May 17th – I will not leave you orphans

St Thomas of Canterbury, Wilbury

6th Sunday of Easter

May 17th, 2020


Welcome and introduction by Revd Donald Dowling, our celebrant and Preacher


For the Eucharist, a small table with a candle/cross might help you with focus. If you wish, during the communion to have a piece of bread and a glass each with wine/grape juice, please have these ready in advance. It might help to remind you that we are celebrating with millions of other Christians even if most of us are behind “locked doors”.


The service includes preparation with confession, absolution, and the collect; then come the readings, an address and an affirmation of faith; this will be followed by intercessory prayer.

I will then set up the table, say the Peace and then an Easter Eucharistic prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer the breaking of bread and an invitation to communion. Afterwards we will say a prayer of thanksgiving and service will end with a blessing.

Peter says, I still haven’t sorted out copyright free hymns (although I am working on it) so you might like to find them on YouTube before you begin

The Service

Opening Hymn – Stand up! Stand up for Jesus

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
Ye soldiers of the Cross;
Lift high his royal banner,
It must not suffer loss.
From vict’ry unto vict’ry
His army he shall lead,
Till ev’ry foe is vanquished
And Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
The trumpet call obey,
Forth to the mighty conflict
In this his glorious day.
Ye that are men now serve him
Against unnumbered foes:
Let courage rise with danger,
And strength to strength oppose.

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
Stand in his strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you
Ye dare not trust your own
Put on the Gospel armour,
Each piece put on with pray’r;
Where duty calls or danger
Be never wanting there!

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
The strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle,
The next the victor’s song.
To him that overcometh
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.

Greeting and Welcome

Alleluia, Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed, Alleluia!


Easter Anthems

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us:

so let us celebrate the feast,


not with the old leaven of corruption and wickedness:

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


Christ once raised from the dead dies no more:

death has no more dominion over him.


In dying, he died to sin once and for all:

in living he lives to God.


See yourselves therefore as dead to sin:

and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christ has been raised from the dead:

the first fruits of those who sleep.


For as by man came death:

by man has come also the resurrection of the dead;


for as in Adam all die:

even so in Christ shall all be made alive


Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now

and shall be forever. Amen


Let us confess our sins to Almighty God

(A time for reflection)



Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
Hear then the word of grace and the assurance of pardon
Your sins are forgiven for his sake. Amen



God our redeemer,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen


Acts 17.22–31

22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though indeed he is not far from each one of us.

28 For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.” 29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.

30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God


Psalm 66.7–18

R Bless our God, you peoples:
let the sound of his praise be heard.

7 Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heard. 8 Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. R

9 For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us just as silver is tried. 10 You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.
11 You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but you brought us out into a place of refreshment. R

12 I will enter your house with burnt-offerings and will pay you my vows, which I promised with my lips and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble. 13 I will offer you sacrifices of fat beasts with the smoke of rams; I will give you oxen and goats. R

14 Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for me. 15 I called out to him with my mouth, and his praise was on my tongue. 16 If I had found evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me; R

17 But in truth God has heard me; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. 18 Blessèd be God, who has not rejected my prayer, nor withheld his love from me. R

Glory to the Father, and to the Son
And to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now
And ever shall be

1 Peter 3.13–22

13 Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you – not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

This is the Word of the Lord

Thanks be to God

Gospel Hymn;

There is a redeemer
Jesus, God’s own Son
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah
Holy One.

Thank you, oh my father
For giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit
‘Til the work on Earth is done.

Jesus my redeemer
Name above all names
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah
Oh, for sinners slain.

When I stand in Glory
I will see His face
And there I’ll serve my King forever
In that Holy Place.



Hear the GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John 14.15-21

Glory to you, O Lord

Jesus said to his disciples:  15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,
to be with you for ever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them”.

This is the Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you, O Christ

Sermon – Rev Donald Dowling

Text: I will not leave you orphaned: I am coming to you John 14:18

Title: Hope for the hurting

Theme: The promise of the Spirit

Aim: that my hearers may know the presence of God in their pain and loss.


Many years ago, on a snowy winter’s day we took in a homeless person who turned up on our doorstep. It was a difficult experience as he was not a very likeable person. But he was in need and we tried to find help and accommodation. He was in his mid-forties, had relationship problems and addictions. He sought to engage our sympathy by declaring that he was an orphan. We thought at first he meant he had lost his parents at an early age, but in fact they both died when he was well into adulthood. After 5 traumatic weeks we eventually found him somewhere to stay. However, we remained in contact with him for a few years until he died. He rang us from time to time regularly prefacing a request for money with the phrase: I’ve had a bit of bad luck. One of his major problems was that he would never accept any responsibility for his situation. It was always someone else’s fault.  After all we should remember that he was an orphan.

By contrast my wife and I became involved in a small charity in Turkana, a remote province of Kenya, which is called Help Us Orphans. This was set up to help children who had lost parents through illness. In Kenya there is little social welfare and children are dependent on parents or the wider family for any care. On a visit to Kenya we had met Ann in Nairobi at the hostel where we were staying. My wife Jo soon struck up a friendship with her. She had been widowed while quite young and was now recovering from breast cancer treatment. When we returned to the UK she and Jo corresponded. Three years later Ann wrote that she had now become responsible for the support of 10 children – 4 of her own and six of deceased relatives. She sought our help because there were other children in her village in even worse circumstances. To be an orphan usually meant little access to education,  poverty and little  healthcare. Ann was a committed Christian and related strongly to the strand of compassion, found throughout the Old and New Testament, for the plight of orphans, widows and the poor. So Help us Orphans was born.

In our gospel reading when Jesus promised his disciples at that Last Supper that he would not leave them orphaned, it would certainly resonate with them. Of course, they weren’t small children or necessarily bereft of family, but he knew that spiritually and emotionally they were dependent on him as young kids are on their fathers and mothers. They needed guidance and spiritual nurture. Without him they would be lost. Indeed in a few hours they would be terrified, and devastated as they witnessed Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, crucifixion and death. You can hear the pain in that response of Cleopas to the traveler who accompanied them on the Emmaus road: “We had hoped that he was the Messiah.” As they walked and talked they were comforted by the Stranger’s exposition of the Scriptures and were finally elated by the revelation of his true identity in the breaking of the bread. And yet the disciples had still to cope with the realisation that Jesus would physically leave them. Would they lose him again? Having discovered whom he truly was, would he abandon them to get on with it?

No, said Jesus, I am coming to you. But it would be different. It would be real, but not the same.

In our present situation many of us may feel orphaned; isolated and bereft of the company of friends and family.  We may be fearful and anxious too. We can’t touch, hug or embrace many whom we love. That for me and probably for you too  is a great source of pain. This is particularly acute if we have friends or family who are very ill, dying or who even have just died. What grieves us is the denial of the opportunity to see them or attend their funeral or console their loved ones. We recognise it’s not anyone’s fault, we realise that it is necessary to prevent even more death and suffering . But it hurts. Of course, we are fortunate compared to previous generations in that almost all of us have access to the Internet, or at least a phone, so that we at least talk and often see those we are separated from. We thank God too we live in a society with good heath provision and, despite its deficiencies, social care with a tremendous amount of voluntary sacrifice and dedication. And we trust too that there will be some relaxing of the restrictions on our lives soon. Nevertheless many of us still feel orphaned, even if isolation is for our protection. So where’s the  comfort in the words of Jesus? I will not leave you orphans – I am coming to you.

Firstly, and this is too easily forgotten, it comes from the lips and life of one who knows from the inside pain, parting, loss and death. Jesus isn’t offering a spiritual band aid or analgesic. He has a deep empathy with the suffering. He does not deny the reality of loss. Remember that these words are spoken as he prepares for his betrayal, rejection, condemnation and crucifixion.

Second, they come from the one who has now broken from the tomb. The one who breaks through the barriers of our fears showing his scars, speaking his words of hope and forgiveness. He has kept his promise he has come again.

Thirdly, he offers continuing care to his orphaned disciples who are being prepared for his final physical departure, the event we call the Ascension which Christians mark this coming week. He does this  by promising them the empowering presence of the Spirit the one who constantly reminds of the scriptures, who enables and strengthens us in dark times as well as light,  who creates for us a spiritual family, prays for us even when we cannot pray and walks with us on our journey. He has not abandoned us.

Finally he promises us that he will return and claim his sons and daughters as heirs of his kingdom.

So I end with this poem which expresses the thoughts of Peter as he reflects on the Ascension.


Never again… and yet always, Peter reflects after the Ascension

Never again, Jesus
Shall we break bread together in this world.
Never again will you teach me to fish on Galilee;
Never again will I go walking on water with you;
Never again will you wash my feet;
Never again will you greet me from the dawnlit shore.

Never again will you sleep in my boat,
Oblivious seeming to the wind and waves;
Never again will you preach in my village,
Disturb our worship, yet bring healing and hope to so many at evening.
Never again will you stay at mine and enjoy home cooking
Never again will you rouse me from deep sleep
to watch with you and pray.
Never again, Jesus, this side of heaven will we laugh, weep and walk together.

Yes, sometimes, I feel sure,
You will still chide me:
For my lack of faith,
For my headstrong will and stubborn pride,
And for my ignorant presumption.

Sometimes too – and I shall grieve at this –
I will sense your gaze
When I deny or betray you.
Even though you are not there with me.
For whenever the cock crows,
I will weep
Whenever fish are grilled on charcoal
I will remember.

Yes, Jesus, I will so miss you.
A cloud has veiled you from my sight.
You have gone,
But only that part which eyes, ears and hands can sense.

AND YET ALWAYS you are and will be with us:
Not as past memory, but as present tense and future hope.
Not as the carpenter but as the king.
Not as the stranger, but as our friend
Not as the victim, but as our Saviour.
We shall know you as the scriptures burn within us.
We shall touch you in the neighbour that we love.
We shall hear you in the silence when we pray.
We shall see you when bread is broken and wine outpoured.

But these are but a foretaste of that joy
When you will come, and we shall be with you forever,
And never  again shall cloud  veil you from our sight.

©Don Dowling


The Prayers by Bryan Sonnen

On a day when we are reminded that God is omnipresent with us and has a special place for us, let us remember those who have been taken from us in this dark hour. It is hard to understand why this virus has erupted in our midst, but it has made us think and consider our way of life.

Dear Lord we ask that you comfort those who have suffered during this period, with the loss of loved ones, the loss of physical contact and the loss of social contact. Help us bear this with fortitude, patience and the knowledge of your love for us. Take those who are hurt and in pain into your arms and your eternal love.

We give thanks, Lord, for those who have stepped forward to help and care for those who need assistance. Their courage, dedication and willingness to put others before themselves and their families is a sign of the good and love that you instil into us. Protect them in their work.

Our leaders are dealing with situations that many of them have not seen or considered, until now. Give them the wisdom and willingness to listen to others, the patience to hear others and for all of them to work for the good of all of us and not consider narrow political lines. Give them your wisdom to work together.

Our church family have not been able to meet with each other for some time, we ask that you help us to bear this situation, grant us the willingness to help and care for each other. We look to the time when we can meet in our church, with our new minister, to honour you as a family as we are used to.

Dear Lord, hear our prayers

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen


Offertory hymn Great is Thy faithfulness,

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Affirmation of Faith

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist
We believe and trust in him

Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again
We believe and trust in him

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God, and makes Christ known in the world
We believe and trust in him.

This is the faith of the Church. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples saying:

Peace be with you
Then they were glad when they saw the Lord
The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.


Easter Eucharistic prayer

The Lord is here

His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God


It is indeed right, our duty and our joy,
always and everywhere to give you thanks
almighty and eternal Father,
and in these days of Easter
to celebrate with joyful hearts
the memory of your wonderful works.
For by the mystery of his passion
Jesus Christ your risen Son,
has conquered the powers of death and hell
and restored in men and women the image of your glory.
He has placed us once more in paradise
and opened to them the gate of life eternal.
And so in the joy of this Passover,
earth and heaven resound with gladness,
while angels and archangels and the powers of all creation
sing for ever the hymn of your glory:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

Hosanna in the highest.


Accept our praises, heavenly Father,
through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and as we follow his example and obey his command,
grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit
these gifts of bread and wine
may be to us his body and his blood;

who in the same night he was betrayed,
took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to this disciples saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way after supper, he took the cup,
and gave you thanks saying:
Drink this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins;
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.

Therefore heavenly Father,
we remember his offering of himself
made once for all upon the cross;
we look for the coming of your kingdom,
and with this bread and this cup
we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord,

Great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died:
Christ is risen:
Christ will come again.

Accept through him our great high priest,
this our sacrifice of thanks and praise,
and as we eat and drink these gifts
in the presence of your divine majesty,
renew us by your Spirit,
inspire us with your love
and unite us in the body of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through him, and with him, and in him,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
with all who stand before you in earth and heaven,
we worship you Father almighty in songs of everlasting praise. Amen

Pause for reflection 

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

 Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Breaking of the Bread
We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.


Giving of Communion
Draw near with faith.
Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ
which he gave for you,
and his blood which he shed for you.
Eat and drink
in remembrance that he died for you, and feed on him in your hearts
by faith with thanksgiving.
The body of Christ Amen

The blood of Christ Amen


Post Communion Prayer

God our Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life:
may we thirst for you,
the spring of life and source of goodness,
through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.

Blessing and Dismissal

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you now and always. Amen

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ, Amen


Final Hymn Name of all majesty

Name of all majesty,
fathomless mystery,
King of the ages
by angels adored;
power and authority,
splendour and dignity,
bow to his mastery,
Jesus is Lord!

Child of our destiny,
God from eternity,
love of the Father
on sinners outpoured;
see now what God has done
sending his only Son,
Christ the beloved One,
Jesus is Lord!

Saviour of Calvary,
costliest victory,
darkness defeated
and Eden restored;
born as a man to die,
nailed to a cross on high,
cold in the grave to lie,
Jesus is Lord!

Source of all sovereignty,
light, immortality,
life everlasting
and heaven assured;
so with the ransomed, we
praise him eternally,
Christ in his majesty,
Jesus is Lord!


Copyright:  Some of this material is copyright Common worship Archbishop’s Council ©2000

Some of the text is copyright © 2015 Archbishop’s Council and Roots for Churches Ltd

© Roots for Churches Ltd adapted

Thought for the Week -Donald’s poem, Never again… and yet always



Prayers for the week – please pray for the folk who live in these streets

Romany Close
Wilbury Close
Stotfold Road
Wilbury Road
Longfield Court
Furley Close
Kite Way
Jay Close

Members of the church who live outside the parish

Special topic

Our families, neighbours and friends
Those who work and the unemployed



Please keep up your planned giving because we need to maintain our cashflow. Offertory envelopes can be dropped in to Sylvia, Shena or Peter, but we are trying to avoid handling cash if possible. Could you consider giving by occasional cheque, or setting up a standing order or direct debit? The church and Wilbury Hall hires have ceased, so that income stream is gone! If you could spare a bit more, that would be great!

 Prayer Hotline

Have you tried the Archbishop’s Daily Hope phone line 0800 804 8044, for music, prayers and reflections? If not, try it! It’s free and inspiring!


Thank you for your support. In the current circumstances, the Foodbank is no longer able to accept food donations, and are instead giving vouchers to their clients to spend in supermarkets. If you would like to make a cash donation, please go to

Donate money


More general help

You could give online to, who have launched an appeal for all those affected financially by the Coronavirus.