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. 
Sunday 27th September 2020 
 
‘Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called: I am He; I am the first, and I am the last.. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go’ (Isaiah 48:12,17). 
 
God himself is our teacher. He knows us and understands us far better than we can ever know and understand ourselves. He gently guides and directs our way according to his plans for our salvation and purposes for our life. He watches over us constantly for our good and promises to provide us with everything we need for what he is calling us to do. 
 
Yesterday 8 priests and 14 deacons were ordained and 4 LLMs were licensed across the diocese (https://www.salisbury.anglican.org/news). We pray for them all as they enter this new stage in their ministry and we give thanks to God for raising up new ministers to serve in his Church, especially at this time. May God grant them wisdom, strength and a renewed vision. 
 
‘A survey into local and global community showed that 43% of adults across the South West of England had an increased sense of community spirit in their neighbourhood since the start of lockdown, Christian Aid has revealed. In the survey by Savanta ComRes*, commissioned by the aid and development charity, a further 28% of adults across the South West said they felt more part of a global community than before the virus outbreak began. The survey results are launched as Christian Aid is encouraging people this autumn to come together within their local communities, in line with restrictions, to help those worldwide who have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Half (50%) of all Christian adults questioned in the poll across the UK said they felt there had been an increase in community spirit in their neighbourhood and 31% reported feeling more part of a global community’ (Diocese of Salisbury Grapevine, 25 September 2020). 
 
The collect for this week: 
O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers 
of your people who call upon you; 
and grant that they may both perceive and know 
what things they ought to do, 
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them; 
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 those in Residential and Nursing Homes Our local care homes are continuing to do great job. However many staff and residents are feeling the strain as the pandemic continues to hold us in its grip. We continue to hold them all in our prayers. 
 
There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary on Monday we pray for all who rely on food aid. All the indications are that this number will rise in the coming months. Also we offer our practical support through the Trussell Trust - to whom financial donations are probably most helpful at this time. Tuesday is the Feast of St Michael and All Angels (Michaelmas) and we pray for our passing on of God’s message - that we too might be heralds of the Kingdom. 
 
‘We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). 
Friday 25th September 2020 
 
'O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them, or mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow' (Psalm 144:3-4). 
 
It is indeed a most wonderful mystery that Almighty God, the creator and sustainer of all, should care for us - that indeed he should love us, even to extent of being born in human form and dying on the cross for us: 
 
'Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies! 
Who can explore His strange design? 
In vain the firstborn seraph tries 
To sound the depths of love Divine! (Charles Wesley) 
 
It would appear that we are heading back into lockdown. At this time we think most especially of those who find isolation and distancing particularly stressful or difficult. We pray for them and also all residents of care homes and their families who are unable to visit with one another properly. 'Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone' (Paul Johannes Tillich). 
 
'Divisions are deeper now - on the brink of a second wave of coronavirus infections - than they were six months ago when the nation first went into lockdown, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have warned in a joint letter to all bishops on Wednesday. The letter speaks of the inevitability of further national and local restrictions as the winter months approach, and the responsibility of the Church to "avoid mistakes" and respond in the right way to a more complex situation than before. In March, the Church was criticised for going beyond the government advice at the time and ordering church buildings to close, even to clergy (News, 24 March). "We will need to be more critical in our response to restrictions that are above and beyond government regulations," the Archbishops write, "helping the Church at the local level, in parish and diocese, steer a course that is marked by responsible action towards each other, care for the most vulnerable, and witness for the poor and disadvantaged who are suffering disproportionately."' (Church Times 23 September 2020). 
 
Tomorrow we were due to hold our Goose Fair in Church. This has been always an enjoyable event with plenty of opportunity to meet people and for fellowship - and perhaps even an opportunity to buy an early Christmas present. We will miss it. Also, of course, it is one of our major fund-raising events of the year. Along with many other charitable organisations, our finances have been very hard hit by our need to cancel all our big social events. 
 
The prayer after communion for this week: 
Keep, O Lord, your Church, with your perpetual mercy; 
and, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall, 
keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful, 
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for school governors. They are volunteers who work hard to support our schools and we are greatly blessed by their dedication. Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for Trafalgar School at Downton. 'While one is young is the time to investigate, to experiment with everything. The school should help its young people to discover their vocations and responsibilities, and not merely cram their minds with facts and technical knowledge; it should be the soil in which they can grow without fear, happily and integrally' (Jiddu Krishnamurti). 
 
'Thieves who targeted a church roof in Wales took lead worth just £35, but caused damage that will cost 100 times more to repair. The crooks struck over the August Bank Holiday weekend at All Saints', Newport, taking out the flashing from a gully between two roofs. "It was a very small amount of lead," the Hon. Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Christopher Watkins, said. "It has a scrap value of about £35, but the repair estimates are around the £3500 mark. It is really galling. The irony of it all is that, if it was taken because the people are hard up, we would have given them the money if they had come to us. They did try to take more, but the roof is very steep, and it has moss on it; so it is quite difficult to climb. The police don't hold up much hope of finding anybody." He said that the bill was so high because the new lead had to be beaten into the correct shape, and that there was considerable damage to slates, batons, and underfelt to be repaired. There are also labour costs' (Church Times 11 September 2020). 
Wednesday 23rd September 2020 
 
‘Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar’ (Proverbs 30:5-6). 
 
We have the word of God himself. God is in his word, God is his promise, we can put our trust in him. That is sufficient, and therefore we are warned that we must not add to it - a warning we find also right at the end of the Bible in the Book of Revelation. Throughout the history of the Church there has always been the temptation to add new restrictions or requirements to the faith, or claims to possess a unique and unassailable knowledge of God’s will. However we have God’s own word, available to all - a tremendous and living blessing. Alongside that we must remember Jesus' promise that ‘when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come’ (John 16:13). 
 
Yesterday I was walking through the village against the flow of pupils coming out of school. It is heartening to see that, whatever else may happening, our schools are all back and working hard for our children and young people. Sometimes we forget that when we are young we have just the one chance at schooling. We give thanks for the dedication and commitment of all our school staff. 
 
‘A chalice made of lead, dating from the sixth century, is being hailed as one of the most important finds of a Christian artefact in Western Europe. It was discovered in the remains of an early church built inside the Roman fort at Vindolanda, near Hexham, close to Hadrian’s Wall. Broken into 14 pieces, the cup, which is about the size of a modern cereal bowl, is covered with religious grafitti. The director of Vindolanda excavations, Dr Andrew Birley, said that discovering the church was an important find, but finding the inscribed chalice was “quite incredible”. “This artefact sheds a bright light into a time that used to be known as the Dark Ages,” he said. The marks inside and outside the cup appear to be by the same hand. They are difficult to see with the naked eye, but specialist photography revealed symbols including crosses, chi-rhos, a whale, fish, flags, angels, a smiling priestly figure holding a crook, ears of wheat, and a boat with a cross-shaped mast, believed to represent the Church as a vessel to take Christians to their eternal destination. “It’s just remarkable” Dr Birley said. “Nothing in North-Western Europe comes close from the period.”’ (Church Times 18 September 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Lord God, 
defend your Church from all false teaching 
and give to your people knowledge of your truth, 
that we may enjoy eternal life 
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
I attach a simple order for Morning Prayer that I shall be using in Church at 10:30am. I shall ring the bell and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all who assist with our services. While our services at the moment may appear to be more simple, preparation for them has to be more careful. Tomorrow there is no Reflection and in our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for politicians and their advisors. As we come to the party conference season we listen to their programmes and their claims, while remembering that God tells us: ‘I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve’ (Revelation 2:23). 
 
‘The 1662 Book of Common Prayer has arrived on Amazon smart speakers, helping users to say morning and evening prayer and to learn more about its history. On Thursday, Cambridge University Press, which publishes the Prayer Book, announced that Alexa smart speakers would now be programmed with a new “skill” - one of the voice-driven apps - called the Cambridge Prayer Book. The idea is to help people to pray and worship at home during the pandemic. Users can now ask Alexa to: “Say morning prayer”; “Say evening prayer”; “Pray the Lord’s Prayer”; “Give me the Apostles’ Creed”; and “Recite the Grace”. The services are read by clergy from St John the Evangelist, Cambridge, close to the publisher’s headquarters. In place of a congregation, responses are said by members of the Cambridge University Press choir. There is also a small selection of Bible readings’ (Church Times 17 September 2020). 
 
As we rely on even more our computers and other devices during the pandemic, you may like to know that on 23rd September 1884 the American Herman Hollerith patented his mechanical tabulating machine - the beginning of data processing. And the rest, they say… 
Sunday 20th September 2020 
 
O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he has uttered’ (Psalm 105:1-5). 
 
Here we have an exhortation to praise God for all his dealings with his people. Indeed Psalm 105 is sometimes called a “Hallelujah psalm,” since it ends with that phrase. However it reminds us that true praise is more than just a joyful expression of worship. We are to remember all that God has done for us, and we are to share that with those around us. So our praise leads naturally to our witness to all that God is at work in the world. 
 
As I return from a refreshing break (thank you to all who’ve asked: we had a good time away) to these Daily Reflections, autumn is approaching and our thoughts turn naturally to our usual activities in this period. Earlier hopes that things might be better by now are fading - and so we continue to look for new ways to live out our mission as God’s people in the world. Perhaps he is calling us to be Church in quite a new way? 
 
The collect for this week: 
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit 
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: 
grant that your people may be fervent 
in the fellowship of the gospel 
that, always abiding in you, 
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; 
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. 
 
‘Places of worship have been granted additional exemptions to the ban on social gatherings of more than six people, which came into force on Monday (News, 11 September). When it announced the “rule of six” last week, the Government was clear that public worship would be exempt. Updated guidance, published on the Church of England website on Thursday says, however, that this “is not a blanket exemption”. Worshippers must not form groups of more than six in church, unless they are from the same household or support bubble… 
The C of E guidance does not address socialising after services, but Government guidance says that, once a worship service has ended, “participants should be encouraged to move on promptly, to minimise the risk of contact and spread of infection... “Worshippers should limit their interactions with anyone they are not attending your Place of Worship with, i.e. if they are attending a communal service with one other household, wherever possible they should try not to engage in conversation with anyone outside of this group.”‘ (Church Times 17 September 2020). 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for peace in the world. At this time more than ever we need to work together across our world both in fighting the pandemic and seeking to minimise, or even better reverse, the conditions that have caused it. 
 
The is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday we celebrate St Matthew the Apostle who gave up being a tax collector to follow Jesus, and became one of the four gospel writers. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray that we may use our gifts in God’s service. On Tuesday we pray for all visitors to our Churches. 
 
On 20th September 1519 the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan departed from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain, with five ships on a quest to circumnavigate the globe. Although Magellan died during the voyage, the expedition achieved its goal when the surviving ship, the Victoria, returned to Spain on 6th September 1522 to become the first ship to circumnavigate the globe - opening up new vistas and possibilities. 
Wednesday 2nd September 2020 
 
‘Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work’ (Psalm 62:11-12). 
 
As we look around the world today, all that is going on, it is always good to remember where true power and authority lie - and hold fast to that. God is the Creator and Sustainer of all; all things are in his hands; he is Almighty God. As we proclaim each time we say the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory’! All things are for the glory of God. This driving passion was the very heartbeat of Jesus’ ministry, the highest aim he sought and the loftiest goal he pursued. All things in life and ministry, Jesus taught, are to be solely for the glory of God. We hold fast to him, and he holds us firmly in his hands. 
 
As we adapt to our new ways of worship, how about this from the Church in California: ‘Clergy in the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Sante Fe have been warned that they may face “possible suspension of the faculty to preach” if they continue to breach the five-minute time limit for homilies. The Vicar General, the Very Revd Glennon Jones, said that the rules were in place to limit people’s exposure to the coronavirus, as well as to avoid putting them off attending mass. Since May, priests have been permitted to celebrate mass under strict guidelines; attendance has been limited to ten per cent of each church building’s capacity, and singing has been prohibited. In a memo on 31 July, clergy were instructed to keep homilies “very brief”. The warning came after mass-goers had been informed of the archdiocesan protocols and had expressed concerns’ (Church Times 28 August 2020). 
 
From tomorrow I am taking a break for a couple of weeks. So the next Daily Reflection will be on Sunday 20th September. The Church will still be open on Wednesdays for Private Prayer from 11:00am and there will be a service of Holy Communion at 10:30am on each Sunday, when the Church bells will be rung. There will also be services on the website each Sunday. 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
God of constant mercy, 
who sent your Son to save us: 
remind us of your goodness, 
increase your grace within us, 
that our thankfulness may grow, 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for those starting at a new School or College. This is a particularly difficult time for all in education and we continue to bear them in our prayers. ‘Upon the subject of education… I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in’ (Abraham Lincoln). 
 
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. Although we continue to find it difficult to come all together in worship and prayer, we are together even as we pray physically apart. 
 
The Parish Prayer Diary for each day in September can be found in Downton Parish News
 
On Sunday 2nd September 1666 the Great Fire of London began accidentally in the house of the king’s baker in Pudding Lane near London Bridge. The worst fire in London’s history, it destroyed two thirds of the City of London - including most of the civic buildings, old St. Paul’s Cathedral, 87 parish churches, and about 13,000 houses. A violent east wind encouraged the flames, which raged during the whole of Monday and part of Tuesday. 
Sunday 30th August 2020 
 
‘Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne’ (Revelation 3:20-21). 
 
This is the passage that inspired the artist William Holman Hunt to paint his famous picture The Light of the World. In the early 20th Century this “sermon in a frame” became the most travelled artwork in history. It depicts Jesus, carrying a lantern, knocking at a door with no handle on the outside. The door is overgrown with weeds, and the nails and hinges are rusted, implying that the door has never been opened. The message: it is up to the person on the other side of the door to let Jesus in. Jesus never forces his way in where he is not wanted. We have to invite him in to share our lives. 
 
‘A short film in which a priest describes “the extremes of emotion” which he experiences in his ministry has been watched more than 30,000 times on social media. In the film, the Vicar of St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, in north London, Prebendary Graeme Rowlands, says: “I am what I do, and I do what I am. And so I can’t define when I’m doing my work as a priest, and when I’m not.” He continues: “There is no such thing as an average day. The hardest part, I suppose, is coping with the extremes of emotion, not just in other people but in me — because I will go immediately from a graveside, back into school, and then on to a visit, which is quite hard going. My life is so ordinary and uninteresting; there’s nothing interesting to say. But, on the other level, my life is absolutely full.” His message about vocation is uncomplicated: “Of course, if God wants you to be ordained, then you will; and, if he doesn’t, then you won’t. I can’t imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else.”.. Since the film was posted on Twitter, on 14 August, it has been viewed more than 33,000 times. The Twitter message promoting the video has had more than 8000 “engagements” (the number of times people have interacted with the tweet), and nearly 500 “likes”. It was not possible to ascertain the exact location of viewers, because the video was posted from a personal, not a business, account. Mr Haddock said that he was surprised by the reaction. “A few hours after posting, I’d had very kind messages from quite a few people, from as far away as the US and Kenya.”’ (Church Times 28 August 2020). 
 
The collect for this week: 
Almighty and everlasting God, 
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray 
and to give more than either we desire or deserve: 
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, 
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid 
and giving us those good things 
which we are not worthy to ask 
but through the merits and mediation 
of 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 together with 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 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. 
 
There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for charities struggling to continue their work and fundraising. On Tuesday we pray for our Churchwarden and Deputy Churchwardens. 
Friday 28th August 2020 
 
‘Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are set on the pilgrim’s way’ (Psalm 84:4-5)
 
Today the Church remembers St Augustine, a foremost theologian and teacher of the faith and bishop of Hippo in North Africa from 396AD to 430AD. 
‘Augustine is remarkable for what he did and extraordinary for what he wrote. If none of his written works had survived, he would still have been a figure to be reckoned with, but his stature would have been more nearly that of some of his contemporaries. However, more than five million words of his writings survive, virtually all displaying the strength and sharpness of his mind (and some limitations of range and learning) and some possessing the rare power to attract and hold the attention of readers in both his day and ours. His distinctive theological style shaped Latin Christianity in a way surpassed only by Scripture itself’ (https://www.britannica.com/)
 
We hold in our thoughts and prayers our schools and all children and young people as they prepare to return for a new term. ‘Bishops have praised the resilience of students and the “unstinting work” of school leaders, after a week of anxiety and anger surrounding A-Level and GCSE results… In a statement to coincide with GCSE results day on Thursday, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, who is the lead bishop for education, said that the continued row should not distract schools from the task of preparing to reopen next month, however. “Today’s GCSE results day is an important moment of celebration for many, and for others it is a time of uncertainty over next steps and future direction. Students have shown immense resilience and character in unprecedented circumstances. The unstinting work of teachers, school leaders, and governors throughout this whole period has been absolutely inspirational”’ (Church Times 20 August 2020). 
 
The collect for today: 
Merciful Lord, 
who turned Augustine from his sins 
to be a faithful bishop and teacher: 
grant that we may follow him in penitence and discipline 
till our restless hearts find their rest in you; 
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 volunteers helping others in their community. We give thanks for all who have reached out to their neighbours at this time, and pray that such acts of care and generosity may continue into the future. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray for all who rely on food aid. We are all aware of the need and that the pandemic has exacerbated existing problems. ‘The charity Child Poverty Action Group has warned of a “significant deterioration” in living conditions for low-income families caused by the coronavirus. The warning comes in a report, Poverty in the Pandemic: The impact of coronavirus on low-income families and children, published on Tuesday, and co-authored by the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council. The research was based on a survey of 285 families on low incomes whose children are eligible for free school meals, backed up by interviews with 21 families. The report’s key finding is that eight out of ten of the families say that they are in a worse position because of the pandemic. In addition, nearly half (48 per cent) reported having a debt problem that was new or worse than before’ (Church Times 25 August 2020). 
 
On 28th August 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech before a crowd of some 250,000 people during the 1963 March on Washington. A call for equality and freedom, it became one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement and remains one of the most famous speeches in history. Weaving in references to the country’s Founding Fathers and the Bible, King used universal themes to depict the struggles of African Americans before closing with an improvised riff on his dreams of equality. 
Wednesday 26th August 2020 
 
‘You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust’ (Psalm 91:1-2). 
 
There are many Christians who seem to know very little of the shelter of the Most High or what it is to abide under his shadow. Many seem to regard this as only a thing for mystics or the super-spiritual. Yet David, if he wrote this, was a warrior and man well acquainted with the realities of life. It is true that the life of the spirit seems to come more easily for some than for others, but there is an aspect of this that is for us all. We don’t have to be a mystic or super-spiritual - God is present with each one of us and all who put their trust their trust in him live in his loving shelter. 
 
‘Without a sound theology the Orthodox fear that prayer could become a personal experience deprived of any certainty, an illusion. But, even more importantly, without a basis in prayer, theological speculation would easily remain isolated from life. Theology is not an end in itself, but rather a means, a way to union with God’ Andrew Ryder SCJ). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
God of glory, 
the end of our searching, 
help us to lay aside 
all that prevents us from seeking your kingdom, 
and to give all that we have 
to gain the pearl beyond all price, 
through our Saviour Jesus Christ. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
As we draw towards the end of the traditional wedding season, we think about those who had been hoping to be married this year: ‘“I’ve grieved for my wedding,” Ruth Lumbers, a 37-year-old nurse living in Bradford, says. “I know it was only a day, but I actually had to grieve for it.” This sense of loss - for dresses unworn and speeches unread - has been widespread in a summer overshadowed by Covid-19. Even as restrictions slowly ease, this pandemic is certain to change how weddings are celebrated for years to come. But, long before a downsized wedding was even possible, many betrothed couples were stuck in limbo at the start of the pandemic… This stress is not uncommon. A survey of 34,000 brides by the financial app Dreams found that one in ten couples considered calling off their engagement owing to the emotional and mental strain of planning a wedding during a pandemic’ (Church Times 21 August 2020). 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for our Lay Pastoral Assistants (LPAs) who continue to play an important role in the pastoral work of our Church, keeping us in touch and connected. We give thanks for their ministry and dedication. 
 
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 bishops: Bishop Nicholas, our diocesan bishop, and Bishops Andrew and Karen, our suffragan bishops. 
 
On 26th August 1883 the Indonesian island of Krakatoa erupted in the largest explosion recorded in history, heard 2,200 miles away in Madagascar. The resulting destruction sent volcanic ash up 50 miles into the atmosphere and killed almost 36,000 people - both on the island itself and from the resulting 131-foot tidal waves that obliterated 163 villages on the shores of nearby Java and Sumatra. Ash fell as far away as 3,775 miles away and barographs around the globe documented that the shock waves in the atmosphere circled the planet at least seven times. The atmospheric effects made for spectacular sunsets all over Europe and average global temperatures were as much as 1.2 degrees cooler for the next five years. 
 
Let me share with you the prayer from Hazelbury Bryan & the Hillside Parishes in our Diocesan Cycle of Prayer: 
Please pray for our communities and congregations in a time of change; instil in us all a sense of hope and expectation as we look to the future. A hope grounded in God’s faithfulness and an expectation held firm in the promise of the Holy Spirit who works through us and intercedes for us. 
Sunday 23rd August 2020 
 
Jesus said to them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:15-16). 
 
Who is Jesus? Is he a great teacher, prophet, spiritual leader? The Christian faith holds that he is none other than God himself in human form - incarnate. ‘I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse’ (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity). 
 
‘Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross’ (Philippians 2:5-8). 
 
From St Mary’s Church, Beverley in East Yorkshire: ‘This year, as part of the restoration of the north nave clerestory, 14 new carvings of characters from The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis are being made especially for St Mary’s. These new carvings are being made with kind permission from The CS Lewis Company Ltd... On 17th August 2020, all fourteen of the carvings were blessed by the Bishop of Hull in the presence of the stonemasons who created them and who are restoring the church’s stonework. Bishop Alison described the ceremony as “one of the most joyful things that I have been invited to do as a bishop”. It was the last chance to bless the carvings before they are fixed high up on the church’s walls in the coming weeks’ (https://stmarysbeverley.org/heritage/narnia/). 
 
The collect for this week: 
O God, you declare your almighty power 
most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: 
mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, 
that we, running the way of your commandments, 
may receive your gracious promises, 
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; 
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 young people - especially those worried about their future. After all the confusion over exam results recently, many young people have had their plans thrown into confusion. We must remember always that these are - each one - individual people who matter for themselves, not just percentages and statistics. We pray also for all those preparing for a new stage in life. 
 
There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. Tomorrow we remember St Bartholomew the Apostle (who may also be the Nathanael introduced to Jesus by the apostle Philip in John’s Gospel). Tradition has it that he preached in India and Greater Armenia, where he converted King Polymius. In our Parish Prayer Diary tomorrow we pray for all who suffer for their faith. On Tuesday we pray for politicians and their advisors. 
 
On 24th August 79AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The excavations of these sites in the mid-18th century led to the modern science of archaeology. 
Friday 21st August 2020 
 
'A lawyer asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets’ (Matthew 22:35-40). 
 
Jesus’ summary of the Law neatly encapsulates what it means to live a Christian life. Here we have the very heart of the old covenant as it is transformed through Jesus into the new. Jesus said ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished’ (Matthew 5:17-18). Ours is a faith of relationships: our relationship with God and through him with one another. It is a relationship of love, worked out in love. 
 
‘Some choirs made a prompt and joyful return to church services on Sunday, after changes to government guidelines on the performing arts were announced on Friday. These were reviewed and then endorsed by the Church of England in new guidance issued on Monday. 
It is not yet clear which of the scientific studies of droplet transmission commissioned by the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport gave the Government confidence to “reconsider appropriate mitigations”. Results are eagerly awaited from Declan Costello, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon and choral singer, who has been conducting stringent trials. Lay vicars from Salisbury Cathedral have also taken part in experiments (News, 10 July). 
Crucially, it is now permissible for both professional and non-professional singers and musicians to perform individually or in small groups inside and outside of buildings, in line with the recommendations for physical distancing and hygiene set out by the Government in its performing-arts guidance. 
The C of E guidance makes it clear: “This includes those who regularly volunteer to do music and singing, as part of a choir, for example, to perform as a part of worship.” 
Congregations are not yet permitted to sing. Wherever possible, the guidance says, people should continue to distance physically from those with whom they do not live; venues, performers, and audiences should be matched to ensure that two-metre distancing applies; and the number of performers should be limited’ (Church Times 18 August 2020). 
 
This does prompt one to ask: what is the difference between the singing of a physically distanced choir and that of a congregation? 
 
The prayer after communion for this week: 
God of our pilgrimage, 
you have willed that the gate of mercy 
should stand open for those who trust in you: 
look upon us with your favour 
that we who follow the path of your will 
may never wander from the way of life; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all for medical staff: those in hospitals, GP surgeries, Care and Residential Homes, research laboratories and wherever they may be. We give thanks for all their hard work, dedication and professionalism - and we pray that they won’t be forgotten again when this crisis is passed. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray for those in Residential and Nursing Homes, both residents and staff. 
 
‘The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them’ (Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island). 
Wednesday 19th August 2020 
 
‘I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old. I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds’ (Psalm 77:11-12). 
 
In these days when everything is considered relative and a matter of opinion, it is always good to remember who God is and all that he has done for us. He is our rock and our life - almighty God who has called us into his eternal truth, is working his purposes out in the world, and is drawing all things to himself. Today we are told that there is no absolute right or wrong but merely differing points of view and that ‘one man’s gospel truth is another man’s blasphemous lie’. We know, though, that there is ultimate truth - which is found in God alone. As Jesus tells us ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’ (John 8:31-32). 
 
‘The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it’ (Flannery O’Connor). 
 
‘The Anglican Communion Office has had the clever idea of building a course in Christian doctrine on the back of ecumenical statements. The project, What do Anglicans Believe?, has the whole global Communion in mind. Like most of those statements, the document is freely available online, to make the project accessible where books are hard to come by. Those agreements are themselves helpfully international, hammered out between global rather than local bodies. The resource is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. It is offered for use in “home groups, study programmes, seminaries and theological colleges”. The method in What do Anglicans Believe? is “See - Judge - Act”. First, see: observe your context and ask how a particular theological topic currently plays out there. Then, judge: turn to sources with recognised authority and ask how they speak into that situation. Finally, act: ask how deepened theological understanding might lead to at least one change of life or action’ (Church Times 14 August 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Lord of heaven and earth, 
as Jesus taught his disciples to be persistent in prayer, 
give us patience and courage never to lose hope, 
but always to bring our prayers before you; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for Archbishop Justin Welby. We pray for true godly wisdom at this difficult time as he and all the bishops seek to lead the Church in God’s ways. 
 
I shall be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church this morning, together with our Roads to God prayers. 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 those alone and depressed. There have always been those who have struggled with isolation for whatever reason, and for many the pandemic has made this worse. On the other hand, this time has also encouraged others to reach out to their neighbours who live alone. 
 
‘The name of Jesus is not a magic password admitting us to eternal life; rather, it is the only way of knowing what being saved, being whole, being human, actually is - the surrendering of life in order to find life, following the pattern of Jesus. Salvation is Jesus-shaped’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 18 August 2020). 
 
As the temperatures begin to ease, we have been remembering the blisteringly hot summer of 2003. We were on holiday in Normandy where temperatures were over 35˚ - exceeding the seasonal norm by 11˚ to 12°C - on nine consecutive days. They called it the Canicule, and we found the best place to be was in the air-conditioned supermarkets! 
Sunday 16th August 2020 
 
‘May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you’ (Psalm 67:1-3) 
 
We have much to be thankful for, and so we offer our praises to God. He has blessed us in so many wonderful ways and is always there for us, sustaining us and keeping us. God watches over us, guides us and leads us. We have his promise ‘Be strong and bold.. because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6). As we live in his presence as his people, so his ‘way may be known upon earth, (his) saving power among all nations’. 
 
We know that not everyone is ready, or able, yet to attend Church and receive communion. You may be interested in this response to a question in the Church Times about this: ‘The spiritual grace that one person receives does not injure another. Many people are, for various reasons, excluded from participating in communion as often as others, even under ordinary circumstances. As we make our way to the altar, we should be mindful of them, bringing them with us into the Lord’s presence. Communion is never about us alone: it is about the salvation of the world’. 
 
The collect for this week: 
Let your merciful ears, O Lord, 
be open to the prayers of your humble servants; 
and that they may obtain their petitions 
make them to ask such things as shall please you; 
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. 
 
‘Congregations forced out of their churches by the coronavirus have been taking advantage of warm summer days to worship outdoors. For some, the experiment could become permanent, even after the weather turns autumnal. Gatherings for services have ranged from small groups assembled in the corner of a field to scores of cars in a supermarket car park for a socially distanced drive-in… There are still some restrictions, including social distancing, no singing, and holy communion is administered in one kind only. Chairs are provided, but people are advised to bring an umbrella - for shade as well as protection from the rain’ (Church Times 14 August 2020). 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for those at work worried about social distancing. As we know the government is encouraging everyone back to work, but it can be very difficult sometimes to keep safely apart in many places. 
 
The is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for all who minister to the sick. On Tuesday we pray for those who produce our Parish magazine. 
 
‘Everything about the life of the Church, its mission and ministry, its organization and worship, flows from who Jesus is and what God is doing through him’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 13 August 2020). 
 
On 16th August 1896 gold was discovered near the Klondike River in the Yukon Territory of Canada, sparking a gold rush. As so often in history the real winners were those who supplied (exploited?) the miners rather than those actually searching for the gold. 
Friday 14th August 2020 
 
Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him’ (Acts 2:38-39). 
 
The good news is really quite simple. If we turn to God in repentance and accept Jesus as our Lord, he will take us to himself and bring us to eternal new life. It is not about who or what we know; it is not to do with being worthy or good enough; it is not even dependant on us belonging to the Church. It is quite simply about faith and acceptance. That is why on Wednesday we had Jesus talking about being like a child: it is that simplicity of openness, trust and belief. 
 
Of course, once we do accept - are ‘saved’ - then joining with others in the life of the Church, and seeking to live a God-centred way of life rather than following our own desires, should follow - because that is what we now want to do. However these are not prerequisites. ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:13). 
 
‘Knowledge, without common sense,’ says Lee, is ‘folly; without method, it is waste; without kindness, it is fanaticism; without religion, it is death.’ But with common sense, it is wisdom with method, it is power; with charity, it is beneficence; with religion, it is virtue, and life, and peace’ (Austin Farrer). 
 
It was good to have the rain yesterday. I wouldn’t say exactly that it feels fresh now, but it does seem to have washed some of the heaviness and mugginess out of the air. Certainly the ground needed the water as well. Apparently we can still expect more of the same: heat and downpours! 
 
Tomorrow marks VJ Day as Japan publicly announced its surrender on 15th August 1945. So we remember the final end to a terrible war, bring before God all the loss and the pain, and pray for peace and reconciliation. ‘With the end of the war in Asia and the Pacific, over a million servicemen and women from Britain and across the Commonwealth had to be demobilised and transported home. Soldiers from Wales to The Gambia and from Karachi to Cairns would need to be shipped from one side of the world to another, with some service personnel and POWs only finally returning home in 1946’ (Royal British Legion). 
 
We pray: 
Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, 
serenity to accept what cannot be helped, 
and the insight to know the one from the other. 
(Reinhold Niebuhr) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray that we might grow through God’s Word. Scripture reveals God to us and helps us to understand him and his call. Jesus said ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’ (John 8:31-32). 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. It is the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray that we would listen to God - as, indeed, Mary does when visited by an angel. 
 
‘In August 1959, an unmanned satellite called Explorer 6 took the first photos of Earth from space, on a mission that marked the first steps towards the mission to the Moon. The spacecraft, which was shaped like a ball with large wing-like solar panels, was sent into space to monitor radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere. While nearly 17,000 miles above Mexico, the craft captured the first ever photo taken by a satellite. The image, which was taken on 14 August 1959, is very basic by today’s standards. It shows a sunlit area of the Central Pacific Ocean and cloud cover in the area. The image was beamed back to a station in Hawaii and took 40 minutes to send’ (https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/
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). 
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