Not a prayer as such this month, but a focus for our prayers. At the beginning of this year I wrote a prayer for 2020 and chose a
Bible text for us to think and pray about during the year. The text was from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.”
(Jeremiah 29:11-12).

It was written to a community that despaired, that felt that it had no future. The land had been invaded, the city of Jerusalem
destroyed and the Temple, the sign of God’s presence with the people, had been razed to the ground. The people were taken
into exile by the Babylonians.

There was no hope, no future, nothing for God’s people except despair. And into this hopeless situation, Jeremiah was given a
word from God. Although in human terms there is no hope, yet with God there is a good and prosperous future.

Jeremiah called on the exiles to put their faith and trust in God, the God for whom nothing is impossible; the God who is greater
than any problem that they would ever face - greater even than the might of Babylon. By a miracle of grace seventy years later,
the nation came out of exile and returned home, and experienced rebirth and renewal.

In exile they had discovered that God was with them, they were not abandoned, and they learned to trust in God when everything
else that they had previously relied on was taken from them.

In exile they grew closer to God and received a fresh understanding of their call to be God’s people.

Do we, in these strange and distressing days trust that God is with us, that God holds us close to Him? Do we trust that God has
a plan for us, His Church beyond this present crisis? Do we trust that with God our future is secure because nothing in all of
creation is greater that God’s love for us in Christ Jesus? The future that God gives us beyond this present crisis may be different
from the past, it may be different to the future that we once imagined, but if we are in God’s hands we are safe and the future is
secure.

In these days of lockdown I encourage you to read and reflect on Jeremiah’s words. To trust in God and the future that He has for
us and for His Church here in Ecclesfield.

As we pray about that future let us use this time to ask God His plans and His purposes for His Church, St Mary’s. Let us pray for
renewal in our Church and in each of our lives. For if God is with us nothing, not even Covid 19, can stand against us!

God bless,

Tim
Prayer for the Month