27 November 2020

Dear friends,

Resuming Public Worship

From 2nd December, the law in England will change and services in places of worship can resume.  It will be a joy for those of us who feel able to gather to praise God, and to pray for and with everyone in our church family whether or not we are physically in the building.  We are still waiting for detailed government and national church guidance about what will be allowed and any new procedures we must follow.  It will also take time to get church ready for use after the period of suspension.  So:

  • Church will be open for personal prayer on Sunday 29th November, 2-4pm, and Thursday 3rd December, 10am-12 noon. Do drop in if you would like some time to pray.
  • Church will then close for essential cleaning and preparatory work, and we plan to resume services from Sunday 13th December at 10am.


Christmas will look very different this year, and look out for a separate letter next week with details of our Christmas plans and how you can join in.


This Week

Friday 27th November
School Assembly on ‘Yours is the kingdom’ available here and here.

Sunday 29th November (Advent Sunday)
8am:  Our weekly digital service available online from Facebook and YouTube.

Reading: Isaiah 64, 1-9

10am: Children’s Church on Zoom. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.

2pm-4pm: Church open for personal prayer.

2.30pm: Bible Explorers on Zoom. Email Hannah for the link.

4pm: ‘Church at Four’ on Zoom. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.

6.30pm: Compline on Zoom. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.

Tuesday 1st December
9am: Morning Prayer on Zoom. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.
11am: Coffee Morning on Zoom with Anna, our mission partner from Peru. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.

Wednesday 2nd December
10.15am: Tots and Teddies livestreamed here.


Thursday 3rd December
9am: Morning Prayer on Zoom. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.

10am-12noon Church open for personal prayer.


Sunday 6th December
8am: Our weekly digital service available online from Facebook and YouTube.

Reading: Mark 1, 1-8

10am: Children’s Church on Zoom. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.

4pm: ‘Zoom Christingle’. Email the Parish Office for details.

6.30pm: Evening Prayer on Zoom. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.


Daily Hope is a FREE phone service offering hymns, reflections, and prayers from the Church of England for those who have difficulty accessing services online.  Call 0800 804 8044.


Mission Partner – Anna

For many years we’ve supported Anna Sims, working for the Church Mission Society in Peru.  We are hoping that, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Anna will be able to join us for an online coffee morning in early December!  This will be on Zoom on Tuesday 1st December 11am-12.15pm. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk. We would normally be organising fundraising events which we haven’t been able to do this year, so we’d encourage everyone to consider donating to her work online – you just click this link.  You can watch a short video about Anna’s work here.


Christingle Service

We plan to run two Christingle Services this year:


Zoom Christingle on Sunday 6th December at 4pm – please contact the parish office for the joining details.


In church on Sunday 13th December, at 4pm – due to capacity of the building it is necessary to have a booking system.  Please make you sure you book by contacting the office in advance.  Each household group / support bubble will have their own pew.  Social distancing must be maintained between different households.


For both Christingle services, we are asking families this year to make their own Christingles before the service itself.  When you contact the parish office you will also be able to order your Christingle-making kit – please let us know how many Christingles you want to make.


Our Christingle service would normally have had a retiring collection for the Children’s Society – this year we are have an online giving page https://thyg.uk/CUS024542 Please do consider making a donation to their valuable work with vulnerable children and young people.


Further ahead

Wednesday 9th December
11am-12 noon: Bible Study. Passage: Luke 1.26-38. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.


Thursday 10th December
2pm-3pm: Coffee, chat and quiz answers. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.


Wednesday 16th December
11am-12.15pm: Coffee Morning and Midday Prayer. To join, contact admin@earleystpeters.org.uk.


Quiz Time!

Some of us are missing the usual chances to socialise in groups such as Thursdays at Ten, Fellowship Lunches and the 3Cs.  Since these groups are unlikely to be able to start again before next year, we’re offering the chance to join in with a quiz together.  If you’d like to do this, please email Mary (admin@earleystpeters.org.uk) and she will send you the questions.  If you receive the weekly update by post, you will have received a paper copy.


To get the answers, join us for ‘Coffee, Chat, and Quiz Answers’ Thursday 10th December, 2-3pm either by Zoom, or by phoning in (more details on how to do this nearer the time).  For those who can’t join us, the answers will also be posted or sent by email on Friday 11th December.


Prayer Points

  • Give thanks for the success of scientists and researchers working on a vaccine. Pray for their ongoing work.
  • Pray for those anxious for their health, wellbeing, or livelihood, as we enter a new phase of Covid restrictions;
  • Pray for Anna’s work in Peru.
  • Remember the departed and pray for those who mourn.


Prayer for the Week

Come, Lord Jesus.  Revelation 22.20


This comes, as always, with our prayers and warmest wishes,

Hannah and Philip

For reflection

This is Elaine’s sermon from Sunday 22nd November.


Matthew 25:31-46.


Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. In this present lockdown our church is closed for most of the time, so it’s sad that it’s not possible to see the lovely wall painting of Christ the King in the sanctuary. This is also the last Sunday of the Church year, next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent – the beginning of a new Church year – year B in the lectionary so our Sunday readings will be mainly from Mark’s Gospel.


So this Sunday marks the last reading from Matthew’s Gospel. Today’s passage is the 5th and last discourse in his Gospel and this block of teaching is about the end times – Jesus tells his disciples how things must be; this passage comes after the parable where we are asked to use the talents given to us by God wisely in his kingdom. We see Jesus in an exalted position and have a glimpse of how the way of his rule is to be exercised; sheep and goats are spoken about in this passage and reference to these occurs in many passages in both the Old and New Testaments –  because of the way of life of the people at the time it was an easy analogy to cast God as the shepherd looking after his flock, keeping them safe. Jesus in Matthew 10 (v5) says that his mission is to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Christ the King is a title of Jesus in Christianity referring to the idea of the Kingdom of God where the Christ is described as seated at the Right Hand of God but although we refer to Jesus as Christ the King, Jesus’ kingship is not about wealth and splendour it is about compassion and care for the poor and needy – the Humble servant. In Philippians chapter 2 verses 5-8, Paul says Jesus gave us the greatest example of what it means to be a truly humble servant:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,  he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross”.

The important part of this passage from Matthew comes in verses 35 to the end – Jesus’ discourse on the sick, hungry thirsty etc – he wants us to care for people. It’s not how we do it that matters; we do it through our faith in God, that’s what matters. Because we believe then we do our best to serve God in the best possible way. Faith works itself out in love – do good because you have faith not for reward.

In our church we have a stained glass window depicting this passage in Matthew. It’s sad that it’s now seen by very few people as it’s in what is now the clergy vestry – a legacy of the installation of the organ, its pipes and internal workings which blocked off that side of the church. But for those of us who see the window it reminds us of Jesus’ mission to serve.

We must be ready to encounter Jesus in unexpected places. The righteous do good works through love and for their own sake, not for any reward.

Jesus himself was a humble servant; he identifies himself with the oppressed, weak and beaten in the world.

In chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel the Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  These follow a simple pattern: Jesus names a group of people normally thought to be unfortunate and pronounces them blessed, this was Jesus’ mission throughout his life – to care for everyone in God’s kingdom.

Jesus identifies himself with all those who are hungry, thirsty, sick or needy and sees works of love done through himself – the righteous ask: “Lord when did I do these things?”  Jesus answers “when you did it for others”   Spontaneous acts of love, generosity and kindness to those in need reveal what is inside us. It’s not just caring for those Christians in need – it’s caring for all who are in need whoever they are, it doesn’t matter what race, colour, faith or non they are – all people matter!

In this pandemic during lockdown we have heard about and seen many people who have cared for others doing shopping, phoning to make sure they are ok and not in need of anything and doing other kindnesses, going the extra mile and this is what Jesus asks of us.

In Matthew chapter16 v24 Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  He was declaring that anyone who would follow Him would have to die to himself and become a humble servant.

In Matthew chapter 23 Jesus warns against hypocrisy, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

The Hymn The Servant King by Graham Kendrick speaks of Jesus as the servant king and how we might honour and serve him. In verse 5 we read:

So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each other’s needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving


Jesus identifies himself with all those who are hungry, thirsty, sick and needy and sees works of love done towards such people as works done to him. The striking feature of the righteous is that their works of love are spontaneous and done for their own sake rather than in expectation of any reward, the trustful orientation to God that we call faith.

Serving others brings no reward except that of knowing that we are doing what Jesus asks – we serve him when we care for others.