Intercessions Acts 2:1-21 and John 7:37-39

The Church of Christ

Lord, we pray for the universal Church, that it may be a beacon of your love and truth in the world. As the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost, may it continue to inspire and guide us. May we, like them, have the courage to proclaim your word in every language and to every people.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

We pray for the leaders of the world, that they may be filled with the wisdom and compassion of your Spirit. May they be guided by your principles of justice and peace, and work towards the welfare of all people.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The local community

We pray for our local community, that it may be a place of fellowship and love. May we be filled with your Spirit, becoming sources of ‘living water’ to those around us, especially in times of difficulty and strife.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Those who suffer

We lift up those who are suffering in body, mind, or spirit. May they feel your healing presence, and may they be comforted by the promise of your Spirit, the ‘living water’ that sustains us in all circumstances.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The communion of saints

We remember those who have gone before us, those who have shown us the way of faith. May we be inspired by their lives and, following in their footsteps, proclaim the good news of your love to the world.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for the universal Church

Prayers ideas for each reading

Here are some prayers based on Acts 2:1-21:

  1. Gracious God, we give thanks for the outpouring of your Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. As we reflect on this momentous event, we pray for a fresh infilling of your Spirit in our lives and in the life of your Church. Ignite in us a renewed passion for your mission and empower us to be bold witnesses of your love and grace.
  2. Loving God, we pray for unity among your people. Just as the believers in the upper room were united in heart and mind, we ask that you would bring unity among your followers today. Remove any divisions or barriers that hinder our ability to work together for your kingdom, and help us to embrace diversity and seek common purpose in sharing the Gospel.
  3. Merciful God, we pray for an outpouring of your Spirit on our communities and nations. May your Spirit bring conviction, repentance, and transformation in the hearts of those who do not yet know you. Fill us with your love and compassion for the lost, and give us the words and actions to effectively share the Good News.
  4. Compassionate God, we pray for those who are longing for spiritual renewal and a deeper connection with you. Stir in their hearts a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and draw them closer to your presence. May they experience the transformative power of your Spirit and find true joy and fulfillment in you.
  5. Gracious God, we give thanks for the prophecy of Joel that was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. We pray that you would continue to pour out your Spirit on all people, regardless of age, gender, or social status. May your Spirit empower and equip individuals from all walks of life to serve you faithfully and make an impact in their spheres of influence.

May these prayers based on Acts 2:1-21 inspire us to seek a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to pursue unity and love within the Church, and to be agents of God’s transformative work in the world.

Here are some prayers based on John 7:37-39:

  1. Gracious God, we give thanks for Jesus, the living water, who quenches our spiritual thirst and satisfies our souls. As we come before you, we pray that you would fill us with your Holy Spirit, flowing in us like a river of living water. May we be refreshed and renewed in your presence.
  2. Loving God, we acknowledge our deep need for your Spirit to empower and guide us. We ask that you would pour out your Spirit upon us, filling us with wisdom, discernment, and boldness to proclaim your truth and love to the world around us.
  3. Merciful God, we pray for those who are spiritually dry and longing for a deeper connection with you. We ask that you would revive their hearts and awaken their spirits to the abundant life found in Jesus. Quench their thirst with your living water and lead them into a vibrant relationship with you.
  4. Compassionate God, we pray for unity among believers as we drink from the same spiritual source. Help us to overcome divisions and differences, and to embrace one another in love and understanding. May the presence of your Spirit unite us in purpose and mission, as we seek to reflect your grace and truth.
  5. Gracious God, we give thanks for the promise of your Spirit dwelling within us. Help us to be attentive and responsive to the promptings and guidance of your Spirit in our daily lives. Grant us the courage to surrender to your leading and to live in obedience to your will.

May these prayers based on John 7:37-39 draw us closer to the life-giving presence of Jesus and empower us to live as vessels filled with the Holy Spirit, bringing glory to God and spreading his love to those around us.


Acts 2-1-21 and John 7.37-39


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we gather today to meditate on the Word of God as revealed in Acts 2:1-21 and John 7:37-39. These passages reveal the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the early church and in the life of believers. As we explore these texts, we will focus on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and the invitation to be Spirit-filled disciples of Christ.

Emotion: the power of the Holy Spirit descends upon us

Main Focus: The Transforming Power of the Holy Spirit

Both passages highlight the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives. In Acts, we witness the dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, empowering the apostles to boldly proclaim the Gospel. In John, Jesus promises the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, depicting it as living water that brings life and refreshment.

Context and Insight

In Acts 2, the disciples are gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, a Jewish holiday that took place fifty days after Passover. During this gathering, the Holy Spirit descended upon them, enabling them to speak in various languages and boldly proclaim the works of God. This event marked the Church’s birth and its global mission’s commencement.

In John 7, Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles, a Jewish festival characterized by joy and thanksgiving for God’s provision. He uses the imagery of living water, an essential resource symbolizing life and renewal, to describe the work of the Holy Spirit that believers would experience.

Additional Supporting Bible Verses

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Romans 8:26


The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

The event at Pentecost, as depicted in Acts 2, demonstrates the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples, once ordinary men, were empowered to proclaim God’s deeds in various languages, signifying the universal nature of the Gospel. As we surrender our lives to Christ, we, too, receive the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to live as witnesses of Christ’s resurrection.

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

In John 7, Jesus promises His followers the Holy Spirit, depicted as a stream of living water flowing within believers. This living water symbolizes the Holy Spirit’s refreshing and life-giving presence, bringing spiritual nourishment, transformation, and renewal to our lives. As we trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit works within us, leading us towards a deeper relationship with God.


As we reflect on these passages, let us be reminded of the vital role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let us strive to be continually filled with the Spirit, allowing His transformative power to guide us in our journey of faith. As Spirit-filled disciples of Christ, we are empowered to live out the Gospel and bear witness to God’s love and grace in our world. Amen.


Acts 17.22-31 and John 14.15-21


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we gather to reflect on a powerful message in the Bible passages Acts 17:22-31 and John 14:15-21. As we delve into these passages, let us explore the main focus of our sermon: the personal relationship with God through faith, obedience, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We will use our knowledge of Christian theology and the Bible to provide context and insight into these verses. Additionally, we will incorporate supporting passages that further illuminate the main focus of our sermon. Our sermon will be structured with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion, with HTML formatting to enhance presentation and readability.

Main Focus: Personal Relationship with God through Faith, Obedience, and the Holy Spirit

In Acts 17:22-31, we witness the Apostle Paul addressing the Athenians at the Areopagus, proclaiming the true identity of the “unknown god” they worshipped. In John 14:15-21, Jesus teaches His disciples about the importance of obedience and love in their relationship with God and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

Context and Insight

In Acts 17, Paul is in Athens, a city renowned for its philosophical and religious debates. He seizes the opportunity to reveal the identity of the true God to the Athenians, emphasising God’s desire for a personal relationship with His creation. Paul encourages them to turn away from their worship of idols and embrace faith in Jesus Christ.

In John 14, Jesus speaks to His disciples during the Last Supper, preparing them for His imminent departure. He emphasises the importance of love and obedience in their relationship with God. He promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, who will guide and strengthen them in their spiritual journey.

Additional Supporting Bible Verses

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Romans 8:14-17

Introduction to the Sermon

Dear brothers and sisters, let us delve deeper into the passages from Acts and John, exploring how we can deepen our relationship with God through faith, obedience, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Seeking God through Faith and Repentance

In Acts 17:22-31, Paul encourages the Athenians to seek God through faith and repentance. We must also recognise our need for God’s grace and embrace a personal relationship with Him, built on faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Love and Obedience: The Foundation of Our Relationship with God

In John 14:15-21, Jesus emphasises that love and obedience are essential for a deep relationship with God. As followers of Christ, we must strive to obey His commandments and live according to His teachings, allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

The Holy Spirit: Our Guide and Comforter

Jesus promises that those who love Him and obey His commandments will receive the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit serves as our Guide and Comforter, empowering us to grow in our relationship with God and navigate the challenges of our spiritual journey. The presence of the Holy Spirit within us helps us discern God’s will, deepening our understanding of His truth and enabling us to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Practical Applications

Cultivating an Authentic Relationship with God

As believers, we should seek to cultivate an authentic relationship with God by spending time in prayer, reading and meditating on His Word, and engaging in fellowship with other believers. By nurturing our relationship with God, we can grow in our faith and experience the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Embracing a Lifestyle of Obedience

Obedience to God’s commandments is a tangible expression of our love for Him. To deepen our relationship with God, we must strive to align our lives with His will, embracing a lifestyle of obedience that reflects our commitment to Him.

Seeking the Guidance of the Holy Spirit

In our spiritual journey, it is essential to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As believers, we must be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to direct our paths and mould our character according to the likeness of Christ.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us remember the powerful message found in Acts 17:22-31 and John 14:15-21. May we endeavour to deepen our personal relationship with God through faith, obedience, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As we grow in our understanding of God’s truth and embrace His presence in our lives, we will be better equipped to face the challenges of our spiritual journey and fulfil our divine purpose as followers of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Acts 2:14a, 22-32 and 1 Peter 1:3-9

Imagine an image that features an empty tomb with the stone rolled away, signifying Jesus' resurrection. Rays of light are breaking through the darkness, symbolizing the living hope that emerged from Christ's victory over death. In the foreground, a believer stands with arms raised in praise, representing faith in the resurrected Savior. In the background, a cross is visible atop a hill, reminding us of the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation.
Imagine an image, that features an empty tomb with the stone rolled away, signifying Jesus’ resurrection. Rays of light are breaking through the darkness, symbolizing the living hope that emerged from Christ’s victory over death. In the foreground, a believer stands with arms raised in praise, representing faith in the resurrected Savior. In the background, a cross is visible atop a hill, reminding us of the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation.

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[a] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[b]

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.


  1. Acts 2:23 Or of those not having the law (that is, Gentiles)
  2. Acts 2:28 Psalm 16:8-11 (see Septuagint),Acts%202:22-32&version=NIV

1 Peter 1:3-9

Praise to God for a Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


Today, we reflect on the themes of hope, faith, and the resurrection found in the powerful readings from Acts 2:14a, 22-32 and 1 Peter 1:3-9. These passages serve as a testament to the transformative power of Jesus’ resurrection and the living hope it provides for all believers.

Firstly, let us examine the theme of hope. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith and the source of our living hope. This hope is not simply a fleeting wish or desire but rather a deep-rooted assurance in the promises of God. As believers, we have been given new birth into this living hope, which is anchored in the certainty of Christ’s victory over sin and death. Our hope is alive because our Savior is alive, and He has prepared for us an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.

Secondly, the theme of faith is prevalent in both readings. Through faith, we are shielded by God’s power and are able to endure various trials and tribulations. It is in these trying times that our faith is refined and strengthened. Just as gold is purified by fire, our faith, which is of greater worth than gold, is proven genuine as it withstands the tests of life. Our faith ultimately leads to praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Lastly, let us consider the power of Jesus’ resurrection as it pertains to these readings. In Acts, we see Peter boldly proclaiming the good news of Christ’s resurrection to the crowd, asserting that Jesus was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did His body see decay. God raised Jesus to life, and the apostles were witnesses to this miraculous event. In 1 Peter, the resurrection is the basis for the living hope and eternal inheritance we have in Christ. It is through Jesus’ triumph over death that we, too, can have the assurance of eternal life.

As we reflect on these passages, let us consider how we can apply these timeless messages to our own lives. Are we living in the light of the living hope we have through Christ’s resurrection? Are we allowing our faith to be refined and strengthened during times of trial? Let us remember the transformative power of Jesus’ resurrection and strive to live our lives anchored in the living hope it provides.

In conclusion, let us hold fast to the hope we have in Christ, knowing that our faith is secured by His resurrection.

May we grow in faith,
courageously sharing the good news
of Christ’s victory over sin and death,
and may we live as witnesses
to the living hope
that is available to all who believe.

Reflection contributor: chatGPT


Does the contributor of the reflection surprise you? I studied AI in college so I was looking at the AI bot, and it seems it has been trained against theological and religious texts; my earlier foray into chatGPT was for intercession ideas based on the bible readings to provide five bullet points for prayer. I had to build a prompt that was sufficient to return something useable.

I also don’t want you to think this is all my work, others may disguise it’s use. All I have done is combine various pieces together, like paying with Lego. There is a certain amount of creativity in placing building blocks together so as in a building you do not say the creator of the brick built this place, as there are many bricks. However, it would be a lie if I was to pass the reflection as my own, not just to you, or to myself but also through my heart to Jesus. It is a joint effort; for my part all I have done is reach out and picked up another tool to use to see what it can do because I have so little spare time.

Personally, I think its an incredibly useful tool, but that is all I hope it will remain, another tool in our toolbox that we can utilise. Anything beyond that scares me a little. AI is now so much more advanced now from when I was studying it around 30 years ago in college with LISP and PROLOG.

I would be interested to know if you want more posts like this one, where the reflection has been derived from AI? What are your thoughts on computers doing theology? Did any part of the reflection or my commentary make a connection with you?

They will only ever be as good as the data we feed them and how we teach them to grow and rationalise the data. I pray that whatever is happening is for the good of humanity, and that the selfish elements of our darker selves do not twist it for the purpose of evil.

I think we need to be very, very careful, as the processing speed of AI is so much faster than we can manage, so one wrong step will go wrong very quickly.

A response from chatGTP

As an AI language model, I do not have personal thoughts or beliefs, but I understand your concerns and observations about the use of AI in theological contexts. AI can be a helpful tool for gathering and analyzing data, but it is important to remember that it is ultimately humans who are responsible for interpreting and applying that data in a meaningful way.

Regarding your question about whether more posts like this one would be useful, that ultimately depends on the preferences and goals of the audience. AI-generated content can certainly be a time-saver and provide interesting insights, but it is important to ensure that the final product is still aligned with the values and goals of the organization or individual using the tool.

In terms of the connection with the reflection and commentary, as an AI language model, I do not have personal experiences or emotions, but I understand the importance of reflection and contemplation in spiritual and religious practices. It is always valuable to take the time to reflect on our beliefs and consider how we can live out those values in our daily lives.

Illuminate the beauty in others…

I was sitting before my laptop today trying to put words together for a song when I saw two things on my Momentum dashboard in Chrome.

[Side note: I’ve been doing a lot of stress management during Covid – music helps me; apologies for not writing much; work has been busy.]

The first was a quote:

“One who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”


That is definitely true. No matter how much I think I might know about something, there is always something new to learn, and I acknowledge that. The second is from the mantra’s that provide daily encouragement, and it simply said this…

So this is what I’m going to attempt to do.

Still, I fear I may be touching on a controversial subject – who should or should not participate in communion. Reflecting on those with more restrictive rules or self-imposed exile from the sharing because, let’s face it, there are always times when we don’t feel worthy [clue, we are never as righteous as we believe we are].

Now, I should point out, I’m not a priest, but I am a child of God, a brother of Jesus, cousin, brother, father and son to the multitude of Christians who share the love of Christ in our hearts – I don’t make rules, neither do I enforce laws in a church, but I do have opinions. I feel I’m entitled to hold them, whether other people support them or not.

Bit of background; we have a broad mix of people in our church, whose personalities vary from a more high church or traditional experience right through to the more modern and more open traditions. I have been told I’m more traditional than trendy, reflecting my earlier understanding of the church in youth. We all have different ideas of what church is, what it means to us. Ask anyone around you, “what is a church to you” and I’m sure you’ll get quite a few different answers.

Today I witnessed the struggle of another person.

A person who was painfully aware they have sinned, and their struggle between that knowledge and forgiveness.

This struggle between sin and forgiveness happened during communion. As the rows of people stood and went forward (abiding by our current social distancing practices), one row within earshot caught my attention. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this, and if this struggle had not resolved itself, I might have taken it upon myself to offer help and prayer, but thankfully I did not have to, although I will still pray for this person.

One by one, each person stood up away from the pew, but one person, the last, remained seated and quiet as a mouse said to themselves, “I can’t… I have sinned”. Now, this should not be a surprise to us, we are in this together, and we all find ourselves in this situation, the conflict between sin and forgiveness. But this alarmed me, but I had the patience enough to wait; I’m not sure how long I’d have waited but wait, I did.

My mind was crying out. “No, you sought forgiveness from our Lord God, our vicar has given the general absolution, even still you have been absolved from all sin by the death of Jesus upon his cross, and in his resurrection, he defeated the devil and all his works”.

The Parable of the Lost Son
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:11-31

The other thing was “please don’t judge yourself, you do not need to seek forgiveness, God forgives, Jesus forgives, They forgive freely, even when we don’t ask, especially then; think of the parable of the lost son, so many examples. Jesus broke bread with sinners. He went out of His way to break bread with sinners. So if anyone should get up to receive communion, it is you above all others”.

Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:13-17

While I think all of this, something remarkable happened, something beautiful – that person, the one who acknowledged their sin before God in His house, stood and joined the queue to receive a socially distanced communion.

Inwardly I was cheering – if we were allowed to shout in church, I’d have shouted for joy with one almighty

“Yes! Thank you, Jesus!!”

So if you are ever sat there and feel as if you don’t deserve the forgiveness of Jesus, stop thinking, stop talking, because it is the devil within you that is fooling you. You are always welcome to forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord, through the love of our God, our Father, bestowed upon us through his grace and mercy.

We seek forgiveness and receive absolution in church services or otherwise is not an excuse to continuously sin. Still, unfortunately, it is within our nature. Unfortunately, it is often the easier path to take, so be a mindful Christian, be aware of your circumstances, the situations you find yourself in and the needs of those around you.

If you don’t consider yourself a Christian yet, or at all, remember that to deny that God exists, you are, in fact, acknowledging that He is there. After all, you cannot deny something that does not exist because denial is a refusal to accept the truth.

Regardless, do not deny yourself forgiveness or communion as one body with Christ, as this one person almost did. They did a beautiful thing today. Whether anyone else noticed it does not matter (that I did was perhaps circumstantial), the only thing that mattered was that inner conversation at that time between that person and God. I am so happy that took place.

I am so glad forgiveness won.

If I am ever in a situation where I am priested (seems more unlikely each passing year) and you are before me refusing communion because you have sinned, please don’t sit there. Instead, come forward because you need it more than those who don’t readily acknowledge their sins. To judge another is a sin. To judge oneself is a sin and carries a much heavier burden that we cannot afford to have.

Jesus broke bread with sinners.

I will break bread with you just as gladly as He did.

Activity versus Accomplishment

Our church is putting thought and prayer into what church will be like after lockdown.  I have a fair idea of what some of it will be like, and it won’t please everyone. Our vicar has his thoughts, our curate too, so too everyone involved.  I’d like to see the continuation of all the extra communication and online presence and our improved meet & greet.  So I’m doing a bit of reading around all that when I find the inspiration to do so and wanted to share this with you . . .

Activity versus Accomplishment

When the Crystal Palace Exhibition opened in 1851, people flocked to London’s Hyde Park to behold the marvels. One of the greatest marvels back then was steam. Steam ploughs were displayed. Steam locomotives. Steam looms. Steam organs. Even a steam cannon.

Of all the great exhibits that year, the first-prize winner was a steam invention with seven thousand parts.  When It was turned on, its pulleys, bells, and gears made a lot of noise, but, ironically, the contraption didn’t do a thing! Seven thousand moving parts making a lot of commotion … but having no practical use.

With the high-tech era we live in, it’s easy to confuse activity with accomplishment, to be fooled into thinking that the sound of gears and pulleys is the sound of something important being done.

Is that true of your life? Of your church? Are there hundreds, even thousands, of parts spinning and turning and making a lot of noise, but accomplishing very little?

If so, remember that even though your contraption may win a prize at a state fair or the denominational convention, God is the final judge. And what you think has substance may dissipate before His searching eyes like steam.

Swindoll, Charles R. (1988)  The Church: Purpose, Profile, Priorities (Bible Study Guide) . California: Insight For Living.

It resonated with me in so many ways. For instance, at work, with so many people/cogs churning and possibly making lots of noise, but are we achieving anything? Some do, some don’t. Are we accepting or dismissive of change? Are we attempting to maintain our status quo? Are we settled or too comfortable? Is the congregation just going through the motions? Et cetera, et cetera.

It made me sit back and think, try and look from a distance, determine if there are any parts of my life where I am just repeating the same old routine and doing the moonwalk to achieve something where there is no substance.  I believe there are, but breaking out of some constraints I find myself in is not easy – on top of that, I think lockdown leaves us feeling at least twice as restless as we usually are.

Celebrate Recovery adopts the definition of insanity as doing the same things repeatedly but expecting different results each time – it’s one of the lessons we cover among the many steps associated with the Beatitude based principles. I love the insanity of awarding a prize to something overly complex that does not do anything; it’s quirky and reminiscent of whenever we, as a population, are asked to decide something (Boaty McBoatface springs to mind). Still, at the same time, I pity us that we can celebrate something that so clearly illustrates one of our inadequacies.

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
Ecclesiastes 3:17

There’s lots of room for activity, but activity for its own sake will not help us. Ultimately, our perception of success is meaningless.

God judges our activity . . .

. . . and our accomplishments.

A letter received

This week I thought I’d share part of a letter we’ve received:

Dear friends,

   I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

   Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.

   Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

   “He committed no sin,
      and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

   When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

   Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

God at work

A letter to work colleagues:

Hi everyone,

Firstly I’d like to thank everyone.  Between COVID, more restrictions, our work, our lives outside work, all of which pulls us all in different directions and risk tearing us to bits as individuals, it is lovely to see everyone supporting each other in prayer. It is beautiful to behold, so thank you so much for being who you are.

We’re still trying to meet up online for prayers (in work).  Not all of us can make it at the time, and that is fine, we all do have so much going on (I think I’d be bored if I didn’t).  What I think is important to remember is that even when we are apart, we are at our closest through our relationship with Jesus – so long as we all continue to carry Him in our hearts, we can know that we are not alone.  He is walking beside us and links us all as a family, brothers and sisters in Christ.  Just remember it’s a huge family, well beyond our circles, our church, our parish, or our nation – there are people abroad who have never met you who are supporting you in prayer as much as we support them in prayer.  Just as Jesus prayed for his disciples, so he prayed for each of us.

Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

John 17:20-21

I recently bought yet another book (it should come as no surprise to those who know me) called “Working in the Presence of God”, by Denise Daniels and Shannon Vandewarker and is subtitled “Spiritual Practices for Everyday Work”.  Admittedly I’m not very far through it, but I thought I might try to share some thoughts on what I’m reading.  The book is in three sections, then chapters in each; it looks at Orienting, Engaging and Reflecting on work.

My first bit of reading reminded me that God, too, is a worker, especially a creative worker (lousy pun intended).  I mean, look at all He managed to achieve; and we’re not just talking about small projects here; even still, He put as much care and attention into the smallest project as He did with the largest.  The part I’m reading now looks at how our spiritual and secular worlds are divided.  It is a sad thing to say, but yes, they are.  It touches on another interesting topic which is encapsulated by the word Ordinary.  How do we find God in the Ordinary around us?  Well, one way of looking at it is to remember the creation story. Remember God worked, how everything He created in His eyes was right, how He breathed His breath into Adam, how he gave Adam and Eve a job to do. We can find Him in the Ordinary; possibly, we only need to reorient our understanding of what it means.

We’re in the middle of looking at Ephesians in one bible study. We’ve had a chance to reflect in small groups and when we were talking about prayer being as-you-go or on a schedule, someone talked about how they mostly prayed in church. It is an obvious example of how our secular and our spiritual lives are different.  They separated their time with God by using the church as the focal point for their relationship with God, probably through no fault of their own as our lives have many demands on our time.  With this in mind, please take time to reflect on this. Do we have any self-imposed boundaries between our secular lives (our job, for instance) and our spiritual life (our relationship with God)? Remember that God is always present with us, even when we are not present for Him, and incredibly close in those times when we need Him the most.

God bless us all


In today’s lectionary (Common Worship and the Book of Common Prayer Thurs Aug 13 2020 at time of writing), one of the Saints celebrated on this day, happens to be Nurse Nightingale.  When I first learnt about her way back in school, almost another lifetime away, I remember wishing I could achieve as much as she did.  I remember learning about the dreadful Crimean War and the conditions that people where surviving in (or rather not at the time).  Learning of the impact her reforms had, not just then, but so many years to come afterwards.

She was, in her way, one of my many childhood heroes alongside the astronauts, Captain Scott and all of the other Antarctic adventures and a few others that I have since forgotten.

In many ways, we often fall short of our heroes because we place them on a pedestal so high that we make it virtually impossible for us to emulate them.  Of course, events in our lives often transpire in such a way as to take us in different directions, and sometimes it doesn’t.

The danger with placing our heroes on pedestals is that we put them out of reach, and we do that by ourselves, nobody else does it for us. We sometimes allow others to create the pedestals for us, but we are the ones who chose to use them.

But there is one person, our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is not out of reach on a pedestal.  He is on a throne in Heaven and rather than being far from accessible He is listening to us all, interceding on our behalf, loving us, and encouraging us. He welcomes us with open arms and a warm heart, comforting us in our troubles and celebrating with us in success.  Jesus is within every single one of us, all we have to do is accept His love for us, and He will reside within our hearts forever.

Christ is not a hero out of reach on a pedestal of our own making, He is right beside us every day of our mortal lives, and every day of our immortal lives when He comes again to call upon us.

Jesus is more than a hero.

He is everything.

“To whom will you compare me?
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Isaiah 40:25

21 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
    and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
    and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
    and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
    no sooner are they sown,
    no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
    and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:21-26

I used to want to be more like my heroes.

Instead, I share my life with Jesus,

and the weird thing is,

it’s a whole new level of complexity doing that, and yet so much simpler at the same time!

God bless us all.

Pray, always

Amid everything, I tried to take a break, but after five months of non-stop activity, I found it a little challenging to recharge my batteries.  By the time I was ready to recuperate, it was time to start work again; I no longer feel like I had a break.  We face this challenge daily, the long hard slog through the day and not enough time at home to relax because there are so many more demands on our time than work.  Finding a decent work-life balance in this new COVID world will be one of the many challenges we have to face. I think the most challenging thing for me was psychological in that where I work now is my home so switching off is troublesome.  On top of that, the nation is going barmy, and people are starting to have a go at the littlest things and our neighbours, who might have been happy to let things be, start baring teeth because they are unhappy with the way things are.  Times are troublesome, challenging and for some people difficult to manage, and for some so challenging to face that they turn in directions that lead them astray from who they are.

We have a phone tree in church, I see some of it personally, and I get to listen to others who are experiencing all sorts of issues with varying degrees of success and failure. One of our solutions was to expand the weekly prayer group, so a group of us now pray morning and evening prayer (I’m on the rota for early Friday eves) – I find this helps.  I have my own separate private prayer time, my continuous conversations with God and Jesus. Still, with the only congregational worship presently restricted to looking at a monitor and the nature of future worship looking so different, I find the fifteen to thirty minutes of structured prayer on a Friday and praying around the prayer lists, and parish needs, comforting.

You can join in live online via Facebook, YouTube, Zoom and many more for most things these days.  While we, as congregations, are dispersed, we, as a church, can still meet.  The building itself is only there to facilitate togetherness – it is not the source or focus of our worship or prayer.  It reminds me of the early church, of the apostles moving from one place to another, in Acts, creating and facilitating new churches, new congregations, new followers of Jesus.  It reminds me of the early church in Rome, struggling to meet for fear of persecution, in homes, in isolated, hidden or empty places.  I feel a deeper connection to those Christians who have trodden our path before us as a result. My faith may even be a little deeper, all I know is I haven’t strayed because we as Christians need to be a light in this hour of darkness for those who are struggling, and for each other.  Even those beside us who look as if they’re doing OK will have issues they’re fighting with so being there, giving things in prayer, is essential.

When I pray, I let go of things, I release it all into God’s hands, and I empty myself before Him.  I know I shouldn’t have to worry …

… of course, I’m human, so I do, but I shouldn’t …

… ad infinitum in our human frailness.

But the one thing I do is pray, or talk, or look to Jesus and sigh it out.  One thing I never am is angry with God or Jesus, and I try to limit it with everyone else because our anger does not come from God; it comes from within us, and it is not an easy thing to live with or for people to control.  How are we expected to forgive if we are angry? We cannot have peace within if we allow rage to reside in our hearts and minds, or enable it to dictate how we behave.  It is something we believe we can control, but ultimately we can’t so we have to lean on God for help, for without God, without Jesus, we are unable to fulfil our purpose upon this Earth.

The Vine and the Branches
.5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:1-17

God bless us and keep us safe.