It was with great delight that our Monday afternoon Homegroup in Broughton Gifford met for the first time since lockdown in Julia’s garden. We all had a great deal to share and look forward to meeting again in our gardens during the next few weeks. Nothing quite like being together!
For some time the Benefice of Broughton Gifford, Great Chalfield and Holt has been looking at how to provide excellent resources that help everyone continue their journey of faith development. Alongside this the Rector, Canon Andrew Evans, had a clear vision to help everyone share their faith in simple ways, understand how to listen to God and know how much they are loved by their heavenly Father. The lockdown time propelled the Benefice into producing online services and, most recently, the Discipleship Series (also known as Discipleship 101). It was also the catalyst for putting together a new website that reflects the unity of three villages and the diversity of their congregations. The rather long Benefice name was crystallised into a website name that encompassed all villages and was easy to remember; namely Faith in our Village. Now the website, Facebook page, Instagram feed and YouTube channel all link with the same name and logo across them all. It was interesting to see that the day of the name change immediately resulted in more Facebook page likes and YouTube subscribers as people connected with the friendly and unified nature of the new name.
The Discipleship Series is continuing to be produced alongside a gentle return to in-church services and there is now a growing bank of easily accessible resources on the YouTube channel. Each week’s playlist includes:
Talks explaining the topic
My Stories from members of the three churches where real testimonies of God’s goodness are shared
Worship songs recorded by the music group
Prayers relevant to the topic.
The playlist approach has been chosen so that different elements of each session could be used in home groups, in church services, as a follow up group for those who have completed Alpha and even as a reflective tool for prayer meetings. The possibilities for using these Discipleship sessions are endless.
As well as developing a wonderful resource which will be available freely to anyone who wishes to make use of it, the process has brought out from members of the congregations some previously hidden skills! From those who have provided video editing, those who have been laying down music tracks, those bravely going in front of the camera and those who have courageously shared their stories, we have seen all ages pull together to produce a superb set of resources.
To access the Discipleship series and other services, follow this link and do take a look through the playlists and different sessions. Let us know if you use the Discipleship series and how helpful you find it. For more information contact email@example.com
St Mary’s church has re-opened for private prayer twice a week. From 10am on Sundays and 11am on Wednesdays. There are some restriction s in place to ensure everyone is kept safe, and it is a delight to be able to offer a quiet space for prayer again.
To keep everyone safe please abide by the following guidelines:
If you have a high temperature or any symptoms, we kindly ask that you do not come in to church
Please use the hand sanitiser as you enter the church and again when you leave
Please maintain a physical distance of 2 metres between you and other people
There are no prayer books or bibles available in the church at this time so please bring your own
For details of our online services please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact details for further information:
Church warden Anthony Matthew 782082, Sarah Chandler 7822451, Rev Ann Fielden 782509
Photo credit Alan Miles Tyghe
We have just run a very successful online Alpha and are looking to start the next course. If you are interested in finding out more about faith then read on and get in touch 🙂
What is Alpha?
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is run all around the globe, and everyone is welcome.
A chance to connect
Usually, Alpha starts with a meal together but during this time of social distancing we’ve needed to adapt. Each session still kicks off with a chance to meet new people and connect over video chat!
If you want to know more about Jesus and the Christian faith then please get in touch with us.
Use the contact form below to get in touch OR
Email: email@example.com or phone 01225 782717
To meet the course leaders and hear more you can watch our YouTube video here:
I’ve been reading of folk isolating
From accounts in God’s wonderful Book
It’s been an interesting discovery
I recommend you take a look
In great fear Moses isolated himself
Elijah became thoroughly depressed
2 Emmaus walkers in deep disappointment
And Jonah in rebelliousness.
John was forced onto Patmos,
Daniel used his time to pray
The exiles in Babylon couldn’t sing
They just did not want to stay.
But Moses met God in the burning bush
Elijah encountered God’s care
Jesus himself joined the travellers
and Jonah repented in prayer.
John glimpsed something of heaven
Daniel was protected from harm
God kept His promise to the exiles
in His time He brought them back home
So how are we doing in lockdown?
Is this isolation really so bad?
Are we fearful, depressed, disappointed,
feeling angry, deprived or sad?
These people weren’t perfect or patient
or positive and prayerful throughout
But God knew each detail about them
and met them in all of their doubt.
Let’s not lock Him out of our Lock-down
We might miss something special from Him.
A vision, encounter, experience, prayer,
a scripture or words of a hymn.
Let Lock-down be changed to Look-up
seek His presence, His purpose, His way
Let’s trust Him, His plans and His timing
and live life to the full every day.
This is a time in which we might have a little more time than usual to be able to hear God and grow in our walk with Him. These are all wonderful resources that can help us with that journey, whether you have just a very small window of time, or a longer period to spend in prayer, worship and study.
Resources that deal specifically with this time:
John and Lisa Bevere from Messenger International have done two very helpful videos (also available in podcast form), the first looks at God’s promises of protection in Psalm 91 and also gives some healthy perspectives (https://youtu.be/ZRKEDEAxKdI) and the second looks at the very exciting future of the church and how God is using this hardship for good (https://youtu.be/58zYp35-ias).
Bill Johnson has also unpacked Psalm 91 in this brilliant full length talk that you can find here or where you listen to podcasts (https://www.bethel.tv/en/podcasts/sermons/episodes/557).
Also worth a watch is Craig Groeschel’s message on Faith not fear that is packed full of Bible verses that you can use in this time (https://youtu.be/HANQASntcww), Nicky Gumbel’s message on the same topic (https://youtu.be/j1QemxVqZ1U) , and Shawn Bolz who has done a message for young people that is really helpful for them as they face all this too (https://youtu.be/XvatF29e6KM).
The lovely Becky Waterman has been sharing helpful thoughts from Uganda and has a playlist of them (https://bit.ly/3aoJTnY).
We have created playlists of worship to help you at home which you can find on our YouTube channel (https://bit.ly/34OLl1H). So far we have one to help families with some easy songs with fantastic words, one full of Joy for remembering that the joy of the Lord is your strength and for dancing around the kitchen, one called Hope with will build you up in God’s truth and one called Peace that is so peaceful that it may make you sleepy.
Resources to grow:
It is beautiful to see the church’s response to this crisis, working hard to build faith and being generous in sharing. Messenger International have made all their courses free for 30 days for anyone that want them, these are brilliant, accessible, scriptural courses with lots on there for anyone (https://www.messengercourses.com/).
Spring Harvest, who would usually be hosting events at this time have put a lot of brilliant content online for free as part of the Spring Harvest Home event (https://springharvest.org/spring-harvest-home/).
There are a number of free and very helpful apps for you to download. This Bible app allows you to read the Bible wherever you are and is full of great Bible reading plans that you can read alone or with friends (like this one that unpacks Psalm 91 https://bit.ly/3anTKuj or this one on hearing God’s voice https://bit.ly/2RNL0He). A brilliant app for this time is the One Minute Pause app based on John Eldridge’s new book (https://www.pauseapp.com/), this simple app is a really helpful way to hand over things to God in prayer and keep your peace. You could also try the Christian meditation app called Soultime (https://www.soultime.com/) which, although you can pay a monthly subscriptions for, has lots of free resources for processing with God and to help you receive His peace. The Lectio 365 app is part of the 24/7 prayer movement and is a way to meet with God and pray powerfully every day (https://www.24-7prayer.com/dailydevotional).
Though all the world is changing,
God remains the same.
Our Rock and our provider,
The Name above all Names.
Though every firm foundation
Seems shaken, broken, gone,
The One who made the stars:
His love goes on and on.
For God’s grace is sufficient
To cover every sin.
He rose again, victorious.
God knew that He would win.
We put our trust in Jesus
And hold on through the storm.
He’s ever good, he’s faithful.
He comforts the forlorn.
Though all the world is changing,
Our God remains the same.
He has control of Nations
And all should praise His name.
I thought I might share a few simple tools to help us combat the anxiety we’re experiencing, perhaps daily, and often at night. I suggest some things to do, then ways to help us think differently to combat those worrying thoughts. Being a Christian, I tend to integrate these techniques with my faith perspective, so I’ll offer those links which I hope might be helpful to some.
Anxiety is always triggered by uncertainty, and we are all living in very uncertain times. Those of us who don’t usually experience anxiety much are getting a taste of what it’s like for those who battle with it regularly.
Things to do:
Every morning, when the daily reality of this lockdown kicks in, write a gratitude list. Try to list at least 10 things that you can genuinely be thankful about. Speak them out loud to yourself, dwelling on each one. Gratitude is at the heart of the Christian faith: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances.’ (1Thessalonians 5:18) Thanksgiving helps change our mood.
As is widely known, exercise helps our mental wellbeing, so integrate that into your daily schedule at whatever level you can manage; in your chair, round your house or beyond.
When anxious, tension locates in our bodies. Try this exercise:
Actively tense all the muscles in your feet, holding for five seconds, then slowly relax the muscles over five seconds and pause to enjoy the feeling. Do the same with your calf muscles, clenching them tight, then releasing them in the same rhythm, slowly work all the muscle groups up to your shoulders and head, then finally tighten all the muscles in your face and gently release them. This takes time and concentration, and often helps when we can’t sleep!
Follow this with a simple breathing exercise: breathe in slowly through your nose, imagining the breath going right down to your waist, expanding your lower back, shoulders down, over 4 seconds. Breathe out through your mouth slowly for four seconds. Repeat a number of times. One of the Hebrew names for the Holy Spirit is ‘ruach’ which means breath. I like to turn this exercise into a simple prayer: ‘Breathe in me…(inhale), breath of God…(exhale)
Things to think
When we’re anxious we’re often thinking bad things are going to happen, and sometimes we dwell on the worst-case scenario. This is called catastrophising; living in the catastrophe that hasn’t actually happened. This happens a lot for us at the moment. Most of our worst fears are never realised.
Jesus said something very helpful in his Sermon on the Mount, that tomorrow has enough worries of its own, so just concentrate on today’s challenges. He knew he was going to face the cross, so he lived that wise advice, seeking God’s will for the day ahead.
Another technique is imagining a real place you know which is calming, lovely, or an experience which is soothing like walking along a beach you know, a place in your garden with a favourite mug of tea. Practice imagining it so you can ‘call it to mind’ when you feel frightened.
‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.’ (Philippians 3;6)
In these strange times we are finding news ways of staying touch, and we are connecting well in Broughton Gifford. We are looking after each other and we clap for the NHS in the different parts of the village on Thursday evenings. I met Rosie and her carer recently along the lane behind St Mary’s. It was a beautiful evening and we watched the horses. This morning I went to Jenny’s with my folding chair and flask of coffee. We sat in her garden and mulled over things, two metres apart of course.
I have been to Broughton Gifford cemetery a few times. It is a peaceful place to pray and there is a wonderful view of the church tower above the trees. It was lovely to hear our bell before the Sunday service. We all feel so included. I was standing outside the church last Monday at 2pm, waiting for the hearse to go by, when Alan came to record the bell. It was good to see him, if only briefly. Every encounter is precious.
This time has been a real blessing for me, I know it’s not been for a lot of people who have been ill, lost loved ones or friends or have had to work through all this under very stressful circumstances but I’ve felt the Lord has just put the brakes on my life for a bit. I’d let things get out of hand with work and it was just taking over my whole life in so many areas I’d not realised until recently. I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed spring as much as I have this year and it’s been great to give the Lord the first fruits of my time. I’m so grateful for this time that I would not otherwise have had with the family in normal circumstances. I pray that as things slowly get back to normal the Lord will help me to keep him at the centre and appreciate the things that I’ve taken for granted.