Thought for the day’s 20th – 25th April 2020

Irene Richardson 20th April 2020

It’s so reassuring to see such lovely spring flowers blossoming and trees budding. Butterflies, bees and ladybirds are out and the birds are very active. All this in spite of our present situation. How reliable is the natural world, the changing of the seasons, longer days. We can praise our Creator God for all of this.
Creator God, we thank you for your wonderful world and the pleasure it gives us. May we tread lightly on this earth and carefully use its resources.

Tom Richardson April 21st

The Hebrew King David, who wrote most of the Psalms, was regarded as a prophet and his principal prophecy is found in Psalm 22.
The first words of the Psalm are quoted by Jesus while nailed to the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
This Psalm, if read carefully, describes quite accurately what happened to Jesus during the 24 hours before he was put to death; and yet it was written about 1000 years before Jesus was even born!
Many people today, when they are in difficulties or in pain will cry out the same words, perhaps imagining that God – whether or not they believe in God – has indeed forsaken them. God never does forsake people. It is unlikely that Jesus was abandoned on the Cross. By pointing at Psalm 22, Jesus was showing the Hebrews who watched him die, exactly what the outcome of pain and suffering can be. God will listen to our cry and will indeed help.
Lord Jesus, during this time of national emergency keep us faithful to you, considerate of others and concerned that we will not put lives at risk by the way we live. During this period of Lent and Passion-tide, help us to see afresh the true meaning of the Gospel; to be awakened again to the power of your Holy Spirit and to follow more closely and faithfully in your footsteps. Amen.

Paul Bettison April 22nd

‘Get-up-get-up-get-up; come-along-run-along’. It’s the sound of the Song Thrush in full voice, or so I’m told. I’m hopeless at recognizing the voices of our feathered friends. And, at this time of the year when the avian chorus is in full swing, that’s a real shame.
But it doesn’t end there. I’m sure that, very often, I fail to recognise the voice of The Divine. God ‘speaks’ in ways many and various but goes unrecognized. Creation and circumstance, scripture and social encounters, God ‘speaks’ through them all, and more, yet do we hear the voice?
But let’s not be too hard upon ourselves. Remember Samuel in the Temple (look up the story – 1 Samuel Chapter Three) – The Judge, and Prophet-to-be, failed to recognise the voice as being that of God. And on that first Easter morning even Mary, devoted follower of Jesus, failed to recognise the voice of the one she adored. It was still dark, so she could be forgiven for mistaking the Risen Christ for the gardener. But not to recognise his voice?! We’re in good company.
Our Prayer
Gracious God, please help me to listen carefully so that, when you speak, I hear.
Help me to hear when someone laughs or cries,
when creation sings or weeps,
when words in the bible or hymn speak to me,
and when, in the stillness, something stirs within me.
Open my ‘inward ear’ so that I will hear your voice.

Philip Bee April 23rd

“Hope” is especially important at Easter. In days gone by, people would be excited to see trees coming into leaf and the earth bursting with new life. Such signs would ignite their hope that autumn’s harvest later that year would be plentiful. The fruitfulness of the earth was sometimes a matter of life and death to the future of their family. So, hope can be a deeply meaningful thing.
COVID-19 is bringing us somewhat closer to matters of life and death than we have been used to. Being locked down, makes us acutely aware of freedoms we have come to take for granted. Understanding the risks that doctors and nurses take on our behalf, makes us more appreciative of others. Queuing at supermarkets for food that is in short supply, reminds us just how tightly connected we are as human beings right across the world.
It seems quite likely that the world will be significantly different when we eventually emerge from this crisis. While many of us have the time, therefore, it might be good to reflect on what our deep hopes might be for the future. What sort of world do we want to be a part of after COVID-19? Who counts as family to us? And how do we best value one another’s contributions, especially in the world of work? What do we really hope for?
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12: 12)
Generous God, fill my life with hope for a bright future. Amen.
What deep hopes do you have for the future?


Sandie April 24th

Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it dragging our carcasses of prejudice and hatred, our avarice and data banks, dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world, and ready to fight for it.  The Pandemic is a Portal, by Arundhati Roy (author of ‘God of Small Things’)
The disciples were scared. They were in lock-down, and despite the rumours of Jesus appearing to some of them, when the Risen Christ meets them behind locked doors, ‘they were startled and terrified.’ (Luke 24:37) It was as if the strange times they were living in had blinded them to the re-assuring presence of Christ, and in their panic and disorientation, they failed to recognise him as The One in whom they had put their trust and their hope. Gradually, they were re-assured and even the doubting Thomases among them could proclaim the Risen Christ as ‘My Lord and my God!’
I imagine that during that time of lock-down, punctuated by brief appearances of the Risen Christ, they were longing for ‘normality’, just as we are today. They wanted to cling on to Christ and for everything to go back to the way it was before the nightmare of the crucifixion. But the Risen Christ comes and goes. He can’t be pinned down, confined to earthly ‘normality’. He’s teaching his disciples that they must change. The world must change. For resurrection is a cosmic movement of transformation.
Yes, of course, we long for some ‘normality.’ But are we just waiting for the nightmare to be over, or are we allowing ourselves to transformed by the Living Christ, who has transformed all powers of death and darkness into the powers of light and life? Can we walk through this portal, laying aside our usual baggage? Can we walk lightly, trusting the One who has trod this way before us?
A Prayer:
Cross-carrying Christ, we are deeply fearful, as you were in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We are afraid for ourselves and for those whom we love.
We long for this nightmare to be over.
Risen Christ, appear to us through the locked doors of our own making.
Speak to us the words of a peace which passes all understanding.
Call us by our name and teach us not to cling to the familiar.
Transforming Christ, re-make us as we wait in trust and hope.
Grant us strength and courage for each day
That we may walk lightly and confidently through the portals
You will open for us into a new world. Amen.

Beryl Holt April 25th

Read   Jeremiah 15 v16.
I love reading, from Theological to Who Done It’s, -even the HP Sauce label will do!
John Wesley was also a great advocate of reading and insisted that his helpers, preachers and indeed all his people should read constantly. He wrote “Steadily spend all morning in this employ, or at least 5 hours in the 24. The works of grace would die out in one generation if Methodists were not reading people. Reading Christians will be knowing Christians.”
William Barclay in his book ‘Through the Year with William Barclay’ writes “The man or woman who reads will never be lonely, bored, ignorant or circumscribed.”
For the Christin there is always the Bible to read. A book which gives comfort, guidance, challenge and the means of praise when we want to rejoice. If you are bored with ‘self-isolating’, and missing going outside, and meeting family and friends, make time each day to read again the uplifting stories in this wonderful book.
Lord, thank you for your holy and powerful word, help me to rely on them day by day. Through them I know you will sustain me in the coming difficult days, and they will become my joy and hearts delight.

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