"Consider this ...." by Canon Denise


Canon Denise Acheson

Years ago I came across a poem which basically said – the more you learn makes you realise how little you know! Becoming a Christian is the first step of an eternal learning journey.

With the Holy Spirit’s guidance along the way one learns new things about oneself, about God and about others. We may outgrow some of the things we learned in the past as we grow closer to God through faith in Christ.

Faith is not static – and there are many things which we are called to think upon as we journey. 1 John 4 v1 says to test the spirits in order to recognise the Spirit of God.

So as we journey together let’s make time and space to consider this …….

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The Third Sunday of Easter

Almighty Father,
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
with the sight of the risen Lord:
Give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened
and sustained by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Acts 3: 12-19 or Micah 4: 1-5
The Psalm - Psalm 4
The Second Reading - 1 John 3: 1-7
The Gospel Reading - Luke 24: 36b-48
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Living God,
your Son made himself known to his disciples
in the breaking of bread.
Open the eyes of our faith,
that we may see him in all his redeeming work;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you all can see. - Acts 3 v16

At the All Age Service on Sunday 26th April we are going to be looking at Peter.
Easter Day is past, the chocolate eggs are eaten, the holiday is over and life continues on just the same?
Easter Day passed and life continued on just the same for Peter and friends?
Life would never be the same again for those who had witnessed the risen Jesus. The book of Acts is written so that we have a record of the beginnings of the early church.

Several years ago I read a book written by a 55 year old lady called Mary McDonnell charting her life's journey to that point.
It was a journey which has included sickness, bereavement, joy and disappointment.
The book is called 'Cancer, prayer and survival.'

It is a short book, easily read in an hour or two ....and her journey takes her from a faith that USED all the right words about God's love to a faith that KNEW without doubt the holding power of God's love...and that is what happened to the disciples after Jesus' resurrection.
Mary Mc Donnell took many years to work out the practical details of truly living by faith and Acts and Paul's letters let us watch the early church emerge and as the years pass, workout the practical details of what Jesus' resurrection meant in terms of mission and witness.
This particular passage is describing the healing that took place one day when Peter and John were going up to the temple to pray. A man crippled from birth approached Peter and John with the intention of begging but Peter says to him,
"Sorry, we have no money but I can give you something else."

What did the crippled man anticipate, I wonder?
Peter continues, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" And he did!!
How did the beggar feel?
He walked, and jumped and praised God all the way into the temple! And all who saw it were amazed.
How did Peter and John feel?
Particularly Peter?

During Holy Week many words would have been spoken about Peter's denial of knowing Jesus and yet, how many of us really dare point a finger?
How many of can say for certain, "I would NEVER crack under pressure?"

When you read Peter's words and what he said to the Men of Israel ,"You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you" he knew he had been part of something similar. No, he didn't call for the release of Barabbas but when asked did he know Jesus he answered a vehement "No" more than once!
How then can he stand there and throw accusations around at others- is he hoping his past will not be revealed? Just like some shady politicians?

Peter offers healing in Jesus' name because Peter himself knows personally what it is to be healed by Jesus. Peter wasn't healed of any physical disability. After his denial of Jesus there had been an even greater need in Peter's life. The shame and regret of what he had done- this was healed by Jesus. The closing verses of John's gospel shows how lovingly Jesus reinstates Peter, gives him the task of being a witness for Jesus and, if Peter thought he wasn't up to this, or worthy of this, Jesus insists that Peter must follow him.

What healing do you or I long for??
Jesus' healing comes through the Peace he promises to those who trust him.
Peace, complete healing peace, is found in Christ.
Christ offers us a vision and a hope and a promise of a new way of living that is not dependent on health, wealth and happiness, but rather by his Spirit and God's grace.
If we let him, he will takes us as we are, regardless of our history of failure and denial, grant us his peace and transform our view of both life and death, and change how we live in the here and now.

Prayer: God our Father, we thank you for our healing in Christ: for the renewal of life within us and the healing of our relationship with you, which was made possible at the cost of Jesus' death on the cross. Thank you that through his resurrection you have transformed even death from an end into a new beginning of wholeness, perfection and a heaven of praise. Thank you for those moments of healing and renewal that come when we least expect them. Amen

Canon Denise


The Second Sunday of Easter

Almighty Father,
you have given your only Son to die for our sins
and to rise again for our justification:
Grant us so to put away the leaven
of malice and wickedness
that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth;
through the merits of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Acts 4: 32-35 or Isaiah 26: 2-9, 19
The Psalm - Psalm 133
The Second Reading - 1 John 1: 1 - 2: 2
The Gospel Reading - John 20: 19-31
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Lord God our Father,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ
you have assured your children of eternal life
and in baptism have made us one with him.
Deliver us from the death of sin
and raise us to new life in your love,
in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"Peace be with you !" John 20 v 21
3 times Jesus greeted the disciples with the words "Peace be with you."
3 times in the course of that one meeting that took place on the evening of the first day of the week , and what a week last week had been!
The disciples had seen Jesus crucified, die and be buried.
Then that morning came the news that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. Jesus' body was gone! Where....?
Mary Magdalene comes with the news that she herself has seen Jesus and he was speaking to her! Was she crazy? Was she hallucinating?
Had her grief made her see things? No, Jesus had told her to go and tell the others that He would be returning to his Father and their Father
To His God and their God.( John 20 v 18)
Mary knew whom she had seen.

Just as the sealed tomb could not hold Jesus in, locked doors would not keep Jesus out!
That Easter evening the disciples had locked themselves in that room
away from prying, inquisitive eyes, questions, accusations. They were fearful.
They had heard about Mary's encounter with Jesus but what did that mean for them? What would be the backlash of their association with Jesus?
They were still afraid for their own lives, afraid of the Jews, afraid of what the future would hold for them, and who could blame them?
Just as the sealed tomb could not hold Jesus prisoner, locked doors would not keep Jesus from entering where he wished to go!

"Peace be with you"
Jesus identified himself by the scars of the cross and his passion and when they saw it really was him the mood changed from fear to joy.
Many today come to recognize Jesus in the midst of their own cross bearing pain and the indelible scars that the experience leaves behind. Recognition of His presence overwhelms the fear.

"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me so I am sending you."
And now Jesus is going to send them out into this dangerous hostile world,
not to start something new but to continue the work Jesus himself has begun.
What a commission!
What a task!
What a challenge!
The salvation that Jesus brought to Israel is now being offered to all the world.
The news of this message will be spread by the disciples, the followers of Jesus.
At the cross ,Jesus' cry of, "It is finished" declares his victory over sin and death, and those who come and trust in Him share in that victory

How would the disciples, mere human beings, undertake this awesome task of continuing Christ's ministry?
They cannot do it by themselves.
How does the Church today undertake the awesome task of continuing Christ's ministry?
It cannot do it by itself.
Jesus knew this and he himself has prepared his people for it. He breathed on them his Holy Spirit.

Jesus breathed into his followers the breath of His new life.
The breath of the Holy Spirit is the very life breath of the risen Jesus.

Karl Barth writes,"The Holy Spirit is Christ himself in the power of his resurrection....the outstretched arm of the Exalted One!"

Jesus would now work in and through his disciples. They would go out in His name, with His authority and His power and build a community bound by His Spirit and call and gather into that community others from all the world.

Individuals working together as Christ's church and as members of the same body are called to do the same today.
The peace Jesus gives gathers up all the blessings of the kingdom of God.
The Church's mission is to declare in Christ there is peace between God and Man.
May the Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, strive to work for peace between man and man in Christ.
"Peace be with You."

Prayer. We pray for those who have opened their hearts and lives to Christ and rejoice in the new life and peace He has brought. We pray for those who work for peace, for those who sacrifice their own comfort for the sake of those with no one to care for them. We give thanks for those whose words and deeds bring hope. Most of all we give thanks for the hope we have in Christ and the blessings of His presence. Amen.

Canon Denise


Easter Day - The First Sunday of Easter

Almighty God,
through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
you have overcome death
and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
Grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The First Reading - Acts 10: 34-43 or Isaiah 25: 6-9
The Psalm - Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24
The Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11 or Acts 10: 34-43
The Gospel Reading - John 20: 1-18
or Mark 16: 1-8
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Living God,
for our redemption you gave your only-begotten Son
to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection
you have delivered us from the power of our enemy.
Grant us so to die daily unto sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark 16: 6 : He is risen! He is not here.

A rector said to me,
"On Easter Sunday instead of a sermon all I want to do is stand up and say, 'He is risen! Alleluia!'" As far as I know that rector has not done that yet!
Yet, less is more! No matter how many words of explanation are added to that phrase, the joy in a believer's heart knowing Christ lives forever cannot be added to!
He has triumphed over sin and death - the way has now been opened for us into a new a living relationship with God through faith in His son Jesus Christ.

Holy Week has taken us through the dark events leading up to the trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. And though the very act of contemplation may have triggered off new and challenging questions about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and their relationship to each other, questions about obedience and love, will and purpose, questions about sin and separation and evil, but, as the Dean says in his Good Friday blog, using the words of the hymnwriter Frances Alexander, "We may not know, we cannot tell, what pains he had to bear, but we believe it was for us he hung and suffered there."

The women who went looking for Jesus were taken by surprise. They had their own assumptions of where they would find Jesus. But they had missed him- for the moment. Sometimes we too can have assumptions of what is the best way to find Jesus and in the looking we can miss him.
Jesus isn't into complicated treasure hunts- He simply says to each one of us , "Come," and He will let himself be found!
And wherever He is invited He brings with Him his resurrection power, light and love.
He is risen! Alleluia!

Prayer: Lord, we praise you for the hope and joy of Easter Day. We praise you for the way your resurrection rekindles our faltering faith, gives light which breaks into our darkness and touches us with the assurance that nothing will ever be the same again. May our praises keep ringing out through the whole of your world, that all people everywhere and for ever may join in endless song to your glory. Amen

Canon Denise


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