Worship

Context

Despite a migraine, I was able to go to hospital for a stack of blood tests. Then my wonderful husband met me, and we went in the lift together: one floor up, and one floor down. This was truly the achievement of a lifetime for me, and I wept with joy afterwards.


Worship

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:1-3; NLT).
 

Yahweh,
Speaking and creating,
Caring, sharing,
Giving, taking;
Comfort when my heart
Is breaking:
You alone are God. 

Yahweh,
Never once forsaking,
No beginning,
No berating;
Joyful, loving,
Liberating:
You alone are God.  

You alone are God (Psalm 86:10; NLT). 

What is prayer?

We do not know how to pray as we ought.
(Romans 8:26; NRSV).

You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

Prayer is sharing every thought,
Sensation, feeling, word and deed
With God.

Prayer is sharing all our weakness,
Judgement, sin and selfishness
With God.

Prayer is sharing stillness, silence,
Darkness, need and loneliness
With God.

Prayer is sharing all our joys and sorrows,
Pain, fear, life and death
With God.

Prayer is listening, trusting, loving –
Facing all we undergo
With God.

Yea, though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(Psalm 23:4; KJV).


References 

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; NLT).

A message 19.6.22.

The Almighty …blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and the womb.
(Genesis 49:25; NIV).

✝️ Greetings and blessings to everyone who visits and follows here. I pray for you all each day.

This extra message is to let you know that from tomorrow onwards, I will be using inclusive language for my blogs wherever possible. When this goes beyond my writing ability, I will try to post two versions, one using the traditional male pronoun for God, and one using more inclusive language.

I’m well aware that whilst some people will welcome this change, others would find it a big challenge if I moved suddenly to expressing a wider understanding of God. I’ve  been pondering about how best to begin this transition for some time, but today God showed me this simple way forward, to my great joy.

Later the same day:

As I look back over my recent writing, it’s proving hard to find a piece that doesn’t already use inclusive language, so you may well not notice much difference. However, I still want to be upfront that this change is on its way.

I hope very much that those who find the change difficult will not reject these prayers out of hand. To begin with, when there are two versions of the day’s blog, I will always put the traditional version at the top of the page, so you need not look any further if that is more helpful for you. This is why I have arranged the photos illustrating this message with a more traditional choice above, and a more inclusive version at the end.

I pray that, in time, embracing a fuller and deeper understanding of God will become a huge blessing for us all. Please be patient whilst I learn to adapt the way I write. I’m sure there will be times when inclusivity will present me with a steep learning curve!

✝️ With love from Ruth xxxxx

As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our mother.
(Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 59, Julian of Norwich).

Fewer words

Let your words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:2; NLT). 

Fewer words:
More quietness;
Fewer words:
More peace.

Fewer words:
More honesty;
Fewer words:
More tears.

Fewer words:
More listening;
Fewer words:
More joy.

Fewer words:
More confidence;
Fewer words:
More love.

Let love be your highest goal (1 Corinthians 14:1; NLT).


References 

A truly wise person uses few words (Proverbs 17:27; NLT). 

When you pray, don’t babble on …for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him (Matthew 6:7-8; NLT).

You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15; NLT).

Christ waits

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us
(Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Every day is Christmas Day,
And every day is Easter.
Every day, within us all,
Christ waits to be our Teacher.

Every day he’s born again,
And every day, tormented.
Every day, within us all,
Christ waits to be befriended.

Every day he lives for us,
And every day he’s dying.
Every day, within us all,
Christ waits, with tears, and sighing.

Every day he shares our joy,
And every day, our sorrow.
Every day, within us all,
Christ waits, until tomorrow.

The Lord must wait for you to come to him
so he can show you his love and compassion
(Isaiah 30:18; NLT). 
 

You formed me

The Almighty …blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and the womb
(Genesis 49:25; NIV).

1. Lord,
You formed me in the womb,
Laboured, bore me, gave me breath,
Flooded me with brilliant light,
And washed me with your love.

2. Next,
You took me in your arms,
And warmed me with your Spirit’s fire,
Fed me with your perfect truth,
And soothed me with your peace. 

3. Then,
You stood, to carry me
From that day forward, through the years,
Prepared to bear me, and my cross,
To share my joys and tears.

As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our mother
(Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 59, Julian of Norwich).


References

1. I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5; NLT).

You guided my conception and formed me in the womb (Job 10:10; NLT).

The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name (Isaiah 49:1; NLT). 

The Lord …will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labour, I will cry and groan and pant” (Isaiah 42;14; NLT).

The breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NKJV). 

God is light (1 John 1:5; NLT).

God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).

2. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you (Deuteronomy 33:27; NLT).

The Lord your God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NIV). 

The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6; NKJV).

Anyone who feeds on me will live because of me (John 6:57; NLT). 

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT). 

3. Praise the Lord; praise God our saviour! For each day he carries us in his arms (Psalm 68:19; NLT).

He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19; NIV). 

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity (Hebrews 2:14; NIV).

Personal change 16.5.22.

1. Diagnosis

My health has been deteriorating for several years, but I have never had an explanation for this. However, last Thursday I was given a diagnosis of Autonomic Neuropathy (AN).

AN is an incurable degenerative disorder, in which the brain loses the ability to regulate processes that normally happen automatically. It affects the functioning of multiple body systems, including, for example, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature control, bladder, digestion, eyesight, balance and energy.

There are several sub-types of AN. Some are more severe than others. Some progress more quickly than others. A battery of tests over the next few weeks and months should eventually indicate which type I have, how quickly I can expect to deteriorate, and my anticipated life-expectancy.    

2. Realisation

About a year ago, as my health deteriorated, I reached a point where I could no longer go to church. Since then, I have hoped in vain that some of the people there who I thought of as friends might notice my absence and make contact with me. However, only one member of my local congregation has stayed in touch.

Over the last few days I have realised how deeply I lack sources of spiritual nourishment with like-minded people. This has made me see that I need to stop hoping for contact, understanding and support from church, where there is so little available. Instead, I want to accept, share, and develop, relationships that are available to me, for example, with spiritually-minded friends online.

So, it’s time for me to start afresh, to change, and to focus much more on some reciprocal relationships. This feels like a very positive realisation. Indeed, it’s already leading me to explore a much more universal faith than is possible within the narrow confines of a single, rule-based denomination. 

With this new-found approach, I can start putting my very limited energy into seeking and finding God in everyone and everything, a prospect which fills me with joy. God really does work in mysterious ways, bringing good even out of situations that can appear wholly negative.

3. Recognition

Accordingly, yesterday, as I prepared my blog for posting, I found great pleasure in illustrating it with a wonderful photo of a woman priest joyfully celebrating communion. This simply  doesn’t happen in my denomination, where all women are automatically excluded from the priesthood, simply because of their gender. 

Using the photo of the woman priest made me recognise that I could also include photos of older women and disabled people amongst my website headers, so I spent a very happy hour or two on this task. Until today, my thinking had always been so blinkered that it had never occurred to me to do this.

4. Freedom

Right now, I feel my diagnosis of Autonomic Neuropathy is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has made me realise that I’ve only got one life here, and that it might be a lot shorter, more limited, and more unpleasant than I had previously imagined. So, as my heath and mobility deteriorate, I want to make the most of whatever freedom and independence I have, at each stage of this disorder.

However, I’m not thinking of the conventional “bucket list” of places I want to go to, or things I want to do before I die. Rather, I’m already experiencing a deep, joyful sense of inner freedom to be myself. This gives me space and permission to think what I think, believe what I believe, feel how I feel, and be how I am. I am also working on my outward freedom, by speaking the truth in love, and taking pleasure in doing what I still can, however limited this may be. 

5. Future 

I’m sharing all this with you because as I deteriorate, I will probably need to change my approach to blogging. This might mean expending less energy on formal, disciplined poetic structures, instead describing whatever spiritual insights God gives me in simpler, more direct prose.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling optimistic, the future looks exciting, and I will continue to post here each day for as long as I can.

✝️ My greetings to every follower and visitor to this website. I appreciate every one of you, and pray for you all each day.

With love and blessings, from Ruth xxxx


References 

1. Diagnosis

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave (Psalm 89:48; NLT). 

2. Realisation

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).

Truly, O God of Israel, our Saviour, you work in mysterious ways (Isaiah 45:15; NIV). 

We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28; GNT).

3. Recognition

Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognised him (Luke 24:31; NLT).

God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27; NLT).

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NIV).

The Almighty … blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and the womb (Genesis 49:5; NIV). 

“As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our mother” (Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 59, Julian of Norwich).

4. Freedom 

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32; NLT). 

If the Son sets you free, you are truly free (John 8:36; NLT).  

When you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go (John 21:18; NLT).

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT).

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:24; NIV).

You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10; NIV).

5. Future

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts (Psalm 90:12; CSB).

Communion

Never stop praying
(1 Thessalonians 5:17; NLT).

Father, Spirit, much-loved Son,
May we always live as one,
Our conversation, never end –
My way, my truth, my friend.

Teacher, Shepherd, constant Guide,
May we suffer side by side,
And our communion never cease –
My hope, my joy, my peace.

Threefold God, though you are light,
I must walk by faith, not sight,
Until this earthly life is past –
And I see you, at last.

We walk by faith, not by sight
(2 Corinthians 5L7; KJV).

Heal our unbelief

We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28; GNT).

“Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-4; NLT).

Father,
You bring good from bad,
And peace from every fear we have;
Truth from lies,
And gain from loss –
Help us to overcome our unbelief.

Father,
You bring light from dark.
For growth from pain, you hit the mark;
Love from hate,
And faith from doubt –
Bring gain from all our troubles, Great High Priest. 

Father,
You bring life from death,
And comfort from each final breath;
Hope from grief,
And joy from woe –
Your resurrection, Lord our God, is sweet.

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25; NLT).

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies (Psalm 103:2-4; NLT).

Suffering

God teaches people through suffering
and uses distress to open their eyes.
(Job 36:15; GNT). 

1. You teach, and train, and test us all
By sending good and ill –

2. We only hurt ourselves, Lord,
When we fight against your will.

3. May we accept our suffering
With joy, and thanks, and prayer,

4. Trusting you to help us grow in love,
Through all we bear.


References

1. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? (Lamentations 3:38; NASB95).

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NIV). 

2. It is useless for you to fight against my will (Acts 26:14; NLT). 

You are hurting yourself by kicking against the goads (Acts 26:14; NET). 

It’s foolish to fight against me! (Acts 26:14; CEV). 

Submit to God and be at peace with him (Job 22:21; NIV).

3. This is my intense suffering, but I must bear it (Jeremiah 10:19; CSB). 

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT).

4. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; NIV).