Easter 6

Dear All,

Here then is another morning service for those of you who still need to stay at home for safety’s sake but also, because it can of course be used on any day of the week, for any and all of you to use at any time. The thoughts on the reading this time are based on a very personal meditation I had some years ago concerning ‘my love of God’. Though you may not share the problem I had/have, I hope, nevertheless, it will speak to you as God spoke through it to me.

Keep keeping safe

With every blessing and love

Mary

A Service to say at home for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

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!!

Canticle

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 Reading

1 John 4:7-21

God’s Love and Ours

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

This is the Word of the Lord

Thanks be to God

Some Thoughts on the Readings from Mary

I’m afraid I may be going to shock you!

You see I have a real problem with love – I’m not entirely sure I know what it is and, more shocking still, the bit of it that has always worried me most is the continually repeated assertions we Christians make in our liturgies that we ‘love God’.

Do I love God?

Given this problem I decided I’d better think about the reading from 1 John as it mentions love 27 times in just 14 verses!

“What is this thing called love?” That’s a quote – someone will tell me at some point who it was written by, probably Shakespeare, it’s usually Shakespeare!

I know about some sorts of love. I love gardening – meaning I like it a lot, I enjoy it, it gives me pleasure, but I wouldn’t want to do it every minute of every day and I love doing other things too.

I love Thornton’s Continental Chocolates, especially the spherical ones with sugar crystals all over them. Again – eating them is a pleasurable experience but would be spoilt if it happened too often? (to say nothing of what it would do to my health and well-being!)

I love my family – I care about them deeply, I want what’s best for them – want them to be happy, I feel a duty towards them and, in that awful modern phrase, want to ‘be THERE for them’ if they need me.

I love my husband. Even after over forty years together I still get that excited

clap-my-hands, grin-on-the-face feeling as I hear his car come up the drive. I feel all the caring things I feel about family generally but with something extra and hard to explain – it’s as though we’re two halves of some whole thing, that without him I wouldn’t be everything I am. There’s a giving side to this love of course, I desperately want what’s best for him and long for him to be happy but it’s matched by a more selfish side – I am a better, happier, more fulfilled person because he is my other half.

But are any of these four types of love (and I don’t claim they’re all that there are) – are any of them at all helpful in finding out whether I can claim to love God?

Like the gardening love I love taking part in worship, I enjoy starting the day in prayer and thanksgiving (usually!), I get great pleasure from the way God speaks to me and supports me through his Word, through meditation and contemplation and through preparing things like this ‘sermon’ – but is that loving him?

Is it, rather, more like my love of chocolate? I suppose if I greedily only spent my time reading the Bible and in prayer, meditating and contemplating I’d soon get bored with it – or would I? Can you have too much of a good thing? – even a really good thing like this? – I think the answer is probably, ‘yes’ unless one is called to be a monk, nun or hermit.

Love of family and friends or partner, that deep desire for the happiness of another doesn’t somehow seem relevant here. God doesn’t need me to want what’s best for him does he? Unless what’s best for him includes what’s best for those he loves? Hmmm! Perhaps we’ll come back to that one.

There is something in the love of my spouse though that feels similar to feelings I have about God, the excitement of being in contact, the clap hands – grinning feeling that comes over me sometimes in his presence, the ‘not being complete without him’. But is that selfishness again, because I know that I am a better, happier, more fulfilled person because he is with me? I don’t think I can claim that as ‘loving’ him – it’s more about him loving me and I never had a problem with that!

The most I could say, perhaps, is that I feel a deep gratefulness, thankfulness that God loves me, but I don’t think being grateful constitutes love.

Let’s turn to John’s words and see if he can help.

‘Dear friends,’ he writes to us down the ages, ‘let us love one another.’

‘Yes,’ I start to bluster, ‘I’ve already said – I know about loving other people, it’s knowing whether I love God that’s my problem . . . ,‘ but I am interrupted,

‘This isn’t a human achievement,’ John reminds me sternly, ‘the ability to love

is only yours because love comes from God, it’s his gift to us.’

And as we read on he has more to say, not only is love’s origin in God but God IS love and this is probably the single most important statement in the passage. It means more than ‘God is loving,’ or ‘God sometimes loves’, it means that he loves, not because things or people are worthy of love but because it is his nature to love. His love for us depends not on what we are but on what He is.

Well that’s a thought worth restating, reminding ourselves of, but it is still about his love for us not ours for him. John’s ahead of us, he agrees,

‘You’re right,’ he writes (in my paraphrase!), ‘it is not that we love God, stop looking for an answer to your problem by concentrating on yourselves, you will never find what this love is if you start from the human end.’

God loves us so much, God’s nature of love is so fundamental to his being God that, John reminds us, he sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice, he came himself and gave himself up to death to save us from the punishment we all so richly deserve.

This calls out huge thankfulness from us. I do live in a life where fear for what will happen to me hereafter has been (largely) driven out. I know it’s not down to me. I know God has paid the price. I know and I’m grateful but is my gratefulness enough to be called love?

‘Dear friend,’ says John soothingly (I can almost feel him patting me on the arm and telling me to calm down, stop panicking and listen), ‘since God so loved us we also ought to love one another. God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’

My love for God, your love for God is to be shown in our love for others. That’s what God desires, that IS our love for him, so much so that he says

in our love for one another God’s love is made complete. He loves us, we try to love others in an act of supreme thankfulness and that is accepted by God as our love for him.

Suddenly other words, the words of Jesus himself burst into my brain,

‘In as much as you do it unto others, you do it unto me.’

We do love God, we can love him, we will love him every time we show love for others.

Can we just ignore the bit at the end though? where it says, ‘If anyone says ‘I love God, yet hates his brother he is a liar?’

We DO love our brothers, our friends, our neighbours! Don’t we? Or at least we try. Again the voice of Jesus from another place interrupts us,

‘Who is your brother? Who is your neighbour?’ and of course we know the answer. It’s the Samaritan, the outcast, the untouchable, the stranger

In God, in his death for us, in Jesus his Son, in his saving of us all, whoever we are, whatever we are, we have the pattern for the love we are to show. Christians should love, we should love, I should love, not because all those we meet are attractive people, are friends and family, husbands, wives or partners, those we are naturally drawn to but because we are being transformed by God’s love into the sort of people whose nature it is to love, to love like God, unconditionally. To love everyone and anyone however unappealing or unpleasant.

Do you ever wish you hadn’t asked a question? The answer to mine, to yours as well possibly, is a tough one and I, for one, am not sure I can do it. Yet,

paradoxically, as we discover that the ability to love at all is a gift from God

he reassures us that the power to love him by loving others will also be a gift, will be made possible because he, God, will live in us and we live in him. He will give us his Spirit and the nature of that Spirit is only, and can only be, love. It is our other half, it will make us complete and it will give us the power, the strength and the ability to love our totally loving God in the only way possible by loving others as he loved us.

Prayers

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

For all who are still 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, worldwide, 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.
Amen.

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.

Amen

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.

Amen

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.

Amen

Easter 3

Worshipping Together –Apart

Dear All,

Here then is this week’s Bible Reading and some thoughts on it. You will see that once again I have placed it in the centre of an informal Service of Eucharist which you can use at home, alone or with your family – wherever you do it you will in fact be worshipping together. There are no rules, using what you have to hand, making your kitchen table your altar and following Christ’s instruction to remember him in this way, you will find that, perhaps unexpectedly, you too ‘recognise him at the breaking of the bread.’

With every blessing

Keep keeping safe

And remember you are never separated from the love of God or from the prayers of us all

Mary Tucker

A Service to say at home

Call to Worship

The Lord be with you

And also with you

God in Jesus has revealed his glory

Come let us worship together

From the rising of the sun to its setting

The Lord’s name is greatly to be praised

(Hymn – Sing something you enjoy!!)

Prayer of Confession

Holy God we bring you ourselves

All that we are and all that we long to be

Our weakness, our failures, our sinfulness and our brokenness

Son of Mary Have mercy on us

Carpenter of Nazareth Have mercy on us

Healer of the sick Have mercy on us

Bringer of light Have mercy on us

Saviour of the poor Have mercy on us

Bread of life Have mercy on us

You who call us sister, brother, friend Have mercy on us

Your body and Spirit with us

Holy God we bring you ourselves

All that we are and all that we long to be

Our weakness, our failures, our sinfulness and our brokenness

Have mercy on us

Bible Reading – read Luke 24:13-35

The Walk to Emmaus

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he 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 recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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

Some Thoughts on the Reading

Recognising Jesus at the Breaking of the Bread

Many years ago now we were staying in a posh hotel down in Devon, very near the place where they were shooting the film, ‘Ladies in Lavender’, with Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, a most unlikely place for us to be it has to be said.

We, along with the rest of the family, had been summoned, in an ‘Agatha Christie like’ way, to this cliff top venue by my Mother in Law (long gone now but much loved and missed.)

It’s OK, no one was actually murdered (though I do remember a few tense moments as she ordered us about with the authority of the one who was paying the bill), but something extremely embarrassing did happen.

Dressed to the nines, and most uncomfortable, my husband and I were proceeding through the grand entrance hall towards the dining room when, coming towards us, I spied a familiar face. The trouble was,

that, though I knew I knew him, for the life of me I couldn’t think who it was! As we closed on each other

I did what I always do on these increasingly frequent occasions (I think it’s an age thing), I smiled broadly and confidently, exuding, I hoped, absolute certainty of who this was and, as we drew near to each other said what I always say in these situations, “Hello! How nice to see you. How are you?”

I was aware of two things immediately. One was a strange gasp from my husband at my side, the other, a momentary look of confusion on the face of my approaching friend. “Ha!” I thought, “It’s not just me!” I thought. Put someone in the wrong environment and we can all find it difficult to place them. He pulled himself together quickly however, and as we passed, smiled back with equal confidence and replied, “I’m fine thanks and how are you?”

As neither of us had received the necessary clues to identity we perhaps hoped for and which would have enabled us to chat further, we both kept moving, passed, and continued on our opposite courses, me still wracking my brains to place my associate.

My thoughts however were rudely interrupted by the hoarse and embarrassed whisper of my long suffering spouse who, red in the face and horrified, said, “What did you do that for?”

I started to explain about my ‘not being able to place a friend in a strange place’ technique but, before I could go on, he said, “But you don’t know him, it was Charles Dance, he’s a famous actor!”

Well how was I supposed to know the cast of the film were staying there? I’m just relieved it wasn’t Maggie Smith! Who’d want to be on the receiving end of one of her Downton-esque put downs?!

When I read today’s Gospel passage, the thing that really struck me was the weirdness of the two disciples not recognising the man they’d been with for the last days, weeks, possibly years. It didn’t seem to make sense.

In the BBC series ‘The Passion’, made in 2010 I think and watched by me again this last Holy Week, they had the risen Jesus played by a different actor on the road at the beginning of this story and then changed him back to the original one at the breaking of the bread.

That, I have to say, just didn’t feel right to me and I continued to worry away at how on earth they couldn’t have recognised him when the true tale I’ve just told you came to mind.

Walking through that hotel foyer, I was so taken up with not making a fool of myself by admitting to someone I thought I knew that I couldn’t for the life of me remember who they were, that actually, really and truly, my ‘eyes were closed’, I was ‘kept from recognising’ a really famous face I knew well, and ended up making an even greater fool of myself!

The disciples had a similar reaction once they recognised Jesus and he had gone. They couldn’t believe that they hadn’t known who it was. “Didn’t our hearts burn within us?” they gasped in amazement at their own blindness. But they had been so taken up with their grief and their disappointment at the apparent failure of all they had thought Jesus stood for, that their eyes were closed, they were kept from recognising a really familiar face. I’m sure they too felt really foolish, but that feeling was far outweighed by their joy at the revelation they had received, so much so that they set off immediately on the return walk, of some 15 or 20 miles, to share their new found recognition with their friends. Lack of recognition, we must admit, is not so unusual or so inexplicable as we may at first have thought

The other possible interpretation of the words, “Their eyes were kept from recognising him.” is that this was part of the plan, part of God’s plan and we can empathise with this too. In things that happen in our lives, embarrassing things, unfortunate things, frightening things, even tragic things (and we are experiencing quite a lot of this at present), and whether we want to say they are part of God’s plan or just things that, having happened, are used by God, with hindsight we recognise that we have grown from the experience.

These disciples not only failed to recognise their Lord and leader in the resurrected flesh, but had also failed to recognise in their own scripture, ‘The law and the Prophets’, just what sort of a God they were dealing with. They had failed to recognise in the person of Jesus, through those days, weeks and perhaps years together, what sort of salvation he was going to bring.

Believing in a wrathful God who needed to be placated by sacrifice and careful keeping of the law, expecting a conquering hero who would drive out the Romans and re-establish Jewish supremacy, they could not recognise the ‘suffering servant God’ who loved them, who died to save them and in whose weakness was strength and absolute victory.

No wonder they went racing back! Not only were they taking the news that Jesus truly was alive, but a new understanding that their long talk with the unrecognised ‘stranger’ on the road had given them. And that, I suppose, is the message for us. We may not always be aware that God is at work. We may not recognise that the experiences we have, the people we meet (or pass at a distance!), the things we do, are all part of God’s plan or can and will be used by him in that plan. But it may well be, that in our prayer time in the cool of the evening or on a Sunday morning in the quiet of Church (yes it will come again), in the familiar words and at the breaking of the bread (on altar or kitchen table), things fall into place, our eyes are opened, and we are briefly and strongly aware of the Jesus who has walked with us, sometimes unrecognised but always there, every step, on the road of our lives.

Prayers

We pray to the Lord for courage as we walk, together but apart, the road of life.

In this unprecedented time of crisis, give your Church the courage to give up her preoccupation with herself and to give time to your mission in the world. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus bring forgiveness to your people and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation as we work together and apart in your damaged world. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage to give up war, bitterness and hatred, and to seek peace and healing for each other. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the shoulders of the risen Jesus, once scourged by soldiers, bear the burden of our times. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy in our families, neighbourhoods and communities. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the presence of the risen Jesus, his body once broken and now made whole, bring peace and direction as we live with one another. Give us the courage to give up our selfishness as we live for others, and to give time, care and comfort to the sick and those who care for them in ways that are safe for them and for us. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch to all who suffer, and the light of his presence fill their hearts and homes. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith. May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross, walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony, and walk with us and all your Church through death to the gate of glory. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer, here and in eternity. Amen.

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.

Amen

A Home Communion

Take bread and wine or juice and pray

Blessed are you O God

For you have brought forth bread from the earth

Blessed are you O God

For you have created the fruit of the vine

Here at your table

You offer us light, bread and wine for the journey

To nourish us as sons and daughters

Jesus took bread, and having blessed it

He broke it and gave it to his disciples saying

Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you

In the same way after supper, he took the cup of wine

And gave you thanks, he gave it to them saying

Drink this all of you, this is my blood of the new covenant

Which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins

So now, following Jesus’ example

We take this bread and this wine and pray

Lord Jesus Christ, present with us now

Breathe your Spirit upon us and upon this bread and wine

That they may be heaven’s food for us

Renewing, sustaining and making us whole

That we may be your body on earth

Loving and caring in the world

Look – The bread of heaven – The light of the world

Here is Christ, coming to us in bread and wine

The gift of God for the people of the world

The table of bread and wine is now made ready

It is the table of company with Jesus

So, come to this table, you who have much faith

And you who would like to have more

You who have been to this sacrament often

And you who have not been for a long time

You who have tried to follow Jesus

And you who have failed

Come – it is Christ himself who invites us to meet him here

Eat your bread and sip you drink and take a moment of quiet before praying

Concluding Prayer

Holy God, we have seen with our eyes

And touched with our hands the bread of life the light of the world

Strengthen our faith

That we may grow in love for you and for each other

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

And may the blessing of God Almighty the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us all, those we love and those we pray for. Amen

Palm Sunday

Worshipping Together –Apart for Palm Sunday 2021

Dear All,

Here we are again – my turn to put something on the website (or rather to give Stilman something to put on it) that we can use to worship ‘together but apart’ this Palm Sunday. However, as I prepare this, I am hopeful that, unless Mr Johnson’s ‘Roadmap’ has to be changed, we will be able to meet, still masked and distanced of course, in our churches to celebrate Easter next Sunday. Keep your eyes on this website and the church noticeboards.

Today’s service is an Iona Communion Service which is very easy and appropriate for us all to use in our own homes, another ‘kitchen table Eucharist’ and as usual I’ve inserted two ’Passion Gospel’ Bible readings and some thoughts on them. Think of us as you celebrate and be sure we will be thinking of all of you.

With every blessing
Keep keeping separate, keep keeping safe
but remember you are never separated from the love of God or from the prayers of us all

Mary Tucker

A Service to say at home (adapted from the worship of the Iona Community)

Gathering Prayer

Creator of the cosmos,
Of eternity and time:
Be with us in this time.
Saviour of the world,
Healer of the nations:
Be with us in this place.

Breath of all that lives,
Of people near and far:
Stir within our lives.

Creator, Son, Spirit
God of here and now:
Be present in our worship
That we may find new ways
Of being present in your world.

(Hymn/Song – Sing something you enjoy!!)

Part of the Passion Gospels

Matthew 21:1-9

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosannain the highest heaven!”

This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Mark 15:25-38

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!

This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Thoughts on the Readings

We are certainly on a strange journey today, one minute triumphantly shouting hosanna, waving our palms and throwing our coats into the road in a carnival atmosphere, the next seeing the face of the ‘triumphant king’ and wondering at the sadness there, wondering at the strange humility.

Finally we are faced with the realisation that this man is God. God totally emptied, totally humbled, totally human and afraid, for among the cheering masses he also saw the hatred. He knew as no one else did the inevitable outcome of his very public arrival at the Passover feast.

In recent times, not surprisingly, I have become aware again of a need, a message that needs to be given, a comfort that is cried out for, a continuing fear that needs to be addressed, and it is through this crucial and central story of Christianity that we can all, in the end, find comfort.

So many people, Church people, good people, faithful people seem to be living in fear and not just because of our current Health Crisis. They are God fearing but their fear is about ‘not being good enough for God’, and in particular, ‘not being good enough for heaven’. They are fearful in life but even more fearful when facing the inevitability of death.

It was summed up for me one day in a way that I’ve recounted many times because it made such an impression on me. I was on chaplaincy duty in Tewkesbury Abbey, years ago during my training days, when a woman of mature years said to me fearfully,

“I’m not as young as I used to be – I need to start earning some Brownie points with God.”

The discussion that followed, as we talked about the grace of God, the grace – the free gift – of God’s forgiveness, caused an immediate change in her. The message that God has paid the price of her sin, all of our sins, reducing her to tears of both joy and amazement.

Today’s readings, parts of ‘The Passion Gospel’, though they are a hard and often painful read, tell the story of God’s sacrifice through his Son and it is this which brings us the reassurance that, when the time comes, and it may not be for a long time, we may enter heaven, not through our merits but through his mercy and love.

So, as Christ paid the price by obedience to God, the consequence for us here and now is that we must live our lives in thankfulness and amazement at his generous work in dying to save us, and as our own sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving live lives of obedience to him as far as is possible for us, dependent continually on his all saving sacrifice and forgiveness when we fall short.

Prayers

We pray to the Lord for courage as we continue to walk, together but apart, along the road of life.

In this difficult time, give your Church the courage to give up her preoccupation with herself and to give time to your mission in the world. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus bring forgiveness to your people and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation as we work together and apart in your damaged world. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage to give up war, bitterness and hatred, and to seek peace and healing for each other. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the shoulders of the risen Jesus, once scourged by soldiers, bear the burden of our times. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy in our families, neighbourhoods and communities. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the presence of the risen Jesus, his body once broken and now made whole, bring peace and direction as we live with one another. Give us the courage to give up our selfishness as we live for others, and to give time, care and comfort to the sick and those who care for them in ways that are safe for them and for us. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch to all who suffer, and the light of his presence fill their hearts and homes. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith. May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross, walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony, and walk with us and all your Church through death to the gate of glory. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer, here and in eternity.

Amen.

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.
Amen

A Home Communion

(use some bread or a plain biscuit, some wine or juice)

What we do here in our own homes today, we do in imitation of what Christ first did.

To his followers in every age, Jesus gave an example and command rooted in the experience he shared with his disciples in an upstairs room in Jerusalem.

So now we do as Jesus did.

We take this food and drink, the produce of the earth and fruit of human labour.

In these, Jesus has promised to be present, through these, Christ can make us whole.

Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord is with us,
And with all those with whom we worship, together but apart.

We lift our hearts together.
We lift them to the Lord.

We give thanks together to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, for you made us,
and before us, you made the world we inhabit,
and before the world, you made the eternal home
in which, through Christ, we have a place.

And so we gladly join our voices to the song of the Church,
to those from whom we are separated
on earth and in heaven:

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.

And now,
lest we believe that our praise alone fulfils your purpose,
we fall silent and remember him who came because words were not enough.

Setting our wisdom, our will, our words aside,
emptying our hearts and bringing nothing in our hands,
we yearn for the healing, the holding, the accepting, the forgiving
which Christ alone can offer.

(we pause quietly for a moment)

Merciful God, send now, in your kindness
your Holy Spirit on this food and drink
and fill them with the fullness of Jesus.

And let that same Spirit rest on us,
converting us from the patterns of this passing world,
until we conform to the shape of him whose food we share.
Amen.

Sharing God’s Gifts

Among friends, gathered round a table,
Jesus took bread and broke it, and said,
‘This is my body, broken for you.’
Later he took a cup of wine and said,
‘This is the new relationship with God
made possible because of my death.
Take it, all of you, to remember me.’

He whom the universe could not contain is present to us in this food.
He who redeemed us and called us by name now meets us in this cup.

So we take this food and drink.

In them God comes to us so that we may come to God.

(Eat, drink, share the food and drink you have prepared and prayed over)

The Peace

(We bring to mind all those with whom we would usually share this moment, holding them on our hearts.)

Christ who has nourished us is our peace,
strangers and friends, male and female, old and young, near and far away,
Jesus has broken down the barriers to bind us to him and to each other.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

Concluding prayer

In gratitude, in deep gratitude for this moment, this meal, these people,
we give ourselves to you.

Take us out to live as changed people
because we have shared the living Bread and cannot remain the same.

Ask much of us, expect much of us, enable much by us,
encourage many through us.

So, Lord, may we live to your glory,
both as inhabitants of earth and citizens of the commonwealth of heaven,
knowing that we do so with your blessing
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
this day and for ever more.
Amen.

Third Sunday of Lent

Dear All,

Something a little different this morning, a ‘Miniature Morning Prayer’ which I put together for a couple of folk who were struggling to find time for quiet worship and needed something they could use anytime and anywhere. Hoping that you can do the same. After this are the readings for Lent 3 and some thoughts on them.

Hoping to be back actually worshipping together in the not too distant future.

With love, every blessing

and prayers as always

Mary Tucker

A Miniature Morning Prayer

This is the day that the Lord has made,

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Let’s sing together,

O God our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be Thou our guard while troubles last
and our eternal home.

Together we confess our sins and are forgiven

Have mercy on us and redeem us, O Lord
for our merits are your mercies
and in your judgement is our salvation

Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered,
. . . You surround me with songs of deliverance.

Thank you.

Amen.

Let us pray in the words of St Benedict,

Gracious and Holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you, 
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate on you
and a life to proclaim you,
through the power of the Spirit
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
    from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time on and forevermore.

A reassuring poem based on Psalm 121

I lift up mine eyes to the quiet hills,
And my heart to the Father’s Throne;
In all my ways, to the end of days,
The Lord will preserve his own.

And a few words from St Anselm

Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you, you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.  Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness, through your sweet goodness, through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.  Your warmth gives life to the dead, your touch makes sinners righteous.  Lord Jesus in your mercy heal us, in your love and tenderness remake us, in your compassion bring grace and forgiveness and for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.

Final words and a blessing

The Lord bless us and keep us,
the Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us,
the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be with us this day,
with those we love and those we pray for.
Amen

Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
in the name of Christ
Amen

Readings for the Third Sunday in Lent

Exodus 20:1-17

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods beforeme.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

12 Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 You shall not murder.

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Thoughts on the Readings

My advice to student teachers as they approach the classroom for the first time is don’t try and teach any reading, any writing or any ‘rithmatic until you’ve got the rules set.

Unless the children know what the expectations are, unless they’ve signed up to them, agreed to them, in fact if possible helped to draft them out, there’s no point in starting to try and teach them anything.

What children need, and what children in the end discover they like though they may not realise it at the time, is to know just where the boundaries are. Thus far and no further. This is OK, this is not. And then they need to know that it will be stuck to, stuck to consistently for everyone by everyone. Once you’ve got that then you can move on to 2 + 2 makes 4 and ‘a’ is for apple or, if you’re more ambitious, e = mc squared!

And if we’re honest this doesn’t just apply to children. We certainly haven’t been short of rules and regulations this last 12 months but, even in this ‘unprecedented’ year, with rules far stricter than any that have been in place since the second world war and some stricter than that, if we’re honest, despite everything and however uncomfortable and restrictive they’ve been, I think we have been glad that the rules have been made and we have (I hope) adhered to them.

So we find God in our Old Testament lesson today doing just the same sort of thing. Before moving on to greater things with his fledgling nation the Israelites, they sit down together and map out the boundaries.

Or rather, Moses goes up the mountain, gets the list of rules, brings them down and everybody nods in agreement. The covenant is set. This is how we’ll deal together. You do this and I’ll be able to lead you and love you, guide you and bring you to greatness and fulfilment, God tells them. And the Israelites nod sagely in agreement and all seems well.

And these rules are still here for us and though a lot is written in the New Testament about things that take us beyond this law, nowhere does it say that this list is to be abandoned. I love the King James Bible of Jesus’ words on the subject, “Not one jot or tittle shall be changed!”

So the Ten Commandments still stand and we too nod sagely in agreement and our covenant with God stands firm. Or does it?

Are our nods of assent motivated by a feeling that really we nowadays in this civilised world have very little to worry about? But perhaps we should examine this list of do’s and don’ts with particular reference to the ‘jots and tittles’, the implications for us here and now.

Lets take them in reverse. Are we quite sure they don’t apply to us?

Coveting. Well, though I live opposite a farm there are no oxen or donkeys and I enjoy looking at but don’t particularly wish I own the cattle and other livestock. However the old farmhouse – well that’s lovely! Why can’t I have a home like that?

And when we come to coveting our neighbour’s wife or husband come to that . . . (which links of course with commandment number 7 – the adultery one) we are sadly in the real world a world from which none of us are immune. Whether the adultery is in the heart or in reality this is the stuff of daily life I’m afraid and it is dangerous to take anything for granted.

Let’s move on. Lying. We do it, I’m sorry but we do. They just slip out, “It’s only a slight spin on the truth, I’m just not telling everything, it’s a white lie and it’s for the other person’s good” we protest to ourselves. We do it even though we are told quite specifically not to and we need to give this serious thought.

And stealing? We may not have the lead off the church roof but the pack of paper from work? The undeclared photocopying or printing on the office equipment? Perhaps we haven’t but have we been tempted?

Murder. Surely we’re safe in this one. Except . . . which of us is not capable if the situation arose? I don’t know. We may think we wouldn’t, couldn’t but are there circumstances . . .?

And what about the times we perhaps get away with it, driving above the speed or drink drive limit or just not caring enough to make the effort to support the charities that save lives or to buy the goods that sustain rather than destroy communities.

Maybe I push it too far but is withholding the stuff of life, fair sharing of food, clean water the equivalent of murder? It would be if it was a person in our direct care. Is it different just because these people are far away? And at the moment of course the business of breaking COVID restrictions! It all needs to be considered before we settle too comfortably into our self righteousness.

Next, keeping Sunday special. I’m not pretending this is easy especially at the moment when we can’t be in church, and I’m not pretending it doesn’t apply to me just as much as to you but how much more then do we need to make the effort. I hide my ‘to do’ list and try to take the rest God is offering – it’s different for each of us but somehow we all need to be even stricter with ourselves in a time when it’s often hard to remember what day it is as the sameness of lock-down imprisons us.

And swearing, taking the Lord’s name in vain, if we’re honest do we? Ever? And if we do what message does it give to the world about our commitment? Our covenant with our loving God?

Nearly there now. We’re up at Commandment number two and I doubt that many of us have constructed golden calf in the garden as a Corona Virus project. Neither have we fallen down regularly before some man made shrine we protest, except that I worship regularly at the alter of my bank balance, and I give high priority to the watching of my favourite TV show or listening to the cricket (the biggest idol of all for me). There are innumerable things which, if I am honest, I regularly put, or am tempted to put, before my commitment to God so that I hardly dare come to Commandment number one – ‘You shall have no other God than me’ – and as Jesus put it so succinctly, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

If like me you are now feeling pretty depressed take heart for Paul in our New Testament reading, brings us the good news. God does not abandon us. True, not one jot of tittle of the law departs but the wisdom which it seems to represent is overtaken by the foolishness of love. By the apparently foolishness notion that an all-powerful God, looking down on those who like us have repeatedly failed to keep within the boundaries negotiated, the rules agreed, the covenant set; that this all powerful God would come himself and that his death and resurrection would bring us wisdom wiser than any we could aspire to, a strength beyond our strength to love us despite our inability to put him first; that he would support us as we strive to become more and more worthy of the foolish, all encompassing, forgiving love of the same God who set out the boundaries for Moses on Mount Sinai all those millennia ago.

Sunday Before Lent

Worshipping Together – Last Sunday before Lent

Dear All,

Welcome once more to our ‘kitchen table communion service’. It is a joy still to be able to share with you in this, even though we are still parted, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the obvious need for lock down and our matching decision to keep each other safe by staying apart for now, so many of you have already received your vaccinations and the wonderful work of so many scientists and medics means that during the next few months more and more people will be safe.

Today is the last Sunday before Lent (hard to believe as that may be) and, as we prepare for that extended time of penitent pondering and preparation, today we remind ourselves of the transformative power of the God we worship

So until next time, be it in a church building or on the pages of this website

Keep separate, keep safe, keep hoping, keep smiling (even behind your mask) and keep faith for we are never separated from the love of God or from the prayers of each other.

Mary Tucker

A ‘Kitchen Table Communion’ to say at home (adapted from the worship of the Iona Community)

Gathering Prayer

Creator of the cosmos,
Of eternity and time:
Be with us in this time.
Saviour of the world,
Healer of the nations:
Be with us in this place.
Breath of all that lives,
Of people near and far:
Stir within our lives.
Creator, Son, Spirit
God of here and now:
Be present in our worship
That we may find new ways
Of being present in your world.

(Hymn/Song – Sing something you enjoy!!)

Bible Readings

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Mark 9:2-9

The Transfiguration

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.  His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Some Thoughts on the Readings

Veils and shining faces.

It sounds like a description of a wedding. And it’s true, at all the best marriage celebrations there is something shining, something that gets past the nerves and trembling, the tears and the emotion, in the eyes of those who are pledging themselves to one another. Something shines out

It’s said about smiles too. You can tell if a smile is real, genuine. It’s not about the grin, it’s something that shines, yes that really shines. It’s something in the eyes that tells you it is real. And that’s why it works even from behind a mask!

They say it also about women who are expecting a baby. Pregnancy, we are told, has a real glow, something of the joy that the mother to be is feeling shines out.

Both of the readings set for this morning are about shining faces, glowing countenances. Both also have something about veils, something that, for better or worse, shields us or others from the shining. Or perhaps something that gets in the way, blocks the glow.

In the Gospel reading the chosen disciples accompany Jesus who has taken them up the mountain to pray. Both the disciples and Jesus hear God’s words, hear confirmation, God’s words of affirmation that he is God’s Son, that his words are words to which all people should listen.

And Jesus is transformed by this encounter with the Living God. He actually glows. His glory shines out.

The disciples, huddled on the mountainside near Jerusalem are fearful, awestruck. The cloud rescues them, veils their sight that they may not be overwhelmed by the might and glory of close contact with God. But in some ways their sight was already veiled, veiled by their fear, their lack of faith and trust, their misunderstanding, as so often is ours.

So Paul, writing to the Christians of Corinth, and of course to us, draws the comparison with this encounter and our reactions to it. Of course we are awestruck and sometimes a little fearful of our Almighty God and Father, and so we should be if we come into his presence too easily, thoughtlessly and without due reverence, as a little prayer for use before Bible Reading puts it. And yet too often, I think, like the disciples, we veil our own sight from the ultimate power and overwhelming love that is God’s through inappropriate fear, lack of faith and trust or misunderstanding.

Awesome is an overused word but in this context it is absolutely the right one. So Paul tells us our minds are to be open to this glory not hardened like those separated from God through sin and fear. We are the unveiled ones who can and do (sometimes) reflect the light of Jesus, not through any might or merit of our own but because the veil, the need to be separated from God because of our sin, was destroyed, was torn from top to bottom like the curtain in the temple as Jesus fulfilled his destiny for us at Calvary.

Instead of a veil, Paul goes on later to compare us to the disciples who did not remain fearful and untrusting. We too can be transformed like them, he tells us, transfigured by the flames of Pentecost, by Jesus’ Spirit mirrored in us and changing us ‘from glory to glory’, as we are transformed by his love and power into the shining ones we were always intended to be.

And we have a responsibility, a responsibility to shine. We may not glow like a light bulb or fluoresce like a high viz. jacket, but it is expected of us, it is part of the ministry of those of us whose sight of God is no longer veiled, of those of us who call ourselves Christians to shine forth in the world.

Our behaviour, our talk, our faces and, yes, even our masked smiles should show forth the glory of the God we serve. And it is not too much to ask because in prayer and in partnership with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are being transformed from glory to glory in his power.

I am fond of saying that though I can see that God is making some progress in his slow transformation of me into the image of the one I will one day be, I have,as yet, only made it from glory to gl . . . ! But that is no excuse. We must not lose heart or think ourselves unworthy of the ministry each of us is given. In the power of God and of Jesus our Saviour we will go forth from here today and those we meet in the coming week, mask to mask, on the phone or via the wonders of technology, may not be dazzled but should at least be aware of the light of God’s love glowing through all we are and say and do.

So go forth in the peace of Christ, to love and serve and to shine for the Lord.

Prayers

We continue our prayers now as we pray to the Lord for courage as we walk, together but apart, along the road of life.

In this difficult time, give your Church the courage to give up her preoccupation with herself and to give time to your mission in the world.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus bring forgiveness to your people and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation as we work together and apart in your damaged world.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage to give up war, bitterness and hatred, and to seek peace and healing for each other.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the shoulders of the risen Jesus, once scourged by soldiers, bear the burden of our times.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy in our families, neighbourhoods and communities.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the presence of the risen Jesus, his body once broken and now made whole, bring peace and direction as we live with one another. Give us the courage to give up our selfishness as we live for others, and to give time, care and comfort to the sick and those who care for them in ways that are safe for them and for us.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch to all who suffer, and the light of his presence fill their hearts and homes.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith. May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross, walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony, and walk with us and all your Church through death to the gate of glory.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer, here and in eternity. Amen.

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.

Amen

A Home Communion

(use some bread or a plain biscuit, some wine or juice)

What we do here in our own homes today, we do in imitation of what Christ first did.

To his followers in every age, Jesus gave an example and command rooted in the experience he shared with his disciples in an upstairs room in Jerusalem.

So now we do as Jesus did.

We take this food and drink, the produce of the earth and fruit of human labour.

In these, Jesus has promised to be present, through these, Christ can make us whole.

Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord is with us,

And with all those with whom we worship, together but apart.

We lift our hearts together.

We lift them to the Lord.

We give thanks together to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, for you made us,

and before us, you made the world we inhabit,

and before the world, you made the eternal home

in which, through Christ, we have a place.

And so we gladly join our voices to the song of the Church,

to those from whom we are separated

on earth and in heaven:

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.

And now,

lest we believe that our praise alone fulfils your purpose,

we fall silent

and remember him who came because words were not enough.

Setting our wisdom, our will, our words aside,

emptying our hearts and bringing nothing in our hands,

we yearn for the healing, the holding, the accepting, the forgiving

which Christ alone can offer.

(we pause quietly for a moment)

Merciful God, send now, in your kindness

your Holy Spirit on this food and drink

and fill them with the fullness of Jesus.

And let that same Spirit rest on us,

converting us from the patterns of this passing world,

until we conform to the shape of him whose food we share.

Amen.

Sharing God’s Gifts

Among friends, gathered round a table,

Jesus took bread and broke it, and said,

‘This is my body, broken for you.’

Later he took a cup of wine and said,

‘This is the new relationship with God

made possible because of my death.

Take it, all of you, to remember me.’

He whom the universe could not contain is present to us in this food.

He who redeemed us and called us by name now meets us in this cup.

So we take this food and drink.

In them God comes to us so that we may come to God.

(Eat, drink, share the food and drink you have prepared and prayed over)

The Peace

(We bring to mind all those with whom we would usually share this moment,

holding them on our hearts.)

Christ who has nourished us is our peace,

strangers and friends, male and female, old and young, near and far away,

Jesus has broken down the barriers to bind us to him and to each other.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

(and also with you)

Concluding prayer

In gratitude, in deep gratitude for this moment, this meal, we give ourselves to you. Take us out to live as changed people because we have shared the living Bread and cannot remain the same.

Ask much of us, expect much of us, enable much by us, encourage many through us.

May God’s goodness be ours.
May each of us be an oasis in the desert.
May each of us be a star in the dark.
May each of us be a staff to the weak.
May the love Christ Jesus gave fill every heart for us.
May the love Christ Jesus gave fill us for every heart.
May God’s blessing be ours.

Amen

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!!

Canticle

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!

Prayers

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.
Amen.

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.

Amen

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.

Amen

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.

Amen

Worshipping Together – Apart for Epiphany

Dear All,

Welcome once again to what I’ve come to think of as our ‘kitchen table communion service’. It is a joy still to be able to share with you in this even though we are parted once again, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the obvious need for lock down and our matching decision to keep each other safe by staying apart for now, so many of you have already received your vaccinations and the wonderful work of so many scientists and medics means that during the next few months more and more people will be safe.

Today is Epiphany Sunday, and as the Christmas story continues today’s thoughts, a meditation really, are adapted from a radio broadcast by Isabelle Hamley . So until next time, be it in a church building or on the pages of this website

Keep separate, keep safe

but remember you are never separated from the love of God or from the prayers of us all

Mary Tucker

A ‘Kitchen Table Communion’ to say at home (adapted from the worship of the Iona Community)

Gathering Prayer

Creator of the cosmos,

Of eternity and time:

Be with us in this time.

Saviour of the world,

Healer of the nations:

Be with us in this place.

Breath of all that lives,

Of people near and far:

Stir within our lives.

Creator, Son, Spirit

God of here and now:

Be present in our worship

That we may find new ways

Of being present in your world.

(Hymn/Song – Sing something you enjoy!!)

Bible Reading

Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their home by another way.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Some Thoughts on the Readings

There really should be a name for the days after Boxing Day, the days after the day after, the days when the glow of Christmas is starting to fade, empty boxes have been played with by cats and children and are now waiting for the recycling lorry.

The days for journeys home, getting ready to pick up the threads of everyday life.

The day, maybe, when family arguments still resonate when disappointing gifts tug at our feelings, when we go home relieved and a little empty.

I wonder what it was like on that first Christmas? What did the shepherds do on their way home? What did the wise men do for directions once the star was gone?

Hear again part of our gospel reading:

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their home by another way.

The wise men went home another way.

I’ve always wondered what it must have felt like to turn their backs on the star and go home. They would have had to leave behind the excitement, leave behind the chase, the promise of something, and instead start to live with the promise of what actually is.

The journey to Bethlehem was full of promise and unknowns. They must have made wild guesses, talked excitedly, imagined the moment when everything would change and then . . . then the moment happened. After a few wrong turns they ended up in Bethlehem by the side of the Christ-child, they knelt and worshipped, they offered their gifts, heaven stood still and the mystery of this one moment stretched out into eternity.

Carols always stop there, at the manger, by the side of Jesus, in wonder and adoration, but this was hardly the end of their journey. There was a long way home to follow, time was not suspended for ever, they had to pull themselves away, withdraw from eternity and re-enter the world as we know it.

It is tempting sometimes, maybe often, to find an escape, to lose ourselves into the beauty of the story, the beauty of the incarnation, but then what? How easy it is to make the opposite movement to the movement of God. As God comes closer to us and our reality we try and move out of it rather than enter deeper within it.

I like to think of the wise men silently trudging along their way home, going home another way. What were they thinking? Pondering what they had seen? The poverty, the ordinariness, the lack of grandeur of the surroundings, what could this mean?

What did it mean for them? How could they get the location wrong with their first attempt? Why would a king be born in Bethlehem his birth heralded by shepherds

and random strangers?

With them we wonder, we question.

We thought we knew where to find you, we hardly needed a star to guide the way, just perseverance and common sense. Why do you hide yourself from the powerful

and join the refugees and outcasts calling us to follow you there?

Wise God – give us wisdom.

We thought we had laid you safe in the manger. We wrapped you in the thickest sentiment we could find and stressed how long ago you came to us. Why do you break upon us in our daily life with messages of peace and goodwill demanding that we do something about it?

Just and righteous God – give us justice and righteousness.

So where else would we expect to find you but in the ordinary place with the faithful people, turning the world to your purpose through them?

Bring us to that manger, to that true rejoicing which will make wisdom, justice and righteousness alive in us.

On the way home I wonder whether the wise men went with blistered feet and heavy hearts, their shoes worn, their clothes smelly as the shepherds.

If Bethlehem was full where did they stay? Or shower? Or stable the camels we like to think they had? Did they get any rest? How long did they stay by the baby’s side? Half an hour? Half the night? Is that all the reward of a long journey?

As they trudged back there must have been the weariness of a long road stretched out before them, a long way home, dark and uncertain, backlit by the star they had left behind, working out how one special night had changed everything and yet changed nothing.

They were still themselves, still wise, still men, still foreigners, yet they went home another way.

No palace and no rulers this time, their bags lighter once they had given gifts away. What were they taking back with them? What story should they tell? What wisdom did the wise men gain? We do not know, the story doesn’t tell, instead it leaves us to ponder for ourselves.

The journey in some ways left the star behind, it is everything we are told not to do. The world in which we live is very good at telling us to reach for the stars, not turn away from them, and yet, the story of the wise men tells us to do something else. Instead of reaching for the stars this story tells us to consider what is already given.

The star has already come and it was pointing to God. The real question is how we allow the story to change us. Not how we reach for the star but how we live once we have come into contact with its message.

The wise men beg us to consider are we going home another way?

Prayers

We continue our prayers now as we pray to the Lord for courage as we walk, together but apart, along the road of life.

In this difficult time, give your Church the courage to give up her preoccupation with herself and to give time to your mission in the world. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus bring forgiveness to your people and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation as we work together and apart in your damaged world. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage to give up war, bitterness and hatred, and to seek peace and healing for each other. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the shoulders of the risen Jesus, once scourged by soldiers, bear the burden of our times. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy in our families, neighbourhoods and communities. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the presence of the risen Jesus, his body once broken and now made whole, bring peace and direction as we live with one another. Give us the courage to give up our selfishness as we live for others, and to give time, care and comfort to the sick and those who care for them in ways that are safe for them and for us. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch to all who suffer, and the light of his presence fill their hearts and homes. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith. May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross, walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony, and walk with us and all your Church through death to the gate of glory. Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer, here and in eternity. Amen.

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.

Amen

A Home Communion

(use some bread or a plain biscuit, some wine or juice)

What we do here in our own homes today, we do in imitation of what Christ first did.

To his followers in every age, Jesus gave an example and command

rooted in the experience he shared with his disciples in an upstairs room in Jerusalem.

So now we do as Jesus did.

We take this food and drink, the produce of the earth and fruit of human labour.

In these, Jesus has promised to be present, through these, Christ can make us whole.

Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord is with us,

And with all those with whom we worship, together but apart.

We lift our hearts together.

We lift them to the Lord.

We give thanks together to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, for you made us,

and before us, you made the world we inhabit,

and before the world, you made the eternal home

in which, through Christ, we have a place.

And so we gladly join our voices to the song of the Church,

to those from whom we are separated

on earth and in heaven:

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.

And now,

lest we believe that our praise alone fulfils your purpose,

we fall silent

and remember him who came because words were not enough.

Setting our wisdom, our will, our words aside,

emptying our hearts and bringing nothing in our hands,

we yearn for the healing, the holding, the accepting, the forgiving

which Christ alone can offer.

(we pause quietly for a moment)

Merciful God, send now, in your kindness

your Holy Spirit on this food and drink

and fill them with the fullness of Jesus.

And let that same Spirit rest on us,

converting us from the patterns of this passing world,

until we conform to the shape of him whose food we share.

Amen.

Sharing God’s Gifts

Among friends, gathered round a table,

Jesus took bread and broke it, and said,

‘This is my body, broken for you.’

Later he took a cup of wine and said,

‘This is the new relationship with God

made possible because of my death.

Take it, all of you, to remember me.’

He whom the universe could not contain is present to us in this food.

He who redeemed us and called us by name now meets us in this cup.

So we take this food and drink.

In them God comes to us so that we may come to God.

(Eat, drink, share the food and drink you have prepared and prayed over)

The Peace

(We bring to mind all those with whom we would usually share this moment,

holding them on our hearts.)

Christ who has nourished us is our peace,

strangers and friends, male and female, old and young, near and far away,

Jesus has broken down the barriers to bind us to him and to each other.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

(and also with you)

Concluding prayer

In gratitude, in deep gratitude for this moment, this meal, these people,

we give ourselves to you.

Take us out to live as changed people

because we have shared the living Bread and cannot remain the same.

Ask much of us, expect much of us, enable much by us,

encourage many through us.

So, Lord, may we live to your glory,

both as inhabitants of earth and citizens of the commonwealth of heaven,

knowing that we do so with your blessing

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

this day and for ever more.

Amen.