Daily Office

Two weeks ago, I introduced a Daily Office to the church office.  Three times a day at 9:15am, 12:15pm and 5:00pm, whoever is on site is invited to join us for prayer. It’s an opportunity to stop, reflect, consider, pause and pray.

This Daily Office of morning, midday and evening prayer is compiled from various liturgical sources with the intention that a regular cycle of daily prayer will create a rhythm of life around which all our other activities can take place. Sometimes we light a candle or make the sign of the cross as we commit these three 10-15-minute sessions to God and still ourselves in His presence.

It’s a rich new discovery for me to use the same readings and prayers with such regular occurrence but the depth of meaning in the words is profoundly uplifting.

Our Morning Canticle from the Northumbria Community contains the beautiful lines:

‘Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me’

I love taking my time with these lines, being drawn into them imagining who I might be meeting and how I then should act and speak as the day unfolds.  It’s been a wonderful mantra to play through my head before my meetings and visits take place.

At 12:15pm we draw together again for ten minutes to pray for the morning past and the afternoon to come.  This prayer taken from the Order of Baptist Ministry sets the atmosphere and tone for all the afternoon activities.

‘Living God, enable us this day

to be pilgrims and companions: 

committed to the way of Christ,  

faithful to the call of Christ,  

discerning the mind of Christ,  

offering the welcome of Christ,  

growing in the likeness of Christ,  

engaging in the mission of Christ,  

in the world that belongs to Christ’. 

Then at the end of the day as the church office closes, we meet for a short time of evening prayer before the church evening programme commences with a wonderful poem of faithful affirmation:

‘Lord, you have always marked the road for the coming day; 

and though it may be hidden,

today I believe’.

This may not be for everyone, but as someone who usually likes to be quite busy, I have found it very helpful to stop and centre myself in prayer three times a day.  As someone who usually favours contemporary ex tempore prayer, I am loving reciting rich written liturgy and discovering new depths to prayer and contemplation as I step away from my familiar models.

If you are on site at these times, please do come and join us. If you’re not on site but like the idea of stopping to pray at the same time, I’ll make the prayers and liturgies available on our website.

Let me encourage you to at least give it a try.

Let me finish this week with the beautiful Celtic blessing of the Northumbria Community:

‘May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you.

May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.

May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.

May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors’.

Zombieland

Whether it’s on my morning run, riding my bike or walking through town one of my biggest concerns is knocking into one of the legions of people so engrossed and connected to their phone screens they block the pavement, cycle lanes or even cross roads without checking for traffic.  When attention is diverted from screen to reality people jump, flinch or react aggressively when they realise that they are in the path of a bike/car or simply blocking the pavement with their zombie shuffle. I would push the zombie metaphor further except according to most zombie lore – the undead react quicker to sound than vision, so even the walking dead may have more awareness of their surrounds!

People so engrossed in their own world they have no idea what’s going on around them is shockingly one of my big ‘takeaways’ from Andy Kind’s visit to RBC last weekend. Andy is an acclaimed comedian, having won all sorts of awards and written for different TV series including Miranda and despite that blip in his career is a very funny man. He did an amazing show last Saturday night that had me crying with laughter, especially at his pirate story. If you don’t believe me ask Neil and Anne Bradshaw.

He also preached in our Sunday morning service- If you missed it, listen on line via the website or the RBC Facebook page. One of Andy’s big encouragements was that we have the power in us to be effective disciple makers rather than only believers, ‘Jesus is not really interested in believers, he wants disciples’. This was my cell phone/zombie/living dead get out of the cycle lane moment. Belief is good, important and incredible and the starting point, but there’s so much more if we don’t stop at our belief statement and follow through and make disciples.  Lots of people believe in Jesus, God or ‘some sort of something up there’ but the Christian distinctive is that we are disciple makers.  Usually when I hear this sort of message, I go into defence mode and self-justify that there’s been no opportunities, or I’ve met no one or I’ve been too busy. But I’ve been inspired this week to have a bit more awareness of who I’m talking to and where an offer to pray or a comment of faith or even a word of knowledge could be appropriate.  This terrifies and exhilarates me at the same time. Its not been entirely successful but that’s OK.

I’m loving hearing the stories this week of how people have looked up and taken the opportunity to say something or do something ‘disciplemakingy’ from buying a portion of chips to blowing up a bike tyre. I’ve got the dishwasher engineer coming today – I won’t be cringy or awkward – ‘This machine may wash plates but did you know Jesus can wash your sins away’ just honest, open and aware.

If you’re interested a good book to read is T4T: ‘A Discipleship Re-Revolution’

If you are around this Sunday we’ve got a couple of people being baptised, in their stories you’ll hear what can happen when inspired and empowered we take the opportunity to say or do something.

See you Sunday

New Term

This morning we waved goodbye to our eldest daughter who will be studying in Malaysia until mid-December. Daughter number two will be leaving home in a few weeks to start university and the family of five will be down to three for the autumn term. Last weekend we celebrated our second anniversary of living in Redhill with a bike ride to the amazing Denbies estate.

Yes, the summer break is over, and the RBC juggernaut is roaring back to life as the autumn term programme begins in earnest this weekend.  I write this with a sense of excitement and anticipation rather than an air of resignation and there’s a lot to be excited about.

This weekend we have been invited to be part of the Cromwell Community fun day, how wonderful after all the prayer walks around the estate to be invited by the Cromwell Community Group to be part of the celebrations.  On Saturday evening we are hosting an evening with comedian Andy Kind – he is a very funny man who gets great reviews wherever he plays; he’s also speaking at our Sunday morning service.

Next week the staff team begin a series of Tuesday afternoon assemblies at Hatchlands School. What an opportunity having been invited in by the head to be involved in this way.

Next weekend the men of RBC are invited to The Forge – a brilliant men’s festival with music, magicians, comedians and a giant BBQ hog roast. Then on the Sunday we have baptisms.  Wonderful!

Towards the end of the month we have a church meeting where we hope to appoint three new elders to join the Church Leadership Team (CLT) and we also have our week of prayer kicking off with a special service of commitment, covenant and confession on Sunday 29 September.

Over the last few months we’ve talked, studied and thought about how a community like ours can really have a positive influence in our town and surrounding area. This term we are giving lots of opportunities to put this into practice, to measure whether our walk matches our talk.  On Sunday mornings we are going to be exploring what the Bible teaches us about what it means to be a committed serving community of God’s people; this comes with a particular emphasis on how we use our time and money.

Then, if I can say the C word at this point… Christmas is coming and the theme this year is ‘Simply Christmas’, stripped back, unpretentious, focussed and calming as a tonic to what could be a busy term.

I look forward to seeing you at our gatherings and events throughout the term

…and especially to seeing you on Sundays