Pray Without Ceasing
This Ascension-tide let us pray:
- on reading Paul’s great hymn of praise in Philippians 2.1-11:
Father, we thank you for Jesus, risen and exalted.
May we truly be reflectors of his glory
as we walk the way of love’s obedience. Amen.
Revd Isabel Stuart, Danby and Cleveland, in The Great 50 Days
- for the thousands of children without parents or guardians at grave risk in refugee camps in France and across Europe, giving thanks for every effort to bring some of them to safe loving homes in our country
- giving thanks for our Police Forces, praying that our expectation of the highest integrity at all levels may be fulfilled; and also for those we elect as Police and Crime Commissioners to keep watch on them on our behalf
- for dear friends who are ill or awaiting surgery or in frail health, among them Les Brown, Mary Coates, Mary Eastland, Marion Easton, Ken Smith and Phil Tallon, giving thanks for the care and encouragement they receive
- with thanksgiving for our Church Council as Trustees and leaders, guiding the life and work of our church and representing us in the counsels of this Ecumenical Area, our District and the Connexional work and witness of the Methodist Church in Britain
- praising God for the mission of Methodist Women in Britain cooperating with churches around the world to support and empower women and their families to escape from a life of poverty and social discrimination to one of achievement and fulfilment [hear more at the Area Service next Sunday 4 pm at Stakeford which includes Dedication of Easter Offering for World Mission Fund ]
This week please remember:
- with heartfelt thanksgiving for their ministry among us, Gary and Debbie Ridley, who are constrained to move on this year to a new pastorate wherever the Church has need of them for the next four years
- the leaders of our Ecumenical Area churches now seeking a successor to care for and lead this and the other church families; giving thanks for the advocacy of our Superintendent and Chairman of District with the Connexional Stationing Committee and their sensitive obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit
- to praise God that “in all things [He] works for the good of those who love Him, that is, those who have been called according to His purpose” and “His Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we don’t even know what are the proper prayers to offer, but the Spirit ……. intercedes for us according to God’s will.” (Romans 8.26-28)
- to give thanks for all who spend themselves in the service of the church, of their neighbours and of those in dire need, not counting the cost and giving God all the glory
- to praise God for all whose stories inspire and encourage us [there are great examples in the latest Connexion magazine] and for fellow-Christians in many parts of the world who suffer persecution, violence or exile with steadfast faith, who love their enemies or who, like Jesus, lay down their lives for their friends
- our Junior Hospital Doctors in dispute with the Government’s policies for the NHS, praying for a resolution that is just and fair and respects the integrity of these dedicated young people and the safety and well-being of those they serve.
This week, do please remember Our Calling:
- to make Christ visible in our lives, our homes, our workplaces, our neighbourhood, our church by spreading his light and love all around
- by praying for peace, especially for peoples torn apart and lives ruined by “forgotten” wars, as in Ukraine, Armenia/Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kashmir (compounded by devastating floods recently) and Southern Sudan, thanking God for the courageous endurance of peace-makers and relief workers
- to encourage one another in faith and love though pastoral visiting, bearing one another’s burdens and sharing one another’s joys
- to pray for local medical support charities and those who need them: Macmillan Nursing, Alzheimer’s dementia services, Marie Curie Cancer Care, PALS, Daft as a brush, St Oswald’s Hospice, chaplains and volunteers in our Hospitals and Care Homes, and many others
- that Jesus promised his followers power from on high to announce in his name to all nations repentance for the forgiveness of sins, not only for every person but for all humanity and its institutions - social, economic and political - so that his kingdom may come on earth as in heaven [Luke 24.46-48]
- Jesus, Lord and Master, you transform the lives of men and women.
In your strength we can do all things and please our sovereign God.
Tame our natures Lord; mould us to your need; fashion us to your taste and conform us to your will.
Enable us, and all who hear your call to follow you, to give ourselves generously to your service.
Send us as workers into the Church and into the World. Amen.
[Adapted from Fr Desmond Dale SJ]
This week, do please remember:
- how after his resurrection, Jesus ‘opened [the disciples’] minds to understand the Scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”’ [Luke 24.45- 48]
- that today we have all the Scriptures at our fingertips to fill us with the joy of the Gospel, feed our minds and hearts and enable us too to be faithful disciples and witnesses to the presence and transforming power of the love of God in Jesus Christ
- Christian brothers and sisters living the Gospel in situations fraught with danger, grief or sorrow, praising God for his presence with them and how they show it by their love even for their enemies
- as they meet again in a new school and university term, our young people whose enthusiasm for learning and hard work are tested in GSCE, A-Level and degree exams; giving thanks for the support and guidance they receive from parents and teachers and the encouragement of friends
- a new Sycamore Tree course (the 11th in two years) started last week at HMP Northumberland praising God for men - and their families and sometimes victims - finding healing and hope in their lives and relationships; and for the support by the prison authorities and chaplaincy team for this vital work of restorative justice and rehabilitation
Spirit of truth and judgement who alone can cast out the powers that grip our world …. give us your discernment that we may accurately name what is evil, and know the way that leads to peace, through Jesus Christ, Amen. [Iona Abbey Worship Book]
This week, do please remember:
- with thanksgiving our joyous worship on the day of Resurrection expressed through praise and proclamation, recollection and reflection enhanced by beautiful flower arrangements, sacred music, family reunions and table fellowship
- to intercede for refugees who are treated like commodities, not only by human traffickers, but by EU and Turkish politicians bargaining over the flow of migrants from war-torn countries into Europe; praying that more humane and compassionate ways may be found of relieving their homelessness and distress
- with thanksgiving our minister, Revd Gary Ridley, the members of our Church Council and Leadership Team, Stewards, Pastoral Visitors and Office-Holders, praying that they may be filled with the Spirit of grace, wisdom and discernment as they guide the mission of our church
- with love and affection our sister SENEA churches at Newbiggin, Ashington, Stakeford and Bedlington and their leaders, preachers and ministers Revds Jim Magee, Ian Farnsworth, supernumeraries Stuart Brock, Suzanne Hamnett, Dorothy Hewitson, Jack Macadam, Sue Nichol and Peter Rand, encouraging those congregations in their witness
- to praise the Lord for the children nurtured and families enriched by the meetings of the Parents and Toddlers groups each week and others also helped by the friendly facilities of our Church Centre
- with compassion and concern our fellow-Christians in countries where following Jesus costs the most, like Pakistan, Syria, Iraq. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia; pray for them and for their persecutors in the light of Christ’s promise: “I will build my church and the powers of death will not be able to defeat it.” [Matthew 16.18]
‘…….that day, the first day of the week, Jesus came and stood among [the disciples] and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.’ [John 20.19.20]
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
This Easter week, do please remember:
- that, foreseeing the violence, suffering and distress in today’s world, Jesus said: “See to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (Matthew 24.6) and “In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16.13). Praise Him that he calls us to show the reality of his victory now by sharing the good news of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.
- to give thanks that the parliamentary outcry over the Budget reversed the cuts that would have hurt many disabled people, and pray for a fairer distribution and use of our nation’s wealth
- the challenges of poverty and injustice that are still a priority for many local churches and charities working together through Food Banks, Refugee Services and Credit Unions
- to give thanks for every opportunity to learn and encourage one another as disciples of our risen Lord Jesus, as we follow him through The 50 Great Days from Easter to Pentecost.
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising He justified freely forever:
One day He's coming-- O glorious day!
J. Wilbur Chapman 1859-1918
All through this Holy Week, please remember:
- that the good news of the kingdom of God, proclaimed today by Christians valiant for truth, justice and peace, is rejected by leaders of nations and tribes at their peril, just as Jesus warned [Luke 20.17-18]: pray that we may make Christ visible as the true benchmark and cornerstone to whom all humanity must conform and can be aligned by his forgiving, reconciling, transforming grace
- we celebrate our partnership in the Gospel with the Christian Victory Church in Kamuzinda, Uganda, the blessings we received through their prayers and the visits of the Pearl of Africa Children’s Choir, and pray for all the children, in the Molly and Paul Foundation Schools and Villages, who with us sing: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” [Luke 19.38]
- as we worship, work and walk together with all Christians in Morpeth, Mitford, Pegswood and Stannington may we share with our neighbours and communities the love of God for each and all of us, Who is our Creator, Redeemer, Ground of our being and Source of life in all its fullness
- the people of Syria in their agony - those millions who have fled seeking safety and those who remain suffering violence and deprivation - and all who are trying to supply their desperate need of food, shelter, medical care and peace for their homeland
Living Lord, your power surrounds us as we face the way Christ trod;
challenge us to fresh commitment to the purposes of God;
called to share the new creation; called to preach a living word,
promised all the joys of heaven through the grace of Christ our Lord..
(from a Liturgy for Holy Communion during Lent)
This week please remember
- to give thanks for our fellowship with sister churches in the Area, among them Alnmouth, Amble, Broomhill, Hauxley and Widdrington (URC and Methodist), and for their ministers - Revds Lynda Coulthard, Ron Forster and Gary Ridley - and their work and witness in their communities
- to praise God for his transforming presence in HMP Northumberland, working though chaplaincy, prison visitors, and Prison Fellowship volunteers leading Alpha and Sycamore Tree (Restorative Justice) courses and for dedicated service by the director, senior management team and officers of the Prison Service
- that with reverent joy we may follow in the footsteps of Jesus our Saviour through his suffering and death to the wondrous glory of his resurrection on the first Easter morning, and joyfully spread the news of his victory and saving love for all
- to give thanks for agents of hope and change in the lives of homeless people locally, e.g., Barnabas Safe and Sound, and nationally, e.g., Shelter and the YMCA; and pray that our County Council may be able to continue to access for them affordable housing in our communities
- to pray fervently that aggressive actions of the rulers of the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) may yield both to the sanctions imposed by the United Nations and to the peace-making meetings in Pyongyang of North and South Korean Christians and ecumenical envoys of the World Council of Churches [see WCC report and World Mission Council update - copies in the foyer]
- with thanksgiving we continue to pray for Christians from all Morpeth churches meeting in several Lent study groups (40acts and Psalms - prayers for today’s church) throughout the town, discovering more of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and His claim upon all our lives.
- this week of International Women’s Day we give thanks for the work of the Srijan Foundation partnered by AllWeCan (formerly MRDF) helping Indian women defeat discrimination against them, politically, socially and educationally, and make a difference to the lives of their daughters and future generations [Listen to our Methodist Vice-President Jill Barber making the BBC Radio4 Appeal for AllWeCan tonight at 9.25pm or on Thursday at 3.25pm]
- working mothers, many of them single parents, supported in nurturing their children by devoted grannies and grandpas or other caring relatives, giving thanks also for Parent and Toddler group and before- and after-school clubs
- several of our friends who are or have been ill including Sheila Clinton, Keith Marshal, Ken Smith, Phil Tallon, giving thanks too for the safe recovery from accident, sickness or surgery of Enid Proud, Alan Smith and Judy Whitehouse
- to thank God that the death toll in the recent Cyclone Winston in Fiji was low (44) and for the vigorous response both of government and the Methodist Church there in relieving the distress and suffering of 35,000 people who lost their homes and livelihoods [see METHODIST RECORDER 4/3/2016 p.3]
- that as we try to understand who we are, and how our lives and the life of the world should be lived, we do well to start by listening to the question of Jesus (Matthew 16.15): “Who do you say that I am?” ‘If the answer could be put into words I would suggest that we might respond to his question by saying “You must help me to know who you are. But I say that you, Jesus, are the humility, the humanity, of God”’ [Lawrence Freeman in Jesus - the Teacher within]