Author: Bess Brooks

Morning Prayer

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Draw Aside – Return Refreshed

Unless otherwise indicated, the material below is suggested by the Church of England’s Morning Prayer for Saturdays (https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/common-worship/daily-prayer/morning-and-evening#mm008e6m), accessed 24 August 2021.

Facilitator:  Introducing one another, the theme and purpose of the day, going into silence….

Facilitator:  Hand Up/ Hands Down Exercise (from, among others, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster).

FacilitatorWe say together:

Meet me, O Christ,

in the stillness of this morning.

Move me, O Spirit,

to quiet my heart.

Mend me, O Father from yesterday’s harms.

From the discords of yesterday,

Resurrect my peace.

From the discouragements of yesterday,

Resurrect my hope.

From the weariness of yesterday,

Resurrect my strength.

From the doubts of yesterday,

Resurrect my love.

Let me enter this new day,

Aware of my need

And awake to your grace,

O Lord.

Amen.

(A liturgy for the ritual of morning coffee, from Every Moment Holy, vol.1, by Douglas Kaine McKelvey, Rabbit Room Press, 2017, p 135)

FacilitatorLet us continue our worship of God in the words of Psalm 63: 1-9.  Please say the words in bold:

1    O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you;  

my soul is athirst for you.

2    My flesh also faints for you,  

as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

3    So would I gaze upon you in your holy place,  

that I might behold your power and your glory.

4    Your loving-kindness is better than life itself  

and so my lips shall praise you.

5    I will bless you as long as I live  

and lift up my hands in your name.

6    My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness,  

and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips,

7    When I remember you upon my bed  

and meditate on you in the watches of the night.

8    For you have been my helper  

and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.

   My soul clings to you;  

your right hand shall hold me fast.

Amen.

A moment of silence to absorb what we have just said.

Facilitator

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;

Our lives are entwined for these few hours as we come together to speak and to be silent, to think, pray and imagine;

let us pray with one heart and mind.

A moment of silence, as we think about the day ahead.

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,

so may the light of your presence, O God,

set our hearts on fire with love for you;

now and for ever.

Amen.

Facilitator: Crying out to God.

We rejoice in the gift of this new day but that does not mean that we are unaware of grief, pain or frustration in our lives and the wider world.

This is not a moment for deep reflection or profound lament – Sonja will lead us further into that in a moment.  But there might be difficult or painful things so deeply on your heart (on any subject) that you wish to bring them before God now in prayer.  I invite you to pray silently for a few moments, or simply sit in stillness aware of the presence and space of God.

(An extended moment of silence).

Facilitator: We remember that God is a God of consolation.  We say together:

This is what God says: I will comfort you,

you shall see and your heart shall rejoice.

Facilitator: We’ll hear some words from Scripture about the consolation of God:

A reading from Isaiah 66.10,11a,12a,12c,13a,14a,b  – SONJA

 ‘Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, 

all you who love her,’ says the Lord.

2    ‘Rejoice with her in joy,  

all you who mourn over her,

3    ‘That you may drink deeply with delight  

from her consoling breast.’

4    For so says our God,  

‘You shall be nursed and carried on her arm.

5    ‘As a mother comforts her children,  

so I will comfort you;

6    ‘You shall see and your heart shall rejoice;  

you shall flourish like the grass of the fields.’

Facilitator:  We say together:

This is what God says: I will comfort you,

you shall see and your heart shall rejoice.

A reading from Luke 1.68-79 – ANN

1    Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel,  

who has come to his people and set them free.

2    He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,  

born of the house of his servant David.

3    Through his holy prophets God promised of old  

to save us from our enemies,

from the hands of all that hate us,

4    To show mercy to our ancestors,  

and to remember his holy covenant.

5    This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham:  

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

6    Free to worship him without fear,  

holy and righteous in his sight

all the days of our life.

7    And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,  

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

8    To give his people knowledge of salvation  

by the forgiveness of all their sins.

9    In the tender compassion of our God  

the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

10  To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,  

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

FacilitatorWe thank God for these words by saying:

Your salvation is near to those who fear you;

that glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

Facilitator:  We draw all our hopes and prayers for today and for each other together by saying the Lord’s Prayer.  I will say it in English but please use any language you wish.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours

now and for ever.

Amen.

FacilitatorWe bless one another for the day by saying:

May the God who guides our journey,

The Christ who bears the suffering of the world,

The Spirit who empowers us with the gifts of life,

Fill us with courage, wisdom and joy this day.

Amen.

(From Naming God by Jan Berry, Granary publications 2011, p 79).

Feedback form

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Draw Aside – Return Refreshed

Where 1 is “poor” or “disagree” and 5 is “excellent” or “strongly agree”, please rate various aspects of the day.  More detailed comments are very welcome as they will help us plan the next day retreat.

1) Your overall impression of the day

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

2) The administration/ information in advance of the day

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

3) The venue

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

4) The arrangements for eating.  Specifically, are you happy to bring your own sandwiches to minimize the cost of the event?

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

5) The content of the day – the balance between the different activities

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

6) The length of the day

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

7) The printed resource material

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

8)  The use of music (if any) and other resource materials e.g. stones

1          2          3          4          5

Comment?

10)  We are thinking of planning more day retreats in the future.  Is this something that might interest you?  If so, you can EITHER write your name on this form for future contact OR, if you prefer your feedback to remain anonymous, please give your name to Sonja.

11) Anything else you would like to say?

Midday Prayer

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Draw Aside – Return Refreshed 

   

Except where otherwise stated, the material used is from Midday Prayer, A New Zealand Prayer Book, He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, published by the The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, https://anglicanprayerbook.nz, accessed 13 August 2021.

I am assuming the word “labours” to include all kinds of work, including what we are doing here today

Pausing at midday

Facilitator: Please say the words in bold

My brothers and sisters,
our help is in the name of the eternal God,
who is making the heavens and the earth.

Eternal Spirit,
flow through our being and open our lips,
that our mouths may proclaim your praise.

Let us worship the God of love.
Alleluia. Alleluia.

Bible Reading            Psalm 119:129–135

Your steadfast love is wonderful:

therefore I treasure your wisdom.

When your word goes forth

it gives light and understanding to the simple.

I opened my mouth and drew in my breath,

for my delight was in your counsel.

Look upon me and show me kindness,

as is your joy for those who love your name.

Keep my steps steady in your word,

and so shall no wickedness get dominion over me.

Relieve me from the weight of oppression,

and so shall I keep your commandments.

Show the light of your face upon your servant,

and teach me your way.

Prayers

O Christ our rest,

We pause amidst the labours of this day,

to remember the best reason for our labouring.

We labour, O Lord, as stewards of your creation,

and of stewards of the gifts you have apportioned to each of us

for the good of all.

Bless then the works of our hands

and minds and hearts, O God,

that they might bear fruit for your greater purposes.

May our work this day be rendered

First as service to you, that the benefits of it might be eternal.

Receive this, the offering of our labours, O Lord.

Amen.[1]

Let us be at peace within ourselves.

Silence

Let us accept that we are profoundly loved

and need never be afraid.

Silence

Let us be aware of the source of being

that is common to us all

and to all living creatures.

Silence

Let us be filled with the presence of the great compassion

towards ourselves and towards all living beings.

Silence

Realising that we are all nourished

from the same source of life,

may we so live that others be not deprived

of air, food, water, shelter, or the chance to live.

Silence

Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be

a cause of suffering to one another.

Silence

With humility let us pray for the establishment

of peace in our hearts and on earth.

Silence

May God kindle in us

the fire of love

to bring us alive

and give warmth to the world.

Lead me from death to life,

from falsehood to truth;

lead me from despair to hope,

from fear to trust;

lead me from hate to love,

from war to peace.

Let peace fill our heart,

our world, our universe.

Committing the afternoon to God

Shape our thoughts, O Lord, by your truth,

Even as you shape our hearts by your love.

Now grant us strength and grace, O God,

sufficient for the rest of the day,

that we might move through its unfolding

in humble obedience to your will,

in sensitivity to your Spirit

and in joyful expectancy of your coming kingdom.

May the light of that eternal city

Illuminate our hearts, our paths, our vision

Through these next hours, O Lord.

Amen.[2]


[1] Douglas Kaine McKelvey, Every Moment Holy, vol. 1 (Nashville TN: Rabbit Room Press, 2017), 6.

[2] Ibid., 1:8.

Closing Prayer

Draw Aside – Return Refreshed

(Time of preparation – completing feedback forms and distribution of stones)

Prayer of Examen

The facilitator will guide us through the Prayer of Examen, reflecting back on this day and what God might be inviting us to notice.

The circle of stones

At the appropriate moment, you will be invited to place a stone in the centre of the circle to mark this time with God

Closing prayers

When you call us to leave behind the safe and unfamiliar
And follow you on a narrow and rocky path,
Exploring in unknown territory,
Christ of the way, be our guide,
And may cairns of stone mark our path.

When you speak to us in hidden ways
And we strain to hear your voice amidst the confusion,
Searching out the mysteries of your purpose,
Christ of the truth, help us to know you,
And may the glow of candles lighten our way.

When you invite us to let go of regret
And being to see new possibilities,
Dreaming dreams of hope and promise,
Christ of life, inspire and renew us,
And enfold us in your love.

We continue our journey delighting in the love of the God who creates and calls us.
We continue our journey, carrying the light of the Gospel of Christ, shining fo hope and justice.
We continue our journey, trusting in the living Spirit,
Who leads us into truth and freedom.

May we go on our way with joy and courage;
And may the God who creates, heals and sustains the world go with us.
Amen.


(From Naming God by Jan Berry, Granary/URC Publications 2011, p 64).You are invited to retrieve your stone and take it home as a reminder of today.

A pause for refreshment

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green trees beside body of water

My husband’s hobby is photography.  Every year, he puts together a book of photos highlighting the good experiences of the previous year.  Yesterday morning, he showed me the draft book for 2020.  I was a bit sceptical; let’s face it – 2020 wasn’t a great year! What on earth would a photo-book show?

But, when I looked at the pictures he’d put together, he’d done a great job in finding some happy moments:

  • There was a lot of fun with a new puppy!
  • The great camaraderie of the (pre-pandemic) show which I directed
  • A sunny day-out to Gent with our son between one lockdown and another
  • Our daughter’s highly-virtual graduation from University….

The photo-book doesn’t capture the sadnesses, the cancelled holidays and other life events, or the separation from family in England and the States. But it does capture the joy in what we did manage to do.

The point is that taking time to look at the photos made me stop and think – what was 2020 really like?  Alongside loss of many kinds, there were times of fun and hope! 

And, in all these experiences what was God saying about then, now or the next few months?

Of course, I was looking at just one 2020 photo-book. But, perhaps, if I (or we) took time to reflect on all the memories gathered during this 20/21 pandemic, we might see where God has been present and working during this difficult time, how God has been part of the journey. This in turn might make it easier to face the immediate future with a renewed sense of purpose and “God with us”. And that could give us a fresh perspective on the continued route through our personal and collective photo-book of 2021.

Ann touched on some of this during her reflection from 1 June 2021.  She asked us to take time to consider the effects of the pandemic in all its complexity and to discern our personal response to the coming months.   And some of this thinking undergirds the day retreat we’ve planned for 28 August 2021, “Draw Aside – Return Refreshed”.  As we emerge from the strangeness of the last year/ 18 months, with all that has meant for us, our loved ones and our Church communities, perhaps we could all do with a moment to reflect on what has happened and to gather strength or a new perspective for the future.  That’s why we’re offering this day retreat, where a small number of people can gather and take time to think, pray and imagine – a moment of spiritual refreshment in what has been a long and complicated haul for many people.

The three of us (myself, Ann and Sonja) will guide the whole group through prayers for our time, meditations on the psalms and there will be periods of silence in which to walk, pray, write, draw, as people wish.  Our hope is that the day will provide refreshment and a chance to (re)focus on God and to think about the future.

Of course, not everyone wants to, or can, take advantage of a day retreat.  But it could be useful to intentionally set aside time to simply be with God, reflect on the last 18 months and think about the future. You could do this alone or with a Christian friend – perhaps using a psalm or other piece of scripture, or a photo of something beautiful in the natural world, or a painting of a significant biblical scene, and/or you could use some of Ann’s questions from 1 June as a starting point?  Suggestions for different kinds of meditation can be found in the How-To Guides section of our website.

Hoping that August is a time of true spiritual refreshment for you….

Blessings,

Bess

Draw aside – return refreshed

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green water between brown trees during daytime

Day Retreat 28 August 2021

As we emerge from the strangeness of the last year/ 18 months, with all that has meant for us, our loved ones and our Church communities, perhaps we need a moment to reflect on what has happened and to gather strength or a new perspective for the future.  Godspace offers a day retreat, where a small number of people can gather and take time to think, pray and imagine.

Leaders Bess Brooks, Ann Milton and Sonja Stark will guide us through prayers for our time, meditations on the psalms and there will be periods of silence in which to walk, pray, write, draw, as people wish.  Our hope is that the day will provide refreshment and a chance to (re)focus on God and to think about the future.

What are we offering?

Details

What:  Day retreat for up to 15 people (3 leaders, 12 participants)

Where:  La Bergerie, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, www.fbp.be 

When:  Saturday 28 August 2021

What time:  10 am – 3 pm

Who is leading?:  Bess Brooks and Sonja Stark (St Paul’s, Tervuren),  Ann Milton (Holy Trinity, Brussels)

What does it cost:  15 euros to include coffee and cold drinks – please bring your own packed lunch

Programme:  to include prayers for our time, meditations on the psalms, opportunities for silent reflection and creative response – see full programme below or on website www.godspace.eu

How do I book?:  Click on this link https://stpaulstervuren.churchsuite.com/events/jo1gjrg9  and fill in the relevant details

How do I pay?:  15 euros by bank transfer before 21 August 2021 to

Account name: The Chaplain of St Paul’s,    IBAN: BE813 100 9133 8724, 

BIC: BBRUBEBB,   

Address: Hoornzeelstraat 24, 3080 Tervuren

Please add the message “Godspace retreat 28 August 2021”

Questions?: Please email drawaside@godspace.eu and either Bess, Ann or Sonja will respond

Godspace  (www.godspace.eu) is an ecumenical project with the aim of providing space for reflection for Christians in Belgium.  It is supported by St Paul’s, Tervuren (www.stpaulstervuren.org)

day retreat programme

10.00   Coffee

10.15   Introduction

10.30   Welcome liturgy/ prayers

11.00   Reflection on a psalm of lament (lectio divina)

11.30   Personal response – time to walk, pray, reflect, write….

12.10   Sharing response (if wished)

12.30   Lunch (please bring own sandwiches, drinks provided)

13.00   Midday prayer

13.10   Reflection on psalm of joy/ looking forward (lectio divina)

13.30   Response – time to walk, pray, reflect, write…., to consider the future with a new perspective.

14.10   Sharing response (if wished)

14.30   Closing liturgy/ prayers

15.00   End

Please note: minor details within the programme could be subject to change

The gift of new days

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black and white coated dog walking on grass pathway

Re-reading Ann’s challenging questions from her June reflection made me stop and think!  A month on from her piece, with the end of this strange period perhaps in sight, her questions about how we respond to this phase of the pandemic are still as pertinent and will be for some time to come.  That’s because, despite the increasing relaxations, many of us are still in a period of waiting. 

Waiting:

  • for an injection,
  • a Covid passport,
  • to see family,
  • to lay a loved-one to rest,
  • to take a much-needed break,
  • to see our business thrive,
  • to find employment again…..

And perhaps we could add to this long list – waiting to feel a fresh touch of God’s presence and to feel renewed after everything we’ve been through.

Many mornings during the last 16 months, I’ve walked around the woods near my house with my beautiful Bernese mountain dog, JayDee. I’ve felt all the different weathers and seen the changing seasons, despite the sameness of life elsewhere, and there has often been a sense of newness to the day.  And, in doing this, I’ve become more conscious of the gift of time – not in the glib sense of “time heals all things”, or “this will soon be over”  – but the fact that time, as we experience it, is helpfully divided into days. That’s to say, each day, however difficult, has an ending which means that there is a chance of a new beginning the following morning.  There is a certain grace to that, I think.

And space too to reflect! 

This isn’t the place for a comprehensive reading of the book of Lamentations, and it is so easy to take “comforting verses” out of context.  But, I am thinking of the passage where the poet acknowledges the difficulty of his current existence but yet remembers God’s past goodness.  (I will leave aside the challenging questions of why his situation has arisen and the justice or not of that) 😊

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3: 22-23)

I know that some situations that are so difficult that each day just blends in to the next (and certain illnesses make it very hard to tell the benefit of one day ending and another beginning).  But I hope, for at least some people reading this page, that it’s helpful to think about how life is graciously divided into days  – each one a chance for a new experience of God’s touch – as you continue your version of waiting….

The gentle art of receiving a gift – a practice for Lent?

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white gift box beside green leafed plant

This Lent, a couple of members of Godspace are participating in the online Lenten retreat Knowing Jesus organised by the Ignatian Centre for Spirituality (ICS), Glasgow, UK.

A couple of weeks ago, Ann and I were talking about our (then) forthcoming involvement.  One of the features of the retreat is a daily email containing, among other things, a painting on which to reflect.  I mentioned to Ann that I wasn’t an artist myself, had little knowledge of drawing and painting and had never really meditated on a painting before.  “I suppose it is a skill I could learn” was how I expressed it.  She replied, “Or, perhaps it is a gift you could receive”.

Her answer made me think and resulted in my daily practice during Lent (so far!) of sitting before the emailed picture and, first of all, remembering that it is the artist’s gift to me and to the wider world.  Before I think about its “message”, the colours and other aspects of composition, and whether I “like” it or not, it is a gift.  My first response is to be thankful and then, decide, like any gift, how I am going to receive it, enjoy looking at it and/or use it.

I don’t normally think about receiving a gift when I contemplate a pattern of behaviour for Lent but it strikes me as a useful idea.  In the last few days, gifts have popped up all over the place – a compliment paid, a walk with a friend in the context of our restricted lives, an unexpected turn in the weather….. and, of course, the ICS Lent material itself which specifically reminds me  to ask for a gift each day, the desire of my heart at that particular moment.

And so, I am practising in my own way.   I think of the painting as if it were a wrapped Christmas present under the tree waiting to be opened, explored and enjoyed.  I click on the picture with anticipation.  What is in it?  What does it say about the love, character and knowledge of the giver?  I take time to  “open” the painting and to be thankful for it. I look, with my amateur’s eye, at colour and composition; I try to identify the symbols used; I particularly notice the people, their position and mood, their relationships to one another – is there someone with whom I particularly identify?; the artist’s gestures of humour or odd detail.  Above all, I try and think about what God is saying to me through this gift – about me, my life, Jesus.

It is a different practice, gently receiving a daily painting, to my more usual one of giving something up or establishing an extra routine which is “good for me”.  But I think it is a helpful one in this particular moment of restriction and (necessary) control of so many aspects of our lives.  And, for me,  it provides a basis for newly encountering the ultimate gift of God to us expressed in the Good-Friday to Easter Sunday weekend that lies ahead.

Enjoy opening your own gifts today…..

Lent course info posted today!

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Christ painting

We’re excited to have posted details of our participation in the ICS Lent Course 2021 “Knowing Jesus” ! Click on the Events page and then choose Future Events for more information on how you can join in!

Photo by Jon Tyson Unsplash

Lent 2021 Knowing Jesus

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Christ painting

Godspace invites you to participate in an ONLINE Lent course run by the Ignatian Spirituality Centre (ISC), Glasgow, UK, on the theme of Knowing Jesus.  The course runs from Ash Wednesday (17 February) until the first Sunday of Easter (11 April).  You will receive a daily email inviting you to spend a short period of time of your own choosing in daily prayer, scripture reading, reflection, enjoying art and music, plus an online weekly meeting with 6-10 others to discuss the impact of the course. ISC (and Godspace) do not charge for this course.

For more information, and to sign up for the course, please go directly to https://www.iscglasgow.co.uk/lent2021.html and subscribe there.  If you’d like to join a “local” online lunchtime meeting on Mondays, 13h05 to 13h50 CET, facilitated by Godspace leader Ann Milton DO NOT FILL IN THE SECTION ABOUT JOINING AN ONLINE GROUP ON THE ICS SITE.  Instead, please let Ann know you are interested by leaving a comment below.  Ann needs to know numbers by the end of Friday 12 February so please don’t delay 😊.