The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 17th May 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 17th May 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 17 May 2020:  Easter VI

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton and Derek Barker.
  • Pray too for the souls of the departed, including Peter Taylor.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Our prayers have never been more vital!  If you wish to join, download Zoom on your computer and obtain the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone and email Simon Aley (sialey@aol.com) who will send you an invitation to the group.
  • From TODAY, 17 May, Sunday worship will move from 8.30am to 10am, presenting a short 20 minute service with brief address. Join us in the usual way via Simon’s email address.

MEDITATION

Today is Rogation Sunday and so today’s meditation is an extract from a Rogation Service meditation where questions are asked about the holiness of farming and how God might respond. All to easily we can forget in lockdown that farming continues every day and we can celebrate in this sacramental activity and remember all those 

“So, God is like a farmer sowing seed. Does that mean that a farmer sowing his seed is like you, Father? Is it a holy thing to be a farmer? Is the production of food sacramental? Do you call men and women to this work as you call priests and preachers to their work? And if the soil can stand for men and women does it need loving care? does it have soil rights? is it a sin to destroy it and take away its life? does it carry a shadow of the reflection of your image?

….

My child, it is indeed a holy thing to farm my good earth and to produce food for my people. I call men and women to this work with such a strong calling that they put up with many pains and problems in order to follow their calling. And the soil has its holiness too: The holiness of my creation which I have declared good: The holiness of the life it supports.”

But you have done well to use the land and produce nourishing food. I am pleased that, at least in your land, no-one need go hungry. Everyday millions of people say to me, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, and farmers are part of my answer to that prayer. My prayer is that the soil and seed might be good for tomorrow’s farmers too. My prayer is that farmers will find a way to feed the world that they can sustain for generations to come. My son, is it permissible for God to make a prayer? Can I ask my people to live so that I am able to give their children their daily bread? Source:  Arthur Rank Centre

 

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

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

Sunday 10 May 2020 – Simon’s Talk

Sunday 10 May 2020 – Simon’s Talk

Simon Aley, currently preparing for ordination, has recorded this week’s sermon, which can be watched here on YouTube.

If you have any problem doing this the sermon is also copied underneath. 

Today’s Gospel reading is John 14:1-12 and Simon has used the New International Version but you can follow in any Bible.

 

“Lord show us the Father and that will be enough for us”

So how are you managing in lockdown? How are you contacting friends, family, business contacts? By telephone? Skype? Teams? Facetime? Or Zoom. And what does it look like? A few weeks ago, the Church Times, created a montage of people on these various platforms in lockdown. Various images – some with a full face, others just the top of their head, some dog collars, one even robed! Different ages, different settings And don’t you all look round, take a nosy peek? Or is that just me?!! As you can imagine while our Priest in Charge reads the erudite articles in the Church Times, I tend to go for the cartoon they publish each week and in that same edition the cartoon also focussed on the online screen view classifying us accordingly, the artistic or the scholarly or the realistic! I will leave you to decide which group you fall into or other people you have had these Zoom or similar sessions with and taken a nosey peak! Lord show us the Father and that will be enough for us. Give us a nosy peek at God if you like.

I get Jesus’ disappointment at Philip saying this. “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” Philip was one of the earliest of the disciples to follow Jesus, a friend of Andrew and his family, Philip really had better opportunity than most to know Jesus and who he was and yet says “show us the Father and that will be enough.” Clearly therefore being a disciple of Jesus, all that time had not been enough. He needed something more. Jesus has just declared “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me.” Philip had assumed perhaps that Jesus was offering to introduce the disciples to the Father, and, in a sense, he does but what Philip fails to appreciate is that in seeing Jesus he is with the Father. Jesus and the Father are one. Philip should know that no-one has seen God and to do so is certain death. So, a strange demand for Philip to make.

What are you hoping to get from the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening 10th May? Depending on when you listen to this you may already know! What restrictions do you want to see lifted? One I have heard many times in the last week is around when we can get back into our churches and worship together. On one level I share that longing but on another I have really valued this time of worship in lockdown, actually seeing our garden grow daily through spring that I have not done in over 20 years living here in Manton and meeting with the people of God locally and around the world through daily acts of worship on Zoom – to pray for one another daily and see God’s hand at work. And as an aside I have probably invited more people every day to these Zoom services because that is how you join than I had to any other church services prior to lockdown and perhaps I need to learn from that. God was not locked into our churches when we had to close the doors. He was and is and will be omnipresent – everywhere. Lord show us the Father and that will be enough for us. We may be in lockdown, but God is with us every moment. The famous German Pastor and writer of the last century, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a poem while locked in prison on New Year’s Day 1945 a few weeks before he was executed by the Nazis, not long before VE day. This is a free translation I did of one of the stanzas:

From all His powers so wonderfully bestowed

Whatever happens we can surely know

That God is with us evening until morning

Already knowing what each new day brings.

Jesus gave a wonderful assurance to his disciples and to all of us. It is one of the 7 I am sayings of Jesus in John’s Gospel ego eimi is the Greek for I am and is a very intense way of saying this, deep, personal and reassuring and Jesus is not a way to God, he is the only way. Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Jesus is truth. In the Old Testament the law is the truth but Christ fulfils the law and so embodies truth; the truth about who I am, how I am counted as righteous and my destiny in God are all wrapped into this assurance. And thirdly the life. Jesus is about to die. Our Gospel reading today has flipped us back to just before Holy Week and Jesus will die in a few days and the disciples have been warned and yet this condemned, or at least doomed man is claiming he is the life. This claim is only possible because Jesus, as he reminded Philip is in the Father and the Father is in him. He knew that but his faith was not strong enough. My faith is not strong enough. Relying on faith alone, I falter. If I had faith the size of a mustard seed, I could move mountains and yet there has been no tectonic activity as a result of my small faith and I suspect I am in good company. The nearest the patron saint of Wales got was for a small hill to rise up from the ground from which he could preach! My faith is not enough even for that. Being allowed back into our churches to worship again would not be enough and being shown the Father, I suspect, would not be enough. I need, we all need Christ in our lives and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. To know that Christ is in us, the hope of glory – the way, the truth and the life is enough for now in lockdown, in normal times and for all eternity.

Let us pray.

Thank you Lord that you are the way, the truth and the life, that you are in the Father and the Father is in you and in the Spirit’s you are with us and when our faith is weak you uplift us. Help us see however hard the situation is that you are enough for us. We may not see you, but we can love you and worship you right where are

And now to Him who is able to keep us from falling and to make us stand without blemish in the presence of His glory, to the only God our saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord be all glory, power and authority for all time and for now and forever. Amen

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 10th May 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 10th May 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 10 May 2020:  Easter V

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton and Derek Barker.
  • Pray too for the souls of the departed, including Sandy Scotney.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Our prayers have never been more vital!  If you wish to join, download Zoom on your computer and obtain the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone and email Simon Aley (sialey@aol.com) who will send you an invitation to the group.
  • From 17 May, Sunday worship will move from 8.30am to 10am, presenting a short 20 minute service with brief address. Join us in the usual way via Simon’s email address.
  • Bored – like the rest of us? How about something lighter in the middle of the week? Quiz? A course? Art or photograph meditation? Favourite poem and why? Please respond to the Priest-in-Charge, Tel. 01572 748634.

 

MORCOTT: Well done everyone who celebrated VE Day 75 with Operation Bunting Up – we strung some along the churchyard wall – and at 3pm tea parties. It is good to see the benches in the churchyard used for reflection, and that people have taken some of the prayers pinned to the noticeboard in the church porch. We hope to have a Foodbank Box in the church porch soon.

SOUTH LUFFENHAM: Another thank you – three tubs of food collected for the Rutland Foodbank this week.

We celebrate the anniversary of two baptisms – James (Jay and Michael’s son) was baptised a year ago on Tuesday and Joan’s grandson Oscar two years ago on Wednesday. 

Last Sunday we put out colouring sheets of flags and bunting for people to use in their VE Day decorations. This Sunday we will be giving away sunflower seeds – Seeds of Hope – help yourself, from the green, if you are passing on Sunday. 

TODAY’S MEDITATION:

This is a time of bewilderment for us all. It gives birth to anxiety, fear, depression and worse. Such was the feeling among the friends of Jesus after the crucifixion as their hopes of a better life seem to be dashed. How should they now live their lives? How may we?

 St. John in today’s gospel (14.1 – 14) throws them a lifeline, reminding them that they already walked in the Jewish tradition. It told them which way to go but Jesus came and led them by the hand. He did not tell them the way from a distance; he led them by the hand and still does. Jesus is the Way.

And we are always searching for truth – at least truth which will fit into our world view. Moral values cannot be declaimed from pulpits or Downing Street rostrums. There is every danger that it will sound hollow. Rather it has to be lived, explored and acknowledged among us and that always demands change for no-one of us can encapsulate all truth. We need to give God wiggle-room! Jesus is the Truth.

And then there is life, even in the lockdown.  It’s not a matter of breadth but depth. We will know some of those events in our own lives which act like lightning conductors or scales falling from our eyes revealing life in all its fullness. Some last; Jesus walks with us forever. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

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

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

Talk for Sunday 3 May 2020

Talk for Sunday 3 May 2020

Christopher has managed to video his sermon this week!  You can watch it on Google Drive: just click on the link here and then on the ‘play’ arrow in the image:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/18EkpI1MDXeRZnZ5x5wOA3WkJjrYGUv9o/view

But in case you’re unable to access it that way, here it is in full:

Contagious Christianity?   Sunday 3 May 2020. Easter IV.

The Resurrection Season.

We are now 6 weeks into the lockdown and three weeks away from Easter Day. The set readings for Sunday are already wandering away from the resurrection appearances but before we forget them for another year I want to take an overview to find some relevance for us today in this situation of isolation when we crave the assurance of hope, of company, of health and of Christ.

It all begins with the empty tomb on that first Easter Day.  That is enough to raise the suspicions of both friends and foes of Jesus.  No trace of a body: just an alibi about body-snatchers spread by the Jewish guards. The empty tomb doesn’t offer evidence, just questions.

The Resurrection Appearances

Those questions soon get answers of a sort as the Risen Lord starts to appear. He appears first of all as a stranger to Mary at the tomb; then to the apostles in the upper room, to the disciples on the lakeside and to the travellers to Emmaus.  Is it Jesus?  No one is sure until he begins to interact with a name (John 20.16), the blessing of bread (Luke.24.30), his wounded hands (Luke 24.39) or some fishing advice (John 21.6). Caravaggio’s painting of the Supper at Emmaus shows just how amazed the disciples were when the stranger reveals himself as Jesus. One chap can’t wait to get away from his chair!

This strangeness suggests that Christ’s appearance has changed in some way. He passes through locked doors (John 20.19) and yet is able to cook breakfast (John21.12), eat fish and honey (Luke 24. 42). But there is another element to this strangeness: Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of understanding (Mark 16.14; John 20.23) but also gives them instructions as to how they should conduct their future lives (John 20.17; Mark 16.15). So those who knew Jesus before the crucifixion have to learn to live with this friend who is also a stranger in a different way after the Resurrection.  We all know people who are difficult to predict. They are often the most exciting but also infuriating friends to have!  So the Risen Lord must have appeared to those first disciples but also to us who need both companionship and divine direction which cannot be presumed.

The appearances of The Risen Lord are not confined to any particular geographical area. Jerusalem and Galilee are the favoured places and they are 100 miles part. Damascus is much further north.  There is no obvious connection between these appearances. They don’t appear to be induced by hysteria, hallucination or a desire for consolation. The most surprising of all is the appearance to Saul, the aristocratic Jew fervently opposed to Christ and his friends. His conversion is well documented in scripture (Acts 9; 2 Corinthians 12) because for him and for The Church it was a seismic change.

The Risen Christ also comes among his friends who are ill at ease. He changes them. Mary is grieving for her compassionate Christ; the apostles are afraid of the Jews; Peter is riddled with guilt; the fishermen are glum and most of them are disbelieving. None of them are in a good place yet this challenge by The Risen Lord changes them. They boldly gossip the gospel (Acts 4.13); they exercise healing gifts (Acts 3.6); they worship in public (Acts 2.42) and they courageously challenge authority (Acts 5.29ff).

So here is a mystery.  What drives such a change – and how is it sustained? People of faith have put the answer down to The Risen Lord: the Lord who came to those first Christians as a stranger, in a variety of locations, with boldness, with compassion but also with a message. The fruits of that mystery – that string of appearances from The Risen Lord – is to be seen in The Church today.  These are the groups that began to form in the first pages of the Acts of the Apostles – that most exciting of biblical books which accelerates through church development like a whirlwind! It is around these encounters with the Risen Lord that the church gathers and develops, then and now.

A virus?

Does this sound like an infection? Richard Dawkins in a clever book from 1976 suggested that God acted like a virus, a selfish gene which looks after its own.  He wasn’t the first sceptic to use such an analogy.  During the Roman occupation of the Mediterranean, Christians were hunted down and if they didn’t recant, then they were killed. Pliny – a Roman magistrate – was sent to Bithynia to sort out the province. He had to put many Christians to death. In a letter to his boss, The Emperor Trajan, he refers to Christianity as a “contagion.”

Apart from the implied negativity – especially in these desperate times of the current pandemic – that is difficult to accept. The appearances of The Risen Lord are scattered. Sometimes they do run among friends but in other occasions the most surprising people become Christians. There are no physical symptoms which connect us and there is no evidence that the faith manifests itself in a weakness.

And Christianity has lasted a long time: two millennia.  Whilst countries in Europe still wait for signs that the coronavirus has peaked, there is no sign of Christianity abating world-wide, though in Europe it is struggling. Whilst we wait behind locked doors, there are signs that our faith is developing. One firm reports that its sales of bibles are up 25% in March this year. Other sacred texts show similar increases. And our behaviour has changed. In spite of the curfew, care for neighbour and community has increased, especially in our villages.

St. Paul, writing soon after the physical resurrection appearances had ceased, reminds us in a passage often used in our funeral services (1 Cor. 15.3,4) that Christ died, was buried and was raised. This third action – ‘was raised’ – is in a different tense, suggesting that the raising has happened but is still in force. Christ is alive now! And this is so obviously true, even in our own experience. People find Christ entering their lives often in the most difficult situations.

Thanks be to God, Amen.

Christopher Armstrong

 

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 3rd May 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 3rd May 2020

he Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices

 Sunday 3 May 2020:  Easter IV

 

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Gill Profit, Jeremy Bagshaw, Kay’s son and Janette Saunders (both with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton and Derek Barker.
  • Pray too for the souls of the departed, including Sandy Scotney.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Our prayers have never been more vital!  If you wish to join, download Zoom on your computer and obtain the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone and email Simon Aley (sialey@aol.com) who will send you an invitation to the group.
  • Bored – like the rest of us?  How about something lighter in the middle of the week? Quiz? A course? Art or photograph meditation? Favourite poem and why? Please respond to the Priest-in-Charge, Tel. 01572 748634.

 

MEDITATION

We live in a beautiful part of the world and are privileged to be able to watch the lambs in Spring. Sheep are often mentioned in the Bible and the 23rd Psalm The Lord is my shepherd is such a comforting piece used at many services. Jesus used the picture of sheep in some of his stories and tells how the sheep would know the voice of their shepherd and would follow him only. In the confirmation service the words “He has called you by name” are so important.

 

In this strange time, God is not elsewhere; he is with us and cares what is happening to each one of us whether we are someone who can help others or whether we are alone. He has a plan for each one of us and will speak to us if we allow ourselves to listen to him. He calls us by name because each one of us is special to him and he cares. Do we listen to him to find out what he wants us to do or do we bombard him with words so that he does not get a word in?

 

Prayer: Loving Lord, help us to listen to you and find your will for us. Give us the strength to follow in your way. Amen.   Ann Robinson

 

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 26 April 2020: Easter III

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 26 April 2020: Easter III

 

 Sunday 26 April 2020:  Easter III

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Gill Profit, Jeremy Bagshaw, Kay’s son and Janette Saunders (both with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Derek Barker, Sandie Scotney and Carys Aley with her sister, mourning the loss of their father.
  • We pray too for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Our prayers have never been more vital!  If you wish to join, download Zoom on your computer and obtain the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone and email Simon Aley (sialey@aol.com) who will send you an invitation to the group.

SOUTH LUFFENHAM:   Thank you to all those who donated to the Rutland Foodbank. We sent a good amount of groceries and generous cash donations this week. The collection is ongoing – there is a box inside Sally’s gate at 27, The Street.  Particular requests from the team at the Foodbank are:

tinned carrots, peas, small jars of coffee, jam, meat pies, cereal, tinned potatoes, rice, especially the microwave type, smash, long-life sponge puddings, sugar (500g), UHT full cream milk (blue carton). Washing up liquid, non-bio washing tablet, hand soap.

MEDITATION:   Father God, there are so many people to pray for during this time. So many needs, so many requests. This can seem so overwhelming to us as your church. Remind us that you can hear all the prayers, you can see all the needs, and you are a provider. Lord, as we face these uncertain times, may you use this time to grow us in our faith and understanding of you. May you use this time to remind us of our mortality and of eternity. Life is short. Remind us that we should live our lives ready to meet you at our appointed time and while we fear the unknown, we have assurance of salvation. We praise you, Lord, for Your goodness, your mercy, and your love. We know the COVID-19 outbreak did not surprise you. We know you are sovereign, even over this. Let that truth give us comfort, and may you give us opportunities to share that comfort with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.             Simon Aley

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

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens