St Peter’s Church, Formby


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.


St Simon and St Jude – Sunday 28th October

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

After women were first ordained in Ireland in 1990 people didn’t quite get their heads around the idea that there was more than one of us! On several occasions I was told I had done a good job at a wedding or a funeral in a church that I knew I had never been in! And protest as I did with one lady that it was not me that conducted a wedding she very confidently assured me that it certainly was and I was very good.
My friend got mistaken on several occasions for the Vicar of Dibley as she did have a striking resemblance to Dawn French but the time that she was more perplexed with was being mistaken for a priest called Margaret who was 30 years older and had a peach rinse at the time!

Simon and Jude, the 2 disciples, we remember today also have stories of Mistaken Identity.
Simon is NOT Simon the brother of Jesus, and NOT Simon Peter, while Jude or Judas was NOT Judas the brother of Jesus nor Judas Iscariot. Even in the Beatles song Hey Jude it should have been Hey Jules as it was written by Paul McCartney for John Lennon’s son Julian after his parents’ divorce.

Yes, Simon and Jude have the unfortunate distinction of being defined by who they are not.

To read the full sermon please download St. Simon and St Jude


Blarney & Baptism – Sunday 21st October

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

Some of you may have heard of Blarney in Ireland. It is a medieval castle near Cork. Built into the battlements near the top is the famous Blarney Stone which, when kissed, is meant to bestow the gift of eloquence and sweet talk!

It is not an easy stone to reach and kiss as you have to lean backwards from the parapet, just holding on to an iron railing! However the tradition goes back centuries and “blarney” as a word came into the English language in the reign of Queen Elizabeth l.

Some time ago, with friends, who are actually here in church this morning so what I am about to say must be true! We visited Blarney when in Cork City for a wedding. We went not to see Blarney Castle or even to kiss the stone but to see a little church nearby which had received a lot of publicity because it had been renovated and re-ordered.

How the local vicar got away with what was done we will never know. Beautiful walnut panels had been painted matt white, the tiled floor had been overlaid with a type of rubberoid covering, a new modern altar was supported by steel tubular legs and microphone cables were everywhere.

To read the full sermon please download BLARNEY & BAPTISM

Bible Sunday 7th October 2018

Revd Nathan Thorpe

‘May our hearts, the word receiving be the good ground where it grows’.

Lord, as you open your word to our hearts, open our hearts to your word. Amen.

The Bible is one of the world’s most widely distributed books. The Bible was originally written in three different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. People, like William Tyndale, died today, 6th October, 1536, so that the Bible could be translated into more different languages than any other book.

There are more old, handwritten copies of the Bible manuscripts still in existence than any other ancient document. The longest book in the Old Testament is Psalms. The shortest book in the Old Testament is Obadiah. The longest book in the New Testament is Acts. The shortest book in the New Testament is 3 John with the fewest number of words. (2 John has more words, but fewer verses.).

Who can hazard a guess a guess at what today’s theme is in our service today? I’ll give you a clue – check your bulletins.

But what can I tell you about the Bible that you don’t already know? Collectively, not much. But, I’ll take a leaf out of Jesus’ book – let me tell you a story…

To read the full sermon please download Bible Sunday – 7th October


Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity 23rd September – Evensong

Exodus 19. 10 – 25; Ps. 119. 137 – 152; Matt. 8. 23 – 34

Michael Pitts

To get the most out of our gospel reading this evening, we need to consider the preceding five verses, in which Matthew recorded for the first time Jesus’s reference to himself as the “Son of man”. [All four gospel writers used this term on several occasions.] It is generally thought that Jesus was making a reference to the Book of Daniel, ch.7 verse 13, where Daniel records that in his vision of the end times he saw “one like the son of man” appearing before God and being endowed with dominion and kingship over all peoples and nations for evermore. The significance of its inclusion here is that, up to this point, Matthew had shown Jesus to be a prophet who declared that the kingdom of God had drawn nigh and who healed the sick. This is the first time that he recorded Jesus referring to himself as the one foretold in the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures, to come, first as a servant who is to suffer for all humankind, and then to be given kingship over all peoples and nations, and indeed the whole earth. (We should remember that Matthew was writing principally for the benefit of those Jews who had become Christians and who would have been well acquainted with the Jewish scriptures.)

To read the full sermon please download Sermon for 23_09_18 (pm)


Words 16th September 2018

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

During the last World War there was a poster campaignabout watching what you said called “Careless Talk Costs Lives” and there were numerous posters aboutthe dire consequences about what such careless talk could result in – information about troop movements getting into enemy hands, even ships being torpedoed.

That slogan would be a good summary of today’s epistle from that very practical Letter of James, for it’sall about watching what we say. Not just to stop us putting our foot in it when we open our mouths, but more importantly reminding us of the hurt and damage that can be caused to others by what we say. James likens careless words and hurtful words to a forest fire that can be started by just a small spark, and over the summer we have seen the catastrophic results of such fires.

To read the full sermon please download WORDS 16 Sept 2018


Psalm 119. 41-56 – Evensong 9th September 2018

Revd Nathan Thorpe

In our gospel reading and psalm this evening; we hear of people being singled out as different. These people are identifiable because of their faith in God. In our gospel reading, Jesus gives us our most well known prayer, identifies those who fast for public attention, and those who give money with a flourish. In our psalm, the psalmist is singled out for the fervour of his faith:

‘I will speak of your statutes before kings and not be brought to shame’

‘The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law’

‘In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law’.

The psalmist verses contribute to the triple repetition of our gospel reminder – ‘And your Father who sees in secret will reward you’.

This is a precept of the living Christian life, that we have to take seriously. If we do not, we are no better than those who fast with long faces. If we do not believe that God knows what we do when are not around other people – then we are no better than those who put on a public show when going about our deeds in the name of Christ.

None of us are immune to this – least of all we who stand in the pulpit. A study a few years ago once asked congregations which biblical characters they most identified with? Can you guess what clergy were designated? Pharisees and hypocrites.

By happenstance, the vicar has a plaque in her study that always brings this tenet of our faith to my mind – it reads: ‘bidden or not bidden, God is present’.

And so, to avoid being hypocritical, I want to consider what it means to be singled out as a Christian – regardless of distinction.

To read the full sermon please download Evensong – Psalm 119


RAF 100 / Battle of Britain Sunday 2018 9th September

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

We gather today to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force and also the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Britain – which in the words of Sir Winston Churchill ‘turned the tide of the 2nd World War’.

Many of us have connections with the RAF. I can truly say if it was not for the RAF I wouldn’t be here! Both my parents served in the RAF – my dad was in the military police during his National Service and mum joined to become a nurse. They met while serving in Germany and the rest as they say is history. So that is something to give thanks for – isn’t it!!

There are many famous people who have served in the RAF – actors Richard Attenborough, Brian Blessed, Peter Sellers, Richard Burton; poet & TV celebrity Pam Ayres; rugby player Rory Underwood; TV personality Bruce Forsyth; author Roald Dahl; Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman and of course Prince William.

Thousands of men & women have served in the Royal Air Force over the last 100 years.

To read the full sermon please download Battle of Britain Sunday 2018


Sermon for 22nd July 2018 (Eighth Sunday after Trinity – St Mary Magdalene) 2 Cor. 5: 14-17; John 20. 1-2, 11-18

Michael Pitts

Mary Magdalene is renowned for being the first witness of Christ’s resurrection and, because
Jesus sent her to tell the disciples about her encounter with him, effectively the first
apostle. Let us look a bit more closely at what is known about her and try to separate fact
from fiction or legend. John in his gospel refers to her as Mary the Magdalene, inserting the
greek definite article; this indicates that she probably was born or lived in a town called
Magdala. This name crops up in Matthew’s gospel as being Jesus’s destination by boat after
a second instance of feeding a crowd. There was indeed a town called Magdala, or rather
Magdala Nunnaya (meaning tower of the fishes), which functioned as a port on the west
side of the sea of Galilee, about three miles north of Tiberias and six miles south of Capernaum.
In archaeological excavations carried out this century, evidence of a settlement during
the last two centuries BC and the first three centuries AD has been found, including the
discovery of the oldest synagogue found in Galilee. So it would not be surprising if Jesus
had visited that synagogue and perhaps had first encountered Mary there.

To read the full sermon please download 22_07_18 (am) (St Mary Magdalene)


Mark 6: 1-13  – 6th Sunday After Trinity – Response to Adversity

Revd Nathan Thorpe

One of the challenges of reading the Bible, is that it is sometimes difficult to apply it to our experience. But, Jesus – unlike the World Cup – has already come home here.

We find him in the synagogue. You would think that his local synagogue would be pleased to see him, eager to learn from him. But they aren’t.

We have a recent comparison here. Last week, we welcomed back Mark Boyling, a previous vicar at St Peter’s for our patronal festival. For many of you, it was lovely to see Mark and Helen again – to catch up about life events gone-by, find out what they were up to.

I’m sure that these things were the same for Jesus in Nazareth. But the trouble came when he began to teach. In Jesus’ day, the Scripture readings would be read and then a discussion would be had on them – usually with an opening reflection by the rabbi, or a visiting preacher.

(If you’d like more discussion than we give you on a Sunday – think about joining one of the Bible Study groups advertised on the bulletin)

To read the full sermon please download 8th July – 6th Sunday after Trinity – Hope of Homecoming


Birth of John the Baptist – Trinity 4 – What is in a name?

Revd Nathan Thorpe

‘‘Four letter word just to get me along

It’s a difficulty and I’m biting on my tongue

And I I keep stalling, keeping me together

People around gotta find something to say now

Holding back, everyday the same

Don’t wanna be a loner

Listen to me, oh no I never say anything at all

But with nothing to consider they forget my name (ame, ame, ame)’’.

The music savvy among you may recognise 2007 song ‘That’s Not My Name’ by The Ting Tings.

The ‘four-letter word’ given to us to get us along is the most personal description we have. Our names are personal. They are not only descriptors of us, they are marks of our identity, a short-hand for the way other people observe us thinking, behaving, speaking, standing, interacting. Our names are who we are.

Because names are so personal, it can hurt when our names are mis-pronounced, or we feel mis-represented. Or, as Katie White, who wrote ‘That’s not my name’ felt, mis-remembered. Her band, at least, after her single will not be forgotten for a long time.

These feelings of identity and being remembered as an individual were picked up by a completely different musical genre, rap artist Dizzee Rascal, when he covered the song on Radio 1 changing the lyrics to suit his ethnicity.

These feelings give us an understanding of the kind of situation our gospel reading speaks of – and some of the insights from the epistle reading this morning.

A four letter word, just to get me along.

That’s not my name.

His name is John. These are key words in this portion.

To read the full sermon please download Birth of John the Baptist


Sermon for 17th June 2018 (Third Sunday after Trinity)
Jer. 7. 1–7; Ps. 39; Luke 7. 36 – 8. 3

Michael Pitts

Our story from Luke’s gospel this evening is somewhat difficult for us in today’s
culture to understand. We are not in the habit of leaving our front door open and
having uninvited guests coming in to join our dinner party! But neither would we as
the host expect our principal guest to tell us off for not treating him properly! As we
find throughout the gospel stories, strange and sometimes miraculous things
happened when Jesus was around and when, as He and John the Baptist both
declared, the kingdom of heaven had drawn near at hand. Our story starts with the
bald statement that one of the Pharisees had asked Jesus to dine with him. Perhaps
he was a fairly open-minded Pharisee who had heard the rumours that Jesus was a
prophet and wanted to find out for himself by inviting Him into his house. And then
he thought he had proved that Jesus could not be a prophet, because if he was he
would have known that the woman who had come in off the street and was crying
over his feet was a prostitute and he would have turned her away. But no, far from
it. Jesus knew much more about this woman, that she was full of remorse for her
past life, and full of love for Jesus. So Jesus now addressed the Pharisee, Simon, and
asked him a simple question: which of two debtors would have more love for their
creditor who cancelled their debts, the one who owed more or the one who owed
less? When Simon gave the correct answer, Jesus then went on to point out to his
host that he had not shown much love for his guest in the way he had welcomed
Jesus in to his house, whereas the woman had shown great love by bathing his feet
with her tears, kissing his feet ceaselessly, and anointing his feet with ointment.
Jesus then sent the woman away with the blessing of forgiveness because of her
faith. We are not told what happened to the Pharisee, Simon; we can only hope that
he too benefited from the encounter.

To read the full sermon please download Sermon for 17th June 2018 (evening)

8:00 Sermon – Mark 4: 26-34 – 3rd Sunday after Trinity

Revd Nathan Thorpe

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Have any of you noticed that parables go in and out of fashion? I’ve been thinking this as I’ve gone through the year – preaching fairly regularly on the lectionary.

And what about today’s bible story? The parable of the Mustard Seed used to be everywhere – but rarely have I heard it preached on.

I first heard it when a youth evangelist, Pail Caine, spoke about it in the hall of my Dad’s then church, St Michael and All Angel’s, St Helens. He was a great guy – and I remember him describing the way that God spoke to him as being like a mustard seed.

God’s kingdom, or God’s inspiration, said Paul, was like the smallest seed. It was a seed, not of his own devising, that just popped into his head. I can still remember the hand gesture of the pop. It wouldn’t happen all the time, but sometimes. And, Paul went on to say, that after a prayer chat with God about the ‘God thought’ – he would mention it to others, and it would seem that other people had been thinking the same thought – which they would then pursue after prayer. Hence, Paul described how he had formed the ‘Good News Club’ that drew up to 60 kids once a fortnight of an evening, that he was telling the story too.

And so it is with our gospel reading this morning. We are given a rare treat from scripture – what to look for – how to identify the kingdom of God. If that wasn’t enough, it describes the organic growth of the kingdom of God.

To read the full sermon please download 8am – 3rd after Trinity


Barnabas – 10th June 2018

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

I wonder if you have ever reflected on the people and the events who have made us who we are.

True, all of us have inherited traits and dispositions from our parents and families, but people and events mark and mould us as well – those who have believed in us, those who have encouraged us, those who have been loyal friends – such people build us up and have positive effects. Those of us who are ordained – as for Nathan – we will have been encouraged along the way by a variety of people that God was truly calling us to ministry.

The opposite can be said for those who let us down, who purposely set out to do us harm, to put us down, who take advantage of our vulnerable times who use us for their own advantage – or amusement. These leave negative effects.

And we have all encountered and experienced both types – the positive and the negative, the helpful and the harmful, those who build us up and those who break us down.

Tomorrow is St. Barnabas’ Day, and Barnabas embodies so many of thecharacteristics that hold people up, that help them flourish, that help them realise their potential. Such an important part of ordained ministry is to build up the people of God to truly be disciples.

And nowhere is this seen better than in regard to Mark, the writer of the first Gospel,and, as it happens, Barnabas’ nephew.

To read the full sermon please download BARNABAS











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