This Weeks Prayers are in the shape of LECTIO 365, a National & International Aid which exists to Help us pray in groups or as individuals. The aim is that our prayers, wherever we are, at whatever time we pray, are being prayed to our Father in heaven 24-7 every day of the year.
SO, I TURN TO GOD IN PRAYER
As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre my scattered senses upon the presence of God. (Pause and pray)
Prayer of Approach
Loving Father, I still my soul now and remember that You are here with me, You are here in me, You are here for me. Lord Jesus, I worship You. Holy Spirit, I welcome You.
RESPOND AND REJOICE
I choose to rejoice in God’s goodness today, joining with the ancient praise of all God’s people in the words of Psalm 100.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving.
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
Having begun the new year after the birth of Jesus I am reflecting on the birth of the Early Church in the book of Acts and also a key moment in the life of the church in the 1700s.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them Acts 2:1-4
At 3am on New Year’s Day, 1739, the Holy Spirit also came to an all-night prayer meeting in Fetter Lane, London. ‘The power of God came mightily upon us,’ recorded John Wesley in his journal, ‘insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy and many fell to the ground.’ * Echoing the experience of those who were propelled out of the upper room in Jerusalem to preach the gospel, John Wesley, too, was propelled out of that prayer room in London to ride 125,000 miles preaching the gospel, while his brother Charles Wesley began writing 6,000 hymns. And their 25-year-old friend, George Whitfield, crossed the Atlantic to stir the fires of America’s First Great Awakening. The world would never be the same again.
Jesus said that the Father loves to give the Spirit to those who ask (Matthew 7:11) – just as John and Charles Wesley asked that day in London.
And so, as I open my hands in front of me, I ask You, Father, to fill me with Your Spirit. Fill me with new power for this new year, just as You filled those disciples 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, and 282 years ago in Fetter Lane, London.
And now, I lift up my hands and I pray for my community, for my nation, and for the nations of the world. I ask You, Father, to stir the fires of another Great Awakening of Your Spirit.
As I return to this familiar passage, I try to imagine what it was like to be in that room, seeing what seemed like tongues of fire dancing in the air, being filled with the Holy Spirit for the very first time.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them Acts 2:1-4 (NIV UK)
The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in other tongues. As the story continues, the Spirit enabled them to speak about Jesus with boldness, to endure hardship and persecution, to perform miracles, to serve the poor, to discern and make difficult decisions, and much more. These are the kinds of things that Spirit-enabled people do. What might the Spirit be enabling me to do this year?
The Methodist Covenant prayer, written by John Wesley himself in 1755, is prayed by millions of Methodists at the start of every year. It’s a liturgy of profound and beautiful surrender, and so I join with sisters and brothers in Christ around the world as I pray it now.
I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full,
Let me be empty,
Let me have all things,
Let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious, and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
As we look forward together for a better new year, we pray for God’s Holy Spirit to lead us into the unknown future that lies before us.
Matthew 6:31-34 gives us sound advice as we enter into 2021
So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.
Thoughts for this week are taken from a book of Christmas thoughts written by Eddie Askew. I know that a good number of you own several of his books. Christine and I have seventeen of his books, written and illustrated throughout with his watercolours. I was fortunate to spend three retreats with him, once at Scargill in the Dales and twice at Lee Abbey in Devon. Eddie and his wife Barbara worked for 15years for the Leprosy Mission in India and who on return became Its International Director.
Christmas thoughts – Eddie Askew
Over Christmas, a friend said something that made me look at the nativity story with new eyes. Usually, when we look at it, it’s with all the information we’ve inherited. All we know about Jesus’s life and death, and resurrection. We interpret it through nearly two thousand years of theology and church life. But Mary and Joseph had none of that. They knew their baby was special in some way.
The visits of the shepherds and wise men pointed to that, but it wasn’t very clear. The vision they’d had told them to name him Jesus. It meant “saviour”, but il was a common name. Even being told that he’d save people from their sins wasn’t very explicit, seen from where they were. It was made harder by other events.
Mary and Joseph weren’t in control of their lives.
They had been compelled to go to Bethlehem for a census, on Roman orders. Then, King Herod’s soldiers got in the way, and they had to run for safety to Egypt as refugees. Looking at later events, I’m sure it was a blessing that they didn’t know in detail what life held for them all, especially about the baby’s call to preach and die. There are times when we wish we knew more about the future. Moments when we’d like to feel in better control of life, but we can’t. Life’s not like that. Each day we walk into the unknown as Mary and Joseph did. And, like them, we find strength for that one day, and then the next. We have one advantage though, that they didn’t have. We do know who Jesus is, and what he’s done. And we have the confidence of walking into each day with him Extract from No Strange Land, first published 1987.
It’s easy talking, Lord, about not being anxious. Taking each day as it comes ‘No point in worrying’ they say. I’m not so sure of that, the things I worry about don’t usually happen
I look at Joseph, and his responsibilities. A wife. New baby. Away from home and pushed further by forces he couldn’t control. Did he have the same moments of panic that I have? Bleak moments, when it seems that nothing I know will help me through the day. And I’m running scared, tail down, ready to jump in the nearest hole,
Sometimes, Lord, I wish you’d tell me more. Prepare me. Whisper in my ear a weather forecast of a sunnier day tomorrow. Or warn me of the storm to come, So I could grab a spiritual umbrella and stay dry,
But then I realise I know all I need to know. And that’s a fact, that you know all my needs. And, wet or dry, In calm or storm, you’re in it with me. And that’s enough. Just for today.
Extract from No Strange Land first published 1987
Thought – Hope – Psalm 62:5-6
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress,
Happy New Year! Join us online or in church for a service of Holy Communion as we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany – Sunday 3rd January at 9:30am – St Bartholomew’s, Meltham. https://youtu.be/2e5nFxfr6YY
A joint Parish Communion service for the first Sunday of Christmas and the last Sunday of 2020. Today, you can join in the worship from the comfort of your own home – it is online only – there is no actual service at church. The online service is scheduled for 10:30am and can be found here: https://youtu.be/fLY42h9PgQM
Please note also there is no service at St Bartholomew’s on Wednesday 30th December.
A very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year to you all.
You can join us in church or online for the Christmas Eve Midnight Communion from St Bartholomew’s – Meltham from 11:30pm. https://youtu.be/cGwdk0a7ZZM
Please note however that capacity is reduced in our church buildings due to Covid restrictions. The usual social distancing and face coverings rules must be adhered to. We may have to restrict entry if the number of people attending exceeds capacity to as to ensure safe distancing.
We’ve all missed singing this year due to the pandemic, and especially this time of year when we would normally be having carol services and going out around #Meltham carol singing. Fortunately, we managed to get do a video last year whilst on our rounds of the Meltham carol – Tenderly Sleeping, so thought would share with everyone on t’internet.
Merry Christmas to everyone in Meltham and beyond. Stay safe and lets hope and pray we will be back to some form of normality for next Christmas! Enjoy! https://youtu.be/Bo1HvpfPbZI
Join us to celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas!
CHRISTMAS EVE: 4:00pm – Crib Service – St James’ Meltham Mills – NOW FULLY BOOKED – PLEASE DO NOT ATTEND UNLESS YOU HAVE ALREADY BOOKED/ARRANGED YOUR PLACE. 11:30pm – Midnight Communion – St Bartholomew’s – Meltham (also available online via YouTube: https://youtu.be/cGwdk0a7ZZM
CHRISTMAS DAY: 9:00am – Holy Communion – St Bartholomew’s – Meltham 9:30am – Family Communion – St James’ – Meltham Mills 10:00am – Holy Communion – Christ Church, Helme 11:15am – Holy Communion – St Mary’s Wilshaw (on Zoom only – not in church)
SUNDAY 27th DECEMBER Online Parish Communion via YouTube – no services in Church.
PLEASE NOTE – CAPACITY IS REDUCED IN OUR CHURCH BUILDINGS DUE TO COVID RESTRICTIONS. THE USUAL SOCIAL DISTANCING AND FACE COVERINGS RULES APPLY. WE MAY HAVE TO RESTRICT ENTRY IF NUMBERS EXCEED CAPACITY TO ENSURE SAFE DISTANCING.