Church Leaders call for unified political response to address violence and community tensions

Following recent disturbances in Northern Ireland, the Church Leaders Group (Ireland) has written an open letter to political leaders in Northern Ireland, the Governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the European Union.
 
In the letter, Church Leaders:
 
• Echo the appeal from local church and community leaders for political leaders to treat Northern Ireland’s fragile peace with care;
• Emphasise the importance of the three strands of the Good Friday Agreement and the consequent responsibility to respect all identities and foster good relations within Northern Ireland, on the island of Ireland and between the UK and Ireland;
• Call on the Northern Ireland Executive to make a joint approach to the UK Government and the European Union in relation to the challenges posed by the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol; and
• Express their support for the PSNI and underline the importance of ensuring that any concerns about policing are addressed in a way that supports and strengthens democratic institutions and processes.
 
The full letter reads as follows:
 
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God’
 
As Christian Church Leaders from across the island of Ireland we appeal to our political leaders to come together in a unified response to the heartbreaking scenes witnessed on our streets last week and renew their commitment to peace, reconciliation and the protection of the most vulnerable.
 
The causes of this most recent outbreak of violence are complex and, in some respects, deep-rooted. Church representatives and other community leaders working on the ground in affected communities have spoken to us of their frustration at seeing another generation of young people risk their lives and their futures because repeated warnings about the need to treat our fragile peace with care went unheeded.
 
The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement has rightly been held up as a beacon of hope for societies in conflict around the world. The significant reduction in violence since 1998 is a major achievement that serves to remind us that the problems we face at present are not insuperable. But that experience also teaches us that these challenges can only be addressed by political leaders coming together with a genuine desire to find solutions and accommodations which meet the legitimate concerns of others as well as their own. The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, and the subsequent agreements that built on its foundations, recognised our interdependence on these islands and the consequent responsibility to respect all identities and foster good relations within Northern Ireland, on the island of Ireland and between the UK and Ireland.
 
We have previously advocated for the need to protect all these relationships in the context of Brexit. The Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol presents many challenges to the flow of trade and also the flow of goodwill across and between these islands. Some of the challenges were foreseeable and have been planned for and mitigated (at least in part). The political outcomes of the Protocol are more difficult to address because they are tied in with very big issues of world trade and sovereignty. The only way in which these will be constructively handled, from a Northern Ireland point of view, and with a good chance of a successful outcome, is if the European Union (including the Irish Government) and the Government of the United Kingdom are approached jointly by the entire Northern Ireland Executive advocating for the protection of the common good across the whole of Northern Ireland. Such a joint approach would be difficult to turn down, but to develop it will require a renewed generosity of spirit from political leaders on all sides of our community.
 
Leaders, organisations and communities make mistakes. As Christian leaders we are conscious of the need to acknowledge the failings of leadership from the churches in our ministry to divided communities. In such circumstances there is nothing ignoble in showing genuine sorrow. It is hardly surprising, given the complexities of our relationships at home and abroad, that politicians, political parties and others in leadership make miscalculations. Learning from the consequences of miscalculations is much better than an endless scramble to paper over the cracks.
 
We also have to face the difficult questions about who pays the price for our failings. In the past week we have seen people afraid to leave their homes, others at risk of violence as they go about their work and young people feeling that they have no stake in society or hope for the future. Much good work on the ground has been undermined as tension has risen and confidence has plummeted. It has been horrific to witness the intensity of the violence directed against the PSNI and the extent of the injuries sustained by officers. All of us in Northern Ireland have created a society in which even-handed policing requires the wisdom of Solomon combined with the patience of Job. The PSNI is relentlessly scrutinised by the Policing Board, and other organs of accountability. In that sense the PSNI has a political legitimacy across this community which is enjoyed by few other institutions. It is vital that we address concerns in a way that strengthens our democratic processes rather than undermining them.
 
We are conscious too that churches are only a small part of the wider civic leadership in our society, and that all civic leaders have a responsibility to support our elected representatives as they seek to negotiate difficult compromises and find new accommodations for the common good. At the same time, we have a responsibility to hold them to account, and the persistent levels of socio-economic inequality in the areas worst impacted by violence, over two decades after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, demand more sustained attention and meaningful intervention by political leaders. The Agreement provided for regular and transparent engagement of civic leaders in policy development, but in practice this has been implemented only in a very limited way, and all too often as an emergency response rather than a preventative measure. Churches, together with other civic leaders, are keen to play our part in addressing the root causes of violence and working to ensure all communities here can enjoy the benefits of peace into the future.
 
Please be assured of our continued prayerful support for your leadership at this critical time.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
The Most Revd John McDowell
Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
 
The Most Revd Eamon Martin
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
 
The Rt Revd Dr David Bruce
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The Revd Dr Tom McKnight
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
 
The Very Revd Dr Ivan Patterson
President of the Irish Council of Churches
ENDS
 
Caption:
 
The Church Leaders pictured at their recent meeting in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh. From left: Archbishop John McDowell; the Revd Tom McKnight; the Rt Revd Dr David Bruce; the Very Revd Dr Ivan Patterson; and Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Bishop offers Dioceses’ condolences following death of Duke of Edinburgh

Bishop Andrew has offered condolences to the Royal Family on behalf of the parishioners of Derry and Raphoe following the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh,” Bishop Andrew said.

“As the longest-serving consort in British history, Prince Philip was the most loyal and most steadfast supporter of Her Majesty The Queen. We thank God for the Duke’s selfless service as husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather to our Royal Family, and for his decades of service to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.“I am sure I speak for all the parishioners of our united dioceses of Derry and Raphoe in offering condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family, and in thanking God for the Duke’s life. We keep the Queen and the members of the Royal Family in our prayers at this time of loss.”

Prince Philip died peacefully at Windsor Castle at the age of 99. He was the longest serving consort in British history. The Duke’s death was announced as follows on the Royal Family’s official website:

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.

“Further announcements will made in due course.

“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

The Archbishop of Armagh, Most Rev John McDowell, has also joined in the tributes to the Duke and the offers of condolence to the Royal Family.

“With profound sympathy for Her Majesty the Queen, I wish to express my sincere condolences to her and her whole family on the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh,” the Primate said. “Her Majesty’s sense of loss must be very great after over seventy years of unbroken love and friendship.

“In remembering and reflecting on a life of service, including as a Naval Officer in the Second World War, we recall his exemplary sense of duty to the nation and Commonwealth over seven decades and, most especially, his love, honour and obedience to Her Majesty.

“Prince Philip accepted and developed a unique role in the life of the United Kingdom, always closely supporting the Queen as her “liege man of life and limb” and continuing to serve in an active public life which continued long after many would have sought to lay aside a heavy burden of public service. My prayers will be with the Royal Family in the days to come.”

“Rioting and destruction are never the answer” say Church of Ireland bishops in Northern Ireland

The following is a statement from the Church of Ireland bishops in Northern Ireland following recent disturbances in Northern Ireland.
 
The violence which has been happening in parts of Northern Ireland over the past week is wrong and should stop immediately. People may feel aggrieved at things which have happened in the political sphere, recently, but that is where any grievances should be addressed – in the political arena – and any response to these grievances should remain constitutional and legal.
It is never acceptable for anyone to attack police officers with petrol bombs, stones and fireworks, and to risk causing them serious injury or worse. The PSNI do an incredibly difficult job and deserve our support. People may have criticisms of policing but there is a forum for this, and any criticisms should always be expressed respectfully.
There may be lifelong consequences, too, for some of the younger people involved in the past week’s disturbances, who could end up with prison sentences, criminal records or life-changing injuries. We urge them not to become involved in rioting and not to do anything which they might regret for the rest of their lives.
Rioting and destruction are never the answer. They destroy neighbourhoods and divide our community.
It is ironic that the recent trouble should have occurred during Holy Week and Easter, such a special time in the Christian calendar. Easter is normally an occasion when we are reminded of the possibility of hope through Christ’s resurrection and when we, as God’s people, are challenged to work towards a better and more hopeful future. It is incumbent on all of us to choose our words and actions carefully – at all times – and to do and say nothing which would jeopardise peace or upset the fragile equilibrium on which our political system depends.
+ John Armagh
+ Andrew Derry and Raphoe
+ David Down and Dromore
+ George Connor

Royal Maundy honour for Diocesan stalwarts

Two members of the Church of Ireland from the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe have been honoured by The Queen with Maundy Gifts this year in recognition of their service to the church and the local community. The recipients – Mrs Avril McNee, a stalwart of the Diocesan Mothers’ Union branch, and Diocesan Reader Mr Albert Moore – received their gifts by post rather than in person, this week, because of COVID-19 restrictions.

 

The Royal Maundy Service is usually one of the most colourful events in the royal calendar and is often attended by other members of the Royal Family, as well as Yeomen of the Queen’s Bodyguard.

 

Royal Maundy, which falls on the Thursday before Easter, is one of the most ancient ceremonies retained in the Church of England and commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The name comes from the Latin word ‘mandatum’, which means ‘command’ and refers to Jesus’s instruction to his apostles to ‘Love one another’.

 

Traditionally the Queen marks the occasion by offering ‘alms’ – commemorative coins – to retired pensioners who have been recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations. The coins bear the portrait designed for Her Majesty’s coronation in 1953. Most years there are two recipients – one male and one female – for each year of the monarch’s life.

 

Each recipient is given two small leather purses by The Queen, one red and one white. The first contains a small amount of ordinary coinage which symbolises the Sovereign’s gift for food and clothing. The second purse contains Maundy coins up to the value of the Sovereign’s age. The coins are legal tender but recipients normally prefer to retain them as a keepsake.

Innisrush parishioners plan online ‘car boot auction’

The intrepid parishioners of Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower are pressing ahead with an online car boot auction later this month in aid of Innisrush Parish Church. Around 200 items will be available to view between Wednesday 7th April and Saturday 17th April.

A catalogue will be available from Wednesday 7th April. To acquire one, please WhatsApp 07703442451 or 07817968357, or send a Facebook message to https://www.facebook.com/kilreatamlaghtocrillyupperlower

Primate regrets Westminster intervention in NI abortion debate

Statement by the Archbishop of Armagh

The Most Revd John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has issued the following statement:

‘It is a matter of regret that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland intends to seek powers from Parliament to give direction to the Department of Health in Northern Ireland around what is clearly a devolved matter. There may have been an element of justification for seeking powers of this sort when the Northern Ireland Assembly was not functioning, but such justification manifestly does not apply now.

‘This comes at a time when a vast number of Statutory Instruments (particularly in relation to the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol) receive minimal or no scrutiny in any form by the Assembly and can only heighten the sense of a democratic deficit around that issue, and do further harm to the sense of the fairness and effectiveness of devolved government.

‘I hope that the Secretary of State will bear this in mind when weighing up the best course of action and instead encourage the Assembly to find a constructive way forward.’

 

Christians respond to sectarianism and paramilitary violence

Christians from a wide range of denominational backgrounds will together be praying and acting to raise awareness about sectarian and paramilitary violence.

 

On each of the 50 days between Easter Monday (5th April 2021) and Pentecost Sunday (23rd May 2021), #couragepentecost will share an image and courageous action that can be taken in the face of sectarianism and paramilitary violence. Each action is invitational rather than aspirational, seeking to equip and encourage individuals to consider and deepen their own journeys of courage towards reconciliation.

 

#couragepentecost emerged from a small group of people from a diverse group of Christian faith traditions. In some communities, paramilitary attacks, sectarian abuse and community fracture are still the brutal legacy of our conflict. Our churches have demonstrated profound acts of courage over the years. But often, our responses to this violence have been characterised by silence.

 

The organisers encourage everyone across Northern Ireland to get involved. The Leader of The Corrymeela Community, Rev. Dr. Alex Wimberly said: “Courage Pentecost is for all of us – not just the heroic and famous few. We can all contribute to a more reconciled society. These contributions could be anything from a private act of prayer to a public act of witness”.

 

Father Martin Magill added: “Courage Pentecost seeks to create a sustaining solidarity within which we can carry out acts of courage together – supporting, inspiring and challenging one another. Together we can go on a shared pilgrimage, with both planned and spontaneous acts of courage that respond to political tension and ongoing community violence”.

 

Nicola Brady, the General Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches said of the project: “#couragepentecost provides an important opportunity to reflect on what it means for Christians to be salt and light to our wounded community, living out our call to be peacemakers in a spirit of solidarity and partnership with others”.

 

The suggested acts of courage will be shared on the Courage Pentecost website as well as through social media channels. The website offers a mailing list so people can sign up in advance to receive the daily calls to action.

www.couragepentecost.com

 

In-person worship to resume in Northern Ireland from Good Friday

The Church of Ireland bishops have agreed that churches in Northern Ireland can resume in-person worship from Good Friday, 2nd April. Attendances will continue to be limited, for the time being, because of the need for social distancing and congregations will have to wear face coverings. The bishops say their decision is “permissive rather than instructive” and the return to in-person gatherings in church should be cautious and careful.
The decision means that in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, churches in one jurisdiction will be free to resume in-person worship from Good Friday, whereas those on the other side of the border will have to remain closed to congregations. The reason for the disparity is that in the Republic – where the vaccine roll-out has been slower – the decision to close churches was made by the government whereas, in Northern Ireland, the suspension of services was undertaken voluntarily by the Churches.
Where Church of Ireland churches do choose to resume in-person worship, parish officers must carry out a risk assessment and ensure that good mitigation is in place. Those churches which choose not to ‘re-open’ at Easter, and which prefer to continue with online and/or drive-in services for the time being, are free to do so.
The Bishops’ statement is printed in full below.
STATEMENT FROM THE CHURCH OF IRELAND BISHOPS IN NORTHERN IRELAND
ST PATRICK’S DAY 2021
Last year on St Patrick’s Day, advice was issued to all our clergy with the unprecedented instruction that in the light of evolving Government advice, until further notice, all Sunday and midweek services should be suspended, and all Parish organisations and activities should cease. At that time, we had little knowledge of Covid-19 nor could we have imagined the devastating impact it would have upon the world, our country and on individual lives. We continue to remember in our prayers the sick, the bereaved, the isolated and fearful and also to give thanks to God for the courageous and sacrificial actions of our health care workers who have worked tirelessly in our hospitals and wider community to care for all whom the virus has impacted upon most directly.
A difficult year has passed, and a hard road has been travelled but we have reached a new junction. In-person gatherings for worship and Parish organisations have been voluntarily suspended since early in January 2021, but we have decided that the time has now come for a cautious and careful return to in person church services from Good Friday (2nd April 2021). This news will be warmly welcomed but is simply permissive rather than instructive. Some may wish to continue online and/or drive-in services for the time being due to their own local situation. From 1st April outdoor gatherings in a public space will allow for 10 people from 2 households to meet up. This therefore means that customary Easter Dawn services cannot take place this year in their normal form. Parish activities and meetings also remain suspended in the interim, but meetings of General Vestry can take place at the close of Sunday worship as part of an in-person gathering.
No changes have been made to the operation of church buildings as places of worship. Congregation numbers will continue for the time being to be limited according to 2 metre social distancing seating capacity. Parish officers must carry out a risk assessment and ensure that good mitigation is in place and that face coverings are worn by congregation members on their arrival and exit from the church building and throughout services. We all need to play our part in preventing any further transmission of Covid-19 within the community. Marriages and funerals will continue to take place in line with the current restrictions.
We note that the same position of a cautious return to in-person worship at Easter time has been adopted by the Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church and Roman Catholic Church and welcome the co-operation and strong working relationship between the churches. The message of Easter is one of Hope. From the cross of Calvary to the empty tomb, from death to new life. Echoing the words of the First Minister yesterday, we would encourage everyone to reflect on the road we together have travelled and to continue to pray this Easter for recovery from the pandemic, healing, peace, and a renewed hope. As we journey onwards, we are mindful that we still have further to travel, but we do so trusting in our crucified and risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
+John Armagh
+Andrew Derry and Raphoe
+David Down and Dromore
+George Connor

Joint statement on St Patrick’s Day by Ireland’s main Church leaders

The leaders of Ireland’s main churches have come together to issue a message on St Patrick’s Day that reflects on the 1921 centenaries and contains an invitation to wider civic society for further dialogue.

 

Entitled ‘In Christ We Journey Together’ – the theme chosen by the Church Leaders Group (Ireland) for their shared reflection on the centenaries – they recognise that some may struggle with idea of a shared history of the centenaries. Together, however, they explore how the Christian faith and Christian social ethics can contribute to the healing of relationships and offer a hopeful vision for the future.

 

In their Joint Statement, which they also filmed as a video message at Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh, the Church Leaders welcome the progress that has been made through the peace process in building relationships of mutual respect and trust across these islands. While acknowledging that there is much work still to do, they set out a vision for a society where different identities in a pluralist public square can be valued.

 

Reflecting together, the Church Leaders placed particular emphasis on the interconnectedness of the people of the UK and Ireland, saying ‘What is undeniable … is the reality that we have to live in a shared space on these islands, and to make them a place of belonging and welcome for all’. They have chosen to issue their message on St Patrick’s Day to embrace the way this former slave, who embodied that interconnectedness, brought Christianity to Ireland some 1,500 years ago. In this context, a single century is but a brief moment in time, but the Church Leaders note that significant anniversaries can provide a valuable opportunity to reflect on our history and explore what can be learned for today.

 

The reflection is informed by principles of ethical remembering, ‘In our approach to the past we have a moral responsibility to acknowledge the corrosive impact of violence and words that can lead to violence’, the Church leaders said. They also recognise that there is a need to face difficult truths about failings in their churches’ own leadership in the work of peace and reconciliation. Regarding the role of the churches, they said, ‘We have often been captive churches; not captive to the Word of God, but to the idols of state and nation.’

 

The Church Leaders are sharing this message today as an invitation to dialogue. They have planned a series of engagements for this year which will include opportunities for conversation and reflection — as churches, as well as with political and civic leaders — and other events to mark the centenaries.

 

The Church Leaders’ Statement in full is as follows:

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, sharing in the grace of his redemption, and in the Father’s unshakeable love for his creation, we have been reflecting together on the events of 1921 on this island. We wish to share some of our thoughts as we continue these conversations and as we journey together through the year.

 

Every generation of leaders, civil and political, is called to make choices about the structures that govern our life in community, now and in the future, in circumstances that will always be less than ideal. Significant anniversaries provide an opportunity to reflect on our trajectory, exploring what can be learned for today through a re–examination of the contrasting and intertwined narratives of conflict and compromise that surround these pivotal points in our history.

 

Some may struggle with the concept of a shared history when it comes to the centenary of the partition of Ireland, the establishment of Northern Ireland and the resulting reconfiguration of British–Irish relationships. What is undeniable, however, is the reality that we have to live in a shared space on these islands, and to make them a place of belonging and welcome for all. In our approach to the past we have a moral responsibility to acknowledge the corrosive impact of violence and words that can lead to violence, and a duty of care to those still living with the trauma of its aftermath.

 

There are insights from Christian social ethics that may offer a helpful perspective, alongside others, as we seek to navigate our contested past in a way that will contribute to healing of relationships in the present and a hopeful vision for the future. Christ’s teaching, ministry and sacrifice were offered in the context of a society that was politically divided, wounded by conflict and injustice. His call to ‘render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things of God’ (Mark 12:17) conveyed the reassurance that beneath these societal fractures lay a deeper source of connection because all things belong to God.

 

Jesus lived out this message of hope by repeatedly and intentionally crossing social boundaries to affirm the dignity of those who had been marginalised or excluded by his own people and by society. In these encounters, as exemplified in the meeting with the Woman of Samaria (John 4:1–42), we see that Christ does not seek to minimise differences, but rather to establish connection through gracious listening, replacing exclusion and shame with the hope of new beginnings.

 

We have an opportunity, in marking these events from our past, to be intentional in creating the spaces for encounter with those who are different from us, and those who may feel marginalised in the narratives that have shaped our community identity. This will require us to face difficult truths about failings in our own leadership in the work of peace and reconciliation. As Christian churches we acknowledge and lament the times that we failed to bring to a fearful and divided society that message of the deeper connection that binds us, despite our different identities, as children of God, made in His image and likeness. We have often been captive churches; not captive to the Word of God, but to the idols of state and nation.

 

We find inspiration and encouragement in the progress that has been made through our peace process in building relationships of mutual respect and trust across these islands. These relationships are often tested, and will at times be found wanting, but our communities have also demonstrated great resilience, solidarity and compassion, evident most recently in the response to Covid–19.

 

There has been considerable progress too in addressing unjust structures that excluded people and unfairly limited their life chances. The power of institutions has diminished, leading to greater accountability for those in leadership. This helps create an environment where we can value our different identities in a pluralist public square, conscious of both our rights and responsibilities. Yet there is much work still to do. With so much of our lives now being lived in the digital space there can be a temptation to retreat into spaces where our definition of community is limited to those who agree with us. This leads to an increasingly fragmented society in which too many people fall through the cracks.

 

Churches, alongside other civic leaders, have a role to play in providing spaces outside political structures that give expression to our inter–connectedness and shared concern for the common good. It is our hope that shared reflection on our past will support and strengthen this engagement, inspiring us to renew our commitment to the work of building peace for the future. As the Apostle Paul said, “So then let us pursue the things that make for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19).

 

The Rt Revd Dr David Bruce

Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

The Most Revd John McDowell

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of All Ireland

The Revd Dr Thomas McKnight

President of the Methodist Church in Ireland

The Most Revd Eamon Martin

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of All Ireland

The Very Rev Dr Ivan Patterson

President of the Irish Council of Churches

 

 

Let’s Journey to the Cross – Jesus walks on water’

Let’s Journey to the Cross – Jesus Walks on Water – Matthew 14:22-34 (A reflection by our Diocesan Children’s Officer, Kirsty McCartney).
 
Last week, we thought about going to a quiet place to pray. At the start of our story this week Jesus again went off to a quiet place to pray. He had had a very busy day teaching and feeding lots of people. The disciples were bound to be tired as well, so Jesus told them to go on ahead to the other side of the lake on the boat. The disciples did what they were told, but as they were sailing the wind began to howl, the waves grew larger, and the boat was being tossed all over the place. The disciples would have been terrified. The next thing they knew was that someone was walking towards them – walking on the water towards the boat. The scared and tired disciples thought this was a ghost and this made them even more scared! As the figure came towards them it turned out to be Jesus – not a ghost! The disciples cried out in fear. Jesus heard them and told them not to be afraid – ‘Be brave! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’
Peter decided to be brave – he said to Jesus ‘if it is [you], tell me to come to you on the water.’ Jesus answered with one word – ‘Come.’ Peter stepped out of the boat and was able to walk to Jesus. Not only did the disciples see Jesus walk on water, but now they were seeing Peter do the same. I can just imagine them all being shocked and amazed in the boat as they watch this happening in front of them.
Peter was still walking, but then he realized what was happening – he saw the waves crashing, and felt the wind blowing. He got distracted and took his eyes off Jesus, he was afraid and began to sink. The first thing he did was cry out to Jesus to save him. Without hesitation Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter. Jesus had one question for Peter ‘Why did you doubt me?’
After this Peter and Jesus both got into the boat and the wind died down. All who in the boat were amazed and worshipped Jesus – ‘You really are the Son of God!’
 
Jesus made two journeys in this passage: he journeyed to a quiet place to be with God, but he also went to be with his disciples when they needed Him. They were in a boat, in a storm and were terrified. Jesus went to them, told them not to be afraid and to have courage. When he got into the boat with them the winds calmed. Jesus not only intentionally went to the disciples when they needed help but showed Peter what he could do when he was brave and showed what can happen if we get distracted and take our eyes off Jesus. We need to be brave and keep our eyes on Jesus.
 
This week’s activity is to make a boat and see if it can float! Makes some waves and wind effects and think of Jesus coming to the disciples when they needed help. Thank God for helping you as well.
 
A Prayer for Let’s Journey to the Cross (Linda Hughes)
 
Lord, as we travel through this season, we are aware that Lent can be a difficult time.
We like to do things in our own time and find it hard to be disciplined. Forgive us when we fail to do the right thing or when we find that we are eager to receive your love and forgiveness but are reluctant to return them back.
As we travel through Lent may we be encouraged to open our hearts and listen for your voice so we can discover what you want us to do and trust in your unconditional and everlasting love for us.
Amen.