Daily Reflections 
- keeping in touch 
All Church services and mid-week gatherings are cancelled during the current situation. This means that there will be no formal services in St Laurence Church for the time being. 
 
However, we will continue praying for everyone and providing as much support as we can during these difficult times. As part of that the Vicar, Rev Frank Gimson, is sharing Bible passages and some thoughts on a regular basis (currently daily). These will be included here on the website, but if you would like to receive them in an email, please contact the Vicar either by email to fateamrector@outlook.com or by using the contact form. 
 
If you know anyone else who would like to receive them, please ask them to contact the Vicar as above. 
Wednesday 12th August 2020 
 
The disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me’ (Matthew 18:1-5). 
 
Jesus tells us that only if we have the openness of a child can we enter the Kingdom of Heaven. True greatness lies in being receptive to God in innocence and a willingness to be taught. Personal ambition, prestige, or profit are motives which can find no place in the life of the Christian. The Christian is the one who forgets self in our devotion to Jesus and in his service. 
 
We pray for the people of Lebanon at this time. ‘The Beirut explosion is a “devastating tragedy”, a statement from the Anglican diocese of Jerusalem says. In a joint statement, the Archbishop, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, and the Bishop, the Very Revd Hosam Naoum, said last week that the people of Beirut were still “shocked and stunned” while “trying to understand what has really happened”… The altar of the Greek Orthodox Church of St Dimitrios, in the Achrafieh area of Beirut.. survived the blast. It was less than a kilometre away from the explosion, was ruined, but iconostasis protected the sanctuary, and a sanctuary lamp continued to burn there. The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, appealed last week for donations to a Church Mission Society Fund for those affected by the blast. “We know that thousands of people have been injured, and the hospitals that were already stretched to breaking point by Covid-19 on top of significant financial challenges are struggling to give the care that people need. Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes - the problems are almost beyond comprehension,” he said… The director of Christian Aid’s partner organisation Basmeh and Zeitooneh (The Smile and the Olive), Fadi Hallisso, said: “The last few days I have been having so many mixed emotions, some anger and frustration over the evil of negligence and corruption that permitted such a catastrophe to happen; but at the same time I had a great feeling that the solidarity of people can overcome this; the solidarity of youth on the streets, but also the solidarity we are seeing from abroad, people from all over the world calling to check on us as to how they can help make things easier”’ (Church Times 10 August 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Gracious Father, 
revive your Church in our day, 
and make her holy, strong and faithful, 
for your glory’s sake 
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for those who are ill and their families. Although some restrictions are eased it is still difficult to see one another, particularly if they are shielding. This can be very distressing both to those who are alone or suffering and family members who want to be with them in their time of need. 
 
I shall be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church at 10:30am. I shall ring the bell and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for our community life, especially groups unable to meet. We are all aware of the pressures the lockdown has brought on so many people, the stresses and the strains - in particular the inability to gather together in larger groups and the worries about doing so at all. 
 
How are you managing in this heat? I know some people really enjoy hot weather, but I am just melting. There is a point about the middle of the afternoon when my study becomes quite unbearable and I simply have to find somewhere else. 
 
‘Christ has entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation, and this demands keeping very closely in touch with the world and with God’ (David Watson). 
Sunday 9th August 2020 
 
‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame”’ (Romans 10:9-11). 
 
Tomorrow the Church celebrates St Laurence, our patron saint here. “These are the treasures of the Church” - so, reputedly, Laurence said to the prefect of Rome when he was commanded to hand over the riches of the Church to the authorities. In fact, he was referring to the poor of the city whom he had assembled together. He had asked for three days to gather the Church's wealth, during which time he worked swiftly to distribute it to the poor of the city to prevent it being seized. This act of defiance led to Laurence's martyrdom on 10th August 258 AD. The traditional account of his death says that he was roasted on a gridiron - which we see him holding on our church banner. During his torture he is supposed to have cried out “I am already roasted on one side and, if you would have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.” 
 
Laurence was one of the seven deacons of Rome who assisted the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). He is often depicted wearing a dalmatic, the distinctive robe of a deacon, and coloured red to signify his martyrdom. He was appointed as deacon by Pope Sixtus II in the year 257 AD and placed in charge of the administration of Church goods and care for the poor (this probably explains the circumstances leading up to his death). For undertaking this duty, Laurence is regarded as one of the first archivists of the Church and is the patron saint of librarians. 
 
The famous comment of St Laurence about the “treasures of the Church” surely reminds us all in this materialistic age that the true treasures of the Church and the world are indeed its people, all made in the image of God, and not jewels, gold and silver, which are really of no lasting value. 
 
As we return tentatively to Church worship, I was struck by this concluding paragraph of a comment piece in the Church Times: ‘At parish level, while there are bishops who make no secret of the fact that they would like to wind down the parish system in favour of church-plants and mega-churches, it turns out that venues in which large numbers bob about to worship songs in close proximity to one another are about as unsafe as it gets. Crumbling but spacious parish churches with ten to 20 quietly scattered worshippers are relatively safe, however. You can’t help wondering whether the virus has theological preferences’ (Angela Tilby, Church Times 7 August 2020). 
 
The collect for this week: 
Almighty God, 
who sent your Holy Spirit 
to be the life and light of your Church: 
open our hearts to the riches of your grace, 
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit 
in love and joy and peace; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
There is a recorded service for today from the church and a copy of the service sheet you can download or view online in order to join in. Also today at 10:30am we are having a short service of Holy Communion in Church - and the church bells will be ringing from 10 o’clock. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all who have lost their jobs or are unable to find work. Every week we hear of more businesses laying off workers or going into administration, while even the simplest of jobs are attracting hundreds of applications. We pray for them and their families as they struggle to survive. 
 
There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday (our patronal festival) for our witness as the Church. On Tuesday we pray for all key workers. 
 
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking” (Albert Einstein). 
Friday 7th August 2020 
 
‘Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”’ (Matthew 16:24-26). 
 
Jesus challenges us to look beyond ourselves if we want to be his followers. If we are too focused on our own needs and desires then we will fail to see all the riches that he holds out for us; if we concern ourselves with the things of this world, we will fail to recognise the treasures of heaven. We need to look up, see the abundance he offers, to let go of all that holds us back - and follow him. 
 
‘Jesus invites his followers to cut the cord that binds us to what is not truly life giving. When we try to hang on to things, people, status, personal ambitions and agenda, following Jesus is constant compromise and struggle. Let it go’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 27 June 2020). 
 
‘There is new Church of England guidance on face coverings in places of worship, which will be mandatory for congregations from Saturday but not for those officiating at a service. The move comes after the announcement last Friday by the Prime Minister that, from Saturday 8 August, the requirement to wear a face covering would be extended to “other indoor settings where you’re likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas, and places of worship”. 
Church of England guidance, issued on Wednesday, says, however, that there will be exemptions for those “who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer)”. Other worshippers will be required to wear masks. The exemptions will also cover the bride and bridegroom at a wedding and those “officiating/leading”. They do not apply to “those observing the wedding, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space”. In line with government advice, children under 11 and people with disabilities or certain health conditions are also exempt’ (Church Times 5 August 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Lord God, 
your Son left the riches of heaven 
and became poor for our sake: 
when we prosper save us from pride, 
when we are needy save us from despair, 
that we may trust in you alone; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for our Team Rector and family. As always we are deeply grateful that you hold us in your prayers. Please also remember the other members of our Team, David Bacon and Veronica Batchelor and their families. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray for those who care for loved ones at home. This year many more people have taken on additional caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who are disabled, ill or older and who need support. 
 
On 7th August 1947 the Kon-Tiki expedition headed by Thor Heyerdahl, which had carried a six-man crew aboard a balsa wood raft from Peru 3,770 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean, crashed into a reef in at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on a Polynesian archipelago after being at sea for 101 days since 28th April. Thor Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have reached Polynesia during pre-Columbian times. His aim in mounting the Kon-Tiki expedition was to show, by using only the materials and technologies available to those people at the time, that there were no technical reasons to prevent them from having done so. 
Wednesday 5th August 2020 
 
'I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth... The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore' (Psalm 121:1-2,7-8). 
 
We are God's Church. We exist to serve him and proclaim him in the world. He guides us and leads us in his way, and we seek to grow as his people in his image. 'As many of our churches are able to unlock again, we are looking beyond the present at how church might look in the future. For many who worship and serve in our parishes, there is a desire to ensure that we enter this "new normal" as Eco Churches. And a number of churches have been using lockdown to do what they can to help us achieve a 'net zero' future' (Diocese of Salisbury Grapevine, 31 July 2020). 
 
'Choral and organ scholars from cathedrals across the country have come together to produce a virtual evensong to raise money for the Cathedral Choirs Emergency Fund and to raise the profile of the English choral tradition. A survey by the Church Music Trust (CMT) showed how many foundations would struggle without additional funds once lockdown restrictions were eased. Choral and organ scholars from Bristol, Worcester, Exeter, Truro, Gloucester, Wells, Hereford, and Tewkesbury Abbey have been involved in complex logistics that required six weeks of individual rehearsal to backing tracks created at Truro. Three weeks of audio and video editing have followed. "It's been a sizeable task," a tenor choral scholar at Exeter, Daniel Maw, said. "We are so fortunate to have great support from the Cathedral Music Trust, as well as individual composers who were kind enough to commission music for this service. Paul Mealor has written a beautiful introit, set to the text 'Lead me, Lord', while Roxanna Panufnik has arranged a truly epic setting of 'Let all the world', a much loved and familiar hymn text"... The scholars' evensong was streamed on YouTube on Tuesday. Lessons were read by the former chorister and TV presenter Alexander Armstrong and Katie Derham, who presents the BBC Proms. "Helping to bring together a bunch of incredible singers to raise funds for something so close to our hearts is an incredible honour," Harry Hoyland, a Truro choral scholar, said. "We are extremely pleased with the results"' (Church Times 31 July 2020). 
 
Tomorrow the Church celebrates the Transfiguration of Our Lord. All three synoptic Gospels - Mark, Matthew, and Luke - give us an account of the Transfiguration of Jesus on top of Mount Tabor. This follows Peter's confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the One sent by God to redeem mankind, and Jesus's prediction of his own passion and death. Jesus, together with three of his disciples - Peter, James and John - went up the mountain. Matthew says Jesus 'was transfigured before them. His face shone as the sun: his garments became white as snow'. Two other figures appeared with Him: Moses and Elijah. Christ thus stood between the two prominent figures in the Old Testament. Then, a voice was heard from above saying, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!' (Matthew 17:1-6). 
 
The collect for the Transfiguration: 
Father in heaven, 
whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured 
before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain, 
and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem: 
give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross 
that in the world to come we may see him as he is; 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for Churches Together in Downton, as we remember that we all belong to God's kingdom and have the one gospel to proclaim - and that is what matters. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Daily Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for all visitors to our Churches. They may have come in for private prayer, stood outside, paused in the churchyard or visited us online. 
Sunday 2nd August 2020 
 
‘Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 1:5-8). 
 
God has given us everything we need but we are responsible in using what he has given us. God expects us to make our own contribution by growing our faith in response to what he has done for us. He has made all things possible for us; but they are not yet complete, and we must labour diligently to realise the glorious possibilities opened out for us. Here Peter is enumerating some things that we ourselves must add to what God has already done. God does his part, we do ours. These virtues we “provide at our own expense” - that is the thrust of the Greek word. Of course, in this we are aided by the Holy Spirit, but we, too, must “make every effort.” You could say that these qualities of Christian character and maturity are like the rungs of a ladder - except that we don’t achieve them sequentially but work on them all at the same time. 
 
The government announced on Friday that face coverings are now to be mandatory in churches from 8th August. ‘The Government had previously stated that from 24 July face coverings were only to be “encouraged” in places of worship (News, 17 July). Guidance from the C of E, updated on Friday afternoon, said: “We will study detailed government regulations and guidance once they are available and will update our guidance accordingly. “In the meantime, we continue to strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing”’ (Church Times 31 July 2020). 
 
The collect for this week: 
Almighty Lord and everlasting God, 
we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern 
both our hearts and bodies 
in the ways of your laws 
and the works of your commandments; 
that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever, 
we may be preserved in body and soul; 
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for our Churchwarden and Deputy Churchwardens. They work hard for our Church and their ministry is particularly important now as we begin to open the Church up again for worship and prayer. 
 
There will be no Daily Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for the bereaved. Then on Tuesday we pray for our Church School: staff and pupils that this may be a time of refreshment for them. 
 
‘We must pray, for prayer is neither more nor less than living with God... Prayer is just living with God: looking at him, regarding his will, reaching out our hands for the blessings he is so eager to give, bringing our action into his’ (Austin Farrer). 
 
On 3rd August 1492, hoping to find a westward route to India, Christopher Columbus set sail on his first transatlantic voyage, departing from Palos, Spain, with three small ships - the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María. 
Friday 31st July 2020 
 
'The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, ‘You shall die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, “This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant”?’ (Jeremiah 26:7-9). 
 
How do we respond to criticism, especially when it’s our faith or way of life that is being criticised? What happens when we are told we have missed the point, or we are wrong? It is only natural to be defensive, to shut out the reproach. Part of being human is to be imperfect. We are all imperfect in different ways and impatient with other people’s imperfections and sometimes with our own. ‘We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him’ (Michel de Montaigne). 
 
‘The Central Readers’ Council (CRC) has launched its first online module - for Online Worship - under its Transforming Ministry programme: a three-year project to provide free resources for lay people. The new module, which is accessible via the new Transforming Ministry website, consists of three one-hour sections. It has been written by the Revd Norman Ivison, a former BBC producer in the area of religion and ethics. He says: “If you are struggling to produce online worship, or doing it but know you can do better, then this is the course for you.”’ (Church Times 24 July 2020). 
 
‘Christ shows us again and again that the mind of God is a complete reversal of human values and pretensions, and that it is only through this reversal that man can really progress’ (K.W. Stevenson). 
 
I remind you that from the beginning of August (tomorrow), I will be reducing these reflections to three days a week: Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. This means there will not be a Daily Reflection tomorrow but there will be one on Sunday. Then the following one will be on Wednesday, and so on. 
 
We pray: 
Open my eyes, God. 
Help me to perceive what I have ignored, 
to uncover what I have forgotten, 
to find what I have been searching for. 
Remind me that I don't have to journey far 
to discover something new, 
for miracles surround me, 
blessings and holiness abound. 
And you are near. 
(Naomi Levy) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for charities struggling to continue their work and fundraising. Most charities have been very badly hit as their usual fundraising has been curtailed or cancelled. This can make a big difference especially to the smaller ones. At the same time, on the whole, those of us who have retained our work and incomes have been spending less. 
 
Also: in our Parish Prayer Diary tomorrow we pray for peace in the World. True peace comes from peace in ourselves and with God. This is Shalom - a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity. 
 
‘In view of the coming reign of God, the moral and religious distinctions among men are broken down; this is shown in Jesus’ own actions. He eats with tax-collectors and sinners, and dares to announce to men the forgiveness of sins. His authority must be acknowledged or rejected’ (David Hill). 
Thursday 30th July 2020 
 
‘For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:26-28). 
 
Our relationship with God results in a new relationship with one another. All racial, economic and gender barriers and all other inequalities are removed in Christ. The equality and unity of all in Christ are not an addition, a tangent or an optional application of the gospel. They are at the very heart of the good news. The equality of us all before God must be demonstrated in social relationships within and beyond the Church if the truth of the gospel is to be expressed. As Jesus proclaims at the beginning of his ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19). 
 
Today the Church remembers William Wilberforce, famous for his role in the abolition of slavery. By the late 1700s, the economics of slavery were so entrenched that only a handful of people thought anything could be done about it. That handful included William Wilberforce. This would have surprised those who knew Wilberforce as a young man, as he grew up surrounded by wealth. He graduated from university in Cambridge with the intention of following a political career and became Member of Parliament for Hull in 1780, aged 21. Four years later he became MP for the whole of Yorkshire and began to work for the abolition of the slave trade. 
Wilberforce was a deeply religious man and later became an Evangelical Christian. He wrote “So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the [slave] trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would: I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.” 
He was a popular figure and was known to be charming and witty and a great public speaker. He campaigned for a number of causes: for legislation to improve the lives of the poor; education; prison reforms; ending child labour; and he was one of the founders of the Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). 
Wilberforce attempted several times to bring private members’ bills before Parliament to end Britain’s involvement in the slave trade. After many years of defeats, he finally achieved his goal on 25 March, 1807. But this did not completely prevent British people from engaging in the slave trade. 
He retired from politics in 1825 due to ill health but continued to campaign for the abolition of slavery. Finally, on 26 July 1833, as Wilberforce lay on his deathbed, he was told that the Slavery Abolition Bill, granting freedom to all slaves within the British Empire, had been passed by Parliament. Wilberforce died three days later. 
 
We have become increasingly aware recently that slavery has not disappeared. It is estimated that 40 million people are trapped in modern slavery worldwide. ‘Modern slavery is the severe exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain. Modern slavery is all around us, but often just out of sight. People can become entrapped making our clothes, serving our food, picking our crops, working in factories, or working in houses as cooks, cleaners or nannies’ (https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/). 
 
The collect for today: 
God our deliverer, 
who sent your Son Jesus Christ 
to set your people free from the slavery of sin: 
grant that, as your servant William Wilberforce 
toiled against the sin of slavery, 
so we may bring compassion to all 
and work for the freedom of all the children of God; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for our Parochial Church Council (PCC). As the trustees for St Laurence, we have the responsibility for our Church’s life, ministry and mission and decisions on how we worship together. 
Wednesday 29th July 2020 
 
‘It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you”’ (Hebrews 2:10-12). 
 
The letter to the Hebrews uses a collage of images to show who Jesus is and what it means to follow him. Jesus did not come into this world to gain status or political power, but to suffer and die so that we could have eternal life. In this Jesus is the pioneer of our salvation - the one who makes a way forward for others. ‘He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy’ (Colossians 1:17-18). 
 
Also Jesus proclaims himself as our brother. Most of us have little difficulty recognising that it is best if people do not look too closely at us. Scrutiny will show that Jesus might have any number of good reasons to be ashamed about who we are. So if Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters, it is not because we are so impressive. Being called one of his brothers or sisters is an act of grace. It offers us a sense of dignity and fellowship in the family. 
 
Apparently (I can’t find the source for this) Martin Luther said that if he could understand the first two words of the Lord's Prayer as Christ did, the rest of his life in Christ would fall into place. 
 
How we see the world - and so what we believe is happening - depends to a large extent on the newspapers or online services we use. This is especially important at times like this. But how do we know what is true? As Pilate asks: ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38). ‘It is easy to decide that we are each powerless in the face of the onslaught of post-truth, fake news, and disinformation. What can I do against the pervasive and often negative impact of social media, the algorithms of big tech serving me up information that confirms my inbuilt biases, or the politicians who bend facts with slogans that lose sight of the truth?... Post-truth, fake news, and disinformation together pose a serious threat to societies around the world. Citizens can feel powerless in the face of their demoralising and demotivating effects. But Christians can play their part in bringing truth and integrity back into the centre of public life. This might call for concerted action over many years. It will need co-operation from local churches with national structures, and the voice of the Church in Parliament, Whitehall, and in the media. We will need to work with partners and people of good will across the political spectrum. But, given the negative impact of post-truth on our society, we need to be acting now’ (Church Times 24 July 2020). 
 
We pray: 
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, 
there is no end to his greatness. 
One generation shall praise your works to another 
and shall declare your power. 
All your works praise you, Lord, 
and your faithful servants bless you. 
They make known the glory of your kingdom 
and speak of your power. 
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: 
let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all who rely on food aid. ‘The Trussell Trust and its network of food banks are here to help anyone who needs support at this time. Together, we can get through this crisis - please remember that you’re not alone’ (https://www.trusselltrust.org/). 
 
I shall be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church at 10:30am. I shall ring the bell and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. 
 
On 29th July 1588, the Spanish Armada, the great fleet sent by King Philip II of Spain to invade England, was first sighted by the English off Lizard Point, Cornwall. 
Tuesday 28th July 2020 
 
‘O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens… When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?’ (Psalm 8:1,3-4). 
 
We proclaim the majesty and sovereignty of God - and his loving grace to us. God is our Lord and ruler of all: ‘Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture’ (Psalm 100:3). In the words of the Te Deum canticle: 
We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as the Lord; 
all creation worships you, the Father everlasting. 
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, 
the cherubim and seraphim, sing in endless praise: 
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, 
heaven and earth are full of your glory. 
The glorious company of apostles praise you. 
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. 
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. 
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you: 
Father, of majesty unbounded, 
your true and only Son, worthy of all praise, 
the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
‘The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked the Government what it is doing to prevent the use of social-media platforms to incite hatred. During a virtual sitting of the House of Lords, on Thursday of last week, the Archbishop asked a follow-up question to Lord Holmes of Richmond, who had asked the Government “What assessment they have made of the impact of digital platforms on the functioning of democracy”. The Archbishop said: “The minister will be aware that, although social media has immense power for good, some social-media platforms are used to incite hatred, stirring up social disruption and even extreme violence in some parts of the world. . . What steps are Her Majesty’s Government looking at to motivate and encourage responsibility to be taken by such platforms to prevent their use in everything from hate speech to genocide?”.. Archbishop Welby said last year that social media gave a “voice to the voiceless”, but that their lack of accountability encouraged “vicious” behaviour (News, 15 May 2019)’ (Church Times 24 July 2020). 
 
We pray: 
God of time and space, 
We are awed by the majesty of your creation, 
and become increasingly aware of its marvellous inter-connection, 
in the midst of which we find our place. 
Ground us in the knowledge 
that our actions affect both those around us and the natural world, 
and give us wisdom to do only those things 
which bring light and love and wholeness to the world; 
for all people everywhere are our sisters and brothers, 
and the Earth is our common home. Amen. 
(https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for volunteers helping others in their community. We hear many stories of people helping out and engaging with their neighbours. This has been an opportunity to build new relationships and develop gifts of service. 
 
On 28th July 1914, using the assassination of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand as a pretext to present Serbia with an unacceptable ultimatum, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia - sparking World War I. As it happens, it was 28th July 2005 when the IRA announced that it had ended its armed campaign and instead would pursue only peaceful means to achieve its objectives. 
Monday 27th July 2020 
 
He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves’ (Luke 22:25-27). 
 
We hear a lot today about the need for respect - or indeed the lack of it. Those in leadership roles all too often want simply to exercise the authority of their status over others; while those without such positions feel that they are not being heard. The Christian perspective is clear: authority is given in order to serve, to minister (attend to the needs of). Standing on worldly importance has no place in the Kingdom of God. In the words of Mary’s song (the Magnificat): ‘He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty’ (Luke 1:51-53). 
 
‘In Jesus the service of God and the service of the least of the brethren were one’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). 
 
We had another good service in St Laurence yesterday and it was a true joy to worship together again, even with the necessary restrictions in place. However, we are always very aware that those who can attend physically are only a part of our church family. As we gather on a Sunday morning, we are one together in Christ wherever we may be in body. As one in spirit we come before God as his Church - as we celebrate online, in the church building or quietly in the stillness of our hearts. 
 
‘We are now more than half-way through our Emergency Appeal for the Sudans and we need your help to reach our £50,000 target. We launched the Appeal at the start of the month after receiving this shocking statement from Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo in Khartoum: “They would rather die of Covid-19 than hunger.” While inflation and starvation is reaching record levels in Sudan, poor sanitation in the refugee camps means the coronavirus is able to spread freely among a weakened population. 
Meanwhile, lockdown means that the healthy are unable to work and what wages they receive cannot begin to cover the inflated prices for even basic foodstuffs. Many are hungry. Many cannot feed their families. Many fear contracting a virus in a country where there are less than 10 ventilators available for the whole population. That's why our Appeal is for FOOD and SOAP. Your money can provide food for our brothers and sisters in the Sudans who are starving. It can provide the same things we have to keep us safe from the virus. It can buy materials so their Mothers' Union members can make 20,000 masks and help to buy other PPE. It can pay for lifesaving sanitisers and basic hand washing facilities. 
Please give what you can, even the smallest donation could save a life. Donate at https://bit.ly/sudansemergency’ (Diocese of Salisbury Grapevine, 24 July 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Generous God, 
you give us gifts and make them grow: 
though our faith is small as mustard seed, 
make it grow to your glory 
and the flourishing of your kingdom; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for our Bishops: Bishop Nicholas, our diocesan bishop, and Bishops Andrew and Karen, our suffragan bishops. They continue to work hard providing leadership and pastoral support in the diocese while offering guidance and encouragement to the wider Church and us in the parishes. 
 
‘If we believe that God’s future kingdom will have justice and peace as features of its life, it is a powerful argument to work with all our strength to bring those features into action now’ (Bishop David Sheppard). 
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