|During January I have been spending time in the company of one of the most remarkable
women who has ever lived! Julian of Norwich whose book of “Revelations of Divine Love’
was the first book to be written in the English language by a woman.
It is an account of, and a meditation on, her vision of God and His great love. In one of her
most well-known visions, she is given an insight into God’s relationship with the whole of His
In this vision God showed a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as
it seemed to me, and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind’s eye and thought,
“What can this be?” And the answer came … “It is all that is made.” I wondered how it could
last, for it seemed to me so small that it might have disintegrated suddenly into nothingness.
And I was answered in my understanding, “It lasts, and always will, because God loves it; …
everything has its being through the love of God.”
The love of God is what holds us and all creation in existence. It is the most powerful thing in
the universe. God’s love is not conditional on our performance or our ‘good behaviour’; it is
the free choice of the creator God who loves us into existence.
Julian sees how fragile we are, how small and fragile God’s creation is, but she has confidence
and hope despite this because of God’s love.
Each one of us, every person that we love, the whole of God’s creation is small and delicate
and fragile, and yet it is also safe and secure because of the great love of God our creator and
Julian encourages me to face the new year with hope, not because I know that things will
work out as I plan and hope, but because I and the people I love and the whole of this
wonderful and vast creation are held in hands of love; hands that bear the scars of the nails
that tell of the cost of such amazing, divine love.
We are here to help people love and worship God.
We aim to be, and encourage others to become, committed and active disciples of Jesus,
who love God and worship him, who know the power of the Holy Spirit and who show
God’s love in every part of their lives.
|Prayer for the month
|Thought for the month
|Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words..., A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
|One of the prayers of the Bible that has sustained my faith in hard times, and has challenged
me in easy times is the prayer of Habakkuk.
He lived at the end of the seventh century before Christ when the Babylonians were in
power. It was a violent and cruel empire and Habakkuk and his people asked where God
was, why did he allow the evil empire to thrive while the righteous suffered.
We have all asked this question, because living by faith is not easy. We don’t know what is
happening next, things don’t often turn out how we want them to - either in our own lives or
in the life of the world. Good people suffer - including us!
It is natural to assume that if we are following Jesus and trying to live as God calls us to live,
then God will give us favourable treatment. But, as we all know from experience, Jesus’
followers don’t get preferential treatment.
At times like this Habakkuk is a good companion for the journey.
Most of the prophets in the Bible speak God’s word to us, but Habakkuk speaks our words
to God! As one writer put it, “He gives voice to our bewilderment, articulates our puzzled
attempts to make sense of things, faces God with our disappointment with God.”
This prophet waits and listens, and his waiting and listening turn to prayer. And in prayer he
finds that he trusts in God, even in the darkness, even with his questions. He discovers that
this life of trusting God is the full life, the only real life.
Here is his prayer:
Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vine;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord is my strength.
Habakkuk does not stay with his disappointment and questions. In it all he finds the presence of
God with him. And that is enough.
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|Here at St Mary’s we have lots of weddings and wedding blessings every year - much more
than in most Parish Churches these days. While this creates a lot of work and it means that
Church is busy on most Saturdays, it is a real privilege to welcome the couples into our
Church. It is a privilege to be present and to offer God’s blessing and the Church’s prayers at
the start of so many marriages.
On Saturday 4th Feb and again on Wed 22nd Feb I will be meeting with those who are
going to be married here at St Mary’s in the coming year for a couple of ‘Marriage
Preparation’ sessions. Please will you pray for all of these couples, and pray for me too.
Later this year - date to be arranged - we will be having a time to meet together to try to
discern God’s call to us, His Church here in Ecclesfield, for the coming 4 to 6 years. This is
not just for the PCC but for every member of our church who wants to be involved. Please
look out for more information.
The planning morning will be part of a parish ‘week-end at home’. We hope to have some
time to relax and spend time together as a Church.
In the run up to the week-end we will be asking every member of St Mary’s to ask God to
show us His plans and His heart for our Church at this time. St Mary’s is not our church it is
God’s, and its ministry is God’s mission of which we are privileged to be a part.
God is a God who speaks and reveals His heart to those who seek Him and who are
committed to following His call.
Perhaps in this year we can make Samuel’s prayer our own:
Speak Lord, your servant is listening.