Articles

Not leaving those things undone that you meant to do!

Submitted by Dean on Wed, 13/05/2020 - 12:54

One of the various things I have been doing during 'lockdown' is re-decorating various bits of the Rectory. When I moved in 11 years ago I painted every room but never got round to re-painting the woodwork and doors in the hall, landing and upper corridor. Now they are all shining white and the decorating bug has bitten me so other bits of the house are getting a 'freshen up' as well. I had been meaning to re-painting tall that woodwork but I never seemed to get round to it. Lockdown removed all my excuses. Lockdown has also enabled me to sort out a particular desk drawer that I meant to do for the last 10 years, it took 10 minutes. Why did I leave it so long? Now I am looking at my study bookshelves.

The priest-poet and Church Times contributor Malcom Guite recently wrote:

"One advantage of the present confinement is that it has given me the time, and occasionally, the inclination to start re-shelving the many random piles of books in my study - or at least to begin that Herculean task."                                        

That is where I am at today and I am encouraged by his words that follow that paragraph;

"To be honest, I have not got very far with it..."

Guite goes on to state that it is all too easy to get distracted by what one ought to be doing by the things that capture one's eye or imagination. In his case a folio edition of the 'Rubaáiyát of Omar Khayyám' in my case pottering in the garden and enjoying the sunshine. 

How easy it is to NOT do the things one really should be getting on with and to let other things distract one. I think, we can all be guilty of that sin, doing things we want to do rather than what we really should be doing. Sometimes it can be due; to excitement in finding something new or long forgotten again; or selfishness; or temptation; or whatever. We are all rather good at putting things on our to do lists repeatedly and not doing them. It can be like that in our relationship with God. We mean to spend more time in prayer but don't. We mean to put others needs before our own but we don't. We mean not to give into temptation but we don't. It is part of the human condition that we can never be as 'good' as we might want or wish to be but then we are human and not perfect.

I wonder if we were perfect, if we might get bored with ourselves and our lives? I know for myself that it is the opportunity I have to try and do better that spurs me on to try and be just that - something better than I am. What is important, I believe, is to know that one is not perfect and that one will always be guilty of leaving undone those things one 'ought not to have left undone'. When one knows and acts upon that knowledge of self-awareness one does I think come closer to doing the things one ought to do, rather than leaving them undone. It can at times be a bit of a losing battle but if one keeps on trying then in doing so we do I believe come closer to God. For it is in our trying to lead good lives that we come to know God better. 

Yet, occasionally it can be the thing that distracts one from the task in hand that can lead one to discover something new or enable one to draw closer to God or loved ones. Guite ended his piece in the Church Times by saying:

"So, this morning, instead of tidying, I sat and half-read, half-remembered, half-recited, the whole glorious poem, and felt afresh that note of gentle energy, that power to savour every delight, because you know it is passing, and I looked through my study window at the blossom-laden boughs of this strange spring and closed that lovely little book still chanting..."

... and in the midst of it all was God. 

 

Greetings from the MCT Christian Aid Committee - how to donate!

Submitted by Dean on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 13:14

Christian Aid Week: May 10th – 16th 2020

Christian Aid week is not going ahead in its usual form this year.  The corona virus pandemic is BOTH preventing us from doing our usual fundraising AND greatly increasing the needs of the people in the poorest countries of the world for all the services provided by Christian Aid.

Your donations and support over the years have been greatly appreciated – Murrayfield Churches Together (MCT) has regularly given over £6,000 from the House-to-House collection, Joint MCT Service and Lunch.  Over the years these donations have enabled Christian Aid to work with their partner organisations in numerous developing countries to improve the lives of the globally most disadvantaged people.

The Christian Aid website states: ‘As this virus spreads across the world, love rises up in response.  You’ve already shown incredible kindness to your neighbours.   Now is the time to reach out to your neighbours both near and far.

Your love protects.  From storms, from drought, and now from coronavirus.  Your love protects our global neighbours battling the spread of this illness.  Your love protects.  With soap, clean water and medical supplies.

By supporting us this Christian Aid Week, you can reach out and protect more of your neighbours today.’

There are several ways you can donate to support the work of Christian Aid.

1    Online. Go to caweek.org or click on the link below

https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/christian-aid-week

2    By telephone:  Call 020 7523 2269

3    By text:  Text GIVE to 70040 to donate £5

4    By post:  Send a cheque (made payable to Christian Aid) to:  Christian Aid, 35 Lower Marsh, LONDON SE1 7RL.   Include your name, address, Post Code, and whether you would like to include Gift Aid.  Please note that cheques will take longer to process than usual because of changes to working arrangements caused by the corona virus lockdown.

The Murrayfield Churches Together Christian Aid committee are very grateful for all your support over the years, and hope that you will be happy to donate this year in a different way.  We also hope you will be happy to spread the word around to friends and people who have previously supported Christian Aid.  Please feel free to forward this email.

 

MCT Committee:  Liz Sudlow, Anne Ostrowski, Marjorie Guthrie, Christina Webster, Norma MacDonald, Lesley Webster, Judith Scott

A reflection for Christian Aid Sunday 2020

Submitted by Dean on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 13:04

Sunday 10th May 2020

Easter V  A Reflection for Christian Aid Sunday

There are times, in our lives, when I think the Psalms can speak to us better than any other pieces of Scripture. Their poetry, pithiness and in many cases brevity seem to sum up all we want to say and often all we can hear. The psalms encompass the whole gamut of our emotions.

There are psalms of hope such as:

Psalm 71:5

“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.”  and

Psalms of anger:

Psalm 37:8

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret - it leads only to evil.”

Psalms of thanksgiving”

Psalm 138:1-3

“I will bless the Lord at all times;

   his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

   let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me,

   and let us exalt his name together.”

and Psalms of joy:

Psalm 95: 1-5

“O come, let us sing to the Lord;

   let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

   let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

3 For the Lord is a great God,

   and a great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;

   the heights of the mountains are his also.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,

   and the dry land, which his hands have formed.”

 

The psalm appointed for this fifth Sunday in Eastertide and the Sunday we keep this year, as Christian Aid Sunday is Psalm 31, a psalm which expresses grief and lament, and which calls upon God for help:

“In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;

   do not let me ever be put to shame;

   in your righteousness deliver me.

Incline your ear to me;

   rescue me speedily.

Be a rock of refuge for me,

   a strong fortress to save me.” verses 1-3

The psalm goes on to call God our rock and fortress, a place of safety. It recalls the pain anguish we can all feel and are perhaps feeling acutely at this present time and it ends on an upbeat and very hopeful note:

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage,

   all you who wait for the Lord.”       verse 24

This final verse maybe one that is useful to medicate upon in these days as we call upon God to help and guide us through the uncharted waters we find ourselves in during this lockdown time. In these times in which we have had to retreat to our own fortresses - our homes. We do, perhaps, gain a new understanding of what it means to call God our fortress. God is not a fortress that barricades us in but one who strengthens us and enables us to look out for those more vulnerable than we are. It brings into sharp focus what loving our neighbour is all about; and when we speak of neighbours we mean those near and far, known and unknown.

Our Lord was well versed in the psalms and it is in fact the fifth verse of this psalm that he shouts from the cross as he dies:

“Into your hand I commit my spirit …”

Seven poignant words, and they have great relevance to where we find ourselves today. Many have died due to the Covid19 virus and it is into the hands of God that we commend them.

The Covid19 virus has caused panic, fear, dread and anger. It has made some us view our neighbours in a different light for their self-less acts or for their selfishness. Some have given their all in caring for others and others have been so frightened they have panic bought and stock piled. Some have seen friends and strangers as potential dangers and others deeply miss the contact of their loved ones. If truth be told, we have all experienced a variety of emotions and will continue to do so until this crisis passes and it is in these times of emotional strangeness and turmoil that the psalms can speak to us and help us.

Christian Aid has always been about helping one’s neighbour, both close and far away; and this year it is just as important, if not more important than ever to ask ourselves how we can be a good neighbour to those less fortunate than ourselves; those on our door step and those in the developing world who like us are frightened and worried, like we are, in this strange time.

Psalm 31

1 In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;

   do not let me ever be put to shame;

   in your righteousness deliver me.

2 Incline your ear to me;

   rescue me speedily.

Be a rock of refuge for me,

   a strong fortress to save me.

3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress;

   for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,

4 take me out of the net that is hidden for me,

   for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;

   you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

6 You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,

   but I trust in the Lord.

7 I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love,

   because you have seen my affliction;

   you have taken heed of my adversities,

8 and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;

   you have set my feet in a broad place.

9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;

   my eye wastes away from grief,

   my soul and body also.

10 For my life is spent with sorrow,

   and my years with sighing;

my strength fails because of my misery,

   and my bones waste away.

11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries,

   a horror to my neighbours,

an object of dread to my acquaintances;

   those who see me in the street flee from me.

12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;

   I have become like a broken vessel.

13 For I hear the whispering of many—

   terror all around!—

as they scheme together against me,

   as they plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord;

   I say, ‘You are my God.’

15 My times are in your hand;

   deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

16 Let your face shine upon your servant;

   save me in your steadfast love.

17 Do not let me be put to shame, O Lord,

   for I call on you;

let the wicked be put to shame;

   let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.

18 Let the lying lips be stilled

   that speak insolently against the righteous

   with pride and contempt.

19 O how abundant is your goodness

   that you have laid up for those who fear you,

and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,

   in the sight of everyone!

20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them

   from human plots;

you hold them safe under your shelter

   from contentious tongues.

21 Blessed be the Lord,

   for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me

   when I was beset as a city under siege.

22 I had said in my alarm,

   ‘I am driven far from your sight.’

But you heard my supplications

   when I cried out to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all you his saints.

   The Lord preserves the faithful,

   but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.

24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,

   all you who wait for the Lord.

Amen.

 

If you wish to donate to Christian Aid please go to:

www.christianaid.org.uk

and you’ll find a donation button on the home page.

Thank you

An act of worship for Christian Aid Sunday 10th May 2020

Submitted by Dean on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 13:02

Christian Aid Week 2020

An act of Worship

Joint worship on Sunday 10th May would usually mark the beginning of Christian Aid Week for those of us  in Murrayfield. This year we are unable to gather physically as the members of MCT but we can come together spiritually in prayer. Please use the prayers and readings below in your Sunday worship at home.

Introduction

Christian Aid Week helps us remember that we are part of the family of God scattered across the globe. The Covid19 outbreak also shows us how inter-connected we are, how vulnerable we all are and how resourceful and supportive of each other we can be. We are neighbours far and near who are going through this time of pandemic together. May our shared experience unite us in praise, prayer and action as one human family, separate but together in the home that is God’s world.

God of all the Earth, be present with us now, in each of our homes, as we connect together. Build us into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you through Jesus Christ, our risen Redeemer and Healer. Amen.

Prayer of Confession & Absolution

How many times have you washed your hands over the last few weeks, or even today? As we pray today we remember the words of St.James:

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts …” James 4:8

As we turn on the tap, we turn our hearts towards you, O God.

As we wet our hands, renew our thoughts,

so we might be transformed.

As we lather soap between our fingers and all over our hands purge us from all that brings us harm and might harm others.

Remove the invisible guilt and shame that so often keeps us from you.

As we rinse our hands we trust in your overflowing grace, making all things new. Amen.

Remember that if you truly wish to be forgiven then God will forgive you and if you truly wish to amend your ways then God will guide and support you; and know that God always loves you. Amen.

 

Reading: Psalm 31

Reflection: ponder on the words of the Psalmist or read Dean's reflection 

 

Intercessions

God our refuge, we pray for all who are anxious, all who are bruised by this time, all who are ill and all who are bereaved. Draw close to us now in each of our homes, be with our loved ones, neighbours and friends and strengthen those working on the front line in our hospitals and care facilities. Amen.

God our strength, we pray for those throughout the world who suffer not only from the pandemic but through poverty, abuse, hardship and neglect. Help us always to remember those in need and to put our faith into action. Amen.

God of hope, we pray for a better future for all your people; for a fair sharing of the world’s resources, for an end to exploitation and corporate greed. Help us to play our part in changing the world, that no one will go hungry, no one will be forgotten and no one left unloved. Amen.

We pray for the work of Christian Aid throughout our world and for all it does to support the most vulnerable and all it does to support those who need a helping hand. We pray most especially for those with limited sanitation facilities and the ability to regularly wash their hands. We give thanks for Christian Aid partners seeking to provide soap and buckets for the communities that need them most. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Prayer & Blessing

Loving God, source of healing and comfort, fill us with your grace; that the sick may be made whole, that those who care for us will be strengthened, that the anxious will be calmed, and those most vulnerable be protected in the power of the Spirit, in the the faith of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the presence of the Creator refresh you, may the comfort of the Son renew you, may the inspiration of the Spirit restore you to be love in action, even from a distance, in our neighbourhoods near and far, this day and for evermore. Amen.

To donate to Christian Aid please go to: www.christianaid.org.uk