National Day of Reflection

On Tuesday 23 March we will pause and remember the many people who have died during this pandemic – each one missed by family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Let’s take time to reflect on our collective loss, reach out and show the millions who are grieving that they are not alone, and pray for them.

St Mary’s Church will be open for personal prayer on Tuesday from 11 am to 4pm – please come to be still, reflect and pray. At 12 noon we are invited to stop and be still, wherever we are, whatever we are doing. We will toll a bell at St Mary’s at mid-day to remember the many people we have lost and to invite everyone to pause and pray.

Please join us.

Download a special prayer postcard…

God of Love,
As we think about all that has changed this year,
help us to trust that you are always with us.
As we remember those who have died,
help us to trust they are at peace with you.
As we reach out to others with kindness and care,
may hope shine out in every heart and home.
Amen

(The National Day of Reflection is organised by Marie Curie and supported by The Church of England.)

 

Census Day: This coming Sunday, 21 March!

Have you got your census letter?

 

The census is coming, and it’s about you. Without the information you share, it’d be more difficult to understand our community’s needs and to plan for the future.

By taking part, you will help inform decisions about the services you and your community need, like doctors’ surgeries and new schools. Anonymised data will also help us shape our church’s work in future years.

 

Census day is on March 21, but households will already have received letters with online codes explaining how they can complete their forms. If you haven’t received one yet, please get in touch with the census contact centre. You can also request a paper questionnaire if you’d prefer to complete your census that way.

 

There is lots of support available such as a help area on the census website and a contact centre that can give you help over the phone and guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats, including paper questionnaires and large print. You can also use your postcode to find local census support centres on the census website.

 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales and is independent from the government. All information is held securely for 100 years. Statistics are only compiled based on anonymised data and personal information is not shared with any organisation and is never sold.

 

For more information, and to find out how to get help, visit census.gov.uk or call the contact centre on 0800 141 2021.

Wellbeing Thought for Sunday 7 March

Stewardship, not ownership

 Did you know that 16 of the 38 parables Jesus told were concerned with how to handle money and possessions? True wellbeing includes the financial and material area of our lives. Worries about money are one of the main causes of stress. God wants us to live in financial peace (“shalom”) – having margin each month, with opportunities to save for the future and to give to help others.

As Christians we believe that all things come from God – we don’t own them, but God wants us to steward them. That is a crucial difference if we want to enjoy internal freedom from fear and worry. Once we have settled that God is the owner, we can begin to learn how to manage our finances his way!

Where is your financial dial – red, amber or green? How might knowing God is the owner and you his steward help you grow in financial peace and wellbeing?

 

(Excerpt from: Dave Smith, God’s Plan for your Wellbeing.)

Working from Rest

(This is a reflection from the LICC Bible Reading Plan “Working from Rest”. Click here to find out more…)

 

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:8–11 NIV11-GKE)
The command given the most ‘air-time’ on Sinai details sabbath rest. Through it, the Lord nullifies the entire system of anxious production and the need to ‘get ahead’. Work is placed within limits. One of the results of the current pandemic is that, for many, the boundary between work and rest has become blurred. Constant emails and texts mean we never switch off. Our boundaries have been eroded.
For reflection: What limits might God be asking you to put around work?
Prayer: Thank you for the sabbath and the priority you, Lord, give to rest. Help me to honour that priority. Amen.
———————-
Sabbath rest is communal – it is offered to all sons and daughters, all cattle, all immigrants, all who have left the anxiety-driven system of Pharaoh. God’s people are no longer defined by competition, achievement, production, or acquisition. Their new identity is one of community, relationship, and rest.
For reflection: From where do you draw your sense of identity?
For prayer: Lord, please help me to recognize and affirm my identity as one shaped by community, relationship, and rest. Amen.

Combatting Zoom Fatigue

(This is from a longer article by Curt Thompson. Read the full article here…)

By now, most of us have noticed. And either we or someone we know is talking about it. Zoom fatigue. Irritability. No fever, cough or body aches necessary. Just the normal, run-of-the-mill symptoms of social distancing. And mostly, people are describing how much more exhausted they are at the end of their days compared to what their lives were like before three weeks ago. All of this highlights one element of what it truly means to be human that our encounter with the coronavirus has drawn our attention to: our bodies.

God made our bodies as part of what it means for us to be human, and much like asking someone to breathe air that is only 15% oxygen instead of the normal 20%, we’re asking our bodies to do things they were not made to do. Even so, along with other suggestions I have offered regarding COVID-19, here are some additional things you can do to help:

  1. Make it a practice to take at least three 5-10 minute walks every day. Shorter, more frequent movement not only extends your body’s movement over the course of the day, it also gives you something to look forward to throughout the day, thereby reducing your anxiety along with your irritation.
  2. If possible, change your location of work in your home. This may be challenging, but different physical locations within your home over time gives your body the awareness of movement by virtue of being in a novel location.
  3. When possible, stand while doing work, especially when using a screen. This practice enables your body to work even while being less mobile.
  4. As you are able, limit the number of people on videocalls to three or less. This may sound unreasonable, or impossible. But the fewer people your brain—and body—has to keep track of, the less tired you will be. This may simply sound like common sense. That’s because it is.
  5. Greet as many people as you can whenever you are able. There is little cost to acknowledging the presence of another person, and we need to be acknowledged even by strangers. Not only will your thinking mind give and receive it, your body will as well.
  6. Plan for daily singing/worship while standing. Sing along with your most loved YouTube worship video as a means to use your body to tell your mind and soul that you are quite alive—and that you are not alone.
  7. Talk about your anger. There may be nothing more important than having a close friend or counselor validate that your anger is real and isn’t crazy. Not to mention that talking to someone about your feelings connects you to another person, which in and of itself will reduce your irritability and give you a greater sense of agency.
  8. Practice contemplative prayer. This form of prayer, especially while standing, strengthens your capacity to live in the present moment which protects against the irritability that emerges in the face of immobility.

Our bodies are hard at work. And although we are in a season in which we are asking them to work differently and harder than usual, know that you are not alone, and your work is not in vain.

Why keep Lent? By J. John

Lent, the forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays), is a somewhat curious period in the church’s calendar. Most events in the church’s year are festivals and we happily talk about celebrating them. Lent is very different: it is a minor-key period which is never ‘celebrated’ but only ‘kept’. Some churches and Christians treat Lent very seriously, while others ignore it entirely.

Even among those who keep Lent, there is no agreement on how it should be kept. Many Christians try to give up something: for instance, chocolate, social media or television. It’s even become a period for us to try to break bad habits, almost as if Lent gives us another opportunity to retake those New Year’s resolutions!

Now what exactly is Lent about? Lent is about three ‘preparations’.

Lent is a preparation for Easter. Easter, with its message of Christ destroying sin and death through his death and resurrection, is the most exciting moment in the church’s year. Yet we can undercut this note of victory by being so occupied that, amid the frantic busyness of our lives, we carelessly stumble upon Easter. Lent provides us with forty days’ build-up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday that forces us to prayerfully ponder the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As the best way to appreciate a sunrise is to be there in the darkness before dawn, so the only way to appreciate Easter is to have come to it through Lent. We as Christians are, of course, an Easter people living in a Good Friday world.

Secondly, Lent is a preparation for Existence. A fatal flaw in our culture today is that people do not know how to say ‘no’ to bad things. It is now almost a virtue to give in to every desire that comes upon us. Yet a great element in Christian morality is to be able to say ‘no’ to wrong desires. Paul, in Titus 2:11–12 (NIV), says, ‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.’ Lent gives us the opportunity to practise resisting harmful and hurtful desires that will continue for life. Trivial as it may appear, a battle won over chocolate, coffee or cake at Lent may help us win a battle over lust, lying or lazyness shortly afterwards.

Finally, Lent is a preparation for Eternity. If you take Lent seriously, then these forty days can seem to be a long and often wearying season in which we never get our own way. Here, for a time, pleasures are put to one side and joys are postponed. But Lent doesn’t last. The darkness is broken by the joyful light of the glorious triumph of Easter Day. Here there is a splendid parallel with our lives. For many of us, much of our life seems to take place in what we might call ‘Lent mode’: things do not go as we hope, we do not get what we want and our joys are absent or at best short-lived. Yet, for the Christian, there is that wonderful and certain hope that however deep and hard the darkness is in our lives, it will ultimately be lifted and replaced by an indestructible joy. For those who love Christ, life’s long Lent will end one day in an eternal Easter in which death and sin are destroyed for ever.

Whether or not you keep Lent (which starts today, on Wednesday 17th February), and in what way you keep it, is your choice. But to keep Lent, thoughtfully and prayerfully, is to come into a rich and lasting inheritance. Be blessed this Lent and bless others.

J.John

www.canonjjohn.com

Jane and Dexter Brown on Dentistry in Lockdown

Last autumn, Dexter Brown wrote an article about Dentistry during the Covid pandemic.
As we interviewed his wife Jane at Church Coffee Online today to ask how things were going (find the link below), we are publishing the article here again:

Lockdown and restart: a dentist’s perspective

By Dexter Brown

(Dentist Jane wearing surgical gown, mask, visor and gloves)

On the 23rd of March, I saw my last dental patient and locked up the surgery. The doors did not open again until 9th June. Dental problems did not go away but dental surgeries were told to close and all we could do was give the three A’s: Advice, Analgesics (painkillers) and Antibiotics, as physical contact with patients was prohibited. I spoke to over 60 patients during this period, with issues ranging from minor problems to serious infections.

It felt so medieval in such a modern high-tech profession and era to be resorting to basic DIY dentistry. I guided patients who had sharp and broken teeth to file off edges with nail files. I talked an elderly shielding lady through extracting her very mobile lower tooth and how to deal with the bleeding. She was developing a spreading infection in her face and was terrified of leaving her home for care. Removing the tooth resolved the issue.

One gentleman had a crown (cap) which had come off a tooth. I talked him through how he could correctly relocate it back into his mouth – he practiced and was able to do so. He came to the surgery and collected dental cement for use at home. He called back later to relay that the procedure had ended in disaster and that he now needed a plumber not a dentist. In the course of trying to recement the crown, whilst he was looking in his bathroom mirror, the crown slipped from his fingers, fell down the sink plug hole and lodged itself in the U-bend!

As Covid-19 is a respiratory disease and the virus is therefore present in the mouth, it may be transferred to the atmosphere of the surgery through drilling. Protocols have been developed which require a surgery to be left for an hour after treatment, to allow aerosol to settle. Then every exposed surface in the room has to be wiped down and disinfected. This has slowed the through-put of patients, and where our practice saw up to 30 people a day, we are currently seeing a maximum of 10.

Dentistry has always been a highly clinical and safe place to visit, and I can reassure you that this remains the case today.

 

At today’s Church Coffee Online we spoke to Jane about life in lockdown. You can catch up here:

 

 

 

Praying for the Mission of God

Jesus says: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Find out more about the ten largest unreached people groups and pray for them today…

(Click on the image to enlarge it).

Every virtue begins with humility

By Nnamdi Maduka

On 29th November 2020, Manchester United were playing Southampton, with some minutes to go, Southampton were leading 2-1.  It looked as though United were going to suffer their fourth defeat of the Premier League season. The United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to salvage the situation called out Edison Cavani from the substitute bench, gave him a specific instruction on what at to do and sent him in. This paid off as Cavani scored two beautiful goals that gave Manchester United their much-needed victory. A world class footballer left in the bench humbly waited for his time and when the opportunity came, he made his mark.

John the Baptist was given a definite divine assignment by God and he played the script with dedication and humility. Humility produces spiritual blessing hence Jesus describe him as the greatest of all.Just as every sin starts in pride, every virtue begins in humility. Humility allows us to see ourselves as we are, because it shows us before God as He is.

God needs voices and John the Baptist was willing to be one for God. In ancIent times, before a king visited any part of his realm, a messenger was sent before him to prepare the way. This included both repairing the roads and preparing the people. By calling the nation to repentance, John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord Jesus Christ.
John stopped his disciples from putting him into a situation of competing against Jesus.  He knew that he was just a voice and whatever God wanted to do with that voice was great with him. He wanted to get all the attention onto Christ and off himself. That is the heart desire of the humble. Proud people want recognition, the humble want all the glory and honour and  recognition to go the Lord. This revealed a deeper level of humility in John’s life.  John can do this because he has realised that it is not about him. And therefore, he can also be so bold in resisting the temptation to doctor the message or attempt to soften the impact of Christ`s teaching.

Humility destroys self-absorption, self-preoccupation, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance. Our desires become nothing compared to Christ who becomes everything. So, reflecting again on John’s life and witness, his hippie appearance and all his ‘shouty-ness’ I hope we might accept with due humility that like him, all WE can do is attempt to point the way; and invite others into friendship with the Lord in this busy season.

May the Lord prepare our heart for the wonder of His coming. Amen

P.S. This coming Sunday (13 December) we will reflect on John the Baptist, his life and work.

A Walk Around St Mary’s Church – Denham History Online

Thank you to Denham History Online for posting a walk around St Mary’s Church to co-incide with our church festival.

You can read it here…

Catch up on our Celebration service…

Take a virtual tour of the White House gardens…

Watch our virtual choir sing Amazing Grace…