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Virtual Church 22nd March 2020

This morning we held our first Zoom live-stream worship serivce.  It was really amazing, and I am so humbled and proud of our people, many of whom were grappling with new and probably scary technology.  The platform we are using allows us record, so we're hoping to get the audio version up later today or tomorrow at the church's audio website.

For now, here is the transcript of everything apart from the intercessions, if you would find that helpful... 

NB opening and closing responses from BUGB publication Gasthering for Worship, with minor tweaks.



Morning Worship 22nd March 2020

Opening responses                

Lord, to whom shall we go? Your words are words of eternal life

Lord God, we come here in all kinds of moods and from a variety of situations

You know what these are and what each of us needs to hear at this time.

Make us ready for the word that will bring us life


Psalm 23 (BPW 659)

The Lord is my shepherd, 

Therefore I can lack nothing


He will make me lie down in green pastures

And lead me beside still waters


He will refresh my soul

And guide me in right paths for his name’s sake


Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil

For you are with me, your rod and your staff comfort me


You spread a table before me in the face those who trouble me

You have anointed my head with oil, and my cup will be full.


Surely your goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


Lord’s Prayer


Bible Readings                                                                                          

Colossians 3: 12 -17

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


John 19: 25b - 27

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.



When I was a child my parents used to speak of a satirical television programme they called TW3 – ‘That Was The Week That Was’ which ran for just over a year beginning around the time I was born.

I don’t know about you, but looking back over the past seven days, that was a week that was! 

I am so grateful that we were able to meet together last Sunday, and for the spatially separated social time, eating wrapped chocolate biscuits with our tea, before we dispersed into the great unknown.

I am so grateful that when the Prime Minister made his announcement on Monday evening, we were already thinking what to do next, and so, when our Trustees met online on Wednesday evening – I’m also grateful that we able to do this – we had already identified our priorities, pastoral, practical and prayerful.

Our Pastoral Care team have leapt into action, ensuring we maintain regular phone contact with everyone, our younger adults have organised their own WhatsApp Group, IS has updated our website, and CH is updating our Facebook page.  Offers of practical help have been made to AM, who is matching up volunteers with those in need.  KF has been reviewing our finances and helping us with practical matters there.  The Worship Team, as well as developing this service, have updated our Prayer Diary and compiled a list of resources for personal use, whilst EC and BC have begun virtual Sunday School.  It’s dizzying, just listing all we have achieved.  I cannot tell you how proud I am to be part of such an amazing church!  Thank you all.

As I pondered the Bible readings for today, a few brief thoughts struck me, and I hope that something will resonate and offer a little bit of hope and encouragement.

The gospel reading is achingly sad.  The dying Jesus is physically separated from those he loves.  His closest friend and his mother stand nearby, helpless, fearful and filled with sorrow.  Unable to reach down to comfort them, he commends them to each other – ‘here is your son’, ‘here is your mother’… I am aware how many of us are physically separated from those we love, especially overseas students, and our friends who fled their homes seeking safety in our land.  In this time, perhaps Jesus says something similar to us: ‘this is your brother/sister/parent/child’.  We have begun well, and with God’s help we can deepen and strengthen the bonds of love that hold us together.

As I pondered the words taken from the letter to the church at Colossae, I was really struck by the phrase ‘bear with one another’.  Over the coming weeks, and almost certainly months, there will be times when we rub each other up the wrong way, when we are tired and tetchy, when some of us become unwell, when we wonder if it is all worthwhile.  Bear with each other – be gentle, be kind, make allowances, try to be patient.  Not easy and we won’t always get it right, but it’s good advice.

And then the familiar words of Psalm 23 which many of us learned by rote as children, or recall choosing for a wedding or funeral service.  The reminder that no matter how dark the valley, no matter how afraid we are, or how alone we feel, God is with us, alongside us, every step of the way, guiding us, protecting us and enveloping us in love.

As I have reflected on the week that was, and on the challenges we face, I found myself recalling an old hymn written by Yorkshire Baptist minister, John Fawcett, which includes this verse:

When for a while we part, this thought shall soothe our pain, that we shall still be joined in heart, and one day meet again. 

As we journey on, together-apart, may God’s promises strengthen and uphold us all.  Amen.                                                                                                   

Closing Responses and Blessing                                                               

From where we are to where you need us

Jesus, now lead on.


From the security of what we know,

To the adventure of what you will reveal,

Jesus, now lead on.


From the uncertainty of what we face

To the fulness of God’s promises

Jesus, now lead on.
To refashion the world

Until it resembles the shape of your Kin-dom

Jesus now lead on


Because good things have been prepared

By the God of love

Jesus now lead on.


And may the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all, evermore, Amen



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