Sadly following the announcement from the Prime Minister on March 23 all the benefice churches are closed. For details about what can be done regarding funerals, emergency baptisms etc scroll down to March 21 on the News/Events page. See that page also for some excerpts from the latest Penhil Beacon and how to receive a full copy.
Rev Tom Ringland:
So the long, careful unlocking begins, with the return of some children to school on Monday, along with the chance to meet in gardens in groups of up to six. Later in the month, more shops open and we pray that the nation continues to show good common sense and hygiene going forward.
Some will feel relief, agreeing that it's time we moved on into a 'new normal' - some will feel fear, feeling this is a hasty action, likely leading to another wave. It's important we respect the viewpoints of others when they differ from our own.
As we come to worship this week and on Pentecost Sunday, we bring all that's happening to our loving Father; and pray for the Holy Spirit to bless our world with resources of love, insight and fortitude.
At Pentecost we celebrate the gift of the empowering Spirit of God poured out on the believers.
We mark the birth of the church, as the fellowship called to bear witness to the love of God.
It's a festival day, and for the Zoom service, we're looking for a lot of colour - especially the red, yellow and orange that reminds us of the sign of tongues of flame resting on the heads of the early disciples!
Service for Sunday May 31 (with reflection by Rev Ringland)
We read in the New Testament:-
(make) every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism… [Ephesians 4:3-5]
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. [Romans 5:5]
[opening sentences from the blue booklet: ‘Prayers during the coronavirus outbreak’, available from Christine Gard or Tom]
Come, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful people,
and kindle in us the fire of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Filled with the Spirit's power, with one accord
the infant church confessed its risen Lord.
O Holy Spirit, in the church today
no less your power of fellowship display.
Now with the mind of Christ set us on fire,
that unity may be our great desire.
Give joy and peace; give faith to hear your call,
and readiness in each to work for all.
Widen our love, good Spirit, to embrace
in your strong care all those of every race.
Like wind and fire with life among us move,
till we are known as Christ's, and Christians prove.
Words © 1978 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188
Secure in the knowledge of God’s love for us we turn to God and confess our sins.
A time of quiet reflection on the past week and on our need of God’s grace…
God of mercy,
we acknowledge that we are all sinners.
We turn from the wrong that we have thought and said and done,
and are mindful of all that we have failed to do.
For the sake of Jesus, who died for us,
forgive us for all that is past,
and help us to live each day
in the light of Christ our Lord.
May God our Father forgive us our sins
and bring us to the eternal joy of his kingdom,
where dust and ashes have no dominion.
[optional Psalm 23 from the booklet or the Psalm for the day: Psalm 104:26-end]
The Coming of the Holy Spirit - Acts Chapter 2: verses 1-21
2 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13 But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 “In the last days it will be, God declares,hat I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,nd your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,and your old men shall dream dreams.18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,in those days I will pour out my Spirit;and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Jesus Appears to the Disciples - John chapter 20:verses 19-23
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
We’ve had seven weeks of the Easter season.
Seven weeks since the resurrection of Jesus. The disciples had met with their risen Lord, eaten with him, been instructed by him – they had witnessed his ascension to the Father, and in these past ten days they had been waiting and praying for the promised gift of the Father.
Seven weeks is 49 days. Today is the fiftieth day – and that’s what the word pente – costa means – 50th …
And it was the day as we have heard when the Holy Spirit descended with signs of significance – the sound of a mighty rushing wind; tongues like flame, and opening the tongues of the disciples – or was it the ears of the assembled – so all could understand the words of praise that were spoken.
We could look at the significance of breath – noting that Jesus also breathed on his disciples as told in John chapter 20.
Life giving breath – stirring the church into being.
As a global community of believers, this the day of our birth – our beginning – hence the celebration. (moving into era of church – acts of the Holy Spirit…)
We could look at the significance of fire – mysterious, powerful, dynamic
But I’d like to dwell for a moment on the story of what happened when they burst onto the street – leaving the private meeting – the holy huddle where they were all gathered together in one place …
Which is where you most often think of Christians belonging – in their buildings. And where, of course, Christians cannot be at the present time.
I’m struck every year by the great list of nationalities that are identified in the narrative – and always apologetic toward the person chosen to read the passage! Parthians, Medes, Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt – and not forgetting those parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene … and so on …
Why go into so much detail?
Jerusalem was packed with visitors for a Jewish festival – the feast of weeks – and there would have been a great babble of sound from the throng.
But when the believers come out, everyone finds they are able to understand.They all hear Peter proclaim the beginning of a new era.
Jesus has completed his work on earth and ascended – but now another counsellor is here … verse 17:- “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. What you are witnessing is what God revealed through the prophet Joel”
Rehearsing this great list of nationalities and language groups, we are hearing that God is bringing all people together under one Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul writes, ‘For, in the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body: Jews and Greeks, slaves and free – and we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.
We began our service with Ephesians 4:3 (make) every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism… Many nationalities, many cultures, many generations of saints, many personalities and temperaments, many positions in society, many political outlooks, many idiosyncrasies –
But one Lord, one faith one baptism – under one Holy Spirit of God.
Who remembers the story of the Tower of Babel? Genesis chapter 11
It’s a story of how human beings decided to build a tower 'that reaches the sky, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth' God sees a move for them to trust in their own ability – and so he goes down and confuses their tongues so they cannot understand one another – and the project founders.
But now, that ancient restriction is reversed! The Holy Spirit brings together Christians from different races, tribes, languages and nations and makes them into one people who speak the same language. A language of love and of joy and of peace – of hope and of promise.
Where have you travelled, and met Christians from another part of the world – different cultures, different languages – and found the joy of being family with strangers?
Many years ago, I went as a theological student to Krakow, in Poland. No-one had a dwelling big enough to take in more than one of us so we were split up around the city. I stayed in an apartment in a tower block with a family who had not one word of English – I was fractionally better off: - I knew one word of Polish … do-widzenia … unfortunately it means ‘goodbye’!
It absolutely didn’t matter.
The love and understanding between us transcended speech. We were children of the same Father and inheritors of the same Spirit!
I’m sure you can add your own stories.
Robert recently share with me about Bishop Nathan Amooti – “the laughing and singing Bishop” from Ruanda.
Richard Wallis is currently recreating virtually a walk he did years ago from Lindisfarne to Lands’ End, and raising funds for Bishop Nathan and the church there, though Mission Possible UK.
Bishop Nathan has preached in the Dale – and his words, born from the experience of genocide – but also, powerfully, of Christian reconciliation, were recognised and received as having authority and relevance here:
The One Spirit undoes division and restores fellowship. Communion.
Today – I think actually at this moment – as the great global prayer movement, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ draws to it’s conclusion, there’s an act of worship online, led by Justin Welby, John Sentamu and Pope Francis.The leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic church – united – by one Spirit. An Englishman, a Ugandan and an Argentine … three continents; one faith and one Lord, In this lock-down, we may be physically ‘distanced’. But I truly believe we are more united than ever – under one Spirit.
As churches in the Dale we are meeting together like this.As the church across the land we are learning to access one another’s rescources through the power of the internet – even if we’re being dragged kicking and screaming to the new technology. And though prayer – and initiatives like Thy Kingdom Come we are recognising that we are one body, joined by one Spirit – the Holy Spirit of Pentecost.
Let’s celebrate our identity, our unity, our common purpose – as purveyors of hope and of unity, in the love of God … and as people who live out a mutual love and respect for one another whoever we are! We may think it’s obvious, and the natural way to be … And we’ve witnessed some wonderful acts of unity – including the rather un-British but very special ‘clap for carers’ on 10 Thursday evenings …
But the coming together of both sides of the political divide is being strained as the virus wreaks a terrible toll on lives and on our economic well-being.And globally, it’s so important we battle through this together, as a family of nations supporting and encouraging one another with resources and research … rather than casting blame and recrimination as we have seen from some quarters!
Our prayer in this season – for individuals, for our global church family and for the family of the nations moves from the three words, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ to another three words, ‘Come Holy Spirit’
Come, Holy, uniting Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit of peace
Come Holy Spirit, breathe on us
Come Holy, transforming Spirit,
Come, Holy Spirit … afresh, on us all.
Statement of Faith (we use a question and answer form in the 9.30 service)
We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the son, who lives in our hearts through faith and fills us with his love
We believe in God the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power from on high
We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You can use the ‘Worship at Home’ booklet or phone the [free] C of E 'Daily Hope phone line ...0800 804 8044, choosing option  when invited, leads to a selection of prayers - there are several other options too!
God, who as at this time
taught the hearts of your faithful people
by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;
through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Lord’s Prayer
[see the blue worship booklet]
1 O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us,
revive Your Church with life and power;
O Breath of Life, come, cleanse, renew us
and fit Your Church to meet this hour.
2 O Breath of Love, come breathe within us,
renewing thought and will and heart;
come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us,
revive Your Church in every part!
3 O Wind of God, come bend us, break us
till humbly we confess our need;
then, in Your tenderness remake us,
revive, restore – for this we plead.
4 Revive us, Lord; is zeal abating
while harvest fields are vast and white?
Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting –
equip Thy Church to spread the light.
Elizabeth Ann Porter Head (1850–1936)
Conclusion [From the blue booklet]
May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with you
and guide you on your way at every change and turn;
and the blessing …