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  St Aidan’s, St Luke’s, St Mary’s, St Nathanael’s Church




The First Sunday of Advent 29th November 2020



Almighty God,

as your kingdom dawns, 

turn us from the darkness of sin to the light of holiness, 

that we may be ready to meet you in our Lord and Saviour, 

Jesus Christ.



Hymn HON Low he comes with clouds descending


Bible readings  Isaiah 64.1-9, Psalm 80.1-7, 16-18, 1 Corinthians 1.3-9, Mark 13.24-37



Written by Rev Fiona Pennie

Happy New Year!!

Today is Advent Sunday, which marks the beginning of the church’s liturgical year.

It is also the day in the year when we think about the phrase we say every week in the Nicene Creed…’Christ will come again’.

We are now in Year B and our Gospel reading from Mark reads;

‘Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.’

This has inspired some amazing visual and musical images of Christ ‘descending’, but it is our reaction to that message that I want to focus on. In Mark 13 vs 34 the disciples are warned by Jesus;

Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

That certainly seem to resonate with me in these difficult times. It is so hard to plan anything ahead as we just don’t know what today, let alone tomorrow is going to bring. (I’m actually writing this on November 5th).

Jesus goes on to say;  “And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Now it may be that like me you are not in your normal sleeping patterns…the exhortation to physically ‘keep awake’ is easy…but Jesus is asking us not to physically, but spiritually keep awake. To be practiced in prayer, in our conversations with God, so we get more and more used to hearing his voice.

To noticing God in our everyday lives.

It is not easy but studying the bible, talking to other Christians, learning from the saints that have gone before us and being church will all help.

But in these days of lockdown and beyond how do we continue to BE the church.

I think today’s passage from Corinthians helps.

Firstly we give thanks for each other, for the way by the grace of God we ‘have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind’.

Secondly it is so important that we continue to find new ways to share how we are growing in our faith, ‘just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you’. How we share the Good News of Jesus in our lives.

Finally that we seek to understand and receive all the spiritual gifts that our faith bestows on us as we hear in 1 Corinthians 12. 

As we look forwards to Christmas and the story of Christ’s birth, which will be unlike any other Christmas we have known, let us keep alert, be thankful and seek to encourage the development of spiritual gifts in ourselves and in each other.





In the power of the Spirit let us pray to the Father,
through Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
We pray for all who follow the Way of Christ
and for the unity of all Christian people;
break down that which separates us from one another and from you,
that knowing your forgiveness we may share your love
with a needy world. 

We share the Peace The Peace of the Lord be always with you; and also with you.


Hymn MP No. 156 May God's blessing surround you each day.

Christ the King 

22nd November 2020




God the Father,

help us to hear the call of Christ the King

and to follow in his service, whose kingdom has no end; 

for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, one glory.



Hymn HON 494 O God, our help in ages past


Bible readings  Ezekiel 34.11-16, 20-24, Psalm 95.1-7, Ephesians 1.15-end, Matthew 25.31-end


Reflection      Written by Revd Michael Freeman

Dr Samuel Johnson was not only a great man of letters but also a devout Christian who had today’s gospel reading in mind when he declared, “I can never forget that my Saviour has said that he will separate the sheep from the goats.”

We would often prefer to forget it, but Jesus says, “When (not ‘if’) the Son of Man comes he will sit on his throne…   All the nations will be gathered…   He will separate people…”

St Paul didn’t want people to forget it either.   “All of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ,” he reminded the Corinthians.”  [2 Cor. 510]

“All of us must appear”:  rich and poor, young and old, men and women.   We too easily think of Christ’s judgement as just for others, not for decent people like us, but we must all appear.   That could be an uncomfortable experience.   The neighbours from whom we thought we had concealed our shortcomings will be there to see us; those who set good examples we failed to follow;  those who responded gladly to Christ’s call though they had received fewer blessings than ourselves;  those who fell through bad examples we set.

“Before the judgement seat of Christ”.

He is the judge, but did we recognize and accept this humble and unwanted king?   When there was no room for him in the inn, did we make room for him in our lives?   That is the question that the parable in the gospel asks.

The best we can answer is “Sometimes, but at others it was easier not to.”

That is the reality we have to face, yet there is hope, for he came at Christmas and was born in a back-street stable to be one of us.   “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.”  [Heb. 415]

We have a king who prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Before his judgement seat we will know what we have done.

In heart and mind we can go there now, repent, and receive forgiveness.


We share the Peace The Peace of the Lord be always with you; and also with you.


Almighty God,
by your Holy Spirit you have made us one
with your saints in heaven and on earth:
grant that in our earthly pilgrimage
we may ever be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer,
and know ourselves surrounded by their witness
to your power and mercy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Hymn MP No. 156 May God's blessing surround you each day.




The Second Sunday before Advent 15th November 2020




Heavenly Lord,
you long for the world's salvation:
stir us from apathy, restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope that all creation will one day be healed in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymn All my love on God is founded


Bible readings Zephaniah 1.7, 12-end, Psalm 90.1-8, I Thessalonians 5.1-11, Matthew 25.14-30


Reflection                                                                                                           Written by Rev Jean Flood

In my time, I’ve heard some typical responses to this parable of the talents where the preacher says we all have our own unique talent even if it’s just making the tea. Actually, I think making the tea is a most important talent easily worth 17 years wages (the equivalent of the biblical talent in Matthew’s gospel). There are many people who have always been the tea maker, for 17 years or even longer, pre-Covid of course. We human beings can’t help being creative because we are made in the image of our Creator. The difference between us and an empty tea cup is the talent, the creativity that we are given by our Father God, the God-given ability to make a refreshing drink from a small bag of leaves which he created in the first place! 

The tea maker is often the first person you aim for at a meeting or after a church service etc. She or he is the only one who gets to speak to almost everyone there, even if it’s just ”milk?”!  Relationship building starts with the making of the tea, a smile of greeting, a warm welcome. We can see God in a full teacup but also at the bottom of an empty cup. When the cup is empty the skill of the tea-maker has brought the comfort of warm familiarity, has perpetuated relationship and may even have quenched thirst! 

Talent is God gifted ability.  A skill is an expertise acquired by a person learning how to develop their talent by putting time and effort into it. God doesn’t compel us, he lets us make our own choices. We can have the attitude of the last man in the gospel – 

I don’t owe anybody anything, wouldn’t get any thanks for it anyway. 

We can be like the second man who did the very best he could with the talents he was given. 

Or we can be like the first man with the most talents - we can use our talents not only for ourselves but far beyond ourselves to serve others. We can put our talents to work. 

Who knows just what we are capable of if we follow God’s plans for our lives? Maybe we could even see beyond ourselves into the lives and hearts of other people. Maybe we could see God’s vision for the world. Maybe we could even see a miracle in a teacup! 

On Radio 4 the other day they were talking about astronauts seeing the world from a whole different perspective when they are in space. They call it the overview effect. The astronauts are always deeply moved by that sight. It has a real effect on how they see the world. Are we enthused enough to have that overview effect, to see beyond our own concerns, to see into eternity? God has given us each of us the talent for that. It’s up to us what we do with it. Are we trebling our talents? Are we stirring up the tea? In God’s world the more we give of ourselves, the more we receive. We have been taught by God to love one another, no matter how, where or when. We have a God given talent for it. If we waste it, it will disappoint him, it will disappoint others, it will disappoint ourselves - and it will be worse than a cold cup of tea.

‘To all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance’. 


We share the Peace The Peace of the Lord be always with you; and also with you.



We pray for those who,
through sickness, misfortune or abuse,
feel that their lives are without meaning or direction;
surround them with your love,
and give wisdom and patience to all who support and guide them. 


Hymn MP No. 156 May God's blessing surround you each day

8th November 2020

Remembrance Sunday 


God, our refuge and strength,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
that earth may know the peace of heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymn  HON 156 I vow to thee country


Bible readings  Wisdom 6.12-16, Psalm 70, 1 Thessalonians 4.13-end, Matthew 25.1-13


Reflection                 Written by Mr. Bruce Pennie 


The period between All Saints Day and start of the Liturgical New Year, on the 1st in Advent, is nowadays often referred to as the ‘Kingdom Season’. It reaches its high point on the feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the year. It is a time when we celebrate the now, but not yet complete, presence of the Kingdom of God here on earth. It is a time for forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. it is therefore also a time, appropriate to the end of the year, to pause, take time, reflect and remember. For without that we cannot discern what needs forgiveness, nor where reconciliation and healing are needed. The Book of Joshua describes how, after the death of Moses and under his leadership, the People of Israel have crossed the Jordan, entered the Promised Land and settled there. As the life of Joshua comes to an end, and the initial war of conquest is over, he calls the people together. It is time to take stock. It is time to pause and remember. He reminds them of their origins – how, hundreds of years before, Terah and Abraham had followed the word of the Lord and left the city of Ur and headed into Canaan. There God had promised the land to Abraham’s descendants, who would be many. That promise, or covenant, had been fulfilled. The people now had the option of taking what had been given and going their own way. The People of Israel had often stayed from the relationship with the Lord along the way. It was decision time. Would they again abandon the Lord, or would they stay – Joshua warns them that neither was a soft option; nevertheless, they had to choose. “But,” says Joshua, “as for me and my household, we will serve the”. The people decide to go with Joshua’s example, and make that decision based on their history – because it was the Lord who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt. Life at the moment is not easy. Since the development of antibiotics and vaccines, we had got used to the idea that the terrible scourge of infectious disease was a thing of the past. Covid-19 has brought home to us all, that this is not the case. It is an appropriate time for us to pause and think where we stand in relationship to our God. Joshua spoke at a time of ‘now-but-not-yet’. They had entered and settled in the Promised land, but they were a long way off fully occupying it and being settled. The situation for us is similar; the Kingdom of God is at hand. Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again. The Kingdom is here, and yet the King has yet to return to reign in person. Whilst we are promised that his reign will bring peace, justice and love and that he will bring resurrection and re-creation. We too are in that time of ‘now-but-not-yet’. We strive for peace, justice and love, but fail. Week by week in our liturgy, we collectively confess our sins and rededicate ourselves to God. But when you say the confession, what is going through your mind? Is it what you – personally – have said or done in the last week? Or would you take your lead from Nehemiah? The book of Nehemiah opens several decades into the Babylonian exile with him confessing the sins of the whole of the Israelite people over a long period of history. This was not something for which he was personally responsible but was something he felt the need to acknowledge and bewail before God. We too need to look back on our history and acknowledge the wrongs that ‘we’ have done. Specifically on Remembrance Day we look back at two world wars, and countless other conflicts since. We gratefully remember the sacrifice that so many paid with their lives and health but also acknowledge before God that we failed, and still fail, to bring peace, justice and love to the world. But we should also remember and acknowledge other historic and continuing sins: slavery and its ugly child, racism; economic inequality and its child, poverty; over-exploitation of the earth’s resources and its children, pollution and global warming; and the list goes on – and on. So I urge you to take time during this Kingdom Season give thanks for those elements of the Kingdom you see around you and also to remember. Then ask yourself, do you stand with Joshua and say “as for me… (I) will serve the”. 

We share the Peace The Peace of the Lord be always with you; and also with you.



Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict,

and ask that God may give us peace:

for the service men and women

who have died in the violence of war,

each one remembered by and known to God;

may God give peace.


Hymn  May God's blessing surround you each day. 

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