“I lift up my eyes” – thoughts from Reverend Anthea Wickens, our Minister

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”

These words come from Psalm 121 in the New International Version of the bible*.  Whenever I am in trouble, this psalm is my “go to text”. It is such a powerful reminder that in all circumstances of this life we are upheld by the Lord our Maker. What a comfort that is!

One thing especially I love about this psalm is the first five words…”I lift up my eyes…” Lifting one’s eyes is such a good start to feeling better about anything and everything. There is plenty going on  that could leave us feeling down, but the Psalmist inspires us to follow his lead and to lift up our eyes. Whenever I read this psalm, I am powerfully reminded of my visits to the small but beautiful Scottish island of Iona. Over the entrance to the Macleod Centre, someone had painted a lovely bright rainbow along with these words “May I never miss a rainbow by looking down.”

Throughout 2020 rainbows have been the symbol of our appreciation for the NHS and also the symbol of hope. In many ways, the current vaccination programme is like a rainbow appearing to signal the end of the storm. This is not the time to despair, rather this is the time to lift up our eyes. So let us lift our eyes up to the hills. Indeed to lift our eyes to the mountains, for the mountains symbolise the presence of the Lord our Maker. He watches over our lives, now and always. As we lift up our eyes, let us also lift our voices in prayer to thank God for all his faithfulness and his goodness.

[*The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV ® Copyright © 1973 1978 1984 2011 by Biblica, Inc TM Used by permission, All rights reserved worldwide. CCLI licence 7643]

Recognising Jesus in the Lockdown

Jesus in the garden, newly risen from the dead,
who stood by weeping Mary, and who heard the words she said
as if you were the gardener, till at last your shepherd’s voice
called her ‘Mary’ and with one word gave her reason to rejoice,
Jesus in the garden, ever new but still the same,
help me recognise you in the speaking of my name.

Jesus on the journey, fellow traveller on the road,
who met two sad disciples, walking with them as you showed
the meaning of the scriptures that predicted you would rise,
but only when you blessed the meal could they believe their eyes.
Jesus on the journey, meet me where my hopes have fled,
help me recognise you in the breaking of the bread.

Jesus in the locked room, breaking through despair and doubt,
who comforted your friends when they had shut the whole world out,
who came again for Thomas, and revealed your hands and side
so that he could touch and know you as alive, though you had died.
Jesus in the locked room, breaking through our self-built bars,
help me recognise you in the touching of your scars.

Jesus on the shoreline, cooking breakfast for your friends,
who offered guilty Peter one more chance to make amends,
who filled a net with fish for him, and helped him to recall
the first catch that convinced him to respond to your first call.
Jesus on the shoreline, know my best, forgive my worst
help me recognise you in the way I met you first.