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 & readings for Pentecost 31th May
COLLECT for PENTECOST
God, who as at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by ending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort: through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever, Amen.
2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. Lord’s great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Pentecost 2020 Sermon
Today, as our readings indicated, we remember and give thanks for the Holy Spirit, descending into the midst of the disciples, and working amongst and in us, as well. It’s a day of celebration, a kind of birthday for the church. But the holy spirit is also a part of our faith that we may be haziest about. We may feel we can imagine and relate to Jesus, the Son, and perhaps to God, the Father; but the Holy Spirit? Either the word Spirit suggests something a little bit spooky and supernatural – not very Anglican – or something conceptual and abstract – such as the words ‘comfort’, meaning strength and support suggest. But what do we mean when we speak of the Spirit? What do you mean? How do you understand, how do you experience, the Spirit? Perhaps you may feel, with Anglican modesty, that while ‘other churches’ experience the spirit in literal ways, we really don’t, we’re too sensible. But today challenges that reluctance in us to see God at work, perhaps not as we expect, but in new and surprising and real ways. Perhaps we don’t recognise the form that work may take in our midst, and perhaps, if we’re honest, it’s easier to be a bit of Eeyore when it comes to the Spirit, a bit melancholy, a bit ‘why doesn’t it visit me’. But that’s where the Spirit comes to challenge us, because today at Pentecost we’re reminded that God is always with us, and always seeking to communicate with us, but through his Spirit, the ways in which he does so may be ones we wouldn’t think of. Today’s reading from Acts suggests that we may know the Spirit, however, in terms of its effects. It is diverse in manifestation, and so affects many people in many different ways. But amidst that diverse effect, it also brings us as followers of Jesus together, in ways that are unpredictable and sometimes heady. The disciples, touched by the spirit, were thought by those around them to be drunk! Presumably, as they emerged blinking from their melancholy and grief and confusion, at having seen Jesus departing from them for the second time at his Ascension, they were then giggly, and perhaps some were teary, and perhaps some were a bit noisy, as bit by bit, a new direction and way of being emerged amongst them. It’s important that they met together for this moment, and once again, we’re reminded that our faith is not a solitary faith, but one in which our individuality and aloneness is broken through. The spirit makes us porous to other people, in ways we can’t fully understand. When this happens, we find ourselves in a moment where we’re taken out of our usual restraint, especially if we’re good Anglicans. We may become a bit emotional, as the phrase is.
I’ve had a couple of moments as an individual this week, where I’ve felt that the Spirit was in operation. I don’t offer this in a spirit of pedagogy, suggesting this is how it ‘should’ be, only to share with you, my friends, how it would seem that the spirit can operate, even for someone as cautious and sceptical and often deaf to the spirit, as myself. As you may know, I work with a number of people in so-called spiritual accompaniment, walking beside them as they reflect on their journey with God. It’s a great privilege to do this and it’s work I love. One such person, like a few others, after a long journey now towards discernment and then training to be a priest, hadn’t contacted for a while. I know they are busy with work and other commitments alongside training, and wouldn’t usually be proactive in checking up, but on this occasion I did drop them a text, saying I was thinking of them, which they quickly answered. When we spoke subsequently, they asked me, ‘did I know?’ and as I shook my head, they went on to explain that they had been struggling for various specific reasons, and my text was thus, they felt, a ‘prod from the Spirit’. I claim no personal credit for this and share their sense of being nudged from beyond – something that was right and needed and an intuitive response to something non-rational, almost despite shared hesitancy in both, came about.
In a similar way, I have found the Thy Kingdom Come initiative, in which some colleagues take part, others don’t, a bit of a nudge and a bit of a challenge. As you’ll know, we’ve been offering Night Prayer every evening as a way of sharing in this prayer and mission initiative. It’s been lovely to meet together as a small representative community, and it’s been fortuitously good to meet and get to know Helen Clifton a little in this way. Helen will be with us for the foreseeable future as a licensed lay minister, serving and experiencing some different ways of being church; and Helen, you certainly bring the spirit with you and may your ministry be blessed by that spirit in the weeks ahead.
Yesterday, perhaps mostly oddly, I further then, found myself messaging someone and on the spur of the moment, including a photo of a particularly abundant and glorious rosebush in our garden – for no specific reason, and I had not previously shared this picture. They immediately replied, saying at that very moment, they had been looking for a picture of a rose, for a meditation they were leading. Again, I claim no credit – all I can say is that the Spirit was working through me to offer something meaningful or useful at that particular moment. It’s hard to account for this in any scientific way, other than a kind of understanding that emerges between people who perhaps seek to live in the Spirit and that goes beyond the rational. Coincidences, maybe, or as some Christians call them, God-incidences, where our shared identity in God becomes expressed in material and lived ways.
I find this shared identity very consoling and very meaningful, and I think this gift of the Spirit to bring us together and to strengthen and energise us is particularly valuable during this ongoing time of lockdown where we are feeling our aloneness most powerfully. As the image of fire suggests, it is powerful and warming and potentially destructive, as our understanding of what is normal and rational is shaken; and it is also, as the image of wind suggests, energising and enlivening, as our possibility for growth at personal and social levels becomes visible. Most of the largest social changes have been initiated and then implemented by small groups of people in the first instance, and Christianity is itself an example of this. So on this day of energising, of gathering, of challenge and of hope, how can we as a small group in this time and place, be more open to the spirit’s work in us? What changes for good can we dream up in the wider world? Amen
PRAYERS (written by Alan, read by Wo)
A PRAYER FOR PENECOST Dear Lord, we pray that you remain as constant today as You were yesterday and will be tomorrow and for evermore. Spread abroad the gift of the Holy Spirit to every race and to every nation so that the truth of the Holy Gospel will strengthen and encourage all who worship in Your name. Lord in Your mercy: Hear our prayer.
A prayer for all those whose weddings have been postponed or cancelled, whose plans have been disrupted, whose jobs have been lost, whose future is now uncertain: Dear Lord, give hope and courage to all whose lives have been turned upside down by the current crisis facing the world. Please let the easing of restrictions be tempered by patience and common-sense so that another outbreak of the virus can be avoided. We ask this for the sake of Your dear Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Lord in Your mercy: Hear our prayer.
A prayer for those who are sick, especially remembering all suffering from mental illness: Dear Lord, please hear our prayer for the many people experiencing the effects of mental strain and desperate worry through these exceptional times. Give them the courage to ask for help so that their anxieties can be shared. We also pray that the sick will now feel able to come forward and be confident to consult their Doctors and Consultants and visit Hospitals once again. And please, Dear Lord, keep healthy and strong everyone connected within the caring community. let them know of our undying thanks for their dedication and skill. Lord in Your mercy: Hear our prayer.
And lastly, a prayer for those who mourn: Dear Lord, grant to all who have lost loved ones, especially those who through lockdown restrictions have been unable to attend funerals and cremations, the faith, courage and strength to meet the days ahead, not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thanks for the happy times of years past and in the sure expectation of joyful reunions in the Heavenly place You have reserved for us.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of Your dear Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
Dear Friends, following the advice about avoiding non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a statement ............... Read more
An Act of Spiritual Communion
WORSHIP AT HOME. With published services ceasing but prayer continuing in home and in church see below ............... More
Music for Pentecost, Sunday 31st May
played by John Talbot at home:
Gnossiene no. 3
Voluntary in A minor Op. 6, no.2
O thou who camest from above: Words found here
O thou who camest from above
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