Week beginning Sunday 13th March 2022

“…our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 3:20

Greetings friends,

The above verse ‘jumped out’ at me from this week’s readings. Expectations shape our actions in so many ways – expectations about lifestyle, relationships, holidays, weather, church, food, results – the list goes on! And of course, right now we are all waiting expectantly to know how the war in Ukraine will unfold and – we pray – will be resolved with a lasting and workable peace.

It’s good this week to be reminded that as citizens of heaven, all our expectations are met by Jesus – he gathers up the desires of our hearts, our worries, our unknowns in his love and redeems them all through his big story of salvation for the whole of creation.

Who we are in Jesus – citizens of heaven – is the biggest and truest expectation we can hold. And we can allow that truth to change how we live, how we relate to others, what we value and work towards – we can allow it to give us hope for the future in a fragile and hurting world, and to lead into newness and fulness of life with Christ.

Our Services for this coming Sunday 13th February, the Second Sunday of Lent, are:

8.00am Holy Communion at All Saints with Revd Lizzie

10.00am Holy Communion at St Mary’s with Revd Lizzie

10.30pm Messy / Muddy Church at All Saints with Rev Janey and Elisa. Please encourage and invite those you know with children of any age to come along and join in!

In the week ahead, we have:

· Wednesday 16th March – 9.00am Celtic Morning Prayer at All Saints

· Thursday 17th March – 10am Holy Communion at St Mary’s

Next Sunday 20th March, there will be Creative Church at 10am and Holy Communion at 6:30pm at St Marys, and Holy Communion at 10:30am at All Saints.

I’ll leave you with the words of a modern hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (which can be sung to the well-known tune ‘Oh Jesus I have promised….)

We're citizens of heaven; we know where we belong.
O God, your love surrounds us; we sing your kingdom song.
The grace of Christ transforms us; in him our life is found;
We sing with joy and gladness, for we are heaven-bound.

We're citizens of heaven here in an earthly home;
Lord, it can be a challenge to live as you have shown.
With loyalties divided, we wonder what to do —
To follow wealth and power, or bravely follow you?

We're citizens of heaven; renew our sense of call.
Lord, deepen our commitment to serve you over all.
For we are your creation; by grace, we are your own.
Forgive our sinful wanderings and bring your people home.

Lord, give your church the courage to love and serve you more —
To worship you more gladly, to welcome in the poor,
To pardon as you pardon, to give in all we do —
That, heaven-bound, your people may daily live for you.

May you know afresh this week, that your citizenship is in heaven and from there, our Saviour comes to give us hope and fulness of life. Amen.

Revd Janey

Week beginning Sunday 6th March

Greetings!

I wanted to greet people this week with a Happy Ash Wednesday, or even a Happy Lent. But the word “happy” jars slightly when linked to Lent in the same way perhaps that the word “Good” always feels slightly at odds with Friday.

Is there such a thing, or could or should there be such a thing as a Happy Lent? And this year with this the sudden and devastating war in Ukraine the self examination and reflection that Lent requires as individuals seems morphed by the bigger global challenge of this war in Europe.

Lent is a time of wilderness and it should be both deeply challenging on a personal and community level. Lent is a call to prayer for others and the world. Lent is a call to fast, so that we can know the physical hunger that is a daily occurrence for so many in this world. Lent is a time of giving, tithing, when something that belongs to an individual is given over to be shared among many in community. Lent is a time for repair and healing, a chance to be brave and make amends where that is needed and necessary.

Lent is in all these things a call for us as individuals to reflect on the purposes of our own hearts, and try and realign then to the greater needs and purposes of how God wants the world to be. It is a giving over, a spilling over, from the individual little boxes that we inhabit so that we might be connected to others. It is ultimately about a conversion of the heart.

This week as we begin Lent there are a variety of ways we can worship

10am – St Marys – Open Church – Looking at Lent through the theme of forgiveness

10.30am – All Saints – A Holy Communion with Hymns and Junior Church

6.30pm – St Marys – Sung Evensong with Sermon

During the week the Living in Love and Faith course start at All Saints on a Tuesday at 2pm and St Marys on a Wednesday at 7.30pm in the evening. Please let Revd Lizzie know at this stage if you are wanting to join one of these groups as there are still spaces left in both. Groups are also being held at St Anne’s and Easton Christian Gamily Centre as well as one online course. Please email admin@citydeanery.co.uk to book a space.

If you wish to make donations to charities that are currently collecting for the crisis in Ukraine then amongst others there are the below charities that have launched emergency appeals.

The British Red Cross The British Red Cross |Médecins Sans Frontières | MSF British-Ukranian Aid are helping the injured (britishukrainianaid.org)

I want to leave with you a picture that I am going to reflect on this Sunday, it is mentioned in the foreword of the Lent Reflections Book 2022. It is a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1559) called “The Fight between Carnival and Lent”. It has so much going on in it, including the fight on pulled trolleys between Lady Lent and Carnival, a possibly allegory for the internal conflicts that we all bear in different ways.

Week Beginning 27/2/22

When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs

Mark 13.7–8

We live in uncertain times.

The events in and around Ukraine have brought war closer to home than any time in most of our lifetimes. Yet, as many in Ukraine have reminded us, Ukraine and Russia have been at war for eight years, ever since the annexation of Crimea and the declarations of independence in Donetsk and Luhansk. In my lifetime, there have been many other places in the world that have experienced wars and civil strife, but they have always seemed more distant and less threatening. There is something about the attack by a major power on a European nation that is very reminiscent of the wars that have caused so much death and destruction throughout the history of Europe.

It is so much easier to destroy things than to build things up. The recent history of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that it is easy for a powerful nation to defeat an army or overthrow a government. Building a real peace is much harder. Making a land into a home where all its people may live in safety and happiness takes a lot of work. Reconciling old enemies and helping them work for the common good is a major challenge. Jesus knew this when he warned his disciples that there would be wars and natural disasters. He encouraged the disciples not to panic, but to keep firm in their faith in him.

It is that faith that leads us to pray. Even when there is nothing practical that we can do, even when we don’t know what to pray for, we pray. As St Paul reminded the Christians in Rome, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8.26) I have included with this email a letter from the archbishops and a covering letter from Bishop Viv. There are some suggestions of when and where to pray, but in the words of Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, however and whenever you pray, pray that the world may choose peace.


This Sunday, we have our usual fourth Sunday services. At Café Church at All Saints, we will be looking forward to Lent by thinking about forgiveness. We will be repeating this at St Mary’s at Open Church the following Sunday. In addition, this Sunday, we have Holy Communion at 8am at All Saints and 10am at St Mary’s.

8.00 amAll SaintsHoly Communion
10.00 amSt Mary’sHoly Communion
10.30 amAll SaintsCafé Church

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. As such, there is no Thursday Holy Communion at St Mary’s. Instead, there will be a service of Holy Communion for Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes on Wednesday 2nd March at 10am. If anyone cannot make the morning service, St Ambrose are holding a service of Holy Communion with the imposition of ashes at 7.30 pm. Along with the World Day of Prayer service at Argyle Morley URC Church, this gives us a rich selection of opportunities for worship this week:

Wednesday9.00 amAll SaintsCeltic Morning Prayer
Wednesday10.00 amSt Mary’sHoly Communion
Wednesday7.30 pmSt AmbroseHoly Communion
Friday2.00 pmArgyle Morley URCWorld Day of Prayer
Sunday10.00 amSt Mary’sOpen Church
Sunday10.30 amAll SaintsHoly Communion
Sunday6.30 pmSt Mary’sEvensong

In all our worship and all our prayers, let us pray for true peace, between nations, communities, and individuals:

Almighty God,
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
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
 

May God bless us all

Mark Simms
Licensed Lay Minister
Benefice of All Saints and St Mary, Fishponds

Week beginning 20/2/22

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by. Psalms 57:1.

Dear All Saints and St Mary’s

As I prepare this week’s message I am sitting snug in my office overlooking the garden below, where the south west wind is bending and buffeting trees, plants and grass. The wind is in control of their movements. Birds have sought shelter out of sight. Children have been let off school. We wait and sit out the storm, while emergency services are on high alert to protect us from any dangers arising from storm Eunice.

What a coincidence then that this Sunday’s gospel reading is one where Jesus’ disciples find themselves out on a lake in a storm – the wind and their fears have blown out of control – that is, – until our Lord Jesus stands up and restores calm to waves and hearts. Looking to the future, the New Testament reading from Revelation presents us with a vision of heaven where ‘a rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne’ of God. The scene captures the essence of a place and time where the storms of life’s sufferings have petered out and been replaced by beauty, joy and peace, amid brotherly and sisterly communion. With this in mind, we warmly invite you to gather in worship at one of the following services.

Sunday 20th February – Second Sunday before Lent

10.00am Creative Church at St Mary’s Church – Bird feeders for your gardens! Revd Diane and team

10.30am Holy Communion at All Saints Church – Revd Janey Hiller

6.30pm Holy Communion at St Mary’s Church – Revd Janey Hiller


As we look to the week ahead then we have the following times of prayer and worship

Wednesday 23rd 09.00 – Celtic Morning Prayer at All Saints Church

Thursday 24th 10.00 – Holy Communion at St Mary’s Church

Sunday 27th 08.00 – Holy Communion at All Saints Church

10.00 – Holy Communion at St Mary’s Church

10.30 – Bible Study Worship at All Saints Church


LLF * It’s now time to book your place on a Living in Love and Faith course* The courses offer a learning and listening space – exploring the topics of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

Face-to-face Groups

Evenings: St.Mary’s: Wednesdays 7.30- 9.00pm starting 9th March

Daytimes: All Saints: Tuesdays 2.00-3.30pm starting 8th March

Alternatively, you are welcome to enrol on any of the following:

City Deanery online Mondays 12 -1.30pm

ECFC Easton Tuesday evenings 7.30-9.00 pm

St Annes Greenbank Wednesdays 4pm- 5.30pm

St Annes Greenbank Saturdays 10am -1pm starting 12th March

The LLF courses run for five weeks (except 3 x Saturdays at St.Annes)

To book your place please email Elaine Jones at admin@citydeanery.co.uk


Creative wind of the Spirit… (continued from above)

Wind may be destructive, but in Scripture it is also creative. In Genesis 1:2 ‘a wind from God swept over the face of the waters’. The word for wind is the same as the word for ’Spirit’ in Hebrew: ruach. So it is also important to see God’s Holy Spirit as an energising wind – sweeping away cobwebs, re-energising people, the church and renewing the faith of our community. You will catch a glimpse of that excitement if you listen to a playground of young children on a windy day, as I did at Fishponds CE Academy this week. ‘Behold I am doing a new thing – do you not perceive it?’ (Isaiah 43.19).

In your lives, in our parishes may we recognise God as both refuge and risk-taker – in both reassurance and renewal as He builds His Kingdom among us.

Revd Diane, deacon

Midnight Mass 2021

Sermon preached by Revd Lizzie Kesteven

I was walking down the Fishponds Road last week and wondering about the 5 senses that God has blessed humans with – sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell. Just metres from here on that road there is so much for all of them. The noise of the traffic and the chatter of people, the lights from the shop windows and the smile in people’s eyes. The taste and smell of coffee coming from the cafes. And the weight of heavy bags felt on my hands. Such gifts of senses. I have sometimes wondered rather morbidly that if I were to only have 4 of these senses, which would I choose? Or alternatively which one given the choice would I lose? Have you ever thought that? I think it might be different for everyone here. In my wondering I think then it would be the sense of sight that I would be the most reluctant to lose. I have so a deep and profound respect for anyone who manages life without physical sight.

The Old Testament reading from Isaiah today speaks a lot about sight. Isaiah says “for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion” and “before the eyes of all the nations” and again” all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God”.

Lots to see! Lots to look at in just a few verses.

Yet from the Old Testament this prophesy is rather remarkable. The Jewish heritage and traditions which form the foundation and bedrock of the Christian faith tells the story of the nation Israel’s relationship with God. It is a relationship which has its many ups and downs, covenants and renewals of faith. It has people such as Moses, Sarah, Jacob, and Rachel. It speaks of an intense relationship between God and Abraham. There are falling outs and making up. But in all of this the idea that a human could see God face to face was not possible. Moses makes it clear early on in Exodus that no one can see God and live. The people of the Old Testament hear God, can be in the presence of God, experience God and see Gods actions, wrestle with God, they can even have their own faces lit up by God. But to meet God literally face to face and live was not deemed possible. There is still a divide between the Creator of the world and the created beings that live in it.

Yet here tonight – as on every Christmas Eve – the night when Christians celebrate the incarnation, the dwelling of God in an actual physical flesh of a person. God in a baby. A baby who is God. Here on this night. We celebrate the change in the relationship between God and Us. The sheer magnitude of the claim of Christians in this statement is eye watering. Perhaps after 2000 years of saying it I can become more blaze about being able to physically see God, know God, and be invited to have a connection, a relationship with God. But the essence of what occurred 2000 years OK was more than just a key change in the music score of faith. It was an earth shattering revelation of how God intends to reset the whole thing. 

And God chooses to reset by crossing over that original divide that had Creator of the world on one side and humanity on the other. In the manger in that stable in Bethlehem the reset of the world is born. No longer will God be some elusive voice or spirit. The wind which we cannot see, the force which we cannot touch or smell, is seen clearly. In a child. Sharing the most fragile and vulnerable aspects of our very selves. A child who sees as you see, a child who requires the human touch that you and I need, the child who will taste and smell and hear and cry. God who once made themselves known in burning buses and wrestling angels is now known in flesh as a human being. One that we can all see. One we are invited to look at.

God takes on flesh. God is a person – just like you. Just like me.

So what difference does this night, the remembering of this night, make?

I suggest it is two fold

It means that every person that we encounter – however much we might know them, or not know them, however much we might like them or not like them. However much we might feel connected to them or not. They bear the face of God. Because God now has a face. And in that way how I respond to them needs to be from this point of reference. They bear the mark of God. Just as I do. The harder part might be not the seeing Gods face in others, but accepting that people see God’s face in us. That is a joyous thing. It also marks out the responsibilities that we have towards each other. One of the benefits of mass media and mass social media in this age is also that we can see that the face of God is not confined to how we might see it just on the Fishponds Road – but how that face of God looks in Johannesburg, in Laos, in Kabul, and in Rio. So the connections between us become deeper, more diverse and in that we too can become more empathetic. It raises our horizons and lifts our heads to the many different faces of God.

Tonight’s celebration of the incarnation of God, the way in which God took on flesh and dwelt among us also means that God is with us. Not outside or removed, or far away or distant. But here. That God understands what it is to bear the joys and sorrows of a human life. The scars and celebrations. The laughterand joy and the tears and frustrations. Jesus life, death and ministry testify to that. It is the story that Christians hear and speak of and seek to understand for the other 51 weeks of the year. And that is a re set. That is eye opening. That is the way in which we can grasp with full sight face to face the revolution that God brought upon the world in a manger, a long way from here many years ago. 

May we take that home this night so that we can live by it tomorrow.

Carols by Candlelight 2021

Sermon preached by Revd Lizzie Kesteven

Light a match. –

There is something fascinating about lighting a match. Something that has since the beginning of time has captivated humans about that ability to make fire. That first spark. The effort it takes to make sure that the rough surfaces connect in such a way as to create that initial spark. Sometimes several attempts are needed. And then seeing the flame eat away at the slim wooden splint. Watching it light the small space of darkness around it. Feeling its heat – and then knowing the right moment to blow it out before it burns your fingers.

The spark gives both light and warmth – and for that to continue then other items are lit from it – like our candles tonight – so that the light and warmth can be shared with others.

It is both fragile – the fear that the match will give out before we have used it. As well as being dangerous – 2don’t play with matches” always a slogan ringing from adult lips to children’s ears.

Fragile and Dangerous. Light and Warmth.

Stories – Shepherd/Kings/Holy Family – both fragile and dangerous. Seeing the light in the dark

The Christmas story, the baby in the manger, the kings, the shepherds, the angels and Mary and Joseph that we hear tonight and sing of in our carols also speak about both fragility and danger. Light and warmth.

The Kings Journey to the manger was fraught with difficulty. They could so easily have given up and turned back. The danger lies in their encounter with Herod a brutal tyrant who tries to use the kings for his own benefit. But the Kings preserve and in doing so bring to the manger the gift of colour and brightness. Their gifts indicate not only who Jesus is and will be – but they also bring light and warmth – just as any gift freely given with a generous heart.

The Shepherds whole lives are fragile and dangerous. They sleep rough at night always alert to predators who may wish their flock harm. And yet here they are at the manger. They too show us light and warmth – their very presence a reminder that God calls all people to his stable. That the outsiders, the ones least thought of, the forgotten, the lost and the poor are part of Gods story and welcomed into Gods home. That is a message of light and warmth.

The fragility of Mary and Joseph is perhaps obvious. Travelling that distance whilst heavily pregnant would have been hugely dangerous. And yet the fragility of their relationship is also present in the Christmas story – the disgrace that would have followed Mary around, the humiliation that Joseph might have felt – what conversations might they have had on that road to Bethlehem. Yet Mary and Joseph bring a message of light and warmth. They stick it out, they stay together. Joseph trusts Mary and Mary in turn trusts Joseph. Their trust brings with it light and warmth to the stable.

And as we look back on this year we have known as part of our human story a most fragile world. Everything has seemed breakable and at breaking points. People, plans, work, schools, hospitals, hospitality. We have known a fragility, that was also perhaps unexpected as we had hoped that this year would look so different to the one before it.

And yet in that fragile place God meets us. That is what the eternal truth of Christianity proclaims this night. That is the story that we celebrate at Christmas and that reaches beyond to Easter. It is a God who meets us and is with us. Emmanual. Not far away and distant. But near. Close. With. And in that bringing that light and warmth not just to the stable but to the world. It is not a message for the faint hearted, the good news of Jesus Christ , of God with us, is a dangerous one and one that many did not want to know or hear, and yet others died in order to tell it. And because of their hope and trust, because of their belief and courage we can stand today and sing that same story. Proclaim loudly that same truth of light and warmth. God is with us.

Prince of Peace. Emmanuel. King of Kings.

May we too know that light and warmth of Jesus Christ this Christmas. May we stand at the stable, and see the fragility of the baby in the manger and know the love of God that came to be with the world.

Amen

Holy Week and Easter 2021

Once again, we approach the joy of Easter though the journey of Holy Week. This year, things are a little closer to ‘normal’ than 2020, but COVID-19 is still very much with us.

Palm Sunday – 28th March

8am – All Saints – Palm Sunday Holy Communion with Blessing of Palms

10am – St Marys – Palm Sunday Eucharist with Passion Play and Blessing of Palms

Monday 29th March

7.30pm – Compline – All Saints

Tuesday 30th March

7.30pm – Compline – St Marys

Wednesday 31st

7.30pm – Lent Group

Maundy Thursday – 1st April

10.00 – Chrism Mass – Online  

6.30 – Agape – Online

8.30 – Holy Communion St Marys – followed by The Watch

Good Friday – 2nd April

10am – Easter Garden Making and Story Telling and Mini Egg Hunt – All Saints

1.30pm – Good Friday Liturgy with Passion Reading – St Marys

Easter Eve – 3rd April

7.30pm – St Marys – First Fire and Eucharist of Easter

Easter Sunday – 4th April

10 am – St Marys – All Age Eucharist and Egg Hunt

10.30am – All Saints – All Age Holy Communion and Egg Hunt

5pm – Generations – Easter Bonanza! And Eggs

Great Christmas Raffle

This year, instead of the usual Christmas fair at St Mary’s, we are holding a Christmas Raffle. The prize is a giant Christmas hamper, packed full of Christmas goodies. Tickets are £1 each and are available in person from Mary Ewing or by using PayPal via the button below.

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

The draw takes place on the 21st December. Please note this raffle is only availablke to those living withing 5 miles of St Mary’s.