CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | February 2024 EDITION
What’s in your Bucket? Summer Prayer Prompt
CURRENT COMMUNITY STORIES
February 2024 Prayer Prompt
AMEN TO GENEROSITY & SACRIFICE
London International Students Partners with SpacesShared
Making Sharing a Home Safe and Simple
National March For Life 2024 - “I Will Never Forget You”
One in Two
BookMark - The Great Disappearance: 31 Ways to be Rapture Ready (BOOK REVIEW)
A Love Like No Other
“Take Me For A Spin”
The Top 20 Christian Music Albums for February 2024
Are You Who You Say You Are?
3 Values That Can Keep You Real
Reel Review - Turning Red (MOVIE REVIEW)

Published July 2023


Provided by CCNL (Christian Churches Network of London
Photo: Jeff Kingma – Unsplash

As warm weather finally comes to south-western Ontario this summer, many of you may visit a lake for a day full of sand and sunshine, gaze at stars, catch a baseball game, take a road trip, go fishing, pick berries, splash at a waterpark, camp in a provincial park, or hike in the woods. If you have ever been at the beach with children building sandcastles, you have probably experienced filling up a pail with water again and again as waves come and go, water gets spilled, absorbed in the sand or poured gleefully on someone sleeping peacefully…and then you fill up the bucket again!

God, loving father, creator, Spirit alive in us – we ask you to use this image of a bucket as a good reminder to pray together in coming months! The ‘bucket’ analogy is often used in terms of self-care. Imagine that you are a bucket that is full of water. The bucket represents all of our time, energy, focus and responsibilities. All day long, we scoop water metaphorically out of the bucket for each person that we help or each responsibility we take care of. For some, our bucket is not very full to start with due to life’s circumstances, health, relationships, challenges. At end of day, how much water is left? For many, the answer would be that the bucket is emptied, run dry, nothing left for ourselves – depleted physically, emotionally, spiritually. Teach us to consciously follow your example Jesus - to practice daily filling buckets - both for ourselves and for the people in our lives. May we pause to reflect the gospels – you Jesus consistently made time to get away from the crowds. Christ, God present among us, intentionally sought out peace and rest in order to be ready to be poured out again. Burnout is a huge growing challenge in many churches, workplaces and families. Too often, we secretly take pride in our busyness, our lengthy checklists, our full schedules, our stream of texts that validate our importance or worth, even in the summertime packed with activities. They all can take a deep toll on our physical and emotional health, our compassion, our relationships, our anxiety levels, our ability to serve. Teach us to value “being still” in your presence regularly - pray, listen, learn – to care well for our inner lives. Psalms 34:8 (NIV) says: “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

God help us to teach children well this summer… to discover ways that they too can fill their emotional, social and spiritual buckets, as mental health is critically important in their formative years, setting patterns for life. Great kids books are written about this topic. “How full is your bucket?” is one…Watch this simple video of it – a great summer activity for young and old alike https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOJy8-OC0iU. Kids version of filling their “bucket” to start conversations about what good things kids can do to fill their bucket and help fill those around them.

We pray too for all the amazing summer day camps at many churches, and for sleepover camps, for conversations on road trips and visits with family and friends, times together around campfires. In all these spaces, may words of abundant life in you God be spoken into young lives. May examples of your deep kindness and love be modelled in experiences both with committed volunteers and with extended family interactions. May kids become more curious about you God and desire to know more and more.

God, help us to be careful not to only focus only on our own needs and desires this summer, but to consider others. You have likely heard the term “bucket list’ used in conversations. A well-known movie “The Bucket List” in 2007 starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two terminally ill men who went on a road trip to fulfill a to-do list of things before they “kicked the bucket”. In our culture today, this kind of “bucket list” now seems to have morphed into a privileged wish list of great aspirations – faraway places we want to go, big experiences we think we deserve, or awesome achievements we pursue – too easily becoming selfish renditions of privilege, bragging rights, or markers of success and status. Make us conscious God that even in the movie, what the two characters discovered was that their growing friendship and sacrifice for each other and greater appreciation for life were truly the greater blessings they had been given.

Canadian author Ann Voskamp talks about the meaninglessness of creating exotic bucket lists when God calls us as believers to empty our buckets on others by showering them with love and good deeds. In her book The Broken Way: a daring path into the abundant life, she suggests we think bigger. “What if,” she writes, “living the abundant life isn’t about having better stories to share but about living a story that lets others live better?” May that be our prayer, to live our lives in a way that lets others live better.

God help us remember those whose buckets are far too often empty. We recognize the summer months are brutal for those who are homeless, living on the streets, living alone, in unrelenting heat. There are practical ways we each can help. Agencies like Sanctuary London, Salvation Army, Ark Aid, Missions Services, 519Pursuit, London Cares and many church outreach teams would all appreciate items like these to distribute: Non-perishable items like granola bars, nut mixes or nutritious snack treats (without chocolate – it’s messy when it is hot); refillable water bottles or bottles of water; sunscreen protection; juice boxes; summer hats – for men, women, and children; lighter cotton socks (feet get hot and sweaty); small bags of pet treats (some have dogs); freezable fruit icicles for those hot days; cotton t-shirts or underwear of all sizes and ages (laundries are scarce); small bottles of shampoos, soaps, washcloths and deodorants. Maybe your small group, neighbours, workplaces, or some friends or family might want to collectively empty your buckets by filling a bucket for another. Give to the food bank. Share a conversation. Offer dignity and compassion. Great summer activities. And keep praying daily for housing solutions being planned to move into action sooner. Priceless.

May the words of this worship song resound in our heads and hearts this summer. “Because Your goodness is running after us”...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f4MUUMWMV4 and your goodness can fill our buckets daily and then spill out in remarkable ways to those around us. As we pray, meditate on Jesus’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4: “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?” Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” This summer, may we remember Jesus’ words “Freely, you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8). Let’s pray that our buckets will be filled with the living water of Jesus. Slow down and acknowledge your need of Him today….and everyday.

AMEN...Thank you God.

**As a postscript ... a special note of appreciation to all the churches and organizations around the city who opened their doors during the week of prayer in May…and thanks to all those who joined together to pray. Charles Finney, a Presbyterian minister in the 1800’s said “Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other's hearts in prayer”. May that be as true today in London Ontario as it was over 200 years ago… online, in living rooms, in prayer groups, in places of worship, in parks and even over a cup of coffee.