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

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.


         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


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


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

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

         Glory to you, O Lord.

John 14:1-14 


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)

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


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

         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.            


         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