Virtual Service 29 November

Good morning
 
Thank you to Michael for reading the Gospel, to Alan for the song “O Come, O come, Emmanuel”, and to Gill for the reflection on the Gospel reading for our young people.

Today, Advent Sunday, is our day of new beginnings, our day of eager anticipation. We give thanks that at a start of a new Church year, God is with us, and that God will be with us, whatever happens. 

As we light the first candle on the advent wreath – a sign to us that Jesus is coming – we pray that God will make that expectation for each of us bright and real.

Lord our God, make us watchful and keep us faithful
As we await the coming of your Son our Lord;
That, when he shall appear,
He may not find us sleeping in sin
But active in his service and joyful in his praise.  Amen.


We look forward to seeing folk at our virtual coffee zoom after the service, and you will find the invite in this mailing. As an icebreaker I invite you to think of something we sadly won’t be able to do in Advent or Christmas this year. But also to give thanks for something that we are able to continue to do. We can weep for what we have lost, but we can also weep with thankfulness for what we still have.

We have our usual collection for toys in the lobby area which can be accessed when the Church is open on Sunday and Thursday mornings for acts of worship. These toys are distributed across Leeds from a hub at St Richard’s Church Seacroft run by a dedicated team of volunteers. It is wonderful that they are still wanting to go ahead this year, making Christmas special for a lot of families in Leeds whose life is a struggle. 

An Advent blessing:

Lord Jesus Christ, single light, shining in the darkness, 
crucified, risen, awaited. 
Meet us today, journey with us in Advent, 
and lead us into a tender and fruitful tomorrow.


Every good wish for the difficult days and weeks ahead.

Tom
 

Virtual Service 22 November

Good morning
 
This week is the “Sunday next before Advent”, also known as the feast of Christ the King. The following reflection – based on our Gospel reading today from Matthew 25 – is by Revd Roger Quick, chaplain to the homeless at St George’s Crypt, in his recent book “Entertaining Saints”:

I was hungry and you went out for a nice meal.
I was thirsty and you bought a few bottles for Christmas.
I was a stranger and you wanted me deported.
I was naked and you bought yourself a new outfit.
I was sick and you had cosmetic surgery. 
I was in prison and you went on holiday.  
Lord have mercy.


The book is a thoughtful and moving read. This advent we are collecting items for St George’s Crypt, and I invite you to watch the video accompanying this mailing. This appeal is something that we have done at St Giles for a number of years under the auspices of the Mothers’ Union. You will find the box for collecting particular items requested in the video in the lobby area of the Church which continues to remain open each week on Thursday and Sunday mornings for private prayer.

As we approach what is (we trust) the mid-point of our second national lockdown I thought it would be good to focus on one of the greatest gifts that we have been given as followers of Jesus: the Lord’s Prayer. In my sermon I invite you to imagine the Lord’s Prayer as being like six envelopes alongside a handwritten note from Jesus saying, “open when anxiety strikes”.

Our Advent course, “Living in Hope”, starts this week. The Zoom link for Week One is in this mailing.   Week One is entitled “Living well”. Catherine Fox, who wrote the course, reminds us of the rabbi who asked, “What if there is only one question God puts to us when we die: “Did you enjoy my creation?” How would we answer? As I have been preparing for the course that question has been going round in my head. Despite lockdown I am thankful that I can still enjoy creation, and being with God in creation.

A blessing on the Feast of Christ the King:

May Christ our exalted King 
pour upon you his abundant gifts,
and make you faithful and strong 
to do his will.  Amen.



Tom

Virtual Service 15 November

Good morning
 

Thank you to Joan for reading the Gospel today, to Andrew for the song “Make me a channel of your peace”, to Val for leading our prayers, and to Gill for the video for young people. 

This afternoon at 2.30pm we have our Annual Church Meeting. It’s a chance to celebrate our life together as a Church, to reflect on what we have been up to this past year and to look to the future with hope.

We have quite a few people stepping back from roles this year so it will also be an opportunity for us to thank them for all they have done, and to show our support for all those taking up and continuing in roles in loving service on behalf of the Church family. 

Our Gospel reading today is the parable of the Talents. Jonathan’s sermon today reminds us that it is not the quantity of talents that we have in life that matters, it is how we use them. We are encouraged to seize the day and use our gifts responsibly. The following prayer seems appropriate:

O God our creator, 
your kindness has brought us the gift of a new day. 
Help us to leave yesterday 
and not to covet tomorrow, 
but to accept the uniqueness of today. Amen.

This year our usual Advent course will ‘go virtual’. I will be co-leading the course with Roger the minister at Bramhope Methodist Church, and we will be looking at the York Courses material which has been produced this year by the novelist Catherine Fox. Her course material is very engaging and has been written with Covid-19 in mind. The course is entitled “living in hope”. It will be on Thursday evenings at 7pm, starting on Thursday 26 November. 

We continue with our national month of prayer. On Thursdays we are encouraged to fast and to pray as we bring to God those who are going to be worst affected by this lockdown. We continue to commit ourselves for the next three weeks – as we are able – to praying each day, and on Thursdays to fast as well as to pray.

A hopeful blessing this week from the Iona Community:

And now may the God of hope
Bring you such joy and peace in believing
That you overflow with hope
In the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Tom

Virtual Service 8 November

Good morning
 
This week we remember those who have died in two World Wars, and all who have died in conflict since. We also remember those who are casualties in this conflict we face against a very different kind of enemy: all who have died from Covid-19; all who mourn their passing; those who have life-limiting conditions as a result of contracting the virus. 

This prayer encourages to keep on loving our neighbour at such a time:

Lord Jesus Christ, 
you taught us to love our neighbour, 
and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. 
In times of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, 
to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love, 
for your name’s sake. Amen.


The Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote to clergy this week encouraging us to make this month a national month of prayer. On Thursdays we are encouraged to fast and to pray as we bring to God those who are going to be worst affected by this lockdown; also to dedicate the time of 6 o’clock on Thursday evenings as a time for us to pray together. Some resources have been provided for this which you will find in this mailing.

As with praying, we fast as we can and not as we can’t. I would encourage you to fast in a way that you feel you can manage, and to set aside a little time each day to remember in prayer those who will struggle the most in this second lockdown. 

This week we are having another virtual zoom. You can sign in from 10.30 and we will live stream the act of remembrance at 10.55am at the War Memorial so we can keep the two minute’s silence at 11am.

As we enter a second national lockdown we remain hopeful because God the source of our hope travels with us – before us, behind us, within us:

May God go before you to guide you, 
may God stand behind you to give you strength,
and may God shine in your faces
and in your lives to bear the Gospel of hope. Amen.


Tom 

Virtual Service 1 November

Hello everyone

 Good morning. Thank you to Fred for the readings, to Lesley for the song “Let there be love shared among us”, to Bill for leading our prayers, and to Gill for the latest resource for our young people with a catchy song to the tune “O when the saints go marching in”.

In the season of Harvest we were thankful for all of God’s good gifts, and now at All Saints we are thankful for one another and for the memory of saints departed. As well as celebrating living saints this week we have recorded a virtual act of remembrance in loving memory of those who have died this past year and those we continue to remember from the St Giles Church family.

Bill reminds us in our prayers today that we all aspire to be saints and we all have our more ‘spooky’ side, but the desire is still to be that grace-filled person that God makes us by virtue of baptism. 

We have another virtual coffee zoom after our virtual Sunday worship today. Next week we are having another virtual zoom where we will live stream the act of remembrance at the Village War Memorial. The Act of Remembrance starts at 10.55am and we will keep the two minute’s silence as close as we can to 11am.

In my sermon today I explore the idea of saints as living sacraments, living icons, living stories of God. As the poet Malcolm Guite puts it:

Having gazed
On icons in this place, will clarity
Transfigure all of us? 
We turn, amazed,
To see the ones beside us, face to face,
as living icons, sacraments of grace.


All good wishes 

Tom
 

Virtual Service 25 October

Hello everyone

This week in my sermon I look at a series of commitment prayers from an amazing resource by Barbara Glasson, who is this year’s President of the Methodist Conference. The book is called “Positive Prayers for Cities”. One of these prayers reads well alongside the Gospel words of Jesus today from the Sermon on the Mount. It is about keeping our resolve when things get tough.

Whenever it is tough, we will continue. 
Whenever hearts are broken, we will warm.
 
Whenever thoughts are rigid, we will challenge.
Whenever discouraged, we will pray.

Whoever goes with us, we will embolden.
Whoever deserts us, we will bless.

Whoever is friendly, we will embrace kindly.
Whatever it costs us, we will pay.

Wherever God sends us, we will go gladly.
Wherever God finds us, we will keep heart.

Wherever God guides us, we will walk gently.
Wherever God takes us, we will stay.


The second commitment prayer seems appropriate for today, Environment Sunday:

Lord, I commit myself to simpler living,
to desiring less, recycling more.

I commit myself to ethical shopping,
to sourcing goods wisely, opting for fair trade.

I commit myself to just economics,
to reducing world debt, boycotting unjust practices.

I commit myself to empowering politics,
to sharing resources, reducing the gap between rich and poor.


If you feel you can say either or both of these prayers why not say “Amen” at the end?
 
Next Sunday we are having an informal coffee in the virtual “Church Zoom Hall” at 11.30am. We have all missed seeing everyone for a coffee in the church hall after the service. Unfortunately you will have to make your own cuppa! But do join in and see some friendly faces and enjoy companionship.

The following week we are having a special Remembrance gathering from 10.45am. The invite for the coffee Zoom next Sunday is embedded in the virtual email with an icebreaker appropriate for All Saints, so perhaps see you then. Contact hello@stgilesbramhope.org.uk if you have not received this.

Very best,

Tom

 

Virtual Service 18 October

Sunday 18 October Virtual Service Hello everyone.

Thank you to Jacob for reading the Gospel today, to Julie and Alan for the
band’s song choice, to Bill for leading our prayers today, and to Gill
as always for providing something for our young people.
Today is a joyful day as we celebrate holy communion in Church for the first
time in over six months in a Church beautifully decorated for Harvest. Our
Harvest appeal is going to the Leeds North West Foodbank. You are
welcome to drop items off in Church up to and including next Sunday the
25th. If you would like to make a donation to the Trussell Trust this mailing
contains the details you need to do this.
I am delighted to say that we are having a Church social after the service
today, at 11.30am this morning. I have devised a short Harvest quiz – who
knows, you might be in the winning team? Contact us via hello@stgilesbramhope.org.uk if you haven’t got the link
See you then!
Today is a triple celebration as it is also St Luke’s Day. Jonathan reminds us
in his sermon that St Luke was a doctor. So we think of and pray for the
Church’s ministry of healing. Our opening hymn reflected this theme of
healing, “We cannot measure how you heal”, and I am always struck by a
particular line in the first verse: “Your hands, though bloodied on the cross /
survive to hold and heal”. The following prayer recalls the one with healing
hands, carpenter’s hands:

O Christ, the Master Carpenter
who, at the last, through wood and nails,
purchased our whole salvation.
Wield well your tools
in the workshop of your world, so that we,
who come rough-hewn to your bench,
may here be fashioned
to a truer beauty of your hand.
We ask it for your own name’s sake. Amen.


Tom
Click on Jonathan’s picture for his reflections

Virtual Service 11 October

Hello everyone,

Thank you to Gareth for reading the Gospel, to Lesley for the band’s song choice “Come, ye thankful people, come”, to Peter for leading our prayers, and to Gill for the animated cartoons for our young people. Our thanks as a Church to Sara and Marva and Joy for the amazing Harvest flowers and decorations in Church. 

This year we will be celebrating Harvest all month. It will hopefully give as many people as possible the opportunity to see inside the Church.  Even if you can’t make it to Church this month you get to enjoy our Harvest decorations without having to leave home, as a short video of the Harvest decorations features in our virtual worship today as the backdrop to the song “Come ye thankful people, come”. 

Harvest is an opportunity to give as a way of responding to “all the good gifts around us” that God showers upon us day by day. In this mailing you will find a list of suggested items for our Harvest appeal to support the Leeds North West Foodbank. You may also wish to make a donation to the Trussell Trust. 

Next week, on Sunday 18 October at 11.30am we are going to have a Church social after both our live and virtual worship. There will be a short Harvest quiz, and we will aim to finish by quarter past twelve. Your Zoom invitation is later on in this e-mail. Looking forward to hopefully seeing you then.

Our Gospel this week is the parable of the guests at the wedding feast. I explore the idea of being clothed in Christ in my sermon. I wrote the following prayer with this theme in mind – wearing celebratory garments to befit an occasion like Harvest:

Lord Jesus Christ, clothe us with the spiritual garments that celebrate we are your disciples: kindness, humility and patience. We celebrate that your kingdom of love and justice and mercy reigns, this harvest time and always.  Amen.

Tom

Use this link to donate https://donate.giveasyoulive.com/donate?cid=77211&&wl=1&br=5

E-mail hello@stgilesbramhope.org.uk if you aren’t subscribed to our e-mail list and so didn’t receive your Zoom invitation

Virtual Service 4 October

Hello everyone.
Good morning. Thank you to Bridget for your sermon, to Mark for the Harvest readings, to Andrew for the song “Light of the world”, to Gill for the young people’s activities, and to Joy for leading our prayers.

As you will see in this virtual service, the Church has been beautifully decorated for Harvest. Our sincere thanks to Sara, Marva and Joy for making the church look so cherished for our three week long celebration of Harvest this year.

This year our Harvest appeal will go to support the work of the Leeds North West Foodbank. If you aren’t coming back to Church at this point in time but would like to give at Harvest-time you might wish to make a donation to the Trussell Trust who support the work of all 1,200 foodbanks in the UK.

A Harvest collect:
Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness
and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season:
grant that we may use them for the relief of those in need
and to your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Tom

To donate online to the Leeds North and West Foodbank go to https://donate.giveasyoulive.com/donate?cid=77211&&wl=1&br=5

Children’s Society Christmas Cards are now on sale.  See details in the October Saint Giles Review and on the website.

You will all be aware of the local Leeds COVID guidance issued 25 September 2020.  Church services continue to be held at 9.30am every Sunday.  This will be a Communion Service except for the 2nd Sundays.  There is also a Holy Communion service on Thursdays at 10.30am.

Social distancing regulations, the wearing of face coverings and the use of hand sanitiser continue to be essential for the safety of all.  Numbers may be limited at these services. 

This weekly Virtual Service will continue for the time being as well.