Mary Sharples Youth Rep, living through a pandemic.

Mary Sharples is a drama student in Manchester and a youth representative for the Methodist conference… and when the pandemic began to gain momentum in the UK, a feeling of anxiety, really hit her hard.

Listen to her interview on Premier Christian Radio here.

 A Psalm of Lament and Praise in a time of Coronavirus.

How shall we praise you, Lord, our God?
When we are locked down,
how shall we praise you?
When the doors to your house are barred,
and your people cannot assemble?

Read the rest of this lament and praise here.

Prayer and Theology.

Praying.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris,
it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Mary Oliver, Thirst (Beacon Press 2006)

Courtesy of Brian Draper. It’s not too late to sign up to his email series “From Passion to Pentecost “ here.

“The Holy Spirit is really real, even whilst not visible, and yet seems very active as people connect ‘virtually’.” Vice-President of the Conference Clive Marsh thinks about our online life and the future of the Church here.

Let there be.

Let there be respect for the earth,
Peace for its people, Love in our lives,
Delight in the good,
Forgiveness for past wrongs
And from now on, a new start.


Prayer by the late Revd Peter Trow, and image by the Revd Kevin Watson, Moderator of the URC Yorkshire Synod

The Blessing of Being.

“Bless what there is for being.”… bless it because it exists; you need no other reason.
~ Br. David Steindl-Rast, quoting W. H. Auden

 

Continue the blessing with beautiful pictures of God’s creation here.</

Prayer and Reflection.

God who reaches out to us in love, cascading grace to all creation, may we be disciples who respond to your overwhelming, unconditional, unbounded presence.
May we each respond to your invitation to share in your mission with all our heart, will, mind and strength.
May we respond to your Spirit who calls us to reimagine our communities in the light of your grace.
And may the gospel enliven our spirits to see possibilities, to grasp opportunities and to travel in the way of Jesus.

Andrew Wood, Southampton District Chair

 

Read the latest edition of Reform magazine for free here.

Prayer in British Sign Language.


Risen Christ…. When we cannot sit close or embrace those dear to us, remind us that you carry us together in your loving arms.

Follow this prayer by Methodist Local Preacher Anna Herriman, who is profoundly deaf, here.

Community.


The people I have loved with great abandon and freedom were not just the people who loved me, but people who loved what I loved. People who cared about community, the Gospel, the poor, justice, honesty—this is where the flow was easy, natural, and life-giving. Two people excited about the same thing are the beginning of almost everything new, creative, and risky in our world. Surely this is what Jesus meant by his first and most basic definition of church as “two or three gathered” (Matthew 18:20).

Read the rest of this reflection on community and a Trinitarian God
here.

Soul space.

Follow Winchester’s Brian Draper on a Spring Saunter.

Sign up for his new email series From the Passion to Pentecost here.

From the church community.

Daily prayer is not so much words but awareness, not so much telling God but being with him with all our senses alert to what God desires of us.  Prayer is entering fully into the Eternal that is all about us

Sent in by Jill Cook

LOVELIEST OF TREES, THE CHERRY NOW

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

it only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

A.E.HOUSEMAN 1859 – 1936.

Suggested by Maureen Heath

As we walked in Crabwood at the weekend admiring the bluebells and the wild cherry trees in blossom, I was trying to remember this poem.

Contemplation.

Enjoy colouring in this bible verse as you meditate on the words. You can print the picture by clicking on it or here.

Alternatively grab some paper and a pen. Even if you don’t think you can draw, start to doodle and see what shapes emerge. Be mindful of this simple act of creation and reflect on the larger Creator God who is with us.

You might like to contemplate on the beauty of God’s creation by looking at the latest pictures sent in by members of our church community here.

Reflecting on the day.

Praying the examen

Julian Maddock leads us through the examen prayer as we look back over the last 24 hours.
Choose the longer version at the top, or the shorter version which follows.


Find out more from Julian’s website here.

 

Julian was recommended by Anne Bray. See poems, prayers and reflections sent in by other members of the church community here.

Prayers.

If we are fearful inspire us to hope.

Listen to this short prayer here.

If you have some seeds lying around, plant them next time you go out for a walk. Communal areas, patches of grass by the road – anywhere that could do with some flowers in a few months’ time.

Revisiting a God moment.

“If we focus on love and trust, we will grow in love and trust. If we focus on fear and resentment, we will foster fear and resentment. Be careful what you pay attention to!

Times of consolation and desolation come and go in our lives. This is the simple fact of being human. There is no need to congratulate ourselves if we are feeling good, nor do we need to blame ourselves if we are feeling bad. But when we feel good, we can attend to this and store up goodness for when times are hard. When we are struggling we have reserves to draw upon.”

Pray with Julian Maddock, whose reflections and prayers can be found here.

Eternal breath.

“Let us bless the air,
Benefactor of breath;
Keeper of the fragile bridge
We breathe across…

“Let us bless the invigoration
Of clean, fresh air.

“The gentleness of air
That holds and slows the rain,
Lets it fall down.

“The shyness of air
That never shows its face.

“The force of air
In wall after wall
Of straining wind.

“In the name of the air,
The breeze
And the wind,
May our souls
Stay in rhythm
With eternal
Breath.

“(from Benedictus: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue).

Thinking about Time.

Listen to Rob and Kristen Bell talking in depth about how these moments of self-isolation help us look at time and how to develop a gratitude for life.

Listen here.

Prayers and reflections.

A prayer loosely based on Psalm 119:105-112

Like a shining light are your words O God,

Lighting the dark, scattering fears,

Showing the path, pointing the way.

As I travel on shadowy ground,

You are my lamp and light

 

There are traps and snares in the world, O God

Drawing us in, bringing us down,

Hurting, harming, hindering.

As I walk across uneven land

You are my guide and my guard.

 

As laughter and gladness is your truth, O God,

Lifting our hearts, enfolding us with love,

Turning us towards goodness,

Teaching us to trust.

With a heart that rejoices in you,

You are our pulse and power for our journey

Amen

Jerusalem and the Passion – courtesy of Mike and Hilary Holt

 

Free Reform magazines!

Read Reform magazine from the URC for free for as long as Lockdown lasts: “Reform for free”.

 

Read the magazines: “here”.

Coronavirus Prayer in British Sign Language.

Join us in prayer during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic. A prayer led in British Sign Language, to support you in your praying, and to share with friends, family, and neighbours. During this time of anxiety, confusion, sadness, and challenge we have hope in Jesus Christ.

“Coronavirus prayer”.

A breathing meditation.

Here’s a nice breathing meditation which you might enjoy, in a break, today. It’s written by Sheridan Voysey, and is based on the fruits of the Spirit.

Breathe the first line (in bold) in slowly, and the second line out.

Lord God, fill me with your Holy Spirit:

I receive your love,
and release my insecurity

I receive your joy,
and release my unhappiness

I receive your peace,
and release my anxiety

I receive your patience,
and release my impulsiveness

I receive your kindness,
and release my indifference

I receive your goodness,
and release my ungodliness

I receive your faithfulness,
and release my disloyalty

I receive your gentleness,
and release my severity

I receive your self-control,
and release my self-indulgence

Keep breathing …
Courtesy of Brian Draper

The beauty of God’s creation.

Spend time with these photos taken by members of our church community “here”.

Share your own pictures here “here”.

Coping with solitude.

Needing to spend some time being still?

Listen to this relaxing 20-minute piece of piano music by Liszt: “The Blessing of God in Solitude.”

For those who would like to follow the score, listen here.

Terry Waite on coping with isolation.

Terry gives tips on how to structure your day.

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Activities and prayer.

Families on Faith Adventures @ Home! (16 April 2020)
Listening to God. Families on Faith Adventures is designed to give families a number of activities to choose from as they explore a Bible story. It includes prayer ideas, crafts and games, sensory activities and challenges, all adapted to make them suitable for doing within the confines of the home and one walk per day. 

Find it here.

A prayer for home.

Prayer, mindfulness and meditation.

Fruits of the Spirit

May I let the fruits of your Spirit grow in me this day.
Spirit of love abide in my ears, as I listen to stories different to my own.
Spirit of joy, beam in my eyes as I meet the gaze of another.
Spirit of peace, breathe through my attitude.
Spirit of kindness, blow through the words I speak.
Spirit of patience, breeze across my frustration before I say or act.
Spirit of faithfulness, guard me when I’m tempted to stray.
Spirit of generosity, spill over in all I think or do or say.
Spirit of gentleness be fragrant in all my dealings with the world.
Spirit of selfcontrol do not limit, but channel the abundance of your fruits, as I partake in your transforming ways blowing through these days

Tess Ward, in The Celtic Wheel of the Year)

Try a 12-minute session of guided movement and meditation by Rev Alison Newell, chaplain at Edinburgh University. Alison (among other things) leads retreats with her husband John Philip Newell, who was warden at Iona Abbey.

Watch here.

Watch her talking below about what she does to be present to herself and present to others in a compassionate way.

Easter prayer.

Watch this beautiful Easter prayer: “here”.

 

Songwriting competition.

Aged between 18-35 and a member of the URC? Then this may be for you. The World Council of Churches is inviting young adults from member churches to enter a songwriting competition as part of its 11th Assembly. Submit by 30 June “here”.

Songs and Video.

Listen to our playlist of Easter songs!

Thanks to Naomi for this. We are hoping to have a playlist of Pentecost songs. Send your suggestions to Naomi here.

The Seriously Surprising Story

Watch this Bible Society video for children here.

The Sun Will Rise

Enjoy listening to this uplifting song by the Brilliance

Easter Crosses from our Community

See more crosses: “here”.

Send your own Easter crosses by emailing: “here”.

Wisdom and love.

Listen to NT Wright talking on Coronavirus, self-isolating and praying through crisis courtesy of Premier Christian Radio.

In a podcast special recorded from his home in Oxford where he is self-isolating with his wife Maggie, Tom talks to Justin Brierley about the Coronavirus pandemic. They cover: How Christians can maintain spiritual health during isolation, the pastoral implications for churches now and in the future, and why God created a world where disease and sickness exist.

e.

A beautiful song and video for those who are sorrowful, but comforted by caring friends.