May 23rd News and Worship
Welcome to this week's newsletter.
When planning services for this Sunday two years ago, I had imagined the new Bishop arriving for the morning Service in glorious sunshine, that Church would be packed with regular congregation, candidates for Confirmation and their families lifting heart and voice in praise and worship. The expectation back then was that as our 800th Anniversary year began to draw to a close, we would have much to look back on, give thanks for and exciting new opportunities to look forward to.
How differently things have turned out! There is no Bishop, no packed congregation (we still need to socially distance) no voices singing out in praise (singing inside still not allowed) and no Confirmation candidates. Three of these we can attribute to the Pandemic but the absence of young people for confirmation (adult numbers have been consistently good) predates the Pandemic and has been a growing concern for a number of years. There are probably many reasons for this, young people involved in more out of school activities, greater homework demands and pressure, less supportive secondary education, less encouragement from parents or peers, lower importance of receiving Holy Communion and lack of information on what Confirmation is, and what it's for.
Confirmation has many dimensions to it. It is the door to receiving Holy Communion in the Church of England and it is the opportunity for young people and adults to affirm their faith, making the promises for themselves that were made on their behalf at Baptism. For those not baptised as children, it is the opportunity to declare publicly their faith and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
One of the key questions is, should confirmation mark something that has already happened or be the means by which something is enabled to happen? As a Church, our Confirmation policy has for many years taken the former view, waiting until youngsters have made the transition to Secondary School and reached their teens.
This is now going to change, and with it the age at which young people can be confirmed is being lowered to the top year at Juniors. The practical implications of this for our Church school, the other schools we have relationships with and young church has yet to be worked out.
Pentecost, when we celebrate the gift of the Spirit, the birthday of the church and the Good News of God for all people, is a good day to change direction and let God take us in a new direction.
This Week's Worship
Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost - when we celebrate the Gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. There will be a special Service at 4.30pm which includes the blessing of light, commissioning and if the weather is good(!) a procession outside where we will sing the last hymn together. The latest Government changes have made little impact on what we are able to do when we worship together, and consequently we will, as the occasion arises, take advantage of the greater freedoms of gathering outside to worship.
This Week's Diary
The Church Office is open from 9.00am to 12noon Monday to Friday.
9.00am Morning Prayer Zoom Code 503 346 024 Password 793684
10.30am Holy Communion St Peter's
9.00am Morning Prayer Zoom Code 859 930 994
10.30am Holy Dusters St Peter's
10.000am -12noon Private Prayer St Peter's
Sunday 13th June Wild Church 10.30am St Peter's
Sunday 27th June St Peter's 800th Anniversary Celebration Sunday
Sunday 4th July Archbishop of Canterbury's Thanksgiving Sunday
The Feast of Pentecost
Worship services for Sunday 23rd May
Sunday Bible Readings
For use with Worship at Home booklet and reflection.
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
How great Thou art
This is the story of the Cross
O praise the name
Be still, for the presence
Spirit of the living God
The Spirit lives to set us free
All creatures of our God and King
Gracious Spirit Holy Ghost
For the healing of the nations
Come Holy Ghost
O Thou who camest from above
God, who as at this time
taught the hearts of your faithful people
by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;
through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,
ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love,
and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer focus this week
The focus this week is on conflict in Israel/Palestine praying for peace, for justice for eyes and hearts to be open to new possibilities and new solutions. That cycles of violence and revenge would be broken by forgiveness and sacrificial love. That the voices of the week and powerless would be heard and the voices of the powerful and violent would be silenced.
Those who have asked for prayer
Paul Nadin Salter
Those who have died
Spiritual Counsel from yesterday, for today
Do not say: It is impossible to receive the Holy spirit
Do not say: It is possible to be saved without Him.
Do not say that one can possess the Spirit without being aware of it
Do not say: But God does not appear to men
Do not say: But men do not see the divine light- or at least it is impossible in this current generation.
This is a thing, my friends, which is never impossible, at any time.
On the contrary it is entirely possible for those who long for it.
Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022)
Church Family News
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