Morning Worship for 31st May 20201 month ago
As you begin this act of worship in your own home remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with you in worship. If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the hymns and join in the singing. As you go through this time of worship try to remember this reality; you are in the presence of God who holds us all in His care and keeping.
Blessed are you, creator God, To you be praise and glory for ever. As your Spirit moved over the face of the waters Bringing light and life to your creation, Pour out your Spirit on us today That we may walk as children of light And by your grace reveal your presence. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Blessed be God for ever.
Collect for the day:
God, who as at this time Taught the hearts of your faithful people By sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit To have a right judgement in all things And evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; Through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, Who is alive and reigns with you, In the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever. Amen.
Our Declaration of faith
God, you invite us to dance in delight, Shaping and forming in figures of grace. We move to the pulse of creation’s music And rejoice to be part of the making of earth. Praise in the making, the sharing, the moving; Praise to the God who dances with us. In the steps of Jesus we reach to our partners, Touching and holding and finding our strengths. Together we move into patterns of freedom, And rejoice to be part of the sharing of hope. Praise in the making, the sharing, the moving; Praise to the God who dances with us. We whirl and spin in the Spirit’s rhythm, Embracing the world with our circles of joy. Together we dance for salvation and justice, And rejoice to be part of the moving of love. Praise in the making, the sharing, the moving; Praise to the God who dances with us.
Jan Berry, Sheffield 1990
Hymn: Come Holy Ghost our hearts inspire.
Readings: Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13, John 20:19-23.
The feast of Pentecost is upon us and we are challenged as a Church to change and to move with the Holy Spirit of God in a new and powerful direction. Pentecost is all about Spiritual Direction which is why in this reflection I want to share with you a little of my own past and present Spiritual Journey.
When I was first thinking of coming into the Church I went to see the Vocations Officer for the Diocese to see if I was going to be anywhere near acceptable!
Funny that I should end up doing the same job as him for Canterbury Diocese, but at this time I was very uncertain that the Church would have me, because I was not that well educated. As it happened this was seen as a bit of a problem and so I was instructed to undertake The Cambridge Diploma in Religious Studies for two years in order to show that I was capable of entering into study at Degree level. This I dutifully did, and in addition I was told I needed to have a Spiritual Director appointed to whom I could go for guidance. Hence my introduction to Father Christopher.
At the time I had just recently become married to Carolyne and we had bought a little house near Chester-le-Street in County Durham. I couldn’t afford to run a car and so I cycled everywhere. It was 15 miles each way to work every day and then twice a week I would just have enough time to grab a bite to eat before cycling another 5 miles in order to get to college for my evening tutorials, cycling back in time to go to bed!
In amongst all of that every 6 weeks or so I went to see Father Christopher cycling another 20 miles in order that I may chat through with him about my spiritual life, and to take sacramental confession.
I used to go into his study for confession and then would go into church in order to pray and to say any suitable penances. Well on this day I had cycled through a very strong storm and the wind had been appalling!
I entered the church to pray, being in St. Patricks all on my own!
It was a tiny little church with a magnificent open wooden ceiling, and there I was quietly praying when the wind suddenly got stronger and stronger, the noise was incredible it felt as if the entire roof was going to lift off above me, but strangely enough I felt amazingly calm. It was as if I had been enfolded by the power of God, which although being heard as a mighty wind, settled upon me in a protective gentle embrace. I felt so secure, so at peace and from that day my resolve to enter the church and become a priest deepened and deepened.
I have now been in Holy Orders for 29 years, and although my patterns of prayer have changed over time, I still deeply value those quiet moments when all else fades away and I am left cocooned by the warm embrace of the Holy Spirit.
It is in being aware of the presence of God around me, strengthening and supporting me that my vocation comes alive and I am once again filled with that drive to serve him throughout my life as a sacramental person.
As we continue through these present difficult times, many of us will have had and will continue to have that little extra time to spend in the presence of God, to deepen our own spiritual lives so that when we can come together to rejoice and give thanks to God for delivering us through this crisis, we can do so renewed and refilled with His Holy Spirit, which sounds like a mighty wind yet touches us with such a gentle embrace. So allow yourselves that special time to commune with God, to open your heart to the power of His Spirit, so that you may be prepared for all that will enfold upon us as we come through these difficult times and emerge into a new and challenging world.
Thanks be to God
Hymn: Spirit of God unseen as the wind.
Sermon for Pentecost 2020
Celebrating the Feast of Pentecost when we cannot come together is really challenging, as it is today that we are reminded that all of the Lords key followers were all together in one place.
Being together is a delight and a joy, one which has been denied to us because of this dreadful virus, so many have been separated from loved ones for so long now, but thankfully although only being able to see a few people outdoors with due regard to social distancing, some reconnection is now thankfully upon us.
If we look back to the glorious account of the gathering together of the Lord’s followers in the Acts of the Apostles, we are shown the way in which those early disciples were drawing strength from one another, supporting each other through the sadness and the uncertainty which had come upon them all. Then suddenly it was to come, the glorious gift promised to them by Jesus!
Lo and behold the Theophany of God!
God reveals himself in so many different ways whether it be in the drama of wind and fire, or in a gentle gust of breath from the mouth of the Risen Lord!
But no matter how dramatic or simple the revelation of God in our midst is shown to be, the effect is always the same. The Holy Spirit of God is a force to be reckoned with, it is both powerful and mighty and gentle and reassuring at the same time. Terror can be felt by those uncertain of it in their presence which leads to respect and awe of God but not necessarily instruction or direction. Yet for those who have faith such revelations of God always provide instruction and direction.
We are often on our own when we are faced with making huge decisions about our lives, and that is why we generally seek out connection with others. It is good to talk! A message which has been re-enforced considerably with regard to the mental health of the nation. Technology has enabled people to connect visually and verbally, but nothing compares with being in the presence of another.
That is why Jesus assured his followers then and now that he will never leave them to have to make those tough decisions on their own.
The promise is for a continuous connection with him and his Father through the power of the God-Head which unites all things in and through God’s creative power.
Every connection we make with the created order opens up a channel of grace to the Creator. The Holy Spirit is the medium which inhabits all things, it is a gift of God to his creation, but it is a gift which can be channelled in order to draw humanity closer to the source of their existence.
I am a sacramental priest, an instrument of God, ordained by the Church in order to be a visible and communicating medium of God’s grace. I and others like me are called by God to be instruments of instruction and guidance in the way in which lives are lived, but we are also something else. Earlier I spoke of how being with others in presence is far superior to simply hearing or seeing them; this is the power of sacramental grace. The priest is the instrument through which the power of the Holy Spirit can be channelled into others. It is of course not the only way this can be achieved but it is a way honoured by time and experience which brings to others a real connection with the Lord.
In the act of Holy Communion the priest represents Jesus and just as he sent the Holy Spirit with the Father upon his blessed disciples. So too do we chosen by God do the same today. In every Eucharist there is an Epiclesis!
A sending down upon others the power of the Holy Spirit!
And so it is at every Eucharist that we not only become obedient to the Lord’s call upon us to remember him in this way, but also share in the power of the feast of Pentecost.
When we can be together again we shall be enabled to become once more a vibrant community of faith, drawn together to receive instruction and guidance, but also to be opened up to receive the power from on high.
Being instilled with the divine power of the Spirit will enable us to move forward through all the effects of this current crisis, and be filled with hope and excitement for the future.
Jesus promised never to leave us comfortless!
The power of the Holy Spirit resides in us all, but the power of the sacrament is to re-channel that power to reinvigorate the faithful and to open up new and powerful ways of preaching the Gospel of Jesus in our world today!
We as followers of Jesus should never be dispirited, because we are never alone.
It is good to talk!
It does us the power of good, we need to talk to others and to be in their presence, but we also need to remember that we need to talk to Jesus too!
So let this feast of Pentecost, the very first Epiclesis of the Church, given to us by Jesus through the Father, so fill us with the power of being able to speak to others whoever and wherever they may be from, with a common voice, with clear instruction and guidance, knowing that God is with us and giving us all that we need to persevere. In and through the almighty gift of the Spirit we become the Church of God, we become as one with Jesus, and we become the instruments of divine grace.
So let the grace of God flow upon his people and may we this Pentecost await with patience for the time that we can once again draw near together and in the presence of the Holy Spirit be the Church that Jesus calls us to be.
Happy Pentecost everyone and may the Blessing of God be upon you all. Reverend Clive.
Prayers for others:
This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations. Use these headings for your silent prayers to God or use words and address them to Him who hears every word we utter.
For the Church as it celebrates Pentecost and looks forward to being refilled and renewed by grace. We pray for the divine Spirit of God to wash over us all and to cleanse us, to restore us and to keep us strong through these difficult days. We pray that we may find a new depth to our Spiritual lives. Look forward to returning to worship with gladness in our hearts! Share a moment of silent bliss with the Spirit of God and in so doing prayerfully think of one other, all whom we love, and all who are in Spiritual need. For the NHS with all the pressures and strains still upon it, that they would receive all the protection and supplies they need, that they would experience God’s protection in their work, courage for each day and stamina to care for all those in their care. For the sick and vulnerable that they would receive the care they need in their hour of weakness. For the lonely in our parishes, that they would know God’s presence in their solitude and receive a friendly call from the volunteers in our midst. For those in authority charged with leading the fight against the virus: for our Prime Minister and his Ministers, for Scientists working on vaccines and other means of fighting the infection. For wisdom to prevail as lockdown is relaxed, so that we can all stay safe, protect the NHS and save the lives of others.
And so we pray
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.
Hymn: Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me.
May the Spirit, who set the Church on fire upon the Day of Pentecost, bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ, and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always. Amen.