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

5th May Evensong

Michael Pitts

“Lazarus, come out.” What a remarkable command for Jesus to cry out in a loud voice, and what an amazing result! Of all Jesus’s miracles, this presents us with the biggest problem. The other three gospels record two different people being raised from the dead, Jairus’s daughter and the widow’s son at Nain, but those were immediate. In the case of Lazarus, he had been in the tomb for four days, at which stage his body had begun to putrefy. Consider also that none of the other gospel writers refer to this story, although surely they must have been aware of the happening, coming as it did not long before Jesus entered Jerusalem at the start of Holy Week. In my searches I have not been able to find any satisfactory answer to this problem, nor did William Barclay whose book on John’s gospel I have found immensely helpful while preparing this sermon. As John related, Jesus had been told that Lazarus was ill, through a message sent by Martha and Mary, but had decided to stay where he was for another couple of days. Then he announced to his disciples that it was time to move on into Judea, though his disciples tried to deter him by reminding him that the last time he was there the Jews had tried to arrest him. By now, Jesus was aware that Lazarus had died and knew well that in the heat of that country the burial would take place within a couple of days – as it still does in countries which have high temperatures. But he also knew that he had a job to do, namely to glorify God.

SERMON FOR BAPTISM OF JASMINE

17th February

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

Well, I hope everyone, who needed to, survived Valentine ’s Day!

In the early days, the Church wasn’t keen on the Festival held in Rome on February 14th to celebrate the traditional day on which birds began to mate. It got a little bit out of hand – in fact quite a bit out of hand. I’ll leave it all to your own imagination!

Anyway, in stepped the bishops, doing a bit of tut-tutting and finger wagging, and declared that instead of all this luvvy-dovey stuff, Christians would be far better off contemplating martyrdom rather than masquerading around the streets of Rome and getting up to no good!
So the bishops made 14th February a day to commemorate Valentine, who had been cruelly put to death for his faith during the persecutions. Hence St. Valentine’s Day.

The name stuck, but not the serious side of the day and people soon forgot who Valentine was, and got back to celebrating love. The only martyrs on Valentine’s Day are those who forgot to send a card and buy their loved ones some flowers and chocolate – and not from the garage forecourt either. I know of a few near misses for martyrdom this year and in our house it wasn’t Ted!

So love and the celebration of love won through.

And it’s appropriate on this Sunday after St Valentine’s Day that we will baptise Jasmine. For the name Jasmine is full of meaning.

17th February Evensong

Michael Pitts

The letter to the Galatians is thought to have been the first letter that Paul wrote, as indeed was Galatia one of the first provinces of the Roman Empire that Paul visited when he set out on his first missionary journey, probably in 46 AD. And the main purpose behind his writing this letter was to deal with one of the biggest problems that troubled the early Church: namely that the hard-core orthodox Jews who had accepted faith in Christ as the Messiah nevertheless looked on this faith as a branch of Judaism and not as a new “religion”. Thus they insisted that Gentiles who embraced the Christian faith should first become Jews, ie should be circumcised and accept the teachings of the Mosaic Law, including accepting the Jewish festivals and other customs. Even Peter, who had first realised that Gentiles could be saved, through his encounter with Cornelius, had been swayed back to the idea that Jewish Christians should separate themselves from Gentile proselytes; Paul reproached him very firmly over this in Antioch and won him back. It was about this time that Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians because he had heard that they were being swayed by the orthodox Jewish Christians to approach Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism and to accept the Jewish traditions/festivals etc.

Sermon 27th January 2019

Revd Nathan Thorpe

I don’t know whether you remember that song ‘Dem Bones’ or the Skeleton Dance?

You know, the one that goes:

    Toe bone connected to the foot bone

    Foot bone connected to the heel bone

    Heel bone connected to the ankle bone, etc. working it’s way up the body.

Now that song, or spiritual, is based on the story of the prophet Ezekiel’s encounter with the power of God, and a field of dry bones.

The verse, like an earworm, came into my head while I thought about our readings this morning.

St. Paul, writing to a church that was prone to division in the Corinthians, is trying to drive home his point about what the Church – the body of Christ – is.

Even if we are not experiencing the same level of conflict within our own church community – it does no harm to take note of his writing – because it’s got a lot of depth.

By the fact we read it, we are connected to it – like the toe-bone to the foot bone, foot bone to the heel bone, etc.

St Paul uses the image of a human body. He tells the Corinthians about body parts – hand, ear, eye, nose, feet, and head. Each has its special function. Different parts of a human body all make their contributions to the whole – and if one becomes ill, it can have serious consequences. Hence, we pray for each other, in the intercessions or at our Service of Wholeness on the last Sunday of the month.

Marriage at Cana – 20th January 2019

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

There’s seldom a wedding where something doesn’t go wrong. To the guest sittingin the pew it may seem perfectly relaxed, with everything in place, but behind the scenes, and usually before the big day itself, there can be all sorts of tensions, anxieties, last minute changes and even arguments. And not all to do with the bride!

One wedding we had was delayed – because the groom’s mother hadn’t arrived! She lived the other side of the city and had left late anyway because she was getting her hair done. But also she hadn’t factored in that that particular day there was a marathon on and a large number of roads were closed. The bride had arrived on time, but sensible girl that she was, decided that she would wait the 40 minutes that it took her future mother-in-law to get to the church. No use starting on the wrong foot if she could avoid it!

Another we waited for the granny of the bride as her wheelchair taxi thought he could squeeze in another job! She was in her 90s and everyone including the bride did a wonderful job pretending nothing was amiss.

BAPTISM – 13th January 2019

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

There was a man who worked for the Post Office whose job it was to process letters that had illegible or unusable addresses and he got a lot of them in the run up to Christmas each year.

As he sorted through the pile, mostly addressed to Santa, he came across a letter written in shaky, spidery writing addressed to God. Intrigued he opened the letter and this is what he read:-

Dear God,

Last week I lost my purse with £100 in it. I am a widow on a small pension and I was just about to go out and buy food so as I could invite 2 recently bereaved friends to Christmas lunch.

Can you please help me as I would like to help them. Sincerely,
Edna.

The postal worker was touched, and showed the letter to his colleagues in the sorting office, and being Christmas, the season of goodwill and all that, they all contributed a few pounds each to help Edna.

When they counted what had been given it came to a generous £96, so with a warm glow at having helped a poor widow treat her friends, they arranged for an envelope with the money to be dropped into her house by her postman.

A few days after Christmas came another letter in the same spidery handwriting addressed to God. All the workers gathered around to read her reply.

THE KNIFE ANGEL – 30th December 2019

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

Last Thursday we went to one of the must-see attractions in Liverpool at the moment. The statue of the Knife Angel which has been erected just beside the main entrance to our diocesan cathedral.

The statue itself is 27 feet tall and is made up of more than 100,000 knives, collected by police from knife banks all over the country, knives which were used in crime and confiscated by the police – or voluntarily handed in. The British Ironwork Centre – a family run business in Shropshire contacted the Home Office for permission to collect these knives from the police. The sculptor, Alfie Bradley, then created the angel to highlight the growing incidence of knife crime today. More than 900 serious crimes involving knives were recorded in Merseyside last year. So‘Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife’ campaign and more knife banks were set-up.

And in the sculpture there is such an array of knives. Knives with multi-coloured handles make up the body, while the blades make up the feathers of the angel’swings, with huge machete blades prominent at the tips.

Sermon for 23rd December 2018 (Fourth Sunday of Advent)
Is.11. 1-9; Ps. 123; Matt. 1. 18-25.

Michael Pitts

“Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” “Emmanuel…….God with us.”
Two phrases from our gospel reading, each with a name that is then interpreted for us. It is
interesting to note that, whereas Luke tells the story of Christ’s birth with Mary his mother
as the one who sees an angel, Matthew has Joseph as the main character, who has not one
but four visions of an angel. From the more frequently recounted stories from Luke’s
gospel and from many of our familiar carols, we are perhaps more accustomed to the idea
of Mary being the centre of attention, with shepherds leaving their flocks on the hillside.
So I thought it might be helpful to imagine how Joseph might have described events to
Jesus when he was about twelve, shortly after they’d all returned home from their visit to
Jerusalem for the Passover.

So imagine the scene, perhaps in Joseph’s workshop during a tea-break, when Joseph has
Jesus all to himself. “Jesus, my boy. You’ve been a good son to us both all these years,
helping your Mum to bring up your younger brothers and sisters, and now starting to assist
me in my business. What with trying to earn enough to feed a large family and having to
go off to some of the bigger towns around for work, I’d forgotten all about the strange
circumstances surrounding your birth, until last week, when you gave us both such a shock
by staying behind in Jerusalem instead of joining our party returning home to Galilee.
Your Mum and I ran all the way back to Jerusalem when we discovered you were not with
us, and searched for three days until we found you, in the temple. It was what you said
then – ‘didn’t you know I must be about my Father’s interests’ – that reminded me that,
although I’ve always treated you as my son, I’m not your natural father. I’m sure now that
you know this; but let me tell you how I experienced your birth.”

To read the full sermon please download 23rd December 2018

Kingship of Christ – a Holy Fear of God – Sunday 25th November

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

Of all the difficult jobs and professions around today, I think teaching must be one of the hardest. Looking back to my own secondary school days not only were there teachers to whom we gave hell, there were also teachers who gave us hell!

As pupils we were very quick to spot chinks in the teacher’s armour, and then exploit them to the full especially substitute teachers or clergy in to teach RE!But there were also teachers you didn’t mess around with.

One teacher in particular comes to mind. In his class you didn’t look sideways, or talk to your neighbour or not pay attention. Discipline in his class was always rock solid.

Yet I remember that same teacher once took us on a school trip and he was a completely different person, telling us jokes, doing card tricks and full of fun.

It was almost as if he were two people, with two distinct and different sides to his character.

And this came to mind as I thought of the two very different images of God that we have in our readings this morning.

To read the full sermon please download KINGSHIP OF CHRIST A Holy Fear of God

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