21st June 2020

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

The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 21st June 2020

Second Sunday after Trinity

The order of service for our streamed Communion during Ordinary Time 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/2020/06/Livestream-Communion-OT.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)

Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Genesis 21.8-21

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac.  So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.’ The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son.  But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named after you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, ‘Do not let me look on the death of the child.’ And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.  And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.  Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

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

Psalm 69.8-11,18-20*

Hide not your face from your servant, O Lord.

 For your sake have I suffered reproachshame has covered my face.

9 I have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother’s children.

10 Zeal for your house has eaten me up; the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me.

Hide not your face from your servant, O Lord.

11 I humbled myself with fasting, but that was turned to my reproach.

18 Answer me, Lord, for your loving-kindness is good; turn to me in the multitude of your mercies.

19 Hide not your face from your servant; be swift to answer me, for I am in trouble.

Hide not your face from your servant, O Lord.

20 Draw near to my soul and redeem me; deliver me because of my enemies.

Hide not your face from your servant, O Lord.

Romans 6.1b-11

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

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

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew    (10.24-39)  Glory to you, O Lord.

‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother,

and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

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

Reflection from Pat, our Reader

(also available to listen to on the website)

Today we heard the story of Hagar, from the book of Genesis. It makes uncomfortable reading, and neither the patriarch Abraham nor his wife Sarah comes out of it looking very good.

The story has its beginning earlier in Genesis, when Abram and Sarai (still using their original names) are facing up to their childlessness. Sarai gives Hagar, her Egyptian slave, to Abram as his second wife. It is the language of giving and taking that is used here; Hagar has no agency and no choice. Sarai’s plan succeeds. Hagar gives birth to Abram’s son, Ishmael. Where we join the story this morning, God has granted Abraham and Sarah their new names, and also a son of their own, Isaac, who is to be his father’s heir. Sarah now believes that the presence of Ishmael threatens her own son’s inheritance, and tells Abraham to “cast out this slave woman with her son”. Abraham has some misgivings, but (with the approval of God) he sends Hagar and her son off into the wilderness of Beer-sheba. (He does give her some bread and a skin of water: hardly enough to warrant a “caring dads” video for the Dove commercial.) As Phyllis Trible writes: “Hagar is powerless because God supports Sarah. Kept in her place, the slave woman is the innocent victim of use, abuse and rejection.”1 She calls such stories from the Bible “tales of terror”.

It may be tempting to gloss over the story of abuse, so that we can get as quickly as possible to the happy-ish ending, where God makes it (nearly) all right. When their water runs out, Hagar sits down, resigned to the death of her child, and probably her own death as well. Just then an angel speaks to her, and when she opens her eyes she sees a well of water. They survive. Ishmael grows up and marries an Egyptian woman.

However if we ignore the hurt and terror, or if we say “that’s just the way things were back then”, we diminish the story. It is the victim whose presence here has the power to teach us the lesson we may not wish to hear. She is the “symbol of the oppressed”, as Trible says. She is the African slave in America, escaping from the plantation, being hunted down like an animal. She is the asylum seeker, clutching her child on an overcrowded boat, the British Afro-Caribbean man in the detention centre, waiting to be deported to a country he doesn’t remember.

The killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis has sparked a world-wide protest movement, that is refusing to go away. One of its effects has been to remind us, as the statues fall, of Britain’s colonial past, the sins of empire, and in particular British involvement in the slave trade. That past is always with us here in Lancaster. We just need to look at the lovely Georgian buildings, the Sugar House, even the Robert Gillow pub, to be reminded of where the wealth of our city originated, in unimaginable human suffering. Like Hagar’s story, like the tales of terror, in order to learn from that history we must look at it honestly, without trying to sanitise it, or look for a happy ending.

However, in spite of the best efforts of some politicians, this is not a culture war about statues. There are very real issues to be addressed in British society. I wonder how many of you watched the drama documentary Sitting in Limbo, broadcast a couple of weeks ago. It tells the story of Anthony Bryan, who came to England as a young child, to join his mother who was one of the Windrush generation: British subjects invited to come to Britain to help with the post-war labour shortage. Anthony Bryan had lived here for 50 years. He had a job as a painter and decorator, a home and a family.

In 2015, when Mr Bryan applied for a British passport, the Home Office’s immigration enforcement contractor told him he would be deported from the UK as he had no right to stay. He lost his job, as his employers were warned that they could face a heavy fine for employing an illegal migrant. He could not claim benefits. After an unsuccessful appeal for leave to remain in the UK, he was taken to a detention centre, and was about to be deported to Jamaica when a last-minute intervention by an immigration lawyer allowed him to stay.

His case is typical of about 160 people who were illegally detained or deported, most of whom have still received no compensation. The Windrush Lessons Learned Review (whose publication was long delayed and then quietly buried in the Covid-19 crisis) concluded that the Home Office is a racist organisation that has formalised the inhumane detention and removal of a large number of vulnerable people. The ‘hostile environment’ policy that caused the Windrush scandal remains unchanged.

The Home Office is not alone. Racism exists in all ancient institutions, including the churches. Last week it was revealed that an African-American man was turned down for a curacy in the Church of England because he is black and the congregation of the church ‘monochrome’ white (as they put it). “As an African-American … with parents and grandparents who lived during the civil rights movement, I was under the understanding that my race has nothing to do with my ability to minister,” he said. “I think the church has institutional issues with [racism].”2

In my view the church’s responsibilities go way beyond putting its own house in order, although that would be a useful first step. We as Christians need to do everything in our power to fight the evil of racism wherever it exists, in the institutions of state, in our communities and in our own hearts, those of us who were born and brought up in a racist society. However liberal we like to think ourselves, we all have deeply rooted prejudices. We all need to learn.

Racism has no place in the kingdom of God. Jesus went out of his way to engage with, and show respect to people who were generally regarded as inferior, or treated with fear and suspicion: women, Samaritans, foreigners, people with disabilities. In today’s Gospel reading he tells us that the God who sees the sparrow fall counts the hairs on our heads. In other words every individual is important to God, every human being is loved by God. “God shows no partiality”, as Paul put it. Or, in the words of Desmond Tutu: ‘People of faith cannot be neutral on this issue. To stand on the sidelines is to be disobedient to the God who said we are created, all of us, in this God’s image.’3

In 1985 Archbishop Tutu visited England, and I went to hear him preach in Bradford Cathedral. The apartheid regime was in power in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was still in prison. He was the most charismatic preacher I have ever heard. I remember him saying that racial discrimination, and indeed discrimination against any group of people based on their physical appearance, background or beliefs, was blasphemy. Racism is “the ultimate blasphemy,” he said, because it “can make a child of God doubt that she or he is a child of God.”

We need, in Desmond Tutu’s words, to “have the courage to listen”. Listen to Hagar, the African slave. Listen to the voices of the past. Listen to what the Black Lives Matter movement is telling us right now.

1. Trible, Phyllis (1984) Texts of Terror. London: SCM Press, p.28

2. BBC News (2020) Black Durham trainee vicar denied job at ‘white’ church, BBC News, 17 June [Online]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-53064929 (Accessed 19 June 2020).

3. Sukraw, Tacy J. (2002) Desmond Tutu says racism is the ‘ultimate blasphemy’, The Episcopal Church [Online]. Available at https://episcopalchurch.org/library/article/desmond-tutu-says-racism-ultimate-blasphemy (Accessed 19 June 2020)

Prayers for the week:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for living and loving in us and through us.  Give us grace to take up our cross and follow you, wherever you lead us.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Eternal Father, help your church throughout the world proclaim your Good News from the housetops, and to be a shining light of hope and the voice of the voiceless.  Inspire our Bishops Julian, Philip and Jill, and all your ministers, with the zeal of the first disciples.  Bless Revd Carol, Pat, and all who serve you here at Christ Church, especially Audrey and Julian who do so much behind the scenes to care for our church.  Help us all to share each other’s burdens, especially in this separation, and to keep working to grow your Kingdom in this place.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Almighty Father, extend your peace, pardoning love, mercy and grace to all nations.  Give wisdom to all trying to contain the spread of Covid-19 and stimulate economic recovery from it.  Guide all in positions of influence to value every individual, whatever their race or faith, for their unique gifts, just as you know every sparrow that falls. Strengthen those working in medical research and in aid agencies, and bless the work of churches, charities, foodbanks, and local councils trying to protect the most vulnerable and marginalised in our own country.

In our parish cycle of prayer, we pray for those who live and work in Elgin Street, Dunkeld Street, Perth Street, and we bring before you the work of the Gregson Community Centre. 

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Creator Father, our wonderful world was made by your love.  May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings, and so protect your creation.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Nurturing Father, you care deeply about every one of your children, created in your own image.  We pray for the lonely, the anxious, the fearful, for families under financial or relationship strain, and for those awaiting tests or treatment.  May those who are suffering in mind, body or spirit know your loving presence with them in their dark times. We especially 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, Ann Gilbride and Sitar Rose;and those whom we know to need your healing touch.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Eternal Father, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We pray for the souls of Norman Trewhitt, Arnold Reyes and Alan Jones, now in your everlasting presence. 

Draw those who mourn closer to you, and may the light of your promise fill them with reassurance, hope and comfort.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Therefore, rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, John the Baptist 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

Post Communion Prayer

Loving Father, we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son: sustain us with your Spirit, that we may serve you here on earth until our joy is complete in heaven, and we share in the eternal banquet with Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

* Recorded by Christ Church Virtual Choir: Revd Carol, Jean, Pat, Jacqueline, Andrew McCafferty.

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.

Festivals this week:

Wednesday 24th 6pm – Evening Prayer for the Birth of St John the Baptist   (Christ Church YouTube channel)

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.

Children’s Corner:

How do other people make you feel special or important?

Have you ever thought about talking to God about the little things in your life? He cares about everything that you care about. Play a game where the children must guess the number of sweets in a jar. How close to the correct number was the nearest guess? There are some things that are very difficult/impossible to count, for example grains of sand on a beach or stars in the sky but when God looks at us the Bible says he immediately knows how many hairs we have on our head!

Have a look outside for birds. When you find some, see if you can find out what they are called.

Family Prayer
Thank you, God, that you see that (name type of bird you spotted) and you care about it. Thank you that we are much more important to you than that bird and we can trust you because you want what is best for us. Amen

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

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

Q.  What birds spend all their time on their knees?

A.  Birds of prey

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.

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)

A People Transformed

The people of God have historically and globally worshipped under all circumstances including threats, war and persecution – and for us, now, in a time of pandemic. They have had to ask new questions about what it means to continue to live out their calling to be a faithful presence and prophetic witness in their communities under new circumstances. ‘A People Transformed’ is a 4 session small group resource exploring those questions by drawing on the experience of the early church recorded for us in Acts.

The course runs at 6pm via zoom every Sunday in July – and will be followed by a short service of evening prayer. If you’re not able to connect but would still like to follow the course at home, please let Rev Carol know.

Re-opening for private prayer

We hope to open the Lady Chapel in church for private prayer as of Sunday 5th July. We’re looking for volunteers to be in church to welcome visitors, gently encourage sociable distancing where needed, and to help clean round at the end of the session, on Sundays 1-4pm and Wednesdays 10-12pm. If you are able to help out either on a particular date or on a regular basis, please let Revd Carol or Jacqueline know. This will run during July, until further guidance is issued from the government about when we can safely open for public worship once again. 

Sociably-Distanced Cleaning Morning!

Please can you spare an hour (or two) on Tuesday 30th June from 10am to help get the church ready as we begin to open for private prayer? All help is gratefully received. Please bring gloves, and, if you can, a packet of antiseptic wipes.

Pastoral Visiting

Now that restrictions have lifted to allow sociably-distanced meetings outside, it’d be lovely to meet more of you and get to know you better, although I appreciate that shielding rules are still in place for many. If you’d like to talk, and if there’s a convenient time and place, please let me know – 942105 or revcarolbackhouse@gmail.com

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.

Face Coverings

An update from Julie Buckley: so far we have made 50 masks and people have contributed £164, with a few payments still expected either in cash, or to be paid directly into church funds . Many thanks to Marion who has also sewn beautiful masks and to others who have donated some fabrics. 

If anyone wants masks made to order, let Julie know. As well as the current stock, I have some chidren’s fabric being delivered later this week. Payments can be made via PayPal to PayPal.me/JBuckley321.

Music Lessons

Now is the perfect time to learn a new instrument. Marlene has offered to give individual lessons via Skype or Zoom in recorder or piano in exchange for a donation to church funds. Please contact her on marlenephillipsmusic@gmail.com

Pleas of the week:

The Olive Branch and Morecambe Bay Foodbanks are still desperate for donations: please help if you can, either by putting food and toiletries in the collection boxes, or giving money for them to buy what is needed: https://www.the-olivebranch.org.uk/donate/ or https://morecambebay.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money/

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.

Thought for the week:

“Those who do not run away from our pains but touch them with compassion bring healing and new strength.”                  Henri Nouwen

Eco Group Action for the Week

As we learn new ways to food shop, find suppliers of locally grown, organic vegetables, including smaller shopkeepers, who are increasingly happy to deliver.

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/93116839661?pwd=ZWI2VkI1YWg2TDA5MmJNbVhETGwvUT09

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