Newsletter April 2020
This newsletter comes to you at a strange time for all of us. The Secretariat offers you this Prayer for Health.
Father God, so often we take our good health, either physical or mental, for granted. We forget that so many suffer daily with ill health, which causes so much pain and suffering – not only to themselves but also the loved ones who care for them.
At times of ill health, we can sometimes feel just as Jesus did on the cross, abandoned by you. We too can cry out as Jesus did: ‘Why have you abandoned me?’, especially in the dark hours of the night.
But, Father God, no matter how bleak and abandoned we may feel, you raise us up with small gifts of light: such as words of encouragement from a kind friend or a soothing hand from a loving parent.
Help us all, Father God, as we journey through this life, in times of good or ill health, to hear your voice calling us. You softly whisper calming words of love and grace for each day, especially when our fears, anxieties, physical pain and helplessness overcome us.
You are our guide, our strength and you also provide the peace that passes all understanding. Help us to lean in closely to that peace whether we are sick, well or caring for the sick.
Grant us the compassion to be a healing hand to all those we meet, especially in this time of intensified global fear. Being kind to one another is the greatest healing anyone can bestow.
In Jesus name we ask.
Our Spiritual Director writes:
The Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown has certainly blessed us all with the gift of time - to think and to pray, to read perhaps, and to get started on all those little jobs around the house which have been demanding our attention, but which until now we have chosen to ignore. For one thing, it has reminded me of the need to re-examine my Rule of Life, and to find a new rhythm to the day. A priest colleague has found that a scrambled egg for breakfast on a Saturday, a change of pyjamas on a Wednesday and early tea on a Sunday works best for him. Perhaps some us have rediscovered that ‘Life is Better in Pyjamas’ anyway! Although for the time being we cannot meet in Groups, nevertheless I believe it important to keep our discipline of ‘Prayer, Study and Action’ going.
And where better to start than prayer? It allows us to recalibrate, by asking ‘who am I?’, and who is God for me now, in this situation, and in this place? With our church buildings closed, and unable to meet together for worship, we strive to find new meaning in ‘church’. I suggest that begins by our listening more attentively to God - so that we can hear Him speaking, and not just us hearing what we think we want to hear! Self-isolating can bring many challenges; not least it demands that we ‘live with ourselves’ and accept truths which simply ‘lack of time’ helped us to evade. When we are comfortable with ourselves it is because we are comfortable with God, and therefore are compelled to serve others with compassion. In prayer, we carry others in our hearts before God - and are moved to put love into action.
Much has been said about the rediscovery of compassion and reaching out to our own community in a practical way. As we approach Easter, we can rejoice that nothing can separate us from the Love of God - ultimately, not even death. We are called to show that Love in Action.
We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.
[Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference]
With Every Blessing for a Joyous Easter,
Rev Alastair Davies
From our Lay Director
During the first weekend in March I was the Observing Lay Rector (OLR) for Oxford #19 held at Cold Ash. This was in preparation for my being the Lay Rector for Oxford #20 which we hope will be held about the end of April 2021. A team will need to be formed once the date in confirmed and I would like to hear from any Bristol Cursillistas who would like to be on team. It offers a good opportunity to create closer links with other Cursillo Diocese in the South West. We each have our strengths and by working together we grow stronger still.
The purpose of the Cursillo weekend is for those attending (and from my experience that applies to the team as much as the guests) to
· Encounter God, grow closer to Christ and receive afresh the power of the Holy Spirit
· Understand themselves better
· Learn more about their role in Christian community
· Become more effective as witnesses for Christ
I would like to ask you all to pray for guidance on who you could encourage to attend the next Cursillo weekend as a guest. Do invite them to attend your group reunions (even the current virtual meetings) with you so that they can become familiar with the Cursillo method prior to signing up for the weekend. If you or they have any questions on this please do contact me (details at the end of this newsletter).
At the last area meeting held on 25th January we set the date for the next meeting – Saturday 11th July to be held in St Giles Church Stanton St Quintin. It was hoped to include a training session on listening skills particularly useful for table leaders serving on weekends but useful for all people. Due to the current Coronavirus lockdown I have not continued with this plan but if we are permitted to meet together in July it would seem appropriate to replace this with a celebratory Ultreya.
As you have read, Alastair encourages us to continue with our discipline of prayer, study and action and we should also continue to meet together. As we have found different ways of ‘doing church’ we are also finding different ways of meeting together. The majority of the Secretariat held a meeting using ‘Houseparty’ which was successful. It was a joy to meet and pray together using this medium. My reunion group are using Skype this week to hold our regular monthly meeting so that we can continue to support and encourage each other. Perhaps this is the time when we can grow new reunion groups including those who currently do not live close enough to other Cursillistas to meet physically.
A friend recently sent me a link to a free ebook ‘For Such a Time as This’ which is an excellent resource of prayers related to the Coronavirus crisis. I find it helpful for those times when words are failing me. The link to this resource is:
In my quiet times a hymn that we often sing at Cursillo events keeps coming into my head. The words seem appropriate at this time.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
I pray for the time when the pandemic is over and we can physically meet together again. In the meantime do try new ways of connecting with each other and do continue to praise and give thanks to God.
From a participant in the weekend at Cold Ash