5th July 2020

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

The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 5th June 2020

Fourth 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)

Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Zechariah 9.9-12

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the warhorse from Jerusalem; and the battle-bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

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

Psalm 145.8-15

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, long-suffering and of great goodness.

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised.

9 The Lord is loving to everyone and his mercy is over all his creatures.

10 All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you.

11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your mighty power,

12 To make known to all peoples your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;  your dominion endures throughout all ages.

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised.

14 The Lord is sure in all his words and faithful in all his deeds.

15 The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all those who are bowed down.

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised.

Romans 7.15-25a

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

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

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew (Matthew 11.16-19,25-30)

Glory to you, O Lord.

‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,

“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.”

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’

At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

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

Reflection

In my years as a nurse, and in my time as a minister, I’ve had the privilege of hearing several people describe their experience of AA meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous, has been going for nearly 85 years – offering a twelve step mutual support system for people in the grip of alcohol’s worst effects.

These stories about AA have struck me with the level of honesty and humility that are shared at meetings, and brought home to me how world-changing such openness can be. Honesty about even being an alcoholic when it’s hidden from friends and family. Honesty about alcohol’s effects on relationships, self esteem, finances… Honesty about how hard it is to escape the desire to drink.

Such honesty comes with a level of fragility and vulnerability that can seem scary and daunting. Honesty that is also humble – that none of us are perfect, that life isn’t always easy. But it also contains the power to change the world, it names the elephant in the room so that things can be different. Reading St Paul’s letter to the Romans today, we come across the same brutal honesty and knock-you-off-your-feet humility.

And I’ll be honest here, I sometimes struggle with St Paul’s writing – the times when he preaches about perfect holiness, the times when he demands a way of life that is alien, even alienating to my ears. So this excerpt from Chapter 7 of his letter comes as a relief. Paul is risking his own reputation – but he puts his cards on the table as a flawed and failed person. When it comes to sin, Paul cannot help himself.

We know what we should do, we just cannot seem to do it. We get closer and closer to doing the right thing – but greater is the temptation to do something less than perfect instead.  Words said 2000 years ago, yet just as true today.

All of us have made mistakes, or avoided living life in the fullness which God blessed us with. All of us get stuck in bad habits that blinker our vision and stop us seeing goodness in the way that God sees. It isn’t just each individual – but also our whole society, our human race – that time and time again falls short and messes up – the story of climate change is testament to that. Paul honestly admits this, admitting his weakness, and his limitations.

I was listening to a piece on the radio about how Covid has changed our attitudes to power and authority. The death rates, the fear and shock of being vulnerable to illness – have come with a humble realisation for many that none of us are invincible or perfect.

The programme suggested that has led our society to expect the same from our leaders – we want them to acknowledge their mistakes, their limitations as human beings like us, so we can trust them more for their honesty and humility. Sadly, the stakes feel too high for this to happen often.

But there comes a point when this pursuit of perfection, a perfect lifestyle, a perfect job or persona – becomes less than honest about the blood, sweat and tears that go into trying to pass off as perfect. Paul’s honesty, the honesty of an AA meeting, hopefully the honesty of our weekly confession in our worship and our honesty with one another –  come as the levelling point, that there are forces within and without us that are impossible to contend.

Paul walks into all of this and reminds us that whilst we all fail and fall short – that is not the overwhelming end of the story. Paul doesn’t just name us as sinful people, he names us as people who have a Saviour, a God who will save us each and every time we fall and fail. A God, who in Christ sees us honestly – and still wants to be our friend, and in fact rejoices in our company. A God, whose grace over flows, so that nothing we do or say can ever stop us being overwhelmed with love.

You might think that sounds rather bold, rather confident. Go back to Zechariah’s prophecy. Zechariah is writing to God’s people as they suffer exile and captivity in Persia. Some of the people expected a triumphant warrior to restore everything back to how it had been, a perfect leader restoring a perfect life of worship back in Jerusalem.

Zechariah says no. The leader who comes will be humble and riding on a donkey, he says. Christians read that as Christ, coming into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, riding on a donkey, and knowing that he will suffer the full, raw, honest pain of death on a cross.

This Christ will have an honest experience of the perfect and the imperfect side of human existence – which means that there is a humility about him. Jesus comes as a servant, not a warrior king – one willing to kneel in the dust to wash the feet of his friends. When Zechariah talks about prisoners being freed from the waterless pit –  there is the honest recognition that we spend much of our lives thirsting after perfection, yet if we begin to accept God’s love and grace, that thirst will be quenched.

Heaven knows it is a painful thing to say, I’m not perfect, I got it wrong, I’m not strong enough. Those who went to AA meetings said that the hardest thing to say was that they had a problem and they couldn’t defeat it all by themselves.

And Jesus says to each and every one of us, to the whole human race as we look for a new future: ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’. The words of absolution echo the spirit of what Jesus says. Be honest about what you’re carrying, how tired it makes you. Be humble enough to say you can’t go it alone, life’s  not perfect. And Jesus’ promise is that we can still come to Him, and we will be yoked to him, so that He helps share the load as the earth is turned over, a new furrow is ploughed, and new growth begins. Amen.

Prayers for the week (from Pat, our Reader)

Lord, your Son taught us that true peace and security are found in your service. May your church be a space for refreshment, renewal and inspiration amid turmoil and clamour. We pray for our diocese, for our bishops Julian, Philip and Jill, and for all the work of the churches in their communities. We pray for our parish of Christ Church, for Rev Carol our vicar, our churchwardens, and all who worship and serve you here. In our parish cycle of prayer, we pray for those who live and work in Dundee Street and Wyresdale Court. We also remember the children and leaders who normally attend our uniformed organisations. May all that we do reveal your presence with us.

Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Lord, your Son was reviled and attacked unjustly. We pray for all who are suffering persecution and oppression. We remember before you the people of Hong Kong, and pray that they may gain the freedom and justice that they seek. We pray for those areas of the world where there is war and conflict, and for all refugees and displaced people.

We ask your blessing on aid organisations bringing relief to all who are suffering from the effects of war, hunger and disease. Inspire the leaders of the nations to seek the ways of righteousness and justice.

Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Lord, your Son called the weary to come to you. We pray for all who carry heavy burdens, remembering those who have lost their jobs, unpaid carers, people who are lonely and isolated, the bereaved. Pour out your healing spirit on 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: 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 all those known to us who need your healing and your comfort at this time. Give to all who suffer rest for their souls.

Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Lord, your Son brought life out of death and hope out of despair. Raise all who have died to the brightness of your new day; remembering especially Arnold Reyes, Alan Jones, and Brenda Kendall. Restore in your image and glory all who have entered into your rest.

Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Therefore, rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the apostles Peter, Paul and Thomas, 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

Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken, you have fed us at the table of life and hope: teach us the ways of gentleness and peace, that all the world may acknowledge the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen,

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

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.

Opening for Private Prayer

Christ Church will be open for private prayer, and the opportunity to light a candle this, and forthcoming Sundays from 1pm-4pm, and Wednesdays 10am-12noon. Thank you to all the volunteers who are making this happen! Please keep within the marked areas, use the hand gel before and after your visit, and keep a sociable distance. If you have any symptoms of Covid, or have been told to self isolate, please allow two weeks before returning to church.

Returning to Worship

Following the lifting of some of the lockdown restrictions, churches can gather for worship once again, with extra precautions in place. Sadly, over the last 3 months, several storms have caused further damage to the roof and ceilings in Christ Church, and we are still awaiting investigation and repair works. Whilst part of the nave can be used for private prayer, some of the building still needs to be made safe. So, with Bishop Julian’s permission, we will begin worshipping in the Hall temporarily – a space which also allows us to follow guidance on cleaning, social distancing and movement a little easier. 

A thorough Covid-19 risk assessment has been made, which PCC have approved. Some of you may not be able, or feel ready, to return to worship yet. That is perfectly fine – we will continue to stream services on YouTube and produce a weekly pewsheet so that people can continue to worship at home. Should you wish to come to a service, please expect the following: 

If you have Covid symptoms, or have been told to isolate because you’ve had contact with someone who has, or are feeling unwell, please let someone know and don’t come to church.  

If you wish, you may wear a covering over your nose and mouth. 

Please gel your hands before and after the service, and before receiving communion. (Gel is available)

The windows and double doors will be left open (unless it’s really cold) to let air flow.

You will be asked to record your name and contact number on the sheet for traceability – we’re required to do this by law. This will be kept confidentially for 6 weeks. 

Please collect your own order of service and pewsheet. These are single use, so take them home with you at the end. You may bring your own order of service with you each week. 

Stewards will show you to a seat, and direct you for communion. 

There will be no hymn singing for the time being. Music will be played during Sunday 1030 services. 

If you come as a couple, family or household – you may move the seats to sit together. However, solo seats have a 2 metre distance around them. 

If we are expecting a full congregation, stewards will show people to a seat, filling from the front first (and the sides to middle) to minimise circulation

Children are very welcome to attend the service, but we cannot offer Children’s Church for the time being. 

Please continue to make your offering by Standing Order wherever possible. There will be an offertory box for cash or cheque donations, but no collection will be taken. 

Communion (bread alone) will be received standing, with a non-touch blessing for those who prefer. The priest will wear a mask at this point. 

There will be no refreshments after the service, and any conversations must happen outside from a sociable distance in small groups. The Hall, and all items that have been touched will be cleaned and disinfected between use. 

The first Eucharists will be on Sunday 12th June, at 8.30 and 10.30. Initially, there will be no midweek services – but this will evolve as we adjust to the new restrictions. As spaces are limited, we ask you to “book” in advance.  You can do this through Eventbrite via the links: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/christ-church-lancaster-eucharist-830-am-tickets-112091542822 for the 8:30 services and  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/christ-church-lancaster-1030-eucharist-tickets-112092136598 for the 10:30 Eucharists.  Please select the date(s) for the Sunday or Sundays you would like to come. Alternatively, just  contact Jacqueline (64083, 07808 765364 or email as below) or Rev Carol, and we will add your name(s). 

We continue to pray for all those affected by this outbreak – and for the church as we begin to grow again, giving thanks for all who have sustained the prayer and community at Christ Church in recent months. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact Revd Carol if you have any questions or reflections; or if you are able to help in any way. 

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:

Perhaps play a game of sleeping lions – who can stay the stillest for longest?!

What things do you worry about? When do you worry? Why do you think that is?

What do you do about your worries? How can you stop them bottling up?

Family Prayer

Clench your fists tight and each think of one thing you need to pray about that’s on your mind. As you say this prayer open up your hands as a symbol of letting go of your worries and leaving them with God, who cares and can do the impossible. Lord you ask us to give our worries to you. Help us not to waste time thinking about things that may never happen or we don’t have control over. Give us your peace. Amen

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

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

I’ve got a mate writing a book about life in the snow-plough business.

He says it will be a very gritty read.

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 7th July 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 Transformedonline study group starting TONIGHT at 6 pm – Zoom link below

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.  https://zoom.us/j/8069459310

Meeting ID: 806 945 9310 One tap mobile: 02080806591,,8069459310# United Kingdom or dial in: 0208 080 6591

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.

Church Cleaning – Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who came to help with the sociably distanced cleaning morning on Tuesday – the church is sparkling! The next cleaning mornings are on the 14th and 28th July – all welcome

Fundraising

Would you like to put the fun into fundraising? Thank you to all who contributed ideas to the meeting last Monday.  if you’d like to help, or if you have some moreideas, please let Hilary or Carol know.

Learn the recorder or piano

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, and in exchange for a donation to church funds. Please contact her on marlenephillipsmusic@gmail.com

Face Coverings

An update from Julie Buckley: So far we have received over £350 donations.. 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 me know. I have some children’s fabric being delivered later this week. Donations can be made via PayPal to PayPal.me/ JBuckley321

Befriending our homeless

 A befriending scheme is starting, to meet with people who’ve been homeless and are now in more permanent accommodation. It is to help people to make friends beyond existing circles, and to be welcomed into wider communities, as well as to offer practical advice and support to live well in permanent housing. If you’re interested, Rev Carol has more details. 

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:

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.                                  Mahatma Gandhi

Eco Group Action for the Week

Planned gardening days have not been possible during lockdown, but if you could spend an hour doing some weeding, etc., in the churchyard, alone or with your family, it would be very helpful. Please bring your own tools and speak to Liz Mills for any advice.

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/97427736489?pwd=ZEJacGg4WDNoRGtOSDNmVitjMTYrZz09

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