Service for Sunday 28th February – Second Sunday of Lent

Bible Readings for 2nd Sunday of Lent:

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 Genesis 17:1-16 NIVUK – The covenant of circumcision – When – Bible Gateway – One of the things I get frustrated about with the Church of England is how we like to cut out the awkward and difficult bits, as in this case, reading the beginning and end of the chapter but passing over the bit in between.  I know I’m not alone in this.  Many biblical scholars much more learned than I am get equally, if not more frustrated.  The passage we have in the Lectionary is one part of a threefold Covenant God makes with Abraham – in our passage, the promise of descendants.  In verse 8 (not included) is the promise of a physical land, Israel in which to live and the promise to be Abraham and his descendants’ God always.  The reference to a physical ‘land’ for God’s people can be seen as awkward, certainly politically, but removing it causes an even greater concern, that God, on order to be universal and appeal to all, is only interested in the ‘spiritual.’  This suits western Christianity – God is important but distant, whereas to the Hebraic faith, God is passionate and close.  The other part of the section the Cof E passes over is the whole ‘sealing’ of this covenant with Abraham through circumcision.  That’s a whole other topic – but one in which, as a fifty seven year old male, I’m with Paul, “the circumcision of the heart is far more important.” (Romans 2:25-29)        

Romans 4:13-endRomans 4:13-25 HCSB – The Promise Granted through Faith – For – Bible Gateway – The Letter to the Romans deals with huge issues not just for Paul’s day but which goes to the heart of our understanding of faith too.  Although a densely worded argument, Paul is trying to say, not just to Jewish readers bit to all of us, Abraham didn’t somehow ‘earn’ his righteousness, whether through keeping the Law or in any other act.  Instead, it was simply his willingness to trust his life to God, a free decision but a bold one, this trust, this faith, this is what was credited to Abraham and which set him apart as the Father of the Jewish and indeed the Christian faith.  Sadly, we can swap status, or intellect, or so many other things and hold them to be what is important in the Church.  Paul reminds us simply but powerfully of how ultimately important faith and trust are to God.    

Mark 8:31-38 – This is the passage we have been looking at today in our Livestream service, part of the wider conversation Jesus has with the disciples at Caesarea Philippi.  I love the way Mark just before this passage takes Jesus and the disciples to Caesarea Philippi to have this conversation, way up north in the lee of Mount Hermon on the Syrian and Lebanon border, beyond the Golan.  Here Jesus asks the disciples, “who do you say that I am?”  Peter responds, “you are the Messiah, the Christ.”  Immediately, Jesus turns south, and so begins the long walk and pilgrimage Jesus makes to Jerusalem and to the Cross, mirroring Jesus words here – to understand what and who the Messiah truly is, you have to be willing to have your thinking turned right around, even upside down, and discover for yourself the way of the Cross.   


Songs in the Service:

  1. “Take up your cross” by Conduit and Chidiya Ohiagu. Love the way these  lesser known artists are getting some airtime as we look for songs on various themes: (1) “Take Up Your Cross” by Conduit feat. Chidiya Ohiagu (Lyric Video) – YouTube


  1. “I, the Lord of sea and sky” by San Schutte:


  1. “Wonderful Grace” by Lou Fellingham and Stuart Townend:


  1. “Oceans” by Hillsong United:


  1. “O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder…:”


  1. “The heart of Worship” by Matt Redman:

–         Cover by Laetisia Sembiring: (1) The Heart Of Worship – Matt Redman // Cover by Laetisia Sembiring – YouTube



Readings, Talks, and Prayers:

  1. “Howard’s Talk – Part 1:” (1) Howard’s First Talk – YouTube


  1. “Howard’s Talk with Johnny – Part 2:” (1) Howard’s Second Talk – YouTube


Traditional Hymns and Songs:

  1. “Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee.” This traditional hymn captures well the joy Brendan and his fellow travellers must have felt as they first put their foot down on land in the Americas.  It can also be our experience too at certain times and certain moments in prayer:



  1. “El Shaddai” by Amy Grant. Speaking about the power of God’s grace over the centuries.  Becomes almost the song on the lips of everyone who commits to praying seriously: (1) EL SHADDAI BY AMY GRANT – YouTube



  1. “Legends of the Isles: Brendan the Navigator (Documentary)” (2018): (1) Legends of The Isles: Brendan The Navigator (Documentary) – YouTube


  1. “The Voyage of Brendan” – following the adventures of Tim Severin (historian and sailing entrepreneur) in 1978 who re-enacted the epic journey of St Brendan in a boat constructed as an authentic replica from fourteen hundred years earlier. (Sound – commentary is fine but backing track showing signs of age).  Great though:


The Brendan Voyage 2nd movement, the Brendan Theme, Live at Cork City Hall” by Shaun Davey, performed by Liam O’Flynn on Uilleann pipes (like bagpipes).  Incredibly haunting: (1) THE BRENDAN VOYAGE 2nd MOVEMENT, THE BRENDAN THEME, LIVE AT CORK CITY HALL – YouTube


  1. “Short documentary about Caesarea Philippi: with Dave Stotts” (1) Peter’s Confession at Caesarea Philippi – YouTube

6.   By contrast, “Anchorite Vows”  of James Twyman – who spent a year as a praying hermit: (1) Anchorite Ceremony ~ James Twyman – YouTube


  1. If you are interested in finding out more about a deeper life of Prayer, then a couple of useful resources might be:

Service for Sunday 10th January – The Baptism of Jesus

Bible Readings for Epiphany 1: The Baptism of Jesus:

Click the links that take you straight to the text (CTRL and “Left Click”) if that helps:

Genesis 1:1-5Genesis 1:1-5 NIVUK – The beginning – In the beginning God – Bible Gateway  – the very beginning of the Bible indicating how Baptism is symbolic not just of individual “new birth” but in Jesus’ case a “new birth” of all Creation.

Acts 19:1-7 –  Acts 19:1-7 NIVUK – Paul in Ephesus – While Apollos was at – Bible Gateway – Paul in this passage clearly makes a distinction between “the baptism of John” and “the baptism of Jesus:” one for repentance and knowledge about God, the other to enter into relationship and to share in His life.

Mark 1:4-11Mark 1:4-11 NIVUK – And so John the Baptist appeared in the – Bible Gateway – this short passage is full of imagery and symbolism linking together so many Old Testament passages of hopes and dreams.  At its hear however, is the idea that because “the one who will come after me” (words John himself uses) was the foretold Messiah – the link is that the word “Messiah” technically means “the Anointed One,” the Priest, the one who stands as a ‘bridge’ between the people and God.  Therefore, because Jesus is received into sonship and has the Holy Spirit bestowed upon Him by God, so too have we.

Remarkable.  And we will be looking into what this means today in our worship.

Traditional Hymns and Songs:

  1. “Spirit of God” (The Skye Boat Song):

–   cover version by Spatz auf dem Dach (simple clean female folk solo) with Lyrics: (137) Spirit of God (The Skye Boat Hymn) – Lyric-Video | Spatz auf dem Dach – YouTube

  1. “Will you come and follow me if I but call your name” (The Summons): by John Bell (Iona Community)

–   Cover version by St Michael’s Church, Verwood in Dorset with lyrics: (137) Will you come and follow me – YouTube

3.    “Guide me O Thou great Jehovah” (Cwm Rhondda – Guide me O Thou great Redeemer):

– cover version by the Morriston Orpheus Welsh Male Voice Choir,  very moving and powerful: (137) Cwm Rhondda (Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah) – Côr OrpheusTreforys/ Morriston Orpheus Choir – YouTube

  1. “Come let us sing of a wonderful love”:
  1. “All over the world the Spirit is moving” – cover by Squirrel 24 – version with lyrics. As Dinah says, “Impossible not to feel cheered up by doing a jig, sing, clap along with – singing accompanied by jaunty brass band, great rhythm.”  Link: (137) All Over The World The Spirit Is Moving – YouTube
  2. “It is well with my soul” – great version of this good old Sankey hymn, speaking of accepting God’s love into my life. Fits very well as a musical accompaniment with making the “Covenant Promise.” With lyrics: (137) It Is Well With My Soul – YouTube


  1. “You Say” by Lauren Daigle – now over 190M views – one of the most successful songs not only of the Christian world but of YouTube itself:
  1. “Who am I” originally by Cast Crowns. Speaks of trusting in God’s promise of His love and our willingness then to submit:
  1. “Fix You” originally by Cold Play. Amazing cover by “Fearless Soul” – as good, if not better than the original: (137) Try not to cry when you listen to this cover of FIX YOU by Coldplay – YouTube
  1. “Baptized” Zach Williams, the earthy Country Gospel singer and worship leader, describes what it was like for him to reflect on his experience of baptism: (137) Zach Williams – “Baptized” Rescue Story Tour Live Session – YouTube
  1. “Something in the water” – by Carrie Underwood singing about the change that she went through by discovering a new life in Christ. Lyrics version: (137) Something in the Water- Carrie Underwood (lyrics) – YouTube



  1. There are two good “Sergio and Rhoda” videos about Baptism from a Jewish perspective:
  • The first is from “Yardenit,” the “official Baptism site” for Israel, and gives an indication of how personal and powerful a person’s Baptism can be. Link: (137) Baptized in the Jordan River – YouTube
  • The second is from “Qasr el Yahud,” the most likely historical site of where Jesus was baptised, only recently re-opened after the clearing of mines. Speaks of the layers of Old Testament meaning of why the Baptism of Jesus needed to take place here:  (137) Baptism of Jesus in Jordan River – YouTube

13.           Tabernacle: A third very good video that helps to explain how these two videos and their meaning go together – see “Sergio and Rhoda Tabernacle of Moses Replica in Timna Park,” way down south where Solomon had his copper mines.  Jesus is the High Priest who not only enters the Holy of Holies (beyond the curtain) but who tears the curtain in two so we all can enter the Holy of Holies with Him and so receive sonship and daughtership from God.  See Link: (137) Tabernacle of Moses Replica in Timna Park – YouTube 

  1. “Melody Joy Cloud – her experience with American Idol” remarkable young lady and witness to her faith: (137) MY AMERICAN IDOL EXPERIENCE (w/pictures) – YouTube
  1. “The Chosen” – Episode “The Shepherds” is the Christmas Special that started this worldwide phenomenon. “The Chosen” can be obtained for free, either via YouTube (simply type in “The Chosen” or via an App, which can be downloaded to your Smartphone or Tablet.

Its all very exciting.  Details of how to find “The Shepherds” on YouTube: (127) The Chosen: The Shepherd (Pilot Episode) – YouTube

Service for Sunday 3rd January 2021

Service for Epiphany. Recorded live at St. Andrew’s, Congresbury on Sunday 3rd January.

Bible Readings for Epiphany:

Click the links that take you straight to the text (CTRL and “Left Click”) if that helps:

Isaiah 60:1-6Isaiah 60:1-6 NIVUK – The glory of Zion – ‘Arise, shine, – Bible Gateway  – a great passage of encouragement and of God’s future glory fulfilled, in part, by the coming of the Magi.

Ephesians 3:1-12 –  Ephesians 3:1-12 NIVUK – God’s marvellous plan for the – Bible Gateway – a New Testament passage also of encouragement.  Paul glimpses that not only non-Jewish people will come to God (Isaiah 60:1-6), but that the message of Jesus was always intended for the whole world, to go out way beyond the Jewish nation – and this message was, and is, life.

Matt 2:1-12Matt 2:1-12 NIVUK – The Magi visit the Messiah – After – Bible Gateway – the great passage of the Bible from which we get the Story of the Magi.

Howard preached on these passages in two short videos from home.  Please see:

Howard Talk (1) by night: (127) Howard’s First Talk – YouTube

Howard Talk (2) by day: (127) Howard’s Second Talk – YouTube

Traditional Carols:

  1. “Hark the Herald, angels sing:”
  1. “God rest, ye merry gentlemen” – Lyrics Version: (127) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Christendom College – YouTube
  2. “Good King Wenceslas:
  1. “See amid the winter’s snow” – cover version by Chet Valley Churches, Norfolk with Lyrics: (127) See, Amid the Winter’s Snow [with lyrics for congregations] – YouTube
  1. “We three Kings” – cover version also by the Chet Valley Churches, Norfolk with Lyrics: (127) We Three Kings of Orient Are [with lyrics for congregations] – YouTube
  • See also the wonderful animated version by Kirk franklin for the film “The Star” for children and young people (details below).
  1. “The first Nowell” – version by Kings College, Cambridge: (127) King’s College Cambridge 2010 #15 The First Nowell – YouTube

Traditional Hymns and Songs:

  1. “As with gladness men of old” – Songs of Praise version with Lyrics: (127) As With Gladness Men Of Old – YouTube
  1. “Brightest and best new sons of the morning” – Songs of Praise version with Lyrics: (127) EPIPHANY-BRIGHTEST AND BEST – YouTube
  1. “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” – Songs of Praise version with Lyrics: (127) CHESTER CATHEDRAL-O WORSHIP THE LORD – YouTube

Contemporary Hymns and Songs:

  1. “Carol of the Epiphany” – by John Bell and the Iona Community (with Lyrics). Challenges where we will find Jesus in our lives: (127) Carol of the Epiphany – YouTube
  1. “Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness” – by Tim Hughes. Lyrics version: (127) Light of the World lyric video – YouTube
  1. “Joy has dawned upon the world” – by Keith and Kirsten Getty. Cover by Boyce Seminary Worship Collective: (127) Joy Has Dawned – Boyce Worship Collective – YouTube

Children and Young People:

  1. “We three Kings” a version by Kirk Franklin as part of the film “The Star” – great animation fun: (127) Lyric Video – “We Three Kings” by Kirk Franklin | THE STAR – YouTube


  1. “Song of the Magi” by Anais Mitchell – contrasts the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem two thousand years ago and then also if they visited today:
  1. “The Spirit and the Bride say come” by “One for Israel” – an incredible group of young people, Arab and Israeli, who have chosen to live, worship and learn togetehr by forming a new community “Israel College of the Bible:” (127) Jewish & Arab Teen from Israel in Hebrew, Arabic & English Worship – YouTube
  1. “This Train” version by Ruby Turner and Jools Holland (part of the 2010 “New Year’s Eve” celebrations – video visual quality has been massively improved since then). Great gospel song about the energy and drive of taking the Message of Jesus out: (127) Ruby Turner – This train – YouTube


  1. “The Chosen” – Episode “The Shepherds” is the Christmas Special that started this worldwide phenomenon. “The Chosen” can be obtained for free, either via YouTube (simply type in “The Chosen” or via an App, which can be downloaded to your Smartphone or Tablet.

Its all very exciting.  Details of how to find “The Shepherds” on YouTube: (127) The Chosen: The Shepherd (Pilot Episode) – YouTube

Films and DVDs for Children and Young People:

  1. “The Star” – a wonderful; animated film which is like a fusion between the Nativity Story and character and humour of the film “Shrek.” The greatest story told from the point of view of the Donkey.  Great fun.  Available from Amazon (DVD) and to rent from Amazon Prime.