St Peter's Church, Formby

Sermons

Summaries of Weekly Sermons

See below for a selection of weekly sermons delivered by Anne, Nathan and by our guest clergy.

Please feel free to download the full sermon by using the links after each summary.

Sermons

21st June

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

I am going to start this sermon by saying Bogof!

No, I’m not trying to be rude so take your hand away from the off button I am simply using the acronym for Buy One and Get One Free!

You might think that getting an extra item free with a purchase is something new in supermarkets, but it’s as old as the Gospels!

In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” In the corresponding passage from Luke it’s given “Are not 5 sparrows sold for 2 pennies?” Two a penny, 5 for 2p! A sort of Buy One and Get One Free!

Now sparrows were as cheap as chips, and when the poor couldn’t offer a sheep for sacrifice they could offer birds instead, and the cheapest of all were sparrows.

And the point Jesus is making is that even the most lowly, the most humble, the most overlooked by others, are loved and cared for by God, even the extra sparrow in a 1st century BOGOF.

Music Sunday – 14th June

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

Music is a very personal and I imagine for many it is one of the ways that people have coped over these last months. You can get lost in music whether it is Beethoven or the Beatles. Whether in the car it is Classic, Smooth or Rock FM. Whether you can play an instrument, sing in tune or like me can do neither you can still love music.

Music can have a spiritual dimension. It has the ability to make us feel very close to God – it helps us worship and even get lost in awe and wonder and praise. Hymns can be very powerful and connect us with God. Hymns are also very personal and provoke strong feelings of likes and dislikes – whether it is a favourite tune or a hymn that brings up memories like The Church’s One Foundation or Shine Jesus Shine. As a Vicar you can never please them all when selecting hymns. 

It is appropriate that we mark Music Sunday and give thanks for all those who have written and composed, played and sung over the years and still do.

Trinity Sunday – 7th June

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

I have always thought that a sense of humour is a gift that should be encouraged and certainly in St Peter’s laughter it is. During this time of lockdown it didn’t take long for jokes to appear and there are some in this month’s magazine. And of course Vicar’s are given amusing books – a small selection from my bookshelf are Milton Jones 10 second sermons (I have already past that!), Rules for Reverends, ‘101 Things to Do During a Dull Sermon’!  

Of course the last book could be rewritten for these lockdown times because the choice of things to do during a boring sermon can now include fast forward, mute and make a cup of tea! All I can say is don’t try any of those when we get back together here for services.

Such a book could be useful on Trinity Sunday because it is one of those church doctrines that can be difficult to understand and is not helped by theologians (or indeed preachers!) who have made it their life’s work to make it increasingly more complicated. 

31st May 2020 – Pentecost

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

I hope you were impressed by our linguistics at the start of this morning’s service’ 

It’s not just to show off — that we can use Google — but to illustrate what was said in our epistle this morning that as the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in other languages — not just the indecipherable tongues, for anyone who has heard Charismatic outpourings, – but actual languages which mad people in the crowd exclaim, “How is it that we hear each one of us in our own native language.” 

Jerusalem would have been thronged with pilgrims from all over the world far the major Jewish festivals, and Pentecost was a kind of Jewish Harvest Festival, celebrating the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. It also commemorated the giving of the law to Moses on Mt Sinai. 

24th May 2020 – Sunday After Ascension

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

I love everything about the sea. From the salty smell, to the sand, the shells, the sense of freedom, even a soaking wet sandy dog. I love the idea of sailing but I was not blessed with sea legs and just about manage the ferry across the Irish Sea.

I do enjoy a walk by the sea, whatever the weather, whatever the time of year.  The sea seems to instil a sense of peace and timelessness.  Even if the waves are crashing on to the shore, you know it will not always be like that.  

There will come a day when all will be calm.  It seems to say, difficult times, testing times, times when everything seems to be crashing upon us, these times will pass.  

A few weeks ago I mentioned Julian of Norwich, the medieval mystic.  She wrote something similar, “All will be well.  All manner of things will be well.”  There will be days of calm and rest and peace.

17th May 2020 – Sunday Before Ascension

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

In the good old days(!) when people could go on foreign holidays, a family were setting off in their car for the ferry. Lists had been written and checked, compromises had been made about how much stuff their two children could bring and yet have room to sit in the car with the dog. 

Everything checked, they set off in high spirits and expectation. Happy Days! 

20 miles along the motorway, the younger child let out a wail. She had forgotten to bring the old raggedy piece of blanket that she brought with her everywhere – her comfort blanket or “noo-noo” as she called it. 

The parents knew that their holiday was going to be ruined if she hadn’t got it. So, they turned off at the next exit and sped home to get it. Luckily they had left in plenty of time to get to the ferry. 

10th May 2020 – John 14:1-4

‘Times Like These’ & The Way, The Truth, and the Life

Revd Nathan Thorpe

Do you remember when I played ‘What’s My Name’ by the Ting Tings for a sermon on John?

A song that puts this verse into context for me is by the Foo Fighters. Written by Dave Grohl, lead singer and ex-Nirvana drummer – re-released his song ‘Times Like These’ this week featuring famous names for charity.

The words of the chorus go:

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give again,
It's times like these you learn to love again,
It's times like these time and time again.

This morning’s reading may be familiar to many of you as it is most often read at funerals – and I think it may have amused the Vicar when she was setting the rota for my last Sunday at St Peter’s! John 14 also contains one of the verses that is imprinted on my heart the most – John 14 verse 27. You can go and look it up for yourselves!

75th Anniversary of VE Day

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

Next Friday is the 75th anniversary of VE Day. The 8th May 1945 marked the end of the 2nd World War in Europe as the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. The war continued in the Far East for another 3 months until VJ Day on 15th August.

Sadly, many of the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of VE Day have had to be cancelled or deferred because of the present coronavirus pandemic. Celebrations such as the march down the Mall, the ringing of church bells, street and community parties. And what about the 20,000 pubs that were eagerly encouraging people to raise a toast to the heroes of the war – not to mention all those dancers who have been practising the Lindy hip hop!

In preparation for the 75th anniversary I asked Mike Fletcher to research the stories behind the 10 Commonwealth war graves to be found in St Peter’s graveyard. It is a really important piece of work as we learn about those who made the ultimate sacrifice and whose final resting place is here. Like Sergeant John Alfred Entwistle – Wireless Operator & Rear Gunner of the RAF. At his funeral Revd. Harold Barsley also added that John was a Chorister and Server at St Peter’s. On this anniversary of VE Day we remember ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Mike’s booklet is available on our Commonwealth War Graves page.

The Road To Emmaus – 26th April 2020 

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

How about a love story to cheer us up in these difficult times? 

The story of 2 famous poets, Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. Robert Browning wrote those immortal lines, “Oh to be in England now that April’s here!” – though he wasn’t thinking of April 2020! 

Browning was born in 1812 on a sugar plantation in the Caribbean and was an ardent atheist. Elizabeth’s father was also a sugar plantation owner though she was born in England. 

Elizabeth began writing poetry when she was 12 years old and later when Robert Browning came across her poems he began writing to her. Over the space of 18 months they exchanged nearly 600 letters! Romance was blossoming between them. Though there was one big snag Elizabeth’s father was both oppressive and obsessive and bitterly opposed to any thought of his daughter marrying Robert Browning. 

Easter 2 – St Thomas – 19th April

Revd Nathan Thorpe

Someone once said that faith is like a jigsaw puzzle – as you go through life, you slowly assemble the puzzle until you get a picture with no gaps. At that point, something shakes the picture and scatters the pieces, then you have to start assembling it again. Every time it happens, there is a slightly different picture. Maybe, in that respect, it is a bit more like a kaleidoscope.

Thomas, in our gospel reading, has an interesting journey. 

He is impulsive and offers to die with Jesus when Jesus was travelling to Bethany (John 11), but dubious about the place and the way he was leading them. Then there is this episode, which has been his enduring reputation to this day.

Easter Day – 12th April

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

Fear, apprehension, isolation, social distancing and lockdown are all conditions we are very familiar with at the moment. 

Fear of the future; apprehension as to when and how it will all end. 

Isolation: a few weeks into restrictions and the uniqueness has well and truly worn off. Are there any weeds left to pull in the garden. The grass doesn’t grow quick enough to keep cutting. I bought paint for someone in my house to keep him from getting bored! 

Social distancing and lockdown: we’re finding that virtual contact is really no substitute for being able to socialise with others. Though I have been impressed with those who have grabbed new technology in a way they had never dreamt to help them keep in touch. We now have a ZOOM congregation who will continue to worship together each Sunday evening and if you want to join them please let me know. For others what I have just said will sound like another language and we have to look at lots of different ways to keep in touch with each other. 

For different reasons, the early disciples experienced isolation and vulnerability. With the disciples the uniqueness of our situation is also bringing fear and worry for loved ones. Tension and stress on relationships. Fear of what the future brings. 

Holy Week Reflections

During our evening Compline Services, Rev Nathan has been reflecting on our journey through Holy Week. Please use the links below to read each day’s reflection.

Monday for Holy Week –  Isaiah 53:4-5 

 Rev Peter Paine 

 Surely he [my servant] has borne our griefs 

and carried our sorrows; 

yet we esteemed him stricken, 

smitten by God, and afflicted. 

But he was wounded for our transgressions; 

he was crushed for our iniquities; 

Upon him was the chastisement 

that brought us peace, 

and with his stripes we are healed. 

These words made famous by Handle’s Messiah are from the best known ‘Servant Song’ in the prophet Isaiah. We recall them at this time because the first Christians found in them a profound understanding of the significance of Jesus’ death. That Jesus should have died so young and in such a terribly shameful way was a scandal which needed an explanation. Isaiah’s prophecy went some way to providing it. 

Palm Sunday – 5th April

Revd Nathan Thorpe

I was going to Westbrook Asda in Warrington on Palm Sunday. The church we were at would meet outside, by the trolley shelter, have a prayer, then press play on a big boombox. It would blare out ‘Make may, make way, for the King of Kings’ and we’d walk along the parade of shops back to church for our service.

I was incredibly self-conscious of it as a teenager – I can remember wishing none of my friends would be out – I kind of miss it today. All the bustle of a Palm Sunday extravaganza!

But, whatever you are doing this Palm Sunday, I think we’ve all got an incredible opportunity here.

St John of the Cross wrote ‘to come to the knowledge you have not, you must go in the way you have not’ . So, in that spirit, let’s look at the psalm! 

Passion Sunday – 29th March

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

The set reading for this morning is one of the longest in the church’s year – 45 verses!

I have shortened it for this bulletin but in this time of enforced leisure you may want to read the full passage to verse 45.  It certainly rewards a full reading because, apart from the resurrection stories of the first Easter, it is a passage full of hope, giving us the assurance that this life is not the only life but is, rather, a prelude to the life of the world to come.  In verse 25 Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.”

But for today I want to reflect on two themes from the earlier verses.

Firstly, we read in Luke 9:58 Jesus says, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Jesus was an itinerant preacher, constantly on the move.  He hadn’t a house of his own to which he could retreat and lock the door for a break or a rest.  But there was one place where he could lay down his head and feel relaxed – and that was in the home of Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus in Bethany, a few miles from Jerusalem.  There Jesus could be himself as he stayed among friends whom he loved and who loved him.

Mothering Sunday – Posies & Pandemics 22nd March

Revd Nathan Thorpe

Unfortunately, despite not being able to meet in person, we’ve decided to take to the air-waves and social media! So, there really is no getting away from us!

I jest, but that is actually the main point of my sermon this Sunday. 

The phrase that has been rattling around my head since Monday – which feels like last year – is ‘For a time such as this’.

It is challenging to do a new thing. It is hard to be separated from the things that mean so much to lift our spirits this week. For St Peter’s, it might be the camaraderie and cadences of the choir. For Anne & I, it is sharing the Eucharist with all of you. It has been a challenge this week to adapt to so much and keep things as normal as possible amidst a confusing time.

In the midst of this, it is Mothering Sunday. Love it or loath it, our mothers – or those who have nurtured us – have made an impact on our lives. In our gospel reading, the man who was blind was not fortunate – he was rejected by his parents in when they should have been celebrating his new-found sight rather than being scared of the social and religious disapproval of the pharisees.

8th March 2020

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

The sabbatical I’ve just had is the first in over 25 years of ministry. Sabbaticals weren’t part of church life in Ireland; they were very much the exception rather then the rule. And I have to say it was both restful and a breath of fresh air to step back a bit, to reflect and do a kind of mental and spiritual spring-clean, without the pressure of constant demands so to think about what’s really important.

I have resisted spending the morning showing you photos though maybe that would have been your choice! While we were away we went to church! Ted sweet talked his way into a closed cathedral in Auckland. It was a Monday. It turned out the gentleman who let us in was the organist, he had trained in Liverpool cathedral and knew David Holroyd!

The sermon was telling us that we – not the 2 of us personally! – that we all were so bad that God needs to discipline us. The picture of God that we were presented with was of the parent disciplining a child saying, ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you!’ The preacher was none other than the Dean. It was also the first time I have had a major urge to stop a preacher and ask for clarification about their view of God.

9th February 2020 Evening

Michael Pitts

“In a word, as God’s dear children, you must be like him.”  I have taken as my text the first verse of Chapter 5, as it neatly sums up all that Paul has written throughout chapter 4.  As background, this “letter to the Ephesians” was probably written by Paul when he was in prison in Rome about AD61 and is thought to have been intended as a circular to all the churches and congregations that Paul had set up during his third missionary journey when he spent about three years in and around Ephesus.  It helps to remember that the time was within about thirty years of the first Pentecost and there was still tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians.  However, as far as Paul was concerned, there was no difference to be made between people – the Christian Church was open to absolutely everyone of whatever race, colour or gender; as is said at the administration of Communion here at St Peter’s, this is the Lord’s table and the invitation comes from him alone.  This letter of Paul’s was therefore intended to be read to all who attended the church gatherings in and around Ephesus where it was circulated.  The first three chapters set out Paul’s theological thoughts about God’s purpose in sending his Son Jesus into the world to draw all people into one great family of mutual love.  Faith in the good news of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension delivers his followers from all that kept us apart from God and allows us to enter into this new relationship.  This is true whether we are Jew or non-Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised.  Now we know what it means to pass from the living dead of self-centredness to the new life which is centred with Christ in God.

ADVENT 4 2019 – MARY

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

Christmas is a time when there are extra communion services – for the sick and housebound and in Nursing Homes and so on. At times like this I sometimes think of the many different places and situations where I have celebrated the sacrament.

I remember having to clear a kitchen table of stale food and a dog’s bone to try and find a place for the chalice and paten in the home of an old lady who was a recluse. Or the informal celebration in the open air with a group of young people at a diocesan summer camp. In a hospice there was a special sense of quiet and suppressed sorrow at the bed side with a family as their loved received for the last time.

Or I remember the old navy captain who with failing eye sight never needed a service sheet because he knew all the words.

I remember bringing communion to an old lady with a Jack Russel who rather liked visitors. But when the service started the dog would lie down quietly in the corner, until the last Amen when he would be up again and share the peace with me in his own special way!

To me those celebrations were as important and as meaningful as the Eucharist that, say, marked the consecration of a new bishop when I was the Archbishop of Dublin’s chaplain. For those services the cathedral sanctuary would be stuffed with bishops in their full regalia, and every move and gesture had been carefully choreographed and rehearsed. All accompanied by beautiful music.


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