A Journey through Lent by Helen Buchanan

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St Andrew

Commemorated on 30 November

Andrew the Apostle was the brother of Simon Peter. They were both fishermen. Andrew was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, a region where Greek language and culture were known. The name “Andrew” is of Greek origin and no Hebrew or Aramaic name has been recorded for him. it is thought that he preached along the Black Sea and as far east as Novgorod, so became patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia.

He is said to have been martyred by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross at Patras in Achaea in AD 60. Legend has it that his relics were brought to the site of the modern city of St Andrews in Scotland. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by Andrew, “the first to be an Apostle”; he had by then been considered to be Scotland’s patron saint for several centuries. The Saltire (national flag of Scotland) is a white X-shaped cross on a blue background.

The words were written by Irish-born Cecil Frances Alexander née Humphreys (1818-1895), wife of Revd William Alexander, who later became Archbishop of Armagh. She wrote many well-known hymns. A number of the hymns she wrote for children are still popular today, including Once in royal David’s city, There is a green hill far away and All things bright and beautiful.

Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless sea,
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me;”

As of old, Saint Andrew heard it
By the Galilean lake,
Turned from home, and toil, and kindred,
Leaving all for His dear sake.

Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store;
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, “Christian, love Me more.”

In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
“That we love Him more than these.”

Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies,
Saviour, may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.

Peace be to this congregation

A hymn by Charles Wesley.

Peace be to this congregation,
peace to every soul therein,
peace, which flows from Christ’s salvation,
peace, the fruit of pardoned sin,

peace that speaks its heavenly Giver,
peace, to earthly minds unknown,
peace divine that lasts forever,
peace that comes from God alone.

Jesus, Prince of peace, be near us;
fix in all our hearts your home;
with your gracious presence cheer us;
let your sacred kingdom come;

raise to heaven our expectation,
give our favoured souls to prove
glorious and complete salvation,
in the realms of bliss above.

  • Veronica on Peace be to this congregationNever heard this one before! It's really lovely! 🙂 Hopefully it will be added to our choir's repertoire, especially whilst...

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire

The words to this hymn were written by James Montgomery (1771-1854). He was born in Scotland but eventually settled in Sheffield. He wrote over 600 hymns, several perhaps more familiar than this one. They include:
Angels from the realms of Glory
For ever with the Lord
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed
Lord, teach us how to pray aright
Songs of praise the angels sang
Stand up and bless the Lord

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
uttered or unexpressed;
the motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
the falling of a tear;
the upward glancing of an eye,
when none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
that infant lips can try,
prayer the sublimest strains that reach
the Majesty on high.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
returning from his ways;
while angels in their songs rejoice,
and cry, ‘Behold, he prays!

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
the Christian’s native air,
his watchword at the gates of death:
he enters heaven with prayer.

The saints in prayer appear as one,
in word and deed and mind;
while with the Father and the Son
sweet fellowship they find.

O Thou by whom we come to God,
the Life, the Truth, the Way,
the path of prayer thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray!

Holy Saturday 2020

On Holy Saturday we think of Jesus’ body in the tomb.

Fichier: Stations of the Cross, 14, Saint-Jean-Baptiste au Beguinage, Brussels
© Yann Forget / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA.

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
Mark 15 verses 42 to 47.

A Victorian hymn for Holy Saturday

By Jesus’ grave on either hand
While night is brooding o’er the land
The sad and silent mourners stand.

At last the weary life is o’er,
The agony and conflict sore
Of him who all our sufferings bore.

Deep in the rock’s sepulchral shade
The Lord, by whom the world was made,
The Saviour of mankind is laid.

O hearts bereaved and sore distressed,
Here is for you a place of rest:
Here leave your griefs on Jesus’ breast

On your own – but still connected…

A suggestion originating from Bishop Keith (our Acting Bishop of Chester) for a simple way of praying on your own but still feeling connected with your church family 🙂

Take one hand and look at…

Your thumb – pray for your family and church community, for all those who minister in our parishes and chaplaincies;
Your first finger – pray for the NHS, all emergency services, carers and support workers, all patients suffering from other diseases or chronic conditions, and for medical researchers looking for a vaccine against COVID-19;
Your second finger – pray for the Government and its advisers, for local government councillors and employees, for the self-employed, for those on universal credit, for those who make policies and laws, and all those making tough decisions;
Your third finger – pray for care homes, for staff working in retail, utilities and education, for all volunteers and charities, for the homeless, prisoners and all refugees, and those working with the most vulnerable in our communities;
Your little finger – pray for particular individuals known to you, for those whose relationships are under strain, for the anxious and fearful, and for yourself as a special child of God.

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 – compassion
First finger – kindness
Second finger – humility
Third finger – meekness
Little finger – patience

Then put your hands together, and let the “clothing” of one hand touch the people and places in the other, as you offer up your heartfelt prayers to God…

Maybe prayer like this could become part of our daily rhythm in this strange new time for us all. This Sunday night, if you can, wherever you are, light a candle at 7.00pm, and cry out to God in prayer for ourselves, our country and our world.