Lent reflections and prayers

22nd March Reflection – Calm in the storm
Readings – Mark 6:45-51 and Ephesians 2: 1-10

Dear friends, this has been a week like no other. Last Sunday we were worshiping together, wondering if we would be able to do again in the forseeable future, and the answers has been no. The spread of the corona virus has accelerated, and measure of social distancing and self isolation have become the norm. In a week, all pubs and clubs have closed down, schools have shut, and so many people have lost their jobs. Even on Mother’s Day, the advice is not to visit, and to do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

Such changes have cause so much fear, and we struggle with how to live –  at times it seems overwhelming and just too much to bear. There is worry and anxiety and stress about so many things. Panic buying in the supermarket is just a symbol of people’s concern.

And so as followers of Jesus, how do we survive in such a time as this?

the Bible –  Ephesians –  reminds us of an eternal perspective. The Christians in the early days of the church faced many challenges and dangers, and they were under pressure. They were fearful, and at times made mistakes. But God, in His mercy, looked upon them with compassion, and because of the cross, showed grace towards them. And so we know that even in these days, even in the midst of our selfishness and fear, God looks upon us with love, and wants to show mercy to us, and so he calls us to place our trust in Him.  And this helps us not to worry, for nothing can ever separate us from His love in Jesus Christ.

Firstly, we place our trust in Jesus. Secondly, we take courage because Jesus is with us. In our passage from Mark chapter 6, the disciples are in the boat rowing away, because the wind was against them, and they weren’t getting anywhere. And Jesus –  who has been praying –  walks out to them and says: “ Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid”  And the wind quietens down. And the disciples were amazed.

When we are in the dark, and feeling worried and lonely and uncertain, then Jesus comes along side us and tells us not to be afraid. Instead we are to have courage. What a wonderful message –  Go’s love for us gives us courage to keep on going, to find ways of enduring our isolation, to find creative ways to live each day, a positive rhythm for our lives.

We place our trust in Jesus, and we find courage. And thirdly, we live out His love.  This might mean that we devote ourselves to prayer, that we seek to remember our loved ones, those who serve others, those who are unwell. If we are well and not in a vulnerable group –  maybe we might offer to get messages for a neighbour, or to really thank that shop worker and ask how they are, or to get in touch with that friend who is having a hard time. Maybe we encourage that friend who is a key worker-  in a school or hospital or shop. Social distancing doesn’t mean that we are any further apart as human beings, just that we need to find new ways to connect, and to show care.

May God bless us, as we seek to trust, to have courage and to love. Let us pray.

Sunday 22nd March – Prayers

    “ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  Hebrews 13: 8

We live in uncertain times, a new landscape, where things are less certain, and where the effects of the coronavirus and the measures that need to be taken to combat it, are having an enormous impact on our lives.

We remember the words from 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 to pray without ceasing, and this seems a particular priority at this time.

And so we pray –  giving thanks for God’s goodness and power, and praying for Him to have mercy upon us.

We give thanks for all health care workers across the globe working under such pressure, and pray for wisdom and the right resources to enable them to help those who are sick.

We give thanks for all shop workers, who are working long shifts to make sure people have all they need. Help us to express our appreciation to them, and we pray for stamina and patience for them.

We pray for all those who work in the hospitality industry, and in similar work where people have lost their jobs. Please help them to have the support they need to live, until the situation changes.

We pray for our young people, who have been working for exams that now they will not sit, and we pray for them in this time of frustration and disappointment.

As a church family, help us to look after one another, and all those in our community that need extra support, especially those who as self isolating.

We pray for all churches in the local area, as we seek to pray for the world –  especially on this day of national prayer.

We pray for people today on Mother’s day – those whose mum’s are no longer with us, and those who will not be able to see their mum today. Thank you for the cords of love that bind us all together, in heaven and on earth.

We pray for all those in terrible situations –  in prisons in Iran where the corona virus is active, in Syrian refugee camps, in Yemen where there is still conflict –  protect the vulnerable, thwart the exploiters and war mongers, and bless those who seek to be peacemakers and to bring aid.

                         In the midst of these days, may we know that You are with us Lord Jesus, and may Your Love and light bring us hope, just as the candle brings light to a room. May your holy spirit bring light to us all and help us not to fear; to know that You are with us.

Link to YouTube video of the reflection and prayers: https://youtu.be/DFrwdrclOLg