Trinity Sunday

Sermon: 16th Sunday after Trinity
(Philippians 2:1-13 & Matthew 21:23-32)

Through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word Jesus Christ our Savour, Amen.

I wonder how many of us can recall the time when we first came to faith or if you were brought up in church, the time when you yourself agreed to continue attending church and practicing the Christian faith for you own reasons, not for a parent or carer. As a child who was brought up in the Methodist and Anglican Church, I remember attending Sunday school and learning about the Bible, I remember taking part in worship through hymns and joining in the Lord’s Prayer. Regular Sunday attendance varied, we had phases where my mum, sister and I went week in week out, and other times when our attendance was as and when able, in other words Church was not top of the Sunday Morning to do list. But I vaguely remember that there was one Sunday around the age of 11 – 13 that given the choice whether to go to church one morning or stay at home, my decision was to go to church and sit in the service. I remember following the words, joining in a whole service and feeling something that can only be described as a warm and fulfilling feeling with an eagerness to do it all again and explore more. From here on in, I attended almost every Sunday, be wrong if I said every, as even now I am allowed a little weekend rest here and there, and I became part of the worshipping congregation, and remained there till I went to college for ordination training.

My acknowledgment of faith was as a result of something I felt, yours may be the same but it may also be as a result of seeing or hearing something or someone different. Whatever your story I wonder if the following resonates with you in any way – After this day, as I began to explore, learn more and bring together my faith with everyday life I soon lost this first initial feeling of excitement and fulfilment and found times of questioning, confusion, unanswered questions, challenge from others, and even times of doubt, and today this same roller-coaster still journeys on.

Our Bible readings today talks about these familiar experiences of faith, but they suggest it’s how we respond to them that matters, suggesting that doubts and challenges be turned into an opportunity of exploration, questioning and growth which then impacts on our lives and the giving of ourselves on our journey with God.

In our Gospel reading we hear that the chief priests and the elders come to question Jesus’ authority to teach in the temple. When Jesus challenges back, the people are afraid to answer for two reasons. They are afraid that if they say his authority comes from Heaven they will be challenged for doubting their belief. But also if they say of human origin they are scared of the reaction of others. It would appear the chief priests and elders find themselves stuck between their belief in faith and their own personal challenges, which also seem to be influenced by others around them. Now interestingly, Jesus doesn’t give them the answer. He instead goes on with a parable which still does not give them a direct answer, but instead refers to their need to question his teaching.

Jesus in this parable talks about two sons, both asked to do some work in their father’s vineyard. The first refuses but later that day goes to work, the second one agrees but never turns up. The first is then declared to be the one who did the will of his father, Why? Well, Jesus was teaching that our faith is a challenge and we need to explore, have doubts, put it to the test, before being able to trust and obey. Which the first Son did by refusing to do something he was asked do to but then after some thoughts and consideration came back and took the right decision. In today’s faith context it means on our path of life, we may take a wrong turn, or divert, end up exploring the local town but then eventually chose to re-join the main road to the final destination.

When I went to theological college, a college that also trained Methodist and Pentecostal candidates, as well as other church representations through personal study, I went in expecting to be formed by attending teaching about the Anglican Church and faith. And although that happened it was through the questioning of other students, from different traditions and different denominations that I became more formed. College was in fact a time when due to challenges from others and myself, discussion, emotional experiences and seeing things in practice in several contexts that I became more rooted in the Anglican church and teaching. Questions, doubts, personal challenges, etc. are all part of the faith journey, and possible even more so in todays world. But it is important that we acknowledge them, embrace them, and allow them to deepen our faith rather than turn us away. In our Philippians reading we are reminded that Jesus himself also lives a life that had challenges, doubts, and questions but also had time of trust and full obedience to take up the cross and follow, which takes us back to those first initial feelings of faith. We are encouraged in the Philippian reading to each find our own way to salvation, which includes a range of responses and emotions. Each person’s journey of faith will have its own road, diverts, obstacles, also how we each respond to faith, seeing, hearing and / or feelings will vary. But for all of us it is important that we search, challenge and respond with open minds, embrace the times of fear and trembling but also treasure and hold on to those feeling and things that first led us to faith and therefore keep us on our journey of discovery today and going forward.

prayers below from Joan for the 16th Sunday of Trinity 27 September

Lord hear us as we pray in faith bringing before you the needs of others as well as those of ourselves.

We pray for our church, giving heartfelt thanks for all those who have volunteered to serve this church in times past and more recently. We give thanks for their dedication, hard work, loyalty and perseverance. Lord, we pray for those about to take on new roles in serving You and this congregation. We pray that You will guide and support them in all their endeavours. We ask that You would inspire and bless the work of the PCC so that Your will is always at the heart of their discussions and decision making.

Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for our precious world for its beauty and fragility and where humans have inflicted so much damage. We pray for countries devastated by war, for environments and wildlife mindlessly destroyed. We pray for people bearing the effects of the destruction; for refugees, for victims of forest fires and floods, for those who go hungry and lack the basic necessities of life. Lord we pray that ways may be found to turn this tide of devastation and to help those in need.

Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for all leaders in this time of pandemic where difficulties seem almost insurmountable and there is a relentless flow of problems to solve. Help them Lord to make the right decisions and may people be inspired to behave responsibly in protecting the needs of others as well their own in bringing this country through the Covid crisis.

Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for our community and its families; for those living with the fear and uncertainty of losing their jobs…. for the lonely and isolated…. for children whose education is being disrupted… for young people apprehensively leaving for university in these uncertain times and for parents who worry about them Give them courage and hope,Lord in these testing times.

Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

God of compassion we ask your blessing on all who are ill at this time whether suffering from physical or mental illness

We remember…..

We take a few moments to bring before God anyone known personally to us who is sick at this time.
Lord may they feel the warmth of Your healing presence surrounding them.

Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

Loving God we pray for those who have died in recent days. We pray for Brenda McGregor….. remembering the times we shared with her. We ask You to bless and comfort her family, Lord and all those who are grieving the loss of someone they love at this time.
We remember and cherish those we have loved and see no more and we hold them close in our hearts.

Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

Lord, as we face the week ahead in these challenging times, may we feel You walking beside us giving us encouragement and hope in facing what is to come.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ

15th Sunday after Trinity
(Philippians 1 21-end & Matthew 20:1-16)

Lord we thank you for the gift of your Word and as we think on these things open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts that we may hear and receive your Word. Amen

To place our readings into today’s context I want to start by asking some questions. Questions not for you to respond to out loud, but questions to reflect on in an honest and personal way.
– When at school, were you ever jealous of those who worked harder than you, or if you were the hard worker, jealous of those who worked less but always got better results?
– When at work do you get frustrated with those who do not pull the same weight as you?
– When in family or friendship group do you get angry, jealous or frustrated at things others have, that you do not?
– And lastly, when among others, do you ever feel the need to express something you have done or something you have had in order to feel equal or greater.

If you said yes to any of them, please do not be ashamed. They are hard rooted questions I know, but questions that highlight the tug of war between our faith and our human side which our readings recognize and respond to today. In our Gospel reading we hear the parable of the landowner and his vineyard at the time of grape harvesting. Now, harvesting grapes is a timely event and cannot be done at leisure. The grape harvest ripens towards the end of September and it needs to be collected before the rain comes and ruins the crop. Therefore, landowners used to draft in all the help they could. Now a wage of one denarius was

given for a day’s work. One denarius was just enough to feed a family for one day, therefore going to find work was essential for many families in order to survive. We hear that the wage was agreed between the landowner and the first workers who were sent to start collecting the grapes.

Yet, time pressured and wanting to get the harvest in, we hear that the landowner kept adding to his working crew. He does this by picking people from the marketplace. Now, the marketplace for comparison and context is most like the early job centres of today’s world. Each day, the unemployed would take their tools and stand in the marketplace hoping that someone would come and accept a day’s labour from them. The landowner we hear doesn’t just go and chose one lot of people, he goes twice and on the second visit he address everyone who is left standing and searching for work. It is important to note that we are not told that the second lot of workers agree a wage, they just take the work opportunity and know any amount of money is better that none.

At the end of the working day, we hear the landowner rounds up the workers and distributes the wages. Yet, he begins by issuing wages to those who began work last and more importantly they were all paid one denarius, all working for different time lengths but all paid the same. Now, as you would expect those who had worked the longest began to complain and question the landowner’s actions. But the response is this– “‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?”….. It’s in this response that the parable message comes to light.

Jesus began by saying the Kingdom of God is like and here is teaches us a lot about God’s kingdom. He teachers us that we are all chosen by God and invited to come and be part of his kingdom, and these invites do not stop. Some people come earlier in life; some people come at later stages of life. But Jesus teaches us that no matter what stage we come to faith we are all equal, and by not coming with an agenda or agreement we receive just like the rest do. Here we are reminded that God is a generous and equal God.

However, in order to be treated equally and receive the generosity of God, we also need to reflect what is taught in our thinking and doing. In our reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul is accepting those he meets as equal Christians. And the Philippians, although see Paul as one Jesus disciple with limelight, actually take Paul as an example rather than a rival. The message from this passage highlights the importance of all Christian’s striving side by side promoting the Gospel for God’s Kingdom, rather than comparing, contrasting, and getting angry, frustrated, and jealous, which leads them away from Gods generosity.

Therefore, we need to leave God to make the judgements, to provide what he feels each person needs and to receive with thankfulness the generosity that he bestows upon us. So, let us push away the temptations of comparing and instead replace them with the recognition of our callings to do God’s work. Ensuring we work in the right spirit, trust and with no agreed agenda knowing that if we work and trust and use our skills given, we will receive abundantly. Amen

prayers below from Lesley for the 15th Sunday of Trinity 20 September

Heavenly Father you have created a world of stunning beauty and grandeur but also of challenges and risks. However you also sent Jesus that he would show us the way to live So hear us now as we bring our prayers of intercession; our prayers for both ourselves and others – for we recognise that your guidance in the world is needed more than ever.
We pray for our churches here at St John’s and at St Luke’s, and we ask for your blessing to rest upon all who serve in them. We are grateful for its worship and fellowship; for the care and teaching of children and young people; for its nurture and love. We pray for those who carry out the maintenance and administration of this church.
Help us to see the kind of church you need today and may we not lose sight of the many and varied needs of this neighbourhood.
Lord in your Mercy
Creator God in this uncertain time politically for the British nation, as Brexit and the tensions in Parliament dominate the headlines, we pray for all who negotiate the political future of our nation. We pray for those who represent their communities in Parliament, for the media as they interpret events and for ourselves and our hopes and fears for the future.
Lord in your mercy
Loving God we pray for all those people who have been affected by the fires in the USA, and the migrant camps on Lesbos. Many people have lost loved ones, lost their homes and their livelihoods. We pray that aid agencies and world governments will be quick to act to help these people.
Lord in your mercy
At the start of a new academic year we think of children who are spending their first hours away from home in nursery school or infant school : those who are eager and active as they explore and welcome new experiences and relationships: and those more shyly weighing up their first steps, those who cannot enjoy physical exercise and those who cannot learn in ordinary ways.
We think of those children who are returning to school to face new challenges and experiences to extend their learning.
We think of those young people who will be leaving home to further their education.
We pray that all children and young people are able to make friends with whom they can enjoy happy times, and who will support them if things don’t go to plan.
Lord in your Mercy
We pray for those in most need in our own families and neighbourhood, thinking of the ill, the lonely, the housebound and those at the margins of society. Help us all to remain positive as the restrictions caused by Covid 19 continue to impact on our lives. We pray for the work of Health-care professionals and Social Workers and all who give of their time as volunteers in so many caring and supporting roles, and let us celebrate all those people who carry out activities to fund raise during this pandemic. And so we ask that you bestow on them your gifts of patience, compassion and understanding, hope and love.
In a moment of quiet lets think about all those people who are in special need at this time
We also remember those who have recently died and we pray for those left behind with just memories. Let them know that nothing is more dependable in times of sorrow than your steadfast and encircling love.
Today we remember- Brenda McGregor
Lord, in your mercy – ‘Hear our prayer’
A final prayer for ourselves: –
Almighty God
give us eyes that can see,
ears that hear,
hands that serve
and hearts that care.
May we be the Church we are called to be.
Merciful Father, “Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen”.

Harvest Sunday – 13th September 2020
(2 Corinthians 9: 6-end & Luke 12: 16-30)

Through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word Jesus Christ our Savour, Amen
Harvest – a time to share and a time to give, a time to think and a time to reflect. A time to be thankful and remember God provides all that we need. Therefore, it is God we need to trust.
The Gospel reading today is split into two sections. The first is the Parable of the Rich Man and the second Jesus’ teaching on worries. As we reflect on what this reading means, I want to start by exploring the second section.
The passage is open and names what may be recognisable worries for us each day or worries that we may have experienced previously or know people within our communities who have these worries too. But we all have worries, worries of all sizes and reasons, and today’s reading tells us that support is at hand.
Jesus in our reading offers alternatives ways of living compared to a life of worrying. He begins by reminding us that it was God that gave us life and we should trust him as worrying can create distance between us and God. He gives us examples of those who do not worry such as the birds and the flowers, showing that they live and grow. An interesting choice of reading for this seasonal time of Harvest. A time that allows us to first donate food to people and charities who are in need. But secondly for us to reflect and be thankful for what we have compared to others. Which is where the first part of our reading fits in.
Our first part shares the parable of the Rich Man. Here we are presented with a story of a man who is in a position where he is abundantly filled with both money and crops that will see him through for many years to come. The man has two choices, share his crops with others or keep them. So, as we hear the man decided to keep the crops, he builds bigger storage for them and chooses, to live a life going forward of relaxing, eating, and drinking. Yet this does not last long. We hear that night, that the rich man is to die, and God asks what will happen with his stock. The Rich man clearly chooses wealth and a
life where God is forgotten. The parable was told as a result of someone asking Jesus to persuade someone else to share their inheritance. Jesus’ response was – “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” followed by the parable of the Rich man. Possessions being either money or items with a value attached to them.
Professor John Hull, who was a lecture at Queens, who sadly died few years ago, always used to talk about a relationship between God and money. John gave many lectures on money having no value. As someone who initially struggled with this, I ask you to bear with me a moment as I try to explain his thinking with some justice. He would take a note or coin and read all the information on it including the numbered figure, but then went on to describe it as only a piece of paper or a round metal shape. He describes money as a power object, something that we all use every day – we use our money in exchange of products, from a tin of veg to a house or car, as promises in Cheques, I owe you’s or even in wills. However, the power we all use when using money is not always recognised, and John’s argument is based on this conclusion. Within exchanges of paper notes, metal shapes or promises – faith, trust and hope is presence, things that as Christians we also spiritually recognise in our Christian faith. The paper notes and coins have no true value, as we exchange them for items in faith, trust, and hope that the note or coin will then be taken by another person in faith, trust, and hope, and so on and so on. John believes that for this reason without faith, trust, and hope, it would not be possible to have a successful monetary system. So how does this view of money impact our faith and the teaching of the parable.
Jesus told the parable of the rich man using money and God as a similar subject. He ends the parable with the statement “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God”. Our treasure can be the money we own or the possessions we have brought, which then becomes so important in our lives that nothing else matters. Or our treasure can include both money and processions but how we think about them and use them needs to be at the heart. The latter is what can make us rich with God. And Paul reminder us that the more we give of ourselves and of God, the richer we will become. As God Rewards those who give in his name.
Therefore, I am not today, or in fact any other time, going to tell you that following the service you need to go and give up your car, phone, iPad, best frock or even your holidays or day trips because I understand the importance of things in people’s lives.But what I am going to propose is that we all on a regular basis, this week may be one of these times, for us to reflect on what is important to us, and the reason for it being important, recognising where God is within it. At Harvest, we are encouraged to reflect on our lives and on our attitudes towards value, greed, and possession. We are encouraged not to hide our needs and desires but to think them through and reflect on how we buy and use them and how we share with others our wealth and possessions. We are also encouraged to stay focused and on a journey with God remembering to regularly stop and be thankful for what we have. By doing this we will begin to live a life that is naturally filled with trust, hope, and faith, and have a life with little worries
knowing that God will provide what we need in order for us to be true disciples.

INTERCESSIONS…13th September, 2020

God of the silence LET US PRAY………………….

God in the stillness and the calm.. who brought peace to a group of fishermen in a raging storm, be with us here ..help us leave the busyness of our lives for calm and stillness… Gracious God, Lord of all, We thank you that we can come to you in prayer, That for all your greatness, and wonder and holiness, We can speak with you as to a friend.
We thank you that we can open our hearts to you , that we can pour out our innermost souls and share our deepest thoughts, in the knowledge that you are there , Always ready to listen and understand ….. So now once more we lay our lives before you, open to your gaze.. The bad as well as the good , The doubt as well as the faith, The sorrow as well as the joy …we come to praise you for your faithfulness and for renewing the love which only you can offer – A love that frees us to live as you would have us live , and allows us to be the people you would have us to be

LORD OF ALL HEAR OUR PRAYER

As God’s beloved children, let us come to him and open out hearts to him.. Our Father, you know both our gifts as a congregation and the needs of those in this parish.. we ask you to bless our ministry in this place . Strengthen and encourage all church leaders and deepen our faith and sure hope.

LORD OF ALL HEAR OUR PRAYER

Father heal our nation and all the nations of what is in the past and still corrodes the present, so that we may build on good foundations and learn to govern ourselves with honesty, respect for one another And sensitive to needs

LORD OF ALL HEAR OUR PRAYER

You are merciful and forgiving . Grant that that those who are suffering the hurts of the past may experience your generous love. Heal their memories, comfort them and send them all from here renewed and hopeful in Jesus Christ our Lord. Lord God, whose Son Jesus Christ , understood people’s fear and pain before they spoke of them.. we pray for those in hospital.. we pray for the frightened and ask that you surround them with your tenderness.. give strength to those in pain and hold the weak in your arms of love.. and give hope and patience to all.
We also especially at this time prayer for Brenda McGregor following her death.

LORD OF ALL HEAR OUR PRAYER

All that we are and all that we choose’ to be, all our relationships and in all our service; in all our commitments and all our obedience; In all our failures; in all our joys ;and in all our sorrows; in all our walking with God and trusting in Jesus’.. We can go ,because He came We can be sent , because He is the LORD We can do all things in Christ Who gives us His strength God of love , turn our hearts to your ways and give us peace,

Amen

Sermon 6 September 2020 13 the after Trinity
Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20

Why don’t Church leaders speak out more? Where is the voice of the Church?

We have all heard that cry. Maybe we even uttered it. Big issues confront the nation. Immense social upheavals seem to happen around us. Where is the Christian voice and why isn’t it heard?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in knowledge of what the Nazis were doing to the Jews, and the silence of much of the Church in Germany, wrote, ‘ we have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learned the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open ; intolerable conflicts have worn us down
and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use?’ We are strange Christians if we do not sense the honest power of that judgement and the sharpness of the question.

Of course, not all judgements are straightforward. Moral issues require knowledge of the facts but ‘experts’ may disagree as to what the facts are.
One fact is that Christians do not agree on what is right and wrong. We have different opinions among us on war, euthanasia, asylum seekers and much else. Who speaks for the Church?
And anyway, who is the Church to make these judgements and call others to account?
The lives of some Church members may well be glorious but that is not universally the case. Sometimes, on issues of racism and sexism for example, the Church has had to catch up with insights taught us from others, calling us to look at our Scriptures and tradition again. The Church does not always practice what it preaches. Never mind speaking to the nation, what about speaking truth to Church members?

Our Gospel passage from Matthew shows us that at least the early Christians were alert to this issue. So how does the Church discern the mind of Christ? The passage in Matthew describes one way by
which community standards are clarified and modified as the Church together works at what is appropriately required of followers of Jesus. That takes some honesty and courage. To rebuke and be
rebuked. It requires a Church mature and confident above all in the grace and love of God. “Owe no one anything, except to love one another “, said St Paul. Love sometimes shows itself in reproof and a calling to correction.

Every caring parent knows that. To leave a child unrebuked and uncorrected when they are behaving badly is no act of love towards them.
No more is God indifferent to what we do in the world. The attitude that says that anything goes means that much probably will go by way of responsible living and corporate care. Christians do have mutual
responsibilities to one another, not in our own names, let alone in any false sense of moral superiority, but in Christ.

Our Bible passages suggest this serious thought; that this activity of the Church in reproving and restoring is a way by which God acts in the world today.
That is a great responsibility for the Church. It underlines the fact that we had better listen before we speak. Thankfully we have the promise that we are not unaided and alone, for where we meet Christ is
there, gracing us with his presence, guidance and love.
Amen

Prayers from John

Let us pray with confidence for the church and the world.

Lord guard and direct your Church in truth, unity and praise. Fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit. Bless all who lead congregations and teach the Christian faith in this community.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Make all nations aware of the unity of the human family. As we remember terrorist violence, grant that we may live together in justice, faith and peace.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Take prejudice and selfishness away from us, and help us to want what is right.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Teach us your creation for your greater praise, that all may share the good things you provide. Help those who work for Fair Trade, and the right sort of development that lasts and benefits everybody. Lead us to love one another, and unite us in the service of your kingdom.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Strengthen all who give their energy and skill for the healing of those who are sick in body, mind or spirit. Set free all who are bound by illness, fear or despair. We remember especially the people residing in the care homes opposite St. John’s, and the staff who care for them. We especially at this time prayer for Cynthia Thompson.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Grant a peaceful end and eternal joy to all who are dying, and comfort to those who mourn.
We especially at this time prayer for Brenda McGreger

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Father we give thanks and praise for all your saints of long and those who have impacted our lives; more recently. Rejoicing in the fellowship and following good examples, we ask you to grant us with them a share of your eternal kingdom.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

12th Sunday after Trinity
(Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16: 21-28)

Through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word Jesus Christ our Savour, Amen.

Last week we heard about Peter’s revelation of declaring Jesus as the Messiah. This resulted in Peter’s faith being confirmed by Jesus, something that was key in Peters faith journey. However, it appears that Peter’s expectations of what Jesus as Messiah is, are quite different to that of Jesus’.

Our Gospel reading today follows on from last weeks reading and we hear Jesus predict his own death. He explains that they are going to go to Jerusalem, and that he is going to be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes. Then he is going to be killed. But he would also rise again on the third day. However, this was not what Peter and the other disciples’ expectations were. There image was that Jesus would go to Jerusalem, and like he had done previously, he will fight off the negativity and cleanse the city. Resulting in Jerusalem becoming an earthly kingdom which was full of goodness, growth, and faithful people. Jesus responds with an ultimatum – “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” As he recalls the need for his death for a second time.

Today we are reminded that Jesus had to walk the painful road carrying his cross in order to set us all free, which meant resisting other’s expectations and walking a route, which had many obstacles. As he does, he invites us to join him too.

I am sure we can all recall times where our expectations of our life journey, a special occasion or even of someone else has not gone as planned. Where obstacles have got in the way, and as a result we have had to make choices. Choices to walk away or choices to adapt and overcome in various of ways. Our faith journey gives us a choice today too. Do we pick up the cross and walk with Jesus or not?

In order to be a true and committed disciples of God, we all know that the answer is to take up our crosses and follow. But what does it mean to pick up your cross? Any faith journey is not an easy journey. We hear Jesus accept this in his telling of his death. We hear Paul acknowledge this in his letter to the Romans too. Paul today is telling us as followers we should be able to:
– Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
– Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
– Live in harmony with one another.
– Do not repay anyone evil for evil,
– Do not take revenge, live peacefully with all
– If your enemies are hungry and thirsty, feed them;

Now these things are not easy, and some even frightening. They are things that are not often recognized and therefore do not urge us on and are things that are for the long-haul. They are also things that we have to work at as they go against the grains of society. These in themselves make the carrying of the cross tricky and not straightforward.

However, being a true disciple by humbly giving of ourselves for the neighbour in which hearing and doing the whole of the law is fulfilled. Choosing to be a follower of Jesus means we need to take up our cross and follow him in all our thoughts, words, and actions. Jesus loved us far too much to let his own suffering stop him from saving us. We to in our thoughts, words and actions can save others by making the choice to follow. And our reward is that of forgiveness, freedom and when the time is right a place in the eternal kingdom of heaven, alongside both Father and Son forever.

Intercessions for Sunday, August  30th

Jesus our teacher, enables ordinary, people to understand Gods wisdom in the eternal laws of his Father’s kingdom.

 May the Holy Spirit pray through us as we try to put into words the longings of our hearts for the church and the world.

Loving God, we recognise our responsibility to encourage and support one another and to live together in peace and love. We recognise our needs and our human weaknesses and come to you now with our prayers and petitions. We thank you for those people who have helped us to pray and to acknowledge your great love and power. We pray for all who preach your word, who inspire, lead and grow us as disciples.

 Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 Loving god we pray for our world leaders; for our royal family, for heads of state in Europe and the Commonwealth.

We pray for our national and community leaders and those who work in public office dealing with many difficult situations associated with the pandemic. We pray wholeheartedly for all scientists looking to find a vaccine to eradicate this terrible virus which challenges our world and the way we live.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father god, we pray for our children and grandchildren returning back to school, colleges, and universities.  We pray that all places of education will find ways of making teaching and learning safe as well as effective in such strange and challenging times. We pray for all students in their daily lessons: give them your wisdom to listen, and learn how to keep safe. Help their teachers and give them patience and understanding to teach well and help all pupils in their learning skills.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father we thank you for the beauty and diversity of your created world. Unfortunately, we now see so much destruction caused by war and social injustice. We pray for families who have been forced to leave their homes and communities in fear of their lives. We pray for asylum seekers and refugees. Lord protect them on their journey and bring them safely to a place where you would have them be, and where they will feel welcomed and respected.

 Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

 Gracious God, we pray for all those we know and love, who are housebound or living in nursing homes; those in hospital in recovery and rehabilitation, and we pray for those awaiting medical treatment.

Lord we thank you for our local hospitals, health centres and clinics and for all who work in sheltered accommodation and care homes.

 Let us now name in the silence of our hearts that person we love who is in need of our prayer today.

God our father give comfort, healing and peace to all we have brought to you today.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

 Lord we remember in your presence all those who have died, particularly those we have known and loved. We thank you for them, and for your promise of eternal life and peace.

We pray today for Barbara Carruthers whose funeral took place here in church last Thursday.

Lord help us to be sympathetic caring and loving with those who are bereaved, and ready to help when needed, and to pray diligently in their time of need.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord god, help us to love another because of our differences, not despite them, and to rejoice in each other. Help us to grow and work together spurring one another on towards love and good deeds so that your will, not ours, may be done and your kingdom come in this place.

Merciful father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

 Sermon: 11th Sunday after Trinity 23.08.2017
(Romans 12. 1-8, Matthew 16. 13-20)

Lord, open my mouth so that I can speak. Open our ears and hearts so that we can hear your call and change. By your power, and through your grace, Amen.

The role of church over the past few months has been an interesting one. Across the national board, from conferences and trainings I have been on in the past few weeks, it has been reported that the church has infect grown over the last few months. How you may ask?

Well as services have moved to online, more services on TV, resources on social media platforms, and the list goes on. New ways of doing church have developed and therefore church more accessible and open. But, one of the reasons that this growth has emerged is that watching or readings something on the screen means you can shop around and interact anomalously until you find something you like. It is obvious that there is a need for spiritual support and a desire to explore but where do we go form here.

We live in a world today where upgrades or the latest IT equipment, gadget, or essential item is a big desire. Things are constantly moving, constantly being updated and the business world are tuned into society and are constantly working towards the future. And I am sure it is not going to come as a surprise when I say, the church is yet to follow. Although the current situation has improved this and it has become relevant in places there is still a way to go. And it is today, in two of our readings, that we are encouraged to have hope for the church today and for its future.

In our readings we can see how the church has grown and been developed to its place today but are also challenged to think about how we can have an impact on its presence and growth going forward. So what are we encouraged to do?

Well, firstly, as well as looking forward we are reminded to look back and remember what got us here in the first place. If we look back to the very first people of faith in our old testament, they relied very much on people hearing God, believing in what was heard and then sharing God’s words, among others. If we go back to the first followers and disciples of Jesus, they too came to faith as a result of understanding what was happening. They did this by piecing together several events, recalling message from faithful people before them and in turn gained understand the stories, both current and historic. Without people acknowledging their faith and being willing to share, faith would not grow.

In our Gospel reading we hear Jesus asking his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ A few suggestions are put forward but when pushed to acknowledge their own views, Simon Peter answers ‘You are Messiah the Son of the living God’. As a result of acknowledging and speaking out his views were hear Jesus tell Peter “on this rock I will build my church.”

Rock is used as a metaphor and recognition of Peters words – Jesus is saying that because of Peter knowing, acknowledging, and declaring his believes, the church will grow through Peters own ministry. Also, pushing the metaphor of the Rock further – Rocks are also something that are stable and supports future buildings. Just like Peter has built on past events and previous knowledge, we to can continue to build on these rocks. We remain rooted with the past but can also build anew which brings us to the Roman’s reading.

In our Roman’s reading we are encouraged to reflect on our role in the church today, not just here on a Sunday morning, but in the community to. We are also reminded that we need to remember that we are part of a bigger network, often referred to as the Church body. The church body is made up of many members and Paul reminds us that each member is different. Each member has individual skills and gifts which are to be used to minister and grow the church. As people of today’s church, we are given the tools to meet the needs of the church today, but also the church of the future.

Yet, to make sure the church is seen, relevant and appealing we too need to make sacrifices and commitments. This we are told is through both finance giving and through the giving of time by sharing the resources, skills, and gifts we have been given. Yet, in doing this, we get back so much more throughout our faith. Sacrificial giving affects how we see the church and others. By taking part we also become part of the rocks that support and grow faithful people. We learn to recognise Christ not only in ourselves but in the things, we do and see, resulting in us being able to promote what we know and what we feel. We confess our faith, not just among other Christians in worship, but confess our faith through words and actions in the community too.

I believe we are in an ideal time where we can all reflect on our faith, its past, today and its future, and for each of us to recognise our skills and gifts and look at ways in which we can use them to upgrade the church and make it relevant. To also reach out to others in various ways encouraging others to come and build the church of today and the future, upon the already beaded rocks. To not be afraid to share with me ideas, suggestions and be open to give things a try. The challenge from Paul to the Romans is just as much relevant to us today – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God.”

Intercessions for Sunday, August  23rd

We pray to our Lord God, revealed to us by his risen son, Jesus Christ.

Lord. You have provided us with a world full of beauty and wonder
You have endowed us with bountiful gifts
Your love for us knows no bounds
And we have faith in your forgiveness and mercy

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We thank you, O Lord, for loving and caring for us, for giving us precious gifts.
Teach us to utilise them for the benefit of others.
Open our hearts to all those in our parish and elsewhere who need help and friendship. Not to seek any thanks, except the knowledge that we do your will.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We know we are but children in your sight. O Lord God our Father,
As we learn the truths you have revealed to us, we know we transgress and we are sorry for the hurt we cause to you and to our brothers and sisters.
Keep us mindful of the effects our actions and words have on others,
as it can be hard at times to put wrongs to right and to forgive or to receive forgiveness.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

O Lord, use us all in the world to act as one body to fight and overcome the coronavirus.
To join forces to resist evils and prejudices.
To relieve poverty and to aid those who suffer from disasters.
Guide our leaders to make the right decisions, morally and ethically and thereby to make the world a safer, peaceful and more equal place.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for those who are in pain or distress, anxious about ailments and the discomforts of treatments.
For those whose sufferings are known only to you, O Lord.
May your love, compassion and warmth bring healing to their hearts
and we give thanks to the medical and lay people who provide treatment and support.
We pray for Doreen Rostron, Fred Spencer and Berrin Paull and other members of our congregation who are undergoing regular medications.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We ask you, O Lord, to be with all who have died.
We pray especially for Barbara Carruthers, whose funeral in church will be held on Thursday.
We pray for families and friends whose hearts are full of pain for the loss of loved ones.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Let us pause a moment and as we relax in the presence of the Lord, let us humbly tell him what is deepest in our hearts for he knows us, loves us and forgives us.

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers, For the sake of your son, Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

10th Sunday after Trinity
(Romans 11 1-2a 29-32& Matthew 15:21-28)

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen

In just the last few months and even weeks and days, we have heard in our news about being difference causing a lack of equality. We have had the back lives matter protests reminding us how the colour of our skin can affect how we are seen and treated. We have heard how those affected by low poverty have needed high profile stars to get them basic everyday needs such as foods. And in just the last week we have heard about the 100’s, if not 1000’s of people who have tried to cross the sea’s dangerously to find refuge in a safe place.
In our Gospel reading today, we meet a women who fits into the categories above and the story we hear is a tough one, but one that on reflection encourages us to reflect on how we as Christians treat people equally. And if able, also go a lot further and offer support.
In the passage before our Gospel today, Jesus has been trying to teach the displaces about hypocrisy. He has been trying to teach them about the difference between saying and doing. Then comes along this unnamed woman, who is vastly different from Jesus and the disciples. Firstly, she is a woman, she is from a different area of the county, she has a different religion and has a different culture. And if that is not enough, her daughter has demons. Which in those days (and sadly still by some today) is seen to be the devils work for having done something bad.
As the women approaches, she is shouting, yelling and demanding that Jesus shows her attention. If we were not to know the rest of the story, it is at this point where you would suggest that Jesus is about to teach about loving all, regardless of who they are and their needs. Yet, as we do read on, this is were the more difficult part comes along. Jesus begins by ignoring the women, and when she continues to shout, Jesus then shouts back, being vile to her and calling her names in a way that downs grades who she is. It is not what we expect of Jesus’ actions and words, and it is shocking to read. But it was meant to be for a reason.
We know from stories before and after these events that Jesus and God do not think about people in this way. Jesus here is trying to shock his disciples into paying attention. He is highlight to them, their own prejudices by showing them the way they behave and is trying to make them understand what is going on deep down. And maybe it gets us to reflect too on ways we have behaved, either knowingly or unknowingly. Today, we live in a world which is full of human need and lack of equality. But we also live in a world where we have a choice, we can either see it and walk away leaving it for someone else to do, or we can act. Jesus in his teaching wanted to show that a Christian response of love, pity and compassion was much more effective and rewarding than the example he shared. Jesus showed the disciples that they had to act out and share their faith to teach and nurture, which in turn allows others to experience part of the faithful life Jesus and God earns to give to all.
In the stories reaching our headlines as noted at the start, many, including myself, have talked about all lives matter. All lives do mater to Jesus and God and is the teaching of Christian discipleship. So, the message today is inviting us to ask – Do we truly embrace this statement not just in words but in our actions too.
In our daily lives, we have many choices to make in our day to day activities and actions, but I wonder how many times do we stop and ask ourselves what our faith is telling us to do. Today we are encouraged to reflect on this a little more and start to think faithfully about not just some things we do, but about everything. We are encouraged, to see and act in a way that uses our faith, not in a way that downgrades or jeopardises equality. We are also encouraged through our actions to bring others to faith by setting and teaching examples. By doing this, we are not only reviewing and deepening our own faith, but we are also bringing others to experience God’s love, care and support to all he has made. Amen.

Intercessions for Sunday, August 16th

In the power of the Holy Spirit and in union with our Lord Jesus Christ, let us pray.

Lord God we ask for your blessings on our churches in these difficult times, when we are unable to worship you in ways that we would wish to do so. We give thanks to those who have worked hard to enable this church to open in the face of so many limitations. We ask you to bless all those who are unable to be here in church today because of the restrictions and we hold them close in our thoughts.
We pray for all unable to join in the social activities of this church; Tiddlywinks, Community Club, the Art Group and Coffee Mornings knowing just how much our social groups provide caring support and fellowship and mean so much to so many people in our community. We pray that they may soon be able to meet together again.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

Merciful Father we pray for the world in this chaotic time in which we are living. We pray that people will put aside their differences of race, creed or colour to learn tolerance and work together for the common good. We pray for politicians, that they will show moral leadership for the benefit of all their citizens putting aside greedy desires for power or wealth.
We pray especially for the people of Lebanon in the catastrophic situation in which they find themselves, asking that ways may be found to help them in their desperate need.
We pray for all people striving to find ways to deal with the effects of Corona virus on society; for governments, medical professionals, financial experts and businesses. Help them Lord in their endeavours.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

Loving God we pray for our communities, for young people, especially those who should have taken GCSE exams or A levels, for those hoping to go to university and whose future is so uncertain. We pray for young people looking for their first job when there is so much redundancy and unemployment.
We pray for families living in hardship, and from day to day struggling to make ends meet. We pray for all those living in fear of losing their jobs and homes because of businesses which have become unviable.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

God of compassion we pray for those who are sick in mind or body. We pray for all who care for the sick at home, in hospital or in residential care. We pray for those who are finding it difficult to care for family members without the support of day care centres and for those unable to visit family in residential homes. We pray for those suffering depression because of the isolation caused by covid restrictions.
Be with them Lord in all their times of difficulty. In a few moments of silence we hold before God anyone known to us who is sick and in need of our prayers.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

God of compassion we pray for those whose earthly life has come to an end in recent days.
We ask that you would comfort those who are feeling the emptiness and pain of losing someone they love and grant them strength and hope in the painful days ahead.
Lord we hold before you those we have loved and whom we see no more and we remember all that they have meant to us.
We pray for all those affected by the train derailment in Scotland.

Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Sermon 9th Sunday after Trinity-  By Rev Robert
Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-33

In the middle of the storm Jesus came walking toward them on the sea. That is where God is to be found – in the water, going through the storm.
This is a constant theme of Scripture. The second verse of the Bible records that the earth was a vast waste, and the Spirit of the Lord hovered over the surface of the water. That is where God was to be found – in the heart of the world’s chaos, hovering over the water. The Hebrew people escaped from Egypt by crossing the waters of the Red Sea. Then there was the promise of God expressed by Isaiah:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.

The baptism of Jesus underlines the same message as he came out of the water; the Spirit descending like a dove on him and a voice came from heaven, ‘ You are my Son, the beloved: with you I am well pleased.

All this reminds us that our calling is not to avoid troubled waters, avoiding involvement with the pain, discomfort, and hardship they bring.
Our theme song is not Bridge over troubled waters but When you walk through a storm.

If we were to ask scientists does science know everything? They would answer, of course not, there is always something beyond what we know or can know, but what we can and do know is a reliable guide to what is the case.

God by definition can never be fully known, but what we can and do know about God is a reliable guide to what the whole of God is like, For what God was, God is and will be. God is the one who gives taste to our life and lifts it beyond bland monotony. God’s presence adds purpose to politics, wonder to worship and reality to human relationships. He is the one who opens our eyes to see what is good and what is evil, helps us develop an awareness of what is false beyond what seems to be plausible and enables us to see where real need is to be found behind closed doors.

It is for these reasons that we are called to be salt for the world and not accept the world at its own values. We need to be ready to ask the sharp questions, sometimes to rock the boat and disturb the tranquillity of complacent conformity.
We have to be ready to step outside the life of the church and learn to live with and love those beyond its fellowship.
We need to take the wonder of worship into the workaday world and learn to speak of God in the languages of those we live amongst.
In the shady worlds of business and politics we need to learn how to be wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.
The message which leaps out to us from our scripture readings today is that we can walk through troubled waters and not be afraid of the storm, because that is where God in Christ is to be found
Amen

Almighty, Everlasting and Creator God –
We live in a world of wonders, of new discoveries and often surprises and yet in all our human endeavours we are still in need of guidance, inspiration and sometimes correction. As Christians we believe that such guidance comes through knowledge of God as revealed in our Saviour Jesus Christ and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

And so in faith we pray for this your world and it’s peoples with all their needs, questions and longings.

Lord in Your mercy. – ‘Hear our prayer’

We pray for your world-wide Christian Church, especially we pray for those churches are unable to meet together because of the Coronavirus restrictions. We give thanks for all the ways in which our church leaders are reaching out to us in our own homes. Let us all know and feel your all abiding presence to both uphold our courage and strengthen our faith.
We pray for those whose Christian faith is often challenged; whether in the workplace, on the street, at school or college and often by people who close their minds to anything spiritual. Help us in turn to be tolerant of other religions whilst firm and knowledgeable in our own faith
We pray for our own churches here at St. John’s and St Luke’s and for all who carry the work of witness and service forward in so many ways.

Lord in Your mercy. – ‘Hear our prayer’

The world that you have created Lord is still marred by selfishness and greed amongst the nations. We pray for a time when all will live in mutual respect and co-operation.
We pray for the support given by neighbouring countries in accepting the thousands of refugees and for the aid agencies doing their best to cope with the overwhelming need for food, shelter and medical assistance.
We pray for the countries around the world which are beset with financial difficulties and trying to reduce deficits whilst protecting the vulnerable. Lord, we cannot correct the mistakes of the past but we can pray for honesty and openness in our political leaders and a determination to work together at all levels to find equitable solutions.

Lord in Your mercy. – ‘Hear our prayer’

We pray for our own country and society, learning to live with a different economic outlook. We remember the thousands of young people who have left schools, colleges and Universities and are now looking for work in a highly competitive market. We pray that they will be helped and guided to find their place in society.
We pray for those whose ‘longed for’ holiday plans have been changed by recent events, and we remember all who are lucky enough to have been able to take a break from the routines of life to later return refreshed to take on the challenges of the day.

Lord in Your mercy. – ‘Hear our prayer’

And so we think now of those in most need in our own community, the elderly, the housebound and those in care homes, hospital and hospice and those undergoing treatment. We pray for the work and devotion of all Carers whose skill and compassion bring both material and spiritual comfort at times of need.
So now we share a moment of silence together as we bring before you those known only to ourselves and to you Lord who are in need at this time. Let them feel your presence in their lives as we name them in our hearts

(A short period of silence)

Lord in Your mercy. – ‘Hear our prayer’

We remember before God those who have died . We also pray for those who feel the pain of grief at the loss of a loved one whether recent or as each anniversary passes.
Today we remember: all those we have known and loved but see no more.

Lord in Your mercy. – ‘Hear our prayer’

A final prayer for ourselves: –
As life throws all sorts of challenges at us, often causing us to be overwhelmed with anxiety and doubt, help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus so that we know what course to steer in order to reach our objective of serving Him in all that we do.
Amen.

Merciful Father, “Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen”.

8th Sunday after Trinity. Romans Ch.9 v1-5 & Matthew Ch.14 v13-21
By Rev Irene

Several years ago at a Quiz Night held in our parish room one of the questions asked was “which of Jesus’ miracles appears in all 4 gospels. I have to admit at the time I didn’t know the answer. Well our gospel reading today is that very miracle, known to most of us as “The feeding of the 5,000”. The fact it appears in all 4 gospels would indicate that it must have some pretty important things to say to us.

At the beginning of the passage we are told that Jesus, having heard the news that John the Baptist had been beheaded, took himself away to a lonely place. This action by Jesus is most encouraging as it brings to the fore his humanity and we can identify with the feeling of needing to get away from all the disappointments, problems and pressures of daily life to a place of peace and rest. Sometimes we feel guilty for needing space to ourselves, thinking we ought to be “doing something”, but it is a comfort to read that even Jesus needed his times of refreshment. Unfortunately on this occasion Jesus did not escape the crowds, they found out where he was going and followed.

Here we discover something of the character of Jesus. We are told his heart was filled with pity and he healed those who were ill. Putting aside his own needs to minister to the needs of others. Throughout the gospels time and time again the compassion of Christ and his healing presence shines from the pages of scripture.

Evening is approaching and the disciples see a worrying situation developing. Overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem their answer is to send the people away to buy food for themselves. Oh how we can identify with these disciples. Some of the problems and challenges facing the Church and the world in which we live, can so easily overwhelm us. The task seems so great and sometimes our only answer is
to try and pass the problem on to someone else, or to turn and run away and pretend it doesn’t exist. However, hopeless pessimism is not a Christian attitude.Jesus will have none of it . In the human defeatist attitude Jesus sees potential. We hear the cry “but whatever I do will make little difference to the situation” Christ accepts that, but responds – bring me what you have anyway, however small and insignificant it may be and see what I will do!

When Mother Theresa gave her first cup of water to someone in need it did not make the headlines, but look what God achieved through that woman in her lifetime. How her simple act of offering what she had, and doing what she could, in a very small part of this world encouraged others to take on board a similar attitude of compassion and action, by trying to make this world a better place for others.
So the disciples gave Jesus what was available.

Then we get a glimpse of the authority of Jesus as he orders the people to sit down on the grass. He takes what is offered, the loaves and fishes and gives thanks. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the people. What does this say to us about the way God works in this world? We need the Lord just as those disciples needed him to accomplish what they in their own
strength could not do. But Jesus having provided what they needed expected them to play their part in carrying out the distribution. It was a partnership, a two way encounter, Jesus the provider – his disciples the means by which the miracle was accomplished.

This miracle demonstrates God’s concern for our bodily as well as our spiritual needs, and also demonstrated that its is through us that he reaches out to others. We are his hands and voice in this world, it is through us his will is done and it is our job to seek what that will is for us as individuals and together as his Church.

It’s a tall order, its scary, and like the disciples we often want to send the problems away, but Jesus needs his disciples. Through us he can work and through us his love can touch the lives of others. Our task is to co-operate with him and the little we offer becomes much in the hands of Christ.

So much, that when everyone had eaten enough there were 12 baskets of left overs. What does this say about the character of God? That he is generous beyond our needs – our needs not our wants, there’s a vast difference.

There was a practical side to this miracle too, the scraps must not be wasted but collected, that would be quite a task. Perhaps a warning here that there must be no waste of resources, talents and gifts, they are to be used generously but wisely, not wasted. Miracles are not isolated events but continuing evidence of God at work in his world, Jesus performed here what is carried on throughout the universe daily – with crops in the fields and the fish in the sea, as he generously replenishes his creation. What is a miracle to us is a natural act for God.

These people who came deliberately seeking Jesus would be amazed what he could do with so little. When we come deliberately seeking Jesus, like them we will discover his compassion, power, authority, glory, mystery and healing, like them we will be amazed at the works of his hand.

It may be that the world is denied many a miracle because we neglect to bring what we have to Jesus, laying ourselves on the altar of his service, there is no reason to say sorry or be embarrassed because we feel we have little to give, we must bring it anyway to the one on whom we depend entirely, the source of all life, both physical and spiritual. Let us then be brave enough to offer what we are and what we have, however small and insignificant we feel our offering to be and see what Christ can make of it, who knows we may encounter some miracles along the way. Amen.

INTERCESSORY PRAYERS 02/08/2020

Dear Lord, please help us to commit our minds and hearts to you as we pray not only for ourselves but for all our sisters and brothers throughout the world.

Heal us Lord
And use us to your glory

Dear Lord, although many throughout the world have yet to find the love and forgiveness that you have bestowed upon all here present, we beseech you Lord to seek out those who are lost but searching for something they know is missing in their lives. When they find You, they will open their heats to you and rejoice.

Heal us Lord
And use us to your glory

Dear Lord, there are many in this world who follow lives of sin and wickedness. They believe it is their right to take what they want through violence, treachery, dishonesty and lying. Please dear Lord help them if they want help and assist us to pray for forgiveness for those who still reject your path.

Heal us Lord
And use us to your glory

Dear Lord, we thank you for all the wonderful things in our lives, our families, our homes, our friends, our church. The stars above to gaze at in wonder, the mountains to climb, the forests to roam, the seas to swim and sail. Help us dear Lord to appreciate all the good things that you have given to us all.

Heal us Lord
And use us to your glory

Dear Lord, we thank you for those who deny themselves possible wealth and fame by following a vocation. In particular, especially over the past few months, those who take care of us when we are ill and protect us when we are vulnerable.

Heal us Lord
And use us to your glory

Dear Lord, it is when we are in your church that we particularly remember all those who have recently died especially if we were emotionally linked to them. We thank you Lord for us knowing them and please Lord, look after their precious souls until we are all together again within your loving arms.

Heal us Lord
And use us to your glory

Dear Lord, we thank you for you. Without you our lives would be barren and pointless. Your gift of grace enriches us all.

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers For the sake of your Son Our Saviour Jesus Christ
Amen

7th Sunday after Trinity:
(Romans 8. 26-end: Matthew 13. 31-33,44-52)

Lord, open our ears and hearts so that we listen to you call and respond with our actions. By your power, and through your grace, Amen.
Treasure hunts are usually a great game that is enjoyed and can involve all ages. It is a time when we go in search for something special often found in the least expected places. Yet, I wonder if you can recall a time when you, or someone you know has found something special when not on a planned treasure hunt and taken it away for keeping. Something I hope you will recognise or associate with is – the found item is often for a few days or weeks shared with everyone we encounter. As we show the item off, we share a story that explains how we found it and what it means to us or reminds us off, and as a result it becomes part of us or something to us. But, after a few weeks what happens, experience tell me, is the item is often popped into a special place and unless we are having a root around for something else or a tidy up, it remains in that special place and eventually becomes forgotten about. Yet, it is important to note at this point how our personal treasure item looks, its size, its colour, its shape, etc, will most probably not be the same as someone else’s treasure. Today, our Gospel reading talks about God’s kingdom of heaven being like treasure. As a result of each of us being different in what we look for and connect with, Jesus in his parable and teaching uses several images to try and explain this for us. Jesus says the kingdom is like a mustard seed, is like yeast, is like a buried treasure, is like a valuable pearl, is like a fishing net. So, let us briefly take each one and look how each describe the kingdom of heaven and the role of disciples to share each image. As I go through them, I wonder if you can particularly connect with one or possibly two of the images.

Like a mustard seed? – A mustard seed appears to the eye as tiny, but it should not be underestimated. This seed, the size of the head of a pin, can grow into a large plant thousands of times its size. God promises a place in the kingdom of heaven for everyone who believes and therefore it will grow and grow as more and more people join in. Yet it is up to us as disciples to share the promise and allow others to believe. The kingdom is like yeast – Yeast is also a small grained substance, but when mixed with flour, it will make the flour rise. Now Yeast does not work instantly; it is a timeconsuming process. For a long time, it goes unnoticed as it is hidden in the flour. In a similar way, God’s kingdom is hidden from some eyes and is not recognized. Yet it is up to us as disciples to plant the word of God in people’s ears and let it grow over time. Sometimes what we think has not made an impact may just be currently unseen but will grow and develop with time and space.

The kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field, where upon discovery, a man sold everything he had to buy the field? Or like a merchant who discovered a valuable pearl and liquidated his assets to own it? – Jesus is saying that once you grasp the value of God’s kingdom, you will go to extreme measures to obtain it. As disciples we need to recognise Jesus’ teaching that nothing compares to God’s kingdom, but it requires a wholehearted commitment, such that we will risk everything in order to be a part of it.

Lastly, Jesus says that the kingdom is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. This parable today is the third of three parables told one after another which we have explored over the last three weeks – we have had the parable of the sower, the parable of the weeds among the wheat and today the parable of the mustard seed with the conclusion of the teaching session. The three lessons have explored living a faithful life on earth but also the importance of keeping in mind the treasure of the promises Kingdom of Heaven which we must not lose sight off. In this faithful living we need to make choices of what to keep and what to throw away, what to root ourselves in, but what we need to protect ourselves from also. Yet, Jesus also leaves his disciples with the following note, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

We too, have now heard all three parables and hopefully over the last three weeks our understanding and knowledge has been developed, therefore we too are like the master of a household who need to bring out and share our treasure. I invite you to see if you could connect with one of the images that Jesus shares with us, I invite you to remember this image or another image that you connect with and let it become your treasure to remind you of the kingdom of heaven, and just like we explored at the beginning go and share this with everyone you come into contact with and teach them about God’s promised Kingdom for all. Yet I also invite you keep your eyes and ears open and next time you catch a glimpse of what God is really like, and how incredibly wonderful he really is. Yet, I also ask that you make a promise to yourself, that is in time you do not hide the treasure in a draw for safe keeping, or even replace the old with the new. Like ourselves all connect to different things. Therefore, keep an open treasure chest and use all your treasures to help you and others connect with God. God is for today as well as for the future, therefore we need to keep both in our sight. Amen

Let us pray for all people, everywhere, both close to us and far away, particularly, for those who are not yet ready to return to Church, for whatever reason.

God of mercy Hear our prayer.

Holy God, Maker and Mystery we thank you for all that is, for the beauty of the cosmos, the intricacy of creation and the wonder of our fellow human beings.
We pray for all who seek you, for religious leaders, theologians, artists and poets.
Guide and inspire them we pray.

God of mercy Hear our prayer

Holy God, made manifest in Jesus Christ, we thank you for all who seek truth and justice, for every act of compassion and every word of kindness.
We pray for our political and social leaders, praying especially today for the people of the United States in a time of civil injustice and unrest.
Lead them in paths of truth we pray.

God of mercy Hear our prayer

Holy God, who sends us out to share your presence in the world we thank you for all who love us and all whom we love.
We pray especially for those in need at this time, for those in sickness or sorrow and especially for those suffering as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Surround them with your love and compassion that they may know your presence with them every hour.

God of mercy Hear our prayer

We remember before God, those who have died this week and whose anniversary of death falls at this time.
We remember Peter Halliwell

God of mercy Hear our prayer.

God of infinite love and mystery, we lament the hurts and harms in our own lives, and those of our wider world.
Take away the power of the past to bind us, and set us free to walk more compassionately into the joyful promises of your open future: that we may dance with you, in the dance of eternal loving relationship.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of you Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

6th Sunday After Trinity
(Romans 8:12-25 & Matthew 13: 24-30 & 36-43)

Through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen

I’m sure if I mention the terrible two’s you all know what I mean, either from personal experience or experience from others. However, it is only over the last few weeks I have begun to truly reflect on its meaning – I will let you figure out why that must be. However, I already, and yes, I am only at the start, want to rename this as the testing twos, as I come to recognise it is similar behaviour to that repeated throughout life. Yet, as we get older, we just approach it differently, some may say more crafty or hurtful, whereas others may say a little more like an adult, depending on the outcome.

We are not born knowing the rights and wrongs of life, it is something that we need to learn. Through learning we test the waters, we push the boundaries, we experiment, and we discover that sometimes we get it right and other times wrong. When we are right, we feel success, we grow and develop. Whereas in the wrong we can get upset, in trouble, cause upset and feel a little low. But this way or learning and the need to learn is all very natural and is part of our human creation as we hear in our readings today. God assures us that getting it wrong sometimes will happen, but in return we are reminded that God’s nature is the gifts of love and being merciful. And in being merciful he has a very fair approach.

In our Gospel reading today we first hear about the parable of the weeds among the grain followed by the Jesus’ explanation of its meanings. Jesus talks about weeds (the evil) coming alongside the grain (the good) and the slave’s instant reaction is to go and rip the weeds up. However, in doing so they will damage the good grain. So, Jesus stops them from returning to their normal instinctive behavior and teaches them about the importance of watching and acting only when the time is right. By doing so, the gain continues to grow, and when it is ready, they can be picked together – the weeds removed, and the grain stored for food. The slaves learn a new way to approach the situation and the outcome is much better.

Applying it to our own learning Jesus is teaching about the preserving and growth of ourselves by learning to resist the bad behavior that may be an instinctive behavior to use in certain situations. Also, in making decisions to think not about the instance consequences but the longer term affects to. This is picked up in our reading from Romans.

Romans Chapter 8 reminds us about the hope that is with all today because of Jesus’ life and death to set us all free. Paul notes that yes there is suffering an evil but in experience and resistance of these a strong message of hope remains. He reminds us that trail and error of life is natural and human, but as people of God we are safe in God’s hands and because of Jesus’ death, forgiveness when we acknowledge our wrong doings is granted. Paul also reminds us that Jesus also got it wrong sometimes. However, if we try to be like Jesus, 90% of the time we will get it right and God’s love and merciful forgiveness will overrule.

Learning is all part of life, not just as a two-year-old but something we encounter every day, as we have decisions to make and new situations to explore. Therefore, let us not approach it as a stumbling block, a restriction or even as a bad patch in life. Let us embrace it, acknowledge when we get it right and wrong, and learn from it knowing we are safe in God’s hand and have his love and protection with us always. Amen

INTERCESSIONS SUNDAY 19 JULY 2020

In the power of the Holy Spirit and in union with our Lord Jesus Christ let us pray to god our father.

Lord God we give thanks that you have called us to work for you and for this opportunity of being together in prayer. Through your spirit bless us with your gifts of wisdom and love in all our dealings. We ask your blessing upon our church of St. Johns as we prepare to open for worship on Sunday 26th July. We pray for our parish and congregation especially those who are fearful of returning to church for whatever reason.

Lord, guide us, and help us to live our life in your spirit.

Father god, we thank you for the love we share with our families and our friends. We recognise that we all have our faults, and so we pray for your wisdom. Help us to become peace makers and learn to live in harmony and compassion.
We pray for all families and those who are isolated and struggling with all situations caused by this terrible life-threatening virus. We are saddened that so many people have lost their employment and worried about their families and their future. We pray for all who are struggling with mental health and a life-threatening illness. We ask you our heavenly father to bless all homes where there is anxiety and sorrow.
We pray for all children suffering because of constant harassment and abuse. We pray for hope and an end to their suffering, for parents and carers to accept their responsibilities with unconditional love, compassion and your wisdom.

Lord guide us, and help us to live our life in your spirit.

Merciful God, we pray for our world and the millions of people who have contracted coronavirus. Bring comfort to those grieving the death of loved ones and peace to those who are fearful as the virus spreads uncontrollably.
We pray for all governments and authorities who are developing strategies to contain and deal with this virus. We pray for all those who work in health services who may be risking their own lives to care for sick patients.
We pray for the many people throughout our world who do not receive any medical attention from their government leaders.

Lord guide us, and help us to live our life in your spirit.

Loving God, we give thanks for our health and well-being. We ask your blessing upon all who are ill and receiving treatment at home or in hospital. We pray also for loved ones who now reside in nursing homes.
We name before you now those in need of our prayers today.
Brenda Foxley, Brenda McGregor, Doreen Rostron, and Jean Richardson
May they each find courage and hope in your abiding love.

Lord guide us, and help us to live our life in your spirit.

Gracious God we pray for all who have died this week and for our loved ones who we still miss and grieve for. Especially praying for Peter Halliwell.
We give thanks that you give life, and life eternal. That you are a renewing and restoring God. As we rejoice in the resurrection, we ask your blessing on loved ones departed that may they know the peace and glory of your kingdom.

Lord guide us, and help us to live our lives in your spirit.

Gracious God and father, you plant the gift of faith into our hearts – we praise you for all those who have helped us to grow in faith. Help us always to be open to your word. Inspire us and equip your church to work for the growth of your kingdom.

Merciful father. Accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

5th Sunday after Trinity
Romans 8: 1-11, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Lord, open our ears and hearts so that we listen to you call and respond with our actions. By your power, and through your grace, Amen.

If any of you have passed the vicarage over the last few weeks, when the sun has been shining, you may have heard or noticed that I am not the gardener, luckily I have a husband, and more recently in laws, who are and quite enjoys it! (I have the ideas; they make it happen ). I also know from many conversations that many of you have been making the most of the good weather too and gardens in Heywood are currently spotless.

It is not that I do not like gardening, it is that I am little impatient, wanting to see instant result. Most garden jobs take a long time to complete, especially the nettle and rotten tree root pulling, and even when you have a nice patch, it is remembering that it needs to be tendered to and fed as well as watered. My type of gardening is to buy plants, ready sown and with some growth, to pop them in the ground or tub, and just add water.

Yet, despite my non-enthusiasm for gardening, I do often buy a selection of bulbs and seeds each season to plant ready for the next, in order to prepare for what I hope to be a bright and fruitful garden. In planting, I know that the seeds need to go in good prepared soil, that they need watering and care, that I need to remove weeds and anything else that may be tempted to grow around them. This is knowledge that I have learnt from others in the past, whether this be from school, family, friends, or even just through experiments. I believe these basic gardening skills can be and are learnt by everyone.

Jesus in his parable of the sower, which we heard in our Gospel reading, also picks up this theme of sowing seeds. When first told, his audience would have been local farmers and therefore they could relate to this sowing of seeds. However, because of our shared basic gardening knowledge, we too can relate to the parable today.

There are many sections to this parable but today I invite us to remember these
points:
– there is the sower and the seeds,
– there are the seeds falling on the path which the birds came to eat,
– there are the seeds that fell on rocky ground, which were then scorched and withered,
– there are the seeds that fell among the thorns,
– and then there were the seeds that fell on the good soil, which brought forth and gained in multiplies.

Now Jesus was particularly good at sharing important messages about how we should live our lives. Yet, his teaching style was not to offer the facts on a plate but to tell parables for each who hear to unpack, question, and apply it to their own lives. Applying this to our lives today, I want to first refer to the growth of the various seed patches and I see the following links….

The harden soil is the world that we live in today, the weeds and the thorns are worldly pleasures, the birds are the sins that we are all capable of doing, and the withering seeds that grow but then scorched, is us hearing God’s word but never applying it to our daily lives. And, unintentional or not, it’s these themes that occur again in our Romans readings.

In our letter to the Romans, we are very much reminded by Paul that we have a choice in how we live our lives. However, he also notes that we may not always get it right but says how we see our life and mistakes is what makes the difference. Paul is open about our sins and encourages us to do so too. If we choose to sin and not acknowledge or ask for forgiveness, we find ourselves living in the flesh. Here the seeds that God plants are taken away and consumed by the birds leaving nothing for God to grow. Whereas, if we acknowledge our wrong doings and ask for forgiveness we live in the spirit, of which God will continue to nurture us and allow us to settle in the good soil.

Our lives are full of choices and our faith is no different. I noted at the beginning the basic gardening skills known by all is that for a seed to grow, they need to be planted in good soil, nurtured and growth follows. For those of you with good bible knowledge, or are attentive to detail, you will notice that the parable reading today is taken from Matthew 13 verses 1 – 9. But we then have a gap and it’s not until verses 18-23 that the disciples ask Jesus to explain his teaching. Following Jesus’ teaching session, Jesus walks away and leaves the farmers to stop and think. In this case the seeds have been planted in the soil (in other words the farmers have been planted into Gods soil). And Jesus is leaving time for those who heard to be nurtured, to reflect on their lives, and then ask deeper questions. It is as we unpack these questions, and respond to our feelings and what we hear, that we grow in God’s field of love and care. Jesus came to earth to teach us how to live, he teaches us by setting examples and then encourages us to do the same. Therefore this week, I encourage you, just as the parable does, to first listen and hear God’s voice, to take time to reflect on what this means for your own life and make the adjustments you need to. And then when your roots are rooted, go, and nurture fresh soils and help God to plant more seeds. After all, we all have the basic skills of gardening and this alone will allow for God to grow in both ourselves and in those places, we prepare for him. Amen

We pray to our Lord God, revealed to us by his risen son, Jesus Christ.

O Lord God, we thank you for your presence during this period of sadness and uncertainty.
Please forgive us when we doubt you and question your love and concern.
Please help us to be strong in faith and to give comfort and reassurance to those we meet who are anxious and fearful.
May we find encouragement in the beauty of this world you have lovingly created.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Teach us to be responsible to each other as we take our first steps to intermingle.
Give us confidence for the future.
May our leaders and those with influence, be constructive and work together despite their differences.
To have the public good as their motive in their actions and to choose words carefully.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for those whose work brings them into close contact with others, increasing their risk of infection to this deadly virus. Keep them safe and vigilant.
We pray for so many who are being made redundant.
We pray new openings will become available over time and that governments and businesses will seek initiatives in providing employment.
May we learn from one another and willingly share breakthroughs in combating the virus, as you would have us to do, for we are all equally precious in your sight.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
It has been a time of reflection, as well as sorrow, for us all O Lord.
Let us learn valuable lessons on how to live our lives and to respect this world you have bequeathed to our custody, so we may come closer to you as a result.
O Lord, may we learn to understand more fully the workings of your creation and to identify new medications and vaccines that will improve the wellbeing of all.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for those who are in pain or distress, grieving or lonely and for those
whose suffering are known only to you, O Lord.
May your love, compassion and warmth bring healing to their hearts.
We pray, in particular, for Doreen Rostron

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Whilst we give thanks, O Lord, for the general decline in lives lost to the Covid 19 virus in this country, we remember and pray for those countries where the virus is still widespread.
We remember, Lord, all who have died recently and those whose anniversaries fall at this time.
We pray especially for Peter Halliwell who died this last week
May they bathe in the light of Christ, which shines eternally.
We pray for all whose lives are saddened by the death of a loved one. Comfort them Lord in their grief and may they cherish their loving memories.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord, please guide our church leaders as they prepare for the reopening of St. John’s and St. Luke’s for worship again.
It has been a testing time being unable to share our worship with others and may we appreciate our need to support one another and to grow stronger in faith.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers, For the sake of your son, Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

4th Sunday after Trinity
(Romans 7:15 – 25a & Matthew 11: 16 – 19 & 25 – end)

Through the written word and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

I am not sure about you but over the last few weeks, I have known God is with me in all that I do in these new times. But there have been some moments or even long days when I have accurately been trying to find his presence and willing for a clearer sign. As I read today’s reading something clicked. These moments or days have been the times when the worries, the big challenges and the odd frustrations have overwhelmed me. It would seem these things have pushed God aside and overtaken the minds thinking and physical doings. I am sure you can recall some similar moments or days too, as it is only human behaviour.

William Barclay in his commentary on today’s Gospel passage reminds us that “Jesus spoke to people desperately trying to find God and desperately trying to be good, who were finding the tasks impossible and who were driven to weariness and to despair”. This is when Jesus says – STOP – Come to me, all you that are weary, carrying heaven burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yolk and learn from me.

As I reflected more on these words and being on a training session, I was reminded that Jesus taught and often demonstrated, about the importance of just stopping, being and resting with God. It made me wonder – How many of us have stopped with purpose over the last few weeks? I am aware that during lockdown the reflection on life in general has happened for many of us. Yet, also from conversations and seeing posts on social media, I think we have all, in fact just found, or been forced, into a new way of being busy. Therefore, stopping with purpose has been limited if happened at all.

Being torn between focused time God and everyday living is a constant battle and one that is even harder when there is no regular set routine, such as coming to a service. And if you managed to get you head around the tongue twister of Paul’s writing to the Romans, Paul is pointing out this ongoing tug of war between our actions and feelings with God and with other aspects of life.

So, instead of ranting on for two long today, I think leaving you with time to reflect on Jesus’ words and time to be is more important. So, I invite you to at some point this week, find a comfy spot, if you prefer light a candle or have an image in sight, and just allow God to speak to you and give you his peace and his love. Jesus says….

Come to me, all you that are weary, carrying heaven burdens
and I will give you rest.
Take my yolk and learn from me.

In the power of the Holy Spirit and in union with our Lord Jesus Christ let us offer to God our concerns, our requests and our thanks.

Lord in this time of great confusion and anxiety we pray for the leaders of our churches who have to make important decisions on how best to begin to open up our churches for services, when faced with so many issues of health and safety regarding the corona virus.
Be with them Lord in all their deliberations and grant them Your strength in the difficult days ahead. We pray that we may soon enjoy the fellowship of worshipping together again in our churches.
Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

Lord we pray for the leaders of all nations faced with the task of bringing their people through this pandemic. Give them the foresight to act with true concern for the well-being of all. Grant them wisdom to discover long term solutions to help their societies prepare for a very uncertain future and peace as they all work together.
We give thanks for all the medical staff working on treatments and a cure for this insidious virus and we ask God’s blessing on them in all their endeavours so that the fear and suffering may come to an end.
Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

Lord we live in disturbing days across the world; people are falling ill and dying from the pandemic, countries like Yemen Iraq and Syria are facing catastrophic situations and unemployment is increasing at an alarming rate.
Loving God, meet us in our fear, shine the light of Your love and hope where there is darkness, grant Your peace to our troubled societies and fix our hearts where true joys are to be found.
Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

Loving God we pray for those in need in our local community; for families struggling to make ends meet, for those who have lost their jobs, for children denied the support of a loving family, for the lonely and the isolated. Show us ways in which we can be of help to those who are struggling in these unprecedented times.
Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

God of compassion we bring before you those who are ill and those who care for them. Draw near to them with Your Holy Spirit, touch them through the kindness and skills of those who look after them and may they find strength in Your presence beside them.
Especially pray for Peter Halliwell
Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

Gracious God we pray for those who have died in recent days and for those who mourn their passing. Embrace them with Your love, comfort them in their sorrow and give them strength and hope to face the future.
We hold before God those we have loved but see no more and treasure their memory in our hearts.
Lord in Your mercy hear our prayer

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

3rd Sunday after Trinity  Sermon 28 June 2020
Jeremiah 28. 5-9, Romans 6. 12- end, Matthew 10. 40- end

A group of British steam enthusiasts some time ago found one of the most efficient steam locomotives ever built rusting away in a shed in a suburban town in the far north west of Argentina.
Where our engines carry modest commemorative name plaques, this one, named the Presidente Peron, carried two of his favourite slogans. “It’s better to do than to say “, and “it’s better to carry out than to
promise “. Slogans which were full of political intent but which laid heavy emphasis on action rather than words.
Slogans which would have been understood by the prophet Jeremiah but he warned the citizens of Jerusalem of false prophets, like Hananiah. Jeremiah isn’t convinced that his message of restoration is
the word of the Lord.
He recalled how prophets had warned of wars and famine, an inevitable consequence of the people’s lack of faith and misdeeds. He said that true prophets speak words that are fulfilled. Events verify the
word.
We know the force of Jeremiah’s concern. One of the fears that holds back many from engaging in a healing ministry is that of raising false expectations.
Nationally, we have come to distrust politicians who hold back the truth because they feel it will make them unpopular, and unelectable. Conversely , we suffer from a fear of prophecy itself. It’s awful if the
prophet proves false; it’s awe full if he is proved right.
Did not Jesus note that a prophet is honoured, except in his own town and by his own family? So even for him prophecy was problematic. What could not be disputed was his presence, although his critics
dismissed him on the grounds that he was only Mary’s son and that everyone knew that nothing good has ever come from Nazareth.
But they could not ignore things that he did and what he said. And it was these that brought him into conflict with the authorities. His very presence provoked the crisis the false prophets actually feared.
Today, it may well be true that there is, at least in the western world, a dearth of prophecy. It is not true, though , that there is a dearth of Christian presence.
In our hymns we recognise the truth; “this is our God , the Servant King. He calls us now to follow him.” Through them God’s living prophecy in Jesus is proclaimed time and time again.
We re-affirm it in many different ways in all our services. We act it out in the Communion , and receive that drama as the very essence of our life. But we need to ask if, afterwards by our actions, we verify the
word that has lifted our spirits.
Can it be said in all our churches, “ worship is ended, now let service begin?
For it is that service which validates the worship we have offered. It is in and through the deeds within our lives day by day that the words we use gain their true meaning.
Presidente Peron was right. It is better to do than to say. It is better to carry out than to promise.
So what slogan does your life together as a church give to the world?
Pray that your actions may verify the words you speak, and your life testify gloriously to the faith you hold through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Let us bring to God, our loving Father, all the cares that weigh on our hearts knowing that he understands us better than we understand ourselves

You are God the creator, giving us richly all things to enjoy.
You are Christ the Saviour of the world, made flesh to set us free.
You are the Spirit of truth and love, willing to dwell in us.
You are holy and blessed.
One god, eternal Trinity, be near to us as we bring to you our intercessions.
Lord we pray for your church throughout the world, for those that are thriving and those which have lost a sense of direction.
We give thanks for our church and its people, and gladly acknowledge all the gifts you have given us through its life, we ask you to open wide our hearts that we may welcome the stranger and share our faith with others, open wide our minds that we may receive new truth and understand your will, open wide our lives that through discipline and prayer we may experience your power in daily living.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

We thank you, Lord, now for the church of which we are members, and for the Holy Spirit at work amongst us all. Be with those who lead us in our worship of you, we give thanks for the ways our church leaders have reached out to us whilst we are unable to meet for services, and for the ways in which they are preparing for the gradual resumption of worship in our church building.
We pray your blessing on all who share with us in this church’s life, that we may all grow in a knowledge of your love, we pray especially for Wendy as she moves to a new area to be closer to her family. We give thanks for the part she has played in our church, especially as a member of our church choir, we offer our best wishes and blessings for her future.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray for our own families and those we know – for children who are unable to meet with friends and family, who are worried about the Covid 19 situation. For parents who have difficult decisions to make about whether their children should return to school, or meet up with older relatives. We pray for all those who have been affected by the lockdown, financially and emotionally.
Bless each and every one, and may they all know your presence and feel your guidance in their lives, as they face new demands and challenges.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Father we pray for those who are sick, especially those whose illness is long term and demands much patience to bear. We remember before you those who are lonely and depressed and pray that we may be good listeners when friends and neighbours need us. Give us the right words to comfort and help us to know what simple acts of kindness may help someone else. We ask you to strengthen with your presence those who suffer in body, mind or spirit and give them courage and hope in their troubles. We think of those we know who are in special need of our prayers at this time and in a moment of silence we now name them in our hearts.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray for those whose hearts have been saddened by the death of someone close and dear to them.
We pray also for members of our families who have died and whose anniversary we recall. Help us to experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit within us, and the fellowship of the church family around us until we are reunited once more in your heavenly kingdom.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

O God beyond us give us faith.
O Christ beside us, give us peace.
O Spirit within us, give us life.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your son our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

2nd Sunday after Trinity Romans 6:1b-11 & Matthew 10:24-39)

“Happy Father’s Day” to any Dad’s reading this today.

It has been said that a father is someone who carries family photographs in his wallet where his money used to be. Guess there’s a few who can identify with that! Some people think Father’s Day is just an excuse for shops to sell more cards and gifts, but the role of a father is an important one in family life. Unfortunately sometimes there is no father figure – but if that’s the case another person will often take on that role to compensate.

Sadly there are many cases where a father neglects his responsibilities as a parent. Those who have known the love and support of a caring human father may find this difficult to comprehend. So if we have been fortunate enough to have a good relationship with our own father, then to think of God as our Heavenly Father will be a positive thing, but if that relationship has been difficult, or non-existent, to relate to God as a loving, merciful, generous father will not come easily to us.

One of the most familiar stories in the Bible about the father/son relationship is probably the Prodigal son, where the son wastes his inheritance and when destitute returns home to ask his fathers forgiveness. When he returned there was no rejection, no telling off, no punishment, for he is greeted with joy and compassion and his return is celebrated with a party. The father may not have approved of his son’s behaviour but he loved his child dearly. By telling this parable Jesus was trying to explain the true nature of our Heavenly Father.

Sometimes in our earlier years we have had to learn the hard way, it’s what makes us into well balanced adults. We have had to “cut the apron strings” as the saying goes, make our own decisions and suffer the consequences. As with all relationships our tendency is to fight authority, whether of God or parent. We want to be free and our own boss, to be allowed to do our own thing and so sometimes our Heavenly Father allows us to go through difficult situations in order for us to realise our dependence upon him and when finally we acknowledge our need of him, he responds as did the father in the prodigal son parable, not with anger but with mercy, compassion and undeserved rewards.

The person who puts us in a right relationship with our Heavenly Father is Jesus as stated in our first reading from Romans ch.6. Faith is a two way transaction. If we are unfaithful to God and his commands, if we seek our own will rather than his we spoil the Heavenly Father – son/daughter relationship and the sense of peace, assurance and trust that any close relationship should have. Whatever kind of earthly father we have known we can rejoice because God offers his father-hood to anyone who will accept the gift of adoption through our faith in Jesus and yield to the guidance of his Holy Spirit.

In today’s gospel reading it seems strange that Jesus says he hasn’t come to bring peace when so often the Bible teaches us of God’s love, joy and peace but Jesus is warning his first disciples that there were difficult times ahead and anyone who tries to live out a truly Christian lifestyle is likely to meet with opposition, scepticism and in some countries abuse and even death.

He tells them to expect conflict even from their own family and when we try to follow the teachings of Jesus this can become a reality for us. Christian commitment may separate friends and loved ones. However, Jesus is not encouraging disobedience to parents or conflict at home. Rather he was showing that his presence demands choices and because some will follow him and some won’t conflict may arise, but if we give him first place then we will become the person he wants us to be and we can then have deeper, more tolerant and longer lasting loving relationships with others. The peace that Jesus brings is not a peace that glosses over the trials and temptations of life, for conflicts and disagreements will arise from time to time between those who believe the gospel message and those who don’t.

God does not take away all our troubles, for the value of our faith is tested in the trials and stresses of everyday life. However we are not to be afraid for verse 30 tells us of our worth in God’s eyes. Everything we face, we face with him, we are never alone. The peace he gives does not exempt us from the problems we face as we try to live out our faith, but carries us through triumphantly to the other side.

When our faith calls us to make difficult decisions, we are facing the same problems Jesus faced when he walked on this planet. We are fond of hearing about God’s love but we must balance that with God’s judgement, for our actions in this life have eternal consequences. He calls us to share in his glory but we must also share the battles he fought.

Jesus promises that if we confess our faith in him he will claim us as his own and there will be rewards, but that’s another sermon….

A verse from The Orange Tree Press Ltd. that I collected on one of my travels around various Churches:
God has not promised skies ever blue
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through.
God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But He has promised strength for each day,
Rest after labour, light for our way,
Grace for all trials,
Help from above, Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
Amen

 

‘When we are willing to take up our cross with Jesus, we will also know his risen life.’

Let us pray to our heavenly Father, who is familiar with our world and understands our humanity.

Lord Jesus Christ, everlasting Son of the Father,
who for our sakes humbled yourself!
help us to heed your call!
Give us a spirit of humble service
that we may reach out to others in love.
Christ our Lord, who with the Father and
the Spirit lives and reigns for evermore.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Lord Jesus, your light penetrates the secrets of our heart.
Be at the centre of your Church,
that we may love you above everything else.
You have called us to heal as well as to love.
Bless the work of the church in places of neglect and deprivation.
We pray for all who work in the healing ministry.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Lord Jesus, your love exposes both deeds of darkness and light.
Drive away the fear that oppresses and demeans our world.
We pray for all who work in the world of commerce,
for bankers, tax-collectors and insurance brokers.
We remember all who are deeply in debt and cannot repay.
We pray for countries where the national debt is crippling.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Lord Jesus, you hold everyone precious in your sight.
Look with compassion on all who are marginalized and rejected.
May we all come reaching out to touch you;
may we all come in faith.
We give thanks for the comfort and security of our homes.
We pray for homes in our own town of Heywood;
where there is chronic illness, or the illness of a child.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Lord Jesus, you show great love towards all who call upon you.
We remember all whose lives are endangered at this time,
And all who have been involved in accidents.
Today we pray for friends and loved ones who may be ill
and any others that are known only to you Lord.

Silence

We pray for the broken-hearted and the broken-spirited.
We pray for all who find themselves in desperate situations.
For all who are anxious about their health
or the health of a loved one.
Lord, hear us and help us.
Lord Jesus, raised from the dead you die no more.
Hear us as we remember in this faith
and love those who have died.

Today we remember- Doreen Rostron and Peter Halliwell

Silence

We ask you to give joy and peace to our loved ones departed
and to all your saints.
May we come one day with them
to share in the fullness of your glory.
Lord, hear us and help us.
Lord Jesus, wherever nature’s beauty
or the daily miracles around us alert us to see your face,
we thank you for the grace to live this resurrection life.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

1st Sunday after Trinity
(Romans 5: 1-8 & Matthew 9: 35 – 10: 8)

Lord may our ears be opened to hear your words and our minds and hearts be challenged by the message you give. Amen.

We are all very aware that our world is changing rapidly and what it may look like in just a few weeks’ time is anyone’s guess. I knew it was moving fast, however for me, the changes in the last two weeks have been hard to keep up with, hard to process and strange to adjust to. Within the last two weeks alone we have, although slightly different for each of us, experienced one, if not more, changes to the lockdown restrictions that I hope have brought joy. For some, the process of going back to school or work would have been expected. Maybe this is the case or maybe it was a step back as things changed very last minute, for safety of course, but still a change and process which would have brought a mixture of joy and sadness. As a country and world, our main news has become twinned, COVID-19 updates, now alongside protests and responses following George Floyd’s death and the need to campaign for every life matters, regardless of colour, class, wealth, status, gender, sexuality, and the list goes on. And
as a world, we sit and wait for what next, with the biggest unknown I think anyone has known.

In all of this, it is hard to hold on and as I speak to some of you on calls and reflect on my own situation and feelings and write, I am very much aware of that emotional testing journey that we are all on, as we each live out our own lives, in our own unique situations, with our own views, concerns, hopes and worries, yet together share the what’s next? Well, this none of us have the answer to, but we all have and can share with others, in the joys and the sufferings of God’s love, hope and peace. And what better timing than to be reminded of these in our readings set for this first Sunday of Trinity.

In one of the commentaries for this week’s readings, the question is asked – Is it foolish to talk about rejoicing and suffering in the same breath? My quick answer was No!. That’s because I believe, not only as I have explored above, but as we hear through the Bible and in Jesus life story, all of our joys, ups and downs, and challenges all live side by side and together. And it is this togetherness of emotions held in the palm of the Christian faith that gives us that Hope, hope in both the rejoicing and the suffering and reminds us of God’s love, hope and peace for all.

Taking Jesus’ life as an example – No matter what Jesus was going through, whether it was rejoicing with his disciples and sending them out, whether it was fighting for justice, whether it was feeling down and needing a moment for himself in prayer, Jesus always knew and held onto God’s love for all, God’s hope for a better world and future and God’s peace for all who follow in all that they feel. Paul reminds us today, that all of this is very much available to us all today. He notes it is not something that we need to gain, nor is it something that is for the privileged only. God’s love, hope and peace is open to all who trust and live in God’s presence and to all who hold on and acknowledge these three things within their own lives in all times, the joyous as well as the grim.

So, God never promised us an easy ride, but what he did do was give his ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ, so that we can all experience and share in his life as the people we are called to be! Our Gospel reading notes that the disciples were sent as they are, nothing extra was given or instructed, but as they were to worship and live and share in Love, Hope and Peace. So, whatever your current situations are or feelings are, whatever the future may look like, be or still unknown, please remember that you have God’s love, hope and peace with you at all times and as his believer, follower and disciple you are called for who you are, to be who you are. So, in Jesus’ own words – Freely you have received; freely give. Amen.

Prayers this week have been written by John Schofield (Thanks John)

Let us pray for all people, everywhere, both close to us and far away.

We pray for our government, that with your help, they will make the correct decisions to end this crisis.
O Lord, Christ and saviour, we pray for people of every race and belief, and in every kind of need, make your way known on earth your saving power among nations.
We pray that any demonstrations held throughout our country, in response to the events in Minneapolis, will be peaceful and respectful of safe distances between themselves and other people.
We pray for our neighbours. Whether they are literally our neighbours in other towns, cities, countries particularly not only during this pandemic, but always.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who are in trouble, who have money problems, who have no money.
For families of workers who are not able to work from home and are unable to travel to work.
We pray for those who are away from school at this most crucial time in their teaching, for those who are uncertain, again due to the pandemic, where their life will take them. May Your love guide them, and be a help to them now and forever.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who suffer in mind body, or spirit especially those in our care homes, who have been particularly affected by this virus. We pray for the sick, for those who mourn, for those without faith, hope or love.
We pray for any who are in special need of our prayers at this time, especially those known to us. We remember them now in a moment of silence.
Especially praying for Peter Halliwell

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which no darkness can quench. We remember before God those who have died and whose anniversary of death is at this time.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We thank you, Holy God, for your promise that where two or three are gathered in your name you will grant their requests

 Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Trinity Sunday Sermon
(2 Corinthians 13: 11 – 14 & Matthew 28: 16-20)

Through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen

I am sure we have all had experiences of trying to fit something into a box or packet that just does not fit. We might push with all our might, we might take the item out, fold it differently and try again, we might sit on it or pull it shut with tape hoping it will stay. Yet, as we do, we know very much that the box/ packet we are trying to use is not a fit for the item we are trying to pack and a search for a new box or packets is the real answer.

Trinity Sunday is very much like this to. Many people, from experience, hope that as they listen to explanations of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a complete boxed answer will be given, about what it means, how they relate and a comprehensive understanding of God is a complete. Well, I am sorry, but this complete box is not coming today, and the reason for this is because God does not fit in a complete packaged box. That is because God is greater than our imagination and can’t be squashed, re-shaped or forced into anything we can visualise. So, you may be asking why Trinity Sunday and can we truly know the God we worship? And the answer is because Trinity Sunday reminds us about relationships and Yes, we can truly know God if we have the right relationship.

The Trinity highlights the connections that sit within and between the three (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). The symbol (image at top of the page) to represent the Trinity shows this link and demonstrates the never-ending relationship. Now Augustine, (a fourth century philosopher who infused Christian theology with Neoplatonism), describes the Holy Spirit as a bound between God the Father and God the Son, and he calls this bond love. There are many interpretations to the Trinity symbol about the position of each but which ever way around (Holy Spirit at top like a flame and Father / Son equal at bottom, or Father at top and Son and Spirit at bottom, etc) there is the central section where all over lap, all support and connect and less likely to be disputed is that bond of love. We to can be part of this bond and we to can be part of God’s Trinity and get to know and understand him more and more.

For 90% of us, the receiving of the Holy Spirit would have been gifted to us during baptism at a young age. In our Gospel reading, we hear Jesus’ great commissions to his disciples to go out and make disciples by first baptizing them so that they receive the Holy Spirit and become part of the Trinity of God. Bound up in the love of God, with the promise that once this happens, Jesus promised that “I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. Yet, it does not stop here. The receiving of the Spirit only allows us to be invited into part of the Trinity. To be fully encompassed and understand it we must, as Jesus continues to tell his disciples in the Gospel – baptize and teach “them to obey everything I have commanded you”.
To understand something, we need to experience it. Being part of the Trinity and in relationship with God, is about acting upon our Baptism. In becoming a disciple, we are asked to learn from Jesus’ teaching and to apply them to our lives, we are asked to accept God’s love and share it with others, we are asked to live and work with the help, and in the presence of the Holy Spirit. And, this is echoed in Paul’s final greeting to the Corinthians.

Paul writes “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” Just as Father, Son and Holy Spirit are links and bond together, we are fellow Christians are not only bounded with the Trinity but bounded with each other. As a community of disciples, we are together to celebrate, to strive for restoration, to encourage each other and to live in peace.

Doing this always is a hard task, and at times we will get it wrong, but God is a forgiving God if we acknowledge our mistakes and ask for forgiveness. Yet, also in these new and strange times, the thought of doing this may be how, or why, or not possible. However, as I reflect on the weeks past, I just want to say and share with you ALL are doing this and carry on. I have heard during phone calls great comfort that people are phoning up friends, that friends and family are shopping for each other, that people are offering help in any way possible and most of us have been great carers of God’s creation and resources to and all of it has been done through the discipleship of care, love, protection and hope for all. As we live God’s ways, we begin to receive and learn so much more from God, and begin to understand why he will never fit in a box, because he give so much more than we can ever image or give ourselves. So, as we all continue to grow our relationship with God and the wider Trinity, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen

Our God who is beyond us, lead us forward as we pray.
Our God who is beside us, teach us gently we pray.
Our God who is within us, still our hearts as we pray.

Holy God as we come to you in prayer today, we celebrate your creativity, giving us richly all things to enjoy. We give our thanks for the beauty and mysteries of our world. You gave us creatures great and small, sunshine, birds and trees and a star filled sky. You gave us flowers and friends and special people to love.
We pray for your forgiveness as the pollution in our oceans, the air we breathe and the destruction of rain forests are having terrible consequences for so many people.
The coming of the Holy Spirit invites us to a new beginning and so we ask your forgiveness for past wrongs, respect for the earth, peace for its people, delight in all good things and from now on a new start in how we live our lives.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, son of God, always there beside us, to comfort to and guide us. You sacrificed your life to set us free from our sins. You are the spirit of truth and love; and you taught us how to pray.
We ask you to bless those who have not noticed that you are there beside them, bless those who have chosen to ignore you.
Bless those who are lonely and those who need you so desperately.
We bring before you those who have lost their sense of direction, especially during this coronavirus pandemic.

Let us take a few moments to name one or two such people before our Lord Jesus, and pray that they will raise their eyes to see you and open their hearts to you.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Spirit of God always seeking to fill our lives with love peace and strength. We know you are always trying to give us more of yourself and yet we often feel afraid, and so does our community of nations. Fill we pray, those dark places of this world with your love and guidance where violence terrorises people, where hunger stalks the land, and coronavirus is causing such distress. Lord we pray for all world leaders. Guide them with your wisdom, give them humility to serve their people, and reveal to them the injustices against their citizens. We pray for all world leaders to become true servants of God, that they should rule with fairness and in peace, and not by oppression or violence. May they value their people’s welfare more than their own personal ambition.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God our Father, Son and Holy Spirit we pray for those who are sick, sad and lonely. We pray for those who are brave and patient when things go wrong. We also pray for those who are struggling with their health problems. May they know your comforting presence and that in your hands they are safe and loved.
Let us now name those we love and care about who are suffering and in need of hope and healing.

In our prayers today we name:-

Doreen Rostron

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer

God our father, we remember before you those who have died and we pray for all whose life is saddened by the death of a loved one. Be with them in their loneliness and let them know that Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which no darkness can quench. We pray for all who have died from the coronavirus and whose loved ones were unable to attend their funerals.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Father God, lead us into the coming week, Son of God, help us to believe that you are close to us, Spirit of God keep us from making mistakes. Help us to not to disappoint you, and when we face hard decisions or difficult work, when we enjoy ourselves and have fun with others may we know that you share these times with us.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen,

Pentecost Sermon by Rev’d Robert Whyborn
Acts 2:1-21, John 20:19-23

GK Chesterton once said ‘How do I know that the sun will rise again tomorrow?’ I don’t, I rely on the fact that God saw it rise this morning and said, ‘I like that, do it again’ What is it that makes the world go round? The grass to grow? The wine to flow? What was it that blew the froth of chaos and brought order to all creation? It was and is the breath of God, the Spirit of God

The Spirit of God, like fire, keeps on smouldering in the hearts of people where oppression keeps them in chains, where unemployment and poverty devalue their humanity and where hunger weakens the human spirit. The Spirit burns bright in the lives of politicians, economists, and industrialists, and speaks in the words of teachers, writers, artists, and actors, in priests, prophets and preachers.

The Spirit of God whispers into the ears of the downcast and the lonely and reminds them that they are loved and wanted and beautiful. It is that Spirit which brings a glint to the eye, a spring to the step and hope to human hearts. When everything is falling apart, there is fear on the streets, and crime fills the vacuum left behind when there is that deadly combination of inequality becoming more pronounced and morality losing its grip, the Spirit goes on recreating the desire for justice, goodness and responsibility. It is the Spirit that, in this troubled time, has created our food banks, our wonderful NHS staff, carers, scientists, techs to give us Zoom, FaceTime etc so we can keep contact with friends and loved ones, and acts of generosity to help each other, the vulnerable and shielded in our community. The Spirit of God keeps on blowing across the chaos of the earth, reminding its people that they can speak the same language, that the search for peace has the same urgency in any language, that faith can cross every barrier, that hope is at the heart of every nation and that love needs no language but its own. When the Spirit of God comes no one is left out. All were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and everyone heard in their own language. We are told elsewhere in Acts that, ‘He gave the Holy Spirit to them as well as us.’ Every gift at the disposal of the Church is a gift of the Spirit.

It is when we make claims such as these and language such as this that we get different reactions. Some mock, some simply do not understand, some hear and are glad, and some hear and think that they are the only ones who have done so.

God does not confine the gift of his Spirit; it is freely available to all. It is seen in the church and beyond. We cannot keep it to ourselves, nor can we assume that we are the only to whom God has given it. But we can be sure that his Spirit which has given power to people, to churches, to communities and nations across the ages is still available to us if we will allow God to work in us and we are prepared to take the consequences.
Amen

We pray to our Lord God, revealed to us by his risen son, Jesus Christ.

O Lord God of goodness and mercy, be with us please as we travel through this time of trouble and sorrow.
Keep us vigilant and to be caring for each other
To give comfort, to bring calm to those who are fearful
Touch us with the Spirit of Jesus that we may all find an inner peace.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We give thanks to all who put their health and lives at risk in helping and caring for the sick.
For those bringing joy and hope to the disadvantaged,
For all who give little acts of kindness, a gentle smile,that can transform a person’s day and even life.
Show us, Lord, how we can play our part, however small.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for children preparing to return to school and for teachers and school staff who will be apprehensive. Keep them free from harm..
Similarly for those who are returning to work and finding their routines have changed and are having difficulty to adapt.
We pray for those who have lost their occupations and have the added financial worries to consider.
We pray also for all throughout the world who are similarly exposed to the virus. We are all one in suffering the loss of family and friends so dear to us.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

O Lord, please inspire scientists to discover vaccines and medication to combat the virus that has caused so much grief and anguish throughout the world.
We pray that those in power and with influence, work together without recriminations, remembering that none of us can be justified in throwing the first stone.
Lord, let us not forget all others who suffer from ill health and for those whose treatments have been delayed as a result of the impact of the virus.
Bless them with courage, hope and peace and may they feel the warmth of your presence.
We pray for those who provide love and care to those in need, whether on a professionally or for family members.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

O Lord, we pray that lives lost from the virus will continue to fall, giving hope to those most vulnerable.
We remember and pray before you Lord, those who have succumbed to the covid and other virulent viruses and also for those who have died recently from other illnesses or misfortunes. Especially praying for Margaret Lowe
May they bathe in the light of Christ which shines eternally.
We pray for lives saddened by the death of a loved one. May they, in their grief, cherish their loving memories.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord, show us how to learn from this period of distress, to humbly appreciate we are not in control as we may have imagined and are, in fact, frail and vulnerable creatures.
Teach us to reflect, in the sudden quietness and isolation, on the beauty of the world around us, to relish in the harmony of your creation, the splendour of birdsong and the humming of bees, the gentle breeze and rustle of trees.
To appreciate, that as we pause, creation continues unassumingly to provide us with it’s bountiful sustenance.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers, For the sake of your son, Our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Easter 7 – Incl Thy Kingdom Come Prayer week
(Acts 1: 6-14 & John 17: 1-11)

This week the Church of England is leading a worldwide time of prayer which is called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. It comes at a time, where in the churches readings and calendar, we have finished the Easter Season. On Thursday, we celebrated the Ascension of Jesus, going back to his father in heaven and now we have a period before celebrating Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit next Sunday.

Today, we have the Holy Spirit present with us already, but for the first disciples, these 10 days were a time for waiting. Now there are a lot of things that we can do while we are waiting, but for the disciples they found it important to gather together and to pray. Prayer is something that is important to all as it roots us (as it had done with the disciples and many Christians before us) with God. The end of our Acts
readings says… ‘All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer’.

Prayer was important to Jesus teaching too. Yet, he did not just set examples and teach us how to pray. Jesus today notes that as he leaves us on earth, he prays for us too. Now this is not a message I have stopped and thought about for a while, but to know that Jesus prays for me, and each one of us, is special and beyond words in emotions. I hope you feel the same. Prayer is a root in our faith, prayer is something that can sustain us, prayer is something we can reach out for when in need, prayer Is something where we can give but also receive.

However, often in our busy lives, prayer is one of the things to slowly disappear, so today, instead of using lots of words, I wanted to embrace the opportunity to stop and pray and to help with I have added a copy of the prayer tool I used on the first ever Thy Kingdom Come week I took part in, in 2018. You can do this as an individual or as a family. You can do this in personal reflection over snippets of time
or sit and allow 10 minutes to work through the tool. You can reflect on your responses in your mind, or grab a paper and pen and use it to jot down notes, draw pictures, etc.

Below are 11 these, read the blog for each theme and then allow a space to reflect and listen. As you do, remember that as you pray Jesus is praying for you too!
11 Themes of prayer (taken from Thy Kingdom Come journal 2018)
– #ToJesus: The clothes you wear today say something about the kind of things you want to associate yourself with. It’s the same for the music through your headphones, the phone in your pocket and the things you snap. Of course we all want to be unique. It is all about being authentic. But everyone follows other people. A disciple follows Jesus. And actually it’s the only way we find out how to be uniquely
us. It’s the only route to authenticity. For reflection: How closely are you following him? Pray you would go his way today.

– #Praise: Praise changes things. Not in a spooky way, but at least in this way. Think about a relationship you have which is full of criticism. What effect does it have on you? Of course it’s negative. It drains us, and makes us close down. But when someone gives us a word of praise – not flattery – the effect of that on us is brilliant. We open up. We feel more ourselves. Praise for Jesus opens up space for him to
come and meet us. For reflection: Tell him what it is you want to praise him for. Open up the space for an encounter.

#Thanks: There’s always stuff to moan about. To complain about. To whinge about. The more we do that – the less we see of the gifts around us. But when we take time for being grateful we see it all differently. For reflection: Make a list of things you have to be thankful for. It shouldn’t be hard.

#Sorry: When there’s something between us and friends and family – something that has happened that we regret, that has caused hurt, that feels wrong – the only way for a relationship to recover is by saying sorry. Otherwise we can never look that person in the eye. Confession is saying sorry to God – so we can look him in the eye again. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to the surface the things you need to say sorry for. For reflection: Sit before God’s face. Look him in the eye. See how much he loves you. Now say sorry.

#Offer: We don’t have everything God needs. We have everything God wants. That is – ourselves. God doesn’t just want money or time, projects or songs – he wants all of us. This surprises us, because our own view of ourselves is far less than God’s view of us. But we are the ones he wants. For reflection: Be really honest with God about what you find easy to offer him, and what you hold back. Give him a bit more today.

#Prayfor: One of the greatest gifts we can give to people is to pray for them. For reflection: Who has God put on your heart and in your mind to pray for? How does he want you to pray for them? Pray it.

#Help: We often feel helpless. There is so much change we want to see; in ourselves, in our families and amongst our friends and in the world. Prayer begins when we come to the only one who can help. He will never leave us helpless. He staked his life on helping us. For reflection: What is it you need? #Adore: Adoring is more than liking. It is more than thinking someone is nice. It is being biased that they are brilliant. God is utterly biased for you. He is not neutral about you, undecided about you, or waiting to make his mind up you. He not only loves you. He adores you. For reflection: How do you feel about him?

#Celebrate: To celebrate is to do something that isn’t just required or expected. It is to go a bit over the top about someone. To do more than you need. Because, as they say, they’re worth it. God’s worth it. But we regularly take it all as a bit standard. For reflection: If you were going to celebrate God how would you do it?

#Silence: Revelation 8:1 It is extraordinary ‘When he opened the seventh seal’ (do not ask) ‘there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.’ Our lives very rarely have silence in them. Sound is constant. Many of us can’t even go to sleep without background noise. God gives us silence – for us to be present to him and him to us. So let’s hold a moments silence together…… For reflection: mark down a time where  you can offer silence prayer in more depth, a time where you could maybe Go somewhere where you can be alone and put your phone away. Sit or stand. Be aware of God, experience how close he is to you.

#ThyKindgomCome: One of the shockers with Jesus is how quickly he invites us to do things for him in the world. He doesn’t wait until we have the qualifications, the experience or the age. He calls us today to work with him. For reflection: Are You up for it and ready to say Yes to God’s call.

I hope that you have found this prayer time useful. You can use this again should you wish for a guide for regular prayer or to reflect on some of things that have come to mind as well.

As I pray each day, I also continue to hold you all in prayer, if there are any specific requests please do get in touch. Amen

Rev’d Kirsty Screeton

Incumbent of St John (Hopwood) & St Luke (Heywood)

 Lord, as the churches stand closed and quiet and we are unable to gather in worship, we join together through our readings, our prayers and our thoughts knowing that You will hear us wherever we may be.

As the current, challenging situation goes on throughout the world we pray for our Government and for all who have to make vital decisions regarding our health and the economy. Lord grant them wisdom, courage and determination and a spirit of cooperation as they work to bring this nation through this unprecedented pandemic crisis. May it not be a time for blame but for being united in working for the common good.

Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord we pray for all who are working to bring us through this crisis; we pray for everyone working so hard in our hospitals in whatever vital role they play. We pray for our care home workers, emergency services, shop workers, delivery drivers, teachers and everyone known to You Lord who is playing their part, often putting their own safety at risk. Bless them in all their endeavours.

We pray for researchers and scientists whose knowledge and skills will hopefully find answers in treating this awful disease.

Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for our local communities; for those who have lost jobs or a businesses because of the virus. We pray for the children unable to go to school and to be with their friends and unsure as to when they might do so. We pray for those living in difficult family situations and for those having to live in long term isolation and with deteriorating mental health conditions.

We pray for all grandparents who long to spend time with their grandchildren and others wanting desperately to be with family or friends.

Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of healing we pray for all who are suffering from physical illness or mental health issues. We pray for all who are afraid to go to hospital with health concerns for fear of catching Corona Virus and we pray for all who are suffering from the disease itself.

We pray for the elderly and vulnerable in our care homes that they will be safe and protected and for the mentally sick that they will find help and support.

Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of compassion, we pray for all who have died in recent days remembering those who had to be apart from family at the time of their death. Especially praying for Margaret Lowe

We pray for all who are going through the awful pain and emptiness of losing a loved one. Comfort them in their sorrow Lord and give them courage and hope to face the difficult days ahead.

Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

At the moment Lord we are experiencing so many emotions: anxiety, fear, uncertainty depression and sorrow but so many good things shine through in the actions of other people and Your spirit of love and kindness is appearing everywhere. Give us Your strength and optimism to face the days ahead Lord and help us to put our trust in You.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

 

6th Sunday of Easter (Acts 17: 22-31 & John 14:15-21)

Through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word Jesus Christ our Savour. Amen.

When I read and studied the readings set for today, I was reminded about Julian of Norwich whose saint day the church celebrated earlier this month (8th May). Julian of Norwich was a spiritual writer and when I read her bibliography and some of her writings, I was reminded about a God who is responsive and a God that is always with us, even when we ourselves find it difficult to locate him. So, I thought I would share with you today some of Julian’s bibliography and writing for context (taken from the Church of England All Saints Bibliography Book) and respond in relation to the readings set.

Julian was born in 1342 and her life is something of a mystery. It has been argued that she had been married and widowed before becoming a recluse. What is known for certain is that at the age of 30 Julian fell ill, and just when she thought she had reached the point of death her pain vanished, and she received 16 visitations. Julian wrote these down in what came to be known as the ‘short text’, before meditating on them and producing her ‘long text’ 20 years later.
Julian focuses upon spirituality and creation. She stresses that all things have their being through the love of God. She believes that we were loved from eternity. The high point of her spirituality is the cross and she shows a desire to enter into the sufferings of Christ. She is convinced that humanity was separated from God by sin and is redeemed and reunited with God through Christ.
Julian places stress upon Christ as mother, as divine wisdom, but she does so with a distinctly Trinitarian understanding. One of the notable features of Julian is that her theology determines her experience, rather than the other way round. Thus seeing Christ’s suffering allows Julian to see the meaning of this life generally, and of her own suffering especially. For Julian, the image of God as mother speaks more
powerfully than anything else of the outgoing love of the Trinity for creation. Julian was writing at the point in history when theology and spirituality were being slowly but surely prised apart. Her vision of God is formed out of both an intellectual approach and a response of love. Her writings have influenced many throughout the centuries and are the result of reflection on the questions of life in the light of  immediate spiritual experience. Two of many quotes given are:

Thus I saw and understood that our faith is our light in the night; which light is God, our endless day. (Julian, Long Text 83)

When the soul is tempest tossed, troubled, and cut off by worries, then is the time to pray, so as to make the soul willing and responsive towards God. But there is no kind of prayer that can make God more responsive to the soul, for God is always constant in love. And so I saw that, whenever we feel the need to pray, our good Lord follows us, helping our desire. (Showing 14)

So where does Julian of Norwich fit into today’s readings? There two bits I want to  pick out from our readings in relation to Julian’s thinking. In her bibliography it is noted that Julian’s theology determined her experience, rather than the other way round. Thus, seeing Christ’s suffering allows Julian to see the meaning of this life generally. In our reading from Acts we hear Paul sharing the message – The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.

Our Gospel reading takes this further – “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Both messages talk about God being part of our lives, but it being God who guides, directs, and impacts our thoughts and our actions, not us directing Gods. God is not someone to be put into a shrine, but instead should be invited into our lives to lead us. God’s spirit should also be invited into our lives and in this living within us will teach and guide us. But it is important to note that although God is ready to accept our invitation – this invitation and openness to allow God into our lives needs to come from us.

We are about to enter a period within the church where we integrate into our thanksgiving of the Easter celebrations, the Ascension of Jesus, which is celebrated on Thursday, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, which is on Pentecost Sunday in two weeks’ time. It is a time where we are encouraged to stop and think about our faith and our relationship with faith today and gives us the opportunity to re invite God into our lives afresh. In inviting God into our lives, we need to be open to listen and follow, allowing our experiences to impact on our spiritual lives, just like Julian writes about. Therefore, I invite us all today to find time during the next few weeks to sit with purpose. To sit and reflect on our relationship with God, and if ready open our minds and hearts inviting God afresh into our lives and be open to where God will
take us during these next few weeks, which for some will be weeks of change, for others weeks of reflection. Amen.
A prayer of St Theresa of Avila from the 16th century, but relevant at the time especially:

‘God is unchanging. Let nothing disturb you, nothing alarm you; while all things fade away, God is unchanging. Be patient and you will gain everything: for with God in your heart, nothing is lacking. God meets your every need.’

So, Lord, we praise you, the ultimate game-changer with the world turned upside –down, for the resurrection of Jesus which seals the ultimate victory of love and light over hatred and darkness.
So, we pray for the Church, that all Christians may be aware of your rich presence in our lives. We pray for the congregation here at St John’s, especially thank you for the compassion and web of calls that keep us connected to each other and to you, and shed light and hope in our hearts. We give thanks that even though we cannot be together in our church building, we are still able to worship together by reading the sermons provided by Kirsty and Irene, and to join in the prayers we are sent weekly. We hope at this time that our inner life of prayer may be nurtured, and that our journey of faith may continue to grow.

Christ Jesus, risen in glory

Scatter the darkness from our hearts and from your world.

Lord Jesus, we bring to you all leaders and their advisers at this uncertain time for the whole world. We pray for our Queen, Prime Minister and government and all MPs and local councillors. We ask that you will equip them to lead and to listen and to act honestly and with humility and compassion as they seek to cope with the present and plan for the future.

Christ Jesus, risen in glory

Scatter the darkness from our hearts and from your world.

We continue to pray, loving Lord, for all who serve us – all the key workers from the delivery drivers and shelf stackers to those who work in the NHS and care system and research scientists – all those we are invited to clap on Thursday evenings. As they seek in different ways to bring hope and healing we ask that you will continue to encourage and energise them as they go ‘above and beyond’ on our behalf.

Christ Jesus, risen in glory

Scatter the darkness from our hearts and from your world.

Risen Lord, we bring to you our loved ones. For many of us there is fear, doubt and uncertainty just as there was for your disciples. You came to them, risen, alive to offer them peace. Thank you that your peace reaches out to us today even in life’s fiercest storms. May we all know that we are always held in the embrace of your love.

We especially prayer for: Mason Scott

Christ Jesus, risen in glory

Scatter the darkness from our hearts and from your world.

Finally, we rejoice in the glory of our Risen Lord and give thanks for all the Saints who have shared in his victory over the grave and death. Jesus is the light of the world: a light which eternally shines and brings hope that no darkness can extinguish.

Today, we commend all who have died to your eternal love and care, remembering all victims of Coronavirus, We especially prayer for: Don Hustwick

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

SERMON 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER – Acts ch.7 v55-end – John ch.14 v1-14
by Rev. Irene Warrington

Lord speak to us through your word and may our hearts respond in love.

“Don’t worry” How often has someone said that to us, or how often have we said it to others?
It’s easy to tell someone not to worry but our televisions and newspapers seem to breed anxiety. They report on crime and unrest both here and abroad. They announce statistics that cause us to worry about our health, even advertisements draw attention to our greying hair, our ageing skin, our cholesterol etc., that can worry us about growing older.
We are given facts and figures about the economy which makes people worry about the security of their jobs and finances.
Even within our churches there are worries about the cost of the upkeep of our buildings, about the falling number of congregations. Fears about the lack of people training for ministry. Concerns about issues like women bishops causing division within the church, and so the list goes on. Added to these are our own personal daily concerns about our families and friends, particularly in these unusual days of national uncertainty about what life will be like for us all in the future.

Today’s gospel reading takes us to a time when Jesus is preparing his disciples for the days of uncertainty that lay ahead for them. He was preparing them for the time when he would no longer be with them in person. He prepares them for his death, his Ascension and for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – and through that spirit they will have a better understanding of the way God would bring salvation to the world.
Throughout his earthly life Jesus has shared with them through miracles, his healing ministry and his teaching, something of God and the way he wants them to live and the job he wants them to do. They will have to carry on without Jesus’s physical presence – they will have to be his healing hands, speak his comforting words, they will have to speak the truth, follow his way, live his life of compassion and mercy, and promote justice and peace wherever possible. That instruction is just the same for us as it was for those first disciples.
That’s the job of the Church of which we are all members. We are to bring to this world of uncertainty, fear and worry the message that there is a better way. That we have a Saviour who is the Way the Truth and the Life. It’s no easy task, but we have his promise that if we are following his way, doing his will, speaking his truth, then what we ask for he will provide. We only experience the full power of God when we rely totally upon him and work in partnership with him, something it seems we are rarely prepared to do.

The world around us over powers us so much sometimes that our faith is weakened and we lose our way amongst the problems and anxieties that seem to bombard us through the media and through the day to day events of life. But Jesus is a man of his word and God does not go back on his promises and the promises are there in the scriptures for us to read, to believe and live out in our daily lives.

Only we can decided whether we want to worship a distant God or whether we want to spend some time getting to know him. The more time we spend with somebody the better we get to know them – and so it is with God. The more time we spend in prayer the greater our peace and by studying the scriptures the better we will understand, and the deeper will be our relationship with the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Surely our present situation gives us the time to do just that, most of us have been spending more time at home where we can pray and open our bibles and discover for ourselves the strengthening power of scripture. There are so many passages of comfort, healing and hope to be found, but unless we make the effort we deny ourselves of the peace freely offered by our precious Saviour and friend.
The disciples had to trust and step out in faith in order to experience the promises Jesus made to them and we know from the pages of the New Testament that they faithfully fulfilled their mission. Christians don’t have clear answers to every question and it’s foolish to pretend we have. Like Thomas and Philip in this reading from John’s gospel, we have questions and often like them we have to trust even when we don’t understand.
A Danish philosopher once wrote: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”. How true.

The reading from Acts tells us about Stephen who paid the ultimate price for his faith. Who would have thought that Saul, who we are told approved of Stephen’s murder, would turn out to be the great apostle Paul who would contribute so much to the pages of our New Testament.

We may not be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice like Stephen, but if our faith is of any value then we will be challenged. Jesus when he tells us not to worry does not promise to give us a life of ease and pleasure, in fact the way is often difficult when we go against what the world dictates, but what he can offer us is a way to deal with the worry, to bring it to him and to allow his healing presence to give us a peace that this world can never give.

We have lived through the strangest of Lent and Easter seasons, no meeting together at the cross on Good Friday, no united joyful Easter Day celebrations in our churches, and possibly a strange Pentecost to come, but maybe, just maybe, we can learn some lessons from this time of separation. Faith is about relationship, with each other and with our God and often it is only when the familiar is taken away that we fully appreciate what we have lost, the privilege and joy to be experienced from worshipping together.
This is what most people have commented on during the “ring around the Parish” that Kirsty so successfully organized.

On Friday we celebrated VE day and the song chosen for the occasion was the well known wartime favourite “We’ll meet again”. The future is unknown but hopefully it won’t be too long before we can meet again to worship, but whenever and however that happens when the time comes let’s meet with an attitude of thanksgiving and praise.

Prayer
Lord, you are the way. Not simply the final destination but the journey too.
As I travel on I sense your presence, your life in mine, my life in yours, and when I cannot see the way ahead with all the clarity I’d like, give me the grace to trust. That is the hardest part at times, but, Lord in your strength I can succeed. Amen.

 

INTERCESSIONS FOR SUNDAY 10th. MAY
by Anthony Williams

The Lord is our shepherd
And we are the sheep of his pasture.
Let us bring to him our cares and concerns
For the Church and for the world.

Good Shepherd of the sheep, we pray for the Church;
For all congregations, for pastors
and all who minister in word and sacrament;
we pray particularly for bishops
in their shepherding of the world Church.
We pray for clear guidance and direction
In those issues which disturb us,
Asking not that you lead us the easy way
but the way that is right and good.

The Lord is my shepherd
There is nothing I shall want.

Good Shepherd of the sheep,
we pray for the world we inhabit
the world we have inherited
and will pass on to successive generations.
Teach us to look after it carefully and wisely,
to share its gifts more fairly,
and work together to ease its sufferings.
Turn the hearts of those who are excited by evil things
and encourage the timid to speak out
for what is wholesome and good.

The Lord is my shepherd
There is nothing I shall want

Friday, just gone was a day of National and European celebrations.
Seventy five years since the defeat of an evil regime.
A regime that chose to attempt to annihilate many minority groups,
Romanies, homosexuals the intellectually challenged and in particular
the Jewish race. Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. Just as
Jesus, born a Jew, was tortured and crucified two thousand years ago.
Although a time to celebrate, it is also a time to remember that to bring
about the defeat of the Third Reich, four hundred thousand British servicemen
and women as well as sixty thousand civilians died to bring about the
victory.
Today I pray that we are all able to remember everyone we know or
knew who was involved in the conflict. Parents, grandparents, relatives or friends.
Just two examples from our church, Ron Collinge, who died five years ago, a merchant
seaman who we believe was sunk and rescued twice and Cyril Lunn
who was involved in the liberation of the Channel Isles.

The Lord is my shepherd
There is nothing I shall want

Good Shepherd, we today here on Earth are experiencing another conflict.
This time as throughout history, a plague is amongst us. Causing illness,
Debilitation and death. Help us dear Lord to face down this enemy, as we
have done in the past, with your guidance , support and assistance.
Help all NHS workers, doctors , nurses, paramedics and auxiliary staff.
Help all working in the community, especially at this time within our
care homes, where many who were alive in 1945 now reside.
We pray Lord that you will help us remember in our hearts all we know
who have recently died. In particular we pray for Doreen Grayson and Don
Hustwick.
Also at this time of both healing and death may we take a moment to pray
for those who are ill, particularly eight year old Mason Scott.

The Lord is my shepherd
There is nothing I shall want

Good Shepherd, our current plague will cause significant economic disruption.
As is usually the case, those with plenty will survive comfortably, those
without will find their lives even more difficult. Dear Lord help us to
remember the poor, the hungry, the destitute and remind us to donate
to them wherever and whenever we can.

The Lord is my shepherd
There is nothing I shall want

Good Shepherd of the sheep, we give you thanks that in you we are able to
live through good and I’ll with abundance of life.

Merciful Father,
Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

T.W.
With introduction by
Susan Sayers

Sermon 4th Sunday of Easter
(Acts 2: 42-47 & 1 John 10. 1 – 18)

Through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word.

Jesus Christ our Savour, Amen.Today, for the beady eyed of you, I have extended the Gospel reading for today by adding verse 1 – 10. I do this because this is the full passage that reminds us that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and, in this story, Jesus doesn’t just tell us once (the original readings) he tells us a few times meaning it’s important to remember. Jesus refers to himself across the passage as the gatekeeper, the gate for the sheep and I am the good shepherd. And he sums this all up by noting “I know my own and my own know me”. So who is he on about? Of course, he is on about the familiar
image that is used regularly in the church that represents his and our relationship. Jesus is the shepherd and we are his sheep. But let’s put it into some context. I am not sure if any of you are, or have farming background, but farming today compared to Jesus time is similar in some ways but very different in others. For Jesus, he is using farming of biblical terms which would have looked something like this.

Shepherd’s use to live out in the fields with their sheep and at night they would gather them together in handmade pens and the only way in or out would be past the shepherd. In other words the shepherd was the door, and it was their job to protect their sheep from wolves, bears, stealers and many other dangers. If danger approached it was their responsibility to take action and protect their flock. The
relationship between shepherd and sheep was very deep and in tune. Sheep easily get frightened but they recognise their shepherd’s voice and upon hearing it they feel safe. They trusted their shepherds so much that they would follow when called to do so, and it’s the shepherd that would guide them to fresh land for food and water, while keeping them safe both day and night.

So why does Jesus use this image for our relationship with him, and why do we hear it post resurrection? Jesus is explaining to followers that he protects us in two ways, by being there to guide and support us and the second to set an example of life before us. By guiding and supporting us, Jesus is making sure that we are looked after at all times. When things are going smoothly and even when things are a little rocky. Jesus as the Good shepherd promises that he will always guard us and keep our soul’s safe at all times. The second way, Jesus is telling us that as a shepherd, he is offering to everybody an example of how to live a righteous and loving life that is full of hope. This linking to his post resurrection life. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, it can’t have been easy for Jesus to go to his death on the cross. But when he did, he did it in the hope that everybody would be set free to live righteous and loving lives as he has set whilst living on earth.

This imagery of shepherding and sheep is one I use quiet regularly at baptisms as I think it is a good foundation for not only the start of faith but also a relationship that is easy to grasp and understand and therefore can continue to support a journey of faith through all its ups and downs. Even today, centuries after the first Easter, Jesus is our Good Shepherd. If we choose to become part of his flock of sheep, he protects us, guides us, even if we go astray, and he teaches us how to do God’s will and lead a good life.

However, I believe it would be wrong of me to leave it here today – that imagery of Jesus as the gate to his pen and if we choose to enter, the gate will close and we will be in a safe and secure for ever. Because if we are honest, I wonder how many of us acknowledge that we go into that safe place but then keep peeking out back over the fence, or even to slip back out by doing things we know damage ourselves, others and puts our relationship with God to the test or even feel that the safety pen has left us. Jesus says – I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. Jesus knows each of us and he knows at times we are going to go astray or feel way apart. But he does not give up, in fact he keeps on looking after us and protecting us, leading us back to the safety of the pen and setting more examples before us. This was the reason Jesus died for us on the cross.

It’s also important to note as well that Jesus tells us his sheep comes in flocks and he loves each of them every bit as much as he loves us. We here are part of his flock as a church, but also a flock that extends to the local community, the wider team, the diocese and worldwide. Jesus loves all who ask to enter his flock and he even loves them who are yet to come into his flock. Jesus is ready to welcome all and we, as fellow sheep, have a responsibility to help him with this. This is the image given in our Acts reading, titled the fellowship of the believers.

This week we are being encouraged to ask ourselves: if you haven’t yet fully made the step through the gate to Jesus, perhaps now might be the time for you to take that step. If you’re in danger of sneaking over the back, it would good to stop and think about what you are about to do and change your actions while you can. And if you feel miles away, ask Jesus to show you a sign to confirm that you are safe and within his  care. If you are already through the gate and know you are safe, take the opportunity this week to reflect on your journey and how you might help others to find their way to the safety of the Christ flock. Jesus died for each one of us because he loves us and Jesus wants to continue sharing his love by being our Good Shepherd. Therefore, we are all welcome to be part of God’s flock, and our place has been prepared, but it is up to ourselves to say yes and make that journey to join the flock and then remain within it.

So let us pray
Dear Jesus, we are thankful to you for being our Good Shepherd. Thank you for loving
us and taking care of us but most of all, we thank you for laying down your life for us
so that we can have everlasting life in heaven with you. We pray that we make the
right choices in life asking you to guide us, strengthen our relationship with you and
allow us to be and remain part of your flock, encouraging others to journey with and
alongside us to. Amen.

INTERCESSIONS 03.05.2020
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
By John Schofield

Let us pray to God, who alone makes us dwell in safety.

For all who are affected by coronavirus, through illness or isolation or anxiety, that they may find relief and recovery.

Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For those who are guiding our nation at this time, and shaping national policies, that they may make wise decisions.

Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For doctors, nurses and medical researchers, that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health

Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For the vulnerable and the fearful, for the gravely ill and the dying. That they may know your comfort and peace.
We pray for those known to us who have recently passed away.
Especially praying for Doreen Gration

Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to the mercy and protection of God.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Easter 3 Sermon and Prayers
Acts 2:14a & 36-41, Luke 24:13-35

Lord, open my mouth so that I can speak. Open our ears and hearts so that we can hear your call and change. By your power, and through your grace, Amen.

During this Easter season, the series of readings set encourages us to reflect on our faith and how to incorporate it into our lives. And through this reflection and encouragement we journey through a number of familiar readings about how faith is still recognised and then carried out post resurrection by the disciples and Jesus’s first followers and believers, and it’s this post resurrection faith that holds many
similarities to our faith today.

I suspect many of you are familiar with the phases: I can’t hear you, I don’t have my glasses on or Let me put my glasses on so I can hear you. When reflecting on today’s readings, it was these saying that came to me. But in some research to check where they originated from, I learnt that they are more than just a saying. There are hundreds of research papers that link seeing and hearing. They report that
if we cannot see clearly it may affect our hearing, and visa-versa. Without going into too much detail it’s about the ability as humans to link what is being said with either lip reading or a physical appearance of an object or picture that allows us to make sense and understand in greater detail. This goes for all aspects of our lives, including our faith, as seen in our Gospel reading today.

Our Gospel readings is the familiar story of the road to Emmaus and it is a story that shares with us the experiences of two travellers on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Now just to apply some context, who these travellers are is often debated, but it is for certain, as recorded in the text, that they were two people who would have been in Jerusalem for the Passover celebrations, therefore they knew what had
happened. They were also very upset and heartbroken with the events, therefore it is clear that they had a belief in Jesus and were some of his followers. The road that they were travelling on was around 8 miles long, therefore on rough ground and bear feet or sandals this would have been a long walk and took several hours, but a route that they would be very familiar with.

Now on the walk home, this day post Jesus’ death and the discovery of the empty tomb, they are joined by a man walking the same route and a conversation is had. It is a conversation that when looked at in context and with the knowledge of Jesus’ appearance at the end, the unveiling of scripture is unfolded and visible. I am not going to go through them all now so it is something I invite you to do yourselves – to
re-read the passage and see where you can identify those words of scripture revealed through conversation.

The travellers on the road were having this conversation for the first time, they clearly don’t recognise Jesus and as a result they are firstly amazed that he doesn’t know what’s happened, so they go on to tell him sharing their distress. But as Jesus responds, he challenges their story, he starts to relate back to events prior to his death and questions their faith. As they approach Emmaus, Jesus goes to leave
them, but the travellers suggest that this fellow traveller should stay with them. What the travellers see as a lonely man about to wonder off into the dark, so they offer protection, food and a roof over his head. I suspect it was a Christian thing to do but, at the same time, despite the faithful and challenging conversation, the travellers must have felt safe and happy for the man to stay. Yet, it is this invitation into the
home that allows all to become clear and the whole event begins to make sense. As they sit down and eat, Jesus takes the bread at the table, blesses and breaks it and gave it to his two hosts. And it is only then that Jesus was recognised, it is only then that the travellers discovered that the conversation they had were words that God and Jesus had previously revealed through scriptures. In order to understand what Jesus had said on their journey, in order to believe that Jesus had indeed rose and was present among his people again, the travellers needed to see the psychical image of Jesus breaking bread.

But there are some deeper things happening in this story that impacts not just the traveller’s faith but guides us into thinking about our own faith journey today. The travellers were given the opportunity to share with Jesus areas of scripture & were able to tell of Jesus’ resurrection before Jesus responds. Only then does Jesus reveal the scripture to them. They have become part of the retelling, just like we are
encouraged to do today. Jesus, as they approach Emmaus goes to leave but he is invited to stay with them. Jesus leads the people and journeys with them, but he never forces his company on anyone. Jesus awaits to be invited to stay. And lastly Jesus is with the people for the whole journey, but it’s only through the breaking of bread that Jesus is seen, and hearts are warmed. Sometimes we journey through
our faith with questions, with doubt, with uncertainly, but Jesus is there to reveal himself if we are to open our eyes to see and listen. And sometimes, even living daily lives faithfully and for God it is important to feel those special reminders of Jesus’ presence and have our hearts warmed.

Remembering Jesus’ last supper during a Eucharist service is one way that we can link and be refreshed in his presence. But this is not the only way that Jesus can be recognised in our lives. Recognising the presence of God with us in everyday life, and sharing the message is just as important, and more so today. It is up to us, to keep our eyes and ears open to see Jesus in our daily lives, he is there, as he was
with the travellers. To recognise him we need to stop purposely and say to Jesus – stay with me, Jesus come into my life, Jesus come and be present in all I do. We also need to stop and look around us and ask where God is in what we see. If we stop and do this regularly, we to realise that Jesus has messages for us, that he is calling us and revealing to us his story and his directions for us, that he is journeying
with us through all aspects of life and in stopping we allow space for those heartwarming experiences to be felt. So, I invite you to be attentive to God with you and suggest that you remember to always put on your faith glasses in order to also listen and be led.

Amen

INTERCESSIONS 26.4,2020
THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
By Denise Collinson ALM

Let us pray for the church and the world. Let us thank god for his love, wisdom and guidance during this world pandemic.

Loving god we thank you for the gift of your son, our saviour Jesus, who walks with us in our lives journey. We pray for all who travel with us, in our family, our friends and the people in our community and the parish of St. Johns. We pray for a deepening awareness of our need for each other and for your image to be present and respected in the hearts of everyone we meet.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our Bishops, Clergy and all Christians who teach and guard the faith, bringing a light to those in darkness, speaking words of love to those in need of comfort in this time of closed churches when so many people are isolated in their homes. We thank you for the hard work of all clergy who are using social media and the internet to keep us informed, inspired and comforted by online services in their preaching and teaching.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God creator of our world, your son walked the roads and tracks of the holy land and taught us to seek your hand in the beauty and wonders of earth, sea and sky. We so often see evidence of our poor stewardship in the devastation of forests, of pollution in our oceans and in the air we breathe. Help us to recognise your presence in our modern world, and help us to use more wisely the resources of the earth.
Let there be respect for the earth, peace for its people, love in our lives, forgiveness for past wrongs and from now on – a new Start.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Loving god, send your son to walk with those we love and know who are going through a time of distress, suffering and pain. Help us to be aware of one another’s needs and to respond accordingly and to assist them with our prayers, words of comfort and good deeds on their road to recovery.

We pray today for:- Doreen Rostron , Cynthia Thompson and Brenda McGregor.

Let us now take some time to pray for and name before God anyone we love and know who are in need of our prayers today.

Praying also for – Doreen Gration

Lord comfort and heal all who are suffering. Give them courage, hope and love to come through their troubles.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayers.

We pray for those who have died because of the coronavirus and those who have died in other circumstances. We pray for their families and friends. Lord may they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.

Today we pray for Jack Croll, Glen Foxley, Edith Healey & Susan Prescott

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Faithful god we pray for doctors and nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those who are sick and who put themselves at risk by helping others. At times like these, may they know your peace, and because of your eternal love, we can all learn to live again.

Merciful father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sermon and Prayers: Second Sunday of Easter (Acts 2:14a and 22-32, John 20:19-end)

Lord, open my mouth so that I can speak. Open our ears and hearts so that we can hear your call and change. By your power, and through your grace, Amen.

I wonder if you can think of a time when you have either booked a holiday, planned a day trip out or brought a product that you have been sold by what you have seen either in brochures or online. As we book and buy, we hope and trust that the information shown is what we are going to get. But I wonder how many of you have experienced, often within the first minute of arriving at a place or seeing the new products that what we expected is not there or the images are miles apart. We can often find ourselves feeling upset, deflated, puzzled, confused and often need to adapt our thinking and thought process. What is seen and promised is not delivered.

May be not so easily identifiable as the above but there are other aspects in our life where we set ourselves pre-images and thoughts not from other sources but from our own human processing and thinking too. For example, how many of you have met someone for the first time and the person in front of you is not the person you expected, either looks, personality, voice, etc. – a little harder to admit but present. Pre-conception is a daily occurrence that we live with but it is something we need to be more aware of as it can get in the way of other opportunities and this doesn’t just occur in our human world, but can impact our faith too. Today’s Gospel reading gives two examples of this pre-conception impact.

When Jesus died on the cross, he foretold his new birth and resurrection, but did not go into much detail. Therefore, I suspect the pre-conception of his return would have been different for each one of his disciples. Now for the 11 disciples gathered in the house, all the doors are locked and the conversation is of fear and worry, even possible doubt. They are greeted suddenly and hear Jesus among them with the words “Peace be with you”. They then saw his hands, his side and they knew that Jesus was alive and he had rose from the dead. In return for the disciples acknowledging Jesus, Jesus left them with the following words in order for each to continue their faith journey and discipleship – ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit’’. The disciples saw, and despite all having different preconceptions, they believed.

Now Thomas, often referred to as doubting Thomas which I will come back to, was a disciple who was not with the others at the time of Jesus’ appearance. He is told by the other disciples that Jesus is alive. But Thomas replies that “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Thomas wants to see Jesus for himself, see his marks in order to believe that Jesus is alive. Thomas has a set image in his mind that he needs to see to believe. It is only a week later, when Thomas is with the disciples, and Jesus comes again, as he did the first time, saying “Peace be with you”. It is then Thomas finally believes, it’s through hearing and seeing Jesus that Thomas believes. Now it’s Jesus’ reply I want us to think about. Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Thomas’ is called doubting Thomas because he needed to see Jesus in order to believe that he was alive. But I think this title can sometimes be a little harsh. The disciples in the Gospel, I believe, are a true reflection and represent our varied discipleship today. How people come to faith, and what we each need to develop and grow in faith varies. We only need to look at our other readings to see this.

David in our reading from Acts declares “I saw the Lord always before me”. David states that he sees the Lord with his own eyes, which then allows him to worship, rejoice and go forth as a disciple with gladness in God’s presence, working in God’s ways, and to proclaim as witness to the risen Lord.

As Christians we believe and trust in what is written at  the end of Gospel “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” …But what we read is only part of our faith.

What we see and feel is another, and it is this seeing and feeling that can affect how we truly trust, have hope, grow, and develop in faith. In our current world and situation today we may feel ourselves in Thomas’ place, asking where is Jesus and long for a sign in our own lives, or we may recognise the risen Jesus presence with us and hold on to the hope that it to come. This may be because of how we feel, it could be because our pre-conception of Easter is not what it was expected to be. Yet, wherever we find ourselves, just like he did with all his disciples Jesus is present and alive and comes to reassure is that he is risen, so remove all that you except and all Jesus to fill your lives with his peace, his love and his hope. Amen.

We pray to our Lord God, revealed to us by his risen son, Jesus Christ.Lord.

We come to you at this time of distress and great sorrow.

We pray for all who have lost their lives through the frightening virus sweeping throughout the world and for those suffering and fighting for their lives.

We long for your presence and comfort.

 Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray and give thanks for all who are putting their own safety at risk in caring for the sick and ailing and also for those who have sadly succumbed. Sacrificing their lives for us all.

We pray for those in various walks of life who are also at risk in carrying out work to keep systems running and to maintain normality.

We pray also for scientists and doctors working ceaselessly to develop vaccines to combat and prevent the spread of the virus.

And keep us ever mindful, Lord, to take care not to spread infection.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

 We pray for those who are less fortunate than ourselves, in particular the homeless who are so vulnerable to diseases and infections.

We pray for those who are suffering financially, for those who have been laid off or lost their jobs and incomes.

We pray for those who live in other countries throughout the world who are similarly exposed, for we are now all one community fighting a common foe.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord, we pray for all who suffer from ill health, in mind or body.

May they be blessed with courage, hope and peace in the knowledge that you are present with them at all times.

We pray for those who provide love and care to those in need, whether on a professional basis or for members of families.

We pray in the silence of our hearts for those known to us who are suffering and especially to all at this time of crisis who are in fear of their lives.

 Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We remember before you Lord, those who have died recently through illness, accident or from the invisible danger roaming through this world.

It is an overwhelming time, O Lord, and hard to comprehend, that so many are taken in such a cruel way and our souls ache for so many mourning the loss of loved ones.

We especially pray for: Glen Foxley, Jack Croll, Edith Healey & Susan Prescott.

  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

 Keep us strong in faith, O Lord, to provide comfort and reassurance to each other with a friendly word and a generous heart.

We may not be able to give each other a loving hug, but a loving word can raise our spirits to face the future.

Just as you loved us and forgave us on the cross, so may we also sacrifice our flaws and in opening our hearts we may bring healing to past wounds.

  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We glory, at this time, in the risen Lord who came among the frightened disciples and offered them his peace and as they received him with joy, may we too and also receive the free gift of his Holy Spirit.

May our faith conquer evils that beset us and give us life as Jesus promised.

  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

 Merciful Father, Accept these prayers, For the sake of your son, Our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

————

PALM SUNDAY

Matthew 21: 1-11

Family Activity: If you had one last meal what would it be? Maybe if you agree eat it this week, or add it to a meal plan over the coming days. As you eat it explain why is it important to you.

Sermon

Lord, open my mouth so that I can speak. Open our ears and hearts so that we can hear your call and change. By your power, and through your grace, Amen.

Since December and the telling of Jesus’ birth we have heard many stories about Jesus’ life. We have heard about him showing his greatness, the calling of the disciples and others to faith, his miracles, his teaching and much, much more. And from today we begin to hear of Jesus final weeks in human form. Yet, I am not sure if you have ever noticed, but we actually hear about the encounters of his final moments in details as each Gospel writer adds more details to the story than they have previously. And in this, we are about to go on a spiritual roller coaster as we encounter the final moments and the look to the future. For this we need to be gentle on ourselves, even more so in these current circumstances.

It’s unusual on Palm Sunday for us to hear and sit with Jesus return to Jerusalem, as we instead tell the passion story and let it stand alone (no sermon). So, having the time to sit with this Palm Sunday reading, let’s look at the messages within.

Jesus’ journey begins with his entrance into Jerusalem; however, this journey is different to the ones he has made before. Instead of walking through the gates in quiet and being un-noticed, this time, as told in the Old Testament, it is to be grand. It is to be done in a way that there is no mistaking that Jesus is the King. But if we explore details about the actual entrance there are some key things to notice. Jesus rides in on a donkey, as told in Old Testament but his final journey in Mary’s womb was on a donkey too. A beginning and an end in similar circumstances, a reminder of why Jesus was sent in the first place. The second thing to note is that if you read the details, it is the crowd 6 on the outside of the walls of Jerusalem that laydown the palm leaves and coats, that shout and cheer for Jesus’ arrival. Whereas inside the gates there is a different story whereby people are asking ‘Who is this’. These people encounter feelings and questions that we will encounter in the stories as we travel through Holy week. Here we will encounter fear, denial, betrayal, and in Jesus’ final hours no one around to shout up about who Jesus is. Lastly to note riding into to Jerusalem on a donkey is something that only a King would do. This for Pilate is the start and evidence for his orders for arrest and death. The start of Jesus’ final week comes with a range of mixed emotions, and I am no doubt these echo feelings we feel today. Maybe as the weeks go on, we find ourselves on the different sides of the gate. Maybe as the weeks go on, we question our faith and come to deeper faith. Either way is fine but let’s remember that whatever journey we are on, mixed emotions and responses are fine. But let’s not forget that as we take care of our mental wellbeing, let’s also take care of our spiritual wellbeing too remember that Jesus is with us and remains with us at all times. Amen.

Prayers

Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Dear All,     Please find intercessions below for Palm Sunday, wrote by Lesley Lees.

We pray to you, Lord of palm-branches and the cross, for you understand us and in love you have promised not to push away any who come to you. We pray for your church that all those who trust in Jesus will be made able by your Spirit to follow his humility, to see and imitate his servant life, to welcome and not to condemn. Help your church to be like Jesus. We pray to you, Lord of palm-branches and the cross, for you know the warm glow of being praised and the loneliness of being hated.

 Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer.

We pray for our local community, for those who find they cannot work, or have their incomes reduced because of the Coronavirus outbreak. We think of children and young people who will be missing their friends and are anxious about their futures. We pray for families who may be worrying about relatives and friends they cannot visit. We think of the homeless and those who rely on the work of charities for support. Help them Lord to face their difficulties and to have hope for the future.

  Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer.

Lord God, we entrust to you the families and communities affected by Coronavirus, wherever they may be. We pray especially for health care workers, that you may guide and protect them. We pray that your Spirit might inspire those researching new medicines and treatments. And in the midst of this, keep us strong in faith, hope and love. Grant us the courage and perseverance to be good neighbours.        Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow. Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.

Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.      Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.

Whether we are home or at work, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.

  Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer.

We pray to you, Lord of palm-branches and the cross, because you know how quickly life changes to death. We pray for those who have recently lost those whom they have loved. In the shock, confusion, pain and sorrow especially of unexpected loss,

we pray for hearts to be open to the comfort of your Spirit. We remember those we know who mourn in these days, and we name them before you now, Dawn Edith Riley (funeral took place Thursday 2nd April) and for Gladys Evans and Beulah McSorley whose funeral takes place this week. Also for Garth Foxley who died in Highfield Nursing Home on the 2 April.

 Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer.

We ask, God of grace, that you will make us more like some of the crowd: that we will follow Jesus and give him our praise in the way we live; that we will turn away from wrong and evil and stand on the Master’s side, that we will be faithful in worshipping the one who has come in the Lord’s name through our singing, our worship, our prayers, our attention, in giving our skills, time and means through the days of our lives; and in the offering which we make now. Bless, we pray, all that is given to your glory and the good of many.

Through Jesus who is the Saviour of all.

Merciful Father :

Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

 HOLY MONDAY

John 12: 1-11

Reflection

Perfume today is not like it was in Jesus time. This would have been worth about a year’s salary. Just shows its expense and even more potent use on Jesus.

Judas challenges the use, and in suggesting it be sold and money given to the poor is sadly not a good will gesture, but one of greed and selfishness.

Many items that we purchase are determined by a price (£) but it’s true value will depend on each person’s situation, income and emotional attachment. Therefore what we do with them is much more important than it’s value

 Action

As we move around our houses, let’s take note of things your might have forgotten about, or things you don’t often stop and look at. Give thanks for what your do have and the reasons behind them. What would you sacrifice for Jesus?

 For families

 Over a meal talk about how Jesus is the centre of our lives and our faith. Ask how do we feel when we make Jesus the centre?

Prayer

God made you and God made me, He made the world for us to see. God loves you and long ago, He sent his Son to tell us so. Jesus showed us many things, To love and share and dance and sing. To learn and pray, to help and care, He promised he’d always be there. He died but then came back to life, Let’s celebrate for he’s alive! Amen.

 HOLY TUESDAY

 John 12: 20-36

Reflection 

“Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going” – may sound familiar or too personal at this point. However, hope shines through. Jesus forthtells his death and in this we hear God speak out. “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”What the glorified will look like this time, we are yet to find out, however on each occasion both have been a time of revelation, a time of encouragement, a time of blessings. God is with us in times of darkness and times of joy, however, sometimes we need to look deeper to find him and hear his call to us.

 Action

In prayer offer to God your fears, worries, or concerns. Then light a candle and remind yourself of God’s presence with you always. Find silence in your mind for God to speak to you.

For families

: Make an Easter Theme story board / picture and display it in a window for all to see. As you do this talk about the journey that is about to happen and share your feelings.

Prayer

Almighty God, Your name is glorified even in the anguish of your Son’s death. Grant us the courage to receive your anointed servant who embodies a wisdom and love that is foolishness to the world. Amen.

HOLY WEDNESDAY

John 13: 21 – 32

Reflection 

There are two things here I believe. The first is Jesus predictions of Judas betrayal. Jesus names it and makes is clear to Judas and the others what is about to happen. Why? Was Jesus giving Judas the chance to change his ways or was Jesus saying it was OK for Judas to do what he was about to do. When we look at it like this, rather than through the eyes of the betrayal, is the story different? Today we recall the Passover meal that Jesus shared on his last night with his disciples. For the disciples it would have been a regular event, sitting at the table to share in a meal would have begun as a celebration and a joyous occasion. Until that is, Jesus stands and referring to his forthcoming death, takes the bread and wine and says, the familiar words – ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. At this point the disciples get uneasy and start asking questions. Jesus begins to try and reveal to them what is to happen through the washing of the feet and his farewell speeches, but the disciples need time to process in order to understand.

In John’s gospel we hear in detail about the washing of the feet. Now, washing of hands and feet were custom before sharing in the Passover meal but would have been done by a servant of the house or another figure, certainly not a leader of the Jewish faith. So, for Jesus to get up, take a towel and water and start washing the disciple’s feet, Jesus is teaching a dramatic and unforgettable lesson in humility.

Jesus knew he had come from God and was going back to God.  Whereas the disciples still didn’t know what was about to happen. As a result, Peter refused to have his feet washed, and becomes quite challenging towards Jesus. But in this challenge and Jesus responses, we are reminded about the sacrament of baptism. In Jesus’ time it was adults who were baptised as a symbol of them acknowledging their faith. Today, many are baptised as children and are therefore welcomed into God kingdom from a young age. The washing of feet and Peter’s challenge reminds us of our commitment and welcome made at baptism. And the fact that Jesus does it, reminds us of baptism in the Trinitarian God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But it also challenges us, whether baptised or not, to ask ourselves, would we allow Jesus to wash our feet, or are we to proud to acknowledge this commitment and / or make re commitment?

Following Jesus washing his disciple’s feet, he then teaches for the final time. The word Maundy comes from a form of the word “mandate”. And Jesus’ final mandate to us all is – to love one another. In all that has been undertaken by Jesus whilst on earth and the messages given in this final meal, the sharing in bread and wine and the washing of feet, Jesus has been setting examples and encouraging the message to love one another. As we begin to, in a sense, mark the beginning of the end for Jesus’ earthy life, we are given the final instructions to carry on loving as Jesus has done in his absence, in simpler terms – love one another, and do it like this.

Yet, it took some time for this mandate to be understood, accepted and put into place. Because following his teaching we see the encounters of sleep, betrayal and violence. Jesus moves from the house to the garden of Gethsemane with a few disciples and first asks his disciples to remain awake while he prays. However, when he returns from prayers, he finds the disciples sleeping. The disciples have begun to realise what is to happen and it could be said that the emotions have made them sleepy. When in the Garden after prayer, we then hear the solders arrive, the troops come prepared and ready for a scene of violence, and we hear about the betrayal of Judas. Judas has been paid to tell the authorities who Jesus is. After his betrayal, things turn violent as the disciples try to protect Jesus but again, Jesus steps forward and allows God’s will to be done.

Today, the retelling of Jesus’ meal with his friends, some farewell speeches, the washing of feet, sleep, betrayal, and violence are things that can be recognised today in our own faith journeys. And it important that the connections between Jesus’ time and our own faith is recognised. So, as we reflect, ask yourself, how does it feel to let all others be of service to you and think about those in your lives who set examples of being faithful in addition to Jesus. Remember, that as we remember Jesus’ last supper, you are each called to faith. Therefore, listen to the words being shared and accept them as personal to you. Also, as we come, wait and watch with Jesus, allow your own grief for Jesus to emerge and don’t be afraid of the questions. We can hear Jesus teaching of Love and service to one another, but we can’t actually receive openly from all and go and serve, unless we truly understand Jesus’ sacrifice, the emotions of the disciples, and what it means to Love one another in the light of the resurrection. So take time to understand and allow God to speak and allow God to use you as his will. Amen.

Prayer

God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his Church to proclaim his death until he comes: may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

GOOD FRIDAY

John Chapter 18 & 19

Reflection 

As we read of Jesus’ final hours on the cross, I often find it helpful to think of what different people felt. I share with you below a Homily I wrote for an assignment from what I believe would have been Pilate’s Wife perspective in this generation.

I was there you know, in the background at the headquarters. Always hidden from view, not often known by name, just as the wife of Pilates. If only he had listen to me on this occasion, I did try to save him.  I sent word to Pilate, I told him about the dream I had and advised him not to get involved with that innocent man. He could have saved him but NO!! He gave him away for others to deal with, with his power he can turn a blind eye. He had the power to save him.

I wish I had the power and the confidence to stand up to Pilate and the crowds, I wanted to shout from the window, that man is innocent, but something stopped me. I am a woman and people put expectations on me. It always seems that men have power to say this or to do that with no questions asked.

What happened to equal rights? You hear on the news equal rights for women, women in power but it’s still not quite all true in this day and age, it still happens to some, especially to the stay at home wives like me.  Why God, Why didn’t I shout out and show others that a house wife has power to change things in society.

 Action

Identify someone from the story and spend some time reflecting on how they might have felt either then or in todays times. Or maybe reflect on how you would have felt if you were there. If you feel like it, be creative, draw a picture, write a reflection, etc

 For families: Set aside some family prayer time. Talk about things you want to offer to God, talk about something that you want to forgive, something that is causing you pain and don’t forget to give thanks for Jesus.

Prayer

Almighty Father, look with mercy on this your family for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed and given up into the hands of sinners and to suffer death upon the cross; who is alive and glorified with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

 EASTER EVE (By Rev’d Robert Whyborn)

 John 19: 38 – end

Reflection 

Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb .. they laid Jesus there

One of the Church’s prayers for today begins “ in the depths of our isolation we cry to you , Lord God “ and ends by asking God to “ bring us out of the prison of our despair “

As we recall with grief Jesus’ death and his burial in a strangers tomb, we also lament all the suffering in the world. We acknowledge with sorrow our own part in causing or contributing to it. And we wait for God to forgive us and free us.

 Action

Make space today to lament the ways we have failed to treat people as made in the image of God or care for the world entrusted to us.

For families

 The Easter Vigil begins with a fire. Light a candle and talk about Jesus being the light of the world.

Prayer

For each perfect gift of thine

To our race so freely given

Graces human and divine

Flowers of earth, and buds of heaven

Lord of all , to thee we raise

This our sacrifice of praise.

Amen

 EASTER SUNDAY

 Matthew 28: 1 – 10

EASTER SUNDAY INTERCESSIONS

12 APRIL 2020

By Denise Collinson ALM

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

On this Easter morning may we rise with him, and praise him with all our hearts. May his resurrection fill the world with love, hope and expectation, and so lord we bring we bring to you in prayer our needs and thanksgivings.

Faithful god, we pray for your church throughout the world celebrating today the resurrection of our lord and saviour. Language, race and nationality may be different, but our worship and our joy on this Easter Sunday makes us united in one in the gospel of Christ. We pray especially for Christians wherever they live who are persecuted because of their faith, and have to remain silent in knowing you. Lord, may they hold in their hearts and minds your eternal words of comfort, “that you will be with them always “.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, alleluia.

 Father, we pray for your churches in Heywood. Help us to work together to build your kingdom, may your spirit encourage each one of us to grow in faith, and keep that faith alive, especially in the way we live and respond to the needs of all people wherever they live. God, our good shepherd, look down upon your church throughout the world. We pray that love will abound unreservedly both in unity and stability. Govern the minds of all church leaders, that they will lead their flock wisely, so that all hatred will be broken down, and love will reign.

 Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 Merciful father we pray for the many nations of our world working tirelessly to solve the global crisis caused by the coronavirus. We know that healing comes from you in many ways, therefore we ask your blessing on all doctors, nurses and medical experts who lead research in viral diseases.  We pray for all hospital staff taking care of those struggling to recover from this new pandemic. We ask that you will guide and equip them in their work, support them in difficult decisions, and grant them the strength they need to care for others and for themselves.

 Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 We pray for our families and friends who we cannot see in person and miss so much. We pray for family members in hospital or care homes. We pray for the many frontline people working to help coronavirus patients who cannot go home to their families for fear of infecting them. Lord God we ask your blessings on all these special people. Help us all to be gentle, compassionate, and tender-hearted towards each other, to be peacemakers in our homes. Help us to treat each other with compassion and respect. Lord bless our families and friends for you are our saviour, in whom we put our trust.

 Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 In the presence of our god, we now name those whom we love and are in need of our prayers today. Holy God, lay your hands on them to bring relief and healing, courage to live through this dark time, and the inner strength which only you can give.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 Lord God, we thank you for lives well lived, and commend to your keeping those who have died. We name before you now :-

Dawn Riley, Glen Foxley,  John Croll,  Gladys Evans, Edith Healey & Beulah McSorley

Through the resurrection hope may they know the joy of heaven

 Lord God, we thank you for the precious gift of new life. May we never again take it for granted, but live each moment in the fullness of life that Jesus has gained for us.

 Merciful father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

  Family Activity

Celebrate the risen Lord with the singing of the Gloria and alleluias. Tune into a worship and give thanks that Jesus is risen. Display your eggs and share hope with all you can.

Sermon

Lord, open my mouth so that I can speak. Open our ears and hearts so that we can hear your call and change. By your power, and through your grace, Amen.

 

In our Gospel reading, we hear that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to Jesus’ tomb where he had been laid, but when they got there something unexpected happened – there was an earthquake, an angel appeared and removed the stone from the entrance of the tomb. As Mary and Mary entered the tomb, they saw nothing, it was empty. Now I suspect the feelings Mary and Mary felt were similar to those we are experiencing today, along with anger, questions about where Jesus is, were worried and many more too. But the angel tells them, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised. He then goes on to instruct Mary and Mary to tell the disciples the message of what’s just happened. On their journey to tell the disciples about Jesus’ missing body, they are met on the path by Jesus himself and it is only then that they knew what Jesus had told him pre death, had actually happened, that he would die and be raised.

Easter is a time when we exchange chocolate Easter eggs to remind us about the empty tomb and they are a reminder that today we celebrate Jesus risen from the dead. But, exchange of Chocolate Eggs has not always been tradition. In the early days, pre-chocolate eggs time, people used to swap eggs, as in this egg an ordinary cooking egg. And although it doesn’t remind us about the empty tomb, it teaches us about other key messages of Easter. And it is a message that allows us to go share the good news that Jesus is risen, and what that means for us as Christians today.  Now a normal egg can do two things, become chickens or become cooked in various ways. Some eggs are produced for food and others produce new life.

When an egg is laid which is going to produce a new chicken, it is laid and carefully looked after. And at some point, around 21 days the egg begins to hatch, and a new chicken is born. So, eggs were shared and passed around families to remind them about new life. And today we celebrate Jesus’ new life through his resurrection, this is where our second use of the egg comes in.

We can also cook with eggs – how do people like their eggs… Boiled, scrambled, poached….. No matter how you like your egg, once the egg is cooked is cannot be returned to its original form… correct, well there’s a message in this too.

Today when Jesus came and stood before Mary and Mary and said greetings, he wasn’t the same as he was before his death. We hear as the Easter story continues, that his disciples see him still with his wounds and acknowledge that he is no longer human because he appears at any time and can be with everyone at the same time. It is something special but also something that’s hard to imagine if we stop and think too deep. But what we need to remember and take away, is that Jesus came in a new form and life, people describe it as a spiritual form. He came to continue journey with us. And coming in this new form and life gives us the chance today to live, knowing that when we ask our sins will be forgiven, knowing that when we ask for help Jesus is there with us. We know this through our own journey with God today, through reading the Bible, saying and listening in prayer and our own personal encounters. Mary and Mary also knew this once

they had recognised Jesus on their journey back from the empty tomb. Today is a reminder that, we too, like Mary and Mary, from the darkness, worries, concerns and hopes need to celebrate in Jesus’ resurrection, in whatever way we can (Service online or TV, message in the window, etc) but like them we also spread the word and keep alive that Jesus is risen, Jesus is alive, and that Jesus comes afresh to stay with us and be with us.

 Prayer

Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen

Prayer for Thanksgiving

Lord, thank you for the gift of new life, the greatest gift of all! Let your light surround those I love today and forevermore! O Lord, we thank you for being our Father and always keeping your promises!

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son for the sake of me and you and other sinners too God so loved the world. Blest are you Lord Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer’ This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.

Hallelujah!  Jesus is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Easter Blessings

May Christ, who out of defeat brings new hope and a new future, fill you with his new life; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit remain with you and those that you love, now and forever more. Amen

Happy Easter

 

The Bible readings are taken from the Holy Bible,

Common Worship, Times and Seasons, material from which is included in this service is copyright
© The Archbishops’ Council 2002.  (Some prayers & blessing)