Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Every year at this time, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and, by extension, all Christians and followers of Jesus today:

“That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” – John 17:21

… and invited to pray for the Unity of the Christian Church as a witness to the World of the love of Jesus for them.

My parents were brought up to be hardline protestants who viewed the Roman Catholic church as the arch-enemy, and they were appalled at the idea of ecumenicism, believing it to be some kind of nefarious plot of the devil to “mix truth with error”, and they looked with horror at the spectre of some future “One World Church” with the Pope as head, and government-controlled and sanctioned beliefs.

I’m still a protestant (which essentially means that I do not accept the authority of the Roman Catholic church over the whole church), but I have grown to respect and appreciate much about the Catholic and Orthodox churches. I count many Roman Catholics as my closest friends. I can see beauty and meaning in a lot of the things that my traditions have rejected.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything that I learn though of course.

But actually, ecumenicism isn’t about joining together to throw off doctrine so we can fully agree with each other – I think that, if we did, we would all be poorer, with a wishy-washy, watered down version of the faith that ends up having less power and impact because of it.

No. In fact, we don’t need to agree with each other. We don’t even really need to fully understand each other.

What we do need to do, however, is to love each other.

“By this all men will know that ye are my disciples – that ye love one another.”

Of course, understanding may help, and so Kernow Community is my humble attempt to invite people – Christians and non-Christians – whatever your background or denomination, who are interested in looking at the roots of our faith, to see where we have come from, how we have developed differently over the last 2000 years, and to learn to love and respect each other despite our differences.



Resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be downloaded from Churches Together in Britain & Ireland here.

From the World Council of Churches here.

From the Vatican here.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!” – Psalm 133:1

Divine Mercy

This morning, I completely lost my temper. I was driving a bus-load of people (my children, actually) on a trip, and I lost my way, repeatedly. We may have been given the worst map ever created, but my total lack of a sense of direction probably played a part.

After the 16th* wrong turn, my patience – already wearing thin – completely ran out. There were tears. There was screaming and shouting, swearing and slamming of doors. It was all very Celtic, in fact. (I don’t have red hair for nothing!)

By the end of it, after I had traumatised my children and made myself thoroughly ashamed of my behaviour, we did actually arrive at our destination.

The proverbial ‘devil’ on one shoulder thoroughly condemned me, for being a bad driver, a bad parent, and a bad Christian, not at all qualified to guide anybody else through the disciplines!

Thankfully though, I didn’t need to listen to the voice of the little ‘devil’, as I know that God’s righteousness, perfection, peace and mercy is more than a match for my weakness and failures.

Today in the Roman Catholic calendar it is Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast upon which the sacrament of Confession is encouraged, and forgiveness promised.

In the evangelical tradition with which I am familiar, however, of course there is no sacramental confession to a priest, and we tend not to practice confession at all, but in the letter of St James, there is the admonition to confess our sins to one another:

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James 5:16 (NIV)

So I am confessing my sin and failure and weakness here to you and I ask that you would pray for me, so that I “may be healed” – of my anger and lack of self control (and poor sense of direction!).

The forgiveness that comes after confession makes us righteous, and so our prayers will be all the more effective.

May my Celtic temperament and passion be put to better use!

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever,

(Opens another tab – please bookmark us before you leave!)

*a random number, hopefully 16 is an exaggeration 🙂

Jewish Compline

Compline, that is night or bedtime prayer, is one of the traditional Hours of prayer that I try to pray every day, but I like to switch between different resources including Anglican, Catholic and the specifically Celtic prayer from the Northumbria community amongst others.

I also frequently use prayers from the Jewish Siddur including a lovely short bedtime prayer for children from a British Reformed Jewish prayer book.

The Jewish bedtime liturgy is built around the Shema, Judaism’s central prayer.

The following is a collection of traditional Jewish night prayers and blessings. The psalms 3 and 91 are also traditionally prayed at bedtime.

Jewish Bedtime Prayer

Blessed are You, [oh LORD], our God, Ruler of the universe, who closes my eyes in sleep, my eyelids in slumber.

May it be Your will, [oh LORD], My God and the God of my ancestors, to lie me down in peace and then to raise me up in peace.

Let no disturbing thoughts upset me, no evil dreams nor troubling fantasies.

May my bed be complete and whole in Your sight.

Grant me light so that I do not sleep the sleep of death, for it is You who illumines and enlightens me.

Blessed are You, [oh LORD], whose majesty gives light to the universe.

The Shema

Hear, O Israel, [the LORD], our God, [the LORD], is One.
Blessed be the Name of His Glorious Majesty forever and ever.

You shall love [the LORD] your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you are sitting at home and when you go on a journey, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes. You shall inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The Hashkivenu Prayer

Lie us down, [oh LORD] our God, in peace; and raise us up again, our Ruler, in life.

Spread over us Your Sukkah of shalom, direct us with Your good counsel, and save us for Your own Name’s sake.

Shield us; remove from us every enemy, pestilence, sword, famine, and sorrow.

Remove all adversaries from before us and from behind us, and shelter us in the shadow of Your wings.

For You are our guarding and saving God, yes, a gracious and compassionate God and King.

Guard our going out and our coming in for life and peace, now and always!

Prayer for Protection at Night

In the name of [the LORD] the God of Israel:

May the angel Michael be at my right,
and the angel Gabriel be at my left;
and in front of me the angel Uriel,
and behind me the angel Raphael…
and above my head the Shekhinah.

Amen v Amen, l’olam v’ed
(Amen and Amen, world without end)

    A Note on the Name

Where, in English translations, you see the word Lord in capital letters thus: LORD, it is usually referring to the personal name of God written YHVH (Yodh, hey, vav, hey in Hebrew) and traditionally translated specifically as Jehovah.

The pronounciation Jehovah is now realised to be quite wrong, firstly because the letter ‘J’ is a recent – linguistically speaking – mutation of the ‘Y’ sound (as in the name Jesus, which in most languages retains the original Hebrew ‘Y’ sound from the name Yeshua – elsewhere translated into English as Joshua). The ‘vav’ or ‘v’ sound can also have the ‘w’ sound, and so the version ‘Yahweh’ is now commonly used.*

An additional confusion around the pronounciation is that the Masoretes, who added pronunciation marks to the text, may have substituted the vowel marks for ‘Adonai’ wherever they saw the name YHVH in the text.

The Name has traditionally been purposely covered to avoid taking the Name in vain, and so in Jewish synagogues the word ‘Adonai’ (Lord) is used. Outside the synagogue, even the word ‘Adonai’ is considered too holy to use and so the word ‘HaShem’ (The Name) is spoken instead. Most observant Orthodox Jews will even extend this to the English words God and Lord, omitting the vowel ‘o’, writing the words as ‘G-d’ and ‘L-rd’.

The English translators mostly followed the Jewish tradition, translating the Name as ‘LORD’ except in certain specific places where an actual name was obviously required.

* My personal pronunciation preference for the Name is ‘Yahoveh’, but I do appreciate the reason why the Name was hidden in the way it was and I do think it shouldn’t be carelessly thrown about, and so I use the word ‘LORD’ more frequently.

I have followed the English translators’ custom here, with the word [LORD] in brackets. Please feel free to substitute whichever version of the Name that you feel most comfortable with.

St Patrick’s Breastplate

The prayer of St Patrick is known as St Patrick’s Breastplate because it is a Lorica, a Latin word originally meaning armour, and later referring to the incantation of a prayer written on the breastplate of a medieval knight before he went into battle, the idea linking the two no doubt originating with the apostle Paul’s admonition to wear the ‘breastplate of righteousness’ in Ephesians 6:1.

The first stanza of St Patrick’s Breastplate is well known, but here is the full version in English:

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet ‘well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
gainst the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Happy St Patrick’s Day! May you be blessed by the God whom he knew and loved.


“I arise today
Through the strength of heaven –
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.”

Source unknown (Early Scottish)
Quoted in “The SPCK Book of Christian Prayer”
Published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

It is a lovely big, thick book, with over 450 pages of prayers of various flavours. I haven’t found many specifically Celtic prayers so far, but I have only dipped in to it really. I have it from the library, but I don’t think that a couple of weeks will be quite enough to make the most of this big book, so it is going on my wishlist.

The Northumbrian Office

I love the Northumbrian Office, and this morning I have been watching videos on the history of the community. I thought I would share this one on how the Office was developed, because it is so interesting that their starting part was the Jewish ‘Shema’ and ‘Vahavta’ from Deuteronomy 6,

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

These videos from the Northumbrian community are so encouraging, especially in the way they come across as so natural and normal rather than super-holy saints. It gives me hope that my vision and passion need not be hampered by my ordinariness!


Celtic Night Prayer

The interconnectedness of things often makes me smile, and it is funny the way you sometimes stumble across things in old, familiar places.

Take Root and Write was originally a network encouraging Christian women writers that I was a member of several years ago as an aspiring writer. The company was later sold to a fledgling missionary organisation, focused on witnessing to Jewish people, if I recall correctly.

I came across this page on Take Root’s blog this evening, which quotes from the Northumbrian Community, when I did a search for ‘Celtic Night Prayer’:


I assume it is the same organisation as it has the same logo. I haven’t followed it since the original network closed down, so I can’t recommend it (or otherwise); it seemed to have evolved into a magazine and publishing house at one stage, but judging by some of the broken links and empty pages, it doesn’t look like an active ministry anymore, which is sad. But it’s interesting to note how far and wide the interest in Celtic Christian spirituality reaches, and interesting too to note that somebody else has the twin interest of Jewish Christianity as well, even if they haven’t specifically linked the two together.

The peace of all peace
Be thine this night

In the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit.


Altaring Time

This short article is a useful introduction to daily prayer.


It recommends starting regular prayer times with evening and morning, but it also mentions the references in the Gospels to early believers praying the Lord’s Prayer at fixed hours.

Set prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer, Biblical prayers and psalms and traditional or written prayers are particularly useful when you feel you can’t pray.

There are also links here to Celtic prayers from the communities at Iona and Northumbria.