Service of Remembrance and Prayer for Sri Lanka

I’m sure everyone has been shocked and horrified by the carnage and senseless lost of life on Easter Sunday, 21 April.  Our own Rev Dr Sam Muthuveloe, Convenor of Hope Outreach UK,  has arranged a special service, to be held at Christ the Cornerstone Church this coming Sunday, 28th April 2019, starting at 2.30 pm, to remember the dead, pray for the bereaved, healing for the wounded, comfort for the distressed and peace and security for all.

‘Dr Sam’ had already planned to visit Sri Lanka in mid-May, before these atrocities took place.  The intention was – and still is – to commemorate 10 years since the cessation of hostilities, and to support and encourage Hope Outreach UK’s mission partners.  The focus of the visit will be to stand in solidarity with them and the local churches at this difficult time.

Please advertise this service as widely as you can.  Thank you.

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Benjamin, and the Power of Touch

Luke 8:46. “But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” (NIV)

Let me tell you about Benjamin.  I want to do that because Benjamin’s faith has touched me deeply, and in a way few others have ever done.

I first met Benjamin a year or so ago on a couple of day courses at Oxford. It’s hard to remember exactly, because you see I feel I’ve always known him. Openly friendly, engaging, always smiling, easy to be around, he made everyone feel comfortable.

I started a new course in January, and was delighted to find Benjamin there – smiling the same as ever. However, a few weeks ago, he wasn’t there, and his absence felt strange and tangible. He was supposed to be leading the worship, but a friend explained that though Benjamin had written the worship, he was unable to be there because he had had a pre-operational assessment for surgery earlier in the day at Churchill Hospital in Oxford. The surgery was a bladder biopsy scheduled for the week-end. There was blood in his urine and the diagnosis had pointed towards kidney or bladder cancer.  Cancer? What cancer?! I never knew, because Benjamin was always – well – Benjamin, and I had only seen him occasionally, whereas now we’re on a 10 week course together. The friend explained that Benjamin was as strong as ever, but that he was having tests. She said he was ready to meet the Lord whenever that hour should come, but he was equally ready to stay the course if God needed him here. He had asked us to pray – not just for himself, but for all the people he’d met who were going through this situation totally alone. And so we did.

On 5 February Benjamin was back, looking the same as ever. There are no outward signs that he has ever had this devastating disease, yet at the end of the evening he courageously stood and told everyone that in the past five years he has had kidney, prostate, and testicular cancer, plus the recurrence of prostate cancer, and now his urologist says there is threat of cancer in his bladder or remaining kidney. Benjamin spoke powerfully of his willingness to leave whenever the Lord was ready to take him, but that he would stay and serve as long as God had work for him to do. He spoke of the power of touch, and the ability of all of us to heal in the way spoken of and demonstrated by Jesus, and he asked people to touch him with hugs, or a pat as they felt able. I held his hand as we gathered round to pray for him. Afterwards there was a queue in the corridor as everyone lined up to give him a hug and offer him words of encouragement or another prayer. Yet it was Benjamin’s faith that radiated its light over us, not the other way around; light which grew brighter as he spoke of the call to be compassionate, contemplative and courageous. Benjamin was still smiling as I left.

On the drive to Oxford that night there was a programme on the radio about the power of human touch. (God never fails to show His presence!) The presenter spoke of people whose vocation is to be ‘baby-cuddlers’, and the difference this makes to babies who are in hospital. One man had taken on the role of ‘hugging grandad’ to terminally ill children. Another lady spoke of the thing she missed most when her husband died – hugs and cuddles.

Human touch is vital for our wellbeing and survival. Without it babies have ‘failure to thrive’ – a recognised condition. As our culture changes, and at such a rapid pace, this basic human need is being neglected at a huge cost, not just to the NHS but to society. These days we’ve almost become afraid to touch one another for fear of its being misinterpreted. I pray that Benjamin’s words will encourage all of us to think about what it means to have this kind of close human contact – love and compassion given freely and courageously, as God intended and as He gives to us.

This week Benjamin received a letter from his Consultant Urologist regarding his MRI that was part of the assessments. The letter started “This is Good News!” This is a highly confident and wholly irregular proclamation medically speaking. It is divine. God’s hand was even on the letter! Though Benjamin is still awaiting the bladder biopsy results, the MRI indicates his kidney and other previously affected areas are healthy and remain cancer free. Oh the power of prayer and the power of touch! Pray for Benjamin – for his faith to continue to shine in the dark places; for his hugs to bring God’s love, comfort and hope to the lost, lonely and frightened, and most of all that God’s hands through ours, will continue to touch Benjamin and bring him peace and joy.

(Permission granted by Benjamin to use his name, and write as I feel moved to do.)

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Call to Prayer

The Presidents of Churches Together in England, together with our partners Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, are calling the churches to prayer as we approach the date when the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union.

From Wednesday 27th March to Sunday 31st March the Presidents urge churches in our nation to find ways to pray, and to enable church buildings to be opened for any in their communities seeking a space for prayer. Churches Together in England supports every opportunity for local churches to pray together and urges Churches Together Groups and other expressions of Christian unity to take hold of this moment to pray together for our nations.
 
This builds on other calls to prayer from member churches over recent months and reflects the increasing urgency of the moment as Brexit approaches.
 
In particular, we suggest that as the Presidents of Churches Together in England and other church leaders meet to pray at 10.30 am on Saturday 30th March in central London, churches throughout the nations may wish to join in similar expressions of prayerful concern for the future of the peoples and nations in the British Isles and Ireland, and beyond, during that morning.
 
Rev’d Dr. Paul Goodliff
General Secretary, Churches Together in England
26th February 2019

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What I did on my sabbatical…

On Sunday 4th of February, Tim ran a short session at the Church of the Servant King.  The two hour session was an opportunity for him to talk about his sabbatical, and to introduce a project he hopes to run with Deanery Synod over the next three meetings. 

Tim’s sabbatical focussed on Community Organising, the methodology behind CitizensMK and the Mission Partnership’s Leading for a Change course.  During his sabbatical he’s been reading around the subject, visiting practitioners, and doing some planning…

The power point is available as a download: Download

There is news about the Deanery Organising project here.
For related events, see here.

The session also introduced the book Organising Prayer, which is currently available to buy from Lulu.

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A Prayer for World Mental Health Day

By Alison Webster

God of compassion,
You meant us to be both fragile and ordinary.
Silence the voices that say we are not good enough,
Haven’t achieved enough,
Haven’t enough to show for our lives,
That we are not enough.
Help us to know that we are treasure,
We are prized,
We are cherished,
We are loved.
Infinitely.
By you.
So be with us in our corrugations of feeling:
When our hearts are in downward freefall, be with us
When our minds race with anxiety, be with us
When our throats close in fear, be with us
When sleep will not come, be with us
When waking hurts, be with us.
In the name of Jesus,
Who knew trauma, abuse, despair and abandonment
And has nothing but love for us,
Amen.

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NHS Pilgrimage “Thy Kingdom Come” – Stafford to London via Milton Keynes.

Background.  Rev Becky Richards, Curate at St John’s Benefice in Ingestre near Stafford, had a vision several years ago following the Stafford Hospital Enquiry. The result of prayerful discernment of this God-given picture is that Becky and a group of walkers will be making a pilgrimage from Stafford hospital to St Thomas’s in London during the Archbishop’s national 10 days of prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come”.  As a compassionate agent of healing, the National Health Service is truly an expression of God’s Kingdom.  This Pilgrimage of Prayer is for our NHS.  They will be praying for the NHS and the thousands of health care workers who are under mounting pressures and suffering from increasingly low morale.  Each day during the walk a different church in Stafford will be meeting at the hospital chapel to pray for the pilgrimage, and a service will take place at each place where the walkers stop for the night.

At a meeting at Milton Keynes hospital last week, Becky hastened to explain that this is NOT a political demonstration, but a move of prayer, recognising God’s heart. The organisers are hoping to connect with local churches ecumenically along the route and invite local Christians to join their leg of the walk.  However, if anyone feels moved to walk the whole way, they would be made most welcome!

The plan.  This is to walk approximately 18 miles a day, stopping at hospitals along the route to worship and pray.  They will be carrying the cross which had previously been set up in a field by those who had been protesting about losing so many departments from Stafford hospital.  This cross is covered in blue ribbons holding the prayers of the people of Stafford.

The route.  This will take walkers through Cannock, Walsall, Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Rugby, Northampton, Milton Keynes, Luton, Hemel Hempstead, Harrow, and will pass by St Mary’s Paddington and go through Hyde Park, before arriving at St Thomas’s, where a final Service of Thanksgiving will take place. The walkers will be arriving in Milton Keynes at about 6.00pm on the evening of Tuesday 30 May, and Rev Philip Winn, Hospital Chaplain, is co-ordinating the service at Milton Keynes hospital chapel.

People can follow the pilgrimage via social media. A dedicated Facebook page is being co-ordinated in Stafford to keep people informed, and a map showing the route will be published daily.  There is also a website (www.nhsprayerwalk.co.uk) which will probably be live by the time you read this.

If you wish to participate in this pilgrimage in any way at all (see list below), please contact me, Linda Kirk (admin@mkdeanery.org) or Philip Winn (Chaplain, MK Hospital).  The closing date for signing up will be Saturday 6 May.  There is no petition to sign.  However, the organisers plan on having a ‘Just Giving’ page linked to the website, where people can make donations to cover expenses.  (These include printing costs, blue bibs for walkers, prayer books etc.  Any excess will be donated to the hospitals visited.)

How to Help:-

  1. Pray – individually and as churches – for the NHS as an instrument of God’s Kingdom in our nation. Pray that God would bless and encourage all who work in health and social care.  Pray for the walkers, our hospital and health service, both in Milton Keynes and those along the route, as well as for GP surgeries.  Give thanks for our own health and healing.  (Prayers will be available on the website, which can be used however you want.)
  2. Offer simple hospitality (food and accommodation) for those pilgrims walking the whole route. Those involved will probably want to go to bed as soon as they’ve eaten!
  3. Volunteer to join the support team for our leg of the journey. (This will involve wearing a yellow jacket and being willing to deal with any protestors if there are any problems.)
  4. Offer to guide the pilgrimage to the hospital once it reaches Milton Keynes.
  5. Provide a rest stop at your church if it is on the pilgrimage route.
  6. Put up a poster at your church, club or place of work.  (Download here Invalid download ID..)
  7. Spread the word!

Final Thoughts

The pilgrimage will cover 180 miles. It will be a sacrifice of time and energy, especially as it is taking place over Half Term Week.  It is hoped something good and beautiful will come out of it, and with God’s help, something surely will.

“Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

 

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