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Weekly Letter from Fr David Sherwood

My dear friends

Lockdown gives us more time to think and therefore to pray. Some writers differentiate between preparation for prayer, prayer itself and meditation. To the extent that these are separate they overlap so any difference does not really matter. I would suggest a suitable meditation starts with psalm 136 which has a repeated refrain at the end of each verse. The Authorised Version renders this, referring to God, as “for his mercy endureth for ever.” That is followed in the Book of Common Prayer, but in the Revised Standard Version becomes “for his steadfast love endures for ever” and other modern versions are similar. It is, in effect, a psalm of thanksgiving.

“Mercy” allows for forgiveness of our faults and the word “love” implies this. A useful exercise is to pray your own version of the first half of the verse followed by whichever version of the chorus you prefer, either mercy or love. A sermon I have yet to give you is of my visit to the black-led churches of Bristol who give thanks for those things we too easily take for granted, such as a roof over your head, having a job and getting to work on time. Our list might include those I have just mentioned as well as thanks for family and friends whom we contact through the wonders of science when we are unable to meet because of the restrictions. Your list could easily be a long one.

With my love, Fr David

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