Closure of the church 

The Prime Minister and the Bishop of Rochester have announced the full lock down of all church buildings with effect from Tuesday 24 March 2020 until further notice.

We continue to be the Church: a people of prayer and action. 

The Rector will continue to say Morning and Evening Prayer at 8.30 and 4.30 respectively. Please join him from your home.

He will celebrate Holy Communion at 12noon on Sundays on behalf of everyone. 

He will post readings and prayers on this page each week.


A Collect, reading, Prayers and a Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Passion Sunday (Sunday 29th March)


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


John 11:1-45

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Making Meaning:

Today marks the beginning of Passiontide, and an intentional steer towards the annual remembrance of the suffering of Christ; passio means suffering. Prior to his own suffering, Jesus is deeply involved in the suffering of a family of close friends: two sisters whose brother died. In Christ we see that God participates in suffering and is not impassable. This story prefigures God’s ultimate answer to suffering: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. It is sometimes said that this miracle was the ‘last straw’ for the Jewish authorities concerning Jesus; it was this that made them all the more determined to kill Jesus.

The theme of suffering is in the forefront of all our minds at the moment in the face of the pandemic lock-down, but Christians have a quiet assurance that God is not above suffering, and the glorious answer that we await each Easter.


We remember all those who suffer, either medically or economically, because of Coronavirus.

We seek God’s sustaining power and priority for the poor for all involved in the Government’s response.

We give thanks for the work of the military and the quick completion of Nightingale Hospital at EXCEL.

We give thanks for a generous voluntary response from retired medical workers and the general public.


We mourn the loss of Valerie Pope of Roughway who died on 17th March… praying for Robert and the family.

We mourn the loss of Rev Michael Hobbs to be buried in Plaxtol on Wednesday… remembering Ellie & the family.



Soften my heart, Lord, soften my heart.

From all indifference set me apart

To feel your compassion, to weep with your tears

Come soften my heart, oh Lord, soften my heart.


There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

Like the wideness of the sea

There’s a kindness in his justice

Which is more than liberty


There is no place where earth’s sorrows

Are more felt than up in heaven;

There is no place where earth’s failings

Have such kindly judgement given


For the love of God is broader

Than the measure of man’s mind

And the heart of the Eternal

Is most wonderfully kind.



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,

Beyond up you and remain with you this day

And throughout this season of Passiontide and lock-down.



A Collect, reading and poem for the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary (25 March 2020)


We beseech you, O Lord,

pour your grace into our hearts,

that as we have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel,

so by his cross and passion we may be brought

to the glory of his resurrection;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said,

‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’

But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’

The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’

Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’

Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38


Mary’s Girlhood by Dante Gabriel Rosetti


This is that blessed Mary, pre-elect

God’s Virgin. Gone is a great while, and she

Dwelt young in Nazareth of Galilee.

Unto God’s will she brought devout respect,

Profound simplicity of intellect,

And supreme patience. From her mother’s knee

Faithful and hopeful; wise in charity;

Strong in grave peace; in pity circumspect.


So held she through her girlhood; as it were

An angel-watered lily, that near God

Grows and is quiet. Till one dawn at home

She woke in her white bed, and had no fear

At all, - yet wept till sunshine, and felt awed:

Because the fulness of time was come.



These are the symbols. On that cloth of red

I’ the centre is the Tripoint: perfect each,

Except the second of its points, to teach

That Christ is not yet born. The books - whose head

Is golden Charity, as Paul hath said –

Those virtues are wherein the soul is rich:

Therefore on them the lily standeth, which

Is innocence, being interpreted.


The seven-thorn’d briar and the palm seven-leaved

Are her great sorrow and her great reward.

Until the end by full, the Holy One

Abides without. She soon shall have achieved

Her perfect purity: yea, God the Lord

Shall soon vouchsafe His Son to be her Son


His prayer, reading and hymn for Sunday 22nd March (the fourth Sunday of Lent, and Mothering Sunday) are set out here


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.


God’s will to save his people is worked out through the agency of a mother – even in the most challenging of times.

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore, they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, ‘When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So, the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?’ The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ So, God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.’

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So, the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So, the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’

Exodus 1:8 – 2:10

For the beauty of 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 joyful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
pleasures pure and undefiled.


For Mary, Mother of the Lord,

God’s holy name be praised,

Who first the Son of God adored,

As on her child she gazed.


Brave, holy Virgin, she believed,

Though hard the task assigned,

And by the holy Ghost conceived

The Saviour of mankind.

Luke 1:26-38… only 9 months till Christmas!


Our normal pattern of services

Normally we hold services each month in the two churches in our benefice, in Shipbourne or Plaxtol, as set out below, although as explained above, all services have been suspended for the foreseeable future. There are also special services for Christmas  and Easter and the other festivals of the church.

8.00 9.30 11.00
1st Sunday of month Holy Communion
Parish Communion
Family Service
2nd Sunday of month Holy Communion
Parish Communion
3rd Sunday of month Holy Communion
Parish Communion
Family Communion
4th Sunday of month Holy Communion
Family Service
Parish Communion
5th Sunday
(when there is one)
Holy Communion
Parish Communion


Every weekday at 8.00am Morning Prayer will be said at Plaxtol and every weekday evening (except Friday and Saturday) at 4.30pm Evening Prayer will be said at St Giles Shipbourne.