I saw this in a church the other day and marvelled at the myriad of prayers that are reflected here. It is a simple idea and one I participated in. I wrote my prayer in the book too and was encouraged to read that the church would incorporate these prayers into their prayers. Finding ways of helping and encouraging people to pray is one of those outreach activities that I value when I visit a church.
Yesterday we went to St Clether Holy Well and Chapel, a short walk from St Clether church. I gain so much from going to sacred places where people have prayed over many years and there is a deep sense of peace. It restores my soul. There were clouties on the trees by the well and inside the chapel an amazing granite altar and a little wooden door to access the lower part of the well. It is a place to return to with the requested bird seed! I am.so grateful to the people whose ministry is to keep such places open so that people like us can enjoy an interlude in a place soaked in history and worship.
This cartoon is doing the rounds this weekend. It is a sad theological reflection upon another school shooting in the USA. Personally, I think this is an insightful comment upon what can be perceived as an offering of prayer and support when perhaps action, policy, legislation is also needed. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I do not believe in the power or necessity of prayer, but sometimes, perhaps many times in the face of injustice, oppression, local and national government are obliged to respond. When the system is broken, yes, pray it gets fixed, but peaceful protest is also required when systemic response to address the issue is slow, or reluctant. Could it be assurance of praying for someone or a situation from a position of power, is not enough or even trite and insulting? I am not just just referring to the US in this blog, this is is at the door of any government’s policy that can change the safety of any demographic.
Is it going too far to say, “guns don’t kill people, lack of Governmental intervention does”? Don’t just pray, do something!
This article was in yesterday’s Times newspaper. It discusses the results of a UK survey that showed over 50% of people regularly pray and they do it doing activities such as exercise and cooking. Someone told me recently that they feel different when they pray with someone else than when they talk to them. It seems we are more experienced at practising the presence of God than we think.
I wonder how I might relate to people if I assumed half of them already pray. God is already at work in our world, country, homes and work. In junior church today we had the children repeat God’s affirmation of Jesus by name to each other, …….God loves you. This is the part we can play.
Yesterday I presided at the lunchtime communion at the Children’s hospital – I am last reserve so only get to do it very occasionally! As soon as I walked in these amazing pumpkin prayers caught my eye – what a wonderful way for the chaplaincy team of celebrating a cultural festival (I will not get into the what should Christians do about Halloween debate) in a child and young person friendly way. They looked good around the autumn coloured leaves prayer tree. Looking closer each strip had a different prayer or statement on. This was the work of our wonderful CYM student Jodie. I work with lots of creative people and am very blessed by the different ways we can make connections between our faith and everyday life.
This card is in my journal – it is from the Open Gate on Holy Island and the cross is from St Cuthbert’s island. Holy week is when I pray alone and together (to use a Northumbria Community phrase) every day which is unusual for me. I appreciate the coming together and the capacity to share the journey with others. It is not an easy week and I value in a new way taking it step by step so tonight it is Holy Communion with anointing as we remember the extravagant gift of the woman who anointed Jesus and the story will continue to unfold over the next few days. One of the highlights will be Saturday where we will share stories around the fire, stories that are real, that reflect all that Saturday means but which can never be without the glimpse of what is coming on Sunday.
I took this picture yesterday evening, it does not do justice to the quality of the light. The shadows had lengthened, the temperature had dropped, the river began to take on a yellowish tone as the sun was sinking. I have no idea how I know this is evening light when I look at the picture but I do.
Less than an hour later it was dark and in a village with no street lights that really does mean dark. If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have been reading about loss this lent and as I look towards Holy Week I am hoping I can live more in the present and follow the story as it unfolds day by day. Evening light helps me prepare for the darkness, it isn’t an immediate switch off, there is a gradual process, I am drawn into night time with the hope of sunrise and morning light. However, I need to learn to live more comfortably with the growing shadows, with the darkening sky and learn to watch and pray…