Church of England Diocese of Carlisle St. Cuthbert Seascale

Readings and reflections for the week beginning Sunday 24 May 2020

Sunday 24 May 2020    Seventh Sunday of Easter    Sunday after Ascension Day


The Revd’s John & Lesley Riley

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019467 25499

Saturday 23rd May 2020

Dear Friends

In previous letters I have regularly spoken about the stillness, the way the natural order of life is going on silently around us, weeks and months slipping by, but this morning I sense that is no longer the case. Yes, there still is an overall sense of time passing quietly but there now stirs a new pulse of movement, renewed activity workmen and visitors emerging in our villages. Behind closed doors in front of computer screens there is much talk of getting started, of discovering new methods to safely do again the daily routine that we all took for granted. We just went to the supermarket without a second thought, the children went to school, but no one asked the question, ‘will they or we be safe?’ Bishops and church leaders are having the same conversations and we need to hold them in our prayers because it is not just about the re-opening of our churches but how the church will effectively deliver ministry in this covid19 world in the months and years ahead.

We have now begun the national prayer initiative, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, which runs from Ascensiontide to Pentecost. For more information etc. please go to www.thykingdomcome.org.uk or log onto the Diocesan website. As part of this initiative the Diocese is holding a ‘Pray 24 Cumbria’ – 10.00am May 30th – 10.00am May 31st to offer up prayer for our county, nation and world. For further details and to ‘book a slot’ go to the website.

I gave you miss-information last week. The conversation with Bishops James and Emma takes place on Pentecost Sunday, (not Ascension Day, I am sorry if you tried to find it last Thursday). It will be shown on the Diocesan Facebook page at 7.00pm.

The ‘web clouds’ are full of ‘church’ in a phenomenal variety of ways, some helpful some quite off the wall, so continue to enjoy searching or maybe continue to enjoy scanning the rain clouds and watch the incredible delights of creation unfold before our eyes.

Please be assured of our continued prayers for you and your families.

With our prayerful good wishes,

John and Lesley

Collect

Risen, ascended Lord,

as we rejoice at your triumph,

fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,

that all who are estranged by sin

may find forgiveness and know your peace,

to the glory of God the Father. Amen

Prayers to aid your devotions:

This prayer of ‘thanksgiving’ reminds us of all that God has so generously provided which has been so evident even in lockdown.

O Lord our God, we thank you for the privilege of living in a world

filled with variety and beauty and for the challenge of its mysteries.

For the gift of loving and being loved, for friendship and mutual understanding:

O God we give you thanks and lift our hearts in praise.

For the richness of our world; for forests and fields, for mountains and oceans:

O God we give you thanks and lift our hearts in praise.

For the delights of music and poetry, for other people’s thoughts and conversations

And for all good books and reading:

O God we give you thanks and lift our hearts in praise.

For the refreshing power of the falling rain, for the strength and vitality of the

shining sun and for every life-giving source:

O God we give you thanks and lift our hearts in praise.

Above all, we thank you for the grace of your Spirit flowing into our lives

and recreating them in the image of Jesus our redeemer.  Amen     The editors – Prayers for the People

A Prayer of Blessing:

May God keep us in all our days,

may Christ shield us in all our ways,

may the Spirit bring us healing and peace.

May God the Holy Trinity

drive all darkness from us

and pour upon us blessing and light.   Amen    Kate Mcllhagga

A Reflection for the Coming Week

Jesus and the disciples are gathered together, outside Jerusalem on a mountainside, a familiar setting. Jesus so often had been with them and the crowds on the mountainside. How it must have eased their fears and uncertainties. There must have been a sense of normality returning, just them and Jesus, Jesus sharing and teaching, Jesus being there as he always had been. But this was not a return to normal, to how it had been in the old days before the crucifixion. This encounter was marking an end, there was to be no going back. The future was going to be very different and for the disciples that new future was only days away. This mountainside gathering was to be the last time the disciples were going to see Jesus in his ‘human’ form.

The conversation with the disciples was, as usual, full of questions and misunderstandings about the future. The Kingdom of Heaven, still in their minds, was for them something earthly, a kingdom built and protected by armies. Jesus once again puts them right, emphasizing that God’s Kingdom is not a set geographical area, ruled by force, but an ever increasing, no boundaries kingdom, watched over and powered by the Holy Spirit. The all empowering promised gift they were soon to receive, which would enable them to move out from the comfort of the present into the ever-widening spaces of the Kingdom of God here on earth. For this movement out into the new they would be supported and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. God was not calling them to go out alone but together with Him in His never failing power.

Whether they really fully understood Jesus’ words as he left them to ascend back into heaven, returning to His rightful place next to His heavenly Father, we will never know, but what we do know is that they were obedient. They went back to Jerusalem, waited and with the others continued in prayer.

As I ponder on that conversation and the disciples returning and waiting, I cannot fail to reflect on the waiting situation in which we currently find ourselves. For the disciples waiting was to be for only a few more days. For us it may be weeks or months or just days? Like it or not, we see the government trying to move the country on from the waiting period it has been in for the last seven weeks. This has been brought home to me this week, in stark reality, as I have been working with the headteacher at our primary school in Beckermet, (where I am, chair of governors), trying to make sense of all the guidance published and seeing if it is possible for school to be able, safely, to welcome our children back. In time, the church will be having to make similar decisions about re-opening. The plans and strategies worked out in the waiting time will have to be implemented, tried and tested in some shape or form.

The waiting time for many is now over, we are being called to move away from what we once knew as ‘normal’ into a ‘new normal’ of constant uncertainty, where risk cannot be eradicated, a normal that is being reshaped by our own tentative efforts. We cannot do this alone as a country or as a church. To enable it to work, we have to do it together. The disciples waited and moved on in the power of the Holy Spirit, with God at the very centre of their lives. We can move forward in the same power, knowing that God does walk with us, along the new road ahead that we are being called to travel.

Loving God,

help us walk with perseverance the road marked out for us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

moving in the power and joy of the Holy Spirit

towards your throne of grace and glory. Amen

Lesley Riley

The following is a prayer/reflection for the unknown journey that lies ahead:

Rainbow God

Creator of rainbows,

come through the closed doors

of our emotions, mind and imagination;

come alongside us as we walk,

come to us at work and worship,

come to our meetings and councils,

come and call us by name,

call us to pilgrimage.

(silence)

Wounded healer,

out of our disunity

may we be re-membered;

out of the pain of our division

may we see your glory.

Call us from present

preoccupation

to future community.

(silence)

Spirit of Unity,

challenge our preconceptions,

enable us to grow in love and understanding,

accompany us on our journey together,

that we may go out with confidence

into your world as a new creation –

one body in you,

that the world may believe.      Taken from The Green Heart of the Snowdrop - Kate Mcllhagga

Readings

Psalm 68: 1 -10, 32 - end

Response - Sing to God, sing praises to his name.

Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered; ♦

let those that hate him flee before him.

As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away; ♦

as wax melts at the fire,

so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. R

But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; ♦

let them make merry with gladness.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;

exalt him who rides on the clouds. ♦

The Lord is his name; rejoice before him. R

Father of the fatherless, defender of widows, ♦

God in his holy habitation!

God gives the solitary a home

and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome, ♦

but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert. R

O God, when you went forth before your people, ♦

when you marched through the wilderness,

The earth shook and the heavens dropped down rain,

at the presence of God, the Lord of Sinai, ♦

at the presence of God, the God of Israel. R

You sent down a gracious rain, O God; ♦

you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary.

Your people came to dwell there; ♦

in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor. R

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; ♦

make music in praise of the Lord;

He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens ♦

and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice. R

Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel, ♦

whose power is above the clouds.

How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary, ♦

the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people!

Blessed be God. R

Acts 1: 6 -14

When the Apostles had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

John 17: 1 - 11

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 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.’