Christmas Services

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 1:29

At this most unusual of Christmases we are keen to continue worship for as long as we can here in St. Peter’s. At time of writing (21st Dec) the following services will be going ahead. All are welcome…


Christmas Eve

  • 12.00pm – 1.30pm Church open for private prayer and the shop.
  • 12.30pm Vigil Mass

Christmas Day

  • 10.30am Sung Mass of the Nativity

Sunday 27th December

  • First Sunday of Christmas “The Holy Family” 10.30am Sung Mass


Entrance is via the side door, and hand sanitser is available on entry. Please wear a face covering unless exempt. Please sit 2 metres apart from others unless in your household or bubble. Hymns are included in our services but no singing – just enjoy the tune! The Sacrement will be offered in one kind only – the Host, and not the Wine; and must be received in your hands. If anyone does not wish to receive, that is fine, and you may stay in your place, or come forward for a Blessing during the Communion. All are very welcome…

Mary Joseph and baby Jesus in a crib - lego figures
Lego Nativity by Jonathan Fahrny from Pixabay

Open for Private Prayer

During this latest lockdown we are still open for private prayer on Tuesdays and Fridays from 12pm to 1.30pm. Light a candle and take some peaceful time out.

The toilets are also open.

A white taper lights a white church candle
John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Heritage Open Days 2020

Secret St. Peter’s – A Photographic View Inside the 18th Century Tower

Wooden steps reach past the tip of an arched window up to another level in the tower
Steps up to the old clock chamber in St. Peter’s tower

St. Peter’s tower is in need of restoration and is unsafe for visitors, but you can take an exclusive look inside through our photographic exhibition – inside the church, and online.

Our amateur photographic exhibition will show you the interior of the long-hidden tower area. From the original 18th Century wooden staircase, entrance onto the gallery, the second floor where you can see into the vast roofspace, and up to the clock chamber where the Whitehurst clock was once housed. There are also a couple of views taken from the 40 metre high cherry picker used to conduct urgent repairs to the dome (an exhibition/book of the rest of these pictures is also planned in the near future).

Situated inside the church, you can view the exhibition and the main areas of the church, pause for a moment of peace/prayer and enjoy a hot/cold drink in our cafe area. The church is open Saturday 12th September 12pm – 4pm. The display is now available here.

(Please note – there is no physical access to the tower, view is the exhibition only!)

Heritage Open Days pink 'H' logo

Tower Update – We are Still Open!

Despite appearances otherwise, we are still open for services and prayer with Covid-19 precautions:

Wednesday 29th July 12.00 – 1.30pm – peaceful reflection/prayer

Friday 31st July 12.00 – 1.30pm – 12.30pm Mass

Sunday 2nd August 10.30am Mass

Tuesday 4th August – 12.00 – 1.30pm – peaceful reflection/prayer

Tower Repair Update

Repairs were attempted from a very impressive ‘Cherry Picker’ but sadly it was just too short! The base had to rest on the sturdy ground outside of the graveyard, meaning that the arm wasn’t able to reach far enough to enable safe access. It was however, tantalisingly colse enough to obtain some informative pictures of the damage – not good.

We are now awaiting the arrival of an even more impressive ‘Cherry Picker’ from Bradford, which is cheaper than scaffolding! All being well, the emergency repairs will be carried out then. It is hoped that a large project to restore the tower and increase the use of the church in the local community will be under way in the near future.

We are Reopening!

Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

We will be reopening for prayer first of all, and then Mass from Friday 10th July:

  • Friday 3rd July – 12-1pm private prayer
  • Friday 10th July – 12.30pm Mass
  • Sunday 12th July – 10.30am Mass 5th Sundy after Trinity

Following this we will continue with normal Mass times – Friday 12.30pm, Sunday 10.30am and Holy Days 12.30pm. The toilet and cafe area are still undergoing refurbishment but the toilets are fully functional and availalble! Please use the side door as the tower entrance needs some repairs and is fenced off. We look forward to welcoming back friends old and new.

Come, let us sing unto the Lord: 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, 
and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God, 
and a great King above all gods. 
In his hand are the deep places of the earth:
the strength of the hills is his also. 
The sea is his, and he made it:
and his hands formed the dry land. 
Come, let us worship and bow down:
let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
Psalm 95 extract verses 1-6

Corpus Christi, Bible Study and St. Peter’s Update

Corpus Christi

This year is of course like no other, and the Feast of Corpus Christi has to be celebrated without partaking in the Eucharist within church. In this short devotional video on the theme of Corpus Christi (below), the Bishop of Fulham speaks powerfully of the vital role the Blessed Sacrament has in our spiritual lives. The film is a joint initiative between The Society and the Church Union and was made in accordance with the Government guidelines in place during the pandemic. It is the final film in a series of eight such films, covering the themes of Holy Week, Easter, Our Lady, Pentecost, praying for the dead and, now, Corpus Christi.

READ MARK, learn and inwardly digest

Chester Cathedral would like to invite you to join in with a course for 12 weeks at 1.10 -2pm on Wednesdays starting on 13 May and concluding on 5 August.

Clergy from around the diocese, including Bishop Keith Sinclair will talk about sections of Mark’s gospel each week and will take us through the whole gospel.

There are two ways you can join in

  1. You can join the sessions live on Wednesdays at 1.10pm on Zoom and ask questions of the speaker.  If you would like an invitation to be present please contact, with READ MARK in the subject line, and you will be sent the link to enable you to connect for 1.10pm.
  2. You can watch the sessions on YouTube after they have been recorded on the Cathedral’s Official YouTube channel here – or via links that will be published below.

Read Mark: Session 1/12 – click here to view.
Read Mark: Session 2/12 – click here to view.
Read Mark: Session 3/12 – click here to view.
Read Mark: Session 4/12 – click here to view.
Read Mark: Session 5/12 – click here to view.

You will find it helpful to bring a version of Mark’s gospel for the session.

The speakers are following the sections from here, and some will use the material whilst others may refer to it. You may wish to read it beforehand or afterwards or simply listen to the speakers.

We look forward to joining with you in, ‘READING MARK, learn and inwardly digest’ this summer.

Update from St. Peter’s

Although many churches will be opening for private prayer this week, we unfortunately will not be able to at the moment. This is because the kitchen and toilet areas are being upgraded to provide much better facilities for everyone when we do reopen. We’ll keep you posted on works and any plans to reopen. In the meantime, we have a list of online resources you may find helpful.

Thy Kingdom Come Prayer Movement & the new Bishop of Chester

Thy Kingdom Come 21 - 31 May phone app and booklet available

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension Day (21 May) and Pentecost (31 May) for more people to come to know Jesus.

Praying for people to come to know the love, hope and peace found in Christ is at the heart of Thy Kingdom Come.

Daily Prayer for Thy Kingdom Come is a great way to set up regular, daily patterns of prayer to hold these people in prayer – whether you are doing so on your own, as a household, or joining with a small group or as a church virtually.

The resource is available in a range of offline and free online formats:

The booklet – in full-colour and complete with services, psalms and readings – is available now from Church House Publishing for just £1.99 with Free UK Delivery when you order online (with bulk discounts on 10s and 50s).

The free app for iOS and Android – containing audio for Morning, Evening, Day and Night Prayer from the booklet for all 11 days. The app has been updated with 2020 Sunday psalms and readings and a new feature that allows you to set reminders for any or all the services at times that suit you.

A podcast featuring all eight hours of the Daily Prayer for Thy Kingdom Come audio is also launching soon.

Smart speaker – from Thursday 21 May (Ascension Day), you can also get Alexa and Google Home to ‘Ask the Church of England for today’s Thy Kingdom Come’ to hear a short service of Prayer During the Day (before 7pm) and Night Prayer (after 7pm) throughout the 11 days.

Watch a special Thy Kingdom Come Pentecost Service with the Archbishop of Canterbury and a range of other contributors from 9am on Sunday 31st May here.

More new resources from Thy Kingdom Come

Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, Thy Kingdom Come is going to look slightly different this year.

Find out about new initiatives – like Prayer and Care – and further resources, including the Interactive Prayer Map for families, to help you get involved in new ways.

Announcing the next Bishop of Chester

Rt Reverend Mark Tanner with his wife Lindsay and two teenage children.
Rt Revd Mark Tanner and family

The Rt Revd Mark Tanner has been named by Downing Street as the next Bishop of Chester, succeeding the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster who retired in September 2019. Bishop Mark is currently the Bishop of Berwick in the Diocese of Newcastle.

“It will be hard to say goodbye to the North East,” he says, “however, Lindsay and I are really excited to return to Chester where I was ordained, and both of our children were born.”

We warmly welcome Bishop Mark and wish him and his family a happy and fulfilling time here with us in Chester.

Daily Hope phoneline & the Big Picnic For Hope

Life may not be as it was, and everyone’s experience of this ‘new normal’ will be very different, but it is important to remember that whilst God is with us we are never truly alone. With thoughts turning to how we will manage life after lockdown, the theme of Hope features prominently in this post’s notices.

Big Picnic For Hope – Lockdown V E Day Celebrations

The Big Picnic for Hope is an opportunity for your household to be part of a virtual get together, to help honour heroes past and present. If you are alone or pat of a busy household, everyone can take part by having their own V E Day picnic indoors or on your balcony/garden. Original Wartime recipes you may want to try can be found here. See the dedicated website for more information –

More ideas for VE Day can be found here.

A brass band plays at the top of the steps to growing crowd on the corner of Greek Street and Wellington Road.
V E Day Celebrations – Stockport War Memorial
A long line of adults and children face the camera smiling and giving a Victry sign from around a long table down a terraced street.
Recapture the spirit of hope from these Stopfordians on VE Day

Free Daily Hope PhoneLine

Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.

The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

“With many in our country on lockdown, it’s important that we support those who are feeling lonely and isolated, whatever age they are.”

Archbishop Justin Welby

Options available include materials also available digitally by the Church of England’s Communications team such as Prayer During the Day and Night Prayer updated daily, from Common Worship, and a recording of the Church of England weekly national online service.

A section called Hymn Line offers callers a small selection of hymns, updated daily. An option entitled ‘Hymns We Love’, provides a hymn and reflection and is based on an initiative by the Connections group.

If you know anywhere that you can display one of the posters for this free phone line, please download, print and display.

Latest news from Bishop Keith

Dear Friends

As the global impact of the pandemic worsens whatever good news that comes from some sense that the strategy in the UK is working, we are now into the next phase of wondering if any relaxation of the lockdown is possible without putting still more people at risk.

That will present us with new challenges, especially if there is any possibility of our church buildings being opened again even for limited use any time soon.

A question of concern for me this week, is how we are going to be sustained, especially as I know a number of clergy are already exhausted, and there is clear anxiety around many people in our communities of the risks attached to any relaxation.

Do listen to Archdeacon Mike’s video on the Good Shepherd and what he says about Psalm 23 and rest.

In this letter, I would like us to think about rest and “sabbath”, the weekly moment for rest and renewal in order for work to be sustained in the other 6 days.

You might ask: “How in such a time as this, do you actually rest?”

Maybe you are surprised that in this time of so-called enforced rest, many are experiencing exhaustion! If you work from home, when do you stop working? If your work is actually running the home, including supervising the homeschooling of children, when do you actually rest? As one week of lockdown goes into another, we can forget what day of the week it is, and one day can be very much like any other!

But you might also be asking “rest”? How can you not rest if you cannot go out, visit, go to your place of work, or do anything that previously you would have been free to do? “I’m fed up with rest, give me back my work”. If that is you, I pray you will find “work” which will balance the enforced rest, and lead to a renewed fulfillment that will alleviate some of the frustration.
In the readings this week in Morning Prayer one was Exodus 20, the chapter of the Bible which includes the 10 commandments, including the 4th commandment about the sabbath day which is all about rest (assuming you are working the other six days, see Exodus 20: 8-11).

And this means for now a key part of what God designed for a good life to be enjoyed as a weekly rhythm of grace has virtually disappeared.

In Exodus, the 4th commandment stands there as a pivot, the very sabbath enabling us to look at our relationship with God and to check whether in our lives there are other Gods before him, any kind of idolatry or abuse of his name AND to check out our relationship with others, our parents, our spouse, our neighbours and see if there is any hatred, lying, stealing, or coveting going on.

The sabbath as originally given was like a weekly health check, not in a gym, but in the presence of God, and not in isolation but together.

So, how in this time, with this lockdown, do we have sabbath? How do we establish boundaries where there are no boundaries? And if you think “Well, chance would be a fine thing?”, maybe you are working all the hours in hospital or in a care home, or in an essential service, getting food to the supermarket, how can you experience any kind of rhythm of grace, which enables you to keep going, and get real good rest?

I think the answer to the question may be found in the asking of it.

What I mean is, if we realise that God intends our lives to have a balance of rest and work and ask him how we are to find that balance now, even in the asking we give God the space to answer.

And if that answer cannot include meeting in our special place of worship, then can we let him show us how those boundaries and spaces can be created in our own homes?

Maybe allowing a meeting around a table to include a space for prayer and hearing the Bible; maybe resolving to have one day or part of a day when the computer or the phone will be switched off; maybe if we are on our own agreeing with just one or two with whom we can relax to pray on a call together; maybe extending the walk to follow Jesus words about looking at the birds and the flowers.

Isaiah spoke about remembering God’s promise “Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt, you shall raise up the foundations of many generations: you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in” (Is 58:12). A great text if we are anywhere near coming out of lockdown. The key to receiving this promise is in the next verse:

“If you call the sabbath a delight …. Then you shall take delight in the Lord and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth” (Is 58:13,14)

There are simple things we can do. We can pray at 8.00pm on a Sunday night and light a candle in the window. We can go outside at 8.00pm each Thursday to say thank you to those in the NHS, I have found this simple act to be such a blessing to me!

The lockdown may be relaxed it may not. We do not know for how long this will go on. We will continue to pray for the world and the leaders of the world. We will remember that whatever we are enduring, our brothers and sisters in places where there is no NHS, no work, no self- isolation are suffering and also need us to keep going.

In whatever way our work is continuing and with whatever new work we are being asked to engage, may we find ways to experience on our own and together rhythms of grace which allow the Lord to give us rest and be restored so that however we work, we can, in his promise, be those who rebuild and restore.

With love in Christ


Archdeacon Mike Gilbertson has produced a short reflection on John and Psalm 23, reminding us of God’s presence in these times and the truth that underlines the Christian faith….

Archdeacon Mike Gilbertson reflects on John & psalm 23

A Closing Prayer

We’ll conclude this post with a beautiful prayer which speaks of hope in the light of God:

Per Pacem Ad Lucem

I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be

A pleasant road;

I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me

Aught of its load;

I do not ask that flowers should always spring

Beneath my feet;

I know too well the poison and the sting

Of things too sweet.

For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,

Lead me aright –

Though strength should falter, and though heart

should bleed –

Through Peace to Light.

I do not ask, O Lord, that thou shouldst shed

Full radience here;

Give but a ray of peace, that I may tread

Without a fear.

I do not ask my cross to understand,

My way to see;

Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand

Anf follow Thee.

Joy is like restless day; but peace divine

Like quiet night:

Lead me, O Lord, – till perfect Day shall shine,

Through Peace to Light.

Adelaide Anne Procter (1825-64)

An Easter Service for use at Home

Fr Ken has compiled this service you may wish to use on Easter Sunday at home…

Alleluia Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed Alleluia!

Easter Morning Service

On Easter Morning we begin our Service by lighting the Pascal Candle; then we process into Church and after it is placed in the Candlestand  and we sing “The Exsultet”

 Rejoice, Heavenly powers! Sing, Choirs of Angels!
   Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
   Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
   Sound the trumpet of salvation!
   Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendour,
   radiant in the brightness of your King!
   Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
   Darkness vanishes for ever!
   Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
   The risen Saviour shines upon you!
   Let this place resound with joy,
   echoing the song of all God’s people!

The Collect for the Day

God our Father, by raising Christ your Son you conquered the power of death and opened to us the way to eternal life.
Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us .. through Christ our Lord. Amen

READINGS Epistle Colossians 3 v 1 – 4

Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. 4.But when Christ is revealed — and he is your life – you, too, will be revealed with him in glory.


  Alleliua! Alleliua! Hearts to Heaven voices raise,
       Sing to God a hymn of gladness,
       Sing to God a hymn of praise;
       He who on the cross a victim
        For the world’s salvation bled,
       Jesus Christ, the King of glory
       Now is risen from the dead.

       Christ is risen, Christ the first-fruits
       Of the holy harvest field,
       Which will all its full abundance,
       At His second coming yield;
       Then the golden ears of harvest
       Will their heads before him wave,
       Ripened by his glorious sunshine,
       From the furrows of the grave.

       Christ is risen, we are risen!
       Shed upon us Heavenly grace,
       Rain and dew, and gleams of glory
       From the brightness of thy face;
       That we, Lord, with hearts in Heaven,
       Here on earth may fruitful be,
       And by Angel-hands be gathered,
       And be ever, Lord, with thee.

        Allelyua! Allelyua!
       Glory be to God on high!
       To the Father, and the Saviour,
       Who has gained the victory;
       Glory to the Holy Spirit,
       Fount of love and sanctity;
       Alleluya ! Alleluya !
       To the blessèd Trinity.

Gospel  St John 20 v 1 – 9   ( Authorised Version )

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.  So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.  Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.


Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.
     Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
     Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.
    Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
    Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.
    Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
    Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.


A time of prayer where you can pray for all those who are affected by the current situation. Pray for the world; for the Church; for our country and Government; for our doctors, nurses and emergency services; for your family, loved ones and friends; for those who are lonely or anxious; for the sick and dying; for the departed; and do not forget to pray for yourself and your own needs and concerns.

A prayer for those in authority

Loving God, in Christ Jesus, the servant of all,
you call us to the service of others.
Grant to those who govern the community
the skill to recognise its urgent needs
and the strength to pursue the common good.
Endow us all with patience and courage,
that we may care for the suffering,
feed the hungry, shelter the homeless,
and sustain the needy.Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eternal God and Father,
by your power we are created
and by your love we are redeemed:
guide and strengthen us by your Spirit,
that we may give ourselves to you
in love and service of one another;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

Finish your intercessions by saying

The Lord’s Prayer (Traditional version )

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. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever.    Amen.

An act of Spiritual Communion

At this time, when our churches are closed for public worship, we will not be able to receive Holy Communion physically, which will be a painful thing for many of us. The tradition of the Church has been for people to make a Spiritual Communion when they are prevented from receiving Holy Communion.
St Thomas Aquinas says in this we should have “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him”. You can pray this prayer as often as you like, but most specifically at the time when you would normally be present at Mass.
My Jesus, I believe that you are in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you above all things, and I long for you in my soul.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
                               (Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament)


Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia
Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!  

Regina Caeli

During Eastertide instead of the Angelus
Joy to thee, O Queen of Heaven, Alleluia.
He whom thou wast meet to bear, Alleluia.
As he promised, hath arisen, Alleluia.
Pour for us to him thy prayer, Alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia.
For the Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.
O God, by the Resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, you have brought joy to the whole world: grant that, by the help of his mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life; through Christ the Lord. Amen

Some Evening Prayers

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.  
                                   ( St Augustine of Hippo  354–430 AD)

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by the great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen  ( Evening Prayer – Book of Common Prayer 1662  )


        1 Jesus lives! thy terrors now
Can, O Death, no more appall us;
Jesus lives! by this we know
Thou, O Grave, canst not enthrall us.   Alleluya!

        2 Jesus lives! henceforth is death
But the gate of Life immortal;
This shall calm our trembling breath,
When we pass its gloomy portal.   Alleluya!

        3 Jesus lives! for us He died;
Then alone to Jesus living,
Pure in heart may we abide,
Glory to our Saviour giving.   Alleluya!

        4 Jesus lives! our hearts know well
Naught from us His love shall sever;
Life, nor death, nor powers of hell
Tear us from His keeping ever.    Alleluya!

        5 Jesus lives! to Him the Throne
  Over all the world is given;
  May we go where he is gone, rest and reign with Him in heaven.   Alleluya!

Happy Easter!
Vintage card from OberholsterVenita & Pixabay
Lego model of  2 ladies looking into an empty tomb - a round lego stone is moved aside with an Angel sat atop.
Behold the empty tomb !
Thanks to Legobible and Pixabay

Approaching Easter in Lockdown

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

John 13:34

Here is the latest briefing from Bishop Keith…

Dear Friends,

This is going to be a Holy week and Easter like no other. To be isolated from one another when we will crave fellowship is truly awful. To be absent from the remembrance of the Lord’s supper, to be absent from the worship at the Cross on Good Friday, to be absent from the great celebration and the Easter Acclamation, “The Lord is risen; He is risen indeed. Alleluia!”, will be strange indeed.

At one level this absence will be a huge loss. At another level the absence will be a moment in which the Lord speaks. How keenly we will feel the Lord’s own isolation through betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion. We will taste a very little of what it was like to be deprived of your closest friends at your moment of greatest need. Please God none of us will want to echo the cry of dereliction from the cross, “My God my God why have you forsaken me?”. All of this Jesus did for us, as the beautiful Good Friday Hymn says, “We believe it was for us he hung and suffered there”; his death a bearing of our judgement, his death a taking away of our sins, his death a bringing to us of forgiveness, his death an experiencing of death so that he might destroy its power.

All of this we will remember whether in our own reading and prayer, or as we access our local services online if we can, or the Cathedral or national services as we are able. In a time when there will be no gatherings and no socialising, only continued concern because of the Covid-19 virus and its impact on the whole world, we will be praying for the NHS and all those on the front line, we will be praying for those we know who are sick or bereaved, we will be praying for those facing the possibility of death. And as we pray for our own country, we will be praying for those countries we know, especially the Solomon Islands (also struggling with cyclones) and the Congo (Aru and Boga are also struggling with the absence of an infrastructure we take for granted).

It may be strange to offer now a verse that comes in the readings set for Morning Prayer in the week following Easter Sunday – who knows what that week will bring? Will there be some capacity for there to be some kind of “holiday at home”? I hope so – but this verse comes near the end of one of the great chapters in the Bible on the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15. I hope each day, at the moment, all of us can include some reading from the Bible and prayer. During that week after Easter, the readings from this chapter are spread out over each day (Monday v1-11; Tuesday v12-19; Wednesday v20-28; Thursday v 29-34; Friday v35-50; Saturday v 51-end).

The verse I offer you, both for this week and next, is 1 Corinthians 15:49:

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust so we will bear the image of the man of heaven”

Last year I spoke on this verse at an Easter Assembly at Woodchurch C of E Academy on the Wirral. I asked them to notice that the verse doesn’t say we may or might bear the image of the man of heaven, but we will.

This is our hope and joy this Easter. We know, I think, about bearing the image of the man of dust; our mortality, our frailty, our sinfulness, these are all included in this description. How can we not know that reality in our present crisis?
But the hope that the Church has held out to the world since that first Good Friday and Easter, is that just because Jesus went all the way to the cross alone, and to the depths of death, experiencing it in the fullest form of its cruelty and desolation, we now would be in no doubt that his resurrection life would be ours too, begun now and completed then – bearing the image of the man of heaven, Jesus himself.

What a hope? What a promise? What a word for those facing their own death or the death of someone so dear to them?

We may be isolated from one another, but we are never isolated from him. As 1 Corinthians 15 goes on to say, “Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”. (55,56)

This is the truth summarised in the great Easter acclamation: “The Lord is risen; he is risen indeed. Alleluia!”

This Easter Sunday, whether in the evening when we maybe lighting a candle and putting it in the window or at some other time in the day, may we find a way of sharing this greeting with our neighbourhood; perhaps by some post on Facebook, or some recording on YouTube, or creating some poster in the window, or seeing if any of your neighbours might like to join you on each of your doorsteps as you join in the joyful shout together! You might want to join in the chorus of a great Easter hymn: “Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son; endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won”.
This Easter and Holy Week will be like none that I have ever known; but yet somehow the very isolation and danger we are now in from this virus, I believe will enable us to enter yet more fully into the truth and the victory Jesus has established for us and for the world.

With love in Him
The Last Supper
Courtesy of Gordon Johnson & Pixabay
Before the lockdown regulations of course!!!!