14th June 2020

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

The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 14th June 2020

First Sunday after Trinity

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

Collect (Prayer for the week)

God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Readings

Exodus 19.2-8a

They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.’

So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

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

Psalm 100

The Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting.

1 O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth; serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song.

2 Know that the Lord is God; it is he that has made us and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

The Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting.

3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;  give thanks to him and bless his name.

4 For the Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting, and his faithfulness endures from generation to generation.

The Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting.

Romans 5.1-8

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

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

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew (9.35  –  10.8 [9-23])

Glory to you, O Lord.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

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

Reflection (also available to listen to on the website)

Rephidim is not one of those places you hear much about, yet it is a turning point in the Biblical story, and it is a place that finds resonances in many people’s lives. After the people of God had escaped slavery in Egypt, just after Passover when they crossed over the Red Sea and began to wander in the wilderness, they came to Rephidim. They had thought they were free, and safe. And then reality hit – there was little food or water in the desert. There was a long journey ahead. They did not know where they were being led to.

Rephidim is a place where the people question their leaders, and question God. Rephidim is a place where the people were in desperate need. Rephidim is the place where people doubted if they could really trust God. How many of us have visited Rephidim, even for a short time?

And just before today’s story from Exodus, the people prayed, and Moses prayed, and God made water flow out of the rock and gave them manna to eat. We learn that Rephidim was a place of God’s provision, a place where God responded to the questions and made a promise that the people could trust in.

I had my own Rephidim moment as a teenager.  Like many 16 year olds, I was feeling a bit rootless, questioning who I was and what the world was all about. And one holiday, I stopped in front of a shop window, waiting for family to catch up.  It was a Christian bookshop, and the display included a framed picture of the poem, Footprints. You may well have seen different versions of it:

One night I dreamed a dream. As I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,

One belonging to me and one to my Lord. After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.

“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you. Never, ever, during your trials and testings.  When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.”

That wonderful verse in Exodus, about being carried by God on eagles’ wings into freedom is so powerful, and has inspired many people across the years. Since my own Rephidim moment, the path has not always been easy, and the wilderness has still felt dangerous and testing. But the path felt easier, because I knew a little something about grace.

And grace. There’s a word we use a lot in church, but it means that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favour. There is nothing you can say or think to make God love you any more, or any less, than how much you are loved right now. All the doubts, the questions, our needs and hungers  – grace is the place where God provides, God responds, God makes a promise that we too can trust in. For me, that realisation was my Rephidim moment.

The path, maybe even the rest of the wilderness ahead won’t always be blissfully easy – sorry about that! But this is Paul’s wisdom in his letter to the Romans. Nothing we can do can stop Christ dying to give us eternal life, nothing we can do can stop Christ opening the gate to welcome us into God’s loving presence.

But Matthew tells us of Christ’s compassion for the crowds, their desperation to be helped and healed. And he sends his disciples into the crowd, with the seemingly impossible commission: Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. It probably felt like a Rephidim moment for them: yet Matthew doesn’t tell us that they questioned Jesus or God. We don’t hear of their qualms and doubts, or even of their own need of God in the midst of so much need.

The disciples walk away, out among the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The grace they had encountered in Jesus sustained them, and even carried them through the darkest times of all. And thank God they did – because their legacy is still with us today, and that God’s grace carries us too – through our dark times, our Rephidim moments of doubt and darkness and hunger. For Christ calls each of us out of Rephidim, out to share that grace, that unconditional favour and love, with a world that longs to hear it. Amen.

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

Lord of the harvest, send labourers for your church to proclaim your kingdom.

Raise up vocations to lay and ordained ministries. Bless and guide all who preach the word, and those who are reaching out to others in your name and in love.

We pray for our parish of Christ Church, for Rev Carol our vicar, our churchwardens, and all who worship and serve you in this parish.

We pray for the PCC meeting this week, that you will guide their discussions and decisions.

In our parish cycle of prayer, we pray for those who live and work in Gregson Road, Dumbarton Road and Argyle Street. Also for the work of the Ridge Community Centre, especially their support for those in community who need extra help at this time. 

Strengthen all the baptised to live and announce your kingdom.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord of all the world, inspire men and women to political service, to transform unjust structures, to work for peace and justice and to care for the earth. We pray for all who are suffering from racial prejudice and discrimination, that their voices may be heard, and real change may come about in peaceful ways. We pray for those areas of the world where there is war and conflict: for the people of Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan; and that a peaceful resolution may be found to the political and economic crisis in Lebanon.

In our own community we continue to pray for all who are suffering from the effects of the economic recession, and those who are anxious about the future: may they get the help and support that they need.  We give thanks for lives dedicated to the good of all.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord of compassion, your Son proclaimed the good news and healed the sick. Pour out your spirit all who are sick, or suffering in body, mind or spirit, in hospitals and hospices, or at home, and bless and strengthen all who care for them. We pray especially for those suffering from Covid-19 throughout the world, especially in those countries where the health system cannot cope. In our own community 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, Stephen Gardner, Eddie Barandino and Ann Gilbride; and we pray for all those known to us who need your healing touch. Restore us to wholeness with you.

 Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Lord of life, we rejoice in the fellowship of all your saints. Open the gates of heaven to all who have died, and comfort those who mourn. We remember especially Norman Trewhitt and Arnold (AJ) Reyes. Grant to all you faithful servants eternal peace.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Therefore, rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary 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. 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 at 1030 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 Father, we thank you for nourishing us with these heavenly gifts: may our communion strengthen us in faith, build us up in hope, and make us grow in love; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

  • Anthem : Howells – Jubilate “Collegium Regale”

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 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. Amen

Church Online

At 1030am each Sunday, there will be a streamed simple Eucharist – you can watch on the Christ Church Lancaster Youtube channel. There’s an order of service available on the 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.

Tonight, at 6pm, there will be a special evening service, led by the Royal School of Church Music. Our choir will be singing along – why not join them? Ron has copies of the music available, and you can listen in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRQivlwyTqw&feature=youtu.be

Zoom Prayer

Perhaps you’ve found yourself praying more during lockdown? Tuesday 23rd June is the next meeting of Prayer4 – 30 minutes of prayer, at 4pm every fortnight. There’ll be a short Bible reading, some music, some stillness, and space to pray for the people and places on your heart – all from the comfort of your own sofa. Zoom details: https://zoom.us/j/8069459310?pwd=TlV6QUQ5UVdiK0p1M0Q0cE0vRXIvUT09

Meeting ID: 806 945 9310 Password: ChristChch

Dial in: 0208 080 6591  Meeting ID: 806 945 9310 Password: 310771 (any queries see Rev Carol)

Children’s Corner:

Who do you like to follow? (Jesus? A singer? A footballer?)

Have you ever had to stand out from the crowd because you follow Jesus? How did you feel?

Use strips of coloured paper to write words such as loving, kind, compassionate, helpful, forgiving, on and to decorate. Once done, loop the paper strips together to make a paper chain, symbolizing that these are the qualities people should see in us as followers of Jesus and that we are all part of one family, encouraging each other when it is hard to be loving, forgiving or selfless.

Family Prayer

Put some dried pasta shapes in a bowl (e.g. penne) and then add in one piece that is a different shape (e.g. fusilli). Give each person in the family 5 seconds to put their hand in the bowl and try to find the ‘stand out’ piece of pasta. Whoever finds it gets to read out the prayer:

Lord, help me to be special like you Jesus, and to be prepared to be your disciple, even if it means being different to those around me. Amen

(There’s also a YouTube story for this week on Christ Church’s Channel)

Giggle (or Groan) of the week – suggestions welcome!

Q:  Who was the Bible’s most flagrant lawbreaker?

A: Moses, because he broke all 10 commandments at once.

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.

Fundraising

Would you like to put the fun into fundraising? We’re looking at putting together a group to plan some fundraising events and activities in coming months – if you’d like to help, or if you have some ideas, please let Hilary or Carol know.

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

Face coverings for church funds

Julie Buckley is offering to making face coverings – in exchange for donations to church funds. Please contact Julie on buckleys@live.co.uk.

Church re-opening for private prayer, etc.

On Monday, Standing Committee met, and recommended that we would begin to open the church for private prayer, and any funerals, as of the 4th July 2020. Whilst the national restrictions are lifting, the ‘R’ value is still high in Lancashire – and we want to gently return to the building so as to keep people safe. In addition, there are several urgent repair and maintenance works which need to happen in the building, which would make immediate opening difficult.  The PCC will discuss this further next Wednesday.*  There is no news yet on when we can reopen for regular worship – I will let you know when I know more details myself. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We will also need extra people to help with cleaning and preparing the church, so if you are able to offer, please say.

However, there is no pressure for anyone to return to church immediately, especially if you are shielding yourself or others. If you usually ‘do’ things in church which you don’t feel able to return to in coming months, please let me know. 

*Please keep the Council’s decision-making in your prayers when it meets on 17th June at 7:30 pm.

Pleas of the week:

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

The Children’s Society

Are running an Emergency Coronavirus Appeal to support over 200,000 vulnerable children during this time of crisis. As more traditional means of fundraising are not possible, they’ve asked for donations to continue their work with children who are suffering abuse, neglect or mental health issues. www.childrenssociety.org.uk/lifeline or 0300 303 7000.

Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary

Refugee and asylum seeker families have been incarcerated in their homes in a foreign land with no access to the activities that L&MCofS usually provides nor social contact with other families, etc. L&MCofS is setting up a twice-weekly opportunity for them to have fun together safely, over Zoom, with stories, games, songs and crafts. To do this, they need to raise £2,000.  Please donate via JustGiving on the L&MCofS website or FaceBook page, or online banking to Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary Sort code: 16-15-21 Account No: 53994921 – please mark your donation Family Learning Project.  Thank you for helping to break the isolation of families, maintain their mental health and encourage the development of their English skills. For further information please contact dorotheawilliamson@hotmail.com or Diane Lamb on cityofsanctuaryrecruitment@gmail.com

Thought for the week:

“God is much in the difficult home problems as in the times of quiet and prayer.”  Evelyn Underhill (d. 15 June 1941)

Eco Group Action for the Week

Take this opportunity to enjoy and provide for nature whether you have a sizeable garden or a few pots on a balcony.  It’s not too late to attract the pollinators by building a bee hotel and  planting native flowers and herbs.

Virtual Coffee

All are warmly welcome to join our virtual get-together over Zoom after the 10:30 Sunday Eucharist, starting at 11:30. The link to join is:

https://zoom.us/j/92455123695?pwd=R2hhMGZaVllmWTQ5UWNkUW9QVk5mdz09

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