Reflecting on our series of 24 hours of prayer sessions
We were inspired and encouraged to pray as we began the Prayer Course at the Hub earlier this term and Bob Jarvis agreed to co-ordinate 24 hours of prayer each week where we passed the baton on to one another after an hour (or two!) each. Our first week was 20 Jan when we agreed to try it for three weeks, but we have extended this a couple of times so when we finish on 18 March, we will have been running for 9 weeks, and who knows what will be next.
36 people are involved, across 2 teams and the support to extend this season of prayer came from across the teams. It’s never too late to join in – just contact email@example.com.
Bob Jarvis shares some of his reflections on the 7 weeks so far:
“I am really surprised at how much appetite there has been to continue from our original concept of just 3 weeks. I’ve found it interesting and helpful, hearing from people about how they spend parts of their hour – reading the Bible, background music, reading Christian poetry. This ‘licence’ to do other than sit quietly, eyes closed, in silence, is helpful. For me the challenge will be to convert this commitment, into 10 or 15 minutes daily. (Sounds like it should be easy doesn’t it, but I for one, find it difficult).”
Engaging with God’s Word
The pandemic of 2020/2021 has bought a unique and serious set of challenges. It has left many of us with deeper questions: To whom are we turning in our need? In what are we placing our trust? Where do we go for escape or refuge? The risk is that we find ourselves leaning upon techniques of distraction or mindfulness, upon rational thinking or routine, or upon others who realistically may not always be there.. As Christians, we know that God’s word is fuel, nourishment and balm to our weary hearts but opening the pages and reading the verses can seem an elusive skill. I hope this article by Helen Thorne encourages us to keep feeling on God’s word in ways that feel manageable. Do click on the link below:
I will be sending out further details soon about the next Growth Group in May. We will be looking at Discipleship, discussing the difficulties and encouragements we experience.
The aim is also to give us tools to help us grow together and to see that discipling one another is something for everyone and every day. I hope you are keeping well. I am keeping you in my prayers and would love to know how I can be praying for you specifically.
Prayer Update from our mission partners – Joshua and Miriam Mbithi in Neema Children’s Home
This includes news of individual children and their progress, an update on the introduction of a new school curriculum in Kenya, details of the school development projects and photos of all the above.
Joshua and Miriam also provide much encouragement for us with a timely reminder: “Even though smiling at the storm is not as easy as the chorus goes, there is hope and expectation that the presence of Jesus makes the difference in the lives of those who trust in Him.“
We are asked to pray for:
The ongoing health of the children.
For the continuation of the school developments
For the much needed rains to be sustained well beyond the positive early signs this month.
Christ Church Barnston celebrates its 150th anniversary this year!
Please click here for more details of the 150 years of Christ Church in Barnston, researched and written by Alan Dakin and abbreviated here by Coral Greenwood. From services conducted in a local barn, the generosity of parishioners and Victorian landowners, through two world wars to the current congregations this building has served the people meeting within it to honour God with their work, warmth and witness.
Also enclosed the first tantalising description of our plans to celebrate this anniversary later this year in September. Do click through to find out what events we have in store.
Pastoral Letter from Revd Chris Murphy following the UK government roadmap announcement
Please click here for the full letter from Revd Chris Murphy detailing the current thinking for our Parish following the UK government roadmap out of pandemic restrictions, with an excerpt below:
“For some the roadmap will seem too slow, for others it will seem too fast, but either way we can give thanks to God for the rollout of the vaccine and that there are promising signs we will return to some form of normality at some point this year. It has been great to hear of so many people receiving their vaccines and to witness the increased confidence this has provided. At the midweek communion this week we hit double figures for the first time since last March and it was lovely to see a number of people I have not seen for many months.”
Mission Partner Update – St. Peter’s Rockferry
It is very hard to plan for the coming year with so much uncertainty, not knowing when we will be able to meet ‘properly’ again. For the time being we are going to be running Sunday and midweek children’s groups on line and continuing to run our online youth group.
We will be working hard to encourage more young people to engage with this in the coming weeks. When restrictions allow, we will meet up in person again. In addition to sunday groups, we hope to start midweek children and youth groups both in the church building and in the vikings, a local community centre, located in the other end of our parish.
We cannot teach in our local schools at present, but hope to be able to start again in the not too distant future. (We were in one school three afternoons a week and the other one afternoon before Christmas). In the mean time, we are helping out by delivering lunch and activity packs to some of the children from Rock Ferry Primary. This is giving us more opportunities to get to meet parents, which we hope to build on in the future.
A small group of people are also starting to meet up (virtually) to think and pray about the way to move forward in the part of our parish that includes Rock Ferry Primary. In addition to starting groups for children and young people in that area, we are exploring the possibility of starting a Sunday meeting in a suitable venue.
This week we enter the season of Lent (Lent is a contraction of the Old English word lencten meaning “Spring Season”) and it is noticeable that the days are growing longer and the shoots of new growth are visible.
Some people mark Lent by giving something up. Giving up a habit, a food, or a pleasure is not however a distinctly Christian practice: people give things up all the time, and for both good and bad reasons. And as we have seen in our series in Mark’s gospel the call of Jesus on our lives is not to deny ourselves ‘things’ but to deny our ‘self’- which is far more radical. The point of Lent is to orient our life away from ourselves and toward God. Lent is an opportunity to knead the gospel deeper into our lives.
In this we follow the example of Jesus as he entered the wilderness. For forty days Jesus had to depend (more obviously) upon his Father to supply his every need and so we aim for forty days to know Jesus more deeply, to trust him more intimately, and rely upon him more fully. Not that we may reach Easter and think “mission accomplished”; now I can turn my attention to mastering Chess, but that we may take this deeper intimacy and trust with us through the rest of the year and the rest of our lives.
Lent reading: A journey to Easter with great voices from the past
Why not reflect on Jesus in the run-up to Easter with this inspiring collection of daily devotions and prayers? An Ocean of Grace by Tim Chester is a collection of prayers from great Christian writers of the past, including: Augustine, Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, Catherine Parr and Martin Luther, but its aim is to draw our hearts closer to Jesus and teach us how to pray!
As one review explains: “voices from the past provide great encouragement in the present as we navigate our way into the future” (Stephen Lawson, One Passion Ministries). These meditations which are ideal to start at the beginning of Lent will help prepare our hearts in the run-up to Easter as we reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Books can be ordered through Ten of Those, The Good Book Company or through Joanna Hill (07775562224) or Linda Edward (07786521758).
Let’s talk about Prayer!
We would love to receive short 20-30 second videos of testimony about your prayer slot – whether the heavens shook and the earth moved or whether you got through it without falling asleep! We need to hear one another’s prayer stories in order to make Jesus known and grow together in him. We plan to splice these together as a montage to show in our Sunday services and encourage one another to keep on praying.
News and Prayer update from Sena and Jane Ounate-Lare
In their January letter Sena and Jane share: ‘During this pandemic, like other churches we have learned to adapt and make sure no one is isolated, especially the international students among us and the migrants we are caring for. In France, since the end of November, churches have been allowed to meet in person with certain restrictions in place. We have been very blessed as a church since last September. The church has grown! Mostly through people who have moved to Caen and they have brought with them a new dynamic to the church. We are so grateful to the Lord for many things.’
As our two teams gear up to spend another 48 hours in prayer from Wednesday noon until Thursday noon this prayer, quoted in yesterday’s sermon, may provide a helpful stimulus to meditate on.
“Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou has brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
Let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty Thy glory in my valley.“
Do scroll back through our news pages for a reminder of further prayer stimuli.
Praying for Arrowe Park Hospital
One of the foci for our 24 hours of prayer taking place across Wednesdays and Thursdays at present is our local NHS staff and hospital. We asked the chaplain at Arrowe Park Hospital how we could specifically pray for them and received the following requests.
“Please pray for the members of the respiratory physiotherapy team working on intensive care on what has been the longest and hardest year of their careers so far. Please keep them safe, give them hope for the future and comfort that you are watching over.
Please pray for the patients in their care, their families who are unable to visit them, and the wider critical care team including doctors, nurses, support workers, pharmacists, domestics and volunteers they see working so hard day in day out.
Please pray for their physio and other allied health professional colleagues that include occupational therapists, dietitians, speech and language therapists that are working throughout the hospital to provide the best care they can during such challenging times.
And finally please pray for the therapy managers who are under immense pressure, please help guide them to help make the right decisions to support the staff they manage”.
There is hope in Jesus
The Christian hope is not like secular hope. The Christian hope is rooted in the historical reality that Jesus defeated death, and because Jesus defeated death, we who trust in Jesus will one day do the same. Our hope is a future guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus. Even if the vaccine lets us down, which I hope it doesn’t, we still have every reason to be hopeful. And that is a hope, which is worth sharing and which our world, particularly at this time, desperately needs to hear. True hope is not in a vaccine, it is in Jesus.
Do you feel anxious? If you do, take heart! You are not alone.
Anxiety is a common problem which God knows about. Our loving Father knows how anxious His precious children can be as we navigate the complexities of life in this fallen uncertain world. What is the most frequent command that the Bible gives? Do not be afraid, do not fear! We read in Phil 4 v 6 “Do not be anxious…..about anything”. Note how the command is not linked to an admonishment or warning and call to repent. It is so often linked to a promise, In this case (vs 5) “the LORD is near”. I will never leave you, I will be with you, trust me. There is a tone of warmth, care and assurance that God will see us through.
We have been looking in our Growth Group sessions this term at how we can be responding biblically to the anxieties that we all face and so find the consolation and joy that the Psalmist found when He turned to the Lord (Psalm 94 v 19). We can cry out in our affliction to One who knows and sees our distress because we trust in His steadfast love (Psalm 31 v 7). We have seen that as we receive comfort from the God of comfort Himself (2 Cor 1 v 3, 4), we can be better equipped to help those we know and love who experience anxiety.