On Sunday morning at the start of lockdown, just after the churches had closed for corporate worship, one of the clergy sent me the above photo with the caption "offering prayers in an empty church this morning". I was a little unprepared for the depth of emotion it evoked!
In Psalm 137 the people pour out their lament, as they ache and long to be back together, worshipping God in their sacred place. We long for that too!
Cut off as we may feel, we can still praise God that He's not limited to particular buildings, and that wherever we are, at any moment, He is "not far from any one of us". (Acts 17)
Nevertheless, there is something special about once again being able to meet God in church for private prayer this week, drawing inspiration from the surroundings, and knowing that generations of worshippers have been there before us.
"...God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us."
A WEEK IN NUMBERS
Mary's Meals deliveries completed by this Friday
Young people have accessed our online Ablaze group on Sundays
Sunday morning companions for One Way and Ignite. (Welcoming Nemo to the team!)
GIFTS FOR MUMS
Emma and I were having a conversation a few weeks ago and realised that if this tough situation of restriction is going to last until at least September we were only half way through - that made us both feel rather overwhelmed, not least as Mums ourselves juggling all the different needs of the family, and we decided it was time for all the Mums to have a little treat and note of encouragement and solidarity.
So we set about making that happen! We had amazing donations of beautiful flower bouquets from Helen Pooley and her team, truffles from Wild Thyme and each pack had bubble bath, a colouring book, notebook and a few other treats with a note from us attached to a tea bag!
The Mums' Bags went out with the Friday delivery last week and we know from the lovely messages of surprise and gratitude that they we much appreciated. This week it is the Dads' turn for a bag of recognition and goodies.
In our work we are seeing the very real daily struggles that Covid-19 is creating for the families in our town. Our desire to is let them know that they matter, each one of them, and show them the love of Jesus through everything we do and it has been incredible what opportunities and relationships are opening up in response.
CHURCH OPEN FOR PRIVATE PRAYER
We're delighted that from this Sunday, 21st June, the church will be open for private prayer every Sunday and Wednesday from 10am to 6pm. We hope that you find yourselves able to meet God in the stillness and allow God to minister to you in whatever way you need.
There will be prayer prompts around the building to guide your thoughts. We'd also ask that you stick to the designated spaces and take note of the safety information.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MORAL MACHINES
North Cotswold Gospel Partnership invite you to an evening with Prof Nigel Crook, Founder and Co-Director of the Institute for Ethical Artificial Intelligence, Oxford Brookes University.
“Can machines be programmed to know the difference between right and wrong? Can they be equipped with a ’moral compass’ to guide their behaviour? More specifically, can machines be moral agents? This is a tough question because the answer ultimately depends on our understanding of what it means to be human. In this talk I will attempt to address these as I explore the work that is being done in the emerging field of ‘moral machines’.”
Join Prof Nigel Crook on Zoom at 7pm on Thursday 25th June, when he’ll share some of his perspectives as an expert in the field.
Join us for a live online Encounter Service this Sunday, 21st June at 7pm.
We will be gathering on Zoom, and livestreaming on YouTube, to worship and open up God’s word together. We would love you to join us for this modern worship gathering, so you may be encouraged but also refreshed by joining as one body, to worship King Jesus.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Time: Jun 21, 2020 07:00 PM London
Our new Alpha Online course began very successfully on Tuesday, with 16 guests who all participated in the small groups and seemed to very much enjoy the experience.
Alpha Online is running for another five weeks and it's not too late to join us for the rest of the journey!
Each week we watch a video and then have the opportunity to discuss the content and ask questions.
If these times have raised big questions for you, or someone you know, then please get in touch, so that we can let you know how to join in. email@example.com or 01608 646202.
Alpha started Tuesday 16th June and runs for six weeks. Meet at 7:30pm to watch the 20ish minute video. Or watch the video beforehand and join at 8:00pm to discuss.
Sometimes we just need a few minutes of space and peace from the rushing world around us. Every Wednesday you're invited to take 10 minutes out of ‘normal’ life, to spend time pressing into Jesus with these midweek reflections.
I’ve called them Close Encounters because we can’t be close to people at the moment, but Jesus always comes very close indeed, breaking every distancing rule there’s ever been, as he looks at and loves each individual he meets. We’re going to eavesdrop on some of the meetings and give ourselves a chance to encounter Him too. I hope these will be a blessing to you.
Healthy Faith and the Coronavirus Crisis, edited by Kristi Mair and Luke Cawley
Gareth says, “This is a remarkably comprehensive collection of essays from 20 Christian leaders, thinkers and authors, considering the impact of the Coronavirus on subjects such as prayer, loneliness, work, family, grief and humour. This is a great resource for anybody who wants to more deeply consider what ‘healthy faith’ may look like during these times.”
Paperback and eBook are both available to buy from IVP Books.
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.