Sunday, 11 April 2021

Sunday intercessions on
11 April 2021, Easter II (Low Sunday)

An icon of Saint Thomas in Saint Columba House retreat centre in Woking (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Let us pray:

Let peace be with us (John 20: 19, 21, 26):

Heavenly Father,
let the peace of the Risen Christ be with us,
in times of grief and of rejoicing,
in times of rejection and welcome,
in times of defeat and triumph.

We pray for the nations of the world,
for Ireland north and south,
for the Taoiseach and Tanaiste,
the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

We pray for nations torn by war, strife and division,
we pray for all who defend democracy and human rights,
for all who stand against racism, prejudice and oppression,
and we pray for all peacemakers …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them’ (John 20: 22):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may be a forgiving and forgiven people,
that we may welcome the Risen Christ in word and sacrament.

We pray for our neighbouring churches and parishes
in Co Limerick and Co Kerry,
that we may be blessed in their variety and diversity.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean,
and the Archbishop and Primate, James Wong, Bishop of the Seychelles.

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Down and Dromore
and Bishop David McClay.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer this week,
we pray for the Aughaval Union of parishes in the Diocese of Tuam,
their priests, Canon Jennifer McWhirter and the Revd Maebh O’Herlihy,
and the congregations of
Holy Trinity Church, Westport,
Christ Church, Castlebar,
Saint Thomas’s Church, Dugort, and Turlough Church.

We pray for our own parishes and people,
and we pray for ourselves …

We pray too for those who doubt and question …
and give thanks for the ways they challenge us …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20: 22):

Holy Spirit,
we pray for one another …
we pray those we love and those who love us …
we pray for family, friends and neighbours …
and we pray for those we promised to pray for …

We pray for those in need and those who seek healing …
for those working for healing …
for those waiting for healing …
for those seeking an end to this Covid crisis …

We pray for those who are sick or isolated,
at home or in hospital …

Una … Ann … Valerie … Daphne … Sylvia … Ajay …
Joey … Ena … George … Louise …

We pray for people who are lonely this Easter,
without their families around them …

We pray for those we have offered to pray for …
and we pray for those who pray for us …

We pray for all who grieve and mourn at this time …
for Joey, Kenneth, Victor, and their families …

We remember and give thanks for those who have died …
especially for Linda Smyth … Nora Hawkes …
for Sidney Laing, Alan Shaw and Norman Lynas,
faithful priests who have died in recent weeks …
for those whose anniversaries are at this time …
May their memories be a blessing to us …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer from the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) on the Second Sunday of Easter:

Good and generous God, we thank you
for bestowing on us the constant gifts of your love.
You care for us all. Forgive us we pray for those times
we have not cared for your people as we should.

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Saint Thomas’s Church, Dugort, Achill Island … in this week’s diocesan cycle of prayer (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

These intercessions were prepared for use in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes on the Second Sunday of Easter, Sunday 11 April 2021



Living without fear and
in peace are signs of
faith in the Resurrection

The damage to the south-west window in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton on Easter morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 11 April 2021

10 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist

The Second Sunday of Easter (Easter II), Low Sunday

10 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist

The Readings: Acts 4: 32-35 or Isaiah 26: 2-9, 19; Psalm 133; I John 1: 1 to 2: 2; John 20: 19-31.

There is link to the readings HERE.

Saint Thomas and the Risen Christ depicted in a fresco in a church in Athens … Saint Thomas comes to Christ with doubts and questions while the disciples are locked away in fear (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

We are all shocked in this parish by the wanton vandalism that was perpetrated on Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, on Easter weekend.

From the many messages of support and the responses that have poured in from so many people and so many places, I know that shock is shared way beyond this parish, way beyond this diocese and this land.

We arrived in the church on Easter morning, expecting to celebrate the rock being rolled away from the tomb and to celebrate the Resurrection.

Instead, we found a rock had been thrown through the window at the south side of the chancel area, the bottom part of the stained glass was shattered, and a forced entry had been attempted. Shards of glass were strewn everywhere, the cross draped in white as a sign of the Resurrection had been knocked over.

Easter Day is the most sacred day in the Christian Calendar, it is a day of triumph and victory, a day when the Risen Christ proclaims, ‘Peace be with you … be not afraid.’

But, instead, we found the church had been attacked … for a second time.

Parishioners were quick to come and to clean up, to express their shock, to secure the window and to board up the building.

This is not only damage to a window and a building. It is an assault at Easter on all that is sacred. Our neighbour, Father Sean O Longaigh, says ‘this is both disturbing and disgraceful, not to mention the sad irony of it happening on Easter morning.’ Local politicians have united in called it sacrilegious.

But this is also an attack on the whole community here in Askeaton. Already, the local GAA club has been vandalised in recent weeks. If the perpetrators are not confronted, who is the next target for these vandals? Shopfronts, business premises, family homes? It seems nothing is sacred to them.

The sharing of shock and torment by the wider community is uplifting and encouraging. We must stand with one another at times such as this.

All our readings on this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, teach us how important it is for us not to fear, to be at peace, and for communities to share.

In the first reading (Acts 4: 32-35), we are told the ‘whole group of those who believed’ are ‘of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common’ (Acts 4: 32).

This is not some political agenda or social engineering: it is because they are Easter people, because they share the grace of God through faith in the Resurrection.

In the alternative reading from the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 26: 2-9, 19), the people are told: ‘Because you [you plural] are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you … Do not fear, for I am with you’ (Isaiah 26: 4-5).

In the psalm (Psalm 133), we are reminded ‘how good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity’ (Psalm 133: 1).

The early Church lives by sharing, in giving and in receiving.

In our Gospel reading (John 20: 19-31), we are reminded how the Risen Christ came and stood among the disciples, breaking down all their barriers of fear. On three occasions, he tells them, ‘Peace be with you’ (verses 19, 21, 26). When he breathes on them, he shares with them the gift of the Holy Spirit (verse 22).

We must live without fear, in peace and in the power of the Holy Spirit; we must share, and we must look forward to the future for this parish, for the Church.

We must have reason to hope for, to want, our Church doors to open again when the pandemic restrictions ease.

In these Covid lockdown times, when many people are locked away in their rooms in fear, how does the Church replace those fears with the peace that Christ wants us to share in?

As we wait behind closed doors for our churches to reopen, what is our vision for the Church when those doors open once again?

1, I think it is imperative that the Church shares fearlessly in the suffering of people today. We ought not be pleading a special case for the Church. It would be selfish to try to argue that opening our church doors is more important than grandparents seeing their grandchildren, than the jobs of people in the hospitality industry or so many other sectors of the economy, than the desire or needs of people to have a proper holiday.

2, Sharing is caring. Wearing facemasks, accepting cheerfully the present restrictions, not organising Church events that quickly become ‘super-spreader’ occasions … that phone call, text, offer to shop … all are signs that the Church both shares and cares. I am moved by the way English cathedrals, including Lichfield Cathedral, have been key centres for rolling out the vaccination programme in England: sacred spaces must be life-affirming, life-giving, hope-giving.

3, Christ came that ‘they might have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10: 10). His death and resurrection are not just for me individually, for you individually, but for all (see John 10: 8), that they may have life – not just a mere existence, but a life without fear, a life filled with love, a life that is lived to the full.

We share now, we care now, because we, because the Church, must be Christ-like, like the Risen Christ.

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

‘There was not a needy person among them …’ (Acts 4: 34) … ‘Christ the Beggar,’ a sculpture by Timothy Schmalz on the steps of Santo Spirito Hospital near the Vatican (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 20: 19-31 (NRSVA):

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.


The damage to the south-west window in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton on Easter morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Liturgical Colour: White

The Greeting (from Easter Day until Pentecost):

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you raised your Son from the dead.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
through you we are more than conquerors.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
you help us in our weakness.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day (Easter II):

Almighty Father,
you have given your only Son to die for our sins
and to rise again for our justification:
Grant us so to put away the leaven
of malice and wickedness
that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth;
through the merits of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Introduction to the Peace:

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, Peace be with you. Then were they glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20: 19, 20).

Preface:

Above all we praise you
for the glorious resurrection of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord,
the true paschal lamb who was sacrificed for us;
by dying he destroyed our death;
by rising he restored our life:

Post Communion Prayer:

Lord God our Father,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ
you have assured your children of eternal life
and in baptism have made us one with him.
Deliver us from the death of sin
and raise us to new life in your love,
in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessing:

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
raise you up to walk with him in the newness of his risen life:

Dismissal: (from Easter Day to Pentecost):

Go in the peace of the Risen Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

The font from Saint Thomas Church in Newcastle West, Co Limerick … the church was deconsecrated in 1958 and demolished in 1962 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns:

293, Breathe on me, Breath of God (CD 18)
255, Christ is risen, alleluia! (CD 16)
338, Jesus, stand among us (CD 20)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.



Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
54, Saint Mary and Saint George, Comberford

The Church of Saint Mary and Saint George, Comberford … built in 1914 and closed in 2013 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Easter this year, I am continuing my theme from Lent, taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter (Easter II, Sunday 11 April 2021), sometimes known as Low Sunday. This week, I am offering photographs of churches with close associations with my family and ancestors.

This morning’s photographs are from the Church of Saint Mary and Saint George, Comerford, east of Lichfield and north of Tamworth.

For many generations, my family continued to regard Comberford as our ancestral home, despite some of the complicated details in our family tree. My great-grandfather, James Comerford (1817-1902), had a very interesting visit to Comberford and Tamworth at the end of the 19th or in the early 20th century, visiting the Peel family who lived at Comberford Hall … he probably had his heart set on consolidating those family links.

The Stafforshire church historian, Michael Greenslade, suggests the family chapel in Comberford Hall survived until the mid-18th century. But the Comberford family also had its own chapel in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth (my choice of church tomorrow, 12 April 2021), and there was a family chapel in the Moat House on Lichfield Street, Tamworth (my choice for Tuesday 13 April 2021).

The church in Comberford is of a much later date than Comberford Hall and the presence of the Comberford family. The church was built on a site donated in May 1914 by Howard Francis Paget (1858-1935) of Elford Hall. His father, the Revd Francis Edward Paget (1806-1882), was Rector of Elford, an early follower of the Oxford Movement and the author of Tractarian fiction, including The Curate of Cumberworth (sic) (1859).

Some sources say the church was designed by Andrew Capper, a well-known Gothic revival architect who worked closely with George Edmund Street. Other sources say the architects were Hicks and Charlewood of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Robert Bridgeman (1844-1918) and his Joseph, of Quonians Lane, Lichfield, were the builders and also responsible for the interior fittings.

After almost a century, the last service in Saint Mary’s and Saint George’s Church was held on 13 October 2013 before the church closed for the final time. After its closure, Bridgeman’s rood was moved from Comberford to the church at Coven near Brewood in 2014. The Tamworth and District Civic Society reported in late 2019 that the processional cross from Comberford Church is now in the chancel of the 13th century Spital Chapel of Saint James, in Wigginton Road, Tamworth. The church is also remembered in a hassock in Lichfield Cathedral.

Saint Mary’s and Saint George’s Church in Comberford, built by Robert Bridgeman of Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 20: 19-31 (NRSVA):

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Comberford is named on a hassock in Lichfield Cathedral with the symbols of the Virgin Mary (white rose) and Saint George (red cross) (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (11 April 2021, Easter II) invites us to pray:

Good and generous God, we thank you
for bestowing on us the constant gifts of Your love.
You care for us all. Forgive us we pray for those times
we have not cared for Your people as we should.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Comberford Processional Cross, now in the Spital Chapel of Saint James, Tamworth (Photograph © Susan Biggs)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

A Christmas card with the Church of Saint Mary and Saint George Church, Comberford, in a watercolour by Freda Morgan (2008)