Written Thought by Anne Milton-Worssell // 4 June
We are now more than 10 weeks into this experience of Covid-19. Lockdown is easing slightly, and we all have to make more decisions for ourselves about what is ‘safe’. As someone ‘on the edge of shielding’ my doctor advised me that I should go out for walks, but do not go shopping. I wonder if she realised what a relief that was? I hate shopping anyway and would rather sit in front of my computer and shop from there!
What is really difficult about this time is not lockdown or not seeing my grandchildren the way I was used to, but controlling my urge to plan ahead – because we just can’t! Holidays, visiting people, these are all on hold and I think, because of this, God is teaching me something quite important.
I am a planner – I always keep a diary, I plan meals at least one week ahead and because of a lot of my life has been involved in University teaching, I love timetables. And suddenly because of the impact of this disease all my planning has gone out the window.
The temptation is to develop a new type of planning- putting in place zoom meetings or time when I ring people – all very worthy things, but the reality is that is still me planning and organising and taking control of my life. Is that what God wants me to do?
From the Bible we can see that God plans. It was his plan to bring together the people of Israel, it was his plan to come into the world as Jesus just at the time he did. If we look back through our lives, or the lives of others, we can see how God worked at certain times to bring his plans about. It is He that plans, and somewhere along the line we are part of it.
Proverbs tells us that ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ (19:23). So why do we so often plan our lives without reference to Him? What is amazing is that just at this time He has brought us all to a dead stop. This gives us time, not to re-plan our lives, and fill them up with things to do – but to talk to him about his purposes for our lives, for our Church here, and for the Church in general.
So, I remind myself do not just fill up your day with things to do – this is a precious time, a time to hear what God has in mind – and I think we will all be amazed! After all we are reminded in Jeremiah that God’s plans for us are good:
“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (29:11)
A promise to Jeremiah and to us at the most difficult of times.
So, maybe the time is now to stop doing and start being – allowing God to align us with Him. For me, for all of us as a church that is what matters.
Weekly Thougth with John Cooper // 3 June
Everyday Faith with Neil Smith // Worship // 2 June
Spiritual Growth with Leah Perona-Wright // Journaling // 1 June
11am Contemporary Pentecost Service // 31 May
9am Traditional Pentecost service // 31 May
Little Kids Praise // 30 May
This Time with Mirkku // Intercession // 29 May
Written Thought with Sharon Seal // 28 May
As the weeks pass by, I have begun to reflect on how I am living in ‘lockdown’. I began by looking back to when it all to started making a difference to me, that was Sunday 22nd March, I wonder when it was for you.
Weekly Thought with Nico Ohlsson // Intercession // 27 May
Even though these past weeks have gone quickly and days have merged into others, even though the world is a very different place and we wonder if it will ever be the same again? One truth remains, that God is faithful and is the same yesterday, today and forever.
I offer this to you as a way of living each day, whether we are busy or find we have too much time?
Each day, I look back and see what I have learnt, what has God shown me. And then I think about the moment and what the new day will bring. And then I ask for the weeks ahead, which are not known, and I ask for a heart and desire to live them to the full, with trust that God will guide me through.
In John’s gospel Jesus says ‘I have come so that you may have life and have it in all its fullness’
For all of us, I am sure, that is a challenge, and we have had to shift our perspective and see ‘life’ through a different lens. There have been many losses but also there are gains. What have been your gains?
Then I read on in John’s gospel, Jesus said, 'I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth’
As we approach Pentecost, I encourage us all to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth, and to help us to trust that what we receive from God what will sustain us. That it will bring fullness to each day and be the source in which we can draw from, well into the weeks, months and years ahead.
Is it possible for you to ‘be still’ now? Wherever you are, and to bring all that you feel to God?
Has anything particularly resonated with you, maybe ask yourself these questions?
How do I feel now?
What feels important?
What do I love about my life at the moment?
How do I want to live differently going forward?
Take some time to do this, and then when you feel ready, give thanks for the few moments that you have spent with God, what you have offered and received and take them back with you into your day.
Everyday Faith with Gwynneth Cooper // 26 May
Spiritual Growth with Martin Breadmore // Quiet Time // 25 May
11am Contemporary Service // 24 May
9am Traditional Service // 24 May
Little Kids Praise // 23 May
This Time... with Trish Brown // 22 May
Written Thought by Jane Hiley // 21 May
As I look out of my study window and see a beautiful sunny day with a clear sky and no vapour trails. I smell the sweet air and I can hear the birds, partly because the motorway is almost silent. I wonder what kind of life we will return to when this is all over.
This is not the first time in the history of the world when this kind of thing has happened. Even back in Old Testament days big events happened and God led his people, just as he is continuing to lead us today. It is up to us to see him and to continue to follow.
In the book of Joshua in the old testament Joshua is reminding the people of God about what God has done for them in the past. He then tells them what God will continue to do for them if they continue in the faith.
He reminds the people that they have a choice – They can go back to the old ways and their former gods or they can follow Yahweh – the one true God. Then in Chapter 24 verse 15 he says "but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
I wonder – what will we do? Will we go back to everything we were doing? Or will we take some balanced judgements. Consider what are the essentials of life – what do we actually need? What is right for the planet and for our family, friends, church, community?
As for Martin and I - We are going to go with the words of this song, You can find it on you-tube
Jim Bailey singing in Youth Praise :-
As for me and my house
As for me and my family
As for me and my children
We will serve the Lord
In this family
We’re gonna do things properly,
Read God’s word everyday
And then we’ll try to pray
Although we get it wrong
We will still carry on
Make Jesus number one in this place.
As for me and my house
As for me and my family
As for me and my children
We will serve the Lord
Go ahead – cut and paste this link into your browser and why not try singing and dancing along with the music – watch out it gets fast at the end but it is fun and maybe fun and laugher with God are what we most need at this time: https://youtu.be/H-xxhy2CMYg
Blessings to all
Weekly Thought with Lynn Sefton // 20 May
Everyday Faith with Jo Jones // 19 May
Spiritual Growth with Alison Anderson // Pilgrimage // 18 May
11am Contemporary Service // 17 May
9 amTraditional Service // 17 May
Little Kids Praise // 16 May
This time with Mark Gledhill // Debt Advisor // 15 May
Written Thought by Sue Cook // Digging Deep //14 May
So here we are in week 8 of lockdown and strict social distancing and it’s beginning to feel a lot like Groundhog Day for some of us, me included. I struggle to remember whether it’s Wednesday or Thursday because there is not a lot to distinguish between each week day anymore. Living in the same household as someone who has an underlying medical condition my restrictions will be remaining in place for the foreseeable future so I’m going to have to dig deep if I’m going to stay positive, hopeful and trusting God that life won’t always be like this.
What does digging deep conjure up in your mind?
For me it’s images like rolling my sleeves up, hard work , drawing on all the resources that inspire and motivate me and especially investing in my relationship with God. We often have to dig deep when faced with trauma or a devastating or life changing event. We may feel overwhelmed or unequal to the task in front of us. Many people in our country, here in Ashtead, in our families and our church may be experiencing such difficult feelings currently.
So how do we do life well, persevere and stay strong in our faith when the relentlessness of staying at home starts to bite?
How is your “house” and mine ( Luke 6 v44-46 ) standing up to the challenges, ,the pressure, the deprivation of the familiar, loved ones and freedom.
Are we standing firm, teetering a bit or ready to collapse?
In the parable of the wise and foolish builders Jesus uses the metaphor of digging deep in order to lay good foundations so that what is built upon it will tolerate the battering of life’s storms. In truth we can reinforce our spiritual foundations at any point throughout our lives. Jesus’ point is that if we hear his words and obey them ie. apply them in our lives, we will need to dig deep. There are no short cuts. That means we need to learn how to notice God at work in our lives in small and ordinary ways daily so that we are encouraged and can draw on His goodness to us when living through a challenging bewildering time such as we are right now. If we can dig deep this week and in the months ahead then we will become more certain that God is indeed with us and His love surrounds and sustains us. We may be in lockdown but God is not!
So how do we dig deep?
We need to invest time each day in just being with God.It won’t just happen.It needs to be intentional. Some of us have plenty of time currently while for others their lives seem even busier than before. How ever much time you have for God,invest it .…dig deep. Read God’s word even if it’s only a few verses each day. Chew them over , engage with them at a personal level. For me, that means asking myself ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘what is Jesus saying to me today’ and reflecting on what I want to say back to Him. It involves waiting and listening for answers and then, so I don’t forget or lose something precious, writing in my journal so that I am impacted by my encounter with God. That is the kind of investment that will resource me and you .There are many other ways to dig deep such as praying with others, small group meetings on line, going for a walk, painting a picture or writing a poem, listening to podcasts or worship, sitting in silence or even making a retreat at home. This crisis isn’t ending any time soon.God wants us to dig deep because we are being shaken, individually and as a nation. It is going to be tough adapting to the many changes that will be required in our daily lives going forward. The good news is that God is with us and loves us and by digging deep we will encounter Him in all things day by day and grow in confidence that He has our future in hand even if it looks different from what we thought it might be.
Digging deep is being like David who said in Psalm 27 v 13-14
“ I remain confident of this;
I will see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord: be strong and take heart
And wait for the Lord.”
Weekly Thought with David Murray // 13 May
Everyday Faith with Kim Darby // 12 May
Spiritual Growth with Sharon Seal // Praying with Nature // 11 May
Contemporary Service // 10 May
Traditional Service // 10 May
Little Kids Praise // 9 May
This Time with Wendy // 8 May
Thursday ZOOM Prayer meeting - 8.10pm // 7 May
Meeting ID: 215 273 6508
Written Thought by Rosemary Bull // 7 May
I’m starting to enjoy this lockdown. It took the first week to push out all fear and embrace God’s promise that He knows me and my life is in his hands (Psalm 139). I admit I was helped by kind friends offering to do my shopping. Living on my own means I don’t have responsibility for others. Every morning I spend as much time as i want with God, worshipping, praying, listening to God, reading the Bible, listening to teaching etc. I feel closer to God now than I have for a long time. Then I’m loving the beauty of my garden, and Ashtead common with the bird song and butterflies. God’s creation is so beautiful. I’m enjoying being more in contact with my family then usual, particularly my son in the States, all be it through zoom. I thank God for technology as it provides church services, house group, and prayer meetings. It would be a different story without it. I’ve also had more to do with my next-door neighbour than before. YES there are things I miss and there is much sadness, particularly when I think of people dying without Jesus. However there is so much to be thankful for. A friend of mine said, “ It would be a shame to waste a good plague.” I was shocked at her expression but I knew what she meant. Even out of the worst situation, if we will let Him God will bring good, as it says in Romans 8:26. A well known preacher suggested three ways in which this precious time could be used: Do something new or improve something, deepen relationships with God and others and be generous. As I said at the beginning I am so thankful that my life is in His hands.
Weekly Thought with Peter Levinsohn // 6 May
Everyday Faith with Jo Sherring // 5 May
Spiritual Growth with Sue Raby // The Examen // 4 May
11am Service // 3 May
9am Traditional Service // 3 May
Little Kids Praise // 2 May
This time... with Dr. Jessica Dodds // Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist // 1 May 2020
Written Thought with Jane Hiley // 30 April 2020
Jeremiah wrote a Letter to the Exiles – you will find it in Jeremiah 29. It was a letter sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles. It was a message of hope and encouragement to them. You may like to re-read it today in the light of our current situation. (just be aware I am not suggesting that the lockdown will last for 70 years!)
Some years ago, a friend took the trouble to embroider for me a verse from the chapter to help me to remember that God loves me and cares for me whatever I am thinking and feeling at the time. I have always treasured her kind and thoughtful action. The verse may be a familiar to some of you, and it means a lot especially in a time like the present.
Jeremiah 29 : 11 “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The exiles are encouraged to hold on to the faith – to seek God and he will answer and bring them back home safely.
In a similar way I was inspired this week by a quote from Terry Waite. “Remember – you are not stuck
at home – you are safe
at home.” He was in prison – in lockdown – for a long time and in much harsher conditions than we are experiencing and yet he lived through it and came out praising God. (you can look up his story on u- tube and be re-inspired by his words of comfort)
The Holy spirit has used these two things to remind me of the wonderful way that God walks alongside us in whatever we are doing and He will encourage and support us if we turn to Him. We can be “nearer to God in a garden – than anywhere else on earth”
Ashtead is our garden at present and whether we are able to go outside or must simply look out of our windows we can appreciate how God is in control bringing spring and new growth and caring for everyone who passes by. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Weekly Thought with Christine Bailey // 29 April 2020
Everyday Faith with Ollie Thornton // 28 April 2020
Spiritual Growth with Sue Cook // Prayer Labyrinth // 27 April 2020
11am Service // 26 April 2020
9am Traditional Communion Service // 26 April 2020
Little Kids Praise // 25 April 2020
This time with Robert Newhouse // 24 April 2020
Written Thought by Anne Milton-Worssell // 23 April
Locked down, locked up, locked out?
Because I am in a vulnerable category, I went into lockdown one week before everyone else, and because I am also a bit of an extravert sometimes I do feel like knocking the door down (even though it is protecting me). I’ve been told to limit my activity to the house and the garden – so going out for an hour does not figure. Thank you, God, for the garden!
My hair is growing longer and is irritating me, I can’t see my grandchildren face to face (or my children for that matter), and on-line shopping seems to mean staying up all night to get a slot. All the irritations of feeling locked down and locked up.
Add to that some fears, which I have shouted to God about: my vulnerability means I could die if exposed to the virus – but God reminds me that my days are in his hands(Psalm 31:15), and he knows the length of them – so not really anything to fear, particularly as I know I will go home to him. The fear that 3 months may be the short end of the deal – I hear that it may be 18 months before we get a vaccine – can I cope with being locked in that much? But the much bigger fear is that of being locked out!
This has been an amazing season for opening up the Church. We have always been a bit tied to our buildings – but with new technology, the ability to see each other through Zoom etc. our ‘shut-ins’ as we call them have been able to take a full part in our new, virtual Church. My fear is that when we are let out we will leave those who are shielding to cope with the odd visit. I wonder if that is what God wants?
One thing God has spoken to me about in this strange time is to remember that His presence through the Spirit is always with us He is with us from the moment we place our trust in him. And in this time at home I have been so aware of this. He is present in every e-mail written or sent and in every phone call or face time we make, and every prayer we pray – and this is the time for us to share the wonderful Gospel message that Jesus died on the Cross and rose again for us – and our life is eternal because of it. I was reminded this week that in the last chapter of Acts, Paul, that great extravert who spread the news of Jesus far and wide, spent two whole years in house arrest. But the Spirit was not contained because of this – he was able to speak boldly about Jesus without any hindrance – and so can we- The Church – God’s people – have the freedom that comes from God’s Spirit. Alleluia – He is risen!
Weekly Thought with Alison Anderson // 22 April
Everyday Faith with Lewis Catto // 21 April
Spiritual Growth with Sharon Seal // Contemplative Prayer // 20 April
4pm Contemporary Service // 19 April
9am Traditional Communion Service // 19 April
Little Kids Praise // Jaynie Kendall // 18 April
This time... a few months ago // Claire Hancock // 17 April 2020
Written thought // Sue Cook // 16 April 2020
My 5 a Day
During this time of Lockdown I got to thinking about what are my 5 a day, that are keeping me nourished, in touch with God and others and on an even keel mentally and emotionally.
Mine might differ from yours but hopefully you‘ll find what I have to share helpful.
In no particular order they are, enjoying nature, a time of reflection, establishing a rhythm to the day, connecting with others and creativity.
Whether we are able to go for walks or are confined to the garden or maybe only have a window box to enjoy, this is an amazing time of the year. Birdsong is both beautiful and unmissable even just through an open window due to our unusually quiet and peaceful world currently. Green shoots are appearing everywhere, buds and blossom abound, daffodils sway in the warm breeze and tulips are ready to burst into a gorgeous array of colour. The dependability of nature in a world where so much has changed soothes my senses and brings me joy.
Daily reflection is an essential; a non-negotiables for me right now. Taking time as the day begins to intentionally be with God is key to my wellbeing. I might just sit in silence for a while, I journal my thoughts just as they come to me censoring nothing, I listen to a 9 minute meditation called Lectio 365 and often chew over some other verses of Scripture. I might pray out loud or in the quiet of my heart but however I fill this time it’s an opportunity to be real and honest. It’s a time to release my anxieties and express my thanks to God and in so doing receive refreshment, hope and a better sense of perspective.
Finding a daily rhythm during lockdown has been really helpful. My day goes so much better with some structure and routine…some markers to apportion the time. Otherwise I can just drift and feel a bit lost. I make mealtimes special; no grabbing food on the run currently and it feels special. I start the day with reflection, and then go for a walk to exercise. I always build in time to connect with others, neighbours, friends and family, which has been wonderfully rich and surprising as I have become more innovative and imaginative than perhaps I would be in normal times. I daily make space to be creative and to relax and unwind properly before I sleep at night.
Just because we are socially isolated doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected it just means that we have to be more creative and intentional. Besides the phone, conversations across gardens, and post we have a wealth of digital platforms which are an absolute life line in the absence of physical contact.
I‘ve felt included, remembered, encouraged and loved as I have made keeping in touch a priority. Any contact however brief makes me feel human and part of a collective shared experience that Covid 19 is. So much caring, kindness, new relationships and deeper relationships have resulted from taking the trouble every day to stay in touch with one another rather than leaving it to someone else. I have found being on both the giving and receiving end of daily connection to be energizing, reassuring and hugely rewarding.
My last 5 A Day is creativity. Some of us have much more time and opportunity to try new things, to pick up an old hobby or interest or simply have a go at something that we’ve told ourselves isn’t us. Whether its singing, painting, playing an instrument, gardening, baking bread or whatever takes your fancy it is liberating and it challenges the lie that ’ I can’t ‘ or ‘ it’s a waste of time.’ In my case writing a poem or illustrating a verse that is special to me is not about skill it’s about enjoyment and a sense of achievement as I listen to my heart. It’s about gaining a better sense of the amazing and unique person you are and I am.
So these are my 5 A Day that are helping me find purpose, God’s love and hope in these challenging times. What are yours?
Weekly thought with Rev. Nico Ohlsson // What is God doing in the middle of this pandemic? // 15 April 2020
Everyday Faith with Tim Hodgson // 13 April 2020
Spiritual Growth with Sharon Seal // Lectio Divina // 13 April 2020