I have been a member of All Saints, Normanton for many years and I felt that I am strong in my faith and obedient to God, reading my bible and praying each day.
Our Curate, Phil, approached me and my husband Fred, of 45 years, one Sunday morning in church and asked us if we would like to join the Community of All Saints initiative that Bishop Tony was starting on the 1st November 2016. Phil told us that he was trying to get a group from All Saints Normanton to join in with this as he felt that it was a good idea for us all to be part of a wider community of Christians not just being part of our church community, and thought that we would like to be part of the Community.
We declined the offer of going to the commissioning service at Wakefield Cathedral as we tend not to go out on a night these days, but encouraged by Phil I decided that I would join Alan our vicar and Phil in church each morning for Morning Prayer.
Walking up to church for 8 am on a cold November morning isn’t much fun and I did question my sanity at times, but I soon came to relish the peace and rhythm that I found through doing morning prayers each day.
I soon realised how important coming together with other Christians each day to pray and read scripture can be such a support and encouragement to you and realised that I had been missing out on so much by just praying and reading my bible on my own.
Quite often a Bible passage would speak to me as we sat in church and as I walked home I would often pray that I would be given guidance as to why that verse or passage had spoken to me.
Because I walk up to church at the same time each morning I quite often meet the same people and over time we exchanged good mornings and then progressed to a few pleasantries. So I was asked where I went each morning and I was able to share with these people that I was on my way to church for Morning Prayer.
It was not long after this that one of the men I see asked me if I could pray for his sister who was suffering with depression and a long term illness and would not leave her home. The gentleman told me that they had a big family celebration coming up and he real wanted his sister to go to the celebration. His sister had not been out of her house for two years. I told him that I would pray for them that morning at Morning Prayer.
The set Psalm for that morning was Psalm 46,
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
I thought that it was so apt for this lady and her situation and I prayed that she would leave her house and got to the family party. My prayers were answered and she went to the party and enjoyed herself. She broke the chains that were holding her hostage in her own home.
Over the next few week others that I meet asked for prayer, one lady who was facing being made redundant at work asked me to pray for her and I am pleased to say that she kept her job. Each time I was asked to pray for a person I was reminded of Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” and drew comfort from them, little did I know that they would soon have so much meaning for me.
On February 10th 2017 my husband Fred died after a short illness. We had been with each other for 45 years, never apart, always side by side in everything that we did. I am the one now that has drawn comfort from Psalm 46.
The last month has been painful and I miss my Fred but I have the my church family to support me and I know that I am part of a wider Christian family who have compassion in their hearts and will hold me up to the Lord in prayer.
I still go each day to Morning Prayer and our gracious God has given me a new Psalm: It is you who light my lamp; the LORD, my God, lights up my darkness. Psalm 18: 28. I draw strength from this and it helps me through each day to overcome the pain of my loss. But I know that I am privileged to be counted as one of God’s people.
Christine Shaw is a member of All Saints Parish Church Normanton