Trees, glorious with russet, amber, and burgundy leaves, tantalize my vision, ensuring a rapt audience for the prima donnas detaching and floating ground-wards to surf the currents, before piling into crowded corners or strewing languid along stretches of gutter, hoping for an encore with a passing breeze. Beyond them, hands of gold and orange cling to brown vines, showing as stripes against newly green hills.
All this leafy showcase drenched in rose gold sunlight that bathes a relieving balm through the crisp autumn air. A palette of rich colour and a mellow ambience that define my favourite season and, after summer’s toxic heat, administer a luscious syrup to my senses.
I thank you Lord for this wonderful season that revitalizes me from my summer lethargy and draws me outside again. Into the garden. Planting and wandering, simply enjoying, and taking time to be at peace in you. Amen.
Praise God for Autumn! For leaves. For colour. Sing your favourite hymn or song and rejoice in the Lord!
Look for psalms with verses that speak of creation praising the Creator. EG Ps 8, 96, 97, 98,104. Read some verses out loud and add words of your own to talk to Jesus.
Find a poem about autumn or a painting of autumn leaves. Let it inspire you to praise God.
Give thanks for your senses and for the variety of shape, form, and colour in creation. Make a list of all the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures, that bring delight to you and cause you to thank God.
Use words, or paints, or other art media to express worship to God. Create something beautiful as a thanksgiving or a witness to others.
Go into your garden or take a walk and enjoy looking at other gardens. Ask God to open your eyes and use your senses as well as your mind to reveal himself and to speak to you. What insights or parables of God’s kingdom does Jesus want to convey to you? Do any Bible passages come to mind?
Consider how we might all be better stewards of God’s beautiful creation. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you practical ways of respecting and caring for God’s world.
Enjoy the garden as God’s gift as you plant flowers or bulbs. Bless someone else with a plant or flowers.
Write a Bible verse, that speaks to you at this time, on a sheet of A4 paper. On another sheet write a prayer telling God the main thing on your heart and mind right now. Place some different coloured autumn leaves between your 2 sheets of paper and press them under some heavy books. Leave them until later in the year, when the time seems right to speak further with God about this. What has the Lord been saying and doing in your life since then? Review where you were at then, and how you are doing now. Is the same thing still uppermost in your mind? Let the pressed leaves be a reminder of God’s presence with you during the different seasons of life. Jesus is with you now and always.
Praise the Lord, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom. Let all that I am praise the Lord. Psalm 103:22
Psalm 34:1-14 (NIV)
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
What attributes of God’s goodness are evident in the psalm?
Consider how wonderful a flavoursome food is in your mouth – such a good taste is a delightful, and even powerful, experience.
How might you describe the taste of the Lord’s goodness?
Sweet? Delicious? Tasty?
What about succulent? Tangy? Spicy? Mouth-watering?
Reflect on the difference between being told about God’s goodness, and meeting with God yourself – seeing him face to face and experiencing more of his goodness.
What difference does God’s goodness make to the way you live your life?
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It shows how one family is being blessed as they use the resources we're providing.
I pray you'll continue to grow in faith and in your reliance on God in this time.
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Fire & Light
A simple Vigil for Easter Saturday Night
You and your household are invited to celebrate your identity as Children of the Light, either indoors with candles or, weather permitting, outdoors around a fire pit, campfire or lantern.
You will need a torch for the readings.
Begin in darkness. Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
A fire/flame is lit
A reader speaks: This is the night we remember that our Lord Jesus Christ passed from death to life. We gather before a fire, united with all God’s waiting people throughout the world, giving thanks for the miracle of God’s forgiveness and grace, as we identify with the resurrection of Christ in our lives here on earth and for eternity. On this night we declare the victory of Christ over the powers of darkness which pervade our neighbourhood, nation and world. We proclaim God’s victory of Light over darkness, of life over death.
· Sing or listen Within our darkest night (Taize)
· Reading: Psalm 27
· Prayer of confession and/or the Lord’s Prayer
Telling the Story to One Another if alone you could journal/call a friend at this time
As you sit around the fire/flame, what stories of Jesus from the Gospels, and from his interaction in your life come to mind? Or you may want to recap the events of Holy Week leading to the crucifixion and to wonder about how Jesus’ disciples coped with their grief and dashed hopes. Then remember the significance of your baptism and that your life and hope is in Christ. Take time to share your stories.
Reading Romans 6:1-11 (The Message)
A Candle is lit from the fire or first candle
· PRAY for your loved ones, community, state and nation, for our leaders and medical experts, PRAY FOR THE WHOLE WORLD as we face COVID19 – bringing them all into the LIGHT
· Each person can light a candle and hold it or place it before them
· SING a song/s about light and hope eg Shine Jesus Shine, or Pass It On (It only takes a Spark)
The light of Christ is in you, behind you, before you, till dawn breaks, and the Sun of Righteousness breaks forth all over the earth.
All: Alleluia! Amen!
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
All: In the Name of Christ; Amen.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devoura] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Confession: Heavenly Father,
For the times we think more of our ideas and words, and neglect your ways and promises;
For the times we trust in the good things you give us rather than in you;
For the times we step over the line you have told us not to cross: Father, forgive us.
For the times we turn our back on people in need, rather than help in the way we can;
For the times our pride and boasting get in the way of thankfulness and praise to you;
For the times we forget the kingdom harvest and forget about harvesting: Father, forgive us.
Romans 6:1-11 The Message (MSG)
6 1-3 So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
Maundy Thursday 2020: Loving well.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. John 13:1
Setting the scene
· Readings: Matthew 26 and John 13 – different family members could prepare ahead to read the different parts of the story – you could select only some parts of these chapters to read
· A bowl of water and towel, soap etc – set up a visual feature in a corner
· if you want to, aim for a Mediterranean style meal or a lamb-based dish for your evening meal today
· No matter what you are planning to eat, when you lay your dinner table, if there is room, also place a plate with bread in the centre of the table (flat bread like pitta or a wrap, or else a slice of bread or a roll etc) and a carafe/jug/bottle and/or a goblet/glass of wine/port/juice – alternatively set them aside to bring onto the table later
· You could also have a candle, cross, rosemary or other herbs, silver coins on your table
· Choose some background music or songs to sing or listen to at appropriate times
· If you are on your own tonight, be reminded of the unity you have in Christ with his people everywhere. May the Holy Spirit warm your heart and bless you through the bond of peace we share together.
Loving well: Serving one another
Read John 13:1-17 – go to your washroom and take turns to all thoroughly wash your hands, reminding one another that this simple task is a service to everyone in keeping us all healthy, especially at this time of risk with COVID19. Remember that Jesus came to serve us and help us. Picture Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Imagine the Servant King washing your hands for you now.
As you come to the table, have someone pray, giving thanks for the way you have served one another in preparations for the meal – cooking, setting the table, washing hands etc - or else say your usual table grace together.
Loving well: Eating together
Enjoy your meal together, take special note of the taste and aroma of the food. Enjoy the conversation and the blessing of being safe and well and enjoying this time in one another’s company. Picture the disciples eating, talking, laughing together with Jesus. Remind yourselves that Jesus is present with you now at the table, as you share your meal and his meal. Say the Lord’s Prayer together.
Draw your attention now to the bread and the wine. Read Matthew 26:17-30 and (optional) break the bread and serve one another, eating it together (remembering) the body of Christ given for you. Pour the wine/juice and drink, (remembering) Jesus’ blood shed for you. You can use the liturgy David provided if you prefer.
Loving well: care and compassion
You could now have a few moments of prayer for loved ones, the nation, and the whole world, as we all face the consequences of COVID19.
Then, if weather permits, you might go out into the garden with torches and read about Jesus’ anguish, prayer, and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane Matt 26:36-56. Play some music… Reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice for us and thank him for loving us so much.
Say the words of John 13:34-35: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Bless one another and return indoors to finish your meal.
For your own prayer and meditation tonight:
Reflect on the fact that the disciples all deserted Jesus and fled (Matt 26:56) but that Jesus will never abandon us (Matt 28:20). He is faithful and assures us of his loving presence with us. Take time to listen for his voice telling you how much he loves you……
Ask Jesus to show you how you may put love into practice this Easter and beyond. Seek his help to discover new ways of extending care and compassion to those in isolation or struggling with a society changed by restrictions at this difficult time.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1John 4:10-12