Wednesday 4/11 - Coffee Morning
Hello everybody – here is what I might have said if we had been able to be together for our Wednesday Coffee service at church.
I usually try to look at the URC Prayer Handbook at least once a week. As some of you know there are two prayers each week that have been inspired by the writer’s reading of the Lectionary readings for the Sunday. The readings for the 20th September I felt spoke so strongly to our current situation that I thought I would share them with you. Although these must have been written sometime in early 2019 their relevance now, encourages me to see God’s hand in the planning.
Exodus 16 : 2 -15
Who hasn’t felt a desire to be able to return to how things “used to be”?
Who hasn’t felt like complaining at some point during this strange year?
And yet this first prayer by Rachel Poolman* points us to the God who fed the Israelites wandering in the desert and will, surely sustain us, during this trying time.
Prayer - Manna and quails
In the wilderness nights,
when we hunger for the past
and fear for the future,
you are our present.
In the wearisome days,
when we wake up complaining
and feel the grumblings of anxiety,
you bear with us.
And in the aching desert
your beauty will break through the clouds,
your sure and certain hope will reach us,
and you will give us sustenance
for the journey ahead.
And it reminded me of another prayer which I carry in my diary. It’s by Liz Kam and is from a previous edition of the Handbook, and this is just a part of it :
In the still small hours of the morning I worry.
In the frantic rush of the day’s work I worry.
Always at the back of my mind there is worry.
My worries are a part of me.
But Hebrews 13 v 6 reassures me and I can say with confidence :
“The Lord is my helper.
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?
A this point if we had been meeting together we could have sung “Do not be afraid” so why not sing it now and know you are not alone :
Chorus: Do not be afraid, For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name; You are mine.
When you walk through the waters I'll be with you,
You will never have to sink beneath the waves.
When the fire is burning all around you,
You will never be consumed by the flames.
When the fear of loneliness is looming,
Then remember I am at your side.
When you dwell in the exile of a stranger,
Remember you are precious in my eyes.
You are mine, O my child; I am your father,
And I love you with a perfect love.
My Oxford Bible Commentary tells me that Psalm 105 has throughout, a “tone of praise” and is often regarded as a hymn. Certainly, the verses we are given to read are definitely a hymn of praise and in verse 43 we read “So he led them out, and they sang and shouted for joy”. The Message version of the Bible feels this is so important that it reads “REMEMBER THIS! He led his people out singing for joy” Note the exclamation mark.
Psalm 105 1 – 6; 37 - 45
Despite the situation in which we find ourselves we can see the greatness of God, as we watch the geese flying overhead, as we watch the blue tits on the birdfeeder, as we quietly watch the sunset in the stillness we pray :-
Prayer - Releasing praise
We still ourselves
to be steeped in the knowledge
of the countless ways
in which your covenant
has painted your rainbow path
across the earth.
We still ourselves
to receive your holy joy,
poured out through time and space,
enlivening and invigorating us
to respond to the Spirit's invitation
to join the dance of life.
We still ourselves
to become a living remembrance
of your grace and glory,
pilgrims on the journey of eternity,
alight with hope,
suffused by praise.
And here as we reflect on the greatness of God we could have sung :-
Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.
See! The streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove;
who can faint, while such a river
ever flows, their thirst to assuage—
grace, which, like the Lord, the giver,
never fails from age to age.
Saviour, if of Zion's city
I, through grace, a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name.
Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion's children know. JOHN NEWTON (1725—1807)
* Rachel Poolman is Director of the St Cuthbert’s Centre on Holy Island, Northumberland