Tag Archives: faith

Second Letter from the Lockdown

Digital Thermometer


I hope you’re well at the start of a new week.

How am I?

I am doing well. My anxiety is being managed so I feel free to deal with other effects of the lockdown. So what happened since the first letter; how did I manage the anxiety? I hope this account might help you.

I’ve maintained the routines I spoke about last time. Daily exercise, twice weekly run, less news, meditation, prayer, faith, hope, writing and science. It’s not enough to know about routines; I must do them often enough for them to become routine.

Here are a few of the faith things.

  • Small shrines.
    I picked this up from Tom Wright’s article in Time Magazine where he was asked to write about the pandemic. Tom was Bishop of Durham and now a much read Christian writer and teacher.

It is no part of the Christian vocation, then, to be able to explain what’s happening and why. In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead. As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell. And out of that there can emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness, new scientific understanding, new hope. New wisdom for our leaders? Now there’s a thought.

In my anxiety I become a small shrine where the healing love of God can dwell. When I feel anxious, I know that many others, maybe you, are suffering too. Others are suffering from the virus itself and sadly some grieve for loved ones who have fallen victim to the pandemic. In the small shrine of my heart I can pray and lament with them. It doesn’t necessarily ease my anxiety, but it gives it purpose.

  • Tell God how you feel.
    It’s tempting, in prayer, to say something like “Lord you know how I feel.” without describing those feelings. Jim is a friend of mine. We are in the same church small group. In a recent virtual meeting Jim suggested we look at the post Easter story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-35) They talked to a stranger who joined them on their journey and assumed he knew all about the crucifixion the previous Friday. So they just referred to the things that had happened. The stranger, who turned out to be the risen Jesus asked, “What things?” Jim asked us why we thought Jesus, who knew all too well what had happened, had bothered to ask this question. I felt Jesus wanted them to tell him their story in their own words to find out how they felt and why they had become so disillusioned. I decided to try it when I talk to Jesus about my anxiety. Instead of just asking him to help me with my anxiety, I describe how I actually feel. My cry for help then has substance and I gain a better perspective on my feelings as I pray. It also makes sure God and I are dealing with the same issues.
  • Hope is a choice.
    Sunday morning, I’m watching Andy, our Associate Minister, on our YouTube service, encouraging us from the scriptures. “Hope is a choice,” he said. I’d never thought of hope like that, but it’s true. Our Christian hope is certain, but how that affects the way we live is a choice. This pandemic is not the end. There is a hope stored up in heaven for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ. Andy said “Look to others – love your neighbours – hope looks out, not in. We can’t afford to be naval gazing.” Anxiety has a habit of breeding self pity and introversion. Anxiety is caused by fearing what might be. Looking out in hope lets me focus on the certainty of what will be.

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone

I think anxiety feeds on fear, so removing its food supply with a song that lifts my heart up to God in thankfulness, can be good. It’s easy to be glib and think, ‘how can a song help me with anxiety?’, but when it’s a song of worship, it can.

  • Meditation using Lectio365 continues to work for me. When meditation was the popular new age thing to do, I remember someone saying, “If you empty your mind, be careful what fills it when you meditate.” In the Psalms, the singer promotes meditating on the words of scripture. There are myriad things trying to own my mind. Meditation on scripture fills it with good things.
     “… whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” said Paul in his letter to the Christians in Philippi two thousand years ago – ancient wisdom.

  • Science
    I could point to the intense research to discover the best way to deal with this pandemic. It is both hopeful and significant and there are positive signs coming out of laboratories around the world. But I want to mention a mundane scientific instrument. The thermometer. In my most anxious moments at night, when my hay fever parades with the vital symptoms of coronavirus, I walk downstairs, pick up our electronic thermometer; switch it on; stuff it in my ear; press the button; wait for the beep; read the digital display. It’s 36.4˚C. Normal body temperature. No fever. Fear subsides. I am thankful for science and the technology that springs from it. It’s a gift from God.

Practicing these routines manages my anxiety. It’s a well-known idea, although I only learned it recently, that courage is not the absence of fear but the management of fear. I’ll go one further. Perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18) Allowing the love that comes from Jesus Christ to work in my life is what makes the difference. I could be a victim of my anxiety, or with His help start to overcome it. The things I’ve listed above are working for me in my anxiety if I persist in practicing them. I hope they help you too.

All the best and God bless you


Thank God its Friday – part of Summer Soul XL

From: purplepatch57@gmail.com
Date: 6 July 2010 10:45:15 GMT+01:00
To: purplepatch57@googlemail.com
Subject: Thank God its Friday – part of Summer Soul XL

Near York on Friday?  visit the little church next to the Minster…

Come along at 8 pm for Thank God its Friday – part of Summer Soul XL:

Libby Redman sings soul. Steve Redman talks soul, interviewed about his book “At Least its not raining” www.notraining.eu/

Jamming with Jesus with the St Mike’s Summer Soul house band – bring an instrument and play along,or just your voice…………

it’s entertainment with a twist of faith…….and its free so bring a friend.


Church Service with live twitter/text messaging – #smlb

barstep Really enjoyed the service at St Michael Le Belfrey tonight. I felt that the congregation was really trusted to make a contribution. #smlb

Last night our church encouraged live tweets and texts during the service and selected messages were displayed on screens for the congregation to read.
We were encouraged to send in things we felt were important, songs that could be sung and things we felt God was saying to the church. It created a very exciting and refreshing service.
We still had scripture readings, preaching, prayer and music. But the live input from the large congregation gave a new dimension to the event.
There is usually some lively Twitter traffic during a Sunday Evening Congregation using the hashtag #smlb. Last evening we used the same hashtag but in the knowledge that the messages might be publicly displayed.
After the service one of the churchwardens said it was like live radio rather than the usual prerecorded programme. Another likened it to a radio phone in.
You can see all the messages by searching on the hashtag. I hope we do it again.

Making the media the (wrong) message | Ekklesia

Marginalisation? I think not. Negotiating the wider media environment is certainly a challenge for those who are used to controlling ‘god slots’, but it is much more worthwhile than talking to yourself.

As for media concerns, there are plenty – the role of corporate owners, the lack of reporting of development issues beyond emergencies, the gap between new media haves and have-nots, and so on. This is where faith groups, alongside others, have an opportunity to raise concerns and offer alternatives in a constructive (and non self-interested) way.

A fair summary of how Christians should approach the representation of Christianity and the church in the media, with a pertinent challenge at the end.
Prompted by the Synod debate about alleged marginalisation of religion by the BBC.

What the priest really said about shoplifting

Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift. The observation that shoplifting is the best option that some people are left with is a grim indictment of who we are. Rather, this is a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt. When people are released from prison, or find themselves suddenly without work or family support, then to leave them for weeks and weeks with inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly. We create a situation which leaves some people little option but crime.

Sometimes the demand for headlines can betray true meaning. This transcript of Fr Tim Jones’ sermon puts his comments in context. To me it says “Don’t steal from the poor ….. and if we fail to lift them up don’t condemn them if they steal from us …. let him that is without sin cast the first stone”

The Vatican’s Playlist on myspace music

Starts with Uprising by Muse …. and it’s perfect – what else would you expect from The Vatican?
“This playlist is a perfect mix of classical, world and contemporary music. The genres are very different from each other, but all these artists share the aim to reach the heart of good minded people.”

The Age of Stupid

Last night I watched The Age of Stupid. Set in the future it has everyone living in the present firmly in its sights. The premise is that we are the only people who can turn the environmental tide and there’s not much time left to do it. Generations before us either didn’t know or act and it will be too late for our children to do it. My grandchildren could face a bleak future if we ignore these warnings.
As I looked at my daily prayer plan this morning I realised that The Earth didn’t feature – anywhere. As a believer in prayer and “doing my bit for the environment” I was surprised with myself for this omission.
To me, prayer is about being willing to work together with God and others to bring answers and solutions to problems. It’s when I align myself with what I believe is God’s purpose that I can then both trust and act.
If you have the chance – perhaps I could urge you to make the opportunity – watch this film and then act in whatever way you find possible.
We (the inhabitants of Earth) have to change things – doing nothing is not an option.

Dealing with beggars

Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

This is from Matthew 5. It challenged me this morning because I normally ignore beggars on the basis that giving them something only feeds a bad habit. If they didn’t get anything they wouldn’t sit there – and if they didn’t just sit there they may do something about whatever it was that brought them this low in the first place. I also suspect that many of them have just found a way of tapping gullible people for cash – easier than working.
So what do I do about the words of the gospel?

David Cameron ‘does God’ in fuzzy, sort-of-Anglican way

David Cameron ‘does God’ in fuzzy, sort-of-Anglican way

David-cameronWe all suspected that when Alastair Campbell told journalists that Tony Blair did not ‘do God’, this was because of the uncomfortable truth that the then British Prime Minister did God rather too well for comfort. Best to ignore his faith altogether than have to face questions about praying with President Bush about going to war or deny reports of pending conversion to Rome that everyone knew would turn out to be true. Denialism is after all a heresy not listed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – yet.

It is a relief for those of us who have to fish facts from this slippery net with our pens to discover that will be no need for any comparable Christian coyness from David Cameron’s advisers. How reassuring to discover that  Cameron’s version of doing God is so very Church of English.

This revelation comes in an interview with Evening Standard editor Geordie Greig, published today.

Interesting how so many of our political leaders have significant links to the Christian faith.