St Andrew's Church

Monday 6th July 2020

 

Dear Woodside,

 

‘I’m just not good enough’ is one of the reasons that I hear the most about why people don’t come to church.

 

‘Lightening would strike me as soon as I opened the door’ is another I’ve heard numerous times, as if God is sat on the edge of a cloud, lightening-bolt poised, waiting for those of us who are less than perfect to dare to set foot on holy ground (and for those of you who are wondering, I assure you that will definitely not happen).

 

We might giggle, but that feeling of ‘not being good enough’ is one that many of us feel at some time or another, and it’s one that can do so much harm in our lives by holding us back and robbing us of self-worth.

 

When I first started going to church, I struggled with this idea that I was ‘not good enough’ partly because of the notion that Christians, ‘church-goers’, are all very good, have lived perfect lives and got it all sorted. Well, I can confirm all these years later that is definitely not the case at all!!

 

I know this because I know that I am far from perfect; at times I make mistakes, have a whole lot of messy baggage (just like everyone else) and I’m nowhere near having it all sorted.

 

After many years of internal work and even some counselling, I finally feel at peace with myself, mostly because I accept I’m only human and know that as humans we don’t always get it right. God knows this too, that’s why he sent Jesus to show us the best way to live and to free us from the shame and guilt that we all carry in our hearts.

 

Reading the Bible has also helped me because surprisingly, it is full of imperfect people many of whom made terrible decisions and led the messiest of lives.

 

 

Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

 

  • King David stole, lied, cheated, even murdered.

  • Moses found public speaking difficult and got his brother to do all the speaking for him.

  • Jonah refused to go where God had told him and even when he decided to obey, he then moaned and sulked at God.

  • Paul (Saul) hunted and persecuted Christians.

  • Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ very best friends but when push came to shove, he said he didn’t know Jesus.

 

These are all people God used in really important ways, heroes of the faith. God didn’t ever say the wrong they did was OK, in fact each had to deal with the consequences of his, or her, own actions, but God knows that none of us are perfect and loves and accepts us regardless. He just asks that when we do get it wrong, we say sorry and try again.

 

Just because you don’t always get things right or because you have things in your past that you aren’t proud of, doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. Neither does it mean you can’t achieve great things, and it definitely doesn’t mean you aren’t loved and held by God… because you are. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you’ll be struck down by lightening if you walk through our door, so when our building does finally re-open do pop in and say hello!

 

With every blessing,

 

Rev’d Emma

 

 

Rev’d Emma Speake

Vicar at St. Andrew’s Church,

St. Andrew’s Vicarage

37 Lime Grove

Runcorn

WA7 5JZ

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Monday 29th June 2020

 

Dear Woodside,

                                                               The Five Fingered Prayer

Growing up, I always loved my Grandad, he was a wonderful man and I like to think I was his favourite grand-daughter. His name was Mick. He’d never had ‘two pennies to rub together’ and had had a hard life. He had rough hands and a scruffy, prickly chin that wasn’t quite a beard but it didn’t matter because he always had a smile on his face. Grandad and Grandma raised me and my siblings in their little two up, two down terraced house in Bury where I’ve lots of happy memories.

 

A few years ago my Grandad was taken into hospital seriously ill.

 

I remember feeling so upset, and worried and panicky especially as we lived about an hour’s drive from Bury at that time. ‘What should we do?,’ I asked my husband, ‘should we dash to the hospital, should we ring round the family, should we get his pyjamas pick up some lucozade... should we do this... should we do that?’ I think the panic came from the knowledge that no matter what we did, it wouldn’t make any difference to Granddad, we just had to trust the doctors and wait for a phone-call to tell us how he was. I felt totally and utterly helpless, I knew there was nothing I could do to help this man who I loved so dearly.

 

Amid the panicking, our daughter, who was about 8 or 9 then, said to us, ‘why don’t we pray for Granddad?’. I felt slightly ashamed that I hadn’t thought of that first, after all I was just about to train to be a Vicar (but children are so much better than grown-ups with this stuff, maybe that’s why Jesus talked so often about the need for us to be like little children?)...!

 

And so that’s what we did, we put our hands together and closed our eyes, just like our daughter had been taught at school, and we prayed that Granddad would be OK, that God would take care of him and give him some peace. In that moment I no longer felt helpless. I felt as if there was something that we could do after all, and as if there was someone, who we trusted, who would stay with Granddad and comfort him as the doctors did their job of making him better.

 

Prayer can help us in difficult times. Prayer has been an important part of my faith journey and is an important part of the Christian faith. I think it’s perhaps the most useful tool our faith gives us. I don’t pretend that I understand it but I do believe that God listens and that he acts.

 

Learning to pray can feel quite scary. We might think that there are special words to say or that we have to do it in a particular way, but there is no right or wrong way. However there are ways to pray that we can learn that can help us in different situations. I’m going to teach you one today that you can use with your family and adapt as you need to. It’s also very easy to learn off by heart.

 

This is called the ‘five-finger prayer’. Hopefully, there will be a picture with this reflection and there’s also a link below to a YouTube video of the prayer I recorded for you which will guide you through it. 

 

To begin, find a quiet place and make yourself comfortable.

 

 

                                                                                                             Click here for the link to the prayer video

                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end, we finish by saying, ‘amen!’

 

I hope you find this useful and I hope it helps you pray especially in the times that you feel sad or helpless.

 

 

With love,

 

Rev Emma

Rev’d Emma Speake

Vicar at St. Andrew’s Church,

St. Andrew’s Vicarage

37 Lime Grove

Runcorn

WA7 5JZ

 

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Monday 22nd June 2020

Dear Woodside,

 

Every day, when the post arrives, I get 2-3 letters from different charities asking for support. Some days I put them aside, other days I read them. At times I find myself overwhelmed by the huge amount of suffering in the world. I sometimes find myself feeling helpless, powerless and small, as if the only thing I can do is pray because I just don’t know where else to start.

 

Whilst I believe in the power of prayer, I also believe our prayers should result in action, e.g. If we pray for peace, we must be prepared to make peace. If we pray for justice we must be willing to live in a way that brings justice for all. 

 

I’m going to share a prayer with you that helped me understand this better, and has helped me pray in a healthier way. I found it in the most unlikely of places: on the back of a toilet cubicle door! 

 

No matter who we are, or how powerless we feel we can all make a difference in the world, but it means making the right choices each day. Making the right choices isn’t always easy, but we can ask God to help us. 

 

With best wishes,

 

Rev Emma 

 

A Franciscan Blessing 

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen. 

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Monday 15th June 2020

Dear Woodside,

 

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself shocked and saddened by the death of George Floyd in America, and worried for those around the world who face similar prejudice each day. As a Christian, I always want to work to make the world a better place and I’m aware that starts with making me a better person, so I’ve been examining my own attitudes and trying to understand why as a Christian I should be anti-racist. As I’ve been thinking about this I’ve been bought back to the beginning of the Bible where God declares that the whole of humankind, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic background, religion (all those things that as humans we let divide us), are made in God’s image or likeness. So, right there on page one of the Bible we see God declaring that the whole of humankind is of equal worth, dignity and value to him, and so to each one of us.

 

I could write about this for hours and it still might feel complicated especially to children, so I’ve recorded a story with pictures (the best way to explain anything in my opinion!) and uploaded it to YouTube. The link is below so you can watch it with your family. I hope you find it interesting and a blessing to know that YOU are made in the image of God... and that you, like each one of us, is precious and valuable to the God who made us and who holds the whole world in his hands.

 

You can find the story here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgnasTdHzak

A prayer to say after the story.

Parent God,

You made us all, and you love each one of us equally no matter who we are, where we come from or what kind of mistakes we have in our past.

We pray you would help those who are treated badly because of their skin colour.

Help us to show your love to everyone we meet and to value the beautiful diversity of your creation.

We ask this in the name of our brother and friend Jesus’.

Amen.

 

With love and blessings,

 

Rev Emma

 

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Monday 8th June 2020

Dear Woodside,

Numbers 6:24-26 

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

 

I don’t know about you but I feel tired today. In fact, I wish I could’ve stayed in bed this morning!

 

Talking to other people other the weekend I think lots of other people feel that way too. And that’s OK... it has been a difficult few months and we’re all having to adjust to a brand new way of doing things. It is tiring.

 

If that’s how you feel, don’t ignore it... treat yourself with kindness: lose the guilt, slow down, have a nap, treat yourself (even if that’s just to 10 minutes peace in a bubble bath). It’s important to care for yourself because you are valuable to those who love you, and you are valuable to God who longs to bless you.

 

Today, I’m going to pray that God would bless each one of you. In church I very often pray for God’s blessing on others using the words from our Bible passage today. Those are the words I’m speaking over you today even though you can’t hear me.

 

A few weeks ago, churches of every denomination from all around the UK recognised how low people were feeling through the pandemic and recorded a song based on this prayer to ask God to bless them. It’s beautiful and powerful, and I would love you to hear it today.

 

You can find it at the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtll3mNj5U&t=46s

 

A prayer to say at the beginning of the week.


Well, Lord, the week has really started!
I'm back into the routine of things - daily chores, at home, at work, at school.
It's hard to see you in all of this, so I ask that you make your presence known to me.
A kind word or a loving act. The beauty of the world around, or peace through the people I meet.
All these are from you, I know. Help me to be aware of them, and through them, to be aware of you.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

 

 

With love and every blessing,

 

Rev’d Emma

 

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Monday 1st June 2020

‘Matthew 7:24-27 – Strong Foundations


Many moons ago, when I was at primary school we’d sing hymns every day in assembly; I had my favourites, like Lord of the Dance, but there was one song that stuck in my head, and I think the reason was that I didn’t understand it’s meaning until many, many years later: ‘The Wise Man Built his House Upon the Rock’. Do you know it? If you were at primary school in the 70’s and 80’s, I bet you could show me the actions too!


As a child I took the song very literally and thought it was just about a couple of builders... one who built a nice strong, stable house, and the other who wanted a sea view and ended up having his home washed away in a flood.

Years later when I came to faith and read the Bible for myself, I realised this catchy children’s song was actually based on a parable that Jesus told. And that there was more to the story than meets the eye. Jesus often told stories like this to teach difficult ideas with familiar pictures.  


In this story, the houses are our lives. The foundations, the rock and the sand, are those things (values, morals, beliefs) on which our lives sit.

 

The fact is that floods and storms will come in all our lives. Suffering is inevitable, it’s part of being human. Some people believe that if we have faith then bad things won’t happen to us, but God never promises that in the Bible. What God does promise, is that when we do suffer he will be there to comfort us, to support us, to hold us....  that our faith will keep us from being swept away.

 

Maybe now is a good time to look at the foundations that we’ve built our lives on, our values and beliefs, and to reflect on what is really important to us. What makes us resilient, what gives us most comfort and most strength?

 

For Christians, it’s the belief that there is a loving God who holds us in the palm of his hands and who keeps us from falling apart when the storms of life hit. In my life that has definitely been the case. I can’t admit to being the perfect Christian, because that would be a lie (we all fail at times even Vicars!), but my faith in God has proved to be a strong and dependable foundation which has kept my head above the water even in the most difficult and darkest of circumstances.

 

God invites each one of to build our homes and our lives on him and with him, because he loves us and wants us to have the strength t face whatever life throws at us.

 

So a prayer for wise builder:

 

Loving and generous God

You are our rock.

You help stand firm even through the fiercest storms.

We want to build our house and our life with you.

Help us to hear your word, and to live it out in our own way.

Be the foundation of our lives, give us faith, and make us strong.

In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

 

With best wishes,

 

Rev Emma’

 
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Rev’d Emma Speake

Vicar at St. Andrew’s Church,

St. Andrew’s Vicarage

37 Lime Grove

Runcorn

WA7 5JZ

'Educating with pride, learning together.'

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email: sec.woodside@halton.gov.uk