Author Archives: The Chapel

Thoughts for the Week: God the Builder

The words I begin with are from the Book of Lamentations, which is the second book of Jeremiah, who grieved deeply because the fall of Jerusalem had happened and the people would not listen when he told them that all God wanted them to do was repent. Jeremiah was so sad to an extent that it was said that his heart was broken.
During the Pandemic there has been much grieving and tears and many of us have had the same thoughts, that if we knew the future, we might have something to look forward to. In Jeremiah’s situation as a prophet, God had shown him what the future would be. Recently, we have been told that a vaccine has been successful which makes a light in the tunnel for us.
There has, however, been many tears shed to make us feel enough is enough, but life goes on and if we love one another as Jesus said the light in the tunnel will get brighter and brighter and there will still be hiccups on the way. This was what I felt when Lisa and I had just been driving around the district to hand out free books to people who were unable to go shopping or others who hadn’t money to buy books. On the way home, we stopped at Long Itchington Chapel and were faced with a part of the ceiling on the floor, broken and covered with dirt. Our light dimmed, one member cried, ‘Is this the end of the Chapel?’ ‘Who knows,’ was the answer, except to say it’s only a building – a well-loved building – a special building to be used for people.
Paragraph 1 was for all readers and paragraph 2 was mainly for Long Itchington, so now I turn to the people of Long Compton who might at times in the past have cried saying, ‘Is this the end of our Chapel?’ They too had broken parts and needed help from God the Builder and it also meant hard work and determination. There is another name, another person who comes into the story. Long Compton’s full name is Long Compton Ebenezer Chapel. The story of Ebenezer is for both churches, because at a difficult time it meant ‘the Lord has been with you thus and will be with you at all times.’
Now I take you back to Lamentations and Jeremiah and to well-known words which will come from those books of the Bible and will brighten the path that lays before you. First from Jeremiah 31 v.3 & 4. “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt.” And from Lamentations 3 v.22 & 23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

PRAYERS

Ever Faithful Lord, if only we were able to worship with singing, we would lift the hearts and souls of everyone within the area of our Chapels. We don’t lose hope even though we have been unable to have our meetings or our times of worship. We pray Lord that the people who make the rules and have not understood what it means for us to be refused that short time gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have tried different ways to come close to you knowing as we pray you have been at our sides.
Lord Jesus Christ, in recent times we have heard more and more about children who are living in poverty, for children born with various difficulties for them and their parents to manage and children throughout the world who need medical help. Lord Jesus, we remember the day when You reprimanded your disciples for turning the little ones away saying, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
During last week Lord Jesus, we have had the yearly request for donations to help all children in need, we have prepared boxes for children in other countries and we have been made aware of children in our own country suffering with cancer. Lord Jesus, we ask your blessing on all the money that has been raised at this time and that it will be used so that every child who needs help will receive it. Lord Jesus, as we come to the end of our prayer might each one of us pause to offer a prayer for a child of any age that we have been made aware of, not forgetting our two sponsored children Acam Mercy in Uganda and Shibam in India. We pray in Your name, in the will of the Father and with the help of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thoughts for the Week: Remembering

My thoughts for this week, on Remembrance Sunday and four days from Remembrance Day, can only be of those who died in the 1st and 2nd World Wars and other wars since. I have before me a Paul Cummins’ Ceramic Poppy which was one of those made to go round The Tower of London to commemorate the men and women who died in the first World War. On the other side, I have the book of The Overlord Embroidery, which shows the story of the Normandy Landings D-DAY 6th of June 1944. These two treasures commemorate the lives of those who died and the bravery of those who came home damaged physically and mentally after serving in the Armed Services. I, like many others, will be thankful for those like my Uncle Harry and my brother Michael who served in the Royal Navy and returned home safely to their families.
On the 11th November 1918, Private Arthur Wrench of the Seaforth Highlanders wrote in his diary, “I think it is quite hopeless to describe what today means to us. We, who will return to tell people what war really is, surely hope that 11am this day will be of great significance to generations to come. Surely this is the last war that will ever be between nations.” We know that sadly it wasn’t to be.
John McCrae wrote…
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are dead, short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

PRAYERS

O God of truth and justice, we hold before you those whose memory we cherish, and those whose names we will never know.
Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world, and grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us harm.
As we honour the past, may we put our faith in your future;
For you are the source of life and hope,
now and forever. Amen.
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God’.
From the URC Prayer Handbook: Peace loving God, we remember all who have fallen in war; those who relive war daily through injury or broken spirit, those left behind, grieving for a loved one. And as we remember, we pray for those who seek peace.
We pray for peace.
We pray for all things that hurt through the thoughtlessness of others.
We pray for justice.
And Lord, help us to be peacemakers so that we might all be called your children. Amen.
The first British Poppy Day appeal was launched in 1921 on the 11th of November. It was the third anniversary of the Armistice to end the Great War. Proceeds from the sale of artificial French-made poppies were given to ex-servicemen in need of welfare and financial support.

Thoughts for the Week: Something Good

My thoughts for this week are taken once more from nature and the way Jesus taught from the world of nature, so that people could understand the message. Jesus said that the mustard seed, although very small, would grow into a tree in the way that His kingdom would. (Matthew 13 v.30)
A few weeks ago, I spoke about the corm as a parable and this week the Gladioli makes another parable. It was August when the corms were mentioned. They stood tall like soldiers in smart green clothes but no flowers. The summer days were dry and hot, so I did my duty of watering without any expectation of blooms. One morning, a white flower appeared followed another morning there was a pale-yellow flower followed by a fierce storm. The soldiers were pulled backwards and forwards and even the stick to hold them was broken. Perhaps I should have sung ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ but in Lockdown that was not allowed! The brilliant plant survived the brilliant sunshine and the constant watering and produced more white blossoms as well as pink and red and orange right until the first day of November.
You might be wondering why I have called this Corm Parable Number Two. In the book of Galatians 6 v.9, Paul says, “Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest.”
I imagine that most of us will have watched the musical ‘The Sound of Music’ which often comes on our screens at Christmas and you might remember that after a difficult time followed by everything looking better for Maria she sings, “I must have done something good” as she dances over the mountain with her children.
Taking care of nature has become the project of even the youngest child through teaching at school and home and as we come to the time of prayer my thoughts go to books. The reason for that is that I am surrounded with books of all kinds and because I have to let some go to make space, I glance at each one. Yesterday I looked at two very different books with Love as the subject. Firstly, was a book written in 1873 by Henry Drummond called THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD. His book about love being the greatest thing came from his study of Natural Science.
The other book I picked up was by Nanette Newman called ‘God Bless Love’ and was children’s thoughts about love. Here are a few: ‘If only the world were made of love.” (Louise aged 7) “I don’t think there should be rich churches when there are poor people.” (Fiona aged 11) “I have been praying to God for over a year now to stop the fighting and wars but he hasn’t done anything about it – yet.” (Zarab aged 7)

PRAYERS

Robin, aged 6, said, “I say my prayers with my eyes open so that I can hear what I am saying.” Ever listening Father, these few thoughts of children about love make us think about our own prayers. Children say what they see, quite often after much deeper thought than we give to our prayers, There is a saying about arrow prayers, which are the ones that we say very quickly and may also be ones that we hope will be answered quickly . May this week be a time when we stop and think.
We pray for the state of the world. As I sit here, I am thinking about what I have heard on the news today. We are told to expect a further lockdown. Father we ask, is it the right way to beat the virus, is it your will for the whole world that you have in your hands? Have those who make the decisions spoken to you with their eyes open Lord?
Father hear our prayers as we simply ask that your will be done. Lord Jesus, lover of children and of all people, James aged 5 said, “You must take care of love – if you don’t it goes bad.” And from Henry Drummond, “Love is the greatest thing and where Love is, God is.” Heavenly Spirit, lead us this week in the way of loving all people, let love of all people be our project each day. AMEN

Thoughts for the Week: Sing! Sing! Sing!

The last two Psalms of the Bible are two of my favourites because they are joyful and full of music. During and since Lockdown our opportunity to sing in church or in a choir has been denied to us and perhaps like me you have found it something you have missed greatly, because it is a way of worship that brings us closer to the Lord. I have a book which comments on points about the Bible day by day and because I was looking for inspiration for this week’s ‘Thoughts’, I opened the page for October 28th. To my surprise I read that there are only two verses in the New Testament that mention music. I had never noticed that before and was intrigued, so I looked at the two Bible references given for that date.
The first passage came from Luke 15 v.25. The story of the lost son. Verse 25 begins, “Meanwhile the older son was in the field. When he came near the house he heard music and dancing.” He discovered to his disgust that his father was celebrating the return of his wayward younger son and showing true forgiveness. The second passage was from Ephesians 5 v.19. The verses before the 19th are about people living the wrong way of life and the quote is, “Instead be filled with the Spirit, speak to one another with Psalms…sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”
Each week on Sunday morning I watch the Lillington Free Church service online and I sing at the top of my voice and am uplifted (and I hope my neighbours are too). Last week, we sang my mother’s favourite hymn which is No. 576 in ‘Rejoice and Sing’ and I have copied it below, because like most hymns there is a message to share. While I was writing these thoughts, something was telling me that the statement about only two verses in the New Testament that mention music was wrong. When I thought again, it was to ask the question, how can we rejoice without singing in Philippians 4 v.4? I’ll leave you all to ponder on that, perhaps you have an answer!

PRAYERS

Almighty Lord, In the book of Philippians we are told to rejoice always, followed by our call to be tender with other people. It promises us that the Lord is near, which is the promise we love to hear. Lord, we are aware of many people suffering at the present time with depression and fear, and even more people wondering how they will manage when their businesses are taken from them. Lord God, we believe that you are with us always and that you go through these times with us. Heavenly Father help those of us who do not have mental health problems to be gentle and caring, help us to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, so that when we find ourselves in those situations with other people your healing power will reach out to us and to those who are suffering.
This hymn is a prayer which doesn’t need to be sung until we are able to worship the Lord once more with our voices of song and rejoicing. AMEN.
God’s Spirit is in my heart
He has called me and set me apart
This is what I have to do
What I have to do.
He sent me to give the good news to the poor,
Tell prisoners they are prisoners no more,
Tell blind people that they can see
And set the downtrodden free
And go tell everyone the news that the kingdom of God has come.
Just as the Father sent me
So I’m sending you out to be
My witness throughout the world
The whole world.
Don’t worry what you have to say;
Don’t worry because on that day
God’s Spirit will speak in your heart
Will speak in your heart.

Thoughts for the Week: Bits and Pieces

Hello everyone and, yes, the title this week is BITS AND PIECES because my thoughts are muddled. One of my favourite sayings when uncertain is ‘what would Jesus do?’ So yesterday, I did what He did; I walked about the village contacting people with a smile, a chat and a thank you that was in the 21 letters I had to put in letter boxes. Jesus, of course, did more because on His walks He healed people but I can say that there was even a little of that because I felt uplifted and perhaps the people I contacted also felt better for the meeting. That village was Long Itchington and I hope that I might do something similar in Long Compton soon.
One of the thoughts for this week is the Samaritans Purse Charity – Operation Christmas Child – which we have helped for many years in Long Itchington by filling shoe boxes for children of the poorest countries in the world. Gwen is our organiser and she and others have been knitting hats and gloves and toys while she has other people including the Brownies helping by filling boxes. Other people are donating money for the transportation to various countries. On Wednesday, 4th November at 10:30am weather and rules permitting, I will be having a short outdoor Blessing Service next to Long Itchington Chapel and if anyone would like to join me there will be chairs – socially distanced apart – and masks will be worn.
Moving on now to last week’s Thoughts regarding Remembrance Day. On the week beginning 1st November, I will send or email a short Order of Service for you to follow in your own home if you are unable to go to a Remembrance Service.
ANOTHER BIT. You might remember me saying that Lisa and I had completed over 20 Jigsaws during Lockdown. It’s said that pride comes before a fall. The Jigsaw I have been trying to complete for a while is beating me, but another proverb says, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’. I’m sure that the person who thought the proverb up didn’t have a cat that lays herself across the partly done jigsaw to make sure she gets the attention she craves. One day she even jumped from the windowsill right on to the middle of it; she’s one clever cat!!
JESUS PRAYS IN A SOLITARY PLACE. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed, ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages -so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ (MARK 1 v.35-38)

PRAYERS

On another day I went by bus to visit a friend in Coventry. The travelling there and back meant I would have been on six buses. You might think that would be boring but far from it, for on the longest part of the journey I sat at the front of the upstairs of the bus and enjoyed the beauty of the trees turning from green to shades of yellow, orange, bronze, green, brown and red. At home, as I began to write some prayers, I found the following prayer written by Franziska Herring in the Prayer Handbook about the end of the life of King David about the beauty of nature.
LIKE THE LIGHT OF MORNING
Creator God, when David came to the end of his life, he found inspiration in the beauty of nature,
I, too, find your creation inspiring. Praise and thanks to you.
The inspiration for David came from early morning light, Your light, pure-life giving goodness.
Your light, gentle morning light, Your light, interacting with nature, making the wet grass sparkle.
Creator God, I have seen such a sight: a bare tree covered in raindrops,
the morning light creating a rainbow in each drop. There were thousands of jewels on that tree.
Your kingdom of justice has treasure like that – each citizen can shine like a jewel.
David knew that such a beautiful kingdom was to be given to his descendent, our Lord Jesus Christ.
We thank you God for making your promise to David come true. We thank you that in the kingdom of Jesus your light shines gently onto each of us, your love enhances every life, and you make each one sparkle with your goodness. AMEN.

Thoughts for the Week: Try Something New

Many years ago, the Methodist Church produced a card called Peace Builders’ 20 ways to Build World Peace. I haven’t sufficient faith to believe that by doing twenty good things on my own the world would be at peace, but we all have to start somewhere. While I was giving it some thought I heard someone say during the week “You can’t do it all but you must do something.” Jesus began His mission saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He anointed me to release the oppressed.” I’ll come back to those two statements but will begin with the first suggestion on the card: ‘Take your share of responsibility for the world.’ As we continue to live in what seems a very strange place because of COVID-19 we are given more and more rules to help us to overcome the virus.
There is on BBC News at the present time a short session when children ask questions to David Attenborough about things that are important to them in the world. During my time of ministry, I was often heard to say to people, ‘listen to the children.’ This week one small child said, “David, what one thing can I do to help climate change?” David simply said, “don’t waste anything.”
Going back to the 20 suggestions about world peace, another one was, ‘Live simply so that others can live.’ As I go through the other statements on the card I would add that we should remember that the Holy Spirit has power to help us with anything that we find difficult and that takes us to Jesus saying, “I have come to release the oppressed.” And going once again to the morning news programme, there are quite often stories of people who have become oppressed during lockdown because of their situations; for instance, young people with disabilities and their parents who can’t get the kind of help they need. There are elderly people who are lonely and people who are normally full of life who find the lockdown making them oppressed and sometimes afraid.
Once more to the card I have, ‘Smile at people when you walk by.’ That’s good unless you are wearing a mask. Any movement inside the mask makes it fall off especially if you also wear a hearing aid and spectacles, then everything falls off. That’s no excuse but how do people know we are smiling? I promise you that the eyes have it and a smile can help more than we realise. I take two more from the card to make us think, 1st ‘learn new ways’ and 2nd ‘be peaceful inside ourselves.’
As we come to a time of prayer, I noticed that although the card was made by and for Christians it didn’t mention Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit or prayer. Our faith might not build peace on its own but put all our thoughts together and pass them to the Three in One – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and we might move a mountain of change.

PRAYERS

Loving Father, our first prayers today are about children who so often ask the simple questions that as adults we are too proud to ask. The child who spoke to David Attenborough was concerned about the loss of wild animals, and David, a man of great knowledge and clever words, simply answered in a way, not only that the child could understand but that all people might realise that he spoke to a world of wastefulness. The wisdom of the one who produced that short programme may not have realised its importance.
Lord Jesus, You said to the priests, “from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise”. Let that be a lesson to us when we are with our own children or our grandchildren or in our time of prayer. Amen
Caring Lord, We pray also today for the young people, the teenagers who need help as there are so many changes happening in their lives at a time of life that is difficult for them as they are growing up. We pray for those who are carers of sick parents and for those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic. We pray too for teachers and leaders of young people’s clubs that they will find ways to comfort, care and listen to those children and young people. Amen.
Lord Holy Spirit, Jesus said he came to release the oppressed and when He ascended, He passed His work on to You. Lord, because the lockdown has gone on so long there are many adults who have found that their ways of life which was to bring joy to others have begun to change, so that they need to be lifted up themselves. Lord, You have the power to heal, we have the prayers. AMEN

Thoughts for the Week: Parable of the Corms

I am recalling one of my earliest Thoughts for the Week which was called WE WILL BE BACK, and in spite of the way things are now with more restrictions, with faith and prayer we can believe as it says in Psalm 60 – with God we have the victory and we will be back. Today I have borrowed one of the words that Jesus used for teaching; yes, it is a parable.

THE PARABLE OF THE CORMS

Some Gladioli made their way inside
when the high winds blew them over!
Before COVID 19 and the lockdown I bought two packs of rather ugly looking corms and planted them around the edges of my lawns and waited in hope of eventually having lots of mixed Double Freesia plants as it promised on the card. I waited and waited, and watered when I remembered. I didn’t have much of a problem making sure the sun was on them, but there was no sign of any flowers. Then one morning I spotted a few tiny shoots but was not impressed. I continued to wait and slowly the shoots became leaves and were growing taller and taller but still no flowers. By July, all round my garden were 24inch leaves except on the top of one leaf something like a petal appeared. Oh well, I said to myself, I should be satisfied with it. August came and I looked for the double freesias but the packet did say mixed and mixed they certainly were, for day after day on all of the tall leaves beautiful Gladioli flowers had broken through and it made me think and look for Bible passages to share with you. Hence THE PARABLE OF THE CORMS.
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16. v7
ABOUT PRAYER
Prayer is an awesome responsibility that should not be taken lightly. 1 Peter 1 v17
Prayer may not be answered immediately.
Prayer may not give us the things we ask for.
ABOUT PLANTING
The Lord assigns our tasks. 1 Corinthians 3 v5
And Paul planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. We are God’s workers. 1 Corinthians 3 v9
ABOUT SATISFACTION
Praise the Lord who satisfies your desires with good things. Psalm 103 v1 & 5

PRAYERS FOR THE WEEK

Lord Jesus,
We have chosen just a few things that have come into our minds that may make us think. Lord Jesus we come now with our thanks for the promises we have from you, which help us to keep calm during this difficult time. Lord Jesus you promised that you would never leave us like orphans and that the Holy Spirit would always be with us. We thank you Lord Jesus for the gift of the Holy Spirit who helps us when we find that the words we want to pray with are out of our reach and He intercedes and passes the words to our Father God for us.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, you are close to us when we feel weak and tired and we experience times when we reach out and get side-tracked by the news of so many deaths. Lord Jesus, help us to hold on to your way so that our fears are beaten by the light of life that never goes out. When we find ourselves walking in the dark remind us that we too are the light of the world and that others may need to know that we can help them with the Holy Spirit’s truth and power. Thank you Jesus, Amen