‘Finding Joy in Uncertain Times’ – Easter Sunday – 17th April 2022

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The Readings

Acts 10.34-43

Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’

Luke 24.1-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By Kath Boyd, Reader

Good morning and may I begin by wishing you all a very Happy Easter. I wanted to say this straight away because I genuinely mean it and I don’t want to give any wrong impressions about the value I place on this celebration. I know that today is absolutely very special and for many Christians it is the most joyous day of the whole Christian calendar. I would love to be one of them but without wishing to rain on anyone’s parade, I have to be honest and say that I find feeling joyful rather difficult after all we have contemplated and followed and re-enacted, especially through Holy Week. For this reason I found our reading from Luke’s Gospel particularly meaningful. It wasn’t quite the story I was expecting; (I thought it would be the one where Mary Magdalene mistakes Jesus for the gardener), but the more I have sat with this one from Luke, the more it feels right for our present times. It conveys a real feeling of uncertainty and perhaps anxiety that the close followers of Jesus must have been experiencing, and at the end of this particular passage, nothing is resolved. We have the benefit of knowing what happens next but those involved didn’t. They were traumatised, they still didn’t know what was going on and in their minds they had just lost the one person who could make sense of it all. Even though Jesus had told them that he would rise again, could they really comprehend that and believe it, however much they wanted to.

As I said, I think this passage conveys their situation very well and I’d like us to look at it in a little more depth but to do this I would like us to step back to the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ that we shared in last Sunday. If we really allow ourselves to take it in, it’s a very, very powerful and heart-breaking portrayal of a ghastly event. At the very end of it we are told that all Jesus’ “acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance, watching”. We are also told that when Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body from the cross and laid it in a new tomb, the women followed him “they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned (presumably to where they were staying), and prepared spices and ointments.” The final service they could perform for their beloved Lord was to prepare his body lovingly for a dignified burial; love and dignity that he had been denied in his death.

The day after the Sabbath the women returned to the tomb to do this service and no doubt they thought they knew what to expect. Perhaps they were a little surprised, and possibly relieved, that the stone covering the entrance to the tomb had already been rolled away but when they went inside “they did not find the body”. Can you imagine how they must have felt; “what’s happened? Who’s taken him and what have they done with him?” I think describing these women as “perplexed” is probably an understatement. Then suddenly two men, who they don’t know, are standing there in “dazzling clothes” asking them “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” and telling them that Jesus has risen as he said he would. They remind the women of all that Jesus had foretold and when they recall this they leave the tomb and go to tell the eleven disciples and all the others what has just happened. Now quite specifically we are told who some of these women are, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James so we know they have been established followers of Jesus for a long time. Imagine then how they must have felt when what they recount of the events at the tomb is dismissed as “an idle tale” and they are not believed. To our modern sensibilities it’s insulting and disrespectful and hurtful but perhaps they were used to it. Even so, I’m sure it still upset them. However, Peter decides to go and take a look for himself. He “ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.”

I can’t help wondering why he didn’t go back and tell the others so that they wouldn’t have been so dismissive of what the women had said but to be fair to him, maybe he was struggling to take it all in himself. To fully grasp the uncertainty that all the people in our passage were experiencing, we have to think ourselves into their situation, see events through their eyes and imagine what they were thinking and feeling. At that point they didn’t know what had happened.

But we do know that Jesus rose again, as he had foretold. Everything wasn’t magically alright and it wasn’t going to be but after they had seen him for themselves, the disciples knew they were not alone; he was and always would be with them.

Everything is far from alright in our world today but as people of faith we know that we are not alone in our struggles and also in our joys; it’s important to recognise and acknowledge both. Jesus is with each and every one of us if we allow him to be. That to me is the power and the beauty of the Easter message that can enable us to find joy in even the most difficult of times. So I really can wish you all a very Happy Easter.

The Prayers
Prepared by Oli Giles

Lord, we pray for our world.
We pray

For those trapped in zones of conflict and corruption.
For those suffering the forest fires, rising sea levels and unstable weather systems as a result of climate change.
For those who are not free to express their opinion and identity openly without fear.
For those who lack access to clean water, secure food stores and basic medical services.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Lord we pray for the gaping inequality in our society.
We pray

for those who have no home.
For those who must rely on foodbanks.
For those who have job insecurity.
For those who can’t afford their prescriptions.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Lord we pray for our families and friends
We pray

For those in abusive relationships
For those experiencing feelings of division and separation
For our loved ones who are terminally ill
For those close to us who are bereaved and grieving
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Lord we pray for ourselves

We pray
For when we struggle to find meaning
For when we feel lost and alone
For when we suffer crises of identity
For when we feel overwhelmed and exhausted
For when we have hit rock bottom.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

You’ve shared these experiences and know these injustices
You’ve inhabited the darkest place.
Yet, through the unstoppable light of your resurrection you show us that death is not the end.
Wounds can be healed
Division can be reconciled
Our broken bodies can perform transformative acts
Inequity can be challenged
And that across all space and time,
Love wins.
During these uncertain times, help us to share and inspire in others the unstoppable joy of your resurrection.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us,
accept our prayers, and be with us always.

‘A Kingdom of Values’ – 13th March 2022 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

To watch this week's service on Youtube, please click here:


you can donate to the red cross DEC appeal for Ukraine here:


The Readings

Genesis 15.1-12, 17-18

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Then he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’ But he said, ‘O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,


Luke 13.31-end

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” 

The Sermon

By Rev'd Dr. Alan Billings

Inevitably, and rightly, all our media this week have been dominated by stories and images from Ukraine. The one that has stayed in my mind most vividly was a brief interview with a young Ukrainian woman in a town in the east that had just been bombed. She stood, dazed, looking around at the smoking ruins of the block of flats where she lived.

Everything was destroyed. She had survived because she had been in a basement. The reporter – I suspect not quite knowing what question to put - asked her what she had lost in the bombing. I think he expected her to talk about material things – the destruction of her home and all her possessions. She paused for a moment and then said, ‘I have lost my future.’

I have lost my future.

She didn’t mean she has no future. But the future that beckons for her, if Russia takes over her country, is a future that will be determined by others and not her, by strangers and not her fellow citizens.

There’s been a lot of speculation about whether the Russian president is mentally unhinged. I don’t know about that; but what I do so see in him is a form of behaviour that we have become very familiar with in other contexts in recent years. We call it coercive control.

We see it, for example, in domestic situations where one partner, usually male, seeks to control his female partner. He must know where she is, what she is doing, who she is seeing. He may control the finances. He may insist on looking at her mobile phone. Psychological and sometimes physical abuse. The partner becomes an anxious or frightened victim, always on edge, always trying to please or at least not displease for fear of the consequences.

When a mother who is financially dependent on her male partner, is subjected to this coercive and controlling behaviour, she can feel hopelessly trapped. Her future is taken from her. To protect the children she suffers the abuse, fearful of what the consequences might be if she should try to challenge or leave. There is support available, but it is a big and brave decision to get it.

Coercive control and the feelings of fear and menace it produces. This is the atmosphere that tyrants generate around them.

And you can see it in today’s gospel. As Jesus gets closer to Jerusalem, those in power start to notice him, and don’t like it. The country is occupied by the Romans but they have installed a local ruler, a Jewish king, Herod, to act for them. He finds the teaching of Jesus threatening and seeks to control him by inducing feelings of fear and menace. Some of those around Herod, Pharisees, come to Jesus to tell him that his life is in danger. In other words, do as you are told, stop teaching, stop healing, otherwise you’ll be taken off the streets and done away with. Coercive control.

Jesus, however, takes the bold decision not to stop but to challenge. “Go and tell that fox”, he says, “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow; and the third day I finish my course.”

He refuses to be controlled. But there will be a price. We know what that price will be, because we know the full story. But those around Jesus at this moment don’t. But the menacing words the Pharisees bring - “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you” - must have caused at least a frisson of fear to run through them.

What had they got themselves into? Do they stick with Jesus or get out now, while they can. And if they stick with Jesus, do they arm themselves? You’ll remember that at least one of the disciples did just that, and in the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus was being arrested, struck a servant of the High Priest and cut off his ear.

What tyrants – whether political or domestic - in the end fear most is challenge that robs them of their power. We know that right to the end, those in power in Jerusalem think that Jesus is after worldly power. Later on Jesus will say to Pontius Pilate ‘My kingdom is not of this world, else would my servants fight’.

Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual one. A kingdom of values, if you like. But values which can’t be imposed on us. We must freely commit to them – to be loving, to be kind, to be open-hearted, to be generous, to be forgiving.

This is the kingdom Jesus seeks to bring, the kingdom of God. It is not a kingdom of this world but it is threatening to those who rule by coercion because it introduces a quite different power dynamic.

King Herod and Pontius Pilate want coercive control. They have power. They can break human bodies. And that is a fearful thing. The power that Jesus has is nothing like that. It is the power to influence human hearts. To show us a better way of living – better for all and not just a few. But it has to be freely chosen.

And that free choosing is what disturbs the tyrant.

The Prayers
Prepared by Lizzie Ilsley

God, who is Compassion
We come to you as bewildered children, trying to make sense of the world we find ourselves in, asking questions about our place, our role, our complicity and our purpose.
Gather us, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, in our bewilderment.
Help us to turn to your Love as a source of strength and clarity; to fasten our hearts to the truth and to inform our decisions and responses to unfolding crises, near and far.
Help us to speak truth to power.
We pray for those who hold responsibility for decisions which have the power to change peoples’ lives – may they discern what is right, and reject that which is harmful to others.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

God, who is Mercy
We hold before you all in acute shock and suffering today.
We pray for healing for the families of  those killed recently in ongoing ethnic  violence in western Ethiopia.
We pray for all people who are suffering the effects of individuals’ thirst for power and control,  particularly in Yemen and Ukraine.
We pray for mothers who are giving birth in war zones – particularly the women of Mariopol maternity hospital, bombed earlier this week.
We call to mind families who are grieving the sudden or unexpected death of loved ones – in road traffic accidents, through murder or suicide. We particularly call to mind the family of the 19 year old man stabbed in Bury on Friday. May his family know your love through the care and support of his community.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God, who is Justice
In the week of a formal apology at Stormant for historical abuse, we hold in our prayers  all those who are living through abuse, and for survivors. We pray for those who do not speak out, and suffer daily, for fear of not being believed.  We hold those who have spoken out, and were not believed.
We pray that the Church, and those who are in authority within it continue to be open and accountable for past and present abuses. Help us to acknowledge and understand that forgiveness is not the opposite of justice and that forgiveness does not remove the need to protect the vulnerable.
We pray for all those  working in safeguarding. May the Church be known as a safe and nurturing place to be, where your grace and compassion is not earnt, but encountered freely and lavishly.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God whose love is all
We pray for those who are mourning, unwell, and those recovering from illness or accident, particularly those in this congregation and their families
We pray for those who have died, in this community and beyond, and for all those who mourn their loss, including Sunita
Remembering those whom we love, but no longer see
God of justice, truth and love
Inspire us with your Spirit to let your Kingdom come.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

‘We can help’ – 27th February 2022 – The Sunday before Lent

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The Readings

2 Corinthians 3.12-4.2

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.


Luke 9.28-43a

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples,


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By David C, Lay Reader

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I’m going to begin this morning by reading the pastoral letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on the current situation in Ukraine. Some printed copies are available at the back of church if you would like one.

It opens with a verse from scripture, John 14.27.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.

And it continues as follows:

Many of us will have troubled hearts as we watch with horror the attack by Russia on Ukraine. As we have already said, this attack is an act of evil, imperilling as it does the relative peace and security that Europe has enjoyed for so long. The attack by one nation on a free, democratic country has rightly provoked outrage, sanctions and condemnation.

We lament with the people of Ukraine, and we pray for the innocent, the frightened and those who have lost loved ones, homes, and family.

We continue to call for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces as well as wide-ranging efforts to ensure peace, stability and security.

These events remind us powerfully that peace is precious and it is fragile. In Chapter 14 of John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to his disciples at the Last Supper and he leaves them his peace. This is not a mere greeting, but rather something deep and abiding. This peace is something that only Jesus gives; for it is a gratuitous gift, a way of living, something to be received for the gift of peace is the gift of Jesus himself. That is why the Lord is able to offer reassurance to our hearts, why those who receive the gift of the peace of Jesus Christ at the deepest of levels should not be afraid.

Peace, therefore, is so much more than the absence of war. It is a gift, and it is also a decision, a gift that must be received. It is a choice we make that shapes the way we live well alongside each other. It characterises our relationship with God. It comes into being by seeking justice.

In these days of uncertainty and fear, we pray that each of us might again turn to the Lord and receive God’s gift of peace, work for God’s justice, know God’s reconciliation and love, and choose paths not of hatred or destruction, of violence or retribution, but God’s way of justice, mercy and peace.

As Christians, our response to a crisis must always be rooted in prayer. And so we invite you to join with us in praying most earnestly for an outpouring of the Spirit of God, that the world may once again choose peace, strengthening those international bodies that enable us to work and live together as one humanity inhabiting one world.

We pray for those in Ukraine who suffer grievously, for all who take decisions around the world, and for the people and leaders of Russia too.

In practical terms we invite you:

  • to make this Sunday, 27 February, a day of prayer for peace;
  • on Tuesday 1 March at 6pm (GMT) to pray with the Diocese in Europe for the chaplaincy in Kyiv and the churches that serve Ukraine; and
  • to participate with the wider church in Pope Francis’s call to make Ash Wednesday, 2 March, a day of prayer and fasting for peace.

You can find liturgical resources on the Church of England website

However and whenever you pray, pray that the world may choose peace, and be assured of our prayers for you.

With every blessing, Archbishop Justin and Archbishop Stephen

We are using some of the resources mentioned by the Archbishops’ in our service this morning, including the reading from the letter of James, alongside the Gospel set for today the Transfiguration.

I spoke on the feast of the Baptism of Christ in January about three turning points in Jesus’ life, where he prays and receives divine revelation in response. They point to who Jesus is, his nature. The Transfiguration is the second of these. Jesus is praying, as he often is in Luke before major change. His face changes and clothes become dazzling white. Finally the voice of God is heard from heaven ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ Jesus then turns his face towards Jerusalem and his coming passion. Jesus will lay down his life for the world.

Given how much of a mess humanity seems to make of the world, it would be easy to wonder why Jesus does this. In theory he could have opted to be the kind of Messiah that was expected. One who would fight the Roman Empire. One who would accept the temptation of the devil in Luke 4 verses 5 to 7.

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’

But that isn’t who Jesus is.

He doesn’t have those qualities James describes in his letter as earthly and devilish. He doesn’t have bitter envy or selfish ambition in his heart, nor is he boastful and false to the truth.

We have seen a lot of these qualities aired in the last week, and worse, and sadly we may see more over the coming months.

These are not Jesus’ qualities. His are the ones of peace, gentleness, mercy and good fruits mentioned in James. But also those of justice, righteousness and freedom from oppression.

These are the antidote to bitter envy and selfish ambition. We have seen these qualities on display in the last week as well.

It’s hard for us as individuals to effect change in the world for better. This applies to all sorts of different areas of life, social justice, climate change, war and conflict, the list of injustices is long.

We can pray, as the Archbishops’ have asked, and we can watch for where we can make little differences in the world. The kind word, the petition signed, the MP written to.

We will be able to help those suffering in Ukraine, even if we don’t know how just yet.


The Prayers

Prepared by Lizzie Ilsley

God, you hold all people in the palm of your hand
We pray for the people of Ukraine in this time of intense shock, fear and uncertainty.
We pray for ordinary Russians who do not want this war. We hold before you the courageous people protesting against the invasion, risking detention.
Be present to the families of all people who have died, who can not grieve fully or give their loved one a dignified funeral.
We pray for all people – all over the world, who are displaced by conflict.
We pray for ourselves – that through prayer and action we can show compassion and solidarity with all your people, and strive for justice and peace.
Help us not to give up on peace.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

God, whose love does not discriminate
We pray for church and all faith communities, here in Sheffield, in the UK and beyond.
We hold those who are working for collaboration between churches and faiths, who may have differing perspectives but who hold in common a desire to see your kingdom come – where the first is last and the last is first – where love triumphs over hate.
Help leaders to discern ways of realising and communicating what we might positively do to pursue justice and peace, including in our own churches.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

God, who holds up the poor first
On poverty action Sunday, we hold in our prayers those, particularly in this community, who are, right now forced to make impossible decisions – whether to buy food or heat their homes.
We pray for the children in this community who are going to school without eating breakfast, or going through a weekend and holidays without a hot meal.
May we embrace righteous anger for ambivalence towards and acceptance of poverty. May we find the courage to name and challenge the systems and policies that perpetuate it.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

We hold before you all who are unwell at this time, and those who have died.
Be present to all those who are grieving and lamenting.
We pray for all those we love, but no longer see.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

We end our prayers today with a prayer from the Corrymeela community:
God who sees the weakness
in acts of naked aggression;
God who feels the fear
in moments of acute helplessness:
cure this warring madness,
and shield all who fall in harm’s way.
Leach the poison from the mind
that thinks strength is shown
in a bullying force.
And may an equal strength in solidarity
give resolve to those
whose aim is to protect, and respect,
not just the ones we call our own,
but all with whom we can share
a better, more peaceful world.

‘The Sermon on the Plain’ – 13th February 2022 – 3rd Sunday before Lent

To watch this week's service on Youtube, please click here:




The Readings

1 Corinthians 15.12-20

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.


Luke 6.17-26

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
‘Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
‘Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
‘Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
‘But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
‘Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
‘Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.

‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By Joe P

May I speak in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – Amen.  Please be seated.

This morning’s reading from Luke is part of what is called ‘The Sermon on the Plain’, and describes the experiences of Jesus and his ‘newly minted’ Apostles after He has chosen them.  They’ve spent time on a mountain, and on descending to the plain they find themselves surrounded by a large crowd of people wishing to hear from Jesus and also be healed; we hear that “power was coming from him and healing them all."

Luke described the crowd as being made up of disciples and a large group of people from all over the region.  News must have travelled about the new teacher who, as well as being wise was a great healer and could cast out evil spirits.  It’s worth noting that we now have a distinction between the Twelve – the Apostles who will follow Jesus to the end – and His disciples – who are people who’re following his teachings.

There is some debate whether the sermon described here by Luke is the same event as that described by Matthew in ‘The Sermon on the Mount’.  There is a clear link with between this part of the Sermon on the Plain – also known as ‘Blessings and Woes’ and the Beatitudes that are in the Gospel according to Matthew.  Other aspects of the Sermon on the Mount do turn up in the Gospel according to Luke, but in different places.  Luke has more of an emphasis on teaching that would mean something to Gentiles, where Matthew brings in more links between the New Covenant of Jesus and the Old Covenant represented by Mosaic teachings.  The plain answer is ‘No one is sure’ – after all, like all good preachers, it’s likely that Jesus would teach the same things in different places.

Looking at what we can gain from the teachings, does it matter?

Not really.

At first glance the core message from today’s reading is pretty black and white and will make most of us in this congregation a little uncomfortable when we read it.  After doing some healing, and casting out of demons, Jesus sets out His list of where God’s blessings will fall.

I saw it rather well paraphrased by another preacher, Debie Thomas as:

“Blessed are you who are poor, hungry, sad, and expendable.  Woe to you who are rich, full, happy, and popular.”

It’s a sort of mike-drop moment.  In a moment the world view of any self-aware and open-minded listeners and readers would be changed.  Anyone with a shred of integrity and personal honesty is forced to immediately question themselves.  I have to say, I loosened my collar and made the odd nervous cough at this point.

And then we recover ourselves, and our literal, 20th Century, world-weary brains start rallying for a counter-attack….

“Surely, Jesus isn’t romanticising poverty?  Is He somehow attempting to make the poor feel better about themselves by calling them blessed? Surely it can’t be good to be considered as expendable? There’s nothing good or blessed about being sad.  And what’s wrong with being happy and popular…come on….this turns the whole of our lives upside-down!”

Well, that’s the intention.

Let’s take a look at the pairs of contrasts here. Poor versus Rich, hungry or full, sad or happy, expendable or popular.  There’s an old saying ‘I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, and rich is more fun.’  It’s true; I’ve had my ups and downs and can find very little good to say about trying to decide whether to eat, heat the house or buy cat food.  And if we look into ourselves honestly, I think that we’d all come down on the side of rich, full, happy and popular to define our lives.

And looking at our day to day lives on Earth, that’s how we define success.

However, if we look at things from the point of view of the Kingdom of Heaven, that way of living and thinking constitutes the most abject failure imaginable.

And we can tell that Jesus is talking about the Kingdom because of the way that He links both the lists – of blessings and woes – to prophets – a link that would be clear to his audience.

Jesus blesses the poor, the hungry, the sad and the outcasts and tells them:
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.”

Those people are to be blessed because they are exhibiting the same state of life, the same situation and condition, that were experienced by the true prophets in history.

And similarly, the other traits of those who are not blessed, he associates with false prophets – something that in these post-truth days where we are exposed to ‘alternative facts’ at every turn we can probably empathise with!

The achievement of wealth, power, a full belly and popularity would often be associated with corruption, lying, playing a bit ‘fast and loose’ with the rules.  Jesus is reminding those who are fat, wealthy and happy to consider their situation, and how they got there.  Basically, are you working for the Kingdom of God, because if you’re not, all these worldly good things will be a weight around your soul.  It's not just a matter of wealth and happiness; it’s how you apply those gifts, how you align yourself with the Kingdom.  After all, there are many wealthy people who become followers of Christ – such as Joseph of Arimathea, Zacchaeus, and the members of wealthy families who become disciples of Christ as described in the Book of Acts.

It's probably easier for the underdogs in worldly society to follow God; their world is a raw, hard place with none of the cushions provided by wealth.  But wealthy people can still be moved by grace to behave in such ways that makes them blessed.
Today is Racial Justice Sunday – we are asked to reflect on the importance of racial justice, to give thanks for the gifts and beauty of human diversity, and to commit to end racism and acts of discrimination.  The ranks of the poor, the hungry, and the excluded and abused are full of those whose place in society is set very much by how society sees their race, creed or colour.  As disciples of Christ, we are expected to stand with these people, to move ourselves in our lives to a place where we too can be blessed rather than pitied in the Kingdom.

In the 1970s, Johnny Cash summed this up in a song called ‘The Man in Black’, which featured the words:
Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there ought to be a Man In Black
We can all be that man or women in black, living the Christian Gospel as a reminder to ourselves and others that there are still those left behind; and that is unacceptable in God’s Kingdom.

The Prayers
Prepared by Barbara W

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

O God, the creator and preserver of all, we pray for people in every kind of need; make your ways known
on earth, your saving health among all nations …

We pray for all of our world, as nation after nation reduces their anticovid measures. Please help nations
to continue surveillance for new and more dangerous variants and to institute prompt actions when they
are identified. Please help us all to continue to take precautions around those who are clinically
vulnerable, remembering that that could be any one of us and those individuals want to be able to return
to a more normal world too.

Help us to understand how the vulnerable feel so that we can understand the
protection they need. Help us to understand that the cost to us of continued wearing of masks and socially
distancing is nothing compared to the suffering of immune-compromised if we don’t do so.

We pray for all those who live in the Ukraine, currently facing the possibility of invasion by Russia, and all
those in other countries likely to be affected by this, including the UK as one of the Ukraine’s allies. Please
give all leaders involved the wisdom to back off from invasion.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We pray for your Church throughout the world; guide and govern us by your good Spirit, that all who
profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of
spirit, in the bond of peace and in righteousness of life …

We pray especially for our worshipping community of St. John’s Ranmoor, St. Mark’s Broomhill and St.
Mary’s Walkley as we continue to work out how to keep all of us safe. Help us to bring your comfort and
our help where it is needed. Please help us find ways to reach all of our parish, both those who do have
access to the internet and those who do not.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any way afflicted or distressed, in mind, body
or estate; comfort and relieve them in their need, give them patience in their sufferings, and bring good
out of their troubles …

We pray for all those personally affected by covid, either because they are suffering from it or someone
dear to them is suffering from it. Please bring them healing and future good health.

We pray for all those struggling to get medical treatment that they need, as the omicron epidemic
threatens to overwhelm our NHS. We pray also for all those working in the NHS. Please help us to make
their lives easier, as they struggle to make our lives safer.

In moments of peace and contemplation, we name to you all those known to us who are suffering. Please
care for them and for all those of whose suffering we are unaware.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We remember those who have gone before us in the peace of Christ, and we give you praise for all your
faithful ones, with whom we rejoice in the communion of saints …
We name to you in our hearts all those known to us both near and far who are suffering the loss of friends
and loved ones, asking that you bring your comfort and healing to them at this time of grief.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

30th January 2022 – Candlemas

To watch this morning's service at 10:30 on Youtube, please click here:


The Readings


Hebrews 2.14-end

Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.


Luke 2.22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
   which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By Rev'd Alan Billings

On Thursday we commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day. We called to mind
the six million Jews that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis put to death in Europe
during the second world war. This year, Prince Charles, who is patron of the
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, did something that I thought was really rather
imaginative and wonderful. What my daughter-in-law, who is Jewish, would
almost certainly call ‘cool’.

He had commissioned seven artists to paint the portraits of seven Jewish
people who survived the holocaust and had come to live in this country when
the war ended. And on Thursday he invited them and the artists to the
Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace to see their portraits and meet him
and the Duchess of Cornwall.

You may have seen some or all of the portraits on the television or on-line or
in the papers. They were all very different but each artist, as all good artists
do, had captured not just the physical appearance of the seven men and
women – now all in their nineties – but also something of their character.
And not just their character, their history as well. You could see in those faces
all the early pain of suffering and separation, but also the years of reflection
on their lives – the journey they had made from hating the Germans to
forgiving and to loving all human beings, as one of them explained.
As I looked at the portraits of those Jewish men and women, today’s gospel
story popped into my mind - because here too we have two older Jewish
people, Simeon and Anna. They happened to be in the Temple in Jerusalem
when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to mark his birth and give
thanks with a small sacrifice.

We don’t know, of course, what Simeon and Anna looked like, only that they
were getting on in years – but perhaps they looked like these elderly British
Jews, whose past experiences, reflected in their faces, were now caught in
their portraits by the artists. And perhaps that’s why St Luke, and only St
Luke, writes the story of this brief encounter between the infant Jesus and
Simeon and Anna into his gospel. He’s telling us something. And perhaps
what happened in the Queen’s Gallery last Thursday is the clue to it.
What I mean is this.

Those seven elderly, Jewish men and women whose portraits were painted,
were not just victims of the holocaust, they were also survivors. For different
reasons, by different small miracles, they had come through when so many
others had perished.

I heard some of them speaking about their lives in a BBC 2 documentary. It
was harrowing. As children they were taken to the concentration camp and
separated from their parents. They soon knew that they would see their
mother, their father a brother or sister no more.

They saw everything that as a child you valued, everything that made you feel
safe and secure and loved – your family, your home, your toys, your books,
your school, your friends, your clothes – everything, torn away from you and
cast aside – including, of course, your future. They literally lost everything.
One of the women told the reporter how on arriving at the concentration camp
they were stripped naked and then had their hair shaved from their head. The
reporter asked them what it was like to lose you dignity in this way. She said,
they had no time to think about dignity or anything else – they could only ever
think about where they might find some scrap of food to keep alive
Victims of the holocaust. Yet they had survived.

Survived. And then they had come to this country to try to build a life from
nothing. And they had done so. They learnt a new language, took themselves
to school, found jobs, got married, had children and grandchildren. They
survived, but more than that, they thrived. They thrived because they refused
to let the terrible experiences of their past drag them into some endless state
of bitterness or grieving or self-pity. This was the wisdom that was captured in
their faces. That even in the most appalling of circumstances there can be

As another victim once said, it is always better to light a single candle than to
curse the darkness. That’s easy to say if you have faced few traumas in life
yourself. But these people can say it, because they have known what it is to
inhabit the darkest of rooms.

I think Simeon and Anna are remembered in the gospel of St Luke for a
similar reason. They have the wisdom of the older person, because only the
older person, only the one who has lived through life’s up and downs, can
say, life is worth living, there is no human experience that is so bad that hope
for a better future has to be cast aside as a mere dream. That is the vocation
of the old to show to the young that though you might be a victim now, you
can survive and you can ultimately thrive.

So Simeon and Anna’s hopes are rewarded and they see the one who will be
the light that will dispel all our darkness.

At Candlemas we remember that Christ is our light.

He has known what it is like to enter the darkest of rooms. But God raised
him on the third day. He has the right to say it is better to light one candle
than curse the darkness.

The Prayers
Prepared by David C

Let us pray to the Father through Christ who is our light and life.

Father, your Christ is acclaimed as the glory of Israel:
look in mercy on your Church, sharing his light.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ in his temple brings judgement on the world:
look in mercy on the nations, who long for his justice.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ, who was rich, for our sakes became poor:
look in mercy on the needy, suffering with him.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ is the one in whom faithful servants find their peace:
look in mercy on the departed, that they may see your salvation.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ is revealed as the one destined to be rejected:
look in mercy on us who now turn towards his passion.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord God, you kept faith with Simeon and Anna,
and showed them the infant King.
Give us grace to put all our trust in your promises,
and the patience to wait for their fulfilment;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

‘Giving a Nudge’ – 16th January 2022 – 2nd Sunday of Epiphany

To watch this morning's service on Youtube, please click here:


The Readings


1 Corinthians 12.1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.


John 2.1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By Rev'd Canon Dr Matthew Rhodes of St. John's

So there was this party. And lots of people were invited. And food was eaten and wine was drunk. And lots of people didn’t really know what happened that day. But somehow the story came out. And it proved to be more significant than some people might have imagined. And people remembered the story and the story lived on.

Parties are much in the news this week and today, on the second Sunday of Epiphany we reflect on a wedding party that took place right at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The wedding at Cana is a wonderful story and like all Bible stories we can enjoy it just as it stands. It may be helpful as we reflect on this story during the week to imagine ourselves there. Of course this story has many layers to it and it really benefits from close inspection. John’s Gospel is like a treasure hunt. He lays careful and sometimes cryptic clues for us to find and nothing is wasted. John is very selective in his use of miracles. He describes just seven of them, four of which are unique to this Gospel. And the wedding at Cana is the first on both counts. Right at the beginning of the passage, John alerts us to the fact that this is not just any party. It took place on the third day as did the raising of Lazarus and of course the resurrection of Jesus himself.

This party would have been a big event involving the whole community. Mary was there and so were Jesus and his disciples. Perhaps more people turned up than had been expected. But hospitality is a big deal in the Middle East. Any guests are made welcome. This was no BYO event and running out of wine would have meant a huge loss of face. Most people probably didn’t notice but Mary did. She who pondered things in her heart realised what was going on. We need Marys. People who notice. Who are observant.

I wonder how Mary was feeling that day. Perhaps she was feeling a bit irritated that people kept asking her when her son would get married. Perhaps she was fed up with waiting for Jesus to get on with whatever it was he came to do. And it was Mary who gave him the nudge he needed. Pointing out what he probably already knew. They had run out of wine.

Jesus’ initial response seems rather rude. ‘What is that to do with me? My time has not yet come.’ But perhaps he found it hard to ignore his mother. She clearly wasn’t taking no for an answer. Mary ignores Jesus and directs the servants to do as he tells them. Sometimes we need do something similar. Not just notice but act. Give people a nudge. Mary knew her son better than anyone. Perhaps she knew what he was capable of. What his gifts were. And she pushed him to use them. Our first reading from Corinthians identifies different gifts that the Spirit gives to the church. Sometimes we need to help people identify the gifts they have and encourage them to use them.

Jesus, who was the guest, suddenly becomes the host in this story. Not in an overbearing ‘look at me’ sense but in a quiet, caring and serving sense. And it makes me think about how we welcome people in church. As members of the congregation I think we often think of ourselves as guests. It can take a while for us to feel that we belong. That this is our church. And that it’s our job to welcome others and make sure that they have what they need. We tend to think that that is the job of the vicar or the wardens. In a previous church of mine we had welcomers. But one day a new person turned up. They happened to know one of the people who was on the welcome rota but that person was not on duty that day. And the person actually said, ‘It’s a pity I’m not a welcome today otherwise I could have welcomed you.’ Welcoming is the job of all of us. As well as being guests at the Lord’s table we are also called to be hosts. It is the task of each one of us to make others welcome.

And Jesus does that not just by creating a little wine. He provides a ridiculous amount. Between 120 and 180 gallons of the stuff. And this isn’t just any old plonk either. He turns bathwater into Chateau Lafite. On one level it seems like a party trick. Completely over the top. It does not involve healing or meeting people’s immediate needs. And yet this superabundance of delicious wine speaks powerfully of the language of the kingdom. Of God’s abundant hospitality and generosity. It is a sign that Jesus is fulfilling the old covenant as well as doing something very new. Giving a foretaste of the heavenly banquet promised to all of God’s people. We will hear echoes of this story in a number of Jesus’ parable and at the feeding of the five thousand. Echoes too at the Last Supper and in our Eucharist and in the outpouring of Jesus’ life on the cross. Too often as the church we ration our welcome. And the pandemic hasn’t helped that. But the wedding at Cana reminds us to be profligate with the things of God.

As a priest, it is often my privilege to offer up the lives of others in the Eucharist and to celebrate important moments. To baptise, marry and conduct funerals. And much of the time I don’t really know what I’m dealing with. I tend to get the good stuff. The Sunday best. I don’t always hear about the bath water. The struggles. And in that sense I feel a bit like the master of the banquet. He didn’t know where the new wine had come from but he must have felt very thankful as I do.

The master of the banquet didn’t know where the wine had come from but the servants knew. Part of our the job of all of us is to be like those servants. Helping to make miracles happen. Enabling God’s love to transform the bathwater of our world into the wine of the kingdom. In this season of Epiphany we celebrate the manifestation of Christ in the world. The wedding at Cana stands alongside the visit of the magi and the baptism of Jesus as another sign that in Christ, God is doing a new thing. Bringing light and hope to a world in darkness. The wedding at Cana encourages us to be alert, to offer our gifts in God’s service and to play our part in bringing God’s kingdom closer. Amen.

The Prayers
Prepared by Lizzie Ilsley

God of Compassion
We pray for our community, in church and in the parish. We particularly call to mind members of our community who live with dementia, and those who love and care for them; at home and in care homes.
We pray for the dementia action group in the mission partnership of St Mary’s, St Mark’s and St John’s. Guide their conversations and decision making, and bless their work which seeks to help us to recognise that we are all made in your image, no mater what stage of life we are in.

God of Community
We pray for the wider Church, as it continues to navigate and discern its role and voice in our society in this time of pandemic.
We pray for worshipping communities who are working out how to be church at this time of shift.
Help people in positions of responsibility in the Church to work together for the common good, even when there are differences over how this might be achieved. May we always keep Christ at the centre of our purpose, remembering that he welcomed all.

God of Justice
We pray for the world, in particular areas of conflict and ongoing crisis.
We continue to hold in our prayers the people of Afghanistan, as many face starvation as the winter progresses.
We continue to pray for Rohinga refugees in camps in Bangladesh. We pray for agencies supporting them, particularly with the right for access to clean water, health care and education.
We call to mind the communities in Tonga effected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami this weekend. We pray for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods, and pray for those who lead the rebuilding of infrastructure in the coming weeks and months.

God of Love
We pray for all those who are unwell or recovering from illness or accidenct .
We continue to pray for those who have lost people they love as a result of COVID and those who have died recently in this community and beyond.
In remembrance of those who we love but no longer see.
We hold silence for a few moments for our own intentions.

2nd January 2022 – The Epiphany

To watch this morning's service on Youtube, please click here:


The Readings

Isaiah 60.1-6

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,[a]
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.


Matthew 2.1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.


New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Sermon
St. Marks

To be uploaded later today.

The Prayers
Prepared by Veronica H

In the power of the spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
As we approach the beginning of another uncertain new year, we pray that we may have the confidence of the Magi to set out on our journey of hope this coming year, and come to know you more. The Magi remind us that all peoples from across the world are your children and we must welcome them as our brothers and sisters as we join with them in adoration of the Christ Child.
Lord of glory
hear our prayer.

As the Magi offered their gifts to the infant Jesus, we pray you Father to accept the offering of our hearts and minds. Help us during this coming year to grow closer to you in doing your will.
Lord of glory
hear our prayer.

All the kingdoms of this earth are yours Lord. We pray for peace between nations and for the relief of suffering, where there is hunger, oppression or disaster caused by our misuse of your earth or the tyranny of men.
Lord of glory
hear our prayer.

The Holy Family knew what it meant to flee from danger into exile to escape Herod’s attacks on the innocent baby boys. Father of all, use us to ensure that refugees among us are welcomed and cared for, and that those suffering poverty are fed.
Lord of glory
hear our prayer.

Father, your Son shared his life in an ordinary home and family in Nazareth. We pray that you will protect our friends and neighbours in this community, and give you thanks for the work of the Foodbank, the Advice Centre and the Library in supporting those in need. Be with all those who are ill in mind or body at this time of great anxiety for so many people.
Lord of glory
hear our prayer.

Father we rejoice in our fellowship with the shepherds, the angels, the magi, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and all the faithful departed. In your unfailing love for us and for all your people, hear and answer our prayers through your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

‘The Identities of Mary’ – 19th December – 4th Sunday of Advent

The Readings


Micah 5.2-5a

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labour has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

If the Assyrians come into our land
and tread upon our soil,
we will raise against them seven shepherds
and eight installed as rulers.


Luke 1.39-55

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

The Sermon
By Rev'd Matthew Rhodes, St. John's, Ranmoor

A few years ago I read a book called The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. It’s written from the point of view of Mary looking back over her life and especially over the death of her son Jesus. Toibin powerfully evokes the pain of a grieving mother. But alongside this he gives an additional sinister undertow in the book. This Mary feels that the story of her son, and her own story, are being manipulated by the Gospel writers to fit their own agenda. She sees them trying to create a religion out of her son’s life and feels that they are using her to give legitimacy to what they are doing.

It’s not an approach that I agree with but it’s an interesting idea. And it illustrates an important aspect of Mary’s life. Mary can and has been used by lots of people to reflect their own ideas. The writer, Colm Toibin does it in his book. He doesn’t deny the Jesus story but questions Christianity with a capital C that has been built upon it. And he uses Mary as the mouthpiece for his questioning. And though that’s not a picture of Mary that I recognise, I can see how she has the potential as a character to be portrayed in that way. And that leads me to suggest that we have to treat Mary carefully. She is open to manipulation. Not Mary herself of course but her image. Her story.

Mary has so few lines in the Gospels. There are lots of gaps to be filled in and plenty of people willing to do so. Marina Warner in her book, Alone of All Her Sex, suggests that the cult of Mary has been used in all sorts of ways since the church began. When Christianity encountered pagan cultures with female deities, Mary took on many of their characteristics. This helped to root Christianity in all sorts of places.

During the Second World War, many women did jobs that had previously been done by men. Afterwards, they were encouraged to give these jobs back to the men and return to their homes as housewives and mothers. It’s no coincidence that at same time the Catholic Church placed a new emphasis on Mary. Pope Pius XII made her assumption a dogma in 1950. While Mary was being elevated, women’s rights were being eroded. Mary was presented as a role model for women that was often unhelpful to them. She seemed passive. Cut off from the realities of their lives. And this left some very faithful women feeling guilty and inadequate.  So we need to be a bit wary of the ways in which Mary’s image has been used.

On the other hand, Mary provides a wealth of identities for people to connect with. A few years ago Mary’s virginity was a very live issue for the church and was another reason why Mary seemed remote from real women’s experience. Nowadays, through the wonders of modern science virgin mothers are two a penny and perhaps they can see something of themselves in Mary. In her we also see the ordinary teenage mum. Poor and vulnerable but also resourceful and protective. In Mary we find the radical revolutionary of the Magnificat. Casting down the mighty from their thrones and exalting the humble and meek. There is Mary the mother who is worried sick, looking for her teenage son in Jerusalem. There is the pushy mother at the wedding at Cana. Desperate for her son to get on with whatever it is he is supposed to do. There is the mother who has to share her famous son with the crowds. There is the fearful mother who knows in her bones what is to come. The grieving mother standing at the foot of the cross. And finally Mary the Queen of heaven in the Book of Revelation. Clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. Mary may not have many lines in the Bible but there is plenty in her life that women – and men – can respond to.

In the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Nazareth there are images of Mary from all over the world. There are revolutionary Mary’s from South America. Black Madonnas from Africa. Blond Marys and Middle Eastern Marys. Marys in saris and Marys in kimonos. The Mary from the United States appears to have her wrapped in aluminium foil. Perhaps that’s a comment on domesticity and consumerism. Anyway, the point is that all cultures can and should be able to see themselves in Mary. We should be able to see ourselves in Jesus but some of us find it easier to connect with Mary. The very fact that she has so few lines allows us to fill in the gaps with our own cultures, our own lives. The things that makes her image open to manipulation can also be Mary’s gift to us, helping us to make our faith incarnate. Bringing the good news to birth in our own time and culture.

Sometimes for Anglicans, Mary can bring out the Protestant in us. There is risk that her humanity, which is such an important part of her gift, can be undermined by attempts to make her into part of the godhead. Not quite part of the Trinity but a bit above ordinary humanity. Up there on a plinth. Dressed in blue. Perversely this elevation can make Mary less helpful. Mary is important because she was a real human being. She wasn’t God but she cooperated with God. She said yes to him. Let it be. And she bore a son who was fully human and yet fully God.

Not only is Mary able to reflect our humanity, she also has room within her for God. She is the ultimate example of openness to God and she constantly challenges us to be open too. To be willing to listen to the crazy messages of angels and to work with God in bringing his kingdom to birth. To magnify the Lord and rejoice in God our saviour. Mary had space in her life that we are able to fill with our humanity. She also had space in her life for the divine. A space big enough to bear his son. As we await the birth of the Saviour, Mary inspires us to find space in our lives too. To make room. Room to rediscover our true humanity. And room to welcome God and all that he wants to do in and through us. Amen.

The Prayers

Prepared By Barbara Waterhouse

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

O God, the creator and preserver of all, we pray for people in every kind of need; make your ways known on earth, your saving health among all nations …

We pray for all of those affected by the Covid-19 epidemic.
We pray for those countries currently suffering from upsurges of the virus, thinking especially of those facing the omicron variant: please help them to keep their most vulnerable citizens safe. We pray that all politicians choose effective means of making sure that all the people they represent are safe and well.

We pray for the worldwide success of vaccination campaigns, and that vaccines are made available to all countries, regardless of their wealth or lack thereof. Please help each of us to give informed reassurance to those we know who are wary of having the vaccine and to play what part we can in ensuring that the rest of the world gets vaccinated too.

We pray especially for all workers in direct contact with the public who are at such risk of exposure to the virus: health care providers, shop workers, bus drivers, schoolteachers and all others similarly exposed. Please help all of us to protect all of them by continuing to wear masks in public and practice safe social distancing and by getting vaccinated, if we have not already done so.

At this time when family and friends are such a large part of our celebrations, please help us to remember all those who are unable to see those dear to them at this time and to do what we can to make sure that they are not feeling isolated or abandoned this Christmas.

We pray also for all those involved in trying to fight the climate crisis Please give all governments the political courage to resist further use of fossil fuels and to invest in sources of renewable energy instead. Please help each of us individually to contribute to protecting our planet in any way we can.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We pray for your Church throughout the world; guide and govern us by your good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace and in righteousness of life

We pray especially for our worshipping community of St. John’s Ranmoor, St. Mark’s Broomhill and St. Mary’s Walkley as we struggle to cope with the ongoing pandemic. Please help us to feel your presence in a world turned upside down and to share that presence with others.

We pray that we can continue to worship together in ways that are safe for all of us, whether in person or online. Please help us to think of each other and let each other know that we care and to remember those who feel increasingly lonely and unsafe as the world is hit by yet more upsurges and variants of the virus.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any way afflicted or distressed, in mind, body or estate; comfort and relieve them in their need, give them patience in their sufferings, and bring good out of their troubles …

In moments of peace and contemplation, we name to you all those known to us who are suffering. Please care for them and for all those of whose suffering we are unaware.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We remember those who have gone before us in the peace of Christ, and we give you praise for all your faithful ones, with whom we rejoice in the communion of saints …

We name to you in our hearts all those known to us both near and far who are suffering the loss of friends and loved ones, asking that you bring your comfort and healing to them at this time of grief.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

5th December 2021 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

The Readings

Malachi 3.1-4

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.


Luke 3.1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 


The Sermon

To be uploaded later.

The Prayers
Prepared by Joe P

To be uploaded later.

‘We Will Remember Them’ – 14th November 2021 – Remembrance Sunday

To watch this week's service on Youtube, please click here:


Order of service

This morning's order of service is available here:

21 11 14 Remembrance Sunday

21 11 14 Remembrance Sunday

The Readings

Isaiah 2. 1 - 4

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
   Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.


Matthew 5. 1 - 12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Sermon

Will be uploaded later on.

The Prayers

Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict,
and ask that God may give us peace:

for the service men and women
who have died in the violence of war,
each one remembered by and known to God;
may God give peace.
All    God give peace.

For those who love them in death as in life,
offering the distress of our grief
and the sadness of our loss;
may God give peace.
All    God give peace.

For all members of the armed forces
who are in danger this day,
remembering family, friends
and all who pray for their safe return;
may God give peace.
All    God give peace.

For civilian women, children and men
whose lives are disfigured by war or terror,
calling to mind in penitence
the anger and hatreds of humanity;
may God give peace.
All    God give peace.

For peacemakers and peacekeepers,
who seek to keep this world secure and free;
may God give peace.
All    God give peace.

For all who bear the burden and privilege of leadership,
political, military and religious;
asking for gifts of wisdom and resolve
in the search for reconciliation and peace;
may God give peace.
All    God give peace.

O God of truth and justice,
we hold before you those whose memory we cherish,
and those whose names we will never know.
Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world,
and grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us harm.
As we honour the past,
may we put our faith in your future;
for you are the source of life and hope,
now and for ever.
All   Amen.