Archive for the ‘New resource alert’ Category

wild worship field guide

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

We’ve just uploaded a brilliant new creative prayer idea to our website; perfect for summer and holidays. Download our wild worship field guide now or read on to find out more about what’s inspired it and how it works…

What’s inspired this resource?

Most of Jesus’ teaching was conducted outside… on hillsides, next to lakes, in boats; he filled it with metaphors, pictures and stories about the landscape around the people he was speaking too.

And Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 are just two of the scriptures that re-enforce this reality of creation’s ability to communicate who God is and to help us connect with him and learn more about how to relate to him.

But sometimes we end up losing the richness of the connection between creation and worship… perhaps we enjoy being outside but don’t find it naturally prompts worship; or perhaps, in mostly thinking about scripture’s rich natural metaphors when we are inside buildings, we miss the real depth of revelation they have to offer.

Being based in the Yorkshire Dales, many of the Sanctuary’s team feel like we’ve come to a new understanding of scripture because of living in such close connection to so many metaphors used in it.

And we’ve found our prayer rhythm’s occasional wild worship times have made both creation – and scripture – come alive more; leading us into deeper worship full of wonder and joy.

We’ve also found they have further increased our commitment to creation care and good stewardship from the inside out; the more we love, wonder and connect to God through his creation, the more natural it becomes to take better care of it!

We wanted to share a taste of this approach we’ve found so helpful, so we’ve created this field guide; a fun, interactive way, to explore worshipping in the wild!

How does the field guide work?

You can:

  • use it individually, or as a group or family;
  • use it in the garden, or on walks in the countryside;
  • take it out with you on a specific trip or holiday, or keep it close to hand and tick off things as you discover them over a longer period of time; using each one as a gateway to prayer or praise.

The different elements for you to find outside vary from easy to hard; and of course, in a number of cases will only be visible in some seasons, but they’re all alphabetised like a glossary… so you can choose whether you find things and check the glossary… or use the glossary for inspiration of what to look for.

But however you choose to use the field guide, you’ll find reading the scriptures and reflections while actually looking, touching, hearing or smelling the element of creation they focus on, makes them powerfully memorable… don’t rush each one though, spend time thinking about different meanings, and asking God to show you more.

If you are using it on one specific occasion, you might like to prepare for your outing using the special prayer we’ve included (also copied below)… and/or use some of the reflection questions at the end of the resource, after you’ve come back:

A wild worshipper’s prayer

God of the wild and wonderful –
of arcing skies and miniscule, jewelled wings –
set my worship free to explore beyond these walls.
Re-ignite me, excite me and creatively delight me
as your word comes newly alive
through the colourful witness of your world.
Re-tune my senses, sharpen my mind
and quicken my spirit to your presence
as I look, hear, smell, touch and taste more of your goodness
and lead me out into greater adventures
of discovering you and caring for all you have made.

(If you’re interested in more resources like this, take a look at our God revealed in creation prayer walk)

interceding with the psalms

Friday, 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

Friday, 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

Monday, 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

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.

what kind of world?

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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/

a careful and care-filled prayer

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

for the peace of Jerusalem, and for us all:

Precious Jesus,
thank you that you
love all places and all peoples,
came for all tribes and tongues,
dwell – by your Spirit – in all nations,
choose to make your temple now
in hearts more than buildings,
and will one day come again
to make the whole earth new.

Precious Jesus,
for us who know you
as the incarnate, in-dwelling,
with-dwelling Lord,
and do not call the holy land
home in our day to day lives,
it’s hard to understand fully
the deep, unshakeable and compelling
resolves to possess Jerusalem,
however much we connect
to where you once walked –
or seek to understand those
who walk there today.

But thank you that you,
so much more than us,
understand why specific places
matter so much.
And thank you that you,
so much more than all of us,
know a way forward
that honours your perfect will and application
of your love, peace and justice
rather than our own – or others’ – interpretations
of what you want or what your word means.

Precious Jesus,
I come humbly in my limited,
foreign understanding.
I don’t want to trample your holy ground
or the dreams of anyone made in the image of you.
You already know what I think I think about Jerusalem,
but even while I still dearly long to truly know how you feel for sure,
I do not need to know that to pray with you for its peace,
and the peace of all people from different nations and faiths that look to it.

Precious Jesus, in your tender, weeping mercy,
and in your mighty name,
take this city right now under your protecting wings
like the mother hen you pictured,
and keep all her peoples and connected lands
safe from yet more cycling hatred and war.
And save us, Lord Jesus, please save us
from any who seek power over peace
or simply know not what they do here,
over and over and over again.

bringing new life to Christmas traditions…

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

… from all around the world!


We’ve uploaded a brand new resource to our seasonal resources page ready for Christmas this year and beyond…

This creative idea to bring new life to your Christmas celebrations and traditions draws inspiration from countries all around the world to introduce you to brand new ideas and share the original Christ-inspired stories behind old ones – all with a desire to help you re-connect more to Jesus as you celebrate his coming in many different ways with those around you.

The fact this resource also lead us on a mini, global tour full of learning from Christians around the world is a brilliant extra blessing, reminding us that Jesus came for all nations, peoples and cultures.

Our hope and prayer is that you’ll be as inspired as we have been to read these stories… and that you’ll experience a more worship-filled Christmas as a result…

putting God at the centre of your celebrations

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

In the abstract, holidays feel like a time when there should be more space to connect with God and the things on his heart. But in reality, many of us find that when we’re away from our normal routines, it can be harder – rather than easier – to spend time in worship, prayer or even reflection… especially if we are away with other people…

Busy festival times of celebration – especially Christmas – can be even more like this…

Even when the reason for all the activity is Jesus, it can end up negatively impacting on our time with him, or lead us to feel like we have two modes of operation – one clearly connected to our devotion, and one that just feels separate, even if its really good. In the morning we might read our Bible or an Advent reflection, but later when we’re laughing with friends over good food, it can feel like that’s unrelated to him.

So we wanted to share this incredibly simple and obvious idea that some of us used on an extended holiday recently, that we found to be so wonderful we’re planning to use it every time we enter a period like this, as a way of:

  • consciously doing holidays and celebrations with God
  • connecting with him together really naturally
  • giving him all the thanks and praise for all the good gifts we’re enjoying, so that they (and we) are always connected to the one who gave them all.

As well as the joy we experienced from doing this with God, we also ended up making a note of some wonderful moments we might otherwise have forgotten, and getting the chance to savour everything more richly together before moving on to the next thing.

It’s basically a way of capturing and thanking God for every good gift you experience, by adding a little more each day to what gradually becomes a giant thanksgiving chart…

…as we said, it’s a super simple idea, but this resource explains clearly everything you need and notes some additional pointers that might be helpful.

We know that holiday and celebration times – especially with family – can throw up negative experiences and emotions as well, and this exercise we’re sharing is absolutely not about denying those.

It’s really important and healthy to pour out our pain over this to God and the following two resources (the first generally and the second specifically in relation to Christmas) might help a bit with this:

We also have a blog from a few years back that a number of us have come back to repeatedly with some more simple ideas about increasing connection to God during vacation times: http://journey.thesanctuarycentre.org/2011/08/01/rest-in-his-presence/