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Service sheet for St Mary's

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity

5th July 2020


Gracious Father,
by the obedience of Jesus
you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will,
that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Hymn MP 119 Jesus is Lord,


Bible readings Zechariah 9.9-12 Romans 7.15-25a Matthew 11,16-19, 25-30

Reflection                                                          Written by Revd Michael Freeman

This weekend sees the re-opening of many pubs, cafés and restaurants with their invitation to come and refresh ourselves as the rigours of lockdown are eased. Many churches are also re-opening today, the very Sunday when we hear Jesus’ invitation to the weary to come to him for rest and refreshment. What do we learn from his words?

Firstly, Jesus welcomes each one of you, and wants to give you a less stressed-out existence in this world of seemingly constant pressure and ever-increasing demands. He offers us a life that is more than a treadmill. That, however, is not the same as saying that when we become Christians we have nothing more to do. “Take my yoke upon you,” he says, “and learn from me.” A yoke was a device for helping with heavy work such as for oxen hauling a plough or a milkmaid carrying her buckets.

But Jesus does not give us endless complex rules as the Pharisees did. He does not demand that we do something extraordinarily hard and difficult. Rather, he asks that we follow his example of gentleness and humility, that we give full rein to the love and generosity that are part of human nature (as so many have done in recent weeks) and leave selfishness behind. As he summed it up on another occasion: “Love one another as I have loved you.” As Paul told the Romans, it was his constant concern for himself that made following God’s way difficult, not what God asked of him.

So week by week we come to him in prayer and worship and prepare ourselves to take his yoke and continue living and working for him. As we prayed in our collect, “Draw us into harmony with your will that we may find all things restored in our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

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

Prayer written by Jean Hynes

Father of all we meet in prayer and ask your wisdom to enlighten and encourage us. We know that our insecurities can diminish our faith, so we ask for your strength and love to overcome these uncertainness’. We ask for your blessings for Fiona, Bruce and Michael as they lead us in new methods of worship within our church families may they feel your guiding hands and your presence with them as they also face new unknown challenges in their ministry. Be near to all who face hardships whether through illness in mind or body or through unemployment. Father help them know you are beside them always. Amen


The Fifth Sunday after Trinity

12th July 2020


Almighty God,
send down upon your Church
the riches of your Spirit,
and kindle in all who minister the gospel your countless gifts of grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Hymn MP 153        Make me a channel of your peace


Bible readings Genesis 25.19-end Romans 8.1-11 Matthew 13.1-9, 18-23


Reflection                                         Written by Bruce Pennie

As I write, the rules around the lockdown are generally being relaxed; we have come through the worst of the 1st peak in Covid infections and Covid related deaths. But the pandemic is not over. We watch anxiously as restrictions are re-imposed in Leicester, Germany sees a surge in cases and infections begin to soar in many countries which had previously seen relatively few. A new phrase has entered public debate: ‘The R Number’; the number of people that, on average, an infected person will pass their infection onto. If ‘R’ is less than 1, the number of infections will decline; if above 1, the number of infections will escalate. It is similar to what Jesus is describing in the parable of the sower. Seed that is kept for personal consumption, or sown into unfavourable situations, will not produce new seed. The ‘R number’ will fall below 1 and, eventually, there would be less and less seed to sow. Seed sown into favourable conditions will have an ‘R number’ of 100, 60 or 30. Declining church attendance suggests that collectively we have had an ‘R number’ of less than 1 for some time. Each person who comes to faith probably has several people influence them along the way, so it is difficult to say that person X was brought to faith by person Y. Yet, if on average over the whole of our lives, each of us brings just 2 people to Christ, the Community of Faith doubles in each generation. For Covid, our aim is to keep the ‘R number’ below 1. Christ sets us a target of 30, 60 or even 100. Now there’s a pandemic we would welcome. Get sowing!

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

Prayer written by Jean Hynes

Father quieten our anxious hearts and minds as we prepare to meet you in quiet prayer. Be near to us as we continue to face a future with mixed emotions. Help us realise you are Lord of all. Forgive us our doubts and fears help us hear your voice above our uncertainness say “ I am with you always” Thank you for the support of family, friends and neighbours, for in them we see your love for us. Guide our government as they reach difficult decisions, help them make right and just decisions we ask in your Son Jesus Christ’s name. Amen

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

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity

19th July 2020

Creator God,
you made us all in your image:
may we discern you in all that we see, and serve you in all that we do; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Hymn MP 44 Father we adore you

Bible readings Genesis 28.10-19a Romans 8.12-25 Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43

Reflection                           Written by Revd Fiona Pennie

I wonder during this time of lockdown have you felt closer to God or further away?
Has not being able to go into church to pray freed you up to meet God in the paths and hedgerows, as St Francis would suggest, or have you felt far removed from God and struggling to connect with him?

I don’t know about you but I have not managed to do so many things I thought I would ‘get round to’ dur-

ing this time of lockdown. Worry, anxiety, busyness, apathy, have all meant that I haven’t ‘achieved’ as much as I might have expected or hoped.
I thought I might have found time to read my bible more, or spent more time praying...but I didn’t.

I did find time in those early days to get out in the garden and do some weeding though...and the garden

does look better for it.
The picture we have this week from the Gospel of wheat and weeds growing together reminds me that we are each children of God. He understands that whilst the weeds might hinder our growth it is more important to let us grow. He loves each of His children and recognises that we will be affected by sin and evil, but he will rescue us in the end.
Jacob, in our Genesis passage, is on the move and far away from any recognisable Holy Place and there he has a dream of a ladder going to heaven. When he wakes up he realises he has met with God even in this most unlikely of places.
The message God has for Jacob is the same for us;

“Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

So do not be worried if in this time of Covid19 God has seemed distant, He is still there. However I would recommend a bit of weeding and praying because it will help us recognise God at work in our lives.

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

Prayer written by Jean Hynes

Guide us Father through this coming week, let us not become so wrapped up in our sufferings and hurt that we become hardened of heart to the sufferings and hurts of other people in our wider world. Though this pandemic has brought real unimagined suffering into our world it has also brought us time to appreciate the beauty all around us. Help us not become complacent to the real suffering of so many people. Father help our hands become your hands and offer the hand of friendship and words of encouragement to lighten the darkness so many people are suffering in these unusual times may God’s mercy enlighten their darkness and fill them with his peace. Amen

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

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity

26th July 2020

Generous God,
you give us gifts and make them grow: though our faith is small as mustard seed, make it grow to your glory
and the flourishing of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymn MP 192 Praise to the Lord

Bible readings Genesis 29.15-28 Romans 8.26-end Matthew 13.31-33, 44-52

Reflection               Written by Bruce Pennie

When you think of heaven, what picture comes to mind? Isaiah describes a throne room with seraphs flying around. The Revelation of John pictures a gleaming city. Jesus talks of a ‘mansion with many rooms’ and also of ‘Paradise’ which is usually depicted as a garden – echoing the Garden of Eden. Maybe you think of angels sitting on clouds plucking golden harps, or St Peter, stern-faced, standing at a gate with a ledger in his hand. All of these are very ‘place’ centred images. Heaven is somehow ‘up there’ above the clouds – as first described in Genesis, but in a way that does not fit with our modern understanding of space.

This section of Mathew’s Gospel gives us an entirely different way of thinking about the dwelling place of God or ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. One that is not centred on place but value and relationship. The funeral service quotes 1 Timothy, drawing on the Book of Job: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out”. Yet as Paul writes to the Romans, even death – when we leave behind all the ‘created’ world - cannot separate us from the love of God. What we do take into the next life, into the Kingdom of God, is love; love that is expansive like an enormous tree or permeates us like yeast through flour; love that is as valuable to us as buried treasure or a fabulous pearl. So that when we are caught up into the Kingdom, like fish in a net, we are the ‘good fish’, the ones worth keeping; we find that, having treasured him, we are now the master’s treasure.

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

Prayer written by Jean Hynes
We pray today in our quiet time of reflective prayer for God’s guidance as we seek ways to further his work in our parish and in our Walton Team. We pray for fresh expressions to further his work, and though we fear the uncertainties’ of what lie ahead of us in St Nathanael’s and our Walton Team of churches, we pray your love will guide us through to a brighter secure future, when all our churches can become beacons of your love in our communities. Guide Fiona and all your clergy to lead us into churches dedicated to spreading your gospel of encouragement and love. May they become beacons of light for future generations to come... We ask in your Son Jesus Christ Amen.

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

Third Sunday after Trinity    28th June 2020



God our saviour,

look on this wounded world

in pity and in power;

hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen


Hymn   MP 62 Great is thy faithfulness,


Bible readings 

Jeremiah 28.5–9, Romans 6.12–23, Matthew 10.40–42


Reflection Written by Revd Fiona Pennie

I have seen several amusing memes on Facebook, and indeed the TV around folk putting weight on through this time of lockdown. Overeating, my love of food, my weight and consequently my health have long been a source of struggle in my life, so whilst they have made me smile I have also felt the emotion behind them.

Our passage from Romans refers to sin exercising “dominion” or control over our mortal bodies.

In verse 14 we read ‘sin will have no dominion over you , since you are not under the law but under grace’.

It is a difficult passage to get our heads around, but I am reminded of the verses from Matthew 22 verse 36-40 about the greatest commandments or laws, which includes ‘And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’

Jesus reminds his followers then and now that Love is at the centre our of relationship with Him, each other and ourselves. I have often spoken to folk at the darkest times of their lives where they are struggling in relationships, feeling wronged by another and suffering. This commandment reminds us that we must first love God and ourselves before we can love our neighbour.

This lockdown has meant that I have not been able to run around caring for everyone. I have had the luxury of time to think and pray. I have had time to think carefully about what I eat, to shop carefully and not buy the sugary treats to have to hand when I am bored. The shops are no longer convenient and I was ordered to do one hour’s exercise a day. This and the order to STAY AT HOME has really helped me control my weight. The ‘law’ has changed the way we normally think and has helped me focus on working out strategies to help me be free from the control food has over my life. Paul, writing to the Romans, encourages them with the thought that the old system has gone and people need to adopt a new way of thinking about things. We are now not under law but under grace, therefore the power of sin over us has been broken and we can regain control.

So one thing I am grateful for, in this most difficult of times, is the way the Gospel and Paul’s writing has helped me reframe the view I have of myself. I hope and pray that you too have found yourselves being blessed, drawing closer to God the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen


Prayer Written by Jean Hynes

Our Fathers Day celebrations so much different than previous years as our Mothers Day celebrations were. Covid 19 has taught us new ways to celebrate with our families from a distance. We give thanks to our heavenly Father for the love, protection and support our earthly Fathers have shown us and we ask for God's blessings for them. Father in heaven be near to all our families ,and although we may be separated from loved ones we are united by love. Thank you Father for all the daily things we usually take for granted, for though we get frustrated with periods of inactivity, it has brought a new appreciation of our world. Thank you for bird song for the trees in glorious blossom and for flowers bringing promise of new life. We give you thanks and praise  Amen,


Hymn       MP No. 156 Lord of all Hopefulness 

Fifth Sunday of Easter      10th May 2020



Risen Christ,

your wounds declare your love for the world

and the wonder of your risen life:

give us compassion and courage

to risk ourselves for those we serve,

to the glory of God the Father.


Bible readings  Acts 7:55-60 ,1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14



Reflection written by Revd Fiona Pennie

Two of our passages today refer to stones. The passage from Acts tells the story of Stephen. He testified to seeing Jesus in Heaven at God’s right hand so the crowd covered their ears, dragged him out of the city and threw stones at him until he died. The passage from Peter’s letter likens Jesus and ourselves to stones being build into something beautiful like a temple but also acknowledges that stones can make us stumble. So we have two ways of looking stones. Firstly negatively with stones used as weapons or a trip hazard and then positively to create something wonderful

Peter uses stones as a metaphor for people. He calls us “living stones”. We can, through our behaviour and thoughts, be both good and bad.

Saul, stood by and watched Stephen die, he thought he was doing a good thing as Stephen and his fellow Christians were blaspheming God and upsetting the old Jewish order. Saul had yet to encounter Jesus for himself and learn that He was indeed God’s son and therefore see that his previous actions were not good but bad. But just as Stephen asked, Jesus did not hold this against Saul and forgave him.

None of us are perfect but as Christians we are called to follow Jesus, to acknowledge His love for us and to live in the knowledge that we can be with him forever. The Gospel passage is one I use frequently at funerals as it speaks of this Hope we have, not because we are perfect, but because God loves just as we are. It is from this place of being loved that we are able to change our behaviours and thoughts and become the “living stones” of the church.


Prayer written by Brenda Nettleton

You call us Lord to serve. 

You call us to be alongside the community around us. 

You call us not to abandon those who are in need. 

You remind us that though we may gain much, in the end we will end with nothing. 

That however much we profit without others we will be left living alone.

And yet it is in others that we see you. 

In the hungry whom we offer food to 

and the thirsty to who we give a drink. 

In the stranger we welcome, and in those we clothe. 

In the sick we care for and the prisoner we visit. 

In each person we meet, we see you. 

And may they through all we do, see you. Amen.



Hymn Brother Sister let me serve you. chosen by Rita Lacey


Rita Lacey chose this hymn writing, “It is full of humility and compassion. I like the paradox of Christ as a servant, and His wish that we should be likewise in our dealings with one another. And the promise of harmony in heaven is definitely something to look forward to!”

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

Words: Richard A. M. Gillard , 1977

Sixth Sunday of Easter 17th May 2020


Risen Christ,

by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples:

help your Church to obey your command

and draw the nations to the fire of your love,

to the glory of God the Father.


Bible readings Acts 17:22-31,1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21


Reflection    Written By Bruce Pennie

Those who have received “shielding letters’ must feel as if they are under house arrest for 12 weeks. Even for those of us who are not shielding, our freedom of movement has been restricted. The younger and fitter you are, the more this has to do with protecting others than yourself. Yet as a consequence, many are facing economic hardship, even redundancy or, in the worst cases, loss of their business or bankruptcy. 

No doubt this is not the scenario Peter had in mind, but certainly many today are suffering for doing what is right. We do not feel it, yet Peter tells us we are blessed. Further he tells us that we are not to fear what others fear. ‘Why not?’ we ask. The threats are very real and most of us now will know someone who has been ill or even died, from Covid19. If not, you will probably know someone suffering economically or under mental stress from the social isolation. 

Where, we ask, is the Father who loves us? If “In him we live and move and have our being”, why is all this happening? Even Jesus, on the cross cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”. But we do not face troubles alone or ‘orphaned’; we have the Holy Spirit with us.

 Whatever happens, God has not, and will not, abandon us. If through this we can cling onto our loving relationship with Christ, then when non-believers challenge us to explain why and how we can still place our hope in a loving God, we will be ready to make our defence.


Prayer Suggested by Ann Gandy, from her days at “Wally Nash” school

Lord, keep me safe this night .

Secure from all my fears.

May angels guard us while we sleep.

Till morning light appears. Amen


Hymn          Dear Lord and Father of Mankind chosen by Rita Lacey

Another favourite of Rita’s she writes “I like the motif of tranquillity which runs through the hymn. 'Rest', 'Calm', 'Silence', and 'Quietness' are the words which I need to hear right now. And I have always loved the image of the 'still small voice’.

 Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

 In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.


 O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!


Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.


Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!


                    Ascension Day      21st May 2020


Risen Christ,

you have raised our human nature to the throne of heaven:

help us to seek and serve you,

that we may join you at the Father’s side,

where you reign with the Spirit in glory,

now and for ever.

Readings Acts 1:1-11, Ephesians 1:15-23, Luke 24:44-53


Seventh Sunday of Easter      25th May 2020


Risen, ascended Lord,

as we rejoice at your triumph,

fill your 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.


Bible readings 

Acts 1:6-14,1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11


Reflection By Revd Michael Freeman

The Book of Acts begins by telling how “after his suffering Jesus presented himself alive to the disciples by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”    This was a time of instruction and preparation to turn disciples (= followers) into apostles (= people sent out).

Like those we read about in Acts – the men and women, the acknowledged leaders and the rank-and-file – we should devote ourselves to prayer, looking for the gift of the Spirit to empower us for the various tasks to which we have been called and knowing that Jesus himself prays for us (as in the reading from John).

As our society gradually emerges from lockdown with a mixture of relief and apprehension, we need the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit for our individual callings within our families and neighbourhoods.   We need it too for our shared responsibilities to make God’s kingdom a reality for all who live in our parish.

Seeking to be open to the Spirit and ready to see the signs of God’s coming kingdom is the focus of the Church’s prayer this week as we prepare to celebrate Pentecost.

Let us wait eagerly for Christ’s promised gift.

Let us use the gift to fulfil the commission he gives us.


Prayer Written by Jean Hynes

Change is never an easy option,but change and adapt has been the focus of our lives for the past six weeks.  So we turn to Christ  and ask him to change us and adapt us.


Help us Father to adapt to a new form of worship, 

a new form of sharing with our church family. 

We pray for all our families and friends in these challenging times. 

We pray for all NHS workers ,for our community, for everyone finding life difficult and all who are in hospital and separated from their loved ones  

May they feel the love of God embracing them and his peace enfolding them.

We ask for God's guidance in the weeks and months ahead we ask in Jesus name  Amen .


Hymns      Thine be the Glory chosen by Brenda Cassidy  

The tune that a hymn is set to makes all the difference to Brenda and to many others. This stirring music written by Handel along with the words stirs our hearts and souls as gives us a glimpse of God glory

1 Thine be the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son:
endless is the vict'ry thou o’er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay.

Thine be the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son;
endless is the vict'ry thou o’er death hast won.

2 Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing,
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting. [Refrain]

3 No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee: aid us in our strife;
make us more than conqu'rors, thro' thy deathless love:
bring us safe thro' Jordan to thy home above. [Refrain]


Morning Has Broken  chosen by Lynn

This wonderful classic reminds us of God’s beautiful creation. It inspires us to focus on God and lifts our hearts to Praise him.

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dew fall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass

Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning

Born of the One Light Eden saw play

Praise with elation, praise every morning

God's recreation of the new day

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word


Trinity Sunday      7th June 2020

Collect  Holy God, faithful and unchanging:

enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,

and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,

that we may truly worship you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,one God, now and for ever. Amen

Second Sunday after Trinity    21st June 2020


Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails:

deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word,

Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Hymn MP 25 All to Jesus I surrender

Bible readings

Jeremiah 20.7–13, Romans 6.1b–11, Matthew 10.24–39


Reflection By Revd Michael Freeman

St Augustine, the great early Christian writer, admitted that as a young man sowing his wild oats he had prayed, “O God, grant me chastity – but not yet.”   It is a prayer of which we are all tempted to offer some variation, yet Paul tells us that as baptized Christians we must have died to sin so that we can walk in newness of life.   Jesus himself teaches, “Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

There is much discussion of what the “new normal” after the pandemic has subsided will be like.   This includes how it may help or hinder attempts to tackle the climate change emergency.   The temptation is for me to hope that everything will be better while I can carry on in the way I used to.   “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, as long as I can still do what I like!”

Today’s readings challenge us to really think about how each of our lives should change and the hard choices that may involve.   But it should not be change imposed from outside.   It should be willingly embraced, for the Father whose kingdom we seek watches over us and his Son tells us, “Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Prayer Written by Jean Hynes

United in your love Father we pray for all who are anxious or who are in physical or mental pain.We ask for your gentle healing presence to enfold them and your Holy Spirit reassure them. As we lift them to you Father we name them in the quietness of our minds ———

We pray for all who are alone in these uncertain times  and for any one who has no one to pray for them. Loving Father help them know you are near Amen 

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