Thought for the Day 18/05/2020 - 31/05/2020
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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)
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)
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
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
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
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
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...
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
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
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