3rd May 2020

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

The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 3rd May 2020

Fourth Sunday of Easter

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

Revd Carol’s livestreaming of the Eucharist is available from 10:30 am on Sunday and at any time thereafter on the Christ Church YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPoAvGj4K9085RV8zo0ZS9Q

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

Collect (Prayer for the week)

Risen Christ,  faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep: teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command, that all your people may be gathered into one flock, to the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Readings

Acts 2.42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

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

Psalm 23

Refrain: I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

1  The Lord is my shepherd;  ◆ therefore can I lack nothing.

  He makes me lie down in green pastures  ◆and leads me beside still waters.

I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever

3  He shall refresh my soul  ◆  and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

  Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil;  ◆ for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

5  You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;  ◆  you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.

6  Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,  ◆ and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

1 Peter 2 .19-25

For it is to your credit if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, where is the credit in that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’

When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

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

John 10. 1-10

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

‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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.

I’ve recently finished reading Tom Holland’s book, Dominion. He charts the influence of Christian ethics and values on the Western world over the last 2000 years; and it makes for a fascinating read.

For the Greeks and Romans of Jesus’ day, society was a survival of the fittest. Those who didn’t have wealth or health would die abandoned. The idea of charity, and caring for the weak was an alien concept. If a woman’s husband died, she might be taken in by her son – but was to be regarded as a piece of property who should earn her keep.

My attention was gripped in the chapter where Holland shows just how radical Christianity was within the Roman world, and how many lives were changed because slaves were no longer regarded as property, but as human beings worthy of God’s love. We glimpse this energy and momentum all the way through the New Testament.

Every year, after Easter, we read through the book of the Acts of the Apostles, hearing again of how the disciples were transformed by the gift of the Holy Spirit and led all across the Mediterranean world to welcome others into the rapidly growing Christian family. Today’s readings hint of what an exciting time that must’ve been, and the strength of faith which lay within this movement.

These early Christians had yet to work out much of the doctrine and theology that would define them as ‘Christian’. But they sought to live their lives as closely as possible to Jesus’ example – by prayer and worship, through care for the poor and destitute, and by seeking God’s kingdom breaking into their world.

We hear that as the apostles begin a community where there was no distinction between rich and poor, and where each received as had need. These communities attracted slaves and women in droves – the people who previously had lived lives where they were less than human, and of no account.

Now, God took human form as a servant from Galilee – and lifted up that abused, sub-human existence to glory on the cross. When St Peter wrote to the churches many years later, he reminded them that Christ offered a new way. To be clear, Peter does not suggest that suffering is a legitimate existence for those who are abused, oppressed or coerced. Peter does not say that abuse should be tolerated, nor that God’s name can be invoked when abuse is carried out.

Rather, he points out that Christ models a new way, of holding fire when under attack, resisting the knee-jerk response of ‘an eye for an eye’. Hard lessons to learn, then and now, and especially for slaves who would know only the flight-or fight reaction – but in Christ was another path (‘the Way’ as it became known) where suffering harm does not have to trigger further harm. Whenever we suffer ridicule or abuse, this does not determine our worth in God’s eyes. God opens life-giving options to us instead.  As Mary sang when she waited expectantly for the birth of Christ,

‘He has mercy on those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm and has scattered the proud in their conceit, Casting down the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.’

Saint Luke noted those words at the beginning of his Gospel, and they would run like a thread through his writing into the Acts of the Apostles. Clearly, this concept of God who cared for the lowest, lost and least came as an unsettling shock for many.

Into this world, Jesus speaks of sheep and shepherds. Remember that shepherds were often despised and regarded as unclean, so Jesus immediately identifies with those who are cast out to the margins.

Jesus is the one who knows his sheep by name, all of them, even the wayward, recalcitrant or stupid ones. How unlike Roman slavemasters, and a society which regarded slaves as unnamed property. He is the gate for the sheepfold, offering a way to eternal life when others threaten to steal life and identity and worth – and was willing to give up his life for the sake of just one sheep. For people who were being treated like animals, or worse – here was the revelation that that there was someone willing to die for their sake. 

And as we know from other parables, Jesus is the shepherd who will ceaselessly search for the 100th sheep, out of compassion and love, when market forces would suggest this is a pointless thing to do. For us, these ideas of Jesus the Good Shepherd seem comforting and familiar. They would have sent shockwaves across Roman society.

How should we react? Psalm 23 offers us some useful insights. It’s written by a lone voice, describing a very personal relationship with God, where God provides food, rest, shelter, blessing and an honoured place at table.

But when the Psalmist says ‘the Lord is my shepherd’ there is an acknowledgement that they too are part of the flock, one of a crowd. This is about the bigger picture, a movement such as that which Luke breathlessly reports at the beginning of Acts. And its trajectory comes through our world today.

Many people have started to share what they would like to see when ‘all of this is over’ – and that after lockdown, want to see a new kind of normal, one where we don’t replicate the mistakes of the past. As a Church, the flock who follow Christ’s voice along this third way, we have a voice in leading society onto another path, one which models Christ’s shepherd-like, radical care. As Christians, we have another choice – to seek human worth and dignity especially for those at the bottom of the pecking order because these are the people closest to God. To regain the Spirit-filled energy of the earliest Christians in seeking God’s kingdom on earth. It is a kingdom that will change worlds and empires for thousands of years to come.     Amen.

Prayers for the week (from Pat, our Reader):

In joy and hope let us pray to the Father.

That our risen Saviour may fill us and all his church with the joy of his glorious and life-giving resurrection, we pray to the Father.

We pray for our parish of Christ Church, for Rev’d Carol our vicar, our churchwardens,  and everyone supporting the church’s mission while in lockdown.

We pray for all who attend services in live-streamed or written form, that they may find them a comfort, an inspiration and a blessing.

In our parish cycle of prayer, we  pray for those who live and work in Denis Street and De Vitre Street.   

We also remember those who work in our transport system, especially those in haulage and drivers of public transport.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

That he may provide for those who lack food, work or shelter,  we pray to the Father.

Especially we pray for all who have lost their jobs or their livelihood during the lockdown, for families and individuals who are struggling with poverty. 

We pray for the guests who came to our Night Shelter, now in temporary accommodation, that they may get the help they need to avoid going back to street homelessness.  

Bless the work of foodbanks, community groups and charities supporting those in greatest need.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

That by his power war and famine may cease through all the world, we pray to the Father.

As the UN warns that millions of people are at risk from multiple famines, we pray that the nations and people of the world will work together to help those affected.

May leaders of nations, groups and factions in all areas of conflict heed the UN’s call for a worldwide ceasefire, and allow help to get to those who need it.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick, the weak and the dying, to comfort and strengthen them,  we pray to the Father.

We pray especially for those suffering from Covid-19 in hospitals and care homes, and for the NHS staff and carers looking after them.

We bring before you: Olive Niccolls, Youngblood McCray, Ernie Wilson, Pat Brooks, Freya de Lysle, Bill and Ivy Buckley, Michael Greenhalgh, Angie Topham and Richard Impey, and for all those known to us who need your healing touch.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

That, according to his promises, all who have died in the faith of the resurrection may be raised on the last day,  we pray to the Father.

We pray for the souls of all who have died recently, remembering especially David Harding and Doreen Harrison (priest).

May the Holy Spirit comfort all who mourn.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

Therefore, rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles Philip and James, 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

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

Merciful Father,  you gave your Son Jesus Christ to be the good shepherd, and in his love for us to lay down his life and rise again: keep us always under his protection, and give us grace to follow in his steps; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

Christ Church Livestreaming and other resources

At 1030am each Sunday, there will be a livestreamed simple Eucharist from the Vicarage – you can watch live via our new YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPoAvGj4K9085RV8zo0ZS9Q.  At 6 pm on Sundays and Wednesdays, Revd Carol will stream Evening Prayer, with Morning Prayer on Fridays at 8:30 am and Compline (Night Prayer) at 9 pm each Saturday evening.   

Our Diocese of Blackburn and the national Church of England also have YouTube Channels where worship is regularly offered. As May (the month of Mary) begins, St Laurence Chorley have prepared a service entitled ‘Words and Music in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ which will be available on their YouTube channel from 3 pm on Saturday 2nd May: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOv4VstARg4R_Pgb4qgBGmQ/videos

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 livestreams (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 example of Julian of Norwich (Friday 8th May) – do keep an eye on the Facebook page for more details about who our saints were, and what they can teach us today.

Prayer from Home.

Why not try using the booklet that Revd Carol prepared on experimenting with new ways of praying during this time of lockdown and that containing Stations of the Resurrection?   She has also produced an order of service for Communion during the Easter season and one for Night Prayer, which 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

(Please let Jacqueline know if you’d like her to email a PDF or send a print copy.)

Children’s Corner

What is your favourite thing that Jesus said?

Why is it important to listen to each other? What can help you to listen better?

Family Prayer

There’s a story in the Old Testament of a boy called Samuel who heard God speak. He said the words, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Ask Jesus to speak and then sit quietly for 3 whole minutes – share what you think Jesus might have been saying at the end of the very long 3 minutes of silence! Pray together:

Thank you, Jesus, for the things you want to share with us. Help us to always be listening to you. 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 11:30 a.m (to give people time to make their own cuppa after the service!).

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 https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/christian-aid-week   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:  www.christianaid.org.uk .

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!

The Olive Branch and Morecambe Bay 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 the Coop on Quernmore Road, 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.

Thank you, parents – you’re enough!

Our gifted Lancaster Christ Church School children, including some of our recently confirmed youngsters, feature in this uplifting video which is being viewed nationally from the Church of England YouTube channel #FaithAtHome.  As all the children quite rightly say: “Thank you, parents – you’re enough.” https://youtu.be/FTnyICpSVMA    

Thank you also to our dedicated Christ Church School staff who made their parts of the video possible.

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

Q.  Why do shepherds never learn to count?

A.  Because they would always be falling asleep!

Thought for the week

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”    Aesop

Eco-Church Group Action for the Week

Try to plant and grow your own vegetables to become more self sufficient  in the future.

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