Amazing model of the yurt, made by a 9yr old who visited it last week.
I am not sure if you are like me and love “to do” lists. I must make at least 3 or 4 a week, normally on scraps of paper, which I leave lying around the house, or tucked into a coat pocket. I’m often pleasantly surprised when I come across one a few weeks later and realise that, although I lost the list, I can strike off nearly all of the jobs - although I do sometimes feel that sinking feeling when I spot something that dropped off the radar.
Then there’s also that wonderful feeling when you find 5 or 6 lists and can merge them all together into one new list. If I’m honest, for me that’s when life feels good, it puts a smile on may face, life is under control - I know what needs to be done and have it all in my pocket.
But this month I have been challenged - what does my “to do” list say about me? What am I striving for? I may be striking off all the things on my to do list, but what attitude am I doing them in?
I’ve been challenged this lent to create a “to be” list. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, and it is definitely going to be a difficult journey for me. I will be really comfortable with the list part, but this is a different way of living and being - not a box that I can simply tick and move on.
This is a shift in focus from task to attitude - “to be kind”, “to be calm”, “to be generous”, “to be forgiving”, even allowing myself “to be sad” when I need to be. But here is the thing. In order to get to this place, I know that first of all I need to draw closer to God - there is no way I can rely on my own ability. I need to take time “to be” with God.
In our busyness, or maybe in our loneliness and sadness, I find it can be hard, uncomfortable (sometimes unbearable) to just “be”. To allow yourself the space to make a nice coffee and sit and look out of the window and reflect on the raindrop running down the window sounds so easy, so why do I find this so hard to do? What is the barrier to allowing myself to get out an old set of drawing pencils and to sit and doodle? Why is is to hard to spend 10 minutes with my eyes closed (and not feel guilty if I snooze!) and reflect on moments I felt closest to God?
I think it is because it has been a long time, too long, since I’ve taken time to make that space. I’m out of practice. It is like exercise - at first it hurts and is uncomfortable, but if we allow ourselves time and practice we can get into a good routine and then we find ourselves longing for the next time to be in that place.
I’m bracing myself for the fact it’s going to be painful at first; I might even have a few false starts, but I’m journeying to a place where I know I need to put “to be” at the top of my “to do” list.
I want to create the time and space in my life to JUST BE. To dwell. A space where I feel relaxed and able to ask God some questions, and to feel still enough to perhaps hear the whisper of his voice.
I know it is a place where God is longing to meet me.
Does making a “to be” list need to be at the top of your “to do” list too?
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Sunday services in church are on pause until further notice.
Each Sunday we'll be posting a Virtual Sunday video on our website and YouTube channel.
On pause until further notice
Setting a Watch
Continues daily at 6am and 6pm, via Zoom
Building to Serve Prayer Meeting
Continues every Monday at noon, via Zoom
12 noon every weekday via Zoom
WELLBEING PACKS: PATIENCE
This week's wellbeing pack is themed around "patience" and includes some great facts about Mongolia, and instructions on how to make a Thankful Tree, amongst others. We hope you enjoy it!
Another milestone was passed this afternoon – volunteer driver Will set off on the 1,000th delivery round from The Branch – in his case visiting households in Stonesfield and Woodstock. Will is one of 21 drivers taking food deliveries to 148 households in Chipping Norton and surrounding towns and villages in an 8-10-mile radius today.
In the 11 months since deliveries started at the beginning of Lockdown 01, over 5,200 Mary’s Meals food parcels – together comprising over 34,000 individual meals – have gone out with those 1,000 delivery rounds to over 220 households. In addition:
• over 6,200 Chippy Larder food boxes,
• over 3,000 craft packs,
• over 250 teenager wellbeing/mum/dad/parent packs,
• 30 toiletry packs
• 9 school uniform sets
• almost 200 Christmas hampers,
• 30 bags of clothes,
• several vacuum cleaners
• almost 550 well-being packs,
• 99 home-cleaning packs
• and numerous carefully chosen toys and books – oh, and one dolls' house and a tricycle!
We thank God for His amazing provision for all those in our community that have relied on these deliveries, and for The Branch which has been such a valuable resource. But today, we particularly recognise the commitment, the care and the love shown by our fantastic team of volunteer drivers (who number about 80 individuals across the 11 months) and our team of shoppers, cooks and bag-packers (who number about 20).
For many of the recipients of these meals, the highlight of the delivery is the chat that they can have on the doorstep with the driver - for some the only human contact they have all week. Some real bonds and friendships have been built, and the delivery drivers have become very attached to their rounds. The drivers come back with reports of thankfulness, but also raise concerns when they feel that people need some additional support, which we then follow up on.
As we mark the 1000th delivery today, we remember and give thanks for ALL the volunteers who make this happen each week. Thank you all!
Some of the wellbeing groups have really enjoyed craft-along sessions, so we thought it would be great to run one for the whole congregation!
Grab a cup of tea and some crafting materials and join us on Zoom for a laid back hour on Saturday morning, 27th February at 10.30am catching up and making something crafty together.
We’ll be focusing on the craft in the weekly wellbeing packs, sharing our creations and getting inspired together. Pick up a pack from the church porch any time from Wednesday 24th February to access your crafting materials, or source your own materials by clicking below to find out what you’ll need.
The crafts are easy, so you don't need any particular skills or experience! Whether older or younger, well known to the church family or still feeling new, you’d be so welcome!
Topic: Craft Along
Time: Feb 27, 2021 10:30 AM London
We've been thinking about new ways that we might all be fed and built up as the church family during Lent, especially given how frayed so many people’s lives are at the moment.
As a result we'd like to offer the opportunity, for anyone who would like to join us online, to pause at midday of every weekday in Lent and engage in 15 minutes of Lectio Divina. We'll listen to a passage of Scripture being read slowly two or three times, taking note of any specific words or phrases that God spotlights to us as being particularly relevant to our lives in that moment.
Do join us as often as you would like. There’ll always be someone leading a session, Mondays to Fridays from Ash Wednesday (17th February) up to the Easter weekend itself.
This devotional aims to help the whole family meet with Jesus by opening up the Bible and praying together. There's a reading, a thought, a few discussion points and a prayer for each day of Lent. It's a whistle-stop tour of Mark’s Gospel ending at the crucifixion of Jesus – King’s Cross. As well as the booklet, there's a poster to help your child track the journey, and a fun song to jump around to, and let off some steam when it's rainy outside!
Our prayer as you go through this devotional series together is that it will help facilitate time for you all to meet with God and dig into His word. This time isn’t just for the kids – be encouraged that as you work through each day’s reading, you can create opportunities for everyone to encounter God in their own way, including you!
Everyone has questions about what life is all about. We believe that everyone should have a chance to share those questions, explore the Christian faith and give their point of view.
Alpha is a place where you can ask those questions in an honest, friendly and open environment.
In recent months at St Mary's, God has been extending our vision to serve the town in an exciting, ambitious and creative way at a time of substantially increasing need for many within our community...
So many people in our community feel the weight of debt, and we are passionate about helping to release anyone we can from a life sentence of debt and poverty. At St Mary's we are working with Christians Against Poverty to bring good news, hope and freedom. If you need support, we'd love to hear from you.