Sunday Service

Below you will find our Benefice Sunday service for you to follow or use at home on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month. On other Sundays you will find an audio upload of the readings and sermon preached that day. You can also find links on the ‘links’ page on this site for other services in the Church of England, Diocese and Deanery.

10 January 2021 – The Baptism of Christ

Our service today – 10 January 2021:

Carol Service

3rd Sunday of Advent

2nd Sunday of Advent

Here is our focus reading for today – Matthew 5:14-16. Below it you will also find a reflection on the reading.

Matthew 5:14-16
Reflection on Matthew 5:14-16; Rev Philip Butcher

Advent Sunday

Our service today; 29 November:

Christ the King

Our service for Christ the King – 22 November 2020:

The Parable of the Talents – A Celtic Communion

Our service today; 15 November:

Remembrance Sunday

Here is our video service of Remembrance for Remembrance Sunday this year. It comes from each of our 5 parishes and memorials. We will remember them.

Bible Sunday

Below is the video of the online service originally broadcast live this morning (25 October). We are celebrating the Bible today and thinking about what it means for us now.

St Luke – 18 October

Today we celebrate St Luke the Evangelist; author of his eponymous Gospel and also the book of Acts. Doctor and Apostle, he is a major figure in the early history of Christianity and remains so today.

Below are two audio recordings – the first is two readings for today. The second the sermon preached this morning in the Benefice.

Isaiah 35:3-6 & Luke 10:1-9
Sermon on Luke – Rev Philip Butcher

Praying the Harvest – 11 October

Below is a special service of prayer, hymns and meditions for harvest. We spend some time with harvest and creation, praying through the Lord’s Prayer, and singing some hymns.

4 October 2020 – Harvest / St Francis

Here is an audio recording of the readings from Psalm 65 and Luke 12 we are using at our Harvest Festival Services this year. Luke 12:22-34 is also the gospel for St Francis of Assisi who is celebrated today. There is also a short reflection following the readings.

Here are some photos of artwork from St Stephen’s, Winsham this morning!

A display of foods from the children of Winsham School showing the gifts as a rainbow of colours. Thanks and hope!
A plate of fruit and vegetables created by the children of Winsham School, representing the gifts of food and the things about those foods we enjoy
The Tau Cross we painted during the talk in the service this morning. The blues representing air and water; the green the land; the yellow the sun and light; the red the needs of creation and all of us in it.

27 September 2020 – Angels and Archangels

Below is the video for today’s online Communion service, which was first broadcast live this morning, on the theme of Angels and Archangels:

20th September 2020 – 15th Sunday after Trinity

Here is an audio recording of the readings, creed and homily from the BCP Holy Communion Service at St Stephen’s, Winsham, this morning; led by Rev Philip Butcher:

13th September 2020 – 14th Sunday after Trinity


Below is the video for today’s service, which was first broadcast live this morning, on the theme of Forgiveness:

6th September 2020 – 13th Sunday after Trinity

Reflection and silent prayer from St John’s Tatworth at the 4pm Celtic Evening Prayer service on ‘Love your neighbour’

30 August 2020 – 12th Sunday after Trinity

A wonderful outdoor Communion at Cricket Malherbie this morning!
The Cross we carry – following Jesus with the marks of a Christian

The readings for today – Matthew 16:21-28 & Romans 12:9-23:

The talk today; Rev Philip:

23 August 2020 – 11th Sunday after Trinity

Welcome to our online service for 11th Sunday after Trinity. Below you will find a video with today’s service led by Rev’d Philip Butcher. You will also find a recording of the sermon delivered today in St Mary’s, Thorncombe.

16 August 2020 – 10th Sunday after Trinity


Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

Matthew 15:10-28

Sermon preached today in St John’s, Tatworth, by Rev’d Philip Butcher:

9 August 2020 – 9th Sunday after Trinity

Walking on Water

Welcome to our online service for 9th Sunday after Trinity. Below you will find a video with today’s service led by Rev’d Philip Butcher. It is also available as a text download.

Reverend Judith is leading worship in our church buildings today, and below is a text download of her sermon:

2 August 2020 – 8th Sunday after Trinity


Genesis 32:22-32

Matthew 14:31-21


Sermon preached by Reverend Philip Butcher in St Stephen’s Winsham. Parish Eucharist and the first service in the Benefice since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

26 July 2020 – 7th Sunday after Trinity

The Bright Field

The video for our service for Sunday 26 July will be here from about 11:15am on 26 July.

Here is a text download:

19 July 2020 – 6th Sunday after Trinity

Ladders and Stones

The video below will go active for Sunday 19 July and is our worship for the 6th Sunday after Trinity.

Also below is a download link so that you can view the words and hymns as text.

In preparation for worship this Sunday please do have a stone with you for use in the prayers.

Blessings to you all!

Morning Worship; led by the Rev’d Judith Abbott

12 July 2020 – 5th Sunday after Trinity

The Parable of the Sower

A video will appear below after the live stream on Sunday 4th July for the service today. You can join in with the live service at 9:30am on 12 July by using the Zoom link in your emailed weekly update.

Text of the service:

5 July 2020 – 4th Sunday after Trinity

A video will appear below after the live stream on Sunday 4th July for the service today.

For the live stream please see your parish email update for the right link and access code.

Text Download:

28 June – 3rd Sunday after Trinity

Please scroll down to follow the service, using the links for audio and video as they arrive. Blessings to you all.

Welcome to this time of worship on the third Sunday after Trinity.


We are entering a new phase of our Church life in that our church buildings may now be open for private prayer, and we are beginning to anticipate the time when, possibly, we will be able to meet for worship together in the months to come.  We need much wisdom in the present times of uncertainty, to know when to press ahead and when to wait for just the right moment for significant changes.   But above and beyond any of the strangeness of our present times and the differences in the ways we can worship, we hold on to the essentials of the faith we have been given, that nothing changes the eternal love of God expressed towards us in Jesus Christ: and when faced with any complex difficulty, we are invited to lift our eyes and our hearts to God for guidance, in praise and thanks for all that he gives us.  We are on a journey of faith and the way may seem rough and steep, but we are not alone.

Some of the words that follow are taken from the service of Holy Communion, as we remember the self-giving, sacrificial love of Christ for us. We are not able just yet to share the sacrament of bread and wine, but together we now worship God and give thanks for his guidance and empowering strength.

Hymn – And can it be

1             And can it be that I should gain
          an interest in the Saviour’s blood?
          Died he for me, who caused his pain?
          For me, who him to death pursued?
          Amazing love! How can it be
          that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

2        He left his Father’s throne above –
          so free, so infinite his grace –
          emptied himself of all but love,
          and bled for Adam’s helpless race.
          ‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;
          for, O my God, it found out me!

3        Long my imprisoned spirit lay
          fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
          thine eye diffused a quickening ray –
          I woke, the dungeon flamed with light,
          my chains fell off, my heart was free,
          I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

4        No condemnation now I dread;
          Jesus, and all in him, is mine!
          Alive in him, my living head,
          and clothed in righteousness divine,
          bold I approach the eternal throne,
          and claim the crown, through Christ, my own.

Let us hear our Lord’s blessing on those who follow him.

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

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

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

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

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness’ s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God.  Amen.

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all your sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Liturgy of the Word

The Collect for today

God our saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and in power; Hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Bible Reading:  Genesis 22: 1-14   The Command to Sacrifice Isaac

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 2 He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.

4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.’ 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?’ 8 Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together.

9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.

 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 12 He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ 13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide’; as  it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.


There are many questions we could ask about this Bible reading, so just briefly for now we might answer a few of the most obvious.

Does it advocate human sacrifice?  No.

If you believe that God’s voice is telling you to kill your child or another person, should you act on it?  No.

Is this an example of parenting to be followed?  No.

So having given the health warnings, we can explore further.

What can we learn from this story, given that it describes such an extreme and terrifying event?

It might well stir up in us a whole scandalised outcry of protest: what kind of a God or faith in God is this? God is said to be testing Abraham’s faith, but at what cost and how could this terrible means ever be justified by what kind of end?

For Abraham, it was a test of his commitment to a covenant of obedience to God, which, it was promised, would bring the end point of blessing to all nations, far beyond Abraham’s own family.  

Naturally, we hear it in the context of our own time and culture. We can speculate about it, but as so often in the Bible we are simply not given any information about feelings or private thoughts. Those things are not the point of the story.  We are told that Abraham loved his son.

There is much that can be said, so I would like to focus on four different phrases taken from the text.

  1. Here I am 

As in many good stories, there is repetition, and this phrase comes three times. First, Abraham’s response to hearing God’s voice; the response of a servant to a master. It means, I am listening, and ready to hear.  He is paying attention.

In our own situation now, we can also say, here I am, ready to learn, ready to understand something more of God and the life of faith.

It comes next as Abraham’s response to his son Isaac beginning his innocent question and it’s the response of a father to a child; I’m here, ready to listen to you.

Then it comes a third time as the angel/God’s voice calls to him as he stands with his knife raised above the body of his son; and here in addition to a response of attention, we could perhaps read it as Oh God, you know exactly where I am and what is happening. I am in this desperate situation in which I believe there is only one thing to do.

  1. The Lord will provide.

This comes twice; first as Abraham assures Isaac that God will provide the lamb for sacrifice, and at the end as he names the place The Lord will Provide.

  1. Abraham looked up.

On the third day of the journey, he looks up and sees his destination far away. And then, as the voice of God speaks into that moment in which he stands with his hand raised to kill, he looks up, sees the ram caught in a thicket and knows that God truly has provided.

  1. So the two of them walked on together.

Twice, we picture Abraham and Isaac walking together on their literal journey of faith.

Our faith is tested, sometimes in very painful ways, as Christians are persecuted: and in less extreme ways, as we might simply fall away from a trusting commitment to follow Christ. Is our faith deep rooted to endure the hard times when the pressure is on and God seems very far away, or when God’s purposes seem far from loving and kind and we doubt the wisdom or justice of God, or even his existence?

As we say, Here I am, in our present circumstances, how much harder it may be to keep trusting God and holding faith while we are alone at home and unable to share in fellowship with each other in the precious and familiar ways.  God know this. In a different way currently, we are still walking together.

We all need to heed the words of grace that rescue us from negative thoughts or destructive behaviour. We all need to look up from a blinkered gaze on what we might think is of most importance, what we see with our earthbound eyes, and in response to God’s call, look further for help and guidance.

Does faith in God really need to mean sacrifice? Does obedience to God really need to mean even the loss of life?   Jesus answers these questions for us. He died, sacrificially, because it was the only way to bring eternal life and salvation. Jesus walked deliberately to death on the cross, and our faith is founded on the complete, once-made sacrifice of his life for ours. Abraham’s family line did continue, and Jesus’s death does bring freedom to the whole creation. 

When God calls us by name – and he does know us all by name, are we ready to say Here I am?  To respond in obedience to whatever the call may be and to walk on in faith with Jesus?

Let’s listen to or sing the hymn Teach me thy way, O Lord, then pause and in a moment of silence ask, what is God saying to me through this?

Is God calling me away from some destructive action?

Can I lift my eyes and see that God is providing in a new way?

As God calls me by name, how can I share his blessings with others?

Teach me thy way, O Lord

Teach me thy way.
Thy gracious aid afford
Teach me thy way.
Help me to walk aright
More by faith than by sight.
Lead me with heavenly light;
Teach me thy way.

When I am sad at heart,
Teach me thy way;
When earthly joys depart,
Teach me thy way.
In hours of loneliness,
In times of dire distress,
In favour or success
Teach me thy way.

When doubts and fears arise
Teach me thy way;
When storm clouds fill the skies
Teach me thy way;
Shine through the wind and rain
Through sorrow, grief and pain;
Make thou my pathway plain;
Teach me thy way.

Long as my life shall last,
Teach me thy way.
Where’er my lot be cast,
Teach me thy way:
Until the race is run,
Until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won,
Teach me thy way.

B.M. Ramsey (1849 – 1923)


After all these serious thoughts, one lovely thing to remember is that Isaac’s name meant Laughter, or He laughs. He may not have been laughing for a short while, but in his name and his life was a promise of joy and freedom, passed all the way down to us. In the kingdom of God is great rejoicing.

Along with any challenge in faith, comes a promise. The Holy Spirit is with us. We are not alone.  In this exact, present moment as it happens, we can say to God as Abraham did, Here I am. You, Lord, see me and know exactly what I am going through: you know all my thoughts, feelings and fears. I need to hear your voice, to receive what you are telling me and to trust that you will guide me and enable me to walk with you in your best way.

May God bless his word in Scripture to us. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Let us declare our faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God:

Though he was divine, he did not cling to equality with God,
but made himself nothing.
Taking the form of a slave, he was born in human likeness.
He humbled himself and was obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
Therefore God has raised him on high,
and given him the name above every name;
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
and every voice proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father, Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Loving God, we come this morning first thanking you for all the many blessings you have sent our way.

We thank you for your steadfast love that endures forever.
We want to tell you how often we feel so like Abraham, that we are being tried and tested.
In these strange and difficult days, give us fresh ways of being nourished in your Word and strengthened in our fellowship. Bless and guide everyone learning to be disciples of Jesus, walking with him as he seeks the hurting and lost – remembering that the Lord will provide for us.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Bless our world with peace, and with freedom from every evil which besets it.

Teach us all to live together as your children, and to work together for the prospering of all.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Pray on behalf of your servants who suffer in body, mind, spirit, or circumstance, and for all who crave your mercy and blessing. Restore them to health, wholeness, and hope.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

God of hospitality, may we remember that you welcomed us so that we too would welcome others into our churches, that we share with them the cup of cold water.
May we remember that as we welcome others we welcome you.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

We have heard God’s words of challenge and call to faithful obedience.  We lift our eyes, and we see Jesus, the Lamb of God, who gave his life in sacrifice for the healing of the whole world.

Liturgy of the Sacrament

The Lord is here.
His Spirit is with us.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

You are worthy of our thanks and praise, Lord God of truth,
for by the breath of your mouth you have spoken your word,
and all things have come into being.

You fashioned us in your image and placed us in the garden of your delight.
Though we chose the path of rebellion you would not abandon your own.
Again and again you drew us into your covenant of grace.

You gave your people the law and taught us by your prophets
to look for your reign of justice, mercy and peace.
As we watch for the signs of your kingdom on earth,
we echo the song of the angels in heaven, evermore praising you and saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Lord God, you are the most holy one, enthroned in splendour and light,
yet in the coming of your Son Jesus Christ you reveal the power of your love
made perfect in our human weakness.

Embracing our humanity, Jesus showed us the way of salvation;
loving us to the end, he gave himself to death for us;
dying for his own, he set us free from the bonds of sin,
that we might rise and reign with him in glory.

Therefore we proclaim the death that he suffered on the cross,
we celebrate his resurrection, his bursting from the tomb,
we rejoice that he reigns at your right hand on high
and we long for his coming in glory.

As we remember the one, perfect sacrifice of our redemption,
form us into the likeness of Christ
and make us a perfect offering in your sight.
Look with favour on your people
and in your mercy hear the cry of our hearts.

Bless the earth, heal the sick,
let the oppressed go free and fill your Church with power from on high.
Gather your people from the ends of the earth to feast with all your saints
at the table in your kingdom, where the new creation is brought to perfection
in Jesus Christ our Lord;

by whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray;

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

As we wait for the time when we can share Holy Communion together in person, remind us, Lord, that though we are many, we are one in Christ and we ask:

Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world, grant us peace.

Lord our heavenly Father, as you order all things for our eternal good, mercifully enlighten our minds, and give us a firm and abiding trust in your love and care. Silence our murmurings, quiet our fears, and dispel our doubts, that rising above our afflictions and anxieties, we may rest on you, the rock of everlasting strength. Amen

The Blessing

 The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always. Amen.

Let us go in the peace of Christ.

Thanks be to God.

 Hymn: How great thou art

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then shall I bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

(S. K. Hine 1899-1989)

Hymn Teach my thy way, sung by Pamela Everitt
Other hymns copyright St Martin-in-the-fields, used by permission and of A Church Near You
Intercessions written and read by Jason Stevens
Bible reading by Roger Abbott
Liturgy of Eucharistic Prayer F copyright the Archbishops Council 2000
Prayer before Blessing: SPCK book of Christian prayer p 216
Service led and compiled by Revd Judith Abbott, online editing Revd Philip Butcher

21 June – 2nd Sunday after Trinity

A video will appear below after the live stream on Sunday 21st June for the service today.

For the live stream please see your parish email update for the right link and access code.

Morning Worship for Trinity 2

Here is a download of the text of the service:

14 June – 1st Sunday after Trinity

Service led by Reverend Judith Abbott

Please follow the text below and use the links as they come for video, audio and music

Welcome to this service of Morning Prayer

In all the pressures of our present time, we turn to God for eternal hope, comfort and strength, and find our spiritual home in continuing worship and trust in the unchanging love of God. Our worship and Sunday services together in this time have needed to take a different form and this has been a challenge and an opportunity for new expressions of faith and prayer. Today we are returning to the words of the Seventeenth Century and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, for their beauty, and for a reminder that we share in fellowship with countless others who have gone before us in the way of Christ and have walked in other turbulent and often dangerous times.

I have been making each of the villages of the Benefice the focus of my worship offerings, and planned this week to get up to Thorncombe, but didn’t make it any further than Forde Abbey, which is in the parish. If we need beauty, particularly in our testing times, we are deeply blessed by the garden and the historic buildings and I thank the family for permission to use some of my own photographs in this act of worship. The photographs used here are a limited representation of the whole, which, like so many things, needs a real visit for a much more complete and beautiful picture.

The second is taken through the East window of the Chapel – the Chapel like all our churches being still closed. We may be on the outside and looking in, but we know that lovely sacred spaces await our return, and the reflections of the trees and clouds remind us that the Spirit of God is never confined to buildings, but is equally present with us in the air we breathe and in the vitality of the outside world in which we live.

Let us now sing the hymn originally written around 1670 by Joachim Neander, considered to be the outstanding hymn writer of the German Reformed Church:

Hymn – All my hope on God is founded

All my hope on God is founded,
all my trust he shall renew;
he, my guide through changing order,
only good and only true:
God unknown, he alone
calls my heart to be his own.

God’s great goodness ay endureth,
          Deep his wisdom, passing thought:
          Splendour, light, and life attend him,
          Beauty springeth out of nought.
          Evermore, from his store
          New-born worlds rise and adore.

Day by day our mighty giver
grants to us his gifts of love;
in his will our souls find pleasure,
leading to our home above:
love shall stand at his hand,
joy shall wait for his command.

Still from Earth to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done;
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ his Son:
hear Christ’s call, one and all –
we who follow shall not fall.


Dearly beloved, we are come together in the presence of almighty God and of the whole company of heaven to offer unto him through our Lord Jesus Christ our worship; and praise and thanksgiving: to make confession of our sins; to pray, as well for others as for ourselves, that we may know more truly the greatness of God’s love and shew forth in our lives the fruits of his grace; and to ask on behalf of all people such things as their well-being doth require.
Wherefore, let us remember God’s presence with us now.

General Confession
Let us confess our sins:

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
and we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
and there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults.
Restore thou them that are penitent;
according to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy name. Amen

Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live; and hath given power, and commandment, to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins: he pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel.

Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do at this present; and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, open thou our lips
and our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord’s name be praised.

Venite, exultemus Domino

O come, let us sing unto the Lord;
let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving
And shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth
and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his and he made it, and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down
and kneel before the Lord our maker,
For he is the Lord our God and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be,
world without end, Amen.

Verses from Psalm 116
I love the LORD,
because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me,
therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
yea, our God is merciful.

6 The LORD preserveth the simple:
I was brought low, and he helped me.
7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul;
for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death,
mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
9 I will walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

12 What shall I render unto the LORD
for all his benefits toward me?
13 I will take the cup of salvation,
and call upon the name of the LORD.
14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD
now in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and will call upon the name of the LORD.
Praise ye the LORD.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be,
world without end, Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 18: 1-15

A Son is Promised to Abraham and Sarah
And the LORD appeared unto Abraham the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 and said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.
9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.


Mysterious things happen in the heat of the day. Abraham is resting in the shad, and in the haze of heat he sees three figures approaching. To his credit, he jumps up and greets them as ‘my Lord’. He discerns immediately that these are no ordinary footsore or hungry bypassers, to whom he would have offered hospitality anyway. They are messengers from God, and the message is astonishing.

Abraham stirs Sarah his wife to action and it seems that she is perfectly willing – or obedient, anyway, to set about baking bread for the meal and engaging in what must have been lengthy preparations for a proper feast. We might ourselves be longing to offer and to receive hospitality after months of social distancing; we can identify with the enthusiasm of Abraham’s welcome, perhaps.

Politely, Abraham stands back while the visitors eat, as was the custom, and Sarah would have been well out of sight behind the door of the tent, being a woman. But her part in events is crucial, and she will not avoid being brought into the full light of recognition. An extraordinarily unlikely prophecy is made, given her advanced years: she and Abraham will have a son and the visitors will be back in due course to confirm it.

Sarah laughs, as naturally she might. But the laughter fades away in fear as she realises that she has in effect mocked at a message from the almighty God. She tries to pretend that she hadn’t laughed, but the visitor is adamant. No, you did laugh. It becomes clear that laughing at God is not a good idea, even when a promise seems ridiculous.

At an advanced age, Sarah might have become cynical. Certainly she had had a challenging life, with decades of shame and disappointment at her childlessness. But here is the promise of a new, biologically impossible event, a flowering of divinely ordained new life. Later she would laugh for joy, acknowledging that after all it is true: with God nothing is impossible.

Te Deum Laudamus
We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein.
To thee cherubin and seraphin continually do cry,

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee.
The noble army of martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee:
the Father of an infinite majesty;
thine honourable, true and only Son;
also the Holy Ghost the Comforter.

Thou art the King of glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man,
thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants,
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
and we worship thy name, ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in thee.

New Testament Reading: Romans 5: 1-8

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 and patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Jubilate Deo
Psalm 100

O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands:
serve the Lord with gladness,
and come before his presence with a song.
Be ye sure that the Lord he is God:
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name.
For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting:
and his truth endureth from generation to generation.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth:
and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell;
the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic Church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us.
And grant us thy salvation.

O Lord, save the Queen.
And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.

Endue thy ministers with righteousness.
And make thy chosen people joyful.

O Lord, save thy people.
And bless thine inheritance.

Give peace in our time, O Lord.
Because there is none other that fighteth for us,
but only thou, O God.

O God, make clean our hearts within us.
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

The Collect for the day

O God, the strength of all them that put their trust in thee,
mercifully accept our prayers
and because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without thee,
grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping of thy commandments
we may please thee, both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Collect for Peace

O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord,
in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life,
whose service is perfect freedom;
defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies;
that we, surely trusting in thy defence,
may not fear the power of any adversaries;
through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Collect for Grace

O Lord our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God,
Who has safely brought us to the beginning of this day:
Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this
Day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger;
But that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance,
To do always that is righteous in thy sight;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.


For world leaders
We pray that those who lead and take on themselves great responsibilities may not simply wish to seem great in the eyes of others, but may genuinely serve their peoples, seaching continually for the good of all, and respecting especially the weakest and most vulnerable. Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us.

For all who work for the relief of illness and suffering in hospitals, care homes and the community, in laboratories, universities and pharmacology: bless and sustain the weary and inspire the minds and imaginations of all who seek effective vaccines and tests. Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us.

For the people we know who are ill or suffering


Draw near, gracious Lord, to bring healing and peace to all who suffer in body, mind or spirit. Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us.

For justice and peace between people of different races
Lord, we pray for justice for the people of any race or colour who have suffered terrible wrongs in the past and in our own time. We pray for our Police officers as they seek to maintain law and order by peaceful and legitimate means. Enable each of us to turn confrontation into dialogue; and we ask that you, our righteous Lord, will search out and expel in us any prejudice, fear or hatred of others, and enable us together to create true equality and respect for all who are made in your image.

Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us .

For comfort in times of trial and anxiety Lord, when the present is too challenging and the future seems too bleak, we pray for comfort and strength to manage each day and for a reminder in the ordinary things of life that you are with us. Keep us faithful and as we begin to anticipate meeting again in person to worship and pray, sustain us by your everlasting grace and mercy.

A Prayer of Saint Chrysotom
Almighty God, who has given us grace at this time
with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee
and dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in thy name
thou wilt grant their requests; fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants
as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth
and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen

Let us now sing the hymn written in its original form by John Bunyan in 1684 as part
of Pilgrim’s Progress. We are all pilgrims as we continue to love and serve the Lord.

Hymn: Who would true valour see

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather;
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is,
No lion can him fright;
He’ll with a giant fight;
But he will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit,
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say;
He’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.

Let us go in peace, in the name of Christ, Amen.

This is the end of the service for June 14th 2020

Some material copyright The Archbishops’ Council 2000
Hymns from A Church Near You, authorised.
Website for Forde Abbey:
Service compiled by Revd Judith Abbott

7 June – Trinity Sunday

The Trinity Icon – Andrei Rublev

Today’s service is all available on the video link below, including all words needed.

You can also download a text version for printing below:

31 May – Pentecost

Morning Worship at Pentecost  

Led by the Reverend Judith Abbott

Please either watch the video below, or you can use the text version – or both!  At the final hymn (Come down O love divine) you will need to pause the video and run the separate YouTube video below it (copyright issue).  A huge thanks for all the contributors!!

Reading from Acts 2:
‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit upon all people,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and billows of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Acts 2: 17 – 21

Hymn – Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
And lighten with celestial fire;
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy seven-fold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above
is comfort, life and fire of love;
enable with perpetual light
the dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face
with the abundance of thy grace:
keep far our foes, give peace at home:
Where thou art guide no ill can come.

Show us the Father and the Son,
in thee and with thee, ever one.
Then through the ages all along,
this shall be our endless song:
Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Welcome to this service on Pentecost Sunday, the day when we celebrate the coming in power of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in Jerusalem, and the continuing gifts of the Spirit now to inspire the Church in worship and action.

Reverend Philip; “In many ways this Easter into Pentecost season has felt very special, if a little odd! Yes, we are not celebrating in our churches, but actually that first Pentecost wasn’t either. In fact, the whole idea of liturgical gathered Christian worship was still a little way off. We are back at basics, stripped back to the minimum, and maybe then lifting the lid on what is most important of all – who we really are.

At Pentecost we celebrate the coming of the Spirit, filling all people with their very essence of being; what it is that makes them them, and unified with God. When we see a talent we may use the phrase ‘he or she’ is gifted. At Pentecost we celebrate how we are all gifted.

For us as a family, this year, it is bitter sweet. We have a wonderful new arrival. Sadly it was on the day of this festival a year ago that in awful circumstances I lost my sister; a truly gifted person who in many ways this world could not contain. But I know that I am not alone, and one of the joys of being a Christian is knowing that we all live that life of abundance, of ups and downs together. I am in your prayers, as you are in mine – and God meets us in all of those, and fills us all with His Spirit. I hand you back to Judith now, who has put together this wonderful celebration, and I look forward to seeing you all soon.”

This week, various members of St John’s and the community in Tatworth have kindly contributed to the service. Thank you to them.

The account in Acts Chapter two includes the quotation from the Old Testament prophet Joel we have just heard, in which the coming of the Lord is foretold in dramatic and momentous language. The Spirit of God is powerful, mighty and eternally loving, and does indeed move in mysterious ways, which include bestowing gifts of visions, dreams and prophesy, and, as we read later in the letters of St Paul, gifts of many other kinds in the Christian Church.

Let us pray

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father;
ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love,
and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Lesley will now read the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem:

Reading – Acts 2: 1-16:

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’
12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13 But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel….’

This is the word of the Lord, thanks be to God.

The presence of the Spirit was seen visibly in flames of fire, felt as a mighty wind rushing through the house, and demonstrated in the sudden outpouring of new languages on the tongues of the disciples. Peter is on his feet immediately, ready to insist to the sceptics in the crowd observing all this that they are not drunk, but are being filled with new energy and strength by God, and he and the others are ready to get out there, empowered by the Spirit of God, with the good news of Jesus Christ.

The message is to be the same one Jesus called out by the sea of Galilee at the beginning of his ministry: repent, for the kingdom of God is near, believe in me, follow me, and be saved. As ever, the Church needs the Breath of Life, so we make the words of this hymn our own prayer:

Hymn – O Breath of Life

O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us,
Revive your Church with life and power;
O Breath of life, come cleanse, renew us
and fit your Church to meet this hour.

O Breath of Love, come breathe within us,
Renewing thought and will and heart;
Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us,
revive your Church in every part!

O Wind of God, come bend us, break us
till humbly we confess our need;
then in your tenderness remake us,
Revive, restore – for this we plead.

Revive us Lord; is zeal abating
while harvest fields are vast and white?
Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting –
equip thy church to spread the light.


Aware of the holiness of God and the power of the Spirit to reveal the truth about ourselves, we come now in prayer to express our continuing need of forgiveness and healing:

What God has prepared for those who love him
he has revealed to us by the Spirit;
for the Spirit searches everything.

Therefore, let us in penitence open our hearts to the Lord,
who has prepared good things for those who love him.

Lord God, we have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us
and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.

May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen

Repenting is often described as a matter of ‘turning round’, getting back onto the right path and following it to a good place.

Alex and Diana have recorded the music from the Quaker song that describes the gifts of simplicity and freedom as we turn, turn, without shame to what is good and true.

’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
and when we find ourselves in the place just right,
’twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
to turn, turn will be our delight,
till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

The music may have reminded you of the hymn Lord of the Dance. There is going to be a bit more about dancing later, but first let’s hear Revd Terri’s words about the gifts of the Spirit in the Bible and in her experience of speaking in tongues:


We say: “The Lord is here. His Spirit is with us.”

But how do we KNOW? How can we be SURE?

I think there are special moments when we know, when something makes the Spirit real to us. The disciples and the crowds certainly knew – Wind! Flames of Fire! The ability to hear in their own language.

Yes, a “one-off”: but read the Book of Acts, and find other times:

Acts 4 :13: ‘The house where they were shook.’

And in Acts ch. 8: “The Spirit sent Philip to an Ethiopian chariot, Philip was taken away by the Spirit, and the Eunuch never saw him again. Philip appeared in Azotus…”

After Peter addressed the household of Cornelius in Ch. 10: “The Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners… and they spoke in strange tongues, proclaiming the greatness of God.”

In Ch. 12, Peter, imprisoned, finds his cell filled with light and his chains fell off.

Ch. 17, when Paul and Silas are locked up: “Suddenly, an earthquake shook the prison, the doors flew open and the chains fell from all the prisoners.”

That was then; what of NOW? I can only speak from my own experience. I came to Christ during the Charismatic renewal of the 1970’s.

Groups from churches sought out where the Spirit was moving. One such place was “Pip’N-Jay”, St Philip and St James Church in central Bristol.At one Evening Service, the Rev. Widdecombe – yes, brother to Ann -invited us all to receive the Spirit.

It was as if a shower of warm oil covered me from head to feet, like Aaron’s beard, dripping from my clothes. We were asked to come to the altar if we’d experienced the outpouring. Sadly, the person praying with me wanted to know if I was “Speaking in tongues” and when I said “NO”, told me I hadn’t received the Holy Spirit! Such was the fundamentalism which had crept in.

Yet “Tongues” ARE a gift, and given when needed.

I worked in the Healing Ministry in Wales – Bishop Rowan Williams was our Benefactor. Praying in tongues, inwardly and outwardly, often revealed the root of a person’s problem, e.g. a lady, when questioned: “Do you have a brother?” said – “Oh! That’s what it’s all about!” I never knew what! but she did. Another, whom we knew by the Spirit wouldn’t be healed until she’d given up her dependence on reading crystals; she did.

But the best and fullest use of the Gift of Tongues is to SING GOD’S PRAISES in the language He gives us. That is spine-tingling; a glimpse into Heavenly Worship.

May the Spirit come down again on all our Churches. It IS the POWER of God; His Gift to His children

Ask for it – for it will be given; Seek it – and you will find it; Use it – and our churches will change; His Body will grow, and God will be glorified in all the earth. AMEN.

Dancing – Rev’d Judith

In his book Learning to Dance Michael Mayne offers the metaphor of the Christian life and faith as a dance related to the vast cosmic dance of the spheres – the dance of our assorted lives in this mysterious and dancing universe. He writes of the dance of life, the cosmos, the natural world; the dance of music and paint and words, whereby artists make journeys into the unknown in order to recapture lost parts of themselves for our mutual healing. He speaks of the cruel times that feel like dancing in the dark; the dances of relationships, of forgiveness, friendship and love; the dance of faith and finally the hidden dance that some call heaven – all interwoven.

Dancing isn’t actually listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit, but there is certainly something about dancing that expresses the same kind of freedom and joy. I asked some Tatworth dancers what dancing means to them:

Eileen has many happy memories of dancing – ballroom, jive, old time: the freedom and delight of the music, where you can express the beauty of the music in the dance. It’s hard to describe…. You don’t stop and think, you just enjoy it!

Andrew’s enthusiasm is Scottish dancing, and for him as a physicist, there is a real interest in the patterns and the mathematics of the set movements which together create the whole. Everyone plays their part and the social side of it is very important too.

Another keen Scottish dancer described it as invigorating, and ‘sometimes you go home exhausted but it’s always worth it’ and the general buzz of the group is very welcoming – a really nice crowd, always pleased to see you.

Church can be like this too! Welcoming, accepting, affirming, working together to create a coherent time of worship and good networks of care and kindness beyond the church doors. There is joy in being together – as we feel very keenly at the moment, and in all kinds of worship. In terms of order and patterns, the early Christians soon realised that the gifts of the Spirit needed to be used in an orderly way in corporate worship otherwise some would feel excluded and some frustrated. It would be interesting to know what other kinds of maths might be applicable to Church – beyond what the Treasurer knows! Learning to walk in faith is a life-long process and we are all learning to dance.

Like Terri, I was part of a Church that welcomed the Charismatic revival, where we had a Sacred Dance group. My GP at the time, who was also a member of the congregation, was dubious about me joining in on one occasion as I was 8 months pregnant. He needn’t have worried: there was very little room between the pews, so we did more waving of floaty scarves than actual skipping around the church!

In those years of young parenthood, we were so thankful for the toddler groups and creches and the support we could give each other through the exhaustion of family life. Let’s keep praying and supporting our Rectory family and the work of the toddler group at St John’s, and all contacts with families through our village schools.

The Christian Church is sustained, empowered and enlivened by the Spirit of God and we are given gifts that work together for the common good, to heal, or to build up faith, to teach and preach and pray.

Tom reads now of the way in which the Church is given these various gifts:

Reading – 1 Corinthians 12 verses 3b – 13

No-one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 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. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Rev’d Judith reflects:
There is an inexhaustible richness in the variety and significance of each gift and none is more important than another in serving the common good. All have a part to play. There is always more to learn in the life of faith, and it is the Spirit that keeps us going and brings us to greater maturity as we learn and grow together. In these days of social distancing, we can’t meet together in the equivalent of a shared dance, but we can find the freedom of the Spirit in our prayers and the simple blessings of walking outside, talking on the phone, reading and having time to take note of the things that we might miss in the usual round of activities and tasks.

There was tremendous energy in the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, and a revival that we all need.

I don’t know how to bring the sound of a mighty rushing wind to this act of worship, but together we are sharing words and pictures, prayers and music and now something that I hope will set your feet tapping with its energy. It’s the tune of the Dashing White Sergeant, home-recorded by Alex, with words some of us might have learnt in the 1960s through Singing Together.

Then when we have got our breath back, Mary will lead us in prayer and then we sing together ‘Come Down O Love Divine.’

Now the fiddler’s ready, let us all begin
So step it out and step it in
To the merry music of the violin
We’ll dance the hours away.:
Katie and Peggy and Patsy and Paul,
Callum and Peter and Flora and Moll,
Dance, dance, dance, dance,
dance away the hours together!
Dance till dawn be in the sky,
What care you and what care I?
Hearts a-beating, spirits high,
We’ll dance, dance, dance!

Mary Dewar leads us in prayer:

Lord, you have given us the vision to dream dreams.
Now, through the Holy Spirit
may we show and share your gifts
to all who will listen, look and learn.

Help us to support each other in the task of mission,
remembering your Son’s instructions in sending out his disciples.
Breathe on us, gracious God, the wind and the fire of your inspiration
so that we can be confident that you are with us and in us
when we face difficult challenges.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

We pray that you may equip your Church, to do you justice and honour,
in worship and prayer, mission and pastoral care.
Let service to others be at the heart of our purpose, as it was for your Son.
Strengthen us in our resolve to make a difference,
to bring understanding and to trust your Holy Spirit to guide us.

Lord hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

We pray for the parts of the world that are in turmoil at present
especially all those countries still badly affected by the pandemic.
May your peace be known there, your compassion shown there,
your faith grown there.

Help us to reach out and touch as your Son would have done.
We also pray for places and people affected by natural forces,
exacerbated by humanity’s selfish actions.
Turn selfishness into selflessness, we ask.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

In our own benefice we pray for all who are working on the front line in so many ways at this time, that you will give them the grace and strength they need.

Lord hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Give a helping hand and a sign of hope, we ask, Lord,
to the sick in mind, body or spirit,
remembering especially those in urgent need of our prayers:
all those on our prayer lists and those receiving any sort of care at this time; the lonely, the frightened, and those with depression.

Lord, hear us. Lord graciously hear us.

We pray for those who have died and ask that they now share the peace of your eternal kingdom,
remembering especially those we have loved and lost for just a little while.
Bring comfort those who remain, to those who mourn
and to those who find it difficult to grieve.
Help them to shed tears, but also to let go,
in the confidence that their loved ones are now with you.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing.
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming:
and let thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity
mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing:
True lowliness of heart,
which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long
Shall far outpass the pow’r of human telling:
Nor can we guess its grace,
Till we become the place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.

The Blessing

The fire of God change you, and you shall be changed.
The wind of God change you, and you shall be changed.
The breath of God change you, and you shall be changed.
And the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you now and for ever. Amen.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I will lead you all in the Dance, said He.

Thank you to Alex, Diana, Eileen, Andrew, Lesley, Tom, Mary, Pamela, Revd Terri and Revd Philip for your contributions.
Service compiled by Revd Judith Abbott

Alex is a professional classical musician and teacher and member of two folk groups, Hobsons Choice Ceilidh Band and the Arquebus Trio
Some material copyright The Archbishops’ Council 2000
Quotations from Learning to Dance by Michael Mayne pub. Darton Longman Todd 2001
Print of violins by E Kritzinger
Collage paintings by J Roberts


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