In the interests of respecting the privacy of individuals, some notices from the  sheet are sometimes omitted from this on-line facility

The items below are to accompany the videos of the Sunday services to be found on the ‘videos’ page under ‘Media’. The service sheet each week is followed by the newsletter fro that week, which includes readings and sermon in full.

The Seventh Sunday of Easter       May 24th

Welcome and Notices

HYMN –  Come let us join our cheerful songs

And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent

Minister: The Lord be with you     Alleluia, Christ is risen

All:          And also with you       He is risen indeed. Alleluia

All:  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, ‘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, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these’.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘This is the will of my Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes on him should have eternal life, and that I shall raise him up on the last day.’         John 6.40

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with our whole heart, we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. AMEN.

The minister declares God’s forgiveness

Collect for Easter7  (The Sunday after the Ascension) – see newsletter

First reading    Acts 1.6-14     read by Jo Thomas

HYMN – Jesus is King and I will extol Him

Second reading      John 17.1-11      read by Richard Westcott

Sermon – Helen Hawkins

HYMN –  I come with joy, a child of God

The Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

Born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,

Was crucified, died and was buried;

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

He ascended into heaven,

He is seated at the right hand of the Father,

And he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

The holy catholic Church,

The communion of saints,

The forgiveness of sins,

The resurrection of the body,

And the life everlasting. Amen.

Bridgit – ‘He was taken before their eyes’

Prayers of Intercession – Christina de Vries

Dear God, Thank-you for bringing us safely through this night. Let us join together in prayer.

We pray for all the people affected in these challenging times for fighting Covid 19. We give you our thanks for being with us and ask you to bless children and parents, the lonely, families of the bereaved, and the sadness and heartbreak of not being able to say their goodbyes to their loved-ones. We thank families, friends, neighbours and strangers for the out pouring of kindnesses. We ask you to look after our frontline workers……….

Please help us to find time to listen to other people in our busy lives and be respectful of others views even when we don’t agree. Let us ask ourselves what we would say to God if he walked into our churches today?  Please bless all our members of our congregations………….

We pray for our Queen and all members of her family, and for all world leaders to make the right decisions for all people. We ask for your blessing on our clergy and their families. Keep them safe and strong in faith…………

We now take a short time to pray for people only known to ourselves……….. Amen.   

The Lord’s Prayer

All: 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 grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen.

HYMN – Rejoice, the Lord is King

A Prayer of Dedication

Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Word. May it be a lantern to our feet, a light to our paths, and a strength to our lives. Take us and use us to love and serve in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing. Go forth into the world in peace, be of good courage, hold fast to that which is good, render to no-one evil for evil. Strengthen the fainthearted, support the weak, help the afflicted, honour everyone, love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy-spirit.

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

HYMN  – Our eyes have seen the glory

May 24th     Sunday after Ascension Day

Dear all,

                Welcome to the final Sunday after Easter before we get to Pentecost next week. Our key passage for the Epistle this week is an account of the Ascension and to some extent goes over the ground of my meditation which I sent out during the week, but Helen will put her own slant in this in the sermon and make us look forwards rather than backwards.

I may well record next Sunday’s service in one of our churches, partly as a gesture of hope and partly to reflect that it is a very special Sunday. It will be a Communion but not with wafers sent through the post on request this time. It will be where I visibly take communion before you all to represent you all. You can of course bring your own bread and drink to the table in front of your television so that you can have something physical to eat and drink while you receive communion as it were spiritually. Communion is fundamentally spiritual rather than physical, and no one is pretending that your piece of bread is being consecrated or that my prayers are consecrating your own offerings. As Pentecost is about the tangible receiving of the Holy Spirit, it seems important to me to be thinking next week about God tangibly energising and inspiring us, even if we do this by proxy.

Do continue to pray for Jo, for Theo, for our wedding couples having their weddings postponed, for unemployed catering workers, for the greatly increases local homeless population, and for wisdom for the government in all their decisions in these coming days.

Collect for Easter7  (The Sunday after the Ascension)

O God the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your Kingdom in heaven: we beseech you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us and exalt us to the place where our saviour Christ is gone before, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First reading    Acts 1.6-14     the Ascension

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Second reading      John 17.1-11      Jesus’ prayer for us all

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Sermon   Helen Hawkins

Three years ago I flew to Malawi, in the days when we were still allowed to travel by ‘plane. On board there was a screen with a map of our route, but the best bit was catching glimpses of exotic places out of the window through breaks in the cloud. We saw the whole island of Cyprus, the Nile valley, a peak above the cloud-line which must have been Mount Kilimanjaro, and the northern shores of the 600 km lake that forms the eastern half of Malawi; it was fantastic and gave us a taste of how the presence of the lake determines the life of the country.

Today’s readings are also about glimpses of something we have heard of, and tried to describe, find amazing, and which will help us to live as God intended. In Acts we have the account of the risen Jesus in the last stage of his earthly life, where he is revealed to his followers in a new way. The sight of him rising into the skies underlines that he is so much more than even a very special human being – he is God himself. At his conception he was revealed to be the “son of the most high”, at his birth the shepherds were told “the saviour has been born”, at his baptism followers were told to “hear him” because he had God’s authority. These glimpses of the full divine and human nature of Jesus drew back the curtain between heaven and earth, and helped to involve his followers into God’s purpose.

Yet the disciples found this very hard to understand. Like them we tend to focus on the here and now rather than open up our minds to the world as God sees it. Our limited view reminds me of an occasion when I went to the National Gallery and queued up to see a very special exhibition of an original drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. As we queued and got used to the subdued lighting in the special room the lady in front of me turned to her friend and said “isn’t the wallpaper lovely” completely missing the drawing! Just as at the transfiguration the disciples tried to keep hold of the moment by building shelters for Moses and Elijah, and at the resurrection were told not to look for the risen Jesus among the dead, so here they are told (again by two men in white) not to focus on the freeing of Israel from Roman occupation, but called to step out into the future with God. They will be given not full understanding of the process, but given power to tell everyone about Jesus, right throughout the world.

In the passage from John’s gospel we have another glimpse of the nature of Jesus when he is in conversation with his Father. He talks about his coming death and resurrection as the focal point of his life on earth, and says “glorify me so that I will glorify you” (v.2). Father and Son are like two strands which weave together to make a whole; I picture this as the double helix (or two-stranded spiral) which is the model of DNA. As the two strands move together they grow and give life.

More amazingly Jesus’s prayer is that we too can become part of the dynamic relationship. Jesus looks ahead to the time when he will no longer walk the earth on human feet, but his presence will be his followers. He asks that we, his followers (v 9-11) will be “one” or “united” alongside the Father and Son (v.9-11), and so his work of bringing the kingdom of God becomes ours. We are promised the “power” or resources to play our part.

Among all these amazing verses there is one that really astonishes me. Jesus says of us “they are my glory” – how can that possibly be true! Whenever we draw close to God, whenever we take his love to others, and when we help to bring others nearer to his kingdom we are caught up in the great spiral, taking the message of love and salvation “to the ends of the earth”. During lockdown we may feel especially cut off from others, but even behind closed doors we can join in the healing of the world because we are joined with the Father and the Son.

Lord give us the imagination to join in your work of healing the world. Help us to see how we can each play our part by keeping close to you and reaching out to others, to take your love to the ends of the earth.

The Sixth Sunday of Easter       May 17th

Welcome and Notices

HYMN –  Jesus lives !

‘Because I live, you also will live’.           John 14.19

Minister: The Lord be with you    Alleluia, Christ is risen

All:          And also with you       He is risen indeed. Alleluia

All:  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

The minister reminds us of God’s commands and his love

    Lord God, we have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight. We are sorry and repent.    Have mercy on us according to your love. Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.    Renew a right spirit within us and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect and 1st Bible reading – Acts 17.22-31     Malcolm Furneaux

HYMN  –   Spirit of holiness

2nd Bible Reading – John 14.15-21   Theresa Pritchard

Sermon – Rev Peter Butterfield

HYMN – Rock of ages

The Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

Creator of heaven and earth.

 

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

Born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,

Was crucified, died and was buried;

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

He ascended into heaven,

He is seated at the right hand of the Father,

And he will come to judge the living and the dead.

 

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

The holy catholic Church,

The communion of saints,

The forgiveness of sins,

The resurrection of the body,

And the life everlasting. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession   Rev Howard Peskett

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, We your unworthy servants Give you most humble and hearty thanks For all your goodness and loving kindness to us and to everyone.We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; But above all for your inestimable love In the redemption of the world through our Lord Jesus Christ, For the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And we ask you to give us that due sense of all your mercies That our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, And that we show your praises, not only with our lips but with our lives, By giving up ourselves to your service, And by walking before you In holiness and righteousness all our days; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

 A prayer for Florence Nightingale’s 200th anniversary (May 12)

Today, our world needs healing and to be rekindled with Love.

Once, Florence Nightingale lit her beacon of lamplight to comfort the wounded. Her light has blazed a path of service across a Century to us– through her example and through the countless nurses and healers who have followed in her footsteps.

“Today, we celebrate the flame of Florence Nightingale’s legacy. Let that same light be rekindled to burn brightly in our hearts. Let us take up our own ‘lanterns of caring,’ each in our own ways – more brightly to walk our own paths of service to the world — more clearly to share our own ‘noble purpose’ with each other.

“May human caring become the lantern for the 21st Century.

May we better learn to care for ourselves, for each other and for all Creation. Through our caring, may we be the keepers of that flame. That our spirits may burn brightly to kindle the hearts ​of our children and great-grandchildren—  as they, too, follow in these footsteps.”

HYMN – I need Thee every hour

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, you have safely brought us to the beginning of this day. Defend us in the same by your mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings may be ordered by your governance, to do always what is right in your eyes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God, who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us the victory, give you joy and peace in your faith, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost be with us all this Easter and always. Amen.

HYMN – O love that wilt not let me go.

God bless you all. Keep safe. Keep well.

YouTube link to a special blessing sung by children from all over the world. The adult one I advertised has bow had 2.5million views

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiWZXLsdE9w

May 17th    Easter 6     Madron, Heamoor and Gulval

Dear all,

Another week has shot by and the sun is shining. Our daughter’s wedding has been postponed to next year, and I think it will be a while before we are back to normal, despite a carrot dangled before us that we might be reopening our churches at the start of July. Let’s face it, we don’t know what will happen, so we take each day as it comes, not in resignation but in the hope we have through Jesus risen and reigning. He is stronger than any crisis. The Greek audience in our Acts reading were like the people of today, turning to anything and everything to help them, however credible . Paul simply reminds them that Jesus is the jigsaw piece they are looking for to make everything fit, and everything work. But if He is the answer, people have to be asking the question.

Christianity and how it works. It might be that you know people who are asking questions about faith at the moment and with extra time to think. I have put together a short video of slides, with a very few words on each, which you can find on YouTube on the Helen Hawkins channel (where you find the services) and it will give the chance for people to see what we’re saying, how it fits together and what we do about it.

Pray for Jo Morris, David’s funeral was on Friday. Jo says: Will you please thank everyone on my behalf for all the lovely messages and cards I have received. It means so much to know so many people are praying for us and thinking of us. Pray too for family and friends of Marjorie Weymouth, whose funeral is on Wednesday. Pray too for Theo (Heamoor) who still has pneumonia despite antibiotics. Good news on Barbara, Angela’s sister: ‘she is feeling well and is I would say getting back to her old self. She has more energy.’

Terry says a big thank you to those who have made arrangements to pay money to the churches via standing order. It not only helps with budgeting (in normal circs) but it also gets money into our account now. Sadly all the big bills such as insurance and MMF keep on having to be paid (I am still being paid).

Surprise. We have a surprise item at the end of our service some time soon. It comes from a long way away.

Ascension Day is on Thursday and we normally have a service that day. Instead there will be a service sheet circulated, with sermon and reading incorporated.

Collect for Easter 6

God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence he may raise us to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

1st Reading     Acts 17.22-31   Paul preaching in Athens

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

2nd Reading   John 14.15-21    The promise of the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Sermon   –  Rev Peter Butterfield         ‘The Unknown God’.

Paul’s talk with the philosophers takes into account where they are and where they need to go. He does so well that this summary in Acts can still help us today.

Paul was the ideal person for this task of explaining about God to intelligent Greeks – he was brought up among them. He finds a hook, something that they can understand and relate to – the altar to the  unknown god. It draws them in, and Paul, bravely, tells them that they worship God in ignorance.

Like a version of the creed, Paul describes the Creator God – one who doesn’t need what we can give because he gave us everything that we have, our time and our place. In return we search for him and it turns out, he isn’t very far from us.

We, today, have to seek God because no longer is ignorance of him an excuse – the gospel has travelled the world – so it is our duty and our joy. We were all at the point of repentance when we turned in the right direction and found him to be very near.

How can we be sure of the directions? Because God placed Jesus Christ at the very place we realised that we were lost. We have assurance that all can be saved through him by his death and resurrection and that is the conclusion that Paul presents to those learned Greeks, some of whom were convinced.

Have a good week. Keep well. Keep safe.

 

The Fifth Sunday of Easter   (inc VE)      May 10th

Welcome and Notices

HYMN – Christ the Lord is risen again

‘Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God’.           Acts 7.55

Minister: The Lord be with you    Alleluia, Christ is risen

All:          And also with you       He is risen indeed. Alleluia

All:  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

The minister reminds us of God’s commands and his love

Lord God, we have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight.We are sorry and repent.    Have mercy on us according to your love. Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.    Renew a right spirit within us  and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name,through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Collect and 1st Bible reading – Acts 7.54 – 8.1   Marj Jenkin

 HYMN  Forgive our sins as we forgive

 2nd Bible Reading – John 14.1-14   Peter Butterfield

 Sermon – Rev Howard Peskett

 HYMN – Come, my way

 The Creed

 We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,

was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession   Rev Ian Lowell

Dear Lord and Father, we can feel very small and insignificant, like the Breton fisherman in his tiny boat afloat in a broad and very deep sea; like the disciples feeling afraid in the storm while you are asleep in the stern of the boat; as people who are self-isolating in strange circumstances during this coronavirus…

Stephen, in the face of isolation and death, did not give in to the temptations of flight, fright or fight but faced his fears and prayed for those who persecuted him; Give us, Lord and Father that same spirit to face our fears and to pray for those in need…

Dear Lord and Father, You have called us to be living stones, built on the corner-stone of Jesus Christ: As we recognise and realise our interdependence on each other, we pray for the vulnerable and those at risk, those exposed daily to coronavirus in their work and those they care for…

Dear Lord and Father, You have shared your love for us in Jesus Christ, teaching us to trust in the future you have prepared for us. In your name we pray for all who are dying, all those who have died and every person who mourns them at this trying time of separation; May you bring them comfort, consolation and courage and give them your spirit of hope, faith and love…

Dear Lord and Father, We offer you these our prayers, In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, And through the communion of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

HYMN – O the love of my Lord

VE Day – introduction

A short video from Col Edward Bolitho OBE

Prayers

HYMN –  Christ is our cornerstone

ALL :  Eternal God and Father, By your power you made us, and by your love you rescued us; guide and strengthen us by your Spirit that we may give ourselves wholeheartedly to serving you and            caring for others, through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen

God, who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us the victory, give you joy and peace in your faith, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost be with us all this Easter and always. Amen.

We’ll meet again sung by Bridgit

A Blessing of the UK

You might like to follow this link on Youtube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtll3mNj5U

May 10th    Easter 5     Madron, Heamoor and Gulval

Pray for Jo Morris, having lost husband David. Pray too for refugees in camps who can’t socially distance and for many health workers oversees with hardly any masks, ventilators etc.

Post Office reopening: Just to let you know that the Mobile Post Office is returning to Heamoor. The van will be outside the Legion from 09.30 to 10.30 am every Monday starting tomorrow (slightly shorter hours than before the lockdown). St Clare Post Office is also reopening from tomorrow, 9.30am – 2pm Monday to Friday. They have two counter positions open, so only 2 customers in at any one time and please observe the 2 metre apart government guidelines. Their ATM will be up and running from Wed 6th May.

Road closures: And in case you hadn’t heard, the Ross Bridge is closed for repairs from tomorrow for 3-4 weeks. Mario has also forwarded to us advance notice that Josephs Lane, Polmennor Road and Trannack Lane (the back road from Heamoor to Gulval) will be closed from 8th June 2020 to 3rd July 2020 for scouring and resurfacing.

Christian Aid Week is not happening this year.  We are asked by Christian Aid to donate on line instead – caweek.org or call 08080 006 006. Money can still be paid into Lloyds bank without the paying in slip.

Scams. Watch out for scammers on your doorstep, whoever they say they come from. Don’t let them in; if they gain access, they are likely to steal. They have been in Heamoor recently

Collect for Easter 5. Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life: grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth, and to share his risen life; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading – Acts 7.54 – 8.1

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up

to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.

 

Second reading – John 14.1-14

1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

 

Sermon – Rev Howard Peskett     THE STONING OF STEPHEN.

If you have some extra time during these days, I would encourage you to read the whole story of Acts, which is about how the good news of Jesus Christ spread from Jerusalem & Galilee to Rome, the centre of empire.

THE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH – SETBACKS

At the beginning there were setbacks:

1.Peter and John were arrested & threatened after healing the lame man;

2.Ananias and Sapphira tried to cheat the church with dreadful results;

3.Quarrelling broke out about the distribution of charity;

4.Finally, Stephen was seized and we read today about the end of his life.

THE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH – FOUR KEY PERSONS

In the middle of Acts we meet four v. important men in Acts  big story .

1.Stephen – whom we study today.

2.Philip, whom we meet in chapter 8, explaining the scriptures to the Ethiopian Finance Minister.

3.Saul/Paul, whose conversion is described for the first time in chapter 9 (it is told twice more later in Acts, in different situations).

4.Cornelius, a Roman centurion, whom we meet in chapters 10,11.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TODAY’S STORY ABOUT STEPHEN?

1.Stephen was one of seven responsible and gifted persons chosen to sort out the problems about the gift distribution of the church.  We know hardly anything about the other six; but we are told that Stephen was doing great wonders and signs among the people; and that when arguments arose about what he was doing, his opponents “could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”  They dragged him before the Council, accusations were made, but in 6.15 we are told that “…all who sat in the Council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”  Chapter 7 records a very long and detailed sermon which Stephen preached, which ended with a very pointed accusation towards the Jewish leaders about their treatment of the prophets and Jesus.  At the end of the sermon there was a furious reaction, described vividly by Luke with eight verbs: they heard, were enraged, ground their teeth, cried out loudly, stopped their ears, rushed together at Stephen, cast him out and stoned him. HOW DID LUKE KNOW ALL THESE DETAILS? I think that Saul/Paul told him, because we know that he was there.

2.     In the midst of all this turmoil and excitement, we are told that Stephen said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” The phrase is repeated so that we should not miss it! In the Creed we say “…and ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of God…”  This is the position of executive agency… We talk about someone being “X’s right hand man”.  But Stephen sees Jesus STANDING not seated.   We are not told specifically why Jesus stood, but I think it was to welcome Stephen.  There is always a welcome for believers when they die.

3       Stoning was a horrifying means of execution. But Stephen does not shout or scream. The second thing we are  told that Stephen said is, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Whatever happens to my body, my spirit will be safe if I trust in Jesus.

4        We are told that when William Tyndale was burned at the stake, his last words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes!” In 2 Chronicles 24.22, right at the end of the Old Testament story we are told that as the prophet Zechariah was being stoned to death, he cried out, “May the LORD see and avenge!” But Stephen prays, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”  It seems that here he was echoing the very words of the Lord Jesus.

5        Luke finishes the story simply: “… when he had said this, HE FELL ASLEEP.” All over the world people are afraid of death and dying. But this expression, “he fell asleep” spells the transformation of death for believers.  It is used several more times in the New Testament.  Jesus by his death and resurrection has defeated our enemy Death and drawn its sting.

LORD, make us more like your brave witness Stephen, full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit.  And bring us finally to a quiet and peaceful end.  Amen

Service for Easter 4 – A Celebration of the Countryside

Welcome and Notices

HYMN –  Christ is alive !

Almighty God, we have come to worship you, the Lord of all creation, to give you thanks and praise. Before the world came to be, you spoke and all things were created, the sun, the moon and the shining stars; the earth, the mountains, the hills and trees. All living things your hand has created, all witness to the wonderful things you have done.

A short video collage helping us to say thank you to God for our natural world

CONFESSION

We are sorry, Lord, that we have not said thank you for all we enjoy outside. We have taken for granted the beauty and peace of where we live, we have not looked after your world, we have taken without giving back, we have hidden our faces from you, the Creator, and treated the world as ours. Please help us to be thankful and careful always. AMEN.

The declaration of forgiveness

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

HYMN  – Think of a world without any flowers

Bible Reading –  Psalm 23      read by Rona Freeman

The Address – Rev Jo Thomas  (see in full in newsletter below)

HYMN  – Who put the colours in the rainbow

WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE

A short introductory video, showing how important Easter is

Minister: Do you believe and trust in God the Father, who made the world ?

All:          I believe and trust in him.

Minister: Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed mankind  ?

All:          I believe and trust in him.

Minister: Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God.

All:          I believe and trust in him.

PRAYERS by Georgina Thorne and Tim, read by Helen Hawkins

‘For I have learned to look on nature not as in the hour of thoughtless youth, but hearing often times the still sad music of humanity’.   Wordsworth.

Dear Lord, the red, blue, green and white of our hedgerows and cliffs are so beautiful. The natural beauty of eco systems exist on their own. We have done nothing but break eco cycles. We should be sorry Lord for our arrogance. Once we break what you began in Creation it can never be remade.

Wordsworth’s words echo through time and are poignant for this particular moment.

Lord in your mercy    Hear our prayer

Let us take this period of stillness to contemplate our involvement in our countryside and the fragility of its balance…….. Help us Lord to live with rather than ignore the needs of our natural environment.

Lord in your mercy    Hear our prayer

We can now see that animal welfare is so important to the health of the countryside. Help us Lord to treat your creations with love and respect and to win over those who do not. We pray for farmers and pet owners alike, for those who use animals in research and for animal charities and sanctuaries

Lord in your mercy    Hear our prayer

We continue to pray for coronavirus sufferers, especially those in intensive care. We pray for their families, we pray for protection for  all front line health and care workers in hospitals, in care homes, in the community. We pray for the production of vaccines and test kits. We pray for lessons to be learned for the future. We pray for the government in their handing of this crisis. We pray for catering staff, shop workers and others who are now struggling or even homeless.

Lord in your mercy    Hear our prayer

Finally we pray all those people who suffer in other ways – those  with other medical conditions, for all who are in pain every day, for those who are unable to go out at all, for those who miss the company of family and friends, for the bereaved with limited support at funerals and with limited human contact generally.

Lord in your mercy    Hear our prayer

HYMN – Like a mighty river flowing

A Prayer of Blessing for farmers and growers, thinking especially of those who have taken a hit due to loss of their markets currently

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation for in your abundant love You have given us fertile land, rich soil, the seasons in their courses. You provide seed for sowing,water, light and warmth to bring forth the miracle of growth. You give us skill to work the land,to prepare and nourish it that it may be fruitful. Bless the farmers and gardeners of this land. Prosper the work of their hands that they may provide abundant food for your people to share. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 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.

Final Prayer

Help us to remember your goodness to us day by day, and to serve you and others with gratitude. Keep us from falling into sin or running into danger; guide us to do always what is right in your eyes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Blessing

May the Father who made you bless you

May the Son who saved you bless you

And May the Spirit who called you bless you. Amen.

HYMN – The Lord’s my shepherd

A short video by Bridgit produced for school on looking after our environment

Coffee is served with biscuits, if you have any

Next week will include VE Day, following on from Friday

Our next Family style service will be on June 7th when our usual Prayers for Healing Service will focus on doctors, nurses, care workers etc.

 

May 3rd     Madron Heamoor and Gulval Churches

Dear all, Welcome to our service today, a Celebration of the Countryside Service, still with an Easter flavour and with a shorter and simpler format suitable for an all-age service. Thank you to Jo for her sermon today, for Rona for a lesson reading, to Georgina for prayers, and to Bridgit for a short video on care for our environment at the end. This week we are piloting hymn word slides on the screen while Bridgit is playing he hymns. I know you found it hard to juggle ipads and bits of paper. This sheet can return to being a newsletter, where you can re-read readings and collect etc. after the service.

I don’t have much news to tell you except that I authorised Peter Butterfield to enter our churches and check them over, He found everything in good order and no mustiness to speak of at all. Peter begins his new job at the college, mentoring electrical apprentices.

It seems that homelessness in London has been boosted substantially by out of work waiters, chefs and shop workers. The foodbank have many of these now coming for help. Do pray for all who are vulnerable.

As we pray for our planet and our care of it, the coming of the virus has greatly increased the use of plastics and single use items. There are disturbing rises in domestic tensions under lockdown and also of animals being mistreated or neglected.

We cannot celebrate the countryside without praying for farmers and growers, fishermen and all whose jobs are part of those sector. We pray for the government as it tries fairly to compensate those who are struggling

Finally, watch out for scams – especially a TV licensing one !

Collect for Easter 4

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Bible Reading for today         Psalm 23    A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,3  he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Sermon by Rev Jo Thomas

Firstly, can I say how much I miss worshipping with everyone together, as I am sure you do too. Lockdown is such a strange time for us and we all face different challenges and sacrifices. Please be assured of my prayers for you along with all the ministry team. This is why I chose to look at the set Psalm today. Many of us know the words well, because it often sung as a hymn for weddings. For those younger ones listening, you might not know what a psalm is. Well, it’s like a poem to God, and just like songs today have lyrics, these words in the Psalms were often sung using harps, trumpets and tambourines.

You may not realise it, but the Psalms are all together in one place in the Bible. This is because the Bible is made up of many books, like a

library. I started reading the Psalms when I was very young, because I was

given a Gideon’s Bible at school. Psalms express all kinds of emotions and thoughts and reading them can be very helpful at times of trouble and of great comfort. Psalm 23 is one of my favourites. The person who wrote this Psalm was David, who started out as a shepherd boy, but ended up as a great and powerful king. However, he went through all sorts of difficult times in his life.

Psalm 23 begins with the “The Lord’s My Shepherd”. I have a picture here of an old shepherd, dressed in clothes from Old Testament times, who is hugging his goat. Shepherds look after all their animal’s needs and take good care of them in every way. So this first line shows that the Lord cares for all our needs, but it also goes on to say, “I shall not want”. This is a roundabout way of saying: “I don’t need anything as God is my shepherd looking after me.”

This photograph is taken of the sheep in Dartmoor, we don’t have too many sheep farms here in Cornwall but one of my favourite days out is helping a priest on her farm in North Cornwall, because she is a shepherdess, and she welcomes me onto her farm to help with lambing. Lambing, for me, is an exciting time of hope and there is nothing I like more than helping the Ewes give birth. But you have to care for the sheep closely, make sure they have enough to eat and drink, ensure they don’t get sick, aren’t too distressed and are safe in their shelter. All animals look to their keeper, as I am sure you know if you have pets. Jesus is our shepherd.

This next photograph is also of Dartmoor, and is depicts the next few lines of the Psalm:  “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul”.

It seems odd too stay indoors, during this glorious springtime, when for many of us we would normally be driving out and about in the countryside.  Being in the presence of God is like being in nature, at its most peaceful. He restores our souls, which means he makes them well, strong, better and healthy. Sometimes, we can take a wrong path. I remember at the age of 17 deciding to attempt to take my bicycle along

the coast path from Mousehole to Lamorna. For some reason, I imagined it might be fun, but I hadn’t realised how many styles and steep bits there were. So I headed across country, aiming for the road. Thankfully, a kindly farmer, who was probably amused at my foolishness, rescued me as I was walking around his field, with my bike on my back and gave me lift on his tractor.

Maybe you have taken a wrong path and need, just like the lost sheep in one of Jesus’s parables, to turn back to following our good shepherd. Through life, we often make mistakes and can be foolish, but the Psalm says we can be led into righteousness, which means following Jesus’s teachings.

By following Jesus, some people imagine that everything will always be easy. But of course we as Christians suffer the same hardships and pains as everyone else. But the wonderful gift we have is explained in our psalm: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley. I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.”  A rod is a guide, a staff, that shepherds use to herd their flock to safety.

Here is a picture of a valley that is similar to the ones that David would have tended his flock in. He knew how dangerous life can be in the dark outdoors and how nature can turn and be destructive. Yet, we don’t need to be afraid in difficult and dark times, because we have God’s love and peace in our lives. His presence is only a prayer away and his path just a step away (stepping back on the right and safe path, Christians call repentance).

In our final verse it says: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.”

Even though we can’t be together in the granite-stone walls of our churches, we know what it is to be part of the “House of The Lord”.

Clearly, we are unable to dwell in the house of the Lord just now, but that doesn’t stop us creating space in our homes for God. Whether that is in quiet times of prayer, reading our Bibles, creating special meals to eat on our own, or with our family, where we celebrate our many blessings.

And although these times are challenging, for many of us deeply so, we  have a loving, caring shepherd who responds to our every need.

Service for Easter 3             April 26th  

Welcome and HYMN 205 – Angel voices  (in video)

Minister: The Lord be with you    Alleluia, Christ is risen

All:          And also with you      He is risen indeed. Alleluia

Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and  led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have  delivered us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your risen Son. May we, the first fruits of your new creation, rejoice in this day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Blessed be God for ever.

The Easter anthems

Christ our passover has been sacrificed for us:

so let us celebrate the feast,

not with the old leaven of corruption and wickedness:

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

                                                                       1 Corinthians 5.7b, 8

Christ once raised from the dead dies no more:

death has no more dominion over him.

In dying he died to sin once for all:

in living he lives to God.

See yourselves therefore as dead to sin:

and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

                                                                              Romans 6.9-11

Christ has been raised from the dead:

the first fruits of those who sleep.

For as by man came death:

by man has come also the resurrection of the dead;

for as in Adam all die:

even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

                                                                      1 Corinthians 15.20-22

Christ died to sin once for all, and now he lives to God.

Let us renew our resolve to have done with all that is evil

and confess our sins in penitence and faith.   Romans 6.10

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with our whole heart, we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. AMEN.

The minister declares God’s forgiveness

The Collect and Bible Reading – Acts 2.14a, 36 – 41

This is the word of the Lord             Thanks be to God

HYMN 144 – He lives, he lives

Gospel Reading – Luke 24.13-35

(start) when announced…                 Glory be to you, O Lord

(end) This is the gospel of the Lord   Praise to you, O Christ

Sermon  (see sheet)

HYMN 100 – Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks

Let us affirm our faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

All: Though he was divine,

He did not cling to equality with God,

But made himself nothing.

Taking the form of a slave,

He was born in human likeness.

He humbled himself

And was obedient to death,

Even the death of the cross.

Therefore God has raised him on high,

And given him the name above every name:

That at the name of Jesus

Every knee should bow,

And every voice proclaim

That Jesus Christ is Lord,

To the glory of God the Father. Amen

                                                                     Philippians 2.6-11

An interview with Sharon at the Foodbank

The Prayers  (Please sit or kneel)

A Prayer for the Sovereign  (her birthday last Monday)

Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, bless our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, and all who are in authority under her; that they may order all things in wisdom and equity, righteousness and peace, to the honour of your name, and the good of your Church   and people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Intercessions led by Rev Jo Thomas

Our Father, which 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.

Merciful God, we entrust to your tender care those who are ill or in pain, knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting   arms are there to hold them safe. Comfort and heal them, and  restore them to health and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick, and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

HYMN 182 – We have a gospel to proclaim

Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with is, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

God, who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ

has given us the victory, give you joy and peace in your faith;

and the blessing of God Almighty: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.

He is not here. He is risen.

Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia.

Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

HYMN 189 – Alleluia, sing to Jesus

Keep well. Keep safe

Common Worship – Services & Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council

April 26th    Easter 3    Madron, Heamoor and Gulval

Dear all,

Welcome to our service today, the sixth Sunday since lockdown began. We hope to be bringing you more improvements in video today. As it would have been Mattins in Gulval, there will be more of a Morning Prayer flavour to our service. I am still choosing too from the great variety of material available for Easter services. Next week will be a Celebration of the Countryside service, for which I have been out filming already. My thanks to Sharon, who has provided us with an interview at the Foodbank today, as well as to Bridgit, who in addition to music, provided the decoration of the church gates for Her Majesty’s birthday, as pictured in the slide in the relevant part of our service. Jo is leading our prayers of intercession– thanks, Jo

Fortunately most people seem to be quite well, but do continue to pray for David Morris and Jo, also for family and friends of Dennis Downing, whose funeral is coming up on Tuesday at Sancreed at 11am, also for the families of George Rogers and Ethel Moore (funerals last week)

Collect for Easter 3    an alternative to the one in the service sheet

Living God, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in all his redeeming work; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.

Epistle Reading     –    Acts 2.14a, 36-41

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 36Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah,* this Jesus whom you crucified.’

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers,* what should we do?’ 38Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ 41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Gospel Reading     –      Luke 24. 13-35

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles* from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad.* 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth,* who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.* Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah* should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us* while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Sermon   (by Tim)

Turning can be difficult. That’s what today’s talk is about. Turning to face a new direction; turning around. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to people who are set in their ways, and that includes me. If we’re out in the car with me driving, if I take a wrong turn, I will never turn around and go back, I will bash on, thinking that if we go right and right again we’ll get back on the road where we want to be. It always involves a huge detour, if it works at all. Helen isn’t impressed. Turning sometimes has to be done. A big ship on course for the rocks must change course or suffer the consequences.

Both our readings are about turning. In Acts, Peter says at the end of that first public sermon that the logical response to the cross and resurrection is for us to turn from our sins and our old life, and turn in gratitude to the risen Christ. The crowd do four things as they listen, and do remember these because they crop up again in the Luke passage, mostly in the same order. (1) First they recognise the need to act, to change – the cross applies to them and the risen Jesus is waiting for them to come to him. (2) They are ‘cut to the heart’ as they hear the message – it impacts them in spirit, mind and heart. We only respond to messages when we are so engaged, not just because of the skill of the speaker, It is about receptiveness and readiness and maybe the right time. (3) The crowd then repent i.e. their lives take on a new direction (4) They join the church.

The same pattern can be discerned in the story of the two disciples in Luke, who are downcast after Jesus’ death, thinking it’s all over. They are turned around by their experience of Jesus and his words. Jesus walks alongside them before they ever know he is there. That’s what Jesus does with all of us. It is interesting that through Jesus’ prompting they relate the events of Easter to him i.e. the cross, the empty tomb and the appearances to Jesus’ friends. We and others need to know the facts of our faith before we can respond in faith. Jesus uses Scripture on the two friends, just as we might read the Bible or direct others to it, if they are seekers. As Jesus is eventually recognised in a surprising and yet familiar moment, they recognise that ‘their hearts had burned within them’ when Jesus was going through the Scriptures. See (2) above, where the converts of Peter repented because they were cut to the heart. They also recognise the need to act, see (1) above in Acts, setting off despite the lateness of the hour and danger on the roads, to return seven miles to Jerusalem to tell Jesus’s friends. Their journey underlines their change of mood and change of priority, literally turning back on the road – see (3) above. They join the disciples and share with them their story – isn’t that just what we mean by church  ? – the place where we share our stories of the risen Jesus in our lives; that’s (4) above.

So turning is part of a process, one that begins by information and hunger for truth, and one which, at the right time, draws people into a complete change of life for good and which inevitably brings them into church life. The word ‘repent’ is so dramatic (we’re not talking about a slight change of direction) that we ought not be surprised when people we know suddenly turn to God. Quite possibly it’s only a sudden move on the surface. We need to pray for people in our society who now have more time to think about things than ever before, that they may examine afresh the facts of Easter and come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

     

Service for Easter 2             April 19th  

Welcome and HYMN 139 – Go, tell it on the mountain  (in video)

Minister: The Lord be with you                Alleluia, Christ is risen

All:          And also with you                  He is risen indeed. Alleluia

Light a candle, representing the Easter candle, saying:

May the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

All:  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, ‘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, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these’.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘This is the will of my Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes on him should have eternal life, and that I shall raise him up on the last day.’          John 6.40

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with our whole heart, we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. AMEN.

The minister declares God’s forgiveness

The Collect and Bible Reading – Acts 2.14a, 22-32

HYMN 111 – The strife is o’er

Gospel Reading – John 20.19-31

(start) when announced…                 Glory be to you, O Lord

(end) This is the gospel of the Lord   Praise to you, O Christ

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,

to you be glory and praise for ever.

Your steadfast love extends to the heavens

and your faithfulness never ceases.

Illuminate our hearts with your wisdom

and strengthen our lives with your word,

for you are the fountain of life;

in your light we see true light.

Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

All:  Blessed be God for ever.

Reflection by Rev Ian Lowell (see sheet)

HYMN 115 – Ye choirs of new Jerusalem

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All: Christ died for our sins

      In accordance with the Scriptures.

      He was buried,

      He was raised to life on the third day

      In accordance with the Scriptures.

      Afterwards he appeared to his followers,

      And to all the apostles.

      This we have received,

      And this we believe. Amen.

The Prayers  (Please sit or kneel)

We thank you, Lord, for the joy of Easter, for the relief of sins forgiven, for the hope of heaven, for the comfort of your risen presence. We thank you

for the  beauty and tranquillity of our surroundings, for all who care  for us and those we have to care for, for the certainty of your promises. Help us to rejoice in what we have, when we are  conscious of what we have not. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We bring to you, Lord, our nation, our world, our universe; all the areas that are fastened shut to keep you out, all the bewildered confusion about who we are and why we are here; all the doubts   and insecurity, and all the searching for inner peace.

Lord in your presence:

We lift our hearts to you.

We bring to you, Lord, our homes and families, and all the joys and sorrows of our relationships. We bring the rooms in which we eat  and work and relax, and invite you into them all

Lord in your presence:

We lift our hearts to you

We bring to you, Lord, those whom life has damaged, and all who find it difficult to trust in you; we bring you those who need refreshment and hope, comfort, healing and inner serenity.

Lord in your presence:

We lift our hearts to you.

We bring to you, Lord, the Church in all its richness and all its diversity and all its division. Give us a fresh understanding of what it means to live in you; may all of us celebrate the reality of your presence among us, filling us with new life and new hope

Lord in your presence:

We lift our hearts to you.

Merciful God, we entrust to your tender care those who are ill or in pain, knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting   arms are there to hold them safe. Comfort and heal them, and  restore them to health and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick, and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

All: 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

HYMN 110 – Love’s redeeming work is done

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

God the Father,

by whose love Christ was raised from the dead,

open to us who believe the gates of everlasting life. Amen.

God the Son,

who in bursting from the grave has won a glorious victory,

give us joy as we share the Easter faith. Amen.

God the Holy Spirit,

who filled the disciples with the life of the risen Lord,

empower us and fill us with Christ’s peace. Amen.

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among us and remain with us always. Amen.

HYMN 114 – Thine be the glory

Common Worship – Services & Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council

April 19th    Easter 2    Madron, Heamoor and Gulval

Dear all,  I hope you are having a good Easter despite the circumstances.  Many thanks for your kind comments following the Easter video ; it seems  that nearly eighty individuals or couples followed the service and saw half my head. One or two have said they hoped we might have a video format on a regular basis and I thought I might do this. There’s no communion this   Sunday – that was special for Easter Sunday, but I hope you will get a lot out  of what is provided. Ian has kindly offered a reflection this week (printed below) . You might like to get a candle ready to hand and a box of matches before you start. The service for this week can be found on the ‘videos’ page under the Media menu in the website. The Easter service video will remain  up, linked in the home page, for a couple of weeks yet. In YouTube try typing ‘April 19 Madron Heamoor Gulval service’. Thanks as usual to Bridgit for her  varied and valued support – the church notice boards are displaying her posters.

On a different note, you will be pleased to know that Anya produced a   healthy baby and that I have no funerals on the go at the moment.

Finally, If you know anyone in Madron parish specifically who needs help in any way, including financially, on a one-off basis, do let me know.

Collect   Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts, that we make seek the good of others and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace, to the praise of God the Father.

Acts 2.14a,36-41     Epistle reading

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah,* this Jesus whom you crucified.’37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers,*  what should we do?’ 38 Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

John 20.19-31    Gospel reading

When, therefore, it was early evening of that first day of the Sabbath-week, and where the disciples were the doors had been sealed for fear of the Judeans, Jesus came and stood in their midst and says to them, “Peace to you.”  And, saying this, he showed them both his hands and his side.  Thus on seeing the Lord, the disciples were overjoyed.  So Jesus again said to them, “Peace to you.  As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”  And, saying this, he breathed upon them and says to them, “Receive  a Holy Spirit.  For those whose sins you let go, they are let go; those you hold fast, they have been held fast.” But one of the Twelve, Thomas (which meant ‘Twin’), was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my hand into his side, I will most certainly Not have faith.” 

And eight days later his disciples were again gathered inside, and Thomas with them.  The doors being sealed, Jesus comes and stood in their midst and said, “Peace to you.”  Then he says to Thomas, “Bring your finger here and look at my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and cease to be faithless, but be faithful instead.”  Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God.”  Jesus says to him, “You have faith because you have seen me?  How blissful those who do not see and who have faith.”

Of course, Jesus performed many other signs as well before his disciples, which have not been recorded in this book; but these ones have been recoded so that you might have faith that Jesus is the Anointed, the Son of God, and that in having faith you might have life in his name.

Reflection

Our Gospel Reading ends the first version of the Fourth Gospel.  The ‘barbecue on the beach’ episode, which follows and now concludes the Gospel, was added later.  And the above translation is probably not familiar: it is a new translation by the American Eastern Orthodox scholar David Bentley Hart.  Sometimes the unfamiliar is good — it challenges us to rethink well known passages from the Bible.

And I am going to move us along from the end of John to the beginning, and to a verse in another recent translation, that by the Roman Catholic British scholar Nicholas King.  It is the Prologue, probably also added in the second edition of the Fourth Gospel. “And the Light shines in the Darkness, / and the Darkness did not master [the Light].” Sometimes, in order to understand a conclusion, we have to ‘begin at the beginning’.  And these two simple sentences open up our understanding not only to the Gospel’s message, but also provide hope for the outcome of our present global and national health emergency. “…the Darkness did not master…” — not every translation captures the two meanings of the Greek word behind ’master’: which the English word ‘master’ superbly conveys.  Some translations only focus on the meaning of ‘conquer’ or ’overcome’ but the Greek word also means ‘discover’ or ‘understand’.  The Evangelist, however, wants us to understand that the Darkness has two essential defects: that is Evil neither understands nor wins over the Light.

The Light, however can both understand and conquer the Darkness and the evil it spreads.  And while the virulence of the present Covid-19 coronavirus    is both frightening and often fatal: it too can neither understand nor  ultimately conquer.  We can, through meticulous observation and amassing   of information can both begin to understand the workings of this infection  and ultimately overcome it.

But these two sentences from the beginning of John’s Gospel are about    much more than providing hope, courage and endurance during the present darkness.  As the Evangelist originally concluded: the Gospel story was   written down so “that in having faith you might have life in his [Jesus’] name.”

In the main text of our Gospel Reading we are presented with two situations  in which, initially, the disciples (minus Thomas), have no faith, and then Thomas refuses to have faith, in the resurrection of Jesus.

The disciples are depicted as thoroughly terrified, huddled together behind  a closed and sealed door.  Outside there is the danger of being recognised, arrested, imprisoned, tried and, if not killed, punished severely.  They feel vulnerable, at risk, uncertain and hopeless.  But suddenly — and without any explanation — Jesus appears in their midst and says three significant words  (in English —it is just two in the Greek!): “Peace to you!”

Throughout the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, angels appear and respond to    the alarm they cause by uttering the words “Don’t be alarmed!”  But Jesus’ words, recorded here by John, are much more than that.  It is more than reassurance, it is the gift of consolation, calm and courage.  Peace is practical and powerful presence: spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.  It changes the disciples not only in mood but in attitude and stance. This makes them receptive not only to being accepting of the reality of Jesus’  resurrection, but also receptive to the greater gift of ’a Holy Spirit’ (as Bart translates).  Through this they are not only ‘at peace’ but ‘at one’ with the Father and with the Son.

Thomas is absent, and true to his ’bolshie’ character as portrayed in the          Fourth Gospel, will have none of this ’feel good’ fellowship with the others.

But he encounters the resurrected Jesus too, he receives the gift of Peace — and while that does not curb his cynicism — it opens him to the reality of the risen Jesus, whom he proclaims as “My Lord and my God!” The disciples, eventually including Thomas, move out of the shadows of fear and foreboding, they understand and comprehend that the Light can neither be understood by nor overcome by the Darkness.  And while this does not make them immune from pain, or suffering, or even death, it gives them not just a spirit to face these but a Holy Spirit which binds them one and all to God.  They are not alone, isolated, mere individuals.  They are within and part of the Body of Christ. We too have been breathed on and breathed into by Christ, and we have received both the Peace and Holy Spirit.

In these times of Darkness let us not forget the power and presence of the Light — that we have that Peace within ourselves and among ourselves and we are united with the Father through that Peace of Christ.

The Resurrection knows no bounds, neither sealed doors nor the cynicism of Thomas.  Having faith let us truly have life in Jesus’ name.

Pray for those in catering and retail who have lost their jobs and may not be re-employed after lockdown finishes, for dairy farmers with reduced markets for their milk, for staff and residents of care homes; also for those who cannot visit their loved ones, for those still receiving other forms of treatment at or in hospital.

Scams. Watch out for new scams via the internet mainly, whereby products and services are offered to boost your immunity to the virus, cure you outright or mollify your symptoms, disinfect your premises or offer you protective equipment. Also beware people on your doorstep claiming to be sent by the government to help you.

The Foodbank is busier than ever, thanks to a new influx of people in need such as laid off shop workers, chefs etc. They will be grateful for anything you can give, especially basic stuff that everybody eats (they’re being asked to make up boxes blind). Supermarkets are still collecting stuff. If you live in Madron/Heamoor you can also deliver to the vicarage step.

Easter 2020        Madron        Family Communion

Welcome (see video of service on YouTube)

* HYMN  107 –  Jesus Christ is risen today

Leader: The Lord is here                     Alleluia, Christ is risen

All:      His Spirit is with us              He is risen indeed. Alleluia !

Opening Prayer : 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 Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Confession (including the following prayer)

Lord God, we are sorry for all that we have done, said and thought which has not pleased you. We are sorry most of all that we give so little of our lives to you when you have given everything to us in the life and death of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Please forgive us and renew us, Lord, AMEN.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his 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 sins 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 and Epistle Reading  –  Acts 10.34-43

*  HYMN 113 – The day of resurrection

Gospel Reading  –  Matthew 28.1-10

Sermon  (see below this service)

Creed 

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist?                           All: We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again ?                             All: We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, Who gives life to the people of God And makes Christ known in the world ?  All: We believe and trust in him

This is the faith of the Church All: This is our faith. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Leader : The Peace of the Lord be always with you                                                                                                                   All:         And also with you (Shake hands with anyone  with you, with the words ‘Peace be with you’)

* HYMN 112 –  Now the green blade riseth

Leader   The Lord is here                Lift up your hearts                                                                                                             All:        His Spirit is with us   We lift them to the Lord

Leader    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God                                                                                                                       All          It is right to give thanks and praise

Leader : Lord , we can only offer you our thanks and praise for all you have done for us. Through your death on the cross we are forgiven; through your rising again we have assurance of new life with you. Send your Holy Spirit upon us as we receive these  reminders of your sacrifice for us, that we may be strengthened to serve you more and more each day until we meet in heaven; in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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       

On the same night that he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, broke it, gave you thanks, and gave it to his friends, saying ‘Take this and eat it. This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’. In the same way after supper he took the cup, gave you thanks and gave it to them saying ‘Drink this all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this also in remembrance of me’.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.                                                                              Blessing and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever . Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to his supper.     All: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,but only say the word and I shall be healed.

 The taking of the wafers, your own bread or in your imagination

Almighty God, we thank you for feeding us with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Through him we offer you our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice. Send us out in the power of your Spirit to live and work to your praise and glory. Amen.

* HYMN  101 – Alleluia, alleluia, hearts to heaven

God, who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us the victory, give you joy and peace in your faith, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost be with us all this Easter and always. Amen.

HYMN 367 – Put peace into each other’s hands

Happy Easter, everyone

Easter 2020     Message from Tim

I have a hopeless memory. My children are always saying things like, ‘Surely you remember my friend, Anna. She spoke at the service you attended last time you visited us. She’s very short, dark hair and glasses. Smiley face’. ‘No’, I reply, searching every corner of my cobwebbed memory. We have a board game called ‘Scene it’, It’s a variation on Ludo, as they all are, and you move around the board answering questions on films, and sometimes you get a dvd clip to watch. Questions come up then like ‘How many bikes were leaning against the shop front ?’  ‘What colour was the factory owner’s jacket ?’ I’m always last.

If you’re in court, it is vital to remember accurately, so that members of the jury, who didn’t see what you saw and heard, can establish the truth of what happened. The Bible readings for today are about witnesses to events. Peter in Acts 10.34-43 is telling his audience that he saw and heard everything Jesus did and said when he was alive and then saw and heard everything he did and said after he was seen alive again. The women, or whoever gave the women’s story to Matthew in Matthew 21.1-10, focus on what they were doing that Easter morning. They came to the tomb with perfume to make Jesus’ dead body smell nice, but there was an earthquake, the guards on the tomb fainted and they saw a figure in shining white sitting on the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb. He said ‘Jesus is not in here, he is risen’. The ladies never thought to look inside and check, they took the words at face value. They went to the disciples and presumably could have shown the perfumes and spices, which they didn’t need and hadn’t used. Now what might they have fetched on ebay ?

So what did all this amount to ? Proof that there is life after death ? Proof that Jesus had risen ? No, more than that. Peter said that Jesus’ death had brought ‘peace with God’ to all and sundry. Jesus appears to the disciples in Matthew and says pointedly ‘Peace be with you’. In John’s gospel he says it twice ! Easter is more than new life, more than a hope in heaven, it is Jesus’ offer of peace with God. Before, we were not God’s friends and through Jesus now we can be, if we turn to him and thank him for what he did for us on the cross.

But there is one last thing. The figure on the tomb, an angel we are told, tells the women to tell the disciples Jesus is going ahead of them to Galilee, repeating something he had said to them two chapters earlier. Galilee was in the north of the country, the place where Joseph and Mary had brought Jesus when they returned from Egypt. It was unfancied, unfashionable, and full of people seen as outsiders by the religious establishment, a place that had been repopulated by foreigners from earlier conquest. Jesus set up base in Capernaum, a town built by the hated Romans, even more foreign. Jesus was showing his disciples that he was making a new beginning where he had been before. The good news of ‘Peace with God’ was to be shared with those who didn’t know God or whom others rejected.

Easter isn’t just for the Church, it is, or He is, for everyone !

Meditation for Good Friday

We conclude a series of Jesus’ encounters with people in the final days of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. Today we think of Pilate, his political acumen and his condemnation of an innocent man

HYMN    There is a green hill far away   (music file in email or on website under ‘audio’ under ‘Media’)

Silent Confession

We confess to You, our Lord and Saviour, that we have betrayed and denied You, forgotten and doubted You.

When our faith is tested, we wonder where You are. When we see injustice in the world, we often stand by, we turn our backs, we ignore the cries of others.

We confess that again and again we deny You and betray You with our silence when we fail to proclaim Your Good News, when we fail to live out Your teachings and love our neighbours as ourselves.

Forgive us, O God, and help us to truly repent. Help us to remember Your sacrifice, Your love, and to know Your forgiveness.

In the name of the One who lived, who was crucified, and who lives again, Jesus the Messiah, we pray. Amen.

Collect  Almighty Father, look with mercy on this your family for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners and to suffer death upon the ross; who is alive and glorified, with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

MUSIC –  Jesus Christ, once again   (played and sung by Bridgit)

Psalm  22  selected verses

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.  All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.22 I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!24 For he has not despised or scorned  the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations  will bow down before him, 28 for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.

MUSIC – Good Friday (a quiet piano piece)

Today’s reading – Matthew 27.1,11-26

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied.12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered.22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”  24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

HYMN   How deep the Father’s love for us

‘A murderer they save, the prince of Life they slay’ is from ‘My song is love unknown’. The hymn puts the blame on the crowd but Pilate is orchestrating the whole thing. The custom is to release a prisoner and it is he who suggests the terrorist Barabbas, or Jesus Barabbas as he is called, the wrong kind of saviour. Pilate not only promotes the wrong choice, he takes the wrong step of condemning Jesus at all. He finds nothing in him to condemn, yet he chooses to let him be condemned, something he can’t wash his hands of. He knew little about Jesus probably, although it is interesting that in one of the gospels his wife has a dream, as a result of which she urges her husband to leave Jesus well alone. He would have been briefed about Jewish religion on being appointed governor and would have known about their longing for a King to come and make things right. This dishevelled working class prisoner probably didn’t strike him as being a king in any form and therefore posed no possible threat or interest. How true it is that the poor and those not supported by people of influence become so readily victims of injustice. Pilate couldn’t afford to cross people who would gladly stab him in the back if he didn’t give them the odd concession. He is not trying to please, he is angling for political survival. Later he is to label Jesus on the cross: ‘King of the Jews’ and will not take the board down or amend it to ‘he said he was the King of the Jews’. Is this because he enjoyed needling Jesus’ accusers or because Jesus had made an impression on him, a significant impression ? After all the centurion proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God simply by seeing how he died, and he as a soldier had seen many die before.

Jesus’ label ‘King of the Jews’, sometimes refered to in stained glass windows as ‘INRI’ or ‘Iesus Nazarios Rex Iudorum – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’, is a challenge to all who pass by this Easter. It says ‘What is your verdict ?’ Pilate may have changed his verdict over the course of events. Have we ? Will anyone else this Easter who pauses to think about the reason for the season ? Pilate’s tragedy is that he invests in his career rather than in eternal benefit. It is easy for us who acknowledge Jesus as Saviour and Lord, to be side-tracked by what others think of us or by the choices they make, favouring the short-term and exciting gospel of Barabbas rather than Jesus, silently waiting for our verdict.

Prayers and Lord’s Prayer

Jesus, though crucified, is raised from the dead and now draws alongside us as we offer prayers to God for the world, the church and all for whom Jesus died on the cross.

We pray for the church of God on this Good Friday that all who are disciples of Jesus will be given the grace and strength they need to walk in the way of the cross speaking words of love and truth in places of hatred and lies.

We pray for God’s world on this Good Friday that the dying Jesus on the cross and the living Jesus of resurrection will draw all people to himself, the source of eternal reconciliation and salvation.

We pray for the communities in which we live, work and worship that bonds of love within families and between friends will be healed where they are broken and strengthened where they are weak.

We pray for all those who are experiencing their own Good Friday darkness that all who suffer pain of body or mind will be held by the hands of Jesus which bear the marks of his pain and the promise of restoration and resurrection.

Heavenly Father, at the foot of the cross on which Jesus died we offer you these prayers in hope, trusting in your promise to hear us and in your power which raised Jesus from the dead. Let your grace, mercy, love and peace surround us and all those for whom we have prayed in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

HYMN   The Old Rugged Cross

Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus we see the cost of our sin and the depth of your love: in humble hope and fear may we place at his feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray for those who do not believe the gospel of Christ: for those who have not heard the message of salvation, for all who have lost faith, for the contemptuous and scornful, for those who are enemies of Christ and persecute those who follow him, for all who deny the faith of Christ crucified, that God will open their hearts to the truth and lead them to faith and obedience. Amen.

Meditation for Maundy Thursday

We continue a series of Jesus’ encounters with people in the final days of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. Today we think of Peter and his failing nerve/betrayal of his best friend.

HYMN 283 – And can it be ?         Peter may well have uttered words like these in prayer

Silent Confession

Merciful God, we confess that so often our discipleship has been weak …
when we have failed to serve as Jesus served; forgive us.

When we have failed to love one another as Jesus loves us; forgive us.

When we have been happy to proclaim our devotion to Jesus with
our lips and then denied him by our actions; forgive us.

Merciful God, empower us by your Spirit to be steady and true
to you in every time of trial; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Jesus said: “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” 
and “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end”

The good news therefore is this: In Jesus Christ, we are loved and we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!

Collect God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to His Church to proclaim his death until he comes; may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalm 116.1-2,12-19

1 I love the Lord, for he has heard the voice of my supplication; because he inclined his ear to me
on the day I called to him. 2 The snares of death encompassed me; the pains of hell took hold of me;
by grief and sorrow was I held. 12 I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 13 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. 14 O Lord, I am your servant,  your servant, the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from my bonds. 15 I will offer to you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord. 16 I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 17 In the courts of the house of the Lord, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Alleluia.

Today’s Reading – Matthew 26.69-75

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’ When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ Again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’ After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.

MUSIC – ‘An upper room’, played & sung by Bridgit – see file attachment or ‘audio’ under Media on website

More than one gospel tells the story of Peter’s denials. The details may vary but the pattern is the same – Peter denies knowing Jesus with increasing vehemence (desperation ?) and with a growing crowd around him. One wonders whether the servant girl who addresses him first was just passing the time of day rather than being a government agent. Perhaps it is Peter’s forceful denials that attract attention to him. Remember, this is only hours after that Last Supper/First Communion, which we remember especially on Maundy Thursday. Judas gets all the attention for he slips out to arrange the dramatic arrest, but what of Peter now ? What of the young disciple(John ?) who flees naked (Mark 14.52)? What of the rest who will be nowhere to be seen tomorrow ? I expect poor Peter didn’t think it would come to arrest, or that arrest would spark legions of angels to release him and bring in the Kingdom of God. Judas may have thought the same. This is human weakness, like the sleeping disciples we saw on Monday. We are Peter. We are not as brave as we might like to think we are, or maybe the tragedy is that we know we’re not brave, but Peter didn’t until now.

Of course, Easter wasn’t about failure and defeat for Peter, it was the making of him. He would return self-aware and stronger and indeed capable of facing his own death as a disciple one day (probably in Rome c62-64AD). For Peter and those like him the cross is not about final judgement, but life and growth. Our palm cross picture today is with an orchid (a symbol of fertility, I’m told), for it is a reminder for us to see in the cross the means of our growth this Easter and beyond.

Prayers and Lord’s Prayer

We offer to your loving mercy all those who have failed in public service, all those who are tainted in the media through their errors or faults, all those who have suffered mental, emotional or relationship breakdown as a result of such. We pray that all of them may come to realise their worth through your love and that they have a future in your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray for the Church, a hospital for sinners rather than a museum of saints, that we may know your forgiveness for our failings and that we may be gentle and not hard towards others whose failings may have affected us. Grant that many who are hurting may find a safe haven in church and find a welcome and a peace in heart and mind which leads to your Peace. Amen.

We pray for all we know who feel alone and abandoned this night, for virus sufferers in hospital and their families and friends, for the homeless, for those stranded far from home, for those on night shift, for those worried about the future of their businesses, for those unable or fearing to go out. Grant that we may be aware of those we need to reach out to; in Jesus’ name. Amen

HYMN  327 – From heaven you came

Today also we remember Jesus washing the disciples feet, including Peter, despite his protests

Almighty Father, whose Son Jesus Christ has taught us that what we do for the least of our neighbours, we do also for him; give us the will to be the servant of others as he was the servant of all, who gave up his life and died for us, yet is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Meditation for Wednesday of Holy Week

We continue a series of Jesus’ encounters with people in the final days of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. Today we think of Caiaphas, the High Priest (or Archbishop !), and his dismissive treatment of God.

HYMN  145  – Hail, thou once despised Jesus

Silent Confession

Lord Jesus Christ, we confess we have failed you as did your first disciples. We ask for your mercy and your help. When we take our ease rather than watch with you: Lord, forgive us.  Christ have mercy.

When we bestow a kiss of peace yet nurse enmity in our hearts: Lord, forgive us. Christ have mercy.

When we strike at those who hurt us rather than stretch out our hands to bless: Lord, forgive us. Christ have mercy.

When we deny that we know you for fear of the world and its scorn: Lord, forgive us. Christ have mercy.

Collect  Lord God, whose blessed Son our Saviour gave his back to the smiters, and did not hide his face from shame: Give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time, with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

Psalm 102        selected verses

Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you.Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.For my days vanish like smoke;  my bones burn like glowing embers.My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof. 12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favour to her; the appointed time has come.17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.18 Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth,20 to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” 21 So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem22 when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.

Today’s Reading  –   Matthew 26.57-68, followed by today’s reflection from Howard ‘Why did Jesus die ?’

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” 62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered.67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Everyone who says the creed knows that Jesus was crucified “under Pontius Pilate” – the only human person named in the creed, besides Jesus Christ. But there are two other persons who are inextricably involved in the death of Jesus and they are Judas Iscariot and Caiaphas, the High Priest.  Matthew 26.57-68 tells the story briefly about a quasi-legal trial before Caiaphas and the scribes and elders, in which the Jewish leaders decide that Jesus deserved death; but Matthew’s story testifies that Jesus is the Son of God (63), the Son of Man (64) and the Christ (68). It was Judas who “handed over” Jesus to the priests, out of greed (Mat 26.14-16); it was Caiaphas and the priests who “handed over” Jesus to Pilate, out of envy (Mat 27.18); and it was Pilate who “handed over” Jesus to the soldiers out of cowardice (Mat 27.26). The same verb is used in each instance. We know that Caiaphas was High Priest for 18 years, which means that he was clearly gifted with political skills, since he lasted much longer than any other high priest of that era.  He is mentioned nine times in the New Testament; seven times in relation to the trial and death of Jesus.  We know that Judas was filled with remorse at what he had done and went and killed himself.  We would like to know if Caiaphas ever had any twinges of conscience about what he had done, but we know nothing. Galatians 2.20 says that Jesus, the Son of God “…loved me and handed himself over for me.”  And Romans 8.32 speaks of God “….who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all – how will he not also, with him, freely give us all things?”  So we cannot just point the finger at Judas, or Caiaphas, or Pontius Pilate as if they were solely to blame for Jesus’ death.  No – the New Testament teaches that God sent Jesus, and Jesus freely chose, to die for OUR sins.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for giving yourself up for our sins. Help us always to live in the joy of your forgiveness.

HYMN  275  – Jesus remember me, when you come into your Kingdom  repeat   (Taize)

Prayers and Lord’s Prayer

For all who feel discarded in our society: the poor, the isolated, the sick and those who care for them, as well as yesterday’s politicians, leaders, captains of industry and even celebrities; for the peoples of the world who are treated as non-citizens, who are persecuted often violently, for the homeless and refugees; for religious leaders to lead in such a way as reveals rather than obscures or hinders Christ; for those who have been victims of bad behaviour from church leaders; for victims of all forms of violence everywhere, even at home.

HYMN M10 – Christ is our cornerstone

Lighten our darkness, we beseech you , O Lord, and by your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Meditation for Tuesday of Holy Week

We continue a series of Jesus’ encounters with people in the final days of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. Today we think of Judas and those involved in his arrest, performing treachery with a loving act, a kiss.

HYMN 84 –  My God is love unknown

Silent Confession

As our evening prayer rises before you, O God, so may your mercy come down upon us to cleanse our hearts and set us free to sing your praise now and ever. Amen.

Collect  O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 55   selected verses               theme – betrayal

Listen to my prayer, O God,  do not ignore my plea;  hear me and answer me. My heart is in anguish within me;   the terrors of death have fallen on me.I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest. I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” 12 If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.13 But it is you, a man like myself,  my companion, my close friend,14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshippers.16 As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.17 Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress,  and he hears my voice. 22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. But as for me, I trust in you.

Today’s Reading   –    Matthew 26.47-56      Judas and the arrest

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’ At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Why did Judas do what he did ? Did he see a chance to make money, for we are told he was the disciples’ treasurer and used to help himself from the money bag (John 12.6)? So there is a possible motive, and we know that people will do all sorts of things for money – they just need an opportunity sometimes. Some say that Judas was trying to bounce Jesus into action. The Kingdom hadn’t arrived with fireworks when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem. The Romans were still in charge and the disciples had not been promoted to cabinet posts in the kingdom of God. An arrest would be ideal to force Jesus’ hand. After all, he wouldn’t let himself get arrested, would he ? I’m not sure about this theory. If he thought it would work, it doesn’t explain why he shuffled off, never to return and only to kill himself. Far more likely, I think, that he was simply disappointed with Jesus and wanted to move on. The money would be a bonus. Judas would have seen others drift away when Jesus told them about how they would have to lose their lives to save them and take up their own crosses. Jesus was not as popular as he was, not so much fun to be around.

Was Judas’ remorse because he recognised he had helped kill a good man, an innocent man, or was it because he began to realise there was something about him after all? We are not told exactly when he committed suicide. Our picture today is of a palm cross among children’s toys. It represents here all we grow tired of and leave behind in our parents’ houses, like their values, long after we have moved on and forgotten they were there. It is easy to point the finger elsewhere, at society today or at rising generations, but the problem is probably that our crosses became merged with the rest of our lives, as if we did not value them in such a way as to inspire others, reducing an empty cross to an item of jewellery, where in fact the emptiness of the cross reflects back the emptiness of our hearts towards God ,rather than the emptiness that came from and points to the power of resurrection.

HYMN  282 – Amazing Grace

Prayers

We pray for those in power who have broken promises, betrayed former friends and colleagues, and turned from the ways of truth and justice, that they may repent and find a way back to where they should be. Grant especially to those who have lost you as their guide and inspiration, that they may return to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grant to all who have been brought up in the faith of Christ, but who have wandered or drifted away from you, that we and others may help them find their way home. We pray especially for those whose love of you has grown cold through the distractions of youth and the busyness of life; in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

We pray for those who are sick in mind, body or heart, and especially for those whose pain shouts louder than your gentle voice, that they may hear you sing with them in their laments, shout with them in their anger, cry out with them in their pain, comfort them in their sadness and reveal yourself to give them hope; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

HYMN 220 – Fill thou my life

Almighty God, Your name is glorified even in the anguish of your Son’s death. Grant us the courage to receive your anointed servant who embodies a wisdom and love that is foolishness to the world,. empower us in witness so that all the world may recognize in the scandal of the cross the mystery of reconciliation. Amen.

Meditation for Monday of Holy Week

This week we begin a series of Jesus’ encounters with people in the final days of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. Today we think of the disciples in Gethsemane, so physically near to him but seemingly so far away in mind or spirit.

HYMN – The royal banners forward go

Silent Confession

(from Lamentations 3)  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that we should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. For the Lord will not reject for ever; though he causes grief, he will have compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love; fro he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.

Collect

Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation; to you be glory and praise for ever. As we behold your Son, enthroned on the cross, stir up in us the fire of your love, that we may be cleansed from all our sins, and walk with you in newness of life, singing the praise of him who died for us and for our salvation. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Blessed be God for ever.

Psalm 25.12-21     Confidence in the Lord in the midst of trouble

12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?  He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.[b]
13 They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. 14 The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.17 Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.18 Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.19 See how numerous are my enemies  and how fiercely they hate me! 20 Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord,[c] is in you.

Today’s Reading  – Matthew 26.36-46             Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Poor disciples. They were tired – it was late. They were confused – where was the Kingdom of God ? They were wondering what might happen next, and what had happened to Judas. The disciples in the passage are you and I – distracted, stressed, only seeing what’s in front of us, and, not often enough, the bigger picture. Jesus is in an agony of anguish. Should he go through with the cross if his father wills it ? Is there another way, less painful ? He prays three times, maybe because he’s not sure of the answer he’s getting or maybe he finds it so hard to pray at all. This can be our experience of prayer in less extreme form. Jesus sweats blood – a recognised medical condition caused by extreme stress. Jesus doesn’t tell his friends off. He understands. He is not alone, but has to face his own destiny alone. For him the background became blurred so that all he could see was the sharp outline of the cross. For the frightened and distracted disciples, the cross became something they were losing sight of in a fog (see picture above). Our stressful and distracted lives can also leave the cross in a fog. It is there in our consciousness, especially at Easter, but it barely stands out from a whole lot of other things on our horizon or in our in-tray.

The cross isn’t just about appreciating more sharply what Jesus did for us; it is a pattern for us to follow, so that we see it more clearly in front of us than anything or anyone else in our surroundings. May the Cross inspire us afresh this Easter, as it did eventually with the disciples as the risen Lord drawing alongside them as his friends.

HYMN –  Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray, watch and pray (Taize)

Prayers (add your own afterwards)

We pray for our leaders, in our world and in our own country, that they may see clearly what the priorities should be and how those things should be achieved. Help them in the tackling of the virus, in the way money is used and in the way small businesses and the vulnerable can be protected; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray for our church leaders, that you would give them wisdom in all they say to church members and a wider audience over Easter; and grant that they and we may walk more fully in the way of the cross, to find in it a way of life and peace. Amen.

We pray for the sick, the lonely, the anxious, and for those who try to look after them, medically and otherwise. Grant them protection, loving care and your spirit that draws alongside. Amen

HYMN –  Praise to the Holiest in the height

God of love, my prayer is simple: Your son, Jesus, suffered and died for me. I know only that I cannot have real strength unless I rely on you. I cannot feel protected from my many weaknesses until I turn to you for forgiveness and your unalterable love. Help me to share this strength, protection and love with others. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.