Welcome to our service today. This on-line service will continue for the foreseeable future. Many thanks to Bella Sandcraft and Karen Allen who have proof-read this service! It is very sad that we are unable to have services in church at the moment but I will keep you posted, as everything is changing very quickly.  I feel very sorry for Joy Fernando who is with me until June for parish experience when we are so desk bound at the moment. Although Joy is taking this Sunday off from the Wayland Group, she is gaining experience elsewhere. Also she will be preparing for an on-line Lenten Study Course in preparation for Easter.

If you want to contact me please telephone 01760 627039 or adrian.bell4@uwclub.net
If you want to contact Joy please telephone 01760 725938/07905039201 or joy.fernando@live.co.uk

Adrian Bell

 + In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

The GreetingGrace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
and also with you.

This day Jesus is revealed as the Christ in the waters of baptism.

Prayer of PreparationAlmighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The GloriaGlory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.

Amen.   

Collect for the Baptism of ChristEternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;
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.

Readings:-

•    Genesis 1. 1-5
The Beginning

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

•    Acts 19 1-7
Paul in Ephesus

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

•    Mark 1 4-11

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
The Baptism and Testing of Jesus

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Homily – Let’s be thankful

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Christ.

For many parents and also grandparents, including ourselves, who have had a grandchild born during this lockdown, it seems so sad that we will have to delay having a baptism service until the lock-down ends. On the plus side we should be pleased for families that their children are happy and healthy and the baptism service can wait until the world is a little safer. I have encouraged parents to use prayers for the thanksgiving of a birth of a child (the rarely used Churching Service)………..

‘Compassionate and Gracious God, I thank you for the wonder of children and the gift of new life. As Mary knew the pain and joy of motherhood, please sustain me through childbirth with your grace and love. May this child know your love, your wisdom and your care. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen’

But of course Jesus was not baptised as a baby, but as an adult.  As a young baby he had other important traditional initiation ceremonies to go through, including circumcision by the local Rabbi (I’m glad I am not a Jewish Rabbi). Also, as a young Jewish first born male he was presented to God at the Temple (Candlemas 2nd February).

Jesus had to wait for 30 years until he was baptised! Today is the beginning of Jesus ministry and in the reading from Genesis we read about the beginning of creation, which is very suitable as we are also beginning a new year.

Personally I hate missing the first part of a film or play whether it is on the TV or the theatre.  That people arrive late for plays always annoy me because as anyone who knows me, knows only too well that I like to be early and on time for everything, but  I   never carry a watch, or even a mobile telephone! The start of a film or a play, or even the overture to a concert, sets the setting. We become enthusiastic and eventually everything will fit into place.

During this lock-down we have all had plenty of time to contemplate life and I know for many it is has not been at all easy. I am fortunate in having a lovely wife, lots of friends and a family, and lots to do, but I know that the days can be very long during these winter months.

Re-reading the Bible is a good start, and Genesis 1. 1-5 because this is rather like an overture because it sets the themes and stories to come. These few verses tell us that we did not create the earth but God did and is re-creating it every day as the earth renews itself. It is God who sets everything in motion and who drives the action to it ultimate conclusion. We read of a story that after the creation of heaven and earth there is just a watery waste and the possibility of life lies within it, but without God’s action through the Holy Spirit, life cannot begin. This pattern is repeated again and again in the story of God’s people, and is a feature of Jesus’ baptism which we celebrate today.

Many may question why Jesus needed to come forward to John for baptism which was mainly as an act of repentance. In my mind Jesus comes forward because he wants to be one of the people. It is easy as a Vicar to jump the queue whether it is going to the doctors, solicitor, dentist or really anything. Often you know all these people by Christian names and when my son Nicholas was born, we were offered the services of a private consultant living in our parish and but we never did receive a bill – this is just how things are.  But as a Vicar I have never used my position in the community to help my family to gain any privileges – we should be part of the community and realise the problems that others go through.  

Then this baptism is about a journey. The Jewish people crossed the Red Sea, making a perilous journey so as to reach the Promised Land. Finally, we see Jesus rising from the waters of baptisms and emerging into a new world – this is a new creation brought forth as we saw at the beginning of the world by the Spirit of God.

The Baptism of Christ is really a very exciting day. Hopefully, so will be the many baptisms which have been postponed during the lockdown. My hope is that as we all emerge from this 3rd lockdown and the vaccinations prove successful that we can have the joy the Noah and his family had coming out of the Ark, or the children of Israel coming out of the Red Sea into the Promised Land, or the joy of Easter morning as the young disciples realised that Christ was alive.

2021 will be full of promises, some will be fulfilled others will not. One job I certainly would not want to have at this time is to be Prime Minister!

Maybe you have been like me during the lock-down –  some days have been good, but other days the cloud has come down.  But a brisk walk, some fresh air and the sign in the garden that the spring bulbs are breaking through changes my view. Let us be thankful that we have we come into another new year. I am looking forward to being vaccinated but I will not be jumping the queue!

Every blessing for 2021

Adrian Bell
IntercessionsO God, today we rejoice and give thanks because your Son humbled himself to be baptised in the Jordan. Through the waters you have given us the mystery of baptism for the remission of sins. Through water and the Spirit, you give us new life as the people of God and the gifts of your new covenants. We pray for your church at this time. We remember the many closed churches and congregations scattered and we pray for those who guide us. We pray for our Bishops Graham, Alan and Jonathan. We pray for the Bishop Jonathan as he prepares to retire to Oxfordshire, and thank God for his ministry amongst us.
Lord in your mercy  Hear our prayer
O God we pray for the unity of the world as countries fight the new strain of the virus. We pray for understanding and compassion in the world and we pray for our own country and its role in the world. We pray as a country that we should encourage the gifts of compassion, generosity and humility. We pray for our Prime Minster and government at this time of emergency, and we pray for the NHS and all those who are fighting the virus on various fronts.
Lord in your mercy  Hear our prayer
O God we pray for our community and remember local surgeries and places where there will be vaccination centres. We pray for local school children and students now learning at home and for teachers and lecturers preparing lessons on line and especially for children and parents in difficult circumstances. We pray for the work of the Food Banks and those helping with emergency aid to families and the elderly.
Lord in your mercy  Hear our prayer
O God we pray that those who suffer at home or in hospital, receiving care and attention during these difficult times. We pray for local surgeries and hospitals giving excellent care, and we pray for the safety of all those who help in any way. We pray for Thorp House and all the local nursing and caring homes. In silence we remember our loved ones……
Lord in your mercy  Hear our prayer
O God we know that death can be so cruel, especially when people are taken at a young age, but we thank you for the knowledge and the belief in eternity, and that one day we will gather together in your kingdom. We pray for those who have recently died. We pray for Gordana Bendkowski, John Lister and their families at this time. 

Lord in your mercy  Hear our prayerMerciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

The Peace
God has made us one in Christ. He has set his seal upon us and as a pledge of what is to come has given the Spirit to dwell in our hearts.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you

The Lord’s PrayerOur Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.

Final Prayer
Lord of all time and eternity,
you opened the heavens and revealed yourself as Father
in the baptism of Jesus your beloved Son:
by the power of your Spirit
complete the heavenly work of our rebirth
through the waters of the new creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Blessing and Dismissal

May God, who in Christ gives us a spring of water welling up to eternal life, perfect in you the image of his glory; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.  Amen

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

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