a devotional guide for the month of july rest, retreat ... understanding, will guard your hearts and
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A Devotional guide for the month of July – Rest, Retreat, Renewal.
Summer in Canada is traditionally a time when we rest from regular activities. Even in the church, meetings stop and regular gatherings cease. Summer is a season for reflection, for appreciating nature and rekindling relationships. Below is a devotional guide for the month of July. It includes simple morning and evening prayers along with a daily scripture for reflection. The prayers and photographs have been offered to us from Rev. Kristine O’Brien. Kristine is a gifted preacher and the executive director of Crieff Hills Conference and Retreat Centre. Crieff Hills is owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The property (250 acres) is located near Guelph. It was gifted to the denomination in 1950, along with funds to maintain it, from the estate of Colonel John Bain MacLean. Col. MacLean was the founder of MacLean’s magazine, the Financial Post and Maclean-Hunter publishers. MacLean, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was born and raised in the small village of Crieff. He returned to the area as an adult and over a few years, created an industrious farm with a dairy herd, pigs, grain fields, orchards and about 100 acres of reforested land. His estate, known as Crieff Hills Farm, was famous for its beautiful landscape and gardens. In the mid 1970’s the Presbyterian Church in Canada began to develop the land as a retreat facility, gradually adding buildings as demand increased.
Today, Crieff Hills is open all year long, welcoming individuals and groups of up to a hundred people. This quiet place has an important mission in today’s busy world, providing a warm welcome and an opportunity for people from all walks of life to connect with the Divine and find renewal. We remember Rev. Kristine O’Brien in our prayers this month, knowing that Covid 19 has posed unique challenges to this important ministry within our denomination.
Prayers for the Morning
As the light of dawn awakens earth’s creatures
And stirs into song the birds of the morning
So may I be brought to life this day.
Rising to see the light
To hear the wind
To smell the fragrance and what grows from the ground
To taste its fruit
And touch its textures
So may my inner senses be awakened to you. Amen.
--J Philip Newell, Celtic Benediction
Sunrise at Crieff Hills Retreat Centre
Morning Prayers continued…
O God our Creator,
Your kindness has brought us
The gift of a new morning.
Help us to leave yesterday,
And not covet tomorrow
But to accept the uniqueness of today.
By your love
Celebrated in your Word,
Seen in your Son,
Brought near by your Spirit,
Take from us what we need to carry no longer,
So that we may be free again
To choose to serve
and to be served by each other.
--A Wee Worship Book, Wild Goose Worship Group
Oh Lord Jesus
work in us what you want of us,
For you are indeed the true gardener
at once, maker and tiller
and keeper of your garden
you who plant with the word,
water with the spirit
and give your increase
with your power.
--Cisterician Guerric of Igny 12th century
Summer’s glory, Crieff Hills
Morning Prayers continued….
Lord, open unto me,
Open unto me—light for my darkness.
Open unto me—courage for my fear.
Open unto me—hope for my despair.
Open unto me—peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me—joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me—strength for my weakness.
Open unto me—wisdom for my confusion.
Open unto me—forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me—love for my hates.
Open unto me—they Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me!
--Howard Thurman. Book of Common Prayer, Presbyterian Church, USA
Walking labrynth at Crieff
Prayers for the Evening
Keep watch, dear Lord,
with those who work, or watch,
or weep this night,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ;
give rest to the weary,
bless the dying,
soothe the suffering,
pity the afflicted,
shield the joyous;
and all for your love's sake. Amen.
--Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Church of Canada
Evening Prayers (continued)
O Lord, support us all the day long,
until the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over,
and our work done;
then Lord, in your mercy,
grant us safe lodging,
a holy rest and peace at the last. Amen.
--Book of Common Prayer, Presbyterian
Church in Canada
Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God....
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done. Let it be.
The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world
and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
new joys, new possibilities. Amen.
--New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa
A verse a day for the Month of July
During the month of July, we are invited to meditate on one verse of scripture each
day. A well known Baptist clergyman once said “we read the Bible not to know the
Bible, but to know God.” As we read these verses in the month ahead, may these
words of Scripture help us draw closer to God. There are many ways to focus our
hearts on scripture.
We might: create a journal and write the
verse at the top of the page in the morning.
In the evening, we can note any words or
thoughts that have come to us related to
that verse during the day.
We might: set the words to a tune and sing the verse in our heads (or outloud!) as we go about your day. We might: listen to a sermon or meditation based on the verse (try googling one of these names with the assigned scripture reading and see what comes up! Fred Craddock, Barbara Brown Taylor, Rachel Held Evans, Tom Long, Will Willimon, or Susan Sparks. They are all accomplished
preachers who might challenge us as we reflect on these passages) We might: sit quietly and read the scripture verse several times slowly and carefully. Think about what words jump out. What words raise questions. We might: turn the verse into a prayer. We might: read several different translations of the same verse. (check out: www.biblegateway.com for a great online Bible that offers all kinds of translations.) In the month ahead, may God’s word be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.
A Verse a Day
June 27th 1st John 4:8 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with
punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
June 28th Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will
strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
June 29th Matthew 6:21
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
June 30th Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
July 1st Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of
fools suffers harm.
July 2nd Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof
July 3rd Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
July 4th Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge
July 5th 1st Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a
multitude of sins.
July 6th Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the
everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his
understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he
increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall
exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up
with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
July 7th Exodus 34:21 Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day