Here are some thoughts to help you stay positive during these uncertain times. This page will contain passages from scripture, poems and songs to help you through your day or night.
The Book of Psalms contains prayers, songs and meditations which have been inspirations for composers over the years. Check out this section each week for a new psalm.
We hope that the writing will remind you that you are not alone.
Broken Vessels by Hillsong is a wonderful song based around the traditional hymn Amazing Grace.
Click the link to watch it.
No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
Sometimes, we find it hard to be a Christian. In the song Flawless by Mercy Me, they sing about grace.
Click on the photo to play the video. Here the lead singer explains:
I think it (Flawless) kind of sums up the message of the album probably better than any other song. If anybody is like me there had to be a point in your life where you were saying “there has to be more than me playing by the rules, there has to be more than what religion tells me there is. There’s gotta be more than me being good and then following these three steps to being a better church goer-there’s gotta be more than that.” And I think the one thing we miss is that grace says “no matter how beat up you are, no matter what you go through in life, no matter how difficult life is, the cross made you flawless.” The day you came to Christ you were made brand new. It’s all in place for the rest of your life. – Bart Millard (MercyMe) from an article by Abbey Young, Christian News, 27th May, 2014
Graham Kendrick is a prolific writer of songs of worship. Teach me to Dance is an upbeat song. He explains in the 'Stories behind the songs' on his website, 'So the words, “Teach me to dance to the beat of your heart” sets in motion what is effectively a sung prayer to live in a way that is consistent with God’s heart of compassion, love and justice'.
So how are you staying connected to your friends? Do you phone them via WhatsApp; have an old-fashioned phone call with them; a Zoom party or meet them at a distance in the park?
Here at the Bread Church, our friends come from all over the world and our country too. Risma is from Indonesia, Stephanie and Simon are from Hong Kong, Peter and Laura from the Wirral. So during lockdown, we have been chatting on messenger, phoning each other or holding WhatsApp video calls. We are connected by our love of God, love of breadmaking and our friendship begun here at SWE. Most importantly we stay connected when we prayer for each other and with each other on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm, through our facebook page, where a prayer is posted. We may not be together, but we are there for each other. That's part of being church.
They might not need me; but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight;
A smile as small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity.
by Emily Dickinson
from The Poems of Dickinson edited by Ralph W Franklin (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) 1998.
Heather, one of our members, has sent in this link for the video Happiness starts with a Smile.
Do take time to watch it. Something wonderful will happen!
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context. (from https://www.bibleref.com)
Psalm 92 -Thanksgiving for Vindication
"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night." v.1-2
At the start of a new week, when our government is announcing decisions which will continue to affect the way we live our lives, it is good to remind ourselves that we are not alone. That God is with us - yesterday, today and forever. He is our rock in times of trouble.
Psalm 92 is also known as a Song for the Sabbath Day. A day when we do not think of earthly things, but God himself. In these uncertain times, it is important to continue to praise God and thank Him for His faithfulness to us through his infinite love.
An upbeat version of this psalm is provided by Paul Baloche.
Image by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash.
In Psalm 92 we are told that, "The righteous flourish like the palm tree." v. 12
Psalm 84 - The Joy of Worship in the Temple
"How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God." v.1-2
Considered to be an account of a pilgim arriving at the temple in Jerusalem, this psalm certainly reflects the thoughts of many of us from the community today. Whilst we are able to meet on line from many parts of the area, it is not the same feeling that we have on entering a place of worship, when a sense of peace and calm often envelops on us.
At Somewhere Else, we often feel this when we walk into the cloud room. The sense that it is a 'Sacred space', where many have said prayers before us. For the people of the Bible times, they experienced the 'real presence of God' on entering the temple in Jerusalem.
Special places and times help us to experience God and be empowered. We feel God living and at work - giving us the strength to continue. May God's loving presence be felt in your homes this week and until we can meet again at Somewhere Else.
Song by Sons of Korah - Psalm 84
Image by Arthur Franklin on Unsplash of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.
Psalm 75 - Thanksgiving for God's Wondrous Deeds v.1-7
"We give thanks to you O God;
we give thanks; your name is near.
People tell of your wondrous deeds." v. 1
As I write, the snow is gently falling to the earth covering the crocuses in the gardens. Crocuses grow naturally from sea level to alpine tundra and yet when the snow falls, we often think that they will not be hardy enough to survive. Trusting in the Lord who made them, then we should marvel at his wondrous deeds.
His deeds in nature and in our man-made world constantly remind us of his love, goodness, mercy and wisdom. At this time, we give thanks for all the scientists, who have been able to research and design a vaccine against the coronavirus, the doctors and nurses who know how to administer it safely and the pharmaceutical companies who provide it. Psalm75 reminds us to give thanks, wait patiently for God to judge in his 'proper time' and be humble for our gifts and abilities come from God. May we walk humbly through this week praising and thanking God.
Timothy Nguyen wrote this song to help us to memorise this psalm. ( LH 8.02.2021)
Psalm 71 - Prayer for Lifelong Protection and Help
"Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress. " v. 3
Is God your rock and fortress? For the writer of 71, God has been with him throughout all of his life. Through the stormclouds and mountains of despair; always helping him to climb the rocky hill to the fortress - as illustrated in this image.
Many commentaries describe this as a psalm/prayer for old age. However, we can also look on this as a way for us to see how God can be with us whatever age we are. When we pray to God, we can be given the confidence to face whatever storm is heading our way, always remembering to praise God when the storm has moved on.
I have chosen 2 different tracks for you to listen to. The first is a hip hop version of this psalm by Stephen from the BLSSD - Christ inspired ecclectic music family based in London. The second is by Carlos Perdomo and Israeli singer who uses both flamenco and Israeli influences in his psalm.
God is with us and for all, whatever our taste in music we can and should praise him.
Image by Filippo Martini on Unsplash.
Psalm 67 - The Nations Called to Praise God
"May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine up on us,
That your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise ou, O God;
let all the peoples praise you." v. 1-3
Image by NASA on Unsplash.
Looking for an image to go with this psalm, I found this one taken from the space station showing the aurora borealis from space. It struck me, that it could be viewed in two ways.
Firstly, the aurora occurs because of elements in space colliding with our atmosphere. Perhaps, we could imagine these as messages from our God for all his people.
On the other hand, what if all the people praised God - every nation - as the psalmist declares and the aurora that could surround the earth was a wonderful display of all the prayers of praise for God?
Selah has been translated as a word which means pause or think about it. As we go about our daily work this week may we remember to tell others about the wonder of God and praise him. The more we praise, the psalmist explains, the more we are blessed, so the more we should praise God. Selah.
Enjoy this "missionary" psalm sung by Jason Silver.
Psalm 139 - The Inescapable God
"O Lord you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away." v.1-2
The psalmist helps us to realise that God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. This means he has unlimited knowledge, unlimited power and is present in all things at all times. For some the words of the psalmist may seem alarming: for others comforting.
In Colin Buchanan's lyrical song based on this psalm, he reminds us that if we truly believe that God is always with us, then God is therefore "precious" to us. We should not be alarmed that God is always with us and leading us to fulfill our potential in His name.
Image by Coast Hills Community Church, USA.
Psalm 29 - The voice of God in a Great Storm
"The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over mighty waters,
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty." v.3-4
Image by Barth Bailey on Unsplash
There have been lots of different types of storms recently: snow, wind and rain. In the midst of these storms, the psalmist reminds us that the voice and power of God can be found there. To the people of the psalmist's time, water represented evil. In this psalm, they are reminded that God can overcome this because he is powerful. Throughout the whole psalm, the name of the LORD is repeated eighteen times.
I used to live by the sea for a few years. It was wonderful to walk down to the shore and watch the waves crashing on the beach (at a safe distance). It was exhilarating and somehow calming. Watching BBC 1's Countryfile last night (10.01.2021), there was an article all about the benefits of being by the sea/water for our mental health.
We do not view the sea as evil, but we are reminded of the power of God seen through nature, just as the people in David's time were. A wonderful reminder of how the LORD is with us throughout our lives, can calm our worries and should be praised.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters by HeartSong - the worship team from Cedarville University, USA
Psalm 147 - Praise for God's Care in Jerusalem (4/01/2021)
"He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down hail like crumbs -
who can stand before his cold." v.16-17
It has been a cold start to the new year where I live. As I have been out on our daily walks, I have seen new life springing up through the cold. A sign of hope and God being with us.
Reading about this psalm, Hugh Macmillan (Two Worlds are Ours, 1880) reminds us that snow acts as a way to protect the plants beneath it, ready for the spring. Winter wheat is protected by the covering, ready to continue to grow. The snow helps the plants to recoup their exhausted energies. As we look out on the snow (if you are lucky enough to still have some), may it remind us that winter shows us the 'breath of God', constantly giving us life with the renewal of water to our planet.
Jason Silver sings the psalm for us this week.
Image by Lorraine Howarth.
Psalm 126 - Harvest of Joy
In this psalm, the people of Israel are rejoicing that after a long period of captivity, they have returned to their own land and are thanking God, even though there have been tears.
2020 has been like a year of captivity for us, but this time in our own homes. A friend commented that now he can understand a little about what it means for political prisoners to be under house arrest.
Let us look forward to 2021, with the introduction of the vaccine for Covid 19, as a time when we will be "free". May we remember to "fill our mouths with laughter and shouts of joy" and thank God.
Ian White has written an uplifting song using the words of this psalm.
Image by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash.
Psalm 47 - God's Rule over the Nations
'Though our buildings are closed, our church is still meeting.' This something that I have seen on churches and Facebook feeds throughout this year of the pandemic.
Just as in Psalm 47, God's people have not been quiet away form their 'church building', then in kitchens, studies, lounges, and yes, even bedrooms, people have continued to meet, sing and praise our Lord God.
Enjoy joining in with Mercy Worship, as they celebrate the words of Psalm 47.
Image by Guillermo Latorre on Unsplash.
Psalm 46 - God's Defence of his City and presence.
In this Psalm, we are encouraged to hope and trust in God during our worst times, especially thinking about his power and presence in our lives. We are reminded that we should give him glory for what he has done and will do for us in our lives.
During the last few months, many times have I sat and prayed the words from verse 10, "Be still and know that I am God!" during moments of stress and bewilderment, whilst I have tried to understand about all that has been happening in our lives.
Capital City Music feature this psalm on their Sweetest Name Album. May listening to it strengthen you during the coming week.
Image by Chris Meads on Unsplash.
Psalm 27 - Triumphant Song of Confidence
This week's Psalm is sung by a musician from Manchester, Jonathan Ogden. He writes reflective songs based on the psalms for use during meditation.
This Psalm is attributed to King David, in which he cries for help in distress, renews his vow of faithfulness to God and asks that God supports us to see "see the goodness of the Lord in the land of living."
In this first week of Advent, we are asked to "wait for the Lord." As the Rev. Paul Martin, Chair of the Bolton and Rochdale District explained in his Advent message, this has been a year of waiting during the coronavirus Pandemic. May we, as David wrote at the end of this psalm "be strong,"and let our hearts "take courage;" whilst waiting for the Lord.
Image by Michael Held on Unsplash.
Here is a prayer of Blessing to use at the close of your prayer time.
It is from Stephen Shakespeare's The Earth Cries Glory - Daily Prayer with Creation (Canterbury Press 978-1-78622-288-2)
May the highest light shine within us,
dispelling the fear from our path.
May the deepest warmth flow from us, connecting heart to heart.
And may your blessing be to us a circle of flame,
to inspire and protect us through this day.
The following piece of writing has been a source of comfort to many through difficult times. We’d like to share it with you.
Me: Hey God.
Me: I'm falling apart. Can you put me back together?
God: I would rather not.
God: Because you aren't a puzzle.
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.
Me: You don't understand! I'm breaking down!
God: No - you don't understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You aren't falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don't need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don't fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?
God: Only the very best pieces of you.
Me: I'm scared of changing.
God: I keep telling you - you aren’t changing, you are becoming.
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don't change! Become! Become! Become who you were born to be. I'm going to keep telling you this until you remember it.
Me: There goes another piece.
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So ... I'm not broken?
God: Of course not - but you are breaking like the dawn. It's a new day. Become!