Sunday 5th July Trinity 4

Holy Communion 9.30am All Saints’ Church

This Sunday we begin public worship in our churches once again with a service of holy communion at All Saints’ Church starting at 9.30am.
Please see our post here to find out more about what to expect.

We recommend that you arrive in plenty of time to take into account the different arrangements.

Online Zoom Service

We will continue to hold Zoom services, including Cafe Church to enable those who would rather stay at home for the time being.
Please contact us to find out the log in details.

Today we are celebrating the 72nd Anniversary of the NHS which began on 5th July 1948

You can find prayers and resources for the anniversary of the NHS here.

Prayer For the NHS

God of healing and compassion,
we thank you for the establishment of the National Health Service,
and for the dedication of all who work in it:
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who care for the sick,
and your wisdom to those engaged in medical research.
Strengthen all in their vocation through your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
four our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake.
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Zechariah 9:9-12 

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
    I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
    today I declare that I will restore to you double.

Psalm 145: 8 – 15

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his compassion is over all that he has made.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your faithful shall bless you.
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,
    and gracious in all his deeds.
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling,
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.

Romans 7:15-25a

15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-end

16 ‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,

17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we wailed, and you did not mourn.”

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’

25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

Reading for the service at All Saints’ Church celebrating the anniversary of the NHS

Luke 4:16-21

The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth

16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.

Healings at Simon’s House

38 After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. 39 Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.

40 As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. 41 Demons also came out of many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.

Reflection for Sunday 5 July


Today we are celebrating the Anniversary of the NHS which began 72 years ago on 5 July 1948, pioneered by the then Minister for Health – Anuerin Bevan – whose name mysteriously changed to ‘Beveridge’ on the web site offering suggestions for today, thereby warning those preparing our Newsletters as to what they are imbibing at the time!

The aim of this new National Health Service was to provide ‘healthcare for all’ – not just for those who could afford it – funded by the Government from taxes and National Insurance contributions deducted from everyone’s wage packets with the contribution increasing the more you earned.

The desire not to exclude anyone from receiving good healthcare – particularly the poor – had been pioneered down through the centuries through monastic orders like the Cistercians who founded hospitals for the poor right across Europe, where such hospitals also cared for the wounded of the wars which were never far away.

Here in the Victorian era the increasing divide between rich and poor also gave rise to many Benefactors committed to helping those not so privileged in terms of healthcare, housing, sanitation, education, fair wages and safer working conditions.

In parallel the sciences of medicine and surgery had developed by trial and error particularly in the context of wars with the treatment of those on the battlefield and when repatriated, or hidden out of sight, with the advancement of prosthetics, burns skin grafts, hygiene, medicines, vaccines, therapies and psychiatry with growing awareness of the impact of stress.

It was during the Crimea War that the on-going care skills of Nursing came to the fore through people like Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole. The Nightingale School of Nursing opened in 1860 at St.Thomas’ Hospital – which itself had been founded in the 12th century and dedicated to St.Thomas a Becket and was built adjacent to Lambeth Palace of subsequent Archbishops of Canterbury.

An historical and essential ongoing involvement of the Church in healthcare for the well-being of our whole being – Body and Mind and Spirit – since all the skills and advancement of medicine, surgery and psychiatry alone cannot solve all our health needs.

Healing and Wholeness:

During this Pandemic the emphasis of our Government has been on protecting the physical Body from catching the virus, but the isolation precautions have resulted in belated concerns at the adverse effect on the Mind – our mental health. But such concerns have not yet extended to the Spirit – the spiritual health of that person, especially those living in our secular society without any faith or hope beyond ourselves for the present or future.
The Church is still not seen as a ‘key frontline worker’ with even Hospital Chaplains having to wait to be invited by the infected or dying patient in order to minister to them.

At the age of 45 my father, a Vicar, suffered a series of heart attacks and received one of the early triple by-passes, enabling him to live a full life of ministry until he died at 72. However, in the bed next to him there was another man of similar age who had the same operation but who was not getting any better. My father, encouraged by the enlightened Doctors, spoke to the man who regarded his heart problems as a just punishment from God for his past life of sin. It was when he was introduced to a God of love, who longed to save and forgive rather than condemn him, that his whole life changed, and the healing process began in his Mind Body and Soul. He made a full recovery and my father was able to encourage and pastor him for many years to come.

Doctor Luke:

Long before the NHS, Jesus was the supreme example of a life lived to offer ‘healing to all’, to offer whole healing of Mind Body and Soul without neglecting any aspect of our being or deeper underlying needs.

Helen has a nephew called Luke who as a child needed essential heart surgery; this later inspired him to become a Doctor and to specialise in Paediatrics, one of the most heart-rending departments of suffering children. Luke goes home from the hospital to his wife who is a Midwife caring for their young son and, each day we pray for their protection and discernment in ministering to those who need their compassion and skills.

Luke the Doctor in his Gospel takes great care in interviewing and recording the eye-witness accounts of those who followed Jesus, heard and responded to his teaching and witnessed his compassion and the power and authority of God in his miracles.

Luke the non-Jew Greek gentile who had apparently never met Jesus himself would have been drawn to Jesus because of the salvation he offered to all, both Jews and Gentiles, and would have identified with Jesus because of his shared longing to heal the sick.

The way Luke’s Gospel and his account of the Acts of the Apostle are either side of Pentecost suggests to me that this was probably a pivotal moment for Luke, amongst the thousands of listeners, accepting the Good News of Jesus proclaimed by Peter in Luke’s own language; of Luke then becoming a disciple himself and joining Paul in his missionary journeys when he himself witnessed the power of Jesus through the miracles of Paul.

Luke was humbled and awed by Jesus’ miracles of healing, where Luke’s own limited skills – and the few medicines and salves he and he his compatriots could prepare – could not heal but often only made things worse. Whilst Jesus defied the prevailing opinion of the day that all illness, injury and deformity was a punishment from God as the consequence of their sin or that of their parents.

So Luke records the miracles of:
The conception of barren Elizabeth and the virgin Mary.
Healing the paralysed, lame and disabled; those blind or deaf even from birth.
Going beyond the issues of anxiety and despair to healing the many possessed by evil spirits to be cast out and inviting the Holy Spirit to guide them.
The dying servant of a Roman Centurion healed by just a word from afar.
The dead raised back to life – the son of the widow of Nain, Jairus’s daughter, Lazarus.
The lepers whose failed skin and nerves were made whole, freeing them from isolation.
The woman with the on-going menstrual issue of blood healed by touching Jesus’s robe.

Miracles where the healing of the Body or Mind was often accompanied by the underlying deeper needs of the Soul. Where Jesus gave his disciples power and authority to also do such miracles to accompany the preaching of the Good News of kingdom of God.

With God all things are possible. God brings healing when our God-given medical knowledge and skills are not enough, by intervening direct or through those who believe in his power to save and heal.

One of Helen’s nieces was kicked by a horse she was tending, and then went through several failed operations. She takes a rucksack with her each day containing a pack of liquid food fed direct via a stoma into her stomach, and a colostomy to remove her waste; she also has Chrome Disease preventing the healing of her intestines. So we pray each day for a miracle and for her to find and place her trust in Jesus who is already alongside sharing her pain and moments of despair.

Legacy of Covid:

On 23 May the BBC website had a report on the Coronavirus which confirmed that the Medical Profession and Researchers had never seen anything like it before and that 41 Research Centres in the UK were working flat out to understand it and find a way to fight back, to go beyond deterring its spread or slowing it down, to find a line of defence – a vaccine or cure to counteract its devasting effects.

It had surprised them in the many different ways it affected our bodies, some and not others.
Its effect was not confined to respiratory problems but could change the blood to a sticky form with reduced oxygen and risk of clotting which could have an equally damaging effect on other organs.
They were surprised that some seemed unaffected by unusually low levels of oxygen in their blood, whilst the strong and fit were as vulnerable as the weak, the young as vulnerable as the elderly, and some ethnic groups more vulnerable than others.

Hence the humble course of action of the Government heeding the advice of Medical Experts who could apply the little they had learnt so far and who have proved to have given good advice and reliable projected levels of spread and fatalities.

There is now a vaccine being tested by 300 volunteers in Human Trials, which would have been preceded by animal trials, in order to try to establish whether it achieves what is required and is ‘safe’ to offer to the general public; to identify which strains of the Coronavirus it is appropriate for and to urgently continue their research.

For 41 years I worked on healthcare projects for the NHS including Operating Theatres, Intensive Care and Isolation units; MRI Unit for Alzheimer’s research; and Laboratories for medical research including heart valves for human transplants made of pig skin least likely to be rejected; and a wide range of Medical School Training Facilities.

But the project which gave me most satisfaction was the Newcomen Centre (for Neurosciences) inside two wings of St Thomas’ Hospital facing the Houses of Parliament: This was an assessment centre for children up to 18 years, particularly those on the autistic spectrum.

The Professor in charge arranged for us to first meet some of the parents and their children to appreciate the range of patients in terms of varying intellect, extremes of behaviour, social skills, and physical disabilities. Some of whom would never improve whilst others would – as I witnessed 3 years later at the Opening in 2012 by Simon Bercow – Speaker of the House who himself had an autistic child.

When the existing offices were stripped out it revealed the original large open Nightingale Ward where Florence would have served; with cast iron column flues for fireplaces down the middle; and bed-spaces between each window with stone plaques overhead of the Benefactors who had funded each space – ranging from a student, surgeon, authors of children’s books and circus performer, to a judge, diplomat and king – some of these plaques we were able to leave exposed in the corridor.

The varied height and shape of the new spaces and subdued colour scheme was required for the patients as was the theme of the artwork on the walls and identification of the rooms based on weather forecasting symbols, coupled with complex mathematical puzzles – hence the donut over the reception desk!

The UK can be rightly proud of its NHS and dedicated staff in all aspects of Healthcare, whether in hospitals, care homes, surgeries, drop-in clinics, or research centres, with all its support services.

Life is fragile and often short as many more have come to realise, with a greater responsibility on us to live out and share the Good News of Jesus for now and all eternity.

We are all ‘frontline key workers’ involved in life and death issues. Whether we are in the ministry team, prayer supporters confined to home, telephone buddies, practical people, or just good neighbours, we each have a part to play in following Jesus and bringing his offer of ‘healing for all’, healing of the Body, Mind and Soul to all people.

Take heart and continue to trust in Him. Persevere in prayer for protection, discernment, guidance and enabling to do His good will, and experience His blessing and peace as you do so.

Graham Stevensen, LLM

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