Daily Reflection 8th April

Living with contrasts

In these extraordinary times, many have been struck by its contrasts – not least as nature is blossoming all around and the sun is out, all while we are experiencing greater confinement. There is so much that distresses us, yet it would seem that communities are coming together and there is much to be thankful for. Today’s reflection by our Ministry Area Council secretary, Jane Bowen, takes up this idea of contrasts as she reflects on Holy Week.

Jane Bowen


My many times great grandmother is buried in this tomb at Marblehead, Mass, USA. It gives many of us pleasure in tracing our ancestors and trying to compare their lives with our own and wondering how we could cope with the enormous differences time has made. How will our grandchildren’s children describe the time we’re living in today, I wonder?

Holy Week itself is, of course, full of poignant contrasts: from the adulation of Palm Sunday to the agony of Good Friday, then to the resurrection joy at Easter. The betrayal of Judas, the denials of Peter, the mocking of the crowds, are contrasted sharply with the devotion of his friends at his crucifixion. Suffering in this life is compensated for by the loving care of Christ for all those who have faith and trust in Him.

I recall Holy Weeks in my own past, when I used to live close to our local Parish Church. I often hosted visiting Ministers, mainly Anglican Franciscans, who presided over our services. One in particular, from overseas, would like to sit down in the evening, mull over the day and ask me how I thought the congregation had felt about his approach to the services, mostly a variation on Compline – the ‘Night Office’. In the midst of all this, his wife would phone and asked if he had changed his socks. He had – and I had washed them! It seemed incongruous, but on reflection mirrored the same mixture of spirituality and practicality that Jesus showed during his ministry.  

It was this same Minister who introduced us to the idea of leaving stones at the foot of the cross. Something practical that could signify the spiritual. It symbolised the letting go of all that is bad, and following Jesus with the words of Psalm 31 ‘Father into your hands, I entrust my spirit’. The ultimate contrast is that through his death, we’re brought to life.  Putting the stone at the foot of the cross is not so much about dying, as it is about living in greater fullness of life. So we continue through this most extraordinary of Holy Weeks, not in our own strength, but in His.


The Old Testament

3You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
    for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

Psalm 31: 3-5 

Yr Hen Destament

3 Ti ydy’r graig ddiogel yna; ti ydy’r gaer.

Cadw dy enw da, dangos y ffordd i mi ac arwain fi.

4 Rhyddha fi o’r rhwyd sydd wedi ei gosod i’m dal i,

Ie, ti ydy fy lle diogel i.

5 Dw i’n rhoi fy mywyd yn dy ddwylo di.

Dw i’n gwybod y gwnei di fy rhyddhau i

achos ti, o Arglwydd, ydy’r Duw ffyddlon.

Salm 31: 3-5 


Prayer

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love;
where there is injury, your pardon, Lord;
and where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

O Master, grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to  be loved, as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope;
where there is darkness, only light;
and where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
in giving to all of us that we receive;
and in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Prayer of Francis of Assisi, by Sebastian Temple

Gweddi

Iôr, gwna fi’n offeryn dy hedd,
lle casineb dof â’th gariad di,
a lle bo dagrau gad imddod â gwên,
cyfanu’r holl raniadau boed i mi.

O Arglwydd Dduw, nad im geisio dim
gan eraill, eithr rhoddi boed I mi,
na foed im hawlio dim i mi’n y byd,
ond rhoi i eraill fyddo ‘mraint o hyd.

Iôr, gwna fi’n offeryn dy hedd,
lle bo amheuaeth boed im ddangos ffydd,
A lle bo gofid dof â’th obaith di,
i d’wyllwch boed im ddod â golau ddydd.

Gweddi a briodolir i Francis o Assisi cyf. Siân Rhiannon


Click here for previous daily reflections from our Ministry Team.

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Daily Reflection 7th April

The way is hard

We begin this morning’s message in prayer, given last night’s news that the Prime Minister has been moved into Intensive Care. The reflection below seems even more appropriate, and we offer it as we pray for Boris Johnson, all who are gravely ill and those who are caring for them.

We began our Holy Week reflections with the image of a bridge, inviting us to travel from darkness into light. This comes at a time when darkness overshadows the whole earth. We are rightly disturbed by our news and harrowing accounts of suffering.

As the Queen said in her recent speech to the nation, ‘better days will come again’. Yes. But this morning we pause to acknowledge that the journey ‘to the other side’ of the bridge is not easily undertaken. The way is hard. As we approach Good Friday, Judy Williams from St. Mary’s (Caerhun), challenges the familiar image we may have of Jesus on the Cross.

The Naked Christ
The Naked Christ by Michele Coxon
~
This sculpture was controversial when it first went on display in St. Asaph Cathedral and it still has the power to shock. It is raw, graphic and skeletal, not how we are used to seeing the Crucifixion depicted. Renaissance artists would have painted a more acceptable picture, with the body of Christ not so disfigured and his nakedness partly covered with a cloth for modesty.
 
Michele Coxon’s thought-provoking work of art is closer to what Isaiah prophesied in Chapter 53:-
 
‘He had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.’
 
Isaiah 53: 2b-3
~
It is also closer to the reality of what Jesus endured. Crucifixion was cruel, the cruellest form of execution Romans could inflict at the time. But Isaiah goes on to proclaim why this suffering would be necessary. Not only would Jesus be physically marred, but also spiritually crushed as our transgressions, our sins and the sins of the whole world, were laid upon him in our place.
 
‘Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.’
Isaiah 53: 4-5
 

Like this sculpture, the Gospel isn’t comfortable, palatable or easily digested. It rightly disturbs, challenges, demands an answer and invites faith. We pray this morning, for all those who are travelling through the darkness of suffering: physically, emotionally and spiritually. We do this in the knowledge that the one to whom we cry out, has been there before us. For us. And so we travel on through Holy Week. 


Ef ei hun a ddygodd ein pechodau yn ei gorff ar y croesbren, er mwyn i ni ddarfod â’n pechodau a byw i gyfiawnder. Trwy ei archoll ef y cawsoch iachâd.
1 Pedr 2: 24
 
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 
1 Peter 2: 24

Gweddi
Aglwydd Iesu, mae’r ddelwedd ohonat ti yn cael dy groeshoelio a diddef ar y groes
yn ormod i’w angyffred ac yr rhy anodd  i’w ddeall.
Diolchwn ym dy gariad amhrisiadwy tra ar y groes,
ac am y rhyddid y rhoddaist i ni am ein pechodau;
y ti a farwodd ac wedyn atgyfodi er mwyn i ni gael bywyd tragwyddol. 
Yr oen perffaith yn aberth perffaith.
‘Rydym yn cydnabod ein dyled o ddiolch;
dyro gymorth i ni bob amser i dderbyn yr anrheg o fywyd tragwyddol trwy dy aberth.
Yn enw ein Harglwydd a Gwaredwr, Iesu Grist.  Amen.
 
Prayer 
Lord Jesus, the image of you hanging and suffering in agony on the cross for us
is almost too much to comprehend and too hard for us to bear.
We thank you for your inestimable love for us that kept you hanging there.
and for the freedom you bought for us in the atonement for sins;
you died and rose again that we might live,
the perfect lamb of God became the perfect sacrifice.
We acknowledge our debt of gratitude,
help us always to receive that gift of everlasting life throughout your sacrifice.
In the name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.


 

Click here for previous daily reflections from our Ministry Team.

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Daily Reflection 6th April

A bridge of iron

Holy Week: a bridge from darkness to light

This morning’s reflection comes from Heather Thompson, a member of our Ministry Team.

Ironbridge

I love this aerial picture of Ironbridge in Shropshire. The town grew up around the famous 18th Century bridge, the first of its kind in the world. See how the southern bank of the River Severn is enjoying morning sunshine while the northern side is still dark and frosty. Staying there on a Spring holiday some years ago, we even noticed that the flowers were not so advanced to the north as those growing on the sunny side of the gorge.

In this pandemic, a cold shadow has fallen across the whole world. We may hear about the hope of Easter, even catch glimpses of its light, but how can we get to it from our present darkness – this frosty side of the river.

Jesus promised a new believer called Nathanael, “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1: 51). In other words, Jesus himself, the ‘Son of Man’, would be the link, the new bridge, between the struggles of this earthly life and God’s joyful eternity.

The Iron Bridge cancelled its halfpenny toll to walk across in the 1950’s. Ever since the first Holy Week, access to Jesus the Son has been, and will always be free.

Meddai Iesu, “Myfi yw goleuni’r byd. Ni bydd neb sy’n fy nghanlyn i byth yn rhodio yn y tywyllwch, ond bydd ganddo oleuni’r bywyd.”

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Ioan / John 8: 12


Prayer

God of all grace,

as so many in the world seek for hope and cannot find the way,

in your mercy reveal to them the hope that is in Christ. 

When we see the light of Christ: let it shine through us.  Amen.

 

Gweddi

Duw pob gras,

gan fod  cymaint yn y byd yn chwilio am gobaith, heb fedru dod o hyd i’r ffordd,

yn dy drugaredd datguddia iddynt y gobaith sydd yng Nghrist. 

Pan welwn Olau Crist: bydded iddo dywynnu trwom ni.  Amen.


Click here for previous daily reflections from our Ministry Team.

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Daily Reflection 5th April (Palm Sunday)

Making a way, when there is no way

Reverend David Parry reflects here, on how the message of Palm Sunday can relate to our particular situation this year.

Click here, or press the play button below, to watch the video:-

Click here to read the transcript of this message.

“Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders.
You shall call your walls ‘Salvation’ and your gates ‘Praise’.”
Isaiah 60: 18

 

“Ni chlywir mwyach am drais yn dy wlad,
nac am ddistryw na dinistr o fewn dy derfynau,
ond gelwi dy fagwyrydd yn Iachawdwriaeth,
a’th byrth yn Foliant.”
Eseia 60: 18

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ,
you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,
and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation:
give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen 

Gweddi
Arglwydd Iesu Grist,
darostyngaist dy hun
trwy gymryd ffurf gwas,
ac mewn ufudd-dod buost farw ar y groes
er ein hiachawdwriaeth:
dyro i ni’r bwriad i’th ddilyn di,
ac i’th gyhoeddi di yn Arglwydd ac yn Frenin,
er gogoniant i Dduw y Tad. Amen.


Click here for previous daily reflections from our Ministry Team.

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Daily Reflection 4th April

Centre of attention

Reverend David Parry reflects on the way God sees and hears us, especially when we need it most.

JerusalemView of Jerusalem from Church of Dominus Flevit on Mount of Olives

The Franciscan church of Dominus Flevit (‘the Lord wept’), on the Mount of Olives, was built in the 1950s and is dedicated to the moment described in Luke 19: 41 when Jesus looked at Jerusalem. And I really mean ‘looked’. Not glanced or hardly noticed but looked: with an attentive and compassionate intensity which moved him to tears.  
 
There are not many upsides to the claustrophobic and frightening isolation in which we are all now living, but one might be that our reduced number of conversations and encounters become more significant and precious than in the usual distracted busyness of life. We have an opportunity to really pay attention to each other, to look and listen with a singleness of focus which notices in a new way, not only our loved ones, but also the people who serve us – the shop assistants, the carers, the cleaners, the delivery drivers and the neighbours, the doctors and nurses upon whom we all now depend.
 
Giving selfless and loving attention to others like that does not come naturally to any human being, consumed as we so often are by our own work, needs and worries. But it does ‘come naturally’ to God. It is his very nature to love all human beings, whether or not they are even aware of his constant loving gaze. In his 1985 poem ‘The Other’, R. S. Thomas recalls a sleepless night spent listening to the waves break on the Llŷn Peninsula. “And the thought comes of that other being who is awake, too, letting our prayers break on him, not like this for a few hours, but for days, years, for eternity.”
 

Clyw fy nghri, O Dduw, a gwrando ar fy ngweddi;
o eithaf y ddaear yr wyf yn galw arnat, pan yw fy nghalon ar suddo.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. 
From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint.

Salm / Psalm 61: 1-2


Gweddi
Bendigedig wyt ti, Dduw Goruchaf, Arglwydd pob peth!
O’th dyner drugaredd
y tyr arnom y wawrddydd oddi uchod,
i chwalu gweddillion cysgodion y nos.
A ninnau’n disgwyl dy ddyfod i’n plith,
agor ein llygaid i ganfod dy bresenoldeb
a chryfha ein dwylo i wneud dy ewyllys,
fel y gall y byd dy feliannu’n llawen.
Bendigedig fyddo Duw am byth. Amen.

Prayer
You are blessed, Sovereign God, Lord of all!
In your tender compassion
the dawn from on high breaks upon us,
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice to give you praise.
Blessed be God for ever. Amen.


Click here for previous daily reflections from our Ministry Team.

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Daily Reflection 3rd April

Settling our minds in unsettled times

Well, we’re now at the end of the second week of this strange new world of isolation. Thank you to everyone who has got in touch with encouraging messages and those who have written reflections. It seems to be one way that we can feel connected and supported. The numbers getting our daily reflections grows daily. Please encourage anyone you think would also find them helpful, to simply type ‘yes please’ to 5churchinfo@gmail.com.

Today’s reflection from Reverend Eryl Parry, offers a way of ending the week in prayer – and she shares here too a little explanation of the ring she wears!

Ring
Are you finding it difficult to ‘settle’ these days? In times of global anxiety, many of us are finding it has an impact on mental health, and it’s a good thing to limit the number of times we check the news a day. Whether these strange times are causing some of us to be busier or for others’ lives to be emptier, life is certainly very different – and that is unsettling. Some of the things we’re dealing with also cause a rollercoaster of emotions.
~
Prayer is a great gift from God that can still the mind. Sleep, in particular, does not come easily to me these days and I have found a 400-year old method very helpful in making me settle. This ‘prayer-filled mindfulness’ helps us to review the day, (or a week), see God at work in it and offer it all in prayer. Called ‘The Examen’ (or self-examination),  based on the teachings and practice of St. Ignatius Loyola, it has nothing to do with exams! Now that would be stressful …
It has just five steps, that my ring helps me remember (of course, fingers will do!). There are so many books and websites for more, and here’s a helpful guide in Welsh and English. But for now, below is the Examen ‘in a nutshell’, in 5 ‘A’s.

Find a comfortable spot, and have a go. Rest awhile and become settled. Take your time over each one. Allow God to direct your thoughts, so that you gain insight that doesn’t just come from our own understanding.

  • Ask God to help you become aware of his presence, and enter his ‘holy company’.
  • Acknowledge good things that have happened; recall one by one, the blessings to be thankful for.
  • Attend to your memories of the day or week that has passed, particularly focusing on how each thing made you feel.
  • Become aware of one feature of that period of time that has struck you in a significant way.  Lift that one thing to God in prayer, asking for anything appropriate like comfort, forgiveness, wisdom or guidance.
  • Anticipate tomorrow, asking God’s blessing, strength and courage for all that lies ahead.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3: 5-6

 

“Trystia’r ARGLWYDD yn llwyr; paid dibynnu ar dy syniadau dy hun. Gwrando arno fe bob amser, a bydd e’n dangos y ffordd iawn i ti.”

Diarhebion 3: 5-6

Prayer
Incarnate God, in our times of fear and uncertainty, remind us that before rising in triumph from death, you passed through desolation and darkness.
As the days lighten, assure us of the hope you bring us; so that our trust and confidence in you may not waiver, but sustain us through whatever difficulties we face. Amen.

Gweddi
O Dduw, yr hwn a ddaeth yn y cnawd; yn ein hoes o ofn ac ansicrwydd, atgoffa ni dy fod, cyn codi mewn buddugoliaeth o farwolaeth, wedi profi anghyfannedd a thywyllwch.
Wrth i’r dyddiau ymestyn a goleuo, dyro sicrwydd i ni o’r gobaith sydd gennyt i ni; fel na fydd ein hymddiriedaeth a’n hyder ynot yn simsanu, ond cynnal ni pa bynnag anawsterau a ddaw i’n rhan. Amen.
 

Prayer by / Gweddi gan Carol Wardman

 


Click here for previous daily reflections from our Ministry Team.

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Daily Reflection 2nd April

Our different reactions

We are all experiencing loss in these strange, disorientating times. We are certainly united in that, but we all react differently when we’re grieving. 

Reverend Susan Blagden’s reflection this morning takes, as its inspiration, the painting below by Tom Bower (originally commissioned by the Bishop Of Oxford: Right Reverend Steven Croft) as a visual interpretation of one of the key stories for Passion Sunday just past, and what the church calls ‘Passiontide’ that follows.

Why not read the full story here, then look at the painting. In it we can see that the world of Mary and Martha has been shattered and split following the death of their beloved brother, Lazarus. That is what grief does and what it very often feels like.

Jesus - Resurrection & Life

 

“Dwedodd Iesu wrthi, ‘Fi ydy’r atgyfodiad a’r bywyd… Wyt ti’n credu hyn?'”

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life…Do you believe this?’”

 

Ioan / John 11: 25-26

We see that each of the sisters is reacting differently to the death of Lazarus. The arms of Jesus tell different stories: Mary is facing away from the tomb and Jesus’ arm appears to be comforting her, whilst Martha appears to almost being restrained, and calmed down by Jesus. There is no judgement in Jesus’ actions. He knows that each of us responds to grief differently.

What matters is that we allow each other to grieve in a way that is helpful, and that we keep connection with each other and with Jesus. Mary and Martha did not understand why Jesus had not appeared sooner and prevented this tragedy. They were probably feeling hurt and confused. Yet they lived with the questions whilst also letting Jesus come alongside them in their grief.

This is a threshold moment. Neither Mary nor Martha knew what would happen next. Jesus was present. Jesus shared their tears. We may recognise not dissimilar feelings as we, and those we love, grapple with the reality of the coronavirus. We may wonder why God has not sorted this sooner! Rarely do we get answers to those ‘why’ questions, but it is important to live with them, whilst also coming to see that God is with us in our distress. What happens next is unknown.

 


In all our bewilderment, and different ways of dealing with these things, we can unite in hearing God’s words to us this day:-

“Jesus says: ‘I am the resurrection and the life…

 Do you believe this?'”

Gweddi
Bydded i Dduw Dad,
Y cyflwynodd ein Harglwydd ei ysbryd i’w ddwylo
Roddi i chai ras i ymddiried enddo men bywyd a marwolaeth. Amen.

Prayer
May God the Father,
Into whose hands our Lord committed his spirit,
Give you grace to trust him in life and death. Amen.

 


Click here for previous daily reflections from our Ministry Team.

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