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Sunday, 10 May 2020
There are audio files of these readings on "The Message" page.

‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’ FROM THE REVEREND STEPHEN GUISE, PRIEST IN CHARGE – FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, 10 MAY



The Stoning of Stephen, attributed to Orazio, Wellcome Library, London

Dear Friends

Today’s Gospel reading (John 14:1-14) continues the meditation on Jesus’ ‘I am’ sayings which have been discussed in previous ‘thoughts for the week’.  The emphasis, again, seems very much to be on reassurance - ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?’ – so it is not surprising that these words are often used during funeral services.  However, in the context of this Sunday’s lectionary readings, they follow the account, in Acts, of the stoning of Stephen, and, as some commentators have noted, there appears at first to be quite a disjunction between the vivid and bloodthirsty narrative which describes the death of the first Christian martyr and the measured calm of the conversation, in John’s Gospel, between Jesus and his disciples.

The differences should not be over-emphasized, however.  Luke in Acts casts Stephen’s death in the mould of Jesus’ death – both men faced accusations by the populace at the instigation of religious leaders; both had the assurance that they were going to be with God, and both prayed for forgiveness for those causing their deaths.  And the discourse in John should not be read as a leisurely philosophical or theological debate about heaven and the vision of God (although the vision of God is, in fact, one of the many recurring leitmotifs of this Gospel).  Rather, John presents this discussion as one of the last proper conversations Jesus has with his disciples before the events of his arrest and crucifixion unfold.

So what has all this to do with Easter?  In this season of resurrection joy and hope it can perhaps seem rather jarring to read of angry crowds and the brutal death of an innocent man, but putting Stephen’s martyrdom – or any similar contemporary event – in dialogue with Jesus’ promises is a challenge to which Jesus himself invites us.  ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ can in this way be seen not only as a ‘comforting word’ but also as a command to his disciples to resist fearfulness and to trust fully in God.  Easter, in other words, gives a different frame of reference to stories which, on their own, justify fear or despair.  Reframed by the Easter story, the horror of what is wrong is not diminished (stoning can never be made right or sanitized), but the power of Jesus’ resurrection brings hope of new life, and we can trust that, despite appearances, God truly is ‘working his purposes out’.

Fr Stephen


Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us
  you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help
we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.  Amen.


Acts 7:55-60

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Standing before the high priest and council,

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit,
gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

"Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"

But they covered their ears,
and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.

Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him;
and the witnesses laid their coats
 at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed,
 "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice,
"Lord, do not hold this sin against them."
When he had said this, he died.


Psalm 31. 1-5. 15-16

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness .

Incline your ear to me;
make haste to deliver me.

Be my strong rock,  a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold;
for the sake of  your name, lead me and guide me.

Take me out of the net
that they have secretly set for me,
for you are my tower of strength.

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
for you have redeemed me,
O Lord, O God of truth.

My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies
and from those who persecute me.

Make your face shine upon your servant;
and in your loving kindness save me.


1 Peter 2:2-10

A reading from the first letter of Peter.

Like newborn infants,
long for the pure, spiritual milk,
so that by it you may grow into salvation—

if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone,
though rejected by mortals
yet chosen and precious in God's sight.

Like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house,
to be a holy priesthood,
to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ.

For it stands in scripture:
"See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."

To you then who believe, he is precious;
but for those who do not believe,
"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner," and

"A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall."
They stumble because they disobey the word,
as they were destined to do.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, God's own people,
in order that you may proclaim
the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness
into his marvellous light.

Once you were not a people,
but now you are God's people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.


Gospel  John 14:1-14

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

Jesus said to his disciples:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house there are many dwelling places.
If it were not so, would I have told you
that I go to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
so that where I am, there you may be also.

And you know the way to the place where I am going."

Thomas said to him,
"Lord, we do not know where you are going.
How can we know the way?"

Jesus said to him,
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

If you know me, you will know my Father also.
From now on you do know him and have seen him."

Philip said to him,
"Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied."

Jesus said to him,
"Have I been with you all this time, Philip,
and you still do not know me?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, "Show us the Father'?

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own;
but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
but if you do not,
then believe me because of the works themselves.

Very truly, I tell you,
the one who believes in me
will also do the works that I do and, in fact,
will do greater works than these,
because I am going to the Father.

I will do whatever you ask in my name,
 so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

If in my name you ask me for anything,
I will do it.

Service Times

10:00am Sunday Service

Useful links


Here are some links to resources you may find helpful:


  1. Chichester Cathedral will be live streaming services. For the Eucharist and order of service Click here before 10:00am Sunday and follow the instructions.
  2. The BBC Daily Service is available here.
  3. Prayer for today.
  4. The C of E youtube channel.
  5. We will be updating Fr Stephens Message page on a regular basis.
  6. Hearing You is a new phone help line launched by the Diocese of Chichester in partnership with Together in Sussex in response to the impact that Covid 19 has had on Just about the whole community. It aims to provide pastoral support and a listening ear to the recently bereaved and people directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  7. COVID-19 advice from the Diocese of Chichester here.