Sunday 29th, March

On Lent 3, 15th March, the last time we held public worship in St James, I promised that whatever transpired I would celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday morning at 10am. If we couldn’t come to church people could gather round their kitchen table and share with me in spirit, break bread, and offer up prayers for themselves and those in their household who wished to join them.

This Sunday I offer this short service sheet you might like to use. Thanks to a very kind offer from a former BBC producer and a friend who has supported me over the years with producing and recording public events I have also recorded my first ever reflection which can be viewed on Facebook or YouTube. For those not on social media if you have a SMART TV he tells me you can watch YouTube on it!

If you have a candle you might like to place it on the table and light it.

Spend some time in silence reflecting on how this pandemic has changed your life and the lives of your family and friends some of whom you may be separated from because of distance or to protect them. Pray for any you know who have Covid-19 and those who care for them. You can share these silently or out loud.

Offer to God the things you are sorry for, the things you wished you hadn’t done and the things you have failed to do.

You could then all say together the Collect for Passion Sunday:

Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, delivered and saved the world:

grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen

Readings for today:

 The prophet Ezekiel Ch 37v1 –14 The Valley of Dry Bones

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

This is the word of the Lord Thanks be to God

John 11v 1-3 & 17-45 Raising of Lazarus

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

This is the word of the Lord Thanks be to God

A Reflection from Peter: This can be found on the Forton Village Life and St James Church, Facebook pages and on YouTube https://youtu.be/bFupej4BAxY It lasts 7 minutes

Say together the Lord’s Prayer in which ever version you prefer/are used to.

A Concluding Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do also for you:

give us the will to be the servant of others as you were the servant of all,

and gave up your life and died for us, but are alive and reign, now and for ever. Amen

The Grace—hold hands and say the grace together

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

Our Father,who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory

for ever and ever. Amen.

Acknowledgments: The readings are from the NIV; Prayers from Common Worship; Some of words under Sharing of Bread from Dom Gregory Dix, The Shape of Liturgy

The Sharing of Bread

On the night Jesus was betrayed he had a very special meal with his family and friends where he broke bread and shared it with his friends. Since then in every conceivable human circumstance, people have found no better thing than this. For kings at their crowning and for of criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for a good crop of wheat; or for a sick old woman afraid to die. Today we break this bread in thanksgiving for all we have; for those suffering during this Covid-19 pandemic, and for wisdom and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help each of us make the world a better place in the future for all God’s people.

Take the Bread, as you break it say “every time we break this bread we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us and that through his resurrection he brings life and light to the world”

Let everybody with you share the bread and reflect on how they will seek to make the world, in the future, a better place.

There are several people in the village offering help and support.

St James’ has a number of people who are able to help with shopping, collecting of medication and in any other way should you need it. We are also aware that there will be some in the village who are experiencing severe financial difficulties due to not being able to work. Whilst we don’t have limitless funds we may be able to help in a small way.

 If you need help in any way please contact Peter our Vicar:

email and telephone number below

 Email vicar@stjameschurchforton.org Tel; 07970 923 141

There will be a service sheet for every week we are unable to have public worship

Next week we will also be publishing information for Easter Messy Church at home

Date for your diary:

The first Sunday we are able to hold public worship there will be a Champagne Reception at 9.45pm followed by a huge celebration in church.

Watch this space!

COVID 19

Many of you will have heard that the Church of England along with other Christian denominations and world faith groups have banned public worship for the time being. Whether it’s the right decision history will judge but it is very much in line with the best medical and scientific advice and in line with closing other places of public congregation. In simple terms it means there will be no services in St James’ for the time being. The church is open for prayer from 9am to 5pm every day and we will be offering prayers each day. David and Cathy Picken, the new Archdeacon of Lancaster and his wife, who are living in the vicarage, will also be offering the Eucharist in their home every day at 5pm. If you have any thing you would like us to pray for, please let us know.
I promised the people of St James’ that if we reached this position, I would offer the Eucharist every Sunday at 10am, which is the time of our regular Sunday Service. Several people have said they will join me. I have sadly concluded that would not be in the best interest of beating Covid -19 and against the best scientific and medical advice. I am therefore asking that you avoid using the church between 10am and 1030am on a Sunday but I hope many of you will set aside that time to break bread yourselves and if appropriate share it with those you live with offering your own thoughts and prayers.
Many in St James’ have offered to help in any way they can. If you need help with anything, please make contact and I will get back to you.
On the bright side it does mean that for however long this lasts the congregation doesn’t have to listen to my sermons!
This Sunday is Mothering Sunday – a time when we give thanks for mothers and all who nurture us, These are frightening times for all of us and the welfare of our mothers and families concerns us all. We are being encouraged on Mothering Sunday to pray for God’s healing at this unprecedented time and all to place a lighted candle in our window at 7pm. I will light the Paschal candle in church (the candle we first light on Easter day to show that Christ has passed from darkness to light) and I invite you to join me by placing a lighted candle in your window. You may also like to light the candle you or your children were given at baptism.
Christ will shine through the darkness and over come it.
Stay safe
God Bless Canon Peter

Afternoon tea fundraiser raises over £700!

A team of volunteers baked a wonderful selection of cakes and pastries for our Easter Monday afternoon tea event held at Shireshead Cricket Club, Forton, Lancashire.

This event was very well attended, raising an amazing £700 towards this important village project, the draining of St. Pauls graveyard so it continues to be a suitable site for the burial of our loved ones.

Many thanks to Jean and her team for organising such a successful event, and we look forward to seeing what other fundraising ideas they can come up with in the future!

Why not come along to St. James Church and take part in our regular worship or special events? You can find out what’s going on by clicking here.

Champagne reception for Easter Sunday service at St. James!

JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN TODAY! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELIUA!

Today at our Easter Sunday service, the congregation were surprised and delighted to be greeted with a glass of champagne as they arrived! Why? Because today we celebrate the single most important event in our church year: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the vicar explained – in any other setting, a big celebration would be accompanied with these little extras we all enjoy and even expect – weddings, coming of age parties, etc. Why shouldn’t the modern day church celebrate in the same way?

In a similar vein, every member of the congregation was given a gift to take with them at the end of the service. If you are wondering what gift could possibly follow a champagne starter – well, it was an Easter egg, of course!

Our services take place at St. James Church, Shireshead, Forton, Lancashire – why not come to along and see what our enterprising vicar is going to think of next? Click here to find out more.

 

Good Friday “An hour at the Cross”

Good Friday saw a quiet and contemplative congregation take part in our Hour at the Cross service at St. James Church. We focused on the roles of some lesser known characters from the Passion story: Pilate’s wife, the impenitent thief and the women followers at the cross.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit.”  John 12: 24.

Please join us for our celebratory Easter Sunday Eucharist, at 10am on Sunday 1st April, at St. James Church, Shireshead, Forton, Lancashire.

Mothers Day Sunday 11th March 2018

Sunday 11th March 2018 saw our Mothering Sunday service take place at St. James. We saw pictorial tributes to our Mothers past and present, and distributed daffodils at the end of the service.

“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed.” Luke 1: 46-48.

We give thanks to God for all Mothers, past, present and future, and pray for them to be strong, blessed and fulfilled in their nurturing role within their families.

We would like to invite all Mothers – and their families – to come and join us for worship at St. James Church, Shireshead, Forton, Lancashire. Click here for service times.

Lent course running at St. James

The lent course is proving popular at St. James; a large group is meeting every Wednesday evening with representatives from no less than three local churches. If you would like to follow the course notes, please look at the Lent page by clicking here.

Here is some of the feedback from the first couple of weeks:

Lent 2018 week two feedback

Lent 2018 week one feedback

Members from a number of local churches are meeting at St. James Church, Shireshead, Forton, Lancashire. You are very welcome to join us; each session works as a stand alone unit so it won’t matter if you have missed one.

Candlemas February 2018

We celebrated Candlemas at our All Age service on Sunday 4th February 2018. We gave thanks for Jesus, the light of the world, who continues to work so vividly within our lives and the lives of those in our community. All the congregation lit a candle and prayed together. God be praised!

Why not come and join us at St. James Church, Shireshead, Forton, Lancashire for fellowship and worship? Click here for details of service times.

Prepare for lent with St. James Church – February 2018.

We all know that Lent is traditionally a time of fasting, and following the indulgences of Christmas, we typically focus on giving something up, whether it be chocolate, social media or perhaps alcohol.

But there is also great value in undertaking a discipline of doing something extra for this time. Lent is a time of reflection and spiritual growth, and what better way to allow God to work within us, than to commit to a short course of study?

The congregation of St. James are being invited and challenged to make a commitment to study together during Lent.  We will do this by focusing on the book “Christianity Rediscovered” by Vincent Donovan. This was written as an epistle from the Masai, and addresses the question of what it means to be a community of faith.

This Lent activity will help us to understand and focus on Christianity as Community. We plan to run a lunchtime group and an evening group each week. Wednesday has been suggested as a suitable day for both groups to meet, but this may change depending on the needs of those interested. The suggested venue is St. James Church, Shireshead, Forton, Lancashire.

Why not make your own commitment to join us in study and prayer? We would love to travel this journey with you! In the first instance, please contact Peter by clicking here, to register your interest and find out more.