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A Mission Community in the Diocese of Exeter

Sunday Service at Home


                                                                                                Sermon written by Revd Preb Chris Tull

            (I am coupling Mark 8.27-30 with the version in Matthew 16.13-20 to get the full story.)



One day after they had heard much of His teaching and seen many of His miracles Jesus asked his disciples Who people thought He was. Then he turned to Peter. 

“So, Peter, what about you - Who do you say I am?” 

            “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” which includes Matthew’s bit. Then Jesus went on to say of Peter’s faith: “On this rock I build my church”. 

            Peter was so convinced that he had given up everything to follow Jesus, as he himself tells us in John 6.68.  

            Yes, after what he had seen and heard, Peter came straight out with it: Jesus was the Christ: the man Who stood before him was the creator of all he could see on earth or in the heavens; the Lord of time and destiny; the hope of everyone on earth; the One Who could put the world straight, but not by force of arms; the One to show what God was really like. As Jesus put it Himself – whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.  He was God, but for the moment reduced to a mere man – an idea utterly unthinkable to any true Jew. What a risk Peter took! Many would have seen him as a blasphemer, worthy only of death.



            Today the secular world around us does not like absolute truths, except over some popular issues. What we believe must not “upset” or “offend” people. So we are expected to trim our views:- Jesus may be right, but so might Buddhism or Islam or other religions? ‘How unenlightened’ some say, to select just one faith. If you must go for religion, cries this age, then go for a kind of pick and mix version that is cosy to live with. It offends nobody. It challenges nobody. It demands very little from anyone. It protects people from saying anything some would regard as ‘controversial’… 

             It also cuts little ice in society. People of other religions with strong convictions cannot understand the weak lack of conviction they find in some Christians. They want us to keep Christmas and Easter and not tone them down. Other faiths relish in their big occasions. Their fervour and enthusiasm attract more followers, whereas at our worst it seems like we merely struggle to survive.



            There was nothing “wishy-washy” about Peter at his best! He really believed Jesus was the Messiah Who would put right the wrongs of the world. To turn hearts to God was the answer. Few people then could see this. No great army was needed to be rallied against the Romans and any other potential enemy. No setting up of Jerusalem as the capital of the world, no quick fix. Over the centuries we have seen empires under leaders like Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin and other zealous groups try to force peace on earth by swords, guns or sheer brutality, and eventually collapse. For 2000 years the seemingly vulnerable kingdom of heaven which Jesus revealed has grown and grown. Where properly proclaimed it has done all we long for - bringing peace, hope, education, health, healing and consideration for others to vast millions on earth. 

            In answer to Jesus’ question about who people thought He was, the disciples replied that others said Jesus was just another a prophet like Moses or Elijah preparing the way for the great Messiah. Today Jesus is seen by many merely as a good man, a great teacher, a fine example for others, but Jesus wants followers not just admirers. Jesus never promised an easy time on earth for those followers, as the latter verses of both gospels tell us. Many are still put off following Jesus because of the cost, Jesus knew this Himself only too well. He warned us that this is not a perfect world. As we pass through it we, too, may face opposition and misunderstanding, but His Kingdom is not of this world.  

            Peter simply looked at Jesus as He was. What He said rang true with how he acted. No man ever made more sense of the scriptures than Jesus. Then we saw Him feed 5000 with a few loaves and walking on the water, and raising the dead people like the daughter of Jairus. In his presence, Peter felt in the presence of God. We do not live in those days, but around us are many people whose lives have been completely changed by Jesus. We often hear examples of this on BBC’s Songs of Praise, but you may well know people from your own experience.



            ‘On this Rock I build my Church’, said Jesus. That was Peter’s new name by which we know him – ‘Peter’ means ‘rock’.  Peter may have had his doubts and failings, which is a great comfort to us, but underneath he had an unshakable faith. It was on such faith that the church began and still grows today.

            As we gradually come out of the Covid era, we need to see the faith firmly established or re-established in every community. We need well-wishers, supporters, but above, all people with a rock- like faith in every parish. It’s good to hear of flourishing churches in some of our towns, but left alone, this can leave other areas untouched. A church built up round two or three people of rock-like faith can grow and grow. It may need help by prayer and support from a stronger church. We may hear a lot about churches closing in this country, but for every one that closes one opens or comes back to life somewhere else. People of rock-like faith are sometimes unlikely candidates like Peter himself, a tough fisherman with little education – but he had seen Jesus for Who He really was.

            Who is Jesus? The world may write Him off. Our faith begins with a Person, not just good ideas, wishful thoughts or cosy feelings. Over 2000 years people of Peter’s rock-like faith have worked with Jesus to change the world for good. The work continues, and every true believer is called to play a part in this. So let God show you if He has some special part for you to play – in prayer, in service to others, or even being part of a new congregation. Of such faith said Jesus: “The gates of hell will not overcome it,” (Matthew 16.18). Peter’s faith over the years has affected the lives of billions. Each of us may only affect a few, but if we have done that, we have done our part.     


         Who is Jesus – what is your answer? 




Shirwell Mission Community

A Service of the Word for use as Morning Prayer

The Greeting: 


O Lord, open our lips 

And our mouths shall proclaim your praise.

Give us the joy of your saving help

And sustain us with your life-giving Spirit.


We have come together in the name of Christ to offer our praise and thanksgiving, 

to hear and receive God’s holy word, to pray for the needs of the world,

and to seek the forgiveness of our sins, 

that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may give ourselves to the service of God.


A Psalm or  Song (see the song sheet)


The Prayers of Penitence:


Jesus says, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ So let us turn away from our sin and turn to Christ, confessing our sins in penitence and faith.


Lord God, we have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight.

We are sorry and repent. Have mercy on us according to your love.

Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin. 

Renew a right spirit within us and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.


May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Bible Reading.           ending with  “This is the word of the Lord   Thanks be to God




The Apostles Creed 


I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father, 

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,                                                       

the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,                                                                

the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

Intercessions:                               (These, or other prayers, may be prayed)


We pray for the church in all the world…

… that as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit, we might bring glory to Jesus by bringing peace, reconciliation, kindness and healing in Jesus’ name. Amen


We pray for the needs of the world around us:

  We pray for peace amongst nations and peoples…

  We pray for food to reach the hungry, and for better sharing of resources…

  We pray for medical aid to reach the sick, and for those who work in healthcare…

  We pray for employment for those in need, and relief for those in debt…

  We pray for safety for those at risk, and help for the most vulnerable…

  We pray for vaccines to reach all peoples, and for compassion in our time… 

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.


   We pray for all those who are known to us who are unwell - we name them as we place them into the hands of our Lord Jesus now……

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son

        our Saviour Jesus Christ.        Amen.


The Collect prayer 

Eternal God, in whose perfect realm no sword is drawn and no strength known but the strength of love: so guide and inspire the work of those who seek your kingdom that all your people may know your love which casts out fear and know the fellowship revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Saviour in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen


The Lord’s prayer 


Gathering our prayers and praises into one, 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


A Psalm  or  Song (see the song sheet)


Dismissal & Blessing

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.                            Romans 15 v 13


May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, 

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen  2 Cor 13 v 14

                  Copyright notes:     Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England. © The Archbishops’ Council 2000.

We Have Come to Believe | Dr. Jon Curtis


Sermon for Trinity 12 | John 6:56-69





This teaching is difficult – who can accept it?

Simon Peter answered him – ‘to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come tobelieve and know that you are the holy one of God’.



The place that the disciples find themselves in is difficult – on one hand, they’re trusted with verychallenging and complex concepts by Jesus – he offers a metaphysical proposal – the wine and bread that you eat and drink is more than just the physical objects and the bodily nourishment that you would normally know. It is also representative of Jesus’ death – an analogy for his sacrifice graciously made on the roadsideoutside Jerusalem. AND he tells them that the bread and wine has properties that are life and soul changing. Wow!



And then on the other hand, they’re very aware that these ideas are probably beyond their understanding. And others are having that realisation too – they’re going home, slipping away quietly, pretending that it had never happened.



But these disciples are beyond the pale, down the rabbit hole. They can’t go back now – everything haschanged for them. That’s why Simon Peter answered him – ‘to whom can we go? You have the words ofeternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the holy one of God’.



Where can we go except with you?



Do you ever feel like it would have been easier if you hadn’t heard the gospel?



Look at those people – enjoying their Sunday mornings with impunity, having a leisurely cuppa, goingfor a run, staying in bed even. What a life!



And look at us, off to the drafty church or damp chapel, to try and sing with gusto while holding the tune,and praying about and trying to step into all the terrors that the world is freshly confronted with on a dailybasis, to hear some words from scripture that we struggle to understand, and be challenged in ourbehaviour – knowing that personal holiness is an unendingly steep mountain. Wouldn’t it be easier to neverhave known?


Paul writes to the Corinthians (in chapter 1 of the first letter) to tell them to ‘consider your own call… not many ofyou were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what isweak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, toreduce to nothing things that are’.



Jesus too reassures his followers – ‘the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life’. His metaphysical proclamationscontinue – the words don’t bring spirit and life – the words ARE spirit and life. We are offered life, just by hearing and holding those words. We’re offered God’s spirit, the third part of our trinitarian God - with us constantly, bringingGod’s presence into everything we do – the good and the bad, the triumphs and the struggles, the despair, the despair,the despair, is not something we face alone.



We don’t know, but we can imagine that the further the disciples travelled with him, the steeper the slope became.The more the people despised them. When Peter denies Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest, the questioning canbe heard with a sinister edge. And the life of the disciples after Jesus’ ascension got harder and harder still, and theywalked towards their own trials and deaths. But God’s words that were spoken through Jesus gave them spirit and life.This pathway was not isolated – they weren’t the rich or the wise or the strong. But they were the faithful.



And the life of the faithful is not easy, but it is a life with God. This is what the bread and wine are – the sign of a lifewith God, but also the knowledge that we abide in Christ, and he abides in us. My prayer today is that ALL people – thepersecuted, the hated, those in mourning, those at the end of their tether can know God’s love, with us always.



This teaching is difficult, but we have come to believe