Archive for the ‘New resource alert’ Category

dedicating your time

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

It’s February! But God’s mercies are new every day of 2017… what has he laid in store for you to pray and do with him today? This new written prayer for everyday missionaries is really helpful for dedicating your time on a regular basis…

Lord, I’m leaning in close now,
quiet my thoughts so I can hear you speak
and so I can be present to you;
I want to inhabit these words and thoughts I offer
in spirit and in truth…

I have come to worship you –
and to surrender my whole life
as a missional offering to, and for, you.

I want to learn still more how to move with you.
I want you to set the paces and the places;
to walk me forward with you.
Lead me in prayer again
through each area of my life
that you have led me into so far
and each thing on my heart
that you have set before me
for today
and for the future.

They are yours – I am yours –
let me see what you are doing,
hear what you are saying
and do and speak these things in love…
nothing more,
and nothing less.

Show me the walls to take down,
the shelters to build,
the people to reach out to,
the times to act
and the times to wait, rest or stop.

Show me the old dreams to be faithful to
and those to let go of as past their season;
reveal any new visions you have for me
and guide every step towards their becoming reality
in perfect, surrendered timing…

Show me the people to receive from,
to run with and be spurred on by –
and make me brave enough
to see the unique gifts you are giving me
to pour out your love and life
for all who are still ‘outside’.

Make me so in tune with you –
in my spirit’s core, and through its every outward expression –
that your message rings out clear and loud from me
as a beautiful call to worship that resonates and beckons
others to come close to you too
and to receive your love
and your love-led solution for their need.

It’s all for you, with you, in you, through you –
always, only about you; not me –
my precious, sovereign, faithful Lord.

turning worries and fears into prayer

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most helpful. In the midst of so much political change, endless  rhetoric and noise, polarised views, civil protest and widely voiced, genuine anxiety about the present and the future… we’re clinging on to Philippians 4:6-7 – and this very practical resource inspired by it – which uses creative ideas to turn worries and fears into prayer

walking with the homeless

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Fresh from our prayer time this morning, we’ve uploaded a brand new resource: Outside prayer stations – Walking with the homeless will help you connect to God’s heart – and yours – for homeless people, the way they are seen and the help they need. It’s a powerful way to stimulate prayer individually, in small groups with the whole church sent out…

We had the idea to try this out when praying through the term a couple of weeks back with the knowledge Homelessness Sunday was on 22 January…

But even after thinking of it, planning it and writing it to use during morning worship today, it had a big impact on us… especially as it’s our first day back after an un-planned few days off with flu, when shelter, warmth and enough money for medicine have all been vital.

We’d really recommend using this resource to you – even after years of working with homelessness organisations, doing street outreach, writing resources and leading prayer in response to the complex stories of people who have experienced losing their home at some stage, there were new insights and challenges here…

So much so that we even added some extra thoughts in after our own prayer time with the resource, to reflect what had struck us to a new degree.

This is a really helpful and powerful stimulus – it charges and changes your heart. And the people who are facing homelessness today need that desperately:

They need more champions, more people who understand, more people who see them with dignity, more people who will pray and help and change others’ hearts too…

what non-sense is this? (a Christmas poem)

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

We’re delighted to be able to share this Christmas poem with you – available to download as a resource from our seasonal resources page here.

starry-night

What non-sense is this?
God comes to fight all evil’s command
with tiny fists and gurgling cry;
heaven’s glorious standard
veiling himself in dimples,
ready to be held tightly
in vulnerable, poor-girl arms.

What precarious ambush is this?
That dares to conquer darkness
with an obscure birth;
quietly plunging
Light’s most piercing hope
right behind enemy lines
under cover of virgin’s womb.

What terrifying odds are these?
To deliver the rescuing deliverer
gift-wrapped in helplessness;
needing so much protection himself
from weak, fragile civilians
desperate to receive
his rescue themselves.

But this child; this plan –
this battle – begun today
will win the war of eternity;
in thirty three short years
and three long days
as, held up once more,
his finishing cry will defeat death’s very self.

So I need fear no evil,
not through power,
nor even peace on earth;
but because Light himself
left perfection
and loved down
the gates of hell.

my God is a migrant (a Christmas reflection)

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Our Christmas reflection for 2016 is best left to speak – and pray – for itself. (You can download it as a resource here from our seasonal resources page.)

welcome low res

My God isn’t just a God who cares about migrants – or a God who calls himself the God of migrants – although he is both of these things of course.

My God is a migrant.

He’s always on the move.

Leaving heavens and holy places and accepted hierarchies to show up in unexpected places – asking strangers and highly inappropriate people to welcome him in, or sit down and eat with him.

Yes, my God is a migrant.

He writes, and stars in, countless, ceaseless, stories of perpetual motion.

He can’t stop still.

It’s been going on since he invented time.

He came and walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the garden’s evening light; he broke the ultimate sound barrier to talk plans and promises with Noah and Abraham and so many more.

He dreamed Joseph and his whole family into Egypt, manifested himself at bush and mountain to meet Moses; then led all his people out of it again in a constant, 40 year long criss-crossing the desert journey, always staying one step ahead of them through alternate pillars of cloud and fire until finally, eventually, they were mature enough to settle.

And then 2000 plus years ago, he out did himself. Upped sticks completely if you like. Half split a third of himself off, and brought this precious part of him out of complete perfection and unity to enter our mess completely. Wholehearted, cosmic re-location.

This ultimate rescue plan was properly risky – dangerously, recklessly, lovingly risky.

He comes in human form.

And what vessel does he choose to board with such precious cargo to bring us?

A virgin’s womb.

So much could have gone wrong. Bethlehem just before AD didn’t have twenty first century, state of the art, Western healthcare. Pregnancy didn’t have great odds. Childbirth the same. And devout Jewish virgins? Well let’s just say there could have been plenty of angry men waiting in the wings ready to throw enough stones to end it all before it had barely begun.

But my God makes it.

He does it.

The virgin accepts – risks it all to carry him with brave “yes to God” worship and he’s nurtured and grown and born.

And then he’s just lying there.

For a while at least, the God of the universe is utterly dependent on his mother’s arms for everything; life, safety and even this thing he so loves – movement.

He’s just there lying on his back unable to crawl, let alone walk – totally at the mercy of the elements, of people’s whims; dependent on the success of harvests and a carpentry business and an open, uneducated but willing heart listening and obeying the counsel of his dreams in order to avoid certain death for his “God-son”.

Yes, that’s the bit of the story we’ve made the parallel to before isn’t it?

Yes, my God was a refugee. He had to flee Bethlehem in the night and seek asylum in Egypt to escape Herod’s anger.

But it’s bigger than that chapter. It’s like a mission statement for his whole life.

Because when he grew up, he chose to do it all again. Perpetual motion that is.

The settled life, the carpenter’s shop, the family connections and expectations of Nazareth… he left those all behind for a life on the road, travelling light, choosing to become dependent on Eastern hospitality and his followers’ generosity, so he himself could give everything for those he met.

He put himself at the mercy of the anyone’s welcome so he could welcome everyone into God’s creative, reconciling plan. He shared the endless, abundant riches of the kingdom – the Father’s limitless resources, seemingly holding on to little or nothing in transit.

And the vulnerability of it all? The unorthodox, counter-cultural, shockingly revolutionary nomadic nature of it all?

Well it earned him a lot of enemies.

It got him into a lot of trouble with the religious establishment.

It didn’t go down with those keen on rules above grace and definitions over welcome.

There was as much rejection as acceptance. Probably much more.

And within three years of living like this, he got himself killed.

But I guess, he never intended to stay put in Israel anyway.

Death was always going to be his gateway to the ultimate in downward mobility; he was always coming to rescue even deeper – fearlessly move towards death himself to conquer it with grave-breaking, life-saving, dawn-dimming love!

Thank God my God is a migrant.

Thank God he didn’t stay separate and far away from us.

Thank God he came and asked for our welcome.

Thank God he gives us endless chances as he moves towards us again and again and again.

Thank God he’s still moving among us now – constantly asking us if we’ll welcome him.

He’s here now, asking us to receive him again…

Will we say yes to his presence? His conviction? His transformation? His technicolour-shalom vision of hope and purpose for each one of our lives? Will we say yes to the revelation and obedience his Word is asking us for…

…and to each migrant face and story his own is reflected in so uniquely?

“Yes I see you.  Yes, I value you. Yes I’m ready to listen, to welcome, to somehow find an impossible, gracious, Godly way forward.”

Yes, my God is a migrant.

And I say yes to seeing him in every migrant too.

Oh, that Western hospitality might make you welcome my Lord.

Everywhere you knock, everything you ask, in every area of our hearts and lives, oh that we would answer yes and amen to you.

Please, Jesus, help us to let you depend on us in your vulnerability, test our love and our welcome, and enter in more fully – please be born in us again today.

In your mercy, migrant God, move us all to where we need to be to match and minister your heart – to you, and to all you came, and are coming, and will still come for – and with.

fuel for everything

Thursday, 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!

were there ever sweeter sounds?

Monday, 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:

light-low-res

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.

a prayer for the USA as election day approaches

Thursday, 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.

usa_cut_out_and_flag

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

Wednesday, 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:

arrow_black_white

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?

sheet music back catalogue complete

Friday, 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!