I have felt moved to create a list of people (all anonymous) for whom I will commit to praying for every morning. I have spoken to most of you privately about the issues that you would like resolved. Recently, I have had the privilege of seeing prayers answered and I feel the time is right to launch this.
All communication is blind copied from me so no-one knows who is on the list
Anyone can email me privately on this email to ask for additional prayer items
The sole commitment on your part is to tell me when the prayer has been answered,
At this point I will ask you if I can share this with the group for everyone’s encouragement but this is not compulsory.
This is not connected to any one church but if any of you want personal face-to-face prayer, I lead the prayer ministry at St Edward’s Burgess Hill and have a quiet space during Communion when this takes place (10-11am)
If you do not want to be prayed for please let me know by return.
To repeat: This is entirely confidential. Nothing you ask for prayer for will be made public – and the decision to go public when the prayer is answered is entirely yours. No-one is on the list publicly.
The prayers can be for anything that is troubling you – and can be for friends and family but must be specific. We all want peace in the world but this is for individual needs and encouragement.
I hope that this will be both uplifting spiritually and reassuring personally to know that you are being prayed for without fail every day.
A piece written for Alex Strangeways-Booth for the BBC. With Passion ft Chris Tomlin – God’s Great Dancefloor (Reyer remix) and David Crowder Band – Undignified (writer Matt Redman)
Dancing like Nobby Stiles
Sometimes it’s good to be undignified..
I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember this? In 1966 England managed to lose and win the World Cup in the same year. Before the tournament, while on display at a stamp exhibition in Westminster Central Hall in London, the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen from under the guards’ noses.
During their noon patrol, the guards found the rear doors of the building forced open and the display cabinet broken into. The trophy, which had been awarded to World Cup winners since 1930, had been nicked.
Three days later, the Football Association received a ransom note. An undercover police officer took fake money to an arranged spot and met Edward Bletchley, a petty thief. He was arrested, but didn’t have the cup, insisting he was only a middleman. The thief was never found but Pickles, the dog who found it was turned into a national hero, even invited to the celebrations after England won the World Cup.
His owner David Corbett shared in this celebrity and allegedly danced down the road with joy – in a manner similar to Nobby Stiles at the end of the final. Dignified no. Victorious, yes..
We hate to lose things. Football matches, world cups, or the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was Israel’s holiest artefact, lost in a humiliating battlefield defeat to the Philistines. Why? Because David’s predecessor as king, Saul, had lost his relationship with God and was turning to snake oil salesmen and tarot card readers.
The Philistines went on a kind of celebration tour of the country to show off their prize. But instead of excited crowds lining the streets, there was death and destruction. God objected to being taken on a victory tour by unqualified people who couldn’t even dance.
The Philistines realised that they had taken a poisoned chalice, sent it back to Israel and parked it in a field. David, who had spent years on a campaign to reclaim the Ark, was delighted. He could just send a cart with some hardy mules and collect it. The trouble was that God didn’t like Reliant Robin-style transport and killed one of David’s top men as he was leading the wagon.
Dancing David, who had been made to look like a fool, got angry and told his men to take the Ark to the house of the Levite Obed-Edom. David had done his research and discovered that only Levites were allowed to carry the Ark. The Ark spent 3 months with Obed-Edom during which time his house was blessed to the level of a FIFA expense account.
Properly packaged and with Levites in control of the logistics, the Ark moved in a stately manner into Jerusalem. Unable to contain himself, David body-popped like a dervish, Dad-dancing in front of the Ark. His wife Michal remarked dryly that it wasn’t very dignified for a king to dance like a wild-eyed, teeth-missing former undertaker.
David answered like this: “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes….” (II Samuel 6:22)
When it comes to our relationship with God, the best thing we can do is not gain status, but lose our inhibitions.
David was a King, but he was also a dancer and a musician; he wrote Psalms and made loads of mistakes – and yet God blessed him
So what is the difference between the slightly embarrassing Nobby Stiles and the uber cool German Captain Uwe Seeler? Uwe lost the cup and most of his hair. And Nobby won the World Cup – the one that was lost and then found..
As convention-free people, we are proud to be undignified because we get the Ark over the line.
January can be a sad time of year. The nights are still long, the temperatures low and seasonal affective disorder hangs in the air like fog.
But sadness also means that the worst is over. The bereavement, the break-up, the bad decision is in the past. The pain and the anger is replaced by sadness. The realisation grows that you don’t have to tough it out – you are now in the aftermath, not the eye of the storm.
If you are driven by faith, it is tempting to see grief or sadness as a weakness, or even a sin.
1 Peter v 5 says “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” The tendency therefore is to castigate yourself for not putting brave, happy face on all life’s trials.
But there is no justification for this. John 11 33-35 tells the story of Jesus coming to the aid of Mary, sister of Mary and Lazarus after hearing of the latter’s fatal illness. After Martha threw herself at Jesus’ feet and implored him for help, we read that “Jesus wept.” He felt sad because he could see the impact the death had on Mary and Martha. He knew Lazarus and loved him too. For him, grief was not a weakness. In fact, it fuelled a miracle. Of course, we feel sad when we experience unnecessary death, cruelty, injustice and wrongdoing causing pain. We cry when we see the effects of natural and man-made disasters. The message here is not man-up, tough it out and suppress emotion.
That would be entirely unhuman.
Jesus was perfect, he was the earthbound manifestation of God, he had never sinned. Yet he wept. His disciples saw him weep. Later they saw him sweat blood in the garden of Getsemane the night before his crucifixion. God was sad after Adam and Eve discovered that they were naked. After the end of innocence we had grief written into our DNA.
Grief is the trigger mechanism built into our complicated psychology that makes us aware of the broken world around us. We don’t rejoice in suffering, we do something about it. God sacrificed his son to save a seriously messed-up world. We can assume that this was not a joyful experience.
So you can process grief, and not feel inadequate about it. You are entitled to feel sadness and compassion towards yourself as well as others – a feeling that takes over from the anger and hate. That feeling is natural, God-given – and productive. You’ve earned it. So use it. We know that grief produces some of the best rescues and reforms. Not to mention great art.
Just ask Adele.
The Goa Express – Second Time (Second Time single 2021)
The Lathums – How Beautiful Life Can Be (Acappella / single mix) (How Beautiful Life Can Be 2021)
CJ Pandit – Digital Love (Just Before You Disappear 2021)
Drug Store Romeos – Frame of Reference (Single 2021)
Fred Again – Julia (Deep Diving) Actual Life (April 14 – December 17, 2020) Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15, 2021)
Claud – Gold (Super Monster 2021)
Zoe Wees – Control (Golden Wings EP 2021)
Lewis Capaldi – Before You Go (Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent 2019)
Tim Hardin – It’ll Never Happen Again (Tim Hardin 1 1966)
Taylor Swift – All Too Well (Red 2012 / Red Taylor’s Version 2021 10 minute version)
The Ataris – The Saddest Song (So Long, Astoria 2003)
The Dream Academy – It’ll Never Happen Again (A Different Kind of Weather 1990)
Josh Epifanio – Agave Blues (Agave Blues Single 2021)
Phoebe Bridgers – Motion Sickness (Stranger in the Alps, 2017)
Charlotte OC – Cut the Rope (Colour My Heart EP 2013)
Lady Blackbird – Collage (Black Acid Soul 2022)
Emmy Meli – I am Woman (Single 2021) / Matrix 2021 single
Houis x Indigo Eyes x Taura Lamb – Sad all the Time (Single 2021)
SZA – Good Days (Single 2021)
Yola – Faraway Look (Walk Through Fire 2019)
PP Arnold – Life is But Nothing (The First Lady of Immediate 1967)
Daisy Gray – Almost to the Moon (Single 2021)
Gracey – Empty Love (Acoustic) (Art of Closure mini album 2021)
Lady Blackbird – It’ll Never Happen Again (Black Acid Soul 2021)
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, ‘When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.’ The midwives, however, feared God and didn’t do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is where the flapping of a butterfly’s wings weeks earlier can trigger a major weather event such as a tornado – where a very small change in initial conditions can create a very different outcome.
So like an unarmed man carelessly murdered by Minnesota cop; or someone, somewhere eating an infected bat – or Hitler falling asleep on D-Day, the ripples run ever wider.
Ray Bradbury wrote ‘The Sound of Thunder’ in 1952 about the long term consequences of the death of a single butterfly. There is comfort for Christians in knowing that even our tiniest actions can be magnified by history. That even chaos can be part of a plan..
The right to justice. The gift of hope.
Small people, insignificant people have often changed history.. But they don’t show up alone. Take Moses, the leader whose calling by God to speak truth to power has inspired Christian movements for liberation throughout history.
Moses is born at a time of infanticide. Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, wanted to control the Hebrew immigrant population by killing all male babies and effectively ending their family lines. Under this brutal terror, the midwives received a chilling instruction: kill the baby boys. Instead of obeying, however, they resisted. Their actions saved the lives of many Hebrew sons – one of whom grows up to become Moses, the liberator of his people.
Small people. Those Hebrew women are not what we imagine when we think of what it means to change the world. It’s tempting to think that it takes power (political, economic, influence) to make a difference. But these women were able to have an impact right where they were, in acts of resistance which shaped an entire generation. The resistance movement to an evil regime (and ultimately Moses’ victory) began in a tent!
The task of resistance lies with all of us, whether we are the ones to stand in the place of power, the ones who have a role to play in someone else’s organisation, or in the simple relationships of family and friends.
There are groups of people out there right now – and at my charity Off The Fence Trust, we’re working with them – who, like the Hebrew babies, are vulnerable and threatened with violence and oppression. Here today in Sussex there are people whose futures are at stake because of the choices and agendas of those more powerful than them. Perhaps we, like the butterfly, like the Hebrew women, like Mother Theresa, like you, like me, can act with the courage of those unnoticed, footnote midwives to protect those unable to defend themselves.
The soundtrack to go with the article on The Whole Nine Yards broadcast on Seahaven FM 96.3 2.7.20
Last Friday 29th July I went to the Holmbush Centre at Shoreham to help my old friend and radio colleague Patrick Souiljaert man (person?) a stand at the entrance to Tesco there. He has written an autobiography in microscopic detail about the challenges of his life as a person with Cerebral Palsy. He was starved of oxygen a birth which led to the condition. However, instead of letting it define him, he has used it to energise and power his ambition, refusing to accept its limitations, using them instead to define his goals.
After going to school in various special establishments (the word special is used in its loosest context here) in the South, Patrick emerged as a man with extreme sensitivity to his and others place in the world. He worked at a major telecomms company for many years before deciding that he could be a radio producer. He achieved this and worked for three Sussex-based radio stations before deciding that he could also be a property investor before going on to become an international speaker, writer and motivator.
It is a raw, no-holds-barred account of the first half of his life with names and organisations changed to protect the innocent and the less than innocent. It is a page turning, honest, gripping story that demonstrates an almost documentary, forensic recall of detail and really installs the reader inside the head of someone who reacts powerfully to the limitations that life has laid upon him.
Last Friday, Patrick, John , Clare and myself went to Holmbush armed with 200 copies of the book, some banners and a great pitch provided by the generous customer services team at Tesco led by Lisa. I was given access to the public intercom system in order to make announcements.
Patrick called out to most passers by with a friendly ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and a goodly minority stopped to have a chat and by the end of the day 38 copies of the book at £10 each were sold.
The point of this post? That you don’t have to accept the hand that life has dealt you. That you can dream and then wake up and achieve those dreams.
That you can decide to be a writer and go and write and publish your book. That you can call yourself an international motivational speaker and go and motivate by speaking. Internationally.
Stairs for Breakfast. Success for lunch. The world for supper.