Lectionary Readings for today:
1 Peter 4.12-14; 5.6-11
Reflections on these readings can be found here.
Lectionary Readings for today:
1 Peter 4.12-14; 5.6-11
Reflections on these readings can be found here.
The Lectionary passages for this week are as follows:
Acts Reading: Acts 17.22-31
Psalm: Psalm 66.8-20
Epistle: 1 Peter 3.13-22
Gospel: John 14.15-21
The latest ‘Words On The Word’ can be found here.
Thank you for reading these weekly reflections.
May God continue to bless us as we study Scripture together.
A few years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury started an annual prayer initiative called Thy Kingdom Come to run between Ascension day and Pentecost. The basis of this is that each of us sign up to pray each day for five people we know who are not Christians. Although it was initially an Anglican initiative its now totally ecumenical; the Methodist Church has contributed a free prayer manual for each day and there are resources for Catholics and Orthodox Christians to use. Further information on how to download or get hard copies is available by clicking https://www.thykingdomcome.global/lightuptheworld
I’ll post further updates on how we can be involved but I wanted to draw your attention to the Digital Family Interactive Prayer Map so that you can order or download to get ready.
This is a fun way of using a smart phone app to learn to pray together and you can find full details on https://www.thykingdomcome.global/resources/digital-family-prayer-adventure-map.
It’s well worth a look and there are podcasts and instructions how to get started as well as a great video from Justin Welby & Gemma.
Now here are comfortable words. Do not be troubled, do not be worried or upset-fortify yourselves by faith in God and the one whom he has sent. Yet we are troubled, worried and we are often upset about many things-some of these are large and important matters others appear trivial at least to others. All of them create feelings of distress and fear that gnaw at our souls so that we cease to be the people we could be.
We know what we are worried about but what might the first disciples have been worried about. And what might the first hearers of John’s gospel have been worried about. I see their worries under two heads:
First a fear of separation. Jesus is going. These words are addressed to the disciples by way of farewell. He is going and they cannot follow. Not at once at least. There is to be an absence almost a sense of desolation. Jesus admits as much.
How is this to be coped with? Can it be coped with?
Our own experiences of separation, of loss and bereavement crowd in upon us. How can our hearts not be troubled? It is not for nothing that this passage is usually read at funerals. Jesus tries to fortify his disciples but the death that he is to die is his own.
Secondly a fear of failure. We are always taught to read texts in context and immediately prior to this famous verse is the account of Jesus foretelling Peter’s denial before the cock crowed three times. Now there was failure! And the other disciples were no better. All forsook him and fled.
But our failures and theirs should be distinguished from God’s cause. As I never tire of saying we should be pessimistic about man but optimistic about God.
Jesus is going on ahead of his disciples. He is going to his death, which he has freely accepted. This death is necessary. It is the preparation that is made for those who will come after. This is the death that will break every barrier down so that the boundless love of the father can reach out to everyone, fill our hearts with love and change the world.
And it is the way that his disciples are called to follow. Yes Jesus does call his disciples to come and walk with him the way of the cross. And everyone who follows that way finds that by embracing the deaths we must die there truly is nothing to be afraid of and that death really is swallowed up in the victory of love.
In the life of the Church this is the Easter season. Our hearts should be full of joy and peace. In fact they are not. We are worried and perplexed. We have said many times that Christ is risen. But if he is risen where is he and is he coming soon. We have proclaimed the good news but the world goes on much as before. Could it all be our fault? Is our faith inadequate? Are we feeling to make progress? Is it our inadequacies that stand in the way of Christ’s return?
Jesus message to the first disciples and to us is reassuring. Have courage. Jesus can cope with our inadequacies. Jesus has just foretold that their leader Peter will fail-indeed that he will deny everything. Yet they are not to be distressed. Don’t believe in the wrong things he says.
Instead place your trust in Jesus, have confidence in the mystery of love revealed in the cross and the resurrection. Share his risen life, share his words and continue his works. You won’t be alone, instead be encouraged by all the signs of love that have been revealed to us in the last two months.
Some reflections on the Lectionary passages for this Sunday.
1 Peter 2.19-25
Whilst I was in hospital recently the hospital chaplain, the Revd Kathryn Darby and I celebrated together the Lord’s Supper in one corner of the ward. We did not draw the curtains around my bed, so that anyone could see what was happening. One thing struck me forcibly as we celebrated. The rest of the ward, nurses and patients simply carried on with their daily concerns, bustling about, distributing cups of tea, meals, medication and so on. There was the background noise of the television and radio news. Nobody seemed to take a blind bit of notice of what we were doing and I thought how that reflected what happened on Good Friday, when Jesus was crucified. The World carried on with its business as if nothing else mattered.
The merchants and the money changers, the scribes and the soldiers just ignored the dying man whose life was ebbing away right next to them. They put up a board saying in three languages that he was the King of the Jews. They played dice as they gambled for his clothes. They were passing the time until he died. Then they would leave him hanging there while they went away to other more honourable military tasks than guarding a corpse. Business as usual.
Is that not how it is with us? The supermarkets are open and selling their goods as usual. The World carries on with its own concerns, the noise and bustle as usual – and the King of the Jews on his cross, his blood being shed even for those who ignore him. Even many Christians who will rejoice on the third day after his death and shout: ‘The Lord is risen’ forget that before being raised he first had to die. We cannot have a Risen Lord without first knowing him as the Crucified. Can we not pause in our busy lives and look death in the face before we speak of the resurrection?
Revd Dr John Taylor
Written by John on 26th April 2020, the day before he died.
We have created a new page on the Circuit website which you will see in the Menu. It is called “In Memoriam” (In Memory) and is designed to collect and remember the names of all those who have died in these strange times, and who had links with this Circuit. In these days when we are presented with faceless statistics in the media, it is good to remember the human face behind each life lost.
Please email Stephen.Froggatt@methodist.org.uk if you have names to add.
May the faithful departed, by the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has launched a free national phone line as a simple new way to bring worship and prayer into people’s homes while church buildings are closed because of the coronavirus.
Daily Hope, which is available from today, offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.
The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
The service is supported by the Church of England nationally as well as through the Connections group based at Holy Trinity Claygate in Surrey and the Christian charity Faith in Later Life.
Although thousands of churches across the country are now running services and prayer groups online while public worship remains suspended, many people – especially older people – do not have access to the internet.
The line also recognises the impact of social distancing restrictions and self-isolation measures on those suffering from loneliness. Statistics from Age UK suggest that 49% of older people believe the TV or a pet to be their daily source of comfort and interaction. While many organisations are encouraging people to use better use of technology, ONS figures also state that 2.5 million people aged 75 and above have never used the internet.
Callers will hear a special greeting from the Archbishop before being able to choose from a range of options, including hymns, prayers, reflections and advice on COVID-19.
Options available include materials also available digitally by the Church of England’s Communications team such as Prayer During the Day and Night Prayer, updated daily, from Common Worship, and a recording of the Church of England weekly national online service.
A section called Hymn Line offers callers a small selection of hymns, updated daily. An option entitled ‘Hymns We Love’, provides a hymn and reflection and is based on an initiative by the Connections group
Archbishop Justin said:
“With many in our country on lockdown, it’s important that we support those who are feeling lonely and isolated, whatever age they are. The Daily Hope service will allow people to hear hymns, prayers and words that offer comfort and hope, especially in this Easter season. I want to urge people to spread the news about this service. If there is someone you know who is particularly struggling, give them a call and let them know about the Daily Hope. I’m going to phone a friend; will you join me?”
Carl Knightly, chief executive of Faith in Later Life, added:
“The Church must be those who offer hope to our nation at this time, and I am delighted that Faith in Later Life is able to be part of this project. We know as an organisation of the challenges for older people in our society in normal times and these are not those, so I want to add our voice to that of the Archbishop and get people sharing this number with whoever they know who would most benefit.”
Pippa Cramer, founder of Connections, said:
“At Connections we have found that well-loved hymns are a source of comfort and hope to our seniors. Hymns we Love has proved to be an accessible and popular way to explore the story and meaning behind some of our favourite hymns.”
Connections – One of the largest weekly gatherings for seniors in the UK, Connections welcomes over 150 guests to Holy Trinity Church in Claygate, Surrey. Started 10 years ago by Pippa Cramer, its vision is “to create a safe and welcoming community for seniors where they can connect with each other and the church and to provide the opportunity to demonstrate and share the love of Jesus”. It reaches elderly church and non-church members, many of whom are lonely and isolated, building a community of support and friendship that has also served as a bridge into church.
Faith in Later Life seeks to inspire and equip Christians to reach, serve and empower older people through the local Church and to encourage older Christians in their faith. A key part of the Faith in Later Life mission is encouraging churches to reach older people of any faith or none in the wider community who may be isolated or lonely, and sharing the hope, love and good news of Jesus Christ.
Prayer During the Day and Night Prayer audio are available on Soundcloud and via the Church’s free Time To Pray app.
The weekly online service is available from 9am each Sunday and this, as well as the full range of national resources, can be accessed on our church online page. This is all provided by the Church of England Communications team.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: Monday, 27 April 2020
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
with the sight of the risen Lord:
give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Lectionary Passages for Year A Easter 3 (see MWB p578):
Acts Reading: Acts 2.14a, 36-41
Psalm: Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
Epistle: 1 Peter 1.17-23
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35