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Linkage service Epiphany 6 14th February 2021

Linkage Service Epiphany 6 14th February 2021

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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

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.

St Mary’s Sunday Service for 20th Decmber 2020

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastor, Rev Canon Alison Peden, for this service wich

we hope you will follow if you are unable to come to St Mary’s this Sunday

                             Advent 4   20th December 2020   

This Sunday we celebrate the Virgin Mary and her self-giving to God,
in carols, readings and prayers

Carol:  O little town of Bethlehem – see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJqgspx57C0

Preparation and thanksgiving
Come to us this day, O God.  Come to us with light.
Speak to us this day, O God.   Speak to us your truth.
Dwell with us this day, O God.  Dwell with us in love.

O God, for your love, warm and brooding, which has brought us to birth and opened our eyes to the wonder and beauty of creation:
We give you thanks.

For your love for us, compassionate and patient, which has carried us through our pain, wept beside us in our sin and waited on us in our confusion:
We give you thanks.

For your love for us, strong and challenging, which has called us to risk for you, asked the best of us and shown us how to serve:
We give you thanks.

O God, as we watch for your coming among us at the heart of all life, prepare us for the love you made known in Jesus and draw us into your presence.  Amen

Reading:  Luke 1:46-55 Mary’s song of praise 
Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Gospel:   Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 
Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

Carol:  The Angel Gabriel from heaven came – see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCploJcOXsg

Reflection:   The story of Mary and Joseph has inspired many to wonder what was going on in their thoughts as they journeyed into the extraordinary events of the first Christmas. Doing that may help us draw close to their experience, and discover that God is with us and alongside us in all our very human fears and anxieties.
This is one such imaginative pondering, by Jenny Bryden.

Mary:    Mary sits in silence – she’s far from hometown now.
               In place of village midwife is but a mournful cow.

               ‘Will I die in childbirth –  as some are wont to do –
                with Joseph in the darkness?  O Lord, let me live through.

                And does she see beyond that to the time when she must flee
                from Herod’s wrath, to Egypt – ancient land of slavery?

Joseph:  ‘Why must we come so far O Lord, so very far way?
                You know it’s not for me I fear, but for my wife I pray.

                What happens if it all goes wrong? I can but stand by here,
                as helpless as a babe, O Lord, as useless as a seer.

                 And when the baby’s born, O Lord, a Saviour he will be,
                 but will he be my son, O Lord, entrusted unto me?

                 And will he look like mine, O Lord?  Or will the village jeer,
                 and whisper I’ve been cuckolded and slyly smirk and sneer?

Narrator:  Now angels wait this night to sing; a star now waits to show,
                   while shepherds watch the dark night long, alert to any foe.

               Wise Magi scan the stars tonight and soon will spy a sight
               proclaiming the Messiah’s birth; they’ll follow that star’s light.

          For all the hushed world waits tonight for Jesus, God’s own Son,
                    the mercy of the Lord our God, forever Three in One.

Mary said ‘Yes’ to the journey God asked her to take, not knowing the path or destination of her life.  Her journeys were hard, to Bethlehem, to Egypt and then to Galilee, and finally to see her son die at Golgotha.  But God called he and she followed, enduring hardship for the sake of her son, and to create a life that is worth living for all God’s children.

Carol:  Silent night, holy night –  see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRZOv31n1sY

Prayers
O God, you call us to life and loving:  help us to say ‘yes’ when you call, and to follow you faithfully along the paths of life you give us.

Uphold those whose journeys are hard and dangerous, especially those who are caring for the sick; those exploring how science can serve the world; those making peace and building hope.

Comfort those who are afraid of the journeys they must take, especially those who are very ill and close to death.  Give strength to hospital and hospice chaplains who minster to them.

Nurture those whose journeys are happy and hopeful, especially parents awaiting the birth of a child or rejoicing in young family;  young people looking ahead to study and careers, and those discovering new interests and new horizons on their journeys of life.

Bless us as we journey through life, and give us grace to be ready to go where you call us, to accept the help we need and to seek your company as we travel towards the fullness of your presence.

Bless to us O God the road that is before us.
Bless to us O God the friends who are around us.
Bless to us O God your love which is within us,
for the sake of your Son, Jesus child of Mary.   Amen

Carol:   In the bleak midwinter – see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0aL9rKJPr4

A Christmas Prayer

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father,
help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.


Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

St Mary’s Sunday Service 13th December 2020

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastor, Rev Canon Alison Peden, for this service wich

we hope you will follow if you are unable to come to St Mary’s this Sunday

There is a service at 11.15am on Sunday at St Mary’s

Advent 2    13th December 2020   
‘John … came as a witness to the light

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.   

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

Collect:  God of power and mercy, you call us again to celebrate the coming of your Son.  Cleanse us of all that hinders love of you, that when he comes, he may find us waiting in awe and wonder for him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen

Reading:  Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.


For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Gospel:   John 1:6-8, 19-28
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord” ’, as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Reflection:  John is not called ‘The Baptist’ but ‘The Witness’ in the 4th gospel – one who who testifies to Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the light. In a way, the whole of this gospel is a trial of Jesus:  Where is he from? Who is he?  What is his authority?

Good witnesses are observant and perceptive;  they are unafraid;  they are not concerned about themselves, but with the truth.  John the Witness perceived that Jesus was the Messiah they were hoping and longing for, the light of the world, which would never be vanquished by the darkness.

John was also unafraid to confront those who were challenging him in the court of truth – and it eventually cost him his life when Herod had him beheaded.  His own fate was of less importance to him than witnessing to the One he knew, and thereby making a clear path for the Messiah.

Jesus charged his disciples to be his witnesses ‘in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).  Our own lives witness to the truth of the one we know as Lord and Saviour by remaining steadfast in hope and standing firm in the faith that has been handed down to us by God’s witnesses through the ages.

Let us bear witness to the light in these dark days, even if our own lives makes that hard.  After all, the Greek for witness is ‘martyr’.

Prayers of intercession
Holy God, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ our Saviour we ask that you will make us a holy people, fit to greet him with eager hearts. May we journey through Advent to a holy, peaceful and joyful Christmas and bear witness to you, the Light of the world.

Creator God, help the leaders of nations to seek justice and peace. May there be good news for the poor and the broken-hearted; release for those illegally imprisoned and an end to the conflicts throughout the world which lead to so much grief and mourning.  Bring a true spirit of cooperation between communities and nations.

Father, your son Jesus lived an ordinary life in Nazareth and understands the difficulties faced in families.  Heal relationships that have become strained and stressed, and open all our hearts to the grace that the Christ Child brings.

Merciful God, bless those who are in pain or sickness, those who are anxious or troubled. We know that you are always present with us, even when sometimes you seem far away. Help us to know your presence when we pass through dark places, and sustain us and all who suffer with the peace that is beyond understanding.

Gracious God, may those who have died may be granted the joy of your heavenly kingdom, especially those we now remember with love.  Be present with those who face death today, especially those in danger through their Christian witness.

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, God our maker. Out of nothing, you called all worlds to be, and still you draw the universe to its fulfilment. Dawn and evening celebrate your glory till time shall be no more. In Christ your Son the life of heaven and earth were joined, sealing the promise of a new creation, given, yet still to come.
Taught by your Spirit, we who bear your threefold likeness look for the City of Peace in whose light we are transfigured and the earth transformed. As children of your redeeming purpose who await with eager longing the fulfilment of all things in the coming 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 Jesus you showed us yourself. Our hope is built on him, the first, the last, the living one. Obedient, even to accepting death, he opened the gate of glory and calls us now to share the life of heaven.
Before he was given up to suffering and death, alight with the vision of a feast that heralded a kingdom yet to come, 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. 

Closing prayer: O God, who set before us the great hope that your Kingdom shall come on earth and taught us to pray for its coming: give us grace to discern the signs of its dawning and to work for the perfect day when the world shall reflect your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

The essentials of our Christmas faith are sung here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7eHtDtZ7hs

The holly and the ivy when they are both full grown –
of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
       O, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
       the playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir!

The holly bears a blossom as white as any flower;
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour. O …

The holly bears a berry as red as any blood;
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to do poor sinners good. O …
The holly bears a prickle, as sharp as any thorn;
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn. O …
The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall;
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.  O …


St Mary’s – Sunday services – December & Christmas

Sunday services during December and Christmas at St Mary’s

St Mary's Aberfoyle
St Mary’s Aberfoyle- Built 1893

13th December
Usual Morning Service at St Marys – 11.15am

20th December
Usual Morning Service at St Marys – 11.15am

 Christmas Day – Service at 11.15am

The Church will be opoerating under very strict guidelines with a limit of 50 Persons.

You must book your place for the service on Christmas Day. First Come first in line

Email your Secretary to Book at secretary@stmarychurchaberfoyle.org.uk and be sure to say how many are in your group please

You must book even if you have already given preliminary notice of your attendance.  And please let the Secretary know if your numbers change after you have booked

27th December

No service

Mark Seymour
Secretary to St Mary’s Vestry
Email secretary@stmarychurchaberfoyle.org.uk
Tel 01786 870710