Worshipping Together – Apart – Again!

Dear All,

And so it goes on but now with a bright point for the future in that so many of you have been vaccinated. However, we must still remain vigilant and careful of one another’s safety so, once again thanks to the technical expertise of Stilman, we continue to ‘Worship Together – Apart’ on this our church website.

The service today is once again one adapted from Morning Prayer at the Sheldon Community and we thank them for permission to use parts of their Liturgy. I have of course included the readings for this Sunday, the third after Epiphany, and added some thoughts to ponder.

With every blessing

Keep separate, keep safe, keep praying, keep hoping and trusting in our all-powerful and all-loving God,

With every blessing

Mary Tucker

A Service to say at home

Opening Prayer

This day Lord, may I dream your dream,

This day Lord, may I reflect your love,

This day Lord, may I do your work,

This day Lord, may I taste your peace.

Hymn – Sing something you enjoy!!


In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house

will be established as the highest of the mountains.

It will be raised above the hills

and all the nations will flock to it.

Many peoples will come and they will say,

let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that we may be taught the ways of the Lord

and may walk in the right paths.

From the mountain of the Lord shall go forth the law

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

The Lord will judge between the nations

and settle disputes for many peoples.

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation

nor ever again prepare for war.

Come, O house of Jacob

Let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Bible Readings for the Third Sunday after Epiphany

Psalm 128
1 Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
   who walks in his ways.
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands;
   you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
   within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
   around your table.
4 Thus shall the man be blessed
   who fears the Lord.
5 The Lord bless you from Zion.
   May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

This is the Word of the Lord

Thanks be to God

An extra readingfrom John 20:19-29

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin*), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Some Thoughts on the Readings

Do you ever wake up in a grump? Not a bad mood because of some particular reason, (and we do have quite a few reasons at present) that’s understandable, but just a grump for no good reason?!

Brace yourselves, because today as I settled to write these thoughts I had woken up in a truly massive grump!

Now often when this happens (and I’m ashamed to say it does happen often), starting the day with my quiet time of Bible reading and prayer lifts me out of myself, points me back towards God, and makes me thankful – or at the very least a bit less grumpy! Not today!

Reading the Psalm we’ve just read together (but apart) and then the story of the water into wine miracle just seemed to make me grumpier still. In the version we have used the Psalm begins

“Happy is everyone who fears the Lord . . . “

Happy!!!?? Happy!!!?? I wanted to shout, (I didn’t because my husband was in the room above still asleep) I’m not happy, I’m grumpy! And this has made me grumpier still!

I wonder how it made you feel? It may have given you a feeling of safety in God’s loving care and if it did that I’m pleased, because I think that’s what it’s meant to do and it’s most certainly what most of us need at the moment. But you may, like me, have taken it literally as saying that if we fear God (and remember when it says fear it doesn’t mean terror, it means reverence), if we fear God everything will be all right, we’ll live happily ever after with our blooming vines, our riches, our vast and productive families and a life of total peace.

Hmmmm!? No wonder in a way it made me grumpier still!

And then I read about Jesus’ miracle at the wedding, his saving of an embarrassing human situation and his first demonstration of his power and divinity and I thought,

“I need a miracle this morning if I’m ever to shake off this great grump!”

We do sometimes pray for miracles, though it’s usually in more serious situations that just being in a bad mood, but if and when we do, more times than not I guess, they don’t seem to happen. Just as it said at the beginning of that story of Samuel we read last week, “. . . visions and miracles were rare in those days. . .” and in these days too we may add. I wonder if in every age ordinary people like us have actually been saying that.

Anyway back to the great grump! “This is no good,” I thought, and walked away to get a restorative cup of tea and that’s when the miracle happened. There it was, right in front of my eyes – The Grumpy Mug, my own modern miracle, a Christmas present of a few years ago as it happens, but in this situation a real gift from God. I wish I could show you – I’ll describe it instead.

The mug shows a picture of one of Roger Hargreaves’ ‘Mr Men’, Mr Grumpy in fact, with his downturned mouth and his wrinkled brow and his name neatly inscribe beneath. As the boiling water was poured in however a miraculous change occurred – the miserable face was replaced, little by little as the mug heated up, to the bright yellow, smiling countenance of Mr Happy, little stumpy arms outstretched in joy!

I couldn’t help but smile too.I won’t claim that all the grumpiness disappeared immediatelybut it was certainly a start,and my decision to share it with you all in this servicealso made me happierbecause I was sure you’d enjoy it as much as I did and do.

So transformed into Mr Happy or at least Mrs Happier I returned to the readings to try again and the first thing I noticed was that in most translations of the Psalm it doesn’t say ‘happy’ it says,

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord.”

Well, I couldn’t deny it, I had turned to him grumpy and downcast and, in the time it took to make a hot drink, God had sent a small blessing, an everyday miracle, in the shape of a trick mug.

I’m not claiming it was a miracle in itself, some scientist could explain how the paint reacts to heat and reveals the cheerful picture, but it was a miracle for me at that moment. It was God’s response to my need, using the things close at hand just as Jesus used the jars of water to bring good of all sorts out of a very ordinary human difficulty in Cana.

Neither will I claim that in that moment I was suddenly ecstatically happy, but blessed? – yes, I felt blessed, if only with some respite from my grumpiness.

‘Blessed’ – it’s not a word we use that often ‘in these days’ so I started to think about other times it is used in the Bible, there are lots, but the one that came to mind comes at the end of the story of doubting Thomas which is why I included it as an extra reading today.

I suppose being grumpy is a form of doubt. Who could truly be grumpy if every moment of their waking day was spent in awareness of God walking alongside? Who could truly be grumpy if every moment of their daily life was spent in trust and faith that, whatever comes good or bad, he will be there with the miracle of his loving-kindness and support.

Well, the answer of course is – sometimes me – and it may from time to time be true for you too.

On our bad days and in our bad times we forget the times when we have felt that trust, those situations when, at the time or afterwards, we’ve become aware of this loving presence and care. In our grumpiness we doubt God, or perhaps it’s that in our doubt of God we become grumpy? or perhaps it’s a bit of both.

But back to doubting Thomas, poor man. (He probably did lots of good and great things, but this is all we remember him for.) Maybe he was having a grump that morning when the excited disciples told him Jesus was alive again or maybe he, like us, didn’t believe that “. . . visions and miracles happen in these days.” Whatever! But here is the blessing, here is the small miracle, Jesus speaks down the ages to us as he speaks to Thomas,

“Because you have seen me,” he says to his disciple, “you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That’s us! We have his special blessing because of our belief, even when it gets a bit wobbly and doubtful.

In these lock-down days there do not seem to be massive miracles though we may be praying for them, yet without them we struggle on and try to remember to rejoice in small ones (of which there are many, vaccinations not least amongst them) and to have faith and to believe even when we are grumpy.

In the words of scripture we have shared today Jesus pours out his blessing on us, his encouragement and his affirmation of all our efforts grumpy or otherwise.

So let us try be constantly aware of everyday blessings, looking out and looking back to see the small miracles that have and do continue to occur and perhaps you’ll be able to say with me,

“Visions and miracles are not as rare as we think in these days”

On which note I raise my smiling mug of coffee to you all – CHEERS!


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

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

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

For doctors, nurses and medical researchers, that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For the isolated and housebound, that we may be alert to their needs, and care for them in their vulnerability:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For our homes and families, our schools and young people, and all in any kind of need or distress:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For a blessing on our local community, that our neighbourhoods may be places of trust and friendship,
where all are known and cared for:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For the vulnerable and the fearful, for the gravely ill and the dying, that they may know your comfort and peace:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

We pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us,

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.


Closing Prayer and blessing

May the love of God sustain us this day,

May the light of Jesus radiate our thinking and speaking,

May the power of the Spirit penetrate all our decisions,

And may all we do this day witness to your presence in our lives.


The Lord bless us and keep us,

The Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us,

The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us,

And give us peace.

The Lord bless us.