Psalm 91:1-16

‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Gracious God, as international Seafarers Day is marked today, we lift before you all those who navigate the seas to sustain this industry. We recognise the sacrifice of being away from home for long passages of time, separated from family and friends. We pray for the safety of all crews when they are faced with the dangers of heavy seas and storms. May they feel the assurance and security of Your presence with them and may they be brought safely home to shore. So too, we pray for all families and loved ones who wait for their return. May they too experience the strength and support that comes from being loved and sustained by You. Finally, Lord God, we pray for the work of Mission to Seafarers who seek to support Seafarers and their families. We ask that you bless the work of all chaplains and all staff and volunteers. In times of economic uncertainty, we lift the future of this industry into Your hands and pray for the wellbeing of all those whose lives engage with our seas and oceans. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Previous Reflections

Ephesians 3:20-21

‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen’.

Gracious God, we lift before You the Methodist Church Conference which begins today. We pray that the business of Conference is able to be conducted effectively and efficiently within Covid restrictions. Please be with all Church leaders and representatives in the week ahead. Lord God, as part of the Universal Church, we have faced tremendous challenges and been forced to rethink what it means to be Church, as buildings have closed and restrictions put into place. And yet You have continued to support and sustain and guide us. You have given us the strength and encouragement to be radical, to do things differently, and to reach out to a wider community in ways we had not envisaged before the pandemic. As we move out of lockdown, the challenges continue as we witness the pain and anxiety of many people in our communities, who’s lives have been affected in so many different ways over the past 18 months. And so Lord God, we pray that Conference will be inspired and encouraged to be bold and brave, to wrestle with the difficult decisions, to seek wisdom and integrity to be relevant as the Church of today, and to equip ourselves as fit for purpose to be the Church of the future. May we be Your Church, adhering to Your will, witnessing to Your healing reconciling power and Your love in our world. We pray all this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Cornerstone and our Saviour. Amen.

John 14:27

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid’.

Gracious God, the story was read in our Churches yesterday, of how the disciples of Jesus, caught in a ferocious storm whilst sailing across a lake, cried out in fear for their lives as the storm raged. And in the midst of the situation, Jesus commanded the storm to be quiet and the sea to be calm and peace was restored. As the story is retold, we are reminded of the sense of peace that comes from being in a relationship with Jesus,Your Son. At the start of a new week, we acknowledge that there may be times in the week ahead when we, or those whom we care about, feel that we are battling through a storm, that there are moments when our sense of peace is disturbed. And so we thank You that in those moments we can turn to Jesus, that we can share our concerns knowing that He is with us and walks alongside us to bring us His peace. May our hearts and minds be filled with the assurance of His presence with us, now and in the days to come. In His name we pray, Amen

Psalm 121:1-2

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Thessalonians 5:11
‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up just as in fact you are doing’.

Gracious God, as our thoughts turn to the health of all people this Thursday morning, we pray for all those still in a cycle of waiting; for our nation as we wait for all restrictions to be lifted, for those waiting for medical treatment delayed by the pressures of the pandemic, for those waiting to re-open their businesses or return to work, for those waiting for their vaccinations, for those waiting to feel confident enough to return to mixing with others in society, for young people awaiting exam results, for Churches waiting to re-commence their face to face activities and so so many other situations people find themselves in. Lord God, waiting is difficult, it can make us feel vulnerable and insecure. And so, in our waiting, help us to put our trust and hope in You. Help us to walk alongside one another with compassion and understanding for each others needs, and as we wait, give us courage, give us strength, give us hope and surround us with Your Love. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Matthew 25:35

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’

Gracious God, as World Refugee Week is marked this week, we reflect upon this years theme, ‘We cannot walk alone’. During the pandemic, we have all experienced feelings of isolation and loneliness, but for those who find themselves resident in a land that is not their homeland, exclusion and segregation are felt most acutely. And so we pray for all Refugees. We lift into Your presence all those who are escaping persecution, conflict or natural disasters and pray for their protection and comfort. Lord God, we give thanks for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us to reach out to those who find themselves on the fringes of society, and encouraged us to cross boundaries and build communities rooted in compassion, empathy and welcome. And so, may integration and inclusivity be at the heart of our relationships, as we extend open arms and hands of friendship to those in need. May their voices be heard. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

1 Chronicles 16:34

“Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love endures forever.”

Gracious God, as we celebrated the work and service of Methodist Homes for the Aged yesterday, we lift all those before You who work or are residents in Care and Nursing Homes. We appreciate that staff are still coming to terms with the devastating impact Covid 19 had upon their communities, and the loss of residents to the virus is still acutely felt. And so we give thanks for the dedication of Staff, who continue to rebuild communities and ensure the welfare of all those in their care. So too, we acknowledge the grief experienced by families, and those who are still under restrictions in relation to visiting loved ones. We give thanks for the love of families and friends and pray that You will continue to support and sustain relationships. Finally, Lord God, we lift before You all residents. May all residents feel the assurance and security of being cared for and may Your presence and Your love be felt in every home. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Gracious God, as the weekend approaches we give thanks for the sunshine of the past week. It has been a week in which we have corporately shared hope and disappointments; disappointments that restrictions may not be lifted as soon as we would wish and the advisory of travel restrictions once more. But so too, we have witnessed the hope of vaccinations promised to countries in need, and potential steps forward in moves to reverse the damage we have done to our planet. We pray that You will continue to guide all those in authority who will make decisions that will affect us all, over the weekend. In these deeply challenging times, may judgements be made with integrity, wisdom and honour. Lord God, we continue to put our trust in You, knowing that You journey with us, knowing that the guiding, healing power of Your Holy Spirit continues to sweep across our world, and giving thanks for Your love and Your grace. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Romans 12:10 – New Century Version

‘Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honour than you want for yourselves’.

Gracious God, this morning we pray for the preparations for the G7 summit. We pray that conversations and communications between all leaders will be conducted with integrity and wisdom so that the decisions made will benefit all nations, not just those represented. May Your presence be felt in every conversation and every relationship forged. As our thoughts turn once more to the NHS on this Thursday morning, we give thanks once more for the impact the Covid vaccination is making in fighting the virus. We give thanks for all those involved with the logistics of administering the vaccine. Lord God, we appreciate the privileged position we are in, and that many people across our world do not have access to a vaccination yet and so, as we return our thoughts to the G7 summit, we pray that leaders of richer countries will formulate policies that ensure all people, from all nations have access to a vaccination programme. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Psalm 96:11-12

‘Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy’.

Gracious God, as we marked World Oceans Day yesterday, we give thanks for the beauty of all our waterways; canals, rivers, streams and lakes. We marvel at the wonder of renewal in creation, for the joy of  ducklings, cygnets and moorhens, voles, otters and beavers, and all creatures that live beside our wetlands. We praise you for the beauty of wild flowers, for flora and fauna, for trees and shrubs that grow along pathways, creating carpets of colour and diversity. In the beauty of Your creation we are reminded of Your majesty, Your power and Your presence in our world and so we take a moment to reflect and give thanks and praise. Amen.

“Let the sea roar and all that fills it!” Ps. 96.11

Gracious God, as World Oceans Day is celebrated today, we give thanks for the vast expanses of water that cover much of our planet Earth, producing the water of life and the oxygen that we need for life to exist. We celebrate and marvel at the millions of species of animals and plant life that live within the depths of the oceans, an undersea world of beauty, diversity and mystery. We give thanks for the joy of sailing, fishing, paddling and watching waves ebb and flow. We pray for all those who rely on the sea for their livelihoods. Sadly, we know that we have polluted our oceans and damaged the eco-systems within it. Lord God, help us to care for our oceans and seas so that they might be restored to health and truly reflect the wonder of the amazing undersea world You have created for us. For the beauty of Your creation we give thanks. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Revelation 4:11

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Gracious God, as a new week begins, we thank you that You are our awesome God. You are the creator of everything. The stars twinkle and light up our night sky because You placed them there. The sun and the moon shine down brightly on us because You made them. You made sandy beaches that we can walk on barefoot to watch waves tumbling in seas and oceans. You made mountains that we can scramble to the top of to see the vastness of the fields and valleys you have created. You have made trees and flowers that change in colour and appearance to give us a world of variety and delight. You have made creatures of every shape, size colour and pattern, of the sea, of the sky, of the land. And You have made us, each of us unique and individually precious to You. And so, we come before You this morning to praise You for the wonderful world You have created because You are our awesome God. We pray that You will encourage, empower and inspire us to nurture and protect the beautiful world You have entrusted to us. May we never take the beauty and wonder of our natural world for granted, and may we never cease to give praise and thanks to You, today and every day, Amen  

1 Peter 5:7 ESV
‘Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you’.

Gracious God, it may be many Thursdays ago since we clapped for our NHS workers and yet we know that they remain under enormous pressure as they try to deal with the backlog of appointments and procedures, that have been delayed during the pandemic. And so this morning, we pray for all administrators working to ensure all necessary appointments and treatments are carried out. We pray for healthcare professionals who continue to give of themselves and work long hours to care for the needs of our nation. And so too, we lift before You all those who anxiously await appointments. Lord God, may Your presence and healing power continue to be felt in our homes and in all medical institutions, now and in the days ahead. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

This week I would like to share with you material provided for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021

Day 4 Praying together
“I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends”
(John 15:15)

God thirsts for relationship with us. In Christ, God came to meet us. Jesus lived in prayer, intimately united to his Father, while creating friendships with his disciples and all those he met. He introduced them to that which was most precious to him: the relationship of love with his Father, who is our Father. Jesus and the disciples sang psalms together, rooted in the richness of their Jewish tradition. At other times, Jesus retired to pray alone.
Prayer can be solitary or shared with others. It can express wonder, complaint, intercession, thanksgiving or simple silence. Sometimes the desire to pray is there, but one has the feeling of not being able to do so. Turning to Jesus and saying to him, “teach me”, can pave the way. Our desire itself is already prayer.
Getting together in a group offers us support. Through hymns, words and silence, communion is created. If we pray with Christians of other traditions, we may be surprised to feel united by a bond of friendship that comes from the One who is beyond all division. The forms may vary, but it is the same Spirit that brings us together.

Lord Jesus, your entire life was prayer, perfect harmony with the Father. Through your Spirit, teach us to pray according to your will of love. May the faithful of the whole world unite in intercession and praise, and may your kingdom of love come. Amen.

This week I would like to share with you material provided for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021

Day 3  “Love one another as I have loved you”
(John 15:12b)

On the eve of his death, Jesus knelt to wash the feet of his disciples. He knew the difficulty of living together and the importance of forgiveness and mutual service. “Unless I wash you,” he said to Peter, “you have no share with me.”
Peter received Jesus at his feet; he was washed and was touched by the humility and gentleness of Christ. Later he would follow Jesus’ example and serve the fellowship of the faithful in the early church.
Jesus wishes that life and love circulate through us as the sap through the vine, so that Christian communities be one body. But today as in the past, it is not easy to live together. We are often faced with our own limitations. At times we fail to love those who are close to us in a community, parish or family. There are times when our relationships break down completely.
In Christ we are invited to be clothed in compassion, through countless new beginnings. The recognition that we are loved by God moves us to welcome each other with our strengths and weaknesses. It is then that Christ is in our midst.

God our Father, you reveal to us your love through Christ and through our brothers and sisters. Open our hearts so that we can welcome each other with our differences and live in forgiveness. Grant us to live united in one body, so that the gift that is each person comes to light. May all of us together be a reflection of the living Christ. Amen

This week I would like to share with you material provided for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021

Day 2
“Abide in me as I abide in you”
(John 15:4a)

Being fully human, like us Jesus grew and matured. He lived a simple life, rooted in the practices of his Jewish faith. In this hidden life in Nazareth, where apparently nothing extraordinary happened, the presence of the Father nourished him.
We too need a long period of maturation, an entire lifetime, in order to plumb the depths of Christ’s love, to let him abide in us and for us to abide in him.
Without our knowing how, the Spirit makes Christ dwell in our hearts. And it is through prayer, by listening to the word, in sharing with others, by putting into practice what we have understood, that the inner being is strengthened.

Holy Spirit, May we receive in our hearts the presence of Christ, and cherish it as a secret of love. Nourish our prayer, enlighten our reading of Scripture, act through us, so that the fruits of your gifts can patiently grow in us. Amen.

This week I would like to share with you material provided for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021

Day 1    Called by God
“You did not choose me but I chose you”
(John 15:16a)

The start of the journey is an encounter between a human being and God, between the created and the Creator, between time and eternity.
Along the way, we become more and more ourselves, the people God has wanted us to be from the beginning. And by following the call that is addressed to us, we become a blessing for our loved ones, our neighbours, and the world.
The love of God seeks us. God became human in Jesus, in whom we encounter the gaze of God. In our lives, as in the Gospel of John, God’s call is heard in different ways. Touched by his love, we set out. In this encounter, we walk a path of transformation – the bright beginning of a relationship of love that is always started anew.
“One day you understood that, without your being aware of it, a yes had already been inscribed in your innermost depths. And so you chose to go forward in the footsteps of Christ….
In silence in the presence of Christ, you heard him say, ‘Come, follow me; I will give you a place to rest your heart.’”[The Sources of Taizé (2000) p. 52]

Jesus Christ, you seek us, you wish to offer us your friendship and lead us to a life that is ever more complete. Grant us the confidence to answer your call so that we may be transformed and become witnesses of your tenderness for the world. Amen

Isaiah 42:5 (NIV)
“This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:”

Gracious God, as news reaches us of Covid 19 variants across our world, we pray for all nations, each dealing with their own outbreaks and their own logistical concerns. We pray for all those nursing and caring for the people in their communities. We pray that vaccinations will be made available to all countries, especially poorer countries that do not have the resources we have in place, both financially and logistically. As we begin a week of global prayer for Christian Unity on Monday, we pray that You will unite us in our concern for one another that crosses all boundaries. In the presence of You, our creator God, we unite as One world, Your world and Your people, and ask that You pour out Your love through the power of Your Holy Spirit into every corner of Your creation. We place the concerns of our world into Your hands, through the

Isaiah 41:10 (NCV)
“ So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you”.

‘Footprints in the Sand’ by Mary Stevenson
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it: “LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.” The LORD replied: “My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Gracious God, we lift before You all those whom for today is a struggle, remembering especially our NHS workers continuing to work long, tiring shifts in order to keep our hospitals staffed. We pray for all patients and their families, and so too we remember all those unwell at home. Lord, You understand that there are days when our resolve for whatever reason is low, when we are need of strength, comfort and assurance. On these days, we know that we can turn to You, that You are there to sustain us and carry us, that we do not need to face difficult situations alone. And so Lord God, may the power of Your love lift us and all those in need, this day and in the days to come. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen

Psalm 23  (NRSV)
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long”.

Gracious God remind us this day that You are our Shepherd, You are the one who cares and provides for us. You are the One who invites us to take quiet moments and spend them in Your presence. You are the One who wants to heal us and restore us with your love and your grace. You are there to guide us as we journey forward, even when the road ahead is rocky and difficult to navigate. And although we may face dark times, we are assured of Your presence with us, so help us not to be anxious or afraid. You pour out Your Holy Spirit to anoint, enable and equip us to follow You and be the people You would have us be. And You have prepared a place for us so that nothing, in all eternity, can separate us from Your love, and so we live today in the assurance that You are our Shepherd. Amen.

Matthew 19:14 (NRSV)

” but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

Gracious God, we thank You for the gift of learning, for the ability to experience and discover new things every day. On this new day, help us to learn more about about You and Your love for us, and share that knowledge with other people. Lord God, as we reflect upon the gift of learning, we lift before You all our children and young people learning today in schools and at home. We are saddened that their education process has been so severely disrupted, but we give thanks for every teacher, support worker, parent and carer who will aid their learning today, who will sit alongside them at home or in the classroom or talk to them online. We pray for parents juggling working from home and schooling their children. We pray for all staff tasked with the logistical difficulties of ensuring every child has the opportunity to learn. Amidst the immense difficulties of the current situation, we pray for every conversation, every word written, every sum calculated, every fact learnt, every craft made, and every book read, that through these acts of learning, our young people may continue to grow and develop. We place all young people and educators into Your hands Lord, and ask that You continue to support, encourage, equip and bless them, this day and in the days to come. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Mark 1:35 (NIV)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”.

Gracious God, we know that when Jesus walked the earth, He faced times of challenge, anxiety and uncertainty, but in those times, He found a quiet place and turned to You in prayer. As the new working week begins and lockdown continues, remind us Lord God that Your presence is assured and that you are always there to listen to us, to invite us into conversation. When challenges come, help us to pause and take a moment to turn to You, remembering that in the moments when we do not have the words to say, simply being in Your presence is enough, that you know the concerns of our hearts before we even speak. As we look at the sun’s rays upon the winter’s scene, may we be assured of Your love radiating in the darkness of these winter days. May this love surround those whom we love and those with whom we come into contact today. May we find peace in Your embrace and hear Your still, small voice of assurance. Amen.

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