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Some of you know we have a batch of chicks, I think I have already blogged about them earlier. There are 10 of them and they have gone from tiny little fluff balls to slightly more lanky partially feathered creatures. It only takes a chick about 6 weeks to lose its fluff and get its feathers. I am finding that I have to go around their pen each day and call them by their names - they retain their chick markings but Pippa and Percy are hard to keep up with!

Those of you familiar with the Book of Common Prayer will recognize these words in the title from a prayer in the night service of Compline:

"Be present, O Merciful God, and protect us through the quiet hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world may rest upon thy eternal changelessness."

Change is the order of the season. It is Spring, there are a host of birds singing outside, even as I write. Crocuses and Lenten Roses have appeared. I have peas and lettuces growing in the garden (with plastic and glass nearby, just in case. These would be normal changes, and we are all faced with unprecedented change. We can easily forget to notice God, much as I would lose track of chick names if I did not constantly refer back to them.

God is changeless, but we can see God in many different ways over a lifetime and, even, day to day. God hides in unexpected places. We are called to recognize and name God in our lives every day, in all sorts of times and places. This is especially true now, when the changelessness of God might be truth, but we struggle to understand it.

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My children used to watch a TV show called Dora the Explorer. I have no idea whether it is still around, probably not. When I had small children I thought I would never lost track of children's TV shows, but I did. Anyway, each episode there was a problem which Dora had to fix, all the while avoiding "Sniper", a sneaky fox, intent on disrupting her mission.

To get to where she needed to go Dora has a magic map which lived in her backpack. There was a song which went with finding the map, the words where simple, "Where's the map" repeated a few times to a memorable little tune. In a world in which the words "uncharted territory" are something we hear from all sides, we might find ourselves wanting a magic map. We negotiate all sorts of new things in our lives, but usually there is someone around who has done something which connects - getting married, starting a new job, having a family.

Everyone flying by the seat of their pants is unsettling and, although it is true, I don't think it is helpful to draw direct parallels between the uncharted territory God's people have often entered and this. However, what we can learn from the Biblical experience is that fear breeds anger and anger takes a hold of sanity and good judgement and erodes it.

There is nothing wrong with emotion, with anger and fear and anxiety, those are our human lot. Start reading the Psalms, you will find there every aspect of human experience - including rage, something which we often soften by missing out verses which mention a belief in God's vengeful action. Psalm 58, for example, has some horrible requests of God, although 58:8 makes me smile,

"Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;"

My point is having and appropriately expressing our emotions, allowing our inner voice is important. Dora always saw Sniper, acknowledged him but then figured out a way to move on with her mission. I will end with Psalm 27:1 - the rest of the Psalm is linked here.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation;    whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life;    of whom shall I be afraid?"

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It is a well known fact that people "find religion" in times of crisis. I have been thinking about that after a Facebook post which asked whether current events are what it would take to bring the nation back to God. I kinda wondered what that meant. What does it mean to be brought back to God?

Lent is, of course, about being brought back to God. We work on our return. This year, the unexpected turn of events, is leading us to a different sort of journey. It will be a journey which relies on less externals and more of the basics of life. Perhaps that is how we can view returning to God, as finding the basics of life.

So, what are you praying for? No doubt all of us wish for some sort of miracle, for the safety of our loved ones, for the health of our elders.... the list is long. But that is the point, whilst it is real, whilst we should hold these things before God, we have to be careful that our prayer does not become a laundry list of demands. I have pasted two scenes from the movie "Bruce Almighty" below.

In the first Bruce is dealing with the laundry list of prayers as he takes on the responsibility for being God. In the second, Morgan Freeman invites him to "be the miracle". You might want to watch them if you have time. This is the point of prayer, to learn to be the miracle as well as to ask for the miracle. Prayer pulls us in ever closer to the heart of God and, in doing so, teaches us to be people of God. Yes, we are called to pray for others and for our world but we are always, always called to conversation with God so that our difficult questions can rest, at least somewhat, in arms which have cradled us from before our birth.

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