Advent: Apart, together

Advent and Christmas will be very different this year. But they are certainly not cancelled!

Below is a copy of a flier which details services and other events taking place in the parish in the weeks ahead.

Resources published on the blog will be gathered into one place for easy reference – click here.

You can download the Advent and Christmas flier here:

Timperley Nativity Trail

It’s here:
The Great Big 2020 Timperley Nativity Trail!!
Can you spy a shepherd? Spot a sheep? See a star?


NOVEMBER 30th – DECEMBER 26th


All around Timperley there are characters from the Nativity Story who might be a little bit lost. Thankfully, some kind Timperley residents have taken them in to keep them warm and dry through Advent.

Can you go on a hunt? See how many of them you can find peeking from windows! They might be a picture, a decoration, a light, or (in one case) a life-sized model!

You’ll need a trail map, which you can view on Google Maps (click here), or on the PDF below. The quality is better on the online map, but you can print off the PDF if that’s easier.

There are three trails to complete. On the PDF you can fill in the boxes when you find the Nativity characters.

To make it easier for the grown-ups, the characters are all named on the map. They can help you if you get stuck.

You’ll know you’ve found the right house if you look for the coloured star in the windows.

Each trail ends with a QR Code to scan on your phone – this will take you to a short Christmas video.

You won’t be able to do this all at once! Don’t worry – the trail will be available from Monday 30th November through until Boxing Day. Take your time – and don’t forget to share your trail selfies on our Facebook page!

Service of Remembrance 2020

Our Service of Remembrance for those who are bereaved can be seen below.

This week, to remember a loved one, you might like to bring a stone to the churchyard at Christ Church, and add it to our memorial cross, any time during the week beginning 1st November. The cross can be found just past the war memorial on the grass path. You might like to decorate your stone, or simply write the name of a loved one on it.

The clergy will use these stones to pray for you and those you remember, alongside those we remembered last month for our Baby Loss Awareness service

Baby Loss Memorial Service

The loss of a pregnancy or baby is a particular bereavement. It is hard to grieve a reality that didn’t come to pass: to lose a future that was full of promise, and yet so quickly came to nothing.

All are welcome to mark their own losses at the memorial stone here in Christ Church graveyard, dedicated to live lost through miscarriage, abortion and stillbirth.

As we unveil the stone this month, we have produced this pre-recorded memorial service for you to watch in your own time. You may like to watch this at home before visiting the memorial stone, or to watch it on a mobile device as you visit the churchyard. If you are a long way from Timperley, please know that this memorial is as much for you as anyone local. We hope it brings you hope and comfort, whoever you are, wherever you are from, and whatever your story.


You are invited to have a stone ready to use later in this service. As part of your grieving, you may like to go and lay the stone at the Baby Loss memorial. The stones laid there this week will be incorporated into our memorial for All Soul’s Day at the start of November.

You may like to download a copy of the service to follow the prayers, and keep:



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


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