Self-Discipline, Sin and Selflessness

I was aware that Week 4 of Lent at Sacred Space Prayer Station for Sunday 15th March was symbolized by The Whip as I began the ‘Lent in a Day’ Quiet Day at Cross Hill on Saturday 14th March. To be close to God was the reason I attended the Quiet Day. I needed to get back on track with that. I have drifted away recently and been quite neglectful in my walk with God because of my busyness. The title for the day was Self-Discipline, Sin and Selflessness and I felt that this added to The Whip’s symbolism for me personally.

The following thoughts are prayers that came to me during my reflective meditations from the four sections: What is self-discipline; being out of step with God; Jesus and Forgiveness; Forgiving Others.

Self-Discipline, Sin and Selflessness

I admit a need to find new ways to lose old ways,
to resist distractions that keep me away from you;
To discipline the ‘I’ in sin;
To use self-control;
To take time out for reflection;
To be aware of Christ; and the Holy Trinity.
I hope Lectio Divina offers a fresh start.

If I repent (from temptations I have given in to)
with a broken spirit and contrite, humble heart,
the truth will set me free from my old ways –
if I trust that you have put an end to my sin .
And the grace and mercy of Christ will shower me
with colours of love to create in me a clean heart
and renew a right spirit within me.

Am I healed? Am I forgiven?
How can you forgive the things I’ve done
when I cannot forgive myself?
I keep a record – you do not.
I go fishing in the past – you do not.
That’s how.
And this…
that you sent your son to die for me
on that torturous cross
as an atoning sacrifice for my sin.
How then dare I even ask ‘Am I truly forgiven?’

Help me to accept your forgiveness
so I can be healed enough to forgive myself.
For my dear brother, I pray for healing
from the bitter agony of choices he’s made.
Let his unforgiving heart learn to forgive himself
thus ending the pain of our estrangement –
and setting us both free.


The colour of forgiveness is blue – a healing calm – those who love much, forgive much… and God forgives ALL our sins (much) because he loves ALL of us (much)… no matter what.

He sent His son to die on that torturous cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The Pebble of Betrayal

(always a work in progress)

The Pebble of Betrayal 

She keeps a pebble in her pocket
from a time when she felt
useless, discarded – a cast-off.
Hurling insults at her like stones,
they never questioned the reason
she was leaving such a perfect role.
She picked up their stones, one by one,
and tossed them into the sea.
As the stones sank and the ripples spread,
she simply walked away.
She keeps a pebble in her pocket
and each time she touches it,
she remembers them.

(17 February 2015 at Writers’ Circle, Scarborough)

The poem is deeply connected to my emotions around letting go and moving on, probably due to my impending retirement. A change of theme at the Sacred Space Prayer Station (images below) put things into perspective for me. As two of us arranged our interpretation of ‘The Purse of Betrayal’ for the 1st week of Lent, the tomb (death) and butterfly (resurrection) seemed to mirror my emotions – thus marking the start of my journey through Lent for this year. For me personally, this is about letting go of negativity (death) in order to allow positivity a prominent place in my thoughts (resurrection).

Sacred Space is really important to me. It keeps me focused on Jesus and reminds me that he is only a prayer away… whatever emotions I am experiencing.

(18th February 2015 at Sacred Space, Burniston Methodist Church)

Sacred Space.Purse of BetrayalSS.Purse of Betrayal.3jpgSS.Purse of Betrayal.2jpg



A Prayer for Deaf Awareness/World Hunger

Deaf awareness week (19-25th May)/ World Hunger Day (28th May)

How then shall I pray Lord?

I communicated with someone today who is deaf. I saw the hearing aid so I knew I had to shout – as if my shouting would make him hear me, understand me, somehow.

I moved my lips in such a way that he could lip read my loud words to help him hear me, understand me, somehow.

I exaggerated my hand gestures to sign my words to him – with what little knowledge I have of that (and who knows if he could speak that language too anyway?) – to help him hear me, understand me, somehow.

How will I ever know if he did hear me, understand me? We did not engage in a conversation of two equal halves. When we parted he simply smiled. I smiled too – hoping I had made a connection and that he had heard me, understood me, somehow.

I tried Lord. I really did.

Maybe he was smiling at the foolishness I’d displayed as a hearing person in flapping my hands and mouthing my words at the top of my voice… to no avail… as if I could make him hear me, understand me, somehow. My smile had to be worth something to him though, didn’t it?

And hunger? I’ve known hunger Lord – for an hour… maybe two, for a day… maybe two – but not much longer than that – with my belly rumbling greedily for food as I recover from an illness – or other short-lived fasting period. Sometimes, I even waste food – too picky – eyes bigger than belly with too much on plate to finish my ungrateful meal. I do not know real hunger, like those who have no choice but to suffer starvation – with bellies swollen through lack of food, malnutrition – those who have no means of their own to obtain food enough to survive – let alone waste.

So, tell me Lord… how then shall I pray for you to show me how to act instead, to help them Lord, as they hungrily wait, and I thank you…for my daily bread?

How then shall I pray Lord?

 Julie Fairweather 19.5.2014

It’s getting near that time again…

It’s almost the end of the year and I’ve decided this year to choose a single word to guide me through 2014. This word will have the power to nudge me in the direction of faith, and help me to let go and let God, and so set me free from all that holds me to the past.

To choose my word, I thought about what I needed, what I’m currently working on, and what I need to let go of. As always, my writing project ambitions are lined up for the coming year and January is extremely busy on that front. But I’m organised on that score… I know this because I’ve written a schedule out in my new diary to keep on track with deadlines, etc. Everything is lined up and ready to go and I’m looking forward to it.

An ongoing personal challenge in my life is my failure to combat the sadness associated with a ten year family estrangement, and this year (as last year) no reconciliation has come to fruition, so I already feel overwhelmed at the thought of carrying the heavy burden of hurt with me into 2014, and beyond.

Therefore, the word I have chosen for this exercise is ‘serene’ and to help me with this I am using the Serenity Prayer by St Francis of Assisi and a breathing exercise:


‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

the courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.’


Or to put it another way:


‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.’ (Proverbs 3, 5-6)


Although I have carried the Serenity Prayer in my diary for several years I neglect it sometimes and cause myself a lot of unnecessary pain and anguish. I am hopeful that In 2014, I will simply say the word ‘serene’ and it will prompt me to read it – at least once a day as well as each time I begin to feel maudlin, melancholic or plain old miserable about the situation. After saying the prayer to myself, I can then breathe in the breath of God and breathe out the negativity that’s causing suffering to my soul.

I suppose it’s a sort of New Year’s resolution, which are famous for being broken, but this is one I intend to keep – for the sake of my sanity – and how wonderful it will be for God to hear my soul singing with joy in 2014 instead of lamenting in despair.

With love and prayers to you all for a happy, healthy New Year.

Community Spirit in the Face of Tragedy

The events in relation to this reflective thought for the day may be old news now but with a stretch of imagination you can relate the analogy to anything of a similar nature.


There’s something about a tragedy that can bring a community together in a way that nothing else can. Two separate events recently perfectly highlighted God’s love for humankind in relationship to this.

The first illustration came from the fictional TV drama, Broadchurch, which had us gripped to our seats for its conclusion.  It was revealed to us that the person responsible for the murder of a young boy at the beginning of the series was a member of that close community.  

As part of the eulogy during the boy’s funeral, the vicar relayed to the small island community the message that God loves every one of us, and he talked about how God demonstrated this by sending His only son to pay the price for our sin. He said that we should forgive others as God has forgiven us, and even though forgiveness seems impossible in these circumstances we owe it to God to at least try. The final scene was set on the cliff top, above the beach where the boy’s body had been found, and the mother of the boy, surrounded by family and friends, lit a bonfire as a final farewell to her son. We were left with an image that was not one of tragedy, but one of hope, when householders along the shore line lit bonfires in succession, as a declaration of support for the family.

In the same week as this episode was shown, a second illustration to underline the message of God’s love came via an email. It had been sent as a round robin throughout Scarborough, North Yorkshire, as a response to the fatal stabbing of a teenage boy the previous weekend, the outcome of an alleged pre-organised fight. Nine teenagers had been taken in for questioning in connection with this. The email was sent in the wake of the aftermath, and offered a common place for people to gather to focus prayers of healing and peace for the victim’s family, friends of the murdered teenager, and also to pray for the young people involved. It was an open invitation to the whole town to come along and light a candle on the beach from a set time, near the place where the murder had occurred.

This simple act of lighting a candle (or a bonfire) as an act of prayer can serve as a reassurance of God’s presence in our times of trial. We do need be aware however that God is not responsible for the evil that happens in the world, and that he is there with us to help pick up the pieces when its consequence affects us. This is proven time and again through those He chooses to send as angels in our moments of need. In the two examples here, the angels were in the form of the fictitious vicar (via the writer of the drama series), and the sender of the email.  Both events portrayed hope, fictional and factual, through the action of one person who utilised an opportunity to instigate an idea. An idea that helped to bring a community together through an act of prayer, mutual support, and provide a way forward towards healing and, perhaps eventually, forgiveness. 

Psalm 147 verse 3 tells us that God heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. But God also wants to save us from ourselves and therefore in Colossians 3:13 we are told to ‘bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ (NIV) Sometimes, that means forgiving ourselves too.

Seeking revenge should never be an option

© Julie Fairweather

Are you ready for Christmas yet?

We’re barely into December and already I keep being asked if I’m ‘ready for Christmas?’  I simply smile and, instead of saying what’s really on my mind, respond in the usual way with ‘oh I expect I’ll get caught up in the atmosphere soon enough.’  It’s because I don’t want to put a dampener on anyone’s Christmas preparations that I don’t come right out with it and say Christmas can make people miserable.

There are a lot of lonely people in the world and it is more common than we think to feel like an outsider looking in at Christmas – sometimes within your own family.  It’s probably because the commercial aspect of Christmas highlights the family unit as paramount at this time of year.  As a friend of mine once said, ‘For some, Christmas is a painful time of looking round the family table and being aware of absences, of looking back and remembering happier times.’ (Rev. Geoff Bowell, Scarborough Christian Fellowship).  These absences are not always due to death of loved ones either. They can be attributed to other loss, such as unemployment, homelessness, family estrangement – sometimes of many years duration.  The latter of these is true for me.

I make no apology for baring my soul here because, at the same time, I am hopeful for a solution.  My words are the silent prayers of my heart.  A personal prayer that maybe this year my brother will respond to the Christmas card I send him – thus bringing an end to years of bitter separation.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the build up to Christmas. The buzz of shoppers, carols in the town centre, reindeer parading around Alma Square, buskers rocking round the Christmas trees spreading merriment.  I love the church activities, being part of a church family, meditating the Advent labyrinth, and waiting… for the comfort and joy that celebrating Christ’s birth means.  I hope that one Christmas Day I’ll awake to choirs of angels, surrounded in bright light, singing a chorus in celebration of the second coming of Christ.

Yet I’m also waiting in hope for my prayer to be answered…

I accept God’s love through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, and believe that healing through forgiveness of wrongs (past and present) is a real possibility… for all. I rely on this truth to ensure that Christmas for me is a time to appreciate what I have and not dwell too much on what I don’t have.  I remain grateful for unexpected moments of joy and small acts of kindness that I encounter, which encourages a choir of angels to sing in my heart every day of the year.

I’d like to invite you to pause between your preparations during the Christmas season – when we are often so busy that, when we do find time to talk to God, as soon as we say ‘Amen’ we rush off to the next thing and don’t give God the chance to respond.  Yet, in the smallest gap, God is waiting.  He longs for us to hear His voice in that space.

At the end of this prayer there is no ‘Amen’.  Simply sit in silence and talk to God from your heart… and listen for his voice in the stillness.

Waiting for God

Dear God,

help me to find a silent space.

I say ‘amen’.  Then I think again,
and instead of rushing away
to fill my day with this and that,
I stop. I sit. I wait. I stay
to listen to what you have to say
in-between the tick and tock
of my life’s busy, noisy clock,
and your voice fills the silent space.

Dear God,

help me to be still in the silent space.

I don’t say ‘amen’. I start again
because I don’t want to rush away
to fill my day with this and that.
I want to stop. To sit. To wait. To stay
and listen to what you have to say
in-between the tick and tock
of my life’s busy, noisy clock,
as your voice fills my silent space.

Dear God, help me to listen in the silent space.

Dear God, help me to hear you in sacred silent spaces.


(PS.  I have to ask… are you ready for Christmas yet?)


All text © Julie M. Fairweather 2012 – unless otherwise stated

Big Issue

Some personal thoughts on forgiveness…

 It’s the toughest thing for humans to put into practice.

What if a person had only asked God for forgiveness at the point of their death?  Do you think they will be repenting of their sins after death, one by one, as the feathers are plucked out of their tar?

And what if God asked us – right here, right now – to count up all the feathers in our own tar?  Do you think it would take us an eternity?

 Chosen by Christ               

When You said that you chose me, I knew that it was true.  For only You could have met me here – in this place.  This place where You look upon me and see me as I am, warts and all.  Yet still You write my name in the palm of Your hand, still You choose me.

And You smile at me in this place, here and now, where I am so overwhelmed by Your mercy that all I can do is kneel before Your throne of grace, until my face touches the ground.

I pray and I wait in the sacred silence of Your unconditional embrace, that invites me to remain in Your love.  I know that when it is time You will prepare the way for me.  The way You planned for me before I was born.

(adapted from a published prayer by JMF 2012)

God, who shows you his kindness and who has called you through Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, strengthen you, make you strong, and support you as you suffer for a little while (1 Peter 5 v 10.)   

(© 1995 God’s Word to the Nations)

 And finally…

Imagine God holding a set of scales.  One side is full of unconditional love and the other, unconditional forgiveness.  Both weigh the same and are balanced as separate things.  Bringing them together as a whole is what God means about forgiveness.  It is not just used as a measure for His forgiveness and unconditional love for us; it is also about us forgiving others, others forgiving us and us forgiving ourselves too.


It’s the toughest thing for humans to put into practice.

All text © Julie M. Fairweather 2012 – unless otherwise stated