interceding with the psalms

May 18th, 2018

We’ve just published a collection of creative ideas for interceding with the Psalms featuring more than 20 fresh and powerful suggestions initially developed through using our daily prayer rhythm’s cycle of psalms…

One of the major stimuli for the Sanctuary’s daily prayer rhythm is the Psalms. We cycle around them, taking a different one each day, and as a result – after several years of doing so repeatedly – are getting to know them better and better; and to receive them more fully as the rich gift to the church that they are.

They are not only helpful in leading us into worship and praise, but also often in inspiring or framing our intercessions. Sometimes it’s the whole Psalm that resonates, sometimes just a part of it – but we’ve found that praying with the Psalms brings a depth and freshness to our intercessions that helps us press into God’s truth for many of the key issues in our world that we’re praying about.

In this new resource – creative ideas for interceding with the Psalms we’ve gathered together a number of examples and ideas from our daily prayer rhythm emails and previously published blogs or resources so you can dip into our growing collection of ideas inspired by the psalms in one place, and at any time.

We’re expecting it to expand in the future, and you will have additional ideas about how to use many of them as it’s designed to model an approach rather than be an exhaustive commentary – but we hope you will find the ideas so far a really helpful start.

(If you find this resource helpful and/or would like to think more about the Psalm’s place in our worship and prayer, you might also like to read this article: www.thesanctuarycentre.org/resources/article-psalms-as-our-worship-school.pdf)

praying for the church and its witness

May 11th, 2018

We’ve just published a new collection of heart-felt written prayers for the church and its witness, expressing our heart for Christians to grow and flourish in authentic and wholehearted love for God, each other and the world… and to demonstrate this in their witness to him individually and collectively.

They are written in love with a desire to serve and bless, but are charged with longing as they address a number of key areas of our mutual discipleship and mission which we all hunger to see pursued and representing Jesus more fully.

But they are also written as much for ourselves as for the rest of the church… because we need the transformation they seek too.

You’ll find prayers in this collection about lots of vital areas of concern to the Sanctuary such as growing in generosity and authenticity; enlarging our worldviews; loving the global church; developing listening lives; and being braver and free-er in our witness…

If you find some of these prayers helpful, you might be interested in exploring this collection of powerful written prayers and reflections on the theme of church unity too.

Peter speaks up this Easter

March 19th, 2018

Over the last few years, the Sanctuary has been building up a growing family of meditations written from the imagined ‘inside’ perspectives of key people in the biblical accounts of the Christmas and Easter stories. This latest one gives a voice to Peter as he looks back, particularly focusing on the events surrounding his betrayal of Jesus… (You can explore the full set on our seasonal resources page)

“Have you ever wished you could turn back time?

Not just idly, mind you… not just in passing. But with every sinew of mind and muscle straining to travel back to the past. As if raw longing could somehow re-write your history if you could only regret it hard enough, and you could somehow rub out what you said then, and ink in a new reality to shout out loud what you should have said – what you would say now – if you could just have your time over again.

This time, my time over again, I get it right. This time, my time over again, I speak up for him.

While he’s being led like a lamb to the slaughter, this time I speak up for him.

While he’s living out love incarnate, this time I don’t lie and excuse my way out of the greatest friendship I’ve ever known.

************

Jesus of Nazareth? Yes I know him. I’m proud to know him. I’m still getting over the Son of God associating with the likes of me. Because that’s who he is you know. He’s the Light of the World; the Way, the Truth and the Life; the one we’ve been waiting for that the prophets promised. All these empty centuries and now he’s here! Messiah walking among us… Messiah walking with me!

No, no; you’ve got it wrong. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Nothing at all. He’s the only one among us who hasn’t… the only one who could cast the first stone at someone else. Not that he would, mind you. No. He’s always on at the Pharisees about stopping putting law above love. That’s why they hate him. That’s why there’s all these trumped up charges against him.

Yes absolutely, you’re right.  I was with him in the garden. Yes that was me you saw. You’re right about my accent. I’m from Galilee – that’s where Jesus found me and called me and made something of me and my life. Really quite something out of absolutely nothing mind you. Me and my brother Andrew, well we left our nets by the lakeshore and followed him. And we’ve been following him ever since…

Three years of mercy and miracles and mind-bending parables and teaching. Three years of life turned upside-down and made into life you never knew was possible. Real life; true life; life to the full. Three years of transformation… but you’d need to meet him, to get to know him, to actually follow him yourself, to really understand what I mean.

But no…

That’s not what I said at all.

************

Instead, just like that, I threw those three beautiful years away. In less time than it took a rooster to crow twice, I’d drawn a line through it all. I’d betrayed him completely; denied him repeatedly. With every single syllable that came out of my mouth.

And so in agony I rewind the clock still further; yo the night before. And there we are, sat together with the others for the Passover dinner again. And then, it’s with searing heat then piercing chill that I hear him say again what he said that night. That that’s exactly what I would do – betray him before the cock crowd twice. And I swore I wouldn’t.

But I did. I swore again. Only this time it was to not knowing him, never having known him…

I just keep going over it all over and over again.

And then I let the clock run forward and he does what he does for me still – does what he does for all of us inspite of ourselves.

I denied him to protect myself… and he went and died in place of me.

I only looked out for myself. But he bore the weight of all of us. He bore the weight even of this.

It’s too much. He took it all. And I couldn’t even own my tiny part.

That black Friday got darker and darker till night fell before sunset and the whole created order seemed turned on its head. And in the midst of this cosmic battle, where was brave Peter the Rock then?

Hiding on the sidelines, skulking on the edges, sobbing when I realised what I’d done, but still doing nothing, nothing to speak up and say any different. Why didn’t I run through the streets shouting the truth? Why didn’t I force my way in front of the officials to plead for his life? Why didn’t I go and find the women and stay with him in his last hours at the foot of the cross? Even if it was just to weep, no matter…. why didn’t I go back and stay with him?

I know why. I was ashamed.

************

And yes, time has moved on forwards again and I’ve walked the whole path of it now. I’ve seen resurrection joy. I’ve breakfasted with my risen king. I’ve received his pardon for this, my worst betrayal. I’ve experienced his Spirit coursing through my veins and giving me more courage in a moment than in my whole life put together. I’ve seen his church start to grow and thrive. I’ve done miracles in his name.

But still, I will never forget.

Still, I’d change it all if I could; make him never need to ask me if I truly loved him after all. And still I make this resolve; never again will I not speak up for the voiceless. Never again will I not defend the poor and the vulnerable. Never again will I deny who my Lord is. Never again will I put my comfort or safety before his people and his priorities.

I will speak up. Come what may; I will speak up.”

Download Peter speaks up as a pdf or explore other Easter meditations, prayers and songs on our seasonal resources page

window prayers

February 28th, 2018

It’s no surprise that the Sanctuary’s move to a new base means we’ve been getting used to new views through new windows. Some of them look out and back towards spacious and uplifting scenery like this…

But some of the windows look up a B road that’s well travelled by walkers, people out with their dogs and traffic moving back and forth on an important connecting route between local villages and towns.

At least once a day, and usually more often, there’s a few minutes where you need to stand at one of these windows that point up the road to do the washing up. And as you do, there’s another few minutes where your mind, heart and spirit can just quietly connect with God…

Only at these times, rather than being drawn to worship (wonderful this is) or  intercession in response to the headlines (important as this is) or even petition about your own life (pressing as this often feels), it’s hard – especially while the sights in front of you are still so consciously new – not to spend the time simply being present with God to the communities and people around you.

When a bus drives up the road it displays the sign of where it’s going and so, almost without noticing, you find you’re blessing that place you’re beginning to get to know better. And then when one’s going back the other way… well, then you’re heart is drawn to pray for that destination instead.

You never know what’s going to come past that triggers a sense of connection and blessing to a different aspect of life in your local area… the secondary school’s minibus; a delivery or service van for a local business; a tractor or livestock trailer; people you’re getting to know; walkers passing through… each one carries an invitation not just to smile, but to bless and pray for them before you even realise that’s what you’re doing.

Where do your windows at home or work face? And how could you find – or make – a few minutes in your day to look out of one and simply bless your community and the people, businesses, livelihoods and community organisations that you are led to think of as you look watch the view, or the traffic, that is in front of you?

This idea is just a fresh incarnation of an old one, which is helping us pray in a new way for a new place… find more simple ideas like it to pray for your own local area in this resource

resources for every season

February 26th, 2018

If you’re looking for Lent, Mothering Sunday or Easter resources, visit our seasonal page to find fresh, outward focused approaches for your worship. (Or browse Fairtrade Fortnight resources here.)

growing our favourite resource

February 19th, 2018

We’ve just updated our favourite resource – the list of God’s characteristics that fuel the back bone of our daily prayer rhythm – with another treasure-trove of new insights discovered as we’ve followed, prayed and studied over the last few months. There is always more of God to search out! And whether you pray with our rhythm or not, this list is bound to spark your imagination and take you deeper into who God is…

sharing all our loving secrets

February 9th, 2018

We’ve just published a brilliant new practical input resource on creative outreach, distilling our top ten tips for sharing God’s love in creative ways

The Sanctuary’s collective sometimes refer to ourselves as ‘accidental evangelists’ – pray-ers, worship leaders and creatives who set out to bring more of the world into the church’s worship, who also found God leading us to bring more worship into the world in some very beautiful and life-giving ways…

As a result, for several years we’ve found ourselves conducting a kind of evangelism that feels very natural to us – it’s simply been an overflow of who we are… and so it’s come out through creating art installations in windows, poetry and allegories, singing on the streets, hand-crafting gifts, hand-writing letters and cards of encouragement and using social media to proactively bless and affirm.

You can browse some of this work here.

For the most part, it’s been really well received and so we felt it was time to try and distil and share some of the lessons we’ve learned.

The result is this resource which we hope and pray will bless and empower you as you too seek to share God’s love in creative ways

Please do contact us if you want to share your stories or ask us any questions about ours.

taking flight – a sixteen month testimony

January 31st, 2018

We love telling stories of what our brilliant God has done in, through and with us. Here’s another amazing one, or at least some of it…

what kind of world?

January 24th, 2018

This lament formed as a heart-cry in response to today’s devastating news from Afghanistan, and is dedicated to Save the Children’s workers and their families there, and all around the world, as we all ask God to comfort them, renew their courage, and as we pray blessing on their brave, amazing and loving work.

What kind of a world is it
where those who champion
the small,
infinitely precious
and vulnerable ones,
are attacked and destroyed?

What kind of a world is it
where love in action
is hated,
visciously wounded
and intimidated even to death
by anyone, however twisted a doctrine they serve?

But then, what kind of a world is it
where people live to protect
the small;
calling unknown children
their own precious priority,
infinitely worth risking danger to themselves to save?

And what kind of a world is it
that has life so written and woven
into its being
that hope always wins
as even the darkest acts
spark infinite avalanches of bright, light love in reply?

And what kind of God are you
who breathes
a blue-print invitation
into each of us,
to echo your  saving design,
whilst still bearing
the infinite weight and scars
of every,
single
rescue and loss
on your broad,
broken
shoulders of peace?

our top ten tips for praying with the headlines

January 16th, 2018

We’ve just published a brand new practical input resource sharing our top ten tips for praying with the headlines

We don’t have all the answers on how to pray in response to the news and current affairs. But here are some of the invaluable lessons that we have gradually learned as we’ve prayed with the news as a community on a daily basis for many years.

We hope you find them helpful in building your confidence and adding to – or confirming – your own experience. And if you have some extra tips you think we should include alongside them, do let us know!

Ultimately, the best way to grow in prayer is not to read resources about it, but to go on an adventure with God into it.

But we hope that some of the practical insights in this resource will inspire, remove fear around engaging with ‘heavier subjects’ and encourage people to move forward in their own journey of engaging with God’s world in his presence.

This new resource focuses on practical pointers exploring the ‘how’ of praying with the headlines, but you may also be interested in reading this blog article, which explores why praying in this way can be so rewarding – and surprisingly uplifting:  http://journey.thesanctuarycentre.org/2016/04/06/the-surprising-joy-of-interceding-for-the-world/