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Saturday 25 May 2024

Sunday Worship 26th May

 Sunday Worship on Trinity Sunday


Welcome to Sunday Worship in Leesfield Parish on Trinity Sunday. Our Church Services today are at the usual times of 9.15 am at St Agnes' and 11 am at St Thomas'. If you are unable to be with us in person, you will find resources below to worship at home.

Our first hymn this morning is "I Bind Unto Myself This Day"



Today's Gospel

John 3: 1-17                                   Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Reflection

Today we read about Nicodemus, a highly intellectual and religious scholar who is struggling to understand what Jesus is telling him about the Holy Trinity.  Like Nicodemus, sometimes it’s hard for us, as humans to grasp what the bible says. 

That’s because we too try to put things into a frame reference that we can relate to. It’s not comfortable for us accept that there are things beyond our comprehension. 

And the concept of the Holy Trinity falls into that same category. The category that’s hard to get your head around, similar to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or Quantum Theory.  At one level it seems to make sense, but on another it’s just mind-blowingly complex.

Let’s be honest, if someone tells you they fully understand all the workings of the universe, time and space, they probably don’t really get it. Similarly, if someone says they absolutely understand the Holy Trinity, they probably haven’t thought it through properly.
 
But that’s OK. Because it’s a ‘mystery’  and it’s such a wonderous mystery! 

I mean how do you begin to understand the concept of one God who exists as 3 separate persons?  How can one equal three?

I’ve heard several simplified explanations over the years. Some people describe the Holy Trinity as being like water.  It can  exist in solid form as ice, in liquid form as water and as a gas in vapour form.  But that’s not the whole picture is it? Because water can only exist in one state at any given time.

However, we know that at the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan, Jesus was present in the river, God was present in the Heavens speaking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a dove descending upon Jesus. At the Baptism of Christ, We witness all three persons of God, distinct and present at the same time.

Alternatively, some folk use the analogy of an orange which also has three distinct components. The skin or peel, the juicy flesh which we eat and the pips in the middle. All together they form a whole orange. But of course, once you separate them they will never exist again as a single whole fruit. So that example does work because we know that Jesus is fully divine. Jesus also says [Matthew 12:29] The Lord our God, the Lord is One.

There are plenty of other examples that folk have used to try to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity but all of them fail to fully encapsulate the enormity and magnificence of a single God that exists in three persons, where each person is fully divine and equal. 

So, if you’re sitting there thinking, wow, this is really complex.  Don’t worry because it’s acceptable to admit that there are things beyond our comprehension and beyond us. We should rejoice and celebrate that we have a loving God who exists in a way that is beyond our wildest imaginations.
 
It’s not meant to be easy to understand the Holy Trinity - in the same way that we can’t fully understand that God existed before the beginning of time and will exist for all eternity and created everything on earth and in Heaven.
 
But ask yourself this – does it matter? I don’t need to know how quantum physics makes my mobile phone work to be able to benefit from using it.

In the same way, we don’t have to fully understand everything about God to know that He exists and to benefit from his unbounded love:

To benefit from a Father who created each and every one of us and knew us before we were born. A father who knows our every thought and loves us for who we are and listens to all our prayers.

To benefit from a redeeming Son who took on human form, died for us on the cross and was raised from the dead so that we may be restored though His blood. A loving Son who wants to forgive us even if we don’t feel worthy, and who shows us the way to eternal life though our belief in Him. 

To benefit from a Holy Spirit, whose loving presence comforts us, and enriches us from deep within ourselves. A Holy Spirit of truth who transforms us and shares gifts of goodness, love and faithfulness -  to enable us to bring God’s Kingdom  nearer. 

So does it matter if we don’t fully understand God? No it doesn’t.  

Jesus didn’t reject Nicodemus because he was spiritually blind and didn’t understand.  Instead He invited him to share in the eternal life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, just as we are when we are invited to be baptised.

Let’s just be grateful and worship the divine mystery that is God and who will reveal all that we need to know when He wants to. Paul

Our Prayers

Loving Father, thank you that through faith,
we have the opportunity to learn the marvellous things revealed in your Word.
May the Holy Spirit open our minds and guide us to more enlightenment, 
so we may grow in grace as we journey through this life  
Amen

Today's final hymn is "Holy, Holy, Holy!, Lord God Almighty"




Notices

Next Sunday we have just one service in the parish - a Service of the Word at 10 am at St Thomas' Church. 



Saturday 18 May 2024

Sunday Worship 19th May

 Sunday Worship for Pentecost


Welcome to Sunday Worship in Leesfield Parish on Pentecost Sunday (Whit Sunday). Today we have a Parish Eucharist at St Thomas' Church at 9.15 am, and no service at St Agnes' Church. 

At 11 am we assemble in the school playground to sing a hymn before our Procession of Witness down West Street, along Spring Lane and back up Thomas Street. We will stop to sing further hymns on Spring Lane and outside the gates to Lees Cemetery. Everyone is most welcome to join us.

If you are unable to be with us in person, you will find resourdces below to worship from home.

Our first hymn this morning is "Shine, Jesus, Shine"



Today's Gospel

Gospel – John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15                         The work of the Holy Spirit

Jesus said to his disciples, ”When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Reflection

The holiday season will soon be upon us and lots of you may be contemplating getting away to sunnier places, visiting relatives or just having a break somewhere different. Before you go it is not uncommon to try and get everything to straight edge. To try to ensure that folk know who is going to responsible for what while you’re gone and who to turn to in case something unexpected happens or goes wrong. 

Here in this passage from John, Jesus is with the disciples just before he is about to be arrested and crucified. He has told His disciples that He is about to leave them and that and even worse, once He’s gone people will hate them; they will be evicted from the synagogues and persecuted just like Him.

It’s a lot to take in, and Jesus knew how heavy their hearts were. They were so concerned, it seems like they hadn’t fully understood that Jesus would be going for good. He was also aware that the disciples didn’t really understand what was about to happen to them and just how drastically all their lives would be turned upside down. As they say today, “the message hadn’t fully landed”. 

But loving Jesus wants them to know that all is not as dark as it may seem - He is making preparations before He goes. So He reassures them with the wonderful promise, that He will send to them from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father. Moreover, the Spirit of Truth will be with them at all times and in all places and therefore, they will be constantly being in communion with the Father. 

Just as Jesus has been with them up to now, He was assuring them that when He leaves to join His Father in heaven, they will have the presence of the Holy Spirit who will be constantly alongside them. This Spirit of Truth will help them to remember all that Jesus had told them and to help them understand why He was persecuted and why they would be too. 

Not only had Jesus warned the disciples that they would be persecuted, He also tasked them with what might seem a ludicrously dangerous mission – they should testify to others about Jesus the Risen Lord. Share the teaching and stories that they had witnessed all the time Jesus had been with them.  Despite all of this, Jesus was commissioning them to go out spread the Good News to non-believers. 

Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will be by their side to testify about Jesus as well. The Holy Spirit will be them every minute of day and in every place, encouraging them, comforting them, loving them. The Holy Spirit will be alongside them in their times of need to strengthen them and help them guide them. 

In addition to promising the gift of the Spirit of Truth to be with them, Jesus goes on to promise: And when the Spirit comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

There are many things that we conceive to be sinful; lying, cheating, murder, the list is extensive but here Jesus is spelling out that ultimate sin is about not believing in Him. As well as being alongside the disciples, the Spirit of Truth will show the world the true meaning of sin and righteousness for those who believe, and judgement for those who don’t. 

We too are called to be disciples and when we listen to the Holy Spirit, He will guide us towards the truth and Good News about Jesus, and direct us towards following Jesus. The Holy Spirit will testify to us if we listen, and He will help us to see where we have sinned so that we may turn to Jesus, say sorry and ask His forgiveness. The Spirit of Truth will lead us to salvation through Jesus if we are willing to listen.

The Holy Spirit isn’t there to put everything right for us and make us behave properly, that is our responsibility. But if we are willing to listen, He will show us where we have messed up in our lives and He will point us towards Jesus who loves us more than we can ever imagine. The Holy Spirit will give us the power to love each other, do kind things, believe in Jesus and  give to God the glory that He deserves.                                                                Paul

Our Prayers

Most Merciful Father,
We thank you for the Gift of your Holy Spirit,
to guide us and point us towards your Son Jesus Christ 
We pray for humility, wisdom and courage,
to listen to the Spirit and lead righteous lives,
with love, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and all the fruits of the Spirit. 
Amen

Today's final hymn is "The Spirit Lives to Set Us Free"







Sunday 12 May 2024

Sunday Worship 12th May

 Sunday Worship


Welcome to Sunday Worship in Leesfield Parish on the Seventh Sunday Of Easter, (and also the start of Christian Aid Week). Our Church Services today are at the usual times of 9.15 am at St Agnes' and 11 am at St Thomas'. If you are unable to be with us in person, you will find resources below to worship at home.

Our first hymn this morning is "Come Holy Ghost our Souls Inspire"



Today's Gospel

John 17:6-19 Jesus Prays For His Disciples

Jesus prayed for his disciples, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 

All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 

But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

Reflection

Prayer is so powerful, both for those who are doing the praying and also those who are being prayed for. It can take many forms, from that of communal prayer in church, or when people feel compelled to pray together for a specific thing or person, such as peace when war had just broken out in Ukraine a couple of years ago. 

We are also sometimes drawn together to pray as a community when something tragic happens. I remember our church being opened for people to come and pray after the Manchester Arena bombing, Folk who wouldn’t normally come to church, came to an almost  empty silent church throughout the day to light a candle and offer up prayers alongside others who were happy to stand and pray in the street or pray in the quietness of their own space.

There are also the times when we pray personally to God, either as a regular pattern of prayer where we set specific time aside or just ad-hoc prayer because something prompts us spend some time talking directly to God and letting Him know what is on our mind or simply to say, ‘thank you’ to Him.  

To have the ability to speak directly to God through prayer is an absolutely remarkable gift that He has given us, with direct access available at any time and the assurance that He listens to every one of our prayers.
  
It is also something really special when someone tells you that they are praying for you personally. In fact I would go so far as to say it is blessing! 

In the passage above Jesus is praying just prior to His arrest. He knows that He will soon be on trial and condemned to be tortured and crucified. Yet, at this dark hour, His focus is on His disciples. How do you think John must have felt when He heard His Lord praying on his behalf at this time? How special must John have felt that the Son of God is praying directly to God to look after John and the disciples?

When Jesus says,  “I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name……”, He is  aware that He is about to leave them and return to Father in heaven and is praying for His beloved disciples, because he knows what they will be facing. He is aware of the huge sense of loss and grief they will experience. He is also aware of the fear, hard times and persecution they will face when He is no longer around to protect them. He knows how totally vulnerable they will feel. 

But Jesus is not only asking for their protection. He is asking for them to be protected from the evil one and also…. so that they may be one, as we are one. He is praying for them to remain steadfast and together in the face of adversity that will befall them once He is gone. There is a well-known phrase, ‘divide and conquer’ which means to diminish your enemy by setting one against another. I read somewhere, that every time there is unrest or argument in the world, then the evil one is laughing his socks off. He’s not bothered what the dispute is about or who is right or wrong, he’s just happy we are all arguing. When we are falling out amongst ourselves, be that personally or at a global level, we are distracted from following Jesus and loving our neighbours. 

Finally, in this passage, Jesus asks God to: Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. So what does that mean?  To sanctify something is to set it aside as something that is Holy or sacred – something of God. Jesus is praying that His disciples will be sanctified in the truth, and that truth is God’s word, plain and simple. It’s a word that tells us how God loves us, created everything that is and ever will be, and who has sent His only Son to save us, time and again.

It might not be what we may read or watch on Facebook, the internet or TikTok, but it is what you will find in God’s scripture; and yes – you can get several apps for it. 
 
In John 8:31, Jesus says to the Jews who believed Him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Jesus was praying for His disciples to be one with Him, be protected from the evil one and to be sanctified. I would imagine the disciples should have felt pretty special. 

What is even more wonderful is that, in the verses that follow this passage, the very next thing that Jesus does is to say the same prayer for us and all His followers to come. That we might all be one with Him in unity and to see Him in all His glory – the glory that God has given Him and what’s even more wonderful is that Jesus is still praying for us every day. 
 
I don’t know about you but I’m feeling pretty blessed by that.  Paul

Our Prayers

Loving Father, 
We thank you for your precious Son Jesus,
who continues to intercede on our behalf each day.
Lord, thank you that you choose to sanctify those who believe Jesus,
Help us to share your God-breathed Word of truth with those around us. 
AMEN

Today's final hymn is "Will You Come and Follow Me"



Notices

Christian Aid Week - During the week, our volunteers will be out collecting around many of the houses in Lees, so watch out for your Christian Aid envelope. There will also be envelopes in our churches for people who don't live in our collecting area. To find out more about Christian Aid and how to donate, please see -  Christian Aid Week 2024 

Pentecost (Whit Sunday) - is next week. All are most welcome to join us, please see the poster below for details -



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