church at home
Today - a National Day of Prayer - let's all pray! Prayer points are here: http://nancygoudie.com/blog/ - have a great day and remember if you know how to talk - you know how to pray! God hears every prayer!
Cistercian Monk style
Cistercian monks have been self-isolating for 1000 years. They’ve learned a thing or two in that time. Here are a few tips from the brothers at Mount St Joseph Abbey in Roscrea, County Tipperary.
“We Cistercians have been self isolating for centuries. For those of you who are self-isolating, here are four concrete tips that have served our Order well for nearly a thousand years”
1) Write down a weekly schedule. It needn’t be too complex or specific. In fact, it’s important that you don’t regiment yourself so much that you become like a soldier. But having a basic schedule will structure your week and give you the time and freedom to live a productive life. You may want to colour-code the entries according to whether they are daily, weekly or monthly occurrences.
2) Add at least two structured prayer sessions to this. They needn’t be for more than ten minutes. Set aside a quiet place, and a good time, and make this your chosen meeting place with God.
3) Read! We may have a wonderful library at the Abbey but everyone can have access to books if they want. Many online stores are still operating.
4) Try to live in the present moment. One of the thoughts that short-circuits self isolation is the ‘What-to-do-next’ thought. It makes you restless, unable to engage with staying in one place. Your weekly schedule is a good start, here. And books will give you a mental ‘space’ to lose yourself in.
Doing church without meetings or buildings!
Ideas courtesy of Ness Wilson, head of Pioneer UK.
Ideas for Sundays:
- You might like to worship together as a household, or on your own, for a set time and then connect into the pre-recorded talk on our website. Sing along to worship songs or hymns you might have on your CDs, Spotify, YouTube or other media available to you.
- Meet up with a friend or two outdoors and go on a reflective prayer walk in a space that allows everyone to be 2m apart, such as on the beach when the tide is out or one of the National Trust parks that are open for free at this time. Use the beauty of creation to allow God to speak to you and inspire your prayers.
- Prayer walk around the town asking God to bless the shop owners, café owners and staff, asking God to prosper them at this time of anxiety over their jobs and businesses. Remember too the Doctors surgeries and medical centres as you pass.
- The BBC will be providing a Sunday morning service which you may wish to watch.
Ideas for small groups:
- We encourage you to be part of a small group, if you are not already.
- Your group may like to connect up weekly using a digital platform. Options available are Google hangouts, zoom calls (the free option allows up to 40 minutes and the paid account allows longer than 40 minutes) or www.freeconferencecall.com which has no time limit and is free for up to 100 people. (Hopefully there is someone technologically able within the group to arrange this.)
We suggest that everyone is allowed a turn to speak, eg. the group meeting starts with everyone in turn giving a personal update. Then you could continue with a suitable Bible study resource, for example, continue to look at the Lent Study guide that the local churches were using. Pray together for each other over your screens.
- Create a WhatsApp group for your small group if you don’t already have one. Use this to stay in touch on a daily basis and if/when someone in the small group becomes unwell, the others can rally round in prayer and practical action. Be aware of anyone in your group that might need a regular weekly phone call.
Ideas for whole church connectivity:
- Daily activity – At midday, let’s all stop what we are doing and pray the Lord’s Prayer, knowing that as we do so, we are joining in with the whole church community. Follow this by reading a daily devotional, such as ‘Every Day with Jesus’, or follow the URC daily devotional on their website at https://devotions.urc.org.uk/.
- Other possible resources to help with personal spiritual growth and engagement with scripture are www.unhurriedliving.com and www.biblesociety.org.uk/
- Those with families may like to establish a Family bible reading time in their home. Here’s a possible format if you have never done this before:
- Gather your family together and pray a short opening prayer, such as, “Lord, help us to understand Your Word and apply it to our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Then ask a child to read the day’s Bible passage out loud, using an easy translation. Then, discuss what it means altogether to help you all understand what you’ve read. You could ask 3 simple questions each time;
- What does this passage show me about God?
- What does it show me about myself?
- What must I do/change in the light of that?
- Work toward a discussion about how you can all apply what you’ve learned into your own lives.
- Ask someone else to read the same Bible passage out loud again, slowly.
- Then spend a few minutes praying together. The idea is to get comfortable praying out loud together (persevere in this!). A simple structure is this sequence: God, Others, Us. Give each member of your family one of these aspects to pray. The God part is about a short prayer of worship, praise and thankfulness. The others part is praying for someone you know who needs something. The Us part is praying for yourselves as a family – physical, emotional or spiritual needs.
- Read that Christian book that has been sitting on you bookshelf. Alternatively, support our local Christian bookshop. Email us a review so that we can share it with one another.
Remember to love your neighbours through acts of kindness. Be aware of them and offer to pray for those who are scared.
Finally God is with us and He will use this season to accomplish His purposes.