10th May 2020
Weekly notices and a service for worship at home
Bernardo Daddi, Stoning of Saint Stephen, c.1345; Vatican Museum
Do you need some help?
You may have to self-isolate but you don’t have to feel alone! Contact the clergy or our volunteers and we will find the best way to support you and those not currently isolating can bring you supplies. Everyone, please keep social-distancing - stay 2 metres apart, and only go outside to exercise, and go to the shop for essentials.
Giving during lockdown
One of the unforeseen pressures of lockdown is that many of our members give money physically on Sundays and this is no longer possible. To keep our work going (and make sure our buildings are still standing when we return to them!) we are asking that, if you can, please give by standing order. Regular donations help us to have a better estimate of our income and ensure we can keep our activities running.
You can set this up with your bank online using the details here.
Or download and print a standing order form here and send to your bank.
If you wish to be posted a form please call us or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty for St James' churchyard
In light of current circumstances, we are ensuring faculties are posted publicly online as well as physically outside the church. This is an application for a rolling faculty for routine maintenance to be carried out in St James' Churchyard. You can read the notice here and objections may be submitted via email to email@example.com
We will include resources each week from Roots to help you reflect on Bible readings with children at home. You can download and print the resources here:
5th Sunday of Easter
Reflection by The Revd Dominic Coad
Service led by The Revd Chris Minchin
We will pray at 10am on Sunday, join us at home at if you can.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed for us.
Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil
and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart.
Lord Jesus, you raise us to new life.
Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy).
Lord Jesus, you forgive us our sins.
Christ, have mercy. (Christ, have mercy).
Lord Jesus, you feed us with the living bread.
Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy).
May the God of love and power
forgive us and free us from our sins,
heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,
and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty God, who through your only–begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.
But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.
This is the word of the Lord.
I am the first and the last, says the Lord, and the living one;
I was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore.
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 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? 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. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’
Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 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”? 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. 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. 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. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
by the Revd Dominic Coad
‘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? 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.’
We have likely all taken comfort from these words of Christ at funerals. Jesus promises us that there is life after death, he tells us to take confidence that there is a place for us, prepared and waiting in heaven. These words may calm our fears when we think of our own death and give solace when we think about those whom we have loved and lost.
Some may say that a belief in heaven is a false hope, that it is a failure to deal honestly with the reality that after death there is nothing, that this life is all we have. And whilst it is true that this life contains more than enough joy, it also contains more than enough sorrow. For both these reasons I believe in life after death; a life with all the joys perfected and all sorrow destroyed.
Everyone has their doubts, I certainly have mine, but I have never doubted that we continue on after our time on earth has ended and, indeed, that something of the Earth itself will persist into eternity. I simply cannot believe that anything that is good in this world could be finally extinguished, nor that all that is bad will not finally be overcome.
But we all have doubts, as I say, so if you struggle to believe Jesus’ words, struggle to believe that there might be a heaven, that’s okay. We all believe differently and love God differently. For this reason, it’s important to think about the way we express our beliefs, the way we inhabit them. What seems to us reassuring and hopeful might seems empty and even crass to another.
This is something I’m always aware of when conducting funerals. It’s very important that the Christian message of the hope of eternal life is expressed but it is equally important that this message doesn’t skip over a persons grief and the confusion they are experiencing. I try to manage this by listening, by finding out how a bereaved person feels. Are they confident, relieved even, that their loved one is finally in a better place, or are they much more frightened about what death means? Or, perhaps most likely, are they simply in a place of confusion and desolation, unsure what to think about anything?
You can imagine, I hope, that the way we talk about life after death in such situations has to be careful and nuanced, it has to be responsive and respectful. The wonderful promise and reassurance that Jesus gives us that in his Father’s house there are many dwelling places, can be rendered hollow if we aren’t gentle and respectful in the way we proclaim it at times of death.
I think we all instinctively understand that a knowing a story’s happy ending doesn’t stop the sad parts being sad. If you’re right in the middle of a sad story, it doesn’t help to say ‘I don’t know what you’re crying about, it all turns out fine in the end.’ Indeed we tell sad stories in order to spend time with those emotions, to enter that place of sadness and uncertainty, even if we do know how it will end.
This week we have encountered death on a large scale both as we mark the anniversary of VE Day and as we continue to contemplate the rising death toll of Covid-19. We’ve been telling stories about the Second World War for 75 years and we are already beginning to tell stories about this pandemic. But as we tell these stories we should be careful not to rush too quickly to the end, and skip over the hard realities.
It’s lovely to have street parties and remember those celebrations 75 years ago as people celebrated the war in Europe coming to an end. But the realities of life, both in Britain and for soldiers in Europe, were tough. Lives were destroyed and death was a daily reality.
In the same way, we look forward to the time lockdown can end and, eventually, the time we can put Covid-19 behind us altogether. But before this can happen, we must live through the hard reality of the middle of this story.
We have all struggled with staying in our homes, with being separated from our family and friends, from being prevented from doing our work and volunteering roles as we normally would. And I know we all feel deeply the challenges that our country is facing: the lives lost, the sacrifices of our care-workers, the anxiety and hardship caused by job losses. None of this can be easily forgotten, even with the wonderful promises of heaven we are given in Christ. We can’t skip to the end, we have to journey right through the story, live the sorrowful parts as well as the joyful.
Jesus promised that where he is, there we will be also. ‘and you know the way to the place where I am going’, he said. We do know the way to that place and it’s the same way that Jesus took, straight through life. Jesus didn’t skip to the end. He lived the hardships of life and death on the way to calvary.
Jesus knows the joys and sorrows of life. One day we will be with him in his Father’s house, but in the meantime he is already with us on our journey. We don’t always know quite where we’re going and sometimes it can be hard to believe promises he’s made us about what will be when we get there. But Jesus is with us all the way, indeed he is the way.
Hardship and sorrow are part of our lives, more so now than ever, we can’t deny that, but Jesus is with us, he knows what it is to be lonely and in pain and he has prepared a place for us in his Father’s house, where there are many dwelling places.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
The Church • All who feel cut off for the sacramental life of the church.
The World • Medical staff and health professionals, those in government, and those faced by difficult decisions. • Places whose health services are most vulnerable and undeveloped. • An end to inequality, particularly for poorer and BAME communities.
• VE Day celebrations and an end to all war.
The Sick & Suffering • Lesley Towers • Stan Adams
• The Jarvis family after the unexpected loss of their father • All affected by Covid19
The Departed • Richard Jarvis
• Mary Taylor
• James 'Jim' Sheriff
• Carol Ann Marshall
• Elsie Lytton
• Ruth Smith • All victims of Covid19
Rejoicing in God’s new creation,
as our Saviour taught us, so we pray
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly, while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high; hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past; safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none; hangs my helpless soul on thee; leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me. All my trust on thee is stayed, all my help from thee I bring; cover my defenseless head with the shadow of thy wing.
Plenteous grace with thee is found, grace to cover all my sin; let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within. Thou of life the fountain art; freely let me take of thee; spring thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity.
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.
He is not here. He is risen.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Alleluia, Alleluia.
In the name of Christ. Amen. Alleluia, Alleluia.