Update on Sunday Worship

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was Ascension Day, the day when we recall Jesus leaving earth and returning to his Father, ascending into heaven to take his throne over all dominions and powers.  Now we enter a period of waiting and trusting.  Nine days, known as novena, until Pentecost.

I spoke at last night's benefice service about this period of waiting and trusting feeling a bit like a firework, thinking particularly about a Catherine Wheel.  The way you light the touch paper.  Stand back, waiting and trusting it will spark into life.  Sometimes you want to give it a prod to get it to spin, but you know you can't rush it or touch it. 

We look forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost when we know the sky is lit up with heavenly fire falling from above - but the disciples don’t know what is going to happen on the day of Pentecost. All they know is that they must wait.  As he is taken up into heaven Jesus starts something.  He lights that touch paper and so the waiting and praying began.  Surely the most agonisingly days any of them had ever spent.

We need to remind yourselves that God’s timing is not ours, and that the best thing we can do is often to wait and pray, seeking God’s will and trusting God’s promises.  Just as Jesus allowed himself to be handed over for crucifixion, sometimes we also have to be ready to allow processes around us to take their course.  We find this difficult and frustrating, and yet the promises of God never fail.  The promised Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost, empowering the disciples, whispering into their hearts, setting their lives aflame with love and joy and courage.

So I want to encourage you to intentionally pray this week.  Not just as part of your daily pattern, but extra time set aside in this period of novena to focus on a particular situation and to ask God's Holy Spirit to fall afresh.  A few ideas and suggestions are below.

Last Sunday in Greens Norton Family Praise we were encouraged us to pray for a nation and we all took a piece of paper home with us.  This week in the news we have seen the escalation of conflict in the Holy Land - Embrace the Middle East is a charity we have supported over the years across the benefice and they have produced this online Prayer Space which you might like to use this week.

The Church of England's initiative #ThyKingdomCome has been running since 2016.  You might like to watch this short video https://youtu.be/3k3pIwVqisA and there are lots of resources and ideas on the website.

Thinking locally. You might like to pray for our ecumenical leaders, many of whom are experiencing change.
Catholic Church: Fr Brendan Killeen has been in Towcester for over 20 years and recently moved to Weston Favell.  Fr James Evans is now priest in charge for St Thomas More as well as his role of Bishop's secretary. 
Methodist Church: Revd Pat Olivent-Hayes moves to be superintendent for the Melton Mowbray circuit in August, and the Revd Sarah Cliff will be looking after the Brackley, Silverstone and Towcester. 
Tove Valley Baptist Fellowship: Revd Paul Knight retired last summer and they are starting the process of looking for a new pastor.  They also recently opened their Tove Valley Centre, which has taken 30 years from the first vision. 

Please also consider praying for our benefice.  You might like to re-read my reflection for last Sunday - 'Interrupting of the Holy Spirit, a place where transformation occurs'.  God might have placed something else on your heart to pray about.

Please do share with one of the clergy or Licensed Lay Ministers if you feel you have received a word from God or a vision.  Please do speak to the clergy if there is anything you would specifically like us to pray for.  May we all be blessed in this time of waiting and praying.

With my prayers

Revd Paula Challen


Worship for The Third Sunday of Easter

Worship for The Seventh Sunday of Easter
Alleluia! Christ is Risen.
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Lectionary Readings :  [the links will take you to Bible Gateway from the NSRV]:
Ezekiel 36. 24 – 28          Acts 1. 15 – 17, 21 – 26           
John 17. 6 – 19

The reflection this week is written by the Ven David Painter, and entitled 'Jesus and his Father'. 

Zoom Services : please click here and follow the on screen instructions. 
The meetings rooms are opened about 15mins before the service is due to start.
All the liturgy for the service will be displayed on the screen.

  • Sunday 10:15am Benefice Sunday Worship 
  • Monday to Friday 9am Morning Prayer 

Individual Private Prayer :  

  • St Bartholomew's Church, Greens Norton - 
    Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10:30 am to 11:30 am
  • St Lawrence Church, Towcester -
    Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 2.00 pm to 3.00 pm

Online : #livestream :   Church of England available from 9.00 am. 
National Sports Sunday.  
Warren Evans, CEO of Sports Chaplaincy UK, speaks and the online service is led by James Lusted, Sports Chaplaincy UK Ambassador.

Peterborough Cathedral offers an online service each Sunday via its YouTube channel and Facebook page.
This video is usually uploaded at around 9:30 am. You can view it at a time to suit you.  Bishop Donald's weekly reflection on the psalms.
Peterborough Diocese list of local services that we can watch.

Watch : Don't forget the diocese daily video reflections on YouTube

Pilgrimage with the Diocese: The Holy Land - following in the footsteps of Jesus in 2022.
Please click on this link for details.

Bible Study :  The group meets at 7:30 pm on Tuesdays via zoom.  Everyone is welcome to join the group.  Please email John and he will provide the information that you will need.

Time4Tea : On Wednesdays from 2:30 pm Revd Angela, Mary Blanchard and Jane Small host a zoom group called 'Time4Tea'.  It is an opportunity for people from across the benefice to have a natter and support one another.  To join Time4Tea you don't need to have a zoom account just click on this link & follow the instructions.  If you need help getting on please call Angela on 01327 358852 and she will be able to help you. 

Sing or Listen: Here are some music suggestions for this week

O clap your hands by Vaughan Williams  
Go forth into the world in peace by John Rutter

To reserve your space for Worship in Church.
In order to help us with the voluntary NHS Test and Trace data collection and to reduce potential queuing to get into services we would like to encourage congregations to reserve a seat for Worship in Church.
Please click on the link below to book for next week, Pentecost, 23rd May.

Online booking is now open.  It is very easy.  You will be sent a confirmation email and ticket; you do not need to print it.  If you find you are unable to book online, please call the office on 01327 350459. 

The reservation system will close on Friday at noon.  You will also be able to turn up on the day, but please be aware that due to social distancing the capacity in our churches is very much reduced.  Therefore once we are at our maximum seating we will not be allowed to admit any more people.
Please bring a face covering with you.

Here is the Order of Service for the Easter Season Holy Communion.  It will be shown on screen during the service.  Please take time to prepare for Holy Communion.  The service has had to be shortened so that it will be only 40 minutes duration due to the current restrictions, so we would encourage you to spend some time in preparation before arriving at the church. To encourage and support you we have produced a resource on praying in preparation with suggestions and prayers for you to use as you wish.

Notice of forthcoming Annual Vestry Meeting and Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM).
The Parishes of the Benefice are intending to have their meetings as follows:
St Bartholomew's, Greens Norton     23rd May after the service 
St Lawrence, Towcester     30th May at 11:30 am  

Electoral Rolls Revision will take place over these time periods:
St Lawrence              from 16th April to 15th May               Exhibit on: 16th May

On the date in bold for each Church, new applications to the Electoral Roll will be closed and the new Roll complied.  It will be published in the relevant Church on the Exhibit date shown above.  
If you are already on the Electoral Roll for your parish, you do not need to re-apply.  If you wish to join an Electoral Roll will find a link to a form here.  All completed forms must be returned to the Benefice Office before the dates in bold above.  PLEASE remember to fill indicate clearly on the form which Parish it is for.  Members of the Electoral Roll may vote at the APCM.
All reports will be circulated to members of the Electoral Roll, via email or post, a week prior to the APCM.  Anyone else wishing to have a copy should contact the Benefice Office.

A big thank you to everyone who donated clothing recently for recycling, and especially to those who helped move the bags back into church on Monday evening!  We had such a positive response that the van is having to come back next Wednesday (19th May) for what it could not fit in!  If you do have any other items to donate then please leave at the Vicarage in Towcester by Tuesday evening or call Steve on 0759 3700 754.  We anticipate having raised in excess of £450!  SteveA big thank you to everyone who donated clothing recently for recycling, and especially to those who helped move the bags back into church on Monday evening!  We had such a positive response that the van is having to come back next Wednesday (19th May) for what it could not fit in!  If you do have any other items to donate then please leave at the Vicarage in Towcester by Tuesday evening or call Steve on 0759 3700 754.  We anticipate having raised in excess of £450!  Steve

Easton Neston Church and Churchyard visitors
If you have previously registered your number plate for access to visit St Mary's Easton Neston Church and Churchyard and it is not working the gate, please would you let Bev know on 01327 354385.

Churchyard volunteer gardening:
St Michael's Church is looking for volunteers to join the churchyard mowing team.  Please contact Colin Musgrave on 01327 860590 for more information.
St Bartholomew's Church has a working group which meets on 1st Saturday of each month. No expectation to join every month. The churchyard is mowed by a contractor, but there are still areas that need trimming and tidying.  Please contact Edward Woods on 01327 353602 for more information.

The UK is hosting the G7 Summit on the Environment from 11th to 13th  June 2021. 
The Fifth Mark of Mission is for the Church to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
I hope this  Open Gardens day will encourage us all.

For details of how to make a donation to your local parish church, please click here.

Update on Sunday Worship

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