''LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY''
New: Rev'd John Poole will put out something on Fridays, and provide us with some ‘tasters’ for the coming Sunday
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Looking forward to the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Good morning everyone,
Acts of the Apostles 8: 26 – 40
Continuing our Easter readings through Acts, we now read of the spread of the gospel beyond the traditional Jewish homeland. Philip (a deacon, not to the apostle of that name) is the main character in this chapter. Actually it is more accurate to say that the main ‘character’ here and throughout the book of Acts is the Holy Spirit. Luke, the author wants us to understand that the driving force in the whole mission of the Church is the Spirit...
oday we continue to look at God's word in Deuteronomy. We see that the Lord says that he is looking after us, providing for us and meeting all our needs. There is a codicil to that though which is to love him with all our hearts and fix His Word in our hearts. Some in the Jewish tradition actually have scripture fastened to the foreheads and wrists. Whilst that may be a good and constant reminder for those who subscribe to the literal word in Deuteronomy, for us today, we do not need that; we have the Holy Spirit who gently prompts us to remember all that God is and what He requires of us. The Word of God is precious.This morning I read of the loss of over twenty migrant people including minors, who were brought into Los Cristianos harbour yesterday on their small and inadequate boat as they tried to find their way to our shores and a better life. It is truly heart breaking. Whist we still mourn the loss of our dear friend Margaret we can remember too that the people on that boat were someone's brother, sister, husband, wife and child and today they too will be mourned. May they rest in peace.
Sometimes we can forget that our Lord is the same today , yesterday and forever. We want to think that our situations are unique but of course that is not really so. People have always had problems or become confused as to the right way to go or behave. Our scripture takes us back to principles; we must love God and obey him and that will be the determining factor for our wellbeing. Whist the people of Old Testament relied on trying to obey carefully the laid down commandments, we are privileged to have the Holy Spirit to guide us. The Lord is good.
This morning was Margaret's funeral.
It was lovely and what Margaret wished for. It was sad that many of you who would have wanted to be there were not able to.
I am attaching the whole service and order of service for you to read.
It seems from our scripture this morning that many people heard Jesus' words which are Spirit and life but, in the end, did not follow Him. That is incredibly sad. He even checked out with those closest to him if they were to leave also. He knew already of course but it is still sometimes worth checking things out, making sure. At that point anyone of them could have changed their minds. It seems inconceivable that once anyone hears the words of eternal life would reject them but it was so then and so now.There will be times when we all may want to abandon ship, run away or find the road hard to travel that is normal; we are made of flesh and blood. However, once we have received and accepted into ourselves the life-giving words of the Lord, we have all that we need in this life and the next.
As I mentioned at the Annual meeting when thanking Marisha especially for her daily devotions over much of the past year, I have agreed with her to continue to put out something on Fridays, following the weekly studies during Lent. I thought it would be useful to provide some ‘tasters’ for the coming Sunday.
When I was being prepared for Confirmation many years ago, there was a big stress on being properly prepared for Sunday’s Communion (and every Communion in fact), that we should know what is coming up in the service, not least the readings and the theme so that we never come to it ‘cold’ and so that we are ready to meet the risen Lord. We were encouraged to look at the readings and use them as a basis for our own prayers. Perhaps there is something there that reminds us to focus on a particular person or situation, an event that is going on in the world or even something happening in our own lives or the life of someone close to us that we should usefully pray about, and offer it as an ‘intention’ and take it with us in our hearts to the altar.
Some of you probably do prepare in this way. In any case, what I am outlining here is simply a suggestion and an encouragement. There are other ways of preparing for worship, but preparation in some way is always to be recommended.
Today's scripture is from Psalm 139. It stuck me how different we are from the Lord. Steadfast seems to be the word of the day. Whilst we want to be considered steadfast and endeavour to be so in comparison to God's steadfastness ours seems so frail.Of course, we are a work in progress and it is a lifetime of learning from and trusting our creator which will change us completely to be like Him. How easy it is when faced with even quite minor problems to forget that he is with us and for us, wanting the very best in our lives. Cultivating a grateful heart, recognising God's love and mercy I believe comes with opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit for surely, we cannot do it by our own efforts.
In today's scripture Jesus talks of something which is important to us all; our daily food, that which we need to sustain our lives. At that time there were crowds that followed him about to hear what he had to say and Jesus was always mindful of people's physical needs, however in this passage He talks of that which we need for our spiritual and eternal life. We know that one can go without food for some time and survive and even without water for a little time. However, the bread and water He is offering is essential for life now and for a future with him in eternity. We know that some food and drink is not good for us. There are umpteen magazine articles that will tell us what are the right things to eat and drink which may very well give us a healthy life. What we do know is that there is no debate about whether the bread and water of life that Jesus offers is good for us, for He is that bread and water and that particular food brings eternal life. It is free to all who would receive it.
This morning's scripture is so full of hope and blessings which of course we all need. Sometimes we can forget what we have been given in Christ Jesus when we were adopted. Perhaps some of you were adopted as children as was I, and I suspect that gives a very different understanding to what it is to be part of a family than when you are born into one. Of course, I can only speak for myself. When you are adopted, there can be a sense of not really belonging, you may not have a 'known' history although there is also a sense of specialness too as you were chosen, not just happen to get there naturally.
All of us whether we have been brought up by birth families or not have a common experience of 'adoption by our heavenly Father'
It was not a chance happening. It says we were known and destined to be that before the foundation of the world. So, you see we all have a 'known' history which far out passes any family history that I or other earthly adoptees have dug up. To be known as children of God is a privilege but with it goes a responsibility. That is to live good and Holy lives which are honouring to him.
For those of us who might be feeling sad this morning's Psalm is very uplifting. It reminds us of the goodness of God and that He is there for us whatever our need. I have to often remind myself to look for God's hand upon situations, that He has got it covered and that my prayers go straight to His heart. We have a lot to praise Him for, sometimes we just need to open our eyes.
Our psalm today tells us how it really is. We are weak and the Lord is strong, like a tower. Whilst we reside with him, we are safe and protected. Problems will come our way but they will not defeat us; they will not breach the walls of God's tower. Of course, if we decide to go it alone, we find that actually we are not that strong at all. Fortunately, we don't have to be alone and if we are weak that is not a bad thing for it says in Corinthians that God's Grace is sufficient for us, His power made perfect in weakness.
Today's scripture tells of a dramatic story. Just when one might think 'it can't get much worse', the Apostles having been arrested and thrown into jail, they are sprung from the prison, by an angel of the Lord no less. No doubt those who were responsible had thought that the imprisonment would be the end of the story; life could go back as it once was. They hadn't reckoned on the power of God and his Word; nor had they taken account of the people's reaction to seeing and hearing from the Apostles.
I wonder how the Apostles reacted when they saw the angel. They had seen many miraculous events whilst with Jesus but angels were another order of things altogether. We can never know what God is going to do next in us and in the world. Although our own lives may seem to us, ordinary or even mundane, to the Lord they are not. What he did with the Apostles He can do with us. We can be used for good in many ways but only if we are alert to His Spirit and obedient to his call. We may be the vital link in the chain.
I have grown to love the psalms so much. Every human emotion is covered and it is a comfort to know that actually we all have similar joys and troubles. Fear is often mentioned. That is so disabling when it gets hold of us yet the scriptures tell us to not fear. It seems so much of our responses in life spring from fear. Fear of rejection, loneliness, the unknown, loss and all manner of things. I am absolutely positive that is not what the Lord wants for us. When fear overtakes us that is the time to positively reject it in Jesus’ nameand start praising Him for all that He is and has done for us. It will leave no room for fear.
I wonder what the day will bring. We can never tell, can we ? Sometimes we have plans, agendas, routines, hopes and wishes but all can change in the blink of an eye. You might find today's picture interesting. For me it represents how the Holy Spirit moves. That is the essence of this morning's scripture; we do not know where and how the Holy Spirit moves in the world and in His people. We know that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to ask questions. Had the Holy Spirit moved him to do so? We don't know too much of his life after that except that he went with Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Jesus's body for burial and it is understood that he was expelled from the synagogue for believing in Jesus Christ. I believe that God, through the Holy Spirit actively seeks all people to come to a relationship with Him. It is amazing when you ask people how they became Christians to hear the many and varied ways that the Lord came into their lives. That is how it works......we just don't know who, when and how he will speak into people's hearts. For our part we can pray and be ready to give a word of testimony at the right time that the Lord may use. Though we might have 'a plan for the day' the Holy Spirit can change that. He moves where He will. It is good to be open to that, who knows what will happen.
The media is full of the Duke of Edinburgh since his death last week. His life is being measured. It is interesting that our psalm this morning talks of the same; how our lives are to be judged. Some might say a person has achieved much by accumulation of wealth, honourably or not, some by how we are perceived by others or high up in the social scale we are. It is not wise to judge by these standards, they are as nothing to God. He sees our hearts; his judgement is much different to ours. Those who knew Prince Phillip personally have spoken of his attributes; his humour, his support of Queen Elizabeth and others, kindness rendered. The Lord will look upon his heart, at those things not whether he accumulated great wealth or power. In due course our lives will be measured too; it is a wise person who contemplates how God will view it.
Today will be a day of great sadness for those who knew and loved Prince Phillip personally, for those too who have been witness to his life for so long. I have often pondered on death especially when my own mother passed away. She too was old, 95. It was not an unexpected passing away but strangely still a shock. Somehow for many of us we are unacquainted with it, yet it will come to all. Can we ever be prepared for it ? Maybe we can and should for ourselves at least. Do we love and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, do we have hope in the resurrection of all who love him? Each of us must ponder that alone.Today there will be others who will have passed from death to life. As we pray for those who mourn Prince Phillip let us remember too others who have lost their loved ones or are watching the final hours of those who they will miss. Jesus too wept. God sees our tears and will comfort us.
Today's scripture from Isaiah is comforting. At times we all find ourselves on rocky and uneven paths and cannot see the way ahead; the Lord is with us, smoothing them out so that our foot might not slip. He talks about the blind; probably not those with physical blindness but with spiritual blindness, those who have not recognised the Light shining on their life's path. We are all spiritually blind at times, we see what we want to see so that we can carry on without change happening within us. The Lord still continues to shine that light until we do open our eyes. He wants heart change, not by our own effort but by allowing his love into our lives. Once that happens, we cannot help but be transformed.
Today's psalm was very poignant for the present situation. It reminds us of God's steadfast love for us. He does not withdraw his love and concern for us, ever, yet so often we are governed by our feelings which may change from day today. Sometimes our faith is strong, especially when life is going well; sometimes it is weak when problems come. I am sure that is not what the Lord would want for us, although he understands completely. He wants us to have faith every day. In another psalm it says 'the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end'. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of that when doubts and anxiety come. There are hard days and there are easy days, the Lord is with us in both.
He is risen, He is risen, He is risen! That is a truth I hope we are all singing in our hearts. Scripture says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.
It has not been an easy year where our singing in church has been curtailed. We are made to worship and singing is an important part of being able to do that. Easter day brings us such wonderful hymns of praise, exultation, affirmation of what has been achieved for us. Whether we can sing out loud or not, let us sing in our hearts ....or maybe an 'in the bath praiser'
Can't sing, wont sing; Did you know that the Lord hears us as we have the voices of angels?
God hears those praises, he loves them.
Feeling down; sing
Feeling good; sing
Feeling grateful; sing
Sing, sing, sing.
Today is Maundy Thursday where we would traditionally be celebrating Jesus washing the disciples' feet and the last supper. This year we have no actual service but is good to think about what it all means to us.Did you know that Maundy means command? Jesus' command through example was to be as a servant. I wonder how we are doing on that one. Are we being a servant to one another and those around us? I think maybe it is not too hard to be loving, helpful and servant-like to those who we know and love but it is quite a different order of things to be that to others we don't really care for. When Jesus was washing those disciples' feet and eating the last supper was there with him, Judas who would go on to betray him. It is extraordinary really. Of course, He knew that but still He continued in His appointed role of a Servant King. I wonder how many of us would have wanted or been able to do that. It is a great lesson to us all. Today we have the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us to be and do all that Jesus would want us to. He is our helper and there for us; we only have to ask.Tomorrow we have a joint Ecumenical service at 3pm at San Blas church. I hope you will join us if you can
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Looking forward to the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Good morning everyone,
Acts of the Apostles 8: 26 – 40
Continuing our Easter readings through Acts, we now read of the spread of the gospel beyond the traditional Jewish homeland. Philip (a deacon, not to the apostle of that name) is the main character in this chapter. Actually it is more accurate to say that the main ‘character’ here and throughout the book of Acts is the Holy Spirit. Luke, the author wants us to understand that the driving force in the whole mission of the Church is the Spirit.
The gospel has now been preached in Samaria, a traditional no-go area for Jews. Philip had been instrumental in the conversion of the Samaritans and has now handed on that work to the apostles. Philip, prompted by the Spirit (described as an ‘angel’ speaking to him) travels south of Jerusalem where he meets an Ethiopian eunuch, a courtier of the queen mother in his homeland. Being from the ‘castrati,’ if that condition is meant to be read as literal, he is excluded from the racial and religious community of Israel. Also, he is from the ‘nether regions’ of the known world. In two senses he is an outsider in a religious world governed by strict boundaries. His religious identity is vague, but we may assume that he is a ‘God fearing gentile’ who worships the God of Israel. After all, he has been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and he is reading the Jewish scriptures when Philip meets him.
Ethiopia in those times refers to the region covered today by northern Sudan rather than the modern nation of that name further south. As we read the story of this man’s encounter with Philip, we find a closely parallel function and structure to the Emmaus Road story in Luke’s Gospel (24: 13 – 35), unfortunately not included in our Easter readings this year, except for its brief conclusion. Here, as at Emmaus, the puzzled listener is first instructed through the scriptures before coming to the sacrament, in this case baptism.
This encounter on an isolated desert road is the scene for a seeker of truth to become an ambassador for Christ. Tradition has it that this pilgrim was responsible for taking the Christian gospel to his homeland. His distant origins, his race, his sexual ‘otherness’ all witness to the new inclusiveness of the gospel in fulfilment of Isaiah 56: 3 – 7. A lesson still for Christians today, especially those who still want ‘circle the wagons’ around their own group or kind in order to keep out those they consider to be different.
1 John 4: 7 – 21
The Spirit is also prominent in this letter of John. Faith and love are the essential signs of Christian authenticity. A Christian life, nourished by faith in Jesus, is richly gifted with love. We know and show God by loving one another. Our faith in Jesus draws on the life and love of God, and that love shapes our relationships. The Spirit informs faith, and faith energizes love. This love looks forward and outward: forward in confidence for there is no longer any need to be afraid of God or God’s judgement; and outward to our Christian brothers and sisters whom we love for Christ’s sake. This sort of love will always reach further than the fold of the Church. It will shape an approachable and caring Christian identity and character and will commend Christ and the gospel to those outside the community of faith.
John 15: 1 – 8
‘I am the true vine.’ This is likely to be John’s re-presentation and interpretation of the more familiar words of Jesus at the Last Supper when, taking the cup of wine he said: ‘This is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many……’ Through his sacrifice, the shedding of his blood, Jesus enables the existence of the true community of God to come into being, a community whose members are identified not by any physical descent, condition or race, but simply by living in him.
The Christian’s bond with Jesus is a union of two lives: ours joined and dependent on his, and his nourishing and infusing ours. Only so can the life of Christ be productive in the Christian and the Church. As disciples we are preparing and growing to take up this relationship, until we reach the point that our desires and outlook merge with his, our prayers come to reflect his purposes, and God will be glorified by the way we live.
As we look at these ancient readings and consider the history of the Church down to today, and perhaps as we reflect on the quality or otherwise of our own Christian lives, we will no doubt come to the conclusion that there is a lot of growing and learning to do to be conformed to the mind and life of Christ. In two or three thousand years’ time, Christians and historians will surely look back to our time and the two thousand years before us and refer to it as ‘early Christianity’ or ‘the primitive Church.’ Now that we have largely shaken off the chains of ‘Christendom,’ in which the institution of the Church reflected the prevailing culture and political system of the day, (at least from the time of Constantine the Great, Roman Emperor from 312 – 337AD, who adopted Christianity as the state religion and controlled it) we are crossing a new frontier for the Christian faith. Two thousand years old maybe, but we have only just begun.
An alternative Collect for Easter 5:
Risen Christ, your wounds declare your love for the world and the wonder of your risen life: give us compassion and courage to risk ourselves for those we serve, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Have a good Sunday.
Love and prayers,
If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today—loving the Lord your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul then he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil; and he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you will eat your fill.
You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates,
Loving God, you meet all our needs; for our bodies you provide food, for our livelihoods you provide work and for our souls you give us your Word. We thank you for your unending mercy towards us. Prepare our hearts and minds to receive the Words of Life so that we may know more of you, love you more deeply and walk in the paths of righteousness all the days of our lives. Amen
O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. Although heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, the earth with all that is in it, yet the Lord set his heart in love on your ancestors alone and chose you, their descendants after them, out of all the peoples, as it is today.
Almighty Father, Alpha and Omega, we praise your name. We give thanks for your unending love for all that you have created which continues through the generations. May our hearts be set on you, listening to and obeying your Word which gives us peace and health. Keep us on right pathways, our ears attuned to the Holy Spirit so that we will know each step to take on our life's journey Amen.
Welcome to you all to Espiritu Santo, the church where Margaret worshipped for many years. Welcome dear friends of Margaret as we come together today to give thanks for her life and love. There are many others who are joining us now in spirit, members of our wider church family who until recent times have come to Tenerife during the year, many of whom we pray will soon be able to return to us soon. Also, with us from afar are members of Margaret’s own family, her children, granddaughter and three great grandchildren. And we are joined by those who are physically here but due to current regulations we cannot fit them into the church. Whether here in body or spirit we meet in the name of Jesus Christ, whose coming into the world has brought hope and peace to millions and given the assurance that in life and death we are loved by God, a God who will never let us go. May the peace of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord fill our hearts and minds as we worship today, as we come together before God to remember and give thanks for our dear Margaret, and to comfort one another in our grief.
(Before we continue, just a little announcement caused by the restrictions of these times. As you will see in your orders of service there are three hymns printed out. They will be voiced arrangements through the sound system. Please remain seated while these are being played but you are welcome to sing along softly or hum behind your mask. Not ideal I know but that’s the rules we are being asked to follow. A reminder too that there will be a retiring collection in the form of a basket at the back of the church for contributions according to Margaret’s wishes. This and other details of what is happening after the service are on your order of service. Because it is also Margaret’s wish that her interment up at Tamaimo should be a private arrangement, I will do the prayer of committal and other concluding prayers that normally take place at a graveside, here in church. Mobile phones to be switched off or on silent mode please!)
Let us pray.
Merciful Father, hear our prayers and comfort us; renew our trust in your Son, whom you raised from the dead; strengthen our faith that all who have died in the love of Christ will share in his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn – In Christ alone… Let us now hear words of scripture, words which give us hope and help us to understand the immense love in which we are held by our creator
Psalm 139 (read by Elizabeth Thomas)
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,
”even the darkness is not dark to you;the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them
—they are more than the sand;I come to the end—I am still with you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans (8:18-30, 38-39)
(read by Ken Cumming, Pastor of Callao Salvaje Community Church)
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is the word of the Lord.
Address Margaret Woodifield was born in Sunderland, the younger of two daughters born to William and Doris Woodifield. Theirs was a Christian household and the children were brought up in the Church of England. Margaret remembers her confirmation by the Bishop of Durham, Michael Ramsey, who went on to become Archbishop of York and later of Canterbury. The family moved to Durham at some point and Margaret was active in her church and also in the Brownies and Guides.
She was married whilst still young, about 19 years old, to Richard Rainton who was in the RAF. They lived in various places in the UK because of Rick’s regular deployments. She mentioned living in Northumberland, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. Rick had two young children from a previous marriage, Suzy aged 3 and Clive, only 8 months. Margaret brought them up as her own, along with the two children that she and Rick had together, Carl and Mark. Tragically the stepson Clive died at the age of 21 while serving in the army, not in action or due to an accident but of a serious illness. Son Mark later came to Tenerife and lived with Margaret here for about 10 years.
Margaret’s marriage to Rick sadly ended after 14 years. Margaret has always spoken of this with sadness even though the marriage had not been happy, especially in the later years. Life became very difficult for her then. She turned to her church for help, but it was not forthcoming. She eventually found the support she needed in the Assemblies of God Pentecostal church in Lincoln, and joined the church there after having what she described as a ‘born again’ experience. This was in 1980.
Margaret began working as a carer with the Country Cousins network and which took her all over Britain. She also started taking holidays in Tenerife as well as travelling to other parts of the world, especially to visit friends. Whilst here she attended the South Tenerife Christian Fellowship at the Apollo Centre in Los Cristianos. She had a strong sense of calling to move to Tenerife permanently and to work in that church in some capacity. By now her mother had died but Margaret decided not to make any such move until her father had also passed away. She finally moved out here in 2000, eventually settling in an apartment in the Sunset complex in Puerto Santiago where she stayed for 16 years. She moved to Colonial Park up the hill here in Los Gigantes for the last 3 years of her life.
After her arrival in Tenerife, as intended, she became very involved with the Apollo church, but left following an internal difficulty there, and began to search for a new spiritual home. A house group led by Marisha began in Los Gigantes. Margaret heard about it and started attending, and also joined the Anglican community worshipping here at Espiritu Santo. The chronology is a bit vague but one of the church members, Bea Gallagher, had opened the church charity shop and Margaret went to help out there. When Bea left the island, Margaret volunteered or rather was persuaded to take on the management of the shop.
If you didn’t know Margaret previously you would probably be aware by now in listening to this that her Christian faith was the most important thing in her life. She became a prominent member of this congregation and latterly member of the church council; for many years she hosted the home group which continued to meet every Thursday until suspended by the lockdown last year. This followed the Thursday morning Eucharist in church, after which Margaret would go home immediately to prepare for the arrival of God knows how many people for lunch, for which she with her limited resources was a major provider even though it was technically a bring-and-share arrangement. After lunch there would be a Bible study led in turn by various people and concluding with a focused time of prayer for the people and concerns of those present. Like our widespread church community itself the home group was supported by swallows and visitors during their times on the island as also some friends from other local churches. Margaret had an exemplary ministry of hospitality.
Margaret’s life was based on prayer. She did nothing without praying about it first. She also had a ministry of intercessory prayer for particular people, for the church, the shop and the volunteers who worked there, for any situation in fact that she felt God was putting into her heart. She never tried to impose her faith on anyone else but would not be shy of sharing it when opportunities arose. When she took on the management of the shop she ensured that it was not just going to be a fund-raiser for the church but a base for the church’s outreach and service to the community, and this remains its prime purpose. But for those who would like to put a monetary value on the work achieved, until the end of 2020 sales at the shop have amounted to 333,226 Euros, most of this raised on Margaret’s watch. Margaret always set her own targets which were to beat the previous year, which she usually did until Covid-19 interrupted everything. Her best year was 2017 when sales reached around 48,000 euros.
Margaret was an avid reader and student of the Bible and she wore out several copies during her years in Tenerife. In church she worshipped devoutly, she listened carefully to every word the preacher uttered, and didn’t hesitate to tell him (it was usually me) if she disagreed with something he had said. Conversely, she would offer praise when due. Sometimes this feedback was given directly, but most times it was via Marisha. But it was always good to know that someone was listening to what I said. She loved singing in church, and she is perhaps the only person in my three congregations here that I can think of who would be softly singing the hymn or chorus that was being played as she approached for Communion, only stopping for a moment to consume the sacrament.
Margaret’s staunch faith was her strongest support in her suffering, and as her illness led to a growing realisation that her earthly journey was approaching its end. She faced it bravely with the support of the medical services, her closest friends, especially Marisha, Mandy and Beryl and the ministry and sacraments of the Church. She said that our visits for prayer and communion over the past few months were the highlight of her week and always lifted her spirits. Margaret was prepared for her death, knowing that she had died the all-important death a long time ago when through baptism into the life of Jesus Christ she had already begun to share in his risen life, the eternal life of the Spirit which physical death could never destroy.
Margaret’s final message to us, what she wants us all to know, is that she has had a good life, she has travelled the world, she has had the love of family and friends, and above all, she has a Saviour. As we commend her now to the merciful care of the God she served throughout her life, she would ask us all to open the eyes of faith to see her passing from us in the flesh not as the failure of therapy but her final healing, not the turning out of the light of life forever, but simply the extinguishing the lamp, because for her the dawn has come.
Hymn: The King of love my shepherd isPrayers:
Hope realized – A poem for Margaret by Marisha Carter, read by Elizabeth Thomas.
Our friend has gone
Her hope realized
She is with her Saviour now
Too soon we want to say
But no; the time and day were marked
The grief is ours, not hers
Happy is she whose hope is in the Lord
Things unseen now seen, her faith fulfilled
All is revealed, no mysteries now
Face to face, the veil removed
All that was hoped now is
Through a mirror dimly, now seen clearly
The imperfect becomes complete
Father in heaven, we give you thanks for your child Margaret.
We praise you as we recollect her life and cherish her memory. We bless you that in bearing your image she has brought light to our lives; for we have seen in her love clear reflections of your compassion, in her integrity demonstrations of your goodness, in her kindness glimpses of your eternal love.
Grant to each of us, beloved and bereft, the grace to follow her good example so that we with her may one day enjoy the realm of greater light and peace, the fullness of your everlasting kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who died and rose again and opened for us the gate of glory. Amen.
Father of all mercies and God of all consolation, you pursue us with untiring love and dispel the shadow of death with the bright dawn of life. Give courage to Margaret’s children and their families, to other members of her family and to all who are grieving and praying with us at this time. We pray for Marisha, Mandy, Beryl, and for all members of our St Francis and wider Church family, and for Margaret’s many friends near and far in their loss and sorrow. Be their refuge and strength, O Lord, reassure them of your continuing love and lift them from the depths of grief into the peace and light of your presence. Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by dying has destroyed our death and by rising has given us eternal life. Your Holy Spirit, our comforter, speaks for us in sighs too deep for words. Come alongside your people, remind them of your eternal presence and give them your comfort and strength, today and always. Amen.
Lord God, you are tender towards your children and your compassion and mercy is over all your works. Heal the memories of hurt and failure. Give us the wisdom and grace to use aright the time that is left to us here on earth, to turn to Christ and follow in his steps on the road that leads to everlasting life. We ask this in his name, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rejoicing in God’s new creation let us pray with confidence to the Father in the words that Jesus himself taught us: Our Father……….
Hymn: Bless the Lord, O my soulLet us now commend Margaret to God’s eternal peace and keeping:
God our creator and redeemer, by your power Christ conquered death and entered into glory. Confident of his victory and claiming his promises, we entrust Margaret Rainton to your merciful keeping, in the name of Jesus our Lord, who died and is alive and reigns with you, now and for ever. Amen.
In the midst of life we are in death, creatures for a day.
Like a shadow we flee and never stay.
But God is tender to those that fear him.
For he knows of what we are made;
God remembers that we are but dust.
Our days are like the grass;
we flourish like a flower of the field;
when the wind goes over it, it is goneand its place will know it no more.
But the merciful goodness of the Lord endures
forever, full of compassion and mercy.
We have entrusted our beloved Margaret to God's mercy,
and we now commit her body to its final resting place:
earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust:
in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our frail bodiesthat they may be conformed to his glorious body,who died, was buried, and rose again for us.
To him be glory for ever. Amen.
‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last and the living one, says the Lord. For I was dead and now I am alive for evermore, and I hold the keys of death and of death’s domain.’
God will show us the path of life; in his presence is the fullness of joy: and at his right hand there is pleasure for evermore.
May God give you his comfort and his peace, his light and his joy,in this world and the next; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be withyou today and always. Amen.
Jesus said It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Father God, your words are precious in our sight, may we never take them for granted or lightly. Let them be to us like dew drops in the morning; refreshing, full of promise and life giving. May they dwell in our hearts and minds richly, transforming that which we cannot by our own effort. Keep us O Lord, steadfast and true, walking in the paths of righteousness, obedient and open to the Holy Spirit. Amen
God of hosts, who so kindled the flame of love in the heart of your servant George that he bore witness to the risen Lord by his life and by his death: give us the same faith and power of love that we who rejoice in his triumphs may come to share with him the fullness of the resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This Sunday, 25th April is the fourth Sunday of Easter.
The first reading as usual throughout Eastertide is from the Acts of the Apostles. Today’s is 4: 5 – 12. The controversy caused when Peter and John, in the name of the risen Jesus, healed a lame man at the Temple gate (3: 1 – 10), is still in full swing. The two apostles had been arrested by the religious authorities because they had proclaimed that the crucified Jesus had risen from the dead, and that he is the Messiah in whom the message of the prophets has been fulfilled. Full of the Holy Spirit, Peter is able to speak powerfully to the court and tell them that Jesus is the reason for the lame man’s cure and is the one through whom God’s saving power is known, and that there is no other name on earth by which people can find salvation. Salvation is firstly a ‘this world’ condition involving wholeness, a right relationship with God, healing of body, mind and spirit, freedom from all the chains that much of life today shackles us with. It is the way of life ‘in Christ.’
2nd reading: 1 John 3: 16 – 24. The primary characteristic of life in Christ, however, is love. It is a sign that faith is genuine. Hatred is always destructive – to those to whom it is directed and to self who is burdened with it. The Christian family is called to something very different – to practical, compassionate and sacrificial love after the pattern shown by Jesus in his living and dying. Love shows the life of Christ within us. Those who love will grow in fellowship with God, will develop a prayer life that reflects God’s will, and will know the presence of God in them through the Holy Spirit.
Gospel: John 10: 11 – 18. The Gospel on this Sunday is always about Jesus as the Good Shepherd from the Gospel of John. God was Israel’s true shepherd, as declared in today’s psalm (Psalm 23) and elsewhere in the psalms. David had been their great shepherd king. As ‘good shepherd’ Jesus assumes the royal mantle of David, but in his own distinctive way. Jesus’ close knowledge of his ‘flock’ reflects his intimate relationship with the Father. He is not leading for himself but for God. Jesus’ vision is broad. It is of an enlarged flock that will be gathered as one. He will draw all peoples to himself. Today is a day of prayer for more vocations to ministry, for more shepherds of Christ’s flock. We are also encouraged to pray for the unity of that flock, and for those who have gone astray from the Good Shepherd.
A night prayer before sharing in the Eucharist:
In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Abide with me, Lord Jesus, for the night is at hand and the day is now past.
As the night-watch looks for the morning, so do I look for you, O Christ.
Come with the dawning of the day and make yourself known in the breaking of the bread. Amen.
Have a good Sunday,
Love and prayers,
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever. It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136 1-9, 24-26
Almighty God, our creator and redeemer we praise your Holy name. All that you have made declares your glory. As your children, created in your image may our love for you be as loyal and steadfast as yours to us. Open our eyes that we may see your hand in our lives; whether it be in the storms of life or in your enduring provision for us. Turn our hearts to gratitude in your great mercy towards now and for eternity. Amen
Jesus said to the followers, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”
Father Almighty, thank you that you give us all that is necessary for this life and life eternal. Your Son, our Saviour Jesus was obedient unto death for our sakes, may we too walk the way of the cross. By the power of the Holy Spirit let our lives be transformed into the likeness of Him, all that is seen in us be of Him, drawing all into the fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Father God, we thank you for your boundless love for us, so freely given, although by our own merits we do not deserve it. In love you have given us Jesus, have made us your own sons and daughters and given us Holy wisdom to live out our earthly life. May our lives be a shining example of Christ within us, our love abounding as was his and all we do draw people to you, our own Father. Amen
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1-8
Father and Almighty God, in love you sought us, in life you walk with us, in difficult times you uphold us and good times you share our joy. We praise and bless you.
For the times we have not recognised your hand upon our lives forgive us; attune our hearts to see you in all things; in love received from others, from the wonders of your creation, for Godly wisdom given so freely. Above all we give you thanks that you do not leave us comfortless. Amen
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings. Selah
For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
So I will always sing praises to your name, as I pay my vows day after day.
Father God, you indeed are our strong tower who protects and keeps us; we give you our praise and worship. Forgive the foolishness of hearts that believe in their own strength. Give us Grace and understanding to know your ways for our lives and keep us from all self deception and pride. We come to you as a child comes to its father, trusting in the goodness of a father's heart. Great is your mercy unto us. Amen
The high priest and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.
Lord God, your Word is life and health, powerful and life changing. We give thanks for the Apostles and all since then, who have preached and taught your Gospel of love and repentance. We pray that the Holy Spirit will open many more doors and hearts that all may come to know you. Give words to our voice that we too may share in the spreading of the 'whole message of life'. Amen
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.
Lord God and Father, we come to you in all our frailty and fears. Keep us close, that we may never wander from your side, help us to see that our comfort and safety are found in you. Forgive for the times we have failed to worship you as we ought, trust in your loving providence and be content in your presence. Create in us a humble and contrite heart that we never forget that you are the Holy one, the Almighty God who has saved and kept us. Amen
Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Almighty Father, we believe! Your Spirit moved and caused us to know and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts yearned for that we did not know, our minds fumbled with the truth that was before us and in your love and compassion you opened our eyes that we might be born anew by your Spirit. We praise your Holy name. May our new life in you be a testimony to those who seek, for those who have lost their way and for those who find it hard to believe. Amen.
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honour; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this:that power belongs to God,
and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all according to their work.
Psalm 62: 5-12
Father Almighty, creator of all, you know our very being, our inner most thoughts and motives. Our hope is in you, for nothing else will bring us within your courts. Money, reputation, status; all counted as nothing before your throne. May our hearts be set on you, our works according to your hand, love for our neighbour the outpouring of your Spirit which was freely given to us. From the rising of the sun till the setting sun of our lives may it bring honour to your name. Amen
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Almighty and compassionate prayer, we thank you that you comfort those that mourn and heal the broken hearted. Give us give us peace of heart and mind and faith when our loved ones pass from this life to be with you. You alone number our days, from the beginning of time you know the coming and the going of our life. May we rest in the knowledge of your goodness and hope of eternal life. Amen
I will lead the blind by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.
Father God, you love us with an everlasting love and you do not despise us in our spiritual blindness. You caused light to come into the world to show us the way. Open our eyes that we might see; change our hearts that in loving you, that love will spill out to others. We praise your Holy name. Blessed be your Name forever. Amen
For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,even as we hope in you.
Almighty God, we thank that you are with us always. We thank you for your love which sustains us, for without you we would be lost and have no hope. Cause in us to have joy in all circumstances, praise you in adversity and have peace which withstands any pain or problem. Take compassion on our feeble ways and our little faith, give us strong hearts and minds that we may never waver from our trust in you and your mighty powers. Amen
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my might,and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
Almighty God and Father, our hearts and mouths sing your praise.
Death has been defeated. Hallelujah
In the life giving sacrifice of Jesus we have been set free.
May we live in gratitude, our lives turned towards worshipping you, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You inhabit the praises of your people! Amen
After Jesus had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Loving God, you gave us Jesus for a short time on earth, to show us the way to you; He is with those who love Him for eternity. No earthly glory for Him who was a servant King, yet in all ways He showed the attributes of a Heavenly King. Lord give us Grace to follow in his footsteps, let us be to one another as He was; loving, giving, setting ourselves as each others' servants. May we glorify you in each humble deed and action. Amen