a prayer for Colombia

September 27th, 2016

Yesterday Colombia’s government and Farc rebels signed a historic peace deal, bringing to an end a 52 year conflict, which has claimed 260,000 lives and displaced eleven million people. It’s a day of celebration in the Sanctuary, as well as in Colombia, because for the last four years this peace process has come onto our prayer board again and again…. at first it seemed to voice only an unlikely, left-field hope but now…

a-prayer-for-colombia

On Sunday, the general population will vote on whether to ratify yesterday’s peace-deal and – if they do – then  the hard work of national forgiveness and re-building can really begin.

Colombia want to send a message to the world – fighting is not the way to win, and we pray that they will be heard in the places that most desperately need to grasp this truth and to believe that peace is not only possible – but essential – for the nations experiencing the most entrenched conflicts of our time.

We also pray that all Colombians will be able to do the hardest thing of all, described so poignantly by the Farc rebel leader –  that they will be able to ‘disarm their hearts’. It is these words that have inspired our prayer for Colombia today – one, we hope you will join us in at this key time:

A prayer for Colombia

Oh Lord our God, source of all life
and every gift that is good –
how can we praise you for this?
For weapons laid down
and pens taken up to draw out
a clear and peaceful path ahead;
for fists unclenched
and opened out
to shake the hands of those they once threatened.

Oh Lord our God, source of all wisdom
and every decision that brings shalom –
how can we thank you for this?
For leaders who realise
that the hardest work lies ahead
as Colombia seeks to forgive and re-build;
and for a nation longing
for a fighting, competing world to hear
that their long years of conflict only made everyone lose.

Oh Lord our God, source of all reconciliation
and every relationship that is right –
can we raise our faith to ask you for more?
Let every vote marked down
by a precious, Colombian hand
be matched by a disarmed heart
ready to voice the mourning that must be heard;
to be generous with forgiveness, repentance and restitution;
and most of all, to move towards “enemies” with love.

 

more chances to hear our sparrows sing

September 23rd, 2016

Around eighteen months ago, two members of our community – singers Anya and Liz – formed the close harmony duo: sparrow song. Their vision was to take their music, characterised by ‘heavenly harmonies and hope-filled lyrics’ into public places where its sound, and most importantly the heart behind it, could be shared freely and widely. Here’s where they’ll be singing this term:

sparrow-song-autumn-2016-dates-imageYou can find out more information on our sparrow song page – where you’ll also find a brand new ‘taster’ so you can understand just why they have been described as having ‘a sound like the smell of warm caramel’. Sit back, close your eyes, and let Anya and Liz sing you Amazing Grace by heart, and from the heart….

autumn term events

September 22nd, 2016

We’re in our first week back of our Autumn term, having taking our usual late summer break in the first half of September. We’re expectant of God doing more great things in and through us in the weeks ahead… get a glimpse of some of what’s coming up by downloading our full autumn term calendar from our events page. Just make sure you have your diary ready…

pumpkin fairy lights

a peace-builder’s prayer

September 3rd, 2016

Today we turned our large A65-facing window into a dry-stone wall. Not to shut people out of course! But to inspire drivers and passers-by to join in with building peace through prayer and action.

peace builder window

The window also contains Isaiah 61:4 and a specially writen prayer inspired by dry-stone wall building that you can use in other contexts too…

A peace-builder’s prayer

Master-Builder, I come with work-ready hands
to craft peaceful communities with you.
Word by word, action by action,
help me persist in choosing what is constructive
to build others up and bring rough edges together for good.
And most of all Lord, give me courage to leave space
between what I lay in place, inviting your Spirit to enter in,
making all I build strong and flexible enough to stand and remain.

The window – and prayer – were inspired by a time of prayer earlier this summer (which also inspired this creative resource designed to help people pray about building peace) in which we focused on God as Peace-Maker and built our own mini dry-stone wall in prayer.

It’s great to be able to share what God showed us to so many people, and in such different ways…

(The beautiful artwork raising our sights beyond the wall is an original piece by Barbara Macnish, which was originally created for the cover of our album: Moving with his heart. Find out how you can order CDs or download the songs for free here)

 

 

made the grade?

August 18th, 2016

On results day for so many young people across the UK, and following what came out of our prayer time at the start of exam season, and our prayer time for them this morning, we wanted to share this prayer so we can all pray with and for them about what matters most:

calculator

A prayer for those getting exam results

For all those asking:
“are my grades enough?”
Or even “am I enough?”
Father, let nothing drown out your truth:
“You are loved just as you are;
you are worth so much more
than the sum of your marks,
achievements or ambitions.”

And for all those celebrating
the satisfaction of reaching or exceeding
the goals they – or others around them – set,
Father, let them still hear your truth:
“You are loved for who you are;
you are worth so much more
than the sum of your marks,
achievements or ambitions.”

And for all those who feel
their grades define their future
or determine their path,
Father, help them to see
that it is your love that defines them
and determines their future
and that you are for them, and with them
and ahead of them with hope.

 

olympic prayer

August 8th, 2016

We’ve just uploaded a new resource – created for the little windows at our centre, and shared with you too – to help everyone bless the Olympics and the good they have the potential to do. Our simple visual prayer points and written prayer can be downloaded as a PPT to project or a PDF to print – whatever’s most helpful for you…

Olympic_Rings.svg

We’d also like to recommend that you further fuel your prayers by keeping an eye on UNHCR’s blog on #TeamRefugees and that you share these amazing Struggle and Triumph films from Athletes in Action as widely as you possibly can – and make sure you don’t miss out on watching them too!

Let’s pray together now:

Christ the Redeemer,
as the world watches the scenes gathered beneath your memorial in Rio,
we come to you – our loving, living God – knowing you watch over every one of your global children there… and here.
You know even more than us just how much our world needs to come together at this time.
Bless these games to truly build love and peace; protect Brazil and every person currently in Rio; and open the world’s arms to mirror yours, so that all refugees can finally  be welcomed in.

the brewing and blessing goes on…

August 5th, 2016

It’s lovely that we’re still receiving feedback and encouragement in response to our Brew up… and Bless! creative outreach give-away and feedback for Yorkshire. Here are three new responses from the last couple of days that are just our cup of tea!

the perfect brew

On Wednesday, one of our gift-givers sent us this image – entitled ‘the perfect brew’ which someone he knows who had received a gift had forwarded on to him.  Great to see the tea-bag and magnet in action in a setting that really suggests it’s a proper cup of builder’s tea!

And then on Thursday, this article was published by the Ilkley Gazette, which is an edited version of the release we sent them – the author of the prayer got confused, but the author is so thrilled with Alison’s work, she’s more than happy for her to get extra credit!

Ilkley gazette article

And then today, we received a thank you note through the post from someone we’ve never met who lives in North Yorkshire! He had taken the trouble to write to encourage us because he knows (we don’t know how!) one of the shop-keepers we gave a gift to on Yorkshire Day, who also received a YouAreLOVED card on Valentine’s Day…

Anyway, here’s just a bit of what he said:

“What a wonderfully kind gesture to present [person’s name he knows] with your innovative gifts and prayer card to celebrate Yorkshire Day. Your ‘Loved’ gift a few months ago was met with equal gratitude. I personally feel that this is a positive and much appreciated way of bringing Christianity in to the community.”

Wow!

At the Sanctuary we have a little phrase – encouragement is the currency of the kingdom – and it is so true. People have no idea – especially those who proactively take so much trouble to find our contact details and get in touch just to say thank you for something – how much difference it can make to our work, or how often it is timed so exquisitely to arrive just when it’s most needed…

Like two weeks ago, when after a very difficult day, we received an email from a lady who lives miles away and drove past our lighthouse window on the way back home from visiting a relative in difficult circumstances in the Lake District. We couldn’t believe that after driving all that way and in such a challenging context, she took the time and trouble to find out who we are and email us about how our window had helped her to sense God’s peace and transform how she was feeling as she sat in slow traffic on the hottest day of the year coming back from such a hard time.

It is pure gold to hear these stories. It’s not why we do anything we do. But hearing what God is doing to reach out and bless people above and beyond how we could have possibly planed or imagined is just wonderful. It’s like a treasure trail of blessing! He is so good and creative, and so, so kind to encourage us by giving us yet more glimpses of his work through us and beyond us.

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing these stories too… happy weekend! Someone put the kettle on…

all poured out…

August 2nd, 2016

What a brilliant time we had yesterday, pouring out a beautiful blessing for Yorkshire Day that we’d been brewing up for months…

brew up and bless

We gave out 500 of these beautiful gifts, which included two customised Fairtrade tea-bags and a bespoke fridge magnet and postcard featuring our very own brewing prayer. Find out more and read the prayer here

BrewUpAndBless gift

We started just after 3pm and by 4:30 we had only empty baskets left! But as members of our praying community sat round them at 5PM prayers yesterday, we looked at them with even more of a sense of celebration than we had done when we’d managed to make enough gifts to fill them all…

This was because of the memories of all the smiles, laughter and conversations we’d had with the hundreds of Ilkley workers, residents and visitors who’d received the gift earlier that afternoon. There was just so much joy in it all. People’s faces lit up at the gift – especially when they realised it was focused on Yorkshire’s shared love of tea!

Lots of people said they could never say no to a brew! And many others commented straight away on Alison Helliwell-Hodson’s stunning artwork.

It was great to receive thank you tweets from shops we have a growing relationship with and to have a conversation with one business owner in particular who was thrilled with her gift and also remembered  the roses we’d love bombed Ilkley with for Valentine’s Day earlier this year.

Best of all – as ever – is knowing that as well as that moment of connection when we give the gifts to people, smile and have a chat, the gift keeps on giving as it goes home with the person. Perhaps this year, the magnets and brewing prayer postcards will stay on people’s fridges even after they’ve drunk the brew made from those special Brew Up and Bless tea-bags…

One thing’s for certain though… the day had a special flavour that’s lingering well into today.

And actually the pouring out isn’t all quite done, because the window remains to keep infusing that joy into our community throughout August…

Yorkshire Day may be over but Yorkshire people’s love of tea isn’t, and passers by and car passengers are still stopping to look at – and take photos of – the artwork and brewing prayer displayed at the Sanctuary:

BrewUpAndBless window lead

It is such a blessing to share God’s love, beauty and generosity with people!

 

brew up… and bless!

August 1st, 2016

Tea plays a key role in our ministry as well as the culture of our region and the UK as whole, so it’s no surprise that it’s provided the central metaphor for our Yorkshire Day creative outreach. But the idea itself came in a time of prayer, so we’re struggling to take credit for it…

BrewUpAndBless window lead

But we’re not struggling to give credit to the wonderful artist who took the brewing and blessing concept to the next level. Alison Helliwell-Hodson is Ilkley based and has been a precious member of our praying community ever since its early days when she offered to paint the mural that had formed part of our initial vision for the Sanctuary’s space.

Her #BrewUpAndBless artwork packs a punch from a distance, but the detail when you get close up is astounding. Just beautiful.

We’ve used it not just to display in our window – along with our brewing prayer and some tea bag mobiles! – but also to form the basis for making 500 bespoke Yorkshire Day handmade gifts to give out to shopkeepers and residents in Ilkley at teatime this afternoon:

BrewUpAndBless gift

The gifts (which include a postcard, fridge magnet and two customised Fairtrade tea-bags) feature another bespoke creation – our brewing prayer:

BrewUpAndBless postcard back

BrewUpAndBless postcard front

BrewUpAndBless tea bag

BrewUpAndBless magnet

We’re so grateful to the more than twenty pray-ers who came in throughout Thursday and Friday to make up the gifts. There was such a fun, loving atmosphere as we crafted them together. And as you can imagine, the kettle worked harder than anyone, brewing up constant fuel for the workers…

We’re really looking forward to writing our next blog tomorrow and being able to let you know just how blessed people have been as a result of so many people coming together and giving their time, talents, prayer and resources so generously.

But meanwhile, it’s our prayer that our window, gifts and social media activity for Yorkshire Day this year will share a powerful image of God’s love poured out for us, bring people together around a shared love of tea and Yorkshire and inspire gratitude – and perhaps even prayer – for the welcoming and community building spirit that characterises so many of Yorkshire’s people and places.

It’s our heart too that our brewing prayer might bless people well beyond Yorkshire. The recent EU referendum revealed many divisions in UK society, and the headlines have been full of acts of hatred. Gathering around a cup or pot of tea together is a very simple thing – as is prayer. Anyone can do them, but they are both powerful ways to re-build hopeful, loving communities.

Wherever you live, why not join in by praying with us now?

Stir up in me –
and everyone in my neighbourhood –
an energising, rich flavour
of robust, resilient love,
for family, for friend… and for community.
So that like the very best cups of tea,
we can all offer real comfort
and come alongside each other in uncertain times
til our society can again be infused
with the refreshing flavour
of kind words spoken
and people gathered together to build with hope.
God who poured out your very self for us,
brew up a blessing in us – and through us – I pray.

 

prayer stations inspired by psalm 119

July 27th, 2016

At the Sanctuary, one of the stimuli for our daily prayer rhythm is the psalms. We cycle around them, taking a different one each day. Psalm 119 is the longest, but we are always delighted when it comes round! It is so rich and full – we’re big fans. When it came round last week, Jonny Rudd was the pray-er leading our morning session. He created this series of five prayer stations inspired by different sections of the psalm. We loved them, so we wrote them up to share in the hope they will bless you too.

Psalm 119