From the URC Press Office
Every morning at 6am the United Reformed Church sends out a daily devotion – a reading, reflection and prayer – to more than 1,700 people.
With hundreds more following online and through the dedicated Facebook page, the devotions emphasise the importance of biblical reflection and prayer as a practice of discipleship, and, from 1 December will appear with the Walking the Way: Living the life of Jesus today branding.
The Revd Richard Church, Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship), explains why.
‘Daily Devotions has grown because it is feeding a need within people to learn and grow as followers of Jesus. From Advent, the devotions will appear with the Walking the Way logo to emphasise that they can help each of us develop the habit of finding time to reflect on the Word during our busy lives. In this way, we hope that we can be shaped to reflect the nature and priorities of the One we follow.’
The Daily Devotion’s project creator and co-ordinator – the Revd Andy Braunston, minister of Barrhead, Shawlands and Stewarton URCs in the Synod of Scotland’s Southside Cluster – explains how it all started.
‘I was inspired by the medieval desire to carry holy charms and pictures in everyday life,’ he says. ‘The Reformers took a dim view of this but the desire to connect with the holy in daily life is strong. This, and the need to help my, then, Metropolitan Community Church in Manchester read and understand the Bible better, led me to write Daily Devotions.’
The resources started off as paper booklets but became an email resource allowing for a greater reach.
‘After joining the URC in 2012,’ continued Andy. ‘I recruited writers to pilot a series of devotions in the North Western and Northern Synods and last year the devotions became a denominational resource.’
Andy says he is amazed at the reach of the devotions both within and beyond the URC.
‘I think their popularity is due to the wide range of people, places, and perspectives they reflect,’ he added.
He has amassed more than 100 voluntary writers to show the range of theological approaches within the URC, and believes this both enriches the Devotions and our discipleship.
‘People read the devotions on phones whilst commuting, on tablets in coffee shops, on computers over lunch, or on Facebook on the way home,’ he continued. ‘From Advent they will also go out via a dedicated Twitter feed. That medieval desire for everyday holiness, channelled through the ancient practice of reading and praying through the Bible is delivered with contemporary electronic immediacy.’
Andy enjoys hearing from people who tell him about how the devotions have helped in their discipleship.
‘Those who are unable to get to church find these a great spiritual connection with the URC,’ he explained. ‘Elders and lay preachers use them to create services, and small group discussions are based on them. But the most delightful feedback I have received has been the joy that many people feel over the fact the URC is praying together each day.