St Columba's Corby

Open to God... open to you

Service 29th March

St Columba & the Northern Saints


Sunday 29th March 2020

 The songs were chosen by Trevor for this Sunday’s service and are all on youtube with the words, so you can sing along - you should be able to just click on the link.


Rejoice, rejoice, Christ is in you -


It is very strange to welcome a congregation I cannot see, and to do it the day before the service, but wherever you are WELCOME to St Columba’s Sunday Morning Worship for Sunday 29th March.

You may find it more difficult to worship on your own, but remember you are not on your own, members of St Columba’s Church Family will be joining you in this service, to give a sense of communal worship you may like to read the prayers quietly and then say AMEN out loud.

There is an Energize slot in the service, with resources for children and young people to do at home with parents. You may like to pause the service to do these at that time, or you may choose to do them later.


Lord Jesus, help us to come into your presence this morning and worship you.

Even though we are apart from one another, we pray that we would feel close to you, and that our hearts would be warmed as we encounter you, in prayer and song, in Bible reading and sermon, and in the Energize session for our children. AMEN.



Blessed be Your name -



Perhaps you had forgotten that it is still Lent. Although we have given up so much in the last fortnight I’m not sure that enforced sacrifices are quite the same as a Lent sacrifice.

Having said that we may find that we have even more time to “take things on”, and I do encourage you to make good use of the time now available to you, especially as the words of our collect say to “ponder the mysteries of Christ’s passion”.

Let us pray:

Gracious Father, you gave up your Son out of love for the world: lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion, that we may know eternal peace through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.


I expect you all to join in the pointing in the chorus,

so take a moment to work out which direction is north, south, east and west…

Shout to the North -



There is a separate attachment (also on the website) of material for children and young people, and I do encourage parents to make use of this at home, either now, or later today, or during the week.

There is a choice of material, it won’t all be suitable but hopefully some will.

Let’s pray for our children and young people and their parents:

Lord Jesus, we thank you that you said “let the children come to me”, so at this time when so many doors are closed, we know that the door to you is open for our children.

We pray that through these activities, provided by Energize, our children and young people will draw close to you and we pray for their parents, facing the challenge of being teachers at this time. AMEN.



Who is there like You -


BIBLE READING - John 11.1-45

Our Bible Reading this morning was going to be divided into two as it is a long passage, but it makes sense to include it all here - please read it slowly and thoughtfully, and, even though you probably know what is going to happen, try to imagine what it was like for Martha and Mary who had no idea what the future held.

11 Now a man named Lazarus was ill. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay ill, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is ill.’ 

When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This illness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ 

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’

‘But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?’

Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the day-time will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.’

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’

12 His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’

23 Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’

24 Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’

25 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

27 ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’

37 But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 ‘Take away the stone,’ he said.

‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’

40 Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth round his face.

Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.



Everlasting God -



The Bible reading for this morning was chosen long before anyone had heard of coronavirus, and yet it seems so appropriate at this time.

I would just like to make four short points for you to reflect on:

first, Jesus’ great love,

second, Jesus’ strange ways,

third, Jesus the resurrection and the life,

and fourth, Jesus’ great power.

Jesus’ great love is something we are told about at the beginning, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”. But it is easy to say that we love someone, true love is always demonstrated in action, and Jesus demonstrated his love when, after travelling to Bethany, he is taken to the grave of Lazarus and he weeps.

I hope we all know the great love that Jesus has for us. We should do in these last two weeks of Lent, a time that is often referred to as Passiontide, a time when we look forward to Jesus’ death on the cross for us.

This was the demonstration of Jesus’ great love for us, a love that took him to his own grave with another stone laid across the entrance.

As we face coronavirus, and all the fear and uncertainty that it inevitably causes, we should be assured of Jesus’ great love for us, and we should seek to share that love, perhaps now more than ever.

The world is rather lost at the moment, all our old certainties have disappeared, even Eastenders is appearing less often, so we should let people know that we are holding on to something that will never change.

After Jesus’ great love we move on to Jesus’ strange ways, and these are illustrated almost immediately after we are told Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, because the next verse says: “So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was two more days”.

Surely that is strange, if you love someone you would hurry to be with them when you heard they were ill, but Jesus does nothing.

It is clear that Jesus has a plan, he says that: “This illness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” and later, after Lazarus has died: “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe”.

Jesus’ plans are often strange to our way of thinking, as they were to the disciples. We often laugh at how slow they were to understand, but we are not always much better, even with the benefit of hindsight and 2000 years of church history.

The cross is perhaps the strangest of all Jesus’ plans, God’s Son dying to save me, that makes no sense at all.

So at this time, when events seem to be out of control, and we may ask the question "where is God in a world overrun by coronavirus?" we should not expect that everything will make sense to our minds, but we should trust that, while this virus was not God’s plan and is not sent by God, that Jesus has a way of making things right, even when they seem so far from right.

Having considered Jesus’ great love and His strange ways, we must now think about Jesus the resurrection and the life.

These words of Jesus have been a source of comfort to generations, read as they were at the start of almost every funeral for 400 years until very recent times.

We should note in full the words that Jesus says, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

That is quite a question, “Do you believe this?” but it is a question most grieving relatives would answer, as Martha did, “Yes Lord”, clinging to hope when all hope seems to be lost.

But it does not have to be a last hope when all seems lost. It can be a deep reassurance, Jesus is THE resurrection and the life, if we believe in him we will live with him for ever in heaven, even though we will die here on earth.

If that is our future then we don’t need to fear coronavirus.

Of course, we must do all we can to stop it spreading, we must all stay home, protect the NHS, and save lives; but the worst coronavirus can do is take our life, and Jesus, the resurrection and the life, is bigger than that.

Having considered Jesus’ great love, His strange ways, and that He is the resurrection and the life, my fourth and final point is about Jesus’ great power.

I said earlier that we all know the end of this story, so it loses some of its ability to shake our way of thinking as a result.

But imagine what it was like to be there, to be Martha, believing in an ultimate resurrection but also that the body of Lazarus, after four days in the grave, would be in a poor way.

On this one occasion I much prefer the King James Bible translation “he stinketh” to the more restrained “there is a bad odour” of the NIV.

Either way, human logic says that this body is beyond help, and yet Jesus calls: “Lazarus, come out!”

We sometimes say that nothing is too difficult for Jesus, but perhaps we don’t really believe that, we put limits on his power, the limits of human wisdom, just like Martha.

At times like these when we are, rightly, locked out of our church and into our homes, because of a virus that is out of control, we should turn to the Lord and seek his help.

I don’t know what that help will be. It might be to bring healing, to speed a vaccine, to provide time to build resilience, and it might be to give us the opportunity to witness for Jesus, to believe that Jesus will make things right, and for us to live without fear because we know our future.

Above all we should expect that Jesus will give us the ability to stand firm in our faith, because of His great love, His strange ways, that He is the resurrection and the life, and that he has great power.


PAUSE for a moment to reflect on these words…


Our next song is a statement of what we believe, and it is so important in these uncertain times to be able to hold on to our faith as something sure and certain.

As you sing these words imagine not just the other people from church singing with you, but Christian people right around the world all declaring their faith in God in similar words.

We believe in God the Father -



Our prayers this morning have been written by Rosie, as they would have been if we were in church together.

 We thank you Lord, that you love us so much you sent your Son to die on a cross for us.

We know you see all that goes on in our lives, both good and bad, but you continue to love us anyway.

Father, we come before you now in these uncertain times,

Life as we knew it just a couple of weeks ago has changed beyond our imaginings. 

We are unable to meet together face to face as a Church, or with friends, family and colleagues and we feel sad, lonely, anxious and are concerned for ourselves and others.

We pray for those who are vulnerable or ill, lost or lonely,

For those who have to stay isolated for a long period of time.

Families and individuals whose livelihood have been lost,

Those whose circumstances mean that they will need to seek financial support or benefits, and we remember those individuals and families who need Food Banks.

We bring before you, Lord, especially those whose jobs put their own lives on the line,

Please be with all the NHS staff and bless them for their service and sacrifice.

We pray also for all the Emergency Services, Armed Forces and all working so hard to keep us safe.

We thank you for all those who are working tirelessly to ensure we have food on our tables, water in our taps, and all utility workers and others who keep our country going.

 We pray especially for those within our congregation who are working on the 'front line',

we ask you to keep them safe,

And in particular help all those who are encountering very sad and distressing situations caused by the virus, especially Elaine Burdett and her colleagues processing benefit claims and taking emotionally draining calls.

 We thank you for the enormous number of Volunteers who have come forward, offering help in so many ways.

We pray for the arrangements put in place in this Church to keep everyone connected as a fellowship and to provide help both practical and pastoral.

 We thank you too for those who are spreading hope, and seeking to lift our spirits day by day, whether on the Radio, TV, Social Media or just a friendly word or gesture as we pass by.

May this current situation be a catalyst for a better, kinder and more tolerant society in the future.

Our lives are not as we wish, but you O Lord are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. 

You see the situation each one of us is in. 

Help us to cast out fear and replace it with true faith in you, today and always.

We ask all these things in the name of Jesus Christ,




Just before we say the Lord’s Prayer we have two songs that were going to be our Communion songs, but now they can be prayerful songs for reflection, perhaps to listen to and focus on the words rather than singing along.

The Lord's my Shepherd -

Faithful One -


LORD’S PRAYER - please say this out loud…

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.



  1. Offering

These are difficult times for many people financially as well as physically and emotionally. As a church family we quite understand if you have to reduce your giving to the church following a drop in your income. It would help our Treasurer James to monitor our finances if you could let him know that you are reducing your giving -

Other people may be wondering what to do with their envelopes, or the cash they would normally give to the church. There are two possible answers:

1. Simply hang on to your envelopes, or make your own envelope in which to put your weekly gift to the church, and bring them when we are able to meet again - we can have a big celebration then.

2. You could set up a Standing Order from your bank to the church, or make one off payments so that we continue to receive your donation at this time. If you would like to do this, please contact James who can give you our bank details -

Whatever you do we are, as always, so grateful for the generosity of the St Columba’s church family and we know that this will continue during and after this present crisis.


  1. Letter from Derek & Jane Waller in Madagascar with CMS - see latest letter attached


  1. Foodbank remains open and we can receive donations at the Vicarage

- on your way home from shopping I suggest

  1. Traidcraft

If anyone needs anything from the Traidcraft stall (e.g. chocolate, biscuits, loo rolls! etc, to keep you going through these times!) do give Miriam a call with your order and we will arrange for doorstep delivery! There are still a few Easter Eggs available, which can be delivered to family members if they are local!


  1. Spring Harvest

Spring Harvest is not happening as usual this Easter, however there will be Spring Harvest Home which will be available for anyone to access. There is a short film about this at:



In Christ Alone -



Christ crucified draw you to himself,

to find in him a sure ground for faith,

a firm support for hope,

and the assurance of sins forgiven;

and the blessing of God Almighty,

the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

be with you and all those you love and care for,

this day and always. AMEN



I’m afraid you have to make your own coffee this week, but once you have why not sit down and phone someone from church for that after church fellowship, maybe someone you have not spoken with since we were last in church.

AND FINALLY…a story from Steve that might have been in the Notice Sheet:

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller.

He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patty Whack.

"Miss Whack, I'd like to get a £30,000 loan to take a holiday."

Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name.

The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it's okay, he knows the bank manager.

Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.

The frog says, "Sure. I have this," and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she'll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and says, "There's a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow £30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral."

She holds up the tiny pink elephant. "I mean, what in the world is this?"

The bank manager looks back at her and says,

"It's a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone."

(You sang it, didn't you? Yeah, I know you did.)