Sunday 24th May

The Cross Country Parishes
SUNDAY 24/5/20 

On this page 
Sermon, readings, prayers & hymns.

8.00pm Bishop Keith has called for us to pray for the Diocese and for the World every Sunday evening by lighting a candle. 

On line, TV & Radio  

8.10am BBC Radio 4 a Christian Service.

Chester Cathedral. Stream - Chester Cathedral

The Prayer Book Society has links to numerous on line services

A Sermon for the Sevnth Sunday of Easter
24 May 2020
Acts 1: 6 – 14; John 17: 1 – 11

Earlier this year I took my computer to work in Crewe Library while I waited for my phone to be mended. For part of the time, I was treated to a very, very loud conversation.  By the time the lady left the building I knew the (very) intimate details of all her health problems and which bus she was catching home.  Sometimes we simply cannot avoid overhearing conversations – even if we would rather not here.

Our Gospel reading takes us back to the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion.  Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us Jesus went away on his own to pray, leaving his disciples to pray for him, or to sleep as the case may be.  John’s report allows us to overhear an intimate conversation between Jesus and his Father.

This is no plea to Father God to remove the trial to come, or at least the strength to face it – although Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us he did pray for that.  But Jesus prayed much more.  

He prayed for his disciples; that they might be protected as they continue to live as Jesus has taught them, and that they might be one as Jesus is one with his Father.

Jesus will not be present again with his disciples as he has been over the previous 3 years.  He is leaving them, but he does not leave them alone and unprotected.

Fast forward 43 days and we arrive at the reading from Acts, and Luke’s second account of Ascension (his first is at the end of his gospel).   In those seven weeks, the disciples have experienced a bewildering array of emotions, from the depths of grief on Good Friday, to the bewilderment of Easter Day when they failed to grasp the resurrection.  The joy of realising Jesus had risen from the dead and the settling into a new normal where the risen Jesus came and went among them at will and without warning.

Then, just as they were settling into the new normal, Jesus leaves them again. Although he does not ascend to heaven before giving them a task and telling them to wait for the Holy Spirit. 

And so, as we meet the disciples today, they are gathered once more in the upper room, waiting, but for what, and for how long they don’t know.  Something else they have never experienced (as if a resurrection and an ascension weren’t enough).   What is certain is that this was no casual wait.  This is purposeful waiting in prayer.  Waiting to be equipped for the task of being witnesses to Jesus to the ends of the earth.

This Easter Season, we too wait, now that we are well into the 10th week of self-isolation/ partial lock-down (call it what you will).  So how are we waiting?

Like the disciples, we are likely to have experienced a wide range of emotions; overwhelming sorrow and sadness at the sickness and death so present around us; relief to finally have time to do our own thing; bewilderment over so many things; fear for our health and that of our families; joy at the beauty of the world around us; exhaustion from increased work loads and emotional burden; sadness at being separated from family and friends; fear about jobs, finance, how all this might end….

We are living through one of those points of history when there will be a ‘before coronavirus’ and ‘after coronavirus’ in the whole of life, including the church.  I don’t know what the ‘after coronavirus’ looks like any more than you do.  And so, like the first disciples, we need to learn to live in the waiting, uncertain of when, or if, any area of life will change.  Like the first disciples, we must learn to wait in expectant prayer.

The Archbishop of York Elect, Bishop Stephen Cottrell, has asked 4 questions of the Chelmsford Diocese as he prepares to leave them to move to York.  They are questions you might like to ponder with me as we wait in prayerful expectation and unknowing this Ascensiontide.

  • What is ‘new’ that we would like to keep? 
  • What is ‘new’ that we would like to lose? 
  • What is ‘old’ that we would like to keep? 
  • What is ‘old’ that we would like to lose?  

We have a unique opportunity as a society and as the Church.  We have been forced to stop what we were doing.  We have time to think about a number of things.  What we have been doing? Why we did those things?  What are we missing, and why are we missing it? What we are enjoying about this time?  Are there things which we would want to keep?  Are there things we would prefer not to go back to?

These are important questions to ask, and to note the answer too.  They will help us to see what is important.  Please wait and pray with me, knowing we do so with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit present with us, protecting and guiding us, however long the wait may be.

S Anne Lawson

20 May 2020

Prayers for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

The Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

Risen, ascended Lord,

as we rejoice at your triumph,

fill you Church on earth with power and compassion,

that all who are estranged by sin

may find forgiveness and know your peace,

to the glory of God, the Father.  Amen.

The Post Communion Prayer for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

Eternal God, giver of love and power,

your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world

to preach the gospel of his kingdom:

confirm us in this mission,

and help us to live the good news we proclaim;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

As the Church of God,

let us be still, and pray together.

God of glory,

may your light shine in our church community

as you work among us and bless us with your presence;

we offer you the gifts you have given us

and our various ministries;

we offer you ourselves, in the areas you have placed us.

Holy God:

may we live with your life in us.

God of glory,

may the whole world come to know you

and give you honour and praise.

Encourage us all to stand up to the devil, when he prowls,

firm in our faith, and strengthened with your power.

May your kingdom come and your will be done.

Holy God:

may we live with your life in us.

God of glory,

may our homes, schools, shops, offices and factories

become places where your glory is seen and experienced

in the ordinary things, the everyday routines,

the pots and pans of life.

Fill us to overflowing with ongoing thankfulness

both in the sunlight and in the storm.

Holy God:

may we live with your life in us.

God of glory,

with your special affection

for the discarded and marginalised,

the weak and the vulnerable,

we pray for all those who find life an exhausting struggle

or who long for some respite from pain or depression.

Support them in their troubles,

bring healing and reassurance,

and touch them with the gentleness of your peace.

Holy God:

may we live with your life in us.

God of glory,

teach us to understand death

in the context of your eternity,

so that our fears are calmed as we approach it.

As we give thanks for those who have recently died,

shelter their loved ones

in the shadow of your wings.

Holy God

may we live with your life in us.

God of glory, we thank you

that through your ascension into heaven

the way was open for us to receive the Holy Spirit.

Prepare our hearts each day to welcome you.

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Prayers for use during the Coronavirus Pandemic

A Prayer for the World

God of love and hope,

you made the world and care for all creation,

but the world feels strange right now.

The news is full of stories about Coronavirus.

Some people are worried that they mighty get ill.

Others are anxious for their family and friends.

Be with them and help them find peace.

We pray for the doctors and nurses and scientists,

and all who are working to discover the right medicines

to help those who are ill.

Thank you that even in these anxious times,

you are with us.

Help us to put our trust in you and keep safe.



Come let us join our cheerful songs  

Rejoice the Lord is King

Christ Triumphant

Thy Kingdom Come Hymn 2020