Fore Street Topsham, Exeter

Reverend Paul Collings BTh (Hons) - - - paul.collings@methodist.org.uk - - - 01392 206229 - - - 07941 880768

About Us

We are a community of faith seeking to discover the face of Jesus Christ in our Church, in our Community and in our Commitment.

Sunday 28 February 2021

St NIcholas Online Worship

  

St Nicholas Methodist Church, Topsham online worship for 28/02/21

https://youtu.be/76nUMAOxGTs

Saturday 27 February 2021

Lent - Keep it simple


What’s the worst that can happen?

One of the greatest and most profound risks we can take in life is to give our life away — the ultimate de-cluttering. Paul said, “for me, to live is Christ; to die is gain” but while we may say ‘my life is not my own’, we still tend to cling pretty hard to our ‘stuff’.


Sometimes we need to check if our life truly belongs to Jesus. When we start to realise  that if we are not intentionally finding things to do that take us out of our comfort zone, we can’t know if this ‘dying to self’ is a reality or simply a sentiment.


Helen Yousaf a worship leader and song writer says, “I choose to step out into unknown songs and spontaneity with the slightest of signals from the Spirit. Perhaps a word comes to mind; a picture; a scripture or a song that was not previously on the list. When I follow the Spirit, there is always power in that moment and a doorway of opportunity arises that I could never have orchestrated.”


Perhaps we can consider what it is that God is inspiring us to do? What ‘stuff’ may be holding us back? What God inspired risks can we take today?


May our prayer for today be that we discover and take some God—inspired risks and as we step out into the unknown with a heart set on Jesus, we will find God has already gone before us and that there really is no risk at all.


A Prayer 


Dear God, please give me the desire to find and the insight to discover my God-given life purpose and goals and, with your help, the courage and determination to pursue and reach them, and do so for your glory. May they always be in harmony with your will and be a part of what you are doing in the world today. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen.


Friday 26 February 2021

Lent - Keep it simple


Living ‘lagom’ 

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and tho ever believes in me will never thirst. 


John 6:35


There's a curious Swedish word called lagom (meaning ‘not too little, not too much— just right’) with Lutheran Christian roots which promotes fairness, moderation, and harmony. it tries to push us to a space where we reduce stress by simplifying our lives and focusing on the most important things first — our physiological needs.


We worry about food, shelter, and our health, among other things. Yet God has promised to be our ultimate provider, our bread of life, and all the sustenance we need for our souls.


If we fully look to him to provide, we will lack for nothing we truly need. So instead of stressing, let's simplify our lives to make space for what God knows we need.


Activity 

Identify one source of unnecessary stress within your control today, and find a way of removing it from you life. 


A Prayer

Heavenly Father, 

When I feel crushed by my own worries,

Lift my mind and help me to see the truth.

When fear grips me tight and I feel I cannot move,

Free my heart and help me to take things one step at a time.

When I can’t express the turmoil inside,

Calm me with Your quiet words of love.

I choose to trust in You, each day, 

each hour, each moment of my life.

I know deep down that I in Your grace, 

forgiven, restored by Your sacrifice, 

You have set me free.

Amen.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Lent - Keep it simple


Come as you are

Junior, works locally through All We Can’s partner Methodist Development and Relief Agency


“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” —Proverbs 4:13 (NIV)


Culturally, if you have girls you are looked down upon, because are seen as better.


Some things in life that are simple for us, are a struggle for others. Accessing free education is one of them.


In Zimbabwe, as in other parts of the world, many families prioritise educating their sons above their daughters. Junior grew up in a poor community in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. She is one of five daughters and she has one brother.


She says, “My dad had sisters who didn't have the opportunity to go to school and they were living miserable lives. They were victims of gender-based violence and they were very poor. I think from that my dad could see the value of girls going to school.”


Junior was given the opportunity to go to school and then she pursued further education where she studied issues around gender in development. She explains, "I thought if I do well at school, I will be able to stop the difficulties like those women in my family were facing."


For the last ten years, Junior has worked for a local Zimbabwean organisation, which All We Can are supporting, helping to bring change to the lives of vulnerable women and families.


"l am really inspired by the changes I have seen in people’s lives. Like working with people with no source of income but after a

few months, after a year, their lives change because they have a source of income.


And the way that our activities empower women gives them a social status within the society and that really inspires me.”


Great Teacher, children need an education to have the full and abundant life You came to give them. Your Word demonstrates how You touch people’s hearts to spur them to action for their own benefit. Bless people living in poverty by providing ways to learn to read and to apply this new skill to help lift their families out of poverty — for this generation and generations to come. Amen


Action: Continue to pray for teachers, and teaching assistants as they help children across the world to grow in knowledge and ability.


Tuesday 23 February 2021

Lent - Keep it simple


Imitators of Christ

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”


One cannot start thinking about these words without also looking at Psalm 37, because it is almost certain that this beatitude alludes to it: “The meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (V11). The word for ‘land’ in Greek and Hebrew also means ‘earth’. So what are we to make of this? Who will inherit the earth? The dictionary tells us that meek means ‘quiet, gentle, and not willing to argue or express your opinions in a forceful way.’ But was not Jesus described as meek and mild? That definition doesn't seem to fit.


Apparently, the word ‘gentle’ or ‘meek’ is the word ‘praeis’ in the original Greek language. It means ‘to have a strong, but tender and humble, life.’ Now that makes me feel somewhat better...


I have come to realise that my life needs to reflect that of Jesus, to try daily to be more like him. So as I reflect  on this passage I ask — do I need to try to be more ‘meek’ in the real sense of the word? Do I need to change my attitudes and make my prayer: ‘Lord God, make me more like your Son Jesus day by day. Amen.’


Activity 

Make a list of people, including Jesus, who have seen exhibit meekness. What are they like to be around? How do they react in stressful situation? Which of their characteristics do you want to reflect in your own life? 


Prayer

Loving Father, I give all that I have to You. I bring all my weaknesses to You. As Your word says, enable me to become an “imitator of God”. Fill me with the spirit of prayer, praise and worship. Help me to move in the Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. 

Monday 22 February 2021

Lent - Keep it Simple


God Comforts

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted


CS Lewis writes in the Problem of Pain, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in out pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”


There is also a temptation of us who follow Jesus Christ to try to defend God in times if grief and mourning.  God needs no defending, but if we listen closely in those dark times, his voice can be hear speaking.


God whispers four things to us...


“This is not how I intended life to be” - God looked at his world and it was good. Then pain and death enter the story and every human life is affected.


“My heart is broken too-“ John reminds us, ’Jesus Wept’ (11:35).  As he stood alongside friends, he wept. As he felt the pain of loss, he wept.


“What are building your lives upon?” - in times of loss and grief we recognise how fragile life is - how should we make the most of every moment?


‘I am always here....’ - Hebrews 13:5 contains the words: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”


Activity:

Identify the part of the message above that particularly encourages you. Is there someone who could benefit from hearing these words, who you could share them with.


Prayer

Ever present Lord, hear my prayer and grant me the peace that passes all understanding. Show me the way to your throne so I may sit at your feet and know your abiding comfort. Let a wellspring of joy rise from my heart until it overflows. Lead me to your garden of peace, so I may sit in your presence. Let me hear the songs of praise and know peace within my soul this day. Amen."


Saturday 20 February 2021

Lent - Keep it simple


Get your fill

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6


Good food is a wonderful thing. Sometimes, the simplest foods are the best — they satisfy, they comfort, they give us energy. A simple glass of clean water can save a life. 50 Jesus tells us here: we need to learn to want to eat and drink righteousness.


To have good food requires some preparation. Lent is that time for us — a time to learn about God's justice, about the simple things we can do daily to be the type of people who are hungry for justice and peace.


In an ever more complex world, God shows up and blesses us in the simplicity of acts of love. Even when we mess up and the food does not quite turn out as we had planned, God is patient and reminds us: 'Keep trying. I give you life.’


It is my prayer and hope that every time you enjoy a good meal you will be reminded of that righteousness — the justice, the peace and the love — for which we need to hunger and thirst every day, in every circumstance, knowing that Jesus is always with us.


Activity

As you eat today, think about righteousness and justice and how good this is for our world.


Prayer: Lord, make me hungry and thirsty for righteousness sake! Grant me a passion for loving, knowing and doing your word! Give me the discernment to see what the people around me are really stand for. Help me to be wise enough to tell the difference between truth and justice and lies and corruption. Teach me to stop judging others and to begin to worry more about the distance between the life I live and the life you expect and desire of me. This day, Lord, make me hungry and thirsty for righteousness! Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.


Friday 19 February 2021

Lent - Keep it simple


Simply natural

Psalm 19:1-6 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.”


Rob Bell writes, “How you feel about the creator is reflected in how you treat creation.” His simple and articulate summary of gospel truth reminds us of the vitality of nature and its role in our own spirituality. When we fall in love with nature and simply take time to soak in the beauty, awe, and wonder of the natural environment, we are encountering the creative works of our transcendent God, something of his very character. When we learn to fully appreciate the simple beauty of a blade of grass or a flying bird, and the creator God who formed them, we will also become more concerned with the careless destruction of our world and live differently to avoid this.


Consider

Find a place in the midst of nature, the forest, a large park or a beach - and schedule some time for a retreat. Take nothing but the simplest tools - maybe a notepad and your Bible, and ask God to speak to you through the beauty of the natural environment around you. You’ll be amazed how the simplest aspects of nature can speak volumes to your heart, mind and soul about God and his plan and desire for our lives.


Prayer

We ask for Your help, Holy Spirit, to see God in nature. Let Your hand direct our eyes to see and respect Your creative ability. Grant us an attention span that will focus on the beauty right in front of us. Empower us to boldly walk away from the distractions. Cause a hush to fall on our minds so that we can hear You describe the intricacies of what we see. As our eyes feast on your physical creations, our hearts will be more sure of You. Multiply our faith in You as Creator. Help us to experience the reality of your power and beauty. We want to know You more.

Amen

Thursday 18 February 2021

Faith in Times of Crisis

 


Psalm 107 – selected verses – New International Version - NIV.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
    and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.


Meditation By. Dr J P Hunter

This Psalm speaks of four different types of people in distress and how God rescued them: wanderers 107:4, prisoners 107:10, the sick 107:17 and the storm tossed 107:23,25. In our pandemic times, at the start of Lent, we might feel similarly either imprisoned, sick or storm tossed. And what did God do for all of these and does for all of us? Four times the answer is to recognise His hand in our lives and to give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind 107: 6,13,19,28. Is there not a vaccine, is there not light at the end of the tunnel?  No matter how extreme our situation, God is able and willing to break through and help us. To those in distress he is loving and kind. It is love divine that will see us through. 


Prayer

Lord God, creator of all life and also of mine, I come to seek your presence. First to thank you for leading me and those near to me through worry, isolation or illness this far. With the words of this Psalm, I thank you for your unfailing love for mankind and also your love for me. Then I would like to ask you to help me in my earthly life this day, to make more room for you that your Heavenly unbounded love may enter. And that I may give to others from your love in return. In your name, Amen.


Hymn – Singing the Faith 503, verse 1

   Love divine, all loves excelling

   joy of Heaven to earth come down,

   fix in us thy humble dwelling,

   all thy faithful mercies crown.

   Jesu, thou art all compassion,

   pure, unbounded love thou art;

   visit us with thy salvation,

   enter every trembling heart.                                                                                                  Charles Wesley (1707-1788)   

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Lent- keep it simple


Simply together

Ecclesiastes 4:12 “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

In Jewish culture - the world familiar to Jesus as he grew up - it was the custom for a bereaved person not to be left alone for the first 30 days after the death of a loved one.  How many times might Jesus been together with his family in the house of those grieving to offer comfort?


He would have known well these words of scripture -


“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


The gift of friendship, Jesus knew and taught, contains the power and blessing to heal and hold.


Consider 

Friendship is such a simple gift that we can offer others, What are the times in your life when friendship have made a difference?

Dear Lord, teach me to love others the way you first loved me. As I build relationships with others, let them see you in the extent of my generosity, the authenticity of my kindness, and the depths of my love. All of those things are only possible through you, the God who abides with me and calls me friend. Amen.


Monday 15 February 2021

Preparing for Lent


Isaiah 40:31 - "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Psalm 130:5 - “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”


It’s good to have a plan for doing. It’s also good to have a plan for being.


How do I want to be during Lent this year? More quiet and thoughtful? More open to God’s desires? Better able to sit with people who need me? 


In the days prior to Lent, try one or more of these suggestions.

  • Ask God, every day, “What does my soul need?” Just ask, and wait quietly. Because we’re very good at fooling ourselves about how we’re doing, it might take several days of praying this question before we’re truly open and humble enough to know the answer.
  • Ask God, every day, “What about my life makes you happy?” Yes, when God looks at your life, some parts of it—perhaps many aspects of it—bring joy to God’s heart. Think of how your children or grandchildren or other people close to you make you happy. God is in relationship with you, which means that your sins grieve God’s heart, but also that your growth and love and freedom and kindness bring joy to God of the universe. Again, you will probably need to pray this a few times before you are willing to consider that you give God pleasure, that you make God happy in any way. Stick with this little prayer and keep listening.
  • Tell God, and yourself, every day, “I want to be open to the graces of this Lenten season.” Maybe you’re not open right now, or you’re not as open and willing as you’d like to be or think you should be. What else is new? We can always open our lives a bit more, let go of more stuff, listen better, and do more quickly and passionately what we know helps nurture God’s kingdom on earth.


Jesus, teach me to be generous,

to serve you as you deserve:

to give without counting the cost,

to fight needless of the wounds,

to work and not seek for rest,

to toil and not seek for reward,

save the reward of knowing I am doing your will. Amen. — St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Saturday 13 February 2021

Celtic Spiritual Exercises


Three essential things

Three is a sacred number in the Celtic tradition, and often the saints expressed their own desires or commitments in terms of the number three.


St. Columba of Iona asked God for three things: virginity, wisdom, and pilgrimage. St. Ita of Killeedy focused on faith, simplicity, and generosity. Each is a variation on wisdom for the three essential things one must do in life.


None of the monks say the same three things, which open us up to the possibility that what is essential to one person will be different to another. Similarly in different seasons of life, what is essential for us might change.


In daily life

Reflect on the three things in your own life you count as most essential. Hold them as principles or touchstones for your life right now as you continue your spiritual journey. One way to do this is to imagine you are at the end of your life looking back. For what do you want to be remembered?


Scripture meditation

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

—Micah 6:8


God, Creator, for your glory shining forth in sky and sea, in the changing light on the hills, in the flight of birds, in the plants of the field for the gift of life in all its fullness, we thank you.


Jesus, Redeemer, for blessing children, healing the sick, raising up the lowly suffering the brokenness of the world in your own body that we might have fullness of life, we thank you.


Holy Spirit, Comforter, for breathing new hope and strength into our lives breaking down barriers drawing human beings together in love resisting all that diminishes fullness of life, 

we thank you.


Holy Trinity, in all that we do and say and are, may we always choose life, for ourselves, and for our neighbours. Amen.

Friday 12 February 2021

Celtic Spiritual Exercises


Seeing God in the Landscape 

The Celtic imagination considers sacred places to be “thin,” or places where the veil between the worlds, meaning heaven and earth, seem especially near to each other.


Ninth-century Irish theologian John Scotus Eriugena taught that there are two books of revelation: the book of the scriptures and the book of creation. Both are required to know the fullness of the divine presence.


Just as God can speak through the words of the scriptures, so can we hear the voice of the divine in the elements and in creatures. The landscape can become a place of God’s revelation, or place of divine manifestation. The Celtic monks sought out places in the wilderness to receive this gift of revelation.


In daily life

Make a commitment in the coming days to spend time in nature and be present to it as a place of revelation. Bring the prayers of your heart and ask God for signs and symbols to guide you on the way. Consider making a pilgrimage to a landscape that feels especially sacred to you, whether desert, mountain, sea, river, or plains.


Scripture meditation

“Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

—1 Kings 19:11–12


A Prayer


Loving Father and Creator of all, we come to you today deeply grateful for your creation. As we look around us we are amazed at the greatness and majesty of all that you have made. Nature around us speaks of your greatness—the vast expanse of the sky, the mountains, trees, lakes, and streams speak of your great design. You have given us such beauty in the colours of the rainbow, the beauty of flowers and fields. Words cannot adequately express the magnificence of all you have created. We join in praise with the writer of the psalms when he says, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the Earth.” May we show our love and reverence to you, our Lord, by caring for all that you have created. We humbly give you praise and thanks. Amen.


Thursday 11 February 2021

Faith in Times of Crisis


Psalm 117 New International Version (NIV) 1 Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. 2 For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.

Romans 15:5 New International Version (NIV) May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.


Meditation. By Dr J P Hunter

This week a message to endure, not to give up and to be encouraged, coming from the shortest Psalm in the Bible combined with the words from Paul in his letter to Christians in Rome and believers everywhere, as he describes to us where endurance and encouragement come from.


In verse 1 of Psalm 117, the anonymous author urges us to praise and to extol (admire, worship) God. Not only us, but all nations, all peoples. In verse 2 he gives the reasons why to do so: for God’s great love and faithfulness enduring towards us forever.


One of the characteristics of God’s love is that it endures. God is the originator of endurance. He gave his Son Jesus an enduring Spirit so he could endure his trials on earth. For daily renewal, Jesus at the start of a new day went to a place alone and prayed to His Father, so he could endure. 


When we as God’s children, in our pandemic times of trial, run short of endurance or are in need of encouragement, we should do likewise and turn to Him. For He, as Paul in Romans confirms, makes endurance and encouragement available. Not only turning to Him in times of highest need but daily to remain close to Him as our relationship with Him gets stronger. Thereafter to trust God, through his Son, to give us strength to endure even the small trials we daily may face. Then we too will endure.


Prayer

Lord in highest Heaven, first of all I want to praise and worship you for your enduring love and faithfulness towards all nations and all peoples and amazingly, also towards also me. I come to seek your presence as a vulnerable child in times of trial, in times of need. You are a mighty fortress and you never fail even though your children down below here may struggle and fail. I come to ask you for strength and endurance to continue, for you alone can see the way ahead, you alone know the path laid out for our world, for our land and also for me. May I stay close to you and daily return, to rely on you for strength for this day and courage for tomorrow? That I will not fail but will endure and live in hope until this time of trial will have passed. In your name, Amen


Hymn – A mighty fortress – Martin Luther

1 A mighty fortress is our God,

a bulwark never failing;

our helper he, amid the flood

of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe

does seek to work us woe;

his craft and power are great,

and armed with cruel hate,

on earth is not his equal.


2 Did we in our own strength confide,

our striving would be losing,

were not the right Man on our side,

the Man of God's own choosing.

You ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is he;

Lord Sabaoth his name,

from age to age the same;

and he must win the battle.

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Celtic Spiritual Exercises


Seasonal cycles

The unfolding of the seasons was an overarching template for the Celtic imagination. In the pre-Christian tradition there are significant feast days aligned with the equinoxes and solstices. And then there are the cross-quarter days, which are the midway points between them and part of the harvest cycle.


The Christian calendar incorporates many of these rhythms, with Christmas falling near the winter solstice, the feast of John the Baptist at the summer solstice, and Easter after the spring equinox. The monastic prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours also respects these sacred rhythms of nature’s rise and fall, birth and death.


In daily life 

Make time for contemplative walks outside in your neighbourhood. Instead of trying to get somewhere specific, simply pay attention to the world around you and how God might be speaking to you. Pay particular attention to the signs of the season—what flowers might be in bloom, whether the trees have their leaves, and the height of the sun in the sky. Ask yourself what season your own soul is in right now.


Scripture meditation

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.

—Ecclesiastes 3:1–2a


Prayer

God of our Hearts, not of our outer garments, nor our church structures, nor our programs and human plans, you are the only one who can make us pure.  You are the only one who can wash us clean of all our sin and guilt.  You alone can save us from the terrible Day of the Lord.  You are the merciful and just God.  If we turn, we see you. Help us to turn, O God of all hearts, and find you here with us: Emmanuel – the Christ-heart within us all.  We light our fires for you, to reflect your shining. Amen


Tuesday 9 February 2021

Celtic Spiritual Exercises


Solitude and silence

The desert tradition profoundly influenced the Celtic monks; while many monks were unable to go to the literal desert, they sought out the wild edges and solitary places of wilderness.


There are many sacred places in Ireland and Wales with the word “dysert” or “disert” in the name. 

This is the Irish word for desert and refers to a place of solitude and silence, a retreat for those who long for a more intimate encounter with God and where attention can be cultivated with few distractions.


There are many stories of Irish monks who lived as hermits for a time, including Sts. Colman and Kevin, who both lived in caves and had animals as their companions.


In daily life 

Begin by making a commitment to spending 5–10 minutes each day in silence. Turn off any notifications from your phone or computer and ask others in your house not to disturb you. Then extend this by finding a whole morning or afternoon to go to a nearby retreat centre or monastery and listen deeply to the sacred stirrings within.


Scripture meditation

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

—Exodus 20:1–3


Prayer

Quiet Lord, all praise and honour be yours as you announce your presence in silence. The oceans roar, volcanos explode, and the thunder thunders, but you sit with us in peace when we are alone, respecting our silence our hearts, letting our voices be heard even when we do not speak. Teach us to be like you. Do not let us project our anger, our pain, our emptiness on those around us. Do not let our childish way yield to childish violence. Let us honour your peace. Let us mirror your adult attitudes. That we might one day be adults ourselves. Through the power of your Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday 8 February 2021

Celtic Spiritual Exercises


Learning by heart

While the Irish monks are known for their illuminated sacred texts, books were rare and valuable, so they would have had to learn many scripture passages by heart to be able to pray with them. This was a continuation of the older Druidic tradition, which was primarily an oral culture that prized committing to memory rather than writing.


The Irish monks sang psalms throughout each day as a central part of their prayer. They were immersed in this poetry and ancient call to see God active in the whole world. They likely would have memorised all 150 psalms, as their days were intertwined with their imagery.


In daily life

Begin by finding just two lines of a scriptural text or poem that are meaningful to you. It could even be one of the suggested texts in this article. Spend time each morning with these lines, repeating them gently to yourself until you have learned them by heart and then recall them throughout the day.


Scripture meditation

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

—Jeremiah 31:33


Prayer

Gracious Lord, you have caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning: help us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, encouraged and supported by your holy Word, we may embrace and always hold fast the joyful hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday 6 February 2021

Celtic Spiritual Practices


Walking the rounds

A central Celtic practice at sacred sites, such as churches, graves, crosses, and holy wells, is known as “walking the rounds.”

This involves walking sunwise (or clockwise) in a mindful way around various markers or monuments. The number of rounds varies but is often three to reflect the sacredness of that number in the Celtic imagination. There are pattern days associated with different holy places and a set number of rounds to walk in specific places along with certain prayers.

Walking helps to arrive to a place and slow down. Walking in a circular manner helps to move us out of linear ways of thinking and to open our hearts to receive God’s grace.

In daily life

Find a holy place to walk around. It might be a sunwise journey around a favorite tree, your church, or around the edges of a labyrinth. While walking the rounds, you might say traditional prayers like the Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer, but any prayers of the heart are welcome.

Scripture meditation

When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” — Exodus 3:4–5

Prayer
Gracious God, as I journey today, may you be found not only in quietness of prayer, ocean’s edge or mountain peak, but in the bustle of everyday life; in children’s laughter, conversation, a beggar’s bowl, a busker’s song, market hall or production floor, sparkling eyes, a smile, a tear, lover’s embrace, high five, a hug, the struggle of increasing years. May you be found in pain and joy, gain and loss, for you are there, around, within, if we have eyes to see. Amen