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Morning Worship for 2nd May 2021

As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing online. 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.

The Greeting:

Alleluia, Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has given us new life and hope.
He has raised Jesus from the dead.
God has claimed us as his own.
He has brought us out of darkness.
He has made us light to the world.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Collect of the day:

Almighty God,
Who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
Have overcome death and opened to us
The gate of everlasting life;
Grant that, as by your grace going before us
You put into our minds good desires,
So by your continual help
We may bring them to good effect;
Through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
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:

Jesus Christ, risen Master and triumphant Lord,
We have lived by our own strength,
And not by the power of your resurrection.
May the Risen Lord transform our hearts and minds
That we in faith may be restored and renewed
By the power of your resurrection.

Hymn: Christ is made the sure foundation.

Readings: Acts 8: 26-end, 1 John 4:7-end.

Hymn: Bread of heaven on thee we feed.

Gospel Reading: John 15:1-8.

Reflection:

Jesus the true vine:

As we continue to move through the various dates for the relaxation of the lockdown, foreign holidays still seem to be a bit further in the distance. I guess like many of you I have been looking back at some of the glorious holidays that I have had in the past and today I was especially reminded of those holidays spent in Greece. We have travelled extensively to a large number of Greek Islands but there is always one thing which we have always enjoyed and that is sitting out in beautiful warm weather underneath grapevines full of glorious produce. Enjoying a glass of wine in the sunshine in the evening is what makes a holiday! It is that space to relax, reflect and simply soak up the ambiance which I guess we are all missing at the moment.

Jesus speaks of himself as the true vine but he does remind us that it is God who is the vine grower. I love this image of Jesus being cared for by his Father. It speaks so positively of the deepest of relationships through which we as well as Jesus can grow and flourish. The vine grower has a difficult job to do, as it is his responsibility to ensure that the vines are protected, carefully fed, beautifully tended and when ready carefully harvested. In the film ‘A Good Year’ we see this beautifully and humourously played out with the vine grower being a little eccentric and yet totally committed to his charge. His life is devoted to his vines. Just as the Father is totally committed to his Son.

Jesus then builds on this glorious image by reminding us as his followers that we are the branches of the vine. We cannot survive as disciples of Jesus without him, we become as one with him, an extension of his very being. Being as one with Jesus not only brings us strength and sustenance, it also fills us full of reassurance for the future. It is so important in life that we have a solid foundation before we seek to build anything. Just as that applies to any building, it also applies to our faith structure. Without Jesus as the foundation stone of our faith, whatever we build up within and around ourselves will inevitably be like the house which was built on sand. When difficulties arise and the storm winds approach us, everything we have will simply crumble and fall away unless it is built on the foundations laid down for us by our Saviour.

What do those foundations look like, what are they made from? This is a key question for everyone of faith, we are people who look for certainties in life. We are generally bound by practical realities in order to substantiate reliability. In today’s modern age even when considering the purchase as something as simple as a new washing machine we will inevitably find ourselves going online and checking out reviews left behind by other users of the product. We can it seems do the same in relation to our faith structures, however there is one dramatic difference, the results you will find online about other peoples’ experiences of Jesus, will be entirely dependent on their own relationship with him. Each review is therefore rather unique.

That again is one of the beauties of the image of the vine which Jesus presents us with. God nourishes it, Jesus is it, and we are the branches which hold so much of its promise, producing fruit in abundance, but only when cared for effectively. Part of that care is created through a gentle pruning of the old in order to stimulate the new. You cannot simply start from scratch with a vine, it produces grapes only when it is established, and well cared for over a long period of time. The Church is the vine, created by Jesus, the Church is Jesus in the midst of the world, but it is time for a serious prune in order to stimulate new growth. The image of the vine is totally dependent on God being welcomed to prune us, to refeed us and to recharge us so that we can continue to be fit for purpose. At the moment we are not. There is much which has fallen away, become rather separated from the foundation of Jesus and as such it needs to be pruned back, and those branches which have become distant from the reality of Jesus need to be cast away. This is not brutal, or disrespectful simply a reality of life. We must once more be prepared to dedicate our lives to the vine in order that we may be the branches which bring forth new fruit. Growth is the key to the future of the Church, whether we like it or not, without it we will continue to wither away. Withering away is simply not an option if we are true to the foundation of Jesus, for if we truly abide in him and his words abide within us all things are achievable. Our challenge as followers of Jesus today is to glorify the Father and we do that simply by becoming disciples of Jesus and by bearing much fruit.

So let us be strong branches of Jesus the vine, let us allow ourselves to be pruned back where we need to be pruned, so that we can be enabled to grow into the vibrant Church of tomorrow which the Father is encouraging us to be, simply by faithfully abiding in Jesus the true vine.

So how do we know what needs to be abandoned, how do we know what the important foundations of our faith really are? We need to abandon what we have and rethink through the message of Jesus for our modern world. We need to use what we have experienced not from our life within the institution of the Church but from our relationship with Jesus. That is where the confusion truly rests and it is at times difficult to recognise. For if the Church, truly is part of the vine of Jesus, how can we abandon it to become something different? The answer is really quite simple, when we care too much to remain the branches of the vine and pay no regard to the production of the fruit, we become superfluous. We lose the very reason for our existence. We must listen to Jesus and respond to him with total commitment and it is imperative that we do this quickly. We can and must grow new disciples, yes it will be tough and it may well bring some unwelcome change but we owe it to Jesus the foundation of our faith to try with all our heart to allow ourselves to be tended to by the Father whose name we seek to glorify by being disciples of Jesus.

God bless you all.

Reverend Clive

Hymn: Love divine all loves excelling.

Prayers for others:

This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.

Jesus said to the disciples, “I am the true vine.”

Heavenly Father as your beloved Son came to us as the source of the true vine, we pray for all whom today seek to bring forth the fruit of your kingdom into the hearts and minds of others. We pray for those who teach your Word, especially those engaged in the proclamation of the kingdom through the wisdom of their written words, inspired by your grace. We pray for Theological expressions to be fully realised in all your disciples, so that they and we may have all the tools we need to teach, proclaim and build up the faith in all who are seeking to engage with your beloved Son.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for all taking up positions of responsibility in the diocese to promote our future together, we pray that they filled with the power of your Holy Spirit may be enabled to inspire, challenge and lead your Church following in the footsteps of Christ. We pray at this time for the Clergy of the Diocese, for their preparations for a new way of working, we pray that you may inspire them, encourage them, and allay any feelings of anxiety due to the change of working practices placed upon them at this time. We pray for Lay Leaders in the multiplicity of ministry that they engage in, that they may be filled by your grace and be allowed the freedom to explore new opportunities as they emerge. We pray for all whom you have called to ministry that so filled by your personal invitation, they may prayerfully support the congregations and communities which they represent and serve.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who are suffering at this time, especially those who are ill and receiving the care of others. We pray for all who are known to us personally, and those members of our faith community who are feeling isolated and lonely. We give you thanks and praise for our fellowship of faith and pray that we may be encouraged to maintain, build and secure our friendships with others throughout this difficult time.

Lord in your mercy, hear us.

As we pray with those glorious words of Jesus ringing in our hearts: ‘Abide in me as I abide in you’ let us remember those whom we have recently lost, Lord, we place them into your loving embrace, where in heaven they will be restored into the true vine, where they will rest eternally with all your faithful servants. 

Lord in your mercy, hear us.

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: All hail the power of Jesus’ name.

A Song of Triumph:

O come, let us sing out to the Lord;
Let us shout to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his face with thanksgiving,
And cry out to him joyfully in psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,
And a great king above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
And the peaks of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his and he made it;
His hands moulded dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
And kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is the Lord our God;
We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
If only you would hear his voice today;
For he comes to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with his truth.

Blessing:

The God of peace, 
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, 
that great shepherd of the sheep, 
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
And the blessing of God almighty, 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 
be among you and remain with you always. 
Amen.

Morning Worship for 25th April 2021

As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing online. 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.

The Greeting

Alleluia, Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has given us new life and hope.
He has raised Jesus from the dead.
God has claimed us as his own.
He has brought us out of darkness.
He has made us light to the world.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Collect of the day

Almighty God,
Whose Son Jesus Christ is the
Resurrection and the life.
Raise us, who trust in him,
From the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
That we may seek those things
Which are above,
Where he reigns with you
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Our Declaration of faith

Jesus Christ, risen Master and triumphant Lord,
We come to you in sorrow for our sins,
And confess to you our weakness and unbelief.
We have lived by our own strength,
And not by the power of your resurrection.
We have lived by the light of our own eyes,
As faithless and not believing.
We have lived this world alone,
And doubted our home in heaven.
May the Risen Lord transform our hearts and minds 
That we in faith may be restored and renewed
By the power of your resurrection.

Hymn: Christ is our corner stone.

Readings: Acts 4: 5-12, 1 John 3: 16-end.

Hymn: The God of love my shepherd is.

Gospel Reading: John 10: 11-18.

Reflection:

Jesus as the Good Shepherd is not just a pastoral image but an image which speaks of leadership and authority. As the Good Shepherd Jesus governs his people rightly and brings them into proper submission to God, thus ensuring them a life which will be far more abundant than any other could offer. The cost of that is that Jesus as the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. And like the suffering servant of Isaiah he will suffer in order that we can be liberated from our sinfulness. Jesus can do this for us because he knows and loves the sheep as his own. And today he takes us because he knows us by name, he knows us as his own. Jesus calls us by name and we respond because we know he has already given his life for us.

Through our baptism into the faith of Christ we are owned by Jesus and led by him into the eternal pastures of his heavenly Father, an offer which is open to everyone not just the chosen house of Israel, for Jesus is the Saviour of the World.

He knows us and calls every one of us by name and we are then called to respond to his grace through our commitment to:

The Apostles teaching and to the fellowship of the Church

To the breaking of bread in remembrance of him

And by willingly praying for others in God’s name that we may be one as he is one.

Jesus as the Good Shepherd fills us not only with the power of faith, but also with a real and positive hope for the whole of humanity. However there is always a challenge when we are called to be followers, and the way is often not easy or straight forward. I am sure that many of you will like me be very keen walkers. We live in a rural landscape with so much beauty around us but if there is one thing about where we live I think we will all agree on, is that it is rather flat!

When I go walking on my holidays something which has been denied us for so long now but something which may well be coming a little closer to us as the following months go by, I like to go walking in the hills or across the moors. I used to love walking around the Durham Dales and would wander across them for miles.

Sometimes of course the terrain would not always be that easy, especially when walking on grouse moorland. In order to make the going a little easier I used to follow the sheep trails, but there is a problem in doing that! They go all over the place backwards and forwards they go, doubling up the mileage for the day! What those sheep trails do remind me of though, is that it is easier to walk in other people’s footsteps, but you have to have confidence in the direction that they are taking. Quite simply you need a leader whom you can trust. That is why Jesus as the Good Shepherd is such a good image for us.

We can be rather like the sheep at times wandering all over the place uncertain where to head next, and if we simply blindly follow the person in front who also has no idea where they are going we can soon become rather lost and disorientated. I must admit to falling into that trap on a number of occasions, when out on my own following those sheep trails or when following someone else with whom I have had little confidence. However, in following a good guide, or as in this case a Good Shepherd, I have always reached the end goal safely and securely.

One example I can give is being in a mountaineering team in my younger days. We entered a competition in the Cheviot Hills which incorporated going over Cheviot itself. There were only four of us and it was during the winter months and the weather was not that good. We set off and just reached the summit of Cheviot when the weather really turned bad and it began to snow heavily, then the wind picked up and it slowly turned into a blizzard. We carried on but things got worse and worse until our leader suggested that we abandon the competition and follow our designated escape route to ensure our safety. We decided that this was probably wise but we were hesitant to follow because it would mean failing to complete our challenge, however because we had confidence in our leader, because he was a good shepherd we knew he had our best interests at heart and so we followed him off the mountains.

When we reached a rendezvous point we were told that all competitors who had reached the summit of Cheviot would still be counted as completing the challenge as we had been sensible and followed correct safety procedures. Those who had carried on and some who eventually needed rescuing were disqualified.

So following the Good Shepherd, the good safe and trustworthy leader paid off.

This is what it is like following Jesus, he leads us with confidence; all he has to do is raise his voice and we follow, just as the sheep follow the shepherd. We follow him simply because we know his voice and follow him with confidence. We must have confidence in Jesus, we must have confidence in his Church and we must seek to follow even if the path ahead looks dangerous, uncertain and uncomfortable. We cannot be followers of Jesus if we are afraid to follow him. We must have trust and confidence that he leads us like my leader on the mountains led me, on the right path, the right course of action, because the end goal of the promise of the kingdom of God is a goal too worthy to risk losing.

We must never forget the cost to Jesus for our salvation, as we would not be able to celebrate this Easter season without the reality of the cross. But it is because of that cross that we can truly follow Jesus with confidence. Quite simply because Jesus has confidence in us.

I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.

We have confidence in Jesus because he willingly accepted the cross, that through it he and we would rise again in glory. So place your trust and confidence in Jesus, let him lead you through the winding paths of life, leading you on into the promise of an eternal reward, together as one with him in the sheepfold of God’s heavenly kingdom. Amen.

Reverend Clive.

Hymn: How sweet the name of Jesus sounds.

Prayers for others:

This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I am the Good Shepherd.”
‘I know my own and my own know me.’

Heavenly Father as your beloved Son came to shepherd your chosen people, may we seek to follow him with trust and confidence. We pray for your church in this time of turmoil and change. Help us pick up the baton of challenge handed to us at this time and run with confidence the race of faith which you have prepared before us.

We pray for all taking up positions of responsibility in the diocese to promote our future together, we pray that they filled with the power of your Holy Spirit may be enabled to inspire, challenge and lead your Church following in the footsteps of Christ the Good Shepherd.

Lord in your mercy, hear us.

We pray for our troubled world at this time, especially for those nations facing further restrictions to their personal liberties. We give thanks for the vaccine programme bringing hope and respite to so many people. Be with us as we slowly re-emerge into the fullness of living, help us to be calm and patient, that we may emerge from the chrysalis of lockdown and become more beautiful in your sight.

Lord in your mercy, hear us.

 As Jesus confessed to knowing all his faithful people by name, we pray for all those who are exploring the faith of Christ Jesus at this time. May the power of the resurrection and that personal invitation from Jesus to follow him, so inspire and direct them that their lives may be filled with your divine glory.  

We pray for all preparing to be baptised, confirmed, or ordained, may your sacramental grace fall upon them and enable them to respond to your call with fresh eyes and renewed minds.

Lord in your mercy, hear us.

We pray for all who are suffering at this time, especially those who are ill and receiving the care of others. We pray for all who are known to us personally, and those members of our faith community who are feeling isolated and lonely. We give you thanks and praise for our fellowship of faith and pray that we may be encouraged to maintain, build and secure our friendships with others throughout this difficult time.

Lord in your mercy, hear us.

As we pray with those glorious words of Jesus ringing in our hearts: ‘I know my own and my own know me’ let us remember those whom we have recently lost, Lord, we place them into your loving embrace, where in heaven they will be restored into the sheepfold of the faithful servants of God. 

Lord in your mercy, hear us.

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: Jesus good above all other.

A Song of the Covenant:

I have given you as a light to the nations,
And I have called you in righteousness.

Thus says God, who created the heavens,
Who fashioned the earth and all that dwells in it;
Who gives breath to the people upon it
And spirit to those who walk in it,
I am the Lord and I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
A light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind,
To bring out the captives from the dungeon,
From the prison, those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name;
My glory I give to no other.

I have given you as a light to the nations,
And I have called you in righteousness.

Blessing:

The God of peace, 
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, 
that great shepherd of the sheep, 
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
And the blessing of God almighty, 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 
be among you and remain with you always. 
Amen.

Morning Worship for 18th April 2021

As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing online. 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.

The Greeting:

Alleluia, alleluia.

Speak, Jesus, Word of God.

It’s your turn to speak, alleluia, alleluia.

Brother who speaks truth to his brothers and sisters give us your new freedom. Free from profit and from fear, we will live in gospel;

We will shout in gospel: alleluia, alleluia.

No power will silence us. Alleluia, alleluia.

Against the orders of hate you bring us the law of love. In the face of so many lies you are the truth out loud. Amid so much news of death you have the word of life. After so many false promises, frustrated hopes, you have, Lord Jesus, the last word, and we have put all our trust in you. Alleluia, alleluia.

Your truth will set us free. Alleluia, alleluia.

Pedro Casaldaliga, Brazil Misa dos Quilombos (tr. Tony Graham, Christian Aid).

Collect of the day:

Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
With the sight of the risen Lord;
Give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
That we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life
And serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
Through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 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

We are the children of the sun we are,

Who write in the shadows of evening,

Who walk in the dark of the night,

Who arise in the light of the dawn,

Who go barefoot in the womb of the world,

Who sow the field,

Who grow the daily bread,

Who know the language of the wind…

Who see the rain fall on a parched land and on tired faces…

Who plough the furrows of the old,

Who bring the bones to bloom,

Who consecrate bread in our own flesh,

Who break chains and discover the way.

Michele Naijlis, Nicaragua. Amanda Hopkinson, ed., Lovers and Comrades (Women’s Press 1989).

Hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia give thanks to the risen Lord.

Readings: Acts 3: 12-19, 1 John 3: 1-7.

Hymn: Come ye faithful raise the anthem.

Gospel Reading: Luke 24: 36b-48.

Reflection:

Peace be with you!

When we reflect on these few words what immediately comes to my mind is the reality of the message of faith in Jesus.

My faith very much rests on the peace which I find in my heart when I think of my own relationship with Jesus. Having personally felt the warmth of his spiritual embrace, my life whenever it has been filled with sadness, anxiety or regret has always had that inner peace of faith to fall back on. The peace that Jesus brings is peace to the human heart as it makes sense of the world we inhabit and the experiences of life, made all the more significant and meaningful within the context of a life filled with faith.

Faith is certain, it may not always be easy, and it is often very challenging but faith is faith! Not a blind faith of course but a reasoned one which has developed over time, for it is through my personal relationship with Jesus that my faith in him has continued to grow and develop. It is therefore through the certainty of faith that we as Christian people receive the strength we need in order to persevere and trust that all will be well, as long as our faith remains sincere and meaningful to us, then we will find that sense of inner peace.

I believe it is this inner sense of peace which fills the hearts of many of us today who live within post resurrection Christendom. We have never seen Jesus, but we do not need to. At least not in the same way as his blessed disciples did. They were of course deeply privileged to have shared some quality time with Jesus whilst he was with us on earth in human form, but in reality it is because of that physical relationship which they had with Jesus which makes it all the more difficult for them to make the switch from a human relationship to one based on faith.

We have celebrated the glorious Resurrection of our Lord and now we are treated to several accounts of Post-Resurrection appearances.

Yet here in the Gospel of Luke those few words create quite a different response from the disciples of Jesus. Once again we see the complexity of viewing things from both a human perspective and a faith perspective.

The disciples had just seen Jesus die, but then they had heard from the women and seen with their own eyes evidence of the empty tomb. They had then just heard an amazing account by two of their number who had walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. They had gathered together to consider what all this meant to them and to encourage one another as they considered what they should all do in response to what they had heard and seen. When suddenly Jesus appears before them. He says those few words ‘peace be with you’ and waits for their response.

In a world where personal embrace is still something which is currently denied to us, how would you have responded to the sudden re-appearance of Jesus! Would you have rushed to grasp hold of him? Or would you have stepped back from him in fear?

The disciples stepped back in fear, why?

They had been with the Lord and listened to his message of salvation, they had witnessed his miracles close at hand, and they had seen the death of their master on the cross. They had witnessed it all and yet they did not have peace in their hearts! Indeed quite the opposite.

Jesus comes to them and they are terrified and believe him to be a ghost!

Jesus is confused why are you frightened and why do you have doubt in your hearts instead of faith!

Then the reality of faith begins to emerge before the disciples, Jesus tells them to touch him, to feel his body, and he showed them the marks of his crucifixion, he was indeed risen and with them in a very special and unique way and yet still they disbelieved.

So Jesus shares a meal with them just as he shared a meal with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He took some broiled fish and ate it in their presence. Jesus affirms that it is him in his humanity that stands before them, in amongst them, but it is also Jesus in his divine and perfected state which has revealed himself to them.

Once Jesus has affirmed and renewed the personal and physical relationship he had with his disciples, he then goes on to teach them how to understand the Scriptures and in so doing he prepares them to receive the gift from on high which is to come. In reality the disciples are still left waiting, they are still left dis-believing because the moment has not yet come when the peace which they yearn to find within their hearts from faith has finally come upon them.

That is why we do not need to see Jesus as the disciples did, for we are not tied to a physical relationship with Jesus, we have a spiritual one. A relationship which rests entirely on faith. For us as post-resurrection Christians to disbelieve like the disciples did is not an option, because we are already filled with the power from on high. We already have the power of the Holy Spirit within us and we know this because we can feel it within us, through the peace which Jesus brings upon us by faith.

So do not doubt but believe, remember that greeting from Jesus, ‘peace be with you’ and allow that peace to strengthen and uphold you in life, for in so doing all things become possible, all we need is Jesus, in order that our lives may reach their full potential. All we need is faith in Jesus and that faith will truly bring his peace within our hearts. Thanks be to God.

Reverend Clive

Hymn: Jesus lives thy terrors now.

Prayers for others:

This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.

Jesus said to his disciples ‘peace be with you’
Let us pray for the peace of the world:

Heavenly Father as your beloved Son once raised from the dead, appeared to his beloved disciples and brought peace in to their hearts; so let Christ’s peace so indwell within us that we may become instruments of peace within our troubled world.

We pray for those who convey messages of peace to those intent on the destruction of others, wherever the pain of hatred, racial prejudice, gender confusion, and misplaced ideologies prevail, let the peace of the peacemakers persevere, so transforming evil intent into peaceful resolution.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for peace within family relationships, that wherever deep seated hostility, misunderstanding, regret and despair have caused separation and division, that your peace may work its way into the hearts and minds of those so lost, that they may receive your forgiveness and so learn the power of forgiving others.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

We pray for peace across the nations, that we may peacefully recognise the things which bind us together in unity. That justice, honesty and integrity may be at the forefront of decisions made, ensuring a peaceful world in which your children may dwell in security and joy.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who struggle, for all who are in pain, for those receiving the care of others and especially for all those across our world suffering from the current pandemic. We pray that your peace may wash over them, and that the world may soon be freed from the current darkness which is upon it.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Finally we pray for all whom have entered into your rest, praying especially for His Royal Highness Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, giving thanks for his life of service and devotion to Queen and Country. We thank you for the gifts you bestowed upon him, remembering especially the inspiration and guidance he gave to his family and to countless young people throughout the world.

O Lord our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth: Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth; and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit. At this time of personal loss and grief may her devotion to your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ strengthen her and all of the Royal Family so that ensured of your grace and love, they may continue to incline to thy will and walk in thy way. 

 Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

And so we pray

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: Through all the changing scenes of life.

A Song of the Blessed:

Rejoice and be glad for you are the light of the world, 
And great is your reward in heaven
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, 
For they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for mercy shall be shown to them.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, 
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Rejoice and be glad for you are the light of the world,
And great is your reward in heaven.

Blessing:

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, 
that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Morning Worship for 11th April 2021

As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing online. 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.

The Greeting:

Christ is Risen, he is Risen indeed Alleluia.

We remember Jesus in the garden appearing to Mary and calling her by name. Come, risen Christ!
Help us to remember that you know us each intimately and that you call us by name.

We remember Jesus appearing to the disciples and saying 
‘peace be with you.’ Come, risen Christ!
We remember Jesus appearing to Thomas and saying
‘do not doubt, but believe.’ Come risen Christ!
Help us to rise above our doubts and fears and to trust completely 
in your name.

We remember Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus, talking with his followers. Come, risen Christ!
Open to us the Scripture and help us to know your truth.
We remember Jesus sharing breakfast on the beach with his companions.
Come, risen Christ! Be to us the bread of life.

We remember Jesus commanding his disciples to tell the good news to all people and to baptize in his name. Come, risen Christ!
Help us to be your witnesses in the world. Hear us as we praise your name together:

Collect of the day:

Almighty Father,
You have given your only Son to die for our sins
And to rise again for our justification:
Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness
That we may always serve you
In pureness of living and truth;
Through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
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

The preaching of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.
To those who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the folly of God is wiser than human wisdom,
And the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you; because by your holy cross,
You have redeemed the world.

Hymn: Jesus Stand among us.

Readings: Acts 4: 32-35, 1 John 1: 1 – 2:2.

Hymn: Christ is the world’s true light.

Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-end.

Reflection:

I have really learnt to value the message given in today’s gospel reading as it seems to encapsulate so much about the response of people to the church in our society.

The first message is all about confidence, we see the early disciples having just lost their master and now they are left floundering. They have given up everything to follow Jesus and now what is left for them to do, how can they carry on without him?

How often do we find ourselves in similar circumstances?

I can recall talking to my Dad about his life down the pit, despite its hardships, the dirt and toil, and the dreadful effect it had on his health, my dad spoke of his time in the mines with great affection. It was a job for life, he started young and worked hard all of his working life, he earned good money and brought up 6 children and he loved the camaraderie, he loved having to think on his feet, and he loved the sense of challenge everyday brought. Then all of a sudden mining went out of fashion cheaper imports led to the closure of the mines and in desperation that which seemed unending eventually meant him having to go and work on the factory floor of a steel investment company.

He never spoke of this time with any affection at all, there was good health and safety a clean working environment but there was no life there was no sense of camaraderie and very little personal challenge.

He had lost the very thing that actually gave him meaning in relation to his working and relational life.

I look at this and sense so much of it around in the world today, there are so many people doing jobs which have no sense of drive, no real sense of purpose and which fail to provide a medium for the effective building up of relationships.

This is what those early disciples must have been feeling for the man who had promised so much was now dead, the life of following the master which had brought them so much personal challenge commitment and excitement was now all over.

Here they were hiding in an upper room for fear of the authorities, such was their fear that the door was securely locked. They were lost just as my dad was lost when the pit closed and as so many are lost through their engagement with what is offered to them by our secular world.

Then something amazing happens Jesus comes to them, no locked doors can prevent him from being with them and he comes to them bearing the gift of eternal peace. They are over joyed, at last their lives have meaning again, it had not all been for nothing, Jesus was alive and that sense of challenge once again enabled their hearts to swell, and their sense of purpose to be restored.

This it seems to me is the second piece of learning, no matter how hard things get no matter how desolate the world may look at times, with trust in the Lord Jesus our lives can be restored and our work can once again be the fulfilling, and satisfying thing it is meant to be. With a sense of purpose and the drive to move forward following or being encouraged by another and being given an inner strength of which previously we had not been aware, there is nothing that cannot be achieved. And yet even on the momentous occasion of the Lord Jesus revealing himself to his disciples, desolation, rejection and dis-belief were still clearly evident at least for one of them.

Thomas doubted and this it seems to me to be the third piece of teaching in the Gospel! Doubt often raises its head within the Christian world and especially in our secular society, what do we, and who do we, ultimately place our trust and confidence in?

Politicians and world leaders let us down constantly, and in the eyes of many so too do Church Leaders, People look at all the failures of the church rather than the positives as it is only failure and negativity which is so often portrayed to others and as a result people have no confidence in the churches leadership. As a result respect and confidence in the church as an institution has been seriously eroded. There is insufficient evidence to believe and so people have stopped believing. Thomas right back at the very beginning of the churches life had not been present when Jesus had come, and to him it all sounded so implausible, he would not believe until he was personally satisfied. So Jesus returns and Thomas believes, not because he touched the Lord’s hands not because he reached out and touched the lords side, he did not need to, for such was the depth of personal relationship between Jesus and his disciples that Thomas just knew instinctively that the man who stood before him was Jesus.

Peace be with you is the response of the Lord once again which of course has become a key phrase of our communion service sharing together in that which the good Lord brought upon us, for it is through the gift of his peace that our lives are for-ever transformed.

But how is this peace given and how do we share in it?

The final piece of teaching is once again dependent on the forming of relationships. What is truly amazing is the way in which Jesus shares his peace with us his disciples, Jesus breathes upon us and we are filled with his Spirit. There is a sharing of that very essence of Jesus, that which spoke to others about a sense of purpose, a sense of commitment, of a camaraderie which was second to none. Following Jesus is not easy nor for that matter was working down the mines, but there was something which was shared which made it all worthwhile, something shared which brought the possibility of belief into reality.

Jesus by sharing his very self, Jesus by breathing upon us and sending forth his Spirit upon us restores us to a life lived out and within the love of God. It is through Jesus that we are brought fully into relationship with the Almighty and in Jesus that belief becomes more than just plausible but completely trustworthy and true. Jesus said to Thomas have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

Seeing Jesus in the flesh is not required for us to believe, because we know that through the gift of his Spirit to us we are so bound up in him that we need no external proof, for we possess an inner truth which is beyond words, an inner truth beyond question. That is where the world falls so sadly short for it looks to those things in life which cannot offer any sense of purpose any sense of relationship or any sense of commitment. Through the resurrection of Jesus all doubt falls away and we know that we can trust God with our whole heart. At times we may still have doubts something will not ring true or a personal experience may be so shattering to our faith that we never recover from it, that is why I believe the message of the Gospel is so relevant to people today, for Jesus does not disappoint us, Jesus never fails us, Jesus is always with us and we with him, when that relationship is right nothing else matters.

This is what people are called to recognize today, there is no need to look for Jesus, no need to prove his existence, all we need to do is open up our hearts to the power of his Spirit and through the depth of the relationship which will then ensue will we find ourselves able to rest eternally within the words of the Risen Lord.

May the peace of the Risen Lord be with you always, Amen.

Hymn: At the name of Jesus.

Prayers for others:

This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.

O Lord our God,

We thank you for the many people throughout the ages who have followed your way of life joyfully; for the many saints and martyrs, men and women, who have offered up their very lives, so that your life abundant may become manifest. For all those who have been witnesses of your love in our own lives we give you thanks and for all whose contribution to humanity is currently being made manifest in our midst.

For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.

O Lord, we thank you for those who chose the way of Jesus Christ. In the midst of trial, they held out hope; in the midst of hatred, they kindled love; in the midst of persecutions, they witnessed to your power; in the midst of despair, they clung to your promise. As we continue to struggle through the impact upon us and our freedoms as we continue through this pandemic, we pray for all those who do not have the depth of faith in your Son Jesus Christ to strengthen through their current difficulties.

For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.

O Lord, we thank you for the truth those of faith have passed on to us; that it is by giving that we shall receive; it is by becoming weak that we shall be strong; it is by loving others that we shall be loved; it is by offering ourselves that the kingdom will unfold; it is by dying that we shall inherit life everlasting.

Hear us as we pray for the weak, the generous of heart, the vulnerable and self –sacrificing; may these personal offerings of so many bring strength, love, hope and joy to your faithful people.

For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.

Finally we pray for all whom have entered into your rest, for those they leave behind to mourn their loss, for all who find loneliness and isolation from those they have loved so difficult to endure. May your love wash over them and bring them comfort in their distress.

For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.

National Council of Churches of the Philippines, 14th Biennial Convention Worship Resource Book (1989) adapted.

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: We have a Gospel to proclaim.

A Memorial of the Resurrection:

At dawn on the first day of the week, the women came to the tomb.
The angel asked them, whom do you seek?
We seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.
Why seek the living among the dead?
If you have taken my Lord away, tell me where you have laid him.
He is not here, he is risen as he promised; 
We are witnesses of these things.
Risen Lord Jesus, as Mary Magdalen met you in the garden on the morning of your resurrection, so may we meet you today and every day.
Speak to us as you spoke to her; reveal yourself as the living Lord;
Renew our hope and kindle our joy; and send us to share the good news with others; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen.
Behold, I am with you always, to the end of time.
And will come to reign among you in glory. Alleluia!

Blessing:

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Morning Worship for Easter Day 2021

As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing on-line. 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.

The Greeting:

We remember Jesus in the garden appearing to Mary and calling her by name. Come, risen Christ!
Help us to remember that you know us each intimately and that you call us by name.

We remember Jesus appearing to the disciples and saying 
‘peace be with you.’ Come, risen Christ!
We remember Jesus appearing to Thomas and saying
‘do not doubt, but believe.’ Come risen Christ!

Help us to rise above our doubts and fears and to trust completely 
in your name.
We remember Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus, talking with his followers. Come, risen Christ!

Open to us the Scripture and help us to know your truth.
We remember Jesus sharing breakfast on the beach with his companions.
Come, risen Christ! Be to us the bread of life.

We remember Jesus commanding his disciples to tell the good news to all people and to baptize in his name. Come, risen Christ!
Help us to be your witnesses in the world. Hear us as we praise your name together:

Collect of the day:

Lord of all life and power,
Who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
Overcame the old order of sin and death
To make all things new in him:
Grant that we, being dead to sin
And alive to you in Jesus Christ,
May reign with him in glory;
To whom with you and the Holy Spirit
Be praise and honour, glory and might,
Now and in all eternity.
Amen.

Our Declaration of faith

The preaching of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.
To those who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the folly of God is wiser than human wisdom,
And the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you; because by your holy cross,
You have redeemed the world.

Hymn: Jesus Christ is risen today.

Readings: Acts 10: 34-43, 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11.

Hymn: This is the day.

Gospel Reading: Mark 16: 1-8.

Reflection:

As we gather together on this momentous day we give thanks to God for the blessings brought upon humanity by the gift of the promise of life beyond the confines of our deaths. For in Christ’s resurrection, death has been destroyed and we live within the gift of God’s Grace.

This gift of life given to us in and through the resurrection of Jesus is truly significant for us today as we move forward in faith with some uncertainty and insecurity.

However as we begin a period of uncertainty we are in good company as Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome approached our Lords tomb with uncertainty unsure of what would lie before them and wondering who would roll the stone away from the tomb so that they could lay there spices. What they found however was an open tomb with the stone already rolled clear and as they entered they were confronted by an angelic vision. The angel instructed them to go and tell the disciples and Peter that they would see the resurrected Lord in Galilee, but they were so overcome by the vision and the empty tomb that they said nothing to anyone!

Now we all seek to follow Jesus as best as we are able and the gift of resurrection enables us to do this with conviction, yet running the race of faith is meaningless unless as we do so we learn more and more about God and his interaction with the world around us.

Easter is therefore a time of exploration, a time given to us in which we are filled with joyful hope that God loves us despite all the things which we allow to happen which are contrary to his will and purpose. Sin is not a natural consequence of life, it is that which drives us away from the reality of our life lived in Christ Jesus.

As we ponder on the world and all its complexities we know how difficult it is to make the right decisions in order to promote the lives of others, in order to promote justice and equality, to find ways of maintaining our own needs and aspirations alongside enabling others wherever they may be to do likewise. This is why Jesus came to us, to help us see that it is costly to help God’s children but the rewards of a faithful response are truly amazing.

So amazing that even death itself, cannot prevent the faithful from continuing in the journey of a faith filled life.

As we reflect on events in our world, the complexities of the pandemic and all of its impact on our lives is ever present with us at this time. The world has changed and even when we are enabled to return to the social engagement we are missing so much, there will be no simple return to what we had before.

We may no longer have to live in isolation, and we may well be able to relax the barriers and boundaries currently in place for our own protection, but the consequences of the pandemic will be with us for a very long time. This Easter what truly lies before us is however an eternal promise of release from the darkness, for as followers of Jesus living in his resurrection we have already been freed by the gift of the Lord’s resurrection. The shadows of death, uncertainty and anxiety have through the joy of the Easter message been lifted from all those who have faith in the risen Jesus. For we as Easter people do not live in the shadows, we have no enemies, we are no longer afraid of others for by living in the strength of Jesus we are free from uncertainty and insecurity for with trust in God being central to our being, we know that nothing can destroy or hurt us anymore.

This is the real Easter message, we are Easter people, we live in hope not fear, we live in trust not insecurity, we trouble ourselves not about boundaries and walls but we break them down with the hammer of faith, our justice is not national it is global, our response is not just for ourselves but for all humanity.

We are no longer like those women who were close to Jesus who on arriving at his tomb were reluctant to share their experience.

This Easter we must open our hearts to Jesus, and so let the reality of a life filling faith, shine forth from us as beacons in a troubled world. Do not let the fears and anxieties of others drag you down, but stand firm in the faith of Christ Jesus. Proudly affirm him, through self-offering love. Jesus showed us that faith is easy but responding to it in a sinful world is hugely demanding and costly. But he is with us in every positive step we take to grow in faith, to promote faith in others and to enable the love of God to prosper and be seen and felt by every one of his children.

So this Easter let the joy and the hope within the resurrection of Jesus fill us with God’s love, let us not have any insecurities or uncertainties about the future, let us place all that in to God’s hands and God’s care. We cannot create God’s kingdom on earth, we already live within it, Jesus showed us that, so don’t try to create your own kingdoms but rest and be secure in the one God brought into being in and through the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ our risen Lord, for through faith in Jesus the world will indeed be changed, and the promise of the kingdom will become clearer, a promise which will be filled with resurrection joy.

Alleluia Christ is risen! He is risen indeed alleluia.

Hymn: I will enter his gates.

Prayers for others:

This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.
Jesus, light of the world, bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life, give food to the hungry and nourish us all with your word.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life, be with us and all who follow you in the way. Deepen our appreciation of your truth and fill us with your life.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep, recover the straggler, bind up the injured, strengthen the sick and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us. 

Jesus, the resurrection and the life, we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you. Raise us with them to eternal life.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us, accept our prayers, and be with us always.
Amen. 

And so we prey

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: The day of resurrection.

A Memorial of the Resurrection:

At dawn on the first day of the week, the women came to the tomb.
The angel asked them, whom do you seek?
We seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.
Why seek the living among the dead?
If you have taken my Lord away, tell me where you have laid him.
He is not here, he is risen as he promised; 
We are witnesses of these things.
Risen Lord Jesus, as Mary Magdalen met you in the garden on the morning of your resurrection, so may we meet you today and every day.
Speak to us as you spoke to her; reveal yourself as the living Lord;
Renew our hope and kindle our joy; and send us to share the good news with others; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen.
Behold, I am with you always, to the end of time.
And will come to reign among you in glory. Alleluia!

Blessing:

The God of peace,
Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, 
that great shepherd of the sheep, 
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. 
Amen.