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Sunday Service for the Welland Fosse Benefice 2nd August 2020 Trinity 8

Sunday Service for the Welland Fosse Benefice 2nd August 2020 Trinity 8

Sunday Service for the Welland Fosse Benefice 2nd August 2020 Trinity 8

 

 

Please click on the above link to watch the service.

 

The Boy with his packed lunch. The man, looks back Matthew 14:13-21

I remember that day so well. Jesus was coming to our area, around Capernaum. Everyone was talking about him, about the miracles he did, his speaking. Some said he had been sent by God, that maybe he was, the Messiah. I guessed some friends of mine might be going and I might tag along too. My Mum had been baking and said take some food with you. Your friends are not as fortunate as we are and would like some bread and take those fish you caught; I grilled them last night. So, I did. We boys could have a feast wherever we ended up, which turned out to be out in the wilderness out near Tagbah as we followed where Jesus came ashore. We all felt like our ancestors wandering in the wilderness for all those years. It was windy out there so I worked my way round so I could see Jesus and hear him on the wind. There were so many people, thousands, really and I soon lost my friends and forgot about my lunch. I hardly noticed the sun dipping. But Jesus’ helpers, disciples, did and suggested we were sent out to get some food. I was alright with my loaves and fishes – perhaps I could share my food with Jesus while others were out buying their own. Mum had told me his cousin John had just been killed. But, no Jesus said to the 12 disciples – you give them something to eat. What would happen? Would it be like when God provided manna and quails in the wilderness? The disciples came to us asking if we had brought any food. So, I put up my hand and showed tm the little loaves and the fish. They ushered me forward in front of this great crowd. No one else had brought anything and the disciples looked sad, but Jesus took my little loaves and small fish. He broke the bread like the priest does in the Temple and prayed the Berakah “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.” The bread was broken and blessed and then the disciples, not Jesus came around everyone and fed every one of us. Elisha had once fed 120 men with a few small loaves but there were thousands of us and just those 5 loaves that had been broken and two fish.

Broken; Later I would learn that Jesus’ body was broken on a cross, executed by the Romans, broken for the sins of the world, my sins, your sins and my mind was drawn back to that miraculous day in the wilderness. On that day it was broken, we had enough to eat and wow, were we full  So full that when the disciples cleared up there was sufficient to fill 12 man sized baskets, taller than I was back then – all from my 5 loaves and 2 small fish. No one went away hungry and the leftovers were enough to feed folk in the little communities nearby, the next day. Because the bread was blessed, broken and distributed we were all filled for the day. But the next day I was hungry again and ate and the next day and so on. Jesus said “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” My small loaves fed us all for a day, with the fish. Jesus feeds us forever.

I understand in your modern world you have not been able to celebrate eucharist and break the bread as we do and I am sorry for that but you have been filled with that bread and will be filled again, I am sure and what we have received already, feeds us and prepares us forever for eternal life with Jesus. I may not have had my one to one meal with Jesus that day with my 5 loaves and 2 fishes but everyone, including my friends, wherever they’d got to were able to be fed because of God’s love and compassion for us. Was that a miracle? Well yes, I guess it was. There were many miracles that day, people healed, lives changed but this feeding was special because it changed all of us. Not because we were no longer hungry but because Jesus had shown his love to all of us and used his followers to distribute and share that love as all of us were fed.

And Jesus still does just the same. He still loves us, still feeds us and still uses his followers to go out and give life for the world. He still mends broken hearts and fills empty lives and blesses us all and uses his followers to distribute and deliver that grace, as he did on that day in the wilderness, symbolised in that mosaic you have seen, which is still there in my home church in Tagbah. So, will you, as followers of Jesus deliver and distribute the love of Jesus like those disciples did with my packed lunch? I hope so. Amen

READINGS FOR SUNDAY 19TH JULY 2020

READINGS FOR SUNDAY 19TH JULY 2020

Readings for this Sunday the sixth after Trinity

 

Gen. 28. 10 – 19a    Ps. 139. 1 – 11, 23 – 24     Rom. 8. 12 – 25  Matt. 13. 24 – 30,  36 – 43

BCP:  Gen. 4.  2b  – 15   Ps. 90.  12 – end  Rom 6. 3 – 11   Matt. . 20 – 26

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.  Sunday 19th July 2020: 

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.  Sunday 19th July 2020: 

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 19th July 2020:  Trinity VI

 

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Graham Robinson, Catherine Tanser, David Bradshaw and Derek Barker.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus and for those who have lost their jobs in the crisis.
  • Zoom services continue throughout the week, including Sunday, 10am (via sialey@aol.com) but today we begin a gradual return to church with worship in Duddington Church at 11am and next week (26th July) at Barrowden, 11am
  • “5 More Steps to Kick-start Prayer”?  Go to the benefice website: wellandfosse.org
  • Zoom bible studies in St. Mark’s Gospel will continue on Tuesday 21 July at 7.30pm.

SOUTH LUFFENHAM

Church is open 10am – 4pm daily for private prayer.

MORCOTT

The church will open 10am-4pm each Sunday for private prayer. 

MEDITATION

Although this meditation runs counter to my sermon last week it might help understand this more tricky parable:

 

Suppose we are soil, the field.  Jesus has sown the word in us. It’s going to do its good work and bear fruit. That’s great.  But there is someone else at work, with bad motives. The “enemy” has snuck in when we weren’t looking and planted something else. The enemy’s plants are not the Word. The enemy’s plants will compete for the nourishing soil, the refreshing rain, and the warm light of the sun. The enemy’s plants will bear fruit too — rotten fruit maybe, or poisonous. 

 

What should a good and responsible soil do? Should we find some way to eject the weeds? Maybe call on those farm hands to help? Or do I take it as an explanation of why I have such an odd mixture in my life? Some things shine with virtue like Christ’s own image. Other things in my life — well, they are frankly weedy, rotten, and poisonous. 

 

Maybe this parable explains God’s own patience with my mixed character and behavior. God doesn’t just yank out all the problematic stuff. God doesn’t want to damage me or what is growing so well. God is busily, patiently, growing the good stuff. Maybe I just need to be the best and most patient soil I can be. I’ll accept the seed. I’ll accept the water and the sun. That is I’ll welcome the Word, listening and meditating on it, seeking to let it thrive and grow. But I’ll also realize that I’m not the farmer. My role is patient and receptive.

 

 

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.  Sunday 12th July 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.  Sunday 12th July 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 12th July 2020:  Trinity V

 

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Graham Robinson, Catherine Tanser, David Bradshaw and Derek Barker.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus and for those who have lost their jobs in the crisis.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Sunday worship is at 10am, presenting a service with music and brief address.  Join us in the usual way via Simon’s email address, sialey@aol.com
  • “5 More Steps to Kick-start Prayer”?  Go the benefice website: wellandfosse.org
  • Zoom bible studies in St. Mark’s Gospel will continue on Tuesday 14 July at 7.30pm. Please contact Christopher for further details: armstrong60@yahoo.com
  • The Wardens and ministers are working on a plan to re-open our churches gradually for communal worship. It is quite a challenge. Please remember them in your prayers.

 

SOUTH LUFFENHAM

Church is open 10am – 4pm daily for private prayer. 

MORCOTT

The church will open 10am-4pm each Sunday for private prayer. 

Today’s Meditation: Harvesting Gooseberries.

My gooseberry bushes have been laden with fruit this year.  I like to think it was all the effort to prepare the ground in the last few years. Whatever the reason – God knows – the yield is big and, with space in the freezer, I attacked the picking with a rare passion. Well, it produced a vast pile of fruit but the cost, the cost was appalling!  My arms were shredded, with enough thorns to keep my medically-orientated wife busy for ages with her sterilised needle. The sting from the wounds will eventually die down as the smell of the disinfectant disappears.

Sunday’s gospel reading is the Parable of the Sower (Mt. 13).  You know all about it. Simon’s sermon takes an unusual approach: worth reading when it comes around.  It’s a very optimistic story, the way Jesus told it. In spite of all the wasted seed, there is an excellent harvest at the end of it all.

If you read the parable closely – which you probably won’t, now the cricket is back – you will note that Jesus spends a lot of time describing the problems of the poor soil but dismisses the good harvest with the briefest comment.  We too can spend a great deal of time moaning about life – and this pandemic gives us just cause to do that – but take the good things for granted.  I fear that we take our farmers and food producers like that but the reality is quite different.  Yes, the harvest is often excellent but even so, someone has to work hard to make it happen. Time during this lockdown may encourage us to quietly give thanks for all who toil on our behalf.

 

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

SERMON FOR SUNDAY 5TH JULY 2020 LIVING WITH SIN

SERMON FOR SUNDAY 5TH JULY 2020 LIVING WITH SIN

Living with Sin.

5 July 2020.

“The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”(Romans 7.19. AV)

 

Edward Colston.

The tearing down of statues in the wake of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement betrays a very human tension within each of us: the tension between good and bad motives.

I can understand some of the pent-up rage which emanates from those who have been down-trodden for generations. It is an embarrassment which most of us share and these violent scenes have forced us to look carefully at ourselves and our inheritance. Certainly the Church of England has gained much in the past from the slave-trade. All the bishops in the House of Lords voted against the Wilberforce anti-slavery Bill in 1804. But something else, more intimate is also being revealed.

Coulston was obviously a very rich man who, for some reason, gave much of his ill-gotten gains to his home city. This has left the city fathers wringing their hands in the wake of the riots. Bristol Cathedral were quick to respond, planning a purge of memorials. They issued this statement:

                                “For us it is the right moment to take the action we have been

                                 considering for some time. A cathedral or a church should be

                                 a place of sanctuary, justice and peace: a place where God’s glory

                                 is worshipped and God’s love felt.”

This knee-jerk action worries me for inside Coulston and inside all of us lurks this mixture of good and bad motives which we find difficult to control.  Life is not just black and white, Jekyll or Hyde. It is a mixture of both; shades of grey. The inference from Bristol Cathedral suggests that only those who are innocent, good – perfect even – should find sanctuary there and that cannot be right. I would not be welcomed there.

 

St. Paul.

We live in a binary age. It works our computers, so we are told, but it does not help us in perceiving character or doing justice to God’s saving action in Christ. We are all mixtures of good and bad, shades of grey. St. Paul understood that and he explores it in our reading today. He talks here and elsewhere in his work about these opposites of flesh and spirit, law and grace, physical and spiritual yet he knew the reality is more nuanced than that.

Flesh is good; Christ was born in the flesh but flesh can be abused.  Our rapacious appetites get the better of us sometimes.

Law is good. It protects the vulnerable but it can also act as a temptation to go beyond it as any schoolboy scrumper will know.

The physical world is very beautiful but can be hoarded by greedy humanity.

So for Paul, these internal motives of ours are evenly balanced but he sees the answer ‘in Christ’.  It is into Christ that we are baptized; we take on his standards in the life of the Church which is there to keep us and the whole world up to the mark. It recognizes the deceptive nature of sin. Its antidote is clear: turn to Christ.

Living with Sin.

The Jews were given the Law of Moses as a yardstick and Paul lived with that yardstick but he realized that it often failed him. It was a binary world. You either kept the law or failed completely. Paul was once engrossed in it but seeing the violence meted out by Jews to Stephen (Acts 7) he began to change his mind.  His conversation soon followed.

From then on, Paul worked furiously to understand God’s work of salvation through Christ. In this passage, he realizes that baptism doesn’t abolish sin but it does make the path to holiness clearer.

The Jewish law was harsh, heartless. ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ Shakespeare in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ illustrates that as Shylock the Jew goes to court to retrieve his pound of flesh. In the court scene, Portia, the disguised lawyer, ridicules Shylock. He can’t get his pound of flesh without spilling blood so is led to recognize that mercy would be the best outcome for all.

Mercy: neither black nor white but the best shade of grey. We so often fail to live up to the standards which Christ lays before us and even our own standards but rewarding the effort, encouraging us when we stumble, picking us up when we fall is what the Christian life is all about.

Acts of mercy, leniency, forgiveness, tolerance lead to grace, where both parties are rewarded, the giver and the receiver.  That is how God deals with us. The author of our hymn today, John Newton, knew that only too well.  He started his career as a slave trader but he also knew life as a slave himself.  During a storm at sea he was converted and mercy for him became a reality.  ‘He came to himself’ and spent the rest of his life supporting Wilberforce and the abolitionists.

God’s Amazing Grace!  It saved a wretch like Newton. How many others does it save? Will Edward Colston be among them? I hope so. Amen.

Sunday Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 4th July

Sunday Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 4th July

 

 Sunday 4th July 2020:  Trinity IV Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Graham Robinson, Catherine Tanser, David Bradshaw and Derek Barker.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus and for those who have lost their jobs in the crisis.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Sunday worship is at 10am, presenting a service with music and brief address.  Join us in the usual way via Simon’s email address, sialey@aol.com
  • “5 More Steps to Kick-start Prayer”?  Go the benefice website: wellandfosse.org
  • Zoom bible studies in St. Mark’s Gospel will begin on Tuesday 7 July at 7.30pm. Please contact Christopher for further details: armstrong60@yahoo.com
  • The Wardens and ministers are working on a plan to re-open our churches gradually for communal worship. It is quite a challenge. Please remember them in your prayers.

 

SOUTH LUFFENHAM

Church is open 10am – 4pm daily for private prayer. 

MORCOTT

The church will open 10am-4pm each Sunday for private prayer. 

TODAY’S MEDITATION

Super Saturday! I wonder what it will be like? When you read this we will all know what happened on that much awaited day. Perhaps the sun will shine and everyone will enjoy a quiet drink in a country pub, socially distanced. High spirits will be subdued and all will be well.

 

We have seen the crowds at the beach and in beauty spots throughout the country and we are well aware of what crowds are like. Most of us have almost forgotten what it’s like to be with other people in a confined space and are still looking forward to seeing family and friends in the flesh, able to give them a hug. Hopefully that day is on its way.

 

Crowds are part of many areas of life; football matches, theatres, even shopping in the sales! We have had so much solitariness lately but we are still uneasy about being in a crowd and many are afraid to venture out. Churches are now open for private prayer and that is where peace and encouragement may be found. They were closed but God’s work continued.

 

Jesus knew about crowds and about prayer and solitude. The crowds welcomed him to Jerusalem but quickly turned and shouted for his crucifixion. To face what he knew was to come, he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on his own. A poster has been prepared for the difficult times we are in which states:

 

Rejoice in hope

Be patient in tribulation

Be constant in prayer

God bless 

 

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens