My (extraordinary) family

Bishop Steven Croft

Series 7 of Bishop Steven Croft's popular podcast looks at the first letter of Peter, with Bishop Steven and friends reflecting on its lessons for us as we look to becoming a deeper church again.

We are undoubtedly living through one of the greatest crises of our lives. Series 4, Reflections for a Church in Lockdown, and series 5, Comfortable Words, aim to resource the Church during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Series 6, Come and Eat, encourages us to put ourselves in the way of God's grace as we regather.

All Episodes

Episode 4: Chosen Bishop Steven is joined this week by the Rt Revd Mary D. Glasspool, Assistant Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. As they delve deeper into 1 Peter, Bishop Mary discusses the complexities of being ‘chosen’ without feeling entitled, as she and Bishop Steven contemplate the seeds of hope for a post-pandemic future and the idea of the church as a centre for healing and protection. She also has some thoughts about the Lambeth Conference, taking place in 2022... A video of their conversation is also available to watch on the Diocese of Oxford YouTube channel

Nov 25

17 min 52 sec

Episode 3: Living Stone We have learned during the pandemic how important our church buildings are. But we've also learned more deeply than we did before, that the church is not the building. The church is the community which gathers for worship, whether virtually or physically, and is sustained by the presence of the Risen Christ in Word and sacrament. It is we who are the living stones. Church leadership teams can sign up to find out more about Come and See 2022 using this form The picture for this episode is taken from the poster on Bishop Steven's wall, referred to in his introduction.

Nov 18

16 min 22 sec

Episode 2: Resilience In a candid conversation with the Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt Revd Jacob Wayne Owensby, Bishop Steven delves deeper into the first letter of 1 Peter. Facing the uncomfortable realisation of feeling too content in the world as it is, and the importance of being the light in a world that’s aching for more, Bishops Steven and Jacob explore how to be people of resilience and grit in times of great hardship. A video of their conversation is also available to watch on the Diocese of Oxford YouTube channel

Nov 18

18 min 48 sec

  Episode 1: Exiles   We will only navigate the challenges of the coming years if we learn to be a deeper church again. This new series of podcasts explores what God is saying to us as a Church through the first letter of Peter. Join the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, and some of his fellow bishops from around the world as they rediscover that the medicine Peter offers is good for today’s church. Photo: Shutterstock

Oct 21

17 min 43 sec

Come and Eat - Draw Near with Faith Come to this table, not because you must but because you may, not because you are strong, but because you are weak. Through small, simple actions, the scattered and dispersed Church is drawn together as one. Bishop Steven concludes our exploration of Holy Communion - the meal through which God will build up his tired and depleted church after the demands of the last 15 months. We need to come and eat, and be restored. Bishop Steven has asked some of our very creative liturgists to draw together some resources and prayers for parishes to mark this season of regathering and rededication. These resources invite churches to renew their thanksgiving to God for the ‘wonderful sacrament’ of Holy Communion. Image from Shutterstock.

May 27

17 min 57 sec

Come and Eat - Prayer and Parties Jesus loves parties. Everyone who reads the gospel knows that. The Eucharist is prayer and parties with a purpose: to fill us with hope and a fresh vision for what this world can become. As we regather as a church around the table of the risen Lord, what are we to draw from this theme of the Eucharist as a meal which looks forward - a sign of hope and of the kingdom? Bishop Steven has asked some of our very creative liturgists to draw together some resources and prayers for parishes to mark this season of regathering and rededication. These resources invite churches to renew their thanksgiving to God for the ‘wonderful sacrament’ of Holy Communion. Image from Shutterstock.

May 13

15 min 54 sec

Come and Eat - The Bread of Life “The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”. Many of us find ourselves languishing in the wake of the pandemic. It’s good to remind ourselves - and the whole world - that Jesus came to bring life in all its abundance. The bread which Jesus gives, and is, is more than the food we need to stay physically alive. This is the nourishment we need to have life, to flourish again. The second episode in this series on Holy Communion considers the Eucharist as a meal which looks back and remembers, calling to mind the story of manna and of John 6, after the feeding of the five thousand. The music at the end is is Now the Green Blade Riseth, written by John McCrum, performed by Steve Winwood. Image from Shutterstock.

Apr 29

15 min 52 sec

Come and Eat - The Exhausted Prophet "The Lord, through his angel, simply sees what is needed. The Lord prepares a meal: fresh bread, cool, clear fresh water in a jar. Time to rest and sleep." Welcome to the first in a short series of podcasts on Holy Communion, the profound, wonderful meal at the heart of our faith. Our starting point is the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19: the exhausted prophet, right at the end of his resources. Because that, if we’re honest, is where we are - tired and worn down, finding every day quite hard. The Lord meets Elijah where he is – not with big visions or daunting tasks for the future, but with simply what he needs. An invitation to come and eat.

Apr 15

15 min 52 sec

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion Our journey to the cross begins with the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. While the other three gospels focus on Jesus' agony and inner turmoil, John instead focuses our attention elsewhere - on the real reason Jesus is drawn to the cross. Hymn: There is a Green Hill Far Away, recorded and performed at home by Tom and Mandy Green for this podcast. Reading: John 18.1-14 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV) Commentary by Bishop Steven. A minute of silence follows +Steven's commentary for personal reflection. Taizé: Kyrie, kyrie, eleison. This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance. Album artwork 'Jerusalem', Charlotte Bannister-Parker. Image Credit: Shutterstock (1392667502)

Apr 1

14 min 20 sec

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion We see both darkness and light around us in this pandemic - the darkness of human isolation and suffering; the light of love as people reach out to one another. The story of Jesus’ passion takes place in the cold darkness of night, but John tells us that light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. Reading John 18.15-27 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV). Commentary by Bishop Steven. A minute of silence follows +Steven's commentary for personal reflection. Taizé: Kyrie, kyrie, eleison. This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance. Image credit: Shutterstock (378764134)

Mar 31

10 min 12 sec

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion The Evangelists invite us to place ourselves in the story through the characters who come and go. Like them, we are both powerful and powerless before this story of the cross. Reading John 18.28-40 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV) Commentary by Bishop Steven. A minute of silence follows +Steven's commentary for personal reflection. Taizé: Kyrie, kyrie, eleison. Hymn: Amazing Love. What sacrifice, recorded and performed at home by Tom and Mandy Green for this podcast. This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance. Image credit: Shutterstock (259696796)

Mar 31

14 min 30 sec

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion As Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he is making a profound statement of who he claims to be. But in all that follows, Jesus takes this claim to kingship and power and to being God’s Son and God’s Messiah and turns it inside out. Reading: John 19.1-16 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV) Commentary by Bishop Steven. A minute of silence follows +Steven's commentary for personal reflection. Taizé: Kyrie, kyrie, eleison. This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance. Image credit: Shutterstock (671434105)

Mar 31

11 min 35 sec

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion As we come to the centre of the story, we travel with Jesus to the cross. No-one takes Jesus' life. He gives it. What has he done? What has been completed? Reading: John 19.17-37 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV) Commentary by Bishop Steven. A minute of silence follows +Steven's commentary for personal reflection. Hymn: When I survey the wondrous cross, recorded and performed at home by Tom and Mandy Green for this podcast. This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance. Image credit: Shutterstock (718434559)

Mar 31

16 min 5 sec

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion We end these reflections with much to think about, but hopefully with anticipation: not cast down by the solemn events we have rehearsed but deepened by them. The story is told but is not yet complete. Reading John 19.38-24 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV). Commentary by Bishop Steven. A minute of silence follows for personal reflection. Intercessions followed by The Lord’s Prayer Led by Paul Cowan. Closing message from Bishop Steven. This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance. Image credit: Shutterstock (203336479)

Mar 31

17 min 24 sec

As we reach the sombre anniversary of the start of the first national lockdown, revisit this podcast from October 2020. Take a moment to reflect on all that has passed and cast your fears for the future on the Lord. Look back over the last six months and reflect for a moment. What part has fear played in your own life and your life’s journey? What part is anxiety playing now in the key decisions of your life? Does it have too loud a voice? Does all of that fear and caution have the support of reason? Are there inner fears which you are keeping buried deep inside and cannot name or talk through with those closest to you? Are those chains of fear shaping the decisions you make in your work or your Christian service? If that is the case, listen to the word of the Lord to you: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand”. The famous Dad's Army episode at the start of this episode is taken from this BBC clip on YouTube Photo: Shutterstock

Mar 23

19 min 36 sec

Some people spend their whole lives trying to discover what is important and valuable – what really matters in life. Some stumble across it almost by accident. The final lines of the Creed remind us of the blessings which are ours in Christ, offered to us by God, free of charge. This film marks the end of our series on the Creed, but there is still so much more to come and see. oxford.anglican.org/come-and-see

Mar 21

8 min 6 sec

Sometimes God can feel distant and far away, and the truths about God can seem hard to take hold of. When we feel worn down by life, the Holy Spirit can bring us comfort and peace. But how do we actually experience the Holy Spirit at work in our lives? This is the fourth of the Come and See weekly films from Bishop Steven. It accompanies daily email reflections throughout Lent. See the journey so far and join us at oxford.anglican.org/come-and-see

Mar 14

8 min 37 sec

Even on the best of days, there are shadows in our lives – darkness created by our human tendency to mess things up. There’s a shadow at the end of our journey too. The Bible calls it ‘the shadow of death.’ The third part of the Creed makes the remarkable claim that Jesus rose from the dead, three days after he was crucified. What does that mean for the darkness within us? What lies beyond that final shadow? This is the third of the Come and See weekly films from Bishop Steven. It accompanies daily email reflections throughout Lent. Find out more and join at oxford.anglican.org/come-and-see

Mar 7

8 min 28 sec

When all around us is in chaos, coming back to the Father can help us recover a sense of identity and purpose. But what’s the next step on our journey? The four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - unfold the powerful truth of Jesus. But they weren’t written to simply tell us about him – they invite each of us to take the next step and follow Jesus for ourselves. Come and see more...

Feb 28

8 min 15 sec

As far as we know, we are the only part of the whole universe able to consider the cosmos and its meaning. But who gave us that desire - the need to know and understand what we are created for? From the very first line of the creed, we place our faith in God, the creator of heaven and earth. But God is more than just our maker – from all across the universe, his great love is calling us home. Come and see it for yourself.

Feb 21

8 min 14 sec

Over the course of the pandemic, many people have been asking questions about faith. In fact, one in five people in our online congregation were not regular worshippers before COVID. So now we want to invite everyone who is searching for truth and meaning to go deeper. As a Church, and across the Diocese, we are sending out a big, warm, open invitation to everyone, whether or not you know anything about the Christian faith: Come and See.

Jan 20

3 min 29 sec

So we come to the final chapter, Isaiah 55. This chapter is about comings and goings, and they set a profound rhythm for the life of God’s people which flows through the worship of the Church. The first verses of Isaiah 55 offer the most gracious and powerful invitation for thirsty, weary souls: Come. But our prophet turns this into a fuller and deeper invitation still. Music in this episode is taken from this recording available on YouTube. Photo: Steven Buckley

Dec 2020

20 min 16 sec

Three times now, the unknown prophet has sung to us of the servant of God. The fourth song is a reflection on the suffering of the nation and the way God will raise up his people again, no matter how difficult the circumstances or how far we have fallen. How are we to hear these words afresh today as we walk through the pandemic, as we re-assess our lives and the life of the church and the life of the nation? Music at the start of this episode is taken from this recording available on YouTube. 'Take Me To The Alley' by Gregory Porter is also available to listen to in full on YouTube. Photo: Shutterstock

Nov 2020

20 min 38 sec

The Queen has approved the appointment of Gavin Collins as the next Bishop of Dorchester. In this special edition of My (extraordinary) family Bishop Steven talks with Gavin about his Christian formation, his ministry since ordination and his hopes for the role he is about to take on. Gavin will be consecrated on 28 January, you can find further details on the Diocese of Oxford website. This episode is also available as a film on the Diocese of Oxford YouTube channel.

Nov 2020

22 min 59 sec

We often think of comfort as something soft and soothing, like a big hug. But to comfort someone is not simply to wrap them up in cotton wool and tenderness. Comfortable words are words which restore our strength, our core, our backbone. The next three months or so may well be the hardest of the COVID journey - how can we find the resources to give strength to our communities when we are already tired and worn down? Music at the start of this episode is from the Fellowship Worship Collective, here on YouTube. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Nov 2020

19 min 49 sec

The prophet sings of love and forgiveness, of new hope and strength in God, to rekindle courage in the hearts of God’s people. The prophet sings of a new kind of leadership, based on humility and gentleness. The prophet sings to tell us not to be afraid even in the face of death. These are comfortable words the whole world needs to hear afresh in this season. The Comfortable Words I want to explore today unfold a mystery which is at the centre of the universe: that Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, calls women and men into a relationship of love and entrusts us with a purpose for our lives and a mission to God’s world. Episode links The Personal Discipleship Plan A PDP is an accompanied faith journey with a local minister or mentor that explores six core questions that discern what God is doing in your life and what you might be called to next. Paul's faith journey (YouTube) This short film is a conversation between Paul and his mentor about the difference a PDP has made to his faith journey. Disciples Together Disciples Together explores how we can embrace change for the benefit of God’s work in the world and outlines steps for our future ministry. Join Bishop Steven for a webinar If you live and worship in the Diocese of Oxford, join Bishop Steven for a free webinar looking at rebuilding ministry with children, young people and families, introducing the Disciples Together principles and new resources you can use right now. Opening music: John Denver - Sweet Surrender, taken from YouTube. The Summons (Will you come and follow me), by John Bell, taken from YouTube. Photo, Shutterstock

Nov 2020

21 min 8 sec

One of the oldest books on my shelf is John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim's Progress, the famous allegory of the Christian life published over 300 years ago. The famous hymn Who Would True Valour See is taken directly from his text. I first read Bunyan as a young Christian and have returned to Pilgrim’s Progress many times. At the very end of Christian’s journey, after many twists and turns and trials, he arrives at last at a great river, symbolising death. There is no bridge over this river and no way around it... Music: a brief extract from 'Who would true valour see' by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band. Available here on YouTube. Episode image: (c) Steven Buckley | Diocese of Oxford.

Oct 2020

21 min 6 sec

Brother, sister, let me serve you Let me be as Christ to you Pray that I may have the gift to let you be my servant too. The servant song by Richard Gillard is one of the most popular contemporary worship songs, sung by churches of many different traditions. It’s often chosen for services of ordination and licensing new ministers. The song captures something vital about the way of discipleship. As Christians we are called to a life of service together, to love and support one another in all the joys and sorrows of our lives. But where does that idea come from? Image: Shutterstock

Oct 2020

19 min 59 sec

The world around us has learned to respond to suffering and pain and difficulty. The temptation is to numb negative emotion, to overlay it, to disguise it through shopping or social media or food or alcohol or other addictive behaviours. We numb. In normal times that can set in motion slow but destructive cycles of behaviour in our lives. We keep afloat but only just. But in times of crisis and difficulty, it is not enough to numb. The pain around us overwhelms our defences. Something much deeper is needed... The quotation from Brene Brown in this episode is taken from her TED talk The Power of Vulnerability. Watch it here. Photo: Shutterstock

Sep 2020

16 min 50 sec

Welcome back to a new series of podcasts for the autumn: comfortable words. The title is taken from the opening verses of Isaiah 40-55 (and also for a well-known part of the Prayer Book liturgy for Holy Communion). Each episode will begin from a passage of scripture taken from this part of the Book of Isaiah which begins with the unknown prophet’s call: “Comfort, O comfort my people says your God Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her….” The focus of the songs in Isaiah 40-55 is helping God’s people to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. I hope and pray the podcasts will be helpful to the Church across the Diocese of Oxford and more widely as we find our voice again in the midst of the pandemic. I’ve listened to three songs as I’ve prepared the podcast this week. The first is the opening section of Handel’s Messiah, which sets this passage to music. The second is Prepare ye the way of the Lord from the musical Godspell, and the third is Emilie Sande’s brilliant live performance of Our Version of Events III at the close of the 2012 Olympic games, heard briefly at the beginning and end of this episode. Image: Shutterstock. The short music clip is taken from a live recording, here on YouTube

Sep 2020

18 min 59 sec