Author Archives: All Hallows Leeds

Sunday 24 November – Christ the King

The last Sunday before Advent is known as the “Feast of Christ the King” and is a celebration that Jesus is Lord of all Creation.

This Sunday is also known as “Stir-up Sunday”, it gets its name from the beginning of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer, which begins with the words, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people” but it has also become associated with the tradition of making the Christmas puddings on that day! If you are planning to “stir-up” your Christmas puddings, or even your Christmas cakes or mince pies after the service on Sunday or later in the week then our Fair Trade stall is the place to visit. Lydia has Fair Trade dried fruit which would help make your Christmas puddings taste even better! And there are lots of other goodies on sale which would make great Christmas presents.

To crown all things there must be love,
to bind all together and complete the whole.
Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.

CofE Common Worship

Stir up, O Lord,
the wills of your faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may by you be plenteously rewarded;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

CofE Common Worship

Walter Ramsbottom Evers

This Week 18th – 24th November

Mon 18 Nov 11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 19 Nov @7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 20 Nov @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Wed 20 November @ 6pm Trans Day of Remembrance at LGI- Great George Street entrance, LS1 3EX
Thu 21 Nov Heston’s Birthday!
Thu 21 Nov 11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 22 Nov 11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 22 Nov @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Fri 22 Nov @7-10pm Rainbow Junktion Bistro with Big Als Choir
Sun 24 Nov @10.30am Sunday morning worship – Christ the King
Sun 24 Nov @4pm Sacred Wing choir rehearsal

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

Rainbow Junktion Bistro with Big Al’s Big Choir

The next amazing Rainbow Junktion Bistro will be on Friday 22nd November at 7pm. They will be joined by BIG AL’S BIG CHOIR to bring some funk to your foodie delights! They’re even bring a live band with them!

You can read more on their website where there is a link to book tickets.

Sermon by Toby Parsons 10th November 2019 – The Eucharist (Part 6)

Notes from the sermon by Toby Parsons 10th November 2019 – The Eucharist (Part 6) and Remembrance Sunday


“I’ve forgotten where I’ve put my keys – again”
“What on earth is that person’s name, who I’ve already been introduced to three times?”
“Which of my seventeen passwords have I used for that particular online account?”
Sometimes we can’t help forgetting things. And of course medical or age-related loss of memory can be extremely difficult for family and friends, as well as the person concerned. Conversely some memories, particularly painful ones, can be hard to put away, even if we want to.
But on some levels we have a choice in what we remember, certainly in what we commemorate. As a country – and beyond – we come together this Remembrance Sunday to acknowledge those who have suffered and died in conflict. And as Christians we remember the death of Christ, celebrated in the Eucharist.
Today, we’ll be weaving together some thoughts on both Remembrance Sunday and the Eucharist. And to do that, we’ll focus on three themes – sacrifice, pain and promise.

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, guns that had injured, maimed and killed almost ten million soldiers fell silent. Battles that had raged for 51 angry months ceased. It was a moment of quiet to bring to an end four years in which the huge technical and mechanical advances of the nineteenth century were perverted into creating tools of death and destruction on an industrial scale.
The enormity of the numbers can overshadow the individual stories, and the individual sacrifices. I suspect some of us approach Remembrance Sunday with a slight hesitation. We may find some tension between feeling that we’re commemorating war or violence, and our longing for peace. We may wonder about the justness, or otherwise, of the causes are fought for. But if we think about the very real people who took part in any conflict, we see them recognising something bigger than their own needs and welfare. Whether we look at the soldiers who fought; those who worked around the clock in factories; the not-so-old children who cared for their younger siblings as their parents weren’t at home; in all these situations there’s an example of selflessness, of sacrifice.
In some cases, that resulted in them paying the ultimate price, at least in earthly terms. They remained committed to what they were doing, and to their comrades, even to the point of death. And that selflessness is something which we can affirm; putting others first is hard, in any situation. But millions did, and we remember their sacrifice on this day.
And if we turn to the Eucharist, sacrifice is of course a central theme here too. How we see Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross could be a series in itself – was he literally taking on our sin and dying instead of us? Was he showing the limitless power of love, and in doing so creating an example that brings us back to God? We could find many discussions about the nature of Christ’s sacrifice, from early Christians through to medieval figures like Anselm of Canterbury, and onto today’s theologians. I’m not going to try to unpack what exactly we mean by “Jesus dying for us” – how we see that is perhaps part of our personal relationship with God.
But I think most Christians could readily agree that Jesus’s death was sacrificial, in that he chose to give up something important and valuable in order to get or do something more important – that’s pretty much the dictionary definition of “sacrifice”. He gave up something important or valuable (his life) in order to achieve something more important (our redemption, our freedom, our relationship with God).
And isn’t that the amazing thing? That he chose to die for us. And that the “cause” he died for wasn’t the victory of one nation over another; it wasn’t the enforcing of one political ideology; it wasn’t even the defeat of a dictatorial regime. His sacrifice was about us – each of us, individually, as human beings loved by God.
So sacrifice is one of the things we remember.

We’re going to pause at this point, and we’ll come back to think about pain and promise. But as we now approach 11 o’clock, we’ll listen to a recorded version of It is well with my soul. It will then be faded out and a chime will mark the start and end of two minutes of silence.

Tomorrow will be 101 years since the armistice that brought the First World War to an end was signed. The tradition of a two minute silence on the 11th of November began the following year, 1919. The next day’s edition of the Manchester Guardian included the following description of that first silence;
“The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect.
The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition.
Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of ‘attention’. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern. Everyone stood very still … The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city and become so pronounced as to impress one with a sense of audibility. It was a silence which was almost pain … And the spirit of memory brooded over it all.”
Pain. Anguish. Grief.
Many of the images of the First World War (or indeed the Second, or other conflicts) which we’re familiar with convey a sense of horror. But even so, we can underestimate the pain which so many would have felt – and so many feel today. In November 1919, parents would still have been grieving the children no longer sitting in the empty chair; ex-soldiers would have been re-living terrifying moments in their nightmares, as well as enduring physical pain. And the whole community would have been reeling from the indiscriminate flu epidemic that had taken hold and which killed more people worldwide than the war. People were hurting, intensely and in many ways.
And if we turn to the eucharist, there’s certainly reverence and reflection. There’s perhaps also chaos and a bit of fun – certainly if you were here for the eucharistic meal we prepared and shared together three weeks ago! And we do have space set aside for healing prayers each week, recognising the pain we may wish to bring before God.
But I wonder if we sometimes gloss over the pain experienced by Jesus when he broke bread and shared the cup of wine with his friends. He was facing death. And not a quiet passing, surrounded by family – incredibly hard though that still is. He was to be betrayed, humiliated, abused, and crucified. The pain – the mental anguish of anticipation; the physical suffering of the cross – would have been intense. And Jesus, as God made human, would have felt that, just as we would have done.
And, whilst terrible, isn’t that a second amazing thing? That God has experienced and knows all-consuming pain. The pain that was there in the First and Second World Wars and in countless conflicts, and which is so evident is our world now. It’s a reality, but it’s a reality that God shares with us.
So pain is one of the things we remember too.

“The war that will end war”. That was the title of HG Wells’ book about the conflict that had just stated, published in 1914. Despite the cynical or ironic slant given to the phrase in subsequent years, at the time it represented the optimism and belief that humans could move forward to a peaceful era. Woodrow Wilson, the American president who led the United States into the war in 1917, subsequently committed himself to establishing the League of Nations, as a way of bringing countries together through diplomacy, to ensure peace. Not much more than twenty years later, the world was again at war.
Thirty years ago yesterday, the fall of the Berlin Wall was being celebrated as the culmination of the largely peaceful transitions that were taking place across Europe. Millions of people felt that times were changing in a fundamental way, in a way that created new hope and promise. In the words of two East German citizens who lived through that day;
“But what I see today doesn’t just take my breath away, it leaves me reeling: the Wall is open! I can’t believe it.”
“It was the joy and the release, the surprise of it all, and the thrill of it being a shared experience.”
And yes, Germany was reunited a year later, and for many people new possibilities emerged. But walls haven’t gone away. Perhaps the ones we’re most familiar with are focused on keeping people out, rather than in, but they’re still very much there – on the Hungarian / Serbian border, or on the American political agenda. There are new walls that impose barriers, that insist upon division.
We try to learn from our experiences, from history itself. We make promises about what we will or won’t do again. We hope for the future. And it would be a pretty bleak world if we didn’t. But we find it so hard to keep those promises.
And if we turn to the eucharist, we see promise there too. Not a promise that all will be well immediately, for we know that sacrifice and pain were very much part of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples. But a promise that God’s love is eternal, unlimited, and sufficient to overcome the darkest moments, even death itself.
In the very first week of this Eucharist series, Paul spoke of signs of hope and signs of love. Of a meeting place for God and people – who are sat down together, sharing food and wine, listening to one another and caring for each other, sharing one another’s joys and burdens, recapturing God’s plan for all of Creation.
And when Anna talked the second week about kingdom economics – how the Eucharist should challenge materialism and consumerism – she reminded us that God sees our intentions for good, and that even if we don’t hit the mark every time, even when we buy something unethical or fail to invite our neighbour in for tea just because we are tired, there is always forgiveness and grace.
And that’s the third amazing thing. That God’s promise holds true, even though – perhaps because – we struggle to keep ours.
So promise is one of the things we remember this day.

Sacrifice, pain and promise. We remember them in particular this Sunday each year, but we also remember in the eucharist throughout the year.
And I just want to finish, both this sermon and this series, by thinking about where that remembrance leads us.
We’re used to the familiar words of the communion service – “do this in remembrance of me”. I guess the instinct is to think of “do this” as meaning “break bread and share wine”. And undoubtedly bread and wine are central to the Eucharist. A fortnight ago Angela touched on the different beliefs about what happens to the bread and wine during the prayer of consecration, and the different practices for communion that can result. The sharing of bread and wine is a simple but powerful act, and is part of our remembrance of Jesus. But can we also read the instruction “do this in remembrance of me” as referring to the action, the sacrifice, that Jesus was about to make following that very first communion?
“Do this”…
“Do as I am doing”…
“Show the unconditional love that I am showing to my disciples and for the whole of humanity”…?
Few of us would be able to literally pick up our cross as Jesus did, and thankfully we’re unlikely to be asked to, although some of the information Jan shared last week about current persecution of Christians around the world was sobering.
But we are asked to think about how we act in this world. Our hymn at the end of today’s service will be For The Healing of the Nations. It was written by Fred Kaan, a man who spent his teenage years in occupied Holland during the Second World War. Its words touch on hatred, dogma and unequal sharing. But it highlights God’s love too, and it prays “to a life of love in action help us rise and pledge our word”.

Remembering matters.
And whilst you’ll be pleased to know that the next part of the service isn’t an exam paper to test what we’ve all remembered from this six part series, please do take the time to reflect some more. There are several books linked from Phil’s mini-website about the Eucharist, as well as all the sermon texts. And there’ll soon be some notes and questions that could be used in Rainbow groups or house groups. Have a look, and see what’s useful to you. But above all, when we come to receive communion, Eucharist, mass, the feast of life, or whatever we choose to call it; when we break bread in the name of Christ, let us remember the sacrifice, pain and promise of when Jesus broke bread for us.

FINAL HYMN: For the healing of the nations (Fred Kaan)

For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord,
for a just and equal sharing of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action help us rise and pledge our word.

Lead us forward into freedom, from despair your world release,
that, redeemed from war and hatred, all may come and go in peace.
Show us how through care and goodness fear will die and hope increase.

All that kills abundant living, let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling, dogmas that obscure your plan.
In our common quest for justice may we hallow brief life’s span.

You, Creator God, have written your great name on humankind;
for our growing in your likeness bring the life of Christ to mind;
that by our response and service earth its destiny may find.

This Week 11th – 17th November

Mon 11 Nov Remembrance Day
Mon 11 Nov 11am-3pm
Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 12 Nov Odd Socks Day – part of anti-bullying week
Tue 12 Nov @12noon
Sikh Langar Lunch at the Sikh Temple on Chapeltown Road
Tue 12 Nov @7:30-9pm
Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 13 Nov @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 14 Nov 11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Thu 14 Nov @4pm Adriaan van Klinken’s book launch “Kenyan, Christian, Queer” at the Emmanuel Centre, Leeds University Chaplaincy.
Fri 15 Nov 11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 15 Nov @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Sat 16 November @ 5pm Family film night and sleepover.
Sun 17 Nov @10.30am Sunday morning worship – Vocations Sunday
Sun 17 Nov @12-4pm Light for Leeds interfaith afternoon at Kirkstall Abbey
Sun 17 Nov @4pm
Sacred Wing choir rehearsal

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

Sunday 10th November – Remembrance Sunday

This Sunday we will be remembering spilt blood. It is Remembrance Sunday and so we will be remembering the blood split in war. It is also the last in our series “Exploring the Eucharist”,  a series looking at the meaning and our experience of the Eucharist / Communion. Toby Parsons will be leading us in our reflections on the blood spilt by the Prince of Peace, how he overcame violence and death, and our part in the Eucharistic story.

Do join us at 10:30am, everyone is welcome.

Sermon by Dr Jan Betts 3rd November 2019 – The Eucharist (Part 5)

Notes from the sermon by Dr Jan Betts 3rd November 2019 – The Eucharist (Part 5- Forming an Alternative Community)


We ask that all that I say and all that we hear be filled with God’s  guiding spirit of truth.

At All Hallows we have spent the last four weeks journeying through some different aspects of God’s fellowship meal which we call the Eucharist. We have heard some fascinating bits of its history, and how it relates to a divine economy of sharing and we have had a meal together. Today, just after All Saints’ Day,  we come to why the Eucharist is a huge shout out for us  to be part of wider communities than St Chads, St Michael’s or All Hallows or even all of those together.

As Angela reminded us last week, Eucharist means ‘thanks’.  it is a thanks giving for the love, the life the death and the resurrection of Jesus. If you go to Greece on holiday ‘efkaristo’ is still how you say ‘thank you’. So we come to this holy event to meet Jesus our God giving thanks for all that he has given me, you and most importantly, and sometimes lost,  us.

We often focus on the personal and individual in the Eucharist. One of the ways in which I came to see how deeply transformative and healing this individual personal meeting with God in the Eucharist is was long ago. I had still born twins, and didn’t know how to grieve for them but one day, several years after, someone said to me ‘did you have names for them?’  When I said yes, she said ‘take them with you to communion’ so I did, and it has been my practice ever since to bring very difficult situations, either mine or others’, to that moment of receiving bread and wine.  Situations can be healed and transformed by the reminder and experience of the hope that is in Jesus.

That’s us personal, the blinding object usually at the front of our consciousness.

However here at All Hallows, in our communion, our community meal, we have a circle, which emphasises that we have a Eucharistic fellowship, a community of believers. We are together as people who want to follow Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Life. To do this is to take a political – with a small p – stance, as has been pointed out by Tim Gorringe (in the book which was the starting point for this series) and many others over the history of the church. What we do here is to say that we are one with Jesus in his desire to be against all injustice, all exclusion, all hatred and all scapegoating. It was not for nothing that the first Christians were known as People of The Way. Jesus sets out a very particular Way, and our first reading from Acts showed the early Christians in fellowship together and caring deeply for each other.  We all together as well as individually bring our whole messy lives, social, emotional and behavioural to this reminder of the Way of Jesus and we ask to be changed by it as part of the body of Christ and not just individually.

However…..Our churches are one part of our community but the alignment with the love of Jesus, which we affirm by coming to communion, leads us into many others.

Within our own community here at All Hallows we welcome to the Lord’s Table anyone who has a heart open to the way of Jesus and we define it no further and no less than that.  We also welcome other communities here, not just to worship but into all sorts of other activities.  LGBTQI,  ecology,  asylum seeker support, refugees, people suffering from addictions of all sorts, people who are hungry and marginalised, our interfaith brothers and sisters, are all our concern,  and I’m sorry  but I know I’ll have missed loads. And in case that sounds like a whole heap of hard work, we also take our Jesus shaped attitudes into less tough places, our places of work, fun and relaxation. Jesus wasn’t averse to eating out, he just unashamedly took his attitudes with him.

These communities are all good and right to be involved with. However today I want to share with you a passion of mine for another community of saints, as we are all saints.

Around the world, and especially now in the global south,  there is probably no single minute when someone somewhere is not coming to this same  feast of life that we share. There are Christians all over the globe: Paul on his journeys to spread the Way of Jesus founded many of the first communities, and he loved and kept in touch with them and nurtured them. I chose the reading from Corinthians because in it Paul gives thanks for the prayers of those who stand with him as his brothers and sisters through hardships of all sorts.

We have a community of worldwide brothers and sisters in Christ’s family, part of Christ’s body as we are part of Christ’s body, many of who have paid or are paying a great price for their commitment to the way of Jesus. In December 2018 the Archbishop of Truro was asked by the then Foreign Secretary, (one Jeremy Hunt….) to produce a report on the scale of religious persecution around the world, and more specifically persecution of Christians, and it was published in July this year. You can find it very easily online. It’s really sobering reading.  I’m not going to harrow you with stories but they are legion, from Boko Haram to Syria to N Korea and China.

The academic in me needs to say that his report is based in large part on the work of organisations such as Open Doors, the Pew organisation and Aid to the Church in Need in the US, all longstanding world watchers in this area.

It concludes among much else that ‘approximately 245 million Christians…suffer high levels of persecution or worse, up 30 million from 2018’ and that ‘in some regions the level and nature of persecution is coming arguably close to meeting the international definition of  genocide according the that adopted by the UN.’ And that 80% of all religious persecution is directed at Christians.

Now we know Christians who are fleeing persecution because we meet them as asylum seekers in our churches. We have some here. And we used to have a brother from the Philippines who would ask us to pray for those who were being persecuted there, his friends…not some random statistic but his friends. How would we feel if Heston or Tony were imprisoned for being our ministers?  If our Christian children were not allowed to apply for university places? If we knew that the eradication of Christians was one of the main objectives of an extreme group in the UK, as it is in Iraq, Syria, NE Nigeria and The Philippines? if we were persecuted as Christians for standing against illegal activity by the government as in Central America? Would we not want Christians from other countries to stand with us and pray for us?

But almost the most telling comment in this report comes from former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in the house of Lords: ‘The persecution of Christians throughout the much of the middle East,  sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and elsewhere is one of the crimes against humanity of our time, and I’m appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked’. This echoes the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal ‘does anyone here hear our cry? How many atrocities must we endure before someone comes to our aid.?’ Archbishop Nicodemus Dawood Sharaf of the Syrian Orthodox Church, said that “there are many diplomatic missions only seeking to inquire of our situation without actually providing any assistance.” Against this backdrop, academics, journalists and religious leaders (both Christian and non-Christian) have stated that, the global persecution of Christians is “an urgent human rights issue that remains underreported”. The report speaks of the “paucity of awareness of the challenges facing the Christian community” and highlights the lack of religious literacy among Foreign Office staff.

I wonder if any of you are thinking that this sounds like a political comment and here we are in church thinking about the Eucharist. What has the Eucharist got to do with this?

Well, we take the bread and wine as the Body of Christ, we describe ourselves as one body and surely we are part of the body of Christ who we don’t see, with those who have the courage to wear a Jesus T shirt in public when they know there will be more consequences than a raised eyebrow.  I feel so strongly that they need our support as fellow believers. You might argue that all persecuted people need our support: yes of course, and the Report is at great pains to say that, but again as the report states, this is not about special pleading for Christians, but making up a significant deficit in world attention – and our attention.

Paul wrote that he was grateful for the prayers of his fellow believers who clearly knew what was happening to him and we can at least keep ourselves informed and pray.

I have felt stumbling and incoherent as I write this sermon, because I feel increasingly deeply about this subject and that I cannot ignore the body of Christ outside my little boundaries. We make our memorial of Jesus’ death together with all Christians: is that part of the body which suffers not part of our community as well?   In their brokenness can we not be part of their hope?  This community of persecuted saints, who take Jesus body and blood as we do,  is rarely mentioned among us and they are inspiring and inspired by the same Spirit who inspires us.

Jesus’ body was broken for us and for all, to transform us into channels of his love in the communities to which God invites us.  Thanks be to God, Efkaristo.

Find out more.    Fellowship for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. An amazing organisation based in Iraq, who do everything from building football fields in Irbil, medical support throughout Iraq, contributing to peace talks with leaders of all faiths throughout the Middle East… check them out, support them  another fantastic organisation both helping on the ground and being a source of data through their World Watch work.  Catholic based organisation, who again do brave and inspiring work on the ground and through data gathering.

This one was kindly brought to my attention by Bob Shaw from ST Michael’s. Thank you Bob.

If you would like to find out more about this series then please visit Phil Gardner’s site.

This Week 4th – 10th November

Mon 4 Nov 11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 5 Nov @7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 6 Nov @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 7 Nov 11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 8 Nov 11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 8 Nov @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Sat 9 November @ 7.45pm Rowan Rheingans Live at All Hallows
Sun 10 Nov @10.30am Sunday morning worship – “Exploring the Eucharist“,  a series looking at the meaning and our experience of the Eucharist / Communion “Part 6 – Remember” with Toby Parsons. This will also be our Remembrance Service
Sun 10 Nov @4pm Sacred Wing choir rehearsal

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

Sunday 3rd November – Celebrating All Hallows

This Sunday at 10.30am we will be celebrating All Hallows / All Saints Day in our Sunday morning worship. We will also be continuing “Exploring the Eucharist”,  a series looking at the meaning and our experience of the Eucharist / Communion. We have reached “Part 5 – Forming an Alternative Community” with Dr Jan Betts. St Chad’s and St Michael’s will also be joining us and there will be a bring and share lunch afterwards. Do come and join us, everyone welcome.