Pentecost 2020 The Barn (with audio)

Pentecost 2020 The Barn (with audio)

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

              and also with you.

Jesus Christ, whom we worship, is our crucified, risen and ascended Lord and we have walked with him through his journey of love.  We have faced the agony of his suffering and death on the cross.  We have rejoiced at his bursting free from the bonds of death.  We have enjoyed his risen presence with us and his revelation of himself through the breaking of bread.  We have seen his return to the throne before which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that this Jesus is Lord.  And now, with the followers of his own time, we await the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, his gift to his people, through whom we make Christ known to the world.

         As we wait in silence

         Fill us with your Spirit.

         As we listen to your word

         Fill us with your Spirit.

         As we worship you in majesty

         Fill us with your Spirit.

         As we long for your refreshing

         Fill us with your Spirit.

         As we long for your renewing

         Fill us with your Spirit.

         As we long for your equipping

         Fill us with your Spirit.

         As we long for your empowering

         Fill us with your Spirit.

Hymn:  Come down, O love divine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgUFay0th9A&list=RD2v5wvJbvVQQ&index=2

Let us pray

              Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

       The Spirit of Truth will convict the world of guilt about sin, righteousness and judgement.  We have grieved the Holy Spirit, so we confess our sins in penitence and faith.

              Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

              Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.

              Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray that the Spirit will work through our lives to bring Christ to the world.

      Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, ignite in us your holy fire: strengthen your children with the gift of faith, revive your Church with the breath of love, and renew the face of the earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Acts 2: 1-21

When the day of Pentecost came, the disciples were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

This is the Word of the Lord 

Thanks be to God

1 Corinthians 12: 3-13

Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

This is the Word of the Lord 

Thanks be to God

Hymn   Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPVuLOXh8vE

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John 

Glory to you, O Lord.

John 20: 19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

 Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon

We have waited a long time for this day.  We started back in December, on Advent Sunday, when the great season of waiting begins with a church empty of decoration and a stripped-back liturgy.  The promise of God to humanity then grows as the seasons roll from one to the other: first a son is born, then he is baptised and presented to the world as Messiah, only for him to take us into the wilderness for 40 days of self-denial and self-examination.  Then come suffering, betrayal, rejection and death on a cross, and burial in a stranger’s tomb.  We have celebrated his resurrection, we have wondered at his Ascension and now we come to the fulfilment of yet another promise – the gift of the Holy Spirit.  However, just like all the other fulfilments, this one is more than a little strange. 

At the top of your liturgy today is a modern Russian icon for Pentecost.  It shows in stylized form 10 of the disciples, heads surrounded with haloes, each one holding a flame within it.  Four of these saints are holding books – who might they be?  One is holding a scroll – who is he?  They look this way and that, amazed at what they are experiencing and seeing on each other.  Is this how you envisaged the event, as it was read to us this morning?  The “violent wind” is a little difficult to portray in such a static representation, maybe, and the interior of the room is very Russian Orthodox in character, but the purpose of an icon is not for us to look at its surface but to pass through the depiction of saints receiving the Holy Spirit to the very presence of God himself.  It is like George Herbert’s idea of glass – we can simply look at the piece of glass in the window frame, or look through it “and then the heav’n espy.”  Look again at the icon.  It is full of human emotion, despite the very still faces and vague gestures, but the radiating lines on the floor and the walls of the room lead us upwards, between the gathered saints, to God.  Our eyes are carried up and through the drapery beyond the stage to the reality of the divine.

Pentecost not only leads us upwards to God, though: it is designed to lead us outwards, to the rest of the world.  Chris Lynch did a magnificent job with reading all the places from which the crowd in Jerusalem had gathered, so I thought it would be a good idea to find out where they are.  I don’t know if you like early evening game shows on TV, but Richard Osman’s House of Games on BBC2 has a round called, “Where’s Kazakhstan?”, during which contestants have to identify towns or venues on a blank map.  So here is a  map of the Mediterranean world at the time of Pentecost.  I have therefore renamed this, “Where’s Cappadocia?”.  The green sections at the top represent the barbarian hordes.  The red sections are the Roman Empire, the pink are client kingdoms of Rome, and the yellow area is the Parthian Empire, but important, because the Jewish Diaspora, which is fully represented in Luke’s account of Pentecost, goes as far as ancient Babylon – many families stayed there, and are still there, after the Babylonian Exile in the 7th Century BC.

Where did all these people come from?  Answer, just about every corner of the Roman world.  You can see that from Rome in the west to the land of Elam in the east, from Pontus by the Black Sea to Libya and Egypt in the south, faithful Jews had travelled to fill the Temple on this particular festival – fifty days after Passover, and the first of the barley harvest celebrations.  Remember, these are Jews who live outside Israel, in Jerusalem for worship.  The disciples making a cacophanous racket, first thing in the morning, would have drawn the crowd, and Peter’s words to them about the Messiah and the gift of the Holy Spirit would have struck a chord with all those who longed for the Messiah’s coming.

I want us now to look at a different sort of picture: Babel, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  The half-finished skyscraper as imagined by Bruegel comes from the story in Genesis 11, when the people on earth rebelled against God and built a tower to reach up to heaven to take God down and replace him with themselves.  God confounds their plans, and scatters them across the globe, confusing their languages, so that they could no long understand each other when they meet.  A fine mythological account of diversity of speech, you would rightly say, but why bring it up here?

Because Luke wants us to make that connection.  Here in Jerusalem are people from all round the world, who all speak different languages, suddenly able to understand one person who is speaking to them, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost has started the process of healing Babel.  Our scattered peoples are being brought back together into one people, the people of God, by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Just as Christ’s 12 apostles will rebuild the Israel of God as a people who do not need a temple in Jerusalem but can worship him anywhere, so the Holy Spirit will use those 12 apostles to re-unite in one voice the peoples of the world in the worship of God and the service of others.  For Luke, the Church is the new creation, the redemption of Adam, the recreation of the Garden of Eden.  And just as the Spirit was present at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1), so the Holy Spirit is present as that process of re-unification gets under way on the day of Pentecost.

We are scattered through Kew and elsewhere because of a deadly virus, shut up in our homes, locked out of our churches.  Yet we are brought together as we worship, our language is united as the Spirit pours through us, our prayers are united as we share our common desires and concerns for those we love and for all God’s world. 

To mark that unity, and that challenge to take that unity of love and care out from ourselves and into the world to heal it and recreate it, we will finish with a mass candle lighting session.  I hope you have candles and matches, as we will shine out with the light of Christ, and dare to take it out into a frightening and as yet unknown world.  We, God’s united people, will have to help rebuild it after lockdown.  We, God’s united people, will be those who will call for the grace, mercy and generosity that have been demonstrated at local level so powerfully through this lockdown, to be made permanent in government social policy, health policy, housing policy, transport policy, employment policy, tax policy – you name it, what we have engineered and prayed for through this time of lockdown has to be made a permanent feature of our reconstructed society, and the Holy Spirit will lead us in that effort.  We are not alone, we are united in God, through the Holy Spirit who binds us to him for ever.  Alleluia!

Prayers – with thanks to Harriet Grace

On this Sunday of Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the holy spirit and spoke in tongues, and the crowds outside heard them speaking in their own languages, let us dwell on what this means: the idea that through the disciples, God was reaching out to each one of us, and that we were special enough to be spoken to in a language we would understand.   Lord in your mercy hear our prayer…

In this pandemic time of uncertainty about the future we pray for strength to live with not knowing.  There are so many things we cannot know.  We are being tested in a way we may not have imagined possible.  We may find it hard to cope; it may feel unbearable.   We pray that your spirit is within us and we can believe you are there; and never feel cut off from your loving presence.  Lord in your mercy hear our prayer…

As we come to the end of week ten and  lockdown starts easing, we pray for all those who are ill with the Coronavirus at home or in hospital and ask for their quick and full recovery.  We pray for their loved ones who may be isolated from them and are living in anguish.  Help us to stay with what is happening now and offer our support where we can.  We pray that we remember those with underlying conditions or with disabilities who may die when they did not need to; for those who have been self-isolating and have not seen another person for weeks and are now fearful of doing so; for the woman I saw on Thursday who stood at a social distance and told me she was homeless and asked for money.  I had none and felt helpless, suspicious and fearful.   Grant us your healing love.   Lord in your mercy hear our prayer…

We pray for the schools and nurseries who this week will open their doors to some of their pupils and infants.  We pray in particular for Queen’s School and for the Barn Nursery and all the teachers and staff who with courage, planning, and foresight are making this possible.  We pray that this will safely enhance the lives of all involved and will be a stepping stone to a world where children and students can learn and grow together again.   We pray for all those worried about their jobs and their financial future and ask that they are not forgotten; and that our attempt to get back to a new normal will continue successfully.   

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer…

We thank you for all the  good things during this time, that can feel like miracles: the key workers in hospitals – the doctors, the nurses,  the cleaners who go in at dawn every day to make hospitals safe, the cleaner at the Royal London Hospital who spoke to Clive Myrie on BBC news and who radiated a spirit of giving.  We pray for care workers and thank them for their loving attention, including my granddaughter, who has had mental health issues and who has been working successfully in homes looking after the elderly and has found healing.   We thank you for all that we may have learned at this time right down to the Zoom technology and the App required to record these prayers.  We thank you for the blessing of sunshine, flickering shadows and light pouring on to us day after day.   Lord in your mercy hear our prayer…

We pray for all those who are sick in mind, body or spirit and all those caring for them.  In particular:  Alan Hay, Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter, Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston

We pray for those who have died and for all those left behind mourning their loss.  In particular:  John Axell, Joy Dyer, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams, Rex Thorne,  and for those known to us who have died recently and not so recently.  Lord in your mercy hear our prayer…

We thank Peter and all at The Barn and St Luke’s who work hard to bring the church to the congregation in their homes, and pray for us all.

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

Hymn:  Spirit of God, as strong as the wind  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy8AZ46GKqc

The Peace

God has made us one in Christ. He has set his seal upon us and, as a pledge of what is to come, has given us the Spirit to dwell in our hearts.  Alleluia. 

The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

              Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  There’s a spirit in the air  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEcBkPf_ut4

              The Lord be with you

              and also with you.

              Lift up your hearts.

              We lift them to the Lord.

              Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

              It is right to give thanks and praise.

              It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, always and everywhere to give you thanks, almighty and eternal Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  We give you thanks that, after he had ascended far above all heavens and was seated at the right hand of your majesty, he sent forth upon the universal Church your holy and life-giving Spirit: that through his glorious power the joy of the everlasting gospel might go forth into all the world.  Therefore we join with angels and archangels and with all those in whom the Spirit dwells, to proclaim the glory of your name, for ever praising you and saying:

              Holy, holy, holy Lord,
              God of power and might,
              heaven and earth are full of your glory.
              Hosanna in the highest.
             
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
              Hosanna in the highest.

              As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

              Our Father, who art in heaven,

              hallowed be thy name;

              thy kingdom come;

              thy will be done;

              on earth as it is in heaven.

              Give us this day our daily bread.

              And forgive us our trespasses,

              as we forgive those who trespass against us.

              And lead us not into temptation;

              But deliver us from evil.

              For thine is the kingdom,

              the power and the glory,

              for ever and ever.      

              Amen.

Blessing of Light – please light your candle at this moment

Blessed are you, sovereign God, overflowing in love.  With Pentecost dawns the age of the Spirit.  Now the flame of heaven rests on every believer.  Strong and weak, women and men tell out your word: the young receive visions, the old receive dreams.  With the new wine of the Spirit they proclaim your reign of love.  Amid the birth pangs of the new creation the way of light is made known.  Source of freedom, giver of life, Blessed are you, +Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Blessed be God for ever. 

Commission

For fifty days we have celebrated the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over the power of sin and death.  We have proclaimed God’s might acts and we have prayed that the power that was at work when God raised Jesus from the dead might be at work in us.  As part of God’s Church here in Kew, I call upon you to live out what you proclaim.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, will you dare to walk into God’s future, trusting him to be your guide?

By the Spirit’s power, we will

Will you dare to embrace each other and grow together in love?

By the Spirit’s power, we will

Will you dare to share your riches in common and minister to each other in need?

By the Spirit’s power, we will

Will you dare to pray for each other until your hearts beat with the longings of God?

By the Spirit’s power, we will

Will you dare to carry the light of Christ into the world’s dark places?

By the Spirit’s power, we will

Blessing

May the Spirit, who hovered over the waters when the world was created, breathe into you the life he gives.  Amen.

May the Spirit, who overshadowed Mary when the eternal Son came among us, make you joyful in the service of the Lord.    Amen.

May the Spirit, who set the Church on fire upon the day of Pentecost, bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ.   Amen.

And the blessing of God almight, the +Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you and those you love, today and always.   Amen.

Filled with the Spirit’s power, go in the light and peace of Christ. Alleluia!

Thanks be to God.  Alleluia!

Hymn: O thou who camest from above  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3UYybc7Xa0

Carillon-sortie by Henri Mulet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq8i69-L-Fs

Watch a Pentecost message from the Bishop of Southwark here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNyTpukI_Bs&feature=youtu.be

7th Sunday of Easter 2020 (with audio and video)

7th Sunday of Easter 2020 (with audio and video)

Picture:  The Ascension of Christ, on an added leaf in the Galba Psalter, Reims (France), 1st quarter of the 9th century (additions England, 1st half of the 10th century):

Audio service

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

              and also with you.

Hymn:  All hail the power of Jesus’ name https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgQ9ER-fdWQ

Let us pray

              Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

              Christ has gone up on high, leading captivity captive and bringing gifts to us.  As we prepare ourselves to meet him here in the courts of heaven, let us call to mind our many failures and sins.

              Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

              Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.

              Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray

              O God the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son, Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: we beseech you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 1: 6-14

Then the disciples gathered around Jesus and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

This is the Word of the Lord 

Thanks be to God

1 Peter 4: 12-14; 5: 6-11

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

This is the Word of the Lord 

Thanks be to God

Hymn   Be still, for the presence of the Lord  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5S_-zhHfDA

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John 

Glory to you, O Lord.

John 17: 1-11

Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.  “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

 Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon from Richard Austen

Sermon

Today’s Gospel is a plea from Jesus to God himself on our behalf, demonstrating yet again his care for his people.  But today I want to focus more on the Epistle. Peter is talking about the sufferings Christians will undergo for the sake of Jesus and, it has to be said, that a lot of what he says could be interpreted for the sufferings people are going though in a different form at present. “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you”; “Your brothers and sisters throughout the World are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” and, almost echoing the Government, “Keep – or stay – alert”!

While researching this sermon I came across some words from Malcolm Muggeridge, the journalist and broadcaster who died in 1990. Some of us may remember him and recall that he was a man who changed from being a Communist and agnostic to being an enthusiastic advocate for Christ. In an interview towards the end of his life Muggeridge said: “As an old man, looking back on one’s life, it’s one of the things that strikes me most forcibly – that the only thing that’s taught me anything is suffering. Not success, not happiness, not anything like that. The only thing that really teaches one what life’s about is suffering”.   He was probably right about that.  Do we learn very much about the important things in life from good health, happy days, money in the bank, and good fortune. We enjoy and value those things, but maybe we don’t learn so much from them. It seems that we all have to encounter some form of hardship or misery to learn the lessons God has for us.

This is a theme that runs through 1 Peter. Suffering is inevitable and we have lessons to be learned from it. Peter urges us to respond to suffering in a godly fashion.  There are perhaps four things we can learn from this today: 

Firstly, hard times develop our character

Discipleship is tough.  Suffering is part of the Christian life, even painful suffering.  Believers in some other parts of the world understand this better than we do. I have referred before to Release International, which campaigns for persecuted Christians throughout the World. It was founded fifty years or more ago as the Christian Mission to the Communist World, by Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Pastor who spent many years in prison because of his faith.  As the scope of this organisation widened to support Christians in many different countries, from Pakistan to Iran, India to Nigeria and many others, the name was changed. But the theme was the same – supporting those who were suffering for their faith in Jesus.  It would be true to say that living for Christ is the best life you can have, but an integral part of it is suffering in one form or another. However, most of us probably don’t think that way. We are surprised when trials come, how they come, and where they come from. We think we do not deserve them. But when they do happen, we probably emerge from them as stronger, better and more understanding individuals.

Secondly, hard times bring us closer to God.

By suffering for his name’s sake, we participate in Jesus’s own sufferings and become closer to him and are blessed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Many in the World do not love him, in fact some actively hate him, which is why Christians are persecuted and martyred today and have been since the beginnings of our faith. So, when we suffer for him, we find blessing. Our sufferings join us with Jesus in a way that nothing else can.  Peter wants us to understand that nothing moves us closer to Christ than when we go through hard times. It’s not that suffering in and of itself brings us to Christ; it’s what suffering does to us and in us. When we are at rock bottom, that is when we cry out to God for help. Many of us can identify with that well-known story about the footprints in the sand. At first there were two sets of footprints—ours and the Lord’s. Then there was only one set. And when we asked God why he left us alone when we needed him most, he replied, “When you saw only one set of footprints was when I carried you.”   God intends that our hard times should move us from where we are to where Christ is.

Thirdly, suffering should lead to self-examination.

We need to look at ourselves seriously. Are we living our lives as Christ would have us do? Are we proud of being a Christian? There are plenty of people out there who will make fun of us for being Christians and are we a little inclined to hide our faith for fear of mockery or rejection or being thought a little weird? Are we trying to avoid the suffering of being a Christian for fear of the reaction of others? Peter’s answer to that is clear: “Do not be ashamed.” Peter had known shame himself on the night before the crucifixion, when he denied Christ three times. He was ashamed of that and he was keen that other Christians should not go through such shame, but instead that they should be proud and confident in the name of Jesus.

Fourthly, suffering can teach us to trust God in new ways.

Suffering can make you stronger. That perhaps is a different experience for different people, but whatever else, it will certainly make you more experienced and perhaps more understanding of the problems of others. And sometimes it can make us realise that we cannot handle everything on our own. Instead of trying to work out how to solve our own problems, we need to trust in God, to cast all our anxiety on him, because he cares for us. What a wonderful instruction and relief.

So to summarise: We are loved by God; Suffering for Christ brings us closer to him; We must never be ashamed of Jesus; God uses suffering to strengthen us; We must commit our lives to God and continue to serve him.  Never be surprised by hard times. Never be ashamed of Jesus and never fail to put your trust in God, who uses suffering to help us grow and make us better Christians. Hallelujah!

In resurrectione tua from Taizé https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7eh2w-pOp8u8nf7afQbNgQ

Prayers – with thanks to Veronica Willoughby

Teach us Good Lord to serve thee as thou deservest:  To give and not to count the cost;  To fight and not to heed the wounds;  To toil and not to seek for rest;  To labour and not to ask for any reward save the joy of knowing that we do thy will.  Amen

Dear Lord, we miss seeing our friends from church and the loss of the routine of church services particularly over Easter had a profound effect on all of us.  We are so grateful to Peter Hart and the Parish Office for arranging services on Zoom so that we can see and hear how our friends are keeping under lockdown.  We pray for good health for everyone wherever they live and in every parish in London, especially this borough of Richmond.  

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We are all extremely grateful to the NHS for excellent care all our lives and now with all the hard work over the Corona virus they have truly excelled and deserve all the new clinics and hospitals which we hope they will get thanks to the money raised by Sir Tom and many others.  We pray that very soon there will be no more deaths of both patients and staff from the virus.    Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer

Dear Lord we pray for all our schools which have had to close at this time and that the boys and girls are enjoying time at home with school work coming in on-line in the morning and playtime in the afternoon.  We pray for all the teachers especially Mary Noyes, Jane Corpetti and Diana Ormond and all others known to us who are longing to come back and start the next lessons.   Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer

We pray for all those people who are very ill with other physical and mental issues and need the constant care of doctors and nurses in hospital as well as in the home with families and carers, keep them close in your loving arms O Lord and give them all the strength they need to face the future.  We think especially of: Alan Hay, Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter,  Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston 

Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer

We pray for those who alas are no longer with us but live with you in heaven.  Mary Smith, John Axell, Joy Dyer, Revd Peter Holmes, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams, Rex Thorne May they rest in peace and rise in glory.   We also remember with sadness and joy Nigel Blake, as the anniversary of his death falls this Wednesday. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer

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

The Peace

God has made us one in Christ. He has set his seal upon us and, as a pledge of what is to come, has given us the Spirit to dwell in our hearts.  Alleluia. 

The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

              Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  Alleluia, sing to Jesus  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmz-W733sz4

              The Lord be with you

              and also with you.

              Lift up your hearts.

              We lift them to the Lord.

              Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

              It is right to give thanks and praise.

              It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, always and everywhere to give you thanks, almighty and eternal Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  For he is our great high priest who has entered once for all in to the heavenly sanctuary, evermore to pour upon your Church the grace and comfort of your Holy Spirit.  He is the one who has gone before us, who calls us to be united in prayer as were his disciples in the upper room while they awaited his promised gift, the life-giving Spirit of Pentecost.  Therefore all creation yearns with eager longing as angels and archangels sing the endless hymn of praise. 

              Holy, holy, holy Lord,
              God of power and might,
              heaven and earth are full of your glory.
              Hosanna in the highest.
             
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
              Hosanna in the highest.

              As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

              Our Father, who art in heaven,

              hallowed be thy name;

              thy kingdom come;

              thy will be done;

              on earth as it is in heaven.

              Give us this day our daily bread.

              And forgive us our trespasses,

              as we forgive those who trespass against us.

              And lead us not into temptation;

              But deliver us from evil.

              For thine is the kingdom,

              the power and the glory,

              for ever and ever.      

              Amen.

May the Spirit, who hovered over the waters when the world was created, breathe into you the life he gives.  Amen.

May the Spirit, who overshadowed Mary when the eternal Son came among us, make you joyful in the service of the Lord.    Amen.

May the Spirit, who set the Church on fire upon the day of Pentecost, bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ.   Amen.

And the blessing of God almight, the +Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you and those you love, today and always.   Amen.

Hymn: Crown him with many crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kPkjghup8E

Praise him on the trumpet  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBQTBS_C-bE

6th Sunday of Easter 2020 (with Audio and Video)

6th Sunday of Easter 2020 (with Audio and Video)

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Main service audio

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

              and also with you.

Hymn: Great is thy faithfulness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTKIqmdfHSk

Let us pray

              Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

              Christ died to sin once for all, and now lives to God.  Let us renew our resolve to have done with all that is evil and confess our sins in penitence and faith.

              Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

              Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.

              Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray

              God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy: through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spiriit, one God, now and for ever.       Amen

Acts 17: 22-31

Acts 17: 22-31

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.  “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’  “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.  In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.  For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God.

1 Peter 3: 13-end

1 Peter 3: 13-end

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.  After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—  to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. 

This is the Word of the Lord Thanks be to God.

Hymn:  A new commandment  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3as1QIC832w

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John  Glory to you, O Lord.

John 14: 15-21

John 14: 15-21

 “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

              This is the Gospel of the Lord.  Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon from Michael Tonkin

Sermon from Michael Tonkin

‘He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.’  Words taken from this morning’s reading from 1 Peter.

Today, if it had not been for the coronavirus, Father Peter would have been being Licensed into his new role as Team Rector in the Diocese of Worcester.  As far as St. Luke’s and the Barn Churches are concerned, and I am sure beyond, we are all very fortunate to still have him with us, if but, for only a little longer.

Jesus, in our Gospel reading today from John, is preparing his disciples for the fact that he would be leaving them, in his bodily form once he had ascended to his Father, but would remain with them for ever as the Holy Spirit.  “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth,”  “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.”  Of course, as with so much that Jesus tried to make his disciples understand, it would only be after his death on the cross and his resurrection, that they would fully come to understand. We will hear in two weeks time how they receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

It is never easy saying ‘good bye’ to friends and loved ones, and it is one of the greatest tragedies of this terrible Pandemic that so many have had loved ones die before their time and been unable to with them.  We can only pray that they are now at peace with the one true God, who offers an eternal home to all who believe in Him.

It was while Paul was in Athens, as we heard from our reading from Acts that, in true Paul fashion, he went about teaching the Athenians about this one true God.   I have always had a lot of time for Paul, although I am sure he was not the easiest of people to live with, being unquestionably fanatical in his desire to spread the good news of the risen Lord.  Yet without his endless efforts, often against the greatest of odds, the roots of Christianity would, most likely, not have been spread so far and wide, and The New Testament would not, in a large part, have been written in the form we know it today.  Without Paul’s letters and his travels as recounted by Luke in Acts the New Testament would be very short.

In Athens, as in many other places Paul visited, he began in the synagogues and market places, preaching the news of the risen Jesus.  Athens at that time, as it had been for many years before, was a centre for philosophy and literature, and had a university even at that time.  Paul was invited by, ‘A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers’, to speak to them, and having seen an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown God’, began to tell them about the God who made the world and everything in it, “In him we live and move and have our being”.  Paul tells them they will be seen for who they truly are, and judged by God, and his Son, the risen Christ.  But judgement was not what the Athenians were looking for, they wanted to bind their gods to them with gifts, and with the power and scope of their religious services, gods that they could control and use as they required. 

It is, perhaps, something that we are all at times guilty of, holding on to our own personal God, who like the old advertisements for Bank Managers, were kept in a cupboard somewhere and brought out when needed.  This was not Paul’s God; although for many, there and then, to believe that God might focus all truth and meaning in one man, Jesus Christ, was hard to understand or believe.  We too often like the idea of controlling God more than the idea of giving God control over us.  We need also to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus promised not only to his disciples, but to every one of us who is willing to travel His path, the path of our risen Lord.    “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.”

So may we all in these troubled and uncertain times hold on to the fact that Jesus walks with us, and with the Holy Spirit lives within our very being, this day and always.

Amen

Taizé Community: Jésus, le Christ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqoYsauFa2I

Please remember in your prayers this week:

The Sick:   Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter, Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston

RIP  John Axell, Mary Smith, Revd Peter Holmes, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams

Prayers – with thanks to Paul Gregorowski, recorded for us by Chris Lynch

Loving Lord, please bless every person in this world. We are all your children and you love each one of us utterly and unconditionally; be with us in this time of uncertainty and risk, and we pray especially for those who live always in misery and fear, who are permanently locked out of life: refugees, the homeless, the hungry, those broken in body or mind, all those without hope. Help us to use this crisis to come closer to them and to work for a better world when this is over.    Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer

Lord of the nations, guide the rulers of the earth, give them wisdom, teach them mercy, inspire them with your love, Protect and bless all victims who live in states of injustice, cruelty and war. Bless your beloved home on earth, the Holy Land, and any country where people cry out to you for help in their despair.  Lord in your mercy  Hear our prayer

Living Lord, bless your family the Church; heal our destructive divisions that hinder your work and that cause you so much pain. Bless Christian Aid and all vital charities under threat during the epidemic.  May we help to fill the gap so that your will may continue to be done.  Please bless the Barn and St Luke’s and all in our parishes. May we bring them the light of Christ. Please bless Father Peter, Richard and Michael and all who serve you here, our churchwardens, administrators, musicians, volunteers and all who care for our children in Junior Church. And we celebrate with joy our links with Matabeleland and the Green Park School in Lusaka, for we are all one in Christ.  Lord in your mercy  Hear our prayer

Lord of giving and grace, we than you for all your blessings to us, for the beauty of this spring morning with all its colour and light, for the love that surrounds us, for the dedication of doctors, nurses, carers and encouragers, for our families and friends near or far away, and above all for your unfailing presence with us. Help us to use this slow time to draw closer to you and to learn all the lessons of love.  Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer

Christ of the cross, please be with those who are sick or suffering in this time of crisis. Hold them in your healing arms and bring them peace. We pray especially in our community for: Alan Hay, Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter,  Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston. 

Risen Lord be with those who have died and those who mourn. Today we pray for: John Axell, Mary Smith, Joy Dyer, Revd Peter Holmes, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams, for you are the resurrection and the life.  Lord in your mercy  Hear our prayer

God of all hope and love, be with us in this crisis. Once it is over may we create a fairer, kinder world free from the ravages of climate change, discrimination and greed, and may our children have a better future on this precious earth.

                        God’s promised kingdom longing to be born,

                        the poor are fed first, the hurt are listened to,

                        the kind are in control, the cruel are cured;

                        our deepest hopes become tomorrow’s news;

                        broken bones and minds are mended, the lonely loved;

                        fear is a distant memory,

                        happiness has banished hatred,

                        peace has vanquished war;

                        hurt earth turns into Eden once again,

                        and everything is green and fresh and free.

                        This is the Kingdom Christ has promised us,

                        and so we know that it will surely come,

                        not all at once, perhaps, but bit by bit,

                        will come the  moment that we learn to love.

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

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then they were glad when they saw the Lord, Alelluia.  The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

              Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  Blest are the pure in heart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMYVdGjUC2c

              The Lord be with you

              and also with you.

              Lift up your hearts.

              We lift them to the Lord.

              Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

              It is right to give thanks and praise.

              It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, always and everywhere to give you thanks, almighty and eternal Father, and in these days of Easter to celebrate with joyful hearts the memory of your wonderful works.  For by the mystery of his passion, Jesus Christ, your risen Son, has conquered the powers of death and hell and restored to women and men the image of your glory.  He has placed us once more in paradise and opened to us the gate of life eternal.  And so, in the joy of this Passover, earth and heaven resound with gladness, while angels and archangels and the powers of all creation sing for ever the hymn of your glory.

              Holy, holy, holy Lord,
              God of power and might,
              heaven and earth are full of your glory.
              Hosanna in the highest.
             
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
              Hosanna in the highest.

              As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

              Our Father, who art in heaven,

              hallowed be thy name;

              thy kingdom come;

              thy will be done;

              on earth as it is in heaven.

              Give us this day our daily bread.

              And forgive us our trespasses,

              as we forgive those who trespass against us.

              And lead us not into temptation;

              But deliver us from evil.

              For thine is the kingdom,

              the power and the glory,

              for ever and ever.      

              Amen.

              The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
and the blessing of God almighty,
+ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and those you love, today and always.  Amen.

Hymn: I the Lord of sea and sky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgLwH5RdtPk

Albert Schweitzer plays JS Bach Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 731 (1993 Remastered Version)

5th Sunday of Easter 2020 (with audio)

5th Sunday of Easter 2020 (with audio)

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

              and also with you.

Hymn: Christ is made the sure foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p73XRON9r78

Let us pray

              Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

              Christ died to sin once for all, and now lives to God.  Let us renew our resolve to have done with all that is evil and confess our sins in penitence and faith.

              Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

              Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.

              Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray

              Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect: through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen

Acts 7: 55-end

Acts 7: 55-end

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God.

1 Peter 2: 2-10

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For in Scripture it says:

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.’

 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,’

 and,

‘A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.’

They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This is the Word of the Lord Thanks be to God.

Hymn:  As we are gathered: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCdD5Ouq-2Q

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John  Glory to you, O Lord.

John 1: 43-end

John 1: 43-end

 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’  Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’  ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.  ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.  When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.’  ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you.’  Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.’  Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig-tree. You will see greater things than that.’ He then added, ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see “heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on” the Son of Man.’

              This is the Gospel of the Lord.

              Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon

My head is buzzing, ideas are whizzing around inside my brain, and there isn’t enough time or space to get them all down on paper.  Some weeks, the process of writing a sermon is slow and laborious, but not today.  So much has moved on in just 7 days.  On Thursday just gone we launched our telephone sermon option for people who cannot access the internet (020 8016 2474).  After a successful Zoom Patronal get together last Sunday, we launch today our first Zoom act of worship.  We have gone from a dry written sermon to a multiplicity of ways of sharing in worship, and it is very exciting.  In addition, on Wednesday of last week, the House of Bishops allowed a slight relaxation of our churches’ closure, with permission to live stream acts of worship from inside our buildings, as long as only two people are present, and suitably distant from each other.  The ways of keeping in touch with each other and of sharing worship together are increasing daily.

This is exactly what the writer of 1 Peter is talking about when he uses the image of “living stones”.  Christ is that first, all-important living stone, the cornerpiece, the foundation of all that God is building in his Church, but we his people are also living stones, built up into an ever-expanding building for worship and for witness.  However separated we are, we can come together to praise our God, to pray together and individually, and to share our joy in Christ.  However separated we might be, we can still show in acts of love and generosity what Christ has done for us and how God’s world ought to be. 

This building, so full of opportunity and challenge, does not get built without its tragedies.  The death of Stephen is one such awful event, when stones are used not to build up, but to destroy.  Just as the water of baptism talks of life and death, so stones were very much part of the Early Church’s suffering.  Stephen was not the only martyr to be stoned and the apostle Paul and his companions on their missionary journies were frequently chased out of town by stone-throwing mobs.    The writer to this group of churches in northern Turkey very deliberately uses this image to redeem those murderous stones that were used against Christians, stating that Christ himself was rejected as a useless part of the building of Israel, yet in resurrection he proves himself to be the most important part of God’s universe.  What is so marvellous is that we are included in that living stone, part of the fabric, a piece of the whole.  Resurrection includes us in God, totally, and that is wonderful.

However, our buildings are solidly locked this morning, and will remain so through this week.  There will come a time when they will re-open for private prayer, but we may well have to sit tight for many more weeks before full congregational worship will restart.  Therefore, this living building which offers prayer and worship to Almighty God will have to be active in different ways. 

One positive part of the national lockdown has been the safe removal of 90% of rough sleepers from our streets, into the warmth and safety of unused hotel rooms across the country.  The night shelter project was drawn rapidly to a close as this process happened, but the charity with which we work in providing these shelters continues to meet with these people, to support them into longterm accommodation, to restore their documentation and benefits or to get them back in contact with their families.  The work of Glass Door, St Mungo’s, the Salvation Army and many more charities working with the homeless carries on, day by day, with case workers making remarkable progress, and food banks supplying meals and other practical support.  In an article in Thursday’s Guardian, it was reported that of the over 500 homeless people now in hotels in London, many had tested positive for Corvid 19, but none had died – testimony surely to the skill and professionalism of their support teams.

Today is also the start of Christian Aid Week, when normally we would be out inviting people to share in the work of Christian Aid with disadvantaged people across the world, but this year we can ony do this online, via the Just Giving pages set up for our congregations (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/the-barn-kew &  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/st-lukes-kew or by phone: 02075232493 )  Please share this with your with your family and friends – many lives depend on our generosity.

The Kew Neighbourhood Association is providing much-needed support for vulnerable people here In Kew.  They are blessed with a large number of volunteers, but they need our prayers for their continued efforts. 

The Richmond FoodBank is continuing to operate, delivering hundreds of food parcels and frozen meals every week across the borough.  If there is anyone you know who needs this service, which is free to anyone who cannot afford to buy food, please encourage them to ring 0808 2082138 Monday-Friday, or 8940 0274, and help will be arranged as soon as possible.  Donations of food or of cash are always welcome: visit https://richmond.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money or phone 8940 0274, and surround your generosity with prayer for all those involved in this critical work in our borough.

The one major difficulty we have during this time of lockdown is actually telling people what we are doing as God’s people and how they can get involved.  We start with prayer, which must undergird all that we do, but the example of Philip in today’s Gospel reading is perhaps the most helpful in this.  Nathanael responds as an old curmudgeon when Philip says that Jesus is from Nazareth – Nathanael was from the neighbouring village of Cana, and old rivalries run deep.  “Come and see” says Philip, drawing Nathanael out of his aloof reticence and into the very presence of God.  As Nathanael meets Jesus he sees immediately that this is the Messiah – and it was Philip who gently encouraged him to encounter Jesus.  We are called to do the same today, but we cannot bring people with us to church on Sundays for the time being.  So we have to be creative.  Share sermons or acts of worship via email with your friends.  Like and retweet or share our Facebook and Twitter pages.  Make sure that people know that support is available and there are opportunities for worship for everybody – the glory of the internet is that anyone can access what we are providing from anywhere in the world.  Just because our buildings are closed does not preclude us from inviting people to meet the risen Jesus – “come and see” can easily become “join us online” or “read this” or “listen to this”.

Living stones, alive to God, growing together, worshipping, prayerful and outward-looking – all of that is encompassed in what we have read this morning.  May God give us grace this week, like Philip, gently to offer a meaningful encounter with the risen Jesus to all with whom we are in contact.  And may almighty God keep us and bless us through these difficult and uncertain times.  Amen

Taizé Community: Nada te turbe:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go1-BoDD7CI

Please remember in your prayers:

The Sick:   Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry,

Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter,  Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston

RIP  Mary Smith, Revd Peter Holmes, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams

Prayers – with thanks to Ben Worsley

Prayers

Dear Lord, we thank you for all the people who have risked and sacrificed much to provide us with all the privileges we have in Britain today. We pray for those still sacrificing, risking, and striving to make it better for everyone. We pray for clarity and reassurance in this time of uncertainty and we hope people use their power and privilege to help our communities to be safe and well. Our reflections go especially to those gone before us, for the lives of those we remembered this Friday gone.

Dreamers

by Siegfried Sassoon

Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land,

Drawing no dividend from time’s to-morrows.

In the great hour of destiny they stand,

Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.

Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win

Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.

Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin

They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,

And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,

Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,

And mocked by hopeless longing to regain

Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,

And going to the office in the train.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray for our local community. We confess our own failings and lack of compassion and love. We thank you that you forgive our failings and ask us to rise us up in your grace. Our community in this time is important. It brings us together, helps us and teaches us to care. We can see many great examples around us. Shopping for others. Stepping to the other side of the path. Talking over a hedge. Ringing someone for a chat. Help us to create a better community. We thank you for; Peter, Michael and Richard who are working hard at keeping us together when we are apart.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

At a time when people question the relevance of the church, give us the presence to be a witness in the world.

Prayer of Abandonment

By Charles de Foucauld

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray for the comfort and healing of those who suffer in body, mind and spirit;

Alan Hay, Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter,  Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston. Give them courage and hope in their troubles. And we pray for the dead, Mary Smith, Revd Peter Holmes, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams. Please bring peace to those left and help them remember the bright sparks of the life once lived.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

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

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then they were glad when they saw the Lord, Alelluia.  The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

              Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  Jesus Christ is waiting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai-OydgMLSs

              The Lord be with you

              and also with you.

              Lift up your hearts.

              We lift them to the Lord.

              Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

              It is right to give thanks and praise.

              It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, always and everywhere to give you thanks, almighty and eternal Father, and in these days of Easter to celebrate with joyful hearts the memory of your wonderful works.  For by the mystery of his passion, Jesus Christ, your risen Son, has conquered the powers of death and hell and restored to women and men the image of your glory.  He has placed us once more in paradise and opened to us the gate of life eternal.  And so, in the joy of this Passover, earth and heaven resound with gladness, while angels and archangels and the powers of all creation sing for ever the hymn of your glory.

              Holy, holy, holy Lord,
              God of power and might,
              heaven and earth are full of your glory.
              Hosanna in the highest.
             
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
              Hosanna in the highest.

              As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

              Our Father, who art in heaven,

              hallowed be thy name;

              thy kingdom come;

              thy will be done;

              on earth as it is in heaven.

              Give us this day our daily bread.

              And forgive us our trespasses,

              as we forgive those who trespass against us.

              And lead us not into temptation;

              But deliver us from evil.

              For thine is the kingdom,

              the power and the glory,

              for ever and ever.      

              Amen.

              The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
and the blessing of God almighty,
+ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and those you love, today and always.                Amen.

Hymn: We are marching in the light of God: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoJE2HYx_Z8 

or if you prefer it in the original version from South Africa:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KZbMprW8U

3rd May 2020 The Feast of St Philip & Patronal Festival (with audio)

3rd May 2020 The Feast of St Philip & Patronal Festival (with audio)

Recorded sermon

The image above is St Philip by Albrecht Dürer

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

         and also with you.

Hymn: Christ is the world’s light  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOv2dwLrYW4

Let us pray:

         Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

         We run the race set before us, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  Therefore let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, bringing them to Jesus in penitence and faith. 

         Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

         Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.

         Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

         Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

         Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

         For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray

      Almighty Father, whom truly to know is eternal life: teach us to know your Son Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life: that we may follow the steps of your holy apostle Philip, and walk steadfastly in the way that leads to your glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.    Amen

Isaiah 30.15-21

Isaiah

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
   in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused and said,
‘No! We will flee upon horses’—
   therefore you shall flee!
and, ‘We will ride upon swift steeds’—
   therefore your pursuers shall be swift!
A thousand shall flee at the threat of one,
   at the threat of five you shall flee,
until you are left
   like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
   like a signal on a hill.


Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
   therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
   blessed are all those who wait for him.

Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’

This is the Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God

Ephesians 1.3-10

Ephesians

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

This is the Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God

Hymn:  Purify my heart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IvXA0yRDwY

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

         Glory to you, O Lord.

John 14:1-14 

John

Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe

also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you

that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I

will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the

way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you

are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the

truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me,

you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long

time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the

Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words

I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is

doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at

least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever

believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than

these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so

that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I

will do it.

This is the Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you O Christ.

Sermon:  PIP (& JIM?) (not at the Barn Church!), May 3 Revd Dr Nicholas Roberts

“Lord, show us the Father and we shall be satisfied.” John 14:8.

‘Unaccustomed as I am’ to delivering sermons by mail rather than face to face, I will do my best to imagine your looks of dismay or cries of “shame!” as you read this.

In my first job as a high church curate in the Black Country I made the mistake (never repeated) of asking a member of the congregation if she had enjoyed my Sunday evensong sermon. “Ooh no, Father, she replied, “You went on for 25 minutes, and my feet were hurting”.  What follows should take less than 10 minutes to read, and you can do so lying down if necessary.

In the gospel for today Philip deserves some sympathy, if we are to take Jesus’ reply to his request at face value.    He had asked a good and important question, “Jesus, you go on an awful lot about the person you describe as your father: well, where is he? What is he like? How can we tell?”  And Jesus replies in what can seem a rather impatient or rejecting manner, “If you want to see the father, then look at me!”.

Maybe Philip felt a bit embarrassed, a bit ‘put down’ by this, perhaps rather tactless, reply. Jesus could be quite sharp at times, to his friends, and even, you may remember, to his mother – “Woman, what have you to do with me?”. Dress it up and sanitize it as much as you like with anodyne translations from the Greek, it wasn’t a ‘nice’ way to treat her!     But the heartfelt plea “Show us the father” may be one that we know from our own experience.   And I dare say that at the moment, as you read these thoughts of mine while at home, rather than through hearing them when attending a service in church, it may be a question that you very much want to ask, and have answered. Where is the Father, where is GOD, in other words, at this transformational moment in human history, when so many people are suffering and dying, and we suspect, probably correctly, that nothing will ever be quite the same again.

What we can put right out of our minds is the thought that God has deliberately sent this plague to us, perhaps as a test, or, even worse, as some kind of punishment for sinful human behaviour. I don’t believe in that kind of God at all, even though the Bible can sometimes seem to suggest it.

What I do believe, on the other hand, is that Jesus walked on earth as a man, a real, complete, full and genuine human being. He was never shielded from the awfulness, the tragedy and pain of human life. He was there in the middle of all the mess and the muddle. He certainly was not God, as it were, dressed up to look like a human being – but actually unaffected by what was going on in people’s lives around him. And learning of the death of his great friend Lazarus, “Jesus wept”.

When he replied to Philip he was saying, in effect, if you can see me as the person I really am (and not the person you want me to be) then in seeing me, you have access to seeing God: you can learn who and what God is, and how this encounter can transform your lives for the better. And, bearing in mind that the gospel of St John was written towards the end of the first century when the Church was spreading and preaching the gospel in many places, Philip and the other apostles were being commissioned to preach this loving, healing, risk taking, forgiving, even suffering, God, wherever they might go.

In Philip’s case, this may well have involved travel to Asia, and although we haven’t got much information about him, he probably died at Hierapolis, in Turkey. So he certainly did his share of missionary work, although he is of course chiefly remembered now for the various occasions in the Gospel when he played a leading role, such as in the story of the loaves and fishes.

But this leads us back, I think, to his profound request to be shown the Father. And to our own, perhaps agonised, question, “Where is God in this current crisis?”     It is easy perhaps to be a bit dismissive about the impact of the virus on the economic welfare of the world, because we would rather concentrate on health and the avoidance of infection where at all possible. Mr Trump and other politicians – even our own – are sometimes, and perhaps rightly, thought of as hard headed and cynical. But of course for thousands, perhaps millions of people, that economic impact is real, and even perhaps as frightening, in its social consequences, as the disease itself.

But at a human level there may be many urgent questions that the current situation is asking. Questions about what kind of society we live in, and what kind of society we really want to be in. Is it possible that the situation with this virus is in fact asking some very profound questions about our responsibilities to one another, focussed at a physical level in the important demand that we protect others by things like washing our hands and social distancing?

Is a new understanding of our dependence on one another at least one possible good outcome of what is going on? There could be good news in that. And we can’t fail to salute the wonderful and sometimes risky commitment of hospital staff, and of course care home staff, in caring for the sick and dying, alongside other, perhaps less glamorous public servants such as bus drivers, in lonely self-isolation in their cabs.

And at a more mundane level perhaps, have you noticed how the pace of life in this city, with its empty roads and buses, has slowed down recently? More time perhaps to make that phone call, write that email, or just enjoy the environment which we don’t usually have the time to notice.

So – not a punishing God, but in spite of dreadful suffering, maybe a God of opportunity?

Adoramus te, Domine (Taizé) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2qJcolEGcs

Please remember especially in your prayers through this week:

The Sick:  Alan Hay, Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz,  Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter,  Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston

Those who have died:  Mary Smith, Norma Williams

Prayers – with thanks to Beni Woolmer

Prayers

Compassionate Loving God, we pray for our world at this time of immense suffering and fear because of Covid 19.  Lord, we have been forced into seclusion and isolation and have lost control of our normal lives. We pray for those whose suffering has taken them to the edge of their own inner resources, particularly doctors and nurses who are struggling to manage their own fear whilst remaining alongside those who are dying without any loved members of their families around them.

We bring to your loving gaze all those who are working to bring food into supermarkets all over the world, the lorry drivers, those who unload and pack food on to shelves, the cleaners and people at the tills. Teach us to humbly recognize how much we have not known about, and perhaps have chosen not to know, and to value more carefully those who are often overlooked and unseen.

We pray for those who are facing financial challenges; for those who have no safety net; for those whose marginalization has been made worse by the virus, particularly single parent families and those suffering from domestic violence.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for the church and all places of worship which remain empty, except for a lone celebrant faithfully endeavouring to reach out to their communities. We pray for Christianity with its faltering model of institutional certainties. We pray that your Spirit will guide us to make this a time of transformation, a shift towards a more contemplative Christianity, where we can discover that you are the God of suffering love- you are suffering with us in this terrible time- and in all time. Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who died in Auschwitz said: “ and that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of you, God, in ourselves….there does not seem to be much You Yourself can do about our circumstances, about our lives. Neither do I hold you responsible. You cannot help us but we must help you and defend your dwelling place in us to the last”  Help us to sift the wheat from the chaff; to know what we need to save and what we need to let go.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for ourselves. Thank you for our heightened sense of gratitude for life and for all that we are coming to know about ourselves, about each other and about You, in this time of not knowing how and when this is going to end. Help us to process these life experiences we are going through humbly, and teach us to pay attention to each moment in front of us and within us. Recovery will be difficult. Help us to see more clearly how essentially connected we all are. Prompt us to pause in this solitude and to recognize the teaching hidden in this virus. Help us to let this crisis wake us up, so we can discover meaning in the pain of it.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for those whose loved ones have had to go into hospital, into strange and unfamiliar territory, both within and without:

And all those who are grieving loved ones who have died.

We pray for those who have died:

We offer these prayers in all the holy names of God.

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

The Peace

We are fellow-citizens with St Philip, all the saints and the whole household of God, through Christ our Lord, who came and preached peace to those who were far off and those who were near.  The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

         God our Father, keep us united in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymn:  Praise the Lord! Ye heavens adore him  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNvoTbO8JFg

         The Lord be with you

         and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

         We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

         It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is indeed right and good that we should give you thanks, praise and glory, almighty and everlasting God, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  For after his resurrection he sent out Philip and all his apostles and evangelists to preach the gospel to all nations and lead us in the way of truth.  Himself the chief cornerstone, he founded his Church upon the apostles firmly to stand for ever as a sign of your holiness upon earth and a living witness to all of the way that leads to heaven.  And so with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we lift our voices and join in their unending hymn of praise:

         Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

         As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

         Our Father, who art in heaven,

         hallowed be thy name;

         thy kingdom come;

         thy will be done;

         on earth as it is in heaven.

         Give us this day our daily bread.

         And forgive us our trespasses,

         as we forgive those who trespass against us.

         And lead us not into temptation;

         But deliver us from evil.

         For thine is the kingdom,

         the power and the glory,

         for ever and ever.            

         Amen.

         God, who has prepared for you a city with eternal foundations, bring you, with St Philip and all the saints, to the eternal and triumphant joy of that city: and the blessing of God almighty, the +Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you and those you love, today and always.   Amen.

Hymn: O when the saints go marching in  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyLjbMBpGDA

Sermon: 3rd Sunday of Easter 2020 (with audio)

Sermon: 3rd Sunday of Easter 2020 (with audio)

The picture is Road to Emmaus by Diane Fairfield

3rd Sunday of Easter audio

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

         and also with you.

Hymn: The Day of resurrection  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgIx_0jhW1Y

Let us pray

         Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

         Christ died to sin once for all, and now lives to God.  Let us renew our resolve to have done with all that is evil and confess our sins in penitence and faith.

         Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

         Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.

         Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

         Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

         Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

         For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray

      Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strenthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Acts 2: 14a, 36-41

Acts 2: 14a, 36-41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.  “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”  When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

This is the Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God

1 Peter 1: 17-23

1 Peter 1: 17-23

 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

This is the Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God

Hymn:  You laid aside your majesty  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk_XCWh1UkU

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

         Glory to you, O Lord.

Luke 24: 13-35

Luke 24: 13-35

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke:

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.  As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;  but they were kept from recognizing him.  He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast.  One of them, named Cleopas, asked him,

“Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked. 

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.  The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;  but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.  In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning  but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.  Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 

 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther.  But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”  They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together  and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”  Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

This is the Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you O Christ.

Sermon from Richard Austen

Today’s gospel tells us an interesting and rather meaningful story. Two disciples, Cleopas and a friend are journeying from Jerusalem to a village seven miles away on the day of the Resurrection. They were not of the twelve, or rather now the eleven, but they were clearly close followers of Jesus and known to the eleven.  It’s a well-known story, one of misery turning to joy; desolation to elation. And it is a story many of us face in our own lives: when hopes and dreams are dashed, but then we find that things turn out well in the end.

Have you ever felt like you just had to get away? Have you ever been bitterly disappointed, when expectations have come to nothing? When you have felt let down? When it feels as if your world has turned to ashes? I expect we all have in one way or another and that is what Cleopas and his companion must have been feeling.  It was Easter day and it seems that these two disciples were off! Who can blame them? Jerusalem had proved to be a place of pain and loss; of death, unmet expectations and disappointment. As they made their way, they were talking about all the things that had happened, and, probably, the things that hadn’t turned out quite as they expected.  About Jesus’s arrest, crucifixion and death. They would have been disappointed, bewildered and sad. They had hoped Jesus was the one, but he was now dead. Surely there was nothing to keep them in Jerusalem, especially as they were not of the inner circle of disciples. Their lives had been shattered and there was the danger from the Jewish authorities too. They had heard the claims of Mary and the other women that an angel had told them of the Resurrection, but they were clearly doubtful and confused and felt the need to get away.

I don’t know why they chose to go to Emmaus or what they planned to do there. But went they did. Going to Emmaus was perhaps an escape from everything that had not gone right, or so they thought. 

But here again we find Jesus looking after his people. Jesus listened to their fears, then explained the scriptures and why the Messiah had to die. He steered them away from pain and misery and back to life. He surprised them and he showed that he was there for them and, actually, that he needed them.

How often Jesus surprises us. We feel that things are pretty dire – they certainly are in the World at present. We need, we long for so much, not just material things.  We need Jesus to be with us and to surprise us and to protect us.

“When Jesus was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised him.” They recognised him as the one they had left for dead in Jerusalem. They recognised him as the one who had accompanied them on the road to Emmaus. They recognised him as the one they had hoped he would be.  Jesus wasn’t just giving them bread; he was giving them back themselves. This was their restoration, their resurrection perhaps. Jesus was supporting them with himself: with his body, his life, his love, his compassion, with all that he is and all that he has.

They returned to the place from which they had to get away. Cleopas and his companion arrived back in Jerusalem in the middle of the night with news of their Emmaus experience and when they got there, they heard that others had also had resurrection experiences of Jesus. Jesus was alive, seen, and present in Jerusalem.   They had left Jerusalem only that morning as a place of horror and death and they returned that evening to a place now full of joy and hope. Jesus had surprised them, Jesus had not left them, Jesus was there for them.

We do not hear of Cleopas again, but after such a tremendous experience of the risen Jesus one can only assume that he and his companion became part of that great missionary effort that spread Christianity so widely in such a short time. Cleopas and his friend had had their doubts satisfied. Their fears were overcome, they had seen the Risen Lord. And he had not let them go, he had a purpose for them and he brought them back to their Christian community. 

We all have doubts and fears. We all have to face losses and shattering events in our lives. The same Jesus who appeared to them is there in the background looking after us. Whatever we go through, he is there, whenever things are dark, he is there. We may not have quite the striking revelation as these two disciples did, but he can surprise us with his love.  I am reminded of the lines in the old hymn “Hark my Soul”, where it says – Sought me wandering, set me right, turned my darkness into light. Jesus surprises us and he brings us back – always has, always will. We all can and we all will have our own Emmaus experiences.  We can be comforted at all times by the words soon to come at the Ascension. “Be assured, I am with you always, to the end of time”. Amen

Bless the Lord, my soul  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4Svh-9ohg4

Prayers –  with thanks to Melody Skipp

Dear God,

Thank you for Jesus up above.

Thank you for kindness, hope and love.

Thank you for all the girls and boys,

Thank you for our homes and toys

Thank you for technology and every phone

That help to comfort those alone.

Be with the doctors who save our lives,

If people have the virus, please let them survive.

Please watch over everyone,

Please let the virus just be gone.

We are sorry for being bad,

Let us be happy and not sad.

Thank you for everyone and everything in our lives.

Amen

Please remember especially in your prayers through this week:

The Sick:  Alan Hay, Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz,  Lisa McTaggart,

Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter,  Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston

Those who have died:  Mary Smith, Shelagh Cochrane, Norma Williams

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

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then they were glad when they saw the Lord, Alelluia.  The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  This joyful Eastertide  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7TFuqp97cs

         The Lord be with you

         and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

         We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

         It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is indeed right , our duty and our joy, always and everywhere to give you thanks, almighty and eternal Father, and in these days of Easter to celebrate with joyful hearts the memory of your wonderful works.  For by the mystery of his passion, Jesus Christ, your risen Son, has conquered the powers of death and hell and restored to women and men the image of your glory.  He has placed us once more in paradise and opened to us the gate of life eternal.  And so, in the joy of this Passover, earth and heaven resound with gladness, while angels and archangels and the powers of all creation sing for ever the hymn of your glory.

         Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

         As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

         Our Father, who art in heaven,

         hallowed be thy name;

         thy kingdom come;

         thy will be done;

         on earth as it is in heaven.

         Give us this day our daily bread.

         And forgive us our trespasses,

         as we forgive those who trespass against us.

         And lead us not into temptation;

         But deliver us from evil.

         For thine is the kingdom,

         the power and the glory,

         for ever and ever.            

         Amen.

         The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
and the blessing of God almighty,
+ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.        Amen.

Hymn Jesus lives! Thy terrors now  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCz-HYIxmvE

Bach – Fugue in G minor BWV 578  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhRa3REdozw