Yesterday it was Ash Wednesday when the Church marks the beginning of Lent.
In the Ash Wednesday liturgy we say, ‘dust you are; to dust you will return.’ The writer of Genesis 3 where this text comes from could not have been more scientifically correct. To be human is to be dust. So on Ash Wednesday we are reminded that we are only human.
For many Christians, ashes are a symbol of being sorry for the things they have done wrong and want to get rid of. It is also a reminder to them that we all come from ashes and to ashes we all return. The marking of the cross on the forehead with ash is a sign of their commitment to Jesus Christ and God. ‘The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart he will not despise’ (Psalm 51:17)
We had a very good team at this HOTS session. We had 12 members. What a good number to have! Also we had quite a few who hadn’t been for a while. After the session, when we met together for de-briefing and prayer they said that they were glad to have come. The Lord blessed them, honoured them and assured them of the ministry He has given them. If you haven’t been to any HOTS session lately I invite you to come next time. The Lord will do the same for you.
Here are some of the prayers we offered on behalf of passers-by:
1. A lady wanted a prayer for her father, due to have an operation for cancer.
2. A lady whose son is in prison told her he needed his mother to be alive when he comes out. He said he couldn’t bear it if she weren’t’. This has caused her to worry and have heart pain. She is concerned and has fears of dying before he comes out. The team prayed for her to have peace and to entrust her life to God. As she left she felt much more encouraged.
3. A lady was prayed for her sight and hearing to be restored. However, she was also conscious that her spiritual sight and hearing needed to be restored. She had been brought up as a Christian and wanted to regain her relationship with Christ and increase her knowledge of him.
4. A Muslim girl spoke of her desire for all of us to unify in faith no matter what we believe. We listened to her and then we asked if we could pray for her. She wasn’t quite sure what we meant by ‘praying for her’ but she said yes. We prayed that she would experience God’s love for her. Her face beamed. Once more we were reminded that our motivation for going out on the streets is the compelling love of Christ. Each person we pray for should be left in no doubt that God loves them.
5. We prayed for a man whose dog died and was grieving for him. The team prayed for comfort and peace. He said he had committed his life to Christ through the team some time ago. This time he team gave him the ‘Word for Today’ magazine. Please pray that he will continue seeking God’s will and direction for his life.
Many more passers-by came for prayer for physical pain caused by arthritis and other illnesses. Others came for prayer because of depression, addiction and low self-esteem.
Whatever is the request from those who come to the chairs when we are ministering out on the streets, we needed to be reminded of our motivation to pray.
I finish with an extract from our Training Manual by Mark Marx
‘Remember that God loves the person who you are praying for, and sent this son to die for them also. Always treat the person you are praying for with respect, dignity, gentleness, kindness and love. God wants to show his love through you.’
Image: racineur – Flickr
Aged 16-29? Searching for something more? Looking to explore or refresh your faith? Wondering what to do with your life?
Saturday 10th – Monday 19th August 2013
Diocesan Pilgrimage to Taizé
At Taizé there is an opportunity to share life and worship with thousands of people from all over the world and time for Bible study, discussion, silence and fun. Being part of a group from Birmingham means that we prepare well beforehand and reflect together while we’re there. Those who travelled with us last year found it a really enjoyable and transformative experience.
This year’s pilgrimage will be led by Faith Claringbull, Susannah Rudge, Manda Howett, Oli Preston and Tom Ruston.
There will be an introductory meeting at St Francis, Bournville on Saturday 23rd February, 12.30-2.30pm. The church is at Sycamore Road/Linden Road, B30 2AA. It would be helpful to know numbers in advance.
If you would like more information, would like to watch a 4-minute youtube clip of the 2012 pilgrimage or to download a flyer about it, then please visit the b-inspired website. Or email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Image: Flickr – fuse314.
Week Beginning: Sunday 10th February 2013.
Question 5: Who is the Holy Spirit?
Bible readings: 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, John 14:15-21.
1. Choose one of the 3 images we’ve mentioned this morning: ‘fire’, ‘wind’ & ‘water’. How has it helped you to understand more clearly who the Holy Spirit is & what the Holy Spirit does?
2. Romans 8:27 refers to the Holy Spirit helping us in our weakness and relates it to weakness in prayer. Have you ever experienced this before and how do you think it might be possible in the future?
3. In what areas of your life do you want the Holy Spirit to turn your timidity or fear into boldness and courage?
4. Can you identify one way in which this session: “who is the Holy Spirit?” has helped you to a clearer understanding?
Further resources for those exploring…
Books: “I believe in the Holy Spirit” – Michael Green & “On in the Spirit” – David Watson.
Week Beginning: Sunday 3rd February 2013.
Question 4: How and why should I read the Bible?
Bible readings: 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Matthew 5:17-20.
1. What are your experiences of reading the Bible? (Regularly? Only hear it when read in church? Difficult? Challengin? Enjoyable? Baffling?)
2. Have you read anything in the Bible that has challenged an aspect of your beliefs and behaviour?
3. Do you believe the Bible is God’s word and can speak to us today? Can you give an example of how this has happened?
Meditation on the Bible (Lectio Divinia)
Chose a passage from the Bible (one of Jesus’ parables is a good starting point). Read the passage through slowly 3 times, as you do notice and words or phrases that you particularly notice, any questions you might have. Spend time reflecting on these and pray for God’s insight. Then be still and open to receive from God.
Further resources for those exploring…
Books: “How to Read the Bible for all its Worth ” by Douglas Stewart & Gordon Fee & “The Bible Book by Book: A Journey Through its People Places &Themes”” by Chris Rogers.
On Wednesday 13th February to mark the beginning of Lent we will be joining with the World Prayer Centre at St Martin’s, to have an afternoon of prayer, praying specifically for the City of Birmingham and it’s people.
The afternoon will begin at 12pm with a short act of worship that will include the imposition of ashes and will finish with an Ash Wednesday Service with Holy Communion at 6pm. Throughout the afternoon there will be prayer stations, times of guided prayer and a chance to prayer walk around the Bull Ring.
Please do come along for all or part of the afternoon if you can. If you are unable to be with us – we do encourage you to set aside some time during the afternoon to join with us in prayer for the City wherever you may be.
Photo by gocyclones – Flickr
We have recently added a new meeting room to hire – the Bryan Green Room. This room is ideal for small meetings as it accommodates up to 10 people. For more information and availability, including, prices, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0121 600 6020.
Image by ario
Week Beginning: Sunday 27th January 2013.
Question 3: Why and how do I pray?
Bible readings: Psalm 30, Matthew 6:1-5.
1. As you read the Lord’s Prayer which phrases do you find are most encouraging and which are more challenging?
2. Why is praying in private different from praying in public with others?
3. What do you think “your kingdom come” might look like when this prayer is being answered?
4. In your life today are there ways you can make the Lord’s Prayer personal? For example a particular need for help in an area of temptation or an area of provision.
Further resources for those exploring…
Books: “Questions of Life” by Nicky Gumbel, “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel & “Prayer: Does it make any Difference?” by Phillip Yancey.
All are welcome to join us as we remember Wayne and Ian, the Big Issue Sellers, recently killed in Birmingham.
Week Beginning: Sunday 20th January 2013
Question 2: Why Did Jesus die?
Bible Readings: Romans 6:1-14, John 6: 35-40;
1. Which of the images or ways of answering the question “why did Jesus die” speak most powerfully to you and why?
2. If Jesus died to save us, what are you saved from? What are you saved for?
3. Has your view of why Jesus died ‘for us’ changed over the course of your Christian experience? If so, how?
for those exploring…
Books: “Questions of Life” by Nicky Gumbel
“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel
for those who want to go deeper…
“The Enigma of the Cross”, Alister McGrath (Hodder and Stoughton)
“Salvation”, T J Gorringe (Epworth Press)