A Morning Service for the 2nd Sunday before Lent 2023


Some of the most well known words in the English language – “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..” But of course, it wasn’t written in English, it wasn’t the product of an English mind, nor for that matter a North European one – it was written in Hebrew for Hebrew people by Hebrew people. Breysheyt barar elohim yet Harshamaeem veyt hararrets

A Morning Service for the 2nd Sunday before Lent 2023


HYMN – Lord of the boundless curves of space NEH 405 – Westminster

Lord of the boundless curves of space,

and time’s deep mystery;

to thy creative might we trace

the fount of energy.

2. Thy mind conceived the galaxy,

the atom’s secret planned;

and every age of history

thy purpose, Lord, has spanned.

3. Thy Spirit gave the living cell

its hidden vital force;

the instincts which all life impel

derive from thee their source.

4. Thine is the image stamped on man,

though marred by man’s own sin;

and thine the liberating plan

devised his soul to win.

5. Science explores thy reason’s ways,

but faith draws near thy heart;

and in the face of Christ we gaze

upon the Love thou art.

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

God the Father forgives us in Christ and heals us by the Holy Spirit.
Let us therefore put away all anger and bitterness, all slander and malice,
and confess our sins to God our redeemer.   cf. Ephesians 4.30,32

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour,
through our own fault,
in thought, and word, and deed,
and in what we have left undone.
We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.
For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen


Almighty God,

you have created the heavens and the earth

and made us in your own image:

teach us to discern your hand in all your works

and your likeness in all your children;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,

now and for ever. Amen

FIRST READING – Genesis 1.1 – 2.3

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day….

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

HYMN – Thou whose almighty word – NEH466 – Moscow 

1 THOU whose almighty word

Chaos and darkness heard,

And took their flight;

Hear us, we humbly pray,

And where the gospel day

Sheds not its glorious ray

Let there be light.

2 Thou who didst come to bring

On thy redeeming wing

Healing and sight,

Health to the sick in mind,

Sight to the inly blind,

O now to all mankind

Let there be light.

3 Spirit of truth and love,

Life-giving, holy Dove,

Speed forth thy flight;

Move on the water’s face,

Bearing the lamp of grace,

And in earth’s darkest place

Let there be light.

4 Blessèd and holy Three,

Glorious Trinity,

Wisdom, Love, Might,

Boundless as ocean’s tide

Rolling in fullest pride,

Through the world far and wide

Let there be light.

GOSPEL – Matthew 6.25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


Some of the most well known words in the English language – “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..” But of course, it wasn’t written in English, it wasn’t the product of an English mind, nor for that matter a North European one – it was written in Hebrew for Hebrew people by Hebrew people.

Breysheyt barar elohim yet Harshamaeem veyt hararrets

In beginning created God the heavens and the earth

The theologians of Israel faced the basic mystery of life upon which all well-being depends. They used material from the common traditions of the near East but they handled and utilised it in a particular theological way. They broke with the idea that that all the real action is with the gods and creation has no significant value, but they resisted a view of creation which assumes that the world contains its own mysteries and can be understood in terms of itself without any reference to the transcendent. They affirmed that ultimate meaning in creation is to be found in the heart and purpose of the creator and that the world has been positively valued by God for itself. 

The theologians of Israel held two realities in tension with each other. First, the creator has a purpose and a will for creation. Second, the creation has freedom to respond to the creator in various ways – both positive and negative. The creator has his purposes but limits himself to work with his creation without coercion, he loves and respects his creation and takes its freedom seriously. Therefore his sovereign rule is expressed in terms of faithfulness, patience and anguish.

The great Old Testament theologian, Walter Brueggemann, whose analysis I am indebted to, wrote, ‘The writers of Genesis were believers. They were concerned with theological reality. But they were not obscurantists. They employ the best intellectual data of their time. And they force the data to yield fresh insight. Their faith is genuinely “faith seeking understanding”. Their gift to us is an alternative way of discerning reality. It is a way which neither abdicates in “mythology” nor usurps in autonomy. It is a way in which obedience is known to be the mode of the world willed by God. But this is not obedience which is required or demanded. It is a grateful obedience embodied as doxology – the giving of praise and glory. 

‘We should take Genesis neither as history nor as myth, but as a declaration of God’s dealing with his creation. It is an attempt to describe the relationship between the Creator and the created.’

We read that it is by speaking and hearing that the interaction between creator and creation takes place. God does not create in the sense of a manufacturer. He does not “make” so that an object is simply “there.” God creates by speaking. Creation listens and answers. You could say that “God calls the world into being.” It is telling that in the final part of Genesis before Abraham comes on the scene the last state of pre-Israelite humanity is lo’ shema’, “they do not listen”. And when creation does not listen, it cannot respond as God’s creature. Nonetheless, the caller still calls, urging the world to answer.

‘God’s speech is not coercive but evocative. It invites but it does not compel. It hopes rather than requires. So, it may be resisted and unheeded. But the call of the creator is not thereby made redundant. The creation is not an object built by a carpenter, it is a vulnerable partner whose life is impacted by the voice of one who cares in tender but firm ways. ‘

The story of God’s evolving relationship with his creation is distinctly one of ups and downs, but the message is that God will not leave the world alone, he will not abandon it – God is patient and will wait. That message alone would have been very precious for those for whom it was written. Most scholars think that it was written in the 6th century BC and addressed to the exiles languishing in Babylon. It was designed to refute the claims of the Babylonians that their gods controlled the future, that the God of Israel had been defeated. 

Genesis is not an abstract statement about the origin of the universe, rather it is a theological and pastoral statement addressed to real people in danger of despair – to meet a real need and answer a real problem. The problem was to find a ground for faith in the one God when the experience of sixth century Babylon seemed to deny the rule of this God. Against such claims, Genesis asserted that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is still God, he is the one who watches over his creation and will bring it to well being.

So Genesis was never intended for general ruminations about the world. It continues to be a ground for faith in God when more immediate historical experience is against it. Its affirmation is: this God can be trusted, even against all apparent data, including sickness, poverty, and natural disaster, that is, every human experience of abandonment.

Genesis is about good news, its writers weren’t interested in the mechanics of creation, just about the connection between Creator and created. They concluded that between the Creator and creature there is distance and closeness. The closeness is God’s abiding attentiveness to his creation day by day, and the creation’s response to that attentiveness. But yet there is also a distance which allows creation its own freedom to act. ‘The creation is not over powered by the creator. The creator not only cherishes his creation but honours and respect it according to its own way in the relationship. The grace of God is that the creature whom he has caused to be, he now lets be. This God speaks not of must be, but let be. Life in its fullness is therefore possible.’

In Jesus we find the humility of the creator coming as creature, in the voice from heaven God speaks another word and a new connection between the creator and his creation is announced. And once again God awaits the response of his creation – and once again his sovereign rule is expressed in terms of faithfulness, patience and anguish.


Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles: this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 15.3-7

HYMN – For the beauty of the earth – England’s Lane – NEH 285

1. For the beauty of the earth,

For the beauty of the skies,

For the love which from our birth

Over and around us lies:


Lord of all, to thee we raise

This our sacrifice of praise.

2. For the beauty of each hour,

Of the day and of the night,

Hill and vale, and tree and flower,

Sun and moon and stars of light: Refrain

3. For the joy of ear and eye,

For the heart and brain’s delight,

For the mystic harmony

Linking sense to sound and sight: Refrain

4. For the joy of human love,

Brother, sister, parent, child,

Friends on earth and friends above,

For all gentle thoughts and mild: Refrain

5. For each perfect gift of thine,

To our race so freely given,

Graces human and divine,

Flowers of earth and buds of heaven: Refrain

INTERCESSIONS – Gill Macdonald

Lord we come before you again in faith, with thanks and in gratitude for all the blessings we receive from you and to bring our concerns –  knowing that you hear our prayers.

We pray for your worldwide church, for Christians everywhere, for  all bishops and clergy, and all missionaries across the globe.  We pray for our own Church of England, for the difficult debates and discussions currently going on and we pray your wisdom and guidance for all  those who are taking difficult decisions.   We pray for our diocese of Winchester, for this benefice and for each member of our congregations, for all visitors to the three churches who are seeking you in prayer or solitude, and of course for William and his family and the ministry that he provides for each of us.

Lord in your mercy : Hear our prayer

We pray for your world Lord, for all that is good and beautiful within it, but with heavy hearts we lift to you the people of Turkey and Syria who have this week experienced such tragedy.  We see those pictures on our screens, the miracles of survival of tiny babies pulled from under the rubble, but the grief of so many thousands where they have lost loved ones. We pray for all those who in so many ways are trying to assist, with the rescue and the painstaking searches, for those trying to arrange shelter and food for the survivors, and for the medical teams working with the injured and maimed. Support for Syria is hampered by war, so we pray that it will be possible for aid to reach that country at this time and hearts will be turned to peace.  We also continue to pray for an end to conflict in Ukraine, for all those who have been displaced because of the war, and those who are still there trying to exist in such dire circumstances.

Lord in your mercy : Hear our prayer

We thank you for our own country, for our own community, for our families and friends, both near and far.  Help us to value all that we have and hold dear, yet ever mindful of those who for various reasons are facing real hardships at this time.   Those who are worried about livelihoods, are experiencing family tensions or have financial concerns. Keep us mindful of each other, helping out where we are able. 

Lord in your mercy : Hear our prayer

We pray for those who are sick, in body mind and spirit.  For those we know who are in special need at this time, and in a moment of quiet we hold them in our hearts………give them a sense of your healing love and the knowledge of your peace.

Lord in your mercy : Hear our prayer

We remember those who have died, including Stephen Henly and Harry Keeling, and whose anniversaries fall at this time.   We thank you for their inspiration and love and for our treasured memories ;  and we thank you that  they are safe now in your hands,

Lord in your mercy : Hear our prayer

So Lord as we go from this place into a new week, keep us true to the way you have set before us, and safe in the knowledge of your only Son, our Saviour and Friend, Jesus Christ.

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
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.


Christ the Son of God perfect in you the image of his glory and gladden your hearts with the good news of his kingdom; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us always. Amen

HYMN – All creatures of our God and King NEH 263/AMR 172 – Praise my soul

1 All creatures of our God and King,

Lift up your voice and with us sing

Alleluya, alleluya!

Thou burning sun with golden beam,

Thou silver moon with softer gleam:


O praise him, O praise him

Alleluya, Alleluya, Alleluya!

2 Thou rushing wind that art so strong,

Ye clouds that sail in heaven along,

O praise him! Alleluya!

Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice,

Ye lights of evening, find a voice: Refrain

3 Thou flowing water, pure and clear,

Make music for thy Lord to hear,

Alleluya, Alleluya!

Thou fire so masterful and bright,

That givest man both warmth and light: Refrain

4 Dear mother earth, who day by day

Unfoldest blessings on our way,

O praise him, Alleluya!

The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,

Let them his glory also show: Refrain

7 Let all things their Creator bless,

And worship him in humbleness,

O praise him! Alleluya!

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,

And praise the Spirit, three in One: Refrain

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

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