A Prayer for Beirut
Prayer from the Revd Ruth Gee, Assistant Secretary of the Conference.
As we continue to see and hear reports of devastation in Beirut we pray for those who are bereaved or injured and for those responding to the catastrophe that has engulfed the city.
We pray for those who live and work in Beirut that
the bereaved may be consoled and
the injured comforted and healed.
We pray for the rescue services and the hospital staff
giving thanks for their commitment and skill.
In the midst of catastrophe we pray for peace, truth and justice.
As the sound of explosion fades and the smoke clears
give wisdom to those who lead,
courage to those who serve,
and hope to all.
Another Story by Mike Dain
June. Rain came down. Edna sits, glum. Can’t give sons hugs.
July. More rain came down. Tony very glum. Can’t tour inns.
They walk into town, then shop. Come upon hats. Sale over.
Tony pays over odds. Edna goes very pale. Edna can’t walk home.
Tony can’t find taxi. They find seat. Stay some time. Edna soon
felt well. Both rose.
Then, over road, they spot Mary. They walk over, hail Mary.
“Don’t come near”, says Mary. They stay more than five feet away.
Chat with Mary. Part.
Soon, they bump into Joan, from Bath, with face mask over nose.
“Don’t come near”, says Joan. They stay more than four feet away.
Talk with Joan. Part.
Walk some more. They meet Kath. “Don’t come near” says Kath.
They talk, then talk some more. “Can’t stop.” says Edna. “Meal
time.” says Tony. They walk home, with care, with God’s love.
Rosemary Wakelin -hymn rephrased for our living with corona virus .
The world we thought we knew is changing fast
And longingly we cling to what is past –
That settled life which made no great demand,
A foretaste of the hoped for Promised Land.
But as for you, dynamic pilgrim God
You do not linger on the path well-trod,
But ever lead your pilgrim people on
To risk an unknown future with your Son.
The challenge of catastrophe and change
Will lead us well beyond our former range
Exposing us to things we do not know
Demanding all the love that we can show.
You take the stuff of chaos, fear and dread
And make a path that we must bravely tread
To follow where your gracious footsteps lead
And share your work to meet each other’s need.
Tune Woodlands Tell out my soul STF 186
A poem for the moment
Bonnie Thurston, one of our authors, has offered a poem for this present moment, especially for her fellow Americans:
The Eye of Despair
Sometimes the best
you can do
is to howl.
When the wound
is so deep
you know the hurt
will never heal,
when the world
is so broken
a universe of prayer
won’t repair it,
the best you
can do is howl.
Throw your head back
and (I dare you)
howl like a banshee,
like a she wolf,
like the wild thing
buried in your bones,
and feel rising
from deep, dark places
with the primal power
of your breath
a sliver of hope
to hurl with your howl
at the eye of despair.
From Bonnie’s book From Darkness to Eastering
Even when I cannot get out to join the community in prayer, God remains present, as Saint Augustine wrote, ‘in my deepest interiority.’ However lonely I feel, I am not alone, for at the core of my very being is Another.” —Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. (2020 May, Commonweal)
“When this is over,
may we never again
take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
When this ends
may we find
that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be
we were called to be
we hoped to be
and may we stay
for each other
because of the worst.”—Laura Kelly Fanucci Sent from my iPad
We are all One.
Academics and researchers tell us that our experience of COVID-19 is increasing society’s
compassion and sense of solidarity. We have been forced to face and understand, how truly interdependent, interconnected and reliant on our communities, neighbours, family and friends, and our environment we really are.
Kingdom thinking is to see and understand things in their connectedness and wholeness.
What you do to the other, you do to yourself; how you love yourself is how you love your
neighbour; how you love God is how you love yourself; how you love yourself is how you
love God. How you do anything is how you do everything. To be a citizen of the Kingdom of God means we see and understand people, animals, plants, the earth, as inherently connected to God, connected to ourselves, and therefore, most worthy of respect, love and dignity. That is what Jesus is praying for: that we can see all things in their unity and in their connectedness, as we are all part of the one creation that God has redeemed through Christ.
The Revd Steve Jarvis
Associate Vicar at Holy Trinity Church
Psalm 23 (Covid 19 version)
The Lord is my companion in social isolation. I am never alone. He gives me rest in the comfort of my own home.
He leads me along familiar pathways as I take my daily exercise. And he restores my peace.
He leads me forwards, day by day through this strange existence. Even though death and sadness are all around me,
I am not afraid, because you are with me. You hold my hand, you steady my anxious thoughts,
You remind me, it’s one day at a time. I am well fed, in spite of all the turmoil. I am blessed in an abundance of ways.
Surely you will be with me, Surely your love, patience and peace will surround me
Throughout this time of uncertainty and far beyond. I am with you, and you are with me, always, to the end of time.
© Clare Stainsby 2020
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
by William Stafford
While I was surfing the Internet for information I came across this Church in Georgia US and I thought how appropriate their name is at the moment
Isle of Hope Methodist Church
At last there is a cure for all
Ailments large and ailments small:
Good health is not beyond my reach
If I inject myself with bleach.
Readily I’ll prance along,
Every trace of limescale gone;
With disinfectant as my friend,
Like him, I’m clean around the bend.
From the top of my head
to the tips of my toes;
from the lobes of my ears
(Touch ear lobes)
to the end of my nose;
from my back, to my front
to my wiggly fingers,
(stretch out arms and wiggle fingers)
God loves me!
(jump up and down)
Suggestion 2: God loves…
Leader: God loves
Child 1: (say name)
Leader: and God loves
Child 2: (say name)
Go round the circle until all the children have been named (the leader or accompanying adult can say the name of pre-verbal or shy children)
All: Thanks be to God!
Lay out a piece of brown cloth and follow the instructions (see italics) as you tell the story.
Jesus said: ‘I am the gate (place toy gates or pictures of gates on the cloth), the gate for the sheep. (add toy sheep or balls of cotton wool)
Anyone who comes through me will be saf3 May 2020e; (open the gate and let the sheep through)
they will come in and go out, (move the sheep in and out of the gate)
they will find lots of green lush grass. (place a piece of green cloth next to the brown cloth and move the sheep onto it) They will find everything they need, more than they can ever imagine.’
Give the children a selection of building blocks and invite them to build sheepfolds and gates. Provide toy sheep and some green cloth and encourage the children to retell the story.
Place a large sheet of paper on the floor and provide pots of sparkly confetti, shiny shapes and glitter. Encourage the children to fill the paper with ‘abundant’ sparkle.
Provide the children with pots of bubbles. Encourage everyone to blow as many bubbles as they can and thank God for all the good things he gives to us.
Place a clear, empty jar on a tray. Give each child a smaller pot, filled with buttons. Ask them, one at a time, to tip their buttons into the jar until it is overflowing, as you pray:
thank you that you offer us abundance;
a full and happy life.
The baa baa song (He’s the good shepherd), Kevin Bueltmann, Sibling Harmony
Jesus shepherd (Tune: Baa baa black sheep; words by Emily Hoe-Crook)
Jesus shepherd, helping me to grow,
follow, follow, show me where to go.
If I turn away from him, Jesus loves me back again.
Jesus shepherd, helping me to grow,
follow, follow, show me where to go.
God bless you,
(Point to others)
and God bless me.
(Point to self)
Amen. (Wave arms)
Leader: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Children : In the name of Christ, Amen.
1. Create a circular ‘sheepfold’ in the middle of the room using rope or cloths. Cut out some card sheepYoung people 3 May
Light a candle and keep quiet.
Someone say – God help us now to worship you for you are God and we are like sheep in need of a good shepherd.
In silence think of three colours you really like
Three things you like the taste of
Three sounds you love
Three things you like the feel of
Someone then say – thank you God for your gifts t us.
Read John 10.1-10 Watch the clip from Man of Steel [PG]: it is the scene where Superman starts to discover his purpose for being on earth, to bring hope. An abundant life for Superman is found in helping others by sharing his special gift.
What does abundant life mean to you?
If that question seems difficult to answer you might be able to get into it by thinking about what things you have missed in lockdown and what things you have liked about lockdown.
Are there ways we can share with other what we consider makes for abundant life? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r39rZfH2tJ0&feature=youtube
Outside the fold
2. Many people feel outside the grace and love of God. What do you think – is God’s love for everyone or for some – give reasons for your answer.
3. Pray Psalm 23 together.
Our church teaches that all people are loved by God – we believe that is what Jesus taught.
Hope in the city Jan Berry
In the queue at the bus stop
the neighbours working for common cause
different races and religions thronging the street
we meet the forgotten God
crowding us with noisy vibrant life
In the bricks reclaimed from waste ground
restored terraces and houses
keys opening doors into welcoming rooms
we find the homeless God
building hope in the midst of urban decay
In the closely-drawn lines of old street plans
record of destroyed roads and homes
and the rapidly-changing already out-of-date maps
we find the lost God
pointing us in the direction of new community
In shrubs and bushes in city gardens
the trees lining the streets
and the new growth on the banks of the cleared river
we find the neglected God
greening new leaves for the healing of the peoples.
Source: Naming God by Jan Berry. Granary, a URC publication
How To Plant Your Garden
First, you Come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses.
FOR THE GARDEN OF YOUR DAILY LIVING ,
PLANT THREE ROWS OF PEAS :
1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul
PLANT FOUR ROWS OF SQUASH:
1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness
PLANT FOUR ROWS OF LETTUCE:
1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another
NO GARDEN IS WITHOUT TURNIPS:
1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another
TO CONCLUDE OUR GARDEN YOU MUST HAVE THYME:
1. Thyme for God
2. Thyme for each other
3. Thyme for family
4. Thyme for friends
WATER FREELY WITH PATIENCE AND CULTIVATE WITH LOVE.
THERE IS MUCH FRUIT IN YOUR GARDEN
COS YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW !!
Love never fails
Even in the darkest moments, love gives hope.
Love compels us to fight against coronavirus alongside our sisters and brothers living in poverty.
Love compels us to stand together in prayer with our neighbours near and far.
Love compels us to give and act as one.
Now, it is clear that our futures are bound together more tightly than ever before.
As we pray in our individual homes – around the nation and around the world – we are united as one family.
So, let us pause and find a moment of peace, as we lift up our hearts together in prayer.
by Gwen Blandford
She was the little voice
“Let me out.”
Pandora had opened the box once –
To her cost, she released
War, pain and all kinds of trouble.
Hope was in the same box.
Pandora had banged the lid down.
Hope was the prisoner.
However her plea changed Pandora’s mind.
She raised the lid and Hope slid out,
Free to roam the world
With her healing gifts.
Perhaps looking into the abyss,
Facing the agony,
Is the way to discover Hope.
It’s in the same box.
Dare we raise the lid?
Look in the place of pain
For the new life.
Let the tears flow,
The drenching of the wound
Washes away the dirt, the mess.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Prayers in response to the coronavirus pandemic
About the author
1 Lord, what can I pray for?
2 I’m frightened, Lord
3 I’m not praying for me today, Lord
4 So many are worried, Lord
5 Why, Lord?
6 How can I bring before you, Lord, my trivial concerns
7 I’ve been complacent, Lord
8 Reach out today, Lord, to the frightened
9 Three months, Lord
10 Lord, to people everywhere at this troubled time
11 Lord, I bring to you not only those sick with coronavirus,
12 To those shaken and confused, Lord
13 Where are you, Lord?
14 In our fear, Lord
15 When will it end, Lord?
16 When the clouds are heavy, Lord
17 We have no claim on your love, Lord
18 We’re going under, Lord
19 Am I going to die, Lord?
20 It’s not just here, Lord
21 Thank you, Lord, for those working in the front line during this crisis
22 It would be easy to feel sorry for myself, Lord
23 Show us that you’re listening
24 We thought we were in charge of our destiny, Lord
25 Lord, I prayed for the people of Wuhan at the start of this outbreak
26 I can’t believe it, Lord
27 Hold on to us, Lord
28 Show us that you are here, Lord
29 To those consumed by dread, Lord, at this troubled time
30 Hear my prayer, Lord, for scientists
31 In this time of crisis, Lord
32 Lord, it’s hard to see any good coming from the crisis we’re facing
33 Thank you, Lord, for family at this time
34 Lord, we need your help at such a time as this
35 This crisis has brought us up short, Lord
36 They feel so inadequate, our prayers, Lord
37 In our darkness, Lord
38 We thought we were in control
39 I’m calling to you, Lord
40 Lord, be with those struck down by this disease that has come upon us
41 Thank you, Lord, for those who are willing to go the extra mile
42 Lord, it’s hard to glimpse your presence even at the best of times
43 I can’t do much, Lord, to help in this time of crisis
44 You’re here, Lord
45 I could dwell on the future, Lord 46 Times are bad, Lord
47 Breathe your peace within me, Lord
48 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord
49 So much, Lord, is in the melting pot
50 I’m not strong, Lord
51 When the wind blows, Lord
52 Lord of all, hear our prayer for those wrestling with coronavirus
Is our faith the opposite of dis-ease?
We are increasingly aware of the way that physical harm spreads,
through germs, viruses, genetic variations, harmful substances …
leaving a trail of problems,
misery, pain or hardship in their wake.
We try to alleviate symptoms,
but seem unable to eradicate causes and ongoing problems
as diseases spread across the world of living beings.
What if faith spreads in similar ways,
crossing human boundaries,
changing people’s attitudes,
inspiring helpful words or actions,
leading to a kind of wholeness
despite physical or mental problems?
So much effort, wealth, resources, facilities, people
work together to prevent and alleviate dis -ease.
Could it be that we need to focus too, through the power of God’s Spirit,
on spreading the transforming power of faith across our troubled world.?
inspire us to share our faith ,
to bring ease, not dis-ease
to countless needy situations
as we live out our brief time here in your Kingdom on Earth.
We celebrate with joy the birth of Christ
but assiduously avoid
the slaughter of those innocent boys in Bethlehem.
The special child,
Emmanuel, escapes to safety
but, then or now,
there is no escape for ‘ordinary’ babies
nor for their distraught families.
So often, we choose to ignore
the reverse of the coin of Incarnation,
God is with us, pitching his tent among us.
This God though,
is not a god of status,
privilege, insurance against calamity or distress.
Rather, Emmanuel means God’s involvement
in the mess of human life.
The escape of Jesus was only temporary.
Old Simeon foresaw the sword of pain
destined for Mary’s heart
shaped like a cross.
So many of us share that pain
invoked though by different circumstances.
Costliness , an integral characteristic of Emmanuel,
God with us.
And when we are in the depths of grief or despair
sometimes we cannot even pray.
‘God be with us’, may seem out of reach,
We need to recall
the promise of a resurrected Jesus
demonstrating the paradox.
‘I am with you always.’
No escape from crucifixion
but even that dire deed
Like Peter on that dire night,
when all his hopes, dreams and commitments felt utterly destroyed,
in hard times, we too are drawn
as if to seek comfort in the warmth and light of a fire.
Sometimes there, waiting in the enveloping warmth
we have to face up to our problems,
harsh reality drawing us ever nearer to the company around the firelight.
So it is for many
drawn to seek consoling, enabling warmth in heart-felt prayer.
Consoling Spirit of warmth, enlightenment and courage,
the promised Comforter,
when life is hard for us
give us a glimpse of the flame of your strengthening glory
that we, like Peter,
may come through the darkness of the soul-wrenching situation
into the glorious light of your accompanying presence
to live our lives in commitment
to our all-seeing, all-knowing compassionate God.
can never separate us from the love of God.
God is always with us.
help us to persevere,
striving to break through the pain barrier,
to finish the race,
is also the risen Jesus
known to us through the
invincible power of the Spirit.
as we reflect on our earthly journeys
we give thanks for all those companions along the road
who have, over the years, often unknowingly,
opened windows or even doors of enlightenment
sharing their prayers, thoughts,
compassion, words and deeds,
sometimes just through books, hymns, films …
deepening our understanding of who you are
and how we can live positively, despite the difficulties.
We pray for awareness of the Spirit’s guidance
when you need us
to allow the light of your love
to shine out through us,
illuminating and caring
as we travel the sometimes dark journeying
with our companions along life’s road.
Awesome is the willingness
of the one we revere as revealing God’s presence
to accept in humility
the cruelty of crucifixion.
Surely God could have prevented such injustice?
But perhaps prevention is not God’s way.
Rather, then and now, the gift of freedom
necessitates the opportunity for good or ill.
We could read the crucifixion and resurrection
as demonstrating this fundamental truth.
No legions of angels,
no supernatural intervention or prevention.
Rather, a clear indication
that we will never be alone when disaster strikes.
The God who stumbled the road to Calvary
also walked the road to Emmaus
and through the power of the Spirit,
accompanies us, wherever we go,
just as much now as then,
as humanity travels
through earthly life into the Great Beyond.
Deep physical wounds take weeks to heal,
often progressing more slowly than we would choose,
and no doubt leaving life-long scars.
The deep wounds of hurt to our inner being take longer.
We must resist too frequent examination,
rather letting the healing power of the Spirit take its course
The pain will diminish though the scars will remain,
as the wounds are no longer threatening.
Indeed, from the scar tissue may grow
healthy understanding and compassion
for others who suffer.
Corona ~ The Invisible Enemy
by Penny Brain
Like the wind
Can’t see it
Can’t touch it
Can’t smell it
Can’t feel it
A silent killer sweeping over the land in Biblical proportions
Showing no discrimination
Showing no mercy
Can’t kill it with an air strike
No covert extraction operation
No choice but to stock up
Lock ourselves away
Batten down the hatches
Pray for everyone’s safety
In these desperate, lonely days
we can find strength in our faith.
Maybe the name for this troublesome virus
was chosen for its crown like appearance
or its similarity to the ‘corona’ of light
surrounding the sun during an eclipse.
Corona suggests undefeatable power, awesomeness.
But, how different from that other crown – of thorns,
never to be forgotten
as we revisit the Good Friday stories.
Thankfully, Good Friday is followed by Easter Day.
We can celebrate the deep truth
Jesus revealed to powerful Pilate.
‘My kingdom is not of this world’,
or as St. Paul wrote,
‘God’s apparent weakness is stronger than human strength’.
Despite this troublesome virus, despite our isolation
we can and will still celebrate Easter,
assured that there is nothing which can exterminate God
who will give us the strength to cope,
come what may both in this earthly life and in that mystery
which we trust lies beyond bodily death.
If only I had 6 ft arms, I wouldn’t have to stand so close
I would be keeping my distance, and following the rules.
If I coughed or sneezed, the germ rule wouldn’t be breached.
With sanitized, washed and very clean hands.
Gently rubbing your shoulder, or gently touching your face.
Without the worry of a police interface.
If I had 3 foot arms, and you did too.
Guess holding hands would be ok to do.
Outstretched all the way 3 feet plus 3.
Six feet, not breaking the rule of space.
Holding hands arms stretched out, is awkward and tiring.
But what I need right now, just touching you is inspiring.
If we’re not careful, we won’t have a clue
Did you get it from me, or did I get it from you.
There’s just no telling, what corona will do!
Guess keeping my distance is best for now
But looking forward to hanging out with you!
by Mike Johnson
Pray as you Go, is a prayer and meditation audio series from the Jesuits. There are daily meditations with different choices of length, prayer tools for children, as well as some special thematic series, including ‘Pray as you stay’ meditations for lockdown. https://pray-as-you-go.org/ If you click on menu bars at top right, from drop-down menu select ’Retreats and series’, then select ‘Pray as you stay’. They started putting daily reflections on, but only got as far as Week 2, but I find them helpful.
A poem, gleaned from local Parish newsletter, by poet, singer-songwriter, priest and academic, Malcolm Guite.
And where is Jesus, this strange Easter day? Not lost in our locked churches, anymore Than he was sealed in that dark sepulchre. The locks are loosed; the stone is rolled away, And he is up and risen, long before, Alive, at large, and making his strong way Into the world he gave his life to save, No need to seek him in his empty grave.
He might have been a wafer in the hands Of priests this day, or music from the lips Of red-robed choristers, instead he slips Away from church, shakes off our linen bands To don his apron with a nurse: he grips And lifts a stretcher, soothes with gentle hands The frail flesh of the dying, gives them hope, Breathes with the breathless, lends them strength to cope.
On Thursday we applauded, for he came And served us in a thousand names and faces Mopping our sickroom floors and catching traces Of that virus which was death to him: Good Friday happened in a thousand places Where Jesus held the helpless, died with them That they might share his Easter in their need, Now they are risen with him, risen indeed.