Songs of Praise

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This Sunday St. Stephen’s will host a ‘Songs of Praise’ service in which several members of the congregation will be choosing their own favourite hymn or worship song, and sharing with the congregation the reasons for their choice.

This comes at the end of a series of services where each Sunday the different preachers have chosen a favourite hymn or song and spoken about their themes, theology or spiritual significance. Choices have included:

If you would like to know what has been chosen for this Sunday come along and join us at 11am, Sunday, 10th June – everyone is welcome!

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Ascension Day

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All are warmly invited to our Ascension day celebrations….

6.30-7.30pm
Youth Group welcome us
to join them for supper

7.30-8.30pm
A service of
Praise and Prayer
for
Ascension
including a helium balloon release,
sparklers and fireworks

 

Holy Spirit, fix our broken church

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On Easter Sunday, we took the cross of Christ into the heart of our building site, asking the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead to bring life, light and love to our congregation and to our building:

Creator God
we thank you for our church.
We thank you for this place
where people have gathered for over 160 years
to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
Today, may we join with them,
the great crowd of witnesses in heaven,
to worship the risen Jesus.

Father God
we thank you for our church.
We thank you for each other, our fellowship,
our love for each other.
Today, may the same Spirit
who raised Jesus from the dead,
rise in us – our hearts and our lives.

Lord Jesus,
today we celebrate that you are alive.
May your love and your light
flow from the cross and the empty tomb
into our church,
into our lives,
and out into the world.

Holy Spirit
fix our broken church.
Help our builders, engineers and architect.
Give them the skill and wisdom they need.
make this building whole again.

Holy Spirit
fix our broken church.
May the wonder of the cross
and the power of the resurrection
fix us where we are broken.
In the name of Jesus
we ask for forgiveness,
for healing,
for restoration,
in our hearts,
our minds,
our bodies.
and our lives.

Turning from Christ’s birth to His passion

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How long do you celebrate Christmas?

For many, the tree and decorations go up in early December but may well be down by New Year.

Others follow a more traditional approach, celebrating the twelve days of Christmas with decorations brought down for Epiphany, 6th January.

However, at St. Stephen’s we celebrate the birth of Jesus for the full forty days – right through the liturgical seasons of Christmas and Epiphany – culminating with the Feast of Candlemas on 2nd February. Candlemas marks a shift in our worship turning our attention on from His birth and towards Lent and the Passion of Jesus.

At Candlemas, the Church remembers the story told in the Gospel of Luke  of the infant Jesus being presented by Mary and Joseph in the Temple in Jerusalem in obedience to the law and custom set out in Leviticus 12 and Exodus 13 v12. Here they meet an old man, Simeon, who is described as righteous, devout, and eagerly awaiting the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.  Simeon rejoices that, before he dies, he has now seen this child, who will be ‘a light to the nations’.

But the feast of Candlemas, celebrated by the lighting and extinguishing of candles (hence its name), is a bittersweet feast. Simeon also warns the child’s mother of the pain and suffering she is to face because of her Son. So Candlemas looks backwards to the birth of the child and the joy of Christmas, but also forwards to the suffering and death on the cross.

The closing prayer for worship on Candlemas at St. Stephen’s:

Father, here we bring to an end our celebrations of the Saviour’s birth.
Help us, in who he has been born, to live his life that has no end.

Here we have greeted the Light of the world.
Help us, who now extinguish these candles, never to forsake the light of Christ.

Here we turn from Christ’s birth to his passion.
Help us, for whom Lent is near, to enter deeply into the joy of Easter.

Here we bless one another in your name.
Help us, who now go in peace, to shine with your light in the world.
Thanks be to God!
Amen.

See St. Stephen’s Nativity Procession held on Saturday 23rd December:
VIDEO
PHOTOS