Pastoral Letter - 18th December
Thank you for your contributions to our Christmas Prayer, all of which were, I know, heartfelt, coming from deep concern for others, for our planet and for the future we will share, next year and beyond. There is so much in the sentiments expressed below, that I would suggest you read it slowly and prayerfully, even reading just a few entries each day over the coming days up until Christmas, rather than praying it all at once. Instead of fashioning them into blended prayers and presenting them in themes, I have left them as a spontaneous collection of thoughts and petitions, as God may hear them from a congregational crowd. I hope, I am sure, you will find some here you resonate with and others which you are happy to pray on behalf others, to whom they are important. May the one to whom we pray keep us united and inspired as His community of hope, as we prayerfully feel our way toward the future. With blessings and best wishes Jeff CHRISTMAS PRAYER, 2020. Lord, who came into the darkness of the world bringing light; Lord, who came into the coldness of the world, bringing warmth; Lord, who came into the brokenness of the world, bringing wholeness; Lord, who came into the selfishness of the world, bringing an example of service; Lord, who came into the pain of the world, bringing the gift of peace; Lord, who came into the exploitation of the world, bringing affirmation; Lord, who came into the woundedness of the world, bringing wonder: To you we lift our hearts in expectation, To you we raise our voices in prayer, To you we offer our thoughts, concerns and aspirations To you we look in hope..... Lord we would ask this Christmas: For a restored sense of your presence with us, offering us the comfort and confidence we seek, that you are always there, giving us the strength and inspiration to do things we would not otherwise feel that we can do. For a more positive attitude and outlook on life in the year ahead. For a greater ability to love and serve you Lord, others and our planet. To live life fully, in all its abundance. To allow the gifts of life to be for us as icons and not as idols. To make more time for honest and sincere prayer. That all may cherish the world of which we are part, accept its unbelievable abundance and look on it with gratitude not with greed. For love to fill the hearts of those who think with hatred, whether terrorists, those involved in war, those intolerant of minorities, so that love would fill the hearts of those without love. That the Covid vaccines may be distributed as soon as possible according to priority and need. That hospitals may be able to accommodate and care for both Covid and non-Covid patients alike. That those we care about may be tenderly loved, feel accepted and have kind laughter in their relationships and lives. That every country of the world may move closer to each other to heal the conflicts that are between them and take real care of planet earth, our home. For the grace to be more grateful for the gifts of friendship we have, which stretch across the world. For a sense of humour, to better deal with all that comes our way. For political leaders to elevate the level of debate by not debasing other countries in order to enhance the image of their own. That political leaders may set better examples of moral and ethical leadership and offer a positive vision for the future. That those in high office may work together to make the world a safer and better place for us and for future generations to live. For those we love to be spared from contracting Covid 19 and that vaccinations may keep them safe. For energy, discipline and focus: that we may make the most of the lives we have been granted. For more open and non-judgmental hearts. For an end to Covid and climate change. For a better New Year and a fresh start. For the homeless and disadvantaged. To be able to hug people once more. For more children to be given a better start in life in this country and overseas and have the advantages offered by a good education. That people would take a less hurried opportunity to listen and care. In thanksgiving that the vaccines have been so quickly developed and for those whose research has resulted in our having them. For good health for everyone, mental, emotional and physical. For personal happiness and fulfilment in the lives of those we love. That in the uncertainty of life, we may be more certain of God’s loving care for each and every one of us. That people would see beyond the prettiness of the Christmas story, to the shining truth at its heart. For peace where there is conflict. That we may soon experience being welcomed back into other people`s lives and that we may welcome others into ours with generosity. For the easing of anxiety and the deepening of trust. For a deepening awareness of what is loving, nurturing and wholesome in our lives. For the gifts of kindness and thoughtfulness to characterise our life together in 2021. For health and happiness for those we love. For peace and stability instead of wars, terrorism and aggression. For a deeper resolve within our Governments to look after our fragile, beautiful planet. For the soul of Ella Rose, whose anniversary of death occurs at Christmas time and for those who continue to mourn her. For courage to face sickness and the setbacks in our lives. For those who are worried following a diagnosis or who are too frightened to seek medical help at all. For bodily and mental health for all whom we love and also for others in society who are in especial need of support and help. For those awaiting treatment for any physical or mental pain. For greater gentleness toward each other in the human family in face to face encounters, online and in the media. For greater gentleness with ourselves and greater open-heartedness toward others. In hope, that the future would bring a new spirit of community and sharing. For more tolerance, compassion and love in the world. For fewer power struggles between nation states, that displaced people may be able to return home and refugees would have no fear of being accepted in their new communities. That local authorities would take more steps to help the homeless, giving them support and a roof over their heads, that they may feel part of a neighbourhood once again. In gratitude for the way in which the pandemic has fostered a greater sense of community and cohesion in society. In gratitude for the spiritual support and strength we have received while feeling isolated and helpless. That we would be kinder to ourselves and others. That our children would grow strong in the faith and that we may inspire, teach and guide them in God’s strength. For all our relations and friends overseas, that they may be kept safe. For those deeply affected by stress, depression and loneliness due to Covid and lockdown, may God touch their lives and may they learn to trust and depend on Him. For those whose lives are overshadowed by jealousy, hatred and vindictiveness, that the light of God`s compassion and love may help heal and transform them. For the grace to be less critical of others. To be more conscious of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. To find and make new friends. That people may find peace during isolation. That all may enjoy physical, mental and spiritual health. That people would experience the joy of Christmas afresh. That we may all know greater love, generosity, compassion, forgiveness, faith, grace, dignity and joy this Christmas and in the year ahead. All these things we ask and pray in the power of Jesus Christ, the light who is coming into the world. AMEN.
Please join us this Sunday, 20th December at 9.30am for our Zoom Service, by clicking on the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85685339742
Our reading will be Luke 1 verses 26-38.
God our Redeemer,
Who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary
To be the mother of your Son,
Grant that, as she looked for the coming as our Savour,
So we too may be ready to meet Him
When He comes again as our judge
This we ask in the name of the same,
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
With you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever. AMEN.
The Prayer for the Lighting of the Fourth Advent Candle:
God our Father, the Angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary,
That she was to be the mother of Your Son.
Though Mary was afraid, she responded to your call
With trust and joy. Help us, whom you also call to be
God-bearers in our day, to share like her in your great work,
Of bringing to our world your love and healing presence.
This we ask through Jesus Christ,
The light who is coming into the world. AMEN.
There will also be a Zoom Service at 9.30am on Friday 25th December, CHRISTMAS DAY, for those of you who would like to join us. The link for this will be sent in my, earlier than usual, mailing next week, together with a short video for Christmas Eve and suggestions as to how, in the absence of Midnight Mass, you might like to spend those special moments.
CHRISTMAS EUCHARISTS will be celebrated in church for those who have booked, at 11am on Wednesday 23rd, Friday 25th and Sunday 27th December. If you would like to reserve a seat for one of these services, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org