Bishop Auckland Methodist Church

A morning start with Rev John


It is a Bank Holiday and the sun is shining, but the day started 7 hours ago, before I was out of bed I prayed. I also read the Bible. This has been my daily practice for 36 years.

It changes from year to year, but this morning this was my routine (it takes me about an hour):

  • By email I receive daily prayer and Bible meditations, already sitting in my inbox by the time I wake. Today the first was from Green Christian
  • Monday 18th April
  • Medical schools across the [US] are increasingly reckoning with the need to teach the intersection of climate change and health. Schools of public health have been on the forefront of that progress…But more recently, medical schools have joined in the shift, updating curriculum and launching special programs to teach future doctors about the climate change-health connection….  climate change doesn’t just bring hotter weather and more extreme storms. It also makes many health issues worse – issues doctors need to recognize and treat.
  • Then JPIT was next
  • Today we pray for the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, as more than 300 people have died due to flooding and mudslides. Some areas saw months’ worth of rain fall in one day. God, we pray comfort for those who have lost homes and loved ones. Help those now working to rebuild and provide aid.
  • Every day, we’re encouraging you to lift up your eyes and pray for others around the world as part of #StayAndPray.
  • Read more about this issue.
  • From I receive two emails, one a prayer after a Bible verse, the other a quotation or reflection to think about
  • Daily Prayer for April 18
  • Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Revelation 3:8, NIV
  • Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you know us all and that you look deep into our hearts, watching over us in everything we go through, whether easy or difficult. We thank you that we do not stand alone but that you hear the smallest sigh of each of your children. We thank you that darkness must give way to light, distress to joy, and fear to strength and courage. For you lead us through everything; it is what you bring about from your future world, not anything within our sight, that gives us strength and courage and that endures through everything. We thank you from our hearts for your unending gifts, and we are amazed that it was possible for us to receive all this from you. Protect us and keep us childlike, so that we remain in the fellowship that the Lord Jesus has given us, singing praise to him and to the glory and honor of your name. Amen.
  • Consider the Lilies of the Field
  • Christina Rossetti
  • Flowers preach to us if we will hear:
    The rose saith in the dewy morn:
    I am most fair;
    Yet all my loveliness is born
    Upon a thorn.
    The poppy saith amid the corn:
    Let but my scarlet head appear
    And I am held in scorn;
    Yet juice of subtle virtue lies
    Within my cup of curious dyes.
    The lilies say: Behold how we
    Preach without words of purity.
    The violets whisper from the shade
    Which their own leaves have made:
    Men scent our fragrance on the air,
    Yet take no heed
    Of humble lessons we would read.
    But not alone the fairest flowers:
    The merest grass
    Along the roadside where we pass,
    Lichen and moss and sturdy weed,
    Tell of His love who sends the dew,
    The rain and sunshine too,
    To nourish one small seed.
  • Source: Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress, and Other Poems
  • Following the plough came the Methodist Church in Ireland (my home Connexion’s) daily prayer focus
  • A new email I have recently started receiving comes next – from Christian Art
The Holy Women at Christ’s Tomb, from The Passion of Christ, plate 20,
Engraving by Grégoire Huret (1606–1670),
Executed in 1664,
Engraving on paper
© Metropolitan Museum, New York
  • Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.
  • And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’
  • While they were on their way, some of the guard went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened. These held a meeting with the elders and, after some discussion, handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, ‘This is what you must say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” And should the governor come to hear of this, we undertake to put things right with him ourselves and to see that you do not get into trouble.’ The soldiers took the money and carried out their instructions, and to this day that is the story among the Jews.
  • Reflection on the engraving
    Today, one day after Easter, is a good day to reflect upon our own reaction and thoughts to the event of the Resurrection which we celebrated yesterday. How does Easter impact us? We encountered the risen Jesus yesterday. So did the women in our Gospel reading today. The women Matthew describes are the very first people to see the Lord after he rose from the dead, and the first words Jesus speaks to them are crucial: ‘Do not be afraid’. Why did he say that to them?
  • The reading conveys a very unusual mix of emotions: the women were overjoyed and followed with awe (see the start of our Gospel reading), and yet Jesus saw them as being filled with fear. Don’t we too often have these emotions in our faith lives? We are in love with God, but yet we are afraid to talk about Him. We want to serve Jesus, yet we hold back from serving him fully. We enjoy going to church on a Sunday, yet privatise our faith the rest of the week. We are full of joy, yet fearful.
  • This mix of emotions is beautifully conveyed in our engraving by Grégoire Huret from 1664. We see the risen Christ meeting the women. One woman is holding an ointment jar, one is perplexed, another overjoyed, one fearful. In the foreground we see the woman who ‘came up to him and, falling down before him and clasped his feet’. In the background we see the scene where the women discovered the empty tomb, surrounded by sleeping soldiers. In the distant left against beaming rays of sunlight, we see Peter and John running towards the tomb.
  • The women, filled with joy and feelings of fear, are now sent out into the world to bear witness to the events and spread the news: the Lord is risen!
  • by Patrick van der Vorst
  • Next I read the Bible from a reading plan I set up at the start of every year. Today as you see, the readings were Psalm 1, Joshua chapters 1 and 2 and Proverbs 18 (but most days there is a New Testament reading somewhere in the mix) and in 365 days all the Bible is read from the start of Genesis to the end of Revelation. I choose a different version of the Bible to read each year, this year I am reading the Complete Jewish Bible, hence the ‘Adonai’ as the word for God and ‘Torah’ instead of Law in the Psalm below.
  • The Methodist Prayer Handbook has readings and prayers for each day that are also available on the Methodist Church website.
  • In the Prayer Handbook for this year, “A Place for All”, Day 18 has us praying with Christians in Asia and Britain, in particular the Church in Indonesia and the Methodist Church of Upper Myanmar. There is a special prayer for persecuted Christians and closer to home, prayers from the Liverpool District and from the Vice President of Methodist Women in Britain.
  • Last but not least I pray for those who are on my heart: family, friends, congregation, people I will meet during the day, families I have met with recently in connection with Christenings, Weddings or Funerals, and other prayer requests that come to me through conversation, email or Facebook. I don’t promise to remember everybody in prayer, but each morning starts with this mix of Bible Study, reflection and prayer. I encourage you in whatever way you do it, to spend some time with the Bible and in prayer each day. It has served me well for 36 years.

God bless


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