ascension

Sunday 24th May 2020

 This Week’s Readings

Acts 1: 6-14, 1 Peter 4: 12-14; 1 Peter 5: 6-11.  Gospel – John 17: 1-11


Thoughts for this Week

The disciples were with Jesus after his resurrection, he had talked of the kingdom of God. They gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes…” 


I am reminded of the journalists who ask “Give us a date for when the government will do this and that – when we can meet again, when the vaccine will be ready, when the pandemic will end …” The disciples were told to wait.

We also are in a time of waiting. We wait in Advent, and now between Ascension and Pentecost is also a time of waiting, but we may have to wait much longer with this virus. Waiting for a vaccine, for the end of illness, suffering, separation of families, loss of contact with friends, loss of job or money, waiting for celebration or mourning. 


The disciples were asked “Why are you standing here staring into heaven?” 


So they  returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.  They all were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, both men and women. What are we doing while we’re waiting ? Some are waiting and working, working desperately hard and in fear. For others it might seem like exile - we are here but not here, we learn a little of what it’s like to be a refugee.


In Jeremiah 29 we hear of people in exile, they could get letters and one was sent from Jeremiah in Jerusalem to those in Babylon, far away from their church building (temple) and home, some separated from friends or family, in a strange land, – “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce … But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." “ For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore you…”


So when possible we plant and build and eat … but also write letters and pray, find different ways to worship God together, ways of supporting key workers,… Remembering that Jesus said  “I am praying for them….. for those whom Thou hast given me, for they are Thine;   … I do not pray that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil one... I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word.”


Janet Butcher-Weisner


Although we are apart, we pray together:


Prayers of Intercession: Please use in conjunction with your own prayers.

Through this bulletin, we are all able to join the intercessor in prayerful petitioning on behalf of all under God’s benefaction. Believing there is harmony and a powerful loving Spirit at the heart of the universe, a God in whom we can trust.

I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining…..I believe in love, even when I can’t feel

 it… I believe in God, even when He is silent…... In faith, let us do what we can and pray…..

We too may be silent before you Lord, as we offer our lives in thanksgiving. Help us to be open, ready for when you speak in the stillness. Please keep us relaxed both in body and mind, constant in our love towards you, confident in your redeeming grace through Jesus Christ our Lord….

Amen


Ascension (21.05.20): Christ is the King to whom all authority has been given in heaven and on earth. While we may own him as our Lord, we yield to him in obedience. May we dedicate our lives to his service…..So come Lord Jesus and reign in us that we may be agents of your Kingdom. 

Alleluia! Christ is risen…..He is risen indeed Alleluia! “Nothing is impossible for God”: God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation. In their loneliness, be their consolation...In their anxiety, be their hope...In their darkness, be their light...Through him who suffered alone on the cross and now reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord….. Amen


People of Faith (The Church): Dear Lord please anoint your Church with the Spirit of recovery and evangelistic mission. We pray for Archbishop Welby, Bishop Rose and all who serve under the banner of Christ within the Elham Valley Ministry. Help us Lord, to proclaim the spirit of the Gospels by action and word within the needs of recovery and national rebuilding, that others may be drawn to your love, worship and service….. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer


Our Nation: Dear Lord God, please bless this land which you have given...Sustain our Queen…Guide our Politicians...Resolve our differences...Revive your Church...Forgive our selfishness...Protect our homes...And may your will be done in this nation, as it is in heaven….. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Those who bravely serve: Almighty God we cannot thank you enough for the Spirit which sustains those who continue to serve in the front line of this Pandemic. While our gratitude goes out to Doctors, Nurses and all who sustain our N.H.S., there are many others, known to you, too numerous to mention. Please sustain their bravery by your mighty power, keep them safe and in your mercy hear their prayers and the prayers we offer up for them.


For the Unwell & Recovery: Father please comfort and heal all those who suffer in body mind and spirit. May their healing and wholeness be empowered by your hand and may 

those who care for them be sustained in all aspects of their care.

Lord, we commend to your love and care all those in our community who are sick at this time especially Kevin Bennett, Janet Thornby, Derek & Nicki North, Daniel Stevens, 

Katherine Goody, Baby Rowan, Mike Wilson, David Ratcliff, Colin Laker, June Edwards, Derek Ufton, Jean Anderson, Paul Hutchins, John Hammond, Sheila Godden, for all known to us who need a prayer for healing and also the many others who we don’t know. 

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers and the prayers of others for their wellbeing. 


Departed & Bereaved: Dear God of Compassion, we thank you for those who have influenced our own lives and now dwell with you in glory. For us, who have to compensate for the loss of a loved relative or friend, the spiritual pain can be a life scar. 

We also think of Anne Banks, David Rawlings, Iris Weeks, Margaret Prior, Mary Osborn, Raymond Morphew.

Loving Lord, please enter the lives of those who mourn and bring them courage, faith and peace in recovery…..

And we remember also all those dear, whose year’s mind falls at this time: Margaret Rumble, Muriel Wilson, Hastings Barry, Lucy Davies, Marianne MacKinnon, Jeanette Seldon and Ron Godfrey.


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

Amen


Roger Davenport


May we conclude with the prayer taught by our Ascended Saviour, The Lord’s Prayer.


Traditional                 

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. 


Contemporary

 Our Father in heaven,
 hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
 your will be done,
 on earth as in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread.
 Forgive us our sins
 as we forgive those who sin against us.
 Lead us not into temptation
 but deliver us from evil.
 For the kingdom, the power,
 and the glory are yours
  now and for ever.
 Amen.


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SUNDAY 24TH MAY 2020 - ASCENSION

  Holy Communion with Rev'd Jane 

SUNDAY 24TH MAY 2020 Ascension

 Service of the Word for Ascension Day with Rev'd Stephen 

rogation

Sunday 17th May 2020

  

This Week’s Readings

Acts 17: 22-31, 1 Peter 3: 13-22, Gospel – John 14: 15-21


Thoughts for this Week


Awake, O Sleeper


“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” are the opening words of our Lord in today’s Gospel reading from St John. Sisters and brothers in Christ will undoubtedly love Jesus and truly desire to keep his commandment to love God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds and with all our strength. And we will always try to obey his second – to love our neighbour as ourselves. We recognize that we often fall short in both and this is the cause of our sin.


But as we continue earnestly in our quest for the grace to meet these two commandments, we might wonder if the ten commandments given to Moses by God on tablets of stone, are they made obsolete? No, definitely not; we learn that these two commandments are a summary of the Law and the prophets which are found in the Old Testament.


We don’t always hear readings from the Old Testament in our weekly church services, and yet the books reveal how this is a vitally important and an integral part of the Christian story too.

The Old Testament tells the story of God’s relationship with humankind; a story of a loving Father trying to keep his children safe as they grow in faith and in a sometimes hostile world. He put in rules and boundaries, which are vital for good parenting, but which his children often chose to disobey. Words of wisdom and instruction delivered by God’s prophets sometimes went unheeded; and we see how, through disobedience, the children of Israel suffered as a consequence. The consequences of disobedience were either, inflicted by enemies opposed to the God of Israel and his people, or delivered by natural means. This pattern of disobedience is a repeating one which we can read about for ourselves.


As loving Fathers do, God went a step further to break this cycle of disobedience – he sent us his Son.

Jesus came into this world to put humankind in a right relationship with God once again and to impart the good news of his kingdom and of eternal life. After Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection his fledgling Church arose; and this Church, defying the powers and authorities which tried to shut it down, began to flourish. The New Testament, as you know, tells the complete story of our Lord Jesus and the that of the early church, and which we find today we share common problems with.


Prime Minister Macmillan, back in the day, told this country, “You’ve never had it so good.” A decade or so after the second world war this country was settling down and wealth and comfort began to return to most people. The Church of England, it seems to me, settled down into a bit of a doze by a warm fire for a while.


Before long all sorts of issues – moral, sexual and political – began to poke at the Church - it needed to wake up and to engage, to speak out loud about the word of God. But it couldn’t rouse itself in time and the world didn’t wait but moved on.

Having missed an opportunity to be influential the Church of England, as a result, finds these same issues dominate the agenda today.


The Church of England – that is all of us - live in a culture which demands recognition of an individual’s identity and sexual orientation and their rights in society. In its efforts to conform to the demands of secular society the Church of England is taking steps to accommodate this ‘spirit of the age’ through provision of special additional liturgies. This is being considered on our behalf; although a report has been prepared and published, it remains unissued for the time being. 

As we continue to love God, to love our neighbour and keep God’s commandments, we are committed to taking the good news out into the world, even to the ends of the earth. Our Bible and Church traditions teach us how we are to live and love and tend God’s creation. 

To move away from the written word of God and church tradition, surely, condemns all of us?


‘They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ 


Paul Jarvis


Although we are apart, we pray together:


Rogation Prayers


The Pandemic prevents our traditional Rogation Walk from taking place, so let us set out on a virtual Rogation Journey.


We stand outside the lovely Church of St Mary the Virgin, Elham, in the square, the central point of the village.

Lord, we celebrate our beautiful and historic church buildings and thank the architects, artists and builders for their vision and skill. We regret that we are unable to use our buildings at present, but, long before the pandemic, Rogationtide showed us that we can pray and worship in fields, woods and anywhere, wherever we are. Amen


A small band of pilgrims and an assortment of dogs, we walk down Duck Street to the Nailbourne stream.

Lord, bless the waters of the world; the babbling brooks, the meandering rivers, the calm lakes and mighty oceans. May our waters be clean and beneficial, but protect communities from flooding. Jesus, you chose fishermen among your disciples; bless our fishermen, whose job is tough and dangerous. We pray for their safety and that the harvest of the sea is abundant and sustainable. Amen


We walk on, through the arable field, pausing to listen to the music of the sky, embodied in that small, brown, distant bird –the Skylark. At the top of the field, we wait for stragglers to catch up and we pray.

Lord, bless our arable crops that they may bring a plentiful harvest. At this difficult time, we realise how important the production of food is and we give thanks for the farmers and all those involved in bringing food our tables. We pray for those who are hungry and those who are relying on foodbanks to feed their families. Amen


We walk on through a grass field, with cattle, who eye us with caution. We progress to Standard Hill, Henbury, and down the hill to Rakesole Farm, where more cattle observe us with curiosity.

Lord, bless this herd and those throughout the valley. May they be sleek and healthy and bring prosperity. We give thanks for those who care for them and treat them with respect. Amen


We walk down the green lane towards Tappington, through a wildflower meadow scattered with cowslips, vetches, plantain, yellow rattle and other flowers. Then on through fields with contented ewes and leaping lambs. We stop at Tappington Hall for juice and satsumas, and we pray.

Jesus, The Good Shepherd, bless the good shepherds throughout our parishes; that their sheep may be healthy and fertile. Bless and protect our poultry and other animals. Amen


Not forgetting the bees…

Saint Ambrose and Saint Gobnait, Patrons of the bees, bless our hives, that they may teem with vibrant colonies. When human civilization is in confusion hurled, bless this tiny insect – the future of the world. Amen


We walk along the track towards Snode Hill. A Red Kite, which has taken up residence at Tappington, graces us with a display; gliding, wheeling, floating, with control and pzazz. A moment of Nature’s magnificence.

We arrive at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Denton. We sing “The King of love my shepherd is…” and hear the parable of the sower. On we trudge, across fields and up the steep climb through the wood.

Lord, bless our trees, woodlands and orchards. We thank you for the solidity of the oak, the slender grace of the birch, the spreading, sheltering limbs of the beech and chestnut, the versatility of the hazel, the bounty of fruit trees. We celebrate the wildlife of our countryside, the creatures of the woods and fields and the rich diversity of birdlife. Amen


We cross a field into the village of Wootton and on to St Martin’s churchyard. We sing “All Creatures of our God and King”, and we remember last year when David Ratcliff, in spite of recent illness, stepped forward to be our volunteer organist, to great applause. And we pray.

Lord, at this challenging time, we ask your blessing on the sick, especially those suffering with Covid- 19. Give relief to the sick, give peace to those who have died, give comfort to their loved ones. We thank you for the skill and dedication of all medical and care staff. Help us to come through this dark valley into the field of light, hope and renewal. Amen


We say a Rogation Prayer for 2020

Lord, let us know

That crops will grow,

And birds will sing,

And bees will bring

The nectar home.

And flocks will roam,

And herds will feel,

With calves at heel,

A gentle calm

Embrace the farm;

And rivers run,

And rain and sun

Will bless the earth,

To bring new birth;

And greening trees

Will catch the breeze

And pass along

A hopeful song.

From times of pain,

Bring us again,

Oh, Great Restorer,

To Natural Order.

Amen


Sue Clough


A Prayer for Healing - click here


Lord, we commend to your love and care all those in our community who are sick at this time especially Janet Thornby, Derek & Nicki North, Daniel Stevens, Katherine Goody, Baby Rowan, Mike Wilson, David Ratcliff, Colin Laker, June Edwards, Derek Ufton, Jean Anderson, Paul Hutchins, John Hammond, Sheila Godden, for all known to us who need a prayer for healing and also the many others who we don’t know. 

We pray for those recently departed, and those who mourn them:

David Rawlings, Iris Weeks, Margaret Prior, Mary Osborn and Raymond Morphew, 

And we remember also all those dear, whose year’s mind falls at this time: Bert Want and Alan Smith.

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sunday 17th May 2020 - rogation

Holy Communion with Rev'd Jane

SUNDAY 17TH MAY 2020 rogation

 

Morning Prayer for the 6th Sunday of Easter with Rev'd Stephen

Easter 5

Sunday 10th May 2020

 

From Rev’d Jane: A sign of Deja Vu… 

History repeats itself. This poem (see image in box right) was written in 1869, and reprinted during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919.  Let us hope that after this we will think differently and find healing, not just for ourselves our families and friends but for the whole world, with a new vision and with new ways of living. Jesus' life, death and resurrection did... and does exactly that for those who follow him.

So, I pray that we would allow God to help us all through this pain of loss, isolation and bereavement, and help us see with new eyes and new hearts this beautiful world we live in. And, I pray that when we  are all through this, we would not let this unique experience leave us unchanged. Stay Safe!


This Week’s Readings


Acts 7: 55-60, 1 Peter 2: 2-10, Gospel – John 14: 1-14


Thoughts for this Week


On Thursday 8th May we join in two commemorations. In VE Day we give thanks for the return of peace in Europe in 1945. Six years of horror and bloodshed had killed approximately 67,200 civilians in Britain and her Crown Colonies, and 383,700 members of the British Armed Forces. Millions of other men, women and children had died across the world including the Jews and other minorities who were murdered in the death camps. And even though the war in Europe was over, many people were mindful that their friends and relatives were still in action overseas or in POW camps in the Far East and yet to return home. Many millions more including children and young people were so traumatised by their experiences that they never fully healed and went on to lead lives unable to realise their full potential. In some cases, children growing up with parents who experienced suffering were damaged also and so the effects of war pass down the generations and are with us still. So I doubt if it is helpful to think of VE 


Day in terms of a celebration of victory, but yes – a thanksgiving for the start of the return of peace and a commitment to be part of the ongoing work of peace-making.

Our other commemoration is of Mother Julian of Norwich. Born about 1343, she survived the Black Death of 1349, and wrote the earliest surviving book in the English language written by a woman: “The Revelations of Divine Love”, giving an account of the visions of Christ experienced as she thought she was dying when she was about 30 years old. She survived to write the book, and actually died sometime after 1416. She lived as an anchoress in a cell attached to St Julian’s Church in Norwich. Anchorites committed themselves to life in their cell. Dedicated to God by the bishop, they were commonly walled in with access only through an outside window for supplies and an inside window onto the church in order to see the mass. They might be visited for advice and spiritual guidance. Her time was one of uncertainty and war. The Peasants’ Revolt took place in 1381, and there were constant outbreaks of plagues and pestilence. 


Nonetheless her vision is of the goodness of God. Perhaps one of her best loved images is of God holding the world in love. She wrote: “And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God. In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.


Julian shows us something of what it means to trust God. Jesus says at the start of our Gospel reading (John 14v1): “Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in me”

VE Day and all our commemorations, for us in our generation, mark not just the end of war but are a reminder that we too have a role. We are called to renew the work to win the peace, each day and every day. Mother Julian knew that work began with herself in her cell, with the knowledge of the love of God upholding all that there is. Her words speak to us as truthfully today as when she wrote them, and reach out to us with love as we are staying in our homes. 


God is the giver of peace. May He give us His peace to be with ourselves and then may He lead us to share that peace with others.

Diana Baldwin 


Although we are apart, we pray together:


This weekend we look back 75 years to the celebration of Victory in Europe. After six long years the danger of invasion was over. No longer the threat of bombing and destruction in this country. But as this was celebrated by so many people, others would not be able to participate with any joy. Those whose loved ones serving in other parts of the world still at war. Those waiting to hear about missing family. And those who already knew their dear ones would not return at all.

God of love and liberty, we bring our thanks today for the peace and security we enjoy,
We remember those who in time of war faithfully served their country.
We pray for their families, and for ourselves whose freedom was won at such a cost.
Make us a people zealous for peace, and hasten that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither learn war any more.
This we pray in the name of the one who gave his life for the sake of the world:


Jesus Christ, our Redeemer:

We find ourselves in a strange, contradictory world at present. For many people, the social isolation restrictions have been confining, anxious, destructive and depressing. For others it has been a period of enforced calm in their lives: time to build up family bonds and rest. 


From whatever perspective we ourselves view the situation, let us pray now for others:

We pray for those whose livelihoods are jeopardised, and for those left with too little resources to meet their needs.


We pray that government, politicians and journalists will put their own opinions aside in order to work together for the good of all.


We pray for those who are so frightened by the publicity about Covid-19 that they will not seek help for other health problems.


We pray for those who have lost loved ones through any illness during this sad time. Their grieving process stalled by isolation and restrictions on funeral arrangements.


We pray for our brave medical services and carers. We ask for support for them to carry on, and to revive their spirits when it is over.


We pray for all key workers, maintaining essential services for others, often experiencing hostility and insults for doing so. And for the many unsung volunteers, assisting wherever they see a need.


We pray for those whose homes have become battlegrounds with no route out at present.


We pray for those who have found some stillness in which to re-evaluate their lifestyles. Should they seek to explore a new path, may we be ready to help them.


We pray that those families who have been drawn closer by their confinement will maintain that closeness when they return to normal occupations.


Few of us will emerge from this time completely unchanged. For those damaged by it we ask for support, understanding and care. May those of us who are able step forward to assist in their recovery.


An alternative version of the Lord’s Prayer from The Prayer Book of The Anglican Church of Australia: 


  • Eternal Spirit,
  • Earth-maker, Pain Bearer, Life Giver,
  • Source of all that is and that shall be.
  • Father and Mother of us all,
  • Loving God, in whom is heaven:
  • The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
  • The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
  • Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
  • Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
  • With the bread we need for today, feed us.
  • In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
  • In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
  • From trials too great to endure, spare us.
  • From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
  • For your reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever. 
  • Amen.


Eternal God, help us to entrust the past to your mercy, the present to your love, and the future to your wisdom. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord who is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Amen.


Sharon Paine


We commend to your love and care all those in our community who are sick at this time especially; Janet Thornby, Derek & Nicki North, Daniel Stevens, Katherine Goody, Baby Rowan, Mike Wilson, David Ratcliff, Colin Laker, June Edwards, Derek Ufton, Jean Anderson, Paul Hutchins, John Hammond, Sheila Godden, for all known to us who need a prayer for healing and also the many others who we don’t know. 


We pray for those recently departed, and those who mourn them:

David Rawlings, Iris Weeks, Margaret Prior, Mary Osborn, Raymond Morphew, Ken Percival, Edward Bailey, Ken Cooper and Brian Holmes. 


And we remember also all those dear, whose year’s mind falls at this time: 

Grace Jackson and Dorothy Horobin.


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Sunday 10th May 2020

 

A service of thanksgiving for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day including 2 minute silence. With Rev'd Stephen.

HOLY COMMUNION 10th MAY 2020

 Holy Communion and Commemorating VE Day. With Rev'd Jane. 

the uk blessing

Churches around the UK have come together to sing a blessing over the nation.

Our buildings may be closed but the Church is alive.

(shared by Mike Chinneck from St. Mary & St. Ethelburga, Lyminge)

easter 4

Sunday : 3rd May 2020

  

This Week’s Readings

Acts 2: 42-47, 1 Peter 2: 19 – end, Gospel – John 10: 1-10


Thoughts for this Week


Confessions of a Fallen Spirit:


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our Christian Creeds start with a confession of spiritual faith, “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ.” 

It is a relatively short statement establishing our belief, that our omnipotent God is Spiritual Director in every aspect of His Creation. We acknowledge this fact and are made aware of, what in down to earth terms would be, our Landlord and tenant relationship, within a tenancy agreement of care and refurbishment broadly laid down in Holy Scripture. An agreement in which, over more than our lifetime, global warming and COVID-19 and other less publicised indicators have marred our relationship. It’s happened before, but not quite on such a global scale. 


Meditation: Deuteronomy 4: 32-35. Amos.4: 10-13. Revelations 16: 9 & 22: 18-21

I have to accept responsibility for my own fallibility over the years and guess, like me, there are others who are deeply thankful for the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday morning, Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis made two signpost statements closely aligned to the resurrection of our Lord. The first, “We cannot go back to our old ways”, and second, “This is no time for self-centeredness, division or indifference”. And so we prayerfully move on.


Almighty creator God, please give us the courage to give up ‘self’, to face whatever our future may hold, hand in hand with the strength that only you can give, in the nature of our risen Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Readings for 3rd May 2020: 

Genesis 7. 

Noah is obedient to God’s illogical request. Acts 2: 42-47. Post Pentecost expansion of Christian fellowship and sharing. 1Peter 2: 19-25. Following the path of Christ may yield both suffering and rich rewards.

Gospel: 

St John 10: 1-10. 

Jesus parable involving himself as the gate to the secure sanctuary of the sheepfold. The unique relationship between sheep and shepherd, offering protection to all within his flock.

Throughout our lives, most of us have observed sheep in many situations revealing much of their character, where they behave exactly as their stereotype suggests. They follow one another, apparently unthinking, into the most terrible scrapes. They fall over. Get stuck in fences and hedges, or push their way through and wander into the road. They appear to the average human, perhaps a bit foolish and rather vulnerable. When the Bible, or hymns, suggest that sheep need protection, we may assume that the need is from predators or thieves. But could it be that their greatest need is protection from themselves?

Today’s Gospel reading presents us with a challenge, especially when set alongside the other readings for the day. We might reflect on how we have been vulnerable, lost or foolish in life, from time to time and how Christ has called us home. But we ought also to acknowledge those times when we have been called to be shepherds rather than sheep. If Christ is the pattern for our life, then surely, as he is the Good Shepherd, we might strive to be shepherds too. Encouraging, guiding others within our own faith experience.

To emerge from this pandemic will be another resurrection experience for every human being. There will many questions asked and many unanswered. There will be a call for loving caring shepherds, willing to give themselves unselfishly to the needs of the disillusioned, the lost and the needy. One could say, the sheep will be plenty but the shepherds few. Or maybe not, praise God. 


Dear loving Father, as we move into unknown pastures, please show us how we can be shepherds in the nature of Christ and please give us the words to say and the strength and courage to respond. Amen.  


Roger Davenport 


Although we are apart, we pray together:

Almighty and most merciful God, creator of that is good, you stand among us in the dark valleys of our time. As we journey through this pandemic we pray that you will continue to uphold and walk with us in all that we do, helping us to cross any barriers that may block our path.  Let the light of your presence dispel our fears, renew our trust and bring peace to our hearts. 

Lord in your mercy…Hear our Prayer.


Lord God, at this time we are unable to go into our Church buildings and we sometimes feel lost without that fellowship and regular pattern of corporate worship within our lives. 

May we never forget though that the Church exists in the world, not for its own sake, but for your glory and the service of mankind.  The Church is beyond and bricks and mortar. 

Help us always to seek first your kingdom whether we are alone at home or in the company of others in our church buildings. 

Lord in your mercy…Hear our Prayer.


God our Father, we remember with gratitude those who in different professions have served the nation and our communities during this crisis.  We thank you and pray for our NHS & care workers, those who deliver our goods, the emergency services, armed forces, supermarket workers, farmers, fishermen, seafarers, public transport workers, national and local government workers and all those whom have maintained our needs during the lockdown. Assist them in their varied duties, and deepen within us all the spirit of loving service. 

Lord in your mercy…Hear our Prayer.


Holy Shepherd, you know all your sheep by name. The Corvid-19 virus has been foremost in the mind of the world and we pray for those who are suffering from it.  We pray also for the many others who suffer with different afflictions in body, mind or spirit.  

We commend to your love and care all those in our community who are sick at this time especially Derek & Nicki North, Daniel Stevens, Katherine Goody, Baby Rowan, Mike Wilson, David Ratcliff, Colin Laker, June Edwards, Derek Ufton, Jean Anderson, Paul Hutchins, John Hammond, Sheila Godden, for all known to us who need a prayer for healing and also the many others who we don’t know. 

Lord in your mercy…Hear our Prayer.


Merciful God, for many this pandemic has been devastating through the loss of a loved one.  Like your son Jesus Christ who was moved to tears at the grave of Lazarus his friend, look with compassion on your children and give to troubled hearts the light of hope at this time of sorrow and loss. 

Lord in your mercy …Hear our Prayer.


Loving God, we pray for those for whom the lockdown reinforces their sense of isolation and fear.  We know that you are present in all places and at all times and we

pray that  you will pour the spirit of healing and comfort upon every lonely heart.   

Many of us are far from loved ones at this time and we worry about them. How often do we wish to stretch across the miles and touch them? Be with them Lord, in all that they do and wherever they may be and help us to know that in your love we are all close together. 

Lord in your mercy…Hear our Prayer.


We pray for those recently departed, and those who mourn them:

Margaret Prior, Mary Osborn, Raymond Morphew, Ken Percival, Edward Bailey, Ken Cooper and Brian Holmes. And we remember also all those dear, whose year’s mind falls at this time: Michael Skidmore and Margaret Ingle.

Finally Lord, we commit ourselves to your care and protection during this coming week.  May we know that you are always with us in whatever we do and wherever we may be, praying that you will inspire us with your spirit and move our hearts to your service. 


Merciful Father,

Accept these prayers 

For the sake of your Son

Jesus Christ our Lord.  


Blessings + Stephen Dougal

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a service of the word for 3rd May 2020

with Rev'd Stephen 

holy communion 3rd May 2020

 Join Rev'd Jane on the 4th Sunday of Easter - "Let's Break Bread Together" 

easter 3

Sunday: 26th April 2020

  

This Week’s Readings :

Acts 2: 14a, 36-41. 1 Peter 1: 17-23. Gospel Luke 24: 13-35


Thoughts for this Week

This reflection is on Luke 24.13-35.

Do you feel the mutual exasperation in this story? When the disciples meet the risen Jesus, they cannot believe that he does not know the news. Indeed they are surprised that they have to stop walking to be able to tell him.  But the risen Jesus is even more direct back.  Awaagh might be a good translation of 'Oh' (v.25) . 

He then describes them as being 'without' understanding, 'dull' 'slow'. Dumb might be a good colloquial translation. He is not mincing his words.

I am grateful that we too can feel as the disciples felt and that sometimes we are slow to "get the message". But Jesus does not leave it there, he works with the disciples until there is that unforgettable moment of recognition and reconciliation .

At a very low time in my life when I felt I had strayed a long way from the Lord, he met me, and I found it hard to believe.

Plain talking and deep loving don't have to be opposites, 'speaking the truth in love ' can be a cover for verbal abuse. Or it can be a moment of mutual love in Christ. Amen. 

My love and continued prayers to all of you.

Janet Thornby


Although we are apart, we pray together:

In our prayers today try and link our detailed needs with those of the whole of creation.

First imagine your church – look at its familiar shape, and all that it represents — the worship week by week, the daily prayer which no one sees, the spiritual energy which inspires people for their weekday work, the different groups which usually meet here, the good works done. All the rough edges of that wonderful varied band of Christians that make up this local church. 


Now try and see this church as God sees it, and loves it. In silence, pray for the life of this church, mentioning in particular any special concern you have about our church life                     now .  

Now you are at home imagine if you will your house, your street, your village or town, see the whole parish, village and area. Look on the whole of it and be aware of its vibrancy, now quieter, most people at home; all the myriad activities, some people out walking, some with dogs, families with children, people arguing, some crying. There are people sitting anxiously at bedsides and children totally absorbed in their games. People having to phone or see each other at a distance. This is your place, with its houses, farms and lanes, the local primary school and people who work at home and away, its buses and boats, its stories, its history and its dreams.


Now try and look down on this parish, this village and the surrounding area and see it as God sees it, and cares for it, for everyone without exception. In silence, let us pray for this place, in   whole or in part, holding it in the warmth of God's good will and purpose. We pray for particular people.

Now let us look further and see in the eye of our imagination, this whole county and country, with all its teeming vitality, its beautiful countryside, and its struggling cities, from the White Cliffs of Dover to the far reaches of Scotland, from Trafalgar Square to Birmingham backstreets. 


We see a nation rich in talent, low in confidence, loving its sport, addicted to its television, largely content to live without God. We know in this land that the poor are in difficulties, that our institutions are creaking, that it is hard to be a good politician, that materialism is our major faith.
We see all the hospitals, the doctors and nurses and care workers tired to the bone, risking their lives, needing shopping and rest at home. We see the politicians and scientists working their way step-by-step through great difficulties.


We look down on this land of ours and try to see it as God sees it, not with favoured nation status, except that every nation is at the centre of his loving attention. See this land in the love and grace of God and pray for it.


And now let us see our whole world, as if seeing it from space. A small, colourful ball, blue and brown and smudged with cloud. The earth, our home. So insignificant, and yet so densely packed with life and death and purpose. A world of infinite richness and complexity, and needing very careful looking after, A world that has gone to the brink of global war, has interfered recklessly with its finely balanced natural systems, has made extraordinary progress and yet been immeasurably cruel. A world at the moment threatened by a virus, parts going their own way of denial, others working together and supporting each other. 


We try to see this planet as God sees it, precious in grand design and in minute detail. We see it and pray for it, praying for healing and strength  

Janet Butcher-Weisner


Also, We pray for the sick:

Derek & Nicki North, Daniel Stevens, Katherine Goody, Baby Rowan, Mike Wilson, David Ratcliff, Colin Laker, June Edwards, Derek Ufton, Jean Anderson, Paul Hutchins, John Hammond, Sheila Godden, & for all known to us who need a prayer for healing.


For those recently departed, and those who mourn them.

Margaret Prior, Mary Osborn, Raymond Morphew, Ken Percival, Edward Bailey, Ken Cooper and Brian Holmes.


We remember also all those dear, whose year’s mind falls at this time 

Alastair Bernard 

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

Amen.

 

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morning prayer 26th April 2020

Morning Prayer  For St. Georges Day  with Rev'd Stephen Dougal 

holy communion 26th april 2020

 Join Rev'd Jane on the 3rd Sunday of Easter - "Let's Break Bread Together" 

Easter 2

Sunday: 19th April 2020

  This Week’s Readings :

Acts 2: 14a, 22-32. 1 Peter 1: 3-9. Gospel John 20: 19-31


Thoughts for this Week


Letter to the Elham Valley Churches


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Alleluia, He is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!


On this, the second Sunday of Easter, I hope and pray this finds you all sound in body, mind and spirit.

Before I forget, may I add my thanks to Jane, Stephen, Deb (welcome!), Leah, Sharon, Peter and Simon for the excellent Easter Day online service of Holy Communion. It was very well done.


As I write this, we’re entering the fourth week of lockdown and it’s still too early to speak of a plan to return to ‘normal’. Some commentators say we will never return to the ‘old normal’ and a ‘new normal’ will establish itself. What will this look like?


British people in the last century had to recalibrate their sense of ‘normal’ many times, for example during the first world war, the Spanish ‘flu epidemic, the second world war with its evacuations, rationing and the bombing of our cities, and the huge loss of lives. Many of us are too young to have experienced those events ourselves but the familial stories have been handed down. However, the loss of a loved one forces each of us to recalibrate our sense of ‘normal’ doesn’t it? Each loved person has a varying, but important place in each of our lives and their loss has an impact.  So we’re well able to understand the disciples, whose sense of ‘normal’ was completely shattered when Jesus was arrested and sent for trial; when he was found guilty although innocent, flogged, humiliated and then hung upon a cross to die. In terror the disciples fled.


Our gospel reading for today, reveals that the disciples re-grouped behind locked doors, in secret and in fear. We can imagine this desperate and fearful group huddled together, perhaps accusing each other of failure and nervously asking questions – “Are we safe here?” or “Should we isolate ourselves somewhere remote for a while?”


And then,...


“Peace be with you” said a calm figure who suddenly was standing alongside them. From this point the disciples were living with a ‘new normal’ as Jesus revealed himself to them as their risen Lord who had defeated death. Their ‘new normal’ with the presence of the risen Jesus filled them with hope for the future. That same hope infuses the life of Christian people today who understand that death is another part of our continuing journey to God our Father. And this message is beautifully put in today’s reading from St Peter’s first letter and who said: ‘By his great mercy [God] has given us a new birth into living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.’ St Peter was also realistic, recognizing that ‘normal’ life, then as now, can be shaken unexpectedly; ‘In this you rejoice even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith – being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.’


None of us is superhuman; yes, we’re scared of contracting Covid-19 and we’re scared for our loved ones too – perhaps more so. We can’t help that. So, in our fear we try to remember the peace of the Lord is always with us and that if the worst befalls any of us, that our Lord Jesus will be with us to bring his love and comfort, and his own understanding of our suffering. Again St Peter puts this so much better than I; ‘Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.’


These are the things we should bear on our hearts and allow them to sustain us until the current crisis passes. The lockdown will end and a ‘new normal’ will be established; and yet our faith will not diminish nor will the truths of our faith change.


And so, I leave the last word to St Peter; ‘…I have written this short letter to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. Your sister church[es in Elham Valley, I feel sure] send you greetings. Greet one another with a kiss of love [in time]. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. Amen.


Paul Jarvis.


Although we are apart, we pray together:


Heavenly Father,

In these days of darkness and uncertainty, we ask you to be with us. Look over us and keep us safe. We ask you to comfort all those who are troubled, fearful and just don't know which way to turn. Show them your love, guide them in whatever they do. Lead them on their road forward with your light shining ahead of them so that they are troubled no more and at peace within themselves.

Lord in your mercy.... Hear our prayer


For those who are suffering from the coronavirus, we ask you to comfort and heal them, show them your love so that they may feel uplifted in their hearts and minds. Give support to their families and loved ones and even if it's difficult for them to visit, because of the current circumstances and restrictions, link their hands together symbolically, to show and give them the comfort and feeling that they are not alone and are still united as one.

Lord in your mercy.... Hear our prayer


We give thanks to all doctors, nurses and key workers for their time and heartfelt efforts.

May God bless them all.

Lord in your mercy.... Hear our prayer


As we are reminded of the things that Jesus did for us over the past week, the trials and tribulations that He had to endure, we give thanks for the sacrifice that He made so that we may be forgiven for our sins and ultimately receive eternal life.

Lord in your mercy.... Hear our prayer


We give thanks for the fruitful lives of our friends and loved ones who are now in your tender keeping. Comfort those who are grieving and sad at their loss. Give them strength in their hearts and body to continue in their daily lives and remove any pain that they may have at this sad time.

Lord in your mercy.... Hear our prayer


We pray for all those who are suffering any other illness or adversity in their bodies or minds. For those who are anxious or depressed, for those who have lost the will to live, for those who are nearing the end of their life. We ask that you give them your inner peace and comfort in their time of need.

Lord in your mercy.... Hear our prayer


We pray for our church and congregation in unprecedented times where we are unable to celebrate our weekly gatherings because of imposed restrictions enforced for our health, safety and protection. We ask that these unwanted times come to a close as quickly as possible so that we may return to a normal and healthy life in our beautiful world.

Lord in your mercy.... Hear our prayer


Finally, Heavenly Father, we pray for Archbishop Justin, Bishop Rose and our priests Jane Stephen and Deb. Guide them in your true path of righteousness so that your glory may be 

realised to its fullest extent by those who serve you in your church and by those who come to celebrate, sing your praise and listen to your words.

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


Amen.


We pray for the sick:

Derek & Nicki North, Daniel Stevens, Katherine Goody, Baby Rowan, Mike Wilson, David Ratcliff, Colin Laker, June Edwards, Derek Ufton, Jean Anderson, Paul Hutchins, John Hammond, Sheila Godden, & for all known to us who need a prayer for healing.


For those recently departed, and those who mourn them.

Raymond Morphew, Ken Percival, Edward Bailey, Ken Cooper and Brian Holmes.


We remember also all those dear, whose year’s mind falls at this time 

Bryan Shepherdson, Eleanor Palmer, Dora McCormick, Patricia Apps, Barry Alston,

Jill Winfield, Vi Turner and June Moore.


Happy Easter to you all


The Lord is risen – He is risen indeed!.....................................   Hallelujah!



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Holy communion 19th april 2020

Join Rev'd Jane on the 2nd Sunday of Easter - "Let's break bread together"

compline 19th april 2o20

An Order of Night Prayer with Rev'd Stephen