Categories
Minister Prayers

For 10th May 2020

 

This coming Sunday we arrive at Christian Aid Week and so the worship material that we have produced comes to us from Christian Aid and will allow us to focus on matters beyond our immediate situation and into the wider world where this virus can not be managed with expensive ventilators, a well funded health service amongst a population who have the means to isolate in small units.

Coronavirus has shown us that our futures are bound more tightly together than ever before. And now it is spreading across the world’s poorest countries, putting people living in poverty at great risk.  These people are already facing a lack of water, food and healthcare. Some are homeless. Some are living with underlying health issues such as HIV. As coronavirus infection rates speed up, they will feel the impacts of the virus deeply. We must respond now. Coronavirus impacts all of us. But love unites us all.

Together with our local partners, we are working quickly to limit the impact of coronavirus in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world.

  • We are drawing on our experience from the Ebola crisis and helping communities to prevent and delay infection.
  • We are providing essential soap, water and handwashing training.
  • We are ensuring urgent health messages get through to help keep people safe.
  • We are working through our networks of church partners and faith-based organisations to reach the most vulnerable at this critical time.

Christian Aid is responding to the coronavirus outbreak in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. We’re working together with partners and faith leaders to inform people about the risks, offering hygiene and hand washing sessions, equipping health facilities with supplies and providing training to frontline aid workers.  We’re providing food packages to some of the most marginalised families and ensuring protection for women affected by domestic violence.

To support Christian Aid we have had to change our methods of raising money. We can not do the door to door collection from Ansty Road, or Soup & Roll at St. Columba’s. We each need to take responsibility for making our own donations rather than relying on the church taking collection and submitting it for us. Those who received this electronically should also receive an e-envelope. Please respond as generously as you can. To those who receive this as a letter, please ask someone who can make online donations to do so for you at https://www.christianaid.org.uk. 

Sunday 10 May  Fourth Sunday after Easter

Prayer God of all the earth, be present with us in each of our homes, as we connect together. Build us a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you through Jesus Christ, our risen redeemer and healer. 

Hymn Let us build a house where love can dwell

and all can safely live.

A place where saints and children tell

how hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions,

rock of faith and vault of grace;

here the love of Christ shall end divisions:

all are welcome in this place. 

Bible Psalm 31 & John 14:1-11

Reflection Look at your hands. Have a good look. Our hands really are the most remarkable and useful tools, involved in so much of what we do and how we do things, even in these days of social distancing. The psalmist writes of committing their spirit into God’s hands, and at times of being in God’s hands. They also describes the desire to be delivered from the hands of oppressors and from a hidden invisible net that threatens to entangle them.

Our hands have become even more significant in these days of physical distance. We might long to hold the hand of a person we can no longer touch. We pray for the hands of medics to bring healing and comfort. We are grateful for hands stacking shelves and delivering groceries and post. And we are extra wary of everything our hands touch that comes from outside our own home.

This Christian Aid Week we also think of how our hands can be far from idle. They can still reach out virtually to our neighbours around the world. Neighbours in refugee camps and cramped living conditions, neighbours without adequate hand-washing facilities, neighbours who face the devastating impact of coronavirus with even less of the medical resources we have struggled to access here.

We reach out by clasping our hands together in prayer, and holding our hands open before God as we declare our needs and concerns for all communities.

Prayer God our refuge, we come with open hands, some of us with hearts full of questions, bruised by bereavement, fearful of what the future holds, stunned by the events of this year. Draw close to us in each of our homes as we place our honest questions and hopes into your open, resurrected, scarred hands.

Hymn Let us build a house where all are named,

their songs and visions heard

and loved and treasured, taught and claimed

as words within the Word.

Built of tears and cries and laughter,

prayers of faith and songs of grace.

Let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:

all are welcome in this place.

Marty Haugen © Gregorian Institute of America GIA Publications Inc

Categories
Minister News Prayers

for 5 April 2020 (Palm Sunday)

1st April 2020
Dear Friends
As I type the date I wonder if somehow a great April Fool’s trick is being played on us, confining us to our homes, whilst somewhere else, life continues as it always did. But in truth I know that it doesn’t and that actually the calm surreal atmosphere I see from my window is very different for those confronted by the sort of medical emergency that we thought was consigned to history.
The strange thing about isolation is the confusion of ways to keep in contact – for those who are surrounded by technology. I’m aware that for those who are not, this world is even more isolating. So thank you for those who are keeping in touch with one another by telephone, by post, perhaps a wave through the window or dropping off supplies for those who need them. I have updated the website, and will look to keep that up to date. I will post on facebook from time to time and would encourage others to do so as well. And I hope to write something most weeks to keep us up to date and to create a service sheet that you might like to use in your own prayers and reflections.
Some of my colleagues have quickly moved into full blown online mode, with live streamed or pre-recorded Sunday services. Others are experimenting with video conferencing for a Sunday morning. I have been a bit slower, sensing that you are content to pick up what is available on television, radio and internet and that there is no need for me to replicate what is already available. But if you want something more then let me know. I have invested in Zoom – a video conferencing app. We used it for our Elders’ Meeting and I have used it to re-start the Wednesday morning prayers for the Chapel of Unity. I am going to produce a videoed reflection for a series that Lillington Free Church are putting together for Holy Week, so will list the link for you. Let me know if you would value something very specially created by or for Ansty Road.
 
 
That is the end of the notices, it is time to worship God
 
My song is love unknown
my Saviours love to me,
love to the loveless shown
that they might lovely be.
O who am I that for my sake
my Lord should take frail flesh and die
 
One of the things that this pandemic has highlighted is our essential workers. Many are in low paid service industries. They are the people who care for our sick, our older people and our children. They are the people who farm, transport and stack food where we can find it. They are the people who keep us connected, informed, cleaned. They are fulfilling many unloved roles.
 
We hold key workers in our prayers – may their frail flesh know life and love.
 
Sometimes they strew his way
and his sweet praises sing;
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
Then “Crucify” is all their breath
and for his death they thirst and cry.
 
Another is the goodness of praise. It is so easy to criticise, and clearly some have been quick to do so. But praise encourages us onwards, lifts the heart and brings joy for many. We come into Holy Week knowing that the Hosannas will become cries of Crucify, that the acceptance, even excitement of lockdown will become wearying for many, that already Domestic Violence is on the rise and many whose mental health is fragile will be broken.
 
We hold all who are anxious and frightened in our prayers – may they breathe life.
 
They rise, and needs will have
my dear Lord made away
a murderer they save,
the Prince of Life they slay.
Yet cheerful he to suffering goes,
that he his foes from thence might flee.
 
On the one hand a pandemic can strike anyone. We have seen the Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales being diagnosed. On the other, privilege still protects the Privileged. The wealthy can be tested, and I can isolate in a comfortable house with the ability to work, connect, eat, be entertained. We brought the Night Shelter to an end a week early, and whilst all our guests were moved into hotel accommodation, it was without the comforts I enjoy. From India there was a picture of people being forced into shared accommodation, crowded together – too poor to be isolated whilst chaos capitalists will make vast sums of money.
 
We hold the poor of our world in our prayers – may they find freedom from suffering
 
Here might I stay and sing
No story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like thine.
This is my friend, in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
 
My website reflection last Sunday, focused on friendship. And this verse reminds me once again of the friendship we find in Christ. That God comes into our world as one who travels the lanes, shares meals, tells stories amongst friends, and calls us to gather as friends of one another and friends of Christ. This is a relationship that endures through all the troubles of life, through isolation and grief and emerges into new life. Easter may feel delayed this year but it will come.
 
We give thanks and sing for the friendships we enjoy – may each know the sweet presence of Christ
 
Be blessed, Craig
Categories
Minister News

Second Sunday of Social Distancing

Had I been leading worship this morning, my planned theme was Friendship. The gospel reading today was the one where Jesus is called to the home of his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. By the time he arrives Lazarus has been dead four days, Mary and Martha are grieving and Jesus grieves with them. This, despite knowing new life is coming for Lazarus. That need for friends to share human emotion becomes central to their relationship and the experiences they share.

Instead, I spent the morning watching/listening to various friends presenting worship via video/podcast. Each had their own ways of doing so, their own emphasis on the passages. But in each case something of the grief of isolation was expressed, of being apart from other human company. It was good to see them all, to remember how each of these friends has played a part in my life, how much their friendship is valued.

This time of social distancing, has emphasised how much being in the company of other people is central to who we are. Yes we can meet online, we can worship via video link, we can meet in video conference, we can work from home and keep in touch via a variety of social media. But none of it compensates for being with people, their presence and their interaction. I’m even missing the odd hug – not too many, but the occasional expression that come only come from human touch. It makes me realise how important social spaces are for isolated people – those who just come for a cup of tea, speak with no one, but value being able to do so. How meeting as a church is as much about the greeting and gathering as it is the content of a prayer or sermon. These are lessons we must remember when we return from isolation.

This mornings Old Testament text was Ezekiel being invited to see dry bones come to life. It reminds us that throughout human history, people have struggled through hard barren times and emerged with hope. we will do so as well.