Archive for the ‘Journey update’ Category

loving feedback

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Last month, we sent 650 Valentine’s cards in one of our most precious #LOVED initiatives yet. Because after months – and years – of praying for our MPs, most especially with all the pressure they are currently facing, we wanted to affirm and encourage them all directly with words of love. (You can read more about what we did here.) We made it clear they didn’t need to respond – but of course some of them kindly did…

The hand-written note pictured above was especially thoughtful, given we hadn’t supplied our postal address, and extra effort had clearly been taken to research it as well as to write. But so were the many email responses we receive from MPs themselves, their parlimentary assistants, and even – in one case – from a very busy cabinet member.

It was of course really encouraging to hear back from people – to know all the cards and letters had been received. And more importantly still, to know they had clearly been received well and in the way we had hoped they would be.

Whilst it was wonderful to hear so many people talk of how much the messages had encouraged them, and to hear fun stories like the one where an assistant had whatsapped photos into the debating chamber so her MP would see them on the day. It was also heart-breaking to hear how rarely encouragement and affirmation are received by people bearing such responsibility generally – and especially in the current context of Brexit and all its surrounding implications.

It was even more disturbing to receive how much abuse is received. And to have a number of parlimentary assistants in particular talk about how they try and shield the MPs they work for from the worst of it, but have to read it all themselves – and how distessing they find this.

All this underlined the humanity of the people behind the walls of the iconic Houses of Parliament. As did the warmth and personable tone of many of the responses, and even the gentle joking from one MP about it ensuring he did actually receive a Valentine’s.

So what are we left with after all this? Certainly a deep sense of how special, wothwhile and important it was to respond to that nudge from God and do what we did. And even more so a great amount of thankfulness that we didn’t miss that chance, or dismiss it for whatever reason.

But most of all, a greater love for our MPs and their teams than we had even when we wrote to them. And a greater determination to grow still more in prayers, words and actions of love for them – whatever comes.

loving the UK’s leaders

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

For the last few weeks, our team have been crafting and preparing a special Valentine’s gift mailing to tell each one of 650 of our MPs individually the vitally important message that they are LOVED…

Here’s a picture of them all at the final check and count before they went in the post. We had to drive some distance from our base in Nidderdale to find a post-box big enough to fit them all in!

Each one received a personally addressed and signed letter and gift postcard, with the LOVED graphic above on the front, and the following text on the back:

What inspired us to do this?

Well there are two answers to that. The first is, of course, LOVE! But the second, is what fueled and grew that love – prayer.

You see because our daily prayer rhythm is outward focused, we are praying for the UK’s leaders very often. And of course, even more often than usual at the moment.

And it’s this frequent and extended prayer, and the trying to imagine ourselves in their shoes involved with that, which keeps reminding us that our leaders are so much more than the two dimensional public roles they hold, or the way they are talked about in the press, social media or conversation…

They are real people. Three dimensional people with back-stories, personal lives, pressures and emotions. Individuals deeply loved by God.

And the more we have prayed, the more we have realised this, and grown in concern for them. So much so, that we prayerfully reached a point where we felt we needed to show that love to them directly. Hence sending them true, loving and affirming words that recognise so much of what is overlooked when they are talked about in a way that is just two dimensional.

What are we hoping will happen as a result of sharing the message that they are LOVED with them?

Mostly, to be honest, just that each recipient will receive our words in the way they are meant, and actually feel loved through them. But perhaps, also, that the atmosphere in the Houses of Parliament might even be positively affected as they do.

Knowing we are seen, valued and appreciated – getting the sense that we are understood and loved even when we don’t manage to be perfect – is so powerful.

It is the starting point for three vital things we need as we face the kind of incredibly difficult and challenging situations the UK and its leaders are facing at this time.

The first is the relief of freeing perspective.

Ultimately, though we are called to serve and give everything we can to build with justice, compassion and love, ultimately the responsibility for the future is not in our hands, but in God’s. Whether those we have written to share our belief or not, we want to remind them – this is not all on them!

The second is hope.

No matter what happens, there are always fresh opportunities to return to the foundational principles of love, justice and compassion for all that this world was designed to run best on, and we are all made to build best with. And this mean, there is always a way to turn things around to align with a way forward that can bring transformation for everyone.

The third is courage.

Because what a difference it makes to remember that every person in this nation, and every nation – including each of our MPs – is of indescribable value to God.

To wildly paraphrase Jesus’ beautiful words in Matthew 6:26… if even just one of the sparrows who cheekily nests in the Victoria Tower, or perches anywhere else on the Houses of Parliament – is seen and deeply valued, how much more so are those who lead our nation?

As we’ve been praying for our leaders again yesterday and today, and particularly that they would be truly encouraged as they receive our messages to them, we’ve found some of the lyrics from the song For the one by Brian and Jenn Johnson particularly, and newly resonant:

‘Oh how you love us,
from the homeless to the famous and in between,
cos you formed us,
you made us carefully,
cos in the end, we’re all you’re children.
So help me to love with open arms like you do,
a love that erases all the lines and sees the truth…’

sharing all our loving secrets

Friday, 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

Wednesday, 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…

landing, pacing and resting

Monday, October 30th, 2017

We’ve landed in Nidderdale at the property which will shortly host the Sanctuary’s new, bespoke prayer space… and are starting to feel settled here. Our hearts are very full – we can’t stop thanking and praising God for leading us every step of the way over this last stretch, and for leading us here – to a place of such wonder and beauty right in the heart of Yorkshire.


We’re also very tired after a busy few months ending in one location and packing up two properties in order to move to the new one.

So during November and December, we’ll be taking it gently, making sure we pace ourselves, rest and just enjoy settling in before we start thinking about building plans in the new year. And some of our central collective members will also be taking a well-earned holiday during this time-period too!

But we wanted to let you know we’re safely here, all has gone smoothly, we’re getting settled, we’re so excited about what’s coming… and we’re already being inspired to create here!

Here’s a psalm that bubbled up and overflowed out from Liz yesterday afternoon…

Bright valley is all smiles today –

awoken by the world’s strongest light

to shine back the favour

in glowing gold and green

and burnished brown bronze.

The brooks almost giggle their descent,

as if tickled out of shyness

by creeping warmth

illuminating bracken-scented shade

to shimmer their rush, flow and drop.

Shoals of sky-painters

dip, glide and weave,

brush-stroking broad blue

with passing shapes;

then, as I ascend the fell under them,

shift craft and lead me up

like a troupe of soaring minstrels

– bright pied-pipers by the dozen –

uplit and uplifting.

A distant floating balloon

punctuates blue with red, now white;

what does my below look like from that kind of above?

But I am glad to be on the ground today,

climbing to first flight-heights only.

For here each ordinary thing,

each overlooked scrap

of moss on wall

or grass underfoot

grows jewel-like

as if the land itself was a prayer,

or a hymn – or both.

And it is of course.

I tread the same fields and rocks

as monks and pilgrims.

And I wonder,

is the whole valley dancing anew

to welcome us home

to their ancient glory-scape?

I breathe in deep, fresh joy.

And I quiet.

And I am all smiles too.

creative ideas for praying for leaders

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

We’ve uploaded a new resource: Creative ideas for praying for leaders and leadership at every level…

Download it direct or visit our outward focused worship resource library to browse for other resources on a similar theme or to view our full range of creative prayer ideas or prayer station sets

new season – new ways to pray with us

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Welcome to the Sanctuary’s new season and an update on some new and emerging ways to pray with us that we’re really excited to tell you about; especially if you’ve not been able to engage in our prayer rhythm previously because of physical distance from our base in the heart of the UK.

To jump straight in, visit pray with us; to find out more, keep reading…

At the heart of everything we are and do at the Sanctuary is worship and intercession. And, most centrally of all, our daily prayer rhythm of both, which has been running for more than seven years.

For the last five years of these seven – September 2012 to Augst 2017 – this rhythm was based at 6 Church Street, Ilkley. During this time – as part of a public centre set up, run in a shop-front space – we opened up this prayer rhythm up to everyone and anyone…

Monday to Friday we were there, three times a day, gathering with regulars, visitors and people passing through to worship God and lift the world – and every one in seven billion within it he so loves – to him.

But as of 1 September 2017, that changed as our occupation of 6 Church Street ended on 31 August.

We’re in the process of moving to our new base and preparing to work towards building a new small, bespoke prayer space there from scratch, which will even more closely match the vision God first gave us in 2009.

Of course, despite the disruption, inevitable mixed emotions and endless boxes(!) this is all very exciting…

But much more importantly, we’re entering a new season with a new model of working better suited to developing and growing – in both depth reach – our vision of engaging ourselves and others in sustained prayer for the nations, resourcing the church in outward focused worship and reaching out in creative ways to those who have not yet encountered God’s love.

In short, our vision and work (aside from expansion of the latter made possible by increased capacity) isn’t really changing. We’re still committed to obeying everything God has called us to do to explore, share and resource the journey towards the place where world and worship meet.

But the way we go about our work, and who we open some elements of it to, is changing.

The biggest change in our new model is that we’re shifting away from running a public centre to go both deeper and wider.

The deeper part is that the new base we’re developing will be much more of a hub,  a restorative, spacious and more private place which serves and facilitates the collective of people involved with actually carrying out the Sanctuary’s core work. Somewhere to gather, pray and work in and out of together in a more focused way.

The wider part is that we’re re-orientating how we do the rhythm to share the absolute treasure store we’ve found it to be with many, many more people than just those who were able to come through our front door when we  ran a public centre.

Shortly after our old base opened, one of our pray-ers asked if we could start sharing the famous whiteboard we used as the focus for the rhythm each day so that she could still pray with it even if she couldn’t come in that day.

And so we did – and suddenly, as well as our worship resources being used by people all over the world, people elsewhere started to use the whiteboard too…

Any prayer rhythm participation happening remotely was always just overflow – an added blessing… and because we were preparing each morning, we couldn’t usually share it until after morning worship.

But now this is all turning upside-down.

In our interim phase – now up until when the new prayer space has been built and is ready – and beyond it, even when our collective can gather again, we’re choosing to operate and resource the dispersed elements of our prayer rhythm much more deliberately.

So wherever you’re reading this, can we extend to you the warmest of invitations to join in with our daily rhythm remotely?

Because now the focus for any given day in the rhythm is being published late afternoon/early evening on the previous day. So no matter what time you check in Monday-Friday, wherever you are in the world, whatever time zone you live in and however early you like to pray, you should be able to find the focus there ready and waiting for you already!

Currently you can do this by following us on twitter or using the feed on the right hand side of our homepage to find out what our focus for worship and intercession is that day – and then join in with it!

(See our source document to view!some of the cycles behind the rhythm.)

But we hope more is coming too…

Hot off the press: we have also begun the process of trialing a daily email which resources this prayer rhythm in much more depth with a small group of our most committed pray-ers, with the view to exploring being able to offer this much more widely once it’s further developed.

We’re only a few days into this but the early signs suggest the road ahead could be more beautiful and transformational than we had even thought to imagine.

We’ll keep you posted but meanwhile, with the day’s focus now available to you in plenty of time each day, we’d love you to pray with us

If you have any questions about this, or any other element of the Sanctuary’s work, please do just contact us

lessons in beautiful transparency

Friday, August 4th, 2017

At the suggestion of one of our pray-ers, we’ve created a rather special, gift resource for you. It’s a souvenir and thanksgiving offering to celebrate our time at our first base, and to share the testimony of how God used a window to beckon us into greater bravery and train us in the art of how to communicate the gospel in beautifully transparent ways

we’re taking flight

Monday, July 24th, 2017

The Sanctuary’s time being based at our first physical home – 6 Church Street, Ilkley – is coming to an end, following us giving twelve months notice to leave the space this time last year. We’ll be taking flight on 31 August as another step towards creating a new base of our own and adjusting our current, public access model. And so we’re using these last few weeks of having our shop-front windows onto the A65 to begin sharing thank yous and goodbyes for the five years of generous hospitality given to us by All Saints Church…

To do this, we’ve brought together elements from two previous windows – created for Yorkshire Day 2015 and New Year 2016 – featuring the work of our two most talented artists – Alison Hodson and Barbara Macnish.

What better to say what we want to over this year’s Yorkshire Day (1 August) and as we prepare to enter another new season on the Sanctuary’s journey.

The text on the window reads:

“We’re taking flight!

We’ve loved sharing our prayers and creations with you through this space.

Thank you for having us All Saints Church! And goodbye and God bless to all our neighbours and passers by.”

It is then signed by the principal members of ‘team window’ – Jill, Liz, Alison and Barbara – on behalf of everyone at the Sanctuary.

We’re planning to work with landlords and councils going forward to make use of multiple, empty shop-fronts so this isn’t the end of our window work – but for this last of our first batch, at our first base, the main team of creatives involved all got together to celebrate the journey of the last five years and raise a toast to the glass that helped train us all in the art of communicating the gospel in beautifully transparent ways:

the little clay bird is flying far and wide!

Friday, July 7th, 2017

It’s been wonderful to see scores of copies of The Little Clay Bird flying out from our window-dispenser since we put up our final story window at 6 Church Street a couple of weeks ago. And we’re hoping this brilliant coverage in the local paper will spread the word – and the story – even further!