We're resuming worship in church this coming Sunday 12th July
We’re hoping to resume worship in church this coming Sunday and are starting slowly with a BCP communion in St Mary’s at the later time of 9.30am, followed by a zoom Morning Prayer at 10.30 ( a number have asked for these Zoom services to continue across the summer and we hope to offer these alongside church services as often as possible). I do hope that you may feel able to attend this Communion service. Forgive my emailing you personally; please would you pass on this news to anyone who might be interested in attending it, as we cannot be comprehensive. As the government guidelines came too late for the Link to carry news of this, we shall be needing to publicise service-times by email, by word of mouth, by the website, by church notices and by the database instead.
St Mary's, Leigh Woods & Holy Trinity, Abbots Leigh
Welcome to the United Parish of Abbots Leigh and Leigh Woods in the Bristol Diocese. Do come and join us for any of our services and events. You are assured of a warm welcome!
Rev. Dr Hester Jones
Hester divides her time between Bristol University and the parish.
Welcome to the United Parish of Holy Trinity, Abbots Leigh & St Mary’s, Leigh Woods.
We are a Christian community within the Church of England and we seek to follow Christ as we live out our lives in the world, and in particular in the Parish of Abbots Leigh with Leigh Woods.
Please contact us via the Parish Office to talk to the Vicar, a Churchwarden or Minister and for all other church matters, including Weddings, Funerals and Baptisms, or to request your welcome pack.
Telephone: 01275 373996
Sermon for - 12th July
May I speak in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
One of the experiences of lockdown for me has involved sowing, nurturing and planting out seeds and seedling and waiting to see how they fare. I’m a total amateur and have no idea which will reach the seedling stage, let alone which the edible stage. My mother recently quoted her mother, both of whom were Londoners born and bred, saying that growing your own was for those with time and space to do so; a city-dweller’s perspective perhaps, but there does seem to be a lot of chance involved in the activity, which makes it something akin to the mystery of God’s work in our lives. Creative growth never can be quite controlled as a machine can be controlled, and that’s part of the fun, if sometimes too the challenge.
And the story, no doubt a very familiar one, in the gospel today, of the sower and the seeds, offers at face value comparable wisdom, appropriate for the agricultural audience to whom Jesus was probably mainly speaking. At one level, we receive the teaching of Jesus, and we enact its invitation to love selflessly, with varying success. That teaching is offered to us all, regardless of who we are, what kind of lives we have lived. But hearing and acting are different questions. We hear and perhaps we know, what sort of things we could and perhaps should be doing. But all sorts of life experiences get in the way, making us forget in the moment what love would ask, meaning that if we don’t forget, we may find it hard or complicated or in fact too much to go that, costlier, route; and so, regretfully, sometimes sadly, we fall away from the better path.
Well, as said, that is one message of the parable. And we know that this is the case, because exceptionally, the parable tells us that this is the message – one of the only two cases where the parable tells us how to understand it. Perhaps that’s all I need to say today. I see you sighing with relief. We’ve got off lightly. On to the creed.
But perhaps that isn’t all the reading is saying to us. Jesus’ parables aren’t only there to teach us about morals, about how to live a good not wicked life. Jesus’ parables are there to teach us in often hidden , metaphorical language, about God, and about what God is like, because God is not a literal being and so we have to use metaphors and images to point to what God might possibly be like. God is beyond the world of things; God is not a man in the sky. But God is, and we reach for ways of suggesting how we can imagine that being.
In John’s gospel, John says that in the beginning was the word, and the word was God. The word is Jesus, the worldly expression of God. In this way, that word is a kind of seed, sown by the Father within the uneven ground of the world. So perhaps another way of understanding how to read the parable, is to see it as an account of Jesus, the seed scattered by God. Throughout his ministry, Jesus comes into all sorts of different places and amongst different people. Sometimes His life was eaten up by others; those who take the gifts of God, but don’t respond, like the lepers who are healed but don’t return to thank Jesus. Sometimes Jesus came to rocky ground. Even the disciples heard him, but when challenged, they ran away. We have probably all run away from God’s call to us, at one point or other. Sometimes, the cares of life made Jesus’ message hard to hear; and we remember the virtuous rich young man who was discouraged when Jesus told him to give all he had and to follow Him. Probably we all balk at going the extra mile on occasions. And goodness, I don’t know about you, but I certainly have a few of those slugs at the moment in the garden, choking my courgettes, and making me wonder if my grandmother wasn’t right. It’s hard to be a true environmentalist at that point.
All of this, reminds us that like us, Jesus had hard days: he had days where his meaning was missed in the detail of need answered, or fear following faith. But some of his words were heard, and stuck, and acted upon, land ed to the joy of God’s presence in faith and hope and peace. And we also know that those wonderful, rare moments last a lifetime. I wonder if you can remember the joy of such a moment: when someone you loved recovered from an illness, thanks to the dedicated care of others? Or when a problem that had been gnawing at your mind, fell away and was resolved? Or when a friend who had strayed, returned and reengaged? Or perhaps when, in the quiet and stillness of a sacred place, your heart felt at peace, and your mind and body, held in divine arms?.
Perhaps the pandemic has been a rocky time, where God has felt far from you; or a time where you felt his presence in the care of others, but where anxiety drove that presence away again. Perhaps, though, it has been or still can be, a time of fruitfulness, where you and where we, open our hearts to the growth and plentiful abundance of God’s life. As my grandmother said, such growth takes time and space; and such, lockdown has and probably continues to give us. But this growth also defies but it also defies the usual rules. God’s infinite fruitfulness can grow from one, single seed, as Jesus and his life of the Church, grew from one divine seed too. God’s abundance means that many opportunities are seemingly wasted; many choose not to respond to his grace. Much of our lives may seem humdrum or without that divine spark. And that seeming waste is OK, because, even so, there is enough grace to go round, and enough to grow the Kingdom of God. The church grew from a seed that fell out of the intended line of growth: Jesus was the rejected cornerstone, and still, God’s purposes are made possible, within that economy of abundance and blessing. May we know those rare moments in God’s presence and may we respond to them with open hearts and with open hands, Amen.
Holy Communion Order 1
Dear Friends, following the advice about avoiding non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a statement ............... Read more
WORSHIP AT HOME. With published services ceasing but prayer continuing in home and in church see below ............... More
Voluntaries for Sunday 12th July
played by John Talbot at home:
Eintritt from Waldscenen (Entry from Woodland Scenes), Op.82 by Schumann
Einsame Blumen from Waldscenen (Solitary flowers from Woodland Scenes), Op. 82
O Worship the Lord: Words here
1 O Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
Bow down before Him, His glory proclaim;
Gold of obedience and incense of lowliness
Bring, and adore Him: the Lord is His name!
2 Low at His feet lay thy burden of carefulness;
High on His heart He will bear it for thee,
Comfort thy sorrows, and answer thy prayerfulness,
Guiding thy steps as may best for thee be.
3 Fear not to enter His courts in the slenderness
Of the poor wealth thou canst reckon as thine;
Truth in its beauty, and love in its tenderness
These are the offerings to lay on His shrine.
4 These, though we bring them in trembling and fearfulness,
He will accept for the Name that is dear,
Mornings of joy give for evenings of fearfulness,
Trust for our trembling, and hope for our fear.
O Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness
Our Mission & Vision
Welcome to the United Parish of Holy Trinity, Abbots Leigh & St Mary’s, Leigh Woods. We are a Christian community within the Church of England and we seek to follow Christ as we live out our lives in the world, and in particular in the Parish of Abbots Leigh with Leigh Woods.
In doing this, we take the Bible seriously, recognising also that our response to it may be informed by our personal experience and our particular culture. Whether we are old or young, male or female, new to the church or familiar with its tradition, everyone is invited to share in the banquet of God’s creation, and is equally welcome. We hope as we meet, to celebrate the diversity and goodness of the world, and to find God already at work in it. We seek also to respond – as we are able – to the needs of the poor, and – blessed as we are by the natural beauty of our parish – we seek to cherish and to be good stewards of the earth.
We understand our community as one where we can question, and where we may discover the sacred, whether in worship or in laughter, in prayer or in conversation, receiving the sacraments, or over a cup of coffee. When we gather together for services, we worship God in a range of different ways, and we hope that you may find a way that suits you. It may be through sharing in a Parish Communion. It may be in the more informal context of a Family Worship service, where it’s fine if your way is more exuberant or exploratory. It may be in the still quietness of our 8.00am BCP Communion, or the beauty of choral Evensong. It may be in the reflective chants of Taizé worship, or in the shared silence of meditation. Alongside all of these, we seek also to share in the hospitality of God’s spirit. We do very much hope that you will join us in this, and find something of the God who comes to meet us wherever we are.
If you are new in the parish, we would love to meet you. We would love to know if there is anything our community can do for you. We would love to speak with you, to hear if your gifts might help us to share this welcome better. Do please drop us a line or give us a ring.
St Mary's Church the Virgin
Holy Trinity Church