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Thought for the day diary
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.'
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
Thought for today, 8th May 2020
It is good to be back and thank you to Rev Alan for his reflections on the Lord's Prayer. Firstly, today we remember 'Victory in Europe' 75 years ago which gives us a little bit of hope that struggles do come to an end and secondly today is Julian of Norwich's day. Julian also known as Juliana was a woman who in 1373 suffered from a serious illness. She too lived in turbulent times. She experienced a series of sixteen visions which she recorded. The book that record these revelations is known as the 'Revelations of Divine Love' and was the first book to be written in English by a woman. Juliana is considered as one of the most important Christian Mystics of the Medieval Period, so I will leave the 'thought for today' to her.
"At the same time, our Lord showed me, in a spiritual manner, how intimately he loves us. I saw that he is everything that is good and supports us. He clothes us in his love, envelops us and embraces us. He wraps us round in his tender love and he will never abandon us. As I understand it, he is everything that is good. He also showed me a tiny thing in the palm of my hand, the size of a hazelnut. I looked at this with the eye of my soul and thought: 'What is this?' And this is the answer that came to me: 'It is all that is made.'
I was astonished that it managed to survive: it was so small that I thought that it might disintegrate. And in my mind, I heard this answer: 'It lives on and will live on forever because God loves it.'
So, every single thing owes its existence to the love of God. I saw that this tiny thing had three properties that were essential to it. The first is that God made it; the second is that God loves it; the third, that God preserves it. But I cannot say what this Creator, Preserver and Lover is. Until I am united with him in my essential being, there will be no true happiness for me - by that I mean that until I am linked to him so closely that there is absolutely nothing between God and me. We need to know how tiny creation is and to reckon all creatures as nothing if we are to love the God who is uncreated. This is the reason why we are never entirely at peace in heart and soul: we seek rest in such tiny things that cannot give us rest, and we do not realise that our God is All-Mighty, All-Wise and All-Good. For he is true rest.
Thought for today, Thursday 7th May 2020
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
This can be a hard one, can't it. Why on earth do we need to ask God not to lead us into temptation? Why would He do that? What kind of God are we dealing with here?
If these questions occur from time to time, one way of dealing with them is to think out how to read the sentence. Most of us when we are reciting the prayer have always read it thus:
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
If we stop a moment, it almost seems like God is dead set on hurling us into temptation and we have to beg Him not to; please don't! But it does seem a strange thing to think. Why emphasise the negative when there are two perfectly good positive verbs there? Try reading it this way:
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
We are asking God to do two things here, again in the context of His dealing with us on a daily basis, leading and delivering. So to expand it a bit: Today, Lord, lead us; guide us through whatever comes across our way. May our day be directed to Your overarching purposes. As a part of this, lead us so that we do not slip away, turn deliberately away, blunder blindly into, temptation; keep us out of that test to our faith. (Of course we know that 'temptation' might refer to trials, so then we would be saying, hold us free of sufferings and persecution.) And as we know your leading, please keep us free from any of the evils that might assault us in the way.
Well, Jesus says it a lot better and with a deal more punch; but we do need to read it rightly. And we do need to remember that travel in those days was a very hazardous business: danger of robbery, wild animals, getting lost. Trusting in God was a vital source of reassurance, then, as it is now in our safer but still risky times, when the main danger is perhaps accident.
So we leave this part of the Lord's Prayer with the realisation that He does not set us on our journey with Him and leave us to get on with it, rather like the contestants in the recent Race Across the World programme. He is with us each step; we can and we do trust Him for protected travel and safe arrival. We do depend on Him moment by moment; we move on secure in the knowledge of His guiding hand.
Wherever you go, He has gone before. Only follow Him and you find Him everywhere. J.P. de Caussade
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prayer for Today
Eternal God, eternal
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 surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
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.
bless the work that is done,
and the work that is to be.
bless the servant that I am,
and the servant that I will be. Amen
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.
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
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.
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
Prayer for today
Circle me Lord
Keep protection near and danger afar.
Circle me Lord
Keep hope within and keep doubt without
Circle me Lord
Keep light near and darkness afar
Circle me Lord
Keep peace within, keep evil out.
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
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.