17th May 2020

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

The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 17th May 2020

Sixth 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)

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 in us he may raise us to eternal joy; 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 17.22-31

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,    “For we too are his offspring.”

Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.  While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

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

Psalm 66. 7-18

Refrain: All the earth shall worship you, O Lord. .

7  Bless our God, O you peoples; •  make the voice of his praise to be heard,

Who holds our souls in life •  and suffers not our feet to slip.

9  For you, O God, have proved us; •  you have tried us as silver is tried.

10  You brought us into the snare; •  you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.

11  You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; •  but you brought us out into a place of liberty.

All the earth shall worship you, O Lord.

12  I will come into your house with burnt offerings and will pay you my vows, • which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

13  I will offer you fat burnt sacrifices with the smoke of rams; • I will sacrifice oxen and goats.

All the earth shall worship you, O Lord.

14  Come and listen, all you who fear God, •  and I will tell you what he has done for my soul.

15  I called out to him with my mouth •  and his praise was on my tongue.

16  If I had nursed evil in my heart, •  the Lord would not have heard me,

17  But in truth God has heard me; •  he has heeded the voice of my prayer.

18  Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, •  nor withheld his loving mercy from me.

All the earth shall worship you, O Lord.

1 Peter 3.13-end

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

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

John 14. 15-21

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

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.   This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’

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.

It has been wonderful seeing so many rainbows in windows around Lancaster as I’ve taken my daily exercise. After the storm, look for the rainbow – that symbol of hope as our second reading reminded us, the promise that nothing will ever destroy the earth again in the way that Noah’s Flood did. As Noah’s family, and the animals and birds were called into the ark, two by two, they became a community that patiently waited out the storm together, ready to emerge when the rainbow finally shone.

It has been hard to begin to hold together the many different experiences people have had in this pandemic. One of the most helpful pictures for me has been of sailing through a storm – where each person is in a different boat, riding the waves and the danger in different ways. And when the safety of the harbour still feels a way off, it feels to me like we’re in an odd time of waiting at present, both internationally and nearer home.

Waiting to come out of isolation, waiting to get going again, waiting for normality to resume, waiting catch up with all that has changed in the last two months, waiting for news we dread to hear. For some, that’s an anxious or frustrating time. Others are happy to make the journey slowly, or they’re busier than ever. Others are hanging on to the benefits which this time of exile and change has brought.

Same storm, different boats, and many experiences of the fear, loneliness, change and strain which lockdown has brought with it. And as we slowly leave lockdown, we wait for our society to heal, we wait to become used to others’ company, and we wait to learn to trust our fallible, weak bodies once again. We wait, trusting in God’s abiding grace and mercy, patience and love.

Much of the Christian life is also spent waiting; whether waiting to hear God’s voice in prayer, or waiting for healing, or waiting for revelation and redemption. Usually, our church forms a place where we can gather, like a fleet of ships sailing together, journeying towards the safety of the harbour where Christ’s light shines out of the darkness to guide us home. But recent months have scattered us, and we’re slowly, slowly being able to sail together again.

Throughout the centuries, the church’s journey through storms is unusual, but deeply attractive. We sail together, knowing that God guides us through the darkest storms, that a safe harbour awaits us, and with the confidence that we never travel alone. God holds this fleet together out of love, and draws closest to those who have most to fear from the storm. On this side of the harbour, the church is not perfect, but its strength of hope and care is like nothing else on earth.

The Church year, with its calendar of readings, helps remind us that in the days after Easter, Jesus’ disciples were waiting too. They saw many of the prophecies fulfilled by the risen Jesus. And this week, after Jesus had ascended into heaven, they waited for the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost. In today’s Gospel, Jesus had tried to tell his friends that they would need to wait for the Holy Spirit after his death and resurrection.

Jesus’ words would have sounded strange and cryptic – and the disciples would discover that the Holy Spirit would come in the rushing of the wind and in tongues of fire. They had no idea what they were waiting for. But then Holy Spirit binds the disciples together and makes them into a church community, and binds them into the abiding family that is Father, Son and Spirit.

So when Paul arrived in Athens and began preaching, he had something deeply attractive to say. Before, the Greeks had ‘hedged their bets’ – worshipping lots of gods and idols in the hope of getting somewhere. Paul changes course, teaching that Jesus Christ makes known a God who is about relationships, who can bring a motley crew together into a community, and shows the power of love to care for the weak and vulnerable stragglers more than the leaders at the front.

One God, who knows each of us as His children, who gives us a second chance, who provides all we need to live and love, and be part of communities and churches. God, who took on our weak flesh and blood to show that, through Christ, He wants a relationship with us, and we can choose to respond in our relationship with Him. The second reading, from Peter’s letters, shows us how powerfully we are bound to God in baptism, what God will do for us because we are bound to Him in love. In travelling through the storm, God waits patiently for us, just as we wait for Him.

Like Noah in the ark with his family, the animals and birds, we find ourselves waiting out the storm with others whom we may or may not like. Different ideas, different habits, different ways. For the disciples too were a motley bunch, waiting in Jerusalem with people of every tribe and language and nation. We don’t know how patiently they waited, or if they had any inkling of what they were really waiting for.

But the Holy Spirit came, and in wind and flame knitted them into a community that declared God’s love, and lived life in the way Jesus had shown them. We too are waiting today – waiting for the pandemic to be over, waiting for Pentecost, waiting for many other things to stir in our lives. My prayer today is that the Holy Spirit stirs among us, that given all our differences and anxieties and weaknesses, we are knit together as a church community – bound together and steering towards a closer relationship with God. As we travel together, abiding in the Holy Spirit’s company, may we too draw those who have most to fear from the storm closest to God.  Amen.

Prayers for the week:

Heavenly Father, as we wait on you, help us to be strong and take heart in these uncertain times. Bind us all closer to you in love and in doing your will.

Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Loving Father, you do not live in shrines made by human hands but in every home and heart. Bless our church leaders, and especially our Bishops Julian, Philip and Jill, Revd Carol and Pat, and all who love and serve you in our community here. Thank you for drawing us closer together in your service.

In our parish cycle of prayer, we  pray for those who live and work in Moor Lane and East Road. We also bring before you the staff, pupils and families at Central Lancaster High School and Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Almighty Father, inspire the world’s leaders to commit to a global ceasefire in order to concentrate on fighting the global pandemic and coping with the deep financial challenges it brings. Bless the work of Christian Aid and other agencies supporting those in greatest need, and we pray especially for the refugee camps and all whose housing conditions make them particularly susceptible to Covid-19.

Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Creator Father, guide the leaders of the world to work for climate justice both at home and abroad and to protect those most at risk from climate change.

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.

Especially we bring before you: Olive Niccolls, Youngblood McCray, Ernie Wilson, Pat Brooks, Freya de Lysle, Bill and Ivy Buckley, Michael Greenhalgh, Angie Topham, Richard Impey, Bishop Paul Swarbrick, Norman Trewhitt, and those known to us to be in any kind of need.

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, 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

God our Father,  whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life:

may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness,  through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.    Amen

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

Hymn: Thine be the glory (produced by Andrew McCafferty and performed by him, Jean and Jacqueline)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqzvDb6Dwnk&feature=youtu.be

Ascension Day and Thy Kingdom Come

This week, there will also be a Eucharist for Ascension Day at 6pm on Thursday 21st May. This begins nine days of prayer, a global novena called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ as we await the promised Spirit at Pentecost. www.thykingdomcome.global – for more prayer ideas and acts of worship

You’re encouraged to pray for more people to come to know Christ, and for the Spirit’s guidance as the church evolves and reaches out. Each day (21st May-30th May at noon, there will be a time of prayer (via Youtube should you wish) – with the order available on the website or as a paper edition.

Pentecost Live – 31st May

‘Pentecost Live – Praise and Worship together – Live from Home! Sunday 31st May, 1.15-4.30pm. Join Churches Together in Lancaster for an afternoon of prayer and music, streamed from their Facebook page. Bring your own picnic, and enjoy a festival-at-home!’ (See poster attached to this mailing.)

Christ Church streamed services and other resources

At 1030 am each Sunday, there will be a streamed simple Eucharist from Christ Church – 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.  

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

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.

Children’s Corner

Play a game of Simon Says…

Can you think of any rules you have in your home and why you have them? Who made them? Why did they make them?

How can we show Jesus and other people that we love them? When was the last time we did something loving for someone or for Jesus?

If we only spoke to each other to say thank you for our food at meal times and then not again all day, or just once a week on a Sunday morning, we wouldn’t feel loved. Think about ways as a family you could talk to Jesus more often so that you can share feeling loved.

Family Prayer

Lord, we have so many reasons to love you. Thank you most of all for loving us first and coming to die for us. 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.

Pentecost

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.

Christian Aid Week

It is not too late to donate to Christian Aid! To give via a red e-envelope: https://donate.christianaid.org.uk/Donate (or phone 020 7523 2269) 

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

Our Offering

The pandemic has affected us all in different ways. The work of the church looks very different now to three months ago, not just at Christ Church but also across the church family, to which we offer our prayers, time, skills, and also our money. Support is still needed – both in the upkeep of Christ Church, and to help churches in poorer areas of our diocese continue God’s mission. You may need to give a little less to the church because of current money pressures – that is fine. You may be able to give a little more – even for a short time – to help with ongoing costs and to weather the absence of groups using our buildings. Whatever is given is gratefully received with thanks.  Please have a word (in confidence) about what may be possible for you. (Jacqueline is our Planned Giving Officer.)

An effortless way of additional giving is to sign up to Easyfundraising, which turns your everyday online shopping into donations to Christ Church.  Go to:

https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/christchurch/?q=christ%20church%20lancaster&cat=cause-autosuggest

Fundraising

If you have some fun ideas for further fundraising – events, activities, other suggestions – please let Rev Carol know. Hilary Thwaytes has kindly offered to coordinate a group to help raise funds – volunteers very welcome!

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.

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

Q.  Why didn’t they play cards on the Ark?

A.   Because Noah was always standing on the deck.

Thought for the week:

“We come to God, not by doing it right, but by doing it wrong.”  Richard Rohr

Eco-Church Group Action for the Week

Share any spare home grown fruit or vegetables with neighbours and friends nearby. 

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