Sunday, 31 July 2022

Wivelsfield Church Baptism of Taron Close 31.7.22


A warm welcome to East Sussex, Wivelsfield and St Peter & St John the Baptist parish church to those online and those gathered in this time hallowed building for the eucharist and baptism of Taron Close. As our parish priest Fr Christopher is on leave it's down to me to be celebrant and that is a particular joy. When I retired from Horsted Keynes 5 years ago I covered the pastoral vacancy between priests here when I baptised Taron’s big sister Lily, so it's more of the same this morning so to speak.  A special welcome to all who’ve travelled far to join Chris, Annie and the children for this special day on which we recall another priest, Annie’s late uncle Fr Martin Onions well known to me and to you.

The service today has three parts - word, baptism and eucharist - and we hope all can join in the bold text and in the various ceremonies as fully as conscience permits. In the Gospel reading for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity we have a warning against over immersion in worldly things and the need to seek the riches of God. As we begin the service we pray for cleansing from over-worldly preoccupation, for our failure to love God, neighbour and self and for a right spirit, the Holy Spirit, to be planted in us. Let’s keep silence a moment before we make the prayers on page 2 of the booklet our own as we join in the responses.


I want to look back to the first reading set for this Sunday from the first eleven verses of Colossians Chapter 3 going through the passage to open up its meaning. I’ll divide the passage into three sections, which I will read again, starting with verses 1-4:

If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

People struggle with the meaning of life. When you study Christianity you engage with the greatest clue to life’s meaning and it's tied up with what conquers death, or more precisely who conquers death, Jesus Christ. Just as we can’t see God as the same as any other being - God is the ground of being if he is God at all - so we can’t see the event on account of which Christians gather Sunday by Sunday, the resurrection of Jesus, as in anything like the same category. History records Christ’s tomb as being empty that first Easter Sunday but that awesome event sees eternity intersecting time and can’t be ranked properly in human history.

His empty tomb - never disproved - and consequent change in his disciples from fearfulness to confidence in God and the later astonishing change in holy day from Friday to Sunday, have made this day for Christians ‘the Lord’s day when the Lord’s people gather in the Lord’s house around the Lord’s table’.  As we gather to celebrate the resurrection, what God did for his Son is done for us: If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above. To be a Christian is to be drawn mystically into Christ’s dying for sin, rising to immortal life and the expectation of his return: you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Now, moving on, listen again to verses 5-9 from Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Chapter 3: 

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things - anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices.

Last Sunday I caught up with Annie, Lily and Taron. We explored our ancient font together. Lo and behold, Taron climbed into it! It’s so deep he could in principle have a bath in it this morning! Not only that, Lily climbed in with him - it is an enormous font! The idea of baptism is about plunging underwater and emerging fresh, just like bathtime! What Paul teaches in this passage, by coincidence used this morning at Taron’s christening, is this: Jesus died in our place to rise in our place. He died for our sins and rose to lift us into deathless life. When we are baptised we go under the water, so to speak, to help effect freedom from sin, and come up fresh to welcome the Holy Spirit who plants God’s immortal life in us, sealed by receiving the bread and wine which is his body and blood after confirmation. The baptism rite we follow shortly is not just for Taron. It's for us all. We are to be reminded that ‘to follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life in him’. Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly… anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language... Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices. Today’s first reading colours the promises we make with and for Taron this morning. Baptism is only done once but we need holding to its principle hour by hour, day by day. For example, if the baptised fully lived their baptism there would be no lies in society, in government, on the internet - no truth telling crisis in the world for Christ would be all and in all - Lord, hasten that day!

Moving on to he last section let’s listen again to Colossians 3 from the end of verse 9 to verse 11:

You have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

The new clothes Taron wears today link to this aspect of baptism which is a clothing of ourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. What we most want for Taron is what we most want for ourselves and for the population of the world past present and to come - we want him to become more fully what he is meant to be. God who made us desires this earnestly, but on account of his gift of free will God can’t do this without our cooperation with his grace. Sunday worship, daily prayer, study of the bible and the saints, service of others, regular self examination - all of these are means of grace, ways God makes baptism real for us as we seek the best for ourselves.

Jesus died in our place to live in our place. In baptism Taron’s fleshly life dies, in a sense, so that the immortal life of a child of God can live in him as his life principle fighting valiantly against sin, the world and the devil and remaining faithful to Christ to the end of his life. 

If human beings were perfect there’d have been no need for God to send his Son to die. When we look at the Cross and think of Christ’s sufferings we see how much God wants the best for his children and provides for them a new start - day by day forgiveness, guidance and empowerment. Annie and Chris, who we know would willingly suffer hardship for Lily and Taron, share with today’s godparents a great yet joyous responsibility to help their children become what they were made to be. We at St Peter and St John the Baptist stand with you in this today. We congratulate Chris and Annie for your decision on behalf of your children to seek God with us in worship and prayer. May the Holy Spirit counter all that’s negatively at work within us through sin, all that frustrates that fantastic process already well underway in the world and in us, which is to make Christ all in all. So be it!


Sunday, 24 July 2022

St Bartholomew, Brighton Feast of St James 2022


19 years ago my then 12-year-old son James and I completed a foot pilgrimage to the Shrine of St James in Spain’s Santiago de Compostella covering the minimum distance required to attain the Compostella. This is the scallop shell pilgrim badge (show)

The 100km hike required weeks of preparation including walking with packs on the Downs.  We had no back up team so all we would need had to go on our backs as we travelled from refugio to refugio on the ancient pilgrim way.

The most important part of our preparation was deciding what not to take!  Trial walks with laden rucksacks helped sort our priorities.  When you're a beast of burden with a choice about that burden you soon thin your load!  Though I'm an avid reader I was forced to shed all books but the Bible.  James and I settled for little more than one change of clothes.  My luxury was a short-wave radio.  His was a Gameboy Advance.  Off we went to Santiago de Compostela, or rather to the 100km point from which we hiked day by day along the pilgrim route and with much lighter burdens than we’d first planned.

One of the great things about being a Christian pilgrim is you travel light!  Preparing to go on our pilgrimage gave me an enduring spiritual lesson.  We brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it.  The lighter we travel the easier and more joyous our tread on life's pilgrimage to the city of God!

The call to detachment is part of the call to poverty intrinsic to the Christian Gospel. It goes alongside the confidence we should have as children of God in Our Father to provide for us in all circumstances.

Although today’s Gospel includes a rebuke for St James and his brother we assume that he took the message: whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.

Or, as the Lord puts it elsewhere, blessed are the poor in spirit – those who have a right and humble assessment of themselves before God. Such folk see what they have – including any worldly status – as counting for nothing other than when it is used for service. They are detached from material possessions

Here at the Eucharist, the great thanksgiving sacrifice of the Church we can admit this truth – all things come of you and of your own do we give you.. through Christ and with Christ and in Christ!

We are to welcome Jesus in a moment in the Blessed Sacrament. God in the material order, hidden in bread and wine. As we welcome him here may he open our spiritual eyes to see him elsewhere in the material order – particularly in the run of our lives in the coming week that we may encounter him in the needy. The needy in body, mind and spirit – those who are enduring personal ordeals and badly in need of attention – our attention, our time, our money if needs be.

On this feast of St James God free us to travel lighter in our Christian pilgrimage with deeper detachment from material things, abandoned more and more to his purposes.

The Lord deepen our confidence in his provision and also our humility. We need both confidence in him and humility before him to serve him aright.

As we own up more and more to our own spiritual need and poverty may we see Jesus – Jesus on his throne in glory, Jesus in the sacrament of the altar and Jesus in the hearts of the poor and the hearts of all his faithful people! 

Saturday, 23 July 2022

St Peter & St John, Wivelsfield Trinity 6 (17C) on prayer 24 July 2022


Lord, teach us to pray they asked Jesus. I want to look this morning at four aspects of prayer, of looking to Jesus: listening, friendship, recollection, and lastly empowerment. [ask children about what’s best and worst about school eg listening - we’re all being schooled]

Prayer, looking unto Jesus, is listening.  You can’t look to Jesus unless you give ear to him, unless you attend to him.  Our whole life depends on right listening – to other people and to ourselves at times – but chiefly to Jesus.Through prayer we hear from God.  We catch his inspirations for our life and for the world.

How do we look to Jesus in listening? A discipline of time offered to attend directly to God. 

Michael Ramsey’s quote – he prayed for 2 minutes but took 30 minutes to get there.

Scripture (show) is a means of looking to Jesus through listening to his Word. There is great power in imaginative listening to scripture. One way you can do this is to make the words of scripture more personal by changing the case of the pronoun in the passage. Take that Colossians passage. You could make it into a This is the Word of the Lord about John or whoever you are. It could read: When I John was buried with Christ in baptism, I was also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when I was dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of my flesh, God made me alive together with Christ, when he forgave me all my trespasses. As I read the passage like this it reminds me how God sees me and how I should see myself, as one dead to sin and alive to him. There are times when such an observation can be very powerful. This sort of exercise is about experiencing what we already possess as Christians, seeing ourselves as God sees us in his word. You read through prayerfully until God touches your Spirit and then hold yourself at that point once such a prayerful impulse has been given to you.

Prayer, looking to Jesus is secondly about friendship.  We seek our friends’ attention and he seeks ours. [children - are you looking forward to seeing more of your friends in the holidays?]

When friends meet they light up and so it is with Jesus and ourselves as we come before him in contemplation. When did you last sit in quiet before the Lord?  What is it that keeps you from doing so? Could you imagine Jesus, your friend, doing you any harm?

Contemplative prayer has been described as ‘spiritual radiotherapy’. St Augustine once said that the whole purpose of life is the healing of the heart’s eye through which God is seen. Heart surgery of the Holy Spirit: the melting of coldness within cf heavenly microwave. A major barrier to contemplation is the way our minds get so distracted which hinders our hearts from contemplation. This is where the repeating of short words that engage and focus the mind can be helpful as in the Orthodox Jesus prayer. This involves repeating again and again the gospel prayer Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner. The value of the Jesus Prayer mentioned on is commended all through the Christian tradition.  

Please don’t hesitate to talk to me afterwards if you want guidance on the Jesus Prayer as I’ve written a book about it (show). Not that I’m expert - any expertise I possess is to know that when it comes to prayer we’re all on the bottom rung of the ladder!

Looking to Jesus in prayer though, to summarise the second heading, is about building friendship, about lighting one another up so that in the words of Nehemiah (8v10) the joy of the Lord [becomes] our strength. 

Looking to Jesus is thirdly recollection, prayer that takes stock of your life and celebrates what God has done and is doing and looks forward to what God is going to do in us and through us.

The value of prayer journaling (show). Tis grace both led me safe thus far … and grace will lead me home. A good exercise is to look back over your life and recollect with Jesus the five biggest spiritual milestones along the way, your five most powerful desires, your five worst fears. Recollection is about such reminiscing or calling to mind.  It is also about ‘collecting again’ or recovering control of oneself. Through looking to God we gain self-possession. 

Attention to God, mindfulness of Jesus is at the heart of the Christian life.The recollected woman or man inhabits her or his words, is able to be present to Jesus at all times so that Jesus can be in them and show through them.

Prayer, looking to Jesus is lastly empowerment. As we heard in the Gospel: If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:13).

Well we did ask for the Spirit - or others asked, at baptism and confirmation, the birth of our Christian commitment and in the receiving of Holy Communion - but we need to keep inviting him by asking regularly for the Holy Spirit.  Prayer is an empowerment especially by the gift of the Holy Spirit. As we pray we can at times feel God’s touch upon our heart, see some sort of vision or be led to some particular scripture verse as we look to Jesus. This is charismatic prayer, literally graced or given prayer in which our looking to Jesus and waiting before him is answered by a heavenly gift.

Looking to Jesus in prayer then is listening, friendship, recollection and empowerment. It's also as today’s Gospel reminds us about intercession which could provide another sermon!

For now though, may the Lord turn our eyes more and more upon himself so that our earthly pursuits may lose some of their enticement as we see more of him through seeking him in prayer. 

So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Sunday, 17 July 2022

St Edward, Burgess Hill Trinity 5 (16C) 17th July 2022



Martha and Mary – who chose the better part?

Our Lord’s commending Mary is a clear statement that contemplation beats activism. Not that practical work, of which St Martha is patron, has no place, only such work shouldn’t eclipse the priority of resting in the Lord.

The preacher’s danger - my danger especially - is Mary’s. In thinking out and handing on what should be we priests run more risk of neglecting to act out our faith in good works. As if saying what’s right is complete without doing it. So many scriptures warn how faith without works is like a flabby muscle needing strengthening by exertion.

Our Lord’s favouring Mary is less of a challenge to Christian thinkers and contemplatives than to Christian activists who forget to root their good works in prayer. It's an English heresy - Christianity is doing good, as if that were unique to Christianity. When we abide in God, God abides in us, steering our lives towards fruitful action, action that points people back to him

God desires mortals to have intimacy with himself - this is the central truth of Christianity.

I wonder if you saw on television the first pictures from the new James Webb Space Telescope? What beauty! Yet even with binoculars or naked eyes we can look up in awe at the night sky, discovering facets of the moon and planets and stars beyond these.  We look up at them and think, the God who made the immensity of the cosmos desires intimacy with mortals!

We heard in the epistle from Colossians of the majesty of Christ ‘in [whom] all things in heaven and earth were created…’ (Colossians 1v15-28)

In the Gospel His Majesty, Our Blessed Lord, addresses us through his rebuke to a dear friend: 

‘Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her’ (Luke 10v42)

God desires to have union with us, intimate union, heart to heart.

Today’s scripture ponder the majesty and yet the availability of God.

How is this intimacy brought to us?

On God’s side by the gift of the Spirit - on our side, we receive his friendship by humility and expectancy.

On God’s Side - how can God be one with us? The Maker of the stars hold me close, answer my prayers, guide me, free me from fear, heal me, forgive me? God is after all different.

The answer is by the Holy Spirit who is God and who through Christ brings God in his fullness to fill my heart. 

The ocean is no less for filling a pool. So it is with God, as St Paul explains to the Corinthians: ‘the Spirit searches the depths of God… (and) we have received the Spirit… who… interprets spiritual truth’ (1 Corinthians 2:10)

On my side intimacy with God is established as a gift that is welcomed. 


By humility and by expectancy… the two balancing Christian virtues commended by St. Francis de Sales.

To be humble like its etymology ‘humous - of the earth’ is readiness to see our nothingness before God and our less than nothingness through sin.


Humble and, besides that, expectant on God, confident in God. 

St. Therese of Lisieux lived as a nun in the late 19th century when she pondered the invention of the electric lift. We have her Story of a Soul, a Christian classic, read with profit across Christian traditions, first commended to me by a Baptist minister. In her story Therese tells of her confidence God would make her a Saint. As surely as we enter an electric lift to be raised effortlessly to great height we can put our whole life into God’s hands seeking to be made holy. This is her so-called Little Way.

Intimacy with God is God’s gift by his Spirit. It is welcomed by humility and expectancy.

The eucharist is the great parable and seal of all of God gives his Spirit, his own Life, par excellence… here we come empty-handed, in total humility before the Lord and yet with expectancy...

‘Lord I am not worthy...but only say the word

Ronald Rolheiser in his book ‘Forgotten among the Lilies’ writes: ‘Perhaps the most useful image of how the Eucharist functions is the image of a mother holding a frightened, tired and tense child. In the eucharist God functions as a mother. God picks us up; frightened, tired, helpless, complaining, discouraged and protesting children, and holds us to her heart until the tension subsides and peace and strength flow into us’

Such is the intimacy we are privileged to share this morning and day by day in the Lord’s Presence.

‘There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her’ Luke 10.42

‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him’ John 6.56

Sunday, 10 July 2022

St Mary, Balcombe Trinity 4 (15C) 10.7.22


No other religion puts such a store on love. We are clear in principle - the Beatles put it right: ‘All you need is love’. Unfortunately Christianity as a movement over 20 centuries has fallen short of that principle. Though we’ve built hospitals and schools, framed laws to protect human rights and raised up saints through those centuries, Christianity has also seen crusades, cruelty and a degree of abuse in the name of Christ. As GK Chesterton wrote, defending our Faith, ‘The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried’. It's important we take that point as Christians whilst not being deterred in aspiring to live our faith as best we can with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. 

There are few bible passages that spell out practical love as clearly as the one we just heard, Luke 10:25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the story we need to know that in age old Jewish tradition, linked to hygiene, touching a corpse led to ritual defilement so the Priest and Levite were actually doing right by their law. The Samaritan who wasn’t a Jew followed a higher law, that of love. His action illustrates love as not so much an ideal but a task. It’s not just benevolence let alone tolerance but doing concrete acts for people in concrete need. Our Lord turns the lawyer’s question who is my neighbour? back on him by the question which of these three was a neighbour, or in another translation, proved neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? 

Loving your neighbour in Jesus’s book doesn’t mean loving some but not loving others. It means loving all, good and bad. This teaching was acted out when Jesus died outside the walls of Jerusalem. 

The Christian vision of love links to a God of love who acts concretely to serve and save outsiders so that Jesus Christ’s last conversation was with the thieves crucified with him outside Jerusalem. To the generous one he said words in Luke 23:43 believers will joyfully accept on our deathbeds: Today you will be with me in paradise. 

I must leave you to work out for yourself the relevance of today’s scripture to the elements of xenophobia sweeping through the world, Britain included. Can there ever be outsiders so far as God’s concerned? Can we trust a nationalism that falls short of the deep British sense of fair play and inclusion, itself built from 1500 years of Christianity? 

We want a society that doesn’t just tolerate difference but which respects those who’re different. Building respect is costly in time and trouble. It refuses to pass by on the other side especially when it comes to the disadvantaged. The Samaritan exemplifies this in the concrete tasks he took on. When he saw him, he was moved with pity. Then, from the heart’s motivation, followed these concrete tasks. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”  The hospitality offered in Balcombe to Ukrainian refugees is a vivid example of where many villagers are coming from in their readiness to give practical service to people at the sharpest end of the war in Europe. 

We come to Church to join the angels, as the Glory to God and Holy, holy, holy chants affirm, in looking forward to the certainty of heaven. Our Sunday celebrations lift us up beyond the changes and chances of life, the hardships we bear in love, to the certain, all embracing love of God that will be ours in heaven with the angels and saints. ‘All you need is love’.

We come to Church to worship God and bathe in his love through word and sacrament, prayer and fellowship which builds us up. Church is a temple more than a preaching house but it is both. When we hear the word, offer ourselves in Christ’s Sacrifice and receive his body and blood we are the better equipped to love. The Holy Spirit comes again and again in prayer and worship. Through reading the Bible we’re further strengthened since there’s no word of God without power. 

It’s hard to love – in our own strength. It’s hard to persevere through tribulations small or great. The story of the Good Samaritan awakens us to God’s vision of what it is to love, a vision to be written on our hearts. The word of God this morning has reminded us of the task of love and how respect triumphs over mere tolerance in a Christian culture. The worship ahead brings love’s supply to help that, through Holy Communion, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

It’s my prayer for all assembled that we experience that love more fully through daily prayer, Sunday worship, reading the Bible, serving others and regular reflection upon our need for God and for one another as God’s people. ‘All you need is love’. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Holy Trinity, Cuckfield Wed 6 July Eucharist SS Thomas More & John Fisher

In 2004 during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity I went to the Tower of London for Evensong in the Chapel Royal during which a framed description of the life of Bishop John Fisher was dedicated to hang close to his tomb there.

It was a homecoming. On 22 June 1535 after 14 months imprisonment John Fisher left his prison to be executed - I quote - ‘glad to die for the truth of Christ’s Catholic Faith’. Earlier he had been made a Cardinal, something that did not help his cause. Henry VIII scornfully commented ‘let the Pope send him a hat – I will so provide that whoever wears it shall soon have no head to set it on’. 

Five centuries later we witnessed the solemn act of welcoming a Cardinal back to the Tower. A congregation of 200 packed into the Chapel Royal at The Tower saw Richard Chartres, Bishop of London embrace the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster over the tomb of the martyr Cardinal after the two bishops had jointly dedicated the memorial.

Bishop Chartres went on to remind us that true ecumenical dialogue involves facing up to the different perceptions of history. Addressing a largely Roman Catholic congregation he admitted the ‘fascinating yet terrifying’ reality of King Henry VIII whilst affirming the continuity of the Church in England through the troubled period that included Fisher’s courageous martyrdom along with that of Thomas More with whom he shares today’s commemoration. 

Richard Chartres praised both the courage and discernment of Fisher ‘miscast as an unbending champion of an old order’ though himself a vigorous reformer as Bishop of Rochester. Saint John Fisher had no time for externals and peripherals. He discerned and concentrated on what were to him and to many essential issues. This led him to witness the parallel between the incarnation and the real presence in the Eucharist as expounded in John 6 and also to champion the ecumenical role of the Papacy. On account of these convictions held so courageously Fisher was unable to accept the Act of Supremacy for which he was sentenced to death.

I remember the then Cardinal, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, praising the generosity of spirit exemplified by the ecumenical hospitality of that day. The forces bringing about disunity in the 16th Century, as today, reflect sin and pride as well as the failure to witness to the truth by living it out. Nevertheless the road of ecumenism whose end is unity, is one way – there is no exit, only completion. The Cardinal warned us against letting perfection become the enemy of that of which we are capable, a comment exemplifying an almost Anglican way of thinking. As Holy Trinity knows well we are schooled in live and let live, be our formative influence sacramental or evangelical, catholic or sacramental, liberal or conservative in churchmanship.

As we look towards the Lambeth Conference later in the month St John Fisher and St Thomas More are a reminder of how the well being of Christianity rests on a generous response to the movement of the Holy Spirit - as shown in that service - and upon the courage of those in dialogue to speak the truth. Bishop Chartres invited us to reflect ourselves on the question ‘what are we as Christians prepared to die for?’ and went on to say that answering this question involves discerning occasions when we need the courage to say ‘No’ as both men did faced with the bullying of King Henry. That courage is now celebrated by their place in the Calendar of Saints of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches.

Today’s saints are an unfashionable reminder of the Church’s most powerful resource which is holiness, the courage associated with it and its foundation in truth. Our days are different to those of John Fisher, our stresses and strains as Christians, real as they are, seem a long way from those experienced by a martyr saint in the Tower of London. Nevertheless the issues of keeping our nerve and the courage of our convictions whilst remaining gracious seem as real for Christians in England today as they have ever been. They are also issues that demonstrate how much we need one another as Christians and as ecclesial communities – the power of apathy and unbelief around us seem too strong for our churches to tackle alone. 

Father, we pray for the visible unity of Christ’s Church. Mindful of past sin and division we pray with your Son, ‘that we may all be one. As you, Father, are in your Son and he is in you, may we also be in you, so that the world may believe that you have sent your Son, Jesus Christ’. Give wisdom to Justin our Archbishop and the Lambeth Conference, Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew and leaders of the Evangelical Churches. Lord, hear us…

We echo, Lord, the prayer and aspiration of the book of Revelation, that ‘the kingdom of this world become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ’ as we recall the varies troubles the world faces, especially in Eastern Europe. Give world leaders courage, prudence and integrity at the prayer of John Fisher and Thomas More. Lord, hear us…

Lord we pray for our Church in its pastoral vacancy, especially for the Churchwardens and priests helping out. Grant heavenly wisdom to Bishop Martin and all involved in the appointment of a faithful priest to serve here in Holy Trinity in succession to Fr Michael. Lord, hear us…