This week’s Worship

Sunday 9th May 2021 6th Sunday of Easter (2nd Sunday)
            9:15 am      Family Worship, Croston

11:00 am      Holy Communion, Bretherton
11:00 am      Communion by extension, Mawdesley

Wednesday   10am Holy Communion, Croston

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
This pandemic has been a very challenging time for us all but we can now begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel with the generally low levels across the nation, which coupled with the continued success of the vaccine program here is beginning to give people more confidence.  There also seems to be a growing sense of frustration that restrictions are not being released quickly enough.
The government are taking a very cautious approach and if we look across the world at what is happening in places like India I hope we can understand why. We know that the Indian variant has found its way over here and my old local authority area of Hyndburn in East Lancashire has the highest infection rates in the nation.  It’ can be so difficult to continue to be obedient, following the instructions we are given, but these instructions we are asked to follow are there for our own wellbeing.   In this week’s Gospel Jesus says something which may have seemed surprising: “I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends ………… You are my friends if you do what I command you.”  In effect he issues us with a rule, but we don’t think of friendship as dependent upon keeping rules.  Jesus isn’t afraid of issuing stark warnings about the effect of our actions, which we see in the parables – the slave who fails to use his talents, the wicked vineyard tenants, the unproductive fig tree – they all end up cast out of heaven because they disobeyed God’s commandments.
Jesus warns that our eternal lives depend upon our obedience – the stakes could hardly be higher.  So it would be a poor friend who didn’t do anything in his power to save our lives – even if that meant laying down the law.  But what’s the difference between obedience and weak submission?  It depends who we’re obeying and why, but when it’s a matter of life and death, obedience is essential.
That still doesn’t make it any easier to understand or follow, however the deeper we go into the Christian life, the more we will find that faith and obedience are intertwined.   Obedience is not an optional sideline to faith, but a key element of it – it is in fact faith in action.  Obedience is not simply saying “yes” to everything, but it involves us in making a deeper commitment to live in faith and, above all, to obey Jesus’ commandment to love one another, which is a skill that we have to learn like any other.  If this is going work for us as individuals we have to take it on board and own it, make it our own, incorporate it into the very fabric of our lives, and that takes effort.  But as our eternal lives depend on it, the stakes could hardly be higher.
Jesus gave us the one command: ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’   As Christian Aid Week begins we all have an opportunity to show our love for one another, and therefore our love for God, in a very tangible way.  May we seek to be inspired afresh by God’s transforming vision for our world, made possible by God’s love for us and for our love for each other.
The writer of the 1st letter of John reminds us that to love Jesus is to love God, and to love God is to obey his commandments.  But, he also writes, it is not burdensome, because faith conquers the world.

With love & prayers.  Michael (Rector)

Tel: 01772 600548 mobile:07960309005, email: revmwoods@gmail.com

Resources – 6th Sunday of Easter
1)       The 3 bible readings set for this week.
2)       Prayer and worship at home for 6th Sunday of Easter
3)       Young Church Mag activity and colouring sheets

Sunday 16th May 2021 7th Sunday of Easter (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:

Chris Goadby

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

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Facebook & YouTube Online Worship
This week’s Diocesan worship comes from the Church of the Ascension in Torrisholme and is led by Fr Damian Porter.  It will be livestreamed at 9 am on their Facebook site which is here.  The service will also be mirrored live to the Diocesan YouTube channel and will remain on the channel as a recording after the live broadcast to watch later if you prefer.

Blackburn Cathedral continues to broadcast an act of worship every Sunday. This can be seen on the Cathedral website.

This week’s Church of England worship comes from Gas Street Church.
Tim Hughes, explores loving and following Jesus, through music and prayer.  Follow along with the order of service at cofe.io/GasStreetService

https://www.facebook.com/thechurchofengland

Annual Church Meetings
The Annual meetings for all our Churches must take place before the end of May, we have scheduled these to take place after the 17th May so that we can meet in person in our church buildings rather than meeting online.  We will of course still follow the guidance for social distancing that is in place for Sunday worship.
These are important meetings where we elect our churchwardens, receive our annual reports and elect representatives to serve on our Parochial Church Councils who manage the business of our churches.
Please do consider supporting these meetings, we are now facing a very challenging time ahead where we consider how we are going to steer ourselves out of the Lockdown and face the future.
There will be nomination lists in all the churches during worship for the next few weeks.

Croston      Monday 17th May 7 pm

Bretherton  Sunday 23rd May 11:45 am after worship

Mawdesley w Bispham  Wednesday 26th May 7 pm

Cristian Aid Week 10 – 16 May
Once again this year we cannot do the normal envelope drop and collection service which is the traditional hallmark of Christian Aid week.  There will be a bucket in church for the next 2 Sundays so please do try, if you can, to give generously.
Donation can also be made online just search for Christian Aid Week 20212 or follow this link: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/christian-aid-week

Confirmations 2021
We are planning for a confirmation service in July this year so if anyone young or older is considering confirmation or would just like to find out more please contact the Rector.

Baptisms to Recommence
We are now restarting 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 15 people excluding workers
No earlier than 17th May: 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.

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.


The Collect
God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy; 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.    Amen

First Reading
The Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit while Peter is speaking to them. Peter challenges anyone to deny them baptism, and they are baptised.
Acts 10.44-48
While Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.
The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God.
Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’  So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Second Reading
The writer reminds his readers that to love Jesus is to love God, and to love God is to obey his commandments.  But, he writes, it is not burdensome, because faith conquers the world.
1 John 5.1-6
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whatever is born of God conquers the world.
And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.
Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood.  And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

The Gospel
Referring to them as his friends, servants no longer, Jesus tells the disciples to keep the Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
John 15.9-17
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
You did not choose me but I chose you.
And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.
I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.’

Prayer after Communion
God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life: may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness, through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.            Amen.

 

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