Journeying toward Lent 3

Monday 26th February – Saturday 3rd March


If you can light a candle then do so to remind you that God is present.

Be still.

Be quiet.




God of time and space,

at this point I focus on your presence here and now.

May this pause be a moment

to ponder your nearness

and your guidance.



Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20.1-3


Recall an incident that turned out better than expected.

One that could have ended in disaster but didn’t. It had been fraught with danger. It may have been life-changing, or even life-threatening.

Maybe things weren’t so bad as they first seemed.

Or maybe they were….but somehow you got through.

You learned to live again. Perhaps in ways different to before. But you came to a place of refuge and rest. You breathed more freely. You felt at peace after the trauma of the experience. The sun shone, the birds sang and the scent of flowers lifted your spirits.

Give thanks to the One God who delivers us from evil.


‘Even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing change himself. He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph.’

Victor Frankl (Holocaust survivor), Man’s Search for Meaning



Protecting God,

When we fall, You quietly pick us up.

When we fear, You gently hold on to us.

When the future looks bleak, You nudge us onwards,

until at last we find ourselves

in the place you would have us be. Amen.







Southwell Minster


Lent 2 Sunday 25th February


You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever!  

Psalm 22. 23-26


What troubles you? What keeps you awake at night and disturbs you in your waking hours? It is not wrong to feel anxious or afraid, however awful such moments are. It is not a sign of weakness but it may be a symptom of sensitivity. To paraphrase a saying: more change is wrought by insomniacs than this world dreams of.

The Psalm given to the voice of Jesus in his sense of abandonment on the cross (Psalm 22) ends in hope. God does not abandon even those who feel lost and all alone. The One to whom we look in times of distress for comfort and reassurance is also the One who knows how it is for us.


Reasssuring, Suffering God,

In our pain and dismay you weep with us.

In our fears you hold us.

In our longing you walk with us. Amen













Journeying toward Lent 2

Monday 19th February – Saturday 24th February


If you can light a candle then do so to remind you that God is present.

Be still.

Be quiet.




God of time and space,

at this point I focus on your presence here and now.

May this pause be a moment

to ponder your nearness

and your guidance.



Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” Mark 8.31-29

Being on the move from one place to another opens up new experiences and fresh opportunities.

Consider where you will travel today.

Who will you encounter?

What will you think of them? What will they think of you?

Will your frame of mind be challenged? Or your opinion of those you meet be changed? Or how you think of yourself?



‘To listen to enemies as well as friends is a rule which not only increases sense in common life, but is highly favourable to the increase of religious candour. You find that you are not so free from faults as your friends suppose, nor so full of faults as your enemies suppose.’

Sydney Smith (1771- 1845) in a sermon, The Rules of Christian Charity


Today opens up before us.

You will be with us, God.

In the conversations we hold and the exchange of ideas

may our words and thoughts be mindful of your Presence.

So that by end of day we will rest in our new insights. Amen.




Why should we bother?

Isn’t Sunday already different enough? Yes and no. It may be different to the rest of the week, but probably insufficiently so.

Sabbath Lincolnshire is a new initiative and is unique to the Methodist Church: one Sunday in a year to especially focus on the sense and meaning of Sabbath; one Sunday out of 52!

This will be on 18 February, the First Sunday of Lent. It is the day we recall that Jesus managed to avoid the temptation to take the easier route to satisfy himself and chose instead to do as God commanded.

No one is asking you to go into a physical wilderness for the 40 days of Lent; but I am inviting you to begin the season with a commitment to make just one day different.

You don’t have to abandon everything you would normally do on a Sunday! But as a start you could consider not using social media, not sending emails, using your phone or computer unless absolutely necessary. If you could avoid television or any form of shopping then that would be good, or perhaps gardening or driving if at all possible; maybe you could walk to church if you are able. It’s not just about giving up something, it may be about doing something different or differently: prepare the meal the night before so that all you need do is cook it on the Sunday after church. You can be as creative as you wish.

Sabbath Lincolnshire isn’t offering a prescription of what to do and what not to do, make it work for you.

The Revd’s. Katie Deakins and Sarah Parkin have produced this excellent and truly helpful guide and resource for you. Both Katie and Sarah see Sabbath as an important feature in their rhythm of life.

Why not give it a go?

Just one Sunday, maybe just the daylight hours. One thing is for sure: you will not be alone, Katie, Sarah and I will be with you in this, and so will many others across the Lincolnshire Methodist District as we together celebrate Sabbath Lincolnshire.


Every Sabbath blessing,

The Revd Bruce Thompson

Chair Lincolnshire Methodist District.




Shabbat – The Sabbath- an introduction

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies. There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work: wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord”. (Leviticus 23:1-3)


This portion of scripture sets the scene for us. Sabbath is not just any other day; it is a ‘festival… a Sacred Assembly’ – a celebration in its own right. Leviticus speaks of a seventh day which follows six days when we may work. In the church that day of Sabbath rest is Sunday, also known to us as ‘The Lord’s Day’.


During daylight hours we will seek to avoid: Social media, television, shopping, cleaning the car etc.

If we are avoiding all the things named above – what on earth are we supposed to do?

Maybe we could break our day down into 4 sections:

  • Morning – Inauguration of the Sabbath


An inauguration is a beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period, or indeed a ceremony to mark that beginning.

We begin our day by going to Church to worship God in the company of others. This ceremoniously marks for us the beginning or introduction of Sabbath.

In the same way that our keeping Shabbat is a ‘sacred assembly’ meeting together with like-minded people falls into that category.

If we are to get as much as possible out of this day, we do NOT want to be rushed and stressed out when we turn up to worship God with our brothers and sisters.

The solution is preparation. If we prepare everything the day before: Clothes, bathroom slots, pick up times then it is likely that we will avoid the chaos and be in the right frame of mind for worship.


A Morning Prayer

Holy God, eternal source of life, love and all that is good, we praise and thank you at the beginning of this special day for the gift of Sabbath.

As this Sabbath day unfolds we pray that you will help us to find rest and refreshment in you; and to take time to delight in you, in each other and in all that you have made.

Help us to view this day differently, that we might glimpse you and the world as you created it to be.

Help us to reconnect with you and with each other, and in so doing to welcome your divine presence in each and every moment.






  • Afternoon

Consider a special meal. Take your time with this – depending on how many are round your table it can take 3 hours, but today we are not counting the hours and minutes.


Sabbath is a festival, a Sacred Assembly; it is a celebration of all that is good in our lives and in our ‘faith’. This deserves a special meal. In many ways, the Sabbath table holds central place today.

Get out your best table cloth, cutlery, and glasses. Set aside a candle specially.

Again prepare most of this the day before so that all you need to do is set it to cook, dish out, sit down and enjoy in one another’s company.

In the same way that you would say grace and thank God for the food on the table; also, remember the people around your table, how precious you are to one another and to God, thank God for the relationships you share. Thank God for the opportunity that this Sabbath is offering to you.

Our prayers do not have to be rushed through in one go, but interspersed throughout the meal as follows:

Candle Blessing

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has set us apart by your commandments and has commanded us to kindle the Sabbath lights.

Blessing over the wine or similar drink

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine

Pour wine or a similar drink for everyone around your table – enjoy!

Blessing over the bread

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth

Share out the bread to everyone around your table – as you pass it to one another, don’t forget to wish one another a peaceful Sabbath, above all, enjoy its simplicity!

The Blessing over the actual meal and the family – use your own words for this…

Enjoy your meal


  • A time for Sharing


The Sabbath is meant to be a time of worship to the Lord God and a time of family sharing. After your meal, do not rush off to do other things, sit and enjoy one another’s company. Take time to listen to each other, chat about what has happened in your week. Give everyone around your table a voice – from the old right through to the young. Remember, it is around our Lord’s table that we find healing and wholeness. Healing and wholeness is also found around the Shabbat table. I offer you a story, or case study, call it what you will, to help you see what can be achieved by sharing. Names have been changed to preserve anonymity:

Yaakov was 10 years old; his parents were going through a messy divorce. His step father had taken his younger brother Yitzchak away and refused to return him to his mother. The authorities were dragging their heels. Yaakov’s mother Hannah was not in a good place, she was not coping well with the absence of her younger child. Despite Hannah’s love for Yaakov, he just wasn’t feeling it. His schoolwork was suffering big time, his behaviour was very erratic, and he exploded into floods of tears for what appeared, no reason. He had to go to therapy which was only adding to his distress. He did not want to open up to strangers. Hannah found a job to help support her and Yaakov. Because of this, Yaakov spent more time at his maternal grandparent’s house and would stay over every Friday night. Friday night was special. It was curry night! Uncle and aunts, or any other friend picked up along the way would come over to the house and everyone would have curry with naan bread. Everyone had wine (or ‘wine without the hangover’ for the younger ones). Grandma or Mim would light the candle in the centre of the table. When the bread was broken and passed round special words were said. When the wine was poured, again, special words were said.

Nobody rushed away from the table. At first Yaakov just enjoyed being part of this ‘party’ but then as the weeks went by and as confidence grew, he was asked, as always, “Yaakov how was your week?” He started to respond with honesty. “My week was terrible… this happened… and this… and now I have this…” Together with family, Yaakov was able to put voice to his fears and his family were able to help him work through his issues and heal the hurt. Yaakov is now doing very well at school, and has now with the help of his family got a place along with his 14 year old aunt Mim, at a small independent school.   He was recently asked by a social worker and by his headmaster, what his favourite thing in the week was, his reply was: “Curry night… it’s amazing… you can come too, Grandma won’t mind!”

Yaakov’s school report contained the following words: “Yaakov is a different boy to the one who started with us a short time ago and we have no doubt that he will continue to go from strength to strength”

The Sabbath meal does not need to be elaborate; the curry was prepared before Sabbath and cooked in a slow cooker to avoid the stress of slaving over a hot stove. What was most important in all of this was putting God and God’s love at the centre of this ‘Sacred Assembly’, and the family. This in turn brought stability and a healing experience to a very confused, hurt and lonely boy whose life had become so chaotic that he did not know what to do.


  • Evening


An ideal opportunity to ‘rest’ in one another’s company and get out those board games: monopoly, scrabble, trivial pursuit, tipping point, cluedo?!

Going back now to our opening statement: During daylight hours we will seek to avoid: social media, television, shopping, cleaning the car etc.

Would Yaakov’s healing have been possible if the family were sat in front of a TV set or being slaves to social media? I very much doubt it! What we were talking about here was a Friday evening. Just imagine what a full day could achieve! Imagine what small miracle could happen in your own family. The first Sunday in Lent is Sabbath Lincolnshire, Imagine what small miracles could happen all over our district!

First and foremost, our desire is that you find rich blessings by simply ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. Give it a try for one day; we suspect that it may well be the first of many!

 An Evening Prayer

 Gracious and loving God, as this Sabbath draws to its close, we look back on the day that is past and thank you for those moment, brief and extended, or reconnection, delight, and refreshment; we especially thank you for those glimpses of you and for the experience of your divine presence. [Short pause]

We are sorry for those times and those ways we allowed ourselves to become distracted, or to be drawn back to that which we had intended to set aside. [Short pause] Forgive us and help us to know ourselves forgiven and beloved through Jesus.

At the ending of this Sabbath day, grant us restful, refreshing sleep that we might awake ready to face all that the week will hold, ever watchful for, and aware of, your presence and your delight in all that you have made. 


Shalom aleichem (Peace be upon you)






Published by the Lincolnshire Methodist District

Text Katie Deakin

Prayers Sarah Parkin

Passion final

Launde : Passion, painting copyright Bruce Thompson



Lent 1 Sunday 18th February

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long……All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Psalm 25.5,10


It’s not easy, keeping to what is right: the numerous distractions; the behaviour of others; the possibility of easier options, each promising a quicker reward.

The promises of God cannot be fulfilled without a willing and receptive heart. But such is the love of God that patience is a given. For even those whose hearts have not yet been broken open, the undying love of God remains eager to gently step in.



God of patience and loyalty,

who looks upon us with loving eyes

and who longs for us to willingly receive the wisdom

to know and do truth,

grant us such open hearts and enquiring minds

that we might discern what is right and proper

for us and our world.






1 February 2018

Relax, we are not expected to save the Church, we are called to love our neighbour (and God helps us do that).