24th May 2020

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

The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 24th May 2020

Seventh Sunday of Easter

The order of service for our 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 streaming 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, ascended Lord, as we rejoice at your triumph, fill your Church on earth with power and compassion, that all who are estranged by sin may find forgiveness and know your peace, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Readings

Acts 1.6-14

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

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

Psalm 68.1-10,32-35*

Refrain: Sing to God, sing praises to his name.

   Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered; • let those that hate him flee before him.

   As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away;  • as wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

   But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;  •  let them make merry with gladness.

4    Sing to God, sing praises to his name;  exalt him who rides on the clouds. • The Lord is his name; rejoice before him.

   Father of the fatherless, defender of widows, • God in his holy habitation!

6    God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome, • but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name.

   O God, when you went forth before your people, • when you marched through the wilderness,

8    The earth shook and the heavens dropped down rain, at the presence of God, the Lord of Sinai, • at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

   You sent down a gracious rain, O God;  you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary.

10  Your people came to dwell there;  in your goodness, O God, •   you provide for the poor.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name.

32  Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; • make music in praise of the Lord;

33  He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens • and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice.

34  Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel,  •    whose power is above the clouds.

35  How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary,  • the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people! Blessed be God.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name.

1 Peter 4.12-14; 5.6-11

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

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

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John. Glory to you, O Lord.   (John 17. 1-11)

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

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

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

Last autumn I was helping with confirmation classes for our young people. I had cut out some pictures of scenes from the life of Jesus, and the children were identifying them and putting them into a timeline (you can see their work on the wall in the Lady Chapel – at least you will be able to, when we can open the building again). The pictures showed the nativity, Jesus’ baptism, his ministry of teaching and healing, the crucifixion, the empty tomb, Jesus’ meeting with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Then one boy said to me: “Then Jesus went up into heaven, didn’t he?” I said that of course he was right, but that I hadn’t been able to find a picture of the Ascension that didn’t look – well, silly.

The sort of image I had in mind shows Jesus literally rising off the ground, at about zero minus three, sometimes just with his feet showing at the top of the painting. In the cosmology of the time of course, the earth was a flat disk, the sky was a dome that fitted over it, and heaven was above the dome. So travelling in the direction of God was to go ‘up’. Because we now know that there is really no ‘up’, that beyond the earth’s atmosphere is the rest of the solar system and then outer space, we are uncomfortable with these images, and so, perhaps, with the concept of the Ascension.

It seems to me that the passage we read in Acts, like Luke’s account of the Transfiguration (with which it has many similarities), is an attempt to put into words a profound spiritual experience. It describes one of those times when the boundary between heaven and earth dissolves, and we get a glimpse of something beyond. As Thomas Merton wrote:

This is the grace of Ascension Day: to be taken up into the heaven of our own souls, the point of immediate contact with God.  To rest on this quiet peak, in the darkness that surrounds God.1

In her book Heaven, Paula Gooder expresses regret that, because there is no room for it as a physical space in modern cosmology, heaven has become a sort of optional extra in Christian belief. If we think of it at all, it is as a place to which we go (we hope!) when we die. However the Biblical view of heaven is quite different. It is the dwelling place of God, the other part of God’s unified creation: heaven and earth.  “Believing in heaven”, says Gooder, “is the ultimate rebellion against the idea that this world is all that there is. … [It] allows us to catch a glimpse of the world … as it might be. A world shaped … by the love and compassion of a God in whom absolute righteousness, justice and mercy reside; a world governed not by principles of self-interest … but by God’s principles of love, justice and compassion.”2

Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry telling us about that world, that he called the kingdom of heaven (in Mathew’s gospel) or the kingdom of God (Mark and Luke). It is a place where everyone is invited to the feast (Luke 14:15-24), where every single person matters (Luke 15:1-7), where the last shall be first, and the first shall be last (Luke 13:30). Jesus described a “new normal” for the world he lived in.

There is a lot of discussion and speculation about what may happen “when this is over”: when we get back to work, when schools open, when the economy starts up again. And there will be choices to be made.

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak (who seems, from a recent statement, to be a new convert to Keynesian economics) has promised investment for recovery. Will that be the sort of fossil fuel-powered recovery we saw after the 2008 recession? It doesn’t need to be. A new study from Oxford University3 suggests that projects which cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as stimulating economic growth deliver higher returns on government spending. Cameron Hepburn, the lead author of the study, has suggested that many stimulus projects could create jobs almost immediately. He cites energy efficiency programmes to insulate houses, the building of electric vehicle charging networks, redesigning roads for more cycling, flood protection and planting trees.

Could the new normal also include a society that respects and values the work of shop workers, bus drivers, hospital cleaners, refuse collectors – and pays them a living wage?

Could it see a properly funded system to care for the frail elderly, with decent pay and a career structure for carers? The tattered benefits safety net repaired, so that food banks become a thing of the past, a stain on our country’s history? Homeless people helped and supported into housing?

The road to recovery will be long and hard. Many people will continue to suffer. The food banks, unfortunately, will be with us for many days to come. It will be our business, as Christians, to care for the most vulnerable, but also to try to create a new and different society, one that looks more like the kingdom of God. That is our challenge, and our opportunity.

Last week I saw a newspaper article that gave me a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven. You may have seen the story. In 2012 Hasan Akkad fled from the war in Syria. He is now a hospital cleaner, working in a Covid-19 ward at Whipps Cross Hospital, London. Hasan describes his daily routine in these words:

Every day, I wake at the crack of dawn. I walk to my local hospital, put on my scrubs and my PPE. I sweat in it – mopping floors, disinfecting surfaces, cleaning everything that might be touched by a hand. … At the end of the day I return home to my partner, exhausted – emotionally, as much as physically …, and fall asleep.

A few days ago, on his way to work, Hasan read an article that said that NHS porters, cleaners and social care staff had been left out of a Home Office scheme granting families of health workers indefinite leave to remain in the UK if the workers die of coronavirus. During his lunch break he recorded a message to the Prime Minister, saying that he and his colleagues felt “betrayed, stabbed in the back”.

He posted the message on Twitter, and it went viral. Within a few hours it had a million views, and had been retweeted thousands of times. Unions and politicians started to put pressure on the Government. Just five hours after the initial tweet, the Home Secretary announced a U-turn: the bereavement scheme would be extended to all NHS support staff.

That is how the kingdom comes. That is how the will of God gets done on earth, as in heaven: when people join together in solidarity with the poor and the excluded, and fight for a fairer world.

If the Ascension gives us a glimpse of heaven, it is so that we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, may work and pray to spread that kingdom of love and justice here on earth. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as in heaven. .  Amen.

1. Merton, Thomas (1953) The Sign of Jonas. New York: Harcourt Brace, p.48

2. Gooder, Paula (2011) Heaven. London: SPCK, p.101

3. Cohen, Daniel (2020) Green stimulus can repair global economy and climate, study says, Guardian, 5 May [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/05/green-stimulus-can-repair-global-economy-and-climate-study-says (Accessed 22 May 2020).

Prayers for the week:

Generous God, we thank you for the power of your Spirit. Strengthen us to serve you better. We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.  Reveal in our lives the love of Jesus.

Lord, come to bless us and fill us with your Spirit

Loving God, Jesus prayed that we may be one, as you and he are one.  Inspire the leaders of your church thoughout the world to focus on those things which unite us. Bless our Bishops Julian, Philip and Jill, and Revd Carol and Pat, and all who serve you in this community, as we try to keep your word by doing your work here. In the wisdom of your Spirit, make us wise to understand your will, and with its gifts equip us to do the work you have given us.

Lord, come to bless us and fill us with your Spirit

We pray for our Muslim brothers and sisters today as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr in lockdown, and in our parish cycle of prayer, for those who live and work in Albion Mews and Balmoral Road.

We also pray for the work of Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council, and all their staff, especially those assisting our homeless colleagues.

Lord, come to bless us and fill us with your Spirit

We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit. Bring reconciliation and wholeness where there is division, sickness and sorrow. Unite your world in care for all your children.  Protect those made homeless by Cyclone Amphan in India and Bangladesh, with rescue work complicated by social distancing and fear of the pandemic.

Lord, come to bless us and fill us with your Spirit

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit. As our brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing suffering, we pray:

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, Bill and Ivy Buckley, Michael Greenhalgh, Angie Topham, Richard Impey, Bishop Paul Swarbrick, Norman Trewhitt, Stephen Gardner, and those known to us to be in need of your healing Spirit.

Lord, come to bless us and fill us with your Spirit

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit, given us by the risen Lord.  Keep the whole Church, living and departed, in the joy of eternal life, remembering especially those killed in the ‘plane crash in Karachi, David Harding and Doreen Harrison.

Send your Comforter to all who grieve to reassure that their loved ones have been called to eternal glory in Christ.  

Lord, come to bless us and fill us with your Spirit

Generous God, you sent your Holy Spirit upon your Messiah at the river Jordan, and upon the disciples in the upper room: in your mercy fill us with your Spirit, hear our prayer, and make us one in heart and mind to serve you with joy for ever.  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, giver of love and power, your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world to preach the gospel of his kingdom: confirm us in this mission, and help us to live the good news we proclaim; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

Thy Kingdom Come

We’re in a season of nine days of prayer, a global novena called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ as we await the promised Spirit at Pentecost.  For more prayer ideas and acts of worship  – www.thykingdomcome.global

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

Next Sunday, from 1.30pm – 4.30pm there had been plans for a Lancaster Churches Together Pentecost Picnic in the Park. It’s still happening – now online via Facebook live! Bring a picnic and share in prayer, worship and live music from the comfort of your own sofa. Look up Lancaster Church thoes Together, there’s a link on our own Facebook page.

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 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.

Prayer4

Starting on the 9th June, Prayer4 is a fortnightly space to pray, at 4pm on Tuesdays. All are welcome to join (online via zoom) – for 30 mins of reflection, music, stillness and prayers for people and places – login links to follow.  For more information, please ask Rev Carol.

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

Ask the children to make a cross out of home-made play dough. Try this recipe here:

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/playdough-recipe

Stop the activity part-way through and ask the children how they would feel if they weren’t able to finish it. Then allow them time to complete their ‘work’!

Can you think of any jobs around the house that haven’t been finished? Whose responsibility are they? How can you all help to get them done?

How much did it cost Jesus to finish the work he needed to do? How can we thank him?

Family Prayer

Pick one job that needs finishing in the home and work on completing it together. Whilst doing the work you may like to listen to some music and reflect on how you can say thank you to Jesus for finishing his task.      Try – Worthy is the Lamb – by Darlene Zschech

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.

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.

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

The Dentist’s Hymn:…………..Crown Him with Many Crowns

The Contractor’s Hymn:………The Church’s One Foundation

The Golfer’s Hymn:……………..There’s a Green Hill Far Away

Thought for the week:

‘Whatever you do with your life, go on listening to the voice of Jesus in your heart.’     Henri Nouwen

Eco-Church Group Action for the Week

We can’t currently raise money for WaterAid from our book stall so please think about supporting WaterAid’s hand washing campaign to reduce the spread of viruses. https://www.toilettwinning.org/tap-twinning/

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