An Essex Liturgy by Andrew and Keeley Wickham (2015)

Introductory Reflection

I will prepare my heart and my mind to seek God

Firstly, in praise

This is the day that the LORD has made, I will be rejoice and be glad in it!

Then through this request

Hear my voice when I call, LORD
Be merciful to me and answer me
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek (Psalm 27:7-8)



From the overspill of London to the beaches on the eastern coast

The richness and diversity in the county of Essex in which I have been placed

Leads me to reflect on your awesome work in creation

And the salvation that you offer


Bible Reading


The LORD is the great God

The great King above all gods

In his hand are the depths of the earth

And the mountain peaks belong to him

The sea is his, for he made it

And his hands formed the dry land

Come let us bow down in worship

Let us kneel before the LORD our maker

For he is our God

And we are the people of his pasture

The flock under his care (Psalm 95:3-7)




The Thames becomes the sea

Beaches turn to mud flats and saltmarshes

Woodland to rolling hills

The crabs and cockles exposed as the tide ebbs


The seals beside Foulness

Avocet, godwit, grebe and redshank

find refuge at Two-Tree Island

Gulls cry above City Beach


The breadth and beauty of your creation

So close at hand


Bible Reading


Lord, you have been our dwelling place
Throughout all generations
Before the mountains were born
Or you brought forth the whole world
From everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90: 1-2)
Through [Christ] God created everything
In the heavenly realms and on earth
He made the things we can see
And the things we can’t see
Such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world
Everything was created through him and for him (Colossians 1:15-16)




Earthly rulers and their dynasties have risen and fallen

From the Stone Age to the Post-Modern Era

The human story has unfolded

Shaping the boundaries of this county


Conquered by the Romans

Occupied by the Saxons

Defended by the Plantagenets

The artefacts and architecture still stand

As testament to our unending quest for power and legacy


Over these thousands of years of human endeavour

You, God, stand


Bible Reading


The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high…
…He will be the sure foundation for your times
A rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure (Isaiah 33:5-6)




I believe that you are here:

Ever present in our busy towns and quiet villages

Alive in the commuter bustle, school runs

Shopping trips, football matches and traffic jams


I believe that you are here:

Amongst day trippers who explore the seafront

and walk our world-famous pier

Amongst the shrieks of joy and excitement at Adventure Island


Amongst the sailors, surfers, swimmers and fishermen


Alongside families from far away seeking to make their home here


And those whose family history spans generations of life in this county


Watch over our communities

And help us to cherish the diversity and difference within them


Bring peace and prosperity to our homes

Our schools, our offices and our streets


Watch over those who have plenty and those who have nothing

And bless them both




Prayer for issues relevant you



Julie Bentley, who was born and raised in Essex, is the Chief Executive of Girl Guiding and trustee of Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity. As a guest on the long running radio programme ‘Desert Island Discs’ she chose as one of her desert island discs, ‘500 miles’ by Sonny and Cher. This song became the soundtrack for the TV drama ‘Cathy Come Home’, a 1966 play which explored the causes and consequences of homelessness. According to Shelter there are a number of different personal factors that can contribute towards people becoming homeless. Ranging from lack of social support, to debts – especially mortgage or rent arrears. Poor physical and mental health to relationship breakdown, and getting involved in crime at an early age. But it’s not just personal factors there are also social reasons, family breakdown and disputes, sexual and physical abuse in childhood or adolescence, having parents with drug or alcohol problems, and previous experience of family homelessness.

Homelessness is often hidden, no-one really knows how many people are homeless in Southend, just ask the council! But what can we do about it? We can care by not ignoring the problem. The Churches Winter Night Shelter here in Southend seeks to offer a meal and a warm, dry space to sleep during the winter months-why not see if you can help?

As you think on your personal response why not watch a short clip from ‘Cathy Come Home’ and ask yourself ‘what can I do that will make a difference today’?


“500 Miles”

If you miss the train I’m on
Then you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow
Five hundred miles
Five hundred miles
Five hundred miles
Five hundred miles
Five hundred miles
You can hear the whistle blow
Five hundred miles

Not a shirt on my back
Nor a penny to my name
Lord I can’t go home this a way
This a way, this a way,
This a way, this a way
Lord I can’t go home this a way



Concluding Reflections

For this season of my life I have been placed here, in Essex

Amongst natural beauty

The rich legacy of history

And the uncertainties of contemporary culture

God, just as you are righteous in all your ways

And loving toward all that you have made

Enable me to act with clean hands and a pure heart

For the good of all that is around me