Monthly Archives: January 2021

Inspires online January 2021

Inspires online January 2021

News from the Scottish Episcopal ChurchJanuary 2021Welcome to the first edition of 2021 of Inspires Online – the monthly electronic newsletter of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Inspires Online highlights news and events from across the Church and also includes news from organisations related to the Church.

It is good to hear from our readers so please do get in touch with us either by replying to this email or by contacting Donald Walker, Director of Communications at dwalker@scotland.anglican.org, or Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator at aidans@scotland.anglican.org.












New schedule for SEC online worship


The regular Sunday online worship provided by the College of Bishops is to be supplemented this year by broadcasts to mark many of the major feasts and festivals in the Calendar, as well as significant national commemorations.

The weekly Eucharist service has taken on increased importance once again with the return of lockdown, which has required places of worship to close their doors until further notice.

Just over one third of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s congregations can join online worship provided by their own church, but for others, the provincial broadcast might be their only opportunity to take part in joint worship.

A schedule of where each broadcast will come from has been planned for all Sundays from now until Easter 2, as follows (subject to any late changes):

31 January:         Diocese of St Andrews
7 February:         Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney
14 February:       Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway
21 February:       Diocese of Moray, Ross & Caithness (Lent 1)
28 February:       Diocese of Edinburgh (Lent 2)
7 March:              Diocese of Brechin (Lent 3)
14 March:            Diocese of St Andrews (Lent 4)
21 March:            Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney (Lent 5)
28 March:            Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway (Palm Sunday)
4 April:                 Diocese of Moray, Ross & Caithness (Easter Day)
11 April:               Diocese of Edinburgh (Easter 2)

A provisional programme is being prepared for beyond the existing schedule.

To accommodate additional broadcasts that fall on significant midweek calendar dates, it has been decided not to continue with Service of the Word or Evening Prayer on Thursdays, which ran weekly from May until it was temporarily suspended in November to allow resources to switch to Advent and Christmas worship broadcasts.

The effect will be to continue with, on average, one additional provincial worship broadcast per week, but without the regular Thursday slot. Some weeks there may be two midweek broadcasts, and other weeks might have none.

There will also be a full programme of Easter Week broadcasts, as happened last year shortly after lockdown was announced.

Meanwhile, online worship that was offered over the Christmas season appears to have been well received. Seven different worship broadcasts and two video messages from the Primus and the Church Leaders Forum were delivered over a nine-day period, along with daily video recordings of the O Antiphons.

Viewers commented on the high quality of contributions from musicians and singers across the province who participated across the services. Over 40 people took part, from all seven dioceses.

The highlight was arguably the creation of a provincial online choir for the Advent Lessons & Carols service. Organising and delivering the virtual choir service was an ambitious project and gratitude is due to those who answered late pleas to come on board and get involved. Feedback from some participants is that they thoroughly enjoyed being able to sing as a group, albeit at some distance in both space and time. The venture will be attempted again – but not every week!
 
List of churches offering online worship

As mentioned in the preceding article, around one third of Scottish Episcopal Churches are offering weekly online worship services.

A list of those that the SEC communications team is aware of is available here at the provincial  website.

The list was last updated on 30 November 2020, and will be updated again in early February. Any additions or amendments required should be sent to office@scotland.anglican.org
 
Church makes clear its position on closures

Following media reports that church leaders had threatened legal action if the Scottish Government does not reverse its recent decision to close places of worship during the current phase of the Covid pandemic, the Primus issued a statement to make clear that the Scottish Episcopal Church was not part of the group seeking change.

“Having worked closely with the Scottish Government during the pandemic, alongside the Church of Scotland and many other denominations, in a bid to protect the vulnerable by stemming the spread of the virus, I would like to state that we have no part in the move to take legal action against the Government,” said the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the SEC.

A group of 500 church leaders – 200 from Scotland and 300 from elsewhere in the UK –signed a letter to the First Minister calling for her to lift the ban on communal worship, stating it would seek judicial review if the closure of churches is not dropped from lockdown restrictions. No SEC churches signed the letter.

The Church of Scotland has also distanced itself from the call for legal action.
Earlier in the month, the College of Bishops issued a pastoral message to the Churches and congregations of the Scottish Episcopal Church, at the onset of the latest lockdown.

“Many of us have watched, with growing concern, the rise in the number of those testing positive for Coronavirus,” said the Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops. “This rise has been seen right across Scotland during the past few weeks and may get higher still as the effects of the recent holidays become clearer.

“Many of our churches had already decided to remain closed or to suspend face to face worship as this situation unfolded, limiting the numbers to 20 people had given an added headache to our larger churches while sustaining the weekly opening regime had become exhausting for some of our smaller congregations. The awareness of the speed of transmission in the new variant had made it quite clear that the position of Places of Worship was becoming more and more difficult to sustain, a situation made clear by the First Minister.

“The re-closing of our churches is difficult, especially for those who have had the privilege of meeting together over the past few months, yet it is now what we must do. The provision of Provincial online worship will continue and many of our churches will meet together via a variety of platforms. We must continue to pray for each other, for the communities we serve and for the authorities charged with protecting the nation.

“Please continue to pray for the College of Bishops as we will continue to pray for you until with the help of science and our health service we can once again have the freedom to meet together.”
 
Argyll & The Isles electionAt the time of writing, the Electoral Synod in the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles was preparing to meet to consider and vote on the three candidates who were short-listed for the episcopal vacancy.

The Rt Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, has been the acting bishop in the diocese since the translation of Rt Rev Kevin Pearson from Argyll & The Isles to Glasgow & Galloway in January 2020.

A report of the outcome of proceedings will appear in the February edition of Inspires Online.
 













Provincial Welcome Day

The annual gathering of clergy who have recently been ordained or joined the Scottish Episcopal Church from elsewhere, and for new Lay Readers, normally takes place in February at the General Synod Office in Edinburgh, as shown in the above photograph from last year.

This year, of course, a physical gathering is not permitted because of lockdown restrictions, but the day will still go ahead … drum roll … online via Zoom.

Around 18 invitations have been accepted for the 23 February event, to gain an overview of the work of the Province, and a brief overview of the work of each area of the General Synod. Guest speakers include the Primus, Rt Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, Rev Dr Michael Hull, SEI Director of Studies, and Mr John Stuart, Secretary General of the GSO.
 
Bishop Ellinah mourned in ScotlandNews of the death in January of the Bishop of Swaziland, Ellinah Wamukoya, was received with great sadness in Scotland, where she was a great friend and a regular visitor thanks to the Diocese of Brechin’s long-standing relationship with the Diocese of Swaziland.

Bishop Ellinah, who was the first female bishop in the Anglican Church in Africa, had recently undergone surgery and was convalescing when she contracted Covid-19. She died in Eswatini on 19 January, aged 69.

She was widely known in the Province of Southern Africa and throughout the wider Anglican Communion for her advocacy of environmental issues and the integrity of creation, and in 2016, she was listed by BBC News as one of the 100 most inspirational and influential women in the world.

The Diocese of Brechin welcomed Bishop Ellinah to Scotland several times as part of the three-way relationship formed by the Dioceses of Brechin, Swaziland and Iowa, and she visited most recently in 2018 when she attended the consecration of Bishop Andrew Swift.

Visits to Swaziland – renamed Eswatini in 2018 – by representatives of Brechin Diocese have also taken place over years, including a youth pilgrimage and, in 2019, the installation of Mrs Patricia Millar (the Companionship Links Officer for the diocese) as a Lay Canon of All Saints’ Cathedral in the city of Mbabane.

Bishop Andrew said: “It is a devastating news that Bishop Ellinah has died.  She has been a great friend and support of the Diocese of Brechin for her time as Bishop of Swaziland and I found her a wise and insightful colleague as I have developed my understanding of the episcopacy.

“It was a privilege to have her attend my consecration and to visit her diocese in 2019.  She planned to retire later in 2021, so her death before she was able to end her ministry and spend retirement with her husband Henry and their family is very cruel.

“Bishop Ellinah was an inspiring bishop with a great and effective presence in the wider Anglican Communion as well as in her own province and diocese.  She will be greatly, greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.”

The Primus, the Most Rev Mark Strange, added: “I spent time with Bishop Ellinah during meetings of the Anglican Bishops In Dialogue, and her joy in her ministry and her care for us all was wonderful.

“Her evening greeting of ‘Primus Mark have you been good today?’ accompanied by her wonderful smile will be a lasting memory.”
 
On














St Mary’s hosts The Service on BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland programme The Service will feature Scottish Episcopal Church worship again on Sunday 7 February when it comes from St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow.The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of the Cathedral, will lead the worship, with intercessions from the Rev Canon Oliver Brewer-Lennon and music from the BBC archive of recordings from St Mary’s. The programme will be broadcast at 12 noon and will be available to watch again here shortly after transmission.

The SEC has also been represented twice recently on BBC One Scotland weekly worship programme Reflections At The Quay.

The Rev Maggie McTernan of St Margaret’s in Newlands, Glasgow, was one of the two hosts on 27 December. She was joined by the Rev Roy Henderson of Pollokshaws Parish Church. Music came from archives of hymns and carols recorded in earlier years, including Hark! The Herald Angels Sing from Old St Paul’s in Edinburgh.

Then on 24 January, the Rev Diana Hall, Rector of St Anne’s Scottish Episcopal and Methodist Church in Dunbar, co-presented Reflections alongside Church of Scotland minister the Rev Anikó Schuetz Bradwell of Humbie and Yester, Bolton & Saltoun parishes.

Music from archives included footage from St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, and there was also music in the studio from renowned accordion player Gary Innes. The broadcast is available to watch again online here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rsby

Ms Hall has also appeared twice on radio recently. On 29 January she was a guest on the Daily Service programme on BBC Radio 4 LW, where she explored the theme of ‘Resurrection and the life everlasting’ as part of a series on the Apostles’ Creed.

The 15-minute programme, which is a mix of Christian reflection, worship and music, can be listened to again here.

The previous week, Ms Hall was the guest on BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought For The Day slot on 21 January. She spoke about singing, from sea shanties to Cat Stevens’ Morning Has Broken, as she discussed how congregations have missed being able to sing in churches during the pandemic, while adding that many of us across the country are still singing at home.

“Music has the power to reframe how we experience the world,” said Ms Hall. “When times are hard we might find we can sing of longings we dare not speak; that melody can give hope we struggle to find; and that a shared rhythm brings solidarity, helping us to keep on keeping on.

“We are all learning to sing a new song at the moment. As we do, may we find encouragement and hope for each new day.”

The programme is available to listen to again at the following link, with Ms Hall appearing at the 1hr 22 minute mark here.
 


Primus supports Covid vaccination programmeThe Primus, the Most Rev Mark Strange, has signed a joint statement with Faith Leaders from across Scotland in support of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

The statement says: “We faith leaders in Scotland understand the difficulty that our communities are facing during this pandemic. We urge all faith communities to take measures that will ensure their safety and the safety of others. Furthermore, we support the Covid-19 vaccination programme across the community and we encourage people to be vaccinated so that they keep themselves and their neighbours safe.”

The full list of signatories can be found here.

Meanwhile, the Primus was also one of the joint signatories to an interfaith statement in support of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, although this time as the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, rather than as Primus or on behalf of the College of Bishops.

The UN Treaty came into legal force on 22 January 2021. It prohibits signatories from taking part in any activities involving nuclear weapons, including possessing, transferring, using, or encouraging use of nuclear weapons.

As part of the joint statement, Bishop Mark appears in a short video produced to demonstrate how people of diverse faiths in the United Kingdom welcome the treaty and share a common goal of a more peaceful world, which can be viewed here.

Later on the same day, Bishop Mark addressed an online peace vigil held by Pax Christi Scotland, part of a global movement which promotes peace, respect of human rights, justice and reconciliation.

He was joined by the Very Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Bishop William Nolan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galloway, and Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, a member of the cross-party anti-nuclear group in the House of Lords.

The vigil contains a powerful personal reflection from Bishop Mark about his fear of nuclear war as a child and then a teenager, which starts at the 28-minute mark on this link.
 

Letter of Thanks and grant funding 29th January 2021

Letter of Thanks and Grant Funding 29th January 2021

29th January 2021

The Vestry of St Mary’s Church – Aberfoyle

I am pleased to report that our application to the SEC Building Grants Fund for a grant of £20,000 towards our Rectory Renovation has been successful.  Our thanks go to Mark Seymour for preparing this application and for all his work on this project.

This gives me the opportunity to express how greatly indebted we are to Mark for his outstanding contribution to the life of St. Mary’s as a member of the Vestry for more than 22 years.  During this time he was Chairman for over 10 years, overseeing the major renovation of the Church building during this period, and Secretary for more than 5 years, designing and maintaining the Church website. He stepped in as Interim Chairman when Revd Canon Richard Grosse retired and with Peter Forrester (St. Andrew’s) has taken us through the discernment process to the point where interviews will soon be taking place for the appointment of a new Rector.

St. Mary’s is in a good place thanks to Mark’s diligence and devotion, and we are extremely grateful to him for all that he has done over all these years.

Yours sincerely,

Interim Chairman

On behalf of the Vestry

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

St Mary’s Sunday Service for 3rd January 2021

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastor, Rev Canon Alison Peden, for this service which we hope you will follow if you are unable to come to St Mary’s this Sunday

       

EPIPHANY   3 January 2021

   ‘For we observed his star at its rising,
    and have come to pay him homage’

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, glory to God, glory to the Father!
                   God be glory for ever!    Alleluia, Amen!

                   Glory to God, glory to God, Son of the Father!
                   To God be glory for ever!  Alleluia, Amen!

                   Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Spirit!
                   To God be glory for ever!   Alleluia, Amen!

Collect:   O God, who, by the guidance of a star, revealed your only-begotten Son to the nations: Grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at the last be led to see your glory face to face; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

Reading:   Isaiah 60:1-6   Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth,    and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Gospel:  Matthew 2:1-12 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
             “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means
               least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come
               a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Reflection:   On the winter solstice in December, Jupiter and Saturn aligned in an incredibly bright light – not that we could see it much
in the murk of winter in Scotland. 

Some people have been very excited by the thought that this might have been the same alignment as the great star that guided the Magi to the stable of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  However, given that the Magi came from the East, and that Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem, the star would have had to make a spectacular left turn …

We long for the world around us to have meaning – to give us clues as to what is going on. For example, crises in a story tend to be heralded by a storm. When life is puzzling and dark, perhaps the universe can give us a sign? We still talk about someone being a ‘rising star’, and Matthew assumed that the Messiah would be signalled by a real one.

For the most part, we journey without much idea of what is coming next.  Faith is a matter of hanging on to God’s hand and keeping our eyes open for those glorious moments when we know we have been shown something (‘God’s gracious smile’), even if we cannot explain it.

St Bernard of Clairvaux (d.1153) wrote a wonderful hymn with this verse:  (http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/j/t/h/o/jthoujoy.htm)

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee
where’er our changeful lot is cast;
glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

Prayers:  The Magi came from the east to worship your Son: Father, grant to Christians everywhere the spirit of adoration, that through our worship we may reflect the glorious light of Christ.

Heavenly Father, you sent your son to guide your people, just as you sent a star to guide the Wise Men to worship him. Guide us as we begin a New Year, and be present as we take one more step along the journey of faith.

Lord God, may the star of your justice lead those who are in authority.  Bring all nations to recognize the sanctity of every human life in their care and to work for the peace, security and health of all.

Loving God, we pray for all those who have lost their way or have been led astray and for all who are living below their potential or their abilities.  We lift to you all whose lives are unfulfilled; the acutely and chronically ill; those in constant pain; the depressed and the despairing.  We now name before you especially …

Merciful Lord, we pray for all who are coming to the end of their journey here on earth and pray that they may come into your presence and kingdom. We pray for all those who have come before your face and now rejoice in the fullness of life eternal.

Thank you, gracious God, for our families, friends and neighbours, and for those who have guided and enriched our own lives.  Bless and protect them, and hasten the day when we can meet with them freely.

Eternal God, as we go out into this New Year we ask for your loving presence with us to share in its joys and to strengthen us in its sorrows.  We pray 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 God who led the Wise Men by the shining of a star to find the Christ, the light from Light, lead us also in our pilgrimage to find the Lord, and the blessing of God almighty, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with us ever more.  Amen

A carol for Epiphany, sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp52sx2_GYs

As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold,
as with joy they hailed its light, leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to thee.

As with joyful steps they sped, Saviour, to that lowly manger bed,
there to bend the knee before thee whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet ever seek thy mercy-seat.

As they offered gifts most rare at that cradle rude and bare,
so may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin’s alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to thee, our heavenly King.

In the heavenly country bright need they no created light;
thou its light, its joy, its crown, thou its sun which goes not down;
there for ever may we sing alleluias to our King.