Hello everyone! I hope you could join in some of our villages’ fun VE Day commemorations this last Friday, even if they weren’t able to be held in the way we’d originally envisaged them – at least the sun shone!
This week’s virtual service is on our podcast page as usual – I hope you enjoy participating in it.
Our worship is a combination of ‘local’ and ‘national’ this Sunday. First, our own Deb Hubbard leads us gently in Abide with Me. Then the choir of St. Martin’s in the Fields, in London’s Trafalgar Square – who apparently recorded their parts from their own homes, before it was all edited together! – close our service with the rousing To God Be The Glory.
Do join in with our worship at home – the words are below.
Our Bible reading this week is again from the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 7, verses 55-60.
On the face of it, this passage – the stoning of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr – is unsurprisingly difficult.
However, I believe that Stephen’s story, and the way in which he died, is not only very moving, but an extraordinarily positive one for us as Christians, and a great witness to those who don’t yet share our faith.
The Italian Renaissance painter, Paolo Uccello’s portrayal of Stephen’s final moments, though very stylised, has one detail that I especially love:
If you look closely in the top right-hand corner, although Uccello shows the blazing radiance of God the Father and Jesus next to him, as opposed to the two figures themselves, you can see in the rays descending towards Stephen, a succession of martyrs’ crowns – what he’ll gloriously wear in the company of heaven, having given up his life for Christ.
Our worship for today:
Abide with Me
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies:
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!
To God Be The Glory
To God be the glory, great things he has done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life-gate that all may go in:
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son;
And give him the glory – great things he has done!
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To every believer the promise of God!
The vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus forgiveness receives:
Great things he has taught us, great things he has done,
and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
but purer, and higher, and greater will be
our wonder, our rapture, when Jesus we see:
Continuing what we introduced last week, at this stage I’m suggesting you might like to try out another more contemporary worship song. This week, it’s ‘King of Kings’, by Hillsong Worship. The fourth verse of the song declares the following:
“And the Church of Christ was born,
Then the Spirit lit the flame;
Now this gospel truth of old
Shall not kneel, shall not faint”
I think this has a wonderful resonance with the Spirit-filled courage that St. Stephen demonstrates as he’s united with Christ and the Father in heaven. You can listen to it (with the lyrics in the film itself) here (you may have to skip the adverts). Once again, I hope you enjoy it!
As usual, if you’d prefer to read rather than listen to the podcast, the sermon transcript, reading and prayers can be downloaded here:
And do please contact me (details below) if there is any way in which I or our church families can help you at in these difficult times.
Best wishes, stay safe, and God bless,
Rev. Tim Chambers
Vicar, the Cranmer Group
Mobile: 07946 526569