The Naval Church Service Book

St Giles’ Church, Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth

This Service Book

of prayers, hymns readings and addresses

is authorised for use in

Her Majesty’s Fleet

by the

Naval Chaplaincy Service

The Chaplain of the Fleet is grateful to all who assisted

in the production of this book

© Crown Copyright Reserved

Scripture readings are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, © 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved and used with permission.

Christian Copyright Licence

Portsmouth 1426077

Faslane 1426060

Devonport 1420853


Foreword – For the Church Officer

This booklet has been designed primarily to help Church Officers lead the main Sunday Service at sea, in the absence of a Chaplain. It also includes Orders of Service for other services, including Remembrance Sunday and the main Sundays in the Christian Year – including Christmas, Good Friday and Easter.

The role of the Church Officer is often seen as a challenge, not least because so much seems to be left to the individual to organise. It is a task that can often fall to the newest Officer of the Watch, or to an enthusiastic member of the Ship’s Company.

Whoever undertakes the responsibility to lead the Sunday Service at sea, when a Chaplain is not embarked, is taking on a role that has been fulfilled in peace and war for many centuries.

The centrality of the Christian Faith to the Naval Service is underlined by every Commanding Officer’s responsibility to hold worship every Sunday, and by the provision of Chaplains.

As a Church Officer, you are becoming part of a long heritage, a central role in the spiritual well-being of your colleagues, and a witness to the Faith in peace and in war.

I commend this booklet to you as a useful resource and I wish you well in your endeavours.

The Reverend Scott J Brown QHC BD

The Chaplain of the Fleet


How to use this material

The Purpose:

To Honour God

Provide time for reflection

Increase awareness of Christianity

Build up those who believe

Fulfil a duty (First Article of War)


Who will take part / attend.

Try to get as many people involved as possible. If your ship uses the ‘sponsored Church service’ routine (normally department or mess sponsored), then talk early to the LHOM or nominated departmental rep. Ask them to choose the hymns and prayers from books or other resources that you hold. Identify the Bible reading and ask them to find a reader, and a couple of days before the service pass them a bible with the passage clearly marked. Ensure that the department are aware of their responsibilities regarding setting up / coffee etc …. If you are not using the sponsored routine, note regular attendees and ask them to take part or select favourite hymns etc.


Surface ships - Book the dining hall / schoolroom or use the upperdeck in warm weather. If on the upper deck ensure you have adequate amplification for any music and of course the correct power supplies!

Submarines - Space is always a problem. Services held in engine rooms, WSC or on the casing if on surface passage have the advantage of not displacing people from their ‘home’. If using a mess seek the agreement of Mess Pres and try to rotate through various messes and ensure all mess members are invited back in for after service scran / coffee etc!


This really needs to be discussed at DepCos / HODs. Talk to the Ops Officer and get a standing bid on the shortcast. On a Sunday routine the best time is usually immediately after secure … however this will vary according to routines etc. Talk to the EWO to ensure that it does not get removed at DepCos and to check with you if the time gets moved BEFORE it gets finalised at HODs. Once the timing is on the Shortcast, it should be automatically transferred to Daily Orders. If the OOW makes a Daily pipe ensure he/she mentions the time / location. Make a pipe about 15 mins prior to the service to remind the Ships Company!

As a general guide the service should last between 20—25 minutes.

Music and Hymns

This is an important part of the service at sea. The ideal situation is a competent musician (not only piano / keyboard—the majority of instruments can be used to lead singing and most hymns / songs now have guitar chords with them). However if there are no musicians available, most ships use CDs, either ‘karaoke hymns’ or general worship CDs with music / vocals. The tracks being used for the service can be transferred to an MP3/iPod as a playlist. Having vocals on the track often encourages folk to sing out a bit more confidently, however a word of warning - ensure that the words you produce match exactly those on the recording or it very quickly goes pear shaped! If you have none, there are a selection available, please discuss this further with your Chaplain.


Start with the Service Template – this will give you the basic structure for the Service.

Choose a theme for the Service. These start on page ??. It might be a seasonal Service (e.g. Christmas or Easter) or a special occasion (Sea Sunday). You may wish to choose a theme which reflects our Core Values (honesty, integrity, courage) or another aspect of the human experience.

Use the prayers, the readings, the ‘thought for the day’ and any hymn suggestions that are listed for that theme. If you prefer other hymns, feel free to use them.

Generally the theme and readings will be taken from this book, but on occasion it may be appropriate to choose a theme relevant to the Ships programme or an extraordinary event in the life of the ships company. Whatever the theme is, make sure it is clear in the introduction to the service.

Songs and Hymns

Try not to use the same four or five hymns throughout the deployment. If you are using recordings of any kind as backing listen to some of the ones you don’t know and play them before the service so they begin to become familiar, before asking the ‘congregation’ to sing them. Try to choose hymns that are relevant to the theme, normally rousing ones to start and finish and a quieter / reflective one in the middle.


Try and make them contemporary and relevant to the ship and the area of operations. Remember those on board who are ill, homesick etc and compassionates / P7R back at home. Also remember families and friends left at home, particularly at important times like start of school terms / holidays etc. Use a period of silence to allow for personal prayer – this is something that is often overlooked. There are several prayer books available from your Chaplain which contains prayers for use on various occasions. Ensure that you do not break any confidences or sensibilities when praying in public.

Address / Sermon / Message

Again this would usually be straight from the book. However, on the rare occasion that you may feel it right to change the theme, try to keep it simple with one main point. Written notes will help! Make it relevant to ship life and events at home or in the world. Aim for a max of 5 minutes.



Where the reading is a complete Psalm, it will be shown as, for example, ‘Psalm 23’. Refer to it as ‘psalm twenty-three’, just as it appears.

If it is a portion of a psalm, there will also be a colon followed by verse numbers – for example ‘Psalm 23:1-3’. Refer to this as ‘Psalm twenty-three, verses one to three’.

The rest of the Bible

For all other readings the numbers before and after the colon are chapter and verse numbers e.g. Matthew 5:1-4 would be ‘Matthew, chapter five, verses one to four’.

The reading may include two separate selections from one chapter. So Ruth 1:1-9,16-18 would be ‘Ruth, chapter one, verses one to nine, and verses sixteen to eighteen’.

If there is no colon and therefore no verse numbers, you must be reading an entire chapter e.g. Matthew 6 is simply ‘Matthew chapter 6’.

Finally, if the figure 1 or 2 appears before the name of the book/letter it means it is the first or second item with that name in the Bible e.g. 1 Samuel 17:40-49 is ‘First Samuel, chapter 17, verses 40-49’

Unless you are confident you know which is which, don’t try to refer to books, prophecies, gospels or letters in your introduction. Just say ‘Genesis’, or ‘Isaiah’, or ‘Matthew’ or ‘First Corinthians’, or whatever, and then the chapter number and verses if any.

If you need any help with resources please contact your Chaplain or

Mr John Gueran PW (Portsmouth)

Phone: 02392 720928 or 723000 / e mail: FLEET-CHAPLANCY NELSON CSW1

or Capt (CA) Phil Slater (Plymouth)

phone: 01752 555640 / e mail:

Other resources are available from:

Naval Christian Fellowship

Steve ‘Pincher’ Martin

02392 814410

The Naval Military Air Force Bible Society can provide Bibles and New Testaments:

02392 699873

The Sunday Service

The congregation are invited to say the words in bold type.


Leader: We have come together in the presence of God to offer him praise and thanksgiving, to ask his forgiveness of our sins, to hear his holy word, to bring before him the needs of the world, and to seek his Grace, that through his son Jesus Christ we may give ourselves to his service.


The Opening Prayer, which matches the theme of the service, may be read here.


The first hymn may be included here


Leader: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God. Let us confess our sins to Almighty God.

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

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all evil, and keep us in life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Our Father,

who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

Thy kingdom come;

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us

and lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.


These may be selected from Themes for Services


The prayers in the section should be varied from week to week, with different sections used, or other groups mentioned using a similar format.

Suggested alternative prayers may be chosen from a wide variety of Christian sources

Leader: Let us pray for the world, and let us thank God for his goodness.

We bring to God someone who we remember today and for whom we want to pray…

(Silence, or contributions from those gathered)

We bring to God someone who is hurting today and needs our prayer…

(Silence, or contributions from those gathered)

We bring to God a troubled situation in our world today…

(Silence, or contributions from those gathered)

We silently bring to God someone who we find hard to forgive or trust…


We bring to God those whom we love and those whose love supports us…

(Silence, or contributions from those gathered)

We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind and passion for life…


We pray to God for all who serve in this Ship/Submarine … our needs, our anxieties and fears. Give us courage, perseverance and hope.

We pray for our Queen, her family, and her Government … give to them wisdom and peace, that they may serve the cause of justice and peace and for the welfare of all people.

We gather up these prayers and those of all your people, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

THE NAVAL PRAYER may be said here.

O Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the sea; who hast compassed the waters with bounds until day and night come to an end; be pleased to receive into thy Almighty and most gracious protection the persons of us thy servants, and the fleet in which we serve. Preserve us from the dangers of the sea and of the air, and from the violence of the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth and her Dominions; and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our Islands and Commonwealth may in peace and quietness serve thee our God: and that we may return in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land, with the fruits of our labours, and with a thankful remembrance of thy mercies to praise and glorify thy Holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


A hymn may be selected for use here. If it is the Naval Hymn, all four verses should be sung at this point. If another hymn is sung here, the final verse of the Naval Hymn may be sung at the very end of the service, after the Grace.


Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,

Who biddest the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep;

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,

For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard

And hushed their raging at Thy Word,

Who walked on the foaming deep,

And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,

For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!

Our family shield in danger’s hour;

From rock and tempest, fire and foe,

Protect us wheresoever we go;

And ever let there rise to Thee

Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.


Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of your holy Word.

May it be a lantern to our feet, a light to our paths, and a strength to our lives.

Take us and use us to love and serve all in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Almighty and everlasting God, the creator and upholder of all, who has in every age inspired your servants with courage and skill, we give you thanks for the example of those who have gone before us; for the seafarers of our nation; for all who in ships, great or small, have braved the perils of the deep; for all who have given their lives for their country. For ourselves grant, O Lord, that we may be conscious of your ruling hand. May we be found watchful at our posts. Make us ever mindful of the needs of others, sharing our joys and bearing their burdens in the work which you have given us to do; and keep us always in your love and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE GRACE, said by all.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us now and for ever. Amen.

(The final verse of the Naval Hymn may be sung, if the whole hymn has not been sung earlier in the service.)




Opening Prayer

Almighty Creator,

You have set us in the midst of the glory of an astonishing Providence

And given us eyes to see its beauty.

Give us also the imagination to see the world’s needs

And courage to help to meet them

Through the love and strength of Jesus Christ

Who loved the whole world with his whole life. AMEN

Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:2

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; 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. And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so. God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 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.

Thought for the Day – Creation

The long and familiar Creation story scarcely needs a comment to follow it. But go out to smokers’ corner [here you might name instead some more appropriate spot on the outer deck] sometime and look at God’s creation. Whether you like to think it did all happen in seven days, or whether you hear this Bible passage as a symbolic description of the long ages of evolution, simply imagine God’s delight and pleasure at every different part of an amazing world.

Recognise the huge complexity of the inter-relatedness of it all. It makes it a dramatic and difficult place, not a sweet and pleasant one. Lions and wildebeest share one environment, eagles and salmon another, children and stinging nettles another, humans and viruses another.

And we, humankind as a whole, have a stewardship, a responsibility, for all of it. Perhaps when the human world stops thinking of that as a privilege for our convenience, we will rise better to God’s challenge.


Opening Prayer

Loving and understanding God,

We know what we gladly and joyfully believe

And what makes us wary and unsure:

Whenever good works are threatened

Because we are too cynical or too foolish or too cowardly,

Give us wisdom and heart to go forward to do what is right

And make your world a happier, more peaceful place,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: John 20:19-29

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you. After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Thought for the Day – Doubt

When we listen to stories from the Bible, we often have to admire the characters for their faith and courage. Time and time again, men and women are taken from ordinary backgrounds and are expected to speak up about things that are astonishing and unlikely and life-changing. Time and time again their tasks bring them danger, mockery, unpopularity, poverty or violence; and we honour them because they have been driven by belief and passion and done things we can hardly imagine ourselves achieving. We entirely understand their hesitations and their doubts, and are amazed by the courage that keeps them going.

But Thomas’ doubt was different; it was a show-stopper. The first-hand testimony of his closest friends wouldn’t shift it. Three years following Jesus around the country didn’t prevent it. He ground to a halt, and only the risen Jesus himself could move him. Christian tradition says that when Thomas encountered Jesus at the end of our reading, he was so inspired that he took the Gospel news further than any other Apostle; and to this day in India Christians believe that Thomas was first to establish the church there.

There is a difference between the kinds of doubts and anxieties that make our actions brave (the kind the other Apostles showed), and the show-stopping doubt that prevents us from going on with integrity (the kind Doubting Thomas showed). Both are honestly felt, and both produce strong emotions.

In the Armed Services we are trained to obey those in command and not to question a lawful order. When the ship is being manoeuvred alongside in a tight harbour and the CO orders ten degrees of port wheel, it is not the time for the quartermaster to offer another point of view and a fresh suggestion of a better berth. That is not a moment for legitimate doubt to bring the evolution to a halt. Our doctrine of command and leadership ensures a discipline that prevents ordinary hesitations messing up the command intent.

But once or twice in a lifetime, we may find ourselves at a point from which with integrity we cannot go forward. One person may be in a relationship that seemed like a good idea at the beginning; but it is causing misery to both parties and there is really nothing good and wise in keeping it going. Another person may have a complicated decision to make about the next step of their career, with lots of people expecting them to take a certain path; and if that path fills them with dread and horror, they will have to have the strength of character to refuse it.

When we exercise that difficult, moral courage – the deepest of all forms of courage – let us remember how God dealt with Thomas; giving him the reassurance he needed, which then fired him up and made him unstoppable in doing what was right. When what we have to do serves God’s plans for his world, God will somehow give us the strength to find the new beginning.


Opening Prayer

Grant, we pray, merciful God

To your faithful people pardon and peace,

That they may be cleansed from all their sins,

And serve you with a quiet mind;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-17

Then God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work. Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Thought for the Day - Faith

An atheist campaign led by Professor Richard Dawkins in January 2009 attracted some complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency. Arguably though, it was a good advertisement for faith for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it got people talking about the subject.

Secondly, the advertisement itself, which was posted on the side of London buses, gave a baffling message. It read, ‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’

What exactly is it we should stop worrying about as the advert suggest? What is the joy in life that faith supposedly kills? Stop worrying about being judged, and give in to self-indulgence, perhaps? So, Dawkins’ message to a society already steeped in selfishness, materialism and cheap celebrity is even greater hedonism and moral anarchy.

If Mother Theresa have decided to stop worrying and just focussed on enjoying her own life, think about the untold numbers of lives of Calcutta’s children that would have been far shorter and bleaker if it were not for her concern about their dilemma. Living among mosquitoes, stifling heat, abysmal poverty and disease does not sound enjoyable, but thousands of Christian missionaries do it every year to bring aid, medicine, education and the comfort that a faith can offer. Should they stop worrying about these people?

Ironically, for many believers the belief in the existence of God is precisely the reason they don’t worry, and they do get on with and enjoy their lives in anticipation that life continues beyond the grave. There is nothing wrong with enjoying our lives, when we do so in  a way that is considerate of others. So, what after all is the enjoyment people like Professor Dawkins thinks believers do not have? A happy marriage?   A good holiday? A good run-ashore? Nice wine and good food? Playing a computer game? The truth is, none of these joys in life are banned by having a faith, which is why the advert was so silly and baffling.

What is prohibited by faith is a lack of restraint in regard to behaviour that can be destructive to ourselves and to others. In our relationships we are to be cautious and careful. Without care, lives are ruined that need not be. Should we tell our youth not to worry about such things but to just and enjoy themselves?

Faith also restrains such things as greed. Think about the greed that has caused the worldwide recession. It’s precisely because people did not worry about tomorrow but focussed solely on the enjoyment of the day that brought about the crisis.

Faith warns about the abuse of any kind of power, whether it’s the political power in a nation, or personal power over a very young or very weak person. People can be broken because other people are just too intent on making the most of their own lives without stopping to think and show a conscience.

The essence of Dawkins’ message was to lay aside conscience and morality and just live as you want. Such a way of selfish living often gives people a bad conscience  which ironically causes them to worry and stop enjoying themselves, whereas a good conscience gives us a peace and enjoyment in life.

If people live their lives by Christian principles because of a faith in God, then the injunction of Dawkins’ message to ‘stop worrying and enjoy ourselves’ is totally irrelevant. Christ taught us not to worry but to trust in Him, and that when we do the fullness of joy in life will come to us.


Opening Prayer

Creator and Father of us all,

You have given us ears to hear wisdom

And eyes to see the lessons this world would teach us.

Give us minds like fertile earth, to understand your teaching

And spirits keen enough to put it into practice,

For the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!" "Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."

Thought for the Day – Following God

In any very intensive working environment it can be difficult to live according to a belief or philosophy that is not shared by everyone else. How much harder it is, of course, when the people whose reactions and opinions cause you concern are people you cannot escape for weeks on end. But if buried deep in our thoughts are the convictions of the Christian faith, or even just the instinct to try to follow its teachings, you will want to do your best with that however difficult it may be.

And Jesus recognised it was difficult, and explained where the dangers of failure might lie.

First is the seed that falls on the path, and never even reaches any soil. Jesus means by this the people who don’t understand what they hear about God’s kingdom, and so they can never get started on any kind of spiritual journey. In the Royal Navy, the teaching on beliefs and values, and the experience of going to services from time to time, aims to get past this stage, and help people to begin to engage.

Second, says Jesus, is the rocky ground in which a seeds seems to begin to grow well; but with no space for roots, the plant will suddenly die after it has begun to grow. Jesus means here that some people will get an initial burst of enthusiasm for what they hear about Christianity. But when they discover that others think they are a little strange, or cannot get used to the new way they live their lives, or are puzzled by their new priorities, they are equally suddenly put off, and it is all lost.

Third, Jesus talks about seed that falls amongst thorns, which he says represent those who do develop faith, but are so surrounded by cares and anxieties, and by misleading temptations like wealth, that they are gradually choked and produce nothing good from their beliefs. When work is busy, and there is a task book to be done, or an exam to be sat; when promotion begins to offer a good rate of pay and life is easily taken up with planning the new house or the next car; then the works of charity and the fights for justice and the and the time taken to reflect on the truly important things are just choked out of existence.

But Jesus, finally, talks about those who are like good earth, who hear the message of God’s kingdom, and let it grow and develop, and inspire and motivate them. They get things done, things that make God’s world a better place, and they know Whose they are and Whom they serve. Their achievements are astonishing in scale, like the best possible yield of the best possible crop. Those who take the trouble to do all this, unfussily and without disrupting others, will be recognised and respected for it throughout the ship.


Opening Prayer

God of the humble and the meek:

You have constantly astonished ordinary people

By choosing them ahead of the great and the grand

To carry out your purposes in the world.

Make us ready to recognise the moments when we can do some good

(Even the least and the last among us)

In the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN

Reading: Luke 1:46b-55

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Thought for the Day – God’s Planning

God’s planning for his world doesn’t usually cause us any anxiety. We see important religious figures doing what they do. We read the Bible and hear the stories of what God and Jesus have done. We watch the changing seasons and sense God’s Providence at work. What we don’t normally have to put up with is finding ourselves in the middle of the story, finding ourselves at the heart of a drama about God.

Mary the Mother of Jesus was caught up in the biggest story in the world, and found herself a central figure in a drama she didn’t choose. Unnatural events, like visions, happened to her. Her marriage and family life did not unfold as anyone in her environment would have chosen or predicted. Strangers came in and out of the picture wanting to see the significant thing that was happening, to add their words of recognition and rejoicing to something she was still puzzling to understand.

We know that in some Christian traditions Mary is given a particular place of honour, and her experience is an inspiration for the meditation of millions of Christian people. Perhaps that is because of the strikingly calm way she accepted her place in God’s story, and her ability to rejoice in something that would scare the wits out of most people. After all, the Bible has enough characters who tried to run away when they saw they were the central character in the story. Jonah got as far as the inside of a fish. Simon Peter just convinced no-one with his denials of knowing Jesus.

But Mary listened, and thought, and sang, and accepted that she could not evade God’s planning that involved her. She sang about what God had done before her son Jesus had been born, before the magical Christmas story had unfolded around her. She sang about God turning the world upside-down, so that the strong and might would be tipped out of their seats of power, while humble people – people just like Mary and just like us – would be lifted up to a new place. The poor, instead of the rich, would be well fed. And far from being spooked and running away, Mary sings out that God has done a great thing for her, and she will always be remembered because of it.

Her song has become one of the most commonly-used songs of the church. If you attend a Choral Evensong in a great cathedral or a university chapel or in thousands of other places, these words will be sung to hundreds of different musical settings. If you attend church in the weeks leading up to Christmas, you will hear this reading contributing to the build-up to the big day. The Church at its most impressive and glorious celebrates a text that talks about inverting great and small and doing what the powers of the world least expect.

You and I are unlikely, perhaps, to find ourselves as the central figures in some divine intervention in the affairs of the world. But every day we have the potential to bring closer the promise of peace, justice, respect and friendship across the world. As we encounter the situations that demand our action, as individuals or as a whole ship’s company, our faith challenges us to look at it as we have learned that God would do, in an unexpected way and achieving amazing things the rest of the world would not think to expect.

Mary’s song is just as much our song, because our work should be God’s work.


Opening Prayer

Let your merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of your humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them ask such things as please you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Luke 7:1-10

7:1 After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Thought for the Day – Healing

This Gospel story about a Roman centurion introduces us to one of the most attractive characters in the New Testament, although we never hear of him again outside the reading we have just heard. To the military mind especially, he is an ideal of so many of our values. He seems to be a consummate officer, a man with a very open mind, and a man of immense compassion beyond anything expected of him.

He describes himself in terms we understand from our doctrine of leadership. He belongs in a disciplined organisation – the occupying Roman army – and is used to unquestioning obedience from those under his authority. That is the way he is used to doing things, and expects it to work in every area of his life.

But in the very foreign country in which he is billeted, he has made a gesture of enormous generosity between very different cultures; he has built the synagogue for the people of Capernaum. In our enlightened age, we become used to equipping people from every different cultures when we do work in the countries we visit. In Jesus’ day, no-one would expect anything better than scorn and hostility from someone outside the Jewish faith, and this man was highly exceptional in his day.

And he goes even further. Here is a man who is distressed by the serious illness of a much-valued slave – lucky slave to have such a master in those days – and he is willing to ask a holy man from a religion not his own to do something to help. He shows a lovely mixture of desperation and modesty. On the one hand, he earnestly asks for help through the Jewish elders he sends to Jesus; while on the other hand he doesn’t want to take Jesus out of his way, but truly believes that if a healing is achieved it can be achieved at a distance, just through sheer authority and command.

The number of things that require to be healed in our own lives. and in our modern world, is depressing. Mother Nature suffers from the worst of what generations of modern humans have done, and longs to be rescued and put back on a proper course. Nations and communities are crushed by wars, political struggles, insurgencies, and avoidable famines, and millions of people in dozens of countries need the world to right itself and come to its senses. Individuals find lives torn up by broken relationships, mistakes of the past, temptations of the present and expectations for the future. All of these need to be healed, just as surely as a broken or diseased body.

The Centurion, an officer who seems to have perfected the art of living well and great-heartedly, can show us a thing or two about how we can receive the healing we need, or be the agents of healing for others. It begins by adopting the very simple belief that God is in command of our lives and world, in a way we all recognise and admire. If we help to ensure that God’s commands come to pass, we and our world will begin to be healed of all that breaks and frightens us.


Opening Prayer

Almighty God, the origin of all love,

Let us never forget,

Amid all the trappings of our military life,

That our calling is to serve the cause of love:

To show mercy to those in need around the world,

To frustrate the plans of the wicked,

And to enable people to walk the ways of peace,

Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Thought for the Day – Love

There are several different kinds of love, and some of them are easier to remember about than others. We know about romantic love, whether or not we happen to be experiencing it at this point in our lives. We know about the love of those who are very close to us: parents, children, siblings and life-long friends, whether the number of people we love in that way happens to be large or limited. And we experience from time to time other kinds of love, which affect the way we do things, without always understanding how they so impact upon us: love of country, of home town, perhaps even of the Navy or of the ship that is our home for so much of each year.

These are all kinds of love which move us, affect us and direct us. Something is happening to us with these sorts of love, and we do what we do because we feel as if someone or something has first managed to reach out and touch us.

The Christian tradition, and especially the much-loved passage we have just heard, introduces us to another kind of love, with wonderful properties. It is the capacity for love given by God, a kind of maturity and completeness of personality, a quality of living that exceeds anything else noble or magnificent or impressive that you could imagine. This love is distinctive because it is an aspect of how you conduct yourself, of how you express yourself in all your actions. This love appears to come from you, not just to you.

It is a kind of love that cleanses you of conceit, boastfulness, greed. It is the kind of love that cures you of irritability, resentment, impatience. It is the kind of love that lets you discover kindness and truth.

It is so deep-seated and pervasive that it belongs not only in your relationships with lovers, families and friends – though by all means it transforms those ties – but it spills over into everything else you do, and into the way you deal with colleagues, strangers and even enemies. It is so fundamental that without it not even things like faith or courage would achieve anything worthwhile, says St Paul.

And where better to find it written about than in the New Testament, the record of Jesus Christ, who took love to the furthest extreme in all history and beyond all human description? If Christ had been only a prophet, only a healer, only a martyr, only a teacher, he might have been remembered and celebrated, but he would not be the one who is worshipped by millions all over the world every day.

But the love at the very heart of God, expressed in Jesus Christ and pouring into the world and into the lives of astonished, ordinary people; enduring the worst of what the human race could do; passing through the gates of death on Good Friday; breaking through to victory and glory on Easter Day – that is the love on which every promise of God is built and guaranteed. That is love that gives us the challenge to be loving like that as much as we can be, but it gives us too the promise that we will never be lost or forgotten or unloved.


Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,

You have so often changed the direction of people’s lives,

Calling them away from what seemed to keep them busy

And asking them to do great good to carry out the Father’s will.

In our worship show us the good we might do

And the new and wonderful things we might try

With the help and guidance of your Holy Spirit. AMEN

Reading: Matthew 4:12-23

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Thought for the Day – New Beginnings

Every one of us in the Royal Navy is an expert on the anxiety caused by new beginnings. Arriving at Plymouth Railway Station on a Sunday afternoon to begin Phase One training, or at the gates of BRNC as a brand new cadet, you are full of trepidation about what the coming weeks will bring and whether you will be capable of everything that will be demanded from you.

Stepping onto the gangway of your first ship – some of you have done that so recently you haven’t lost the feeling yet, and some of you did it so long ago you might pretend you can’t remember doing it – brings the anxiety back as you step into your new world and know everyone will see how well you will do.

Outside the Navy just as many scary new beginnings happen. The feeling as you begin your wedding day, the terrifying wonder of holding your own child for the first time, the worry of making any big decision about home and family, or work and career – they all require you to step out with a new beginning and hope for the best.

For some people it is much easier if they don’t have to choose their new beginnings for themselves. Making decisions is so stressful, it may be a relief if a strong partner, or parent, or drafter, or influential friend, can point the way you should go and choose what is best for you. For others, it is a terrifying thought to lose control over your choices, to lose the ability to select for yourself those new beginnings in life.

For four respectable, sensible fishermen on the shores of beautiful Lake Galilee, their friend Jesus turned up, beckoned to them, and told them in a handful of words that their purpose in life had changed; and up they got and followed him right there and then and for ever. It is hard to imagine doing that.

And yet every time we have the courage to come to a Church service and listen to the words of the Bible read and explained, we are opening ourselves to the possibility that we will find a new beginning beckoning to us. It is rarely the kind of new beginning that involves us laying down our profession and going off to do something totally different. It may, however, be just as dramatic a new start.

It may involve doing the biggest and most difficult thing we are ever asked to do, and that is to forgive someone who offended us so badly and so long ago that we were in the habit of treating them with hatred and contempt. Turning round a situation like that will take all the strength God gives us, and changes how many people will view us.

It may involve fixing things that it would be easier to leave broken: things like our grumpy bad temper, our sarcastic speech, our offensive way of treating people of the opposite sex or of another race, our worship of money and possessions.

It may involve prioritising our time and energy in ways our friends will scarcely recognise: making time to do good things that make a difference to the lives of those who are less fortunate than we are, taking the trouble to speak up about things that strike us as unfair in the world.

We are never too old to feel again the knot in the stomach as we find ourselves on the brink of something completely new, perhaps something to which we are called even against all our own instincts.


Opening Prayer

God of all virtue:

You teach us that true courage is not the absence of fear

But the doing of good and necessary things despite our fear.

So too our Christian faith is not the absence of doubt

And our worship and service and duty are offered despite our doubts

But always in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Mark 9:14-24

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciplines to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able! – All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Thought for the Day – On the Edge of Faith

I believe”, said the boy’s father, “Help my unbelief!”

For some people those are the most encouraging and comforting words in all the stories about Jesus. Jesus is dealing kindly with someone who is completely torn over his beliefs. Part of the man earnestly believes that Jesus can make the boy well; or at least hopes he can, hopes so fervently that it becomes a kind of belief. Part of the man, he’s all too well aware, cannot believe in something so crazy and unnatural. Probably if it weren’t his own son thrashing about in an epileptic fit at Jesus’ feet, he would be pretty hard to persuade that anything extraordinary could happen. With the passion of any distraught parent he’s willing to set aside his normal rational instincts and put his faith in anything that might help, however unlikely or miraculous it needs to be.

Throughout Christian history, men and women have taken comfort and encouragement from that story, because it seems to give us permission to own up to the patchiness of our own religious beliefs. Not only may we own up to being such a mixture of good and bad and strength and weakness in what we hold true, but we can say it to God himself, and He won’t stop loving us if we do. Jesus talked to his disciplines about the enormous power of a tiny seed of faith, which could be developed to become stronger than anything in the world; and in this story we are re-assured that the seed of our faith may be extremely small.

At every turn in our general military training we come across that definition of courage, the one about being scared but cracking on and doing what needs to be done despite the fear. Some people even say if you’re not scared you can’t be brave, though you might possibly be very stupid. So it’s about getting on and doing the task, not waiting for your doubts to be resolved, because if you do that you’ll never get the task done.

The father in the story showed courage. He took the risk of looking like a complete idiot in front of all his neighbours. He had the courage to ask, to show how desperate he was, to say publicly that he believed, and to say publicly that he struggled with his belief. And if the miracle hadn’t happened - if the boy hadn’t been healed - the father would probably just have looked even more foolish. So there was a man who had reason to be afraid, but went ahead and did what had to be done.

When some act of courage is being asked from you, your fears will largely come from the fact that your faith is imperfect: that may be faith in your own ability, or faith in your colleagues, or faith in what the enemy will do, or even faith in God’s Providence. One thing we know: that Providence will not vanish because you are honest about how you feel. God will not mind if you are thinking “I believe, help my unbelief!” Cling to that tiny act of faith, even if there is a lot of doubt getting in the way too, and you will be able to achieve amazing and courageous things.


Opening Prayer

God of peace,

We know we cannot bring your peace to the world

If there is no peace within and between us.

Heal whatever troubles our minds,

Whatever disturbs our hearts,

Whatever divides us from those nearest to us,

So that we may serve well those who most need to find God’s peace, AMEN

Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Thought for the Day – Peace

Archbishop Desmond Tutu amazed the world by doing one astonishing thing after another in the course of his career in the South African Church. Becoming Archbishop of Johannesburg at the height of the apartheid era, without belonging to the ruling race, was impressive enough, and he would have been remembered for that if he had done nothing more. Speaking out courageously against his country’s structural racism echoed around the world, and he would have been remembered for that if he had done nothing more. But the work of Tutu’s that changed South Africa - and could still change the world far beyond that country - came in the post-apartheid era.

Tutu has taught an African principle called ‘Ubuntu’, which is the idea that God creates us not to live in isolation from each other but to be connected together in a structure of dependence and mutual support. We are sustained by the very fact of being in society with each other, and we have to make it work. In Tutu’s description of it, it is a distinctively Christian philosophy, because you can see the teaching of the Bible illustrated in all its implications. Tutu said: “Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

The place where the Ubuntu notion has had its most dramatic effect has been in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Former victims and their former oppressors have met, and learned to move forward together, and learned – incredibly – not to need revenge or punishment or compensation. Miracle after miracle of forgiveness and new beginnings have emerged from the process, and visionary people in other places of great need are inspired to try it.

Many leading exponents of Ubuntu are humanist, and you can equally imagine it being practised by any of the major faith-groups of the world. Christian thinkers particularly claim it, though, because it resonates so loudly with how the Church has always understood God wanting his creation to be, wanting his people to behave towards each other. God did not create you and you and me and you and you; he created us, and all our human and moral responsibilities must be directed to making our connectedness work. Then Isaiah’s vision of peace and prosperity, which began to come true when Jesus Christ the Son of God came into the human world, will be completed and perfected.

If we have Ubuntu, we may do our little bit to hasten that heavenly vision.



Opening Prayer

Lord give us courage:

Courage to do things other people do not envy us having to do,

Courage to do things that put us in physical danger, if we have to,

Courage to do things that will make us unpopular,

Courage to do things that will be difficult, or take a long time,

Courage to do things for the glory of God,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading - 1 Samuel 17:40-49

Then David took his staff in his hand, and chose five stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch: his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to Goliath.

The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

Thought for the Day - Courage

In the world of boxing, there is one crucial thing that the boxer must have. Fitness, both physical and mental, and skill are givens, but the one thing that divides the winners from the losers is confidence. Before you get in that ring you have to believe with absolute certainty that you will win.

In the story of David and Goliath, we see that played out with unexpected results but the confidence on both sides is absolute. Goliath is a giant, a mighty warrior, and is armed to the teeth. He looks at David and knows, with absolute certainty that he will win in a test of arms.

David probably knows this too; in a straight contest he is not going to last long. But David has two things going for him. First, he has no intention of having a straight contest, a fight with only one possible outcome. Second, he knows with absolute certainty that he will win, because his cause (that of God himself) is right.

This is plain from the threats and posturing before battle is joined; Goliath will feed the dead David to the birds of the field. David counters with a threat to feed the slain army of the Philistines to the birds of the whole earth; a far bigger victory is planned! Goliath will kill David; David threatens to hack off Goliath’s head. It is a threat he subsequently carries out.

David is supremely confident, but his confidence does not rest on his strength, or on his technology, or on some weakness that he believes his enemy suffers from. His confidence stems from his belief in the rightness of his cause and his God-given ability to deliver victory not only on the field of battle, but on the wider earth.

As it turns out, his victory rests on a technological edge that changed the nature of the battle. But it also rests on something crucial to his success. In our reading, David “ran quickly toward the battle line” and delivered his knock out blow to the enemy leader. He closed with the enemy and engaged him aggressively. He used the weapon he had to hand effectively and decisively. In short, he had the confidence to strike the blow and (despite any perceived shortcomings), David had the courage to engage with the enemy.

God gave confidence to David, and David used his skill to decisive advantage. But in the end, he had to face the mortal danger, the apparently overwhelming power of the enemy, and rely on his skill and God’s purpose for victory. In that, David shows us that confidence will only give us victory, if we have the courage to engage in the battle.


Opening Prayer

Lord give us courage:

Courage to be gentle with people when it would be easier to be tough on them,

Courage to say no to what seems wrong when other people are eager to say yes,

Courage to do things because they are right even if others call us cowards for our decisions,

Courage to listen to those who are not popular or fashionable when they speak unexpected wisdom,

Courage to be people of faith, in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN

Reading: Matt 26:47-56

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him." At once he came up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him. Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you are here to do." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?" At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled." Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.


Opening Prayer

God of glory,

the end of our searching,

help us to lay aside

all that prevents us from seeking your kingdom,

And to give all that we have to gain the pearl

beyond all price, through our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


O God

You know us to be set

In the midst of so many and great dangers,

That by reason of the frailty of our nature

We cannot always stand upright:

Grant to us such strength and protection

As may support us in all dangers

And carry us through all temptations;

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 forever.


Reading - Mark 1: 14-20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news* of God,* 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;* repent, and believe in the good news.’*

16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Thought for the Day - Commitment

Whoever thought up the phrase ‘Living the Dream’ to entice people in to life in the Navy must have been in the habit of eating large quantities of cheese on toast just before bedtime. Of course, it is true that there are a lot of great experiences to be had in our service lives, but it’s also true that most of us have our nightmarish days too.

If we have any sense at all we know that when we commit ourselves to the Navy we’re going to have to take the rough with the smooth. That is true of life generally – and it is a truth that comes out in today’s Bible reading. Jesus calls his disciples from their work by the sea. That might seem like a random event – he turns up and says ‘Follow me’ and they stop what they are doing and become disciples, ready to follow him even, as we know, to violent deaths.

The fact that Jesus chose men who knew the sea and earned their livelihood from it isn’t as random as might first appear. To work close to the sea is to work in an environment that is as unpredictable as it is unforgiving. It is to work on the edge – between the chaos and danger of the water and the relative safety of the ship and the shore. To work in these conditions requires commitment. It means that you can’t give up when things get uncomfortable and it means that you have to value the people you work with as much as you value yourself. Jesus knew that he could rely on those values when he called these fishermen to be his first disciples.

Very few of us will receive a call as direct and dramatic as the one that Simon and Andrew received from Jesus. The Christian faith, however, tells us that each and every one of us has a calling from God for some special purpose in life. We may never know or be sure what that really is, but we can be sure that to live our lives and to fulfil that purpose we need commitment. A sense of commitment will keep us from giving up or changing tack at the first signs of difficulty. It will mean that you realise that your life is bound up with other people and that whatever you do – or don’t do – is going to affect them. Without commitment – without a firm course in your life – you will get blown in every, and any direction.

One thing you can be sure of is that if you commit yourself life won’t be one, long and uninterrupted dream. We’re not called to sleep-walk through life, but to be awake to our calling, focussed and committed to whatever it is we have to do in life, whatever that life might decide to throw at us.


Opening Prayer

The Lord gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;

But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint. (Isa 40: 29-end)

Luke 14: 25-33

Now large crowds were travelling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.’

Thought for the Day - Commitment

There’s an old engineers’ saying: “When you’re up to your neck in alligators, think how good it will feel when you’ve finally drained the swamp.” Success often comes at a price. In his story Jesus uses two people, a builder and a warrior, to advise that his listeners should make sure they could finish what they start. Both sound blindingly obvious even to us today but they were also subtle warnings to Jesus’ own people.

The biggest building projects in Jesus’ time were enhancements to the Jewish Temple complex in Jerusalem, the centre of the Jewish religion in its day. Work had been going on for several decades. Meanwhile many Jewish people, then as now, were dreaming of their own kingdom stretching from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan. They were expecting a Messiah to lead a war to clear the land of occupiers. Jesus taught that such violence would lead to disaster. Few of his contemporaries knew the forces at Rome’s command, or they may have taken Jesus’ warning more seriously.

Land just for Jewish people isn’t God’s agenda either. Jesus taught that God is reclaiming all of creation and making peace between God and humanity. The Jews were part of that plan: they were the people God wanted to use to keep the world wholesome: to act like salt preserves food. If the Jews were only committed to their own dreams, thought, they were no use to God. Tasteless salt is thrown away, Jesus reminded them.

Jesus offered people a choice: Commitment to building a world where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven or commitment to national supremacy, and a big Temple to brag about. Within a generation the people did chose a war against the Romans and, as Jesus warned, the Romans killed thousands of Jews, destroyed Jerusalem and ended Jewish Temple religion for ever.

When we face choices in life do we choose our own narrow interests? Do we commit our wealth and time to worshipping our own idols? Or would we prefer to build a world where God’s will is done on earth? Which of those visions are we committed to? Which deserves our commitment? Because if we’re going to take on the alligators, shouldn’t we first check we’re draining the right swamp?


Opening Prayer

O God, the judge of all,

Grant us, your servants, such strength of nature

Such strength of purpose and such strength of faith

That we might be sustained even in the darkness:

Shed your light on all who love you

And grant them union in body and soul

In your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Reading - Matthew 8: 5-13

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him 6and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralysed, in terrible distress.’ 7And he said to him, ‘I will come and cure him.’ 8The centurion answered, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ 10When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly I tell you, in no-one* in Israel have I found such faith. 11I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 13And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.’ And the servant was healed in that hour.

Thought for the Day - Discipline

One thing that gets some getting used to in Navy life – particularly when you’re going through initial training – is the incredulity you see on people’s faces when you talk about discipline. They won’t believe you when you tell them you have to iron and fold your shirts exactly to A4 size. They don’t believe you when you tell them you have to bull your shoes till you can see your face in them. Or, if they do believe you, they can’t understand why you let anyone make you do it.

Anyone who’s been in service life for any length of time will know and understand that the shirt-folding and the shoe-bulling are details in a bigger picture of life in a disciplined organisation. Discipline is about recognising where authority lies so that everyone can live in an atmosphere of trust. And it is from this world that the Centurion emerges to look for Jesus when his servant is ill. As someone in what was then the world’s foremost army he knows what it is to have authority and he knows what it is to respond to that authority. When he speaks, things happen. Because of this he is better able to understand who Jesus is than some people who are much closer to him. He sees that he has a special and definite authority to make things happen for the good. If Jesus says the word, the servant will be healed.

Of course, Jesus does not have a title, or a uniform, or a piece of paper spelling out what he can and can’t do. He has a natural authority and instils a natural discipline amongst those who respect it. He speaks of a Kingdom of Heaven whose values are justice and respect. He gathers friends around him and yet he is there for the people who live on the margins. People are free to come and go, and yet many are drawn irresistibly to him. With Jesus discipline just happens – his disciples follow him and do what he asks of them – not because he makes them but because his character and example and his teaching inspire them.

And so the Centurion goes to Jesus confident that if only he says the word he will turn things out to the good. His faith and his trust – not to mention his humility – are rewarded and held up as an example for others to learn from. In a world where faith and trust and discipline can often seem like scarce resources – the Centurion can still teach us a lesson.


Opening Prayer

Merciful God

When your Creation is torn apart by the ravages of sin,

You raise up those who witness to their faith with courage and constancy,

and grant those divided a share in your reconciliation

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,


Reading - 1 Peter 5:1-11

Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight,* not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it*—not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. 5In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders.* And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’

6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8Discipline yourselves; keep alert.* Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters* throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Thought for the Day – Respect / Teamwork

Imagine yourself to be living on the plains of Africa. All around you, for miles in each direction are the great plains, the wide expanses of bush and hard packed earth. In this harsh environment, water and food are two commodities in short supply. At each water-hole, a cosmopolitan population of different herds jostle for position around the precious water, upholding an uneasy truce. Everyone must drink, or they will die.

Into this jittery and volatile mass of life comes the king of the jungle. A mighty lion, the pride, and all his extended family come to drink, and to eat.

The most skittish of the plain’s dwellers are the first to react; sensing danger, those best equipped to flee turn from the life-giving water and run off into the expanse of plain. They see running from danger as the best hope.

The less confident, or those who want to be led set off in pursuit. Perhaps not clear of the danger, they follow blindly, trusting that someone knows what is going on.

Last to follow are the great lumbering beasts; perhaps the wildebeests. They move slowly, using their limited energy to leave the waterhole and seek safety elsewhere.

Of course the lions have seen all this before; being at the top of the food chain has many advantages. A leisurely drink, and they return to the hunt.

The lions have a fairly easy time of it, really. They know that all they have to do is follow the herd and force them away from safety and, crucially, from water. Once the animals leave the crush of the waterhole, it is only a matter of time before exhaustion, lack of water and injury deliver all the fresh meat the lions can eat.

It doesn’t take too much of a leap of logic to see ourselves in this scenario. When in danger, when we are faced with a threat, we have many of the options that the beasts of the plain have, and it is those same options that we hear about in our reading from Peter’s Epistle. Like the early church, and like groups through history and today, we are much stronger together. We are much more effective with strong, clear leadership. We are more capable if we identify the strengths of the team.

In the same way that the lion picks off the weak, or the young first, and then progressively takes down the whole herd, if we stay by the waterhole, and face outwards, if we use our numbers to make a much stronger adversary, we stand a better chance of succeeding.

This was clear to the early Christians, as it is to us today. If we get picked off one by one, if we let the team be weakened by a thousand cuts, then we all ultimately lose out. If we face danger together, as team we are much stronger and ultimately, more successful.


Almighty God

By whose grace alone we are accepted and

Called to your service:

Strengthen us by your Holy Spirit

And make us worthy of your calling;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,


Reading - Mark 12:14-17

And they came and said to him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? 15Should we pay them, or should we not?’ But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.’ 16And they brought one. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ 17Jesus said to them, ‘Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were utterly amazed at him.

Thought for the Day - Integrity

It’s interesting when you travel around the world to see what the money looks like. With the exception of the Euro, every note you get has someone’s face on it - and some faces you recognise and most you don’t. It’s interesting that the further you get away from the British climate the more cheerful the Queen looks on the sterling notes – just check out a Bermudan two-dollar note. Whether it’s the Queen on the money, or a famous writer or a national hero those pictures are a reminder that there are things in life more valuable than money – loyalty, courage, achievement. No-one gets their face on a ten-pound note just because they’re rich.

When Jesus was presented with a coin with Caesar’s head on it and asked whether it was lawful under God’s rule to pay taxes, his questioners were keen to know where his loyalties lay. Jesus comes up with his famous reply, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God’s.’ And his questioners are amazed.

They are amazed because Jesus is a religious figure who is also down-to-earth and realistic. Very often we dismiss people of faith as having their head in the clouds at the expense of being useful in this life. Admittedly, this is sometimes true, but here Jesus acknowledges that life has to happen, bills have to be paid, people have to earn their living and duties have to be fulfilled.

Money is important, but it isn’t everything. There are higher values – God’s values – that determine our true and enduring worth as human beings. Courage, commitment, generosity of spirit, honesty towards yourself and to others – all these qualities tell the world and yourself who you really are and what you are really worth.

The mark of integrity is to ask yourself ‘Would I sacrifice any of those qualities for money? And not just for money, but for popularity? For power? For influence? Many people have done that, and people will continue to do so, but integrity and self-respect are impossible to buy back once you’ve sold them. As Martin Luther once said, ‘Our Good Lord so often grants riches to those gross asses to whom he gives nothing else.’

Caesar – or the modern equivalent of Caesar – will always make his demands on us. Whether we believe in God or believe in nothing we have to live and work – and eat – in this world. But we are also human beings – complex and capable of great achievement and great feats of intelligence and imagination. Keeping our integrity means being loyal to what is most valuable about who we are and what we are capable of and putting that above anything else we can get from life.


Almighty God

By whose grace alone we are accepted and

Called to your service:

Strengthen us by your Holy Spirit

And make us worthy of your calling;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,


Reading - Luke 23:13-25

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’*

18 Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ 19(This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ 22A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ 23But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 25He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

Thought for the Day - Integrity

The Easter story is a tale of people doing all the wrong things; but often for good reasons. It’s a story about people who often lack integrity and are driven by convenience.

Jesus of Nazareth, a charismatic but unconventional Jewish teacher, is being tried by Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, on the word of the Jewish High Priests in Jerusalem. Why, when he was Jewish too?

For one thing, he kept publicly pointing out their apparently respectable lives were shams. He also criticised them for secretly supporting guerrillas, like Barabbas, who in turn led violent attacks against the Romans. Most of Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries wanted their own Jewish land. In Jesus’ view political violence would only lead to disaster. He was also following a different agenda: Jesus taught that God’s priority wasn’t to give the Jewish people exclusive use of the land we now call Israel and Palestine. Jesus’ priority was to reunite God and all humanity.

Integrity demanded the priests examine their own lives and conduct. Convenience demanded they got rid of Jesus. The problem was that they couldn’t find any crime he had committed against Rome. So he was probably being tried for impugning the Emperor’s dignity, a catch-all offence that carried a death penalty. It was a common way the powerful in the Roman Empire got rid of innocent people they didn’t like.

Pilate could see Jesus was innocent. His problem was that the priests threatened that Pilate he didn’t execute Jesus, they would tell the Emperor that he had released a dangerous terrorist. Pilate had his own reasons for not wanting to come to the attention of Tiberius the Emperor. Would he do what integrity demanded and release an innocent man? Or did he risk his own death if Tiberius was angry?

By the conventions of the age, Jesus was a nobody. He wasn’t rich, powerful, educated or high-born. He was only a builder. The convenient solution was to do what the priests wanted. The convenient solution was to release a famous murderer who really had led a violent rebellion against the Empire and execute an innocent man in his place. Jesus would soon be forgotten. No one would ever know, would they?


Opening Prayer

Almighty God

Strengthen us with your grace,

grant us courage and confidence to face reproach,

persecution, danger and suffering.

Enable us to faithfully bear witness to your name,

our Fleet and our Nation, that we may triumph over adversity

and remain loyal to the same;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.


Reading - Luke 20: 20-25

So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. 21So they asked him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. 22Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ 23But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, 24‘Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?’ They said, ‘The emperor’s.’ 25He said to them, ‘Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’

Thought for the Day - Loyalty

Conflict is what makes thrillers watchable. Our Bible reading is part of a thriller too: the back-story is conflict between institutional religion and politics. The human interest is a life-and-death clash between the “great and the good” and a single man. Crowds flocked to watch this story unfold.

It’s just before the annual Passover festival, when the Jewish people celebrate their rescue by God from slavery. The land we now call Israel is called Judea then and is occupied by the Romans, who have just suppressed yet another rebellion. The Judeans are seething with rage: They are oppressed by the Romans and their land is desecrated by non-believers.

Pilate, the Roman Governor, is relieved he contained the revolt, because he doesn’t want the Emperor hearing bad news. Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest, also wants to avoid more bloodshed. Thousands of Passover pilgrims are heading to Jerusalem for the festival. To keep his people free to celebrate their religion Caiaphas must avoid anything that would incite the Romans.

Enter Jesus, the celebrity rabbi. He generates scandal and fascination; he often upsets the respectable but is adored by the humble and the marginalised. Some of his supporters think he is the Messiah: some want him to start another uprising. The authorities just want him off the streets, so they want a charge that will stick.

They go with a question many Jews were already wrestling with. “Shall we pay tax to Caesar?” Surely no Messiah could say godly Jews should pay tax to pagan overlords? Especially in coins that blasphemously proclaim Caesar as “Son of God”. Inciting the people not to pay taxes, though, would make Jesus guilty of a capital crime against Rome.

Jesus’ double-edged answer floors them. Give the blasphemous coins back to Caesar, he advises. The Romans hear him saying “Pay your taxes”. To Jewish ears, though, he’s saying that the Romans should get God’s justice for the suffering they have inflicted. But he’s also criticising his Jewish contemporaries for failing to live as God’s people. For failing to make God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus asks us these same questions about our own loyalty. What does it mean to “give God what is God’s” in the 21st Century. Are we loyal to God? Or are we loyal to the Caesars of our own day?


Opening Prayer

Almighty God, purify our hearts and minds, that when your Son Jesus Christ comes again as judge and saviour we may be ready to receive him, who is our Lord and our God. AMEN.


Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light;

Now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;

So that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal;

Through Jesus Chris out Lord. AMEN

Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”



Opening Prayer

Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


O God, you have prepared for them that love you such good things as pass our understanding;

Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Joshua 6:1-5

Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.”


Opening Prayer

Almighty God,

You have kept faith with your people through the ages,

And never turned your back to the world.

Help us always to be faithful to our own principles and beliefs,

To the vows and promises we have made in the past,

And to the people who rely on us for love, support and loyalty.

We offer to do our best,

In the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN

Reading: Ruth 1:1-9, 16-18

 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back each of you to your mother's house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband." Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud.

But Ruth said, "Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die-- there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!" When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

Thought for the Day – Faithfulness

Ruth was a beautiful and thoughtful young woman whose world had fallen apart. She came from Moab but married a young man from what we would call Israel (actually Bethlehem) whose family were immigrants to her country. But her husband and the other men of his family all died in Moab, and her mother-in-law Naomi began to trek back to her own land, where living conditions were believed to have improved, intending to leave her daughters-in-law to go back to their own families.

Ruth’s loyalty and faithfulness to her new family is expressed in the wonderful rather poetic statement she made to Naomi. “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die-- there will I be buried.”

Ruth’s action is astonishing, when you think about her situation. She was undertaking to travel to a strange country, to leave behind her own family and everything she knew, and commit herself to something completely foreign and new. So she was really acting blind, heading into the unknown. Then she was offering quite an extreme commitment: she would go wherever Naomi might go, she would live wherever Naomi might live, she would take on the nationality of the place they travelled to, and she would even adopt the religion of that place, whatever it might be. And she knew she would die there, and never see her own people again. This is the extreme version of sticking with your oppo, come what may, with no idea of what lies ahead.

In Ruth’s case, though she didn’t know it at this point in the story, what lay ahead ultimately proved to be marriage to a kind man who was a distant relative of her late husband’s family. And history tells us, though Ruth would never know it, that she turned out to be King David’s great-granny, which is why she was significant enough to have a book of the Bible written about her.

You have often heard the discussion about what motivates sailors, soldiers and airmen in their tasks. Our country hopes and believes that we serve the Crown and our country itself. Our politicians hope that we have a sense of serving the deserving people in the countries where we operate. Our Commanding Officer may hope that our loyalty will be to the cap-tally or cap-badge. But every member of the Services who has been through something difficult or dangerous will tell you that the top priority is sticking with your mates, your oppos. Where he goes, I go; where he gets pinned down in a ditch, I get pinned down in a ditch; where he struggles to save that compartment, I struggle to save that compartment; and - quite possibly - where he dies I die.

Without our faithfulness, things won’t work, or they will collapse. Marriages and relationships depend on our faithfulness without exception. The operations in which we serve depend on our faithfulness to everything from our country to our closest oppo. The goodness and kindness of the wider world depend on faithfulness to our deepest beliefs, our faithfulness to whatever God asks us to do for His sake.


Opening Prayer

When we are painfully honest with ourselves,

We know that we must have been forgiven much in our lives.

When we are painfully honest with ourselves,

We know that we hardly ever really forgive those who have hurt us.

Forgiving God, no-one has ever had so much to forgive as Jesus Christ;

So may we learn from him, to transform our own lives and the lives of those we manage to forgive,

For his Name’s sake. AMEN

Reading: Luke 23:33-43

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."


Opening Prayer

Creator God,

you made us all in your image:

may we discern you in all that we see,

and serve you in all that we do;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Blessed are you, Lord God

And how wonderful are the works of your hands:

As a mother tenderly gathers her children

You embraced all people as your own.

When we turn away and rebel

Your love remains steadfast.

May we always respond to your call

Through Jesus Christ our Lord

Who is alive and reigns with you

In the unity of the Holy Spirit

One God, now and forever.


Reading - Mark 7: 24-30

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre.* He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-Phoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 28But she answered him, ‘Sir,* even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ 29Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Thought for the Day - Inclusion

The first and last rule on any run ashore has to be ‘always look after your oppo’. It may be a basic rule, but often it’s the hardest one to keep. When you’re away from your ship and the local drink and other attractions have lowered your guard and weakened your inhibitions it’s hard enough to look after yourself, let alone your mate, whose change of environment might well have been matched by a change of character. But look after your mate is what you do, no matter how much they might become strangers to you.

Of course, how we behave on runs ashore is only an extension of how we should always behave in service life. We have a duty to look out for one another and to make sure that no-one struggles alone. It’s good for discipline, good for morale and reflects a bigger truth that is revealed in today’s Bible reading.

Jesus is distracted by a woman and a child. The woman is Syro-Phoenician, which at the time meant that she came from a minority that people generally despised. We’re told that the child was possessed by an evil spirit. Whatever that actually meant, her behaviour must have been both alarming and embarrassing and it’s likely that no-one wanted to be around either of them.

Except Jesus. Like on many other occasions Jesus notices – and listens to – the people who are on the very edge. Of course he cares for the people closest to him, but when it comes to listening and caring he starts at the edge and works inwards.

And the woman herself, used to harsh treatment and rejection, speaks up and asks for something she knows she has a right to. Other people might despise her, but it is in Jesus that she finds someone she can trust, someone who has the authority to give her and her daughter peace of mind and a fresh start. She knows that within the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus talks about she won’t be left out.

Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, it’s a measure of our worth as human beings that we don’t marginalise people and we don’t leave them out. To be inclusive is to look to the very edge of whatever group we’re in and make sure that whoever is there has as good a sense of belonging as those closest to us. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone in the world has to be our best friend; but it does mean that no-one should experience exclusion, loneliness or a sense that their lives count for less than others. The good news of the Christian faith is that we are all equal in the sight of God. The hard news is that we need to live our lives as though this were true.


Opening Prayer

Almighty God

Day by day and week by week

You offer to us the glittering prize

Of faith in your Son, Jesus Christ:

Keep us firm in that hope, steadfast in that faith

And sure of your promises

Through Jesus Christ Your Son, Our Lord


Reading - 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27

Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. 26So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

Thought for the Day – Physical / Spiritual Fitness

On the face of it the contrast between what we find here and certain expressions of present day spirituality could hardly be more stark. ‘I do not spare my body, but bring it under strict control..’ writes Paul. Or, on the other hand ‘You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles….you have only to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves’, says a contemporary writer whom people enjoy for her imagining and describing of a spiritual life that doesn’t demand that we hate ourselves, and strive to be something un-natural. Hating ourselves and striving to be something un-natural seems very often to be what Christians themselves suppose is required of them and is certainly a perception that others often like to impose on them.

What then is the reality? Does loving God mean ‘not sparing the body’, or may we ‘let the soft animal of the body love what it loves?’

The answer is both ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes.’ And there are several reasons for thinking for this. Firstly, if we look with a little more care at the passage from Saint Paul, we see that whatever people may have thought he meant, he was not in fact talking about beating himself up, but about something much more positive. Most of us know that if we do whatever our body seems to crave, no matter how good it is at the time we end up feeling worse about ourselves rather than better.

For instance, if we routinely lie in our beds too long in the morning we deprive ourselves of the satisfaction that attaches to an early start. We cannot get that time back; it’s gone, and our sense of ourselves and of our day will shaped by our awareness that our first act was to remain inert. Similarly we can get into a pattern where we eat not because we actually need to satisfy our physiological needs; i.e. to generate energy, and for growth and cell replacement and repair and so on, but because we have taken to eating as an activity detached from these things. Maybe we eat because we are bored, or because of the comfort it brings us. Like the occasional long lie in bed, there are occasions when feasting is brilliant. But a feast we cannot leave is a nightmare of lost control. Paul wants us to be in control. Why? In order to avoid the muddle that is his main concern.

When he writes about the need to be disciplined physically his intention, as he points out, is not to encourage a race-winning mentality, nor is it to encourage a sense of self esteem, which, for creatures with bodies, requires some sort of bodily expression, but because he is conscious that if we’re not careful we can allow the physical, the body to persuade us that it is reality, the whole of reality. And Paul knows, and we know too, that this is a deception, one that has a grip on all of us.

Here’s how it works. When we were little, our needs were very simply met. Think about a baby crying. Does he cry because it is hungry or because he is distressed? Mum may have some hunches, but whatever the cause, the solution, in both cases, is the same: the baby is fed, and, if the feed goes well, the baby stops crying.

We all share those sorts of beginnings. Now imagine this. The baby cries, and this time he’s definitely not crying because he’s hungry but for some other reason. Mum is busy and tired, and not reading the signs, and in her response to him she majors on the material aspect of the feed; getting food into his belly, rather than all the other stuff that babies need from Mum; to share a gaze, to be stroked and kissed and so on, and he comes to realise that he’s not going to get what he’s after, and he begins to associate food with the other forms of comfort that he’s looking for. Here, maybe are the beginnings of an attitude to physical stuff (in this case food) which make it the answer to a spiritual question, viz. ‘How can I be happy?’

That’s the muddle Paul wants us to avoid, and in that he’s simply following what the Master said: ‘Man cannot live by bread alone.’ Which leaves each of us to ask, in any given situation, ‘Will bread sort this, or do I need to look for something else?’


Opening Prayer

Almighty God Lord,

We confess that we struggle to decide what are the most important things,

The things that deserve our time, our love, our money, our effort.

Only you, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, can show us

Where to invest our treasure and our hearts,

So that our lives may be pure and our world may be blessed. AMEN

Reading: Mark 12:38-44

As he taught, he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation." He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

Thought for the Day – Priorities

According to Jesus’ teaching in this story, a bank executive earning a million a year and giving his church £10 000 of that, is giving less than a woman living on benefits who puts a fiver into the plate each week. Obviously, Christ is looking at their giving as a proportion of their income, and it produces a different answer from a straightforward counting of the cash. Actually it goes further than that. The widow is not just giving more; she is crossing an invisible line and giving so much that she’s giving away what she needs and leaving herself nothing to live on. It’s giving on a different level, beyond anything rich men and conceited scribes could imagine doing.

When we choose our priorities, we are deciding what are the things on which we are willing to spend a lot. It may be money we spend, if the priority is something that requires money, like a car or a house. It may be time that we spend, if the priority is something that takes a long time to acquire, like a qualification or a promotion. It may be our emotions that we spend, if the priority is something as personal as a love-affair, or our family life, or an important friendship. We know, each of us, what are the things so important that we would keep nothing back, making huge sacrifices to achieve our dreams and have what we cannot live without.

Sometimes we will be mainly judged on what we have in the first place, the wealth that determines whether we’re more like the rich man or more like the poor widow at the beginning of the story. Again, it doesn’t have to be about money. The gazelle-like colleague who can fly round a mile and a half in under ten minutes with no training beforehand simply has a wealth of physical talent most people just long to have and never will. The young officer who cruised through her degree, and can pour out elegant prose in any defence-writing exercise, shouldn’t boast about it; but instead should modestly recognise that perhaps she has a natural talent and an undeserved advantage in that kind of work. And the girl who still looks amazing even at the end of a day’s fire-fighting training, or after an hour’s circuit-training, doesn’t deserve a prize for that – but is probably grateful for her good looks and natural poise.

It’s more important, though, that we are judged on what we spend out of what we have. If our talents or wealth are gifts from God, how good are we as stewards of those riches? If that athlete scraped a bare pass in his RNFT you’d think pretty badly of him because you and he both know how much better he could have done it. If the brainy young officer never volunteered to organise anything, or never helped the ratings in her division with administrative tasks, you wouldn’t think much of her. If the beautiful girl looked like a scran-bag during Procedure Alpha and didn’t seem to care, you would be pretty disappointed at such a waste of good looks.

But God sees the other side of all this, and has a soft spot for the poor widows who give all they’ve got. When someone with no privilege in their background smashes out RALEIGH and their task books and their leadership courses and their promotions, they are worth far more than anyone born with a silver spoon in his mouth. When someone who has been dogged by ill-health battles back to fitness and puts all their energy into catching up with what they’ve missed, they achieve far more than the finest athlete. When a busy, successful man makes time to help with a charity event, giving time he can hardly spare from his normal work, he enriches himself as well as others, and shows what a good heart he has.

May we learn to see ourselves through God’s eyes: honestly and generously, with kindness and encouragement.


Opening Prayer

Holy God

Who gives courage and great faith to your children?

Grant that we will be worthy to climb the ladder

Of sacrifice and be

Received into the garden of peace;

Through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.


Reading 1 - Deuteronomy 34: 1-5.

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, 2all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. 4The Lord said to him, ‘This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, “I will give it to your descendants”; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.’ 5Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command.

Reading 2 - John 15: 12-13

Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Thought for the Day - Sacrifice

Reading the Bible it is clear that there are many examples of sacrifice. We all recall the story of Moses. His mother offered him to the river because, slim though that hope was, it was better than certain death if she kept him. After all that he had done for the Lord, all those years struggling through the wilderness he was allowed to see the promised land, but not to go into it. It didn't have to be that way, as the adopted son of Pharaoh he could have simply lived a pampered palace life of plenty, but he choose to sacrifice his life and put the needs of his people first. It was his duty to bring his people to the Promised Land, but not to see the benefit himself.

As members of the military we above all others know the reality of sacrifice, whether we are sacrificing time with our families in order to deploy overseas or whether seeing our friends make the ultimate sacrifice. We also know that one day we might have to make the ultimate sacrifice ourselves, though hopefully not!

But a call to sacrifice does not mean never questioning, Moses did just that, as did Jonah and even Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane when he fell with his face to the ground and prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” But he overcame these doubts: “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

We all know the hymn, "I vow to thee my country." Some criticise it as they see it as glorifying war, but it is really about the importance of sacrifice. The poem it is based on was written by Cecil Spring Rice, the British Ambassador to Washington, whose job it was to get the United States to enter the First World War.

The love that asks no questions’ is considered to imply a blind, uncritical patriotism ‘my country right or wrong’ but that was not how Spring Rice saw it. He viewed it in terms of the Christian idea of sacrifice, as he told his audience when he made a speech in Ottawa on his way home from the States. ‘The Cross is a sign of patience under suffering, but not patience under wrong. The Cross is the banner under which we fight – the Cross of St George, the Cross of St Andrew, the Cross of St Patrick – different in form, in colour, in history, yes, but the same spirit, the spirit of sacrifice’, he said. Aged only 58, Spring Rice died shortly after making that Ottawa speech. Seven years later, Gustav Holst set the words to music, using the tune Jupiter from his Planets suite. Spring Rice’s daughter had earlier attended St Paul’s School where she was in the same class as Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav who was director of music at the school.

We know the two verses well, but what we do not know so well is the missing second verse, written by a man trying to get America to help save his own country:

I heard my country calling, away across the sea,

Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.

Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,

And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.

I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,

I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.

For those of us in the British military, sacrifice and danger is not a thing of the past, and the words of the missing verse are sadly prophetic. Being a Christian is not a call of surrender to an easy life, but is a call to a life of sacrifice. This was true for Moses, true for Jesus and is true for us today. Amen.


Opening Prayer

Lord, give us courage today, each one of us, to wonder how much we are trusted by those who rely on us here. Give us the boldness to ask ourselves if others rely on our promises, on our discretion, on our loyalty. Give us the humility to be willing to change, and the strength of character to see it through, so that our superiors and subordinates, our oppos and colleagues throughout the ship, will learn to put their trust in us. We make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Psalm 15

O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?

Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;

Who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbours;

In whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honour those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt;

who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.


Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,

You welcomed small children and gave them the place of honour ahead of the sophisticated grown-ups,

And you promised such a welcome for those who are willing to be like children.

So however little we think we know,

And however little we think we have achieved,

And however little we suspect our wisdom and learning may be,

We know that it is in such littleness that we are most welcomed and loved and accepted. AMEN

Reading: Matthew 18:1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”


Opening Prayer

Almighty God, you have made us with marvellous variety, no two of us exactly the same in looks and talents and tastes and loves. You have brought us together into a single ship’s company, richer and stronger and more effective because we bring such a diversity of character and experience and belief. Keep far from us the rivalries that do damage by sowing bitterness, and save us from despising another because of differences we cannot help. But rather give us the gifts of respect and trust and love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Colossians 3:12-15

As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Thought for the Day – Unity

[if necessary change ‘his’ to ‘her’]

I wonder whether if this ship’s company could be said to be ‘one’? Would a FOST inspection remark that all the members of the ship’s company, from each of the different departments, despite their differences in role, were all united and fully mutually supporting – working as ‘one company’?

That might be the prayer of the Captain, not just because it would produce an effective ship , but also because it would reflect well on his leadership, and the relationship he has with others in the chain of command. The unity in the ship would come from the unity between the Captain and his command team.

Jesus prayed for unity for his disciples and followers, reflecting his close relationship with his Father, and St Paul worked to overcome disunity in the early church on several occasions, as our reading illustrates. The love that Christ shares with his Father he wants to be known by his followers, uniting them in one purpose and spirit, and witnessing to the divine relationship between Father and Son. This love is unconditional love, love that is never ending and never fails. It is love that is strong enough to bring Jesus from the depths of death and hell to resurrection and new life. It is the love of God.

It is easy to see how people are put off the Church or Christianity when there appears to be so much division, and so many disputes between Christians. Arguments over leadership, sexuality and women bishops seem to have been endlessly portrayed in the media in recent years, perhaps suggesting that the worldwide church is far from being ‘one.’ The oneness that Jesus prays for transcends church politics and human attempts to control and exert influence over others. It is a unity of unconditional sacrificial love and purpose that accepts and reaches out to others that is at the heart of his prayer. The worldwide church may never achieve this, but it has to keep trying, inspired by Jesus’ example.

We all have a part to play in this. Within the confines of a ship we may not have opportunities to build unity which is obviously linked to other Christians and church. However we have do have opportunities to reflect the divine love that exists between God and Jesus in our relationships with our shipmates. That does not mean doing visibly religious things; but it does mean living according to the light of faith and conscience in a way others will identify and recognise and respect. It means going further out of our way to support another than anyone should expect.

And in every other part of our lives we will find moments when we can be a force for unity, preventing needless disagreement and bitterness. We will meet people who are profoundly different from us, in the colour if their skin, or the way they live their lives, or the choices they make in their relationships, or the priorities they are willing to pursue, or the faith by which they live. In an instant we will face a choice. We can make those differences an excuse to stay well apart from them and treat them as something ‘other’, as if they don’t really belong with us. Or we can expect to find more important things that can unite us, and by overcoming the temptations of separation we can inspire others to work in unity too.

We are all part of the created order, existing within the cosmic divine love. We can all reflect that love. As we do that we will build relationships which contribute to trust and confidence, so that there isn’t unhealthy competition but a true desire to work together, be mutually supporting, and be ‘one.’



Opening Prayer

God, our refuge and strength,

Bring near the day when wars shall cease

and poverty and pain shall end,

that earth may know the peace of heaven

through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.


Almighty God, who sees that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves;

Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls;

That we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body,

And from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff-- they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.


Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you have promised that we need not be afraid because you are always with us. In these moments of prayer and worship, when the thoughts of each of us are known only to you, let us confess our fears: the fear of danger, the fear of mistakes, the fear of embarrassment, and the timeless military fear of showing those around us that we are afraid. Help us to overcome our fears; or if that is not best for us, grant us the courage enough to go on despite fear; for your Holy name’s sake. AMEN

Reading: Revelation 21:1-6

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.


Opening Prayer

God of the whole world, whose home is everywhere:

Your Son Jesus Christ wandered from place to place, with nowhere to lay his head,

And we are often called to travel across the sea, far from home and loved-ones, in the service of our country.

We acknowledge that though we feel far from all we love, we are never far from you,

For indeed you are closer to us than our own breath.

Receive our thanks for such mercy, with our worship and our highest praise, AMEN

Reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain have the workers from their toil?

I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.

He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live;

moreover, it is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.


Opening Prayer

God of all consolation,
your Son Jesus Christ was moved to tears
at the grave of Lazarus his friend.
Look with compassion on your children in their loss;
give to troubled hearts the light of hope
and strengthen in us the gift of faith
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 


Reading - John 11: 38-44

38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus 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.’ 40Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I 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.’ 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44The 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.’

Thought for the Day – Loss / Bereavement

Death often strikes suddenly and without warning. Sometimes we have months or years to wait for its approach. For Servicemen and women, our experience of death is often violent. Not for us the long, steady decline of old age. When it happens to our oppos, it is unexpected, even when we are in danger. It strikes swiftly, and it can strike anyone.

This leaves us with a sense of anger, for in the presence of death we experience a loss of power over our environment. We are confident we can control anything, but death is beyond us all.

Of course the medical dramas we see on our televisions seem to suggest that intervention, when heroic or dramatic can turn back the tide, can clutch life from the jaws of death. Medical professions will tell us that unfortunately, the chances of the “paddles”, or an adrenalin injection to the heart working are low in most cases.

The truth is that death is a barrier we must all cross, but it is indeed a barrier. It is a journey we must all undertake, but we do so alone, never to return. The inevitability of death, and our lack of control over it reinforces our frustration and our anger.

Another impact of death is the sudden sense of our own mortality. If death can affect those near to us, then death too is nearer than we might like. Recognising that we might never see others again, forces the realisation that we too might die and not see others. This sense of loss offends our belief in our own immortality, a sense which declines with age but never really leaves us.

Finally, there is the anger directed at the loss of potential. This is true of all bereavement; death is the most obvious, but a loss of a limb, or loss of hope for the future, or the loss of meaningful work all undermine the hope offered by potential. Loss somehow squanders all the positive energy of our lives.

Never is this more keenly felt than in death, and especially in the death of the young. Our society, our Service and our peers all value potential very highly, as evidence of the inherent worth of humanity or the individual. A sudden, catastrophic loss of that potential elicits a violent and compelling outpouring of grief, and anger and pain. It is as if our hope of a long, good and worthy life is capriciously ended in despair and pain.

Our gospel reading today points to a different reality than what we expect. Far from underlining the hopelessness of death, the raising of Lazarus points to an alternative potential. Dead for four days and a bit smelly too, Lazarus is raised from the dead, re-animated and brought back to life by the power of Jesus.

There is no doubt that this act is miraculous and wonderful and rare. There is also no doubt that it points us towards a different understanding both of the nature of Jesus, but also the nature of death. Taken at face value, we might wonder why God doesn’t act this way all the time, and when someone close to us dies it is always the first thing we ask God for.

But it is not a request that God responds to, or at least very often as far as we know. This begs the obvious question, why not?

The simple answer to this would seem to be that having done it once with Lazarus, and from time to time elsewhere in the Bible and since, and most publicly in his own resurrection, God showed that death is not the end. Our anger at the loss of potential, and the loss of hope, or love or a friend should be seen as anger about loss in this life. It is the potential of the next life that should occupy at least part of our thinking at this time.

This isn’t pie in the sky optimism, and inability to grasp the reality of loss right now. It is a hope that is firmly set before us, at the heart of the Christian faith. It enables us to face the future firm in the knowledge that death, or loss, is not the end, but only the loss of potential in this life, and that God has offered us the potential for so much more.

It will not, if we are honest, dull the pain of death when it is immediate. It will, though, enable us to renew our hope and our faith in the potential of a full life now, and in the future. Lazarus was proof to the people of Palestine that they had a future. Christ is proof to all people that in him, we have the words of eternal life, of endless and unlimited potential.


Opening Prayer

In the secret spaces of our hearts we reflect on our return home in coming days.

We think of the people we most want to see, and the people we least want to see.

We think of the people who most want to see us, and the people who least want to see us.

We think of our loved-ones, and the changes we will see in them, and the changes they may see in us.

And we pray for grace, carefulness, gentleness and good humour enough to cope with all of it,

Through the mercy of Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-24

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."' So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate


Opening Prayer

Generous God:

We praise you for the real riches that bless our lives: for health and strength, for work and career, for loved-ones and families, for talents and qualities, for friends and colleagues. Save us from ever being terribly poor with lots of money, or terribly miserable in the lap of luxury, or terribly successful with no worthwhile achievements. But send us to tend the poor, the disadvantaged, the ill-treated, the hungry and the forgotten of the world, knowing that they can bless us with your blessing, in Jesus’ name. AMEN

Reading: Luke 16:19-31

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, 'Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers--that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, 'No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'


Opening Prayer

Almighty God, Creator of the earth, the sea and the sky:

We praise you for the power of the natural world around us,

Wind and waves, sun, moon and tides.

Whenever we fear we are in the grip of the power of Nature,

Remind us that we are as surely in the grip of your love,

Which was made known to us in the life, death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ. AMEN

Reading - Luke 8: 22-25

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, 23and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. 24They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. 25He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’

Thought for the Day – Safety at Sea

A former Naval Base Commander in Devonport was at a reception in Plymouth given by the Mayor. He was dressed in his No. 1’s. One of the organisers went up to him and, thinking he was a waiter or something, asked him to hand around some drinks. Being a thoroughly nice bloke (and a bit mischievous) he agreed and duly carried out his new duties. So imagine the shock on the organiser’s face when it came to the formalities and he was introduced by the Mayor as the guest of honour!

Jesus’ followers spent three years living with him, travelling around Israel and watching him teaching and performing miracles without really realising who he was. They knew he was an amazing teacher, someone unique, but hadn’t got any further than that.

So, as you can imagine, the incident in the story did quite a bit to get them thinking! Let’s face it, there aren’t too many people who can pull off a trick like that (though it would be pretty handy for us sometimes if there were a few more!)

We all make natural assumptions about the world around us without realising we are doing it. A few years ago there were a load of ‘later thinking’ jokes going around which were very popular and which illustrated this. Here’s one to be thinking about:

A man enters a field with a pack on his back and dies instantly. Why? I’ll let you ponder that one a while and may put you out of your misery later on!

Jesus’ followers made the assumption that Jesus was a great man, but still just a man. But here he is demonstrating a control over the weather itself – surely something that could only be done by the Creator of those weather systems himself. It wasn’t until years later, after he had died and then they had seen him back again from the dead – surely the greatest proof of who he really was – that the penny finally began to drop.

Which begs the question “who do you think Jesus is?” Is he just a name from history; a man who was a great teacher and religious leader but nothing more; a very clever con-man. What part does he play in your life – a good luck charm; someone to turn to when we are in trouble and there’s nothing else you can do; an accessory to your life that just fits alongside everything else you do.

But if the writers of Jesus’ life story – the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – are to be believed, and there is good reason to think they are, then he is so much more than all of these. He is the Creator of the universe revealing himself to us, demonstrating his love for us and his wanting to not just be a part of our lives but the most important thing, the biggest relationship in our lives.

If this is true then it also means we can trust him completely – just like Jesus trusted his Father and so was so chilled out in the middle of the storm that he was happily asleep – and not like his followers who were panicking to put it mildly.

Back to that guy with the pack on his back. Anybody got it? He died because the pack was a parachute which hadn’t opened. If you are like me you assumed, without realising it, that the man entered by walking into the field.

We make a lot of assumptions about the world around us. Maybe it is time to revisit some of them.


Opening Prayer

Prayer for the Naval Service, from ‘Pray with the Navy’

Eternal Lord God, ruler of the earth and sky,

Be pleased to receive into your protection all who go down to the sea in ships and work upon the waters.

Preserve them in body and soul;

Prosper their labours with good success;

In times of danger be their help and defence and bring them safely into port;

Through Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Opening Prayer

God of forgiveness and renewal,

Take from us every temptation that would do us harm:

Wealth we do not need or power we would abuse,

Pleasure that harms others or success that would spoil us.

Above all free us from the temptation to live without faith

Or try to walk without the guidance of your Holy Spirit.

We make our prayers and bring our worship in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN

Reading: Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'" Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.


Opening Prayer

Almighty and eternal God,

To whom we must all give account:

Guide with your Spirit this Ship/Boat/Establishment,

That we may be faithful to the mind of Christ

And seek in all our purposes to enrich our common life;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Reading - Romans 14.1-10

Welcome those who are weak in faith,* but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. 2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord* is able to make them stand.

5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.

7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister?* Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister?* For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God.*

Thought for the Day – The Team

Let’s start with a confession. The Chaplain whose responsibility it was to produce a dit on Romans 14.1-10 felt he had drawn a short straw.

One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.’ (v.2)

What on earth is going on here? On the face of it this passage appears to exemplify the kind of religion that is only of interest to the pathologically religious, and seems brim full of the sort of stuff that would have us all hurtling into a hiding place if we saw such a person coming.

As so often with scripture we need to know something of the background before we can understand what’s at stake.

In the earliest days of the Christian faith, when many of those touched by the Gospel were Jewish, the relationship between Jewish-ness and Christian-ness had not been worked out, and there were lengthy discussions about how much and what specifically, of the Jewish religion people had to retain or discard in order to be Christian. A similar sort of discussion went on around the practices of paganism, with the difference that none of the earliest disciples had, as far as we know, been card-carrying pagans, so these discussions were a little less heated and complicated because no one had quite such a deep investment in the issues.

It’s the interface with Jewish-ness that we see in our passage today. There’s a difference of opinion about whether Christians should observe Jewish holidays, and what seems to have been a bigger argument around food.

Regulations around food were a prominent part of Jewish religious practice, and Jewish people were not to eat anything that might have been used in the pagan temple cults. Much of the meat in the market place would have come from animals offered as sacrifices to the pagan gods, and there was no accurate labelling, so if you had reservations about this, i.e. were a man ‘whose faith [was] weak’ you would eat only veg. And you would also have views about those whose ‘faith allows [them] to eat everything.’ (Note, incidentally, how Paul declares his own attitude quite openly by talking about the veg-only eaters as ‘weak’. One of the ‘weak’ reading what he’d written might well have wanted to quarrel with his use of language.)

So we have a bunch of Christians who are clear that the rules that apply to Jews do not apply to them, and who take a dim view of those who can’t see this, and another bunch who believe that they do apply, and take an equally dim view of those who cannot see that.

Now, although it is unlikely that we have ever been caught up in precisely this debate, we have surely, all of us, been in situations where the same forces are at play. Imagine a diverse group of people who share some significant overarching goal. When conditions are stable and peaceful it is often possible to keep everyone onboard, even where there is very significant diversity. However, as soon as the group is aware of tension, particularly external tension (as the early Christians most certainly were), the group finds itself wanting to define its boundaries with greater clarity. If the outside world is threatening we need to know what we mean by ‘us’ and ‘them’, so that we can strengthen ‘us’ and keep ‘them’ out. It is a lot easier for us to exclude those who do not meet our expectations, or conform to our requirements than it is to include them. In this way much energy is expended by groups each one determined to demonstrate that it is ‘purer’ than the others. [This phenomenon is neatly portrayed in The Life of Brian, where ‘The People’s Front of Judea, are not to be confused with The Judean People’s Front…..or whatever it may be.]

But there is a striking problem with this procedure. When we exclude those who are, by our reckoning, insufficiently like us, our group gets smaller, its range of skills and capacities more limited, and its ability to grasp the big picture gets weaker. We are all the losers whenever this happens.

Specialization is necessary to get specialist jobs done. But the business of living together necessarily involves all of us, and that means everyone getting their head round a problem that has always beset us: we all find ourselves more acceptable than the next person.

So having begun with Confession let’s end with Affirmation for all of us.

I am accepted by God as I am – as I am – and not as I should be…….God loves me with my ideals and disappointments, my sacrifices and my joys, my successes and my failures. God is himself the deepest ground of my being. It is one thing to know I am accepted in theory, and quite another to realize it…… It takes a long time to realize that I am accepted by God as I am.”

from: P.G. van Breemen SJ As Bread that is Broken (adapted a little)



Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,

Your birth at Bethlehem

Draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth:

Accept our heartfelt praise as we worship you,

our Saviour and our eternal God. Amen.


Almighty God,
you have given us your only-begotten Son
to take our nature upon him
and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin:
grant that we, who have been born again
and made your children by adoption and grace,
may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.


Reading - Luke 2: 1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
14‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Thought for the Day – Christmas

Christmas is normally seen as a time of joy and warmth, of families gathered around a Christmas tree being warmed by the glow of a log fire. But if you are hearing this you are not at home with your loved ones but at sea a long way from home or even under the sea. (You might even be in a war zone).

Due to the ongoing commercialization of Christmas and especially the soppy media image of Christmas it is all too easy to forget that the reality of that first Christmas was very different. Imagine what it would have felt like for a young mother to give birth a long way from home, in a stable away from her normal support, and remember that it would have been a birth without the pain relief and medical care that we take for granted now today. And the birth would not be the end of their problems, as they would have to flee to Egypt carrying a young infant in fear of their lives. They would have left behind their possessions and taken only what they could carry.

This means that this year your Christmas, bereft of the usual luxuries, might well be as close to that first Christmas as you will have ever known before. And whatever gifts you receive today will seem all the more special for that. But the greatest gift ever was given over 2000 years ago, a joyful and wondrous gift that is so often too easy to take for granted. When God entered into our world as a helpless infant the world changed, and it is still changing. A bright and wondrous light entered into our dark world. But in the early days of a vulnerable and fragile infant Jesus, at risk of persecution and death, this bright light was more like a vulnerable candle in a strong draft, at risk of extinction. Our duty this Christmas is to be thankful for this great gift and to realise that our duty and responsibility is to feed this flame, so that every year the strength of this flame gets brighter and brighter, bringing light and love to a world that badly needs it.

Merry Christmas!


The number of lessons and carols can be reduced to suit local circumstances.

Opening Carol: Once in Royal David's City

Once in royal David’s city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven

Who is God and Lord of all

And his shelter was a stable

And his cradle was a stall.

With the poor, and mean, and lowly

Lived on earth our Saviour Holy.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above:
And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone.

Opening introduction and prayer:

Christian people, at this Christmas time let us hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to pass, and to see the Baby lying in a manger.

Therefore let us read in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God brought us by this Holy Child.

But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people.

Let us remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and those who mourn, the lonely and the unloved, that they tonight may know his blessing.

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer to God, in the words which Christ himself taught us:

Our Father,

who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

Thy kingdom come;

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us

and lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.

Carol: Silent Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. 6For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Carol: Away in a manger

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
'Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there


But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. 3Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.
4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; 5and he shall be the one of peace.

Carol: O little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.

THIRD LESSON - LUKE 1: 26–35; 38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He 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. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* 35The 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. 38Then 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.

Carol: The First Nowell

The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!
This star drew nigh to the northwest
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both Pause and stay
Right o'er the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three
Full reverently upon their knee
And offered there in His presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!


In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
14‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’*

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

Carol: While Shepherds Watched

While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around

"Fear not," he said,
For mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind”

"To you in David's
Town this day
Is born of David's line
The Saviour who is Christ the Lord
And this shall be the sign."

"The heavenly Babe
you there shall find
To human view displayed
And meanly wrapped
In swathing bands
And in a manger laid."

Thus spake the seraph,
And forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song

"All glory be to
God on high
And to the earth be peace;
Goodwill henceforth
From heaven to men
Begin and never cease!"


In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men* from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,* and have come to pay him homage.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together the entire chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah* was to be born. 5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd* my people Israel.” ’

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men* and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,* until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped,* they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Carol: We three kings

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to rein

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heaven replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light .


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life,* and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.*

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own,* and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,* full of grace and truth.

Carol: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"


May the humility of the shepherds, the faith of the wise men, the joy of the angels and the peace of the Christ Child be God’s gifts to us, and to all people, this Christmas and always. And may the blessing of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be upon us now and always.


Palm Sunday

The congregation are invited to say the words in bold type.

Opening Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God,

Who in your tender love towards the human race

Sent you Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon

Him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross:

Grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,

And also be partakers of his resurrection;

Through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord,


Reading - Matthew 21: 1-11

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.*4This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
   humble, and mounted on a donkey,
     and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd* spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ 11The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

Thought for the Day – Palm Sunday

Today’s passage from Scripture describes some things said and done by ‘a very large crowd’ as Jesus enters Jerusalem at the beginning of that brief period that will turn out to be the end of his life. It will not be long before he is arrested, tried and executed. The crowd will have a part in those things too. The first crowd is unstintingly positive, the second no-holds barred negative. But this is the same crowd, and each presents the other side of the other’s coin.

Whether it’s at a great sporting occasion, a political rally, a concert, or in Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve, it can be a great thing to be a member of a crowd. There’s huge exhilaration and energy to be had there, as we let our limited individual sense of self be submerged in what feels like something much greater. While that is happening we can forget that we are alone, forget whatever it is we personally are up against, and draw into ourselves a sense of power, of potency. Now we are a force to be reckoned with. Now we can enjoy the luxurious and comforting sense that we all think the same thing; we’re all on the same side. We are, for a while, released from the sense of isolation, of separateness and of difference that can be such a big part of our experience at other times. Solidarity’ is the big thing the crowd provides.

(‘Joining the crowd is the one thing all men can do, only on account of this can we say all men are our brothers.’ WH Auden)

Today’s crowd has arisen, we might say, because someone has spotted an opportunity for some solidarity. These people are up against it; the Romans are in charge, there are foreigners everywhere, and the religious authorities are mostly concerned with the preservation of the status quo. Jesus is known to the people who become the crowd, as one who has not sold out, and, as he makes his way into the city they call out to him making it clear they want him to be their leader, their saviour, their captain. He is their man. He can do no wrong. They spread their cloaks in the road, as you would for someone you really rated; they cut down palm branches and they do the same with them.

Now Jesus enters the Temple, and the people are again full of praise for this man, because through his intervention some people who’d been blind can now see, and some who were cripples are now ex-cripples. The religious leaders hear what he’s been doing, and what the crowd are shouting, and they become indignant. They can’t compete with this. Over the course of the next few days Jesus spends a lot of time in the temple criticizing these same religious leaders, and they know just what he’s saying, and, of course, they don’t like it. They decide he needs to be arrested, and a little later, in the face of further provocation, they decide he needs to be put to death ‘but’ Matthew tells us, ‘they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.’ And everyone knows it is bad to arrest prophets, and particularly if you get the timing wrong. So they have to play this carefully.

Playing it carefully means simply waiting for that individual, who already thinks the thing that crowd is equally capable of thinking, indeed that thing that the crowd must thing when there is a crisis to be dealt with. He will inevitably turn up and they will use him to crystallise out the other side of the crowd mentality. For much as a crowd with a crisis needs and creates its hero, it needs – and creates - its villain too. And often they turn out to one and the same person. It does not take much to turn from one into the other, and this transformation is speeded up if the hero of the crowd, their god, fails to conform precisely to their expectations; and there is always the expectation that he will. In any case some things are, literally, too good to hope for.

Deep disappointment is hard to handle. Judas feels it first, and as he strikes up his deal with the Pharisees he unleashes a vengeful anger that he will realise is both wrongly aimed and beyond his power to control. But too late. Unable to live with what he has done he dies at the end of his own rope.

Be suspicious of crowds, or, as Ibsen, the gloomy playwright put it, remember this: ‘The majority is always wrong.’


The congregation are invited to say the words in bold type.

Opening Prayer

God of glory,

by the raising of your Son

you have broken the chains of death and hell:

fill your Church with faith and hope;

for a new day has dawned

and the way to life stands open

in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen


Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory.


Readings - both readings should be used.

Acts 10:34- 43

Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’

John 20: 1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look* into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Thought for the Day – Easter Sunday

It is very hard to overstate the significance of Easter to the Christian Faith. For most of us, Easter is resolutely bound up in the Northern European festivals of fertility which has given us the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs. Most see Easter as a chance to indulge in a chocolate fuelled frenzy, and we don’t need to look too far to see the link between the pleasurable effects of chocolates and the ancient fertility rites of the time of year.

Elsewhere in the world the festival is called by a variety of names, all derived from the Latin word for Passion. To the uninitiated, this might lead us (wrongly) down the indulgence route again, with our more modern interpretation of “Passion” being confused with the fertility message.

In fact “Passion” in the Biblical sense points towards an extreme of emotion, perhaps better understood as something we say we are passionate about; the inference is that we are motivated, excited and a little more than animated about a subject or thing. The Passion here is more about the extremes of emotion that underpin the account of Jesus’ last days, and his amazing Resurrection.

It’s not hard to understand how “Passion” became linked to this remarkable story. In the account told by John, we see clearly a number of accounts of extreme emotions, set against the brutal, unmerited execution of Jesus. His friends, led first by Mary Magdalene gather at his grave. She is joined by Peter and John, come to see for themselves why she is so agitated.

We can perhaps imagine the hushed tones, as they hurriedly discuss the disappearance of Jesus from the tomb; the cold morning air, the silence, the fear of discovery by the Romans or the religious hierarchy. Mary is plainly distraught, weeping and panicked about what she interprets as the theft of Jesus’ body. This is a highly charged scene; it takes place at the end of a week of incredible contrast. We started out with Jesus as popular hero, we ended the week with Jesus as somehow discredited, dead. His followers are in disarray, hiding, worried and finally, searching for his dead body.

For us to begin to understand what this means, we too need to recall those times in our lives when we have been under great stress; whether on operations, perhaps in defence watches or in our own personal lives. That heightened sense of those things around us, that tunnelling of vision that affects us when in danger must have been all too real to Jesus’ followers on that first Easter morning.

Into that deep sense of foreboding walks a figure no-one had expected to see alive. Appearing first to Mary Magdalene, the risen Jesus talks calmly and matter-of-factly to her, and then to the other disciples.

Into the confusion and hurt, the worry and the danger, Jesus comes to calmly proclaim his return from among the dead, and to herald his ascension in a few weeks.

It is for this reason that the Passion, those extremes of emotion and amazing events, have become associated so clearly with the ancient rites of fertility. It is into this tense and turbulent time that the Risen Christ for the first time reveals the magnitude of the plan. It is into this stressful and challenging time that Jesus walks calmly, contentedly, and reveals the wonder of God’s plan for his Creation.

We began by saying that Easter is a hugely important time for Christians, but the message of Easter is important too for everyone. Into the passion, the stress and the challenge of our daily lives, Jesus walks, calm and composed, and delivers his Good News of hope for humanity, for salvation and for everlasting life.


Opening Prayer

Risen Christ,

faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:

teach us to hear your voice

and to follow your command,

that all your people may be gathered into one flock,

to the glory of God the Father. Amen


God of peace,

who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ,

the great Shepherd of the sheep,

through the blood of an eternal covenant,

Make us perfect in goodness

so that we may do your will;

and create in us what is pleasing to you;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Reading: Luke 24:1-12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Thought for the Day – Easter

There’s an episode in the second series of ‘Blackadder’ where Edmund owes money to the appalling Bishop of Bath and Wells; who threatens to come round and do terrible things with a red-hot poker if the debt isn’t settled by the morning. Every attempt to get hold of the money seems to be thwarted until Lord Percy comes in and tells Blackadder that he has been saving up for many years money that he has hidden under a loose floorboard to be used for exactly this type of situation. Blackadder looks at Percy, looks at the ceiling, sighs and says ‘Found it, pinched it, spent it.’

When we get to Easter Day – after a long journey of pain, doubt and death – we can feel that we deserve a happy ending. Easter is a joyful time and a time of celebration, and yet when we read the story in the Bible we can feel that we are robbed of the nice, neat ending we were expecting. On that first morning there is no emotional reunion, no hugging and backslapping after which everyone goes out to celebrate. Instead we get fear and confusion and, at the centre of it all, an empty tomb. Jesus is not there, and when he does appear he’s not recognised. And when eventually he is recognised he says ‘Don’t cling to me.’

The story of Easter is not some fairy story about gold at the end of the rainbow. Instead, the details of the story – who did what, who ran where – point to a great mystery which no-one at the time, and no-one since, could neither explain nor fully understand. But these were events that convinced then utterly and completely that here was new life, new hope and new faith – and this story has inspired Christians in every generation to renew their faith and hope and through it to do remarkable things.

It doesn’t matter how much faith you have, or how much faith you lack; there is something in the Easter story for everyone. Easter is about new life and new hope emerging from death, loss and despair. Life can cheat us cruelly of what we’ve hung onto, saved up, held precious and counted on. Life can also give us new starts, new hopes and new beginnings if only we can believe in that potential in ourselves and in others. The way forward in life is not to stand moping and only thinking of what isn’t there but to take life with both hands and live it afresh.

There is no rest for the wicked. The same had to be true for the disciples of Jesus. After a traumatic week in which they had seen their friend and guide killed in a hideous way they find themselves swept up in a new, terrifying and exhilarating search for the mystery of just who Jesus is and what he means to them. Easter is not a happy end but an uncertain beginning, which is why we can celebrate it again and again - not just on this day but in our lives every day and any day.


Opening Prayer

The Naval Collect

Go before us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favours and further us with thy continual help;

That in all our works begun, continued and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name;

And finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN

Reading: Matthew 5:13-16

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Thought for the Day – Armed Forces Day

Our famous British reserve makes this a difficult, awkward piece of advice. You are like a light, says Jesus, so don’t go hiding away but let everyone see what is wonderful about you. Let people see that you do good stuff, so that they will be grateful just as much as you are.

But we don’t usually like doing that. The ship we’re serving with does something glorious, like rescuing somebody or helping after a natural disaster somewhere, and the media are all over the story, and they insist on interviewing the people most centrally involved. The journalists are looking for heroes, and Jack typically avoids becoming a hero if he can possibly dodge it. He says things like ‘I was just doing my duty’, or ‘Anybody would have done that’. Or someone in a battlefield wins a bravery award, and they’re interviewed outside Buckingham Palace on the day of the Investiture. All they will say is ‘I was just looking after my mates; and they would have done the same for me.’ It’s so annoyingly British.

On Armed Forces Day, people in Britain want to celebrate what people like us do on their behalf. They want to make the most of the best of what we do, what all the Armed Forces do. It’s not Remembrance; that’s months away still. It’s a less poignant commemoration, more of a celebration and thanksgiving.

It’s always hard to know what to say when someone is gushing with thanks. You can be so embarrassed that you end up making the other person feel embarrassed too, and that just makes things worse. It’s quite an art, learning to listen to people praising you, and quietly thanking them for their words and appreciating the trouble they’ve taken.

But it certainly becomes easier if you have something to be thankful for in turn, somewhere to pass on the praise and thanks that come your way. And that makes a Church service a jolly good thing today.

Today we can be aware of how many gifts we have received, which enable us to do the job that our country is celebrating with us. We often give thanks in our worship for the physical world God has made, looking around us at the sky, sea and land, plants, animals and other people. We ought, though, to remember ourselves, our health and strength that are necessary for the work that we do and the jobs that we occupy.

When we give thanks to God for other people, we often give thanks for their love for us, and their friendship, the society they create and the talents that they have. But we ought to bear in mind that we bring those same blessings to the people around us, just as much as they bring them to us. By the grace of God we have gifts and strengths of character, passions and principles that motivate what we do, priorities and goals that bring about our achievements.

And when we think of God’s Providence we often think how cleverly everything in nature works together in amazing patterns; plants, animals, birds and fish all co-operating unknowingly in a single system. We ought to have imagination enough to look at ourselves in the same way, giving thanks for the things we are able to do as part of a team, along with other people who have their God-given qualities too, and without whom we would not be half as fantastic as God has made every one of us to be.


Opening Prayer

Creator God, we pray for those who go down to the sea in ships and on whom we depend. Bless them and those who long for their safe return and bring us all to your Kingdom where there is no sorrow, no tears, but joy and life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reading - Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,* for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

28 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ 29He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind,* he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Thought for the Day – Sea Sunday

You have to admire the disciples sometimes. After a long day, which included feeding 5000 men, plus women and children, Jesus told them to get in a boat and head off across the Sea of Galilee. A close reading of the passage suggests that they were at sea all night battling an adverse wind and battered by the waves of the storm that got up in the night.

At just the practical level, you wonder why experienced fishermen would put to sea in an open boat, at night, after a long day, when the weather was closing in, and the wind was against them. Even allowing for Jesus’ obvious charisma, taking instructions from a chippy about boat handling would seem a bit odd.

It suggests to us that the disciples (at least those who were fishermen) might have wondered how they found themselves in the mess they were in. It suggests that the disciples felt (in real life and probably metaphorically), in deep water.

This kind of thing happens to us in the Services very regularly; both in the environments we operate on sea, on land, in the air and under the water. On a good day we can enjoy the scenery. On a bad day, things go pear-shaped very quickly. Sometimes we wonder how we got into this mess!

For the disciples, hope was at hand. Jesus, presumably out for a long walk, joined them at sea early in the morning. Not surprisingly, the disciples first thought they’d seen a ghost, but “any port in a storm”; if Jesus could save them, he was a very welcome ghost!

Peter’s response is very interesting; “Lord, if it is you…” as if he’s still not sure. “I’m coming over to you,” says Peter, and sets off across the water.

We don’t need to think too hard about this to see the problem here; as unsafe as Peter might have felt in the boat, as a fisherman he knew that the boat was the driest thing for miles around. Despite this, he challenged Jesus to save him after he set off by walking (presumably to dry land). Despite early success, Peter found that the faith that supported him initially soon let him down. It was then up to Jesus to save him, and return Peter to the boat.

Jesus says to Peter, “Why did you doubt?” It is interesting to reflect on whether Jesus meant Peter’s doubt that Jesus could walk on water, or that Peter doubted himself as a seaman, or whether Jesus meant Peter’s doubt in the strength of his faith to support himself.

It seems likely that it was all three; Peter got himself into a pickle, which was wholly avoidable. Having got there he abandoned his boat to get to shore, the biggest no-no in sea rescue. Finally he lost confidence in himself when he initially walked on water successfully, but sinking as his self-belief dissolved.

Happily, despite a series of disastrous decisions, Peter and his companions found themselves saved and comforted by Jesus with the coming of daylight. The moral of the story seems to be that Jesus will always watch our back; that he is really present with us in adversity, and that when our professional expertise runs out, we can have confidence that Jesus will be right there in the thick of our strife, with us.

If we try to walk on water though, we need to be very confident of our faith.


The congregation are invited to say the words in bold type.


O God, our help in ages past See page ??


We meet in the presence of God.

We commit ourselves to work in penitence and faith
for reconciliation between the nations,
that all people may, together, live in freedom, justice and peace.

We pray for all who in bereavement, disability and pain continue to suffer the consequences of fighting and terror.

We remember with thanksgiving and sorrow
those whose lives,
in world wars and conflicts past and present,
have been given and taken away.

READING - John 15: 11-17

Jesus said;

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

This is the word of the Lord.

All: Thanks be to God.



Amazing grace!


In peace let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for our Queen, and for the leaders of the nations, that the Lord may guide them in the ways of freedom, justice and truth.
Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We pray for all those who serve in the Armed Forces of the Crown.

We remember especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan, those flying over hostile territory,

and those policing the seas.

May they have discipline and discernment, courage and compassion, and know the Lord’s shield around them.
Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We pray for our enemies, and those who wish us harm, that the Lord may turn the hearts of all to what leads to peace and harmony.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We pray for the wounded and the captive, the grieving and the homeless, that in all their trials they may know the Lord’s love and support.
Lord in your mercy,

All: Hear our prayer.

A moment of silence

Gathering our prayers and remembrance into one,
let us pray with confidence as Jesus taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Leader: Almighty and eternal God, from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted, either by death or life: hear our prayers and thanksgivings for all whom we remember this day; fulfil in them the purpose of your love; and bring us all, with them, to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Ship’s Company is brought to attention.

The Commanding Officer, or other suitable person:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.

We will remember them.

The Last Post is sounded or The Still piped.

The Silence

Reveille is sounded or The Carry-on piped.

Wreaths may be laid.

The Commanding Officer, or other suitable person, reads the Kohima Epitaph:

When you go home tell them of us and say,
for your tomorrow we gave our today.

The Ship’s Company is stood at ease.


Let us commit ourselves to responsible living and faithful service.

Will you strive for all that makes for peace?
We will

Will you seek to heal the wounds of war?
We will

Will you work for a just future for all humanity?
We will

Lord God our Father, we pledge ourselves to serve you and all humanity, in the cause of peace, for the relief of want and suffering, and for the praise of your name. Guide us by your Spirit; give us wisdom; give us courage; give us hope; and keep us faithful now and always.


The Naval Hymn


God grant to the living grace, to the departed rest, to the Church, the Queen, the Commonwealth and all people, peace and concord, and to us and all his servants life everlasting, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen.

The Ship’s Company is brought to attention.


The ship’s company is stood at ease

Remembrance Day Address

A suggested address to be read by the Commanding Officer or the Church Officer.

Only a short time ago the last surviving veteran of World War One died. In less than a generation, all those who fought in the Second World War will have passed on.

It follows that a popular question at this time of year is “How much longer will we commemorate Remembrance Day?” As those who fought and survived go on to die of natural causes in old age, it seems the link with those two conflicts will be finally broken for good.

Of course this overlooks the key aspect of Remembrance Day; we remember the poppies of Flanders in the wreaths we lay, but we also remember the sense of sacrifice, of commitment and courage of that war-fighting in Flanders, and in battle since that time. Crucially though, our Remembrance is not limited to those far off days in France, or even more recently in the Second World War, but rather, in those wars and conflicts where that sense of sacrifice, of commitment and courage have figured.

We remember today, and every day, the sacrifice, the commitment and courage of our forebears in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, in the other Services, and civilians; in wars, in conflicts, in emergencies, in police actions, providing aid to the civil power and countless other situations and circumstances that have called our fighting spirit to the fore.

That sacrifice, that commitment and that courage is as much in evidence now, today as it ever has been. Those in danger now, today are our brothers and sisters in arms. Now, today, for us, Remembrance Day is as significant as it ever was, because that which is remembered is part of our present. Look around you; see the faces of those amongst us who have displayed that sacrifice, that commitment and that courage that we commemorate, that we remember.

If you then are ever asked “how much longer will we commemorate Remembrance Day?” be sure to answer “for as long as we need to.”



The “Still” is piped


Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Today we gather to honour the memory of those, in this life, served our country through the Royal Navy/Royal Marines/ HMS ___, and in death are mourned by their loved ones. We thank God for each life in this act of remembrance. Though we are dust and ashes, God has prepared for those who love him a heavenly dwelling place.


The eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deut 33:27

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters: they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits end. Then they cried to the Lord in their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Psalm 107: 23-30


A short description of the event, action or vessel commemorated, and if practicable, a roll call of those commemorated


God our creator and redeemer, by your power Christ conquered death and entered into glory. Confident of his victory, we commit this wreath to the deep. We look for the resurrection of the body, on that day when the sea shall give up her dead. We look for the life of the world to come, through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by that name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, or earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


May God give us his comfort and his peace, his light and his joy, in this world and the next; and may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be amongst us, and remain with us, today and evermore. Amen

The “Carry On” is piped.

MEMORIAL SERVICE for someone who has died in action

The person conducting the service, normally the Commanding Officer, should feel free to select elements from the general order of service used for Sunday services, from the notes that follow, and from other resources and tributes. The element of worship should be carefully retained, so that this genuinely a Service, and not confused with other acts of tribute likely to take place on board.

Opening Prayer

O Lord,

support us all the day long of this troublous life,

until the shadows lengthen

and the evening comes,

and the busy world is hushed,

the fever of life is over,

and our work done.

Then Lord, in your mercy,

grant us safe lodging,

a holy rest,

and peace at the last;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

John 15:9-17

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.


National Anthem

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen.
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign.
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen.

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Words: William Kethe (1594)

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!

The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.

And did those feet in ancient time (Jerusalem)
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

Words: William Blake (1804)

Be still for the presence of the Lord

The Holy One is here

Come bow before Him now

With reverence and fear

In Him no sin is found

We stand on holy ground

Be still for the presence of the Lord

The Holy One is here


Be still for the glory of the Lord

Is shining all around

He burns with holy fire

With splendour He is crowned

How awesome is the sight

Our radiant King of Light

Be still for the glory of the Lord

Is shining all around


Be still for the power of the Lord

Is moving in this place

He comes to cleanse and heal

To minister His grace

No work too hard for Him

In faith receive from Him

Be still for the power of the Lord

Is moving in this place

Words: David Evans (1957-)
© 1986 Thankyou Music

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armor, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul's shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise:
be thou mine inheritance now and always;
be thou and thou only the first in my heart;
O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, thou heaven's bright sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won;
great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise;
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee;
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity
interpreted by love!
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace;
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm;
O still, small voice of calm.

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,

Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep;

O hear us when we cry to thee

For those in peril on the sea.

O Saviour, whose almighty word

The winds and waves submissive heard,

Who walkest on the foaming deep,

And calm amidst its rage did sleep:

O hear us when we cry to thee

For those in peril on the sea.

O Sacred Sprit, who didst brood

Upon the chaos dark and rude,

Who bad’st its angry tumult cease,

And gavest light and life and peace:

O hear us when we cry to thee

For those in peril on the sea.

FAA:Lord, guard and guide all those who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air!

RM:- Eternal Father, grant, we pray

To all Marines, both night and day,

The courage, honour, strength, and skill

Their land to serve, thy law fulfil;

Be thou the shield forevermore

From every peril to the Corps.

SUBMARINERS: Lord God, our power for evermore,

Whose arm doth reach the ocean floor,

Dive with our men beneath the sea;

Traverse the depths protectively.

O hear us when we pray, and keep

them safe from peril in the deep.

FAMILIES: God, who dost still the restless foam,

Protect the ones we love at home.

Provide that they should always be

By thine own grace both safe and free.

O Father, hear us when we pray

For those we love when far away.

O Trinity of love and power,

Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;

From rock and tempest, fire and foe,

Protect us whereso’er we go:

And ever let there rise to thee

Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Words: William Whiting (1825-78)

Fight the good fight with all thy might;
Christ is thy Strength, and Christ thy Right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the Path, and Christ the Prize.

Cast care aside, upon thy Guide,
Lean, and His mercy will provide;
Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its Life, and Christ its Love.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear.
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is all in all to thee.

Words: JSB Monsell(1811-75)

© 1946 Ascherburg, Hopwood and Crew Ltd

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Words: W Walsham How (1823-97)

© OUP, with permission

Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising,
Give me joy in my heart, I pray,
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising,
Keep me praising 'till the break of day.

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
Sing hosanna to the King of kings!
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
Sing hosanna to the King.

Give me peace in my heart, keep me praying,
Give me peace in my heart, I pray,
Give me peace in my heart, keep me praying,
Keep me praying 'till the end of day.

Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising,
Give me joy in my heart, I pray,
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising,
Keep me praising 'till the break of day.

Give my oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray,
Give my oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
Keep me burning 'till the end of day.

Give me peace in my heart, keep me resting,
Give me peace in my heart, I pray.
Give me peace in my heart, keep me resting,
Keep me resting 'till the end of day.

Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer;
Be thou still my strength and shield;
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell's destruction
Land me safe on Canaan's side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee.

Words: William Williams (1717-91)

He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound - his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight,
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,
I’ll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.

Words: John Bunyan and Percy Dearmer

© OUP with permission

He's got the whole world in his hands, he's got the whole wide world in his hands
He's got the whole world in his hands, he's got the whole world in his hands

He's got the little bitty baby in his hands, he's got the little bitty baby in his hands
He's got the little bitty baby in his hands, he's got the whole world in his hands

He's got the whole world in his hands...

He's got you and me brother in his hands, he's got you and me sister in his hands
He's got you and me brother in his hands, he's got the whole world in his hands
He's got the whole world in his hands...

He's got everybody here in his hands, he's got everybody here in his hands
He's got everybody here in his hands he's got the whole world in his hands

He's got the whole world in his hands...

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Words: Reginald Heber (1773-1826)

I danced in the morning
when the world was begun,
and I danced in the moon
and the stars and the sun,
and I came down from heaven
and I danced on the earth,
at Bethlehem
I had my birth.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

I danced for the scribe
and the pharisee,
but they would not dance
and they wouldn't follow me.
I danced for the fishermen,
for James and John -
they came with me
and the dance went on.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

I danced on the Sabbath
and I cured the lame;
the holy people
said it was a shame.
they whipped and they stripped
and they hung me on high,
and they left me there
on a Cross to die.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

I danced on a Friday
when the sky turned black;
it's hard to dance
with the devil on your back.
They buried my body
and they thought I'd gone,
but I am the Dance,
and I still go on.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

They cut me down
and I leapt up high;
I am the life
that'll never, never die;
I'll live in you
if you'll live in me -
I am the Lord
of the Dance, said he.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

Words © 1963 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (Sydney Carter)

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above.
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago.
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish but nought changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
'Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

Words: W Chalmers Smith (1824-1908)

I to the hills will lift my eyes;
O whence shall come my aid?
My help is from the Lord alone,
Who Heav’n and earth has made.

He will not let thy foot be moved,
Thy Guardian never sleeps;
With watchful and unslumbering care,
His own He safely keeps.

Thy faithful Keeper is the Lord,
Thy Shelter and thy Shade;
’Neath sun or moon, by day or night,
Thou shalt not be afraid.

From evil He will keep thee safe,
For thee He will provide;
Thy going out, thy coming in,
Forever He will guide.

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Words: Lyra Davidica (1708)

Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father's glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light

Lord, I come to your awesome presence
From the shadows into your radiance
By the blood I may enter your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me, shine on me

As we gaze on your kingly brightness
So our faces display your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell your story
Shine on me, shine on me

Words: Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 1987 Make Way Music,

Love Divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

Come, almighty to deliver,
Let us all thy grace receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,
Glory in thy perfect love.

Finish then thy new creation
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee,
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise!

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there's despair in life, let me bring
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there's sadness, ever joy.


Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we're born to eternal


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honour to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

Words: Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home;

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting thou art God,
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be thou our guard while troubles last,
and our eternal home.

Words: Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide.

O let me feel Thee near me! The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me, around me and within;
But Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self will.
O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be.
And Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.

O let me see Thy footprints, and in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone.
O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end;
And then in Heaven receive me, my Saviour and my Friend.

Words: John Bode (1816-74)

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.


Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.


What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believèd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.


Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.


Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.


Words: S Baring-Gould (1834-1924)

Oh, worship the King, all glorious above.
Oh, gratefully sing his power and his love;
Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendour and girded with praise.

Oh, tell of his might; oh, sing of his grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space;
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is his path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, your power has founded of old,
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it has cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Your bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light,
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In you do we trust, nor find you to fail;
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
Our maker, defender, redeemer, and friend!

O measureless Might, ineffable Love,
While angels delight to hymn you above.
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall sing to your praise.

Words: Robert Grant (1779-1838)

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,
To his feet thy tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me his praise should sing?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise him for his grace and favour
To our fathers in distress;
Praise him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in his faithfulness.

Father-like, he tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame he knows;
In his hands he gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely as his mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore him;
Ye behold him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before him,
Dwellers all in time and space:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

Words: H F Lyte (1791-1847)

Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armour on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.

Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul

take every virtue, every grace and fortify the whole.

From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, “Come!”
Till Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home.

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-88)

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armour, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.

Words: George Duffield Jr (1818-88)

The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul he doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E'en for his own name's sake.

Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill:
For thou art with me, and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God's house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.

© OUP, with permission

There is a green hill far away,
Outside a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains He had to bear;
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to Heav’n,
Saved by His precious blood.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heaven and let us in.

O dearly, dearly has He loved,
And we must love Him, too,
And trust in His redeeming blood,
And try His works to do.

Words: Mrs CF Alexander (1818-95)

There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own Son,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy One,
Jesus my redeemer,
Name above all names,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Oh, for sinners slain.

Thank you oh my father,
For giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit,
'Til the work on Earth is done.
When I stand in Glory,
I will see His face,
And there I'll serve my King forever,
In that Holy Place.

Thank you oh my father,
For giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit,
'Til the work on Earth is done.
There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own Son

Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy One,
Thank you oh my father,
For giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit,
'Til the work on Earth is done.
And leaving Your Spirit,
'Till the work on Earth is done.

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
Endless is the victory, Thou o’er death hast won;
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
Kept the folded grave clothes where Thy body lay.
Thine is the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory, Thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly He greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
Let the church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
For her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.
Thine is the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory, Thou o’er death hast won.

No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of life;
Life is naught without Thee; aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conquerors, through Thy deathless love:
Bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above.
Thine is the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory, Thou o’er death hast won.

Words: Trans by R Hoyle (1875-1939)

© Student Christian Federation, Geneva

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

To Christ, Who won for sinners grace
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race
Forever and forevermore.

Words: Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Additional Prayers and Seasonal Material

The Naval Prayer

O ETERNAL LORD GOD, who alone spreadest out the heavens, and rulest the raging of the Sea; who hast compassed the waters with bounds until day and night come to an end; be pleased to receive into thy Almighty and most gracious protection, the persons of us thy servants and the Fleet in which we serve. Preserve us from the dangers of the sea and of the air and from the violence of the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, and her Dominions, and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our islands and Commonwealth may in peace and quietness serve thee, our God; and that we may return in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land, with the fruits of our labours and with a thankful remembrance of thy mercies to praise and glorify thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Royal Marines Prayer

O ETERNAL LORD GOD, who through many generations has united and inspired the members of the Corps, grant thy blessing, we beseech thee, on Royal Marines serving all round the globe. Bestow thy crown of righteousness upon all our efforts and endeavours, and may our laurels be those of gallantry and honour, loyalty and courage. We ask these things in the name of him whose courage never failed, our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Amen

The Commando Prayer

O Eternal Lord God, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, grant thy blessing we beseech thee on Commando Forces serving all around the Globe. Help us to run with endurance the race that is set before us. May neither opposition without, nor discouragement within divert us from our goal. Inspire in us both strength of mind and steadfastness of purpose; that we may meet all fears and difficulties with unswerving courage, and fulfil with quiet fidelity the tasks committed to our charge. We ask this through him who for the finishing of thy work laid down his life; our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sources: Revd David Devenney RN (Retd), Harry Bisseker (1878-1965), Anglican priest, theologian, writer and headmaster of Leys School, Cambridge. Sir Francis Drake (1543-1596).

Nelson’s Prayer

May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory: and may no misconduct, in any one, tarnish it: and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British fleet.

For myself individually, I commit my life to Him who made me and may His blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my country faithfully.

To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Before Battle

Lord, help me today to realize that you will be speaking to me

through the events of the day, through people, through things and through all creation.

Give me ears, eyes and heart to perceive you, however veiled your presence may be.

Give me insight to see through the exterior of things to the interior truth.

Give me your Spirit of discernment.

Lord you know how busy I must be this day.

If I forget you, do not forget me. Amen.

Jacob Astley (1579-1652)

Before the Battle of Edgehill 1642.

Resources and Copyright

Revised Common Lectionary

This list contains all the Bible readings for every Sunday (and some other special days) throughout the year.

The Bible

This website contains the New Revised Standard Version. You may need to search for an online version you are more familiar with.

On-line Hymns