Trinity 13: Creationtide

And just like that, we find ourselves in September!

This will be the final worship blog post for the time being, but (worry not!) our online provision of worship is NOT stopping. We are moving instead to publishing the readings, reflection and prayers that previously appeared here on a weekly news sheet, along with notices for the coming week. This will be emailed out at the end of every week, so if you are not yet on the parish email list then please email Jenny to be added.

As well as this, Sunday and midweek video reflections and worship will continue on the Facebook page, tailored especially to those engaging with worship from their homes.

This blog is not ceasing, and we are considering how best to make use of it as we face a new and uncertain future. Any updates here will be notified on the weekly parish email, or you can subscribe directly to this blog by clicking the “sign up” button on the right hand side of the page and entering your email address.

And so for this weekend, please find below:

  • Downloadable PDFs of the worship resources published on this blog
  • Notices of September parish events
  • Links to the readings for today
  • Youtube links for the hymns
  • A reflection for Trinity 13
  • Prayers of Intercession
  • A prayer for the day
  • A blessing

You may prefer to download all the resources below in one PDF file, along with the weekly news sheet. If you are planning to attend one of the churches on Sunday or Monday then you can bring this with you on an electronic device or as a print out. Download the PDF, along with a booklet of liturgy, and our guidelines on visiting the buildings this weekend, here:


September events:


The readings for this Sunday (click on each Bible reference to see the text of the readings):
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20


Hymns for today:


A reflection written by Jenny

“How then, shall we live?” A question that echoes through scripture and history, as generation on generation works out how to live in ways which are safe, sustainable, and life-giving. For people of faith, this searching has also been defined by a desire for “holiness” – that is, outward living that matches an inner life of faith.

Of course, it’s much easier to do the right thing when we are able to follow the ‘rules’, assuming, that is, we know that the ‘rules’ are! In the Romans reading Paul alludes to ancient rules that have guided his people in living outwardly holy lives, and yet, as Paul often argues, the ‘rules’ alone are never enough. The rules come to fulfilment not in ultimate obedience, but in an underlying attitude of love.

Rules are worthless unless they guide us into a deeper love for God and for one another. Blind adherence without love leads us to be the “noisy gong or clanging bell” that Paul wrote to the Corinthians about.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot always keep up with the current pandemic rules! I try and keep up with them though, and adhere to them, not out of a desire to be obedient but out of a love for others and a desire to protect them.

But loving others isn’t always about being “nice” either. Sometimes the most loving conversations are the difficult ones, as Jesus speaks of. How easy do we find it to deal lovingly with conflict and difference? I know I am often tempted to turn away from it. And yet to do so is not always loving: sometimes the kindest words are the ones from a critical friend who is committed to helping us grow and shine. And throughout our differences, as we come to pray together so we are bound by something beyond us: as we gather together we find God among us. This Creationtide, as we take time to reflect again on loving God and one another, perhaps we can take time to pause, and ask anew, “How then, shall we live?”.


Prayers of Intercession compiled by Aileen Moran

The Covid19 pandemic has made widespread changes to all aspects of our lives – our church lives, our work lives and our home lives. There have been anxious times and sad times, but the numerous rainbow pictures in windows across our parish –and the whole of Britain – gave us hope, just as the rainbow was God’s promise to Noah after the Flood that there would never be such widespread destruction again.

GREEN – the colour of creation. There’s so much green and so much beauty in our world. This pandemic has made us stop, look and listen to your creation – the amazing world of plants, the peace of countryside and the sound of the sea. And yet we’re destroying your world and abusing our privilege as guardians of creation. Help us to love, honour and conserve what you have given us. Lord of the rainbow, hear our prayer

YELLOW – the colour of the sun, of warmth and light, smiles and love and friendship. Thank you Lord for the delight we have in family and friends. Thank you that our church family has remained close, while apart, thanks to our hard working clergy and modern technology. We pray for those who have few friends and are lonely. Lord of the rainbow, hear our prayer

RED – the colour of blood, your blood, which you gave for us on the cross and the blood of the martyrs and saints who gave their lives for the faith we often hold so lightly. We pray for the Church that nurtured them and us. Give to your Church in every culture and nation the courage to speak the truth and live the life that encourages others to follow Jesus. We pray especially for our church and our neighbouring churches, that we may be beacons of light in this community. Lord of the rainbow, hear our prayer

BLUE – the colour of the United Nations’ flag. Today that blue flag is having to fly in very many places because so many poor countries are unable to cope with the pandemic on top of coping with poverty. Yet you’ve given our world more than enough for all to prosper. We’ve seen in our local community a revival  of community spirit with people looking out for each other and helping those in need  Strengthen the desire of all people to live their lives in friendship, co-operation and mutual care. Lord of the rainbow, hear our prayer

Green for creation and yellow for warm relationships; red for blood and blue for the flag of the UN. And there’s orange for the sweet fruits of the earth and indigo for the colour of shadows and violet for the colour of sorrow. Lord, you surround us with so much colour, and the colours of the rainbow combine in the white light of your dazzling presence.  So, take the prayers we’ve offered and bring all creation to the fulfilment of your kingdom.

Amen

Based on “The Colours of the Rainbow”  in John Pritchard’s Second Intercessions Handbook


Prayer for the day

God our Father,
you never cease the work you have begun,
and prosper with your blessing all human labour:
make us wise and faithful stewards of your gifts,
that we may serve the common good,
maintain the fabric of our world,
and seek that justice where all may share the good things you pour upon us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
Amen.


Blessing

May God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the source of all goodness and growth,
pour his blessing upon all things created,
and upon you his children,
that you may use his gifts to his glory,
and the welfare of all peoples;
and the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, be among you and remain with you always.
Amen


This week, why not:

Find out about… how to live in a way that shows love for creation
Do something about… take one step to live more lovingly or sustainably
Pray about… those in the poorest parts of the world who pay the price of our carelessness


Trinity 10: Looking back/Looking ahead

What a long way we have come! When we started posting worship on this blog, we never realised that we would still be doing so in August. The end of today will mark a pause, as this blog takes a rest until September. There is a booklet here that you can download and use in the coming weeks, as well as a hymn, reflection and prayers for today.

Today is Trinity 10. We’re also using it as an opportunity to look back, and look ahead. In September the church buildings are likely to be open once more, and yet worship will be far from ‘normal’. We will continue to offer material here too, for those who are not ready to return to in-person gatherings.

And so here is the worship for Trinity 10. Below you will find:

  • A booklet for liturgy for you to use in prayer and worship at home
  • A recording of the organ music for the hymn
  • The words of the hymn
  • A reflection for Trinity 10
  • Prayers of Intercession

The readings for this Sunday (click on each Bible reference to see the text of the readings):
Genesis 45:1-15
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15:10-28



And can it be; Organist Neil Provost

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?

‘Tis mystery all! Th’Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine!
‘Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.


A reflection written by Jim

Being a bit of a bookworm, I find I have mixed emotions whenever I reach the end of a book, especially one I’ve enjoyed: there is the elation of having finished and enjoyed a story, with the feelings of joy, grief, hope that the book has conjured; there is a certain amount of deflation of knowing that it’s come to an end, the story is completed, there’s nothing else to come (especially if it’s the last in the series, or the awaited sequel has not been written yet!); and then there is also a looking ahead to a new book, a forgetting of what is past in the desire to look to the future.

And these can bear similarities to how we might feel as we end our series on Loving, Living, Giving. We can be glad we’ve experienced and thought about the various themes we’ve covered since June, but there may also be a sense of assuming that it’s all over and what comes next…

But the themes of loving, living and giving shouldn’t, like a finished book, be replaced on the shelf or given away to a friend or charity shop – they should inhabit who we are, to become part of our DNA, to be placed on the bedside table, attached to the fridge, always in our hand, never far from our sight or mind. Like a great book, they should stay with us, and affect how we live.

Loving, Living and Giving are not things that we should now think that we’ve completed, to be crossed off the discipleship ‘To do’ list – ten weeks thinking about them only really scratched the surface. Loving, living and giving should be three foundational principles for our continued life as disciples of Jesus, and as a church community, and we need to grow in them both individually and corporately every day. We can never come to the end of the story in relation to loving, living and giving; there is always more to learn, more to experience, more opportunities to put into practice what we believe.

God continues to be the God who loves, lives and gives, even in the direst circumstances: just look at the story of Joseph and his brothers from our Old Testament reading this morning! Through all the jealousy, slavery, false imprisonment, famines and Pharaohs and then ultimate redemption and success, Joseph is aware of the loving presence and generous guiding hand of God. Through our extended period of lockdown and restrictions, God has still been showing us love, teaching us to live and encouraging us to give.

The episode of Jesus and the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel reading highlights two key attributes, that we should be aware of as we reflect on loving, living and giving:

  1. The woman is persistent – she is not put off by the complaints of the disciples, she doesn’t take Jesus’ reply as the final answer, but keeps coming back to him until she gets what she needs.
  2. The woman has faith – she knows who Jesus is (even though she is a foreigner): she calls him Lord and Son of David; she knew what Jesus could do, hence her approach and beseeching him for help and mercy; she also believed that Jesus would heal her daughter.

We can learn much from this woman’s persistent faith.I hope our series has strengthened and deepened our faith in God (who God is and what God does), and also given us all a desire to continue to put this loving, living and giving into practice. Not as a one off, but time and time again.

Can I encourage us all to not rush onto the next thing, but to stop and reflect on all that we’ve considered over the past few months:

How have we been encouraged/challenged/affirmed to be people who are driven by the loving, living and giving of God and to reflect those qualities in our lives even in these strangest times? What changes have we made over the last ten weeks?

And then, as we look ahead, how can we be persistent and faithful in loving, living and giving in the future?

This is simply the end of one chapter for us as a church community…there is more still to write and read!


Prayers of Intercession compiled by Janet Groos

Lord, we pray for your Church as this time of separation, isolation and fragmentation. Remind us, Father, that the things of today are transient; your ways may not seem clear to us, but strengthen our faith so that we may be comforted in the knowledge that ‘God is working his purpose out’.

Lord, hear us.

Presently, although missing our communal worship, we thank you that through the technical innovation made available to so many, there is the opportunity to reach out to those who don’t normally enter your house; people in need of comfort and guidance who may now be finding your church and a community of fellowship previously unknown to them.  May they find a new direction for their future lives.                                                       

Lord, hear us.

Similarly, we thank you that your servants who, sometimes for many years, have been prevented from gathering for worship due to infirmity, long term illness or a burdensome duty of care, are now finding new ways of communication and more varied on-line services. May this partial insight into their lives, give us a fresh and more thorough understanding of how they must feel and how we can help them. 

Lord, hear us.

Sadly, we live in a world where some global leaders seem to care little for their responsibility to humanity and only for their own status. Power is wielded with little thought or concern for the consequences. More people fall into poverty as climate change destroys already precarious livelihoods. We pray for charitable agencies working to address these situations and for local self-help groups established to educate and help those in greatest need.

Lord, hear us.

Poverty is also a product of strife and conflict. We bring before you war torn countries where the most vulnerable suffer the most. We thank you for healing and reconciliation in Rwanda; a slow process after the genocide in 1994, but a growing economy and a stable government. All things are possible, Lord, and we pray for the desperate situations in Yemen and Syria and continuing violence in the Central African Republic.

Lord, hear us.

We pray for our children here in Timperley and throughout the UK. So many concerns with exam results, limited activities during the school holidays and worries about returning to school. Help and guide all who care for them, especially those who struggle financially.

Be with all who have been bereaved and with those conducting funerals under such difficult conditions.   

Merciful Father, accept our prayers.



Loving, Living, Giving: Giving Ourselves

This series will take us though the next ten weeks of worship. We are using the themes ‘Loving’, ‘Living’ and ‘Giving’ to explore ways in which it might be possible to be the Church even as we are unable to gather together. When we talk about being ‘the Church’, we’re not talking about buildings, and Sunday mornings, but about how we live as Christian people every day of the week, wherever we find ourselves.

Through the week we will continue to unpack the material presented here. We want to know what YOU think. You can join the conversation in our Facebook Group (unlike the Facebook Page, the content of the group is only available to members of the group. You will, however, need to create a Facebook “profile” to access the group – please ask if you need any help doing this). We will also produce some short video reflections through the week to explore things further – look out for those on the Facebook page.


Below you will find:

  • A worship booklet to download and use over the next 10 weeks
  • A link to the readings for today
  • The organ music and words for today’s hymn
  • A reflection on today’s theme
  • Some questions to reflect on
  • Prayers of intercession


The readings for today are Romans 12:1-21 and Luke 9:57-62. You can read each of them by clicking on them.


Take my life; Organist: Neil Provost

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.


Reflection written by Jim Bridgman

I remember singing the song ‘I surrender all’ at a big Christian conference many years ago. And surrounded by the swell of other voices, the words affected me – I made those words my own, surrendering to God: surrendering my all, my life, my choices, my future. But looking back, in that moment of worship, sustained and joined by thousands of others, it wasn’t difficult to connect with those sentiments. We can all get swept up by the emotion, the feeling of connection to God at a big event, being part of something bigger than ourselves, even making promises and decisions in a moment of fervour. The harder part is living that ‘surrendering’ away from that place of love and worship: in the hard times, the difficult decisions, the moments when life is not all rosy.

So years on from that experience I am left to ask – is God still my number one priority? All of the time? Some of the time? Maybe even just a little of the time?!? Am I still surrendering all to Jesus?? Do I ask, with our hymn this week, to Take my life (and all that is in it) and let it be God’s? On a good day, I’d hope to say ‘yes’

Over the last two weeks we looked at Giving Money and Time to God – have I surrendered my wallet and my diary over to God?? Well if I’m honest, no, certainly not completely. Maybe a little bit. But my hands still hold on tightly to them too.

One thing that I have been more aware of over the months of lockdown is my own innate selfishness. And so, I can be honest, in many ways it is hard to displace myself from the centre of my life. My thinking and acting is more often than not concerned with ME, what I want, what will make ME happy, rather than thinking of other people, or even God. God therefore does not always remain my priority: instead, my own desires, needs, interests might be put before what I know God wants. So no, I’m not currently surrendering everything to God – I’m still in the way.

I think this surrendering is not simply a one off decision, but one that we are called to make day by day. Surrendering, giving ourselves to God in the small things of life, as much as the big decisions. By changing our way of thinking away from ourselves, we start to put God first. And as the popular supermarket proclaims, every little helps…

In our Gospel passage this morning, Jesus challenges potential disciples to fully commit to him. As often is the case, the examples used are quite extreme (having to bury a loved one, saying goodbye to family) – Jesus is not suggesting that taking care of family is not a good thing to do, but he uses this as a measure of commitment to God: as the Bible scholar Craig Evans noted: “if these things mean too much to a person, then that person will find discipleship too demanding and too costly.”

For the hard truth is that God wants all of us, no less that our very selves. God doesn’t just want the bad bits of us, or just the good bits; he’s not simply interested in our money, or our behaviour, or our intellect. HE WANTS ALL OF US!

He’s not asking for much is he?!?!

But that is the essence of the very simple call of Jesus – ‘Follow me’. Follow me completely, not just for the good bits, not in the fair weather, not for the fame and money – follow me with all of yourself. Surrender all of yourself to me. It will take a lifetime to do. Some will decide it’s not worth the cost. But if you surrender, you will find freedom. We are, as ever, to imitate Jesus, who surrendered all of himself, all his own desires and wants, in order to do the will of God, which meant dying on a cross and rising to life again. In his surrender, Jesus found life and freedom, and we can too.

I know there are still parts of my life that I need to surrender to God. I still have too many excuses to give to Jesus before I can leave everything and follow him completely. But I hope I’m getting there slowly.

Over lockdown, I have been looking at the life and faith of St Ignatius of Loyola, and one of his famous prayers seemed like a very apt one to end on. My prayer is that I can come to a point where I can pray this and mean this sincerely, and then live it out.

Suscipe prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA


Questions for reflection:

  • How do you react to this call to give all of ourselves/surrender to God?
  • What distracts us from giving ourselves wholly to God?
  • Is there a part of our life that we want to surrender and give to God?

Prayers of intercession compiled by Jean Brookes

Lord, in the storms of life, bid us come to you so that we, who are aware of our weaknesses, may be made strong through the power of Christ our Lord.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbour and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick and to assure the isolated and depressed of our love, and your love. We pray for all who are down: the weary, the despairing and all those who are unable to help themselves. We give thanks for all those who have supported us and given of their time and talents in times of trouble or distress. We pray for our friends who are in need in these uncertain times and would ask you to be with them and to comfort them.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for your church that it may be a holy church and a serving church in this community of Timperley and also throughout the world, working among the poor and the oppressed. At this time, our own thoughts go out to the country and people of Lebanon, especially those living in Beirut, whose lives and livelihoods were shattered by the extreme explosion this week. We pray for the 139 people who died and many thousands who are injured. Comfort them O Lord, and bring them hope as they try to build a new life for their families.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Guide the leaders of the nations and communities into the way of peace and goodwill. We pray for those who strive to bring harmony between various factions. We pray for all the sterling work being done by charities such as Amnesty International, Save the Children and the International Red Cross. We pray for those who are guiding our nation at this time and shaping government policies, that they may make correct and wise decisions.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We remember and give thanks for all NHS workers in all our hospitals, and we remember in particular the medical personnel who have died after giving their all to looking after their patients. We give thanks for ambulance drivers who have to go into people’s houses not knowing what situation confronts them, yet are prepared to give their own lives. We pray for all care workers, nursing home staff and volunteers for all their love and care.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We bring before God all those people who give their talents and tie in various ways, but before them all our thanks goes to you, God, who gives us all of these amazing talents and allows us to see the beautiful work your hands have made.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

During the pandemic, I have made friends with a lady who is an artist in Cape Town, South Africa. Here is her prayer for the world:

Our Father, I want to honour you: you are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thank you Lord for your love that you give to us for free. Thank you that we don’t have to worry about our circumstances because you are in control. Thank you Lord that we don’t have to fear in a time like this, as you are our Healer, our Provider and our Father. I pray for your blessing on Jean and her family, her friends and her people in Timperley, and blessings over the whole of the UK. Glory and honour from your child on the west point of South Africa. Petro (Caroline H Art)


Want to explore this more? Come and chat about it – or listen in – over on the parish Facebook Group – click the image below!

Loving, Living, Giving: Giving Money

This series will take us though the next ten weeks of worship. We are using the themes ‘Loving’, ‘Living’ and ‘Giving’ to explore ways in which it might be possible to be the Church even as we are unable to gather together. When we talk about being ‘the Church’, we’re not talking about buildings, and Sunday mornings, but about how we live as Christian people every day of the week, wherever we find ourselves.

Through the week we will continue to unpack the material presented here. We want to know what YOU think. You can join the conversation in our Facebook Group (unlike the Facebook Page, the content of the group is only available to members of the group. You will, however, need to create a Facebook “profile” to access the group – please ask if you need any help doing this). We will also produce some short video reflections through the week to explore things further – look out for those on the Facebook page.


Below you will find:

  • A worship booklet to download and use over the next 10 weeks
  • A link to the readings for today
  • The organ music and words for today’s hymn
  • A reflection on today’s theme
  • Some questions to reflect on
  • Prayers of intercession


The readings for today are 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 and Matthew 25:31-46. You can read each of them by clicking on them.


Fill thou my life; Organist: Neil Provost

Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.

Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e’en the praising heart,
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part:

Praise in the common things of life,
Its goings out and in;
Praise in each duty and each deed,
However small and mean.

Fill every part of me with praise;
Let all my being speak
Of Thee and of Thy love, O Lord,
Poor though I be and weak.

So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free,
But all my life, in every step,
Be fellowship with Thee.


Reflection written by Lee Wood

I remember several years ago being in the town centre and stopped by one of the fundraisers for a children’s charity. It was one of the larger national ones and I was quite happy to see them where they were raising money for a worthwhile cause. However, when approached whilst wearing my Church of England jacket, my only response was “I’m sorry, I can only give to the causes I do precisely because I don’t give to everybody.” I took a leaflet knowing that whatever I had spare at the right time would go to this particular charity. Yet a part of me always felt huge guilt at saying no. Why? As a nation and even a world we live in a society where money is a necessity. In many circles looking after yourself financially is the number one priority. The church and ourselves as Christians have always had perhaps a different view however and I suspect many of you will remember the times when a 10% tithe was the “normal” thing to do. Is this the same or the reverse of what I thought that day in the town centre? Do we stop at 10%? I suppose it is completely representative of our own individual circumstances. 10% doesn’t sound like much yet at that time I could not afford to give away that amount of my income with a family to support. So, where is the line?

Putting it into real terms everything has a value. I now don’t have an income to give away as such yet anything with value or that we have in excess always goes to those who may need it. I do and always will encourage people to give financially to the mission of the church, charity and any other worthy cause that helps those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Yet if everything has a value we need not give money, nor stop at just giving money. I suspect we all have an extra tin of beans or pack of pasta knocking about from time to time that can go in with our financial giving. If not perhaps we can pop it in the shopping basket now and again and give that way. Either way unfortunately, money does make the world go round and as much as that is a shame, it is a calling of ours as Christians to give financially in some form to assist in the good work the church does and to ultimately help those who may be struggling.

However, the reason for this is twofold. Of course we should be giving out of the goodness of our hearts in order to make society and the world that bit better. But God also tells us in this week’s reading that we will be rewarded for such giving. Just to clarify, I personally don’t believe we are rewarded just for our giving but for the intent with which we give and the difference it ultimately makes to others. I doubt God will reward me for donating towards a major corporation no matter how much I give them.

Our reading talks of giving generously without a focus on money. “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures for ever.” Sometimes the smaller things we give mean more to those that need them and giving even in these difficult times means we will be rewarded so much more for what we do give. God’s church and his people need us and reflecting on all of these questions, especially in a time of pandemic and the no doubt financial difficulties for some that will follow is a difficult but important task. So where can we give more and where can we give more than just money? Perhaps things with financial value for some but no longer ourselves? Either way the church has always been generous and cared for those in need. So now more than ever, how can we give to help build God’s kingdom when it comes to finances and what can we give in place of or alongside our monetary offerings?


Questions for reflection:

  • How does your financial giving reflect your faith in God’s goodness and your commitment to building God’s Kingdom?
  • Do you see your giving as part of a life of discipleship that reflects whole commitment to God, or as charitable giving to a fundraising cause?
  • If you are suffering financially: Is there anything practically that we can help you with?
  • If you are not suffering financially: Are you able to consider increasing your giving, both to Church and to other causes, as a mark of your discipleship and a commitment to sharing God’s love and growing God’s Kingdom?

Prayers of intercession compiled by Carol Brooks-Johnson

Can you believe that it is now almost 5 months since our churches were closed, nearly 4 months since Easter Sunday, nearly 3 months since Ascension Day and, dare I say it, nearly 4 months TO Christmas?

Given that the last few months have seen our world transformed beyond recognition – no life can have been untouched by the effects of the Covid 19 virus – I actually take comfort from the fact that whilst our church buildings may have been closed, our church calendar continues largely unaffected.  It’s a bit like that Paul Gauguin Quote: Whatever may happen, the sun will rise tomorrow as it rose to-day, beneficent and serene.” God’s love for us, and our scripture, has remained totally constant. Perhaps with a slightly different slant, the focus of many of our prayers has stayed pretty much the same too. 

One thing that I have noticed, is that many in the Church have made reference to the Psalms more than previously – they have been particularly helpful when we’ve wished to offer praises to God or to seek his help in these times of trouble – and they seem somewhat overlooked a lot of the time.

LET US PRAY:

Lord, even in the difficult times, we praise you.  In the words of today’s hymn (based on psalms 34:1 and 71:8) “Fill though my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise” and “Fill every part of me with praise.”  When we sometimes find it difficult to be thankful, remind us of the positives in your world and our lives – maybe our families, our friends, health, security or peace.  And Lord, when we still find this too hard, and praising you feels too much of a challenge, remind us of the words in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”

We continue to pray for those who have been unwell, especially those with Covid 19 – maybe ourselves, family, friends, those in our church family and beyond.  Lord be with all in their recovery. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.” Psalm 6:2

And we keep in our prayers all who have died, and all who mourn, during this time.  Lord we ask that you give strength and comfort to all. “Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.” Psalm 31:9

Lord, as we are thinking about “Giving Money” in our services this week, we pray for those experiencing uncertainty at work and job loss – lead those in need to new opportunities and security. “When I said, my foot is slipping, your unfailing love supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”  Psalm 94:18

We pray for those burdened by financial difficulties.  Assure them of your love and presence. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

And, after a long school term of disruption, sporadic lessons, isolation from friends and uncertainty, we pray for all children who have now begun their Summer break.  We pray that you will be with them and their families, keep them safe and stimulated over the coming weeks and bring them safely back to their schools in September.   

We pray for all those students who will be getting their GCSE and A level results in a few weeks’ time without sitting the exams for which they had prepared so hard.

Lord, we all seek your love and protection at this time:

Psalm 91

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
    who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,[b]
    the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
    no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
    I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
    I will be with them in trouble,
    I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
    and show them my salvation.

AMEN


Want to explore this more? Come and chat about it – or listen in – over on the parish Facebook Group – click the image below!

Loving, Living, Giving: Giving Time

This series will take us though the next ten weeks of worship. We are using the themes ‘Loving’, ‘Living’ and ‘Giving’ to explore ways in which it might be possible to be the Church even as we are unable to gather together. When we talk about being ‘the Church’, we’re not talking about buildings, and Sunday mornings, but about how we live as Christian people every day of the week, wherever we find ourselves.

Through the week we will continue to unpack the material presented here. We want to know what YOU think. You can join the conversation in our Facebook Group (unlike the Facebook Page, the content of the group is only available to members of the group. You will, however, need to create a Facebook “profile” to access the group – please ask if you need any help doing this). We will also produce some short video reflections through the week to explore things further – look out for those on the Facebook page.


Below you will find:

  • A worship booklet to download and use over the next 10 weeks
  • A link to the readings for today
  • The organ music and words for today’s hymn
  • A reflection on today’s theme
  • Some questions to reflect on
  • Prayers of intercession


The readings for today are Matthew 6:19-21 and Matthew 25:31-46. You can read each of them by clicking on them.


I, the Lord of sea and sky; Organist: Neil Provost

I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save
I who made the stars of night
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my words to them.
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of wind and flame
I will tend the poor and lame
I will set a feast for them
My hand will save
Finest bread I will provide
‘Til their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life to them
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart
I will hold Your people in my heart.


Reflection written by Linda Goodchild

One of my favourite sayings is “if only I had enough time”.  Time is something which can for some elude us or for others it hangs heavy.  I would like to share with you a thought from a wonderful book called “Thoughts for the Passing Months” which was published by Christ Church Mothers’ Union in the 80’s and is a treasured gift:

Time
The supply of time is a daily miracle.  You wake up in the morning and your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of it.  No one can take it from you, it is unsaleable, and no one receives either more or less than you receive.  In the realm of time there is no aristocracy of wealth or intellect, for genius is never rewarded with even an extra hour in the day.  You cannot borrow time, so it is impossible to get into debt.  You can waste time today, but not tomorrow, for that is kept from you.  One must arrange everything within the income of twenty-four hours.  We can never have any more time, for we have, and always have had, all the time there is.

In today’s passage from Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus challenges us on how we spend our time.  He tells us the parable of how the people will be divided into two groups putting himself in the place of the shepherd, the gate keeper, who separates his sheep from his goats.  We are told that the righteous people, the sheep, will sit on his right in the kingdom and the others, the goats on his left will go to the Devil.  This is a very powerful image and those who are on his right are then challenged that when they enter the kingdom that they will help Jesus and give their precious time, when he is sick, hungry, thirsty, naked, or in prison.  Jesus was asked by the people tell us when were you sick, hungry, thirsty or naked or they visited him in prison and Jesus gives them a wakeup call saying in verse 40 “The King will reply, ‘ I tell you the truth, whatever you did this for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’”

I wonder if Jesus were to visit and share these words with us in Timperley today (let us for this purpose be in “normal time”) what projects would we be able to take him to see or tell him about?  How are the good people of Timperley living out his mission?  After visiting Christ Church and Holy Cross, we would be able to share our stories of supporting and working in the food bank.  The food bank not only provides good basic necessities, it is also a place of warmth and comfort.  Our community café, which provides wonderful companionship and information assistance should it be needed.  There are regular donations to homeless shelters and charity shops.  Some years ago, I was privileged on several occasions to visit ladies in Styal prison as part of a Mothers’ Union programme.  Several of our members were able to assist in the mother and baby unit, taking babies out for walks and helping the mums.  All of these and many more are important projects and they enable people to spend time to help those who are in need.  This passage also challenges us to think beyond the boundaries of our parishes and towns, as all humanity are captured in Jesus’ words. Charity is the true test of faith.

I have spent some time this week reading about Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, who was a remarkable and well-educated lady.  She was the youngest of 25 children and gave birth to 19 children though not all survived.  Susanna knew the value of prayer and created a time and space to be with God every day.  Whilst her 10 children whom she home schooled sat at the kitchen table doing their lessons, every day she would sit at the table for two hours undisturbed with her apron over her head in prayer.  I found Susanna to be fascinating in many ways as her commitment to God and time spent in prayer defined her as the whole person she was, somebody with great faith.

I am not suggesting we throw an apron over our heads daily to spend time with God, but if we are to give time it requires commitment, strength, focus and energy.  We need to be empowered and invigorated and we can only undertake this work through service to Jesus and giving service in his name to others.  By giving ourselves time to be with God in our Bible reading, daily prayers and reflections, our church services, even though we are not in our church buildings, we will be given strength to do this work.  We also need to take time to be still, to rest and time to grieve.  We need to be kind to ourselves and if we are grieving for someone or something that is lost to us, we need to give ourselves time to pray and ask for help.  We need to be sustained and fed in all that we do and by giving time to recharge our batteries, we will be able to give time to those we meet and walk with them on their journey and in return, receive their valuable time.


Questions for reflection:

Time is very precious to us and we need to spend it wisely, time with God, doing work and enjoying our families and friends:

  • Do we need to fill every waking moment being busy?
  • Do you feel guilty that some people appear to have more time than you to help out in the parish?
  • Do you have the equivalent of putting the apron over your head to pray?

Prayers of intercession compiled by Neil Provost

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. We pray for those in the world that have so much less than we do, less than they need to survive, who struggle on a daily basis to even find clean water. We pray for the people who seek to help them; charity workers, doctors and all healthcare professionals, transport workers and many others. We pray that in countries where politicians, regimes and wars that prevent food and clean water from getting to those who need it, see the harm and evil that they perpetrate; help them to repent and repair the damage they have done. We pray for those whose countries are in famine and drought.

I was a stranger and you invited me in. We pray for those who are oppressed throughout the world, who are subject to tyranny, who have no freedom to speak out, who fear for their lives because they are different. Lord, help us to know how best to support them, whether it is working to change the regimes they live under or find a new life in a new country. We pray for those we pass in the street, teach us how to smile at them and offer them a “good morning” so that they can know a small part of your love through us. We pray for our church communities, regardless of denomination, that they may offer comfort, love and be truly inclusive.

I needed clothes and you clothed me. We pray for those who need to use homeless shelters or have no place to live; give them courage to ask for help when they need it. Lord, give strength to the people who work with the homeless, who seek to care for the forgotten and abandoned among our communities. We also pray for those who foster and adopt children, especially children who are older and troubled by terrible experiences in their lives, and seek to provide caring and loving homes.

I was sick and you looked after me. We pray for all who work in the NHS or private healthcare, especially as they begin to rebuild from the first wave of Coronavirus and return to treating those that they temporarily had to leave aside. We pray for all those who work in any caring role, no matter how small or mundane, regardless of their skill or position. Lord, help us to see those who are not only sick in body but sick in mind; those whose lives have collapsed around them and feel that the only way to make the pain stop is take their own lives. Guide us in knowing what way we can best be of help them and courage so that we do not pass them by on the other side of the road.

I was in prison and you came to visit me. We pray for all who work in the prison service. We also pray for our police officers and all involved in the justice system. Lord, help them to be fair, compassionate and honest, regardless of gender, colour or creed, and at all times remembering the commandments given to us through Moses and taught to us by Jesus as these are the basis for all just laws throughout the world. We pray for those who have done wrong, that they may repent and find the path to righteousness through you, Lord.

Lord Jesus, you gave us everything by dying on the cross;
let us give you everything by following in your way.


Want to explore this more? Come and chat about it – or listen in – over on the parish Facebook Group – click the image below!

Loving, Living, Giving: Living – Everyday Faith

This series will take us though the next ten weeks of worship. We are using the themes ‘Loving’, ‘Living’ and ‘Giving’ to explore ways in which it might be possible to be the Church even as we are unable to gather together. When we talk about being ‘the Church’, we’re not talking about buildings, and Sunday mornings, but about how we live as Christian people every day of the week, wherever we find ourselves.

Through the week we will continue to unpack the material presented here. We want to know what YOU think. You can join the conversation in our Facebook Group (unlike the Facebook Page, the content of the group is only available to members of the group. You will, however, need to create a Facebook “profile” to access the group – please ask if you need any help doing this). We will also produce some short video reflections through the week to explore things further – look out for those on the Facebook page.


Below you will find:

  • A worship booklet to download and use over the next 10 weeks
  • A link to the readings for today
  • The organ music and words for today’s hymn
  • A reflection on today’s theme
  • Some questions to reflect on
  • Prayers of intercession


The readings for today are Jeremiah 29:10-14 and Luke 10:1-24. You can read each of them by clicking on them.


Lord for the years; Organist: Neil Provost

Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided:
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

Lord, for that word, the word of life which fires us,
speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,
teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us:
Lord of the word, receive Your people’s praise.

Lord, for our land in this our generation,
spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care:
for young and old, for commonwealth and nation,
Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.

Lord, for our world when we disown and doubt him,
loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain,
hungry and helpless, lost indeed without him:
Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.

Lord for ourselves; in living power remake us –
self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,
past put behind us, for the future take us:
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.


Reflection written by Carol Brooks-Johnson: Living our everyday faith in a time of pandemic

We are currently spending a couple of months looking at how to be loving and living and giving, as a church, in this time of pandemic – sometimes tricky at the best of times. This week, we will be turning the spotlight on our, “everyday faith.”

What is our Everyday Faith?
What did this look like before March 2020?
What does it look like now?
Where do we go from here?
What does God want us to do?

Saying the words, “everyday faith” is relatively easy.  When I sat down to try and articulate what that actually meant to me however, I found it quite difficult.  I think it means, how do we follow God on a day to day basis?  What sets us apart from those who don’t follow God?  But when I asked myself what did MY everyday faith look like before lockdown, it all sounded a bit vague and wishy washy!  I went to church as regularly as I could. I helped out in church, and with various church-related activities.  I prayed.  I read the bible. I believed in the Creed.  I tried to evangelise when possible (though probably not one of my strong points). Doesn’t sound earth shattering does it?

For me, and I suspect many others, everyday faith is sometimes difficult – we perhaps know what we want it to be, but it falls short of expectations.  Pressures from work, family and what we might call “everyday life” just get in the way.  But, most of us try to do our best most of the time.

So, has anything changed?  During the past 4 months I have, as far as possible, tried to do pretty much what I did before, save I have not been able to go into a church building. I have not been involved in public worship. I have not taken communion and I have not enjoyed fellowship with other people.  This might be quite significant in many ways – but is it crucial?

I have been able to continue with prayer, reading the bible and hopefully living out the beliefs set out in the Creed.  I have kept in touch with our church community as best I can.  I have become more proficient in WhatsApp, Facebook and Zoom!  I have experienced a different kind of worship.  Living my everyday faith has certainly changed its focus but, for me, whilst it’s different, I can’t say it has been an horrendous experience – I’ve still been able to live with my faith and perhaps it’s been improved?

Last week we were looking at being the church – apart but together.  Whilst we are planning for the reopening of our church buildings, albeit slowly, it will be a long time before we get back to the pre-pandemic position, if at all.  So where do we go from here with our “everyday faith”?  What does God want us to do?  Does God want us to go back, or does he want us to move on to a different landscape?

I think that today’s readings help us:

From the Old Testament we have a reading from the prophet Jeremiah.  At the beginning of Jeremiah, we learn that God had a plan for Jeremiah before he was born, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” [Chapter 1, verse 5]  Later, when God first speaks to him, Jeremiah thinks he is too young to do what God wants, but God says, “for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.”  [Chapter 1, verse 7] Later, in our Chapter 29, Jeremiah tells the Jews that God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” [Verse 11]

From this reading I would like to think that we can take comfort that God does have a plan for every one of us (whatever our age and circumstances) and it’s a plan with a future and hope.

In the reading from Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus sending out 70 disciples to spread the Word. They go out and do what Jesus asked of them.  When they return, they are happy and Jesus says to them, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!” [Verse 23]

Will we feel blessed if we do as the Lord has asked?

The messages from these readings might just sound rather simplistic, and I suppose they are.  Sometimes, by keeping things simple, we can get our heads around it – God has a plan (even if we don’t) and there will be a future for us and there is hope and we will be blessed.  However, even these relatively simple messages can be hard to accept when life is throwing challenges at us.  In real life “simple” does not always mean easy.

So, how can we do the work of the Lord in these changed times?

Whilst we have been in lockdown, we have had a new Archbishop of York – Stephen Cottrell.  Last week he addressed the Church of England’s General Synod and said that in this pandemic era we all need to, “Learn afresh how to share the gospel in the world.”  This is what will be seeking to do in Timperley.

We are being given the opportunity to look at our “everyday faith” afresh, as individuals and as a parish, and maybe we will be able to do things a bit differently as we move on?  We know God has a plan, we know we have a future, we know we can proceed with hope – we just need to work out the finer details prayerfully and together. 

Going forward, let us pray that, with God’s support, we can build our everyday faith even in this time of pandemic – or especially at this time.

Picture by unknown author licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Questions for reflection:

  • What did MY everyday faith look like by March 2020?
  • In what ways does my everyday faith look different in July 2020?
  • Can we start to think about how my / our everyday faith can be better in the months / years ahead?

Prayers of intercession compiled by Lynne Aves

Father, please help and support us all in our worship at this time, in whatever form that may take. We may long to sing your praises but know that for some time yet, that will be a treat to share within our four walls or garden.

Father we also ask that you be with all people all over our world who are unable, for whatever reason, to worship in their usual  way, be with them Father, let your love enable them and your peace calm them. In this changing world, life can be scary at times.

We pray for our Church leaders and our own clergy, that they will be encouraged in the work that they are now undertaking. We ask that you will be with them, as they  prepare for discussions and future planning, and in contacting our congregations still shielding, self-isolating or trying to establish a new way of living.

Loving Lord, you have given us free will, the ability to do what is right, to love our neighbours, to respect all people and to care for our world, please support the leaders of the world to make  sustainable decisions that will benefit all now and in the future.

We pray for the leaders of the WHO and the many organisations working to get food and some health provision to those in war torn areas. We also ask for your guidance for those working on the unending task(s) in the development of treatment and vaccines to combat Covid-19.

Father we pray for individuals or issues close to our hearts at this time, we lift up their names/ identify them to you now.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers.

During this coming week, if you can, would you pray for 5 people you do not know. They could have a job or situation of your choosing, any would be good, if not in England, there will be people who fit the bill somewhere in our world. Eg. A refugee, a person who lives alone, a doctor or physio. Thank you.


Want to explore this more? Come and chat about it – or listen in – over on the parish Facebook Group – click the image below!

Loving, Living, Giving: Living… Church life: apart together

This series will take us though the next ten weeks of worship. We are using the themes ‘Loving’, ‘Living’ and ‘Giving’ to explore ways in which it might be possible to be the Church even as we are unable to gather together. When we talk about being ‘the Church’, we’re not talking about buildings, and Sunday mornings, but about how we live as Christian people every day of the week, wherever we find ourselves.

Through the week we will continue to unpack the material presented here. We want to know what YOU think. You can join the conversation in our new Facebook Group (unlike the Facebook Page, the content of the group is only available to members of the group. You will, however, need to create a Facebook “profile” to access the group – please ask if you need any help doing this). We will also produce some short video reflections through the week to explore things further – look out for those on the Facebook page.


Below you will find:

  • A worship booklet to download and use over the next 10 weeks
  • A link to the readings for today
  • The organ music and words for today’s hymn
  • A reflection on today’s theme
  • Some questions to reflect on
  • Prayers of intercession


The readings for today are John 10:1-16 and Acts 2:42-47. You can read each of them by clicking on them.


Christ be our light; Organist: Neil Provost

Longing for light, we wait in darkness
Longing for truth, we turn to You.
Make us Your own, Your holy people
Light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today.

Longing for food, many are hungry
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us Your bread, broken for others
Shared until all are fed.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today.

Longing for shelter, many are homeless
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us Your building, sheltering others
Walls made of living stone.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today.

Many the gift, many the people
Many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another
Making Your kingdom come.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today.

Bernadette Farrell

Reflection written by Jim

Church Life – apart together

I’ve been updating my dictionary lately. Alongside deleting a few other words that will become redundant in my lifetime (such as pension and retirement), this week I’ve looked through ‘N’, and finally taken the plunge to delete ‘normal’. Because ‘normal’ is fast becoming a thing of the past…

As well as updating my dictionary, I’ve found the opening verses of Psalm 137 have been rattling around in my brain this week (maybe I’ve been listening to too much Don McLean too...):

By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.

For many of us, this time of lockdown and self-isolation has felt a little bit like an exile, and like the exile that the Israelites experienced when they were taken into captivity to Babylon. Psalm 137 was written in that context of banishment and oppression. The people of Israel were longing for their homeland, the familiarity of home and of course the reassurance of worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. Longing for normal. Their captivity at the hands of non-believers led to much questioning: where was God? Has he abandoned us? How can we still be faithful worshippers of God in a foreign land (or as the psalmist puts it How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?)? Will there be a return to normal?

The people of Israel did eventually return to their homeland, to what they loved and had missed, but life wasn’t the same – it couldn’t be after all they’d lived through. And though they rebuilt the Temple, restored their worship and life, it was a different way of being God’s people, not the same as before. And of course that rebuilt Temple didn’t last either…

Perhaps we are living through a time of mourning and exile at the moment, whether that is the pain of losing a loved one, or the hurt and anxiety generated by the inability to do all the things we used to do. Exile, and the loss of normal, is a painful experience and can break us. Yet the people of Israel endured, feeding on the remembrance of God’s goodness and love in the past. Is that how we (as church) are also coping in this times?

Alongside this feeling of exile, we read the positivity of the account of the worship of the early church in Acts

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

These first Christians decided to worship and do things differently, led by God’s Spirit. There were no rules to guide them – their practice of common ownership and selling possessions was a revolutionary and counter cultural act, very different to the prevailing Roman and Jewish norms; their practice of breaking bread at home was a Jesus-inspired twist on traditional hospitality. There was no normal for the first Christians, but they reacted in a different way.

There was an emphasis on common life – they were altogether, sharing money and property together, spending time worshipping with each other, and offering and receiving hospitality and times of prayer.  And their new togetherness was attractive, with people flocking to join them every day.

At the present time, the church feels in a moment of both exile and excitement: our way of life and worship as church will change because of the current pandemic – there will be losses (of people, of freedom, or ways of worship and living out our faith) to be mourned, but there will be newness too (a chance to do things differently, to reassess what our God is asking us to be and do). Exile and excitement: weeping by a foreign river and singing with joy at being together.

The exile and excitement seen in Psalm 137 and Acts 2 also illustrate two different ways to react to world-changing events: to go back and try to establish life the way it has always been, or to move forward in a new way in light of all that had happened. This choice lies before the church too – what will our churches be about when we gather together in the future: exile or excitement?


Questions for reflection:

  • Can you relate to either or those themes of exile or excitement at the present time?
  • As a church, and as individuals, what have we been mourning for and excited about during this time of pandemic?
  • How can we be sustained through these times of exile and excitement?
  • How might our presence experience shape our Church life in the months and years to come?

Prayers of intercession compiled by Dorothy Thomson

Everlasting God, we bring our prayers to you, Lord of all nations, asking that your blessing of love and peace may be known to all people everywhere.Help us to bear abundant fruit from the seeds of potential that you have planted within us.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Holy God, we pray for your church, especially for the people you have called to be prophets and teachers in our generation.We pray that they will be strengthened and protected by the Holy Spirit and through them your Church will reveal the good news of salvation and draw all people together under your rule of justice and mercy.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Father God, we pray that in our churches all will be welcome and accepted regardless of nationality, colour, gender or status and that we will always serve you and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in one another.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Gracious God, we raise before you all those who seek healing of body, mind or spirit asking that they will sense the touch of your living hands and feel your peace and presence alongside them each and every step of their journey towards healing and wholeness.We especially remember all the people on our Parish prayer list at this time.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Merciful God, we pray for the many people in the world who have contracted the coronovirus.Bring  comfort to those grieving loved ones who have died and peace to those worried, fearful and uncertain as the virus spreads.Help us all to be responsible in the things we do in our lives to prevent the spread of the virus by taking heed of the recommended precautions and avoiding situations which may make things worse.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Loving God, we remember before you all those who have died.May they see your salvation and find their final peace and final rest in you.We especially pray for those who were a formative part of our lives, who made us who we are and who we still miss.
Lord in your mercy:Hear our prayer

Faithful God, we offer these prayers for ourselves and for others.We ask you to accept them and to use them and us so that your will be done on earth and more of your kingdom revealed to those who seek you.

Adapted from the Costa Blanca Anglican chaplaincy prayers for July 12.




Want to explore this more? Come and chat about it – or listen in – over on the parish Facebook Group – click the image below!

Loving, Living, Giving: Living… at home

This series will take us though the next ten weeks of worship. We are using the themes ‘Loving’, ‘Living’ and ‘Giving’ to explore ways in which it might be possible to be the Church even as we are unable to gather together. When we talk about being ‘the Church’, we’re not talking about buildings, and Sunday mornings, but about how we live as Christian people every day of the week, wherever we find ourselves.

Through the week we will continue to unpack the material presented here. We want to know what YOU think. You can join the conversation in our new Facebook Group (unlike the Facebook Page, the content of the group is only available to members of the group. You will, however, need to create a Facebook “profile” to access the group – please ask if you need any help doing this). We will also produce some short video reflections through the week to explore things further – look out for those on the Facebook page.


Below you will find:

  • A worship booklet to download and use over the next 10 weeks
  • A link to the readings for today
  • The organ music and words for today’s hymn
  • A reflection on today’s theme
  • Some questions to reflect on
  • Prayers of intercession


The readings for today are Psalm 6, Psalm 102, and John 10:1-16. You can read each of them by clicking on them.


How sweet the name of Jesus sounds; Organist: Neil Provost

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest.

Dear Name! the Rock on which we build;
Our shield and hiding-place;
Our never-failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace.

Jesus, our Savior, Shepherd, Friend,
Our Prophet, Priest, and King;
Our Lord, our Life, our Way, our End,
Accept the praise we bring.

Weak is the effort of our heart,
And cold our warmest thought;
But when we see Thee as Thou art,
We’ll praise Thee as we ought.

Till then we would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath;
And triumph in that blessed Name
Which quells the pow’r of death.


Reflection written by Lee, with questions

The author Margaret Silf tells a story in some of her books that I would like to share. It has been told many times by many people but Margaret’s version I quite like. I will paraphrase in order to save time. It is a story of attending a friend’s induction as Vicar of a local parish. After the service the congregation piled into the hall for a huge finger buffet and some good conversation, as is usual at these kinds of events. At the end of the “do” Margaret realised this huge center table that was full of food, is completely empty save for one thing. A huge bowl of rice salad was left sitting there untouched, much to the upset I imagine of the person who put time and effort into making it.

It was suddenly obvious later that night that the reason it was left uneaten was because there were no spoons to serve or eat it with. Margaret relates this in her books to the church. All that God has to offer being the rice salad and the church giving us access to it by way of the spoons. That they are sometimes left aside or even worse, forgotten about completely. How can people help themselves to something without the right tools?

  • Is this something you have felt or experienced in the past?

Well with the unique way we have all had to adapt over the past few months we are in a very fortunate position. We don’t necessarily need others to access “the salad”. All God has to offer is available to us in our own homes by use of our own cutlery, our own tools. We do after all have our own individual relationship with God. Now whether this means praying, reading our bibles or following along with service sheets at home, it is all accessible to us! Jesus is accessible to all of us outside of church!

I’d like to think the last few months has shown us this, albeit in our own individual ways. Either way we have experienced a different form of worship and yet all in our homes and build in around living our lives. God’s grace, love and presence is with us always as we are living at home. Who would have ever thought we could have opened our eyes like this? We hear similar words at the end of each service but now we have been truly living it.

  • What has this looked like for you throughout lockdown?

When it comes to our faith and living at home, as we have largely been forced to do throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we must remember that we are the church. Our buildings are beautiful and sentimental but we, in our homes and living our daily lives, are still in the presence of God. Whatever that looks like for you personally this week please remember that you have the tools and utensils to access all the amazing things God has in store for each and every one of us. There has been so much to reflect on recently and people have shown such amazing patience and resilience when adapting to change. So, let’s not leave God’s rice salad uneaten, but grab our own utensils from home and dig in.

  • What will faith when living at home look like for you in the future?

Here is the catch however. When we do return to our church buildings our lives at home still remain the same when it comes to our faith. Through prayer and reflection, the many blessings that God has in store for us will still be available. I’m praying for all of us that this new way of living at home and still trying to build on our relationship with God has shown just how joyful a life at home with God can be. That He is with us once we leave church and go home. I have said before that being a Christian is a seven day a week calling and it doesn’t stop when we enter our homes and shut the front door. In fact, it is one of very few things that doesn’t stop there.

I pray all of you have had a warm and comforting encounter with God whilst worshipping at home these past few months and I pray it sets us all up for the future. To show, even if we were forced to stay at home, that it does not disconnect you from either the church or God’s endless plans and blessings for us. Use your spoon and dig in and just like Margaret Silf discovered, we don’t need to rely on others to access something appetising. We can take it home and make it part of our daily lives when living at home.


Prayers of intercession compiled by Judith Giles

In the power of the spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Blessed Jesus you are always near us in times of stress. Although we cannot feel your presence you are close. You are always there to watch over us. Nothing in heaven or earth can separate you from us.

After Marjory Kempe 15th century.

Father at this time of uncertainty here in Timperley, the Deanery, Diocese and across the world we have not been able to worship you in buildings which for many of us are our spiritual homes. We pray for our clergy and ordinand and for all leaders of religions as they provide worship of a different kind for their congregations. We thank you for all the different ways that have been used to convey your word to us and to the wider community. We give you thanks that there is an easing of restrictions on the use of places of worship and that new ways are being developed so that we can come together to pray and worship you. Today we also pray for all the ordinands, who were commissioned on Thursday evening, as they start the next step of their journey in their new Parishes.

Father at this time we thank you that for so many of us we have safe and secure homes. We continue to pray for those who have no permanent home for whatever reason, refugees in camps across the world and nearer to home those in our cities and towns who live on the streets, in hostels or inadequate bed and breakfast  accommodation not forgetting those who live in rural communities. At this time of crisis more people, because of the rise in unemployment, will be forced to leave their homes. You know them all and will support them during these difficult times.

We pray for the leaders of all nations as they lead their people through this pandemic. Father give them the knowledge and judgement to make well informed decisions for the people they lead.

Father whose Son Jesus lived on earth with a caring loving family bless our homes and families and make them a secure and safe place in which to live. We pray for homes where there is tension and abuse which maybe accentuated by the present crisis. We think of all children who are suffering mentally and physically at this time. We bring before you those involved with children’s education both teachers and parents and that schools will be a safe place to which all children will soon be able to return.

Father we pray for all who are sick and suffering, whether mentally or physically. Give them the strength and courage to cope with their illnesses. Thank you for all who strive to alleviate the suffering of others in whatever capacity, whether in the medical profession or those in the work in the community. We think especially those who have been forced to be isolated for whatever reason in the past few months, unable to see family and friends. We thank you for all the acts of kindness been shown by so many people and the friendliness of neighbourhoods and we pray that this will continue into the future.

At this time we pray for all who have been bereaved especially during the last few months as so many have been unable to be with loved ones at this time. May they feel your love and support. We pray for all clergy conducting funeral services and for the funeral directors who are working under difficult conditions.

We place in your hands our unfinished tasks, our unsolved problems, and our unfulfilled hopes, knowing that only what you bless will prosper. To your love and protection we commit each other and all those we love, knowing that you alone are our sure defender, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 Adapted from  a prayer from the Church of South India.


Want to explore this more? Come and chat about it – or listen in – over on the parish Facebook Group – click the image below!

Loving, Living, Giving: Loving Ourselves

This series will take us though the next ten weeks of worship. We are using the themes ‘Loving’, ‘Living’ and ‘Giving’ to explore ways in which it might be possible to be the Church even as we are unable to gather together. When we talk about being ‘the Church’, we’re not talking about buildings, and Sunday mornings, but about how we live as Christian people every day of the week, wherever we find ourselves.

Through the week we will continue to unpack the material presented here. We want to know what YOU think. You can join the conversation in our new Facebook Group (unlike the Facebook Page, the content of the group is only available to members of the group. You will, however, need to create a Facebook “profile” to access the group – please ask if you need any help doing this). We will also produce some short video reflections through the week to explore things further – look out for those on the Facebook page.


Below you will find:

  • A worship booklet to download and use over the next 10 weeks
  • A link to the readings for today
  • The organ music and words for today’s hymn
  • A reflection on today’s theme
  • Some questions to reflect on
  • Prayers of intercession


The readings for today are Psalm 139:1-18 and Mark 5:21-34. You can read each of them by clicking on them.


And can it be; Organist: Neil Provost

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?

‘Tis mystery all! Th’Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine!
‘Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.


Reflection written by Suzie

Loving ourselves. There is much that can be said about this, but this morning I’ll share just a few thoughts.

On a Sunday morning in Autumn of last year, I spoke at Christ Church, Timperley. In that sermon I referred to a picture painted by Barbara Schwartz, a Dominican Sister based in America, and it is her interpretation of Jesus’s encounter with an unnamed woman in Luke’s Gospel 13:10-17. Here it is:

This was a woman who had been bent over with illness for many years. As with many women in the Bible her name is not recorded, but Luke records this tender, yet powerful life-changing encounter with a woman who would have been on the margins of society.  

Why did I look again at this picture as I thought about this week’s theme, loving ourselves?  I think it was a timely reminder that God knows our frailties, in whatever form they take, sees us, loves us and wants us to know that we are made in his image. The psalmist said:

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14

And yet I wonder if there had been days when this bent over woman had not felt like that at all, had not felt ‘wonderfully made’. Then one day she met Jesus who looked up and saw her.  Here is a short extract from a poem by Pat Lee who, like the artist, is a Dominican sister who has responded to this story from Luke’s Gospel:

I see this woman everywhere, I feel her yearning, longing, hope strong as steel. When she sees Christ. Sees him looking at her, it is more than joy in her face, it is hope fulfilled. It is overwhelming joy. She has no questions at all. She is just there. She is there.

She cannot straighten up entirely, but her whole body is stretching, reaching for him. Her eyes, when she sees him. What a message is in her eyes. You are here. You have come to me. You see me. Me.

I don’t remember what her arms are doing or his, I suspect they are reaching out. But his face. His face is leaning into her. He has come to her, to fill up her longing. She will never be alone again. His eyes are fastened upon her, blessing her, loving her for the faith she has in him.

God sees us in our bodies. Of course, he does. For those of us who feel too fat or too thin, or too wrinkly or too spotty, or too middle aged, or too young or too old, or too clumsy, or too slow, or too whatever it is, God sees us, and he sees us in our bodies, we carry his image and he loves us. He sees me and he sees you.

God loves human bodies so much that his precious eternal son was born in a human body. The incarnation. The eternal Son of God was born and walked and lived and breathed among us. And one day as he did, Jesus saw this woman. He saw her in her bent over body, held out his hand to her when he didn’t even need to, and loved her.

And I continue to reflect on why we are called to love ourselves and what that looks like during a time of such challenge. Some of the things I’ve done to love and care for myself may seem trivial, but maybe they’re not trivial at all; the clumsy attempts to cut my fringe so I don’t feel so scruffy; the manicures I’ve taken time to give myself so I’ve cared for my hands which have many jobs to do; the lovely new beside radio I bought which I switch on during times of sleeplessness and which has helped me to get back off to sleep again; and of course the times I have sat quietly with God and prayed (with or without words).

We are called to love and care for ourselves.

Because we are worth it.

The Son of God saw the woman in the synagogue that day, and though we don’t know her name, he knows it. That’s the Jesus we follow; that’s the Son who shows us what God is like; the God who loves us in all our frailties and the God who is worthy of our worship and adoration.

God reaches out to us with his abundant love. He delights in us and want us to care for ourselves.

Because we are worth it.


Questions for reflection

  • How have you been caring for yourself during these challenging times?
  • Does thinking about how much God loves you, help you to love yourself?
  • What could you do this week to show love to yourself?

Prayers of intercession compiled by Linda

Many years ago, I was given a book published by Christ Church Mothers’ Union Thoughts for the Passing Months, and this beautiful prayer is taken from it:

Prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of our recollection, the seat of mediation, the rest for our cares and the calm of our tempests.  Prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, an aid to untroubled thought.  It is the daughter of charity and the sister of meekness. It is a steppingstone to Heaven.

Let us be still and centre ourselves in prayer and know that we are loved and cared for

We are taking as our theme this week loving ourselves and Psalm 139:1-18, appointed for today, talks to us of God’s generous and unconditional love which surrounds us day by day.  The psalmist tells us how much God loves us and knows us, he has made each one of us and we are special and loved.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar.

Psalm 139:1-2

It is so comforting to know that we are loved and cherish by God and we need to love and cherish ourselves.

In these difficult times, let us give thanks for the love we enjoy in the community of our church and parish.  For the wonderful ways we are communicating through telephone conversations, our WhatsApp group and Facebook and sharing our thoughts and our prayers.  We know that every contribution is valued, and we can feel safe and loved in that knowledge.

Let us hold in our prayers our own needs for our families and friends, bringing them to mind, especially those we have not been able to see and hug for so long.  Keeping well and keeping safe has concentrated our minds and all that we do, and we pray that in time life will return to some sort of normality and we can be kind to ourselves.

It is not always easy to love ourselves, perhaps we are feeling lost, unloved, lonely, as though we are unwanted, or we are struggling with relationships or a long-term family feud.  Be with those who find themselves estranged from family that their suffering may be healed and that those they are in conflict with may also be able to offer the hand of love and friendship.  Lord be with those who find it hard to love themselves, to like whom they are, to have confidence to know that they are loved by God.

We pray for our world which has so much prejudice and we pray for the stronger united voice to be heard to start the healing process in support of the Black Lives Matters movement and know that all lives matter.  Let us love and respect the human race in all its diversity and richness of culture and tradition and let us love ourselves for the values and traditions which are part of us.  Lord it is not the colour of our skin which defines us but our soul.

Be with those who are unwell at this time, for those waiting for hospital appointments or results and for those working with love and dedication in our hospitals and care homes.  May those who have a daily battle with mental illness find peace and love.

Today we say a loving farewell to Ordinand David Murray and we send him on his way to St Annes Sale with every blessing.  Dave has touched many lives during his ministry training with us and he will be sadly missed.  We assure Dave of our love and prayers for his virtual licensing on Thursday 2 July.  Thinking of the next step in Dave’s ministry, the well-known hymn by Sydney Carter has the most wonderful and appropriate words for us to pray and reflect on

One more step along the world I go, one more step along the world I go,
From the old things to the new keep me travelling along with you
And it’s from the old I travel to the new, keep me travelling along with you.

Sydney Carter (1915-2004) © Stainer & Bell Ltd

May we all travel safely wherever God is leading us on our step by step journey.

Amen


Want to explore this more? Come and chat about it – or listen in – over on the parish Facebook Group – click the image below!