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  • Prayers for National Live Cast

    I guess, since I wrote them, they are mine to share...!  Thank you, BUGB for allowing me the privilege.

    Prayers of praise & thanksgiving 

    The beginning of the gospel of John assures us that:

    ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it.’                          

    This evening, we are invited to join with other Christians across these islands to place a lighted candle on a window sill, where it may shine into the physical darkness, just as the light of Christ shines into the metaphorical darkness of the times in which we find ourselves.


    The prophet Isaiah records these words:

    Comfort, comfort my people, says your God, Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…

    Lift your eyes and look to the heavens – who created all these these?

    He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.


    In the letter to the church in Philipi, we read that we should:


    Shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of Life


    With these thoughts in mind, let us pray:


    God who is Light and Love,

    We praise and thank you for your inextinguishable presence in the darkness that surrounds us.


    As the Psalmist reminds us, you, our Creator, know every star by name, and ensure that not one of them is lost.  So it is with your human children.  You know each one of us by name, and your desire is that none be lost.  For this we offer thanks and praise.


    As the Apostle reminds us, you, our Sustaining Redeemer call us to shine brightly where we are.  This is an awesome privilege, and a huge responsibility.  So we thank you for your Holy Spirit, recalling how she descended as tongues of fire on frightened followers and empowered them for service and mission.    


    We pause briefly, looking back over the past week, recalling moments when the light pierced the darkness of fear, anxiety or busyness and we found ourselves smiling or laughing, refreshed or renewed; and, in the privacy of our hearts, we name them before God…


    This week, when so many of us feel that we have been running to stand still, we are grateful for this brief opportunity to slow down, to ‘be still’, to ‘desist’, and recognise that our lives are lived in the safe embrace of the God whose name is revealed to be  ‘I Do’, but  ‘I Am’…


    God who is light and love, accept our prayers and give us your peace.  Amen.



     Prayers for others:


    These prayers for others include a response, which, if you find it helpful, you are invited to join in with at home:


    When I say, Jesus Light of the World, you are invited to say, ‘Shine in the darkness


    Let us pray…


    God of compassion, we come to you in these moments with our prayers for others, and for each other. 


    Jesus tells us that we are the Light of the World, called to shine like stars in the universe, so help us not only to pray, but also to live the answers in our own homes and communities.


    Jesus, Light of the World             Shine in the darkness


    Day by day, the news media are filled with updates from politicians, medical experts and scientists. 


    We pray for those who serve in governance of the four nations of this United Kingdom, in Westminster, in Holyrood, in Stormont and in Cardiff, especially for the Prime Minister, First Ministers and Presiding Officers.  Grant them wisdom, insight and compassion.


    We pray for the devolved Public health bodies, working collaboratively to ensure that all appropriate measures are implemented across these islands.


    Jesus, Light of the World             Shine in the darkness


    We pray for all leaders of industry, business and commerce, in organisations large and small, as they face new challenges every day, and have to make complex and unpalatable choices.  Grant them wisdom, creativity and compassion.


    Jesus, Light of the World             Shine in the darkness


    We pray for all faith leaders, those serving local congregations and those who are chaplains in healthcare, educational, prison, military and workplace settings.  From learning new skills to managing others’ expectation, from the challenges of being defined as ‘key workers’ to feeling inadequate and exhausted, this has been a hugely demanding week and uncharted territory.  Enable them to care for themselves and those closest to them, taking time for rest and refreshment,


    Jesus, Light of the World             Shine in the darkness


    We pray for those in nation who are especially vulnerable because their already fragile lives are now further endangered.  People who have no homes, people who have sought asylum or refuge from terrible situations, people who live in food, fuel or period poverty, people whose mental health and wellbeing is impacted.  Show us how, to these neighbours, we can be the light of the world, how we may shine like stars in simple acts of kindness, compassion and grace.


    Jesus, Light of the World             Shine in the darkness


    We pray for the people of Croatia following the major earthquake in Zagreb earlier today.  Grant wisdom to their national leaders as they seek to respond to both this and Corona virus; strengthen all whose work it is to undertake the work of rescue and care, and bring a measure of peace in the inevitable bewilderment and fear.


    Jesus, Light of the World             Shine in the darkness



    We pray for the Baptist churches of these islands, among whom are many who are fearful about loss of income in these uncertain times.  We pray for wisdom and compassion as they discern their way forward; and also for those employed by our Unions who offer advice, guidance and support.


    Jesus, Light of the World             Shine in the darkness


    Lastly, we pray for ourselves, each one of us with a unique mix of emotions, fears and challenges. In the quiet, we name them before God…


    Jesus, Light of the World             Shine in the darkness


    God who knows and names the stars in the universe, hear our prayers, and empower us to shine like stars in the days ahead.   We make our prayers in the name of Jesus, Light of the World, Amen.

  • The Sixth Day...

    It's been pretty full on with live casts and technology glitches to manage.

    In my view, Zoom is better than Skype, but then I had the bonus of starting from scratch rather than working with what I had.

    Thank you to a friend who sent the photo of me on a national live cast. 

    I had such lovely messages and emails after both the church one and the national one - at the end of a very long week (la la la la la not admittig how many hours I've worked) I feel like I had a good day today.

  • Virtual Church 22nd March 2020

    This morning we held our first Zoom live-stream worship serivce.  It was really amazing, and I am so humbled and proud of our people, many of whom were grappling with new and probably scary technology.  The platform we are using allows us record, so we're hoping to get the audio version up later today or tomorrow at the church's audio website.

    For now, here is the transcript of everything apart from the intercessions, if you would find that helpful... 

    NB opening and closing responses from BUGB publication Gasthering for Worship, with minor tweaks.



    Morning Worship 22nd March 2020

    Opening responses                

    Lord, to whom shall we go? Your words are words of eternal life

    Lord God, we come here in all kinds of moods and from a variety of situations

    You know what these are and what each of us needs to hear at this time.

    Make us ready for the word that will bring us life


    Psalm 23 (BPW 659)

    The Lord is my shepherd, 

    Therefore I can lack nothing


    He will make me lie down in green pastures

    And lead me beside still waters


    He will refresh my soul

    And guide me in right paths for his name’s sake


    Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil

    For you are with me, your rod and your staff comfort me


    You spread a table before me in the face those who trouble me

    You have anointed my head with oil, and my cup will be full.


    Surely your goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,

    And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


    Lord’s Prayer


    Bible Readings                                                                                          

    Colossians 3: 12 -17

    As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


    John 19: 25b - 27

    Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.



    When I was a child my parents used to speak of a satirical television programme they called TW3 – ‘That Was The Week That Was’ which ran for just over a year beginning around the time I was born.

    I don’t know about you, but looking back over the past seven days, that was a week that was! 

    I am so grateful that we were able to meet together last Sunday, and for the spatially separated social time, eating wrapped chocolate biscuits with our tea, before we dispersed into the great unknown.

    I am so grateful that when the Prime Minister made his announcement on Monday evening, we were already thinking what to do next, and so, when our Trustees met online on Wednesday evening – I’m also grateful that we able to do this – we had already identified our priorities, pastoral, practical and prayerful.

    Our Pastoral Care team have leapt into action, ensuring we maintain regular phone contact with everyone, our younger adults have organised their own WhatsApp Group, IS has updated our website, and CH is updating our Facebook page.  Offers of practical help have been made to AM, who is matching up volunteers with those in need.  KF has been reviewing our finances and helping us with practical matters there.  The Worship Team, as well as developing this service, have updated our Prayer Diary and compiled a list of resources for personal use, whilst EC and BC have begun virtual Sunday School.  It’s dizzying, just listing all we have achieved.  I cannot tell you how proud I am to be part of such an amazing church!  Thank you all.

    As I pondered the Bible readings for today, a few brief thoughts struck me, and I hope that something will resonate and offer a little bit of hope and encouragement.

    The gospel reading is achingly sad.  The dying Jesus is physically separated from those he loves.  His closest friend and his mother stand nearby, helpless, fearful and filled with sorrow.  Unable to reach down to comfort them, he commends them to each other – ‘here is your son’, ‘here is your mother’… I am aware how many of us are physically separated from those we love, especially overseas students, and our friends who fled their homes seeking safety in our land.  In this time, perhaps Jesus says something similar to us: ‘this is your brother/sister/parent/child’.  We have begun well, and with God’s help we can deepen and strengthen the bonds of love that hold us together.

    As I pondered the words taken from the letter to the church at Colossae, I was really struck by the phrase ‘bear with one another’.  Over the coming weeks, and almost certainly months, there will be times when we rub each other up the wrong way, when we are tired and tetchy, when some of us become unwell, when we wonder if it is all worthwhile.  Bear with each other – be gentle, be kind, make allowances, try to be patient.  Not easy and we won’t always get it right, but it’s good advice.

    And then the familiar words of Psalm 23 which many of us learned by rote as children, or recall choosing for a wedding or funeral service.  The reminder that no matter how dark the valley, no matter how afraid we are, or how alone we feel, God is with us, alongside us, every step of the way, guiding us, protecting us and enveloping us in love.

    As I have reflected on the week that was, and on the challenges we face, I found myself recalling an old hymn written by Yorkshire Baptist minister, John Fawcett, which includes this verse:

    When for a while we part, this thought shall soothe our pain, that we shall still be joined in heart, and one day meet again. 

    As we journey on, together-apart, may God’s promises strengthen and uphold us all.  Amen.                                                                                                   

    Closing Responses and Blessing                                                               

    From where we are to where you need us

    Jesus, now lead on.


    From the security of what we know,

    To the adventure of what you will reveal,

    Jesus, now lead on.


    From the uncertainty of what we face

    To the fulness of God’s promises

    Jesus, now lead on.
    To refashion the world

    Until it resembles the shape of your Kin-dom

    Jesus now lead on


    Because good things have been prepared

    By the God of love

    Jesus now lead on.


    And may the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all, evermore, Amen



  • A Song for Mother's Day...

    This is beautiful

  • Prayers for Mothering Sunday (2)

    A second prayer of mine, from many years ago, and soon to be published...

    I am thinking of you,
    Mothers that are,
    Mothers that were,
    Mothers that will be,
    Mothers that will never be
    Mothers that never were
    Mothers that are not yet...
    Thinking of you and praying, somehow, for you...

    The new mother exhausted from labour whose new-born will
    not suckle
    The elderly mother whose age-eroded mind can no longer
    recognise her own child
    The frazzled mother whose children seem out of control
    The mother who now nurses her own mother
    The mother who longs to linger but is lured by death to eternity
    The unexpected mother whose swelling belly bears witness to
    unplanned activity
    The shamed mother, whose rapist’s features stare at her from
    infancy’s innocence
    The stepmother trying, perhaps too hard, to get it right
    The adoptive mother, finally holding the longed-for child
    The mother who cannot be mother, life-saving drugs having
    destroyed her fertility
    The longs-to-be mother whose body has let her down yet again
    The mother who cares for her children’s children, her child
    having died
    The mother who sits alone, rejected, neglected, unloved
    The mother who clings to bitterness and refuses to be
    The mother who feels she has failed
    The mother who dances for joy at her children’s achievements
    The mother who lets go of the apron strings, and delights to see
    her children grown
    The mother who sacrificed her career to fulfil her calling as
    The mother who...
    The mothers that were
    The mothers that are
    The mothers that will be
    The mothers that weren’t
    The mothers that aren’t
    The mothers that never will be

    On this Mothering Sunday,
    May the mother-love of God,
    In whom we are each conceived,
    Surround and fill you,
    Whatever you may be.