26th April 2020

(Note: the newsletter can also be downloaded as a PDF.)

The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 26th April 2020

Third Sunday of Easter

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

The order of service for live-streamed Communion during the Easter Season is available as a PDF booklet (please ask for a hard copy) and on the Christ Church website http://christchurchlancaster.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Livestream-Communion.pdf

Collect (Prayer for the week)

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 us,

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.

Readings

Acts 2: 14a, 36-41

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.

‘Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’

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?’ 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. 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.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Psalm 116. 1-3, 10-17

Refrain: Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

 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.

3  Then I called upon the name of the Lord:  ◆  ‘O Lord, I beg you, deliver my soul.’

Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

10  How shall I repay the Lord  ◆ for all the benefits he has given to me?

11  I will lift up the cup of salvation  ◆  and call upon the name of the Lord.

12  I will fulfil my vows to the Lord  ◆  in the presence of all his people.

Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

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.

Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

1 Peter 1 .17-23

If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Luke 24. 13-35

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Luke. Glory to you, O Lord.

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then 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?’ He 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, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But 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. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and 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. Some 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.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But 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. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They 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?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ

Reflection (from Rev. Carol)  Also available to listen to on http://www.christchurchlancaster.org.uk/sermons.

‘Caution. Perishable items!’ said the sticker on a parcel I found on my doorstep one hot afternoon last week.  A friend of mine had sent me some Wensleydale cheese as a ‘hope you’re not homesick for Yorkshire’ gift – but what with delays in the post, I opened the package with a degree of fear and trepidation…

‘Perishable’ is not a word we hear much outside of the food industry, yet the last few weeks of lockdown have brought the idea of perishability to the fore. As we hear stories of fragile human lives perishing, and watched how many familiar routines have perished in the lockdown, or as people’s businesses and livelihoods are dangerously under threat, the idea of life as we know it being ‘perishable’ is suddenly a stark reality.

That label ‘caution, perishable items’ goes deep into our minds and souls, for fear of change and loss and decay comes easily to us as we uncertainly face our own human weaknesses and impermanence. It feels like we’ve all been labelled ‘Caution, perishable item’ in recent weeks. For some of us, it’s been a time to take care, and take ourselves out of harm’s way. For others, that label of vulnerability, even perishability, has been a deeply disturbing prospect.

The same was true of St Peter’s audience in our second reading. Peter’s letter, written from Rome to be circulated around the fledgling churches of the Mediterranean, was a letter of encouragement, especially to people who were new to having faith in Christ, or who felt under threat from the daily persecution and oppression they experienced from the Roman Empire and other hostile factions.

Many could not meet openly, and were worshipping at home or in secret.  Peter didn’t write to the rich, comfortable elites, but to the poor Christian slaves and all who were at the bottom of the social pecking order – people who were acutely aware of how perishable their lives were.

The first decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection were dark days for people who found that their faith was being tested, yet Peter was the best man for the job, for he knew how perishable he was, and how much Christ would transform him. Peter, who on finding himself in hot water after Jesus’ arrest decided to deny him three times. Peter, who thought he could walk on water until his faith suddenly deserted him. Peter, who was constantly asking questions and missing the point, yet who ran to the Tomb in the faith that Jesus really was risen.

Of all the disciples, Peter offers a realistic example of faith that waxes and wanes in the face of testing and trouble – yet which transformed his life. His faith was such that when he too was crucified, Peter faced death boldly and asked to die upside down because he wasn’t afraid of perishing.

Peter writes passionately of his faith, describing how even precious material things like silver or untarnishable gold will perish, but with God, fragile, delicate, perishable human lives will come to a permanent, imperishable home in heaven. When Christ’s body died on the cross, he put an end to the perishability of our human flesh. The blood that Christ shed on the cross contained the life which would nourish us for eternity, meaning that death was a gate to be passed through, not a dead end. Being a ‘perishable item’ was no longer anything to be feared for God gives the gift of eternal life.

 But how to stop the death and decay? Peter reminds us of our baptism, being watered and planted as a seed in God’s garden to grow and blossom, safe in the knowledge that God’s life is in us and His protection is over us. And he also reminds us of God’s word, the daily or weekly diet of Scripture, of God’s promises, encouragement and hope that guide us through danger and nurture us with a love that, through grace, cannot perish.

So what about us today? Peter’s letter may be enough encouragement to keep our faith in God’s promises in the face of our fears about our world, our bodies, our families being perishable. But if that leaves you asking ‘what does that look like?;’ return to the gospel story, of two disciples walking to Emmaus. They knew Jesus was dead, and were struggling to believe the news of the resurrection.  Common sense said it was not possible to reverse what had perished, after all.

And yet Jesus joins them and walks with them along the road, guiding them through God’s word and the many times when God has saved his people from death and destruction. What was written and spoken word becomes living word as Jesus brings these timeless promises to life. 

The disciples are too weighed down with all that has happened in recent days, perhaps still grieving their friend and the life they’d led. But when Jesus takes, blesses and breaks bread, they recognise him once again. Luke says ‘then he vanished from their sight’ – telling us that Jesus has not perished, but that we have to learn to see him in new ways, and have faith that his imperishable risen life is with us when we find ourselves in troubled times. The resurrected Christ eludes easy identification, the visions and encounters with him soon perish, yet His loving presence endures – so that we see the fullness and the breadth of the new life and hope God promises us. 

Wherever the last few weeks have been for us, the label ‘caution, perishable items’ is not one to be feared, rather, it is a call to have faith that with God, our lives, our very souls are imperishable seed which will grow and flourish in God’s kingdom.    Amen.

Prayers for the week:

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father

Heavenly Father,  your Son showed us the human face of your boundless and unconditional love in his life, death and resurrection.  Help each of us also to love one another deeply, and so to live out our faith in love day by day.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Loving Father, we pray for your church throughout the world.  We ask for grace to share your living and enduring word with all your children and to show your love in all our actions. We ask your blessing on our Bishops Julian, Philip and Jill, on all clergy and lay ministers in our Diocese as they find new ways of being church during lockdown, and especially on Revd Carol and Pat.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized your Son in the breaking of the bread. Although we are unable to receive the bread and wine together, we thank you that in spiritual communion we can still come to Him, who gave his life for us, and He still receives us.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Almighty Father, we bring before you the leaders of the world as they try to find medical and financial resources to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to support those affected by it.  We pray that all national and local leaders may direct their efforts particularly towards those in the greatest hardship.  We ask your blessing on all working to care for those who are sick, hungry, homeless, seeking refuge or in distress of any kind, and we thank you for their courage and dedication as they face considerable challenges themselves.

In our parish cycle of prayer, we  pray for those who live and work in Alfred Street and Shaw Street, and we also pray for the work of our farmers and agricultural workers.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Creator Father, as the Church of England seeks to become carbon-neutral by 2030, we ask your guidance to find ways to reduce our own carbon footprint here at Christ Church, and thank you for the work of our Eco-Church Group.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Caring Father, we pray for all who are suffering, whether in body, mind or spirit, that they may feel the comfort of your loving arms surrounding them in their time of need.  We bring before you: Olive Niccolls, Youngblood McCray, Len Fletcher, Ernie Wilson, Pat Brooks, Freya de Lysle, Bill and Ivy Buckley, Michael Greenhalgh, Frank Jensen, John Fowler, Angie Topham, and any known to each of us.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Eternal Father, you raised your Son from the dead and gave him glory.  We pray for all who have died recently and especially for the souls of:  Elizabeth Warren, Joan Ross, David Harding, and Doreen Harrison (priest).

We pray also for those whom we still love but see no more.   May they all rest in peace and rise in glory.

We bring before you all who mourn the loss of loved ones, from whatever cause, and pray that they find trust in you and in your imperishable promise of eternal life.

Therefore, rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mark, and all the saints, we commend ourselves and all creation to Your unfailing love.

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

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

Spiritual Communion

For many of us, receiving bread and wine at the Eucharist is the foundation of our Sunday service, and the way we know Christ’s loving, sustaining presence in our lives, and specially at the big feasts of Easter and Christmas. From ancient times, the Church has held a service called ‘Spiritual Communion’ especially for those who could not receive the bread and wine of communion, for example when illness prevented it. Spiritual Communion has much in common with a Eucharist – we ask God for His help and forgiveness, we pray for ourselves and for the world, and we ask Christ to bring us closer to the community of love that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is the assurance that however ill or isolated we might be, Christ is there beside us, and we are part of His church family because of His grace and love, until the time comes when we can receive communion once again. As I pray the Eucharist each Sunday on behalf of the parish; thanking God for His many blessings and asking for His protection and care – you may wish to follow the Spiritual Communion service at home, using the day’s readings, prayers and sermon.

Post Communion prayer

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.

Christ Church Livestreaming

At 1030 am each Sunday, there will be a livestreamed simple Eucharist from the Vicarage – you can watch live via our new YouTube channel. At 6 pm on Sundays, she will stream Evening Prayer.  Rev Carol also plans to start livestreaming Compline (Night Prayer) on the channel each Saturday evening, Evening Prayer on Wednesdays at 6 pm, and Morning Prayer on Fridays at 8:30 am– more news later!  Our Diocese of Blackburn, and the national Church of England also have YouTube Channels where worship is regularly offered.

Joining in Christ Church Prayers

During the week, Morning Prayer is said at 8.30am and Evening Prayer at 6pm. You’re invited to keep these as times of prayer at home too, whether or not with the livestream (above) or on your own or with the family. If you wish to follow the readings and prayers, the best way is via the Daily Prayer app, or the Church of England website. Paper copies are also available for the Easter Season, so if you’ve not already got one, please let Rev Carol know.

This week, we also remember the examples of Saints Philip and James (on Friday) – do keep an eye on the Facebook page for more details about who these saints where, and what they can teach us today.

Prayer from Home

Why not try using the booklet that Rev Carol prepared on experimenting with new ways of praying during this time of lockdown and that containing Stations of the Resurrection?   She has also just produced an order of service for Communion during the Easter season and one for Night Prayer, which are being sent out as PDFs and are available on the website: http://christchurchlancaster.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Livestream-Communion.pdf and http://christchurchlancaster.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CC-Night-Prayer-Easter.pdf

Children’s Corner

Share a time when you’ve suddenly seen something differently.

What would you miss most if you couldn’t see it?

Family Prayer

Position yourselves in different ways so that you can see the room differently from normal e.g. upside down on the sofa, on the floor looking up, standing on a chair. Do you notice anything different seeing the room from that view? Share together things that you would like God’s help to see differently. Pray together: Thank you God that you help us look at things in new ways. Help us to have your eyes when looking the problems we face. Amen

Help, Prayer and Support:

If you need a hand with shopping, medicines collection etc in coming weeks, or would like a friendly phone call, or if you are able to help others in the parish out, please contact help@christchurchlancaster.org.uk or call/text 07539 583638 and leave a message, or contact us via our Facebook page.

We will be praying daily for all who are suffering in the current crisis. If you would like us to pray for you, or for someone you know, for any reason, please email your request to prayer@christchurchlancaster.org.uk  or text the Prayer Chain on 07980 351855. Please ask the person’s permission if you’d like them included in the weekly notices.

Virtual Coffee after the service

All are welcome to ‘meet up’ after Rev Carol’s livestreaming of the Eucharist this Sunday 26th April. Jacqueline will send out a Zoom invitation with a link for you to click to join in trialling this virtual social gathering, starting at 11:15 a.m. (Bring your own cuppa.)

Christian Aid Week 10th-16th May

Christian Aid Week is fast approaching – ‘As this virus spreads across the world, love rises up in response. You’ve already shown incredible kindness to your neighbours.  Now is the time to reach out to your neighbours both near and far. Your love protects. From storms, from drought, and now from coronavirus.  Your love protects our global neighbours battling the spread of this illness. Your love protects. With soap, clean water and medical supplies. By supporting us this Christian Aid Week, you can reach out and protect more of your neighbours today.’ 

Donations can be given by phone on 020 7523 2269 or online at www.christianaid.org.uk.   If you’d like to host a fundraiser (perhaps an online quiz, or a cook-a-long session, a craft-making activity, an art competition, a virtual hymn-a-thon or sing-a-long, a sponsored silence (or another personal challenge) – there are how-to details on the website, and do let us know more.

Thy Kingdom Come

This year the nine days from the Wednesday before Ascension Day to Pentecost start on the evening of 20th April.  Rev Carol has some prayer booklets for the Novena if you’d like to join in – she’ll also be saying Midday Prayer each day.

Pleas of the week:

Do you Gu? If you have any of the glass pots left over from Gu puddings, or any small jam jars (340g or smaller, clean, no lids) please would you donate them to Rev Carol, at the Vicarage, or she can collect them, before Ascension Day (21st May) – as a Pentecost plan is being hatched!

Lancaster Foodbanks are still desperate for donations: please help if you can, especially tinned vegetables and toiletries.  (They have a surfeit of soup and baked beans.)  You can leave food in the collection boxes in Dalton Square Pharmacy, local supermarkets, or take it to St Thomas’s Centre where the Olive Branch food bank is now based.

Don’t forget the appeal from Lancaster CVS for the Urgent Response Fund for local charities trying to mitigate the effects of  COVID-19 (letter last week).

Giggle (or groan) of the Week: (suggestions welcome)

Q.  Who was the first tennis player in the Bible?

A.  Joseph… he served in Pharaoh’s court.

Thought for the week

“Spring burst to-day, For Christ is risen and all the earth’s at play.”  Christina Rossetti, ‘An Easter Carol’. (27th April marks the church’s commemoration of this Victorian poet and hymn-writer.)

Eco-Church Group Action for the Week

With food supplies uncertain not wasting food is even more important

Key contacts:

Vicar: Revd Carol Backhouse 942105 revcarolbackhouse@gmail.com

Lay Reader:  Dr Pat Allen 39552.

Churchwarden: Dr Paul Thompson 34949

Churchwarden: Mrs Jacqueline Stamper 64083 churchwarden@christchurchlancaster.org.uk

Parish Safeguarding Officer:  Ms Jane Lippitt 07930 979503 safeguarding@christchurchlancaster.org.uk

Children’s Church: Mrs Liz Mills 67005

Nightshelter Co-ordinator: Ms Jan Norbury 07547 717 060   coordinator.nightshelter@gmail.com

Hall Bookings: hallchristchurch@btinternet.com 07890 351855

Christ Church School  Ms Emma Simpson 60955 head@christchurch-lancaster.lancs.sch.uk