10th May 2020

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

The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 10th May 2020

Christian Aid Week

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, your wounds declare your love for the world and the wonder of your risen life: give us compassion and courage to risk ourselves for those we serve, to the glory of God the Father.   Amen.


Acts 7. 55-60

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. Thanks be to God.

Psalm 31.1-5,15-16*

Refrain Into your hands I commend my spirit.

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame;  ◆  deliver me in your righteousness.

 Incline your ear to me;  ◆  make haste to deliver me.

 Be my strong rock, a fortress to save me, for you are my rock and my stronghold; ◆  guide me, and lead me for your name’s sake.

 Take me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me,  ◆  for you are my strength.

 Into your hands I commend my spirit,  ◆  for you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Into your hands I commend my spirit.

15 ‘My times are in your hand; ◆  deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.

16  Make your face to shine upon your servant,  ◆  and save me for your mercy’s sake.’

Into your hands I commend my spirit.

1 Peter 2 .2-10

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it stands in scripture:

‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone,   a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’

To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,

‘The stone that the builders rejected  has become the very head of the corner’,  and

‘A stone that makes them stumble,  and a rock that makes them fall.’

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Once you were not a people,  but now you are God’s people;   once you had not received mercy,  but now you have received mercy.

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

John 14. 1-14

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

‘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. Praise to you, O Christ

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

How many of you have seen the film ‘Home Alone’? One of those Christmas holiday favourites, perhaps, telling the story of a young boy who’s accidentally left behind when his family go abroad on holiday. Whilst our attitudes to child protection have changed a lot in the last thirty years, the film still plays into the scariness of being left home, alone, out of fear of what disasters might happen.

That fear of being left home alone is there too in Thomas’s words to Jesus in our gospel today. Thomas has known Jesus for three years and has come to regard him as a friend and teacher, a relationship so close it is almost family. But in these farewell discourses of John 14, Jesus is telling his disciples everything that they will know as he prepares to leave them, and leave them in charge.

And Thomas doesn’t want to be left, alone or in charge. The weight of the responsibility which Jesus is handing over is a daunting prospect, so Thomas tries to stay close to Jesus, following his steps on the way, so that he doesn’t get left behind. He’s like a child grieving for a parent, full of questions about when Jesus will be back.

And then come the comforting words we often hear at funerals – in my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places… I go to prepare a place for you so that you may be where I am. Jesus’ very being, his very identity is God in human flesh – the God who is love, the source, the power and the life of all love in the universe. He’s talking about heaven – being in God’s house, a giant heart of a home with room for everyone whom love unites. Heaven is being close to God, and being loved completely for who we are; beloved and precious children of the Father.

In that moment of Thomas’ bleak isolation, Jesus draws close, with the assurance of God’s company and eternal life and love. But Philip is thinking the same as Thomas. He needs to see proof, he wants visible, tangible evidence for what Jesus is saying to them. For it is easy to think you are home alone, and the fear can set in when we can’t see God at work around us, or sense Jesus sitting with us.

Jesus’ reply to Philip can seem like a tough riddle, especially as there’s a note of exasperation in his tone. Jesus asks us to believe and trust that all of God the Father is in him, and that all of him is in God the Father. When we try to describe the Holy Trinity, we encounter that same, mind-blowing description of how God is present in three persons, yet is one united God.

No wonder Philip struggled to understand, so Jesus helps him along. When you see good works; things which are kind, loving, gentle, peaceful – that is where God is at work, says Jesus. If you know the Taize chant Ubi Caritas, it expresses it perfectly: Where there is selfless love and charity, God is there.

Not that we do good deeds to invoke God’s presence, but that God stirs up the desire to do good, and gives the gifts, strength and resources to make good things grow and flourish. You might not see Jesus physically walking and talking when good things happen, but God in is those acts of selfless kindness, completely bound up in the practicalities of love in action in a riddle that words can’t quite express.

Those of you who have seen the painting “Good Friday 2020″ by Polish Jesuit Vyacheslav Okun* might recognise the force of these words. It shows Jesus’ body being gently taken down from the cross, and surrounded by medics wearing pandemic-protective equipment. God is at the centre of endless acts of kindness, especially when we care for another as if they were Christ Himself, knowing that they too are a beloved, precious child of God.

This Christian Aid week, we remember and celebrate those many acts of kindness, the love-in action which is demonstrated by an organisation which has spent over 70 years fighting injustice and helping people out of poverty, in the belief that with Christ, there is life before death.

Remember that kindness is not just about being nice to someone else. ‘Kindness’ has its roots in the word ‘kin’ – the people we are related to, the people we have affinity and love for, as in kindred spirits, or kith and kin. The people whom we make our home amongst. God makes His home amongst us, Jesus calls us his kin – whether rich or poor, his loving presence is constant.

By the same token, we make ourselves at home with God, knowing that Jesus is kindred with us, in the joys and sorrows of our lives. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, God is at home there, ready to welcome us into the loving home of his presence.  Whatever our doubts, our failings, our weaknesses, that welcoming embrace is there, just as it was for Thomas and Philip. We too can be comforted by Jesus’ words, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’, for we can be at home in him.      Amen.


Prayers for the week:

At the start of Christian Aid Week we offer this special prayer from Christian Aid:

God our Mother and Father, we praise you for the blessings you shower upon us. Bless the lives of our sisters and brothers and their precious children. In life’s saddest moments, may we feel your love most, O Jesus. Continue to dwell in our hearts, Lord. May your love keep us strong.  Amen.

Heavenly Father, give us all grace to follow your Son as the way, to share His truth with others, and to live the life to which he calls us.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

Loving Father, bless your church throughout the world as it shows your love in action during these difficult times. Guide and strengthen our church leaders, especially Bishops Julian, Philip and Jill, and Revd Carol and Pat, our Reader, as we all find new ways of being church. Thank you for the prayer and fellowship that bind our church family together.  

In our parish cycle of prayer, we  pray for those who live and work in Edward Street and Wyresdale Gardens.  We also pray for the staff, pupils and families at Castle View Community School, and Christ Church Primary School.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

Almighty Father, give wisdom to the leaders of the world as they make difficult decisions on next steps, balancing public health protection and economic recovery, national interest and global collaboration.  Keep the needs of the most vulnerable paramount in their minds. Bless all working to find vaccines and improve testing.  Thank you for the agencies such as Christian Aid helping those most in need around the world, and those keeping local people safe and adequately fed.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

Nurturing Father,  we offer the national prayer for this outbreak:

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy.

Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In particular, 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 those whom we know to need your healing touch.

And we join with this prayer from Chloe (one of our Children’s Church)

I pray for everyone to stay safe in these difficult times. 

I especially pray for Grandad Ted in his care home and all the people looking after him. 

I also wish for the NHS to stay safe, we are proud of them doing a great job, keep going.

Lastly I pray for all my friends and family, I can not wait for you and me to see each other.   Amen  x

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer

Eternal Father, hold in your loving arms all who have died recently, safe in the everlasting home you have prepared for them, remembering especially David Harding and Doreen Harrison (priest). 

Comfort all who mourn the loss of loved ones with the knowledge of the presence of your Holy Spirit.

Lord, in your mercy  Hear our prayer.

Therefore, rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Matthias the Apostle, Julian of Norwich,  and all your 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

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

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

Christ Church Livestreaming and other resources

At 1030 am 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  .  There’s an order of service available on the Christ Church website.   

During the week, Morning Prayer is live-streamed on Friday at 0830, with Evening Prayer at 6pm on Wednesday and Sunday. Compline is at 9pm on Saturday. Each day, prayers are offered at 8.30am and 6pm –  do join in from home. These can be followed using the Daily Prayer app, and paper copies are available from Rev Carol.  

(If you know someone without internet access who’d like to join in, please tell Jacqueline – she’ll try to organise someone to telephone them and put their ‘phone next to their PC/laptop/tablet, etc. so they can participate.)

Our Diocese of Blackburn, and the national Church of England also have YouTube Channels where worship is regularly offered.

As of this Sunday, some of our online services can now be recorded in the church building – following guidance from our Bishops. Sadly, we cannot gather again as a congregation until the lockdown begins to lift, and our return to ‘normal service’ will be very gradual in coming months, to ensure that we continue to protect the most vulnerable in our community from infection.  As we read through Acts, we hear how the first Christians worshipped at home – and this pandemic has shown that we can be a church family away from a beautiful church building, and that our prayer is valid wherever we find ourselves.

The Daily Hope Phoneline

On Sunday the Archbishop of Canterbury launched a free national phone line to help bring worship and prayer to homes across the country whilst our churches remain closed.

It is available on 0800 804 8044, and contains music, reflections, prayers and readings.

This week, we also remember the example of Matthias the Apostle (Thursday 14th May) – do keep an eye on the Facebook page for more details about who Matthias was, and what he can teach us today.

Children’s Corner

Can you finish this phrase Jesus said?  “I am the Way….”

Try to learn the words. Perhaps an adult at home knows a song from their childhood!

Can you think of any other “I am” sayings of Jesus? Here are some clues … looks after sheep, free drink, staple food, opposite of death!

Use the internet to find the sign language for “Way, Truth and Life” or if you prefer, make up your own actions. https://www.signbsl.com/sign/way

Use the signs as you say this prayer together:

Thank you, God, for providing Jesus as the Way to You, the Truth about You and the Life we can now have because of Your love and forgiveness. 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.

The Lancaster Guardian website has a list of local businesses that are still operating, many offering home delivery or collection of orders:


Christian Aid Week 10th-16th May

Although lockdown restrictions affect most of the world, Christian Aid’s work continues, especially in helping the poorest communities struggling with the effects of Covid19. This week, there are a whole host of prayer and fundraising activities available, as Christian Aid raise awareness of their global work.

To give via a red e-envelope: phone 020 7523 2269 or

go to https://donate.christianaid.org.uk/Donate

To join in the online Christian Aid Service (including a sermon from Rowan Williams, the retired Archbishop of Canterbury): https://www.christianaid.org.uk/christian-aid-week/daily-prayer-reflection?utm_campaign=20200427-CA-CHU-Resources&utm_content=img-body-LiveStream&utm_medium=email&utm_source=christianaid

If you’re running a virtual quiz (or other fundraiser) this week – do let me know!

And to sign the Christian Aid Petition to the UK Government to support global response to Covid-19 in the poorest nations: https://climatejustice.christianaid.org.uk/ingodsnamecovid19/?fbclid=IwAR0Qp_h-jgLfzm3ABhMHPmEHLXz8DOMYvuQfz9RCO3CdYdYVmVRC0QCRTnk

Thy Kingdom Come.

Each year, between Ascension Day (21st May) and Pentecost (31st May) there are nine days of prayer – a novena – as we await the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christians globally are taking part in a wave of prayer called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. We’re asked to pray for more people to come to know Christ in their lives, and for the Spirit to stir the church afresh. Each day, I’m encouraging us to join together and pray at midday – the service will be available through the website, YouTube and Facebook. If you’d like a free booklet of prayer ideas, please let Rev Carol know.


Thank you to all who have donated jam jars! With Marion’s help, these have now been upcycled, and are ready to help us celebrate Pentecost. Each Easter, we light the Paschal candle in church as a symbol of Christ’s light shining in the world. At Pentecost, we share that light, and take it out into the world as a symbol of the Spirit at work. Using previous years’ Paschal candles, there are now enough candle-jars for everyone to have a share of Christ’s light at home, and we’ll bless these lights as part of the 1030 Pentecost service. Please would you let me know your address so that I can deliver one to your doorstep? Or if you’d prefer to collect from the Vicarage, or can help take some to friends and family.

Also, there will be children’s craft bags available with the story of Pentecost and some activities inside it. Suitable for ages 3+ owing to some small parts, and will need some adult supervision. If you’d like one (or a couple for friends to share), please let me know.

Contemplative Christianity Event 22nd November Please see the attached flyer for this event on Sunday 22nd November, 7:00-9:30 pm, at St Bernadette’s Church in Lancaster.  It includes a retreat based on the Christian meditation practices from the teachings of the Benedictine monk, Fr John Main. There is no charge for the event, but places are limited.  For bookings, contact Paul Wyre (telephone 07760 198814 or email wyre.paul@yahoo.co.uk).

Pleas of the week:

The Olive Branch and Morecambe Bay Foodbanks are still desperate for donations: please help if you can, especially tinned vegetables and toiletries.  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.

Virtual Coffee after the Sunday morning service

All are invited to ‘meet up’ at 11:30 am each Sunday, following Rev Carol’s streaming of the Eucharist. Jacqueline will email the Zoom link for you to join this virtual social gathering.  Hope to see you there!

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

Q.  Did you know they had cars in Jesus’ time?

A.   Yes- the Bible says that the disciples were all of one Accord.

Thought for the week:

Let us stand together for equality, for dignity,  for justice, in the world.  From a Christian Aid Week prayer

Eco-Church Group Action for the Week

Support Christian Aid as they try to prepare communities to limit the impact of Covid-19.

(See the link above to sign the petition for climate justice for the poorest in the world.)

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