Material for Worship on the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

I wonder if you can spot in this photo from John and Rosemary Hamilton’s garden some of the ‘Seeds for Hope’ which were shared among our congregation on Mothering Sunday just as Lockdown started? As you prepare to join in worship with me, Nerys, celebrating the Eucharist in the church this morning, let us take a moment to think about our St Mary’s family past and present and give thanks.

As you listen to Morag reading the Gospel passage for today, Matthew 13.1-9 and 18-23, try to visualize the images the words create and allow God to communicate to you through them.

This story wasn’t exactly what the enormous crowd which had gathered around Jesus were expecting. It appears simple and accessible. Nobody in Galilee lived far from the land. They would understand farmers and fields very well. But there is a perplexing aspect to this story which was probably deliberate. Jesus wanted them to puzzle over it, to talk about it amongst themselves, to think it through, to discover its truth for themselves. Maybe he wanted them to experience how easy it is to listen but how hard it is to hear and understand and allow an idea to take root in our minds and hearts.

The story was also unexpected for those who were ready to delve deeper into its meaning as it seems to talk of both failure and success. Many would have been incredulous on hearing of the long series of failed sowings. They would know that a sensible sower doesn’t just fling his seeds all over the place. Given the high cost of seed-grain and the knowledge a Middle Eastern farmer would have of his fields from years of careful tending, they would wonder why this farmer did not take better care to prevent the seed from falling in places he knew were unproductive—on the road, on the thin soil and among the weeds? What sort of farmer wastes two thirds of the seed like that? What was he up to? What was the point being made?

I suppose that Jesus probably used parables because it was a safe way of communicating his challenging message. Among the crowd would have been religious leaders who were already out to destroy him. But even if they could grasp the underlying meaning, they couldn’t condemn him for speaking of soil and seeds and birds and stones. But I think he used this sophisticated method of teaching also because through parables, he could present different messages to different groups of people at the same time.

If we take the soil to be the main focus of this story, then it is a warning designed to prompt new listeners to think about the way they respond to the message of God’s love and forgiveness which Jesus is sharing with them through his life and words. It is not enough to hear without understanding, it is not enough to understand without taking action, it is not enough to take action without persevering. For a seed to take root and grow successfully so that it can bear fruit, barren soil needs to be cultivated, stones removed, weeds uprooted. To ensure the right conditions for God’s love to grow in our hearts takes time and effort but the end result is a fruitful life of prayer and service to others in which we will accomplish through our trust in God what we could never have dreamt of.

If we focus on the sower, then the story can be taken as a message to those who had already joined Jesus in spreading far and wide the new vision of God, calling on people to listen and respond. At times, Jesus’ disciples must have wondered what on earth they were doing. Crowds came to hear him, but very few were really changed for life. Even those healed by him often went away and forgot. And the doors of the synagogues were shutting against them as Jesus seemed to rouse nothing but hostility in the religious leaders.

To followers of Jesus then and now, the story is a word of encouragement. This sower who flings the seed about without looking where it is going to land reminds us of our Heavenly Father who gives everybody a chance to be part of his family. God the bountiful Sower doesn’t choose good soil alone. Think about those Jesus kept company with! Even if the response is not immediate, God knows that barren earth can become fertile ground, hard paths can be softened by rain, last year’s crop of thistles can become compost that will grow strong plants. He knows that sometimes seed will lie dormant in the ground for years before it germinates and bears fruit when the conditions are right.

We are called to imitate God’s endless patience and gracious generosity The sowing may be a patchy and sometimes discouraging process but if we persevere, the harvest is sure to come and will be abundant.

‘The Sower’ by James Tissot

You may be interested in this short reflection on the painting and on Tissot’s spiritual journey by Fr. Warner D’Souza, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Bombay.

God of mystery, help us to cherish your word in our hearts that we may truly hear, understand and turn afresh to you.
God of life, help us live as people of hope and expectancy, rejoicing in your love for us and all your children.
God of growth, help us, your Church, to encourage and nurture one another in faith at every age and every stage.
God of compassion, help us to respond to those in need: the anxious, the sick, the grieving, the homeless, the hungry …
We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Rector’s Weekly Letter – 9th July 2020

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the sgiw, the old pine settle, in my grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen unravelling an old jumper under her watchful eye. I remember well the enjoyment of pulling at the loose thread and transforming the crinkly yarn into tight balls of wool ready to be knitted again into a new garment. Unravelling or being unravelled can be a positive or a negative experience. At the end of March, many of us were bereft when our tightly-knit plans unravelled into loose threads. Some of us at St Mary’s may feel that our church community is unravelling at the moment with the deaths of three much-loved members in such a short space of time. But at other times we need to be unravelled to allow God to work new patterns in our lives. Sometimes in our unravelling, life surprises us with unexpected joy, love and hope and provides a new beginning we couldn’t have imagined.

For the next few months, we will be exploring Bible stories of unravelled dreams, expectations, identity, grief, fear, shame. The resource we will use, Unraveled, has been created by four young American Christian artists, Lisle Gwynn Garrity, Sarah Are, Hannah Garrity and Lauren Wright Pittman, who form a collective called A Sanctified Art. Their aim is to bring scripture and theological themes to life through the use of visual art, providing opportunities for deep reflection and meaningful connection. For more information visit www.sanctifiedart.org

Everyone who wants to be involved will be provided with a beautifully designed journal containing twelve short Bible passages, works of art inspired by them, reflections by the artists and opportunities to respond. This journal can be used as a personal devotional to be completed in your own time, as a basis for a group study series or as a response to a time of worship. There will be an opportunity to meet for an hour or so on-line every other Friday evening from 24th July to share our thoughts and pray together. As restrictions are eased, some of us may even be able to meet in person and use this exciting and timely resource in our worship.

If you would like a journal, please get in touch with me at rector @ stmarysdunblane.org

If you would like to attend the introductory Zoom meeting at 7.30 p.m. on Friday 24th July, please contact Martin Wisher at martinwisher @ hotmail.com
(If you haven’t used Zoom before, Martin or John Hamilton can help you.)

You don’t need to be a member of St Mary’s to be involved. Everyone is welcome.

With love
Nerys

Material for Worship on the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

I am grateful to the Revd Moira Jamieson for preparing the reflection and prayers below to enable you to join in worship with me as I celebrate the Eucharist in the church at 8.30 and 10.30 a.m. today. Thanks also to David and Gudrun Sawyer for preparing and recording the readings.
Nerys

As we begin to slowly move out of lockdown, not all of us are at ease with the changes being made, even though we want to be close to family and friends again and to regain some of our lost independence. Today’s Gospel passage, Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30, gives us some words of reassurance, that God knows what we are going through, and that He is ready to share those burdens we feel are holding us back. The words give us a picture of a gentle Jesus, standing with outstretched arms, ready to welcome us, to comfort us or to reassure us and to smooth the way before us.
In verses 8 to 15 of today’s Psalm, Psalm 145, the psalmist reflects on the graciousness and compassion of God and how, through that grace, we are enabled to make known the glories of God’s kingdom. It also speaks of Gods faithfulness and His mercy towards all who fall or turn away from Him. We see it too in his Son Jesus in our Gospel passage for today.
We can imagine Jesus welcoming home the prodigal son or inviting those with diseases to come and be healed. This invitation from Jesus was spoken to the crowds as an invitation to acknowledge the authority of who he was, or to reject it. Would they accept the testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus, or would they ignore it? Would they remain in bondage to the yoke of the law, or would they accept the yoke of Christ instead? Far from being an invitation to relax and take it easy, the invitation of Jesus was urgent and inevitable.
All of us have had more than enough time to relax during lockdown and to take it easy. We are probably wondering when we will be able to take up the invitation of Jesus to accept his yoke and get on with the practical things of being a Christian. Don’t get me wrong, many people are still able to continue doing the physical things like taking food parcels to those in isolation, doing a neighbour’s shopping or spending time on the telephone or by email to keep in contact with others.
And so, what kind of rest is it that Jesus is offering? Looking at the words used in verse 28 to 30, we could be forgiven for thinking that the kind of rest Jesus is offering is gentle, easy and light – all words found in these verses. So is it an easy rest Jesus is offering? Just to confuse us, the answer is paradoxical – it’s both yes and no. Jesus spoke of ‘rest for your souls’ and we should note well His choice of words. These words point to the inner state of a person rather than to simple physical relaxation.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ time, as we know, were preoccupied with obeying the Law which governed the inner person and expressed itself in the outward activities and words of that person. Rabbis spoke of the yoke of the law, using imagery of the harness fitted on oxen and used by the owner to direct the animals in their work. By the time of Jesus, the law had evolved into a complex and lengthy set of rules and interpretations. No human being was able to follow them all exactly, though some exhausted themselves trying.
How then do we identify the rest which Christ exemplifies and models? It’s not easy for us to picture the kind of rest Jesus is talking about in this passage. We are more accustomed to thinking of rest as refraining from effort, or as the luxury of consuming without producing. In other words, enjoying our rest without having to anything productive, although I am sure that after this long period of lockdown and the restrictions it has enforced on us, our ideas of rest will change! In this passage, Jesus is speaking of an inward rest, not an outward rest.
One way that we might find meaning for the rest that Jesus spoke of is by looking at the words he spoke in verses 25-30. Jesus began in verse 25 by thanking His Father that who He is, the Messiah, the Saviour, has been revealed according to God’s gracious will, but that His identity is hidden from those who trust in their own wisdom. However, we can give thanks that God is made known to us through his Son Jesus and He is the one who gives us a true rest. Those who follow Jesus, who rest and are justified in Him, are entrusted with issuing his invitation to the world, to ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’. It isn’t enough to enjoy fellowship with Jesus, we must also extend his summons to others, so that they too may find rest from the futility of trying to earn their salvation through human efforts. Quite a challenge for all of us to be sure!

Let us pray:
Loving Jesus, your grace alone can take away the burden that holds us back from fullness of life. Teach us to cast our cares upon you because you care for us, so that we may be free to share the burdens of those who do not yet know your love.
We pray that we may be instruments of your love in the world, reaching out to others as best we can and holding those who are struggling in our prayers. Pray for the hungry, the homeless and all who are in need, giving thanks for volunteers and charity organisations.
Loving Jesus, we know you as our Lord and Saviour. You sustain and uphold us in times of trouble, in times of need and in times of ill health. Pray for those who have contracted Covid-19, those in hospital and those at home struggling with illness of any kind. Name those who are on our hearts and minds.
Loving Jesus, you open your arms to welcome all people, even when they turn their backs on you. Thank you for all who follow your example by sharing the good news of your Gospel. Pray for the clergy and congregations throughout the Scottish Episcopal Church. Pray for our Bishop Ian and for Nerys here at St. Mary’s. Pray for those who have gone astray that they will return to a relationship with God.
Loving Jesus, you have compassion for all people and offer us eternal life when we acknowledge you as our Lord and Saviour. Comfort those whose loved ones have died and give them strength in the knowledge that they are in your loving care. Pray for those we know who have died and for their family and friends. Remember those whose anniversary falls at this time.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Statue of the Welcoming Christ by Trita Madden at Launde Abbey in Leicester.

Weekly Letter – 2nd July 2020

Dear friends,
This week’s letter is written by Anthony Birch, Convenor of Start-up Stirling which during April and May we have supported, through their home delivery service an average of 145 households and distributed 213 crates of food weekly.
With love to you all,
Nerys

The Covid-19 Pandemic has profoundly altered the way Start Up Stirling has been working. Before isolation measures were enforced, we were bringing people together at the food banks in church halls and 45% of our volunteers were over 70 or with health problems that put them at particular risk. In the course of a week in March 2020 the foodbank changed to a delivery-only service, appropriate social distancing was implemented to protect staff, volunteers and clients, and the vulnerable volunteers were stood down.

This might have been unsustainable, but we have been quite overwhelmed by the encouragement and support we have received. New volunteers, some of them workers on furlough, have joined us to help. Other charities, whose operations are needed less in lockdown have seconded their staff to us or lent us their vehicles. Stirling Council’s emergency response team have been immensely helpful, finding us extra storage space, so that volunteer teams can be distanced and work in “team bubbles” helping us to purchase shortage stock items and allotting us council vehicles and drivers for delivery.

As expected, since the epidemic struck, referrals to the foodbank have risen. An upswing in referral numbers and food volume issued was seen in March and has continued since then. Comparing referrals received in each month with last year it was nearly twice as high in May 2020 as in May 2019. In fact May was slightly quieter than April in food volume issued and we are checking with those who refer to us that we are not missing hidden need. We worry that we must expect more people to fall into hardship if, as seems likely, many employers find they cannot sustain their businesses with continued social distancing.

Many people are shopping for food less frequently or are shopping online. Current donations of food are consequently somewhat reduced, but many people are recognising this and monetary donations have been increased. Various government and private funding streams have also become available to help the social response to the pandemic. These are all helping us to sustain the cost burden which response to the emergency imposes, but we are expecting the need to persist over many months yet.

It seems that Start Up Stirling is well regarded both by local and Scottish government for what we are able to do. In Volunteers Week at the beginning of June our Facebook page featured a different volunteer each day. One of our volunteer stories, of Neil Aitkenhead, was picked up by the Scottish Government website thanking all those who have volunteered in the pandemic. You can read the report here. https://www.gov.scot/news/thanks-for-pandemic-volunteers/.

In marking our 25th Anniversary last year, we were honoured to be named by the Provost of Stirling, Christine Simpson as her “Charity of the Year” for 2019-20. Provost Simpson has now extended that designation to the end of this calendar year.

There will be many problems facing us as we go forward, most notably all the changes needed in response to the pandemic. There are also many things for which we are thankful, and many people and organisations to whom we are profoundly grateful. As always though, it is to our staff, to all our volunteers and to those here in St Mary’s and beyond who support us by donations of money and food that we wish to give most thanks. Without their faithful support we would not be able to continue as we are in giving support to those who need it.

In order to give a donation to Start-up Stirling visit https://startupstirling.org.uk/donate

Material for Worship on the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Today we probably would have had an all-age service to mark the end of the school year for members of our Young Church. In view of this, our Gospel reflection and prayer of response are adapted from the Roots resource which our families with children are using from Sunday to Sunday and we have contributions from Julia Shanks and Peter Owen. You may want to have a cup or glass of water before you as you join with me in worship this morning. Nerys

I wonder how many different things you could do with a cup of water? You could, of course, drink it, or rinse your fingers, or water a plant, make a cup of tea, cook some rice, wash a patch of floor… or if you were a member of Young Church you could go outside and have a water fight!

In this week’s little passage from Matthew’s Gospel (10.40-42), a cup of water becomes a symbol of hospitality – a cup of cold water for a hot, tired and dusty traveller. To be hospitable, to be welcoming, is to provide another person with the basics of food and shelter. But it’s far more than that. A simple glass of water is a way of saying to another human being that they matter, that we are glad to see them, that we enjoy their company. To be welcoming is not simply a matter of handing over material goods. When we open the doors of our homes, we open our hearts. We show someone that they are of value by being prepared to share something of ourselves. We make ourselves vulnerable, thereby creating relationships. And here in Matthew’s Gospel we are told that in welcoming other human beings we are welcoming God.

Listen to Peter reading a paraphrase of the passage from The Message.
The opposite of a welcoming atmosphere is a hostile environment. The British government’s policy of creating a hostile environment for illegal immigrants proved disastrous for society. It created fear, encouraged suspicion, perpetuated divisions, and demonised vulnerable human beings. All in the hope that people would voluntarily leave this country. It cultivated not welcome but rejection. And by shutting ourselves off from other human beings, we risk shutting ourselves off from God.

In this time of Coronavirus, hospitality, like just about everything else, can’t quite be what it was. We haven’t been able to invite people into our homes or into our church. We can’t give them a hug or even a handshake. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be welcoming – the challenge is to find inventive ways of telling people that they matter, of sharing the basics of life, giving reassurance and comfort, and opening our hearts. Something as simple as phone call, a picture in the window to make people smile as they pass by, a few groceries for the Food Bank. For in each welcoming gesture, we welcome God.

Having started with a question, I will finish with two. I wonder how many ways you can think of to be hospitable this week? And how can we at St Mary’s be a welcoming, hospitable church at this time?

Prayer of response
To give a cup of water to a little one is not a lot to ask,
it only requires a few simple actions, little time, no cost.

Lord Jesus, give me the eyes to notice the thirsty around me,
behind closed doors,
on the streets,
in my family.

Give me the strength to turn off my lukewarm self-absorption
and to turn on the refreshing tap
of your compassion,
your generosity,
your cleansing.

Give me the daring to offer a cup of my treasure,
my vulnerability,
my heart,
to another.

And give me the courage to step out of myself,
to place that cup into the empty hands of another in need,
acknowledging my own need to reach out for your living water day by day. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession (please add names and situations known to you)
Heavenly Father, we pray for those in need:
the sick …
the grieving …
the lonely …

We pray for those who are afraid:
those awaiting test results …
those who are vulnerable …
those whose livelihoods are at risk …

We pray for those on the fringes of society:
those who feel rejected,
those who are overlooked,
those whom others avoid.

We pray for your Church here and across the world
for our youngsters and their families,
especially those who are leaving or changing schools,
and for our Young Church leaders.
Loving God, as you welcome us, may we welcome others with warmth and steadfast love. Amen.

Listen to Julia singing the Welcome Song that is used at the beginning of every Messy Church meeting at St Mary’s.

Collect
Almighty God, you have taught us through your Son that love fulfils the law. May we love you with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength, and may we love our neighbour as ourselves, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Alexander Syme

Recently Margaret-Jean Stone Wigg was sent a newspaper cutting which had been unearthed from her brother’s safe. It is the obituary of her grandfather, Alexander Syme who died in 1945 at the age of 80. Because her father was working abroad, it was her grandparents who raised Margaret-Jean and took her with them every Sunday to St Mary’s where she became a member of the choir at a young age. The obituary and the personal tribute which follows by his friend Arthur Poyser give us fascinating insights into life in Dunblane over a century ago.

The Late Mr Alex Syme

Widespread regret was felt on Wednesday when it was learned that Mr Alexander Syme, Ben View, had passed away. He had been ill for a considerable time, following an accident in stepping off a bus; probably his last outing was on the occasion of the opening of the bowling green on the last Saturday of April.

Mr Syme, who was in his 80th year, was a native of Dunblane, and one of its brightest ornaments. To a singularly happy disposition he added gifts that were always generously placed at the service of the people. Above everything he was a devoted churchman, following his father in the office of verger of St Mary’s Episcopal Church, and discharging the duties with great faithfulness for many years, subsequently acting with great acceptance as a member of the Vestry.

To the Lodge of Dunblane No. 9, Mr Syme also gave of his very best; indeed it is difficult to set forth how much the Lodge meant to him and the great part it occupied in his life … In recreation Mr Syme found much enjoyment on the bowling green. A fine player himself, he delighted in a keen game with congenial spirits, his cheery good nature making for the best that is in the game. … Of his work, it is sufficient to say that he was an esteemed employee with Messrs R. Puller & Sons at Ashfield Works [a silk-dyeing mill] all his days. He had been nearly fifty years married, and to his widow and family of two sons and three daughters the sympathy of many friends goes out in their bereavement.

Syme of Dunblane: a Tribute

So we have parted from my old and most treasured friend, Syme of Dunblane. To me he typified Dunblane and its many aspects.

He sang in the choir of St Mary’s Church both as boy and as man; he was one of the famous ‘Dandy Coons’ concert party of the Victoria Hall in earlier days [from around 1880 to 1920 ‘coon songs’ presenting a stereotype of black people by white men with blacked faces were popular]; he was a keen bowler, and ‘the green’ will miss his genial personality; he was a leader among Freemasons and at one time Master of Lodge No. IX, Dunblane; and he knew everyone in the town, the town’s history, and all the chances and changes of his passing years. To spend an evening with Syme in his charming home was to find happiness and enjoyment of no ordinary kind.

He was a member of the Church Council of St Mary’s and his advice was sought on many important issues; his wisdom helped to settle many important questions of direct action or policy. He was born, one might say, a member of the Episcopal Church of Scotland and all his family are church people …

It was specially gratifying to me that I was able to bring to Dunblane, by the kindly help of all the good folk at Ben View, and many other friends, my City of London Boy Players in the summer of 1939, just a week or two before the outbreak of the second great war. [Arthur Poyser was International Commissioner for Music, Master of the Lord Mayor’s Players and Singers [the Boy Players], and founder in 1908 of the Lord Mayor’s Own 1st City of London B.P. Scouts]. The Symes, by their unqualified and heartening enthusiasm, made that visit to Dunblane something we — both myself and all the young players and singers under my charge — shall always remember with deep gratitude.

So we salute, as he goes upon his journey, a very dear friend who made life for all who knew him, a happier thing than it would otherwise have been: once whose welcoming smile and heartfelt loyalty meant so much to all of us who knew Syme of Dunblane intimately.

Rector’s Weekly Letter – 25th June 2020

Dear friends,

Yesterday I received an appointment to have my hair cut in a few weeks’ time when hairdressing businesses open again. I felt a great sense of excitement and relief — it represents for me another step towards returning to normal life. And yet, I know that on the day, I will feel the same apprehension and anxiety I experienced last week when I visited a supermarket for the first time since lockdown. This is a time of strong and mixed emotions for us as individuals and as a church. We now have permission from the Government to open the doors of St Mary’s for private prayer and at the end of next month it may be possible for us to gather for worship. I know that there is among us a yearning to return to the church building and to meet together again but that at the same time, we share a deep concern for the safety of those among us who are most vulnerable to the virus. Members of the Vestry expressed these feelings when we met to discuss how to proceed. Approaching the question prayerfully and with detailed guidance from our bishops, we decided to make the church available to individuals for private prayer by appointment only. If you or anyone you know wish to spend some time in the church, please get in touch with me and we will arrange to meet with all necessary precautions in place. Over the weeks and months to come, as lockdown is relaxed, Vestry will have more difficult decisions to make on your behalf. I ask that you continue to pray for us that these decisions will be made wisely and out of love rather than fear. My prayer for you as weeks of separation turn to months is that our sense of connection with each other as a worshiping community will stay strong and that God’s love will bind us together as we continue to serve and pray for those in need here in Dunblane and across the world.

With love,

Nerys

Material for Worship on the Third Sunday after Pentecost

As you prepare join in worship with me, Nerys, celebrating the Eucharist in the church this morning, you may wish to listen to Hazel and David Faunce Smith singing Bless the Lord O my soul:

I am grateful to the Ven. Peter Potter the reflection and prayers below and to June and Martin Sproston for recording the readings for today: Genesis 21.8-21; Romans 6.1b-11; Matthew 10.24-39.

Today’s readings are heavy going. We have Sarah’s mistreatment of her slave Hagar and her son Ishmael in Genesis 21.8-21. After so many years of longing we might have expected her to show generosity in gratitude for the birth of her own son Isaac. But she is afraid that some of Isaac’s inheritance will go to this child of a slave girl. The institution of slavery lies behind the thinking of the passage from the letter to the Romans (6.1b-11), as a metaphor of sin’s ability to keep us captive.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 10.24-39, follow a similar train of thought but he has turned it the other way round. The disciples are not greater than their master and must therefore share his fate, which is to be a slave (see Matthew 20.26-28 and Philippians 2.7) and to be persecuted. All this resonates with recent events, which have uncovered again the shameful prevalence of slavery and racism – ‘for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered’.

Slavery and racism have existed throughout human history and in many different cultures. The two are connected because slaves were often of a different race from their owners, a feature which makes relations between races difficult. Another cause of tension is fear. Sarah was afraid of what Hagar might do and slave owners feared that their slaves might revolt. Fear of people who are different causes us to act irrationally or cruelly. Some of you have met my daughter in law Bonnie, who is Chinese-Canadian. She has told us about the hostility she encountered when she was teaching English in an Eastern European country. I was once looking after my granddaughter and we went to the local play park. After a while I began to feel uncomfortable – would someone come up and ask why I was with this little girl who doesn’t look like me? ‘Stranger danger’ can be a wise precaution but it can also have unforeseen consequences.

How can these things be changed? Uncover what has been covered up. Yes, but there is another way. “Do not be afraid” is probably the most frequent of Jesus’ sayings and it is the recurring theme of all three readings this morning. And the way to lose our fear of others is to love them and treat them accordingly. ‘Perfect love casts out fear’ (1 John 4.18). When that happens both we and they are set free.

Prayers of Intercession

We pray to the Father, in the confidence of his love; through the Son in gratitude for his grace; and in the life-giving power of the Spirit.

(Please add names or situations known to you)

Lord, we bring to you
• the rawness of past wrongs and today’s injustices;
• the weariness and frustration of lockdown;
• the fears and prejudices that hamper the will to love.
Stretch out your arm, hold out your hand to heal.

Lord, we bring to you
• the sick and all who are waiting for tests or treatment;
• all whose livelihoods are at risk;
• all who are vulnerable or afraid.
Stretch out your arm, hold out your hand to heal.

Lord, we bring to you
• all who are on the way to recovery;
• all who care for the sick, the weak, the disadvantaged;
• all who are nearing the end of their earthly lives;

Stretch out your arm, hold out your hand to give strength and support.
Cast out our fears, gather us together, one family made perfect by love.
Lord, hear us.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Photograph by David Faunce Smith
Picture ‘Hagar and Ishmael’ by Alan Jones

Weekly Letter – 18th June 2020

Dear friends,

This week’s letter is written by Hugh Grant, a founding member of Forth Valley Welcome who became a trustee after the organisation became charity. His trustee post is Treasurer, responsible among other things for seeking the funds needed to enable FVW to employ the two part-time staff. To find out how you can support the organisation please contact volunteer@forthvalleywelcome.org

With love to you all,
Nerys

With this being World Refugee Week, it’s a time to reflect on the world-wide movement of people fleeing from violence and persecution and desperately seeking a safe place to live. Normally there would have been a big rally of refugees and support organisations in Glasgow on Saturday but of course that’s not possible this year.

In our area Forth Valley Welcome supports refugees and helps them to integrate into the community. There are now 150 refugees in Stirling and Clackmannanshire and the two Councils plan to take a further 20-25 people each year. Most are Syrians and more recently several have arrived from South Sudan.

The Councils provide housing and access to schools and the NHS. Our 2 part-time staff and 75 volunteers help to make refugee accommodation welcoming, have a store with clothing and household items, provide a Home Visiting service to help families get to know the shops and bus services, provide each family with a refurbished laptop, help with English language learning, and run a monthly gathering called ‘Snack & Chat’.

These days when volunteers are not allowed to visit families, we’ve been working on other ways to provide support, including regular phone calls, a mobile children’s lending library, and provision of extra laptops to help families access online language lessons and school work. We organise a delivery of food to all 36 families just before Eid, the festival at the end of Ramadan when families would normally be getting together for a big celebration.

In May our volunteers’ efforts were recognised in the form of the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. One of the Syrian families in Stirling, the Hilal family, was featured in a news bulletin on STV last week about the award.

The sad reality is that these represent only a tiny proportion of the people who are fleeing from violence and persecution. Over 5.5 million people have left Syria since 2011 and are living as refugees in neighbouring countries – Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. Over 6 million have moved within Syria to get away from unsafe areas. In the last three months almost a million people have been forced to flee fighting in north-west Syria.

In Bangladesh more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar since August 2017. They’ve joined hundreds of thousands who were already living in refugee camps or in local communities. 600,000 people are squashed into the main camp, an area far too small to accommodate their numbers. More than half of them are women and girls, 60% are children under 18. Covid-19 presents a serious risk there, as it does for refugee groups around the world.

In Greece, a first point of entry to the EU for many refugees is the island of Lesbos. Shops and restaurants there have had to close because of the pandemic, there have been food shortages for refugees and Covid-19 has been a problem.

The UNHCR reports that there are currently 25.9 million refugees who have left their home country and 41.3 million who have been displaced within their own country. 57% of UNHCR refugees have come from Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan.

So what’s the good news?

It looks like two establishments opened up by Syrian refugees in Alloa, the Syriana restaurant and Alwen Cakes, will be able to open up again, and the gradual easing of lockdown will allow refugee families to get out and about again.

And also: In checking on families during the lockdown period, an unexpected finding was people reporting they had previously experienced severely restricted movement in dangerous situations in their home country and so the impact for some was not as great as we had feared.

Material for Worship on the Second Sunday after Pentecost

Good morning! How are you feeling today? I invite you to put your hand flat on your belly. This is often the place where we can tell if we are anxious or stressed or calm and relaxed. You may wish to take a few deep, slow breaths as you prepare to join in worship with me, Nerys, celebrating the Eucharist in the church at 8.30 and 10.30 a.m.

In our Gospel today, when Jesus notices that the crowds he meets in the towns and villages of Galilee are harassed and helpless, he feels pity for them —literally ‘in his bowels’. As you read Matthew 9.35-10.23 or listen here to Ramanie and Elizabeth Talbot reading from a different translation, notice Jesus’ response to the plight of God’s people.

Jesus sees his fellow-Jews as sheep without a shepherd and like a field full of wheat with nobody to harvest it. He urges his followers to pray to God the Farmer to send workers to gather them up. As they pray, they realise that they themselves are God’s answer to their prayer—they are to be the workers. They are just ordinary, flawed people as the details in the list of their names suggest, and yet Jesus sends them out to be healers and restorers, to bring peace to troubled minds and hearts. All the detailed instructions they are given point to the same loving, selfless commitment to meet the needs of others that Jesus had. In order to share in his work, they need to have the same attitude as Jesus, the same balance of shrewdness and innocence, the same trust in God’s spirit to sustain them.

One of the things I’m learning in Lockdown is to pace myself so that I don’t become overly tired and stressed. I have realized that in order to hear Christ’s voice and do his work, we need to live day-by-day in such a way that we’re in step with Him. Christ’s call asks us as individuals and as a church not to rush ahead to seek out our own opportunities for healing and ministering to others but instead to follow where we are being led so that we can notice the need that presents itself to us and respond to it. A friend pointed out that ‘pace’ in Italian is the word for peace. It is only when we allow Christ to set the pace of our lives that we can know the joy of God’s peace and share it with others.

You are invited to use the words below as a framework for your time of prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of life and all the good things we enjoy …
Break down any barriers which prevent us from being at peace with you …
We ask your guidance and courage for those in positions of authority and influence.
We pray for all who long for your peace:
those who are sick …
those who are grieving …
those who are afraid …
those who are harassed and worried …
We bring before you those we love and worry about and those who love and worry about us …
We pray for your Church here in Dunblane and across the world, giving thanks for all who sense your calling and respond to it with joy.
O Lord, you always guide your people whom you build up on the foundation of your love: make us ever stand in awe of your Holy Name, and love you in equal measure; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen

Let the disciples’ prayer be yours this week
but don’t be surprised if you become part of God’s answer!
Lord of the harvest, send out workers into your harvest.
Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

Rector’s Weekly Letter – 11th June 2020

Dear friends,

Those who know me well are aware that I’m much better with words than with numbers. Large figures usually don’t mean much to me but a headline last week estimating that 4.5 million people in the UK have become unpaid carers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic did catch my eye. And the comment that this is equivalent to the NHS workforce three times over made me stop and think.

According to the Scottish Government’s Carers’ Charter, a carer is defined as someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be due to illness, disability, frailty, a mental health problem or an addiction. Some are life-long carers, while others may care for shorter periods of time. Carers can be any age, from young children to very elderly people.

When I was growing up, the term ‘Young Carer’ wasn’t in use, but between the age of fourteen and twenty one, I was very involved in helping my mother to care for my grandmother who was living with us. She came for a holiday one summer, had a stroke which caused her to lose her sight and gradually became increasingly frail and confused. In her last years she was bed-ridden and needed twenty-four hour care. During that time I used to come home from university most weekends to give my mother respite. The pressure on us as a family was immense because there was very little formal support for carers in those days— you just had to get on with it. It took my mother a number of years to recover from the physical demands of heavy nursing, the prolonged lack of sleep and the stress and worry of it all.

Things have improved for carers since then and so they should have. Unpaid carers are the pillars of our health and social care systems. It is estimated that they are saving the Scottish economy over 10 billion pounds a year. Yet, many of them say they feel invisible and ignored. A recent survey by Carers UK has shown that a half the care-givers in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet, that a third had not had a break in more than a year and that about three-quarters reported a deterioration in their own health, both mental and physical.

Why am I telling you all this? This week is Carers’ Week and we all have a role to play. If we ourselves are not giving or receiving care right now, then, as individuals and as a church community, we can recognize and support the carers in our midst through prayer and action. We can also add our voices to the call to ‘Make Caring Visible in 2020’. If you have access to the internet you can do this by visiting www.carersweek.org and encourage others to do the same. I have taken the liberty of pledging on behalf of St Mary’s that we will do all we can to recognise and support unpaid carers of all ages in our congregation and in our community.

I asked my mother what would have helped her all those years ago. ‘The important thing is to keep in touch’, she said. ‘A card with encouraging words, kind thoughts, assurance of prayers would have given me strength on bad days. Someone popping in now and then or an invitation for a cuppa would have given me a break, a change of mind, a chance to talk and put things in perspective. Some way of making sure that I could get to church services or events would have kept me connected and given me space to turn to God. It is all very simple,’ she said, ‘but it would have made a huge difference’.

With love,
Nerys

Tools With A Mission

St Mary’s chosen Lent Charity continued until the end of June 2020

TWAM provides tool kits to partner organisations in developing countries which train men and women in a skill which can set them up for life and help transform entire communities.

They teach marginalised women tailoring and train young people in carpentry, plumbing, mechanics etc. to get them off the streets and away from gangs. These trainees are given the tools they need once they have finished their course.

Every year TWAM sends out around 24 containers full of tools and equipment to countries like DR Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe. They work with over 400 partners including churches, schools, orphanages, vocational training centres and development charities.

For more information please visit www.twam.uk

We at St Mary’s are collecting the following items:

Builders’ tools: Bolsters, chisels, hammers, pin and lines, pincers, hacksaws, spirit levels, trowels (bricklaying, float, plastering, pointing)

Carpenters’ tools: Bevel, braces, clamps, hand drills and bits, all types of files and hammers, Stanley knife, all types of planes and saws, pliers, rules, screwdrivers and squares etc.

Electricians’ tools: Allen keys, hand drills and bits, all types of pliers and hacksaws, screwdrivers, spanners, soldering iron, voltmeter etc.

Motor mechanics’ tools: Allen keys, cold chisels, breast drill and bits, all types of hammers and pliers, punches, metric socket set and spanners, adjustable spanners, cantilever toolbox, typer pressure gauge etc.

Plumbers’ tools: Basin or tap wrench, wire brush, breast drill and bits, various grips and saws, screwdriver, oil can etc.

Power tools: Mains (not battery) hand drill, sander, planer, jigsaw and circular saw.

Sewing machines: manual and electric.

Knitting machines

Haberdashery: needles, cottons, large material pieces/rolls, buttons, zips etc.

Fully working IT equipment: Desktop computers and laptops running a minimum of Windows Vista, tablets, networking switch routers and cables.

If you have any to donate, please contact us at property @ stmarysdunblane.org or phone the Rectory on 824225 and leave a message and we’ll get back to you.

Material for Worship on Trinity Sunday

I am grateful to the Revd. Jeanette Allan for preparing the reflection and prayers below to enable you to join in worship with me as I celebrate the Eucharist in the church at 8.30 and 10.30 a.m. today. Nerys

What a week it has been, both at home with the easing of lockdown in its various forms and internationally with all the demonstrations which have resulted from the murder of George Floyd in Police custody in Minneapolis; and now it’s Trinity Sunday, with the Genesis 1 Creation story (Genesis 1.1-2.4) and Matthew’s Great Commission (Matthew 28.16-20), right at the end of his gospel as readings. So where does that leave us?

With a huge, but related agenda I think — Creation and Relationship, and that encompasses just about everything!

First, let’s look at the Creation story I apologise that it is so long, but you are able to listen here to Mary and Anthony Birch reading it for us, so thank you to them for that. Again and again in the course of the reading we get the repeated phrase, ‘And God saw that it was good’, and at the end of the sixth day we get, ‘And God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good’. The obvious question then is, of course —what happened? Sadly, what happened was us. When God created, it was ‘very good’. When we look around at our world is it still ‘very good’? I don’t think any of us can look honestly at our world today and say that it is still ‘very good’. For some people it may be, perhaps, but they are definitely very much in the minority.

For many of us as we look at our world, we see a world which is beset with many evils:
• inequality, both of circumstances and opportunity, where poor people are the powerless and the rich have all the bargaining tools;
• war, which is tearing apart nations and where the most vulnerable suffer the most, from famine, from the destruction of their homes, their families and their livelihoods;
• where over 800 children die each and every day from drinking dirty water because there is nothing else for them to drink;
• where many thousands live in refugee camps, displaced from their own country by war and fear;
• where the colour of your skin governs how you are treated —still, racism is alive and well, although the slave trade was abolished in Britain in 1807 and the Abolition of Slavery Act was passed in 1833; still slavery exists in many forms in our own country and elsewhere although in the USA the emancipation of slaves took effect from January 1863 and slavery was banned in 1865;
• where animals are being poached to extinction, and where human activity has damaged animal habitats to the extent of endangering many more species—we have only to look at the destruction of hedgerows and the growth of intensive farming in our own country to see the effects of that, within the lifetime of some of us;
• where the way many of us live is so badly damaging our climate because of the pollution our global way of life produces that it is rapidly getting to the point where we are in very real danger of putting the very survival of our planet at risk.

I remember Bishop Ian saying when he was with us, ‘You are worried about Brexit, multiply that by 100; that’s how worried you should be about climate change’. The cartoon you may find somewhat political, but I recall that it was Desmond Tutu who said, ‘The people who say that politics have no place in religion aren’t reading the same Bible that I’m reading’, so I make no apology for including it.

All this is in direct contrast to the teachings of the Gospel which we say we follow as Christians, a gospel which teaches us to live by love, love for other human beings and love for our world.

Which brings us to Trinity Sunday, which is about relationship, loving relationship within our Godhead and what that means for us as we live our lives as disciples of the God who is Three in One in loving relationship, the God who saw that creation was very good and loves it.
The amazing thing is that God actually loves us and loves us all equally, whoever and whatever we are, and God treats us all equally, whoever and whatever we are and God loves his creation. That totally knocks racism and slavery on the head, it knocks exploitation on the head, not only of human beings but of all creation as well. It demands of us, followers of the God in loving relationship, that we treat the whole of creation, our human brothers and sisters, all the natural world, both animals and plants, with respect and dignity, so that all may continue to be ‘very good’, as they were created to be.
I said at the beginning that this week would encompass just about everything, and now you see why! As individuals we obviously cannot take on the whole world, but we can make a difference in our small corner of it as we seek to treat the world around us with love, dignity and respect, by the way we live in it.
So let’s pray.
We give you thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, for food, for clean water, for a safe home, for a wonderful spring, for birdsong and for all your blessings to those we love.
Lord graciously hear us

For the people of Bengal in the aftermath of the cyclone, and for the Diocese of Calcutta
for those who have lost their lives, and for those who grieve for them;
for those who have lost their homes;
for those who have lost their livelihoods and for all in hardship
for those affected by Covid
Lord graciously hear us

For the people of the Diocese of Amazonia in the Covid pandemic,
for the sick
for those who have died and for those who grieve for them
Lord graciously hear us

For all who are suffering as a result of the Covid pandemic
for those who are sick
for those who have died
for those who mourn them
For those who care for the sick, putting their own lives at risk every day, and who are now very tired,
for nurses and doctors, for hospital porters, for hospital cleaners and all ancillary staff
for care home staff for those caring for people in their own homes.
for those who are finding lockdown difficult
for those whose mental health has been affected
for those who have had financial difficulties

We pray for wisdom for those in power at Westminster and Holyrood as they steer us slowly out of Lockdown.
Lord graciously hear us

Please name for yourself those for whom you pray …
Lord graciously hear us

Finally, we pray for our church, which is very much open though its doors are shut.
Fill us with your love, fill us with your spirit, show us how we can serve.
help us to find fresh ways of being Church in these strange times.
We pray for all the churches in Dunblane,
we pray for our diocese and for our Bishop Ian,
we pray for all countries as their churches struggle to cope with Covid and care for their communities.

Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Southwark Trinity by Meg Wroe

Weekly Letter – 4th June 2020

[There is no Letter from the Rector this week as Nerys is taking a well-deserved break. Here instead is a reflection by our Bishop from the Diocesan Newsletter]

Black Lives Matter
Bishop Ian

We all hope that, when it finally comes, the ‘New Normal’ will mean change for the better. But the news this week has made me ask, Will any ‘New Normal’ free us from racism?
On 25 May George Floyd was choked to death by police in Minneapolis, USA. His horrific death was filmed by bystanders who were pleading with officers to let him breathe. The killing of yet another Black person by police in the USA has ignited ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests across that country and in many others, including Scotland. In the USA the authorities, encouraged by the President, have reacted violently.
On 1 June police violently cleared space in front of an Episcopal church in Washington DC so that Mr Trump could pose in front of it, holding up a Bible. The church had not invited him, nor was it informed. The Presiding Bishop, the Bishop of Washington and other church leaders have condemned this abuse of church and scripture as an outrage. The College of Bishops of the SEC has sent a letter to the USA Bishops expressing our horror at the President’s action and our support for their condemnation of it: (www.scotland.anglican.org/college-of-bishops-condemns-trump-photocall/).
George Floyd’s killing and Donald Trump’s outrage are symptoms of a deep evil in Western society, the evil of racism. In Scotland we tell ourselves that we are an inclusive country, welcoming our immigrants, respecting our ethnic minorities, and that we don’t have racism. But the fact is that racism is here as well as in America.
Someone doesn’t have to feel hostile towards Black people to have racist attitudes. The fact that Black and Asian people are constantly treated as ‘different’ is a symptom of racism. For example, constantly being asked “Where are you from?” undermines people’s sense of identity and belonging, it affects their confidence, wellbeing, and mental health. Black and Asian people say that this happens to them even when their grandparents were born in Scotland.
Children suffer racism at school, from other students but also from teachers. Pupils tell how they are called the ’N’ word by other students, or bullied for wearing the headscarf. And sometimes, when they report it, a teacher will play the incident down. As a child said recently, “People say there is no racism here, but there is. Young people don’t feel comfortable reporting it, and if they do nothing is done.”
There are also more subtle and effective forms of racism, of course. They quietly reinforce the idea absorbed by White people as they grow up – that being White in Scotland is ‘normal’ and being Black or Asian is not, so that White cultures, White lifestyles and therefore White people are normative and even superior. Black and Asian people often have to grow up absorbing the same idea. It’s a legacy of our history of empire and colonialism and slavery, a subtle form of the evil of White Supremacy.
The boxer Mohammed Ali recalled as a boy asking his mother why all the angels in the church window were White. “Where did all the Black angels go?” he would ask. We’re about to celebrate Trinity Sunday, and Andrei Rublev’s extraordinary icon of the Trinity will again be the focus of many sermons and reflections. The artist Meg Wroe’s icon, “The Southwark Trinity,” adapts Rublev by portraying the three angels as Black figures, rather than White, two of them clearly female. Mohammed Ali would have approved, and so, I think, would Andrei Rublev.

I hope we are all angered and ashamed not only by the evil of racism in America, but everywhere it is to be found, including here at home. I hope those who are Black and Asian among us will feel they can courageously share the reality of their experience and that they can help us see through our prejudice and achieve true equality. And I hope those who are White will not keep silent, because silence in the face of evil is always collusion with evil.
Racism is evil because it denies the equal dignity of every human being. Racism is blasphemy because it denies God’s image in every human being. To stop racism, we need to become anti-racist as a church and as a society. This means changing the way we think and act, and being prepared to challenge others to do the same.
That’s because Black lives matter.

 

The New Normal?
Bishop Ian

If anything is about a ‘new normal’ it must be Pentecost – the celebration of the gift of the Spirit. New life, new hope, new love all flow from that gift, and transform the world.
As we celebrated Pentecost people were talking about a different ‘new normal’ – our life after the Pandemic. When we rebuild our lives, will we have a better sense of what is important? Or will we just rush back to the same old life? And what will ‘new normal’ mean for the Church? What will our priorities be? How will we welcome those who have been joining us online? How will we support those who are sad about people and things that have been lost? We all want to see the opening of our churches, but we also know that opening them safely will require care and patience. There will be practical Guidance offered to congregations and clergy when the time comes. In he meantime we pray and serve our communities as best we can. Thank you to all the clergy and others who are continuing to work to make this possible.

Material for Worship on the Feast of Pentecost

As you light your candle and prepare to join in worship with me, Nerys, celebrating the Eucharist in the church on the morning of Pentecost, let us take a moment to invite God’s Spirit into our hearts. I invite you to listen to Hazel Faunce Smith singing the hymn of the Holy Spirit and make it your prayer.

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire

and lighten with celestial fire;

Thou the anointing Spirit art,

who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above

is comfort , life and fire of love;

enable with perpetual light

the dullness of our mortal sight.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,

and thee, of both, to be but one;

that through the ages all along

this may be our endless song:

Praise to thine eternal merit,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

In our reading from the Book of Acts (2.1-21), we join a group of dispirited and fearful followers of Jesus locked down in an upper room. As you read, try to place yourself in the scene.

God’s Spirit empowers the disciples to leave their isolation and venture into the streets of Jerusalem. The Spirit also gives them a gift —the gift of communication. The language of the Spirit is love and forgiveness, a language that everyone understands and needs to hear.

The Spirit that transformed that group of men and women is the same spirit that inspires and encourages us. Listen to Jesus inviting us in John’s Gospel (7.37-39) to receive the Living Water which offered to us, not for our own enjoyment but so that we may become rivers of life and quench the thirst of others.

On that first Day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God overcame division and created unity. We may be physically isolated from one another but God’s Spirit has enabled us as a church to continue to worship together and to pray for and serve our community.

O God, who on the day of Pentecost enlightened the hearts of your people by the fire of the Holy Spirit; give us wisdom and understanding, and lead us into all truth, that your Church may be kept in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Take time to look at the image of St Mary’s below and give thanks. The doors may be closed, but the church is open and full of God’s Spirit!

Our intercessions this Sunday have been prepared by Martin Wisher as a response to contemplating verses from Psalm 33.

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous.
Praise befits the upright …
For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth.

Lord we praise you that the earth is full of your steadfast love.
We stand in awe that you created and sustain the earth.

We cry out to you for our world, that the world may experience your faithfulness, righteousness, justice and steadfast love when we see so much suffering, fear and evil caused by the pandemic.

We ask you to send your Spirit upon the leaders of Governments that they may lead us with wisdom, with righteousness and justice. We pray that they may look to care for the poor and those who are vulnerable, without shelter and in need of food. Give them your wisdom as they seek to lead us out of our lockdown, balancing the need for safety and the need to return to the new normality.

We ask you to send your healing Spirit upon those doctors, nurses and carers as they minister under great stress to those suffering because of the pandemic. Empower them with wisdom, great skill and compassion.

The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth—
He who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.

Father we bless you that your Spirit who was powerfully active in the creation of the world still fashions the hearts of all people.
Father we plead with you that by your Spirit you will anoint your Church and in particular us in St Mary’s so that we can bring the good news of the Gospel to Dunblane and see your steadfast love evident in the lives of our neighbours, friends and family.
Send your Spirit to bless our Bishop Ian and our Rector Nerys and make them fruitful in their ministry.

We pray for our brother and sisters in the dioceses of Calcutta and Amazonia. May they know the peace and joy of your salvation as they deal with the effects of the cyclone and the pandemic. Open our hearts to help them.

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those that fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.

Father we thank you for all your promises towards us and that we can trust in your steadfast love. The steadfast love of the Lord never fails us, it is new every morning.

We pray for those known to us who are sick; for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one; for those who are afflicted by depressions and anxiety. We pray for those who are alone and unable to see their family and friends. We name them before you …

We remember that Jesus said that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim release to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.

Lord we pray you to send your Spirit on those we name now.

Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus.