As we cannot meet together as church at this time we have provided a place where we can share our thoughts and readings, as we normally do in our Sunday morning meetings. Please click here to submit your own thoughts and they will be added to the website daily. Click to read what has been shared from in April and May.
On 31st March Merle wrote her thoughts about how to break up the day: 'My niece phoned this morning to find out if I was alright and to have a chat. It meant the world to me because there was a different voice at the start of my day. When I enquired how she was she had hours of work to do (she’s a schoolteacher) but she had decided to break her day up to lighten the load. I thanked her for giving me the title for this blog. My thinking from yesterday morning had to be encouraged on very positive lines. Lockup can cause us to be incredibly restrictive in our outlook. Some of the titles I had pondered using were ‘Fresh as a daisy’, ‘Dry as the stale crust of a loaf of bread’ or ‘Flexible structures’. (That was my husband’s intellectual idea!) ...' Click here to read Merle's thoughts.
On 31st March Julie wrote: 'I watched 'Songs of praise' on Sunday and one of the songs featured was '10,000 Reasons' by Matt Redman. It's also the song Jen has chosen for our 'song of the day' today. I found Sunday quite a difficult day and missed the being able to meet together for worship and fellowship - and lunch! - but felt my spirits lift as I sang along to the TV. We sang '10,000 Reasons' at my husband's funeral 6 years ago and I've found it quite difficult to sing since, particularly the last verse. However, on Sunday I found it a real encouragement and it reinforced John's message about worshipping the Lord and seeking his presence whilst on our own at home. The second verse struck me as a very helpful and practical way of doing that - to worship the Lord at the beginning of the day and again in the evening, whatever our day has been like. "The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning, it's time to sing your song again. Whatever may pass, whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes." It reminded me of Psalm 92:1-2 and I have set myself the challenge to make sure that the Lord is my focus at the beginning and end of each day, "It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night."
On 30th March Cathy wrote: 'I was talking to a friend on the phone this morning and explaining how, as a single occupant, self isolating 'was alright' and 'it wasn't alright' in more or less equal measure and I suddenly realised the truth of the verse Deuteronomy 33:27 'The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms'. It really did feel like that, that notwithstanding the ups and downs, we're absolutely safe and provided for in God's arms. Coming back to this website page I also wanted to express appreciation for being able to comment on it, so good to be able to share personal thoughts and to read everyone else's. Thank you.'
On 29th March Tim wrote: 'Some really good thoughts. I have enjoyed reading through. The Sunday school resources are excellent. We're working through them this morning and will listen to the talk. Looking forward to the time when we can all meet up. God bless.'
Tim shared the following quote from 'The Screwtape letters', written by C. S. Lewis in 1942: Satan: "I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil." Jesus: " I will bring together neighbours, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table. I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources."
On 29th March Graham wrote: 'The whole routine of our habits, lifestyle and assumptions has been brought to a shuddering halt. It remains to be seen to what degree things return to the old normal. But Psalm 91:3-7 gives powerful reassurance that we are being protected. "Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, or the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you."'
On 26th March Laura wrote: 'Since working from home, I have tried starting each day with a bit of Bible reading. Something that I should have been doing long before now, but there’s a positive from lockdown – I’ve been able to start it now! I’ve been using notes to help me read through Ephesians, and today’s has made me think so I thought I would share it. The reading was Ephesians 3:14-21, and my thoughts we around ‘what do we pray for?’ I don’t know about you, but for me it’s usually specific things, like illness, upcoming challenges, direction/guidance in a particular situation – all of these either for me or for other people. Whenever I have read these verses before, I have assumed Paul was praying for us so that we can go out and do grand and miraculous things. But reading through it this morning, I’ve realised there is nothing for us to actually do. Paul is praying:
That God will strengthen us (v16) – our first question might be what are we strengthened for? If you read on, it’s not to do anything in particular. It’s ‘so that Christ may dwell in our hearts’ (v17). Something that I might have thought was quite passive, something that just happens – not something to pray for, either ourselves or for others. But here Paul is praying it for the Ephesians.
That we may have power (v18) – what for? Again, it’s not to do anything directly. Paul asks that we have power ‘to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’ (v18). Again, maybe I thought that was something that just happens over time, but here Paul is actively praying for it.
Finally, the passage finishes with v20: ‘to him who can do immeasurably more’ – what immeasurable thing is Paul going to ask God to do…? Nothing. He gives him glory (v21). That’s the only thing we are asked to do.
Something that I like to do is look up verses in the Message and read how it is different to the NIV. There were a few bits that stood out:
V16 in the NIV says ‘that he may strengthen you’. In the Message it says ‘not a brute strength, but a glorious inner strength’ – I like that.
V18 in the NIV talks about grasping how wide, long, high and deep is God’s love. In the Message it says:
‘I ask that you’ll be able to take in the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test it’s length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.’
I thought that this full life doesn’t come (only) from what we do – it comes from our experience of God. From experiencing the breadth of his love.
V20-21 in the Message says, ‘God can do anything you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams. He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us’.
Each of these verses challenged me this morning. Maybe we need to worry less about what we do, and more about realising and appreciating the full measure of who is living inside us. That seems quite relevant in this time where a lot of the things that we do have stopped for the time being.. . The only time the verses mention ‘do’ is when God is ‘doing’ something. We just have to let him ‘work within us, deeply and gently’. Finally, Paul isn’t praying this for himself. He is praying it for the Ephesians. Who could we pray this prayer for?'
John replied: 'There are some excellent thoughts here, Laura. Well worth pondering. You have got hold of something important there.' Mary commented: 'Thank you Laura for your thoughts on this passage. How important it is to be reminded that it's not all about what we do. I love the passage in The Message verse 18, what a timely reminder to stop and take in the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love and with that we can live full lives, full in the fullness of God! My prayer is to experience the breadth of his love for myself and others.'
On 26th March Cathy wrote: 'This is just a P.S. to what I wrote yesterday. I happened to look up the verse about grace in 2 Corinthians 12:9 in the Amplified Bible. It reads, "My grace - my favour, loving kindness and mercy - are enough for you (that is sufficient against any danger and to enable you to bear trouble manfully) For my strength and power are made perfect - fulfilled and completed and show themselves most effective in your weakness...." That's some sufficiency.'
On 25th March Cathy wrote: 'Thank you Jenny for your comments. I can identify with the gentleman who travelled to Calcutta to ask Mother Theresa to pray for his clarity of vision. I spent some time yesterday getting my thoughts straight about what was now required and how I could handle it. I wrote it all down who I was going to keep in touch with, which projects I was going to attempt etc. However today came the discovery what the new situation really meant and it began to dawn on me that it was beyond my human capabilities to handle. As you mentioned Jenny, the need for human company is part of our DNA. Then I remembered a friend saying yesterday how she learned that the Lord's grace is sufficient for each day's needs. Oh wow, really, that is some kind of a hero! I just love that thought and that he is taking us on journeys to prove it. That is worth the travelling. Also as Andrew said we do sometimes forget to meditate on his perfections and how precious we are to him. So am sorry Lord for my forgetfulness, may I learn to trust you whenever, wherever.'
On 25th March Andy wrote: 'From: 3 - minute Devotions with Charles Spurgeon, based on Jeremiah 2:2, "I remember thee" Let us note that Christ delights to think upon His Church, and to look upon her beauty. As the bird returneth often to its nest, and as the wayfarer hastens to his home, so doth the mind continually pursue the object of its choice. We cannot look too often upon that face which we love; we desire always to have our precious things in our sight. It is even so with our Lord Jesus. From all eternity "His delights were with the sons of men"; His thoughts rolled onward to the time when His elect should be born into the world; He viewed them in the mirror of His foreknowledge. "In Thy book," He says, "all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Psalm 139:16). When the world was set upon its pillars, He was there, and He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. Many a time before His incarnation, He descended to this lower earth in the similitude of a man; on the plains of Mamre (Genesis 18), by the brook of Jabbok (Genesis 32:24-30), beneath the walls of Jericho (Joshua 5:13), and in the fiery furnace of Babylon (Daniel 3:19, 25), the Son of Man visited His people. Because His soul delighted in them, He could not rest away from them, for His heart longed after them. Never were they absent from His heart, for He had written their names upon His hands, and graven them upon His side. As the breastplate containing the names of the tribes of Israel was the most brilliant ornament worn by the high priest, so the names of Christ's elect were His most precious jewels, and glittered on His heart. We may often forget to meditate upon the perfections of our Lord, but He never ceases to remember us. Let us chide ourselves for past forgetfulness, and pray for grace ever to bear Him in fondest remembrance. Lord, paint upon the eyeballs of my soul the image of Thy Son.'
On 24th March Jenny wrote: 'We are living in uncertain times. None of us know how bad the covid-19 virus is going to get, we are preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. Any slight symptom we get we wonder ‘is this the virus or just a common cold?’ How will it affect us if we do get it? How long is it going to last? There is just so much that is unknown, so many questions that we just don’t know the answer to. We like to be in control of our lives, we like to know where we are going, what we are doing. We have enjoyed the freedom of choice, to choose what we do with our day, where we go, who we spend it with. Now that very freedom has been taken away, albeit for our own good. It feels restrictive and we’re not used to it. Human beings are not used to self-isolation, we’re used to company, to being with others, we’re not used to distance and it somehow feels wrong but we also understand it is necessary at this current time and in this current situation. There is no other time like the present where we need to ‘feel’ each other’s company and know we are there for each other. Social distancing and self-isolation may prevent us from meeting physically but we need to know we are connected emotionally and spiritually with each other. More than ever we need to trust that God is in control, even if we feel overwhelmed by our present circumstances. I found the following on a website called ‘ChurchLeaders.com’ and thought it was appropriate for today. “Recently I read a profound interchange documented in a book by the renowned ethicist John Kavanaugh. He tells of a time in his life when he went to Calcutta to work for three months at “The House of the Dying.” This experience was part of his heartfelt search for direction about his future. The first morning there, he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. “What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He responded by explaining that he had come thousands of miles from the U.S. to find direction: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When asked why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for. She laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.” (Daniel Henderson ‘ChurchLeaders.com’ website)'
On 24th March Merle wrote her thoughts following last night's announcement on lock-down: 'One of my greatest pleasures is an early morning walk on the prom at Southwold, our local seaside resort. Few people are about at this time of day; maybe 3 or 4 elderly locals having an early morning dip, a couple of joggers and a few stalwart walkers, me being one of them. Following last night’s update on the Coronavirus that pleasure has been taken away...' Click here to read the complete article.
On 24th March Kelly wrote about her journey to find rest through silent prayer: 'In these uncertain times, what do we do when our busy lives suddenly stop with no real warning or time to prepare? If we allow ourselves to let God’s promise register, it can be life changing. Recently I’ve been reading ‘Finding your hidden treasure: The way of silent prayer’ by Benignus O’Rouke. I’ve changed my patterns slightly to make sure that, in my busy day, I’m able to sit and be quiet. This has been so difficult!' Click here to read the complete article.
On 24th March Julie wrote: 'The following prayer, entitled 'A prayer for connection' came through on my phone this morning from the YouVersion Bible app and I thought it worth sharing - Dear God, Being alone is hard. We were created for community, not confinement. But we’re grateful that no matter how alone we may feel, You never leave or forsake us. And, we’re grateful for technology that helps us stay in touch with each other. Today, please remind us that this time of social distancing and isolation will not last forever. Give us the strength to endure this difficult season, and deepen our connection with You and Your people. Empower us with an extra dose of Your love, peace, hope and joy, because we need it. Remind us of Your promises, and please heal our land. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.'
On 24th March Cathy wrote: 'Anne's desire that we experience God's love today became true for me in a surprising way. Being really disappointed that we can no longer go out for walks with one friend, albeit 2 metres apart, I visited the post office early to avoid contact, turned a corner and there was a beloved church member, we exchanged a few words (2 metres apart) and were on our ways. Strange how much joy that gave me. The Lord had set that all up for just the right time, in the right place so in that meeting he was there too, saying 'I know just how you feel, here is my consolation, my love for the day'. My steadfast spirit and patience is renewed!'
On 23rd March Anne wrote: 'I am not 100% certain if this is appropriate but I will be a fool for Christ. Last week we were told of a prophecy given in September 2019 from Chuck Pierce that in 2020 there would be a global plague which would end at Passover (early/mid April). Time will tell if this was from God. I for one hope and pray that it is truth. However, there are already ‘voices’ ridiculing and challenges the validity of the prophecy. (Echoes of ‘Did God really say?” in the Garden of Eden?) However, as I sat today really wanting to hear from God for myself and not the many, many words out there currently, I felt I was reminded of Lazarus and Jesus saying ‘This was for the Glory of God’. Certain truth is that God loves us all so very much and He loves His Creation and longs to bring healing and restoration to this beautiful, but hurting world. May you experience His love today - what a blessing and a privilege to be one of His children hidden under His wings.'
On 22nd March Julie wrote: 'The realisation of just how much life has changed, and so quickly, struck me forcibly yesterday. A week ago I was packing for a much anticipated skiing holiday, which was cancelled last Sunday morning as France went into lock down. I had hoped to visit my elderly mother and see my family before similar restrictions were imposed here, only to discover that the home where she lives had also gone into lock down. The library service, where I work, shut its doors on Friday, leaving uncertainty about my job and church meetings have been suspended and we are no longer able to meet together to worship and grow together. Each one of us has had similar experiences during this week and will need to process the thoughts and feelings that creates. I know that the ground underneath my feet hasn't changed and is still solid, 'He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand' (Psalm 40:2). However it feels like I'm standing in a vacuum and all the structures around me and which make life work have been taken away. It suddenly felt a very scary place to be, a sad place with a deep sense of loss, and potentially a very lonely place. I realised that I needed to share these feelings, not to change the situation because that is out of our control, but to 'renew a steadfast spirit within me'. It is up to me how much I connect with others, albeit in a different way, and how I respond to the very challenging situation we all find ourselves in. We all need each other and to find ways to support one another during these challenging times.'
On 22nd March Mary wrote about God's faithfulness: 'I'm sure many people feel as though the rug has been pulled from beneath their feet in this present situation we're facing. This morning as I was thinking about this, it took me back to a time twenty years ago when my husband was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. We both felt then as though the rug had been pulled from beneath our feet, we were up in the air with everything we had known about to change permanently. It is hard and incredibly challenging to face situations like that. We were grateful for the love, care and support from our family, God's family and friends at that time. Facing my husband's death and the grief was difficult but the love and care for me and my family continued. As I look back over these past twenty years and indeed all my life, I am so grateful for God's unchanging love and faithfulness. It has reminded me of my Mother's favourite hymn Great is Thy faithfulness and, as the Psalmist says, 'the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.' So here we are in a massive change to our lives but we can continue to trust in his faithfulness and show God's love and care for one another. He is an unchanging God.'
On 22nd March Cathy wrote: 'Woke up with a sad ache that I won't be at church today. Remembering that the Lord is with me, I sat down and searched a scripture that would remind me of his nearness. Turning to a favourite gospel, I read John 1; 1-3, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.' Maybe in these dark times we will come to understand more about the light, will cherish, enjoy that beautiful companionship the Father and Son invite us to share, as in John 14;23. ... Jesus replied 'if anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.'
On 21st March Jen wrote her 'Thoughts from the classroom She writes 'Sitting in church last Sunday a line of a song came to me so clearly that I knew it was from the Lord. It is a well known line from one of my favourite songs and says ‘And so when I am in the storm, Lord the storm is not in me’. Little did I realise at the time how important those words would be to me and those around me in this last week. For everyone, this last week has been challenging as we face the uncertainty of what’s to come but the one thing that we can be certain of is that God is not, and has never been, caught out. There is no need for us to become caught up in the storm that surrounds us because we have a God on whom we can trust and on whom we can put our hope. There have been so many situations on a daily basis over this last week where humanly it would be so easy to feel panicked or anxious but each time the knowledge that the storm needn’t be within me has enabled me to remain calm and be a voice of hope and reason with colleagues, parents and children ...' Click here to read the complete article.
On 21st March Merle wrote an article entitled 'Small things that matter' She writes 'Lock down has caught up with us – we lock the door to keep ourselves in and to keep others outside. I am considered in the vulnerable category and my family and friends, all of whom love and care for me, have locked me up. I know that is meant for good but there was one day this week when I felt that either I had the plague or was a leper. It was a very strange feeling, causing me to take stock, pull myself together and think of how I could handle the next few weeks or months in a positive and constructive way ...' Click here to read the complete article.
On 21st March 2020 Tim wrote: 'Talking with Kelly this evening we commented on how the world has been stopped. A terrible crisis but for some a timely interruption. Our normal patterns have been broken and we are forced to look at what we are left with. I am reminded of God's control and his unending love. I hope to post a talk to expand on these thoughts. Finally and most interestingly out of all the things that have been cancelled it is church that I and the family miss most.'
On 21st March 2020 Anne wrote: 'What a brilliant idea this is to provide a written way of communicating with each other. I stumbled across one of my old notes today and thought it may encourages us all:- From St Teresa of Avila "Let nothing disturb thee Let nothing dismay thee All things pass God never changes Patience attains all that it strives for He who has God finds he lacks nothing God alone suffices" God bless you all' Cathy commented: 'Thank you Anne for that beautiful quote, I wouldn't be at all surprised if St Theresa discovered the truth of what she wrote through hard times of her own. I do like the idea of 'patience attains all that it strives for'. May we have patience.'
On 20th March 2020 Julie wrote: 'I read Psalm 51:10 this morning, 'Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.' I've thought about those words during the day, and how they apply to the very challenging times we are living in. For God to create a 'pure heart' within me requires me to fulfil my part - to guard what I read and watch and to ensure that I focus both my mind and my heart on things that are good and wholesome and guard against much that is in the world around us. I have prayed today that God will renew a steadfast spirit within me, and within each of us, and feel that should be a daily prayer, that we can remain steadfast in our hope and trust, and in prayer for one another and our world, in the midst of the uncertainty and fear around us.' Cathy commented: 'Thank you Julie for reminding us of that verse and how to go about owning it for ourselves even maybe through dire circumstances. I love the thought of owning a 'pure heart' and having a 'steadfast spirit renewed within me'.'