Lent 4: Live-stream – Let there be lights in the sky, awe and wonder

Screenshot 2020-03-21 at 20.36.41Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic all public worship across the Church of England has been suspended. Worship has therefore moved to online live-streaming. Below is the text of the simple service I live-streamed from Peterborough Parish Church on Sunday 22nd March 2020, for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.


Sunday Worship

A Simple Order of Service

Lent 4, Mothering Sunday – 22nd March 2020


Good morning. Welcome to St John’s Church in the heart of the city of Peterborough.

Although we can’t be together physically for this act of worship, over the next few moments we can pray together, read the bible, reflect and seek God’s grace to hold us and guide us through all the week ahead will bring.

If you have the order of service from the e-newsletter sent out on Friday, this is the order of service that I am going to use. I am live streaming this at 9.15am in the morning but it will be available on the church facebook page to view later as well.

So, I invite you to be still for a moment as we focus our hearts and minds on the God whom we have come to worship.


Opening Prayer (Additional Collect for Mothering Sunday):

God of love,

passionate and strong,

tender and careful:

watch over us and hold us

all the days of our life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Throughout Lent we have been travelling through the first creation story in the Book of Genesis, following themes in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book, by Ruth Valerio, ‘Saying yes to life’. Today brings us to Day 4.  The theme this week is ‘Let there be lights in the sky’.


Genesis 1:14-19

Psalm 23 Between the readings

Gospel Reading: John 9:1-7 (short version) –

(for the longer version John 9:1-41)



Our theme throughout Lent has been the first Creation story in the Book of Genesis. In this we have been following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for this year, by Ruth Valerio ‘Saying Yes to Life’ (SPCK Publishing). It is worth noting that this is not an account of Creation but a poetic reflection using each day as a way to express profound things about the world made and loved by God.

On Ash Wednesday I spoke about God as creator; the creation being the action of his will and purpose. It is not random, but willed and wanted, made from and for love.

On the first Sunday of Lent we looked at Day 1 in the story, at light, and seeing this as showing God’s purpose and active presence.

The second Sunday we moved on to Day 2, where space is made for this purpose to get to work, the space made by separating the chaos waters.

Last week brought us to Day 3, where the land produces vegetation – trees and plants, seeds and fruit trees. The seas are also made, but we have to wait a few days yet for the swarms of sea creatures to emerge. We belong to the earth – it is the setting for our pilgrimage, one which is blessed and blesses.

Today, Day 4, stars and planets light up the sky. Living in a city it always delights me when I am in the open countryside at night and see what light pollution prevents us seeing – the expanse of the night sky. Patterns we are familiar with – the Plough, Orion, shooting stars and passing satellites – we get a greater sense that this planet is in orbit and part of something so much bigger and connected than daily living reveals.

It is this awe and wonder which ignites faith for me. We are part of something vastly more complex than we know. In his video* to accompany this week’s text in the Lent book, Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, talks of an insect being harder to understand than an atom or star. It is this complexity that stands out for him. As our knowledge increases, so does our wonder. This leads to praise and thanksgiving. He reckons that we are less than half way through the life expectancy of the universe. It is billions of years old now, so the future is greater than the past.

This hope of a future which is greater than the past was present in the gospel reading. The short version is just the healing of the blind man. The longer version gives the spat with the leaders who decided to find fault and provoke an argument. Jesus brings sight to the man born blind and in John’s gospel there is always a deeper message to the surface story. He is able to see what he previously could not.

May the wonders of creation expand our wonder, bring us to delight in God’s creative and redeeming love, where conditions and illnesses do not limit the horizon for us, but in God’s purposes there is a hope where the future is much greater than the past.



God of hope and consolation,

In times of anxiety,

may we be drawn by your hope, not driven by fear.

In sickness and in health,

may we find your song of praise to lift our heads in thanksgiving and joy.

When times are hard,

inspire us with your generous love to be mindful of the needs of all people.

In isolation and physical distance,

helps us to reach out to others with words of encouragement and companionship.

Bless all whose work ensures our common wellbeing,

that together we may travel through this vale of misery

to the bright dawn of your new tomorrow,

which is always much greater than the past.

© Ian Black 2020

By name we pray for:

Mothers, all who mother us, teach us to love, to care…


The Lord’s Prayer

We sum up these and all our prayers, the ones we can find words for and the ones we can’t as we say together the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours

now and for ever. Amen.


Post Communion Prayer for Second Sunday of Lent

Almighty God,

you see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves:

keep us both outwardly in our bodies,

and inwardly in our souls;

that we may be defended from all adversities

which may happen to the body

and from all evil thoughts

which may assault and hurt the soul;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Blessing:

Christ the Son of God, born of Mary,

fill you with his grace to trust his promises and obey his will;

and the blessing of God Almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen



We are exploring various ways for us to keep in touch over the coming months. Please keep an eye on our social media feeds and website and sign up for our e-newsletter if you would like to receive this direct.


God bless; stay in touch, look out for one another and stay well.


End of livestream.

About Revd Canon Ian Black

Ian is Vicar of Peterborough and Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral in the Church of England Diocese of Peterborough. He served as Rural Dean of Peterborough for 5 years. Prior to moving to Peterborough, Ian was in Leeds for 10 years in Leeds, as Vicar of Whitkirk and as a member of the Chapter of Ripon Cathedral. He has also worked in Kent in Maidstone and as priest-in-charge of a group of parishes 10 miles north west of Canterbury. He was a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, a prison chaplain and Assistant Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Canterbury. Prior to ordination Ian had a career in tax, both with the Inland Revenue as a PAYE Auditor and a firm of Chartered Accountants as a Tax Accountant. Ian was born and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and is a former head chorister at Shakespeare's Church - Holy Trinity. He studied in Canterbury, Lincoln Theological College and has a Master of Divinity degree from Nottingham University. He is married with two sons. Publications include three books of prayers: Prayers for all occasions (SPCK 2011), Intercessions for Years A, B & C (SPCK 2009) and Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005). His most recent book, 'Follow me: living the sayings of Jesus', was published by Sacristy Press in 2017. There is a hymn based on this 'Christ the Saviour'. He has been writing online since the mid 1990s. Ian is a keen photographer and these frequently appear in his posts and on social media.
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