Abbey United Reformed Church, Romsey

Prayer for June 2022

“Happy and Glorious”!  This month sees the Platinum Jubilee of our Queen, with bunting adorning many of the shopfronts around town, not to mention outside (and inside) our church here in Romsey, bringing a much-needed lift to our human spirit, especially after the dark times of Covid that continues to haunt so many people.  A real time of celebration and festival just around the corner!

There are a number of special events in Romsey and Braishfield to mark the Queens Platinum Jubilee (see elsewhere in this edition of our pastorate magazine for further details).  We are beginning with a very special ‘Songs of Praise’ service here at Abbey URC with local dignitaries present and participating.  At that special service, we are also dedicating the Allen Organ and are delighted to welcome members of the, now closed, Chandlers Ford URC where the organ was originally situated.  We will be singing favourite hymns and songs, chosen by church members and friends, listen to short reflections on the importance of music to our life and faith, and sing the National Anthem to round off the morning’s service.  Long may the Queen reign over us!

Gracious God, how great your love!

We lift our song to you as we gather with praise and thanksgiving on our hearts.

We come, part of the rainbow of your family, from the nations of this United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, rich in our diversity and culture.

We come as people of faith to give you thanks for Her Majesty The Queen - a leader, a mother, a wife, a servant. Thank you for her life of service and the example of her deep sense of vocation.

May she continue to be blessed with divine guidance and find strength in her faith.

May she be encouraged by the widespread celebration of this Jubilee.

May we who gather today be enriched and strengthened by today’s service.

May the words, spoken and sung, lift our spirits that we might leave this place steadfast in our role as your ambassadors and Christ’s disciples.

Amen

(Used with permission, taken from Wednesday Compline from Northumbria)

Prayer for May 2022

On the 22 April it was Earth Day; it began in 1970 when industry belched out smoke and sludge, and the smell of pollution was accepted as the smell of prosperity.  Those of us who are reading this were 50 years younger back then and most of us are guilty of doing nothing at that time about the desecration of God’s planet by humankind.  Where could we be now, if only, we had taken notice then of those prompting us to take action.

We had warnings – Rachel Carson wrote her seminal book ‘Silent Spring’ in 1962 warning us of the problems we were causing by the use of pesticides and herbicides.  We know now, and knew then, that DDT almost caused the extinction of Peregrines from the UK.  These magnificent birds were failing to judge when to pull out of their stoops – they hit the ground and killed themselves because their nervous systems had been damaged by the pesticide. 

In April 2022 our Government has re-licensed the use of a herbicide, still banned in Europe, that protects sugar beet but kills bees that all of us depend upon for pollination of plants!

Do we remember the words in Bob Dylan’s song “When will we ever learn?”
Psalm 8: 4 – 6
What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands…

Lord, you have given us the job of protecting your Earth, but we have failed to listen to you.  Now great God we are on the cusp of passing on to our children and grandchildren a planet on which we will not be able to live.  We ask you, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, that leaders of nations will take the necessary actions to arrest the decline while we are still able.

Lord, help us to learn now.  Amen

Prayer for April 2022

As I prepare this prayer for our April magazine we are in the season of Lent: a season of getting ready.  We are preparing ourselves for a week which starts with our Lord, the Prince of Peace, being adored by the crowds as he enters Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds throwing palms upon the road as His red carpet. 

During that week the mood changes to one of disbelief as that Prince of Peace becomes the Servant King, washing His disciples’ feet at that Last Supper in the Upper Room.

Those disciples then desert Him as He becomes the Sacrificial Lamb on the cross, before rushing to His empty tomb in realization that the Son of God is risen indeed.

So, I offer you this prayer for that journey:

Father God, we worship and adore You, we thank You for preparing us for this Easter journey that we may discover anew all that You have done for us.

Just as You washed Your disciples’ feet, may we too be willing to offer ourselves in Your service, humbling ourselves in Your name that others may feel the love You hold for each and every one of us.

As Your red carpet changes to the red blood running from those nails holding Your hands to the cross and from the wound made by the sword through Your side, we thank You for that sacrifice made for us, that you have overcome all things, taken our sins upon Yourself, that we are able to enjoy the fruits of Your resurrection.

Prince of Peace, Servant King, Sacrificial Lamb, Son of God, we offer ourselves anew to be Your disciples; may we be worthy of such a calling.

Amen

Andy Bevan

 

Prayer for March 2022

FOR A WINTER’S DAY

Dear Lord,

It is cold and wet.  The days are short and we do not feel like going out.

Thank you for the winter with all its cold and hardship.  We were so glad to be out of doors in the summer and anxious to keep the season as long as possible before the autumn.

Show us now how to enjoy these days.  Sometimes we remember the warmth of summer and glory of Autumn seeming far away, but we can now be grateful for the opportunities to be quiet, to meet our friends, to watch TV, to read old and new books and plan to help others.

As we wonder at the quietness of nature, we pray in thankfulness for the snowdrops now appearing and all that lies beneath soil, for trees and hills sometimes seeming dead but preparing for the new life to come in the Spring.

  • Bless to us, O God
  • The earth beneath our feet
  • Bless to us, O God,
  • The path whereon we go.
  • And Bless to us, O God.
  • The people whom we meet.

Amen

                                                                                 Geoff Prestage, with help from Richard Hall

Prayer for February 2022

When we returned to face-to-face church services after lockdown, we had a whole pew to ourselves due to the social distancing regulations. It is customary in churches for the regular worshippers to have their 'own' place to sit and if they are not in their usual place, people notice and start wondering what has happened to them.

Over the years, I have been privileged to attend worship and sit in many churches. As a newcomer there is always the difficulty of knowing where a 'safe' place is to sit without causing offence. When training for ministry in one of the rather big churches in South London a lady called Florrie came to my aid. Over the weeks I noticed that she sat on her own. So, I asked if I could sit with her and so our friendship developed.  Florrie had a learning disability. She loved singing and knew many hymns by heart but she found it difficult to find the hymn numbers quickly. So, during worship Florrie did the singing and I found the hymns and discreetly we kept exchanging hymn books. We made a very good team and I was made to feel welcome.

Since this happened over 20 years ago, and judging by her age at the time, I am sure Florrie is now singing with heavenly choirs. I have forgotten many people but I will remember Florrie for the rest of my life with a very grateful heart.

Julian of Norwich was a mystic who lived in the 1300s and is known for her visions called 'Shewings' which she wrote down. Julian's writings were lost for a long time, but now she is regarded as one of the great spiritual theologians of medieval England.

Julian says that Our Lord is courteous towards us and wants to be 'at home' with us and wants us to be 'at home' with him. God knows us intimately and is always present, yet Our Lord keeps a safe distance, respecting our feelings. The pandemic and Covid have forced us to socially distance, but God is always present, waiting for us to welcome him.In Psalm 139 we read 'O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.'  (Verses 1-2, 7-10).

We pray using the book 'Glimpses of the Divine', The Art and Inspiration of Sieger Koder by Emma Simmonds.
          'O God of mystery,
          We walk in your presence
          at every moment of our day.
>          Help us to know
          that wherever we are
          is a holy ground,
          because you are always beside us.'

Leena Knowles

Prayer for October 2021

As we move forward, adjusting to living with the Covid-19 virus still in our midst, our recent Outreach Group meeting agreed that our theme for the final quarter of 2021 will be Mental Health. This covers a vast range of issues which we will explore over the next few months.  To help better inform us there will be a small display on the Prayer corner board.  Please do take the time to read the items displayed and include their contents in your prayers.

Mental Health is an undervalued part of our health awareness.  Our mental health is affected by what we see and experience around us, how we are seen by others and how much we value ourselves.  It can also be affected by our physical health.

I offer this prayer for us all:

Lord God, just as You are there for us to nourish our spiritual selves, we know you are there to support us through the difficult times and to celebrate with us when we rejoice.

We pray Lord, for your strength and support to help us through times of stress, when life seems to be a constant challenge just to cope with everyday life.  We pray for those feeling imposed upon by others, whether it be at home, at work, within our local community or even within our church.

We pray for those Lord, who are struggling to cope with physical health problems which leave them and their carers mentally exhausted.  May they know the warmth of your love offered to them through the healthcare professionals, their family and friends.

We pray for those struggling to adjust their lives following the loss of a loved one.  May the reassurance that their loved one is now safely in your care be a comfort to them at this time.

And Lord, we thank you for the many rays of sunshine we see in the simple things of life, bringing smiles and laughter when we least expect them.

Thank you, Lord for being there for us.  Amen

Andy Bevan

Prayer for September

We are reminded in our Harvest month to thank God for the verdant growth in the walkways and gardens.  It is good to be living in the countryside.  But last week from our bedroom window we witnessed a process which reminded us of God's creation of a different order.   Our local farmer and his family were caring for a sick cow which had just delivered a little black calf.   It was lying on the grass, not willing or able to give milk *. 

So, in our thoughts about God’s creation, we include the miracle of birth.

Bless to us loving God the planet in which we live and all creation.

For the plants that surround us: the trees, flowers, vegetables, field crops.

For Animals: cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and cats.

For people: farmers, those who work the land, those who fish in seas and rivers.

Thank you loving God….

…. for seeds, sun and rain which help the plants to grow

…. for the process of birth of people and animals.

…. for all your creation, we praise and thank you Lord.

Geoff P

(based on a children’s prayer of Castle Junior School, Edinburgh)

 

Prayer for July & August 2021

Genie and Ernie Knowles, our Grandma and Grandad, my late in-laws were wonderful people of faith and very devoted members of their local URC in Heavitree, Exeter.

I suppose they wouldn’t have dreamt of worshipping anywhere else than in the URC church. Grandad looked after the church accounts and Grandma sat in her library corner after the morning service where people could come and borrow books. Any money raised was given to church funds.

In their outlook Genie and Ernie were very traditional and kept a strict weekly and annual routine. I learned to respect this. Certain things were done on certain days at a certain time without fail. Their annual holiday, always taken in June, was spent in Guernsey, and they always stayed in the same hotel.

Twice a year they came to stay with us in Croydon for a week. Times shared together have left many happy memories. During grandparents' visits our children especially loved teatimes because they were allowed to eat cakes rather than Mum's homemade bread and stew and cinnamon buns. Grandad in particular had a fondness for cakes.Grandparents always arrived on a Thursday and went back to Devon the following Tuesday. The reason for this was that Grandma had her weekly hair appointment on Wednesday and she would never miss her women's meeting at church on a Wednesday night. It had started as a 'Young Wives' meeting and was still going strong many years later although the wives were not so young any more!

Whether we are still working full-time or are retired with other commitments, most of us have our routines which structure our days and weeks. During the past year we have been forced to do things differently and change our routines and habits, maybe even our thinking and attitudes.

During the Lent this year under Mike's helpful guidance we studied the booklet 'Holy Habits: Following Jesus'. It was a good habit to keep Sunday nights free and learn from each other and reflect on scriptures in preparation for Easter. 

Few of us are called to live our lives according to the monastic discipline and God does not accept or judge us according to how much or little time we spend in prayer. However, there is a danger that without spiritual food we begin to starve without even realising it.

Now, when we are beginning to have more freedom with fewer restrictions, let us try to develop or keep the habit of prayer. In the midst of our everyday routines, even if only a few minutes a day we could try to listen to God and hear which way He is leading us.
We pray using the words of an Ancient Collect:

'O Heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being,
we humbly pray thee so to guide and govern us by thy Holy Spirit,
that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may never forget thee, but remember that we are ever walking in thy sight; for thine own name's sake'.   Amen.   

(Prayers through the Centuries by Nancy Martin)

Leena Knowles

Prayer for December & January

In Mexico, Las Posadas is celebrated in cities and towns. Each evening during the festival, a small child dressed as an angel leads a procession through the streets of the town. Adults, including musicians, follow the procession, which visits selected homes and asks for lodging for Joseph and Mary. Traditionally, the procession is always refused lodging, though the hosts often provide refreshments. At each stop, passages of scripture are read and Christmas carols are sung.

Similarly, in Latin America, Posada is a custom in which figures of Mary and Joseph 'travel' from house to house during Advent to symbolise how every household can make room for Jesus.

A Posada Prayer for Advent:

Eternal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we welcome Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem, we pray that you will be with us also as we travel on life’s way. Help us to experience the joy of looking forward, accepting new beginnings, and finding you in the most unexpected of places. Amen

A prayer for the new year:

Living God of all that is new, we ask that this year you will help us to carry your light into every place we go and share your good news with those we meet. May we walk and work in unity to reveal your love and goodness. Amen

Prayer for November 2020

A couple of weeks ago a friend recommended a book to me. It is by Hans Rosling with assistance from his son and daughter and is called ‘Factfulness’.  It has a subtitle ’Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think’.  It was a couple of days before I was able to get a copy and I am already well through it.  It is fascinating!

The author has become increasingly aware that we all adopt a very pessimistic view of the world and that we totally fail to take into consideration the progress we are making.  Yet in almost every sphere of life in which we as Christians would want things to get better, it is happening.

To begin making his point he begins the book by asking the reader to answer some questions – I will ask you to answer the first 3 that he sets:

1. In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?

  1. 20%
  2. 40%                       
  3. 60%

2. Where does the majority of the world population live?

  1. Low-income countries;
  2. Middle-income countries;
  3. High-income countries

3. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in poverty has…

  1. almost doubled;
  2. remained more or less the same;
  3. almost halved

The answers are at the end of the prayer, have a look.

How did you do?  If things are not as bad as you thought, join the club.

Hans has asked these questions and more to students studying politics and economics, to politicians and to the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and in many other forums and, without exception, we all got it wrong.  In fact, answering randomly would have, on average, got one third of the answers right and the great majority of scores were substantially below that random score.  In the UK only 6% were correct on question 1, 23% were correct on question 2 and 9% were right on question 3.  No wonder we think the world is becoming a worse place in which to live.

All the time we are praying for things to improve.  The Holy Spirit is working through people improving the world – that’s what we are praying for, so why do we not believe it is happening?

How about some real facts?

  • Children dying before their 5th birthday was 44% in 1800, 4% in 2016.
  • Nuclear Arms in the world was 64,000 in 1986, 15,000 in 2017.
  • People undernourished was 28% in 1970,11% in 2015.
  • Clean water was available to 58% in 1980 but 88% in 2015.

And I could go on.  The point is, that through our prayers and the acts of the Holy Spirit, we are getting better.  Of course, we still have a way to go but let’s recognise we are making progress.

Prayer:

Great God we thank you for all the good that is happening in the world, we thank you that the Holy Spirit is working through people to improve so many aspects of everyone’s lives.  Help us to recognise the progress and to continue our prayer so that all peoples will one day be able to say, ‘Your Kingdom has come’.   Amen

Derek

Answers to the questions: 1, c; 2, b; 3, c.

Notices

  • Saturday, 25 June

    10am-noon Church open for quiet reflection

    10am - 12.30 Summer Sale in Abbey Hall in aid of church funds.

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    Sunday 26 June

    10.30 am morning worship led by Derek Hiscocks

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    Wednesday 29 June

    2.30pm Table Tennis in Abbey Hall

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    Sunday 3 July

    10.30am Morning Worship, including Holy Communion

    6.30pm Bible Study on Zoom

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    Saturday 9 July 

    Beggars Fare: both our church and hall will host sessions throughout the day and stewards are required as well as volunteers to serve tea and coffee in the church.  If you are able to help for a few hours, please sign the rota at the back of the church.

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    You can read this month's magazine by clicking on Magazine

    This week's news sheet is available by clicking on News

     

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