Category: Through the Year

psalm 116

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Draw aside – return refreshed

Psalm 116 The Message (paraphrase by Eugene Peterson)

1-6 I love God because he listened to me,
listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face,
hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn;
then I called out to God for help:
“Please, God!” I cried out.
“Save my life!”
God is gracious—it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me. 7-8 I said to myself, “Relax and rest.
God has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you’ve been rescued from death;
Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears;
And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.” 9-11 I’m striding in the presence of God,
alive in the land of the living!
I stayed faithful, though overwhelmed,
and despite a ton of bad luck,
Despite giving up on the human race,
saying, “They’re all liars and cheats.”
12-19 What can I give back to God
for the blessings he’s poured out on me?
I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!
I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
and I’ll do it together with his people.
When they arrive at the gates of death,
God welcomes those who love him.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice
and pray in the name of God.
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
and I’ll do it in company with his people,
In the place of worship, in God’s house,
in Jerusalem, God’s city.

lectio psalm 116 prompts

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Draw aside – return refreshed

Godspace retreat 2021

Prompts for a response to psalm 116

You have around 30 minutes today to respond to the psalm in whatever way you like – draw, write, compose, be still, take a photo…. I hope you will take the psalm home with you and want to come back to it and respond with more time at your disposal. Use this room, the chapel, the oratory, the garden. Here are some suggestions that may help you, today or on another occasion;

  1. Go back to the lectio divina, what words or ideas stood out in the text for you? Honour God who has brought those words and ideas to your attention by exploring them further.
  2. This psalm has, to my way of reading it, 3 time periods:  the psalmist looks back to the past (vv1-5), he roots himself in the present (vv6-11) he looks to the future (vv12-19). Can you see your life with the same three perspectives, and ‘write’ about them?
  3. In particular this afternoon we are looking to the future, what is God calling you to do as we get on with our lives under Covid, or emerge from Covid? Rewrite verses 12-19 to express the (perhaps vague) future God is calling you to.
  4. This psalm is very personal, yet twice in the last section the psalmist refers to doing things in the company of God’s people. Has the isolation of the last 18 months left you comfortable with your own company or eager to be back with others? Perhaps your answer is a ‘both and’ rather than an ‘either or’. Try writing a list of the things you want to do for God as verbs, and for each try using ‘I’ and then using ‘we’ (eg: I will pray, we will pray together): which feels more true for you, or preferable?
  5. Peterson (the author of the Message translation) writes ‘The psalms in Hebrew are earthy and rough. They are not genteel…only as we develop raw honesty in our praying do we become whole’. So don’t be daunted, tell God how you feel.
  6. If you find this psalm does not stimulate you, you may like to try reading it in another version. Psalms are poetry and poetry is enormously difficult to translate, so comparing words and verb tenses may help you to draw out a response.

Psalm of Lament

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Lament is a special form of prayer.  It is defined as, “A passionate expression of grief or sorrow.”  It is usually associated with some form of loss. The prayer of lament is a prayer of truth-telling. 

So many of us have had to say goodbye to so many things immeasurably in the past 18 months, and we don’t think of these things as worthy of grief, but they are. We’re grieving a way of life.

What piece of either local or global Corona-news has affected you the most in past weeks/months?

What have you lost in this time?

What did you have to stop doing in this time?

What did Corona interrupt in your life?

What control did you lose?

What plans/dreams did you have to let go of?

What has changed in this time? (Personally, in your family, in your community, in your country, globally.) 

The features of Lament

Psalms of Lament are normally addressed to God, offering a complaint

Psalms of Lament are not overly concerned with how one ‘should’ be feeling but rather pouring out the feelings that are actually inside of us.  They are going to come out in some way in your life, so this is a healthy way to appropriate them and bring them to God (offered with unfiltered emotions and language)

Lament format   Psalm 142 – A Psalm by (….your name)

1. Start by addressing God

2. Then own graphic emotions, thoughts, expressions, feelings, pain – can be very 
     messy. Include people you blame or are angry at, for this Corona-time.

3. Clear/definite turning point (BUT)

4. Expressions of forgiveness (forgive others or confess your own sins)

5. Expressions of faith and hope in God. Declarations of who God is (his character)

6. Choice to Worship. (What is God saying to you personally?)

7. Then pray/sing your Psalm of Lament to God.

Your lament may also include

  • Questions you want answered
  • Concerns regarding your own thoughts.  The lies that you believe, for example.  The confusion that you struggle with. The anger and frustration that you are experiencing.
  • The sin/abuse/brokenness that you endured/are enduring and the acknowledgement of how it affected you (and is currently affecting you).
  • How this has affected how you see Him. (If you feel distant, tell him. If you don’t know, tell him that.
  • Letting go  –  of regrets, expectations etc.

Lectio Divina

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 A prayer when he was confined in a cave (TPT)


Psalm 142 

God, I’m crying out to you!
    I lift up my voice boldly to beg for your mercy.

I spill out my heart to you and tell you all my troubles.

For when I was desperate, overwhelmed, and about to give up,
    you were the only one there to help.
    You gave me a way of escape from the hidden traps of my enemies.

I look to my left and right to see if there is anyone who will help,
    but there’s no one who takes notice of me.
    I have no hope of escape, and no one cares whether I live or die.

So I cried out to you, Lord, my only hiding place.
    You’re all I have, my only hope in this life, my last chance for help.

Please listen to my heart’s cry,
    for I am low and in desperate need of you!
    Rescue me from all those who persecute me,  for I am no match for them.

Bring me out of this dungeon so I can declare your praise!
    And all the righteous will celebrate all the wonderful things you’ve done for me!

Morning Prayer

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Unless otherwise indicated, the material below is suggested by the Church of England’s Morning Prayer for Saturdays (, 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.


(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.


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


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.


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.


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.


(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


2) The administration/ information in advance of the day

1          2          3          4          5


3) The venue

1          2          3          4          5


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


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

1          2          3          4          5


6) The length of the day

1          2          3          4          5


7) The printed resource material

1          2          3          4          5


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

1          2          3          4          5


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,, 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.


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.


Let us be at peace within ourselves.


Let us accept that we are profoundly loved

and need never be afraid.


Let us be aware of the source of being

that is common to us all

and to all living creatures.


Let us be filled with the presence of the great compassion

towards ourselves and towards all living beings.


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.


Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be

a cause of suffering to one another.


With humility let us pray for the establishment

of peace in our hearts and on earth.


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.


[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.

(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.

Teasing out the blockages

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brown wooden blocks on white surface

What wonderful words Sonja wrote last month! So encouraging and so true! Yet I wonder how many of us read them with hesitation: ‘this can’t apply to me’ ‘I just need to sort my life out and then God will love me’?

So I want to explore the things that come between us and God. I’m not an expert, there are plenty of good books. If you need help in this area please don’t keep it to yourself but reach out, to a minister, a spiritual companion/director, a friend.

Often we feel there is a burden but we don’t know what words to apply to it so as to sort it out, so here are some questions (and the vocabulary) I find helpful for ‘teasing apart’ my blockages:

  1. ‘against you only have I sinned’ ps51:4  We might find David’s approach to murder and rape shocking, but can we differentiate the wrong we do to humans for which we need to say sorry and perhaps make reparation, and the sin against God (which is so often our failure to recognise the image of God in people)?
  2. Shame and guilt: you might use different words but I think you will understand this distinction. Every society (including church!) needs rules to help people get on with each other and a system of punishing or at least shaming those who don’t fit in. We feel shame for many things; our sexuality, failure to control our children, holding a different view from the norm. Guilt (in my vocabulary) is about the things we do that are wrong in an ultimate sense, that offend against the interior voice of conscience, the voice of God. Often we confuse them; we feel guilt before God because we are ashamed before people. We fail to obey God because we are worried how others will judge us.
  3. Sin and failing, or to put it more simply, being naughty and being imperfect. We all have character traits, inborn or learnt as a child, that may hinder our ability to love and serve God but that cannot/should not be regarded as sin. How do we ask God to help us grow in love, courage, vulnerability or whatever we lack, without implying that it is a sin to be less than perfect?
  4. There are many ideas of sin in the Bible; One clear distinction is between the breaking of a law as outlined in the books of Law (the first five books), and turning away from God, as is persistently referred to by the prophets who called for God’s people to return to Him, a teaching Jesus seemed to address in the parable of the prodigal son. The cures for different kinds of sin are also varied, from paying for a sacrifice to making our way back.
  5. Do you fear that God has only one really good plan for you, that once plan A has failed (because of your own fault!) plan B will not be as good? Consider Gen 50:20, when Joseph is speaking of the way his brothers had hurt him: ‘ You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ Even situations which seem to be marred by sin can work to his glory if we work with Him.

Finally, it can be very difficult to own up to things that are wrong, that we would rather sweep under the carpet. I am encouraged by a friend’s saying: if you look a sin in the eye it can’t stab you in the back!

Lent 2021

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white and yellow flower in tilt shift lens

Lent 2021

Dates for this year: Lent for the year 2021 starts on Wednesday, February 17th and ends on Thursday, April 1 with evening prayer on Holy Thursday, which is then followed by the three days of Easter..

Role of Lent : The season of Lent lasts for forty days (not including Sundays). It is a time when Christians reflect and prepare for the celebrations of Easter. Some people fast, eat frugally or give up treats following the example of Jesus, who fasted for forty days in the wilderness. We recommit to Christian practices such as prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and reconciliation to prepare to enter the mystery of Easter. Through these practices, we deepen our commitment to the Christian life and prepare to renew our baptismal promises. 

Suggestions for observing Lent consider your motive, once we realise why we are intending to do something for Lent we are more likely to find the right thing. For instance does one of these describe your aim: to prepare for Easter and the renewal of Baptismal promises; to follow the example of Jesus in the wilderness; to use this time to train yourself in discipline (perhaps regardless of the particular discipline); to grow in your faith?

You may then like to consider:

  1. giving things up, (particularly but not necessarily things that are bad for you, chocolate, wine, facebook). But what will you do with the money and time liberated? Matthew 4 does not tell us overtly what Jesus did with his time in the wilderness but it seems safe to assume he prayed, particularly about his baptism and his vocation.
  2. taking things up, There has been in trend in recent years to look for something more positive to do in Lent. Commit to daily prayer; create a way of trying some of the suggestions for prayer on this website under ‘how to’, social action, exercise (God cares for your body as well as your soul!).
  3. practising a practical and/or spiritual discipline, There is plenty in the New Testament about our need for discipline eg Hebrews 12. Richard Foster’s ‘Celebration of Discipline’ is the modern classic in this area.
  4. Growing in discipleship. Meet with others of the past (through books) and of the present to explore your faith and that of others.


Daily prayer: increase or redefine your commitment; join with others (many churches and religious communities are offering some form of morning and evening prayers).

Your own church: find out what they are offering

Books: It is getting late for ordering in English from the UK, but you might find other resources, or be happy to start late. There are many, some with daily readings, some with weekly readings. A sample

may be seen at A particular suggestion is from the Lutheran Gayl Ramshaw  ’40 days and 40 nights’. Or you may want to commit to reading a spiritual classic.

SSJE (society of St John the Evangelist, Anglican monastic order in USA) : offers a weekly email including a  video on prayer at They invite you to join the brothers in online prayer, but since they are in an American time zone that is not generally practical!

glasgow ignatians, this is an on-line/on an app offering of readings reflections, music and art, plus a weekly meeting with others following the course for support. N B I am interested in hosting a group on a monday lunchtime so it is suitable for those still working as well as others. Please let me know by friday 12 feb if you would like to join by leaving a comment.

the abbey of the arts has Journey with the Desert Mothers and Fathers (Lent 2021) an online mixture of live sessions, reflections, videos involves book, and app. The theme is evangelism and witness.