Praying with Paul

I was leading the morning worship service at our church last Sunday week. In preparation for the service I read through Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church  and thought it would be a good basis for public prayer. So, making very few modifications apart from changing the pronouns, here is Paul’s prayer for the church in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire, UK. 

We praise you God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms through our relationship with Jesus.
We praise you for the glorious grace you have poured out on us who belong to your beloved Son, Jesus. You are so rich in kindness and grace that you purchased our freedom with his blood and have forgiven our sins. You have showered your kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
You have given us your Holy Spirit, whom you promised long ago. He is your guarantee that you will give us the inheritance you promised, and that we are your own people because you have redeemed us. Through that Holy Spirit we want to praise and glorify you.
We thank you God for one another, and we pray for one another, asking you, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give each of us spiritual wisdom and insight so that we might grow in our knowledge of God. We pray that our hearts may be flooded with light so that we can understand the confident hope you have given to us whom you have called, the hope of a rich and glorious inheritance.
We also pray that we will understand better the incredible greatness of your power at work for us who follow you. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honour at your right hand in the heavenly realms. Now Jesus is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. You have put all things under the authority of Christ and you have made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And we, the church, are Christ’s body, made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
We acknowledge that it is by grace we have been saved, through faith–and this is not from ourselves, it is your  gift to us–not achieved by what we have done, so that none of us can boast. For we are your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which you have prepared for us to do.

So Father help us to know you better, to love you better
and to serve you better,
For the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Amen

Even the butterfly

Since moving back into the refurbished building at Long Crendon Baptist Church (LCBC) we have had six or more Tortoiseshell butterflies fluttering around during the services. While potentially something of a distraction during the sermon (how could that be?), I like to see them as an indication of God’s blessing on the place of worship. No mention of butterflies, but Psalm 84 says:

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord Almighty!
—-
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
                                               Psalm 84:1,3 NIV

Visitor to LCBC opening service
Visitor to LCBC services

The presence of the butterflies does raise some questions, though. What did the caterpillars live on during the nine months that the church was empty apart from the builders? How have the butterflies managed to survive for several weeks? A quick binge on the church flowers once a week?

Back home at LCBC

After 9 months meeting in a local school on Sundays while our church building was being largely remodelled, we are now back home again–and it’s really great! Long Crendon Baptist Church (LCBC) is a Victorian chapel, now brought into the 21st century. We had our official opening and thanksgiving service on the weekend of 1st-2nd February, when Andy Paterson of FIEC was the speaker. Now the challenge is to be open to God to do things differently and not drop back into the safe and familiar routines. The new building is light and open, not cut off from the world around. May that be reflected in our own hearts and lives as we seek to draw people to the Cross of Christ. Here are some perspectives.

Sunday arrivals welcomed
Sunday arrivals welcomed
The new entrance is at the side.
The new entrance is at the side.
Getting settled
Getting settled

 

Praising God for his goodness
Praising God for his goodness
Nobody wants to leave
Nobody wants to leave

 

Room to move in the foyer
Room to move in the foyer