Thoughts from the vicar
Sunday 23 April
2nd Sunday of Easter
This Sunday is our Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM). It is an opportunity for all who are part of the many different congregations that make up the Church to come together, to give thanks and to celebrate all the good things that have been happening in Church life over the last year. There is much to give thanks for and much to look forward to as we move into a new era in St Peter’s Church life. The building of the annexe is behind us, there is some finishing off work to do in the Church building, but the preparation work is done and our energy can now be focussed on our mission.
“St Peter’s seeks to be a church that lives out the love of God in a broken world, where each person is encouraged to grow in their relationship with Christ and live out their faith in the world.”
Living out our mission is challenging, we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions.
Are we growing in faith? How we measure growth in Christian faith is difficult, especially in a time when for those in work, and for others, time pressure squeezes out opportunities to participate in small groups and Bible studies. But the starting point for growth is regular worship, responding to God’s amazing love by giving him our praise and adoration.
Are we living out our Christian faith in everyday life? Christian faith is not a set of private beliefs, but a life-transforming relationship with Jesus that impacts every area of our lives.
Are we bringing healing to a broken world? Pastoral care, social action, mission projects – so many ways that we share God’s love and make life-changing differences to individuals and communities.
All these things require resources of people’s time skills and passion and also need financial resources.
That’s why we seek to grow as a Church numerically – the larger we are the greater the ways we can live out God’s love for the world. Similarly the more financial resources we have, the more good we can do. There is much to celebrate as we will hear, but there is much to do – and all of us are called and have gifts and passions that can be used for God’s glory.
Sunday 9 – Sunday 16 April
Holy week starts with Palm Sunday – a day of rejoicing as Jesus enters Jerusalem. But it’s excitement that cannot retain its impetus. The week unfolds. All too soon the clouds gather, the crowds become angry and even Jesus’ disciples flee in terror. A darkness falls as never before.
Then, beyond the bleak emptiness of Saturday, the unimaginable happens – the glorious Easter morning dawns and Jesus rises from the dead. And the world shifts on its axis forever. Join us for worship through this Holy Week and you will experience the joy of Easter Sunday more deeply than you will have ever known it.
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!
Palm Sunday 9 April
Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; 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.
We walk with Jesus through his final hours with his friends, reflecting on this first time he commanded us to share bread and wine in his name. Before we leave we strip away all colour – the hangings, the altar frontal, banners, candles – and as the building falls into silent darkness, the vigil starts, and we wait in prayer...
God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his Church to proclaim his death until he comes: may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
10am Family service
Good Friday is a day of pain and great sadness, but we reflect on the events in a way that is appropriate for families, with activities that we can all engage in – knowing that our journey will end with the joy of Easter.
Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus we see the cost of our sin and the depth of your love: in humble hope and fear may we place at his feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 noon Meditation on the cross
"In music, you pray twice”: as we reflect on Jesus’ offering of himself on the cross, our meditation is interwoven with the beauty of grief and regret expressed in song, anthem and spirituals.
Almighty Father, look with mercy on this your family for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed and given up into the hands of sinners and to suffer death upon the cross; who is alive and glorified with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity.
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!
The Ministry Team
Sunday 2 April
5th Sunday of Lent
The other Sunday at 8.30 Holy Communion, in place of a sermon I read a story. It was a fun reworking of Paul’s instruction in Ephesians that we are to put on the full armour of God. In the story the new young Christian goes to a rather different outfitter and settles for a sash of sincerity, a sports’ shirt of niceness, the socks of the gospel, the badge of belief, the headband of security and the tie pin of tolerance. Even when he makes the cheque out to B L Zeebub and decides to wear the outfit home he doesn’t realise that he has been sold short, the outfit he has bought is no protection in the spiritual battle that every Christian is engaged in...
Spiritual warfare is not just a topic for contemporary parables or humorous stories – it is a reality in the Christian life. A wise pastor once said that the only churchgoers who are not aware of the reality of the spiritual battle we are in are those who have already been defeated.
As we move into Passiontide the focus of our Bible readings and hymns turns to the Passion of Jesus and particularly the cross. We Journey with Jesus and see the plotting and scheming of corrupt leaders who, hand in hand with the brutal occupying imperial forces, conspire to kill him. Behind the politics there are other forces at work – the spiritual forces of evil focussing in on him, rather like a magnet attracting iron filings. Jesus allows this and we see evil do its worst to him, as he is betrayed, rejected, denied, tortured and killed.
But events do not end there, at the cross the forces of evil do their worst but they are defeated. It Is Jesus’ victory at the cross that enables us to be victorious in the spiritual battles that we all face.