keeping the Sabbath Holy'. Rev Philip



Thought for today, 11th June 2020, Barnabas.

Barnabas was sent to Antioch. 'When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.' (Acts v23-24)

Though not named among the twelve apostles, Barnabas emerges in the Acts of the Apostles as one of the most significant of their number. Barnabas was Jewish, with a Greek background, who was from Cyprus and was originally known as Joseph. He sold some property he owned and gave the proceeds to the church when he became a Christian. He was then renamed Barnabas by his fellow Christians. The name means son of encouragement or son of consolation.

There is a lot about Barnabas written in the Acts of the Apostles and of course he is also mentioned in some of Paul's Epistles. What we know is that Barnabas was sent to Antioch by the Church at Jerusalem to teach and preach the Gospel. After a while he returns to collect Paul to help him with this endeavour. Barnabas already knew Paul. There are some Biblical scholars think that both Barnabas and Paul had both trained to be Pharisees in Jerusalem under the tutelage of Gamaliel. Whether that is true or not they both worked well together in the way they evangelized both Jews the gentiles alike. It was Barnabas that introduced Paul to the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Barnabas was a key figure in the early church, perhaps not as eloquent and as gifted in communication as Paul but he was certainly an enabler. He unlocked doors to allow the work of the early church to continue. He is the sort of person that the church needs today. To be prepared to go wherever the Holy Spirit wills and to enable the church to grow in faith and in numbers.



Thought for today, 10th June 2020

'...There is going to be a lot of frantic running around...' (Daniel 12 v4)

I feel a certain amount of unease at the latest development of the removal of statues. I acknowledge that the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, due to the way he gained his wealth, no longer should have occupied that plinth. Having stated that, for that statue to be toppled by a mob and thrown into the river on Saturday was a wanton act of vandalism. Will the next thing be to burn books? Historically that has been the herald of disaster for any society. The process of removing statues should be done through discussion and due process. It would seem that there is a purging of statues going on up and down the country right now without such discussion taking place.

When Daniel said that in the last day's there is going to be a lot of frantic running around, he painted an amazingly accurate picture of our day. There is an invisible pandemic that we are aware of COVID-19, but here is another pandemic raging around the world right now called stress. It is as though isolation and worry about jobs and debt has allowed this second epidemic of stress to take hold. It has filled the void left by the closing of, schools, colleges, universities as well as industry etc. Its symptoms are frustration, anxiety and a yearning for some sort of perfection that doesn't exist. We should strive for progress and not perfectionism. Louis Fontanes said, 'The desire of perfection is the worst disease that ever afflicted the human mind.' Perfectionists aren't just their own worst critics they are hard on anyone else who can't maintain their impossible standards. We should all learn to live with loose ends and trust God more. Rev Philip


 

                                Thought for today, 9th June 2020

'But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like an ever-rolling stream.' (Amos 5 v24)

Yesterday I mentioned that, until people from different backgrounds realize that we all share in one common humanity, then there will always be confrontation. We have seen in recent days, people from all backgrounds rise up at the injustice wrought upon George Floyd. It was appalling to see what happened to him and quite rightly it has triggered protests.

Whether or not the timing of mass gatherings is a good idea in the middle of a pandemic remains to be seen, it was an understandable response to the horror of the act committed against a defenceless man.

Having stated that, the struggle against injustice is not just a colour related thing. Black lives matter, in my opinion all lives matter! Injustice is injustice, lack of mercy is lack of mercy, regardless of who is the suffering party. I know many will say, yes but it always seems to be black people that suffer at the hands of authority than most. Often in recent times that seems to be true, but everyone must be mindful that human nature has always tried to repress minorities at whatever age and time. It is more to do with power than colour or ethnicity. We must always be mindful, whoever we are, not to fall into that trap.

Like Jesus said, "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Please, brother, let me take that speck out of your eye, yet you cannot even see the log sticking out of your own? (Luke 6 v41-42a) Rev Philip



Thought for today, 8th June 2020

The Apostle Peter writes 'Clothe yourselves with humility towards one another.' (1Peter 5 v5)

Peter's expression, 'clothe yourselves with humility' referred to a white scarf or apron typically worn by servants in his time. He was implying that we should be servants and not celebrities. We should all stand before the cross on an equal footing.

I studied with the eminent black theologian, Robert Beckford, when I was at Queen's Birmingham. He is a charismatic man and at the time was in the process of writing one of his first books 'Jesus is Dread' on Theology and Black Culture. I wanted to immerse myself in the multi-cultural city of Birmingham to try to understand what it might be like to minister in a typical inner-city context in the late 20th Century in the UK. Of course, now we are well and truly ensconced in the 21st century, things haven't really changed much in terms of inter cultural and interfaith understanding.

One of the most memorable experiences I had whilst studying there, was one lecture on ethnic diversity. This particular course was led by a Black professor from Nottingham and an Asian lecturer from Aston University. They talked about Race Relations and put the point forward that this was a contradiction in terms. They said until we understand that the World comprises just 'The Human Race', which is 'one people', with different ethnicities and cultures, rather than a world comprising different races, we will never be able to move forward. If you start to think that people from different parts of the world or people of a different colour are from a different race than there will always be trouble. We all stand before the cross on an equal footing, 'The Human Race'. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Peter goes on to say 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Those who are self-centered find themselves at odds with God, while the humble enjoy His blessings. And then Peter finishes by saying 'Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.' (1Peter v6-7) Rev Philip



Thought for today, Trinity Sunday, 7th June 2020

'You have stayed long enough at this mountain.' (Deuteronomy 1 v6)

A teenager was telling a senior citizen why the older generation doesn't understand the younger. "You grew up in a primitive world," he said. "We've got space travel, computers, smart phones and social media." Smiling the old man replied, "You're right, we didn't have those things that's why we invented them!"

One of the blessings that have come out of this lock down period has been the opportunity to do things differently. It has been a challenge to the Church to think out of the box with regard to teaching and preaching and how to engage people in prayer and worship. One of the issues that churches have had in the past has been the statement "Well we have always done it that way!" Somehow that has been a good enough reason not to try new things and not to be able to grow. In one sense that is human nature.

When God delivered Israel and they headed for the Promised Land, a journey that should have taken a few months, they ended up taking 40 years instead. They ended up circling the same mountain repeatedly, because they had been oppressed for so long, that mentally they couldn't grasp what God had prepared for them. Finally, He told them, "You have stayed long enough at this mountain...take possession of the land...the Lord swore He would give to your descendants (Deuteronomy 1 v6-8).

Let us take the opportunity, when the restrictions are lifted, to try new things more willingly, jettison things that are slowing us down, and to try to become what God wants us to become. 



Thought for today, 6th June 2020

Thank you to Rev Alan Byrom for his insightful reflections over the last five days on the Holy Spirit. It has been good to think about the various aspects of what the Spirit means to us. Of course, like Alan implied, the subject is vast and there are many examples of how the Holy Spirit has influenced the lives of Christians down the centuries.

In my thoughts for the day, if there has been a significant saint or Christian thinker mentioned in the Anglican cycle of prayer for the day, I have referred to them. Even though there isn't anybody ascribed for today I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention Boniface, Apostle of Germany. It was his day yesterday. He was British, born in Devon in around the year 675 and was firstly named Winfrith. He entered the monastery in Exeter as a young man and it was there, he took the name Boniface. He became a Latin scholar and poet and was ordained when he was thirty years old. He rejected a safe ecclesiastical career in England, and in the year 716, became a missionary to Frisia, following in the steps of Willibrord. He eventually was commissioned by the Pope to work in Hesse and Bavaria where he went after consecration as bishop in the year 722. He courageously felled a sacred oak at Geismar and, since the pagan gods did not come to the rescue, widespread conversion followed. He was the founder of a string of monasteries across southern Germany and made sure that they were places of learning, so that evangelizing could continue. He was made Archbishop of Mainz in the year 732, where he consecrated many missionary bishops. He worked assiduously for the reform of the Church in France and managed to ensure that the more stable Rule of St Benedict was adhered to in her monasteries. He crowned Pepin as the Frankish King in 751. While waiting for some new Christians to arrive for confirmation, he was murdered by a band of pagans on the 5th of June 754. Boniface has been judged as having a deeper influence on European history than any other Englishman.

As we come to Trinity Sunday, which we will celebrate tomorrow, we should see that day as the day of our recommissioning as evangelists for our own time. Let's not forget Jesus' last words to us in Matthews gospel, which is our gospel reading set for tomorrow.

"Go therefore to all nations and make disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirt, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. I will be with you always, to the end of time." Matt 28 v19-20

Rev Philip



Friday 5th June 2020

...the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Romans 8:15,16

With the Spirit it is personal, see yesterday; it is also intimate, and this is what we think about today. There is no handy name for today's thought; in these verses the Spirit is acting more as an adoption agency than anything else. The Spirit introduces us to our true Father in heaven.

Paul is writing to Christian believers and we notice that something has happened in the past and something is still going on. In the past they, and I hope we, did receive the Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells those who turn to Christ in repentance and faith for salvation, in fact the Holy Spirit enables us to turn to Christ in the first place. Also, as we received the Spirit, so the Spirit enabled our adoption as children of our heavenly Father. The Spirit brings us into the family, along with our elder brother Jesus, God the Son. We enter into a relationship with the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit; and this is a relationship of acceptance, love and empowering for Christian life and witness.

But it does not stop there. The Christian life is an ongoing experience of the Holy Spirit within us. In the present He testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. This is a constant reassurance at all times and at any time in our daily walk with Jesus. We all of us have times of spiritual difficulty, perhaps it all seems too hard to believe, perhaps life is throwing an undue amount of bad stuff at us and we wonder where God is in it all, perhaps we are tempted to give it up and take on a less demanding life. In any circumstance we can turn to the Holy Spirit and ask for His reassurance that we are indeed the children of our heavenly Father, that He loves us, has brought us into a living relationship with Himself, through the work of Christ on the Cross.

There may well be glorious times when the Spirit ministers to us in ways that seem almost overwhelming, when we do know ourselves, in spite of sin, doubt, worry, to be one with our Heavenly Father, bound to Him by His unshakeable love. Wonderful times these can be! What will it be like to have that more immediate knowledge of God, the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, when we live in the new Heaven and the new Earth which awaits us when Christ appears!! The Spirit is a down payment, a first instalment and our experience of Him here and now points us in a small way to what it will be there and then.

So much we have not touched upon in thinking about the Holy Spirit; there is plenty more to be discovered in the Bible and the writings of believers through the ages. Let's be aware of the Spirit who fills, guides, directs and testifies with our spirit, day on day, throughout the year.

Alan Byrom



Thursday 4th June 2020

And I will ask the Father and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. John 14:16

So far we have been thinking about the Holy Spirit in the ways that He appears to the disciples in the New Testament and how He can be present and active in our own lives. Today we are remembering and reflecting on the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person, we are not talking about a Stars Wars kind of disembodied force.

It is obvious that the Holy Spirit, as one of the persons of the Trinity relates to us personally just as much as the Father and the Son, but we do not have a human name or title for the Spirit and so there is always the danger of downgrading Him to a something that the Father or the Son uses as a tool. The Holy Spirit is a someone, someone indeed whom we can grieve by our sin; and in Him we can flourish with His fruits of love and joy and peace as He is given free access to grow holiness in our lives. We can walk in step with the Spirit, matching our living to His love and life working within us.

In today's verse we find that the Spirit is called by Jesus an advocate. Now this is a very rich word with several different facets to its meaning; hard to capture it in one word. Some translations say 'helper', others 'comforter', some people prefer to avoid tying down the meaning by using the original Greek word, paraclete, although you still have to explain it! (Literally that means, 'called alongside')

So, the Spirit is a helper, He comes alongside to give to the people of God the strength and the energy to live for God and to witness to His love. He is not our servant of course, under our control; it is the Father and the Son who send Him to us so that He can apply the truths of the Gospel to our lives, so that He can work in us to bring us into an ever increasing conformity to the life God has for us.

The Spirit is comforter; He comes alongside in times of sorrow, to comfort and reassure when life is being very hard for whatever reason; He comes to give that extra measure of strength that is needed in suffering, sadness, bereavement.

The Spirit is advocate; He comes alongside us to put our case. The Spirit is our defence lawyer in times of pressure or persecution for our faith; do not worry what to say, Jesus reassured His disciples, the Spirit will give you the words to say. The Spirit stands with us as we face our Father in heaven aware of our weakness and sin, doubting His love: Look, the Spirit says to the Father, at our beloved children; we must wash through them with the love we have for them released by the Son who loved them to the death, on the Cross.

So much more to say, but for now we come to a rest with these words of Jesus:

The advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26

Alan Byrom



Wednesday 3rd June 2020

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. Acts 2:3

From the power of the Spirit yesterday to the purity of Spirit today. The Spirit came on those first disciples as a mighty rushing wind, and also as tongues of fire. They were all anointed as it were with fire. Well, if wind blows things about, fire burns things up, so what are we to make of this?

We can look back to the people of God gathered at Sinai way back in the Old Testament. God appears to them in mighty ways, Exodus 19:18, and He descends in fire on the mountain and this indicates His purity and holiness, so that the people cannot approach the mountain, they just do not have the purity or the holiness that would allow it.

When John the Baptist came to announce the coming of Christ, he was pretty forthright in his denunciation of the faith leaders of his time and his call to them to repent. His was a baptism of water, but the one coming after him would baptise in the Holy Spirit and fire. With the image of threshing corn, John talks about the wheat being gathered and the chaff being burnt up, Matthew 3:11,12.

So there we have it, the Holy Spirit is associated with fire, and comes from Christ. The work of the Spirit is to purify, to burn up the impurities in the hearts of the disciples of Christ. We take to heart the fact that this is the Holy Spirit, this is God at work in us in love, in reassurance, in salvation but also to grow holiness in us, in thought and word and deed.

Holiness is a hard one to define. We are all aware of the dangers of being 'holier than thou', of judging the lives of others from the standpoint of some presumed moral or spiritual high ground. As if that could ever be the case. Who can claim to be holy as God is holy? This is what we are called to be, what we must actively seek to become in Christ.

How does that cash out for us day by day? How are we going to discern and live out His goodness and His love and His faithfulness in all the complexities, frustrations and demanding relationships of life? Well, it does require knowing about God, what He is like, how He deals with humanity. A tall order, but the Holy Spirit indwells us, He teaches us, points us to Christ, and as we yield to His promptings, He purifies thought and action. If we let Him. And remember this work of purifying is also a work of liberating at the deepest levels of our living.

If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25.

Alan Byrom



Tuesday 2nd June 2020

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2

A very different perspective on the Holy Spirit today; not a fluttering dove, but a powerful wind. As the first disciples are waiting in the upper room after the ascending of Christ into the heavens, they experience the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit moving amongst them, pictured by wind and fire (of which more tomorrow).

As we know the wind blows over us in many different ways, sometimes a cooling breeze on a hot day, welcome for the relief it brings, sometimes a blustery force that turns the umbrella inside out, sometimes an overwhelming power that brings destruction in its wake. What can we gain from thinking about the picture of the Holy Spirit as the wind?

Well, in the upper room the disciples experienced the wind of the Spirit as power, the sound of it was all about them, they were aware that something disturbing and awe inspiring was happening. This is the wind that impels forward, that gets behind you and pushes you on. After the experience came the activity: they went out and began to proclaim the good news of Christ. The Spirit is the one who can overwhelm, who can empower the weak and unwilling for witness, ministry, mission. The Spirit who challenges us to be the followers of Christ in an energetic, effective way.

On the other hand, some time before this, when the Risen Jesus first appeared to His disciples in the upper room, He said to them, Peace be with you; receive the Spirit, and He breathed over them. A very different kind of experience of the Spirit, moving over them, breathed in by them. This is the Spirit who comes to us in much more peaceful way, a way of reassurance and a deep abiding sense of the love of God with us. This love that is demonstrated for us in Jesus and comes to us through our faith in Him. The idea of mission is still there, As the Father sent me, so I send you, Jesus says at this same time.

Believers in Jesus are always called and equipped to be witnesses to His power for salvation and His love for all, to be actively living for Him filled with the power and the peace of the Holy Spirit.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me,

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me,

Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me,

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Alan Byrom



Monday 1st June 2020 Thinking about the Holy Spirit

Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. Mark 1:10

There are many good things about following the church's cycle of events each year, but there is one snag. The temptation is to file things away into the time of year where they are slotted in and then not think about them much for the rest of the year. That is true of the ascension for many Christians, and also the Holy Spirit, who is our focus at Pentecost. So here are some thoughts about the Holy Spirit to take with us continually as we live for Christ. The range of different names for the Holy Spirit is very wide and gives us an idea of the many facets of the Spirit's life and work.

First off then, when Jesus was baptised, he experienced the Holy Spirit coming down on Him as a dove. At the beginning of His ministry on earth we find God the Father communicating with Jesus: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. (Mark 1:11). At the same time, God the Holy Spirit comes down upon Him. God the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are intimately involved with each other at the outset of the saving work of the Son on earth. Both the words and the action are for Jesus but are shared with those who are witnessing what is going on.

Doves flit about the pages of the Bible mainly in the Old Testament. They appear as timorous, and sometimes a bit silly, with a cooing call that can sound quite mournful. The dominant image however takes us right back to the very beginning, Genesis 1:2, where we see the Spirit hovering over the waters, and this is a dove-like picture of the Spirit of God moving over the chaos, supervising the creation as it comes to be. And when Jesus is baptised, at the beginning of the work of new creation, we find the Spirit hovering, like a dove over the act of commissioning of Jesus for His ministry of bringing the Kingdom of God to the world.

And so our first thought about the person of the Holy Spirit is His dove-like gentleness, but at the same time engaged in the massive tasks of bringing peace as chaos is formed into creative order and peace as the alienation of humanity from God is remedied in and through the ministry, the death, the resurrection of Jesus.

One of the ways that the Bible speaks of our experience of God is that we can find peace with Him. As we come to Christ in repentance and faith, trusting in the Cross we can enter this experience as the Holy Spirit ministers to us the peace that Christ has gained for us. If the Father sends the Son to open up salvation to us, it is the Spirit that applies that salvation, that peace with God, in our lives.

So free, so bright, so beautiful and fair,

The holy dove flies through the mortal air:

always there descending,

always there ascending,

it brings the Glory that all we may share.

John Bennett, 'Pentecost', C20

Alan Byrom



Thought for today, 31st May 2020 'The Day of Pentecost'.

Today of course is Pentecost. 50 days after Easter Day and the fulfilment of Jesus' promise that He would send His Spirit to be with us always. I hope you get the opportunity to go to see the Lych Gate at St Nicholas's Church, where the young people of the parish have decorated it with symbols of the Holy Spirit. Please feel free to add your own splash of colour to it as well.

There is another festival today, which is the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. This is where Mary sings here great hymn of praise to God by proclaiming the Magnificat. It is also the moment where the child in Elizabeth's womb leaps as she greets Mary. The two festivals just happen to fall together this year, but it seems significant that the beginning and the end of the story is noted here. Elizabeth's child will become John the Baptist who is the last prophet to proclaim the imminence of Christ. The child leaping in the womb is the first act of witness to Christ. The Gospel is also being fulfilled today as we celebrate the conclusion of Christ's earthly Ministry by Him sending that which He promised.

The perfect story may begin and end here, but the ultimate story still goes on. Our chapters are in the process of being written and in doing so we continue to give 'Praise and honour to God our Father, Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour and the Holy Spirit our Enabler, Comforter and Friend. Amen Rev Philip

This week, from Monday, Reverend Alan Byrom will be providing us with his reflections on the Holy Spirit, for our daily 'Thought's for the Day' on our website.


  

Thought for today, 30th of May 2020

A reminder that today and tomorrow you can stop by the Lych Gate of St Nicholas Church, Wrea Green, to reflect upon and/or contribute to the symbols of the Holy Spirit. The intention is for this 'splash of colour and symbolism' to radiate out across the Green and say to all who pass by, 'This is Pentecost!'

Today in our Anglican cycle of prayer we remember Josephine Butler, Social Reformer. Josephine was born in Northumberland in 1828. She married an Anglican priest in 1852. She became incensed by the way contemporary society treated prostitutes, most of whom were forced into such activity through desperate poverty. From 1869, she campaigned for the repeal of the legislation which had put all blame on the women concerned. The issue became international after she travelled in Europe addressing meetings in 1874-75. Her campaign succeeded with the repeal of an act of parliament that had put all blame on the vulnerable party. She was a devout Anglican and a woman of prayer, basing her spirituality on Catherine of Sienna, whose biography she wrote. She died on the 30th of December 1906.

Catherine of Sienna was a medieval Christian Mystic and is the Patron Saint of Italy, a role she shares with Francis of Assisi. She was a prolific writer and a mystical theologian. In one of her books called 'the Dialogues' she describes God as the sea, in which we are the fish", the point being that the relationship between God and man should not be seen as man contending against the Divine and vice versa, but as God being the endless being that supports and nurtures all things. Rev Philip


 

Thought for today, 29th May 2020

He has shown strength with His arm, He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. (Luke 1 v51)

Pride is seen somehow in today's society as a virtue, when of course it fits squarely in the list of the seven deadly sins. C.S. Lewis offers an eye-opening perspective on pride in one of a series of broadcasts he made via the BBC in 1941. He said, he believed pride was the greater of the seven because it led to all the others.

"Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. The more pride one has, the more one dislikes pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are, the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me or refuse to take notice of me?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with everyone else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Now what you want to get clear is - pride is essentially competitive! It gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next person. We say that people are proud of being richer, or clever, or better looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest!" (C.S. Lewis)

Yesterday evening, it was decided, would be the last time we would stand at the door and applaud the NHS and all our dedicated carers for their dedication in this crisis. In many ways, not doing so in the future seems ungrateful. But the very nature of those called to care, do so out of love for humanity, not to seek glory and stand proud. Their trait of humility drives their motivation and humility is the antidote to pride. Humility cures pride by removing one's ego and boastfulness, therefore allowing the attitude of service. As our Lord and Saviour demonstrated, He came to serve and not to be served.


 

Thought for today, 28th May 2020

Jesus said, 'As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.' (John 15 v9)

Today, in a lesser festival in the Church of England common of Bishop's, we remember Lanfranc, Prior of Le Bec and Archbishop of Canterbury. Lanfranc was born in Pavia, Italy, around the year 1005. At the age of thirty-five, he became a monk of Le Bec, in Normandy, where he founded the school which rose rapidly to renown throughout Europe. In 1062 William of Normandy appointed him Abbot of Caen, then in 1070 Archbishop of Canterbury. Lanfranc was a great ecclesiastical statesman, overseeing administrative, judicial and ecclesial reforms with the same energy and rigour that William the Conqueror displayed in his new kingdom. Lanfranc did not forget his monastic formation: he wrote constitutions for the Abbey at Canterbury, based on the customs of Le Bec, and appointed many Norman abbots to implement his vision in the English abbeys up and down the country. He died in 1089.

It is difficult to imagine what it would have been like to live in Lanfranc's time over a thousand years ago. What we do know is that faith and the Church was central to it. Life was relatively short and brutal but people's faith was absolute. The authority of the church was unquestioned because people believed that it held the keys to heaven. The Pope represented Peter and it was to Peter that Jesus gave the keys to heaven.

Today life is far less simple and can be equally as brutal. We have to contend with the internet (both good and bad), false news, social media, doubt, misinformation, conflicting conspiracy theories fueled by egotistical journalism. The best antidote is to take time out, relax and just look to Jesus, who never changes, and abide in in His love. 'In the heart where love is abiding, God is in that heart.' (Rev Philip)



Thought for today, 27th May 2020

Jesus said, "Truly I tell you; whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it." (Luke 18 v17)

There is a lovely story about a mother, who wakes up suddenly after a particularly bright flash of lightening during a thunderstorm, and hurries to her young son's room, knowing that he will be terrified. To her surprise, he is standing at the window,

"I was looking outside," he said., "and you'll never guess what? God took my picture!" This littles boy was convinced, and so should we, that God was at work; God's world is a perfectly safe place to be. We should ask ourselves, 'what would my life look like if I lived with a heart-deep conviction that because of God's unchanging character and care, this world is a totally secure place for me to be?' I should imagine our anxiety levels would go down. We would have the assurance that our lives are totally in God's hands and we wouldn't be tortured by our own inadequacies. We would be less unhurried in our daily lives. We might be busy, but we would have an inner calmness and outer poise. We would probably say less foolish things, because we wouldn't speak without thinking and we would trust God enough to risk obeying Him. Worry makes us depend upon ourselves and robs us of joy and energy. A person in whom the peace of Christ reigns would be an oasis of sanity in a world of pandemonium.

Remember the psalms 'The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forward and forevermore.' (Psalm 121 v7-8) Rev Philip



Thought for today, 26th May 2020

Augustine, Archbishop of Canterbury, is the significant historical person we are to remember today. When reading between the lines of his biography I cannot help but feel he was a very reluctant evangelist. He was comfortably ensconced as the Prior of the Monastery of St Andrew in Rome, when in 596, at the instigation of Pope Gregory the Great, he was dispatched as the leader of forty monks to re-evangelise the English Church.

I wonder whether Gregory liked or disliked Augustine? Was he sent to England because Gregory trusted in his evangelistic gifts or to move him on from a comfortable post where he might have interfered with Gregory's future plans? Today we might see Gregory's move as a 'new broom sweeping clean' in Rome. Whatever happened, we do know this, Augustine got as far as Gaul and then wanted to turn back. Pope Gregory, strongly insisted, this band of monks, fulfil their mission and so they landed in Kent in the summer of 597. It wasn't that the British Isles were non-Christian at this point, the Celtic Church had held fast in many parts of Britain since the Roman Empire had declined. Perhaps sending Augustine was politically driven rather than Gospel driven, but to unify and educate people of the Christian faith was a necessary part of bringing peace and understanding across Europe.

When Augustine arrived in Kent, England, he was welcomed by Betha, King Ethelbert's wife, who was of course a Christian, and he and his monks set up their monastery on the spot. That was why Canterbury became the first See of the new established Church in England following the Roman Rites and Ordinances. Augustine returned to Gaul to be made Bishop and returned to Canterbury to take his seat. Although Gregory would have preferred Augustine to have gone as far as London, Augustine had achieved his objective and the Church of England was established.

God brings about His Will through His people in all sorts of ways. He uses our weaknesses as well as our strengths. We are all things through Him who strengthens us. Rev Philip



Thought for today, 25th May 2020

Apologies if you couldn't access our service for yesterday by clicking the link above. This problem has been resolved and the link is now working properly.

'The one who devotes himself to the study of the law seeks out the wisdom of all the ancients and is concerned with prophecies; he preserves the sayings of the famous and penetrates the subtleties of parables.' (Ecclesiastes 39 v1)

Today in the Anglican cycle of prayer we celebrate the life of The Venerable Bede. Bede was born in Northumbria around the year 670. When he was seven years of age, his family gave him to the monastery of St Peter and St Paul at Wearmouth. He then moved to Jarrow, where he lived as a monk for the rest of his life. Although it seems he never travelled further than York, his monastery -first under Abbot Benet Biscop and then under Abbot Ceolfrith - was a Centre of learning and Bede studied extensively.

He used all the resources of the time available to write the most complete history of Christianity in Britain called 'Historia Ecclesiastica' up to the year 729, as well as commentaries on books of the Bible. He was renowned for his monastic fidelity and his love of teaching, and was fondly remembered by his pupils. He died peacefully in 735.

If you have ever visited Durham Cathedral you will know that it is there where his tomb is situated. There is an apocryphal story that Bede's title 'The venerable' was given to him post mortem. At his tomb a local stonemason was given the task of putting Bede's name on the tomb. He took a short break and had a snooze beside the tomb. When he awoke the word venerable had appeared, perfectly carved.

What we do know is, that if it wasn't for Bede, the stories and sacrifices of the early Church in Britain would have been lost. Without his research we may not have known about people like Cuthbert or Aidan. He also left us with some wonderful, simple Celtic prayers like the one for today.


   

Thought for today, 24th May 2020

'You are the people of God; He loved you and chose you for His own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. (Colossians 3 v12-14)

Today we are imagining that we are walking down the church path from the church as far as the Lych Gate. This was built originally as a memorial to the soldiers who had died in WW1. It was designed and supported by William Duckworth of Ribby Hall and built by local craftsmen using local materials. The Gate was dedicated by Dr William Temple, late Archbishop of Canterbury. It is a beautiful gateway into and out of the church and is often decorated for a wedding.

Imagine you are standing here and looking out into the village, walk over to the small green and look at the cross. This year the cross has been here since before Easter, decorated firstly by red ribbons to denote the passion of Christ, then by the palm branches for Palm Sunday. On Easter Day the whole village was invited to decorate it with flowers to represent the resurrection of Jesus. This has been followed by the white drapes after Easter. It has been a powerful symbol to the community of the presence of God in our community.

From here look at the village, the School, The Grapes, the Spar, the Green and the Dub. Thank God for its beauty.

Think of all the activities that normally take place

On the Green - football, cricket, children's sports, family outings

In the school - teaching our children

The Grapes - where people meet each other and eat & drink together

The Spar - serving our daily needs

As you think about these views take time to pray for our village, its people and its activities.


 

Thought for today, 23rd May 2020

A time for the family

O God our heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named: we trust to your loving care the members of our families, both near and far. Supply their needs; guide their footsteps; keep them in safety of body and soul; and may your peace rest upon our homes and upon our dear ones everywhere; for Jesus Christ our Saviour's sake.

Frank Colquhoun

Today, in our imagination, we are moving to the back of our church. Here we have an area dedicated to families with children. It is carpeted and there are toy boxes and books to keep the children amused. On the pews are cushions reflecting the life and work of our church with children, young people and their families, such as JAM (Jesus and Me) and Nicholas Bear Club (pre-school age group). It is a welcoming place for families to sit with their children during the services if they wish.

At this time of year of Ascension tide we anticipate the outpouring of Your Holy Spirit. We give thanks and pray for all our young people giving of their time and service to the wider community. We think about their own anxieties around school, exams and their future. The young people are working towards lighting up the 'Lych Gate' with colourful symbols of the Holy Spirit for Pentecost. This also demonstrates that, even though we cannot yet come together to Worship God physically, we can come together showing great creativity and spiritually.

Take time to think of your own family. Light a candle and pray for a family member, perhaps it is someone you are not able to visit at the moment. God knows our concerns.


 

Thought for today, 22nd May 2020

A time of Action and for using our talents

Again, Jesus said, "What shall we say the Kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade." Mark 4: 30- 32

In your imagination take your time to look around our church again and try to identify all the many talents that are used to worship God: The organ and piano used to worship God through music, our musicians and the St Nicholas singers that bring us all great joy.

The beautiful pew cushions, choir stall and altar rail cushions stitched by "The Runners"

The banners of the Mothers Union, Girls Friendly Society (GFS), and Sunday School representing some of our many church organisations, also stitched by talented people, many from our own church. The dedication of the flower arrangers who each week enhance our worship with their talents. The bell ringers who call us to prayer each Sunday The Centre represents the social side of our church, where friends are made, food is cooked and enjoyed, and gatherings take place. Our churchyard is tended faithfully to make it the beautiful place it is. The church and centre are cleaned and maintained with love and care so that we can worship and pray in this holy place.

Think for a moment of something in our church that is meaningful to you and use it to pray, perhaps for the organisation or the place it represents, a story from the Bible it brings to mind, or the person who made it.


 

Thought for today, 21st May 2020

'I weave a silence on to my lips...my mind...my heart. Calm me O Lord, as you stilled the storm. Still me O lord and keep me from harm. Let all the tumult within me cease. Enfold me Lord in your peace.' (Gaelic prayer)

In our imaginations again, we are going to move to the altar where we can quietly take in the beautiful stained-glass window depicting the resurrection. Consider how the light shines through it just as God's love can be reflected through each one of us. In front of the window we have our magnificent reredos folded sombrely during Lent, but now during the season of Easter it is open in all its glory depicting the visit of the wise men to the Holy family in the centre. On the right is the figure of St Nicholas, while on the left is St Thomas of Canterbury. The altar rail invites us to pray. Through the Holy Sacraments we have a close relationship with God and with others, of those in marriage, and family members. Perhaps you would like to light a candle in your home and pray for someone who is special to you. Perhaps you would like to weave a St Bridget's Cross. Throughout her life St. Bridget was known for her generosity to those in need. According to legend, Bridget used to weave crosses, tied with ribbons, which she gave as gifts to those she met on her journeys.

Weaving a St. Bridget's Cross (instructions above) can be a creative way of praying for many people such as: Those in our family, those in our community and our church.

You can write on the cross pieces the people you are praying for.



Thought for today, 20th May

"Wisdom is brilliant, she never fades. By those who love her, she is readily seen, by those who seek her she is readily found." Wisdom 6:12

As we continue to think about our Church building dedicated to St Nicholas this week, in your imagination, walk down the aisle of the nave and move towards the lectern, you will find the Bible open here. Perhaps you have a favourite verse or Bible story.

The Bible tells us the story of how God made himself known to humankind and in the Old Testament we see the Israelites sometimes following God faithfully and at other times struggling with their faith and even sometimes rejecting God altogether. However, ultimately, it is a story of hope and in the New testament we see the fulfilment of that hope in the person of Jesus Christ. The excitement of the disciples after the resurrection and their zeal in spreading the Gospel message should encourage us today. We can continue learning about God by reading the Bible as even Jesus himself did. The Bible records Christ's actions and words, letting us see something of the mind and purpose of God; it has had a profound influence on the history of the world and has been translated into practically every language.

The Bible Society and many other missionary organisations are teaching people across the world to read and write and are translating the Bible into many languages, so that people can learn more about the Christian faith. Basic education is also one of the most important things that can lead to stable family life.



   Thought for today, 19th May 2020

Later, 'Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" and to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"' (John 20: 26b-28)

Think about our church dedicated to St Nicholas. In your imagination take time to stroll around the church both inside and out. Let its beauty and spirituality soak into you.

Reflect upon the stained-glass window depicting St Nicholas or the stone carving of him outside. St Nicholas was born during the third century in Patara now part of Turkey. His wealthy parents brought him up to be a devout Christian. They died when Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering, and dedicated his life to serving God. He became known for his generosity to those in need, his love for children and his concern for sailors and ships.

Reflect that the "church" is not just a building, but is the community of Christians who worship here. This is being realised more than ever in our present situation. Ask yourself why people go to church? Is there anything that happens in church but nowhere else?

Pray for the worldwide fellowship of Christians.

Think of the many vicars of St Nicholas, Ribby-with-Wrea, who over the past three hundred years have sought to teach the people of the village the truths of the Christian life. "The Story of Wrea Green Church" by Ann Berry is an interesting read about the church and its clergy from the church's beginnings in the late 1600s as St Nicholas Chapel of Ease until the 1970s when the church looked much as it looks today. Our clergy have been caring for their parishioners with love and dedication until today.

Thank God for their dedicated service to the people of our village.

Churcharchitecture often draws our eyes upwards, inviting us to lift our spirit to God. Designed to proclaim the glory of God to the surrounding area, think of the effort, design and craftsmanship involved in building the church. It is a witness to the empty tomb of long ago; a place where the concerns of the world are brought to God in prayer.

Take time to be still today asking God to touch your soul.



Thought for today, 18th May

During this lockdown period we have not been able to go into our churches but this week we are going to imagine that we are walking around our church building of St Nicholas at Wrea Green. Many of us know it well and for those who have not been inside I hope that the words and photographs will help you conjure up the picture of our church, so that later we can all meet together again as the church community in Wrea Green and at the same time reach out to our village community and the wider world.

A time of refreshment

As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he (John the Baptist) saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matt. 3: 16-17

We are going to start on our imaginary walk by walking down the church path. The door of the church is open. We walk inside. The church is cool and welcoming and light shines through the windows. On your left as you enter you will see the font. It is prepared for a baptism and there is water inside. Imagine you can feel the water, and think of it as the calming presence of Christ within you. Let the water, light and love of Christ run through your being, washing away the pains, rejections, loss, grief or loneliness you may feel. In your mind sit or kneel close to the font and think about baptism, the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan, or perhaps you can recall the baptism of a child or grandchild. Think about how Christ's presence can refresh and revitalise you...      



Thought for today, 17th May 2020

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter and this coming Thursday the 21st of May is Ascension Day. We have had the cross on the green with us since Good Friday as a symbol of Jesus being with us in a physical sense and also to mark the resurrection appearances to his disciples. The cross will be removed from the green just before Thursday and the church bells will be rung at 12.00 noon every day from Ascension Day until Pentecost.

If we had been able to have gone through Holy Week and Easter in our Church we would have purchased a new Paschal Candle which would have been lit on Holy Saturday, as a symbol of the Resurrection, and it would have stood by the altar and be lit at every service until Pentecost. From Pentecost onwards it would have stood beside the font to be lit at baptisms. The Paschal Candle is a symbol of the Light of the World. At one time in the liturgy of the Church the Paschal candle was symbolically snuffed out during the Ascension Day service as a symbol of Christ not being with us physically anymore, that is until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. That gave people another sense of loss so many churches removed the practice. We will ring our bells on Thursday to show the world that Jesus is always with us and then on Sunday the 31st of May, the Day of Pentecost, our Lych Gate will burst into colour. It is to be decorated by our young people with symbols of the Holy Spirit, flames, Doves and Rainbows to shine out to the wider community that the Holy Spirit is here for everyone and is always with us.

The thoughts for the day from Monday the 18th of May to Sunday the 24th will be a series of reflections on different parts of our church building. I am grateful to Janet Reeh who has provided the reflections to remind us of the importance of our beloved place of Worship. Rev Philip


   

Thought for today, 16th May 2020

'In spite of everything that had happened, Job did not sin by blaming God.' (Job 1 v22)

Job, whose name was synonymous with integrity under fire, had ten children, vast land holdings, servants and incredible wealth. Then without warning he lost everything including his children and his health. How could anyone endure all this without becoming bitter? Yet, as the quote says above, he did not blame God. Instead he said "We accept the good things from God so why shouldn't we accept adversity as well?"

Job recognized God's right to control events in his life. He understood that anything God permits is ultimately best. Job looked for wisdom in his adversity. He said "My flesh might be destroyed yet I will see God." (Job 19 v26) And he longed for the moment. Job took the long view of a future without pain and sorrow and was strengthened to handle whatever life threw at him.

In this strange period of lock-down or semi lock- down, for many there is a lot to endure. The complexities of re-opening the economy, schools, restaurants, football matches and churches is one thing, meanwhile being under the constant anxiety of a return of the virus' second peak is another. I reckon we can all relate to Job. We are all experiencing on one level Job's dilemma. Of course, Job didn't see his difficulties as a dilemma. His friends did, they were always trying to get him to blame God in some way or that he must have offended God and that is why he had to endure all his troubles. Job saw God in it, but he felt he wasn't being punished for some past transgression. His view was, this is what life is about, good and bad and God will see him through it. God will see us through it too. Rev Philip



Thought for today, 15th May 2020

The Apostle Paul wrote "Does this sound as if I am trying to win man's approval? No, what I want is God's approval!" (Galatians 1 v10)

A talented young musician studied under a famous violin teacher. Now it was time for his first recital. He performed magnificently and received numerous 'Bravos!' Strangely he seemed not to hear them, but kept glancing anxiously at the front row. It wasn't until a white-haired man rose and nodded graciously that the young violinist started to smile. His master had praised his work! He had received the only approval that matters!

Paul said "We speak as messengers approved by God...our purpose is to please Him, not people." (1Thessalonians 2 v4) We should do the same and take our focus off how others see us. It isn't others we need to impress and we shouldn't allow the approval of others to obstruct our view of ourselves. Concerning Jesus, it says in John 'Even then, many of the Jewish authorities believed in Jesus; but because of the Pharisees they did not talk about it openly, so as not to be expelled from the synagogue. They loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.' (John 12 v42-43)

Remember, anytime you set goals, establish boundaries, or change old pattern, you are going to get criticism from those who are used to you behaving in a certain way. Have the courage of your convictions. Do not let that stop you from doing what you know is right!



Thought for today, 14th May 2020

'For our knowledge and our prophecy alike are partial, and partial vanishes when wholeness comes. (1 Corinthians 13 v9)

There is no point in pretending we have all the answers when we don't. When Paul wrote the words. 'now I know in part' (1 Corinthians 13 v12) he was not expressing doubt, he was just reflecting honesty. God just stamps some things 'it be will explained later'. Thomas may have arrived at the truth of the resurrection later than the others- but he got there in the end.

People who come to airtight conclusions about their understanding of the Bible and carry with it an air of orthodoxy are usually people who haven't been hurt much. They are usually people who have painted themselves into a corner and isolated themselves, to a point, from the real world. Then some unavoidable disaster comes along like they lose their job, or a divorce happens, or the death of a loved one and, when that storm threatens, all those firmly held certainties become like moving sand. The emotional explosion results in more questions than answers. As a result, they suddenly discover things they didn't know. At that point simplistic solutions are replaced with realistic reflections and the deep things of God, which will begin to emerge from the situation that eclipse the shallow answers of before.

The disciples, certain of what they believed Jesus to be in his earthly ministry, were devastated when he ended up dying on a cross rather than sitting upon an earthly throne. Their certainties were blown apart. Three days after Jesus' death He appeared to them and everything changed, their perspective, their intellect, their faith, their understanding, in other words they were transformed. And you know what? You too will find the answers in His presence when you will not find them anywhere else. Rev Philip


 

                                Thought for today, 13th May 2020

'This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.' (Psalm 118 v24)

Even though we are still in lock down and even though we can go outdoors to exercise a little bit more, we are still limited in what we can do. But today is still a gift from God so make the most of it. If we think today and every day. Just for today, I will enjoy each moment to the fullest and try not to tackle my whole life's problems at once. Just for today, I will try to improve my mind by learning more than I know; I will read God's Word faithfully for it is my source of wisdom and strength. I will be particularly sensitive to those Scriptures that require personal obedience and greater commitment.

Just for today, I will not find fault or try to change or improve anyone - except myself. Just for today, I will have a plan and a goal. I might not follow them exactly but I will have them nonetheless. By doing that I will save myself from two enemies, hurry and indecision. Just for today, I will develop my character. I will do someone a good turn and keep it secret; if anyone finds out it will not count. Just for today, I will do something I don't naturally want to do, thereby train my spirit to rule my flesh and my will to rule my emotions. Just for today, I will not be afraid to love or to risk; I will take steps of faith that stretch me beyond my present comfort level, try to enjoy all God's blessings and believe that every seed I sow in His Kingdom will be multiplied back to me many times over. This is how I will live, just for today!


  

                                Thought for today, 12th May 2020

In Isaiah chapter 43 God Says "I call you by name; you are mine. When you pass through water I shall be with you; when you pass through rivers, they will not overwhelm you; walk through fire and you will not be scorched, through flames and they will not burn you. I am the Lord your God.... You are precious and honoured in My sight and I love you." (Isaiah 43 v1b-4)

Just after I was ordained a colleague of mine asked me if I had got a spare shoe box to put on one side. He said, "always keep it on your shelf in the study and if you ever get something nice from a parishioner or the Bishop, like a card or a letter thanking you for something you have done very well, like, a lovely wedding ceremony or a baptism, put it in the box". Then if there are any difficult times in the future the box is a reminder that you do get things right sometimes. I took his advice and it has been very helpful at times throughout my ministry. Another piece of advice is making a note of the last phrase of the above quote from Isaiah. God says, 'You are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you." Perhaps putting it on a card and keeping it with you.

Every morning when you wake up let your first words be, 'I am loved by God.' Through the ups and downs of the day and then every night when you go to sleep let your last words echo, 'I am loved by God.' When you are tempted to despair because you have blown it, take out the card and look at it. When you are overwhelmed by all you have to do, read it over and over to yourself. When you are afraid, when you are anxious, when you are alone, remember and feast on the words that give life, 'I am loved by God!' Rev Philip



Thought for today, 11th May 2020

'The prayer of the righteous is powerful.' (James 5 v16b)

It was really helpful to read Rev Alan's reflections on the Lord's Prayer last week. He pointed to those deep and profound words as a source of comfort in this time of deep uncertainty. Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer, except that which lies outside the Will of God. You will never know how many people have been strengthened because you asked God to encourage them. Or healed because you prayed for their souls? None of us will ever know the true results of our prayers this side of heaven, but we know this: God's kingdom on earth is established by those who pray. Through prayer we are invited into a relationship with God - a relationship that involves both talking and listening. Prayer is talking to God about what we are doing together. In addition to all the other work that gets done through prayer, the greatest work of all is the knitting together of our hearts with the heart of God. Many a person on their deathbed has regretted their obsession with work, money, pleasure and power. But have you heard of anyone who regretted spending too much time in prayer? Where there is much prayer there is much love.

Bishop George Aston Oldham wrote, 'Prayer does not consist in battering the walls of heaven for personal benefit or the success of our plans. Rather, it is the committing of ourselves to carrying out God's purpose. It is a telephone call to headquarters for orders. It's not bending God's Will to ours, but our will to His.'

Rev Philip



Thought for today, 10th May 2020

'He has made everything appropriate in its time' (Ecclesiastes 3 v11)

The roller coaster of life runs both day and night and so some trips take place in the dark. However strange the time we are in this is not a time of punishment, retribution, or abandonment. The best way to think of it is a time when God is working out the next important stage of our development, aligning us for the greater advancement of His kingdom.

Earlier in April I briefly mentioned the book of Daniel and the three Hebrew young men Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I didn't go into any detail about what they did but they were men who feared the Lord and obeyed His Word no matter what. They were ordered to be burned in the furnace for refusing to worship the King's golden image (Daniel 3).

They never doubted God's intention, they knew they would be safe but even if they didn't survive, they would never worship anything but God. They had to go through the furnace to get through, God has the last word always, not the devil, circumstances or people. Like the three young men if we stick with God, we will come out the other side refined as gold.


 























Thought for today, 9th May 2020

It was wonderful to be able to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of the second world war yesterday. It was an uplifting thing to think about especially under our current difficulties. It was also uplifting to hear our church bells ringing out across the green. Thanks to Tommy Taylor for ringing them for us on that special occasion. We are going to endeavor to ring them again on Ascension Day and hopefully regularly after that once we have agreed a pattern and safety policy.

It is true to say that the Christian life is not an either/or experience. If you get my meaning? Where either, you are a believer and life is problem free, or an unbeliever and life is tough. It is more of a both/and experience that brings times of enjoyment and times to endure.

The Bible heroes experienced ups and downs throughout. Consider the paradoxes of God's Word, Jesus. He was a man of sorrows as foretold by (Isaiah 53 v3). Yet He was also anointed with joy (Hebrews 1 v9b). The Apostle Paul said of the believer, we are sorrowful yet always rejoicing, poor yet making many rich., having nothing and yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6 v10)

We should rejoice in our 'both/and' world. In spite of the difficulties before us God is still on His throne. He is still controlling the mix of joy to sorrow, peace to conflict, loss to gain, want to satisfaction, tragedy to triumph, with your best interests always in His heart. May God continue to bless us all as we press on. Rev Philip



Prayer

Almighty God,

whose Son restored Mary Magdalene

to health of mind and body

and called her to be a witness to His resurrection:

forgive our sins and heal us by your grace,

that we may serve you in the power of His risen life;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. 


 Collect for Mary Magdalene
































A poem about the Resurrection

Light's glittering morn bedecks the sky;

Heaven thunders forth its victor cry;

The glad earth shouts her triumph high,

And groaning hell makes wild reply,

While He, the King, the mighty King,

Despoiling death of all its sting,

And, trampling down the powers of night,

Brings forth his ransomed saints to light.

His tomb of late the threefold guard

Of watch and stone and seal had barred;

But now, in pomp and triumph high,

He comes from death to victory.

The pains of hell are loosed at last;

The days of mourning now are past;

An angel robed in light hath said,

'The Lord is risen from the dead.' J.M.Neale












Prayer 

God of all peoples,
may we also be like the Samaritan woman:

willing to examine our lives in Jesus' presence
that we may be worshippers of the Father

in spirit and in truth,
that we may share with those we know

what it is like to meet with Jesus....
The truth revealed her faults,

yet liberated this unnamed woman.
May your truth reveal us to ourselves

and set us free in you.

Give us and all who thirst for you

that living water of your Spirit:
water of refreshment, water of healing,
water of cleansing, water of life.

Brian McKinley (adapted) 


















Prayer

Nicodemus

I always felt quite confident,
'till Jesus came along,
that we, the Pharisees, were right,
and all the rest were wrong.But Jesus, though a rabbi,
has a disconcerting gift
for showing the familiar
with an unfamiliar drift.At first I was quite certain, as
I heard what Jesus said,
unravelling the Torah,
that he turned it on its head.Yet every time, some slant of truth
that we had buried, grew
alive and relevant -- emerged
as though being born anew.I went to him for guidance,
could no longer stand the strain.
"It isn't just the teaching, Nic,
you must be born again!" Dennis Donald
















Prayer for today

Heavenly Father we come to you today with confidence because we know you are good and have our best interests at heart.

We look at the problems around us and can lose heart but when we look beyond them to you, we know you are still in control.

You asked us to represent you here on earth and we ask your Holy Spirit to help us demonstrate what you are like to the people around us.

You are using the internet to reach people who are seeking you yet would never come near a church building. We ask you to inspire and skill all those Christians expanding this powerful initiative.

None of us have ever faced such a shaking of all the institutions and organisations people have come to rely on. We pray for everyone involved in logistics, medical care and research. Grant them resilience in weariness, discernment in diagnosis and clarity in problem solving.

Help us to show compassion and encouragement to people who are ill or bereaved.

Thank you for your promise in Hebrews 13 "Never to leave you, never will I forsake you" so our future with you is secure.

Amen

Rob Langford

Prayer for today

Lord, I wait for the tide to turn. Until the distant becomes close, Until the far off becomes near, Until the outside is within, Until the ebb flows.

Lord, I wait for the tide to turn Until weakness is made strong, Until, blindness turns to sight, Until the fractured is made whole, Until the ebb flows.

Lord, I wait until the tide turns, Until the ordinary becomes strange, Until the empty is Presence full, Until the two become one. Until the ebb flows.

Taken from Tides and Seasons







Prayer for today

Heavenly Father, as we plan and organize our worship over the next few weeks, help us to play our part in robust arrangements and planning. We pray that our safety measures will be effective at all times and where we may be lacking in anything, you will step in and shore them up with your grace. Amen

Rev Philip













Prayer for today

Heavenly Father, as we plan our way forward, we place ourselves into your hands. Give our PCC and church officers wisdom and sound guidance, that all our people will be safe when we Worship you in our church building or outside through the coming months. Amen  













Prayer for today

Lord, you are always with us, through both dark valleys and bright sunshine. You guide us with your staff and you are in control. At this difficult time, when people are uncertain about their future in both health and wealth, give us the assurance of your presence and your joy. Amen

Rev Philip




















 

Prayer for today

Help us Lord, to rejoice in each other's successes. Help us also to endeavour to bring out the best in each other. At this time when social interaction is difficult, unite us in prayer, that we will always pray with one mind and with one voice, to Your Glory and for the Glory of Your Kingdom. Amen

Rev Philip

















 Prayer for today

Eternal Father, when the gospel of Christ first came to our land you gloriously confirmed the faith of Alban by making him the first to win a martyr's crown: grant that , following his example, in the fellowship of the saints we may worship you, the living God, and give true witness to 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. Amen.














Prayers for Today

Faithful God, we pray today O Lord for your blessing to be upon this congregation, upon this church and upon our Diocese, and for your presence to be seen vividly in what we do and say each day. We pray that your joy and your love will flow freely in and through us.

Merciful Lord, In these troubled times we pray and give thanks for the health workers tending the seriously ill, for the scientists working on a vaccine, for the researchers analysing data and identifying trends, for the media outlets working to communicate reality, for the supermarket workers, hygiene and sanitation providers, for the good news stories of recoveries and effective planning, for the recognition that isolation doesn't need to mean loneliness, for the notes through letterboxes offering help and support, for the internet and telephones and technology that connects, for the awakened appreciation of what is truly important.

Loving Lord, we give thanks for all who have warm and loving relationships with their fathers and children and we pray for those who for whatever reason did not know their fathers, we will try to remember that this can be an uncomfortable day for you and others. And for those whose relationships with their fathers or children is painful or complicated, we support you. This Father's Day, we lift up our gratitude for all kinds of fathers, and for the amazing ways fatherly love transcends blood lines and legal categories.

Holy God, your love reaches beyond the grave. At the end of our days on earth be with us and with those we love and with those whom we love and have gone before us. We pray now for those who have recently died both Corona related and from other causes and for those bereaved by their passing.

Gracious God, we thank you for hearing our prayers and as we move into the coming week help us to remember our Saviour's words as he sent his disciples out into the world "As you go, proclaim the good news, the Kingdom of Heaven has come near". Amen

Sue Jones

Prayer for today

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours! Amen

Old Irish Blessing














Prayer for today

Lord God help us to appreciate your presence with us at all times. Even when you are still and there is silence, help us to trust that you are always there. We ask for guidance in all things and we thank you for our independence. Even though we have free will, we pray our decision-making processes will always be founded upon your nature and your nurture. Amen

Rev Philip










    Prayer for today

Dear Father, help us to live life in the moment. Sometimes we can wait for tomorrow before doing the things we could clearly do today. In spite of the restrictions we have in this current time, help us to enjoy what is meaningful rather than just focusing upon the mundane. Amen

Rev Philip














 Prayer for today

Heavenly Father, you know the intentions of the heart. At this difficult time of treading carefully through this period of the lifting of the lockdown. We pray that you will give us wisdom and insight, so that we can be the Church you want us to be. We pray that you will also bless our endeavours over the coming months and that no one will be put in danger through our actions. Amen.

Rev Philip

















Prayer for today

Lord Jesus our friend and Saviour, we recognise that you saved us in spite of our failings and imperfections. Help us to be your body in the world and use our gifts as well as our disabilities in the building of your kingdom. Amen.















  

Prayer for today

Almighty God, who enlightened your Church by the teaching of your servant Richard Baxter. Enrich it evermore with your heavenly grace and raise up faithful witnesses who, by their life and teaching, may proclaim the truth of your salvation; through Jesus Christ you Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
















  



Prayer for today

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art -
thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; and I thy true Son
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Saint Dallan Forgaill.



Prayer for today

Lord, we pray for all who are missing their regular pattern of worship. We yearn to be able to come together as your body in the world for spiritual nourishment. Help us to understand that your Spirit is with us wherever we are and that one day we will be united under one roof all in unity with You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen













    

Prayer for today

Almighty God you are awesome, and yet you come close to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Whose Spirit enables us be what you would want us to be. At this time when our worship is private and reflective help us to focus on the edifying of your Church in new and creative ways. That our worship, when we can come together, will be fluid and full of vitality. Amen

















Prayer for today

Bountiful God, giver of all gifts, who poured your Spirit upon your servant Barnabas and gave him grace to encourage others: help us, by his example, to be generous in our judgements and unselfish in our service; 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 forever. Amen















          

                   Prayer for today

Teach us, dear Lord, to number our days;
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us;
and establish the work of our hands. Amen

Northumbria Community












                   Prayer for today

Lord, it is hard to make any sense out of recent events. We are struggling to fight a virus that has changed all of our lives. Give us all the will to work together to overcome it and to overcome injustice and intolerance. Amen

Rev Philip
















  Prayer for today

Heavenly Father, in these uncertain times, we know that we are in your hands. We pray for a good outcome with regard to the progress made on a vaccine for COVID-19 and a more tolerant world where people can come together in mutual friendship and care for one another. Amen

Rev Philip   



















           Prayer for today

God of heaven and earth, in these times of isolation, apart from loved ones, distant from friends, away from neighbours, thank you that there is nothing in all creation, not even Coronavirus that is able to separate us from your love.

May your love that never fails continue to be shown through the kindness of strangers looking out for each other, for neighbours near and far all recognising our shared vulnerability, each of us grateful for every breath, and willing everyone to know the gift of a full and healthy life.

We give thanks for everyone who has played any part in the fight against this virus. We pray for the families and friends who grieve the loss of a loved one and give thanks for those who are recovering in hospital or at home.

Lord we give you thanks for being with us every step of our journey and ask that you keep us and those we love safe in the coming days.
Amen. Carole



Prayer for today

Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and live and reign in the perfect unity of love: hold us firm in this faith, that we may know you in all your ways and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory, who are three Persons yet one God, now and forever. Amen (Common Worship)
























Prayer

I share and share and share again

sometimes with a new language

which, if you are so open

will take you behind the sky

and award you cartwheels across the sun

I give and give and give again

not restricted to the church calendar

or concocted ritual

I have no need of anniversaries

for I have always been

I speak and speak and speak again

with the sting of purity

that can only be Me

causing joyous earthquakes in the mourning soul of man

I am I am I am again

Pentecost is Every Day, Stewart Henderson

















Prayer 

Breathe on me breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,

That I may love what Thou dost love

And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me breath of God,

Until my heart is pure,

Until with Thee I have one will

To do and to endure.

Breathe on me breath of God

Till I am wholly Thine,

Until this earthly part of me

Glows with Thy fire divine.
























     

Prayer

Enter my heart O Holy Spirit,

come in blessed mercy and set me free.

Throw open O Lord, the locked doors of my mind;

cleanse the chambers of my thought for Thy dwelling:

light there the fires of thine own holy brightness

in new understandings of truth,

O Holy Spirit, whose presence is liberty,

grant me the perfect freedom

to be Thy servant,

today, tomorrow and evermore. Amen.

Eric Milner-White

















Prayer

Wind of God keep on blowing.

Sail over the barriers that we build

to divide ourselves from each other.

Pick up your seeds of freedom and truth

wherever they flourish,

carry them across frontiers

to be planted in other soil,

to begin fresh growth and new forms.

Graham Cook























Prayer

Show us good Lord,

the peace we should seek,

the peace we must give,

the peace we can keep,

the peace we must forego,

and the peace you have given

in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Caryl Micklem, used by Corrymeela Community
































Prayer for today

Lord, we come to you in prayer at this time of uncertainty and change. We are missing worshiping together as a Church family and the special fellowship we hold so dearly. Please hold all our Church members and friends close and let each one of us know we are held together by faith and prayer.

As we look ahead help us to adjust to the new normal. Bless and guide all who are working and planning to open our places of worship again. Inspire them Lord.

Teach us how to reach out to others in different ways. A phone call, a kind word to a passing stranger, FaceTime, a text message, email or letter. Do not let us become islands Lord but keep us communicating and aware of each other's needs. Let us be deeply grateful for all the kindness shown at this time and to all the Key Workers who keep our world going.

We finish our prayer by asking you to comfort all who are ill at this time and the people looking after them. Bless and hold close all who are bereaved. May they know they are in our thoughts and prayers.

Lord we offer these prayers to you through your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen

Lynda Lancaster.

          Prayer for Today

Eternal God, eternal Trinity,
You have made the Blood of Christ so precious through His sharing in Your Divine nature.
You are a mystery as deep as the sea;
the more I search, the more I find,
and the more I find the more I search for You.
But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more.
When You fill my soul I have an ever-greater hunger, and I grow more famished for Your light.
I desire above all to see You,
the true light, as you really are. Amen.

Catherine of Sienna








Prayer for today

Lord God our heavenly Father. Help us, by Jesus' example, to always seek to serve. Remove all pride and self-seeking from our hearts and motivate us to build your Kingdom for your Glory through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.


















  

 Prayer for today

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.

God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.

God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.

God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity. Amen

(Ancient Celtic oral traditions - carmina gadelica)









 

 Prayer for today

Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm.
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.

Father, bless the work that is done,
and the work that is to be.

Father, bless the servant that I am,
and the servant that I will be. Amen

Northumbria Community












Prayer for today

Heavenly Father, we pray that you will help us to discern Your purpose for our lives. We thank you for the gifts you have given us and we ask that you use our weaknesses as well as our strengths, to bring about Your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.



















      

Prayer for today

O Christ, our Morning Star,
Splendour of Light Eternal,
shining with the glory of the rainbow,
come and waken us
from the greyness of our apathy,
and renew in us your gift of hope. Amen

(The Venerable Bede)

















   

Prayer for today

Jesus Christ, light of the world,

We go from here to take your light

To a world in need of your love.

May we be a beacon of hope

To those you call us to serve.

Amen










 











Prayer for today

Father, how can I express what I owe to my family?

I have shared so much life with them, old and young.

Even when they are far from me, we are bound closely together.

When I am angry or frustrated, they rescue me from myself;

When I doubt they rekindle my faith.

My family make demands on my time and energy;

They remind me that I am still wanted. Amen

From More Everyday Prayers









 

Prayer for today

You, Lord, have made a strange and beautiful world full of echoes of your glory. Open my senses to an awareness of the world of the spirit which underlies and enfolds all things. Fill my heart with such a wonder that my spirit is full of praise. Widen my sympathies and make my response to all creatures deeper and more generous, so that I may see You in everything and everyone. Amen. (H. Dickinson, adapted)














Prayer for today

Lord God

Like the disciples we ask,

Teach us how to pray

Teach us the secret of prayer -

When to speak and when to keep silent,

When to accept and when to go on seeking,

When to persevere and when to let go.

Teach us how to pray.

Teach us the power of prayer -

Its ability to challenge,

To encourage, to transform all life

Teach us how to pray.

Teach us the joy of prayer-

To express our worship,

Discover your will,

And hear your voice.

In the name of Christ. Amen

Nick Fawcett (adapted) Prayers for all Seasons

Prayer for today

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of literacy, for the joy of reading and the opportunities it provides both in work and pleasure. I ask you to bless the work of the many organisations that promote literacy and development such as the Mothers Union. I thank you for the gift of Your Word and pray for the work of the Bible Society and for freedom for all those who wish to read the Bible. Amen 












Prayer for today

Lord, like your friend Thomas, who doubted your resurrection, I find it hard to believe You are really here, that You passed through death and out the other side. Open my spirit now to a new awareness of your living reality. Touch my cold and anxious heart with the warmth and energy of Your love. Kindle in me a living faith in Your presence and Your power, let me know something of the joy which Your first disciples found that first Easter morning. Amen. H Dickinson (adapted)





















Prayer for today

Oh God, who made me and brought me closer to Him through Baptism, pour out afresh on me the gifts of your Holy Spirit. Open my ears to hear Your Word, open my heart to You in prayer, that I may receive with ever deeper faith the Bread of Life. Strengthened through these gifts make me a sign of Your presence in the world today. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen












Prayer for today

Heavenly Father, as Jesus prepared to leave his disciple's, he left them with his commandment that they should love one another as he had loved them. Help us to embody that commandment as a Christian Community and to reach out in loving service to those we meet. Amen















 

Prayer for today

Almighty God, when you created the heaven's and the earth you saw that it was good. We recognize that in this world there are good times and bad times but you remain constant. We ask for the gift of a strong will like that of Job, so we can be resolute in faith through this time of uncertainty. Amen
















Prayer for today

Help us Lord Jesus, to follow your example and always seek to do God's Will rather than go our own way. When difficult decisions have to be made, give us the strength of character to do always what is right in your sight rather than take an easy route in order to meet other people's approval. Amen












  

Prayer for today

Heavenly Father, the storms of life come to all of us at different times. Currently we are all sharing in one and some are finding it harder than others. We pray that we will learn from this storm and come to a greater understanding of your purposes for our lives. We particularly pray for those who are hurting deeply at this time because of personal loss and that one day 'our knowledge will be whole like Your Knowledge of us' Amen. (ref 1 Corinthians 13 v12b)













Prayer for today

Jesus, Lord and Saviour. You showed us how to live and how to die, in complete and utter faith. Help us to always give thanks for each and every day and that you will help us to live according to your Word. Amen 














Prayer for today

Lord God, our Heavenly Father, we place all the ups and downs we encounter in life into Your Hands. We know that we are secure in your love and your protection. Help us never to lose sight of that fact, through the saving grace of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
















Prayer for today

Lord we are always in your presence. Help us to remember that fact and that we can talk with you wherever we are. Help us always to seek to do your Will in Your world and for the growth of Your Kingdom. Amen.
















Prayers for today (written by Ros Cockrill)

Lord, we ask you today, to be with us in this time of uncertainty and anguish. Help us to remember that you are always there to support and comfort us. In the past few weeks, we have been bombarded with news, making us feel worried and unsettled, give us faith to trust in you.

We pray for all the closed churches worldwide, that they may be able to reopen very soon, so that parishioners may worship you together once more. Nearer to home, we pray for the work of the Blackburn Diocese Coronavirus Task Group, who have worked constantly to support and inform clergy and congregations. We thank you for our vicar Reverend Philip Chew and Alan Byrom, who publish their thoughts and prayers for each day, giving us great comfort.

Gracious God, we thank you for those who are caring for the sick during this pandemic, and we ask you to give them the skill, sympathy and strength to go about their work. Grant wisdom to the scientists searching for a vaccine, and fortify them with your spirit, so that through their efforts many sick people may be restored to good health. We thank those key workers who support our community, and the members of the Armed Forces, who have been deployed in many different jobs, to give support to the country at this time.

Strengthen us to care for those in need, as you demonstrated through your life on earth. In this anxious time, fortify us so that we can reassure those who are frightened, and give encouragement to those who are isolated. Help them to know that you are with them always and that nothing can separate them from your love. May we comfort each other, even though we are apart.

Help us to focus on the positive, to appreciate the beautiful world that you have made for us, and to realise that although our lives may be very different, we have more time to think of others, and to value the important things in life.

Renew us, that we may we follow the light of your love and spread hope.

Amen





Prayer for today

Lord Jesus, you know what it is like to be human and to endure. We ask for strength to see these difficult times through and help us to give thanks for the joys we may encounter along the way. Amen
















Prayer for Today

Most holy God, who through your servant Julian revealed the wonders of your love: grant that as we are created in your nature and restored by your grace, our wills may be made one with yours, that we may come to see you face to face and gaze on you for ever Amen






















For the latest COVID-19 advice and prayer resources, please visit -  https://www.churchofengland.org/

Also, for the latest COVID - 19 news with our Parish, please see our dedicated COVID-19 page.


10 ways to worship together even if not gathered


Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu called for all Church of England churches to suspend public worship to help stem the spread of Coronavirus.In light of today's announcement, we have created a list of 10 ways churches can worship even if they cannot be gathered together. Click here for the list of ideas.


Let us pray for one another during this difficult time.

"Cast all your cares on to Him, for He cares for you."

1 Peter 5:7


For other village information, visit 

Child Friendly Church Award

St Nicholas is proud to be a Child Friendly Church.

The church first received this award at a special Education Sunday service at Blackburn Cathedral on Sunday 31 January 2010.

The award has been renewed since that date.