Daily Hope phoneline & the Big Picnic For Hope

Life may not be as it was, and everyone’s experience of this ‘new normal’ will be very different, but it is important to remember that whilst God is with us we are never truly alone. With thoughts turning to how we will manage life after lockdown, the theme of Hope features prominently in this post’s notices.

Big Picnic For Hope – Lockdown V E Day Celebrations

The Big Picnic for Hope is an opportunity for your household to be part of a virtual get together, to help honour heroes past and present. If you are alone or pat of a busy household, everyone can take part by having their own V E Day picnic indoors or on your balcony/garden. Original Wartime recipes you may want to try can be found here. See the dedicated website for more information – http://bigpicnicforhope.com/

More ideas for VE Day can be found here.

A brass band plays at the top of the steps to growing crowd on the corner of Greek Street and Wellington Road.
V E Day Celebrations – Stockport War Memorial
A long line of adults and children face the camera smiling and giving a Victry sign from around a long table down a terraced street.
Recapture the spirit of hope from these Stopfordians on VE Day

Free Daily Hope PhoneLine

Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.

The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

“With many in our country on lockdown, it’s important that we support those who are feeling lonely and isolated, whatever age they are.”

Archbishop Justin Welby

Options available include materials also available digitally by the Church of England’s Communications team such as Prayer During the Day and Night Prayer updated daily, from Common Worship, and a recording of the Church of England weekly national online service.

A section called Hymn Line offers callers a small selection of hymns, updated daily. An option entitled ‘Hymns We Love’, provides a hymn and reflection and is based on an initiative by the Connections group.


If you know anywhere that you can display one of the posters for this free phone line, please download, print and display.

Latest news from Bishop Keith

Dear Friends

As the global impact of the pandemic worsens whatever good news that comes from some sense that the strategy in the UK is working, we are now into the next phase of wondering if any relaxation of the lockdown is possible without putting still more people at risk.

That will present us with new challenges, especially if there is any possibility of our church buildings being opened again even for limited use any time soon.

A question of concern for me this week, is how we are going to be sustained, especially as I know a number of clergy are already exhausted, and there is clear anxiety around many people in our communities of the risks attached to any relaxation.

Do listen to Archdeacon Mike’s video on the Good Shepherd and what he says about Psalm 23 and rest.

In this letter, I would like us to think about rest and “sabbath”, the weekly moment for rest and renewal in order for work to be sustained in the other 6 days.

You might ask: “How in such a time as this, do you actually rest?”

Maybe you are surprised that in this time of so-called enforced rest, many are experiencing exhaustion! If you work from home, when do you stop working? If your work is actually running the home, including supervising the homeschooling of children, when do you actually rest? As one week of lockdown goes into another, we can forget what day of the week it is, and one day can be very much like any other!

But you might also be asking “rest”? How can you not rest if you cannot go out, visit, go to your place of work, or do anything that previously you would have been free to do? “I’m fed up with rest, give me back my work”. If that is you, I pray you will find “work” which will balance the enforced rest, and lead to a renewed fulfillment that will alleviate some of the frustration.
 
In the readings this week in Morning Prayer one was Exodus 20, the chapter of the Bible which includes the 10 commandments, including the 4th commandment about the sabbath day which is all about rest (assuming you are working the other six days, see Exodus 20: 8-11).

And this means for now a key part of what God designed for a good life to be enjoyed as a weekly rhythm of grace has virtually disappeared.

In Exodus, the 4th commandment stands there as a pivot, the very sabbath enabling us to look at our relationship with God and to check whether in our lives there are other Gods before him, any kind of idolatry or abuse of his name AND to check out our relationship with others, our parents, our spouse, our neighbours and see if there is any hatred, lying, stealing, or coveting going on.

The sabbath as originally given was like a weekly health check, not in a gym, but in the presence of God, and not in isolation but together.

So, how in this time, with this lockdown, do we have sabbath? How do we establish boundaries where there are no boundaries? And if you think “Well, chance would be a fine thing?”, maybe you are working all the hours in hospital or in a care home, or in an essential service, getting food to the supermarket, how can you experience any kind of rhythm of grace, which enables you to keep going, and get real good rest?

I think the answer to the question may be found in the asking of it.

What I mean is, if we realise that God intends our lives to have a balance of rest and work and ask him how we are to find that balance now, even in the asking we give God the space to answer.

And if that answer cannot include meeting in our special place of worship, then can we let him show us how those boundaries and spaces can be created in our own homes?

Maybe allowing a meeting around a table to include a space for prayer and hearing the Bible; maybe resolving to have one day or part of a day when the computer or the phone will be switched off; maybe if we are on our own agreeing with just one or two with whom we can relax to pray on a call together; maybe extending the walk to follow Jesus words about looking at the birds and the flowers.

Isaiah spoke about remembering God’s promise “Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt, you shall raise up the foundations of many generations: you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in” (Is 58:12). A great text if we are anywhere near coming out of lockdown. The key to receiving this promise is in the next verse:

“If you call the sabbath a delight …. Then you shall take delight in the Lord and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth” (Is 58:13,14)

There are simple things we can do. We can pray at 8.00pm on a Sunday night and light a candle in the window. We can go outside at 8.00pm each Thursday to say thank you to those in the NHS, I have found this simple act to be such a blessing to me!

The lockdown may be relaxed it may not. We do not know for how long this will go on. We will continue to pray for the world and the leaders of the world. We will remember that whatever we are enduring, our brothers and sisters in places where there is no NHS, no work, no self- isolation are suffering and also need us to keep going.

In whatever way our work is continuing and with whatever new work we are being asked to engage, may we find ways to experience on our own and together rhythms of grace which allow the Lord to give us rest and be restored so that however we work, we can, in his promise, be those who rebuild and restore.

With love in Christ

+Keith


Archdeacon Mike Gilbertson has produced a short reflection on John and Psalm 23, reminding us of God’s presence in these times and the truth that underlines the Christian faith….

Archdeacon Mike Gilbertson reflects on John & psalm 23

A Closing Prayer

We’ll conclude this post with a beautiful prayer which speaks of hope in the light of God:

Per Pacem Ad Lucem

I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be

A pleasant road;

I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me

Aught of its load;

I do not ask that flowers should always spring

Beneath my feet;

I know too well the poison and the sting

Of things too sweet.

For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,

Lead me aright –

Though strength should falter, and though heart

should bleed –

Through Peace to Light.

I do not ask, O Lord, that thou shouldst shed

Full radience here;

Give but a ray of peace, that I may tread

Without a fear.

I do not ask my cross to understand,

My way to see;

Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand

Anf follow Thee.

Joy is like restless day; but peace divine

Like quiet night:

Lead me, O Lord, – till perfect Day shall shine,

Through Peace to Light.

Adelaide Anne Procter (1825-64)

Palm Sunday & Holy Week

Radio and TV broadcasts during Holy Week and Easter

With no Church Services for the foreseeable future, here are some of the Services that are being broadcast on Radio and TV during Holy Week and Easter…

A yew branch with light green new growth sprouting from th eends
Yew was used as an alternative to palms in this cooler climate

There is an interesting series on BBC Radio 4 during Holy Week  9.45am each morning (15mins)
          The Passion in Plants 5 Episodes commencing Monday 6th April
   Monday   Pussy Willows and the Yew  – Palm Sunday  1/5
          Bob Gilbert traces the associations of British wild plants with the Easter Story beginning with Palm Sunday. No palms here, instead people carried fronds of goat willow and yew.
    Tuesday   The Last Supper and the Betrayal – Bitter Herbs and the Elder 2/5
          The Last Supper was the Feast of the Passover, when Jewish people eat the bitter herbs.
           And the Elder from which Judas, full of remorse following his betrayal, hanged himself
     Wednesday   The Road to the Cross – Hawthorn and Speedwell 3/5
           British wild plants and the Passion of Christ; the hawthorn crown, the road to the cross
           and the humble speedwell.
     Maundy Thursday   The Crucifixion – the Orchid and the Aspen 4/5
          The Passion of Christ through the folklore of wildflowers. The tree the cross was made from, and the plants that grew at its foot.
     Good Friday     The Resurrection – Pearlwort, Touch-me-not and the Alleluia Flower 5/5
          The plants that by tradition tell of the Resurrection: the pearlwort that cushioned Christ’s feet, the touch-me-not balsam and the alleluia flower.

Palm Sunday

BBC Radio 4  8.10am Sunday Worship “Walking alongside Jesus in suffering “
          Fr Dominic Robinson and Dr Theodora Hawksley reflect on the way Jesus accompanies   Christians spiritually when facing times of trial, suffering and bereavement.
TV BBC 1  10.45am  SUNDAY WORSHIP Hereford Cathedral
TV BBC 1    1.15pm  Songs of Praise – Glasgow Cathedral
BBC Radio  3.30pm   Choral Evensong – Magdalen College Oxford

Wednesday 8th April

BBC Radio 3 3.30pm  Choral Evensong  Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, Texas

Good Friday 10th April

  BBC Radio 3  2.00pm  Bach’s St John’s Passion

Easter Sunday

BBC Radio 4  6.05am  Dr Rowan Williams – retired Archbishop of Canterbury
– Reflections on the meaning of Easter
BBC Radio 4  6.35am Sunrise Service celebrating Easter morning
                      –  with Gospel Group Volney Morgan and New-Ye !
BBC Radio 4  8.10am Sunday Worship “Christ is Risen”
                                                    – with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
TV BBC 1  11.25am  SUNDAY WORSHIP Bangor Cathedral
TV BBC 1  1.15pm  Songs of Praise Katherine Jenkins celebrates Easter at a new church,
       –  St Luke’s ( C of E ) Gas Street in Birmingham
Radio 3  3.00pm Festal Evensong ( Norwich Cathedral )

See the prayer resources page for links to Chester Cathedral and other streamed Services including the National Virtual Service for Palm Sunday led by the Bishop of Manchester (on Facebook only).

From the Diocese Coronavirus Briefing No 4:

Sunday Prayer Candle

A white taper lights a white church candle

If you can join with others again at 7.00pm this Sunday night, lighting a candle in the window, please do, and as suggested by Bishop Keith, pray this psalm:

“I lift my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth"
Psalm 121

April edition of the Chester Diocesan News

For now, the CDN will only be produced as a digital download. You can get your free copy here.

Share a Prayer, Pray a Prayer

The Acting Bishop of Chester, Keith Sinclair, is inviting you to, “share a prayer and pray a prayer” as part of a diocesan-wide effort to support one another through the coronavirus crisis. 

Bishop Keith says: “We are all coming to terms with the new realities of the coronavirus pandemic. For us all this means staying at home, but even from our armchairs we can serve our communities in prayer.

“I want to encourage everyone, whatever your experience of prayer may be – seasoned regular or just dipping your toe – to try walking with God in prayer today.

“There is an abundance of prayer that can be said for our communities, NHS, police, schools, business leaders, and government, as well as for individuals and their personal circumstances.”

Prayer sheets made up of prayers requested for a wide range of situations are available at the Prayer Hub for people to download and pray in their own time. 

In addition, a discreet group of 12 volunteers is also praying day and night for sensitive situations that people may not wish to share with the wider diocese.


Are you in need of prayer?

Text or WhatsApp your prayer to 07513170210 and it will be shared with people in the diocese to pray. Or you can email your prayer to foxhill@chester.anglican.org. Prayers received will be distributed across the diocese to volunteers to pray in their own time as part of a daily rhythm of prayer.


Bishop Keith says: “To anyone who is in need of prayer, I want to say this: share it with others so that we can pray together for you and your loved ones. We all have personal concerns and anxieties, and prayer has always been a real comfort to me in a time of need.”

The team at Foxhill is helping to serve the diocese by coordinating this prayer effort after closing its doors in March. If you would like to request prayer for you and your personal circumstances, contact the team at Foxhill. Your prayer will be distributed around the diocese for volunteers to pray as part of their daily rhythm of prayer.

A man kneels in prayer silhouetted in the sunset infront of three crosses on a hill

Keeping well – Church of england update

The latest Coronavirus Briefing from Bishop Keith, and some tips to keep positive particularly during self-isolation.

From Bishop Keith
Dear Friends,

I don’t know how the rhythm of this new way of living is working out for you.

For some the frantic nature of the tasks they are being asked to do will seem never ending, especially those in the NHS and supporting services. For others the opposite, though I expect that anyone with school age children at home may be feeling they’ve exchanged one kind of frantic for another.

All of us, old or young, whatever our home situation, are coming to terms with the new realities of the coronavirus pandemic.

I hope the updates here from the archbishops and bishops and other parts of the Church are helpful. It is very important that those who need to read them do so, so we are all as far as we can be, keeping in step with one another, and hopefully following government advice to, “stay at home, support the NHS, and save lives.”

I’m so hoping whatever our experience of praying at home has been that the new government restrictions on our movement will actually help us become stronger on one area of our walk with God, Prayer.

There are many ways we can pray and there are wonderful resources out there. Here is one suggestion from me if anyone would like any help,

Take one hand and look at:Your thumb – pray for your church community and family;Your first finger – pray for the NHS and those medical researchers looking for a vaccine;Your second finger – pray for the Government and all those making tough decisions;Your third finger – pray for those in care homes and working with the most vulnerable in our communities; andLittle finger – pray for individuals known to you and yourself.Each prayer focus for each thumb and finger could itself open up into prayer personally, locally, nationally, and globally.

Take the other hand and read out loud:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12) and let your thumb and each finger represent one of these “clothes” we are to put on:Thumb – compassionFirst finger – kindnessSecond finger – humilityThird finger – meeknessLittle finger – patienceWhen you pray, put your hands together, and let the “clothing” of one hand touch the people and places in the other, and see what God does.

Maybe prayer like this could become part of our daily rhythm in this strange new time for us all. However we pray, it is the Lord who meets with us in listening and speaking.

With love in Christ,

+Keith

Top tips to tackle loneliness/isolation

Find simple ways to deal with loneliness and isolation – from the Church of England website.

  1. Pray. Light a candle, if safe, and pray for hope, faith and strength to keep loving and caring for each other during this time of struggle.
  2. Talk about how you feel. This may be difficult if you are self-isolating, but do use the telephone, internet, and social media. If you need to contact a counsellor this can be arranged by your GP, or via local agencies, or privately. The Samaritans are there 24 hours a day, every day, and it’s free to call them on 116 123.
  3. Focus on the things that you can change, not on the things you can’t.
  4. Look after yourself – physically, emotionally, spiritually. Plan in things that you enjoy at regular intervals during the day – a TV programme, a phone call, a book, a favourite dish, a game.
  5. Look after others. Even if only in small ways, but do what you can: a smile, a kind word, writing a letter or an email.

DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THESE TOP TIPS A 2-page PDF designed to be printed is available

A white taper lights a white church candle
Pray. Light a candle, if safe, and pray for hope, faith and strength to keep loving and caring for each other during this time of struggle.