Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Dear All Saints and St Mary,
Or as St Paul might have put it:
From Mark, a Lay Minister of Christ Jesus, by the will of God. To the saints who are in Fishponds and are faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Compare Ephesians 1.1–2)
This Sunday we come to the end of our series of readings from Ephesians. Although our sermons in church have mainly concentrated on the gospel readings from John, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians gives us a lot of advice about what it means to be the church in a world that does not know Christ. In, the concluding advice in this Sunday’s reading (Ephesians 6.10–20), Paul tells us to do two things. First, having prepared ourselves, we need to stand up to challenge the evil that is in the world. Secondly, we need to pray at all times and on all occasions. These two things are intrinsically linked. It is in prayer, both as individuals and as a community, that we can equip ourselves for the mission that God has given us.
In our Café Services this year have been thinking about prayer, with the help of Pete Greig’s book How to Pray. Last Sunday, we were looking at how to pray for ourselves and for others. Many helpful and supportive thoughts were shared around prayer. Being honest with God (which requires being honest with ourselves), knowing about the situations we are praying about and thinking about who we are praying to, were key points that people found helpful. Many people have found Pete Greig’s book helpful, and I commend it to anyone who has not read it.
This Sunday we have the following services:
8.00 am Holy Communion at All Saints
10.00 am Holy Communion at St Mary’s
The readings are Ephesians 6.10–20 and John 6.56–69, which is the last of the series of readings from John’s gospel on around the theme of bread and feeding on Jesus, the true bread that came down from heaven. Janey will be preaching and presiding at both these services as we celebrate Holy Communion.
Next Sunday, for our Bank Holiday weekend we have the exciting opportunity of something different. The service for Sunday 29th August will be a Benefice service for both churches, held at All Saints at 10.30 am. It will be a Creative Service of the Word on the theme of Creation. We will be thinking about Psalm 104 and what it says about the wonder of creation and the glory of the creator. There will be creative ways of saying thank you for all the wonders of creation and for saying sorry for the many ways we harm creation, as well as offering our prayers for ourselves and our relationship with all God has made. This will be an all-age service with activities that are suitable for children of all ages, as well as for adults. To give us a little taster, here is an excerpt from psalm 104:
24 Countless are the things you have made, LORD; by your wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the vast immeasurable sea,
in which move crawling things beyond number,
living creatures great and small.
26 Here ships sail to and fro;
here is Leviathan which you have made to sport there.
27 All of them look to you in hope
to give them their food when it is due.
28 What you give them they gather up;
when you open your hand, they eat their fill of good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed.
When you take away their spirit, they die
and return to the dust from which they came.
30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you give new life to the earth.
31 May the glory of the LORD stand for ever,
and may the LORD rejoice in his works!
32 When he looks at the earth, it quakes;
when he touches the mountains, they pour forth smoke.
33 As long as I live I shall sing to the LORD;
I shall sing psalms to my God all my life long.
34 May my meditation be acceptable to him;
I shall delight in the LORD.
Psalm 104.24–34 (REB)
May God bless you and keep you always
Mark Simms Licensed Lay Minister Benefice of All Saints, Fishponds and St Mary, Fishponds