Tag Archives: sunday service

Trinity Sunday 30th May

The Linkage 

                        The Scottish Episcopal Church

St Mary’s Aberfoyle,

St Andrew’s Callander

The Reverend Canon Dr Alison Peden – Interim Pastor

01877 330448

Trinity Sunday  30th May 2021

Let us worship the Triune God.

Let us worship the One who spoke in the beginning

and brought the world into being.

Let us worship the Triune God.

Let us worship the One who came to dwell among us

to set us free.

Let us worship the Triune God.

Let us worship the One whose Spirit rests continually upon us,

calling us to new beginnings.

This hymn draws on the awe that Isaiah felt – see the first reading.  It is sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntdcY8q7a9E

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity.

Holy, holy, holy! All saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the sinful human eye thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity.

Collect:   Father, we praise you: through your Word and Holy Spirit you created all things.  You reveal your salvation in all the world by sending to us Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.  Through your Holy Spirit you give us a share in your life and love.  Fill us with the vision of your glory, that we may always serve and praise you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

Reading:   Isaiah 6:1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’

Gospel:  John 3:1-17
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Reflection:  
It is said that when the great St Augustine was walking on the beach, he saw a little boy who had dug a little hole in the sand.
He trotted off to the sea and brought back a cup of water to put into the hole. What are you doing?  said St Augustine Trying to pour the ocean into this little hole, said the boy. You’ll never manage that, said Augustine, the ocean is too great, and the hole is too small. That’s like God, said the boy, he’s too big to fit into our minds.

Augustine wrote a lot about the Trinity, as have many other theologians – often with ‘deadly confidence’.  But Augustine wrote as a pastor: his views grew out of the attempts he and his flock made to pray, worship and love the God they followed.  

I find it helpful to think of the Trinity as three paths to approach the mysterious God who is beyond our sight and understanding.  Sometimes, I need to seek the One who holds us firm in the midst of change and trouble, the One who will not let us go nor let us grow into anything less than the fullness of life.

At other times I am drawn towards the Child born for us, the Son given to us, who takes the government and cares and sin of this world onto his own shoulders.  His purity, openness, honesty, wondrous love, tenacious humility and undaunted joy call me back time and time again. 

And from time to time I sense a Voice calling on the way: a prompt, an alert, a song, or maybe a chuckle.  I don’t usually recognise the Voice until afterwards, when I realise that it’s the Spirit of truth that we’ve been reading about in John’s gospel.

At least – that’s how it seems to me today.  Like all who try to draw close to God, my understanding of ‘Trinity’ is a work in progress that will never be anything like completed this side of eternity …

Prayers of intercession:   (adapted from Sacredise)
When powers struggle for dominance, and war, oppression and abuse result; when groups of people oppose one another
because of ideology, religion or culture: we need a God who is bigger than ourselves, and our personal interests.
So we pray for the troubled parts of the world, especially for Israel and Gaza, and Belarus.  God of the nations, bring peace and freedom to those who are frightened and oppressed.

When people are disregarded and devalued because of poverty, geography or disease; when compassion and justice is withheld to some because of sexuality, race or gender: we need a Saviour who is more compassionate than we are who includes even those we would exclude.
So we pray for those whom we tend to forget:  loving Christ, comfort with your presence those with little healthcare or vaccines;  those in prisons, care homes, or sub-standard housing;  those who will be neglected or abused this day.

When resources are mismanaged and abused, and the world and its creatures are destroyed; when motivation is scarce and creativity is in short supply to address the challenges that we face; we need a Spirit who is more powerful and more creative
than we could ever be.
So we pray for those whose inspiration can renew the world:  Spirit of truth, guide the scientists and engineers who seek solutions to our problems, and fill artists, writers and all creative souls with the power to change our hearts.

Lord God, loving Saviour, empowering Spirit, we offer you these prayers because we need you so desperately. Captivate us, call us and fill us, that we may be carriers of your eternal life
to this world that you love so dearly. Amen.

We affirm our faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.   Amen.

Closing prayer:  God the Holy Trinity make us strong in faith and love, defend us on every side, and guide us in truth and peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always.  Amen

Here is a verse from the glorious ‘St Patrick’s Breastplate’:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH4ToVxtn9A&t=1sI bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

The Linkage Pentecost 2 6th June 2021

The Linkage 

                        The Scottish Episcopal Church

St Mary’s Aberfoyle,

St Andrew’s Callander

The Reverend Canon Dr Alison Peden – Interim Pastor

01877 330448

Pentecost 2   6th June 2021

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Based on Psalm 138:
We come to give thanks to you, O Lord, 
with all our heart.
We will sing your praises before all creation, 
and rejoice in Your steadfast love.
You have created us O Lord, and made us for yourself, 
In you we become everything You have made us to be.

Collect:  O God, you have assured the human family of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Deliver us from the death of sin and raise us to new life in him, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Reading:  Genesis. 3:8-15
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’ The Lord God said to the serpent,  ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’

Prayer of confession based on Genesis 3
Our God, you created the world and called it good.

You created man and woman in your image and called them very good. But we have been deceived by half-truths and false promises.

We have tasted temptation and it is bitter in our mouths.

We thought our desire for forbidden fruit would bring us wisdom,

but it brought us only the curse of pain and death.

Redeem us in your love. Take away our sin.

Restore our relationship with you, our God.

1 Corinthians 15 tells us:  For since death came through a man, 

the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. Thanks be to God

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!   Amen!

Gospel   Mark 3:20-35
The crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ 
And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’

Reflection:  
John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress describes a man slumped in an Iron cage, sighing in despair.  It turns out that the man had given into temptations and thought that he had forfeited God’s promises and mercy; all that remained for him was judgement and punishment. ‘Nor can all the men in the world let me out.  O Eternity!  How shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet in Eternity?’ he says.

Whilst it is a lot less common now to find those who worry about the fate of their eternal soul, people do find themselves locked into mental prisons, caused by ‘inner demons’ such as anger, guilt or a sense of futility.  

Jesus came to challenge the destructive power of demons and restore people to physical and spiritual health. The demons had shouted ‘You are the Son of God!’ just before today’s episode, and so it was unsurprising that the authorities challenged his authority, claiming that he used demonic power to cast out demons.

Jesus responded by saying that calling ‘demonic’ what is good (healing, forgiveness, new life) amounts to blasphemy against the Spirit, which cannot be forgiven.  It’s a very hard saying and has troubled many a tender conscience.

If we lock ourselves up in an iron cage and refuse to see things clearly, then it is indeed hard for God to reach us in love and forgiveness. If we take a position that is hard a steel – about ourselves, or other people, or the world – then it’s going to be difficult to perceive the work of the Spirit blowing through and around us.

As we enter this post-Pentecost season of growing in faith, of building God’s kingdom here on earth in the power of the Spirit, let us commit ourselves to being open and free and confident in the power of Christ to transform evil into the splendour of light. And let us try with God gently to prise open the cages that lock people in.  

Prayers of intercession:
Holy God, guide your people and to inspire us with the desire to put aside our differences as we seek to serve you. Help us to reach out to all who feel despair, especially those who feel unworthy or too sinful to enjoy life. Give us through your grace opportunities to befriend them and assure them of your love.
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

C
reator God, may those who lead us and the other nations of the world will always try to solve issues in a just and caring way, and deal with the world’s problems with forethought and common-sense. We hold before you the governments in Westminster and Holyrood.
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

Loving God, help us to be gentle with our families and friends. Give us, we pray, the calm that makes for consideration and the respect for others that makes us courteous. Take from us hard words and the cynical look. Let us be to others as we would wish them to be to us.
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

Gracious God, we pray for all who cry out to you today, those who long for the morning, those who are waiting for the long night to end. We pray that our ears will be attentive to their cry, that we will stand with them, steadfast together in your love, bringing life before death. 
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

Merciful God, your love reaches beyond the grave and so we bring before you those whose earthly life is now at an end. Receive their souls into your kingdom, we pray, that redeemed by grace they may rest in peace and rise in glory.
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

Bless Bishop Ian and the congregations of this diocese, that we may proclaim by our lives as well as our words the joy of your kingdom and the hope of its fulfilment. And
 wherever nature’s beauty or the daily wonders around help us to see your hand at work we thank you for the grace to live and enjoy it to the full.
Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen

 Closing Prayer:  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ rest upon us and and inspire us;  the love of God, creator and giver of life, embrace us and challenge us; and the presence of the Holy Spirit encourage and surprise us, this day and all our days.   Amen

This hymn of God’s providence is sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBkorDtz1nU

Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ.

O magnify the Lord with me, with me exalt his Name;
when in distress to him I called, he to my rescue came.
The hosts of God encamp around the dwellings of the just;
deliverance he affords to all who on his succour trust.

Fear him, ye saints, and you will then have nothing else to fear;
make you his service your delight; your wants shall be his care.




Linkage Service Sunday 21st March

01877 330448

Lent 5   21st March 2021   “We wish to see Jesus.”

As we enter Passiontide, the stark reality of the Cross faces all who seek to encounter Jesus; but it is the only life-giving way.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

       Lord, have mercy.   Christ have mercy.    Lord have mercy.

Collect:   Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death.  Breathe upon us with the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ and serve you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

Reading:  Jeremiah 31:27-34
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. 
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Gospel:   John 12:20-36
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 
Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 
Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 

Reflection:   
The ‘Greeks’ in today’s gospel wanted to see Jesus. They were not asking to join the disciples; they were not challenging claims about Jesus; they just wanted to meet him, experience what it was like to be in his presence.  They were curious about spiritual things and open to an encounter with the divine mystery.

Quite a lot of people today are like them and might describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’.  We need to ask ourselves whether our church services would help them to encounter Jesus. How can we create opportunities to do so?  We also need to ask whether we ourselves truly have this hunger to meet Jesus, to enter the mystery of his presence and be changed by it.

Jesus immediately faces the spiritual seekers and his disciples with the reality of who he is.  This is no soft guru promising a comforting ride into bliss.  His mission is to give himself so fully in love that he loses his life but opens the door to a whole new dimension of life lived in the presence of God. 

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  If anyone wishes to see Jesus, they must allow themselves to be lifted to the Cross, to the self-giving love of others that is the road to life. Such love has to be the starting point of our encounter with God.  When it fills the world, as the Lord in Jeremiah says, “they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest”.  

Prayers of intercession:

Loving and gracious God, we lift our prayers to you, knowing that you hear all our prayers, whether spoken or unspoken, for you know all that is on our hearts and minds. 

We hold before you the world and its anguish:  the peoples of Myanmar, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, remembering those in refugee camps, those in prison, those ill and hungry without hope of a better future.

God of all justice, bring the nations to work better together for the good of all.  May the Covid vaccine be distributed fairly;  may help be given where it is needed;  may we learn to respect and honour one another.

Sustain those who devote themselves to the wellbeing of others, and protect all in healthcare and social services, defence and security, education and community service.

Holy God, renew your Church as we follow your Son to the Cross and beyond.  Uphold Christians persecuted for their faith, especially in the Middle East, and those who feel disconnected from their congregations by current restrictions. May their closeness to Jesus sustain them.

O God, whose will it is that all should find salvation and come to know the truth: receive the prayers and petitions which we offer in faith and love; through him who gave proof of your purpose, and who sacrificed himself to win freedom for all the world, Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

Confession:
God is love and we are God’s children. There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first. 
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.   We are truly sorry.  
Forgive us our sins, and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 
      God, who is both power and love, forgive us
      and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit 
      and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving

Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Worship and praise belong to you, maker of light and darkness. 
Your wisdom draws beauty from chaos, brings a harvest out of sorrow and leads the exiles home. In Christ your Son enemies are reconciled, debts forgiven, and strangers made welcome.

Your Spirit frees us to live as sons and daughters in our Father’s house.

We who by Christ’s power follow the way of the Cross,

sharing the joy of his obedience, now offer you our praise,

with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven 
singing the hymn of your unending glory: 

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for Christ in whom the world is reconciled. Lifted on the Cross, his suffering and forgiveness spanned the gulf our sins had made.  Through that dark struggle death was swallowed up in victory, that life and light might reign.

Before he was given up to suffering and death, recalling the night of Israel’s release, the night in which the sons of Egypt died, your Chosen One, himself the First-Born, freely offered his life.

At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying:  “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:  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.

Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us.        
Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world, grant us peace.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.                                

Closing prayer: Christ crucified draw us to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with us all, this day and for evermore.  Amen

In 1886, a young American singer called Peter Bilhorn asked his minister for words to set to music.  This hymn was the result, and Bilhorn invented a portable pump organ to use in the evangelism he undertook on the streets and in prisons.
Hear the hymn sung at 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-EZ_JpHFf0

I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me;
how he left the realms of glory for the cross on Calvary:
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me, found the sheep that went astray,
raised me up and gently led me back into the narrow way.  
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

He will keep me till the river rolls its waters at my feet;
then He’ll bear me safely over, where the loved ones I shall meet.
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

Closing prayer: 
May the Lord who brought us all to birth, strengthen us for daily life.  May the Lord who provides for all our needs sustain us day by day.  May the Lord whose steadfast love is for all, send us out to live and work for others. 

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with us and remain with us always.    Amen.

As we return to churches on Palm Sunday we give very grateful thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden for providing us with services over the last months and for guiding and supporting us through these difficult times.

Linkage service Epiphany 6 14th February 2021

Linkage Service Epiphany 6 14th February 2021

01877 330448

The Transfiguration     14th February 2021

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: 
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, 
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Almighty God, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross, give us faith to perceive his glory, that being strengthened by his grace we may be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:  2 Kings 2:1-12
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent.’ Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he answered, ‘Yes, I know; be silent.’  
Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.  
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ He responded, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.’ As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two.

Gospel:   Mark 9:2-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 
Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Reflection:   
The Magi … Simeon in the Temple …  John the Baptist at the Jordan … and now Peter, James and John on the mountaintop.  They see light and are amazed; is the Transfiguration the best epiphany of all?

“Bedazzled and blurting” is how one commentator described the disciples. Peter tried to say something about the dazzling white clothes of Jesus, and the prophets appearing on either side of him.  But they did not really understand and were scared out of their wits.

An extraordinary, wondrous and moving experience may make us speechless:  how can we put it into words?  What – on earth – should we say about it?   But we may also be dumb because we do not yet really grasp the deep meaning of our experience.

St Jerome said of Peter on the mountain, “Even though you see Jesus transfigured, nevertheless, because Christ has not yet suffered for you, you are still unable to know the truth.”  We have to experience the depth of Jesus’ love if we are to grasp the truth that he is Son of God.

Jesus was aware that the Passion lay ahead for him, but God was already revealing a little of the glory of the Resurrection, the great act of power that transfigured evil, suffering and death into the triumph of love.  With assurance of that in our hearts, and knowing God’s love for us, we can come down the mountain and bring Christ’s hope into this troubled world.

Prayers:  
Almighty God, at the Transfiguration you showed Jesus in glory and gave his disciples a glimpse of his risen life.  Help us to glimpse your heavenly kingdom and a vision of how your son, Jesus, can transfigure our lives and the life of the world.  

Creator God, as we pray for your world, give us the spirit of love for all people whatever their race or creed and give the same spirit of acceptance to all world leaders that through their common endeavour, freedom, peace and prosperity may increase throughout the world.

Loving God, with the grace of your Holy Spirit, comfort all who are in sorrow, need, sickness or adversity.  Have mercy on those to whom death draws near.  Give consolation to those in sorrow or mourning and as you take them into your tender care help may they be strengthened by the power of your love.

Lord, hear us as we bring before you the people and problems that are most on our minds …

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

The Great Thanksgiving:
             Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
              for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
              Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; 
              Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established 
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.

In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might 
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth 
in a creation restored by love.

As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.       
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power 
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and 
set your people free to be his Body in the world.
On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.    

Prayer:   Holy God, we see your glory in the face of your Son, Jesus Christ.  May we reflect his life in word and deed, that all the world may know his power to change and save, to the glory of your name. Amen  

A hymn of faith and trust in God: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdBkEJurR4

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armour, be thou my true light;
thou my soul’s shelter,  thou my strong tower:
raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

High King of heaven, thou heaven’s bright sun;
O grant my its joys after victory is won;
great heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

St Mary’s Sunday Service Epiphany 5 for 7th February 2021

St Mary’s Sunday Service Epiphany 5 for 7th February 2021

    Epiphany 5  7th February 2021

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: 
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, 
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Merciful Lord, grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading:  Isaiah 40:21-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes to the heavens and see:Who created these? He who brings out their starry host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?  
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for he Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Gospel:   Mark 1:29-39
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Reflection:   
Jesus was often found in people’s homes, eating, talking, bringing new life.  Today we have an intimate picture of Peter’s home on the Sabbath – a kind of ‘Sunday lunch’, the centre of the week.  But all was not well as the men returned from synagogue.

Peter’s mother-in-law was sick.  Now dependent on Peter’s fishing and her daughter’s goodwill, was she worried that Peter would leave them in the lurch as he followed Jesus?  Would she be too frail to help out?

Peter’s wife must have been torn between her mother and her husband.  How were both of them to feel fulfilled, and how was she to flourish? Peter’s loyalties would have been divided between his family responsibilities and his new vocation as a ‘fisher of people’.

Relationships can become strained when we fear we will lose our sense of who we are and who we might be. Jesus must have felt the deeper currents of unease when he entered Peter’s house; he knew that real healing of the situation as well as the woman was needed.

Peter’s mother-in-law was enabled to serve – her worth was restored.
Maybe the conversation over the Sabbath meal turned to what following Jesus would mean, and perhaps Peter’s wife was reassured and even inspired.  We hear that she accompanied Peter on his mission trips in due course as a ‘believing wife’.  (1 Cor.9:5)

Healing relationships involves noticing the giftedness of those around us, blessing them, enabling them to bear fruit, without worrying about our own position too much.  Like Peter’s mother-in-law, let’s begin to serve one another, lifting each other up in hope and trust.

Prayers:  
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom you chose us, before the foundation of the world, and destined us in love to be your own: help us to pray for all your children.

For the life of the world; that your peace may be known and may prevail:  For harmony and generosity between the nations, and an end to oppression and violence, especially in Russia and China.

For all who suffer injury, death or loss; that they may know the hope to which you call us:  For the sick and grieving; for the anxious and fearful; for the bored, lonely and frustrated, young and old.

For all who exercise rule and authority; that they may acknowledge your power: For politicians, scientists, business leaders, educators and judges, as they seek to rebuild society after the pandemic.

For the Church which is Christ’s body; that it may live for the praise of your glory:  For Ian our bishop and Keith, newly-elected bishop of Argyll and the Isles.  For those responding to a call to serve your church in lay and ordained ministry.

For those who are in our thoughts and hearts at this time, especially …

God, you exerted your strength and power when you raised Christ from the dead, putting everything in subjection beneath his feet: accept the prayers which we offer in his name for the world you have created and redeemed; through him in whom you have set forth the mystery of your will, to unite all things in heaven and on earth, your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Great Thanksgiving:
             Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
              for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
              Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; 
              Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established 
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might 
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth 
in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.       
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power 
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and 
set your people free to be his Body in the world.
On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.    

Prayer:   Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called into your service:  strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and make us worthy of our calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

This hymn was written by Timothy Rees, who was a chaplain in World War 1 and Bishop of Llandaff during the Depression, Hear it sung at:

God is love, let heaven adore him;  God is love, let earth rejoice;
let creation sing before him,  and exalt him with one voice.
He who laid the earth’s foundation, He who spread the heavens above,
He who breathes through all creation, He is love, eternal love.

God is love and he enfolding all the world in one embrace;
with unfailing grasp is holding every child of every race.
And when human hearts are breaking under sorrow’s iron rod,
Then they find the self-same aching deep within the heart of God.


God is love, and though with blindness sin afflicts each human soul,
God’s eternal loving-kindness holds and guides and keeps them whole.
Sin and death and hell shall never o’er us final triumph gain;
God is love, so love for ever o’er the universe must reign.

St Mary’s Sunday service for Epiphany 4 31st January 2021

We are very grateful to Revd Canon Alison Peden, our Interim Pastor, for providing us with this written service for you to follow since there is no service at St Mary’s this Sunday

Epiphany 4  31st  January 2021

‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?’

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   O God, through our human frailty, we cannot stand firm:

give us strength and protection, that, with your help, we may overcome all difficulties; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Reading:  Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Moses said:     The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire any more, or we will die.’

The Lord said to me: ‘What they say is good.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.

Gospel:   Mark 1:21-28
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ 
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Reflection:  
It’s an ugly scene:  a hallowed synagogue thrown into confusion by a tormented man thrown into convulsions, at the mercy of forces beyond him, howling in despair.  The ICU wards that we see night after night on our screens are quieter but no less desperate.   Haggard doctors and nurses witness to the depths of suffering around them.

‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?’ cry the demons in the synagogue. How can God be where demons are wreaking havoc?  

Jeremiah prayed:  ‘Lord, you are in the midst of us, and we are called by your Name; do not forsake us, O Lord our God.’ (14:9)

The power and authority of Jesus of Nazareth rests in in his being in the midst of all our human experience, bringing the light of God’s presence to a dark world, from Incarnation to Resurrection.  Jesus lived out his message of God’s love, being tested by Satan in the desert, willing to drink the cup of suffering, unfaltering in confronting evil.

His answer to the demons shrieking ‘What have you to do with us?’
is ‘Everything!’   Some of the most powerful stories from hospitals have been those of relatives, nurses and chaplains sharing prayer and spiritual comfort with the very sick and dying.  God is not absent, but in the midst of us, in grief and hope and redemption.

But let’s remember that Jesus cast out the demon, for he was proclaiming the Kingdom, the rule and authority of God.  This story in Mark’s gospel is another Epiphany sign that Jesus is truly the Son of God who can transform our lives at the very heart of them, in our midst, if only we open ourselves to his healing light.

Prayers: 
God of every land and nation, you spoke your word and revealed your good news in Jesus Christ. We pray for our troubled world its peoples and their leaders.  May governments and their health authorities take the right steps for the good of the whole world. Help us all to understand that we must confront the pandemic together, wisely and generously.

Merciful God, be with those of us that need your restoration and healing. As we remember the way your son Jesus Christ cast out demons we remember today all those who feel trapped and helpless.  Extend your healing touch especially upon those affected by Covid-19:  those who are sick or in long-term recovery, the dying and their families and friends.

Loving God, sustain our relationships and give strength to those whose family life is difficult just now.  Help parents struggling with home schooling or lack of money and draw together those experiencing friction and frustration.  Calm the anxious and comfort the lonely;  give us a sense of community and responsibility for each other.

Holy God, lead your people in ways of prayer and discipleship that will build your Kingdom.  Give us the vision to see the new paths you are opening for us and the fresh opportunities to share your good news.  May we discern your Spirit moving among us and respond with courage and commitment.

Lord God, watch over our family and friends and all who need our prayers …   In all we do, may we walk ever more closely with you at our side, safe in the knowledge that your love and care know no bounds.   Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen

The Great Thanksgiving:
            Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
            for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
            Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
            Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, God our maker. Out of nothing, you called all worlds into being, and still you draw the universe to its fulfilment. Day and night celebrate your glory till time shall be no more. In Christ, your only-begotten Son, you have revealed yourself to the world. By the guiding of a star, you made him known to the nations as the son of David and king of Israel; that in following him, we might be led from darkness and into his marvellous light.
Filled with the Spirit, who descended upon your Son at his Baptism in the Jordan, we who are baptised in his name strive for his heavenly kingdom in whose radiance we are transfigured and the earth transformed.
As children of your redeeming purpose who celebrate the manifestation of your Son, we offer you our praise, with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven, singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father. In the Messiah you have come to us. Our hope is built on him in whom you are well pleased. Having been shown to the world as your beloved Son, he proclaimed the good news of your kingdom. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed,           and the captives set free. At his word, water became wine, the hungry were filled with bread,     and the dead were raised.
Before he was given up to suffering and death, desiring to complete the work for which he came into the world, at supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.   

Prayer:   The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord:  and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen

The author of this hymn, Rusty Edwards, is a Lutheran pastor in Atlanta. It sings of how Jesus is revealed as Saviour in his acts of power.
Hear it at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVXbISMGaUg

Praise the one who breaks the darkness with a liberating light.
Praise the one who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight.
Praise the one who preached the Gospel, healing every dread disease,
Calming storms and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace.

Praise the one who blessed the children with a strong yet gentle word.
Praise the one who drove out demons with a piercing two-edged sword.
Praise the one who brings cool water to the desert’s burning sand.
From this well comes living water, quenching thirst in every land.

Let us praise the Word incarnate: Christ who suffered in our place.
Jesus died and rose victorious that we may know God by grace.
Let us sing for joy and gladness, seeing what our God has done.
Let praise the true redeemer, praise the One who makes us one.

St Mary’s Sunday Service 24th January 2012

We are very grateful to Revd Canon Alison Peden, our Interim Pastor, for providing us with this written service for you to follow since there is no service at St Mary’s this Sunday

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021

‘Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit’

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends on 25th January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.  This year, our physical separation from each other has sharpened our awareness of the many ways that we are ’apart’.  This service comes from the ecumenical Community of Grandchamp, and has the theme ‘Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit’ (based on John 15:10-17). 

In a world full of turmoil and pain, the sisters of the Community urge us to pray and reflect so that we may ‘unite and help each other create forces of calmness, refuges of peace, vital centres where the silence of people calls on the creative word of God.’  We can unite spiritually wherever we are, because Christ is at the centre of all of us, if we abide in him..

Opening Prayer

Lord, you invite us to abide in you. You call on us to see the beauty of each branch united to the vine, the beauty of each person. And yet, too often the differences in others make us afraid. We withdraw into ourselves. Our trust in you and one another is lost. Come and direct our hearts toward you once again, that as one family we may praise your name. Amen.

Litany of praise

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!

We sing your praise in the midst of the world and among all peoples,

We sing your praise in the midst of creation and among all creatures.

                   We sing your praise among suffering and tears,

                   We sing your praise among promises and achievements.

We sing your praise in the places of conflict and misunderstanding;

We sing your praise in the places of encounter and reconciliation.

                   We sing your praise in the midst of rifts and divisions,

                   We sing your praise in the midst of life and death,
    the birth of a new heaven and a new earth.

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!

I:   Abiding in Christ: the unity of the whole person

Reading:  John 15:1-11:
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

Reflection:  “The encounter with Jesus gives rise to the desire to stay with him and to abide in him: a time in which fruit matures. Being fully human, like us Jesus grew and matured. He lived a simple life, rooted in the practices of his Jewish faith. In this hidden life in Nazareth, where apparently nothing extraordinary happened, the presence of the Father nourished him.  Mary contemplated the actions of God in her life and in that of her son. She treasured all these things in her heart. Thus, little by little, she embraced the mystery of Jesus. We too need a long period of maturation, an entire lifetime, in order to plumb the depths of Christ’s love, to let him abide in us and for us to abide in him.”
As we stay at home – abide there – let us rest in the presence of God who nourishes us.

Intercessions:  ‘The joy of our heart is in God.’

  God of life, you call us to be praise in the midst of the world and to accept one another.   May your loving gaze, which rests upon each person, inspire us to celebrate each other just as we are.

  You knit us together as one vine in Jesus. May your loving Spirit abide in us as your Church family,
even when we cannot meet together.

  God of the one vineyard, you call us to live in your love in all we do and say. Touched by your goodness, grant us to be a reflection of that love in our homes and communities.   Amen

II:   The visible unity of Christians

Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13a
Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Reflection:  “On the eve of his death, Jesus prayed for the unity of those the Father gave him: “that they may all be one … so that the world may believe”. Joined to him, as a branch is to the vine, we share the same sap that circulates among us and vitalizes us.  Each tradition seeks to lead us to the heart of our faith: communion with God, through Christ, in the Spirit. The more we live this communion, the more we are connected to other Christians and to all of humanity.”

All denominations are sharing the same experience just now, and asking ‘What  – and where – is the Church?’

Intercessions:   ‘May we bear witness together to the hope that sustains us’

   Holy Spirit, you create and re-create the Church in all places and prayed “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe”.

   Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, light the fire of your love in us so that suspicions and misunderstanding cease in the Church. May the walls that separate us fall. Open our hearts to forgiveness and reconciliation and bring us back to you when we lose our way.
   Holy Spirit, you never abandon those who are persecuted for their faithfulness to the gospel.
Give them strength and courage, and support those who help them. Amen

III:   The unity of all peoples with all creation

Reading:  Revelation 7: 9-12
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’

Reflection:  “We participate in the work of the Spirit so that creation in all its fullness may continue to praise God. When nature suffers, when human beings are crushed, the Spirit of the risen Christ – far from allowing us to lose heart – invites us to become part of his work of healing. The newness of life that Christ brings, however hidden, is a light of hope for many. It is a wellspring of reconciliation for the whole of creation and contains a joy that comes from beyond ourselves: “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11).”
How much do our lives declare God’s salvation? What view of God would others have from how we live? How can ‘newness of life’ live in us and in all Creation?

Intercessions:    God of peace, God of love, in You is our hope!

   Merciful God, you have shown us in Christ that we are one in you. Teach us to use this gift so that believers of all faiths in every country may be able to listen to each other and live in peace.

   O Jesus, you came into the world and shared fully in our humanity. You know the hardships of life for people who suffer. May the Spirit of compassion move us to share our what we have with those in need.

   Holy Spirit, you hear the fury of your wounded creation and the cries of those already suffering from climate change. Guide us toward new ways of living that are in harmony with all creation.

The Lord’s Prayer

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.

Blessing

May the God of all creation fill us with all joy and all peace in faith, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

Service adapted from https://ctbi.org.uk/resources-for-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2021/

You might like to end with this hymn – ‘Thy hand, O God, has guided …’  which is sung at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44RNKCp-hCY

Thy hand, O God, has guided thy flock, from age to age;
their wondrous tale is written, full clear, on every page;
thy people owned thy goodness, and we their deeds record;
and both of this bear witness; one Church, one Faith, one Lord.

Thy heralds brought glad tidings to greatest as to least;
they bade men rise, and hasten to share the great King’s feast;
and this was all their teaching, in every deed and word,
to all alike proclaiming one Church, one Faith, one Lord.

Thy mercy will not fail us, nor leave thy work undone;
with thy right hand to help us, thy victory shall be won;
and then, by all creation, thy name shall be adored,
and this shall be our anthem: one Church, one Faith, one Lord.

St Mary’s Sunday Service 17th January 2021

Epiphany 2  17th January 2021

We are very grateful to Revd Canon Alison Peden, our Interim Pastor, who has provided this service for you to follow at home

You can also follow the Episopcal service on line which is broadcat at 11am on Sunday

O God, you search me and you know me’

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service.  Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading:   Psalm 139 arranged by Bernadette Farrell – listen at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEGc3_D19Vo

            O God, you search me and you know me.
            All my thoughts lie open to your gaze.
            When I walk or lie down you are before me
            Ever the make and keeper of my days.

      You know my resting and my rising.
      You discern my purpose from afar,
      and with love everlasting you besiege me:
      in every moment of life or death, you are.

      Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
      you have known its meaning through and through.
      You are with me beyond my understanding:
      God of my present, my past and future too.

      Although your Spirit is upon me,
      still I search for shelter from your light.
      There is nowhere on earth I can escape you:
      even the darkness is radiant in your sight.

      For you created me and shaped me,
      gave me life within my mother’s womb.
      For the wonder of who I am, I praise you:
      safe in your hands, all creation is made new.

Gospel:   John 1:43-51
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ 
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ 
Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’

Reflection:   We cannot ‘Go and see’ anyone much just now.  We may see people at a distance or on a screen, but that doesn’t allow for the intent gaze that lets us know who and how someone is. The danger is that we will revert to a quick, superficial seeing and judging of others. At worst, we might dismiss someone with: ‘I don’t know what you see in them’.

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, and he had been looking at him for a while because he had seen him sitting under a fig tree.  Did he perceive the quizzical, sceptical attitude in Nathanael?  A disappointed, blinkered, jaded man?  What did Jesus ‘see’ in him?

Jesus said ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’  He saw honesty and integrity, a refusal to jump gaily on any bandwagon, a desire for truth and reality.  Jesus looked with the divine gaze that Psalm 139 sings about, a healing and transforming gaze.

The impact of being contemplated, seen and known by God is immense. Being known through-and-through for what we are is scary but liberating – we don’t have to pretend any more, and we can begin to see the wonder of ourselves as God sees us – his work of art.

Let us not lose the divine gift of really looking and seeing the wonder of others, their beauty and their wounds, their gifts and their needs.

Prayers:  God of peace, guide the nations of our world and their leaders, and give wisdom and patience to those involved in the reconciliation and bridge-building.  We hold before you especially the United States at this time. May we too be instruments of your peace wherever and whenever we can in our daily lives.

Holy God, lead your Church in the ways of the Kingdom, and give us grace to use this time of lockdown to grow in faith and vision, so that we may emerge better equipped to see and follow your Son, Jesus. Bless Bishop Ian and all who seek to serve your people in any way.

God of all healing, comfort those who suffer in body, mind or spirit, especially those who are alone and feel that no-one sees them or their needs.  Assure them of your presence and show us how we can alleviate the loneliness of others.

Merciful God, we mourn the dying and hold before you those who now rejoice in the fullness of eternal life. May our sorrow at the current huge loss of life just not fail, and may our compassion for the bereaved not grow weary.

Faithful God, we rejoice in your call to follow you. Lead us into the coming week ready to demonstrate our calling in all that we do and say.   Merciful Father,  accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen

The Great Thanksgiving:
            Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
            for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
            Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
            Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, God our maker. Out of nothing, you called all worlds into being, and still you draw the universe to its fulfilment. Day and night celebrate your glory till time shall be no more. In Christ, your only-begotten Son, you have revealed yourself to the world. By the guiding of a star, you made him known to the nations as the son of David and king of Israel; that in following him, we might be led from darkness and into his marvellous light.
Filled with the Spirit, who descended upon your Son at his Baptism in the Jordan, we who are baptised in his name strive for his heavenly kingdom in whose radiance we are transfigured and the earth transformed.
As children of your redeeming purpose who celebrate the manifestation of your Son, we offer you our praise, with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven, singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father. In the Messiah you have come to us. Our hope is built on him in whom you are well pleased. Having been shown to the world as your beloved Son, he proclaimed the good news of your kingdom. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed,           and the captives set free. At his word, water became wine, the hungry were filled with bread,     and the dead were raised.
Before he was given up to suffering and death, desiring to complete the work for which he came into the world, at supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.   

Prayer:   Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new:  transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory, through Jesu Christ our Lord.  Amen

Charles Wesley wrote this splendid hymn in 1747. It prays for
the presence of Christ to dwell in our hearts and transform us
into his likeness.  It is sung at:

Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation, enter every trembling heart.

Come, almighty to deliver, let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never, never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing, serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing, glory in thy perfect love.

Finish then thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee:
changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.

St Mary’s Sunday Service 10th Janaury 2021

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastr, Revd Canon Alison Peden

           The Baptism of Christ    10th January 2021

This day Jesus is revealed as the Christ in the waters of baptism

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant that we, being born again, and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Reading:   Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
   worship the Lord in holy splendour.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders,
   the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
   the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
   the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
   and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, ‘Glory!’

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
   the Lord sits enthroned as king for ever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
   May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Gospel:   Mark 1:4-11   
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

Reflection:   It’s a great and liberating lesson when we realise that God is really God.  So many of our problems come from trying to control and manage what we are not able to.  So much of our peace comes from letting God be God.

Our first Christian lesson in receptive humility comes in baptism, especially if it is adult baptism by immersion.  You are taken and submerged – ducked – and then raised bodily out of the water.  You surrender to the baptiser and are very much in their hands.

Baptism was a part of Jewish rituals of purification, especially for converts to Judaism.  After sacrifice and circumcision, you would bathe yourself as an outward sign of spiritual cleansing and new beginnings.

But we hear that Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.  He did not baptise himself.  Although the voice from heaven declared that he was God’s beloved son, Jesus submitted to being submerged by John.  It was the first sign of his willing obedience and humility.  The anointed one was also the Servant who would submit to crucifixion at the hands of others out of love for us.

We may feel that we have lost a lot of control of our lives at the moment.  It’s particularly hard to be told by government that churches must stay closed.  But we can find peace if we try to discern the will of God for us out of love and concern for other people, and grow in humility and trust.

Prayers:  Everlasting God, we give thanks for this new day and a fresh beginning.  May we walk in your way, live our life for you and be mindful of your presence day by day.

Creator God, we remember all countries where there is war or conflict and pray that you will look mercifully upon the sufferings of the people involved.  Bless the peace negotiations for Afghanistan.

We pray for our Queen and government and the leaders in the rest of the world. Sharpen their consciences and give them the courage to make wise decisions, making wrongs right and meeting the needs of all who suffer especially as the pandemic continues worldwide.

Loving God, help those who are struggling with the restrictions in our country, especially young people whose education is suffering, and medical staff who are under so much strain.  Heal relationships which are fracturing, and comfort those who are anxious and depressed.

Mighty God, Lord of unending being, we pray for those approaching death and those whose earthly lives have ended. May they find rest in the eternal joy of heaven and let all who mourn them find comfort and peace.

Faithful God, we thank you for making us your children in baptism,
for feeding us with the spiritual food which satisfies our longings
and for the promise that you hear our prayers, which we now offer in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving:
            Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
            for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
            Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
            Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, God our maker. Out of nothing, you called all worlds into being, and still you draw the universe to its fulfilment. Day and night celebrate your glory till time shall be no more. In Christ, your only-begotten Son,  you have revealed yourself to the world. By the guiding of a star, you made him known to the nations as the son of David and king of Israel; that in following him, we might be led from darkness and into his marvellous light.
Filled with the Spirit, who descended upon your Son at his Baptism in the Jordan, we who are baptised in his name strive for his heavenly kingdom in whose radiance we are transfigured and the earth is transformed.

As children of your redeeming purpose who celebrate the manifestation of your Son, we offer you our praise, with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven, singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father. In the Messiah you have come to us. Our hope is built on him in whom you are well pleased. Having been shown to the world as your beloved Son, he proclaimed the good news of your kingdom. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed,           and the captives set free. At his word, water became wine, the hungry were filled with bread,     and the dead were raised.
Before he was given up to suffering and death, desiring to complete the work for which he came into the world, at supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.   

Prayer:   May the Father who came through the Spirit upon his beloved Son at his baptism in the River Jordan pour out his gifts upon us and bless us and those we love and pray for, now and always.  Amen

 See this hymn at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIr21lLgFpg

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry announces that the Lord is nigh;
Awake, and hearken, for he brings glad tidings from the King of kings!

Then cleansed be every Christian breast; and furnished for so great a guest;
Yea, let us each our hearts prepare, for Christ to come and enter there.

For Thou art our Salvation, Lord, our refuge, and our great reward.
Without Thy grace our souls must fade and wither like a flower decayed.

Stretch forth Thine hand, to heal our sore, and make us rise to fall no more;
Once more upon Thy people shine, and fill the world with love divine.

All praise, eternal Son, to Thee, whose advent sets Thy people free,
Whom with the Father we adore, and Spirit blest, for evermore. Amen