Sunday 31st May

The Cross Country Parishes
SUNDAY 31/5/20 

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.

9.00am The Archbishop of Canterbury will be livestreaming a service, which will include prayers lead by Pope Francis available at:

Chester Cathedral. Stream - Chester Cathedral

The Prayer Book Society has links to numerous on line services

A Sermon for Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2: 1 – 21; John 7: 36 – 39

We have finally arrived… The joy and confidence we expected on Easter Day finally bursts into life 50 days later on the Day of Pentecost.  And what a bursting into life it is.  Finally, Peter confidently stands in front of a vast crowd and explains what they are seeing.  If we read on in Acts 2 we hear how, using the only the Old Testament, Peter explains how Jesus who was crucified is now alive.

The promised Holy Spirit has been sent.  Just as the Old Testament Prophet, Joel, prophesied that it would be. No longer is the Holy Spirit given to individuals at a specific time and purpose.  Now the Holy Spirit is poured out on everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus.

God was doing something new.  It was recognisably rooted in the Jewish faith of the Old Testament. The vast crowds packed into of Jerusalem for the Jewish Festival of Pentecost around about the year 33 CE witnessed the fulfilment of Old Testament prophesies made centuries earlier.

We celebrate Pentecost as the day the Church began.  The start of something new, yet the fulfilment of something centuries old.

The Church undoubtedly began that day, yet the new Church was not all new.  Something new and dramatic had taken place yet those who were baptised on that first Christian Pentecost were Jewish.  They continued their Jewish customs with the added dimension that the Holy Spirit brings.  Baptism itself was an ancient Jewish ritual.  

As those first Christians began meeting for worship in homes, sharing bread and wine together, they were continuing a Jewish tradition.  Never before was it possible to put Jesus at the centre, understanding the bread to be [a symbol of] Jesus’ body and wine to be [a symbol of] his blood, but the sharing of bread and wine when Jews gathered in worship was as normal as it is on the Sabbath in synagogues today.

Last night, I walked across Dorfold Park for the umpteenth time since lockdown began.  For11 ½   weeks I have watched leaves burst and thicken.  I’ve watched blossom come and go and the evenings lengthen.  A very natural part of the natural world.

Nature changes.  It relies on what has gone before, yet it changes day by day, month by month.  It is the same with God.  At one level, God is unchanging.  At another level, God is very much alive, constantly revealing new things, just as all living beings made in his image change.  The Bible, tells of God leading his people on a journey.  A process which continues today.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are also on a journey; part of the change which is common to all who are created in God’s image.

Last week (when you eventually got the right sermon), I wrote of standing at a juncture in history.  We may be tired of hearing about the ‘new normal’ with no clear idea of what that might be, but for many reasons life will be different after coronavirus.  As we live through those changes, we cannot yet see them.  Many of us have the privilege, as well as the frustration, of pausing in our busy lives.  Consciously, or unconsciously, this will change us as we review our lives and consider what of these unexpected changes we might like to become permanent.

If this is true for everyday life, it will be true of the Church as well.  Much thought is being given to the many, many, complex things which need to be considered before some kind of public worship can resume.  At a very basic level, it will be a long time, probably a very long time, before we will be able to receive Communion in the way we have been used too; sing hymns; greet people with so much as a handshake; sit next to friends in Church.  These things will change, and we will adapt to things which will seem very odd at first.  We have also paused.  We may already be thinking that we don’t want to return to tasks we have been doing in church.  We may already be glimpsing different ways of doing things we have done for a long time.

It will be unsettling, exciting, challenging in turn, just as any worthwhile journey is.   Whatever is different and new, it will grow out of what we already know and are familiar with.  Just as the Church grew out of the Jewish Faith from which it was born.  It will grow out of what we know, just as changes in the Church always have.  Our ancient churches grew out of 1000 years or more of church history.  The Book of Common Prayer did not arrive from nowhere in 1662; it was the product of years of change in worship.  Our ‘modern’ worship has even longer roots.  The Communion Service we think arrived as new around the year 2000, was in use in Rome in the 3rd Century CE.

God is on a journey.  He calls us to join that journey.  How ever unsettling and challenging that may be, we can be confident that God is with us.  Wherever the journey leads, it will grow out of all that is familiar and dear to us.  That is the way God has always worked; it is the way he is likely to continue to work.  All we need is a willingness to go on the journey.

S Anne Lawson

28 May 2020

Prayers for Pentecost

As the body of Christ,

in the power of the Spirit,

let us pray.

For a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit

on the people of God all over the world,

and in all worship traditions.

For a readiness to be changed and made new;

for a softening of the ground of our hearts

to receive without fear.

With our whole selves we pray:

come, Holy Spirit of God.

For all the peoples of the earth

to know you and honour your name.

For the healing of the nations

and a new thirst for righteousness and purity

at every level and in every aspect of society.

For a dissatisfaction with the pursuit of pleasure

and all that distracts us from our true calling.

With all our whole selves we pray:

come, Holy Spirit of God.

For the grace and power to live out our faith

in the real and challenging world,

among those we meet and eat with,

whose lives we share,

without compromising that calling

to be the body of Christ,

living God’s integrity and purity,

forgiveness and love.

With our whole selves we pray:

come, Holy Spirit of God.

For those whose lives feel empty or cheated,

or filled with pain, or worry or guilt.

For all whose hopes and dreams are in tatters;

all who are in any way imprisoned.

With our whole selves we pray:

come, Holy Spirit of God.

For those who walk the dark journey of death

and all who have come through it

into your presence;

for mourners distressed by regrets

or angry with God at their loss.

With our whole selves we pray:

come, Holy Spirit of God.

For all you have in store for us, we thank you;

we look forward to walking into the future

of your promise, alive with your life.

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Come down, O love divine

Thy Kingdom Come Hymn  (The words are new, the tune very well known)

O breath of life come sweeping through us

Either O Thou who camest from above

Or Spirit of holiness