Tuesday, May 05, 2020

...and in other news... Seal Church's weekly newsletter

...and in other news...

A weekly newsletter from St Peter and St Paul, Seal, to help us keep in touch with one another at this time. 
Dear Friends
A place to pray

If you listened to Kevin’s sermon on Sunday you’ll know that he spoke about the places where we pray and worship. Of course we’d all like to be back in our lovely church building, but we’re also being reminded, as we worship together through the podcasts, that God is with us wherever we are. At the moment we can “go to church” in the kitchen, in the sitting room, while out for a walk, in bed, or, as Kevin has discovered in his greenhouse. I love the cross he’s fixed to the top of it, just to establish that, for the moment at least, this is church!
Perhaps, even when we are able to return to the building, the fact that Kevin’s greenhouse has been prayed in will make him more aware of the presence of God in it all the time?

This time last year I was just embarking on a three month sabbatical, during which I spent a lot of time thinking about places and what makes them holy and special to us. (You can read more of my thoughts on the subject on the blog I put together –https://localsaints.blogspot.com/  or just enjoy some virtual visits to them if you prefer!) Why does place matter to us? Why do some places feel holy to us, while others don’t? It’s not just the beauty of a place – in fact some holy sites may not be beautiful at all. It has something to do with people feeling they’ve encountered God there, and might do again. That’s why I suspect Kevin will never feel quite the same about that greenhouse in the future.

Of course we can pray anywhere – in a different place each day or each week – but there is something to be said for deliberately setting aside somewhere, like Kevin’s greenhouse, where you know you can focus your thoughts a bit. There is a long and honoured tradition of setting up a household “oratory” (oratory just means “a place to pray”), somewhere where there are things, like the cross on the greenhouse, which remind you of God’s presence. At one point in my life, with small children and very little space or time to call my own,  my “oratory” was a kitchen cupboard door, on which I stuck some pictures that made me think or prompted me to pray as I cooked dinner. Now, as you’ll know if you visit me, there’s a little table in my study and some shelves close by it, which have various things that are part of my prayer life. There’s a candle in a holder I bought at a monastery in Belgium when I was on a course there. There is a set of prayer beads, which I use for “lectio divina”, a technique of prayer in which you slowly repeat a phrase or word that has struck you from a Bible passage. There’s a holding cross – sometimes there are no words, and it’s better just to hold onto something. There’s a little cross stitched mat, with glass nuggets on it; I use those to pray for people, holding a glass nugget in my hand as I think of them, and then placing it on the mat, to symbolise putting them into the hands of God. There are some stones which I picked up from the beach on Iona, and there’s a lovely rainbow brooch, made a few weeks ago by a member of the congregation for me. The things on my prayer table vary from time to time; sometimes there might be a flower from the garden, or a conker, or a shell, but they are all things which, in their own way, remind me of God’s presence, prompt me to think, to breathe, to reflect, to pray.

  • Do you have a place at home where you go to touch base with God and with yourself? If not, where might you choose, and how might you mark it out?
This hymn is a favourite of many, encouraging us to open our eyes to God's presence wherever we are. 
Depending on your musical tastes one or other of these videos (or maybe both) might hit the spot for you!.
I have never put my hope in any other
but in Thee, God of Israel
who canst show both wrath and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins
of man in suffering
Lord God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth
Regard our humility
Christian Aid Week  starts next Sunday, May 10. This year, of course, there can’t be any of the events that people may have been used to, and although we haven’t done door to door collections for some  years, many places till do that. That means that Christian Aid are facing a lean year, and, more to the point, they could be unable to help those who most desperately need it around the world. We are all very aware of the real financial hardship people have been plunged into here in the UK because of the coronavirus, but the position is even worse in parts of the world where there is no welfare safety net at all, in refugee camps, and where medical help may be rudimentary – there were only four ventilators in the whole of South Sudan a month ago. Christian Aid’s advice on donation is below:

Next week’s newsletter will focus a bit more on Christian Aid’s message, but if you’d like to raise some money for them, and have some fun, there is an online quiz – get together in teams with others if you’d like to – which you can find here, hosted by Revs Kate Bottley and Giles Fraser, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who, I gather gets the entertainment round to deal with…The link is here.

  You can donate to Christian Aid online here 
And there is an e-envelope which you can use to encourage others to donate here
VE day 75 years on

This Friday marks the 75th anniversary of VE day. Like so many other events this year, the community get togethers we might have hoped to have can’t happen, but that doesn’t mean we can’t mark the day.
Big Picnic for Hope  suggest a picnic at home – maybe in your garden if the weather is good. They are hoping that people might donate to the Trussell Trust, a Christian charity to which  many of the nation’s foodbanks are affiliated (our foodbank in Sevenoaks is independent). They hope that they might raise £5000 – echoing the number that were fed by Jesus at the picnic he organised, having only five loaves and two fishes.  If you’d like to donate as you share your picnic, the link is here. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bigpicnicforhope

The Royal British Legion have suggested a timetable for the day, including a two minute silence at 11 am. They say :
There is no right or wrong way to take part in the Silence, some may wish to stand at their windows, step outside their homes while remaining distanced from others, watch the broadcast on television, or simply sit in a quiet moment of reflection.

They are also organising (I don’t quite know how) a UK wide singalong to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll meet again” at 9pm, and have various other resources on their website.

English Heritage were hoping to organise a nationwide Swing Dance event, and have some resources to help you join in on their website.

How will you mark this important occasion?

Prayer of the week

Prayer of the week – a prayer for peace
O God, who would fold both heaven and earth in a single peace; that the design of your great love lighten upon the waste of our wraths and sorrows and give peace to your church, peace among nations, peace in our dwellings and peace in our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Zoffee link
Join us for our Zoom coffee meeting at 11 am every Sunday morning, by clicking on the link below.
Meeting ID: 459 819 7641
Password: sealchurch

And finally...

None of us are going anywhere much at the moment, but here are a couple of train related stories I came across this week.
Eastbourne man builds railway in his garden
Adrian Backshall has used the lockdown to finish a remarkable project.
The retired British Rail worker has built a 30ft railway in his back garden in Eastbourne, complete with hand-cranked wagon.
He is now in negotiations with his wife Ruth, in a bid to extend the line by 45ft to the end of the garden.
And while we may not all be able to build a railway in the garden, this enterprising vicar (why is it always a vicar?) shows us that we can all get involved in train-related activity… 

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