fuel for everything

December 1st, 2016

It’s no secret that everything at the Sanctuary is fueled by prayer. All our inspiration, ideas, directions – everything comes from time spent listening to God and sharing his heart during our daily . So what fuels the rhythm?

our god is love

God is so generous to us with his presence, his Word, his revelation and his other children – we learn and grow through them all.

But there’s one thing that has been uniquely significant to the Sanctuary’s journey… and that’s our list of the characteristics of God.

Every day, we use all the lists in this source document – along with headlines or topical foci – to shape our rhythm.

But the characteristics list is so precious – every day we take one of these treasures and let it frame our praise and renew our minds. So if we could save one resource, one thing we’ve made or gathered from the journey of the last seven years, it would be just this…

Because it’s so rich.

And it keeps on growing…

The more time we spend in worship; the more we see God at work in the world; the more we get to know him – the more words, descriptions and images we need to reflect our ever-deepening discoveries of the wonder of who he is, what he is like and how he works!

So here’s the latest version of our source document – open it up, find the list, use it in your prayer times and join us on an amazing adventure into the heart and reality of God.

As for us, we’re looking forward to starting again with the newly extended ‘As’ on Monday!

see-through Aslan

November 28th, 2016

Advent has begun, and our Christmas window is up… beckoning people to meet with Jesus through a powerfully gentle message. We’ll let the images – and the words they contain – speak for themselves!

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asland-and-jesus-rhs-pane

aslan-and-jesus-lh-pane-dusk

aslan-and-jesus-close-up

Thank you to the whole team who helped inspire the wonderful, weaving journey God led us towards with this window, and contributed concepts, quotes, practical assistance, focused prayer and/or moral support especially Liz, Jill, Nic, Sandra, Lisa and Stephanie.

Thank you to C.S.Lewis and Pauline Baynes for the original story, words and illustrations, which millions are still being blessed by receiving and sharing today.

And – most of all – thank you to our own amazing artists:

Alison Helliwell-Hodson, who painted our wardrobe door last year, and co-created with God to do something faintly miraculous and servant-heartedly extravagant with half a dozen white glass pens this year…

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And Barbara Macnish and Sarah Baxter, whose live art Advent worship of Jesus from three years ago is still serving the One it depicts this Christmas, as thousands of people every day look through Aslan and find Jesus shining through.

We’re praying many will hear his beautiful call as they drive or walk by.

Advent and Christmas resources

November 25th, 2016

Visit our seasonal resources page to find and download Advent and Christmas songs, prayer resources and dramatic monologues to help you connect with the true meaning of Christ-with-with us.

the heart of Christmas cropped

were there ever sweeter sounds?

November 14th, 2016

It’s about ten days since we read this story and two other articles (linked from the bottom of it) from Open Doors about Christians returning to towns in the Nineveh Plains, near Mosul in Iraq. While we continue in broken-hearted intercession for those in or fleeing Mosul as the Iraqi army advances against IS, and mourn all that has been – and is being devastated – we just can’t shake the hopeful echo of the sweetest worship we think we’ve ever heard. So, on Friday, we wrote this prayer:

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Were there ever sweeter sounds to you
than this my melody-making King?
Barely not-broken bells ringing in desecrated ruins;
Brave footsteps crunching up paths
or steps to reach stolen steeples
ready to lift the cross high again in simple, wooden glory;
and the courageous, beating-faster heart
of every loving pastor
who goes ahead of his people
to prepare the Nineveh plains for their return.

I never heard more bitter-sweet sounds
my melody-making King,
than that single bell which still echoes in my heart
and the stories calling me to deeper worship
than my songs have yet to find,
and greater courage than my life may ever be called to live.
But, although I hesitate to add anything alongside
these holy fragments of praise,
I say a thousand silent thank yous for their beauty –
and this answered prayer of unspeakably precious worship renewed.

praying for peace again

November 9th, 2016

Visit the world peace section of our search by issue page
to browse our peace resources – songs, creative prayer stations, written prayers and more – to help you to pray on and around 11.11.

peace vigil lead image

a prayer for the USA as election day approaches

November 3rd, 2016

Every nation’s elections matter to us. We pray for every one we can – especially those who don’t become the focus of international headlines for months on end. They are especially important to us for that very reason. But the USA has such a significant international impact – and its presidential election has been so present in our headlines – that it has had to be a more significant and sustained focus for prayer in our daily rhythm by necessity.

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To date though, we haven’t written any specific resources out of these prayer times to lead others’ prayers about the election. We didn’t feel specifically led to, and it has felt like others’ place to do this.

There is simply so much in the UK that we cannot and do not know or understand, and which some of our brothers and sisters in, and from, America are better placed to lead prayer over.

But today is different.

Because yesterday we received an email from a local youth group leader. One of her young people was deeply concerned about the USA election and wanted to pray about it.

He had remembered this non-partisan prayer, which we wrote on 23 June – the night of the EU Referendum in the UK – as we all committed to trust God whatever the outcome was, at the end of a 12 hour prayer vigil for our nation and Europe. And he chose to adapt the last stanza of it to find the words he needed to pray for America’s momentous decision…

Following his lead, we’ve slightly re-worked the whole prayer for those in the UK, other nations – or even perhaps the USA – who might find it helpful. And we’ve re-published it here as ‘a prayer for the USA as election day approaches’.

This is a prayer we feel qualified to lead our national and international pray-ers in authentically, and which enables us to express our heart to bless our brothers and sisters in the USA – whichever way they will be voting on 8 November. And to them in particular, just for a moment – we want to say that  our hearts will stay with you, praying for your nation long after our headlines have finished reporting your election news daily. God loves you – may he bless you and keep you, shine his face upon you and give you his peace.

A prayer for the USA as election day approaches

Father of nations,
thank you that the future of the USA, the Americas and the world
do not ultimately rest in the hands
of voters, politicians or anyone else
except you.

Ancient of days,
thank you for your faithfulness to the USA,
we choose to trust you – Alpha and Omega –
whatever the outcome
of the presidential election.

Lord of lords,
we, your people,
choose to put our hope in you
for it is you alone who faithfully brings forth justice
for us and for all the nations.

Author of wisdom,
help everyone who must decide in this hour of choice
when no one but you really knows what each outcome will bring
to listen to you,
and to speak and vote out of love

True king, saviour and friend,
thank you that there is always a redemptive way forward in you
whatever happens.
So either way, we will continue to humble ourselves
and pray for you to heal us, the USA, and the world.

a prayer as Calais’ ‘migrants’ are bussed out

November 2nd, 2016

Our headlines have been full of updates from Calais over the last few weeks, as French authorities have cleared the ‘Jungle’ camp and bussed its ‘residents’ to centres all over the country. Our hearts are breaking all over again, knowing that 7,000 unique stories are merely entering another chapter of uncertainty. But today’s psalm (29) gave us encouragement to cry out to God again for their cause to be heard:

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A prayer as Calais’ ‘migrants’ are bussed out  (inspired by Psalm 29)

Oh Great Voice of love-fuelled justice –
Word; Truth; and Life –
How can we still be so deaf to your call
after all these months of news from Calais?

Your voice echoes on both sides of the channel.
It shatters complacency and calls leaders  to account.
It cuts through convenience
and drowns out the bureaucracy
that endlessly negotiates
which nation is more responsible
and how many processes must be put in place
before someone in need is finally welcome.

Your voice splinters through false divides
in vulnerability
that say boys are fine,
or over 13s are safe enough.
And it penetrates the dissembling attempts
to question the age of a child
in order to keep them out.

Your voice whispers devastatingly loud
this thundering truth
into the silence of 130 million
French and English hearts
Enough!
Each one of these 7,000 is my beloved
,
and 1,500 of them are children,
and you have room,
so MAKE A WAY.

Surely now we must hear your call?
As we watch these ‘migrants’
move on again,
adding another chapter of trauma
to thousands of desperate life stories,
but still
– even after all these months and miles –
finding nothing nearer to ‘home’.

Oh Great Voice of love-fuelled justice –
Word; Truth; and Life –
How can we still be so deaf to your call
as bus loads of people leave Calais behind?

growing the GLOW

November 1st, 2016

Building on last year’s much appreciated GLOWing window and gifts for 31 October and our 1 November gallery of saints, we decided to grow the GLOW by simply refreshing our windows and increasing the number of neighbourhoods where our pray-ers were ready to give out gifts in. It’s been a great few days!

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We began, as ever, by creating glowing pumpkins together in morning worship (below), and then went simple and bright with part 1 of the window itself (above) – serving the message to have its maximum impact:

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A couple of our pray-ers made up this year’s #MadeToGLOW gift bags (below) and arranged distribution to different neighbourhoods in our area, and each pray-er involved in the giving ran out… one even had their heart pumpkin taken too!

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Reactions were really warm – children loved getting a whole goody bag, and were excited by the badge and stars as well as the chocolate. A simple message about Jesus’ light and love (above) explained why we were giving the bags, and why all of the pumpkins at pray-ers’ houses were carved with hearts:

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Then this morning, the main event started. We cleared out all our pumpkins from our window and resurrected a slightly smaller selection of our full gallery of GLOWers from history. (You can visit the gallery here to find out exactly who’s featured and what each one did to shine the light of love.)

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This year we grouped the saints under five phrases designed to help unpack more of what it really means to GLOW with Jesus’ light:

By loving indiscriminately – seeing God’s value for every person.

By loving creatively – to find new ways to tell old truths.

By loving intelligently – to explain more of God’s creation.

By loving materially – giving generously to help others.

By loving uniquely – however we were all created to shine.

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The window’s only been up half a day – we’ve not even had the chance to photograph it GLOWing in the dark yet – but already lots of people have stopped to look at it in detail, and find out what it means to be Made to GLOW.

sheet music back catalogue complete

October 28th, 2016

We’ve reached a significant milestone, thanks to the dedicated work of our volunteer scorer, Cherry Gilbard. Today we uploaded the sheet music for Jesu, high and holy and You are all we’re living for and as a result, every one of our back-catalogue of songs now has dots as well as chords to help you learn them with.

guitar close up

Cherry will kindly continue scoring all our future songs, one at a time as they are written, but today we just want to sit back and give her a massive round of applause for years of generous service in getting us completely up to date – as well as responding to new songs as they came up. We can now just focus on going forward.

Thank you so, so much Cherry!

a prayer for frustrated missionaries

October 25th, 2016

At the start of October, Gillian Wright came to spend a week at the Sanctuary, to experience our full prayer rhythm. She led some prayer for the creative arts, and also tried her hand at some creating of her own.

praying for peace... in humility

We particularly loved this simple prayer she wrote during her time here, and what it voices about God’s grace to use us just as we are; every context being a mission-field; and the importance of a prayer-led approach to mission. So we decided to share it with you all too:

A prayer for frustrated missionaries

Start where you’re at.
Don’t go looking further,
God is great enough.

Start where you’re at.
On your knees praying to the Father;
eyes shut, thoughts gathering.

Start where you’re at.
Out of your experience,
from who you are –
faults and failings too.

Start where you’re at.