A Little Help

purpleSometimes it’s too hard to pray
We need some help
Someone to encourage
To support the flagging arms
Someone to say Amen and really                                       mean it
Other times,
We don’t know what to pray
It seems we have nothing to say
Help us then to be the hidden                    support for others
Let us be the one who says Amen.


Advent Musings

It is dark. The lights have been dimmed and the people wait in hushed expectancy.

As eyes adjust, the outline of fat white candles can be faintly discerned. Candles standing in place awaiting the flame that will bring them to life.

The scraping of a match sounds loud in the quietness; the flare of the flame leaping to life, an audible noise. The candles are lit. The service proceeds. Words wash over me; The light that was coming into the world…

But my thoughts are on the match. A small wooden stick; organic, yet dead. An even smaller mineral tip. I assume that mix of chemicals is mineral. My mind grovels in the deep recesses of memory in search of long forgotten knowledge. What elements are volatile enough to flare into life from the heat of friction? Phosphorous, sodium, potassium… I don’t actually know what matches are made of.

How much energy goes into striking a match? A small amount. Yet the whole building is transformed as the flame of life is passed from one candle to the next. Light and life; two intertwined concepts. That match brought light and life to the church. And was consumed in the process. A black shrivelled bit of carbon, discarded without regard once its work is done.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel… Emmanuel; God with us. Invitation, waiting.

The house is ready, cleaned and dusted. The table set. Food prepared just needing last minute attention once the guests are ready to eat. Nothing more to do but wait. The clock creeps round to the appointed time. A minute past. Two minutes. They’ve forgotten. I’ve got the wrong day. All these sinking feelings forgotten as the party gets under way.

Is this how we wait for God? Awaiting the great consummation when all shall be made new? But we are not ready. There is God’s kingdom still to establish on earth. Light and life to be shared with all. Christ came; the match, giving himself to bring light to the world. There are candles still to be lit; the flame must be passed on. Wicks need trimming.

There is work still to do; people to gather and care for. Yet still in the quiet we await the thrill, the joy of your unseen presence, Lord. Again and again the flame is secretly lit in our hearts. Your love stirred again to life within us.

We count down the days towards Christmas. Peace on earth; goodwill towards men. But do we remember that we who have known your peace in our hearts must be the ones to bring peace to our neighbours?

Goodwill. Generosity. Giving. Presents. Christmas shopping. Amongst the bustle and stress. Do we give of ourselves? Or have we been burnt out in the process, a wasted match turned to charcoal without lighting any candle; is there nothing left to offer? We need to be quiet, to receive you, Lord, in our hearts to be able to give ourselves to others. To listen, to care, to love the way that you did.

So we wait. We don’t so much wait for God as wait on God; our attention focused on him ready to do his slightest bidding. Ready to light the next candle with the flame of love that has been entrusted to us.

Prayers for October

David Cramphorn compiles a list of suggested prayer topics for each day of the month. Take a look and if something inspires you, you feel an empathy with a subject then why not put a few words together to help others join in your prayer?

You don’t need to worry too much about the exact wording – we have editors who can sort that out. We are looking for inspiration, a true desire to pray, ideas that will help others to pray.

Click here to submit your prayer ideas to the website.

1. HMP Feltham Young offenders Prison.
2. Women and Children Refugees
3.Female sports Chaplains.
4. Our Church Choir.
5. Glebe Close.
6. The Bible Society.
7. MAF in Kenya.
8. Our Church outreach to young families
9. Women Muslim Leaders  (Imam).
10. Female Commercial and Military Pilots.
11. Good2Go. Children's Sunday morning activities at HTB.
12. Elizabeth Fry. Prison Reformer
13. Edith Cavell, Nurse and Health care reformer. Executed 1915.
14. MAF in Nepal.
15. HMP Ford West Sussex.
16. Muslims who speak out against violence.
17. MAF 70 Ruth Whitaker CEO MAF.
18. MAF 70 world wide day of Prayer for the Work of MAF.
19. Globe Court.
20. Women in Politics.
21. MAF in South Sudan.
22.  HMP Forest Bank. Young Offenders Prison.
23. All who are persecuted and marginalised for their faith.
24. The Mothers Union safe houses for victims of Domestic Violence.
25. Holy Trinity Bengeo.
26. Gosselin Road.
27. All who are working to prevent modern day slavery and people 
28. MAF in Madagascan.
29. HMP Foston Hall Young Offenders Prison. Derbyshire.
30. Women and Girls who are denied an Education.
31. Female leaders and preachers in the Anglican Church.


Hidden Treasures

Sometimes things become so familiar we no longer really see or hear them; they are just there. Then something happens, we see things in a new light; suddenly notice details we had been unaware of. Many Bible stories become so familiar that we no longer pay them much attention; we recognise the start and just go with the flow without stopping to take in every single word or phrase.

It is often said that the best place to hide something is in full view; right where people see it all the time – without really seeing it at all. I recall this being demonstrated in the run up to Christmas as a teenager growing up in a household full of brothers and sisters. Mum was always bustling about with umpteen preparations on the go; no-one paid that much attention to what she was doing. They would come in asking for scissors, Selloptape or whatever and go away again completely focused on their own activity and be utterly unaware of what secrets they had inadvertently seen. Mum knew this and never drew attention to what she was doing but concentrated on what the other person wanted.

I found this out when she tried to teach my sister the trick; this sister was always fiddling about with various art or craft projects and one year she was making Christmas presents for the family. Instead of carrying on as normal, she would suddenly start trying to stop a certain person entering the room or bundle what she was doing under a cushion. It was rather a give-away! Immediately attention was drawn to what she was doing that no-one would normally take any interest in.

It can be easy to read our Bible stories the way Mum kept on with her Christmas preparations. The encounter is all nice and comfortingly familiar but we go away afterwards with no idea of what hidden treasures we have been so close to.

If we are to un-bury these treasures we need to learn to look, not for deeply buried secrets, but at what is plainly there before our eyes. We need to look at things the way a curious child does. Children have a habit of asking awkward questions about things that grown-ups take for granted and don’t normally put into words and so have trouble trying to explain when asked.

Next time you pick up the Bible, imagine a curious child in the scene you are reading; a child who asks, who is that man? What is he doing? Why? And when you think you’ve answered why, don’t forget, the answer will be queried with another why?

It can be illuminating to have a conversation with someone who didn’t grow up with Bible stories but has come directly to the Bible itself in later life. They tend to see it in a different perspective than those of us who know best the airbrushed children’s story version and unwittingly superimpose it onto what the Bible actually says.

It’s not only the Bible we do this with; it’s people, too. How often do we know someone superficially; just enough to categorise them in some way or another according to their age, race, profession or something and then automatically assume that they are like everyone else in that category? It can be surprising when we learn something new about them. Someone might need a lot of care either because they are very young or very old, or perhaps ill or frail in some way. Their need may easily become the prime way in which we view that person and we don’t think of the ways in which they are a help and a blessing to others.

And what about ourselves? Do we look at ourselves and just see a general busyness or do we actually see the reason for it, what it’s all about? Do we see the precious treasure that is hidden within or have we obscured it by overcomplicating things? Consider the time you paused in your own thinking just long enough to smile at someone in the street. There is human treasure. Is it buried deep in you or deep in them? No, it’s right there in each other’s face. It’s just a matter of looking at what is right in front of you instead of hurrying past.

We can find this treasure in all walks of life; it’s there in each unfolding flower, it’s there in the clouds or the sea. It is openly there, yet it is hidden. It is hidden from eyes that will not see, from minds that are too preoccupied.

All we need to do is really look. Look at what is in front of us, be it the wonders of nature, a person’s face or the words on the page of our Bible.

Prayer topics for September

David Cramphorn compiles a list of suggested prayer topics for each day of the month. Take a look and if something inspires you, you feel an empathy with a subject then why not put a few words together to help others join in your prayer?

You don’t need to worry too much about the exact wording – we have editors who can sort that out. We are looking for inspiration, a true desire to pray, ideas that will help others to pray.

Click here to submit your prayer ideas to the website.


1. Mudlarks Charity Hertford.
2. The Anglican Church in New Zealand.
3. HMP Everthorp. East Yorkshire
4. persecuted Christians in Korea
5. Christians in Sport
6. Our Junior Church.
7. Garden Terrace. Crouchfields.
8. RLNI Chaplains.
9. The Anglican Church in Auckland NZ.#
10. All who have started new schools.
11. Persecuted Churches in Somalia.
12. Beds and Herts Bike and Hike. For our open churches and helpers.
13. St Leonard s Church.
14. The Cross.
15. All who have started new College coursed or apprenticeships.
16. The Anglican Church in Wellington NZ
17. Exeter Young offenders prison.
18. Christians fleeing from Iraq.
19. Our Neighbours.
20. Our Harvest Festival.
21. George Street.
22. All who have started University and have moved away from home.
23. The Christian Church in Jerusalem.
24. HMP Fetherstone. Wolverhampton.
25. All who use the Food bank Hertford.
26. The Church Army.
27. Our Harvest Lunch.
28. Glebe Road.
29. St Michaels Migrants Church. Calais.
30 The Church Army in New Zealand.

A good story is worth re-telling

Last year I posted a story I called  Invitation . It wasn’t my story; someone called Luke wrote it down around 2000 years ago. But it wasn’t his story either. he heard it from someone who heard it from someone else… We don’t even know the name of the person I’ve made the narrator in my version.

But a good story is worth re-telling, re-reading and even re-posting.


Meditation for Lent

Imagine that someone has provided you with a mini desert in a sand tray. Run your fingers through the dry dusty surface and think of the empty open spaces the feeling evokes.

Open spaces away from the constant demands of daily living, family and friends. Away from the immediate support of loved ones.

An empty, alien environment where there is just you and God. Essential aloneness that is not lonely. For there is no phone to wish to ring, no door waiting to be knocked on. No expectations of a friendly voice. No-one to long for; nothing to be disappointed over.

There is no sense of time passing and nothing to hurry for. You can take as long as you like and there is no need to stay longer. At any time you can take your fingers out of the sand, push the tray away and return to everyday life.

Or you can linger awhile; pick up some sand and let it trickle slowly through your fingers. Let your mind wander over the dusty, sandy paths where Jesus walked amongst the dry rocky hillsides and stunted bushes. Ponder what life is really all about.

Ponder your place in the vastness of creation; your purpose for God who made all of everything, who knows every detail of everything and loves every person he has made.

Recall that Jesus has done this same thing before you; realising what it is to be human in the face of God the Father.

Contemplate the gifts, powers, abilities you have been given; the resources that are under your control. How might they be used to God’s glory and how might we be tempted to use them in less worthy ways.

We might not be tempted to turn stones into bread to satisfy our own hunger because we haven’t been given that particular ability but we can turn pound coins into bread simply by walking into a supermarket.

How often do we use the money at our disposal to satisfy our own desires without stopping to consider that God might have given us that money in order that we have the ability to provide for someone else’s needs?

Perhaps we are not tempted to throw ourselves from high buildings because we lack the certain knowledge that God can send an army of angels to our rescue. Yet we succumb to the temptation to draw attention to ourselves in other ways.

We almost certainly don’t deliberately get involved in devil worship nor look for the whole world to fall at our feet, yet how often do we let other priorities come between ourselves and God?

Think of the people or events for which we will drop other things; who and what we give our time and energy to. Family and close friends naturally come near the top of the list; so do our favourite hobbies and pastimes.

That’s fine, but we’d do well to consider whereabouts God and our needy neighbour feature on the list.

And while we’re about it, let’s consider the way we go about balancing our priorities. If we debate whether to spend an hour with God or drinking coffee or beer with a friend then we are putting God and the friend on an equal footing and trying to decide between them.

But God is the Almighty Creator whom we have dedicated our lives to so such a dilemma doesn’t make much sense.

Let’s remember that God is always with us waiting to be acknowledged. He will be with us during that hour whether we notice Him or not.

Imagine laying the idea before God; let’s spend this hour drinking coffee/beer with so-and-so, unless there’s something else you’d rather do?

Possibly something else will suddenly seem very pressing but otherwise go and enjoy that hour with God’s blessing and a free conscience.

Consider how much of our time we don’t enjoy as fully as we could because we haven’t consciously shared our everyday experiences with God.

What stops us sharing with God? Is it forgetfulness? Distraction caused by being too busy? Is it fear that He might just give us an answer we don’t want to hear?

If we begin to find some answers during Lent we can emerge from our imaginary sand tray desert with a better knowledge of ourselves and a better understanding of our relationship with God.

Personally, I’m convinced that’s what Jesus’ time in the desert was about; coming to terms with who he was as a human being and who He is as the Son of God.

As followers of Jesus, it behoves us to do the same; to comprehend who we are as mortal beings made of the same carbon and water etc as the inanimate earth and yet spiritual beings made in the image of God.

This understanding equips us to live on this earth as children of heaven; to do God’s work in building the kingdom.