Our Mid Trent Team Prayer
Come, Holy Spirit:
fill the hearts of your faithful people
and kindle in us the fire of your love.
Strengthen your church here in Mid Trent:
increase our numbers,
deepen our faith
and pour out your love, through us, on our communities.
We ask these things in Jesus' name.
Amen.
God              we praise your name and ask for your blessing and help to
Raise            awareness of our Churches in the Mid Trent Team.  We offer
Ourselves     to be your disciples within our community;  to bear
Witness       by our daily lives, so that all whom we meet will see the
Truth          of your living word and believe in the
Hope           you have promised us through your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
                                                                                  
                                                                                                                     Amen

And an acrostic prayer for growth by Joan Makinson

Please click on Church Services to view larger image.
We try to make our church services as friendly as possible. Please don't worry about getting things 'wrong'. Even if they notice, people won't mind. At Communion services, everyone is equally welcome, whether you feel able to share the bread and wine or prefer just to stay seated for a time of quiet. Finally, we are interested in you, not what you are wearing - but note that in the winter you will need to wrap up warm in some of our churches!
and for Lichfield Diocese daily prayer please click this link
On Sunday 10th March, Derek preached on "Testing and Temptation" - a sermon for Lent.
and on 10th February Vivienne preached on:

Isaiah 6:1-8  and  Luke 5:1-11


There is an old Pantomime joke, where a Sergeant Major shouts at a line of soldiers for a volunteer to step forward. All immediately take one step back apart from the poor sucker who doesn't move!
We often have that feeling when we are asked to do something difficult or to commit ourselves to something new. We often feel like turning and running in the opposite direction.
This seems to be especially true when we feel that God is asking us to do something. How many people who have had that feeling of calling, or vocation, have fought against that uncomfortable feeling? Me for one!
Today's bible stories both feature such people who have felt that reluctance when they were called. The first was Isaiah. He has a vision that he sees God - something that he knows is only allowed for really holy people. His immediate reaction is dismay and fear! "Woe is me! I am lost for I am a man of unclean lips" However his lips are purified by an angel placing a coal from the altar on his lips and he then volunteers to be God's prophet, saying "Hear I am. Send me!"
Peter was similarly reluctant. But to understand this story properly it is worth putting yourself there with Peter.
Imagine the situation. You are the co-owner of a small fishing business in 33A.D.
You are worried about your business: your crew have been fishing all night and has not caught a single fish.
You are tired and fed up, washing the nets before you get some rest. Suddenly you become aware of a huge crowd of people coming towards the shore. They appear to be crowding around a man who is talking to them - some kind of teacher.
The man is having difficulties making himself heard and starts to back away from the crowd towards your boat. He asks if he can board your boat and go a little way out from shore. The land rises up here steeply from the lake, forming a kind of natural amphitheatre so you can see this will work. You reluctantly agree. Tired though you are you are stuck with him on the boat, so you listen to what he has to say.
His words start to get to you- this man makes the most sense that you have heard in a long time. He finally ends his speech and the people start to drift away. You prepare to take him back to the shore when he looks straight at you and says "Put into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Well, you think to yourself, he may be a good preacher but he's a rubbish fisherman!  Fish are caught at night not in daylight and you have been fishing all night with no success! You try and tell him this, but he insists and there is something about him that makes you trust him, so you do just what he says. Low and behold, you get the biggest catch of your life - in fact an impossible catch. This man is really a man of God!
Look what Peter does then, he falls to his knees and tells Jesus to go away from him because he is a sinful man.
That feeling that Peter had, that Isaiah had, is a familiar one. I felt it too. "You can't mean me, Lord! I'm just not good enough! I'm not that sort of person. You don't really want me…." Peter was afraid of what he had got involved with.
Jesus knew exactly what he was feeling and immediately not only told him not to worry but told him he had a new job - to fish for men!
Peter seems immediately to lose all resistance and goes with Jesus. He became the first disciple to be called and he went with his brother Andrew, and two other fishermen, James and John, to follow Jesus right to the Cross and to that very first Easter Sunday.
As we approach Lent, it might be useful to listen to God, to see where he is calling you.
Remember, Jesus asked Peter first to row out into deeper waters.
It is often helpful to row deeper into your own heart to find where Jesus is really calling you.
You may already have vocation, such as your job, but perhaps Jesus is asking you to dig deeper into your compassion or commitment.
He may be calling you, like Peter, to go and tell other people about Jesus, either in church or in your community.
He may be calling you to love your neighbours more deeply by committing yourself to more service.
Dig deep through prayer and studying the bible. Take time out of your busy schedule just to listen to Jesus, to your own response to him.
It's never going to happen overnight. Peter always struggled, and even denied he knew Jesus after his arrest. It's a life long journey. But Jesus kept his promise. That's why we are able to read that story in Luke's Gospel because the disciples did tell their story.
But we too can start our journey by praying, like Isaiah, "Here I am, Lord. Send me".
                                                                                                                                                                         Amen.
As Jesus showed in the wilderness, the Scriptures provide a tremendous resource for us in times of testing and temptation. They enable us to connect our own experiences with the ongoing story of salvation, reminding us of God's eternal love and faithfulness; and they offer countless examples of men and women refusing to worship the false gods of wealth, power and security, and choosing instead to work for God's vision of a more just and generous world. Our capacity to repent and to resist temptation comes from our relationship with God and the grace of his deliverance rather than from our own strength and initiative.

One of the greatest statements of the 21st Century attributed to the American president is "its fake news." But how do we discern the truth. We live in a world of competing stories. We only need to watch the news to see the pain and suffering that results from worshiping purely materialistic goals. In such a world, we must know the Christian story in order to resist the false stories that seek to take us captive. In communion as we share together in the Eucharist we see a sign of Christs way for us.
 
The reading in Luke 4:1-13 is the familiar story of Jesus' temptation by the devil in the wilderness. This story  appears in each of the synoptic gospels and is so well known that we sometimes conflate the different accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke into one story about Jesus' temptation. But each account is unique from the others. As we read Luke's version carefully, we can see two competing stories: the story that Jesus taps into in order to resist the devil and successfully navigate the temptations laid before him and the narrative the devil presents.

So where are we ,this story takes place in two significant locations: the wilderness and Jerusalem. Historically, the wilderness was the place where God met the Jewish people at Sinai after rescuing them from Egypt. In the wilderness God shaped them into God's covenant people cared for and led by God with cloud and fire. In Luke's Gospel, Jesus is also led, this time by the Holy Spirit, in the wilderness, and he faces temptation by his adversary, the devil. The location of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness reminds us of the narrative of God's rescue of Israel. Geographically, the wilderness was an arid region in southern Israel between the fertile land near the Mediterranean Sea and the interior desert regions. It was not devoid of life such as one might imagine but was rather a place that only produced food for flocks when there were abundant rains.

Jerusalem, the city of David, is the centre of Jewish power, identity, and worship. At the time of Jesus, the second temple had been renovated and expanded by Herod the Great and was the centre of worship for the Jewish people. This place of power and worship is the setting for the final temptation.
So lets think about the temptations. Like Mark and Matthew, Luke explains that it is the Spirit who leads Jesus into the wilderness after his baptism. This is the training camp that will prepare him for his future ministry, and the devil is the sparring partner who will toughen him up for the challenges that lie ahead. In Luke, Jesus has been tempted throughout his 40 days of fasting. These final three temptations represent the greatest tests of all.

Hunger isn't the only issue at stake in the first test. One of Luke's main themes is our attitude to material things - food, money, possessions, property - and he has already set out the new world order in Mary's joyful song: 'He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty' (Luke 1.53). Drawing inspiration from the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 8.3), Jesus refuses to let his own hunger distract him. The words of God are what give life, offering far more strength and satisfaction than material possessions.
The second test is about power. Falsely claiming that all the kingdoms of the world are his, the devil invites Jesus to worship him and receive all the glory and authority that come from them. Jesus resists the lie, quoting Deuteronomy 6.13 - the power belongs to God, who is the only one to be worshipped and served. Again, Mary has celebrated the new truth of God's kingdom in which the imbalances of power are corrected: 'He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly' (Luke 1.52).
The final test is about security. Luke places this last, seeing it as the most significant. Quoting the Scriptures himself (Psalm 91.11-12), the devil urges Jesus to throw himself off the Temple, trusting that God will rescue him. For Jesus to assert himself. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6.16 in reply, refusing to test God in such a way. He has not come to save himself, but to give his life for others. How many of our prayers are concerned with our own safety, and the safety of those we love? Can we learn to pray in a more sacrificial way? Yet again, Mary offers a better alternative: 'Let it be with me according to your word' (1.38). Of course, Jesus response is echoed in his passion and his death.

Chicken - dare games.

We have touched upon fake news and materialism, temptation and testing. Living in the 21st Century provides us with all kinds of temptations, although most of the time we are oblivious to them. Carried along by the prevailing culture, we don't realise we are still playing chicken. It takes very little to get fully immersed in the game to get carried away with ourselves and to satisfy our own desires. Lent however offers us space, a sanctuary of the Christian year - a time when we can stand back from the  hurly- burly of our usual activities and reflect. I suggest three questions
Are we the kind of people who try Gods patience by thoughtless or willful disobedience?

Have we failed to be the people God wills us to be?

Can we change?

How seriously we attempt to encounter ` spiritual wilderness where our soles can be still is a matter of choice. I don't believe God is calling us to spend 40 days in the wilderness or even camping on Cannock chase. He is calling us to grace, to belief and is warning us of the temptations in life and the power of the Devils insipid influence. He is calling us to prayer and even the most tentative of prayers can open us to God. Contemplation however brief, may allow the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

"Be filled with the spirit"

Perhaps one day we may discover that the winner in a game of Chicken is usually the one who refuses to play at all.