Monday, 30 June 2014

Fruitfulness on the Frontline - Godly Character

Sermon preached by Margaret Carter at St Martin's on Sunday 22 June 2014
PRAYER: Dear Lord you are closer to us than our own breath. Open our hearts and minds to your word today. Amen
This sermon is one of the series of sermons called FRUITFULNESS ON THE FRONTLINE and today’s sermon is about having a Godly character.
Well we can easily dismiss godly character as to be so obvious as to be not worthy of consideration.  But it’s much more than being nice. It is about allowing this new way of being human to develop within us.
We have a choice. We can live in one of two ways: we can live for ourselves or we can live for others. Living for ourselves is having ourselves at the centre of our universe, not God…. where we use other people for our own gratification, our relationships are full of strife, we take many aspects of creation and use them for our own ends.
Alternatively we can live a life shaped by the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are the evidence others see of the choices we make in our lives.
It’s fascinating to realise just how much of our lives we spend at work, or another place OTHER THAN OUR HOMES, where we come into contact with others.
God gave us free will. We are free to choose what we say, what we do and what we think. Great you might say, BUT doing what we choose, even if it’s a good thing, isn’t always done in the right character, the character of God. So, can l ask you for a moment to reflect on an ordinary day in your life, if you don’t go out to work reflect on situations at home, with partner, on the telephone, at the door, shopping, on the bus, swimming pool, in the street, with your neighbours, this is your front line. PAUSE
Part of my front line is still teaching. With teaching an ordinary, day might involve; inspections, appraisals, staff fall-outs, arguments at home, parental disputes, frustrations with friends, challenging situations and people, confrontations, tedious situations etc etc. All of which can offer opportunities for friction when we put ourselves at the centre of our world.  But they are also opportunities where these characteristics are both developed and allowed to shine. So how do we match up?
He often had tough words for those he came across. Godly character will often lead to loving actions and should. The emphasis is on modelling, on the way we come across to others, on how our character leads people to expect certain kinds of responses from us.
Sam was a 9yr old boy when l knew him. He was one of the most difficult children l’ve ever taught. He lived permanently with his dad and didn’t like or trust women. He would throw tantrums and be difficult on a daily basis. The facts of the matter are that Sam’s mum was an alcoholic and had put his hamster in the microwave when he was about 4. Sam was a damaged little boy. I prayed, asking God to help me to reach out to him. I felt God was telling me to have lunch with Sam in the canteen. We had lunch every Wednesday and Sam’s popularity grew as other children came to sit with us at lunchtimes. It’s interesting that his behaviour got considerably worse every Wednesday morning. Then my mum died, which meant that someone else took my class. On the day l returned to school, Peter Hart came to see me. My class was in the hall being spoken to by the Head and Peter and l spoke in my classroom. A knock came at the door and it was Sam. Sam asked if he could get his pencil case and off he went. I didn’t know at the time that Sam had been permanently excluded and l wouldn’t see him again. Hearing the teacher who had taught my class bragging about how she had ‘got rid of Sam’ hurt me very much. The resentment, anger, frustration l felt with her knew no bounds. So what might God have been teaching me through this? Was l too wrapped up in my own grief to ask about him before school, or notice there was something wrong with Sam when he came into the room? And the teacher, because of my anger did l miss an opportunity to speak to her… l’ve often thought of her situation…her husband who was also a teacher, had previously had a nervous breakdown and had to leave teaching. So was she resentful and found the class too much to cope with? I don’t believe l got it right…my intentions at the beginning were clear but l let God down because of my anger and resentment. Since then l have often thought about Sam AND the Teacher and know that God has been at work, teaching me through this situation and many others before and afterwards so that eventually l might get it right. In marking myself against the fruits of the Spirit, l feel l came low down.
But here’s what’s interesting: Where did the God of the universe decide to teach me about my pride, about being a servant, a cheerful worker? Not in the church building, although he does it there too. Not in the home group, or with my prayer partner, nor over coffee with a Christian friend….he chose right there on my frontline, in the middle of my ordinary day, with my non Christian Head and fellow teacher.
It isn’t easy to live out the fruits of the spirit when you’re trying to cope with tough situations. Maybe your Frontline is being a carer 24/7. Looking after someone who can’t feed themselves, or take themselves to the loo, who are less able to remember what they said a moment ago, or the one before that, or the one before that. I know this will resonate with many people here, myself included.
Maybe your frontline isn’t as demanding as that, but l wonder how highly you might mark yourself at the end of an average day on the list like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
When my mum was alive, I always took her to Morrison’s on Saturday morning to get her shopping and then have lunch in the cafe. One day l was in a rush and l balanced the basket on her lap in the wheelchair. Of course because l was rushing the basket fell off, as l was going round a corner, spilling the contents all over the floor. I was cross with her but actually it happened because l was rushing and it was not her fault. Again my score would be very low.
NEW FUEL…Holy Spirit
Modelling godly character is about letting the life of Christ’s Holy Spirit flow in us and through us in tough times as well as good times.
We are who we are but we are also becoming something else….something more like Jesus. That is the essence of it all, it’s the only way most of us can even contemplate talking about modelling Godly character. The hypocrisy rating is high for us all, and many is off the scale, mine in particular. If we were all cast adrift in a boat with holes in the hull to match our sinfulness, every one of us would be sunk without Jesus.
So as we seek to model godly character, we don’t do so in our own strength.
Do we grit our teeth and try to summon up some smidgen of love? some atom of patience for that bad-tempered bully, no, we go into that situation with God. But then one day we suddenly find ourselves behaving in a way which makes us think.
It’s just that we don’t react in quite the same way as we used to…we catch ourselves thinking. Oh that was unusual, that was good,…’s not pride or self-satisfaction, it’s just a Godly rejoicing with God at his work in us. Now it’s important to see that Paul doesn’t say that the fruit of the Spirit is doing loving things, doing kind things or gentle things. No the fruit of the Spirit is the living presence of those qualities in us. So yes God does do loving things, but he does them because he is LOVE. He just can’t help it. Just as an apple tree cannot help producing apples.
It is clear that what matters is character..God is making us into people with particular kinds of qualities.
Character is not just displayed through actions, but through our emotional posture. So we might do the right things but not in a manner that is kind or do the right thing under pressure but not in a manner that is joyous or marked by an element of peace.
In Galations Paul summarizes it all as freedom, Christ’s grace and love frees us from the power of sin. Christ’s love graces us with a deep assurance of his love which gives us joy and peace and allows us to be other-centred.
As we are given an ever expanding picture of who God is and what he has done for us, we recognise how generous his mercy is to us, how patient he is with us and that begins to express itself in both our attitudes and actions. The one shapes the other. Right attitudes lead to godly behaviour. Doing the right thing, even with gritted teeth, even when we don’t want to, can indeed enable us to do the right thing next time with a bit more of a smile.
May the Lord shine through you today.
We say together:
Thank you that you want me to become
More like your son.
Grant me that same desire.
Forgive my cherishing of ungodly thoughts
And my persistence in ungodly actions
And work in me by your Spirit,
that l might turn from the darkness of my sin
And walk in the light of your grace.
To your glory may it be.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Prayer for Friday 20 June 2014

Today from our church family we pray for Karen Petrucco.
At the end of another academic year, we pray for all the young people who are graduating from university or college this month. We give thanks for the energy and passion possessed by so many new graduates, and the skills that they have developed during their years of study. As the new graduates enter into an uncertain job market, we ask for your blessing on all those who are anxious about their future. Help them to find appropriate work where they can use their skills and flourish as individuals, making a positive contribution to society. Support those who are struggling with debt and financial difficulties, and help them all to make good decisions for their lives. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Prayer for Wednesday 18th June 2014

Today from our church family we pray for Julie Penney.

We pray for the Older Persons Sub Committee here at St Martin’s, for Lesley, Jackie, Carole, Yvonne and Lilian. As they seek to improve the pastoral care system at St Martin’s, enabling us to reach out to more members of our congregation and local community, we pray that you will guide them into making the best decisions. Lord, we thank you for the kindness and generosity of so many people at St Martin’s, always ready with a hot meal, a lift to medical appointments or just a friendly chat. Help us to be ever more aware of people who may be lonely or in need of support, so that no one is forgotten, and give us the genuine love of our neighbour that makes simple acts of service a delight for both giver and receiver.  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Prayer for Thursday 12th June 2014

Today from our church family we pray for Helen Murray.
Let us continue to hold in prayer the victims of last month’s devastating landslide in Afghanistan, which destroyed the village of Aab Barik in Badakhshan. We pray for all those who were killed, all who lost homes and loved ones, and ask that you will support them in their grief as they try to rebuild their lives. Be with the government and aid agencies as they struggle to provide basic help to a community that has lost everything. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Then He Was Gone - Before Pentecost

Christianity is at its best when it offers a way to see and understand the most profound human conditions: joy, love, fellowship, reconciliation. The week before Pentecost offers a view of a nearly universal heartache -- the pain of being left.

Jesus had returned from the dead, through the miracle at the heart of the church, and was talking to his disciples. They think, hope, that he is back to stay. "Is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" they ask. They think they may be on the verge of an even greater victory.

They are let down, hard. Rather than leading them, Jesus leaves them. They never see him again. They are left looking up toward heaven. There is something so stark and universal about that image, that picture of the people who were left. It is the family gathered in the kitchen after a cruel and sudden death, the woman at an airport sitting in her car after someone she loves has flown off, the stifled heartbreak when a child leaves home. There is a quietness suffused with deep sadness in those moments.

To the disciples, it must have been crushing to see Jesus go. Think of Peter -- he had left his wife, his job, everything, to follow someone he had just met, and the experience had transformed him. He had spent years following Jesus through the desert, hanging on every word, sharing great and terrible days, and then he was left there, looking up to a blank sky. His feelings must have been complex as he remembered not only the victories but the mistakes such as his denial of Jesus during his trial. Haven't we all had that moment when someone has left by death or choice and we are left broken and confused?

Perhaps that is what the week before Pentecost is -- that time of brokenness. At one level, it is odd that the Holy Spirit did not appear as Jesus left. Instead, God constructed this story so that there was a gap, a time of bereft people left behind after Jesus leaves but before Pentecost and the arrival of that Holy Spirit. It might be that it is exactly that brokenness that allows the Holy Spirit in.

A mistake of modern Christianity is often that we present ourselves as people who are perfect, unblemished. It is simply not true. We are broken, often by are own mistakes. We have been left, and sometimes we were the ones who left. The church is a gathering of the unperfected, and an honesty about those broken places may well be what we need the most. There has been, and will come, a time when we look up and wonder what just happened. What Christianity offers is the hope of something better beyond that moment(article by Mark Osler)

Signs & Signals

Have you ever been in a vehicle following a driver who is trying to find a particular location? It is quite obvious to those following that the driver is looking for something as they can be seen repeatedly looking to the right and the left, speeding up and slowing down in an attempt to find a sign which they can recognise. What they don’t do is stop and ask for help, they seem to be oblivious to anyone else on the road and even seem unable to hear sirens or flashing blue lights. Their whole concentration is on finding their destination totally unaware of the frustration of other road users. Then, to everyone’s relief, they find what they are looking for and turn off the road.

Some Christians are like the lost driver. They are continually seeking answers to their own questions of faith but fail to ask for help from people who can help them in their quest for answers. Do we as Christians see this happening and find ourselves unable or unwilling to offer our help?

Some Christians are supremely confident in their own faith and do not see why anyone else should not have the same understanding. They do not see the need to help others and send out the signals and signs to keep other people away.

At St. Martin’s we pride ourselves on our friendliness and our welcoming attitude but is this how people from outside the church see us?  If we are to continue to try to grow God’s Kingdom we must put ourselves out to help others come to true faith in Christ. For, as it says in James 2:17-
“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Next week, at St. Martin’s, the Cluster is holding a Confirmation service. Take some time to think of the signs and signals we, as practising Christians give out, and how we are going to help and support our new brothers and sisters in Christ?

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela – part 2

My account follows on from Lilian's which you may have read last week (click here to read Lilian's article), as we visited places on the Way of St. James, the Camino. All three cathedrals that we visited, Burgos, Leon and Santiago were very ornate, lots of gold and medieval bling – awesome! The stone carvings depicted biblical truths and characters – in the 12th and 13th centuries few people were literate. Contrasted with this was the first Cistercian monastery in Spain at Sobrado, the pre-Romanesque church of Saint Martin at Fromista and the little chapel at O Cebreiro, the highest part of the route (as high as the summit of Ben Nevis), where we added our stone to the foot of the cross.

Of course, it was the people we met who made an impression. In Burgos, two ladies came to join our group for communion. Our service was in English, they only spoke Spanish but sharing the peace and taking communion are universal, no language is necessary.
At the Pilgrim Mass in Santiago we were fortunate to see the spectacle of the botafumeiro – the incense burner is the largest in the world and it takes eight men to swing it – it almost hits the roof. There were limited washing facilities for the pilgrims, so the incense acted as air freshener!
These are the images that will remain with me – the setting out on a journey in faith with no map to show the way, the contrast of the splendour of the cathedrals with the simplicity of other places of worship and the people sharing our journey both now and in the past.
We were given copies of a Pilgrim's Prayer – this is the final section which I would like to share with you:
If from today I do not continue walking on your path,searching and living according to what I have learned;if from today I do not see in every person, friend or foea companion on the Camino;if from today I cannot recognise God,the God of Jesus of Nazarethas the one God of my life,I have arrived nowhere.

Prayer for Tuesday 10th June 2014

Today, from our church family, we pray for Brenda Moore.

There is a Clergy Chapter Meeting at St. Thomas’, Aldridge today. This involves all sixteen of the parishes in the Walsall Deanery. At the Deanery Synod Meeting David Diaram will be speaking about the Walsall Community Chaplaincy project. This will focus on the work done in Walsall among ex-offenders. We pray for David as he delivers this seminar and we pray that the gathered clergy find it useful and informative. Within the Synod meeting, elections will also be taking place for a Lay Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, and for members of the Standing and Pastoral Committee. This is going to be a busy and pressured day, so we pray that all the necessary business is completed successfully and as smoothly as possible. Lord, we thank you for our hard working clergy and we ask you to protect them from stress and emotional exhaustion as they carry out their demanding vocations.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Monday, 9 June 2014

Prayer for Monday 9th June

Today, from our church family, we pray for Anne McGowan.

Loving Father, we pray today for all who now live in a residential care home or nursing home.  We pray particularly for Daisy Bank Annexe, our local respite care home.  May all residents receive the care and support necessary to make them feel secure and happy.  May all carers, managers and health care professionals receive the training and resources they need to deliver the best possible care to those in their charge.  May they fulfil their duties cheerfully, patiently and lovingly.  Bless and support those who are preparing to go into a home, their families, friends and their social workers.  Strengthen those finding it difficult to settle into a new environment with new staff and unfamiliar routines to understand.  Lord, be present with all who are anxious or afraid and help them to trust in your love. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday 2014

This was the sermon I prepared for Pentecost Sunday 2014, although the sermon I preached was in fact a bit different, as followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

The sermon was followed by a time of confession (where we asked for God's forgiveness for rejecting his spirit), which then moved into a time where we invited the Holy Spirit to be poured out afresh on the people gathered in church.


When it comes to birthday’s I always struggle for inspiration, I never know what to buy.  So I was amused by this cartoon of the Dalai Lama’s birthday party.

Today is Pentecost Sunday, and it marks the birthday of the church.  But unlike me, who never knows what to give, God knew just what his people needed, so he sent the Holy Spirit, the greatest gift of all. 

This is why I love Pentecost Sunday so much, it marks a watershed moment in Christian history.  I believe that after Good Friday and Easter Sunday it is the most important day in the Christian year, and like Easter Sunday it is a day of celebration, joy and hope.

What is Pentecost?

The word Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentekostos, which means ‘fifty’, because Pentecost is held 50 days after Passover. 

Pentecost was also called the Feast of Weeks and Feast of Harvests, and is known as Shavuot in Hebrew. It was the second of three major feasts in the Jewish year.  It was originally a harvest festival  (Exodus 23:16), but in time, also turned into a day to commemorate the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai.  Jews of many nations would gather in Jerusalem to celebrate this important festival. 

It was on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after his resurrection and ten days after Jesus had ascended to heaven that the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus’ followers who were gathered in Jerusalem. 

Before Jesus had returned to heaven, he had instructed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem and wait to be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).

When the Holy Spirit came it was powerful and dramatic, a sound like a violent roaring wind filled the house where they were sitting, and tongues of fire rested on each on them, and they were filled with the power of God, and began speaking other languages, languages they had not learnt, as the Spirit enabled them.

The Holy Spirit that came on that first Pentecost is the same Holy Spirit that is active in the church and world today.

Who and What is the Holy Spirit?

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, many people are confused and sometimes afraid of the Holy Spirit. On Wednesday I was at a prayer meeting, where I was told about one church in Walsall, where the congregation actually said ‘We want nothing to do with the Holy Spirit’. 

This fear exists because people don’t understand or know what and what the Holy Spirit is, and because they are afraid of what might happen if the Holy Spirit was to come in power.  But we do not need to be afraid of the Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit is simply the presence and power of Jesus.  It is the spirit of Jesus.  It is how Jesus is with us.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry he could only be in one place at one time, but as he prepared to return to his father in heaven, he said to his disciples “I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20).  This promise was fulfilled when ten days later the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus is with us now, and through which we encounter and experience God in our lives.  It is the Holy Spirit that makes God real.

In our Gospel reading Jesus said “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16).  The word the NIV translates as advocate, in Greek is Parakletos which literally means called to one's side, and can also be translated as counsellor, comforter or helper.  So the Holy Spirit is the comforter, who comes to guide and support us, working for us and with us. 

How to receive the Holy Spirit 

There is a fear that some people have about what will happen when they invite the Holy Spirit into their lives, but the fact is that if you have invited Jesus into your lives, you already have received the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20)  When we open our hearts to Jesus, we open our hearts to his Spirit. 
But being filled with God’s spirit is not a one off occurrence.  In Ephesians Paul instructs the Christians to keep on be filled with the Spirit, to "Go on being filled over and over and over again."  

We need to be constantly filled afresh with God’s spirit, and to recognise that there is a difference between having the Holy Spirit and being FULL of the Holy Spirit. 

As we experience more of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, so a transformation begins to take place within us, as the fruit of the Holy Spirit begins to grow.  That's love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22).  In other words we should become more like Christ, as the spirit of Christ dwells within us. 

The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, gave birth to the church, which saw rapid growth.  At the end of Acts chapter 2, we see what the early church was like.  It was a church where the believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship.  It was a church where people were filled with awe at the many wonders and signs that were performed.  And it was a church where no one was in need.  Everyone was cared for and supported.  This was all the outworking of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers.

This is surely a model of what the church should be like today, a place of awe, unity, hospitality, generosity and growth. 

One aspect of the life in St Martin’s that we have been looking at as part of our Mission Action Plan is how we can strengthen and improve pastoral care, so that every member of the church is loved and supported. 

We recognise that a lot of pastoral care takes place in St Martin’s on an informal basis every day, through people listening and supporting one another, through the home groups, cafĂ© and tai chi groups, and through the friendships people have. 

But we recognise that more can be done, and we want to do our best to ensure everyone in the church family gets the support they need, and that we can also extend this support out to the wider community.

This is why we have now produced Pastoral Care Request Cards, and recently sent out a questionnaire asking people in church if they could provide support to others, whether than be visiting someone in hospital or at home, making phone calls, providing lifts to and from church the hospital, or other appointments. Providing other practical support, such as helping with gardening, making meals for people, dog walking, etc.  If there is something you can offer to help with please speak to one of the Wardens, David and Julie, or to Lilian.   

We have also established a new pastoral care group, which Lesley Bates is co-ordinating, called ‘Caring Hands’.  So if you know someone is in need of help and support, whether in the church or someone in the community please let Lesley know so we can ensure everyone gets the help they need. 

But whilst all of this is encouraging and positive, we need to recognise that we all have a responsibility for pastoral care.  It is not just the job of the Vicar, or the Caring Hands group, or the Ministry Team or Wardens.  We each have a part to play.  Because it is through each one of us that God’s Holy Spirit is at work. 

The Holy Spirit is given to us not only so that we may know and experience God’s power and love in our lives, but also to work in and through us to change both ourselves and the world around us. 
St Teresa of Avila wrote this famous poem
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours, 
Yours are the eyes with which he looks 
Compassion on this world, 
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, 
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. 
Yours are the hands, 
yours are the feet, 
Yours are the eyes, 
you are his body. 
Christ has no body now but yours, 
No hands, no feet on earth but yours, 
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. 
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

With the Holy Spirit within us, we are the presence of Christ in the world today.  We are his hands, his feet, his eyes.  Through us, Christ reaches out and serves the world in love. 

We need to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and release the spirit that is within us, as we seek to serve God, one another and our world.

Prayer for Pentecost Sunday 2014

Today, from our church family, we pray for Dee McDowell.

Collect for the Day of Pentecost
“God, who as at this time
taught the hearts of your faithful people
by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;
through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.  Amen.”

Today is such a special day in the life of our church: firstly it is Pentecost Sunday when the church received the gift of the Holy Spirit; secondly St. Martin’s is hosting the Cluster Confirmation Service this evening.  Father God, we pray for a fresh anointing of your Holy Spirit on each and every one of your children at St. Martin’s this morning.  May You be at the heart of everything that is done in Your name here today.

We pray for Susan Saunders, who is being confirmed this evening .  May she be filled with joy and happiness as she begins her confirmed life with You.  As a church, help us to support her as she matures in her Christian faith and seeks to fulfil Your will for her future.

“Almighty God,
fill us with your Holy Spirit,
such as your disciples experience
in the rush of wind at Pentecost,
enabling, empowering, enthusing,
giving fresh insights and new understanding.
May we call on your Spirit
in good times and bad,
in sleep and rest,
and may we share with confidence
our faith, our hope, your truth.
Breathe on me breath of God
and set my spirit free.  Amen.”  (Rupert Bristow)
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Prayer for Saturday 7th June 2014

Today, from our church family, we pray for Andy MacDowell.

Our prayers for our town of Walsall focus today on the Health Care sector.  We pray for all those who work in our hospitals, surgeries, nursing homes or who are involved in care in the community.  Bless them with the strength and energy they need to cope with such demanding jobs.  Provide them with the cheerfulness and altruism required to cope with their patients, clients and colleagues.  Loving Lord, may they use their skills, knowledge and talents for the very best outcomes for their patients.  May all managers, administrators and financial directors ensure that resources are directed where they are needed most so that the sick and vulnerable people in our town may receive the care and support they need quickly and effectively. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Prayer for Thursday 5 June 2014

Today, from our church family, we pray for Debra Mayo.

There is a significant Episcopal Area renewal conference taking place today at St. Matthew’s Church, Wolverhampton.  The speaker is the Revd. Mark Bailey, head of New Wine.  New Wine is an important initiative which encourages Worship leaders and provides inspiring resources to enhance church worship and energise discipleship.  Mark is a charismatic person and we ask, Lord, for a special blessing for him as he leads this significant time of worship and teaching.  We pray for all those who attend that they will be enthused and inspired by all that Mark has to impart. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Prayer for Friday 6 June 2014 #DDay70

Prayer for Friday 6th June
Today, from our church family, we pray for Dot McCloskey

Today marks the 70th anniversary of D Day.  We thank God for the courage and bravery of the men and women who took part in D Day, and whose great sacrifice brought peace to Europe. Heavenly father we pray for those for whom the memory of what happened this day 70 years ago still remains fresh, and for friends and loved ones who died in the struggle for peace. 

As we commemorate the events of 70 years ago, we also pray for places around the world where there is conflict this day, we pray especially for the people of Syria, Ukraine, Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.  Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Lord bless all those who are engaged in the struggle for justice and peace in our world this day. We ask this in the name of the Prince of Peace, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Prayer for Wednesday 4th June 2014

Today, from our church family, we pray for Gary Mayo.

In the middle of April, 276 girls were kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.  At the time of preparing this prayer diary, the girls are still missing and Boko Haram has said it is going to sell them into slavery.  The anger of the entire civilised world is gaining momentum at the lack of progress by the Nigerian authorities. Britain and America have offered to help in any way they can.  Dearest Lord, we  cannot imagine the terror of the children who have been taken, nor the anguish of their helpless parents, who are desperate for news.  Be with all those who are working to end this awful situation and give courage and strength to the children and their relatives as they wait for this dreadful predicament to be resolved. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Prayer for Tuesday 3rd June 2014

Today, from our church family we pray for Judith Matthews 

Last month saw the annual Christian Aid Street collection during Christian Aid week.  Loving Lord, thank you for all the willing volunteers who gave up their time to take out and collect the Christian Aid envelopes. This collection provides the major part of Christian Aid’s annual income, so it is the main financial support for their vital aid work.  We pray that the general public has been generous in its response and that when the whole amount collected is counted and publicised, it will exceed last year’s total.

“Lord Jesus,
For journeys home
For determined steps to peace
For hope overcoming fear
For kindness against violence
For goodness and mercy
Even through the horrors of war
For the breaking of bread and for prayers
For sharing what we have
For all these things
Give us glad and generous hearts.  Amen” (Christian Aid)
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Prayer for Monday 2nd June 2014

Today, from our church family, we pray for Peter Mackenzie.

Our charity for June is the Ifakara Bakery Project.  This charity was set up in Tanzania in 2001 by Margaret and Eugene Schellenberg in co-operation with the Sisters of St. Francis in Ithaka.  The sisters wanted to provide free bread to the needy local population.  The Schellenbergs raised the necessary funds to equip and build the bakery.  The bakery now produces between 400-900 loaves of bread each day, providing local employment and improving the lives of so many.  Heavenly Father, we pray that the donation St. Martin’s has made to this wonderful project will contribute to the vital work they seek to do, feeding the poorest people in their community. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Prayer for Sunday 1st June 2014

Today, from our church family, we pray for Jacky Lynam.

Collect for Seventh Sunday of Easter
“O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever.  Amen.”

We have the joy of sharing worship this morning with the children and parents who come to Messy Church in the Morning.  Father God, we ask you to bless all the families who meet today to share in this special, child centred time of worship.  Thank you, Lord, for each and every one of them and for the vitality and energy they bring into our church.  Thank you too for the teams of people who work so hard planning and delivering Messy Church in the Morning.

We pray for Eugene & Margaret Schellenberg who will be speaking this morning about the Ifakara Bakery Project in Tanzania, which is our charity of the month.  We pray, Compassionate Lord, that you will fill us afresh with your Holy Spirit and that there will be a real sense of your presence at the heart of our worship this morning. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.