Category Archives: Prayer

Liturgical comment and prayer diary

Prayers and Reflections

With the Epiphany season now in full swing we leave the manger and on Sunday our worship leads us forward 30 years to stand on the banks of the River Jordan to witness Jesus’ baptism. The Gospel reading on Sunday ends with the voice from heaven declaring that “you are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:4-11). In normal times I would be pleased to stop there, but as we face the challenges of this new year, I feel the need to continue reading so that we can include the next two verses. If we read on, St Mark tells us that from the moment of his baptism ‘the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out in to the wilderness’ (v12). I don’t know about you, but I feel as though I have been driven out from the twinkly, comforting light of our Christmas celebrations into the harsh wilderness of a new year which feels dark, alien and threatening and not at all where I want to be. Jesus’ wilderness experiences are explored much more fully during Lent of course, but for us now, as we enter a new year and continue to face the horrors of a seemingly never-ending and unpredictable global pandemic, I think we might find some comfort and strength in what another evangelist tells us about Jesus’ wilderness experience following his baptism. We read in Matthew’s gospel that when Jesus was exhausted from his struggles, angels came and waited on him (Matthew 4:11).

Angels come in many forms and guises, and over the last few months we have been waited on by some of them: In his great age Captain Tom brought good news to the NHS through his remarkable achievements and stirred us all on to lift our eyes heavenward and be inspired by the kindness of the human heart; footballer Marcus Rashford has ministered to hungry children and their anxious parents and made their voices heard; and Mother Julian of Norwich continues to send re-assuring messages of hope from her cell in 14th century Norwich, reminding us that through the love of God in Christ all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. One angel who has ministered to me recently with his powerful affirming and inspiring messages of hope has been the artist Charlie Mackesy, and if you haven’t been introduced then let me do the honours. Charlie is the author of a book called ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ – it’s a comfort blanket of a read and at times when life feels chaotic and the storm raging around us threatens to overwhelm and consume, Charlie’s unlikely travelling companions offer wise insightful truths to guide us out of our wilderness experiences.

At a time when so many people want nothing to do with organised religion, Charlie shines a light on Love (with a capital ‘L’), and the beauty of the human soul. Charlie has a deep and profound Christian faith, but he speaks from his own experience of feeling excluded by the Church and baffled by the rules and regulations which are unhelpful when people struggle with life. Charlie’s gift is to make Christ real, his illustrations have the power to bring the love of God and the message of redemption to those who are at the end of their tether and exhausted by their struggle. There isn’t room here to do Charlie’s ministry justice, but put his name into any search engine and you will quickly discover more. If I were to share just three of Charlie’s messages with you today as we continue together on our journey through 2021, it would be these:
“Courage is a gentle thing: when the way ahead seems too dark and the path unclear, just to take one single step is enough”

“Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent”

“This storm is real, and our fear is real”, said the horse. “But our love is also real, and in the end love wins”.

Rev Anne Crawford

Click here to read previous meditations and reflections.

Advent Talks, Discussion Groups and Trails around the Deanery

Liturgy of the Ordinary from St Michael and All Angels, Barnes

This year, St Michael and All Angels has an Advent theme of prayer and spirituality at home, inspired by the amount of time we have all had to spend at home this year.
Rev Stephen Stavrou writes:
“Our sermons, books and discussion groups seek to help us connect our faith with the daily practice of living. To see the sacred in the secular and secular in the sacred.”

They recommend two books for Advent reading (see below) and will be holding Advent book groups via Zoom. Please email admin@stmichaelbarnes.org if your are interested in joining.

Christmas Tree Festival at St Michael and All Angels, Barnes

Come and see the sparkling trees and visit the Nativity Stable. Click here to see some pictures.

Advent Journey from Christ Church, East Sheen

Each day during Advent receive by email a daily reflection based on an image poem or text, following the themes of change, uncertainty, light and hope. Each day there will be a simple activity or craft. Please email russenbergerjudith@gmail.com if you wish to take part.

Follow Burrito’s Advent Journey daily on Facebook

Advent Talks from All Saints, East Sheen

This year All Saints, East Sheen are looking at the Nativity and Person of Jesus – what the Gospels say about his birth, what Jesus says about himself, and why these things matter to our faith. There will be a bit of preparatory thinking for each session.
The talks will be at 8.00 p.m. on Tuesdays 24th November and 1st, 8th, and 15th December. Please email alexbarrow1@gmail.com for the link to the Zoom meeting.

Advent Meditations from Richmond Team Ministry

Each Wednesday during Advent clergy from Richmond Team Ministry will each lead a short reflection on the theme of Advent, which is
concluded by saying Compline together. Click here for the order of service for Compline.

The reflections will be at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesdays 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd December. Click here to contact Richmond Team Ministry for the meeting link..

Advent Book List from Richmond Team Ministry

The Richmond Team Ministry clergy have put together a short recommended Advent booklist.
Prayer, Where to Start and How to Keep Going by Stephen Cottrell
No one ever becomes an expert in prayer, but this little book sets out to help become more open to God’s presence, which is the heart of prayer.
Let it Slow, an Advent Calendar with a Difference by Stephen Cottrell
Christmas can be one of the most joyful but stressful times of year. This guide offers another way to approach December.
Heaven in Ordinary, a Poet’s Corner Collection by Malcolm Guite Everyday events and encounters, landscapes and poetry, stories, memory and a sense of the sacred: the musings of a poet’s mind
Frequencies of God, Walking through Advent with R.S. Thomas by Carys Walsh
28 reflections on Thomas’s poetry as a guide for this season, exploring themes of waiting, accepting, journeying and birthing.

Christmas Trails

Look our for Christmas windows and displays in homes around Richmond, Mortlake and Ham as Churches encourage us to display the joy of Christmas. Holy Trinity, Richmond are even having a competition (click here)! Click here for a trail map around Mortlake and visit St Michael and All Angels, Barnes or click here to pick up trail maps around Barnes. Click here to see more pictures.

Mission Advent Calendar from Holy Trinity, Richmond

During Advent Holy Trinity, Richmond are highlighting the various aspects of mission they support. Every day they will highlight a person or organisation they are connected with, and a new one will be revealed each day. Click here daily to find encouragements for your faith and ways to pray for mission during Advent.

Online Advent Calendar

Online Advent Calendar produced by a group of clergy gives a daily
reflection, a reading, pieces of art and music for each day during Advent, starting Sunday 29th November. Good for the soul and easier on the waistline!
https://adventonline.faith/advent-calendar/

Online Christian Meditation Group

An invitation is extended to anyone from this parish who would like to join an online group of people practising Christian meditation. No previous experience is necessary. The group initially formed from members of the St Anne’s Church in Kew, but since the practice has been offered online it now includes Christians from across the country and others seeking a nourishing and contemplative practice which leads to inner peace and a sense of calm and well-being. It is led by David Boddy, an experienced Meditator and member of the St Anne’s, Kew community. The group meets online at 7am on Friday mornings and concludes around 7.50am.

If you would like to try a session, please email the group administrator Suzie Oweiss at soweiss@tutordoctor.co.uk, copying in David at dj.boddy@gmail.com. You would be most welcome.

Learning from Lockdown Reflections from St Mary, Barnes

The  “Learning from Lockdown” series of reflections are from a variety of people,  connected with St Mary, Barnes, on how they experienced lockdown in their context and any lessons that might be learned for us locally and further afield in the future.

Reflection from Julie Smith

At the beginning of 2020, I was very excited to become more heavily involved with the Youth Ministry at St Mary’s and our plans were all in place to relaunch the teen youth club and several other new initiatives. Then Covid-19 struck and lockdown followed. With almost no warning our lives were very different. As I was promptly furloughed, I had little time to contact the young people in the church at a time when their lives have been severely disrupted. I sent them the following advice and settled in to follow it myself!

“L.O.C.K.D.O.W.N.” is a time to:
“L”isten to God’s voice and reflect.
“O”bey his word and his teachings.
“C”all on Jesus’ name and be calmed.
“K”now what is the purpose of all this.
“D”well in his presence. Do not panic.
“O”ffer a prayer for everyone’s safety.
“W”ait and be patient. This too shall pass over.
“N”urture our personal relationship with God.

As we begin to come out of lockdown and I am once more able to make contact, however, I am impressed by the resilience and positive mindsets of these young people. Many had their last days at school interrupted and have been robbed of the rites of passage of carefully planned and long anticipated final assemblies and leavers’ balls. There was just no chance to properly say goodbye. They have had public exams cancelled. “Lucky them” is the response of many but rarely the teens themselves. Those exams were worked hard for, over many years, and would have provided an opportunity to our young people to prove themselves to the outside world, and indeed to themselves. Hopefully, the predicted grades provided to them by teachers and exam boards will do them justice and allow them all to proceed on their chosen paths of study. Some, however, will still feel cheated and many too will feel some doubt moving forward. Do I really deserve this grade? Could I really have achieved this on my own, on that one crucial day, under exam conditions? For those with exams still ahead of them, there are worries too. Will so many months of missed classes and homeschooling impact their final grades next summer, even if things return to normal in September, which must surely be a big if?! There will, no doubt, be mental health implications moving forward. Many young people have been ill with the coronavirus themselves or seen family members or friends suffer. Lots have been parted from grandparents and other family members who have been sorely missed. Sadly, in a country where the death toll has been higher than we hoped, there have been young people touched by bereavement and grief at a time when mourning has been especially difficult. Yet, despite all this, there is also a lot of positive feedback coming from our young people.

For many, lockdown has provided a welcome moment to step back from frenetic lives and really consider what is important. There has been an opportunity to spend quality time with parents and siblings. Many have challenged themselves with new interests and will be heading off to university with newly acquired cooking and cleaning skills. Many have really helped in the community with shopping for elderly or shielded neighbours, or making masks and PPE for the NHS. The environment really matters to this generation so the cleaner air and reduced pollution of early lockdown provided hope that their message was finally being heard, although the number of discarded facemasks currently being fished out of the ocean suggests there is still much work to be done. Our young people have led the way in keeping communication going throughout lockdown with the use of zoom and teams, alien terms to many only a year ago. We can be very proud of the way they have coped and be inspired by their enthusiasm to move forward to our new normality.

As I look back at the words of advice I sent out in March, I realise that understanding why God has permitted the global suffering and devastation of Covid-19 remains far beyond our understanding. For many, however, the knowledge that we can turn to God with our worries and anxieties and that he will carry our burdens has helped in the past months. We thank God that in any situation we can trust in him to be our strength, that he will always be there for us, to give us hope, to encourage us and to lighten our load. We have just started up our latest Confirmation preparation classes and, inevitably, there will be many questions concerning the events of the last few months. I believe that the very fact that we have an enthusiastic group of young people contemplating taking this positive step forwards in their faith, especially at such a difficult time, is surely a sign of hope for us all.

Julie Smith, Youth Worker, St Mary Barnes

Lockdown Poems from Bishop Richard Harries

Ascension to Pentecost

Between Ascension and Pentecost, let us pray for God’s Kingdom to come in our everyday lives and in the lives of people we know.  Click here for daily prayers.

Novena of Prayer from St Michael and All Angels, Barnes

During the nine days between Ascension and Pentecost you are asked to pray daily for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the world and specifically for the recovery of our world and nation from corona virus.Friday 22nd May: Medical staff in hospitals and in the local community.
Saturday 23rd May: Nursing home residents and staff, home carers.
Sunday 24th May: Those sick with corona virus and the bereaved.
Monday 25th May: Government both local and national.
Tuesday 26th May: Schoolchildren, teachers, university students and staff.
Wednesday 27th May: The unemployed and key workers at risk.
Thursday 28th May: The elderly and the vulnerable.
Friday 29th May: The anxious, isolated and fearful.
Saturday 30th May: The Church’s ministry at this time.

The children have invited to to write a prayer or a Bible verse and attach this to the railings of the cloister or on the gates at the entrance to church by Pentecost.

Compline from St Mary, Barnes

In addition to the usual service of Morning Prayer fom St Mary, Barnes, there will be a daily service of Compline (Night Prayer) each evening  from Ascension Day to Pentecost (available from 6pm) on their Facebook page.

Call to prayer from Holy Trinity, Richmond

Image may contain: text that says "Pray at Midday! #PRAYATMIDDAY"
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, say the Lord’s Prayer at 12 noon every day from Ascension Day to Pentecost.

Daily Reflections from The Revd Sister Margaret Anne ASSP

For 39 days up until 2nd May, the Revd Sister Margaret Anne ASSP wrote daily reflections giving us hope and inspiration during the early days of the Coronavirus crisis. Her last reflection is below and click here to read her previous reflections.

Please visit Reflections and Meditations for more thoughts from our deanery PTOs.

Reflection for Saturday 2nd May by the Revd Sister Margaret Anne ASSP

Today is the feast day of Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria and Doctor of the Church, who lived from the late third century into the fourth century. He was a notable defender of Christian orthodoxy against heresy, proclaiming both the full divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. He lived a long time in exile, often misunderstood and opposed by his antagonists. Despite this Athanasius wrote prolifically. A number of his works were dedicated to monks, at a time when forms of monasticism were emerging in the deserts of Egypt. Athanasius wrote a biography of St Antony, often described as the founder of Western monasticism. This work describes in vivid detail the spiritual battles of the hermit against the powers of evil amid the fires of temptation. The Life of St Antony became a classic and was widely influential. Antony was the foremost early representative of the desert fathers and mothers, who lived in the desert in remote caves or huts. They lived a profoundly ascetic life, often alone, seeking God through a life of prayer and austerity.

Many of the sayings of the desert fathers and mothers have been handed down to us, and reveal the combination of wisdom, humour and astute assessment of character that is associated with them. Here is one such story that I particularly like:

A monk held between his outstretched arms a piece of string. He said to a child,

“This piece of string is like my relationship with God. I am one end of the string, and God is the other end. Now”, the monk continued, “ I want you to think of all the things you have done wrong over the last week. Every time that you think of something you have done wrong and then been sorry afterwards, I want you to cut the string and then tie a knot in it”.

The monk handed the child a pair of scissors and held out the string between his outstretched arms. The child became thoughtful for a few moments, frowned – and then cut the string and tied it with a knot. This happened three or four times. Then the monk, still holding the string with outstretched hands, asked the child,

“Now, what do you notice about the two ends of the string?”

The child looked puzzled for a moment. Then his eyes lit up with understanding.

“Oh”, he replied, “they are closer together”.

The Revd Sister Margaret Anne ASSP