This helpful daily reading guide follows the M’CHEYNE Bible Reading Plan. Here is a link for the whole year at the Gospel Coalition website.
Krista Carter, SJR's Music Minister, has adapted weekly God's Big Story children's lessons into an audio format. You can find all of the ones she has prepared, and download them, at this Dropbox link.
Known internationally for his writing and systematic theology, Dr. J.I. Packer, who died out of this life and rose again to life everlasting on July 17th, was known to many of us personally, as a friend, colleague, teacher, and pastor. We grieve with his wife, Kit, and their three children, but Jim was resolute in his trust that the living God saves through the Lord Jesus Christ, which ultimately means every Christian will see Jesus face to face and enjoy God forever. We grieve, but as those with hope, a hope that J.I. helped thousands to clarify and own through the Word of God. Many tributes and remembrances are being published. We are linking to a few of them below.
Julie Lane-Gay interviewed Dr. Jim Packer a number of years ago for theÂ Anglican Planet newspaper, upon the anniversary of the BCP. This is a short but pithy interview that gets at the heart of why the Book of Common Prayer is still treasured and relevant. At St. John's Richmond, the BCP guides us liturgically, guards us theologically, and gifts us with worship deep and wide, not just for Sunday mornings but for all the seasons and circumstances of life.
Click here for the MP3 recording of Lara's latest song based on Isaiah's prophecy of the Suffering Servant. Click here for a link to the words and chords. Used by permission. Thank you Lara once again for blessing us in this way!
Murray M'Cheyne, a young Scottish Pastor who lived from 1813-1843, prepared a plan for Bible reading to take readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. There are approximately 4 chapters per day in this plan. For some, the enforced quietude of COVID-19 will allow time to read the Bible thoroughly in this way. But the Reformers always envisioned that all Christians would read the Bible in this way (the Book of Common Prayer has a wonderful "Table of Lessons," or "Lectionary" for this exact purpose). I (Rev. Sean Love) heard a memorable phrase from my Pastor growing up, Rev. Harry Robinson, that the effect of reading the Bible in this way "lines the mind with the paradigms of Scripture." I have found this to be abundantly true in my own experience, to my own great benefit and joy.
Do you want to understand a book of the Bible in 6 or 7 minutes, or a Biblical theme or concept such as Sabbath, Generosity, or the Image of God? Head over to YouTube to the Bible Project website: a superb resource for both Old and New Testament content. Well illustrated, engaging, scholarly.
Revs. Sean and Guy regard Bishop Ryle (Bishop of Liverpool about 120 years ago) as a hero. Here is a link to a booklet he wrote (which you can purchase) about how to understand sickness in light of the gospel.
A helpful reminder of the fact that our lives have always been in God's hands. Just replace "atomic bomb" with "coronavirus." By Matt Smethurst via the Gospel Coalition.
Click here for the MP3 recording of Lara's latest song based on the Psalm by King David, written as a response to the fearful times that surround us. Click here for a link to the words and chords. Used by permission. Thank you Lara for blessing us in this way!
Within the past week everything has been cancelled. At least that's what it feels like. Spectator sports, conferences, ski hills, most airline travel, gatherings over 50 people, or 10, or 5. Libraries, golf courses, community centres, art galleries, swimming pools. Schools and universities. Borders are congealing, streets are empty. We are told to work from home, and self isolate. So many have been or will be laid off, some with pay, many without. There has been nothing like this on such a scale since World War 2. A common enemy; drastic measures; fear and restlessness and waiting and wondering. Front line fighters, and those on the home front. There are only two news stories (it seems): COVID-19 and it's health and social effects, and the economic fallout.
But many people are still very much at work: some industries are all-out: Praise God for the medical professions and health sciences and researchers and drug-testers and makers. Food still must be supplied. Transport is still required. Care for the elderly provided. Government and justice and public safety are the God-given net we all rely on for sustaining life and flourishing in this transitory life.
And-the church is not cancelled. You can't cancel church. You can refrain from assembling together in an extraordinary time such as this, but you can't stop what God has begun and will complete: the new Jerusalem, the living church gathered fully in his presence and place and peace. God's goal, his purpose, "which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time," is to "unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:10).
We may need to assemble in a different way. We may be restricted, for good reason, to social media or livestream or phone conversations. The way we meet and love God and neighbour may adjust for a time. But we are still the church, the "temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians 6:16). Present tense. A temple where God makes his dwelling and walks among us. Church is not cancelled.
I want to encourage you that the Church scattered (as we usually are outside of Sunday mornings) is no less substantial than the church gathered. Gathering matters. We will gather again as a large group. But for now, we must 'bear one another's burdens' and love God and love our neighbour and be prepared always to give a reason for the hope that is within us. The apostle Paul encourages us, "as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).
Brian and Gywneth Roodnick, who live now in Switzerland behind closed national borders, and in isolation, wrote today that they "are still permitted to bike, so we will take bike trips every day for exercise and fun." This is excellent! While we must maintain "social distance" we do not need to be housebound (if we are asymptomatic). If possible, enjoy the blessing of God's good Creation. Also, keep reading your Bible (I commend Philippians and the Psalms in this time, alongside Nehemiah, and/or the Prayer Book Daily Lectionary). Listen to sermons online (there are some good links to sermons on the ANiC Website, and I recommend the SJR series "Revelation: The Triumph of God" from 2012-2013 on the SJR sermon download/search page). Take your SJR phone list and actually make an old-fashioned phone call to a brother or sister. See if there is a need, and if you are well, help in practical ways.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8). Draw near to one another with compassion and encouragement. Church is not cancelled.
From the Book of Common Prayer, for Healing Ministries:
ALMIGHTY God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ went about doing good, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people: Continue, we beseech thee, this his gracious work among us: cheer, heal, and sanctify the sick; grant to the physicians, surgeons, and nurses wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience; and send down thy blessing upon all who labour to prevent suffering and to forward thy purposes of love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.