"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
Each month, we have identified a theme for our prayer as a town. This month, July, we pray for the all those who have been affected by Coronavirus in our community.
This month we pray for all those who have been affected by the Covid virus in our community:
• Those suffering with COVID infection
• Those helping to restore COVID sufferers to health
• Those working on the frontline maintaining essential services
• Those whose education has been severely disrupted over the past year
• Those caring for the vulnerable.
Loving Lord, as we fight this new strain of Covid,
give us the strength to face whatever happens
and the sense to do what is right to keep us safe.
Help the young people see the right way that with patience we will win over this nasty dis-ease.
Enfold us in Your loving arms Lord,
for we know that with you by side we can face anything.
A Psalm of lament and praise in a time of coronavirus
How shall we praise you, Lord, our God?
When we are locked down,
how shall we praise you?
When the doors to your house are barred,
and your people cannot assem-ble?
When those desperately in need of money and work
cannot even wait in the market-place?
When we have to circle round people in the street,
and to queue for shops maintain-ing safe distance?
When we can only communicate
by hearing on the phone,
or seeing on the screen;
or digitally messaging,
or even just waving through a win-dow?
When we cannot meet our parents and children,
grandparents and grandchildren,
or other family members and friends?
When we cannot touch them in their flesh and blood,
to know they are really alive?
How shall we praise you?
How, like Thomas, shall we not see yet believe
that your son is raised among us?
How shall we praise you?
How can I praise you, Lord?
Are you plaguing us with this virus
to punish us because we have all done wrong,
or thought wrongly,
or felt wrongly,
or just been wrong?
If so, why do only some die,
and those, apparently, the ones who are the least worst or most caring amongst us?
Or are you trying to teach us a lesson?
If so, why is it so hard to learn?
And how are we to find the answer
when we do not even know the question?
Or are you still the same loving God,
coming to us in our sufferings
and opening up the way to new life in Jesus?
Lord, I will try to praise you.
Through gritted teeth,
I will try to praise you.
I will try to keep myself and others safe.
I will work to pray for them
and seek to help in whatever way I can.
Lord, when I cannot pray or worship
help me be aware of all your people
and your saints and angels
hovering around me,
lifting me up.
When I feel alone,
let me feel you near me,
even if only for a moment that enables me to go on.
Let me hear you say
“Peace be with you”.
Lord, I will praise you.
Let all the peoples praise you.
Reproduced from The Methodist Church Website with kind permission from Revd Kenneth Howcroft.
JUNE: We pray for the homeless.
Listen to God and let Him teach us how to love the most marginalised in society
"All the different things I’ve done God has guided me. He is the only power that I’ve got."
Sally Trench said these words in an interview with the Tablet in 2018.
It’s a sad reflection on the modern world that homelessness is increasing. After the war it was our returning soldiers unable to adjust who finished up drinking themselves to death on meths, boot polish and gasoline. These men didn’t last long and homeless World War II veterans disappeared from the streets. Homelessness today is more the result of poverty, addiction and some-times simply circumstance and misfortune.
Recently we have seen a number of destitute and homeless men in Clitheroe. These men aren’t anything like the men Sally Trench knew. We can help these men and by the grace of God that is what we are trying to do in Clitheroe.
But this month’s theme isn’t really about homelessness and it certainly isn’t about homelessness in Clitheroe. It’s about God reaching out to us via inspirational people, and learning that if we can’t emulate those people we can at least sup-port them in some small way, perhaps a little hands-on help or donations and prayer.
In the 1960s Sally Trench was just a young girl mixing and caring for destitute people on the streets of London. Her first book Bury Me in My Boots was published in 1967. The book tells how Sally had spent the previous five years sleeping rough with some of the most marginalised people in the world. It is a tale of lived-out faith. “I was living in this world on the bomb-sites,” she recalls, “with the rats, and the dossers. That is what I was there for, to help them die when they needed to die, or to keep them alive when they needed to keep alive.” As one of them neared his end he said; “Bury me in my boots, Sally”. Sometimes without sleep or without food for days she lived amongst those men, experienced what they experienced, and as someone who felt a failure and a reject too, she identified with them.
Sally was a difficult kid from an early age. She came from an upper middle class family and was sent off to a Roman Catholic boarding school at the age of five. She was expelled when she was fifteen. A year or so later, walking across London at about 11:30 pm she counted eighty-seven dirty, drunk, flea-ridden old men lying on the benches, under the benches, newspaper their mattress and newspaper their cover. Her initial reaction of disgust and evasion turned to something quite different – a recollection of her Christian roots and a realisation of what that meant. She turned back. In her pearls and evening dress she sat between two of the dirtiest men. Repelled by the smell of gasoline and urine and nausea but recognising these people were utterly homeless, utterly unwanted, uncared for, and nowhere to go, she went home and prayed. She thanked God for her parents and her home and made a pledge that she would do something about these people because God had made her aware of them.
She got a job and spent her income on food, coffee, cigarettes, clothing, and started a night vigil at two o'clock every morning. Climbing down the drainpipe she got on her bicycle and cycled six miles across London. She gave out the food, the coffee, the cigarettes, and the blankets and at three o'clock she returned home and went to bed again. She did this for a year. No one knew.
At the end of that year she walked out of her home after a row with her father and didn’t return and it was then that she spent five years sleeping rough with the men. She wrote Bury me in my Boots on toilet paper with pens provided by the station master at Waterloo Station and kept what she wrote in Left Luggage.
One day, she encountered a young woman who had used a knitting needle to try to abort her pregnancy and was bleeding to death. She summoned a local priest to give her the last rites. It was the start of a friendship with the Jesuit Hugh Thwaites that would inspire him to retrieve the diary from Left Luggage, type it up and send it to a publisher friend.
At the age of 22 she was interviewed by Studs Terkel. With her public school education and sophisticated voice, she doesn’t sound a failure or a reject; she sounds affected, naïve, and over confident. Was living with the Meths Men just a teenage rebellion and a short phase in her life? According to an article in The Tablet written in 2018, absolutely not. Sally prefers to be called Sparky and it is that spark that is the most obvious outward thread that connects the work she described in Bury Me in My Boots, and her subsequent missions. First, she ran a successful referral school for 700 “delinquent children” in London. Next, in the 1990s, she rescued children from the civil war in Bosnia and gave them a home in Britain. Until April 2017, she spent a decade living in the Western Cape in South Africa working with 7,000 children in squatter camps.
All these ventures came under the auspices of Project Spark, the charity she established with the royalties from her first book. Her remarkable life goes back to a pact with God on her seventh birthday when, troubled about the Catholic convent teaching on mortal sin, she describes a sort of revelation: “I just felt this sort of amazing feeling of a voice, saying, ‘Hey, you’re not in mortal sin, let’s make a pact.’ And so I made this pact with God. I said, ‘You died for me, so I will live for you,’ and God said, ‘That’s a stunning pact. I agree with that one.’ And that was it. I’ve stayed with Him forever. We are a team. I can do nothing without Him.”
There is a message here for all of us. Whenever we are reminded of how little will power we seem to have and reflect on the impossible things that remarkable people do, let’s think of those words of Sally Trench and pray that we will hear God’s personal message to us, whatever that might be.
Let us pray for love, that we can put base emotions out of our hearts and learn to love even those who are the most difficult to love.
Let us try and love as Jesus loves for whoever Jesus loves, we must, in the best way we can, learn to love them too.
Let us pray that, with love, God will also give us the strength to act.
And let us pray that little by little we can gain in strength to do more and eventually perhaps do what for the moment seems impossible.
MAY: We join in with Thy Kingdom Come
Through the centuries Christians have gathered to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Thy Kingdom Come is a prayer movement in which Christians around the world pray during the eleven days from Ascension to Pentecost. This year's Thy Kingdom Come takes place between Thursday 13th - Sunday 23rd May. We invite all Christians in our community to join in with this season of prayer. Every person, household and church are encouraged to pray in their own way. It may be that your own church is entering into Thy Kingdom Come this year.
Since its start in May 2016 Thy Kingdom Come has been continually growing. So far, Christians from 172 countries from over 80 different denominations and traditions have taken part in praying ‘Come Holy Spirit’. All in the hope that friends, family, neighbours and colleagues may come to faith in Jesus Christ.
During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, we will focus on:
• Deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ
• Praying for five friends or family to come to, or be restored to, faith in Jesus
• Praying for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness.
After the very first Ascension Day the disciples gathered with Mary, constantly devoting themselves to prayer while they waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Like them, our reliance on the gift of the Holy Spirit is total – on our own we can do nothing.
It is our prayer that those who have not yet heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and His love for the world will hear it for themselves, and respond and follow Him. Specifically, we invite you all to pray that God’s Spirit might work in the lives of five friends who have not responded with their ‘Yes ’to God’s call.
To help you in your prayers Thy Kingdom Come have produced a Prayer Journal and Novena (a guide for nine days of prayer). These can be downloaded here.
A 24 hour prayer page can be found here.
For further information please visit Thy Kingdom Come.
APRIL: We pray for those in chains.
"Blessed and merciful Lord, some have lost their freedom and access to justice and we pray for all such, for their restoration and journey into faith through Christ.
Others have lost their freedom through injustice and persecution as they stand for the rights of common people - we lift up their plight to You.
We pray for the all those in unchecked power who oppress and silence the voices of those that seek freedom for all people; that their deeds will be made visible and they will be convicted of the cruelty of their abuse and find a pathway to God."
Pray for the Light of Our Lord to shine in nations where freedom is currently restricted: MYANMAR, YEMEN, CHINA/HONG KONG, EGYPT, COLOMBIA, RUSSIA, ZIMBABWE, The PHILIPPINES, AFGHANISTAN and LIBYA.
For the victims of oppression, we pray this month for:
Nonoy Espina, chair of the national union of Journalists of the Philippines as he represents a free press and campaigns following the murders of 191 journalists since 1986. The mission of the NUoJ is to continue upholding press freedom; to protect journalists from attacks, threats, and harassment; and to organise media workers for better working conditions.
In 2010 a young Tunisian man Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the town of Sidi Bouazizi in protest at mistreatment by the authorities. Pray for the work of the Truth and Dignity Commission, established in response to this tragedy, as it works to ensure justice against human rights violations in Tunisia.
For Ibrahim Ezz el-Din in Egypt, labelled as a terrorist in his campaign as a housing rights activist for the poor and homeless and kept in pre trial detention for thirteen months, tortured and suffering from ill health and depression.
For Yu Wensheng an imprisoned Chinese Human Rights lawyer convicted at a secret trial to serve four years for inciting subversion of state power.
For the singer Yahaya Sharif-Aminu sentenced to death by the Upper Sharia Court in northern Nigeria for placing a song on WhatsApp that is allegedly blasphemous. Not permitted a lawyer at his trial, he has been able to lodge an appeal with help from the international human rights community.
For Tran Huynh Duy Thuc a Vietnamese business person imprisoned for sixteen years to be followed by five years house arrest for advocating social, educational, economic and democratic reform via the media of blogging.
Lord of all that is right, may they not become forgotten prisoners, may they be protected from torture, may they be sustained in captivity until their chains are broken and they are free at last!
Soul of Christ, sanctify them
Body of Christ, save them
Blood of Christ, inebriate them
Water from the side of Christ, wash over them
Passion of Christ, strengthen them
O good Jesus, hear us
Within thy wounds hide them
From the wicked foe defend them.
MARCH: Praying for Climate Change and the Environment
We have used the structure PRAY to help us to pray for the issue of climate change. This is an interactive prayer session, so you will want to gather together some tools to help you to pray:
To start we must stop. To move forward we must pause. Stillness and silence prepare our minds and hearts to connect with God. To be still enables us to pray from a place of peace, faith and adoration. At the beginning of your prayer journey with God today, pause, slow down and centre on God.
Hold a piece of ice in your hand and as it melts pray,
“Lord, renew our spirits and cleanse our hearts
Renew our minds and transform our lives
Renew our oceans and rebuild ecosystems
Renew our world
In your name we pray,
Read Genesis 1: 26-31.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Reflect on our responsibility as humankind to care for the Earth. Take time to lament for the damage that has been done to the planet.
Here are a variety of projects, initiatives and commitments you may or may not have heard of. Spend time thanking God for them and praying for them.
Give thanks for the movement towards becoming a Carbon Neutral society and for the USA's commitment to rejoin the Paris Agreement.
Give thanks for initiatives like the C40 Cities programme that is looking to sustainably protect the world’s poorest coastal cities from sea level rise.
The Dutch Government are working in over 30 countries to help deliver important lessons on sustainable coastal protection that has not only halted sea level rise in the Netherlands but has created new land for crop cultivation.
China has launched the “Sponge City” initiative which requires that 80% of all urban land is able to absorb or reuse 70% of storm-water. More than 30 cities are currently part of the initiative including Shanghai – one of the most flood-prone cities in the world. The Chinese expect that at least another 600 cities will join in the coming decade.
Give thanks for the WWF that has provided extensive financial support to the Wrangel Island Nature Reserve, known as the “polar bear nursery” for its high concentration of polar bear maternity dens. WWF won Wrangel Island as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 and in 2012, successfully advocated for the significant expansion of a marine buffer zone around Wrangel Island and its smaller neighbour, Herald Island.
Gather together 2 bowls, a cup and fill one of the bowls with water. As you pray, scoop some water from one bowl into the other.
You may like to use the following words to help you pray:
For the sake of those facing rising temperatures, drought and water shortages,
Creator God, in your mercy, renew this damaged world.
For the sake of those facing unpredictable weather, disrupted seasons and failed crops
Creator God, in your mercy, renew this damaged world.
For the sake of those facing flooding, land loss and salination of vital water supplies
Creator God, in your mercy, renew this damaged world.
For the sake of all those who fear the changing climate
Creator God, in your mercy, renew this damaged world.
For the sake of the poor, the vulnerable, and the refugee
Creator God, in your mercy, renew this damaged world.
For the sake of us all,
Creator God, in your mercy, recreate our hearts that we might partner with you to renew this damaged world.
Father, we pray for you to raise up a generation of leaders with the courage to take responsibility for our changing climate, and the part we have played in it. Father, we intercede for our politicians and leaders – cause them to act in the best interests of all nations today, and all peoples’ in the future, in order to avoid catastrophic changes. Father, we ask for a generation of leaders who will be willing to act justly so that those who have contributed so little to the problems we are facing, and have fewer resources with which to face it, are not left to shoulder our burden. Father, we ask for you to fill the hearts of all who lead rich nations – give them your mercy and compassion on poor countries already suffering the effects of a changing climate. Just as they have been moved to cancel debt in the past, encourage them also to release funds so that poor communities can adapt to the effects of climate change, and develop cleanly.
Consider your own energy use at home and the ocean based products you have bought. Have you considered the impact on other animals that your purchases could have? Have you considered how your use of energy could impact sea level rise around the world?
FEBRUARY: Praying for Refugees in Calais
Immigration controls can be a contentious social and political issue. People can be worried about uncontrolled entry to their country, their city or their town. ‘Who is picking up the bill?’, is a common concern. Despite all such things what might be the Christian perspective?
One of the main ‘jumping off areas’ for illegal entry to the UK is around Calais and whatever our personal view might be there are undoubtedly men, women, children and families who are desperate for a new future and in a position of great physical, and emotional need. The choices that have driven them to Calais could well be born out of a genuine fear and desperation that we struggle to imagine. Into the New Year Clitheroe Churches in Partnership (CCP) are looking at the plight of refugees as part of their aim to raise awareness around human rights abuse and the blight of criminal trafficking of vulnerable people.
Parishioners from Our Lady of the Valley RC fellowship pledged to send money saved during Covid lockdown to some of the most vulnerable. They have searched for charities where money would go directly to those in need. Sister Bridie Dowd of the Sisters of Mercy of St Vincent de Paul, Salford, one of the Catholic Church Anti-Trafficking networkers, has been to Calais a number of times and put them in touch with Alex Holmes. Alex was to spend a month with Maria Skobtsova House of welcome and relief helping to minister to refugees in Calais over the Christmas period. Alex goes to Calais regularly and is a trusted friend of Sister Bridie.
Maria Skobtsova House says: “We are very grateful that we have been able to rely on Alex and Joëlle who have been faithfully supporting the mission of the house over the past four years. Their regular presence in the House assures, beyond the practical help, a solid continuity in nourishing the spirit of Maria Skobtsova House, in all the uncertainties, precariousness and turmoils of the situation and the daily life in Calais.”
Our friends at our Lady of the Valley knew they could trust Alex completely and were able to donate directly to the ‘front line’ of the problem.
In September Alex wrote: “For the refugee community in Calais, this past year has continued to be shaped by police violence and the building of ever more barriers. Almost daily the refugee communities are confronted with a hostile environment, the constant dismantling of their living spaces, and actions that are an attempt to dissuade them from staying in Calais. Despite the Covid pandemic there has been no letup in the pursuit of a policy of zero tolerance by the authorities towards refugees. “
It was much colder in January when Alex emailed us from Calais with a message of thanks:
“HAPPY NEW YEAR from across the Channel in Calais”
“We had an amazing Orthodox Christmas celebration two days ago, on January 7th. Thank you for helping make this possible. We were able to use one of the churches in Calais, St Joseph's...more than 60 Eritreans came for a 3 hour
prayer service led by two Eritrean deacons. A fine team of 6 Eritrean refugees prepared a meal for 150 of their community.. Because of Covid, this had to be outdoors...and mercifully it was dry all day.”
So, Christians in Clitheroe reached across the divide and actively contributed to keeping those people in need, warm, sheltered and well fed over Christmas.
Please join us in praying for refugees in Calais :
Lord of the Lost, Calmer of the Waves, a Man of Sorrows acquainted with grief,
We pray for all refugees in Calais as they seek new life from desperation,
As they seek a place to call home,
As they seek protection from danger, hostility and violence,
As they confront barrier after barrier to simple freedom,
As they are haunted by uncertainty and fear for their loved ones.
Lord in Your Mercy may they see and feel You reaching out to them,
Lord in Your Mercy protect them,
Lord in Your Mercy uplift and empower those who lovingly minister to them,
Lord in Your Mercy show us a way to help.
Lord Jesus, in Your Mercy, Hear Our Prayer
JANUARY: Praying for Ribble Valley Youth
We are thankful to God for the launch of Ribble Valley Youth, or "Revy" as it’s affectionately named now. The idea of a town-wide youth initiative has been discussed and prayed over for a long time, and in November RVY had its first online event.
Lucy Skelton and Chris Meyer met frequently over the summer to discuss what RVY would look like and how it could work. The vision of RVY is to develop a town-wide youth ministry, not linked to any particular church, but functioning as part of the Body of Christ in our town. We aim to provide a place where all young people in the Ribble Valley can grow in their faith. In short, RVY seeks to build community, reach out effectively, and invest fruitfully in the young people of our community.
Friendships are a vital part of growing in faith as a young person, and we hope that RVY will inspire young people to be strong in their faith, and to be courageous in sharing it with their friends. Young people can easily feel isolated, but we want RVY to be a place where friendships can be built and strengthened. RVY therefore seeks to develop a range of projects and events, both online and face to face.
Online, the majority of young people engage with several different technologies. Youtube, Gaming, and Social Media are the key platforms young people are attracted to. RVY has already begun to engage with our young people through social media and live streaming on Youtube. We have already received very positive feedback and a core group from across the churches is beginning to come together. In the new year, we hope to launch a RVY gaming channel for young people to join and enjoy with their friends. Credit goes to Lucy for overcoming the technological hurdles and figuring out how to be a "You-tuber" with Chris!
Apart from the online engagement, we also hope (as soon as COVID permits) to get out on the streets with a team of RVY Youth Workers; volunteers from local churches who are passionate about engaging with young people in our community. A couple of months before RVY was launched we did a street survey of young people which showed there is both a huge need and an opportunity to meet and engage with them right on the street. The dream is to help young people, who have never engaged with church before, find a home in a church family that is right for them.
This isn't a job for the few but depends on local churches' involvement. Can we encourage you to tell your young people about RVY? We would also be grateful for volunteers with a passion for youth work to join the team, and, of course, for your prayers for RVY.
We are very excited about what God will do through His church as RVY moves forwards.
If you are interested in joining the team please contact Lucy or Chris:
Lucy Skelton and Chris Meyer
Father, thank you for your goodness and favour, as RVY has taken its first steps. Thank you for every church and young person who has engaged with it. Thank you for the vision you have given the team, to bring together your sons and daughters, and share your love with the Ribble valley. Lord we ask that you will continue to inspire us, to seek your will, for more young people to become part of RVY, and for your wisdom as we move forwards.
Let your kingdom come and will be done, here on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Please also pray for:
- Young believers to grow in their friendships through RVY.
- Young people to be inspired to join RVY and local church life.
- Wisdom for leaders in effectively reaching young people online.
- Wisdom for leaders as we plan how best to reach young people face to face in the community.
- Volunteers to join the RVY team as it grows
- Support and investment from local churches