FifTH sunday of easter

10 MAY 2020

Easter Garden

Welcome to our service of Spiritual Communion 
for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Thank you to all those who are continuing their regular donations to the church. We appreciate all donations to support the maintenance of our building and the continuation of our ministry. Click here to find out how you can make your offering

If you prefer to go through the whole service without having to click for the sound or pick up your Bible for the words, please click on the arrow below. If you prefer to control how you go through the service, skip this one and go on to the text below...

Click on the arrow below to prepare for the service by listening to the bells of Evercreech church in Somerset

Click on the arrow below to hear the Rev'd Jon Rose read the introduction and act of penitence.

During this difficult time of physical separation from each other we are, nevertheless, still able to experience spiritually in our hearts and minds our togetherness as the Body of Christ:

The term ‘Spiritual Communion’ has been used historically to describe the means of grace by which a person, prevented for some serious reason from sharing in a celebration of the Eucharist, nonetheless shares in the communion of Jesus Christ and therefore with each other too.  So therefore, we continue to give our grateful thanks for our communion with him and each other, particularly at times when we would ordinarily be present at the Eucharist. 

The Church of which we are members is not defined by the walls of a building but by the Body of Christ of which we are members. In making our communion spiritually, we are joining with Christians everywhere to be nourished by the one who tells us, ‘I am the Bread of Life’.

The readings, intercessions and sermon which follow may be read (using your own Bible for the readings) or listened to, whichever you prefer. 

But first let us reflect together and remember that God is always with us:

Lord God, you are always with me......

You are with me in the day and the night....

You are with me when I’m happy and when I’m sad....

You are with me when I’m healthy and when I am ill....

You are with me when I am peaceful and when I am worried.....

Help me to remember that you love me and are with me in everything I do...

And please forgive me as I think about the ways in which I have fallen short of what you have required of me to live in love and peace with all....

Shall we say together...

Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy
forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly,
love mercy
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

And the president at the Eucharist says...

Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Easter  

Click the arrow to hear the Collect read by Canon David Scrace 

Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help
we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

The first lesson: Acts 7, 55-60
Click the arrow to hear the first lesson read by Philip Hughes

Stephen, first martyr for Christ, dies with words on his lips that echo those of Jesus at his dying (as described in Luke 23. 34,46). The disciple is to be as his lord & master - now as then.

Psalm 31, 1-5, 15-16 
Click the arrow to hear the psalm chanted by Bob Millington

The second lesson: 1 Peter 2, 2-10
Click the arrow to hear the second lesson read by Sheila Hughes

It is not just the work of Jesus that we must see as God’s new deed in our midst, but the creation of a new people or community, taking over the inheritance and task of the Israel of old. Words that echo the Old Testament make the point.

The Gospel reading: John 14, 1-14

Click the arrow to hear the Gospel read by the Rev'd Jon Rose
We tend to always ask for more – from God as in other, more mundane areas of life. But we should rest content. In Christ, God has amply supplied all we can truly need.

The Sermon is given by the Rev'd Jon Rose

Click the arrow to hear the sermon read by the Rev'd Jon Rose

During the evening of VE Day, that is Victory in Europe Day, 8th May 1945, King George VI addressed the nation.  In a quite lengthy oration from Buckingham Palace, having given thanks to Almighty God for a great deliverance, he afterwards paid tribute to those ‘who will not come back’: their constancy and their courage in battle, their sacrifice and endurance in the face of a merciless enemy’.  He continued, ‘ let us resolve to bring to the tasks which lie ahead the same high confidence in our mission...much hard work awaits us both in the restoration of our own country after the ravages of war....and in helping to restore ...sanity to a shattered world’.  During VE Day itself the ringing of church bells had been a running theme.  This was one of the many ways in which the BBC sought to weave into its vast programme output on that day sounds from all corners of Britain.  Years of bloodshed and destruction had come to an end.  Millions took to the streets and pubs to celebrate peace, mourn their loved–ones and silently, or otherwise, express their hopes for a better future. On Friday last, 8th May 2020, it was 75 years since the guns fell silent marking the end of the war in Europe.  Nazi Germany had surrendered unconditionally to the Allied forces.  A friend of mine who was then aged 7 said to me last week that his family did not celebrate VE Day. His father was still a prisoner in Japan and he, young as he was, with his mother, remained very anxious about his father’s unharmed return.  Only with the unconditional surrender of Japan on 15th August 1945 and his father’s eventual safe homecoming, could they commence any form of celebration.  I found it poignant that my friend should tell me that between the 8th May and 15th August 1945 his family questioned if the World War would ever properly end.  Perhaps we think similarly now about Coronavirus wondering just when we might be free of the scourge? This weekend we can do no other than to remember with deep gratitude the enormous sacrifices made to achieve peace in Europe 75 years ago.  Our thankfulness goes to members of the Armed Forces and Merchant Navy from many countries who gave their lives or returned home injured in body and mind; our thanks to the hard-working women and men who operated the factories, mines, shipyards and farms; the ARP wardens, police officers, doctors, nurses, fireman, and local defence volunteers and many others who toiled day and night selflessly on the home front during those frightening and uncertain times. Surely, it is not hard to visualize a counterpart with our present moment as we combat the Coronavirus pandemic. King George VI’s sentiments, with which I began, could be thought correspondingly relevant today in the warlike grip of pandemic when he acknowledged the contribution of those who had given ‘their constancy and their courage in battle and their sacrifice and endurance in the face of a merciless enemy.....while adding that, ’much hard work awaits us both in the restoration of our own country after the ravages of war....and in sanity to a shattered world’.  Indeed, just a few weeks ago the Queen affirmed the profound gratitude we all feel in her broadcast to the nation. She said: ‘I want to thank everyone on the NHS front line, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles, who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all. I am sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times’. Some words of Jesus from our Gospel set for this 5th Sunday of Easter from John Chapter 14 vv 1, 2, I have found particularly helpful as we journey through self-isolation and the acute challenges associated with the stressful passage of Covid-19.  Jesus said: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you’. In this historical time of contagion and economic uncertainty, it is no moment for our faith to be feeble.  The Queen herself disclosed in her broadcast: ‘Though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation’. Quite possibly, the dwelling-places Jesus had in mind were the shelters, common in his day, where travellers could rest and seek refreshment on their journey.  Travellers would often send ahead of them a guide to prepare the next resting-place along the road. So Jesus presents himself here as our spiritual guide who walks the way of faith before us. I offer then the reality that we cannot just stay where we are and become stagnant in spirit.  No, in faith, while we may pause for prayer, we nevertheless press on believing in the providential companionship of our Lord. Our God, who, in his overwhelming love for us, we must trust unquestionably is even now mapping the way ahead; a way ahead that will lead us out onto the other side of our present predicament.   Amen

The Intercessions are prepared by Brian Golding
Click the arrow to hear the intercessions read by Brian Golding

Let us pray together as the family of God in this place:

Dear Lord, we bring before you our broken world, the divisions and injustices in our society, the failures of your church to follow your teaching, our own falling short of the promises we have made. We come before you because we want to bring your kingdom here and we need you to show us the way. Be our guide; help us through the rough times; lift us up when we fall; and at the end of each day, be there to give us rest and refreshment. 
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Dear Lord, today we remember the end of a terrible war that tore apart the nations of Europe. We recall the promises of a better world that were made, we honour those who committed their lives to making them a reality, and we give thanks that much of our continent has been without war; that we live longer and healthier lives; that we are blessed with the fruits of the earth in abundance; that we have unprecedented access to the skill and creativity of people everywhere. But we know that there is still much that is wrong in our world. Poverty and injustice are still the incubators of fear, division and conflict across the world and in our own country. Our greed for things to have and to consume is destroying the earth and threatening to reverse our hard won achievements in poverty alleviation, health and education. Give to leaders across the world the courage and wisdom to take their peoples in new directions, away from measuring happiness and worth in possession of the latest fashion, towards that community of love that is your kingdom on earth. 

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer 

Dear Lord, as we continue to live under the restrictions needed for limiting the spread of the coronavirus, we give thanks for all those who put themselves at risk to provide the services we depend on. Be with those caring for the sick, whether in hospital, in care or in their own home. Inspire and proper the work of scientists searching for cures and vaccines.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Dear Lord, we pray for all who are suffering in any way: for the sick, for the frightened, for victims of abuse, for those who have lost hope and for those who mourn. Hold them in your loving arms, comfort them with your presence, and strengthen them with the prayers of your church. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Dear Lord, receive into your care those who have died recently, especially Edward Scott and comfort all who mourn for them. And bring us all, at last to the joy of your eternal kingdom.

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

Click the arrow to hear the Rev'd Annita Denny read the spiritual communion prayers

Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ John 6, 35

Give thanks for the saving death and resurrection of Jesus and ask him to be
with you now. 
     Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
     for all the benefits you have given me,
     for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
     Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
     I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. 
     O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
     may I know you more clearly,
     love you more dearly,
     and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.

                after the Prayer of St Richard of Chichester

You might then add one or more of the following prayers:

     Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples,
     ‘I am with you always’.
     Be with me today, as I offer myself to you.
     Hear my prayers for others and for myself,

     and keep me in your care. Amen.

     O God,
     help me to trust you,
     help me to know that you are with me,
     help me to believe that nothing can separate me from your love

     revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

     Lord, in these days of mercy,
     make us quiet and prayerful;
     in these days of challenge,
     make us stronger in you;
     in these days of emptiness,
     take possession of us;
     in these days of waiting,
     open our hearts to the mystery of your cross.

                 Angela Ashwin

     Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
     we your unworthy servants give you most humble and hearty thanks
     for all your goodness and loving kindness.
     We bless you for our creation, preservation,
     and all the blessings of this life;
     but above all for your immeasurable love
     in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
     for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
     And give us, we pray, such a sense of all your mercies
     that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful,
     and that we show forth your praise,
     not only with our lips but in our lives,
     by giving up ourselves to your service,
     and by walking before you in holiness and
     righteousness all our days;
     through Jesus Christ our Lord,
     to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
     be all honour and glory,
     for ever and ever. Amen.

End with the Lord’s Prayer.
     Our Father...

Post Communion Prayer

Click the arrow to hear the post communion prayer read by the Canon David Scrace

Eternal God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:
grant us to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life,
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen

The National Anthem

Click the arrow to hear the National Anthem

Blessing and Dismissal

Click the arrow to hear the blessing and dismissal from the Rev'd Jon Rose

Click the arrow to hear the organ voluntary played by Bob Millington