Saint Saviour's Church web site header graphic
 

Services

For the texts for each Sunday see the relevant notice sheet

Reflection on Pentecost from the Gospel of John Chapter 20  verses 19 to 23

This has been a glorious week weather-wise and we should be basking in the still fresh and joyful glow of Easter Day. But we have been deprived of our usual feeling of jubilation by the virus. The disciples did not start this day on a happy note either.

They had returned to the upper room where they shared the last meal with Jesus. They feel the need to be close to the Master whom they loved, the place where they were last happy with him, to draw some comfort from reflecting on that last night together.

They had closed and locked the door for fear of the Jews who they thought would come and take them away to suffer the same fate as Jesus. I found Easter Sunday morning particularly difficult as I looked out onto the locked church gates. There were no bells ringing, no radiant Easter garden with the flowers and its empty tomb. No voices lifted in joyful song. No one to hug and offer the peace.

 For those of us who have been designated “vulnerable” there may be a sense of what the disciples felt. This virus has compelled many people to stay locked in their homes in fear of their lives. Some have been able to go out into their garden if they have one. But for many living in flats it was literally being locked up for the past two months. Watching or hearing of those who have broken the rules during lockdown was particularly galling.

The disciples in our Gospel reading sat huddled in fear. Mary’s words about seeing the Lord had no effect on them. They had seen Jesus die and Mary was only a woman. The testimony of one woman was not accepted in Jewish law - there had to be another to support her account. We too are struggling to believe all that the powers that be are telling us. The information is too farfetched and there are too many holes in the account.

The disciples had not remembered or didn’t believe a word of what Jesus had told them about his resurrection. It is into this tense atmosphere that our Lord suddenly appears. Jesus was not confined by death, neither was he confined by a sealed tomb, so he could not be kept out by a locked door.

Jesus stood amongst the disciples and said “Peace be with you”. Those are such wonderfully comforting words that we share them at every communion. At this point Jesus is keeping a promise he had previously given the disciples – to bring them peace.

It was important that the disciples didn’t think this was some magician’s trick, or hallucination, or a ghost, so Jesus shows them his wounds. From a distance they had seen him receive those wounds so they now know he is not their grieving imagination playing tricks.

The wounds confirm Jesus’ suffering on the cross, the wounds confirm that the person in front of them was real and alive.

Their Lord had returned. The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The disciples are overjoyed.  Jesus tries to calm them by again giving them his greeting of peace.  Jesus then gave them their great commission.  As the Father had sent him so he was sending them. Jesus was God’s special representative in the world, carrying out God’s mission. His words were true and are true for us now. His death and resurrection ensure everlasting hope of eternal life to all humanity.

There was to be no more hiding away behind closed doors. There were souls to be saved. Jesus breathes on the disciples and tells them he is empowering them with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would transform them with the power to deal with sins. They would no longer be reliant on a Jesus they could see and touch. They would have faith.

The disciples would be empowered to speak, preach and heal with such conviction that they would bring others to faith in Jesus Christ. How blessed are we and any who would come to faith through our testimony to the love and salvation granted to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our faith.

We too have a great commission to spread the Gospel far and wide, to demonstrate the peace which Jesus bestowed upon us and, more importantly, to spread his love amongst all whom we meet who are in need.

During this pandemic the love that many have given to and received from others has been so uplifting. The sense that we are in this together has been of great comfort. This disease has been no respecter of position or wealth. It has taught us that where our Government has the will it can find the way. Take the matter of the homeless being taken off the street as a case in point.

The human loss to our nation is heartbreaking and we see the pain of those who have lost a relative or friend. As we watch this infection erupt and decimate poorer nations we can only pray that they will be blessed with the peace of God and survive. Our world has again suffered terribly. We pray for strength to endure and that the knowledge gained will help us in the future. We can reflect on how much better we can and should take care of the earth and of each other.

We pray for the peace of Christ in all corners of our world.

Amen.


PRAYERS FOR PENTECOST

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, ignite in us your holy fire; strengthen your children with the gift of faith, revive your church with the breath of love, and renew the face of the earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Loving Father, you sent your Holy Spirit to nourish and sustain your church; we pray that the church throughout the world may grow and prosper as we discern God’s will and act accordingly.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Healing Jesus, we pray for all those who are affected by the current emergency; for those suffering at this time, for those treating them, and for those trying to protect themselves and others from catching the infection.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Life-giving Spirit, bring your fire and wind upon us; fan the embers of our faith to renew our energy and carry us forward to a brighter future.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

BLESSING

May the Spirit who hovered over the waters when the world was created breathe into you the life he gives. Amen.

May the Spirit who overshadowed the Virgin when the eternal Son came among us, bring the world alive with the risen Christ. Amen.

May the Spirit who set the Church on fire on the day of Pentecost, bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ. Amen.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always. Amen.

 

 

 

Sunday After Ascension Day

Reflection on John Chapter 17 verses 1-11.

Our Gospel reading for this morning highlights the fact that Jesus was a person of prayer. This is one of the longest prayers attributed to Jesus. Some Theologians call it the prayer of consecration because in it Jesus consecrates himself and his followers to God.

This prayer is in three parts: Firstly, Jesus prays for himself, he then prays for his disciples and, later in the Chapter, he intercedes or prays to God for his followers then and us now, a people who will believe through him.

In the closing verses of Chapter 16 Jesus warns the disciples that they will be scattered, leaving him alone to face his end. But he will not be alone for he lives in constant communion with his Father. We know the disciples would not be lost permanently because, with the coming of the resurrection and the Ascension, Jesus will have the victory which all who believe in him will share with him.

So, between his final teaching to the disciples and his death, Jesus goes to his Father in prayer. This is a very personal and intimate prayer as Jesus raises his eyes and heart to heaven to communicate with God his Father. We can feel the oneness of the relationship that Jesus has always had with his Father from the beginning and throughout eternity.

This prayer shows Jesus in unity with his Father. It talks about the completion of the work God gave him to do, his passion and his return to the Father. Jesus is about to enter the last stage of the work that his Father gave him to do. In all things Jesus has done God’s work for the glory of God. He prays that God will make it all acceptable but only for the fact that it gives God even more glory.

That glory started with the Father in that He asked his only Son to leave his heavenly home; to present himself on earth as a helpless babe; to teach us the right path back to salvation and our God.  Jesus sacrificed himself so that God’s glory moved from the Father, through the obedience and love of the Son, to those who believe in him, thereby making the glory return to the Father.

In all Jesus’ works - from turning water into wine to the raising of Lazarus from the dead – the power that Jesus demonstrated was to the glory of God.

Jesus now prays for the disciples. He recognises that the hand of God was present in the choosing of the disciples. He praises God for revealing all that was needed for the life and work of these believers that he is leaving behind.

Jesus does not pray for the world. He has completed his task by coming to live in and die for the world in order to save it.  Jesus came to us in the full knowledge that He would be rejected and killed. I am reminded of the opening words of that beautiful choir anthem: God So Loved the World.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

This is the length to which perfect loving goes, for the innocent Jesus to take on all the sins of the world, accept their pain without complaint or retaliation and offer them for transformation and freedom into new life.

Not one bit of Jesus’ love or purpose has changed, but it is his fervent prayer that the disciples and future believers, whom we are, may have that eternal life.  It is in our striving to faithfully teach and demonstrate his glory and love that we can help others to believe and accept our Lord as Saviour.

In these troubled times we are seeing thousands of people demonstrating the love of God in the way they are caring for their neighbours. This doesn’t only mean the person next door or even in our street.  Jesus asks us to see the whole world as our neighbour. The spread of this terrible virus has underlined the fact that we do not live in isolation. The world is our neighbour and we have a duty to love and care for all. This love will come back to help us.

Jesus had already returned to his Father’s presence at the resurrection because he was back in total communion with his Father.  Jesus wants us to ascend with him to share his and the Father’s unity and glory. He says to his Father “This is eternal life,  that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. We shouldn’t see heaven as somewhere up there or where we go after we die. It is here and now if we know Jesus as our friend, then death is just a climax when we go to live with him forever.

Amen.

 Prayers

God of glory, may your light shine on our church community as you work among us and bless us with your presence. We pray for each other. We give you thanks and praise for our memories of worshipping together in your house. We ask that you draw all our prayers into one prayer for each other, for our families and our friends.

Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.

God of glory, we pray for the community round about us and for this city.  We pray for those who are confined to their homes for their own protection. Give them grace and patience to endure with the knowledge that they are also protecting others. We pray for the officials who are tasked with making decisions as to the actions that need to be taken for the safety of all. Give them wisdom and vision in all that they say and do.

Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.

God of glory, we pray for those who feel compelled to go out to work for the financial wellbeing of themselves and their families. Lord, calm their fears as they encounter situations that put them and their loved ones at risk. Protect them as they go about their work. We pray for those who are facing financial trauma or danger because of the current situation. Give them vision in their decision making and direct them to sources of help and support.

Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.

Lord of hope and peace, we pray for all who are sick. For those with the virus and those who are experiencing difficulties in dealing with their own particular conditions because of the virus. Give them strength to cope and help them in their recovery. We pray for all the medical and associated staff, giving thanks for their dedication and caring hearts. We pray for the souls of all who have died and ask for your comfort for their grieving loved ones

Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Blessing

The Lord is good to me,

And so I thank the Lord

For giving me the things I need,

The sun, the rain, the appleseed.

The Lord is good to me.                                                                                   John Chapman

 

The Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verses 15 to 21.

6th Sunday of Easter. 17th May 2020

During the 50s and 60s, many adults came to England from the Caribbean at the request of the British government. They were needed to boost the workforce following the war. These adults often left behind their young children in the care of a relative, usually Granny.

There was no social media. It must have been so painful, especially for the mothers, to leave their children with no means of visual contact for at least a year. But imagine how devastating it was for the children. In those days it was not considered necessary, or appropriate, to give children detailed explanations of what adults were doing and the reasons. Indeed, when adults were having a conversation, children were expected, and told, to remove themselves to where they could not overhear the discussion.

A few lucky children who were being left behind were told the parent was going to England and they were going to live with Granny until the parent would send for them. There would be stern instructions to behave oneself, be obedient to Granny, be diligent in going to school and learn as much as possible. There was no television, so, the children had no real concept of what ‘going to England’ meant.

For many of them it was a reasonably good time of continuing care and affection. For others it was misery and deep unhappiness, with little comfort in the months and sometimes years following the departure of the parents.

In our Gospel reading, Jesus continues preparing his disciples for his departure. He tells them “If you love me, keep my commandments”. We could interpret this as Jesus telling the disciples that if they are obedient and love him then keeping his commandments will come easily to them. Or we can hear this as Jesus directing the disciples to show their love by striving to obey his commandments. In either case Jesus is telling them to love as steadfastly as he has loved them, even unto death.

In return Jesus would ask his Father, and their Father, to bless that love by sending them another Advocate who would stay with them forever.  In verses 13 and 14 from last week Jesus promised to hear the prayers of the disciples and grant whatever they asked for in his name. Jesus would continue to be an advocate for them before God. He would not leave them on earth totally lost as God would send the second advocate, the Spirit of truth. Jesus was and is the Truth and the Life. When he left them, the disciples would receive the Spirit of Truth, The Spirit of Jesus.

Others in the world would not see or know of this Spirit, because they had rejected or did not know Jesus. They did not accept Jesus as the Son of God therefore they could not receive the Spirit of the triune God. For the disciples, this Spirit of Truth would lead them into all truth. Others too would be led into the truth by their ministry. The disciples had been called by the Holy Spirit to leave their previous lives and follow Jesus. They already knew something of the Holy Spirit because they knew and loved Jesus. Something of the Holy Spirit was already in them enabling them to preach the word and perform miracles.

The Spirit would continue living in the disciples. It would be a comforter giving the strength and courage in the terrible times ahead. The physical presence of Jesus had excited and encouraged them in their faith and work. Jesus was now leaving but they would receive an unseen advocate to instruct and protect them. The Holy Spirit would be present in all places and all circumstances.

Jesus again points to his death when he says he would not leave the disciples as orphans. As their Father, they would not be left grieving without the loving care of a parent. Jesus was going away, but he would provide for and ensure their wellbeing.

This terrible virus we now have has left a number of children without a mother or a father. This is so heart-breaking, but, thank God, we have no orphans. When we think of being left as an orphan think of poor countries where to be an orphan is to be homeless, destitute and hungry, with no comfort, direction or support. This virus will make many such children orphans before it is through.

We may only be able to offer prayers for these children. But Jesus’ promise to his disciples is also a promise to us that, if we love him and keep his commandments, his Father too will love us, and Jesus who loves us will reveal himself to us in the form of the Holy Spirit. We will be ruled, advised and comforted by the Spirit.

In our battle against this dreadful disease, we pray to our Father and therefore cling together as a worshipping people. We believe that in loving the Lord and in keeping his commandments, especially to love each other, we will feel the Holy Spirit of Christ here with us in all that we say and do. Amen. 

Prayers

Heavenly Father, as we struggle with our fears, our pain, our grief and our suffering at this time, come to us and comfort us in this our great time of need. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Lord of all life, we pray for your Church throughout the world. We pray for those places where your children are abused and persecuted for their love of your name. Lord grant them serenity and comfort in the words of your Son, Jesus Christ, that as they keep his commandments, they may rest in the safety of his love.

 Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Loving God, we pray that we may show our love for you, and your commandment to love one another, by extending that love, not just to our immediate family and friends but to all your people in need. We pray for all areas of such need as they struggle with wars, conflicts, famine, drought and crippling diseases. We pray for the elderly, the sick, the bereaved and the children caught up in these situations. Father may they experience your grace and peace.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Father we pray for our Government, both national and local. We ask that you direct their thinking and their decision making. May they show clarity, sound leadership and compassion for all your people, as we suffer and struggle through this pandemic. Lord, give them wisdom and the ability to see your people as one nation and not factions deserving different levels of care.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

God of mercy, we pray for all who have lost loved ones. Comfort them in their grief and heal their broken hearts with time and your love. Give eternal rest to those who have died and bless those who cared for them in their final moments on this earth.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Blessing

God, the King of all, bless you in heaven and on earth.

I bless you as I can and more than I can.

And what I cannot, may he who can do all things do them in you.

May you find every blessing you desire and may whatever you worthily ask come to pass for you.

Amen.

St Francis of Assisi

 

Gospel of John, Chapter 14 verses 1-14

5th Sunday of Easter 2020 - 10th May 2020

Our Gospel reading for this morning is one of the most well-known passages in the New Testament. It is one of the central pillars of our faith and hope in Christ Jesus. This passage forms part of Jesus’ long farewell speech to his disciples at their last meal together before his death. Many Christians can quote the first seven verses by heart as they are so well-known and so loved. In those verses there is hardly a word that is not essential in understanding their meanings.

Jesus has just reminded his disciples that he is about to leave them and is offering them comfort. After their intensive three years or so together, they cannot believe that He will not be with them any longer. Peter had declared his willingness to lay down his life for Jesus but was warned with the statement that before the night was through he would have denied Jesus three times.

The disciples are obviously distraught, but Jesus says “do not let your hearts be troubled”. Troubled is the same word that was used to describe the feelings that gripped Jesus as he stood at Lazarus’ grave, so we have an idea how distressed the disciples were.

Here is a link to the fear and distress that we all feel when faced with the death of a loved one. Since the lock down we have seen the great distress of those who have lost loved ones. This has been made more acute by not being able to be with their dying loved one, to give and receive comfort.

Little wonder that this passage is so frequently read at funerals. We have hope in the face of death because of Jesus’ own death for us. We comfort each other in bereavement as Jesus comforted his disciples.

But social distancing means we cannot attend a funeral service for our loved one to say goodbye, and we cannot hold each other to offer comfort to all who are left grieving.

There is only one remedy for our natural fear of death and the pain of separation. That remedy is faith in God. In believing in God we are also to believe in Jesus. In so doing we can comfort our troubled hearts.

Jesus tells his disciples they can’t come with him yet, but, if they live a life of faith and love for each other and all humanity, then they will be with him at the end of time.

Jesus describes a home in heaven in which his father has many rooms. “If this was not true,” he says, “would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”

Now various translations of the bible use different words for this place, or rooms, that Jesus has gone to prepare. Indeed, both ends of the Anglican faith candle, and certainly the Pentecostal churches, cling to the word “mansion” in their readings. Many hymns also contain it.

There is a warm, fuzzy feeling in the thought that, no matter how difficult life has been here on earth, there is a mansion waiting for us in heaven and we can each place in it our own interpretation of lavishness.

The essential knowledge is that Jesus was reassuring his disciples, and us, that he was leaving this earth but he would return. Jesus’ departure has a purpose. Not just his return to the right hand of God and his home in heaven, but to work on our behalf to prepare a place for us in heaven.

Jesus promises that he will return for us to take us to live with him in his Father’s presence. The theological discussion as to whether this will be on the new earth or up in the skies is of no great consequence. It will be in the house where God is. And we know where this is, Jesus states.

But the disciple Thomas is not happy. Where was Jesus going? Jesus’ words are not concrete enough for him - and perhaps he was just brave enough to be voicing what all the other disciples were thinking.

Thomas says “Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way”? After all this time, with all of Jesus’ miracles and his teachings, they still do not truly believe all that he is saying. No wonder they all ran off and left him when the soldiers arrived. No wonder they were to be found cowering in the locked upper room after the resurrection. How strong was their faith in something they could not see and had no experience of? This is the challenge of faith today!

Thomas’ admission gives us one of the great conclusive statements that Jesus made. Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life”. We cannot get to God except through Jesus his Son. We cannot reach God if we do not believe in and fully accept the life, death and resurrection of his Son.

Having a place reserved for us in heaven is one thing. We have to work on how we get there. Jesus reassures us that if we know Him we also know the Father. We are required to make a commitment to Jesus as the only way to the Father.

Jesus has repeatedly told us how to access God. He has told and shown us how to live our lives in order to reach this promised home, with him, in the presence of God.

Jesus has given us all the directions, the map, the sat nav directions – it is up to us to drive the right roads in order to arrive at our intended destination. Amen.


Prayer

Living God, our life is in your hands and we offer you all that we are, all that our past has made us and all that we may become. Build us up by the power of your Spirit into a spiritual temple where you are glorified day after day in all our prayers, praise and worship, and in all our love for one another.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

 Loving God, we pray for all who have lost loved ones during this pandemic. We pray for all who are stricken by the additional pain of not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones and their inability to receive or give to each other comfort by means of physical contact. We commend them to your loving comfort and peace.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

 Almighty God, we pray for this world which you made in such beauty and which we have failed to care for as we should have done. Father, this pandemic has shown us we can care for each other. In so doing we have seen that we can better care for the wellbeing of people both near and far and, as a result, take better care of this planet.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

 Living God, we remember those who have died and pray for them now. Lead them out of their pain into the light of eternity. We pray for those whose anniversary of death falls at this time.

Father keep us all in the Way that leads us to that home you have prepared for us

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 Blessing

The God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father Son and Holy Spirit be on you and all whom you love, now and always. Amen.

 

ALL SERVICES AND EVENTS ARE CANCELLED DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

A link to all servcies in our area which are being streamed can be found on the Diocesan website

View a copy of the weekly service sheet here

First Sunday:

10.00 a.m. Said Communion (when a major church festival there will be a full communion service)

Other Sundays

10.00 a.m. Holy Communion

11.00 a.m. Refreshments in hall

 

Wednesdays 9.30 a.m.

Said Communion - Common Worship order one.

Only the services on the 2nd & 4th Wednesdays of the month will be at St. Saviour's. The services on the 1st, 3rd & 5th Wednesdays will be at St. James's, Thornton.

Thursdays 9.30 a.m.

Morning Prayer