This week’s Worship

Sunday 13th June 2021 2nd Sunday after Trinity (2nd Sunday)
            9:15 am      Holy Communion, Croston

11:00 am      Holy Communion, Bretherton

11:00 am      Holy Communion, Mawdesley

Wednesday   10am Holy Communion, Croston

** Friday 9am Morning Prayer at Mawdesley **
** cancelled until further notice **

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Thanks to the pioneering work of newspaper proprietor Robert Raikes from  Gloucester in 1780 the first free school for poor boys was opened in a private house on a Sunday because the boys worked in factories during the week.  Using the Bible, the boys were taught to read and write, as well as learning about the Christian faith.  Within two years this Sunday School movement had spread, opening to girls as well as boys, and eventually became a worldwide movement.  By 1831 Sunday Schools were teaching a quarter of the population, and were the forerunners of the current state school system in Britain.
This School movement started from tiny beginnings like the mustard shrub in today’s parable.  Unlike the first parable in today’s reading, that of the growing seed, Robert Raikes had to work long and hard to open his schools for poor children.  However, once the movement was established, like the seeds in both of today’s stories, it took on a momentum of its own and soon flourished.  In the parable of the growing seed (which is unique to Mark’s Gospel), the sower throws the seed on the ground, almost as though he is throwing it away.  He then does nothing and so the seed grows of its own accord.  The farmer only gets involved again when the grain comes to fruition and is ready for harvesting.  Both this parable and the parable of the mustard seed follow the parable of the sower and they all serve as illustrations of God’s kingdom.  The word that the sower plants is the seed of the kingdom itself, but today’s parables do not dwell upon seed falling on thorny or stony ground, but rather on the farmer peacefully waiting for an abundant harvest.  This contrasts with the mustard seed in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, which grows into a huge tree, Mark’s mustard seed produces a widespread shrub.  Mustard plants are so common in Palestine that they are regarded as weeds, so the image here is not of immense height, but more of prolific spread. The mustard shrub is invasive rather than huge; its roots take over.
It is clear from the parable that the kingdom does not happen by force of will or excessive work, but by God’s hand shaping the process.  The sower has no need to worry about the results of his sowing, not even needing to water or weed, but even so both the parables speak of small and quiet beginnings expanding unexpectedly into major harvests.
The end of the passage makes it clear that all are included in Jesus’ teaching, but those who choose to follow him more closely are given further insight into the meaning of his words and his life.  But even here, what is meant by the “kingdom of God” is unclear, the word “basileia”, which is translated as “kingdom”, could refer to an area ruled by a king, or to the power and authority to rule as a king. Perhaps we should think of the kingdom of God as the power emanating from God and our relationship with God, rather than as a physical place?  These two agricultural parables are not about sitting back and leaving everything to God, but about human beings working in partnership with God.  We need to sow the seed, and we need to bring in the harvest when it is ready.
It may be difficult though to assess when the time is right to harvest, but perhaps God ensures that this follows automatically after the planting of the seed?
Robert Raikes identified a need that no one else was addressing, and planted a small seed which grew into an education system which gained its own momentum and became the envy of the world.
When we are tossing up whether any of our small, insignificant seeds are worth planting or whether we have the courage to start something new, perhaps we should remember that weeds are the most prolific of plants and even have a habit of forcing their way through concrete. God’s kingdom cannot be stopped. We are merely responsible for scattering the seed and reaping the harvest.  It is not clear exactly what Jesus meant by “the kingdom of God” but it may be more about our relationship with God than about a physical place.

With love & prayers.  Michael (Rector)
Tel: 01772 600548 mobile:07960309005, email: revmwoods@gmail.com

Sunday 20th June 2021 3rd Sunday after Trinity (3rd Sunday)
            9:15 am      Holy Communion, Croston

11:00 am      Holy Communion, Bretherton

11:00 am      Holy Communion, Mawdesley

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Please pray for the family and friends of the recently departed:

Mary Taylor

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord may light perpetual shine upon them, may they rest in peace and rise in glory.

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Facebook & YouTube Online Worship
An Act of Worship from Blackburn Cathedral will be available every Sunday from 9am.  You can view this on the Cathedral YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4GsctW6SLc or on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BlackburnCathedral

This week’s Church of England worship marks the fourth anniversary of the Grenfell fire.  Led by Rev Gareth Wardell, from St Clement and St James Church, with a sermon from the Rt Rev Dr Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington.  You can watch the service from 9am Sunday.
https://www.facebook.com/thechurchofengland

Baptisms have restarted
We have now restarted baptisms in our 3 churches and we will be complying with Covid-19 restrictions and numbers will be limited, following the governments roadmap.
We will mirror the restrictions placed on Weddings which are:
Currently: limit 30 people excluding workers
No earlier than 21st June: hopefully all restrictions lifted
Note: dependent upon the government guidelines being confirmed
Please email: revmwoods@gmail.com for further details.

TSM (Trinity St. Michaels) Head Teacher appointment
The Governing board of TSM are delighted to announce that
Mrs Claire Procter has been confirmed in post as head teacher.
We are looking forward to continuing to work together on developing our school and supporting our school family.  We hope you will join us in congratulating Mrs Procter on the confirmation of her appointment.

Faith reference cards for school applications
Whilst Covid 19 restrictions remain in place across our churches, as they have done since the start of this pandemic we will treat all requests for a faith reference as full attendance.  The Government Roadmap indicates that the earliest that all restrictions will be lifted is 21st June, if this is the case the period from that date through to the end of August will need to be monitored.  Therefore we are not yet issuing replacement attendance records.

Walking Days
The traditional walks of witness in our villages and the activities around them cannot take place in their normal formats this year due to the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic.  We are waiting anxiously for the government announcement on Monday but hopefully we will be able to mark these traditional days in a safe but different way this year.  More details to follow next week ahead regarding the feast of St. John the Baptist in Bretherton (27th June), Coffee Day in Croston (3rd July) and Tea Party Weekend in Mawdesley w Bispham (10th July).

St. Peters Mawdesley w Bispham
Do you have time to help keep YOUR Graveyard tidy at St. Peters
If so please ring DAVID 07919558259

Do you have time to help clean the brasses in Church?
If so please contact the Churchwardens.

Croston Village Place plan (Blackburn Diocese).
As one of the major owners of undeveloped land in Croston the Diocese is consulting the residents of Croston as to how the village could be shaped in the future.  Leaflets should be delivered to all residents in early June and there will be links provided online through facebook etc.  https://www.caconsultation.info/

This is an opportunity for residents to be involved in meeting the future needs of the village for years to come so please do respond.  Also don’t forget Project Space that was launched earlier this year by the Sports Club and Croston together details can be found at: https://crostonsportsclub.co.uk/space/
If you do not receive a leaflet please do let the rector know as I am aware a number of people have not yet received them.

Croston St. Michael and All Angels
The grounds around church and our graveyard are always so well maintained and a delight for all who visit.  If you could help with the maintenance of these areas please contact Derek Alty (600548)


The Collect
Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord.           Amen

First Reading
Ezekiel has just pronounced God’s message of judgement over the king of Judah, announcing that Babylon will soon conqueror his country. But now the prophet uses a parable to offer some hope for the future.
Ezekiel 17:22-24
Thus says the Lord God: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out.
I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar.
Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.
All the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD.
I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree;
I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.
I the LORD have spoken; I will accomplish it.

Second Reading
Paul reminds us that our bodies are only our temporary abode and that we can confidently face death because we will then be at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 [11-13] 14-17
Brothers and sisters, we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.  For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.  We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart.  For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
The love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.  And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

The Gospel
Those who attribute Jesus’ healing power to Satan rather than the Holy Spirit are rejecting God’s kingdom.
Mark 4.26-34
Such a large crowd gathered around Jesus that he got into a boat and began to teach them using many parables. Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.
The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’
Jesus also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’ With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Prayer after Communion
Loving Father, we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son: sustain us with your Spirit, that we may serve you here on earth until our joy is complete in heaven, and we share in the eternal banquet with Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

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