this life is so short,
and this lockdown is so long.
Grant me health and patience and hope
so that I may serve your purposes,
now, and in the days of freedom that will come.
God of all wisdom, we lift to you
all who make decisions that bring life or death.
Let them be driven by the needs of people,
not their own pride.
Let them be guided by the need for justice,
not their own advancement.
Let their heads and hearts be seized
with a desire for a world
in which rich and poor, black and white, male and female
live without fear of any kind.
A prayer of the Churches’ Commission for Racial Justice:
Lord, Jesus Christ
who reached across the ethnic boundaries
between Samaritan, Roman and Jew,
who offered fresh sight to the blind and freedom to captives,
help us to break down the barriers in our community,
enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry,
and free us to challenge and uproot it
from ourselves, our society and our world.
A prayer of the Nupa people of Nigeria:
May the whole town have health:
May it have to eat;
May it have to drink;
May the whole town have health.
Using your daily exercise as an act of worship
The Sanctuary Centre has an extensive website of resources for worship that is rooted in everyday life. Their latest addition reimagines the trees, paths, rocks and sky of a walk as if they were prayer stations, with Bible readings, prompts to prayer, and actions. Click on the link half way down this web page, entitled God Revealed in Creation – prayer walk. The rest of the website is also worth exploring by any individual or group for whom creative ideas would help refresh their life of prayer.
Changing Times is a retreat hosted online by St Augustine’s College of Theology. It offers four weeks of prayer and reflection on the changes taking place in our lives as we respond to the changes taking place in our world. What lasting difference will the time we have spent in lockdown make to the shape of our lives? It begins on Sunday 14 June. Each week there is a podcast and a downloadable leaflet with prayer and reflection exercises. It is led by Chris Chapman and it is free. Register here:
Lockdown pilgrimage to the Holy Land
While international travel is impossible St George’s College, Jerusalem, is creating a series of films which introduce the holy sites as a way of taking a virtual pilgrimage. The films available so far are about Bethlehem:
Science and Faith summer school
Telling a Better Story: Why Faith and Science Belong Together is the 2020 Faraday Institute summer course. It takes place online from Monday 29 June to Friday 3 June. Each day there will be lectures by distinguished contributors, and group discussions. It is free and participants can join some or all of the webinars. Details of the programme and registration details are here:
An extract from 2020 Vision, by Southwark Diocese resident Emma Rowlands:
Blessed are you who are sick and suffering
May you be loved intensively.
Blessed are you who are unable to attend your own relative’s funeral
May you be comforted.
Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for immunity:
Immunity from disease; immunity from despair; immunity from fear.
May you enjoy health, healing and wholeness.
Blessed are you poor and you poorer than ever
The pearl of great price is waiting for you.
Blessed are you health care workers, shop assistants, and loo roll makers
# we will remember.
Blessed are you teachers, educators, home school parents, pupils and students
You are all to be called the rainbow children of God.
Blessed are you who are computer literate,
who show the rest of us how to reach out beyond our separation.
For now we see but through a screen darkly, yet soon we shall meet face to face ...
Blessed are we who can no longer travel to our church, synagogue, temple, mosque, or meeting.
Love is in our midst. Exactly where we are.
Blessed are we who are dazzled by new 2020 vision
For a new way of being, a new heaven, a new earth.
Tracey Thorn, writer and singer (Everything But the Girl):
I’ve always been an atheist, or at least I’ve always thought so ... But I’ve backed off a bit now. I find myself most mornings walking around the weathered, leaning gravestones of the churchyard. If the church doors were open I think I’d go inside. Maybe I’d sort of pray.
I find myself having conversations inside my own head and I wonder, is this a prayer? Being in the churchyard encourages the thought. I talk to my mum, who has been dead for nearly ten years. ‘Mum,’ I say/think, ‘you won’t believe what’s happening. There’s a pandemic and we all have to stay indoors. Like, indefinitely. It’s really, really weird. And I’m a bit sad and scared.’ I wait for her answer, but I can’t quite catch it.
A friend tells me her parents have a memorial stone in the churchyard, so I go and find it, and stand in front of their names. After a few minutes I reach out and touch the plaque and say, awkwardly, a kind of ‘bless you’ to them. And is that a prayer?
Stormzy, Croydon-born rapper and grime songwriter, on winning the Sandford St Martin award for contributing to the public’s understanding of religion:
Every award I've ever collected, whatever achievement I've ever had, I’ve always been vocal about the fact that it's not possible without God. He’s the reason why I'm here today. He’s the reason that I'm able to have a career ... A lot of the time I get non-believers saying. ‘Don't thank God. This wasn’t God. This was all you.’ But I know this wasn’t all me. This was God.
Miroslav Volf, Croatian theologian currently teaching at Yale University:
Hope is love stretched into the future.
And a memory of those distant days of Summer 2019 when we used to have church services ...
From the Yoxmere Fisherman parish magazine, which is distributed in East Suffolk:
St Peter’s Church, Westleton. Animal service 11.00am. Everyone welcome, even without a pet. When the service is over there will be a barbecue.
With best wishes
Lay Training Officer
Diocese of Southwark