Important Update – 30th August 2021

Recent publicity and discussions have encouraged the PCC for Fishbourne Church to reconsider our current practices now that we are not in an enforced lockdown.
 
Consequently and with immediate effect….
  • No need to book online. 
  • Masks to be worn, hands to be sanitised.
  • No ribbons on pews – each one of us to be responsible for social distancing keeping ourselves as well as fellow members of the congregation safe.
  • Choir singing – at the beginning, during communion of one kind, final hymn with congregation joining in
  • The Peace – signing
  •  Members of the congregation will continue to be guided in coming forward for communion, observing the safe distance guidance
  • Please leave your offering in the collection plate or contact Robert to contribute by card. Gift Aid envelopes available.
  • We are introducing flowers at the altar.
  • We would like to open the Church during the week from 9am to 4pm for the month of September. At present we need a volunteer to close each day.

Please note that these guidelines have been instigated by Fishbourne PCC and whilst they will also apply to Apuldram Church there may be one or two minor differences.

In the meantime an Online version of some services will be sent out in a  newsletter and these will continue to be published on this website.

If you have not already subscribed to this newsletter you can subscribe here.


Currently there are regular Services at Fishbourne Church as follows.

1st Sunday – 8am & 9.30am
3rd Sunday – 9.30 am
4th Sunday – 4.30 Family Service led by our Readers, John & Jenny.

and at Apuldram Church on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month starting at 8am.


20th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
17th October 2021

Good morning everyone. It’s Jenny here today. Welcome to our online service.

The Lord be with you.

Our theme today is Jesus, our priest. We begin by saying sorry to God for all the wrong in our lives. Sometimes we know we haven’t been obedient. We have perhaps found it hard to put others first. Our Gospel reading today is challenging and points us to how God wants us to live.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

God, the giver of life,
whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church:
by the Spirit’s gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ
and make us eager to do your will,
that we may share with the whole creation
the joys of eternal life;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Readings
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

Reflection

Do you have a favourite hymn? One of my many favourites is “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds”. I particularly like the verse
Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend, My Prophet, Priest, and King; My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, Accept the praise I bring.
Our first reading today focuses on Jesus, our high priest. It comes from the NT book of Hebrews. We don’t know who the author was but Hebrews was written in about 63 to 65AD. It was particularly for Jewish Christians and so it has constant references to the Old Testament. You can see this in our reading where we hear about the high priest, sacrifices for sins, Aaron and Melchizedek.
Before our reading, the writer has been proclaiming Jesus as superior to the prophets, angels, Moses and Joshua, who were all very important to those of Jewish faith. He is saying Jesus is far, far better than them. Now he writes that Jesus is even greater than the first high priest Aaron.
When Hebrews was written, it was a time of persecution for Christians from both the Romans and Jews. Some Jewish Christians were thinking about returning to their Jewish faith. Don’t do that the writer says, what you have now is much, much better!
Do we ever feel like giving up as Christians? May be it would be so much easier if we could have a lie in on Sunday mornings! Jesus calls us to put others first and asks us to be servants. Wouldn’t we like to make our own interests our priority as James and John tried to do in the gospel reading? We need encouragement to keep going in spite of the difficulties and we too need to remind each other of the blessings we have through Jesus.
Some of those blessings can be found in our reading. The high priests of the Old Testament offered sacrifices for both their own sin and the sin of the people but they were sacrifices that had to be repeated over and over again. Jesus was called by God, just as Aaron had been, to be our high priest. But in Jesus’ case, he left the glory of heaven to come to earth and be our Saviour. He became the once for all time sacrifice for us when he died on the cross. He died so that our sins could be forgiven. What a wonderful blessing that is!

Jesus was obedient to his Father even through great suffering. Perhaps the verses of this reading make you think of Jesus’ cries and prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, where we certainly glimpse Jesus’ suffering. Jesus asked his Father to take away the sufferings he was to endure for us but then he said, “Not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

If you or your family is going through a difficult time right now and you are suffering in any way, because Jesus suffered, he is able to empathise with you. That is one of the messages of the book of Hebrews. He is with us in our struggles and prays for us. That does make a difference. We can pour out our feelings to Jesus and he understands us. What a blessing that is at such times.

At the end of our reading we read that Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” If we are following Jesus and trying to be obedient, we have this promise for our future. Another amazing blessing!

The writer of Hebrews encouraged those Jewish Christians to keep going and not give up on following Jesus. It wasn’t easy for them. We too might sometimes feel discouraged, especially in Covid times and in an interregnum but Hebrews encourages us to keep going.

Something to think about –  Jesus, the best priest we could ever have. What does that mean for each one of us in our own lives and situations?

Let us declare our faith by saying the Creed.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    

Our prayers today

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we praise and thank you for your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you that Jesus is our Saviour and king, our shepherd and our priest. Thank you that he understands us and yet still loves us more than we can imagine. Please help us to follow Jesus’ example of serving others. Guide us as we try to follow his teaching and help one another.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We pray for our local churches of Fishbourne and Apuldram. May we find the right person to lead our two parishes. In our interregnum we pray especially for our church wardens as this is such a busy time for them. Please strengthen and help them.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Father, as we think about the nations of the world, we pray that their leaders might have compassion and the interests of the people they serve at heart when they make decisions. We pray for the big issues the world is facing, climate change, Covid, food and clean water for everyone, a home and peace for all.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Father, as we think about the MP, Sir David Amess, who lost his life on Friday, we thank you for his life of service and pray for his wife and family in their shock and sadness.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We remember our new mission link with Sarah and Daniel and their two children in Brazil. Be with the girls who live in the safe house they run and may their lives be transformed as they begin to experience the love of Jesus.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We pray for our two village communities and particularly our local schools, their pupils and staff and the residential homes, Cornelius House and Manor Barn and all who live and work there. Comfort and heal all those in our parish, who suffer in body, mind or spirit. Give them courage and hope in their troubles;
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ. We thank you for Roger Langley who died recently and ask that you would comfort his family and friends at this time. We commend them, ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father – accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples.

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. 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.

How can we respond to our time with the Lord today? Let us sing or say this hymn which focuses on Jesus and give thanks for all he has done for us and continues to do in our lives.

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms the troubled breast; ’Tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary, rest.
Dear Name! the Rock on which I build, my Shield and Hiding Place, my never-failing Treas’ry filled with boundless stores of grace!
Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend, my Prophet, Priest, and King; My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought; But when I see Thee as Thou art, I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
Till then I would Thy love proclaim with every fleeting breath, and may the music of Thy name refresh my soul in death.
                                             (John Newton)
The Blessing.
The love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself, the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service, and the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our hearts; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among us and remain with us always.  Amen.

Notices

Please could you pass on this invitation to any families you know. There will be a short (about 45 minutes) all age family service next Sunday 24th October at 4:30pm in Fishbourne Church. We hope to repeat this service on the 4th Sunday of each month.

Our CMS mission link – you can find more information about Daniel and Sarah on a board in church and using the following link,
                     www.churchmissionsociety.org/britomedeiros

18th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
3rd October 2021.

Good morning all.  Welcome to our service.  Today we think of the Harvest currently going on in the fields all around our parishes.  

The Lord be with you.

We begin by saying sorry to God.

Merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

The Collect for Harvest Festival:

Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness and you give us the fruits of the Earth in their season.  Grant that we may use them to your glory, for the relief of those in need and for our own well being, 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   Amen.

Today’s Readings.

1 Timothy 2, 1-7

Matthew 6, 25-33

Reflections from John Sheppard

Harvest is meant to be a joyful time.  All the work, often going on throughout the year, involved in cultivating our food and ensuring its availability to all comes to a glorious conclusion for which we thank God.  I remember harvest as a child.  What seemed like the whole village would meet on Saturday night, enjoy a supper together (usually spam and mashed potato cooked in what seemed to me like a washing machine – appetising ha??) and then play silly games.  On Sunday, piles of goods would be brought to the Church and the sheer plenty of the season was very obvious.  
In the half-century since then, things have changed.  Technology has improved the way we produce food and has perhaps made us more distant from the processes involved.  Parishes rarely seem to hold Harvest Suppers these days.  Despite this, the joy of Harvest should still shine through but somehow, this year, its difficult to see.  Supermarkets seem to find it hard to stock their shelves and problems with availability of lorry drivers, carbon dioxide production and our place in Europe all seem to have come together to make this a stressful and somewhat depressing time.  Someone I was talking to this week seemed to think I was being sarcastic when I mentioned the Church Harvest Festival!!
 
As beacons of Gods presence in the World, its our job as parish churches to remind our villages that, however difficult,  the work goes on and should be celebrated.  Where we all live, a short walk will reveal fields of wonderful produce, all ripening by a combination of God’s grace and human endeavour.  I hope you will be able to see past the continuous “bad news” and celebrate another God-given Harvest.

Amen

With that in mind, lets restate our faith by saying the creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.  I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead.  On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Amen

Lets say the Peace as we do in Church:  “The Peace of the Lord be always with you”.

Let us pray:  

Lord God, on this Harvest Festival, we pray for those involved in producing our food.  May we appreciate how critical their efforts are and, despite all the set backs we give thanks for the Harvest “coming home”

We think of those who have less food than they need, something important not just around the world but also in our own neighbourhood.  We pray for all those who support the work of Stonepillow and the many organisations working within Chichester to help the hungry.    

We also pray for those who are suffering in any way, particularly those known to us.  

Finally we remember those who have died and ask that they may rest in peace.  

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen

And the Lords Prayer: 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. 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.

In conclusion: The Blessing.

May God, the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us this day and always. Amen.

 

14th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
5th September 2021.

Good morning all.  Welcome to our service.  Today we think of the harvest currently going on in the fields all around our parishes.  

The Lord be with you.

We begin by saying sorry to God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect for this week to be said in all Christian Churches:

Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence:  give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.  Amen.

Today’s Readings.

1 Timothy 2, 1-7

Matthew 6, 25-33

Reflections from John Sheppard

These later Sundays after Trinity can sometimes come up with difficult readings.  This week we focus on 1Timothy, a letter written by Paul to his constant companion as he travelled around the Mediterranean on his missionary journeys.  Paul was coming to the end of his life by this time and wanted to ensure Timothy was equipped to carry on his work.  He achieves this by talking of various matters which require attention in the growing network of churches around Asia Minor and in our reading he focuses particularly on church worship.  Central to the Church is one God and one who brings mankind and God together, our Lord Jesus Christ (v5).  Sounds simple but Paul must have felt people needed reminding.  As we progress through the inter regnum period, and work to emerge from the restrictions of covid, various issues arise and these can take a lot of effort to manage.  Various people are working very hard to do this in both our churches and at times, it can feel like a rather up-hill struggle!!  At times like this, the simple truths about why we are here bear repeating and the Letter of Timothy is helpful.  Another piece of clarity Paul offers is that prayer is central to all the church does (v1). It is in answer to prayer that God gives conditions in which Christians can lead peaceable lives and put all their energy into making his good news known to the whole world.  However difficult church life might be, with buildings to maintain, funds to raise, charities to support, parish profiles to develop etc., its helpful to be reminded why its all here in the first place.  In the context of this very relevant letter, I’d like to thank everyone who is involved in this period, and assure you your efforts are appreciated.  I hope, as you wrestle with all the challenges Church life presents, you will bear in mind what its really all about!!

Amen

With that in mind, lets restate our faith in the creed:

We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    

Lets say the Peace as we do in Church:  The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

Let us pray:  

Lord God, we pray for the strength and inspiration needed to carry on your work following Moira’s departure.  We pray for her as she begins her retirement and her new life.  We think of all those involved in carrying on her good work in both our parishes.  

As schools return from holiday, we pray for all those working in local education and give thanks for the opportunity we have to help out at Fishbourne School.  

We also pray for those who are suffering in any way, particularly those known to us.  

Finally we remember those who have died and ask that they may rest in peace.  

We ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen

And the Lords Prayer: 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. 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.

In conclusion, The Blessing.

May God, the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us this day and always. Amen.

11th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
15th August 2021

Good morning everyone. It’s Jenny here today. Welcome to our online service as we meet together in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Today our theme is “Jesus, the living bread”.

The Lord be with you.

We begin by coming before God to say sorry for all the wrong in our lives and for falling short of the way He wants us to live.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)
O God, you declare your almighty power
most chiefly in showing mercy and pity:
mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments,
may receive your gracious promises,
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.
 
Today’s Readings.

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NRSV)

John 6:51-58   (NRSV)

Reflection
Listening to last week’s first reading at Apuldram, I was struck what a practical book Ephesians is. It contains many straightforward dos and don’ts. Today’s epistle reading again is so hands on, giving us a pattern to follow for the whole of our lives. It begins by telling us to be wise. None of us want to be foolish but wisdom is more than having knowledge. It’s about insight and understanding, perception and good judgement in our lives. Those who are wise will have thought about the big questions of life. What is God’s plan for the world? We might put this another way making it a little bit more personal. What am I here for? How do I lead a life that is pleasing to God?

If we explore today’s Gospel we can find some clues. It’s still not easy. Those who had studied their scriptures for many years didn’t know what Jesus was talking about! They knew that one day God would send a Messiah or Saviour but when Jesus came few recognised him.

In John 6 we have the first of Jesus’ “I am” sayings. It comes first in verse 35, “I am the bread of life”, again in verse 48 and a third time in our reading as “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” These “I am” sayings are of great significance because “I am” was one of the central meanings of Yahweh, the holy name for God. Remember when God met Moses at the burning bush and asked God what his name was. God had replied, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)

So when Jesus uses the words “I am”, we need to really take notice! “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” It is Jesus, God’s Son, sent from heaven who urges us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. What does Jesus mean by this?

The gift of his flesh and blood was made at Calvary’s cross when Jesus died for our sin. He died in our place so that might be forgiven for all the wrong we have done. When we acknowledge our sin and turn to the Lord Jesus and come to him believing in that sacrifice of himself for us, we are eating his flesh and drinking his blood. We have been reading today verses at the heart of Christianity.

No-one can believe for us. It’s an old illustration but helpful. Imagine a gift, wrapped and with your name on and given with so much love for you. If the gift is left unopened on the shelf, you will never experience what is inside. You have to take the paper off and find out for yourself. Jesus welcomes us with great joy when we turn to him or return to him if we feel our faith has waned. (Luke 15:10)

God invites each one of us to come to him through faith in his Son. As we give ourselves to him, we receive so many benefits. Listen again what our reading says. “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.” What an amazing promise we are given!

Just as we need to eat and drink daily to live, so we need to trust in our God daily. When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” we are asking, yes for our physical needs but also asking, for his strength to help us in whatever we are facing. Take a moment to share with Him what is on your heart today. It may be a concern for yourself or it may be for a loved one and it can be about anything. Nothing is too big or too small.

When we put our trust in the Lord Jesus it doesn’t mean we’ll have no more problems but we’ll have a Saviour and friend who’ll never leave us. However impossible it seems to sort things out, Jesus will be there for us. Our lives, now and through death and for ever and ever are safe with him.

Our epistle reading told us to be wise but it also encouraged us to be filled with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit. When we are trusting in Jesus, he gives us his Spirit to help us live our lives and that makes all the difference.

Jesus said, “I am the living bread”. Bread is a staple food. May Jesus be the centre of our lives!

Let us declare our faith by saying the Creed.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    
                                               
Let us pray.

Almighty God, we remember Jesus who came from heaven and lived on the earth to show us the way to live. We remember how he died on the cross and rose from the dead to open the way to life everlasting. We praise and thank you for loving us that much. Help us to feed daily on him, the living bread. Thank you for giving us that inner nourishment we all need.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father, we pray for the world wide church, our diocese of Chichester and for our village churches at Fishbourne and Apuldram. May our leaders have wisdom as they make decisions. May your people have boldness to share with others what Jesus means to us.  
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for our world. We hear those words from our first reading to be careful how we live, not as unwise people but as wise. As the subject of climate change has been in the news all week, we pray that the world’s leaders would make the changes necessary, that rich nations would reach out to poorer ones and individually we would play our part. We pray for those suffering from forest fires such as we see in Greece.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving Father we bring before you our own nation and our politicians. May they lead wisely in ways that are compassionate and just and protect the weak. We pray for our health workers and those who provide care for the elderly.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father we pray for your blessing on the homes and work places in our parishes of Fishbourne and Apuldram. We remember the families and individuals living here. May they know that you love them so much and want to help them in their lives. We pray for those in trouble of any kind. At this holiday time for our school children and teachers, we ask for rest and refreshment.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father, we remember those who have recently lost loved ones and ask that you would comfort them. We commend them, ourselves and all creation to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father, – accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples.

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. 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.

You may like to respond by saying or singing the following hymn which focuses on Jesus’ words, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”

I am the bread of life. You who come to me shall not hunger; and who believe in me shall not thirst. No one can come to me unless the Father beckons.
And I will raise you up, and I will raise you up, and I will raise you up on the last day.

The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world, and if you eat of this bread, you shall live for ever, you shall live for ever.
And I will raise you up, and I will raise you up, and I will raise you up on the last day.

Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of his blood, and drink of his blood, you shall not have life within you. And I will raise you up, and I will raise you up, and I will raise you up on the last day.

I am the Resurrection, I am the Life, If you believe in me, even though you die, you shall live for ever. And I will raise you up, and I will raise you up, and I will raise you up on the last day.

Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who has come into the world.
                                      (By Suzanne Toolan)

The Blessing.
Christ, who has nourished us with himself the living bread, make us one in praise and love, and raise us up at the last day; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among us and remain with us always.  Amen.

 

9th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
1st August 2021.

Good morning everyone.  John here.  I hope you are all keeping well,

The Lord be with you.

We begin by saying sorry to God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty God, who sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your church: open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the spirit in love and joy and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Ephesians 4, 1-16

John 6, 24-35

Reflections from John Sheppard

As I write the rules around Covid appear to be relaxing and the government seems keen to emphasise how “normal” things are going to be from now on.  As I’m sure many of you will agree, this is very good news but, in fact, “normal” still seems some way off!!  

Covid has massively impacted the life of all churches and ours is no exception.  I sit here writing, never really knowing who (if anyone!) will read my words.  It’s a long way from standing in front of you all in the flesh as I often did in “normal” times.  Obviously the departure of Moira has not helped. Among other things, this has unfortunately, for now, reduced the frequency of these email services.

This all makes the message in our Epistle today very appropriate.  Paul in his letter to the Ephesians speaks of living life in Christ, united in one church.  Apostles, profits, evangelists and teachers (or in todays language, anyone who considers themselves Christian) must all come together in oneness of faith (v11,12).  Outside of any differences, which of course are inevitable, there is common unity in Christ.  We need to set our sights above any division and keep focused on the responsibility we all share, the responsibility to build up the church of Christ.  

If ever we doubt why we should do this, our Gospel reading has a great answer.  In the first of his “I am” sayings, Jesus declares he is the “bread of life”.  Now of course, we all need to eat and much is made these days about how enjoyable the experience can be.  Jesus takes something as simple as eating and uses it to highlight an important point.  Its all very well working to fill your stomach with conventional food, but working within the church, developing a church for all, provides food of another kind.  The bread which comes down from heaven in the form of Jesus and gives us all the chance of eternal life.

As God’s churches,  we have lots of work to do in the coming months.  Recovering from covid will be no easier for the church than it is for many organisations and we have to do it during a newly started interregnum.  Perhaps, now we have said goodbye to Moira, had a little time to contemplate the future and heard the government remove virtually all restrictions; we should spend a little time in prayer.  May the bread of life be with us all, individually and as a Church, and here is to an exciting and refreshing future

Keep a short silence

Now Let us declare our Faith by saying the Creed:

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    
                                               
Let us pray:

We give thanks for the church throughout the world, and all its leaders.  Thinking particularly of our own St Peter and St Mary’s and St Mary the Virgin Churches as we cautiously return after the pandemic.  We pray for your inspiration as we consider how best to interact with our wider parishes.

We pray for those who are sick in body, mind or spirit.  Be with them and those who care for them.  We particularly bring before you any known particularly to us.

We pray for the souls of any who have died, may they rest in peace.  Again we give thanks for the lives of any known personally to us.

And finally we think of ourselves and our friends, neighbours and any who we know.  May the experiences of recent months bring those around us a new focus which we can cherish amid the challenges to come

Amen

Lets say the Peace as we do in Church:  The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

And the Lords Prayer:

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. 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.

Grant, O Lord, we beseech you, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your governance, that your church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord  Amen.

The Blessing.

May God, who in Christ gives us a spring of water welling up to eternal life, perfect in us the image of His glory, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

 

7th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
18th July 2021

Good morning everyone. Welcome to our online service as we meet together in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It feels a special day today as it is our rector Moira’s last Sunday with us.

The Lord be with you.

We begin by saying sorry to God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Lord of all power and might,
who art the author and giver of all good things;
graft in our hearts the love of thy name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Ephesians 2:11-22 (NRSV)
One in Christ

11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (NRSV)
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Reflection from Jenny Blamire

As I sat down to write this reflection, I was very conscious that today is Moira’s last Sunday at Fishbourne Church and last Sunday was her goodbye service at Apuldram. We come to today with very mixed emotions. Moira, we are so sad to say farewell and so grateful to you for your nearly eleven years of ministry amongst us. We want to say a very big thank you for all your loving care during this time and to send you into retirement with our love, prayers and best wishes.

I wondered what the readings for today might say to our new situation, at the start of a period of interregnum. The first reading is about unity, written to the church at Ephesus by St Paul, from Rome where he was imprisoned in about 60AD. We can hardly imagine how difficult, and wonderful, it was that Jews and Gentiles could be united to form the Christian church. It was their both now being “in Christ” that made this possible. This reading explains how if we have put our trust in the Lord Jesus we are part of a single family, the church.

It will be good for us to remember that together we are “in Christ” and God has a plan for our future in Fishbourne and Apuldram.

 When I looked at the Gospel reading my Bible was headed “The feeding of the five thousand”. I was then very surprised to see that the verses chosen were from before and after that great miracle but the story itself wasn’t included. What do these verses have to say to us at this time? I’d like to pick out just two things.

First we hear of the disciples returning after being sent out by Jesus to preach to the people about repentance, that they should say sorry to God and turn back to Him. We read that many people were healed. Jesus was teaching his disciples and preparing them for the time when he would go back to heaven and they would carry on his work on earth. The disciples must have been very excited and wanted to tell Jesus all that had happened. They were also very tired and Jesus noticed this.  He was concerned for them so he suggested they all get in a boat and go where they could get some peace and quiet.

There’s no doubt that an interregnum means more work especially for our church wardens. We need to look after them and notice when they’re in need of rest. It might mean offering to help ourselves. Revd. Martha has kindly stepped in to help us and take our services. She already has a full time job. Let’s do all we can to lighten her load. We must care for one another especially during this coming time.

The second thing I’d like us to notice is how Jesus reacted when his plans for rest were thwarted. We read how he was full of compassion for the crowd who were waiting. Jesus saw their need. Our Gospel reading today emphasises Jesus’ concern for the ordinary people with two similar accounts of those who flocked to meet him. We too must look outwards and be concerned for those outside our church. That is the mission Jesus gave to his disciples then and to us today. We must show kindness to our families, our friends and neighbours, those in our street and in our communities. We are called to have compassion for all who don’t know about Jesus and the Father’s amazing love for them.

Surprisingly good readings for the start of an interregnum! The first reading with its call to unity. If we keep our eyes on Jesus and what he has done for us, we’ll be on the right path. The Gospel reading provides Jesus’ example of concern for his disciples and for the ordinary people. We must be aware of one another’s needs but also not forget those in the wider community. May our love and compassion be a hallmark of the interregnum.

Let us declare our faith by saying the Creed.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    
                                               
Let us pray.

Almighty God, we thank you for Jesus’ example of compassion for his disciples and for all the people he encountered. Please help us to act with love and compassion towards all in our community and to show concern for one another.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father, we pray for the world wide church and for our diocese of Chichester. Guide church leaders to make wise decisions so that many may know the love you have for all your creation. Please help our PCCs as they meet in the coming week.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for our troubled world. May we play our part in supporting those who don’t have enough food, clean water and the shelter they need. We ask for peace where there is now conflict and fear.
We remember those who are suffering due to coronavirus, those who are ill, those in hospital, those who have lost loved ones to this disease and all who live in dread of catching it.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving Father we bring before you our own nation. We ask that our national and local politicians will lead wisely in ways that are compassionate and just.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the residents of Fishbourne and Chichester. We remember our local schools as children and teachers approach the summer holidays. May they find rest and refreshment. We pray for all who are suffering from worries, ill health and loneliness. We remember the elderly living in Cornelius House and Manor Barn. May they know the assurance of your presence with them.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for Moira as she takes this next step into retirement. Thank you for all her years of service in your church and especially for her ministry amongst us. We ask for your blessing on her life and her family.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father, we remember those who have recently lost loved ones and ask that you would comfort them. We commend them, ourselves and all creation to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father, – accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples.

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. 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.

Let us say or sing the following hymn, one I think of Moira’s favourites, which draws together some of our thoughts today.

1. Brother, sister, let me serve you; let me be as Christ to you; pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too. 2. We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road; we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load. 3. I will hold the Christlight for you in the night-time of your fear; I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear. 4. I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you; I will share your joy and sorrow, till we’ve seen this journey through. 5. When we sing to God in heaven, we shall find such harmony, born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony. 6. Brother, sister, let me serve you; let me be as Christ to you; pray that l may have the grace to let you be my servant too.
                                                              (By Richard Gillard)

The Blessing.

The love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself, the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service, and the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our hearts; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among us and remain with us always.  Amen.

Notices today

Online services

We plan to continue putting an online service on our website. John Sheppard will prepare one on the 1st Sunday of the month and I’ll be doing another on the 3rd Sunday.

Bibles for leavers at Fishbourne Primary

As in previous years, we will be giving a gift to those who will be leaving Fishbourne school. We have purchased a lovely book of prayers for each young person. We did this a couple of years ago and it was very much appreciated. Given that young people have coped with so much during the pandemic, it seemed appropriate to give them a resource that they can use in any situation they find themselves.

We are not doing a huge plea for donations, you have all been so very generous already this year, but we are aware that some of you really like to give towards this. If you do wish to give a donation please contact Robert Christie, our treasurer at Fishbourne. The books will be presented at the leavers’ service which will take place in July. All being well this will be outdoors. Each young person will take this next step with our love and prayers.

 

5th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
4th July 2021.

Good morning everyone.  John here.  I hope you are all keeping well,

The Lord be with you.

We begin by saying sorry to God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified:  hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

2 Corinthians 12, v.2-10

Mark 6, v1-13

Reflections from John Sheppard

Many people have mentioned how recent months have highlighted the importance of the people around us.  The significance of friends, family, neighbours or even strangers who we pass in the street seems to have increased and in my street there have been more conversations between neighbours than there ever were before.  Perhaps highlighting the significance of human contact, which we took for granted before, is one of the few positive outcomes of covid.

With that positive message in mind, reading today’s Gospel is perhaps a bit of a shock.  Jesus was at the height of his ministry and had emerged from the amazing events involving the raising of Jairus’ daughter which we can read about at the end of Mark 5.  Everyone must have been talking about the man from Nazareth who performed miracles and successfully taught immense crowds.  Against this background, today’s reading records a return by Jesus to his hometown of Nazareth.  As usual he begun teaching but this time, the peoples familiarity with his background and family seems to have encouraged them to reject him and his message.  The passage brought to my mind the well-known proverb “familiarity breeds contempt”.     It seems extensive knowledge of or close association with someone can easily lead to a loss of respect for them.  

Looking into this further, what comes over many times in Marks Gospel is the link between faith and miracles.  Its complete trust or confidence in someone such as Jesus which leads crowds to listen to his word and many sick lame and even the dead to be restored.  Again and again, the faith of the recipient of Jesus powers is emphasised as vital to its effectiveness.  As our reading goes on (verse 7) Jesus sends the twelve on a mission to preach and use their newfound powers over evil spirits.  As he briefs them for this, Jesus’ attitude to the faithless is clear.  Don’t waste time with them and, as you leave, shake the dust from your feet as a warning to the faithless (v11).

As we ease ourselves back to some form of normality, perhaps we should bear all this in mind.  As we become free to travel around and experience new things, lets avoid our new found freedoms making us take our local surroundings and those in it for granted.  If we want to hang on to our covid born enthusiasm for things and people local, lets avoid contempt for the familiar.  If we want an active relationship with God through Jesus Christ lets remember how important faith is.  I hope you would agree that this rather stern passage from Mark 6 is strikingly relevant to the present and I hope it helps shape the “new normal”.

Yours in Christ

John

Notices:

As you already know, Moira’s final service will be on Sunday 18th July, 9.30 a.m. at Fishbourne, a bit sooner than anticipated.  Further details to follow.

For now we plan to continue with this form of service in addition to those we do in church, at least twice a month.  Any feedback on this idea welcome!!

As in previous years, we will be giving a gift to those who will be leaving Fishbourne school, we have purchased a lovely book of prayers for each young person, we did this a couple of years ago, and it was very much appreciated. Given that young people have coped with so much during the pandemic, it seemed appropriate to give them a resource that they can use in any situation they find themselves.

We are not doing a huge plea for donations, you have all been so very generous already this year, but we are aware that some of you really like to give towards this, so if you do wish to give a donation, please do contact Robert Christie, our treasurer at Fishbourne. The books will be presented at the leavers service which will take place in July, all being well this will be outdoors. Each young person will take this next step with our love and prayers.

Now Let us declare our Faith by saying the Creed:

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    
                                               
Let us pray:

For the church throughout the world, as it continues to freely share God’s love.  Thinking particularly of our own St Peter and St Mary’s and St Mary the Virgin Churches as we enter a new and difficult phase.  We pray for inspiration and energy for those who will be doing new and exciting tasks within your church

We pray for all those who are suffering the effects of the pandemic, both physical and mental and for those who care for them and who work so hard in the vaccine programme.

For the nations of the world, for those forced from their homeland, the hungry the thirsty and those who live in constant fear.

For our own communities, especially for those who care for the beautiful countryside around us.  Help us all to understand the value and fragility of the world we live in

And finally, for those we know personally who are in any kind of need, in nursing homes, and in our local hospice. May they all be enfolded in God’s loving arms. Amen

Lets say the Peace as we do in Church:  The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

And the Lords Prayer:

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. 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.

Grant, O Lord, we beseech you, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your governance, that your church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord  Amen.

The Blessing.

May God, who in Christ gives us a spring of water welling up to eternal life, perfect in us the image of His glory, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

 

FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
27th June 2021.

Good morning everyone, I hope you are all keeping well,

The Lord be with you.

We begin by saying sorry to God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is Holy. Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that with you as out ruler and guide we may so pass-through things temporal that we lose not out hold on things eternal. Grant this, heavenly Father for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

You may wish to read these in your Bible, if not please they can be found here.

2 Corinthians 8, v7-24

Mark 5, v21-43

KEEPING YOU IN THE PICTURE.

Dear all, instead of the normal reflection this week, I felt it was important to bring you up to date with a few bits of news.

But firstly, may I say a huge thank you for all your kind messages and cards. They have really warmed my heart at this difficult uncertain, slightly scary time. You really are terrific and I am going to miss you all very much. Thank you for putting up with me for so long.

My final service will be on Sunday 18th July, 9.30 a.m. at Fishbourne, a bit sooner than I had anticipated but I’m afraid it is getting increasingly difficult for me to do services etc.

I think something is secretly being planned, possibly so that you can put the flags out. But given the restrictions that we have to abide with for a while yet, it will be small and simple. Don’t feel sad about this, and please don’t forget you did a wonderful celebration lunch for my 25th anniversary, an event I will never forget. Further information as to what will happen on the 18th will be coming out soon, or may even have been sent out already, I’m not allowed to know.

I really don’t need to be thanked, the greatest thanks that you will give to me, will be in the way you embrace these next few months, remember, parishes always flourish when there is no vicar around, so have fun, but do behave. Look after each other, and do all you can to build up your church. Everyone has a special gift, so work together for the good of all. I am confident that you will achieve great things, and although no big changes are allowed to be made during this time, it is perfectly ok to do special events and services now and then.

We haven’t quite sorted everything out yet, but I can give you some news at this stage.

Some of you will be aware that David Hider stepped back from public ministry a few months ago. I am truly grateful for all his support and help over so many years, and I’m sure you are as well. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.

Because of this, services in the coming months will be covered in the main, by Martha, who is currently attached to St. Paul’s church. She will do most of the weddings, baptisms and funerals in both of our churches. And will be available for you if you need her. She is lovely, so do make her welcome, be gentle with her, and please give her time to find her feet. Hopefully Martha will write a bit about herself which will be sent out soon.

For now, services on a Sunday morning will continue in the same way, but things may change in the coming months depending on updated rules re Covid. Keep an eye on the website for announcements.

To build up the number of services, John and Jenny, our two Readers will be starting a Sunday afternoon non-communion service, aimed at families who find it difficult to book a place in the mornings. Watch this space for further news.

They will also take responsibility for the online service which will continue to be sent out at least twice a month. Jenny will take over producing the list of readings which will also be on the church websites, and encourage some of you at Fishbourne to read the 1st reading at each service, (Apuldram already do this), and take a turn in leading the prayers. We felt this was a good time to begin getting back to ‘normal’.

The PCC’s of each church will be working very hard, as will the wardens, so please do keep them in your prayers. They will ultimately be in charge of your parishes and make the decisions that will need to be made. Regular updates will be given by them once I have left.

Gifts for school leavers.

As in previous years, we will be giving a gift to those who will be leaving Fishbourne school, we have purchased a lovely book of prayers for each young person, we did this a couple of years ago, and it was very much appreciated. Given that young people have coped with so much during the pandemic, it seemed appropriate to give them a resource that they can use in any situation they find themselves.

We are not doing a huge plea for donations, you have all been so very generous already this year, but we are aware that some of you really like to give towards this, so if you do wish to give a donation, please do contact Robert Christie, our treasurer at Fishbourne. The books will be presented at the leavers service which will take place in July, all being well this will be outdoors. Each young person will take this next step with our love and prayers.

I will stop here for now, but please do not hesitate to ask your PCC members and wardens if you have any questions. May God Bless you all. Moira. x

Let us declare our awesome Faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.,
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    
                                               
This week please do pray.

For the church throughout the world, as it continues to share God’s love with those around them in word and deed.

We pray for all those who worry about losing their homes and their income.

For those nations who are not at peace, and for those driven from their homeland, the hungry the thirsty and those who live in constant fear.

For our own communities, especially for those who care for the beautiful countryside around us.
For our families, friends, and neighbours.

For those we know who are in any kind of need, we remember those in hospital, and those who care for them, in nursing homes, and in our local hospice. May they all be enfolded in God’s loving arms. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

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. 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.

The Blessing.

May God, who in Christ gives us a spring of water welling up to eternal life, perfect in us the image of His glory, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

 

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
20th June 2021.

Good morning everyone, what wonderful weather we have been having,

The Lord be with you.

We begin by saying sorry to God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father; give us grace to dedicate out freedom to your service, that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God. 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. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

2 Corinthians 6. V. 1-13

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
    and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

Mark 4. V. 35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Reflection written by Jenny

I love Chichester harbour. One of my favourite views is from Romans Landing at West Wittering, looking through the harbour and up to the South Downs. Imagine the sun shining, hardly a ripple on the water, reflections of the boats clearly visible. It must have been similar on Lake Galilee when Jesus, tired and hot, suggested a sail on the lake. Some of his disciples were fishermen and had access still to their boats. What a perfect way to finish a busy day!

In these boats there would be a comfortable seat in the stern for a guest. A piece of carpet and cushion might be provided to make it special. Jesus was their leader and was given this place. He was soon deep asleep and knew nothing of the breeze that came out of nowhere or the dark clouds coming quickly towards them. Lake Galilee was, due its topography, well known for the sudden squalls that could catch you out but even the fishermen on the boat hadn’t predicted this one coming. They could be very nasty and this one was turning into a right humdinger. These grown men were scared stiff and feared for their lives as by now waves were hitting the sides of the boat and filling the boat with water. The boat was being tossed around wildly, everyone who could was bailing water out, their very lives felt threatened and Jesus was still fast asleep through all this mayhem. You do get the feeling the disciples weren’t best pleased with him with their “Don’t you care we’re perishing?”

What happened next? Mark describes Jesus speaking to the wind and waves and a supernatural calm descending on the lake. No wonder the disciples were filled with awe! They were Jewish men and would have known their Scriptures really well. A roaring sea was symbolic of evil. They had sung the Psalms which speak of God calming the waters. Psalm 89:9 “ You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.” This was what Jesus had just done for them. What did that say to them about who Jesus is?

Maybe we can avoid storms at sea by keeping our feet on dry ground but none of us can avoid the storms that from time-to-time rock our lives. Everything is rosy one minute when trouble comes from out of the blue. I don’t have to look far amongst my own family and friends to think of those going through difficult times. You may be having such a time right now. You may be worried about someone who is very dear to you. They may be young, old or somewhere in the middle. The storm might be ill health, it might be the loss of a close relative, it might be job related, failing an exam, worries about money, where are we going to live…the list is endless. It might be a storm affecting those we love and our hearts ache for them. Just take a moment to quietly think of your life and of others around you.

How can this story about Jesus calming a storm help us today and, in the future, when we find ourselves in the stormy seas that beset our lives?  

The disciples woke Jesus up and they were very honest about their feelings. “They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” In their heart of hearts, the disciples knew Jesus cared for them but in the heat of the storm they didn’t feel he was helping them. This story gives us permission to tell Jesus exactly how we’re feeling. There is no one better to share our concerns with than Jesus. In fact, he wants us to share our lives with him.

Jesus rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” While the storms in our lives don’t usually disappear in an instant, Jesus can give us a peace. Look at the apostle Paul in our first reading. He certainly had some stormy seas to negotiate! Afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger… to name just a few! Paul described God’s peace as one that “transcends all understanding” and one which can “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:7) The more we can put our whole trust in the Lord Jesus, so we will experience his peace in times of anxiety. It’s not something we can explain but it’s based on God’s word to us as we receive it from the Bible.  

As I look back through my notebook which is full of jottings when I’ve particularly needed to know God’s peace in my own life, I find many verses which have helped me through. When I use my daily Bible reading notes if a verse seems particularly relevant, I write it down and meditate on it during the day. Looking back, one example would be Psalm 91:1-2, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Many verses in the Psalms particularly talk of God being a rock, a refuge, a fortress, a hiding place, our strength and a present help in trouble. As we trust God and dwell on these verses so we will experience this for ourselves. Let us get to know God’s word, the Bible, so that when we go through storms in our lives, it will sustain us. If you are in the middle of a storm right now, Jesus, who loves us more than we can ever imagine, hears our cries and wants us to know God’s peace.

Let us declare our awesome Faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.,
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    
                                               
This week please do pray.

For the church throughout the world, as it continues to share God’s love with those around them in word and deed.

For the world and our own nation as it continues to struggle with the Covid restrictions, and for those who feel so very anxious about the future. We pray for all those who worry about losing their homes and their income.

For those nations who are not at peace, and for those driven from their homeland, the hungry the thirsty and those who live in constant fear.

For our own communities, especially for those who care for the beautiful countryside around us.
For our families, friends, and neighbours.

For those we know who are in any kind of need, we remember those in hospital, and those who care for them, in nursing homes, and in our local hospice. May they all be enfolded in God’s loving arms. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

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. 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.

The Blessing.

May God, who in Christ gives us a spring of water welling up to eternal life, perfect in us the image of His glory, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

 

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
13th June 2021

THANK YOU for joining us in our weekly on-line act of worship.

Let us bring to mind our repeated failures to love God, his people and his Creation.
                                    [Pause]

O King enthroned on high, filling the earth with your glory:
holy is your name, Lord God almighty.
In our sinfulness we cry to you to take our guilt away,
and to cleanse our lips to speak your word,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins,
and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To which we respond, by saying [or singing to the tune ‘Ode to Joy’]

Glory be to God in heaven,
peace to those who love him well;
on the earth let all his people
speak his grace, his wonders tell:
Lord, we praise you for your glory,
mighty Father, heaven’s king;
hear our joyful adoration
and accept the thanks we bring.

Only Son of God the Father,
Lamb who takes our sin away,
now with God in triumph seated
for your mercy, Lord, we pray:
Jesus Christ, most high and holy,
Saviour, you are God alone
in the glory of the Father
with the Spirit: Three-in-One!
 
We pray the Collect (today’s Special Prayer)

Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians,
chapter 5, verses 6 to 17

Brothers and sisters, we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark,
chapter 4, verses 26 to 34

Such a large crowd gathered around Jesus that he got into a boat and began to teach them using many parables. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

A reflection for this week

‘What do we want?’ ‘When do we want it?’ are the two shout-outs that accompany almost every protest march in our towns and cities. Of course, the response to the second question is always ‘Now!’ Increasingly, we seem to be living in a time of ‘wanting things now’! We are encouraged to ‘tap our card’ for purchases, rather than use cash which might cause the question of affordability to arise. All around us are the suggestions that credit is cheap with the lure of trying to get us to buy goods that we might not otherwise have considered getting ‘now’. How many are tempted to follow up emails sent or telephone calls made that have not be returned as quickly as we would wish? And, to be completely honest, recently, I know that I have been guilty of this same thinking as a couple of happenings within my family have led me into the cry for a solution ‘now!’.

It is true that, so often, we want things done ‘yesterday’. This was illustrated in the four generational tallest sunflower growing competition within my family. We used the same variety of seeds and planted them on the same day. It is interesting that the oldest generation (that is, me) went for the seed-in-a-pot-in-the-cold-frame option for germination while the younger members went for windowsill-above-a-radiator option. Yes, their seeds were showing first, but soon were spindly – and one even flowered at less than thirty centimetres tall! This is with the exception of the great-grandchildren who dug their seeds up after a few days just to see if they were growing! Needless to say I still think that the great-grandchildren will win the competition!   

Universally, if we are honest, we hate waiting for time and effort to take its course. ‘Lord, give it to me now, and make it quick!’, is the thought that underlies our more moderate verbal requests. But, real, productive, positive and worthwhile growth does not necessarily, or often, happen overnight – and Jesus gave the example of a living, growing mustard tree to illustrate the steady, unhurried growth of the Kingdom of God. We, in the UK, are used to cutting our sprouted-on-cotton wool mustard (mixed with cress) seed for salads and sandwiches when it is barely three inches tall. But, in Palestine, there is more than one species of mustard that grows tall enough to give a perch and shelter to the birds.

We have entered the long Trinity season and, instead of being largely-based on the various stages of Jesus’ life – primarily, his Passion and what followed – we now take time to explore his teaching in more detail. And, much of that teaching was about the Kingdom of God. It starts in a person’s heart, as hidden or buried seed. But, it cannot stay hidden. As the green shoot breaks through the soil into full view, the working of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life becomes visible to others. And, if God’s Kingdom-Spirit has found a congenial environment (that is a life devoted to Jesus), it will grow and grow. But, it needs that seed-beginning – the first step to engage with Jesus. Once that has been made, the Spirit can go to work.

We should note that the mustard tree does not grow only for its own benefit – but to provide a home and shelter for the birds. In the same way, people come to those whose Christian lives are making a positive impact. They come with their problems, their sickness, their grief and, sometimes with their joys. And, when our comfort, help and guidance is sought, we need to pray that, out of his fullness, wisdom and love, the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say and the best help to give.

There is a semi-tropical ‘Tree of Heaven’ with long leaves, each consisting of many small leaflets (according to my research, ‘Ailanthus altissimo’ is a deciduous tree native to northeast / central China and Taiwan). This might be seen as a living parable of the Kingdom of heaven as taught by Jesus. But, where are we on this tree? A stout branch, giving rise to smaller twigs clothed with many leaves? Or, if we are new to the faith, are we still little leaves, growing bigger each day? Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is within us. How does it come?  Perhaps, when we pray. Just think for a moment:
In every building the first stone must be laid and the first blow into the ground must be struck.  
The ark was one hundred and twenty years in building – yet, there was a day when Noah laid his axe to the first tree that he cut down to form it.  
The temple of Solomon was a glorious building – yet, there was a day when the first huge stone was laid at the foot of Mount Moriah.  
So, when does the building of the Spirit really begin to appear in a person’s heart? As far as can be judged, it begins when he/she first admits to ‘what they want’ and proceed to pour out their heart to God in prayer. This is the tailor-made time for a ‘now’ response, if ever there was one!  The result is that, with our prayers plus God’s grace, the Kingdom starts to grow in us before we even begin to realise!

A Christian Creed
Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We believe in God the Father,
God almighty, by whose plan
earth and heaven sprang to being,
all created things began.
We believe in Christ the Saviour,
Son of God in human frame,
virgin-born, the child of Mary
upon whom the Spirit came.

Christ, who on the Cross forsaken,
like a lamb to slaughter led,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
he descended to the dead.
We believe in Jesus risen,
heaven’s king to rule and reign,
to the Father’s side ascended
till as judge he comes again.

We believe in God the Spirit;
in one Church, below, above:
saints of God in one communion,
one in holiness and love.
So by faith, our sins forgiven,
Christ our Saviour, Lord and friend,
we shall rise with him in glory
to the life that knows no end. Amen.

(Or may be sung to any 87.87. or 87.87D. tune, such as ‘Alleluia, sing to Jesus’)

Some prayers which pick up the theme of today’s teaching to show
that from small beginnings and by God’s power, the Kingdom of Heaven grows.

Father God, keep the Church constant in faith and works, secure against the conflicting demands of the world. May the Kingdom grow in clusters of Christians all over the world, as well as within our community. May it grow as hearts are warmed by an encounter with the living God, nourished by word and sacrament, private prayer and public worship. Make your people ready to meet the needs of all with love and care. Bless the leadership of your Church throughout the world.

Father God, give peace to all places in the world that are torn by the storms of injustice, war and violence. Come into the hearts of the powerful, giving them a desire to be reconciled, to live in harmony with others in a spirit of willingness to share more equally both the earth’s resources and, at this time, the distribution of Covid vaccines. May your Kingdom grow in states, empires and monarchies, in the crowded streets of cities, towns and rural communities and in all decision-making and use of resources.

Father God, in our work, let us remember that we are workers together with Jesus. May the Kingdom grow in every human shelter and home, every place of work and education, in each conversation and in our mutual care of one another.

Father God, have mercy on those who have no peace in themselves and bring them the peace of your presence. May the Kingdom grow to give peace and healing wherever there is pain or sadness and to bring reassurance, comfort, courage and hope, especially to any who are suffering as a result of the effects of Covid itself or the knock-on effects of the management of the pandemic.

Father God, in the knowledge that we must all face judgement, we pray for those who have crossed from life through death, thanking you for your loving mercy, and entrusting our loved ones to your safe keeping. Bring comfort to all who mourn.

Father God, as we thank you for all your blessings to us, we offer you the rest of our lives in love and service in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Heavenly Father, you have ordained that mankind should both work and rest.
We pray for Moira whose vocation of full-time ministry is coming to a close
and who is now facing the new challenge of retirement.
Prepare her and her family in mind and spirit
for this change in the pattern of their lives,
that their future days and years may be positive and creative,
beneficial to the community and rewarding to all who know them:
for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Father God, we bring before you your fellow-workers
whose responsibility it will be to keep these parishes running
during the period of vacancy.
Grant them humility and self-effacement in their service,
the art of listening to one another,
the readiness to accept prayerful and democratic decisions,
an understanding of the different characters involved
and the ability to maintain creative relationships.
We ask it in the name of the one true Master, Jesus Christ. Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:

Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us with the teaching of your Son:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Faithful Creator,
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word:
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

 

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
6th June 2021.

Good morning everyone, what wonderful weather we have been having, I hope all you families have had a super half term.

The Lord be with you.

We begin by saying sorry to God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you; we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you, mercifully accept our prayers and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no-good thing without you, grant us the help of your grace, that in the keeping of your commandments, we may please you both in will and deed; 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. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

2 Corinthians 4, v. 13 – 5, v. 1

Just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Mark 3, v. 20-35

The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Reflection from John Sheppard

We have all had a difficult time over recent months (or even years) since the pandemic began.  Many aspects of life have been negatively impacted, not least church activities.  Previously, Fishbourne and Apuldram enjoyed a rich programme of worship and events, which at best have had to change dramatically, and at worst, have disappeared from the diary.  In some ways its rewarding to see the efforts made to do things differently and maintain some form of worship (for example using Zoom and booking systems) but the openness of Church of England services and the human contact that surrounded them are sorely missed by many.

Having said all that, the church has had difficulties to deal with throughout its history.  St Paul’s New Testament writings provide some insight into issues which confronted the early Church.  His two letters to the church community at Corinth in AD55 paint a bleak picture of the work needed to sort out what Paul saw as real problems.  Some members had openly criticised Paul and internal strife was damaging the mission to the Roman Empire of which Corinth was part.  It’s worth noting that issues talked of by Mark in today’s Gospel (for example in 3, 24-26), relating to division and strife are similar to those in 2 Corinthians.  Ultimately though, Paul reminds his readers of God raising our Lord Jesus to new life for all our sakes (v14) and how this should keep us focused on developing our mission, even in very difficult circumstances.

We do now seem to be emerging from lockdowns, restrictions and fear of human contact, albeit slowly.  Although recent stories about the impact made on church mission (for example possible closure of St Pauls Cathedral and the swinging cuts visible for all to see at our own Cathedral) don’t inspire confidence, we at Fishbourne and Apuldram will, I know, remain united and focused on building a positive and sustained post covid mission.  How lovely it will be when we can sing hymns and anthems together, see our choir sitting in the chancel and take Holy Communion in the time-honoured way, whilst perhaps even adding new approaches to broaden our mission.  That day is surely not too far away and a read of 2 Corinthians might help the faltering confidence of some of us.

One of Paul’s verses (2Cor 4,16) sums up the way forward he saw.  “We never become discouraged.  Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day”.  Difficult though he can be to read, Paul often provides inspiration when its most needed and this verse seems particularly apposite currently.  Stay safe and surely “normality” is just around the corner?

Yours in Christ, John

Let us declare our awesome Faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.,
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    
                                               
This week please do pray.

For the church throughout the world, as it rises to the new challenges that lie ahead. For our Wardens, PCC members, John and |Jenny our Readers, and our amazing treasurers.

For the world as it continues to struggle with Covid, and for those who continue to feel anxious about the future. We pray for those who worry about losing their homes and their income.

For those nations who are not at peace, and for those driven from their homeland.

For our own communities, we give thanks for those who worked so hard creating an amazing cycle track at the Fishbourne playing fields.
For our families, friends, and neighbours.

For those we know who are in any kind of need, we remember those in hospital, in nursing homes, and in our local hospice. May they all be enfolded in God’s loving arms. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

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. 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.

The Blessing.

May God, who in Christ gives us a spring of water welling up to eternal life, perfect in us the image of His glory, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

We say or sing:

One more step along the world I go,
One more step along the world I go.
From the old things to the new,
Keep me travelling along with you.

And it’s from the old I travel to the new,
Keep me travelling along with you.

Round the corner of the world I turn,
More and more about the world I learn.
All the new things that I see
You’ll be looking at along with me.

And it’s from…….

Give me courage when the world is rough,
Keep me loving though the world is tough,
Leap and sing in all I do,
Keep me travelling along with you.

And it’s from the………..

Have a great week. Next Sunday the service will be at Apuldram church.

 

TRINITY SUNDAY
30th May 2021.

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our service as we meet together in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Lord be with you.

We say or sing:

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, Blessed Trinity.

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, Blessed Trinity.

We say sorry to God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you; we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith,
To acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity.
And in the power of the divine majesty to worship the unity,
Keep us steadfast in this faith, that we may evermore be defended form all adversities,
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. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Romans. 8 v. 12-17

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

John 3. v. 1-17

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Today’s Reflection

Today we celebrate the awesome glorious Trinity. A very special day in the church calendar, and yet it is a day which puts real fear into the hearts of many good and able preachers. But why is this, what is the problem with the concept of the Trinity.
The simple answer is that a lot of people think they have to be able to give a theological explanation about it, which really is not necessary, and virtually impossible to put into words.

Let’s take a moment to think about how we would describe a tiger to someone who has never seen one before. I’m pretty sure we would not use the dictionary definition of: a Fierce Asiatic feline mammal, tawny in colour, with black stripes.
Whatever words might be used, we could never fully convey the beauty, power and energy of such a magnificent creature.

Or, how about when you look at a photo of people who were at a wedding. You can describe what they are wearing, what they looked like, and even who were the main characters, but you cannot convey the complex personality and dynamic relationships that may be shared among them.
A tiger and a group of people are the kind of things that we need to experience personally before we can understand what they are really like.

And if this applies to those two, how much more will it be true of anything concerning God and our relationship with Him as Father, Son and holy Spirit.
The truth about the Trinity is that is has to be experienced, not just read about.
For words are inadequate, we cannot, no matter how clever we might be pin down an elusive mystery and restrict it in a lifeless form of words.
We need to find ways of expressing our understanding of the Holy Trinity in terms of energy, relationship and creativity within the Trinity itself.
Then we need to go beyond that to discover something of the dynamic energy that exists in the relationship between God in three persons and his beloved creation.
Our gospel reading today, offers us vivid word pictures of the love of God which dances between the three persons of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and which seeks to draw others into that dance of love and delight.
Several times in His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus uses the image of being born again, it’s as if He is trying to get across how completely different life with God is, so different it’s like entering a whole new world.

We are also reminded that it is always God who takes the initiative in the salvation of His creation.
And it is God who reaches out to each of us personally, inviting us to join in His Holy Dance.
Being born into a new life might sound scary, for it is a journey into the unknown, but when we believe that we are totally dependent on the one who gives this new life, we can respond wholeheartedly.
For we are all children of God, may we all join in the awesome dance of life and love.

May God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you, inspire you and enable you to be born again and again, don’t worry about trying to explain the Trinity to others, just encourage them to experience it in all that they do. Amen.

Let us declare our awesome Faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.,
We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.
We believe in God the Holy spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.    
                                               
This week please do pray.

For the church throughout the world, that it may work together in unity, respecting the differences of others, and valuing all of God’s people.

For the world as it continues to struggle with Covid, and for those who feel anxious about the future.

For those nations who are not at peace, and for those driven from their homeland.

For our own communities, this week we pray for all our local schools, for pupils and staff as they begin their half term holiday.
For our families, friends, and neighbours

For those we know who are in any kind of need, may they be enfolded in God’s loving arms. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

Let us pray:

Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and live and reign int eh perfect unity of love, hold us firm in this faith, that we may know you in all your ways and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory, who are three Persons yet one God, now and forever, 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. 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.

The Blessing.

God the Holy Trinity make us strong in faith and love, defend us on every side, and guide us in truth and peace; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

We say or sing:

Father we love you, we worship and adore you,
Glorify your name in all the earth,
Glorify your name, glorify your name,
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Jesus, we love you, we worship and adore you,
Glorify your name in all the earth,
Glorify your name, glorify your name,
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Spirit we love you, we worship and adore you,
Glorify your name in all the earth,
Glorify your name, glorify your name,
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Have a great week. Next Sunday the service will be at Fishbourne church.

Dear all, a church spring clean is being organised for Thursday 3rd June, starting at 10.00, if you would like to help, please contact Jennie on: 01243 532642.

To keep everyone safe, you will all be allocated an area to do, face masks will be worn and although you may chat together outside, we ask that once the church is cleaned that you don’t hang around in the building. Please do bring your own, dusters, polish etc. Many, many thanks in advance.

 

PENTECOST.
23rd May 2021.

Happy Pentecost everyone, May the Holy Spirit fill you to the brim.

The Lord be with you.

We say or sing:

Holy Spirit we welcome you,
Holy Spirit we welcome you,
Move among us with holy fire,
as we lay aside all earthly desire,
hands reach out and hearts aspire,
Holy spirit, Holy Spirit,
Holy Spirit, we welcome you.

We say sorry for the times we have forgotten to share God’s love.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you; we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

God, who at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit to have right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort, through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Acts 2, v1-21
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
        and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
        before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’


John 15.v.  26-27; and 16. V. 4b-15
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”
 

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Today’s Reflection

There is no doubt that the people who saw what the disciples did at that first Pentecost morning, were more than amazed.
Suddenly, these men who had been hiding away in fear, were now out in the streets talking of God’s power.
And in lots of different languages. They had gone from being quiet and downcast, to confident in what they were doing.
It is no wonder people asked, ‘what does all this mean?’.

Pentecost is first of all, a great breaking in. A breaking in of the Holy Spirit with such irrepressible energy, in the form of wind, fire and flame.
Having broken in, the disciples were empowered, so much so, that through them, the Holy Spirit then broke out into the world, spilling out onto the streets because those first disciples were filled with such awesome power.
They had a story to tell, the greatest one of all time, and they told it with such passion and energy that they captivated the hearts of those who heard their words and saw their behaviour.
And, so the story of our faith, the story of the church began.

Ultimately, Pentecost is far more than simply the telling of a story, it is far more than those first disciples just sharing their experience. Their message was electrifying, for it is one that allows all people to dream their wildest dreams of how the world could be. One that allows us all to see the most amazing visions of what abundant life truly means.
Ultimately, the message of Pentecost is a message of radical, life changing, exciting transformation.
The Holy Spirit threw the doors and windows open, compelling the disciples to go out into the world and share it with others.
The question for us is, does it still enable us to dream the impossible, does it still lead us towards a vision of how God would like the world to be. Does it stir us enough to fill us with a desire to share this great story with others? The simple answer to each of those questions is of course, yes, the Holy Spirit is as active today as it was the first time it broke into the world.
But sometimes we can feel that we are stuck in a room, stuck in a place, struggling to work out where to go, or what to do.

For the last 14 months or so, we have lived through several lockdowns, and many may have felt that they were ‘locked in’ their homes for fear of the virus, and it is evident that lots of people have a pent-up desperation to break free of the constraints the pandemic has put on us. There is little doubt that the world and us, is going to be different as a result of Covid, some of the differences will be out of our control, but lots of them are within our control. We each have the freedom to choose how to respond to what has happened, and to how we move forward now.

Throughout the coming months we will all make many choices, some big, some small, others will make their choices as well.
Thankfully, we can be confident that throughout the pandemic, the Holy Spirit has continued to ‘break-out’, it never went into lockdown, Covid could not stop its power.
We have witnessed so many people doing extra-ordinary things, yes, there are the NHS and other key workers, but there are also hundreds of ordinary men, women and children who have made a difference to the lives of those around them.
They may not realise it, but this is the Holy Spirit at work, they may not speak directly about God, they may not even profess a faith, but through their actions they have fulfilled the dream that the world can be a better place. For the true voice of the Holy Spirit is the one that reaches out and seeks to transform the lives of those around them.

We may not be asked to the exactly the same work as those first disciples, but be in no doubt the Holy Spirit will continue to break out through us in every action we do and every word we say. So Happy Pentecost to you all, remember, that you never do things in your own strength, but always in the amazing power of the Holy Spirit.

This week please do pray.

That the Holy Spirit may ‘break out’ through each of us in word and deed, so as to transform the lives of those around us.

That through the power of the Holy Sprit the world will be a better place.

That all men women and children may have the courage to share the good news of God through what they do and say.

Finally, let us spend a few moments in silence as we lay our lives before God, and pray, Come Holy Spirit Come. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

Let us pray:

Faithful God, who fulfilled the promises of Easter by sending us your Holy Spirit, and opening to every race and nation the way of eternal life, open our lips by your sprit, that every tongue may tell of your glory; 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. 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.

The Blessing.

May the Spirit of truth lead us into all truth, give us grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and strengthen us to proclaim the word and works of God; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

We say or sing:

For I’m building a people of power,
And I’m making a people of praise,
That will move through this land by My Spirit,
And will glorify my precious name.

Build your Church Lord,
Make us strong Lord,
Join our hearts Lord,
Through your Son.
Make us one Lord, in your body,
In the Kingdom of your Son.

Have a great week.

 
 
SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION DAY
16th May 2021.
 
Good morning everyone, thank you for joining us once again.
 
The Lord be with you.

We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us, when we haven’t heard Him call our name.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you; we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

O God the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven; we beseech you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Acts 1, v15-17, 21-26

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

John 17, v6-19

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
                                                                  
Reflection written this week by Jenny

Have you had the lovely experience of someone praying for you? Over the years I have found this comforting, inspiring, faith building and occasionally it’s felt like a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders. In church we often pray for couples about to be married or new missionaries about to begin their term of service. Praying for a loved one is one of the most special things we can do for each other.

In our Gospel reading today Jesus and his disciples are in the Upper Room. It’s the evening before Jesus’ death. Jesus has almost completed the work his Father gave him to do and we are hearing Jesus pray for his disciples. Jesus is now entrusting his disciples to the Father’s care because they are the ones who will do God’s work in the future. It was an awesome task that faced the disciples. They were to tell a very hostile world what Jesus had said and done. We can read about this work in Acts and in Paul’s letters. The fledgling Christian church would be in trouble from Roman and Jewish authorities that both rejected the disciples’ message. We are so fortunate to have the freedom to tell others about the Lord, a privilege that is denied to many Christians in others parts of the world even today.

Jesus had shown his disciples what God is like, a God of love. The extent of God’s love was revealed by Jesus when he left the glory of heaven and came into the world as a helpless baby. His compassion for people was demonstrated over and over again during his three years of ministry and finally it was revealed as never before in his death for the world. The disciples had received Jesus’ words of teaching, words which came from the Father. They were the ones who would pass these words on. No wonder Jesus prayed for his disciples!

 In the verse following our reading Jesus says he is also praying for those who will hear his message in the future. That includes us, his disciples today! Try and hear your name in each petition of Jesus’ prayer and know that Jesus prays for you too.

First, in v11, Jesus prays, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” Jesus prays for protection and unity for all disciples. If we are to be effective in witnessing to the world, Christians are to be united in purpose. We have many different denominations even in our locality; we like different forms of worship, we may have different emphasises but we are to be one. Some of our attitudes must make Jesus disappointed with us. We’re not to feel better than those who do things in another way. We’re to show unity with all our brothers and sisters in Christ otherwise we’ll hinder our witness to the world. We have the example of Jesus and the Father and their very close intimate relationship to follow.

Next Jesus, in v13, asks “that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.” Jesus prays for his joy to be in them. The disciples had all kinds of trouble before them but Jesus prays for his joy to be theirs, so Jesus is asking for a joy that would be theirs despite all that would be thrown against them. The words “made complete” indicate an overflowing joy. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit and a most precious gift from God. Jesus wants us to know this joy too.

In v15 Jesus prays, “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” “In the world but not of the world” is not a direct quote from the Bible, more of a compilation of Bible teaching. Jesus understood the tension we would sometimes experience as Christians living in the world. Jesus faced the tensions. He was totally immersed in the sorrows and joys of the people he met, but he rejected the practices and values he knew were wrong. He constantly sought to do things his Father’s way and he was obedient to his Father. We need to do the same. Jesus prays that we would know God’s protection and help.

Finally in v17 Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Jesus explained that God’s word, all that he revealed to the disciples, is truth. “Sanctify” means to “make holy, set apart for a special task.” As Jesus called his disciples, so God has called us to love and obey Him and then to bring others to know Him too. It’s an awesome task and we may feel very inadequate, but we’re not left alone……..for as we’ll hear next week on Pentecost Sunday, God has given us the wonderful gift of his Holy Spirit.

This week please do pray for.

The Church throughout the world, as it prepares for Pentecost.
Our Bishop’s, clergy, Readers and all who serve Christ in their daily life.
Let us remember especially, our church wardens, members of the PCC and our treasurers.
The world, especially for those areas where, hatred, violence and war dominate daily life, for the people who live in constant fear.
Our communities, especially those who serve us in all sorts of small ways.
For our family and friends and neighbours, remembering those in any kind of need.
This week, let us marvel at the created world, asking for God’s graze that we all may play our part in looking after it.
Finally, let us sit for a moment in quiet, as we pray: Come Holy Spirit come.

Almighty God, you have promised to be with us always through Jesus Christ our Lord, reassure us with your presence now. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

Let us pray:

Eternal God, giver of love and power, your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world to preach the gospel of His kingdom; confirm us in this mission, and help us to live the good news we proclaim, through Jesus 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. 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.

The Blessing.

Christ our ascended King pour upon us the abundance of His gifts and bring us to reign with Him in glory; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

A couple of notices.

It is wonderful that we are now able to hug our nearest and dearest. For some this will be the first time for many months. It has been so very tough, especially for grandparents who have missed those amazing hugs that children give. These next few weeks are going to be very emotional, and these first hugs so very special. So, enjoy them, take time to absorb them, a hug is one of the most powerful things we do and receive, for a hug says far more than words.
But please, don’t hug everyone you meet, be aware that there will be those who are not ready for this step yet.
We do need to continue being careful, so please, for now, keep your hugs for your family and very close friends. And enjoy them, savour the moment, and remember how that special hug makes you feel.

God moves in mysterious ways.

On Wednesday I was due to lead an assembly at our local school. I have to say, I was not really looking forward to it, and that’s because I have to sit in the hall on my own, and do the assembly via zoom. Although I can see the image of each class on a small screen, there is no interaction, and I can’t really see the children as individuals. But I decided to try my best once again.
However, the equipment would not work, no matter how hard Naomi tried, so it was decided that I could pop into just one class where I encountered real live children and teachers, thank you God I whispered.
It was an absolute joy to actually be able to see the wonderful smiling faces of the children and to hear their chatter and laughter.
I have not been able to do this for so very long, so it was very special and actually quite emotional. It really made my day, and now, I look forward to visiting just one class each week to hear how things are going with them, instead of attempting an assembly by zoom.

 
6th SUNDAY OF EASTER
9th May 2021.
Good morning everyone, thank you for joining us once again.
This week instead of the normal reflection, I share with you the ponderings of L.T. who encourages us all to reflect on what our ‘New normal’ might be like.ALLELIUA, CHRIST IS RISEN.
HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELIUA.
The Lord be with you.We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us.Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AmenThe Gloria.Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you; we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. AmenThe Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son; grant, that as by His death he has recalled us to life, so by His continual presence in us He may raise us to eternal joy. Through Jeus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for   ever. Amen.Today’s Readings.John 5. V. 1-6 After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”John 15. V. 9-17As 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.Hi, friends! It’s lemon-Ted here with my latest pondering.My man is starting to believe that the end is in sight for many of the restrictions that have been in place over the past year or so. And, he’s delighted and thinks that, soon, much of life beforehand will be restored. But, will it, I wonder? Will the ‘Old normal’ become the ‘New normal’? I pondered this at great length – aided by quite a few jars of marmalade and honey ‘to keep my mind working’, of course! I came up with a sort of game: ‘Old normal’; ‘Current normal’; ‘New normal’, as I let my pondering mind float over some of his more common activities.Take food shopping, for instance. Tuesday mornings were marked out for this in the ‘Old normal’. Only complaints were very occasionally about a slow journey and, more often, about the checkout queues, though these somewhat disappeared once self-scan was introduced (my man’s other half, as an ex-checkout chick, was a wizard at this!). His main problem with this way of doing things was the random checks which upset him greatly as these upset his meticulous (OCD?) packing of the bags! For the past year or so, the ‘Current normal’ has been for these goods to be delivered. And, the complaints have grown as a result. Sub-standard fresh produce and very short-dated products top the dissatisfaction list. ‘Who in their right minds would pick a meal with today’s date for delivery at 8 o’clock at night?’ I have heard him say. And, ‘how can these products be dated earlier than the same ones delivered last week?’ This is all made worse by the difficulty in contacting the retailer who seems to always be experiencing ‘more calls than usual’ and has discontinued its email facility due to ‘high usage’. Not surprising really! So, what will be the ‘New normal’, I ponder? I suspect that a return to self-shopping will be the eventual answer, though he has said that he does not miss the crowds and queues.Then, there is travel. Bus users, they both were in ‘Old normal’ – free passes to the fore and irrespective of the weather! ‘Current normal’ is local and by foot with only the very occasional venture out in the car for essential purposes. ‘Car is quicker, warmer and drier,’ I have heard said, ‘but the cost of parking …!’ He hates paying to park the car, preferring to leave it a distance away, as long as it is for free, and walk the remainder of the journey. ‘New normal’, I ponder, will probably be back to the bus, though, (and don’t tell him that I said this!), with him getting older, I suspect the car will get more use when the weather is less favourable.As many will know, one of his passions is gardening which, it seemed in the ‘Old normal’, required many visits to Garden Centres. Success was to be found in finding a plant abandoned to the bargain bin and restoring it to life. In ‘Current normal’ times, these ventures have obviously stopped and, clearly, the challenge has been missed. However, plants have still been purchased – but over the internet. And, thereby, has brought a whole host of issues. Plant quality being the prime one. ‘Why would anyone send out a tray of twenty plants with eight in the centre unlikely to survive?’ I have heard him say. Here, resolving the matter has to be done via the internet as telephone contact has, largely, been stopped. And, these communications also meet delays due to ‘high usage’. Again, not surprising! So, what will be the ’New normal’, I ponder? Back to trawling the Garden Centres for certain, though he has said that certain plants bought via the internet have been both good quality and economical.‘Old normal’, ‘Current normal’, ‘New normal’? My ponderings lead me to believe that he won’t wholeheartedly return to ‘Old normal’ as the experiences of ‘Current normal’ have shown him that there are alternatives. So, ‘New normal’ for him will be different and it will be interesting to see just how he adapts. And, you, my friends? What will your ‘New normal’ look like? Perhaps, you can play my game on some of your regular activities to see what it will look like! You might be surprised at the outcome. Also, it might help you to prepare for your emergence from the chrysalis of your ‘Current normal’ into the butterfly of your ‘New normal’.Take care
Lemon-Ted
PS. From his ‘man’ – Don’t tell L-T that the jar of marmalade that he has just snaffled while my toast was cooking has got ginger in it! He absolutely hates ginger!This week please do pray for.The Church throughout the world, remembering those who are persecuted for their faith.
Our Bishop’s, clergy, Readers and all who serve Christ in their daily life.
Let us remember especially, our church wardens, members of the PCC and our organist.
The world, especially for those areas where, hatred, violence and war dominate daily life. Where people are hungry and driven from their homes.
For those preparing for their wedding day.
Our communities, especially those who serve us.
For our family and friends, giving thanks that we can begin to meet with them again.
This week, let us marvel at the created world, asking for God’s graze that we all may play our part in looking after it.
We remember with thanks, those that we have loved but see no longer.Almighty God, you have promised to be with us always through Jesus Christ our Lord, reassure us with your presence now. AmenThe Peace of the Lord be always with you.Let us pray:God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life, may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness, through Him who is alive and reigns, now and forever, 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. 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.The Blessing.May the road rise up to meet you,
The wind be always at your back.
The sun, shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall softly on your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

 
5th SUNDAY OF EASTER
2nd May 2021.
Good morning everyone, thank you for joining us once again.
I trust that you are all well, and enjoying the recent sunshine.ALLELIUA, CHRIST IS RISEN.
HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELIUA.
The Lord be with you.We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us.Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AmenThe Gloria.Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you; we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. AmenThe Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)Almighty God, who through your only begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life; grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.Today’s Readings.Acts 8, 26-EndThen an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
    and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
        so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
    Who can describe his generation?
        For his life is taken away from the earth.”The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.John 15, 1-8“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.Reflection written by JohnAs I write this we seem to have gone backwards in time as far as the weather is concerned.  It might be mid-April but we are getting quite severe frosts, perhaps more than we had all winter last year. The warnings my dad used to give me about planting tender crops too early come back to haunt me!!  Having said that, I’m sure by the time you actually read this, it will have warmed up.  Life will be springing into summer everywhere we look and, for those gardeners amongst us, it’s a very busy time.  One of the many jobs needing attention is spring pruning. This ensures any remaining waste or dead material from last year is removed.  It allows air to freely circulate, lets the increasingly intense sun-light penetrate and minimises the chance of plant disease, giving plenty of room for new growth and plentiful crops.   Pruning is pretty vital!!Jesus often painted verbal pictures using scenes familiar to his audience and our Gospel reading today is one such picture, perhaps particularly appropriate to this burgeoning spring season.Speaking to his disciples, Jesus declares himself the vine, and identifies his father as the gardener (15,1).  The gardener prunes the vine; ensuring unproductive parts are removed.  This allows the plant to concentrate its energy on new, fertile growth.   Unproductive parts and branches which become disconnected to the centre are removed and, in this way, the plants’ productivity is maximised.  If we imagine ourselves as one of the branches, staying in close contact with the centre is the way to remain productive in a spiritual sense.  We need to strive for a close connection with the vine (the human Jesus) and the gardener (the divine Jesus, God himself).The story of the vine is the last of John’s so-called “I am” statements.  Scattered through John’s Gospel, these are a series of pictures painted by Jesus to illustrate points he was making.  If you read the whole Gospel, you will find they tend to be particularly striking in John’s, often difficult, text.  They emphasise the godly nature of Jesus, relating to God’s statement “I am what I am” all the way back in conversations with Moses in Exodus (3,14).There are seven “I am” statements in all.  The six others see Jesus as The Bread of Life (6, 35), the Light of the World (8,123), the Gate for the Sheep (10,7), the Good Shepherd (10,11 – Moira commented on this last week) and the Resurrection, the Truth and the Life (14,6).  I’m sure these all create strong mind pictures in us in 2021, just as Jesus intended all those years ago.As spring turns into early summer, I’m sure many of you are working hard to ensure your plant’s increasing needs are satisfied.  Growing plants on a farm, a field, a garden, a window box or in pots on your window ledges is very satisfying.  We hear a lot these days about how good it is for one’s mental health.  They help me to remember God’s presence is everywhere and he is always with us whether we are thinking about him or not.  Next time you work with your plants, spare a thought for the creator God, whose plants they really are, and remember Jesus’s “I am” statements highlighting God’s presence in our everyday lives, covid or not!  Yours in ChristJohnThis week please do pray for.The Church throughout the world, remembering those who are persecuted for their faith.
Our Bishop’s, clergy, Readers and all who serve Christ in their daily life.
Let us remember especially, our church wardens and organist.
The world, especially for those areas where, hatred, violence and war dominate daily life. Where people are hungry and driven from their homes.
For the people of India.
Our communities, especially those who serve us.
For our family and friends, giving thanks that we can begin to meet with them again. Let us also thank God for our pets.
This week, let us marvel at the created world, asking for God’s graze that we all may play our part in looking after it.
We remember with thanks, those that we have loved but see no longer.Almighty God, you have promised to be with us always through Jesus Christ our Lord, reassure us with your presence now. AmenThe Peace of the Lord be always with you.Let us pray:Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, grant us to walk in His way, to rejoice in His truth, and to share His risen life; who is alive and reigns, now and forever, 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. 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.The Blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you,
The wind be always at your back.
The sun, shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall softly on your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

Important notice. Fishbourne’s APCM will be held on the 16th May, in church, directly after the 9.30 service, this will be a very short meeting.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

 
4th SUNDAY OF EASTER
25th April 2021
THANK YOU for joining our weekly on-line act of worship.Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!Let us bring to mind our repeated failures to love God, his people and his Creation.
                                    [Pause]Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us.
Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil
and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart.     [c.f. 1 Corinthians 5:7,8]Jesus Christ, risen master and triumphant Lord,
we come to you in sorrow for our sins,
and confess to you our weakness and unbelief.We have lived by our own strength and not by the power of your resurrection.
In your mercy, forgive us.We have lived by the light of our own eyes, as faithless and not believing.
In your mercy, forgive us.We have lived for this world alone and doubted our home in heaven.
In your mercy, forgive us.May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins,
and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.To which we respond, by saying [or singing to the tune ‘Ode to Joy’]Glory be to God in heaven,
peace to those who love him well;
on the earth let all his people
speak his grace, his wonders tell:
Lord, we praise you for your glory,
mighty Father, heaven’s king;
hear our joyful adoration
and accept the thanks we bring.Only Son of God the Father,
Lamb who takes our sin away,
now with God in triumph seated
for your mercy, Lord, we pray:
Jesus Christ, most high and holy,
Saviour, you are God alone
in the glory of the Father
with the Spirit: Three-in-One!
 
We pray the Collect (today’s Special Prayer)Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life:
raise us, who trust in him,
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
that we may seek those things which are above,
where he reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles,
chapter 4, verses 5 to 12
The Jewish rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John,
chapter 10, verses 11 to 18
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away – and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”A reflection for this weekA farmer told his dog to find the sheep and round them up. When the dog came back he asked how many sheep there were. The dog said: “Fifty!” The farmer said: “Hmm, that’s funny. There were only forty-seven this morning.” The dog replied: “You said round them up.” So, how might we ‘round up’ (see what I did there?) the teaching from today’s Gospel text?Clearly, there are shepherds … and there are shepherds. Good shepherds care greatly about their sheep and will strive to ensure that each and every one is well looked after. They will go the extraordinary lengths to find any that have strayed, or been scattered by storms, or trapped by bad weather. Many programmes on our TVs these days will show shepherds risking life and limb to track down their flocks in remote and unforgiving terrains across the country, whether using a trusty sheep dog, quad-bike, or both. Then, of course, there are the other type of shepherds, the ones for whom the job is just a financial transaction – minimum effort, maximum gain. Sheep do not usually thrive in their care. In today’s Gospel text, Jesus points out this conflict and, then, declares himself as the Good Shepherd who would lay down his own life, if necessary, in order to protect us, his sheep. As the Good Shepherd, he will lead us to green pastures and still waters – and we shall love him for his gentleness. But, underneath the gentleness is a will of iron. Nobody, but nobody, will take us from his care. We are absolutely secure. This does not mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us. It means that, even when the worst the world can do is happening, we are still totally safe. Nothing can take us from him.The Biblical application is to portray God as shepherd, indicating not only love and care, but guidance and kindly authority. Sheep who are scattered by storms or bad weather will huddle together wherever they can find shelter and wait for the shepherd to rescue them. In today’s damaged and hurting world, this is the situation for God’s people who need to find him to be brought home and nursed back to health.As we sit in a world still in turmoil as a result of the pandemic, with uncertainty as to when some sort of common-sense normality will return in economic, environmental and freedom aspects of life, what is really needed are people who are focused, calm, alert and open. These are:
people who will listen;
people who will have dealt with the anger inside themselves;
people who will know they are loved;
people who will breathe deeply of greenness, who will drink deeply of still waters, until greenness and stillness become gifts they themselves can offer to the world.So, here comes an invitation at this Eastertide. In our still too-busy world (and Church!), there is a calling that I think that we, sometimes, miss. A calling just ‘to be’. Our spirits need it for themselves – for recovery and renewing and refreshment. But, more than that, the world also needs it from us. In this sense, to be serene is to be prophetic.  
It is to call the world’s bluff, when forces ‘out there’ try to whip us into some new frenzy or attempt to make us cower us through continued projections of fear.
It is to witness, as an Easter people, in word and deed to the reality and presence of God in Jesus Christ.
It is to have faith – founded, not on sweetness and light and all the things we see through rose-tinted spectacles, but on a world literally made new by the death and resurrection of Christ.Do you recall what Jesus said to Peter, by that lakeside in Galilee, after he had risen from the dead?  ‘Do you love me, Peter?’ he asked. ‘Then feed my sheep.’ (John 21:15-17) In other words: ‘Do you appreciate what I have done and been for you? Then, go out and be a shepherd yourself. Green pastures. Still waters. Give them to the world in its need. Do it in my name.’ So, to ‘round up’ (there it is again!) things, two thousand years on, Jesus is still inviting us all to do just the same.A Christian CreedLet us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe. Amen.A suggestion for your PrayersWe pray that our risen Saviour may fill us with the joy
of his glorious and life-giving resurrection.
We pray to the Father.We pray that isolated and persecuted churches and Christians everywhere
may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter.
[Here, you may pray for the work of local churches, ministers and people.]
We pray to the Father.We pray that God may grant us humility to be subject to one another in Christian love.
[Here, you may pray for those with whom you share your life.]
We pray to the Father.We pray that he may provide for those who lack food, work, shelter or companionship.
[Here, you may pray for the work of local Foodbanks, Charities, Refuges.]
We pray to the Father.We pray that, by his power, war, famine and hatred may cease through all the world.
[Here, you may pray for specific parts of the world wherever your interest lies.]
We pray to the Father.We pray that he may reveal the light of his presence
to the sick, the weak, the lonely and the dying, to comfort and strengthen them.
[Here, you may pray, by name, for those you know who need prayers today.]
We pray to the Father.We pray that, according to his promises,
all who have died in the faith of the resurrection may be raised on the last day.
[Here, you may pray, by name, for anyone you know who has died and their families.]
We pray to the Father.We pray that he may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon his people,
so that we may bear faithful witness to his resurrection in word and deed.
[Here, you may pray for yourself, your witness in work and deed,]
We pray to the Father.Heavenly Father, you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the Kingdom of your Son:
grant that, as his death has recalled us to life,
so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:

Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

Merciful Father,
you gave your Son Jesus Christ to be the good shepherd,
and in his love for us to lay down his life and rise again:
keep us always under his protection,
and give us grace to follow in his steps;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd of your people:
grant that when we hear his voice
we may know him who calls us each by name,
and follow where he leads;
who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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:
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

 
3rd  SUNDAY OF EASTER
18th April 2021.

Good morning everyone, thank you for joining us once again.
I trust that you are all well, and enjoying some further freedom with friends and family.
 
ALLELIUA, CHRIST IS RISEN.
HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELIUA.
 
The Lord be with you.
We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you; we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord. Give us such knowledge of His presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by His risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; 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. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Acts 3. v. 12-19
When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.

Luke 24. v. 36b-48
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Reflection written by Jenny

On Monday it was 60 years since Yuri Gagarin was blasted into outer space and completed one orbit of the Earth. My attention was caught on the Today programme by an interview with a Russian lady called Rita. 60 years ago Rita was planting out potatoes with her grandma, a few hundred miles south of Moscow. Suddenly out of nowhere they saw something advancing towards them. It was large and bright orange and they were absolutely terrified. She said that granny had grabbed her hand and said a prayer. Confusion, lack of understanding, especially of something way outside of our experience, and fear often go together.  They were about to run for home when they heard a voice, “Ladies wait!” Rita had said, “Granny, it speaks Russian!” The orange thing was a spacesuit and these two ladies were the first people to greet Yuri Gagarin on his return to earth!

Even more than those two ladies, the disciples had been traumatised. Knowing what had happened to Jesus, their leader and friend, had shattered their expectations. They kept together, a very frightened and confused group. They hadn’t understood Jesus when he’d tried to warn them what would happen to him. They had the Jewish Scriptures but hadn’t grasped their full meaning. Roman crucifixion, the loss of their dear friend and teacher, the deep sadness, the disappointment, – we can’t begin to know the depth of their feelings.

On the third day after Jesus’ death the women, Luke tells us, took spices to the tomb to attend to Jesus’ body. They found the heavy stone over the entrance to the tomb rolled away but there was no body. They were at a loss what to make of it. Then two angels were there beside them. They were petrified. Confusion and terror! Who could blame them? The angels explained that Jesus had risen. The women shared what they’d heard and seen with the disciples who simply didn’t believe them. Peter went to see for himself and was so perplexed. In the evening Jesus appeared to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus. When they realised who it was, Jesus disappeared. The two raced back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples and even as they were speaking, Jesus was there among them. Their first reaction was terror and confusion. Their heads told them people can’t rise from the dead. They must be seeing a ghost!

Jesus understood them and gently helped them to grasp what had happened. He showed them his hands and feet and invited them to touch him and feel that he was solid, that he was no figment of their imagination in a time of stress. We see the disciples’ emotions changing from terror to amazement and joy but still they couldn’t believe it, it was too good to be true. Jesus wants them to be sure so he asks for something to eat. The disciples see Jesus eat solid food and he explains the Scriptures to them, showing them how what had been written in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms had been fulfilled in all that had happened.
 
Sometimes we are confused and frightened by the things that happen to us or to those around us. It’s particularly difficult when something happens to our close family and friends and we can’t do anything to change things. Haven’t we all at some time or other thought, “Why, Lord, is this happening?” Sometimes it seems that one thing after another comes along and we don’t know where to turn.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be confused or fearful. We can talk to him about our doubts, our worries and what we don’t understand. His first words to the disciples were “Peace be with you.” The peace that Jesus gives is not an absence of problems but is knowing that Jesus will always be with us whatever happens. The Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death.

It’s knowing that God has given us eternal life. Like many others I’ve lost two close family members this year. I was with Mum when she died. None of us know what that moment is actually like but we can be confident that if we’ve trusted Jesus in this life he’s not going to dessert us at the end. When Jesus appeared to his disciples he brought assurance that death isn’t the end.

These things are mind stretching. I find Tom Wright’s writing helpful. Tom Wright is a former Bishop of Durham who most definitely believes that Jesus rose from the dead, that there is life after death and one day new resurrection bodies. The early church believed this new act of creation would happen at the time of the Lord’s second coming.

Meanwhile as Christians we have a job to do. Jesus gave his disciples a commission to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name to all nations. Quoting Tom Wright again, “This is the agenda that can change the world.” What a difference this would make on a nation level. It is though so challenging at an individual or family level. This is a challenge for us all. Is there anyone in our family where something has come between us and caused a separation? Saying sorry is hard! Forgiving others is probably even harder but it’s what God asks of us!

Jesus doesn’t want us to be confused and fearful. He has a job for us. Like those ladies in the field had their minds opened and their fears vanished, God wants us to open our minds to the truth of the resurrection and let it transform our lives and help us to play our part in changing the world.

This week please do pray for.

The Church throughout the world, remembering those who are persecuted for their faith.
Our Bishop’s, clergy, Readers and all who serve Christ in their daily life.
The world, especially for those area’s where, hatred, violence and war dominate daily life.
For the queen as she resumes her daily work.
Our communities, especially those who serve us.
For our family and friends, giving thanks that we can begin to meet with them again.
We remember with thanks, those that we have loved but see no longer.

May we always remember these  7 promises of God.

 I will be with you.
 I will protect you.
 I will be your strength.
 I will answer you.
 I will provide for you.
 I will give you peace.
 I will always love you.

Almighty God, you have promised to be with us always through Jesus Christ our Lord, reassure us with your presence now. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

Let us pray:

Living God, your Son made himself known to His disciples in the breaking of bread: open the eyes of our faith, that we may see Him in all His redeeming work; who is alive and reigns, now and forever, 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. 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.

The Blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you,
The wind be always at your back.
The sun, shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall softly on your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

 
2nd SUNDAY OF EASTER
11th Aril 2021.

Good morning everyone, thank you for joining us once again.

Following the announcement on Friday, there is a short act of Remembrance included in this service and we keep in our prayers, the Queen, her family as we give thanks for the Duke of Edinburgh’s amazing life.ALLELIUA, CHRIST IS RISEN.
HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELIUA.

The Lord be with you.We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you; we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty Father, you have given your only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth, through the merits of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Acts 4. v32-35

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

John 20. v19-29

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.”

An act of Remembrance.

This morning, with people all over the world, let us give thanks to God for the life of Prince Philip.

For his naval service.
For all that he did for young people.
For him being a constant rock of support to the queen.
For his humour, his love, and his ability to embrace his role as consort.
For the legacy he has left to this country, the commonwealth and the world.
For all that he was to those close to him.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

We now pause for a minute’s silence.

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.

Our prayers.

This week let us pray for the queen, her family, and all who mourn the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

God of our lives, we give thanks for the life of Prince Philip, for his love of our country and his devotion to duty.
We entrust him now to your love and mercy, through our Redeemer Jesus Christ.
God of compassion, be near Queen Elizabeth, enfold her with your love as she prepares for her beloved husband’s funeral. Amen.

As we acknowledge our own fears, sadness and worries, let us reflect on these 7 promises of God.

 I will be with you.
 I will protect you.
 I will be your strength.
 I will answer you.
 I will provide for you.
 I will give you peace.
 I will always love you.

Almighty God, you have promised to be with us always through Jesus Christ our Lord, reassure us with your presence now. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.
In our hearts let us send a message of peace to our friends and neighbours.

Let us pray:

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. 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.

The Blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you,
The wind be always at your back.
The sun, shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall softly on your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

 
 
EASTER DAY
4th April 2021
 
ALLELUIA, CHRIST IS RISEN.
HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA.

Happy Easter everyone.

Good morning everyone, welcome to our service today, a very different Easter again, but perhaps one that gives us a real opportunity to reflect on the gentleness of that first Easter morning. A gentleness that was revealed when Jesus simply called Mary by her name.

And so, may the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

I invite you to light a candle, and as you do so, say,

‘The Light of Christ, has come into the world’, knowing that this light burns brightly in each one of your hearts.
Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia,
Our triumphant holy day, alleluia.
Who did once upon the cross, alleluia,
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia.

Let us pray. 

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, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen.

Let us on this most extra-ordinary Easter Day, with our brothers and sisters across the world, re-affirm our faith.

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist?
All: We believe and trust in Him.

Do you believe and trust God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again?
All: We believe and trust in Him.

Do you believe and trust in the Holy Spirit who gives life to the people of God, and makes Christ known in the world?
All: We believe and trust in Him.

This is our Faith, we believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Readings for today.

Acts 10, v34-43
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how 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. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not 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. He 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. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Mark 16, v1-8

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Reflection written by John.

Let me start by wishing you all a Happy Easter.  As we go to press, I hope to see some of you in the flesh in Church later to celebrate this momentous day in our church year.  It’s now 47 days since the start of our penitential season of Lent and 378 days since the start of the first lock down so we really need a celebration and they don’t come bigger than Easter!!

Marks Gospel is characteristically specific about events early on that first Easter Morning.  It’s printed above.  Three women, who Mark names as Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome arrive at the tomb, carrying spices to anoint Jesus’ body.  They had been prevented from doing so the day before as this was disallowed on Saturdays, the Sabbath.  Just to emphasize the identity of the visitors, Mark repeats their names twice more (15,40 and 16,1). As they approached the tomb, they were concerned about being able to move the stone to open it but when they arrived, it was already open and a young man dressed in a white robe was inside.  The man explained that Jesus had been raised from the dead and directed them to tell the disciples what they had found.  Mark captures their surprise and fear, reporting that they told nobody about their discovery.  
This critical moment is similarly described in the other three Gospels.  Matthew talks of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (28,1), Luke mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James (24,10) and John mentions Mary Magdalene (20,1).  Whichever Gospel you refer to, the discovery of the empty tomb on Easter Day is made, very specifically, by women, who are mentioned by name.

Many people these days question the resurrection.  In our scientific age, how could such a tale be believed?  The central characters here are ordinary women, people with little credibility by first century standards.  The legal system and hierarchy were, to say the least, male oriented and focused on the “great and the good”.  Why then, would the Gospels credit ordinary women with discovering the greatest news the world would ever know?  The answer to this vexed question is surely that they were reporting the facts, avoiding the temptation to distort them in the interests of first century credibility.  Marks Gospel in particular is focused on reporting what actually happened and spends little time on background, reasons etc.  It simply reports events as they actually occurred.  

As that first Easter Day continues, Jesus appears on the road to Emmaus and later, to his disciples.  Gradually that early morning fear gives way to joy, as Jesus’ followers slowly realise these amazing events are the fulfilment of all that Jesus had been telling them for some time.  From our twenty-first century viewpoint, we have the luxury of hindsight.  We can omit the uncertainty of that first Easter Morning and avoid taking too much time for the things to dawn fully on us.  Let’s get right on with our party.  These are events to celebrate rather than be fearful of.  He is risen.  No doubt about it.  Once again, Happy Easter!!  
 
Do keep safe and God Bless

Let’s sing:

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun.
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Chorus.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the dance said He,
And I’ll lead you all, where ever 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.

Chorus.   
Dance, then, where ever ………

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 live in me;
I am the Lord, Of the dance said He.

Chorus.  
Dance, then, where ever…….

Prayers.

Today, let us pray with joy in our hearts.
For the church throughout the world, as it celebrates the Resurrection of Christ.
For our own churches here in Apuldram and Fishbourne.
Let us pray for those in our nursing homes and all care workers, and for those who are unwell, either at home or in hospital.
And let us Thank God for one another, remembering that each one of us is a precious gift from God, may our hearts always be united as one through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray for the children of our communities, as we witness their joy today, and ask God to bless them and their families as they begin the Easter holiday.
God of Life, who for our redemption gave your only begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by His glorious resurrection have delivered us from the power of our enemy: grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of His risen life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The peace and joy of the risen Lord be with each one of you.

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do His will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with each one of us this day and in the days to come. Amen.

Let us never forget,
He’s got he whole world in His hands.
Let us go and be in peace, with God, with our neighbours and with ourselves.
Shine as a light in the world, to the Glory of God the Father.

Love and prayers to you all on this glorious Easter Day. Moira

 

GOOD FRIDAY. A CELEBRATION OF THE CROSS.

2nd April 2021

Dear friends, today we are reminded just how much God loves us in the midst of pain.Before you begin, please, if you are able to, place a small cross in front of you. This could be a palm cross, a wooden one or one that you create yourself. It will help you focus.I invite you to join with me in the prayers, hymns and readings that follow, and then at 3.00 p.m., the time that Jesus died, to pause for a moment no matter where you are, so as to hear those awesome words from God, ‘I love you this much’.

Prayer.

God of eternal love, we approach you with a sense of deep wonder. Your love reaches out to us in the face of rejection, pain and loneliness. You continue to suffer in the conflicts and failures which are our lives. And yet, still you love us. Open our hearts and minds to contemplate your passion, assure us again of forgiveness and acceptance, and so fill us with your love that we may recognise and answer the call to share your passion in the world. This we ask, through him in whom your amazing love is revealed. Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Please do take time now to read The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John.
John chapter 18, and John, chapter 19 v30 which reads – When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit..

If you are with someone, perhaps you would like to share the reading of it.

Then do sing or say the following, to the tune of Abide with me. Each verse of this hymn, sums up the passion reading.

Christ, Son of God, we recognise your claim,
No one but you dare speak the holy name,
This great I AM will bear love’s awesome cost,
Not one of those who love you shall be lost.

Christ, by your friends in daily life denied,
Bruised by the fall which follows sinful pride,
You, only you, can pardon and restore,
Reach out your wounded hand to us once more.

Truly ‘bar Abbas’, Christ the Father’s Son,
Sinless, you die for every guilty one,
Call us to witness truth, and hear your voice
Justice and righteousness, shall be our choice,

Christ, Priest and Victim, this is now your hour,
Victim of priests, and princes’ lust for power,
Help us destroy the god’s of power and pride,
And stand with you among the crucified.

Christ, Son of Mary, Brother of us all,
Give us the grace to answer to your call.
Grant us to live by faith, that when we die,
Your ‘It is finished’, is our final cry.

Reflection.   

And then he kissed him.

There is no greater betrayal than the one that is done by a friend. None of us will ever be nailed to a cross like Jesus, but perhaps we can relate to the hurt that Jesus must have felt after being betrayed by Judas, when he kissed him so that the soldiers knew who to arrest.

It hurts when a friend lets us down, it can be agony and we may want to hurt back, to justify ourselves. But Jesus did not react to what Judas did, he silently gave himself over to the authorities, and now hung on the cross. He willingly made himself vulnerable, knowing that humanity would make a choice, accept his love, or reject him. We know which choice was made all those years ago.

And sadly, still made to this day.

And so, he came to his death almost alone, his friends had run away in fear, the crowds had dispersed as the’ fun’ was now over. But not everyone had left. As Jesus gazed down, he saw his Mother and the disciple he loved so much. From the depths of agony, he continued to create and to give. With just a few words he gave his mother and the disciple to one another as a wonderful gift. And he continues to give each one of us to others as precious gifts as well.

As we reflect on those who stayed by the cross, stayed with the agony and pain that was right in front of them, we are reminded of all those stay close to those who are hurting, in agony, and to those who will die. Our doctors and nurses have witnessed so much death during this last year, they must have been afraid, they may at times have wanted to run away, but they didn’t, they stayed, and continue to stay, to make bearable that which is unbearable. In their lives, they reveal by all they do, the love, strength and compassion that surely comes from God.

The cross, at one and the same time a sign of horrific suffering and a symbol of hope and love. As we gaze at our own cross, let us be assured that it is the way to freedom, to life, and may we re-discover the love and glory of God. As we acknowledge that the man who died on that cross did so for each one of us, we can only say, ‘sorry’, but let us hear once more those beautiful words’, ‘I love you this much’. Do not be afraid.

Prayers.

Father of the crucified, hear our prayer for all who are fearful, and who are moved by that fear to strike out at others, that they may learn the joy of letting go and accept your gift of love.
Father of the crucified, we pray for all who are still fearful of the corona virus, we pray for all those who continue to suffer from this terrible illness, and for their families and friends. Be with those who feel alone or abandoned, and with those who are separated from their grandchildren and loved ones.
Father of the crucified, bless all those who work for the NHS, especially those who have given their life for others, we pray for all care workers, post men and women, dustbin men and all those who continue to work, so as to serve the needs of others. Help us all to be mindful of those who do not have a safe place to stay in, and of those who do not have enough to eat.
Father of the crucified, on this Good Friday, we remember all those who will die this day, help us all to let go of fear, give us grace and courage to face whatever the next few weeks or months might bring.

We end our prayers by saying:

Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits, which thou hast given us. For all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for us:
O merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly. Amen.

‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for others.
We say or sing.
When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but lost,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Now we all wait, for the drama does not end here.

 
MAUNDY THURSDAY.
1st April 2021.
Dear Friends, as we begin to look forward to Easter, here is the first part of the unfolding drama that took place all those years ago, and continues to take place to this very day, it will continue tomorrow and then conclude on Easter Day.

As is the normal practice, there will be no Blessing at the end of this service, nor at the end of the Good Friday one, our Blessing from God will be given on Easter Day.

We say or sing:

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.
 
O 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.
The Lord be with you all.
Remember Lord, your compassion and love, for they are everlasting.
Lord have mercy.
Remember not the sins of my youth, but think on me in your goodness,
Lord have mercy.
O keep my soul and deliver me, for I have put my trust in you.
Lord have mercy.
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.The Collect Prayer.God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his church to proclaim his death until he comes, may He nourish us with his presence, and unite us in his love, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the holy spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Bible Readings:1 Corinthians11. v23-26For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.John 13, v1-17.Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.A Reflection.On the night before he died, Jesus invited his friends to a life changing party. As they ate and drank, he took some bread, broke it and shared it among them, saying, do this to remember me. In that simple action he gave to his church that great gift of Holy Communion. This year, again, we cannot physically come together to celebrate this in church, but we can perhaps remember Jesus in a slightly different, special, way.Today, as you sit down for a meal, either by yourself or with your family, take some bread, break it, share it with those you are with, or place a small piece of bread on a small plate, and as you do, remember that Christ is with you, at your very own table. There is no doubt, that as we do this our hearts will be united in Christ’s love. For all things are possible with God.A love that he revealed at the beginning of this most unusual meal. When the disciples arrived, their feet were very dirty and covered in dust from the road. Normally a servant would have washed their feet, but not on this night. It was Jesus himself who took a bowl of water and a towel, knelt down and washed the dirt away. In this one action, it was as if God himself had knelt, looked those disciples in the eye, and said, ‘this is how much I love you’, as he met their basic need.We are reminded that Jesus continues to kneel down, to look us in the eyes with such compassion and love. He continues to meet us at our point of need. And we are reminded what we should do for one another. So many people are still feeling anxious and afraid, and that’s ok, there is loneliness, sadness and great loss all around, none of us have ever experienced anything quite like this last year.But let us be assured, that whatever we feel, Jesus cares very much, he is with us, and he will gentle wipe away our tears and our fears, in the same way as he wiped the dirt from the feet of his first disciples. I promise you, He will fill our hearts with his deep peace, as we acknowledge his presence with us, and open our hearts to let Him in.We say or sing.Brother, sister, let me serve you,
Let me be as Christ to you,
Pray that I may have the grace,
To let you be my servant too,I will hold the Christ light for you,
In the night-time of your fear,
I will hold my hand out to you,
Speak the words you long to hear.I will weep when you are weeping,
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you,
I will share your joy and sorrow,
Till we’ve seen this journey through.Today, let us pray for all those who ‘kneel’ down to care for others.
      Let us pray for those who are unwell.
      Let us pray for those countries who are still overwhelmed by Covid.
And let us pray for one another, remembering especially those who live on their own. May we always have the grace to kneel down at another person’s feet.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.This next reading reveals the moment things changed.They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, ‘stay here, while I pray’. Then he took Peter, James and John with him. A sudden fear came over him, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘Abba Father, everything is possible for you, take this cup from me, but let it be your will that is done’.
When he came back, he found the disciples sleeping, he woke them and said, ‘could you not stay awake for just one hour’.
Again, he went away and prayed the same words to his Father.
When he returned, he again found them asleep, he said, ‘You can sleep on now, and take your rest, it is all over, the hour has come.You may now wish to step into your gardens, pause for a moment while in your mind’s eye you too are in the garden of Gethsemane with Christ.Let the words, ‘it is over’ sink in to your minds and hearts. Acknowledge the darkness of this moment.Please do join us tomorrow as we continue the drama.
 
 

PALM SUNDAY

28th March 2021

Good morning everyone, welcome to our service today as we begin our journey through the most Holy week of the year.During this coming week, there will be more services sent out, and I encourage you, to enter into the drama of each one, in your mind’s eye, visualize yourself as part of the crowd witnessing that first run up to Easter, think about how you might have felt at that time.

Let us begin today by singing:

Ride on, ride on in majesty.  (just 2 verses)

Ride on, ride on in majesty,
In lowly pomp, ride on to die;
O Christ, thy triumphs now begin,
O’re captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on, ride on in majesty,
In lowly pomp ride on to die,
Bow thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, thy power and reign.  

The Lord be with you.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, for each one us.

We say sorry, assured of a fresh start with God.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon Him our flesh and to suffer upon the cross; grant that we may follow the example of His patience and humility, and also be made partakers of His resurrection. through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Isaiah 50, v4-9a

The Lord God has given me
    the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
    the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
    wakens my ear
    to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
    and I was not rebellious,
    I did not turn backward.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
    and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
    from insult and spitting.The Lord God helps me;
    therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
    and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
    he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
    Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
    Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
    who will declare me guilty?

Mark 11, v1-11When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Reflection

Well, goodness, gracious me. I cannot believe that we have come to the end of Lent, and now enter this wonderful life changing week. Here we are, celebrating Palm Sunday once more.

As I thought about each of the services for this coming week, I was struck by how much, Lent, Holy week and Easter reflects so much of all that we have experienced during this last year.
It really is the story of life, of our life.

And so, I will try to share with you a few of the thoughts I have had.

Lent: is a time for reflection, of being alone in prayer, of giving up this or that, or of taking up something new. It can also feel like we are in the dry desert.

Each of the lockdowns have perhaps led us to experience all of this in deeper ways, we have all felt that sense of loneliness, of being separated from loved ones, and wondering if things will ever change. We have had new opportunities, (yes perhaps forced on us), to reflect on our lives, and many have made big changes as they have realised what is really important in life.

By being prevented from coming together for worship, we have, hopefully, learnt the value of fellowship and the joy of worshipping God, long may those discoveries last. Overall, Lent has been very different this year, but nothing is ever wasted.

Palm Sunday. What a great celebration, all the people there, watching Jesus make that journey into Jerusalem, cheered, waved palm branches and were absolutely overjoyed, they believed that the enemy was now going to be defeated, Jesus was their hero who would overthrow those in power.
How often in this last year have we experienced moments like that? moments of hope and real joy.  Perhaps it was at those times when lockdown was lifted, when the vaccine was made, and then given to people. So many amazing moments that gave us all great hope. We too have celebrated and believed that all would be well, just like those on that first Palm Sunday.

Maundy Thursday. The celebrations continue, Jesus invited his friends for a meal. They were still in a joyous mood, the food was good and the wine flowed, all was well.
We too have found that same joy when we have been able to meet with friends, share a meal and seen loved ones. For a few weeks last year, we all believed that life was getting back to normal, that all was going to be well.

Good Friday. But no, what a shock, on that first good Friday, the cheers of the Palm Sunday crowds changed to horrific shouts of crucify. Everything seemed to have gone wrong. It had to be somebody’s fault, how quickly people turn on those once seen as great.

We have experienced this change of attitude, we have witnessed crowds turn on others, sometimes really quickly, sometimes over something really small, we see it in our own lives and in the world around us. Think for a moment, how devastated we have felt when hopes and dreams were shattered, perhaps when we had to go back into lockdown, and once more stay away from friends and family. There is no denying that this last year has been so very hard, painful and sad. We have seen much finger pointing going on around the world. Without doubt, we all know the agony of the cross, and have prayed for those in authority to work together.

Easter Day. But we know it was not all over, we believe that God continues to offer eternal Hope, the pain of the cross is transformed in the most glorious way, and the world is offered new joy.

During this last year, we have seen the most amazing acts of human kindness, communities have pulled together, and great things have been achieved. Ultimately, we have all been changed by the events of this last year, so as we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, let us recognise it in our own lives as well. May we all be Easter people, people who know that even when terrible things happen, great things and new life come out of them.

So please, enjoy Holy week, see it as your story, and be assured that God is with us always, no matter what.  His Love for the world is shown in the most extraordinary way. Amen

If you have your own bible, and have some spare time you may wish to read
The Passion reading from Mark 15, v1-39. Which will take you on an incredible journey.

We sing or say.

All that I am, all that I do,
All that I’ll ever have,
I offer now to you.
Take and sanctify these gifts, for your honour Lord,
Knowing that I love and serve you, is enough reward.
All that I am, all that I do,
All that I’ll ever have, I offer now to you. (repeat)

During this coming week let us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world, as it begins this life changing journey through Holy week.
.
For the world, especially those places where people are driven from their homelands, where people lack food, drink and warmth and where children live in fear.

For our communities and all who live and work in them.

For our families and friends, for those hoping to be able to meet each other very soon.

Let us name in our hearts those we know who are in any kind of need, may they have hope and courage in their hearts.

In silence, let us offer to God, our own lives, our hopes and our dreams, our worries and our fears. And let us pray for the grace to walk all the way to the cross, so that we will indeed truly experience the Resurrection for ourselves.

Lord Jesus Christ, you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant, and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation; give us the mind to follow you and to proclaim you as Lord and King, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

To end our service today, if you would like to, please sing or say:

You are the King of Glory,
You are the prince of peace,
You are the Lord of heaven and earth,
You’re the Son of righteousness,
Angels bow down before you,
Worshipped and adored,
For you have the words of eternal life,
You are Jesus Christ the Lord.

Hosanna to the Son of David,
hosanna to the kings of kings,
glory in the highest heavens,
for Jesus the Messiah reigns.

Repeat if you wish. Let the spirit lead you.

The Blessing.

Christ crucified draw us to himself, to find in Him a sure ground for faith, and a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon us, now and forever, Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

 
 
PASSION SUNDAY
21st March 2021
Good morning everyone, welcome to our service. I hope you are all keeping well.Let us begin today by singing:There is a green hill far away.  (just 4 verses)There is a green hill far away,
Without 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 heaven,
Saved by His precious blood.O dearly, dearly has He loved,
And we must love him too,
And trust in His redeeming blood,
And try His works to do.The Lord be with you.God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, for each one us.We say sorry, assured of a fresh start with God.Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AmenThe Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in Him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of His victory; 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, Amen.Today’s Readings.Jeremiah 31. v31-34The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.John 12. v20-33Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.Reflection written by JennyLast week was quite momentous for me. We finally emptied Mum’s flat after she died. It’s now ready for a new resident. We locked the door for the last time. As we left Frinton on the Essex coast we wondered when if ever we might return.  Locking the door felt like the ending of an era and the closing of a big part of my life. I was at the same time mulling over the readings for today. Jesus’ coming, his death and resurrection are the most momentous events that have ever taken place. What do these readings tell us about this event?The Old Testament tells us how God made a covenant with his people, the Israelites, and how time and again they failed to live as God wanted them to. Through the prophets God kept calling them to repent from their very evil ways and turn back to Him. Jeremiah was one of these prophets. The people refused to change and Jeremiah saw his prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem come true in 586BC. Many people were taken captive by the Babylonians and the Temple completely destroyed. Jeremiah had a very difficult message to deliver but within it there was the wonderful message of hope contained in our OT reading for today. Jeremiah speaks of a new beginning, of God doing a new thing, something monumental. God making a new covenant with his people. Jesus came to bring about this new way and it is to this that Jesus is pointing in our Gospel reading.It starts with some Greeks asking Philip if they can see Jesus. Philip isn’t sure so he asks Andrew, who knows that Jesus welcomes everyone whatever their nationality. Here we begin to see that the Gospel isn’t just for the Jews but for Greeks and all nations.Then we have a picture of Jesus with the magnitude of what is to happen to him at the forefront of his mind. He knows that his death is imminent, that the time has come. Jesus uses the image of a grain of wheat to explain that his death will bring about God’s plan to save humanity from their sin. His death, like that grain of wheat, will bring great blessing to the world. It was so hard for the disciples to understand. Their picture of the Messiah who would come to save them was so different. It was not of a Saviour who would have to die. And, Jesus went on to explain, if you want to follow me, you have to follow the same path of love and forgiveness.We see Jesus’ humanity and divinity in this reading. Jesus was fully man as well as being God, the Son. He wasn’t protected from the awful suffering he had to face if he were to complete his mission on earth. Jesus is troubled and calls out to Father God. At this most significant time we hear his Father reassuring him again, just as at his baptism and at his transfiguration. It’s like He was saying, that Jesus was on exactly the right path, the Father saying how pleased he was with his Son.  We can feel the intimate relationship between the Son and his Father. What is so wonderful, God wants to have a close relationship with us, made possible through Jesus.His was no ordinary death. Through it the ruler of this world, Satan, would be defeated. Although we hear about so many terrible happenings in our news, Satan will not have his way for ever. Jesus will come again and the promise we heard in Jeremiah will be completely fulfilled. At present we live in a waiting time. God’s kingdom arrived with Jesus’ coming and with his death and resurrection but it will be fully realised when Jesus comes for the second time.Today is sometimes known as Passion Sunday when our readings begin to focus on Jesus’ journey to the cross until we joyfully hear about Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Each year we have the opportunity to follow the story again and appreciate what Jesus did for us. Had we been the only one, Jesus would have still given his life for us, so much does he love us.What does Jesus ask of us? He asks us to follow him and serve him and to be where he wants to be active. We are to be his hands and feet. This may be in the loving care we give to our children or in the patience we need to show to an elderly relative. It may be in service to our community or standing up for justice for those with no voice. It may simply be in a thoughtful act for a friend or neighbour. We are to be available to the Lord Jesus.Jesus calls this losing our life but keeping it for eternal life. What we lose when we give our lives to Jesus is nothing compared to the blessings God gives us. We receive God’s forgiveness and the promise of eternal life. It was at Frinton as a teenager that the enormity of what Jesus had done for me really hit me and he has never let me down. May I suggest that as Easter approaches, we find time to reflect on Jesus’ journey to the cross, his death and resurrection and let the Holy Spirit give us new insights, a new thankfulness for Jesus’ love and a new willingness to be in the place where God wants us, doing whatever he asks.During this coming week let us pray for:God’s church throughout the world, for all who have kept a faithful Lent.
For all in authority, nationally and locally.For the world, especially those places where people are driven from their homelands, where people lack food, drink and warmth and where children live in fear.For our communities and all who live and work in them. Let us remember those who service our needs, by delivering our post and clearing our rubbish, week by week.For our families and friends, this week let us pray especially for young people who struggle with anxiety and fear as they return to school or college.Let us name in our hearts those we know who are in any kind of need, may they have hope and courage in their hearts.Finally, on the 23rd, it will be one year since our nation went into lockdown, when it was realised that Covid was a global pandemic. Let us each pause for a minute’s silence as we remember all those who have died of this terrible virus, and those who have been so badly affected by it.Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do also for you; grant us the will to be the servant of others as you were the servant of all, and gave up your life and died for us, but are alive and reign, now and forever. Amen.Jesus said, where two or three are gathered together, I am there also. May we always know that He is with us.To end our service today, if you would like to, please sing:From heaven you came, helpless babe,
Entered our world, your glory veiled,
Not to be served, but to serve,
And give your life, that we might live.This is our God, the servant king,
He calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering,
Of worship to the servant king.So, let us learn how to serve,
And in our lives enthrone Him;
Each other’s needs to prefer,
For it is Christ we’re serving.                                 This is our God……………The Blessing.May the road rise up to meet you,
The wind be always at your back.
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall softly on your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.
 4th SUNDAY OF LENT, MOTHERING SUNDAY 2021Good morning everyone, welcome to our service. I hope all you Mum’s have been very spoiled and perhaps got breakfast in bed.Let us begin today with the prayer of St. Richard.Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ. For all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. Most merciful redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.The Lord be with you.God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ, and He in turn gives us to one another as a wonderful gift.We say sorry for those times we have forgotten to follow Mary’s example and say ‘Yes’ to God.Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

God of compassion, whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary, shared the life of a home in Nazareth. And on the cross drew the whole human family to Himself. Strengthen us in our daily living that in joy and in sorrow we may know the power of your presence to bind together and to heal.; 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, Amen.

If you want to, please sing:

Make me a channel of your peace,
where there is hatred, let me bring your love,
where there is injury your pardon Lord,
and where there’s doubt true faith in you.

O 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.

Today’s Readings.

Collosians 3, v12-17

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. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

John 19, v25b-27Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

A day of mixed emotions.

I had not been in ministry for very long, before I became aware that Mother’s Day was both a time of joy for many, and a time of great sadness for others. A lot of my colleagues realised that this was the case as well, and so I like them began to celebrate, ‘Mothering Sunday’

Which is a very special day for us all. No-one is excluded.

Now, I expect many of you will be very busy today, so just a few thoughts about why I believe this a day when we can give things to every man, woman and child for all that they do for others. These thoughts are based on the letters of the word Mothers.

M. of course, reminds us of our maternal Mum’s, those who gave birth to us. Even if we do not have children of our own, or our Mothers have sadly died, today it is right to pause for a moment to give thanks for them. The M also reminds us of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the woman who gives us all a wonderful example about what it means to say yes to God, and without doubt we are reminded about the Mothering that is done by us all and so we give thanks for that as well.  

O. reminds us to always think of others, those around us, those who love us no matter what, as well as those who help us and who allow us to help them in their time of need.

T. reminds us to give thanks for those who teach. So let us remember all our wonderful teachers and parents.

H. Reminds us of the importance of hugs, something we have all missed so very much during this last year. Let’s us pause for a moment to think about those we have not been able to hug for so long now. A hug is so powerful, so let’s hope we will be able to do this soon.

E. The ‘e’ reminds us that today is truly about everyone, every single person who nurtures others just as a maternal Mother does. We all have a part to
play in our communities, and each one of us makes it the wonderful place it is today.

R. The R, encourages us to remember those who have died, and reminds us of the promise of true Resurrection.

S.  The ‘S; tells us that Mothering is about every single act of kindness and service that is carried out by every man, woman and child. Small acts of kindness that make such a difference to the lives of others.

And so, from me to you, THANK YOU FOR BEING THE PEOPLE YOU ARE.

During this coming week let us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world. Let us give thanks for the wonderful example that Mary gives to all people.
For all in authority, nationally and locally.
Let us give thanks for all who ‘Mother’ us.
And for the wonderful signs of spring that we see around us.

With joy in our hearts, let us pray for all those who have become new Mum’s in this last year.
We pray for our families, especially our children, our friends and neighbours. And for those who are missing a hug from their loved ones.

Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital.
And let us pray that we may always be aware of the needs around us and have the courage to reach out in whatever way we can. And may we always say YES to God as  Mary did.

Loving God, as a mother feeds her children, you feed us with the food of eternal life. Help us to grow in grace within the household of faith. Amen.

To end our service today please do sing:

Give me Joy in my heart, keep me singing,
Give me joy in my heart, I pray,
Give me joy in my heart, keep me singing,
Keep me singing 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 love in my heart, keep me serving,
Give me love in my heart I pray,
Give me love in my heart, keep me serving,
Keep me serving to the break of day.

Sing Hosanna, ………….

The Blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you,
The wind be always at your back.
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall softly on your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

Happy Mothering Sunday to you all, thank you for everything you do.

 

Notices.

To keep you in the picture, it is still very much hoped that we will have a service on Easter Day. I had pondered trying to do an outside service at Fishbourne, or use the hall and outside area so as to enable more people to attend. Sadly, we have been informed that this is not allowed, as outdoor meetings will not be permitted by then. So, the services will have to be in church, more details coming very soon.

 
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
7th March 2021

Good morning everyone, welcome to our service.The Lord be with you.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us, and is with us always.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in

thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up joy but first He suffered pain, and entered not into glory before He was crucified; mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.
 
Exodus 20, v1-17

The Ten CommandmentsThen 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 bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

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 labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor 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 neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

John 2, v13-22

Jesus Cleanses the TempleThe Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Reflection written by John Sheppard:

Although schools are about to restart, who would have thought we would still be largely locked down a year after this all started!!  It’s undoubtedly an experience which has changed many of us forever.  I’m sure like me, you are re-examining priorities, realising how much people you cannot see actually mean and perhaps even concluding that some of what you used to do is not worth returning to.  A defining period in so many ways.

Hopefully with this new Covid inspired analysis of aspects of our life in mind, we are working our way through Lent.   In this period, our readings delve into the Old Testament, and this week’s Exodus passage contains the Ten Commandments.  Like many of you I’m sure, I had to learn these off-by-heart when I was young, and as a primary school child, they made me feel quite righteous.  I would say I have always respected my parents, never committed murder, adultery or theft, and I don’t think I’ve accused anyone falsely, told any serious lies or particularly coveted my neighbour’s possessions.  That’s 5 to 10 no problem.  How god-fearing am I??

I’m sure most of you will concur with these sentiments but I did start at number 5.  The six Commandments that deal with our relationships with each other.  The first four (which I largely ignored as a child, and perhaps still do) deal with our relationship with God and are much more difficult, needing real consideration.  For a start, do I honestly not worship anything else other than God?  In lockdown I’ve re-fallen in love with my house, its environment, Netflix…..  Looks doubtful for number one.  Do I not have any other Gods?  Brilliant TV and Family Zoom Meetings have perhaps become my temples, replacing the long-gone time I used to spend in Church Services.  Number two looks questionable.

What about God’s name?  I’ve reluctantly got into some DIY and Gods name does occasionally get taken in vain as things constantly go wrong. I’m really not very good at home improvement. So much for number 3.  Finally, Caroline and I were very keen on the Keep Sunday Special Campaign a few years ago but I’ve lost track of days recently.  They really do all feel the same.  I spread the little work I do across 7 days not 5.  Do I honestly make space on Sundays?  Even number 4 is looking shaky.

Jesus got angry with people he thought had lost track of the basic instructions.  Our Gospel reading relays how he expelled the people who he felt were breaking Gods (as opposed to Judaic) rules from the Temple.  John places this well-known and striking event at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, right after he called the disciples and attended the wedding at Cana.  It sets a certain theme for ministry and is a stark reminder that Jesus expects God’s rules to be kept and, however compassionate, sometimes exercises a degree of firm judgement.  With the Church closed on Sundays, we all need reminding of the words of verse 17, “My devotion to your house, O God, burns in me like a fire”

It’s difficult to preach strictness and biblical rules when we are all living by regulations, we never thought would be necessary. Having said that, as we progress through Lent, a personal reflection on our performance against the Ten Commandments is perhaps not a bad idea.  They might be 3,000 years old but they are still part of God’s Covenant with his people.  Alongside all the other promises I’ve made to myself this Lent, I’m definitely going to focus on the first 4 Commandments and, contrary to some aspects of the effect I find lockdown is having on me, work on a better relationship with God.  

God Bless and I pray we can meet again in God’s House soon, mark the Sabbath together and keep the fourth commandment!

Keep Safe and God Bless

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

During this coming week let continue to us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world. That it may keep a Holy Lent.
For all in authority, nationally and locally. Let us give thanks that Covid numbers are reducing right across the world.
Our Local communities, we give thanks for the generosity of so many that has enabled repairs to the Church car park.
Our families, friends and neighbours, we give thanks for all those who walk by our side through good times and hard times.
For grandparents and their grandchildren who are missing each other very much.
Our local schools, as they prepare to welcome all children back this week.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital. Our care homes and for all those who miss seeing their loved ones.
Let us thank God for our awesome created world as we see the signs of new life all around us.

Merciful Lord, grant your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only God; 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. 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.

The Blessing.

May God the Father fill you with His grace, God the Son, fill you with His peace, God the Holy Spirit lead you in all holiness, and the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be on us and all those we love, this day and in the days ahead. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

2nd SUNDAY OF LENT
28th February 2021
Good morning everyone, welcome to our service.Towards the end of last year, as I looked ahead, I had planned to invite guest speakers throughout this Lent, but Covid put a stop to that. However, today I am delighted to share with you a reflection (slightly shortened) from the Revd. Canon. Rebecca Swyers who would have joined us in person if it had been possible. So please enjoy.The Lord be with you.God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.Let us say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us, and is with us always.Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AmenThe Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)Almighty God, you show to those who are in error the light of your truth, that they may return to the way of righteousness; grant to all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, that they may reject those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same. Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.Today’s Readings.Genesis 17 v1-7, and v15-16In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 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.” 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.Mark 8 v31-38Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”This week’s Reflection from Rebecca.I must confess that Saturday evenings during the past weeks haven’t been spent reading worthy theological books. Instead, I’ve been watching ‘The Masked Singer’, which was the perfect light-hearted lockdown entertainment.Various singers and celebrities dress in a mask and costume that completely covers them. Each week they sing, and then very tenuous clues are given before a panel tries to guess each singer’s identity. ‘Who are they’, they ask. One celebrity is then un-masked each week, usually with great shock and melodrama.Jesus doesn’t hide behind a mask. In the verses immediately preceding today’s gospel, Jesus asks the disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’, and they answer, John the Baptist or Elijah or even one of the prophets.
Then Jesus asks, ‘Who do YOU say I am?
Peter jumps straight in and says, ‘You are the messiah’. He immediately gets Jesus’ identity spot on.
From the beginning of Marks’s gospel, he gives us very clear clues about who Jesus is, and although Peter had recognised His true identity, he immediately ruins the moment by what happens next.
In today’s reading we hear of Jesus teaching His disciples about what is going to happen to Him, how he must suffer and die, and then rise three days later. This is more than Peter can cope with and so he rebukes Jesus.We then have what seem to be some of the harshest words Jesus ever speaks, he turns to Peter and says, ‘Get behind me Satan’. For you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things.But are those words really aimed at Peter. Last week, we had Mark’s account of Jesus being tempted by Satan for forty days and nights in the desert. We know that Jesus resisted all of the temptations that he was presented with. So perhaps, Peter’s words simply sounded like another temptation, so is Jesus addressing the harsh words to Satan, not Peter.One of the ways Jesus discerns each person, is by ‘looking hard’ at them, and today we read about him looking at His disciples, then telling them what following Him will really mean. And without doubt, those words are for us as well, for we are all called to carry the cross.We might be tempted to think if bad things happen to us that God isn’t there, but Jesus’ robust words in the gospel reading remind us otherwise, and take us back to the desert. Significantly, Mark tells us that it is the Spirit who drives Jesus into the desert, not Satan.We must face our fears, and acknowledge our fight or flight reflex, ‘Feel the Fear and Do it anyway’.To get fit physically, we must train and build up our muscles, shed unwanted weight and increase our fitness levels. Some of you have been joining in with Joe Wick’s workouts during the past year or have taken up daily walks or even started running a bit. Whatever you have done you will know that you have had to build up your muscles slowly.Lent is our 40 days to focus on our spiritual fitness, a time to face what challenges us in order that we grow in faith and run the race that is set before us.We can’t pretend this is always going to be easy, and it will not happen overnight, we may face the spiritual equivalent of the ‘wall’ which marathon runners talk about. We might at times be tempted to give up, and take the easy route, but let’s not give up.Ultimately, we can’t avoid carrying the cross, we can fight it, but we can’t avoid it.Peter’s reaction to Jesus words is normal, his friend has just told him he will suffer and be killed, of course Peter did not want that to happen.We must always remember; we can’t have the Resurrection without the cross.Lent isn’t a time for us to look miserable, these 40 days will bring us new life, freedom a deep joy and hope in the promise of eternal life.The challenge for each of us is to ask ourselves, If Jesus looked deeply at me, what would He see’.What are the temptations that we are facing, what are the things that hold us back?Let us always remember, we don’t enter this spiritual gym of Lent on our own but with the Holy Spirit to help re-shape our lives.Peter models this so well for us, he sometimes says the most stupid things, he denied Jesus more than once and yet he became one of the most fearless followers of Christ, the Rock, on which the church was built.As we take up our cross let us always be mindful that we don’t do it just for ourselves. We take it up together, and for others, and we do this on a daily basis so that our words, our lives and our actions will reveal the reality of who Jesus is to all those around us. AmenLet us declare our faith in God.We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.During this coming week let us pray for:God’s church throughout the world. That it may keep a Holy Lent.
For all in authority, nationally and locally. Let us give thanks that Covid numbers are reducing right across the world.
Our Local communities, we give thanks for the generosity of so many that has enabled repairs to the Church car park.
Our families, friends and neighbours, we give thanks for all those who walk by our side through good times and hard times.
For grandparents and their grandchildren who are missing each other very much.
Our local schools, especially the Head Teacher Naomi Day.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital. Our care homes and for all those who miss seeing their loved ones.
Let us thank God for our awesome created world as we see the signs of new life all around us.Be with us Lord, in all our prayers, for you know our needs before we even ask. We pray that what we have asked faithfully we may obtain effectually; 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. 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.The Blessing.May God the Father fill you with His grace, God the Son, fill you with His peace, God the Holy Spirit lead you in all holiness, and the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be on us and all those we love, this day and in the days ahead. Amen.And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.
 
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
21st February 2021
Good morning everyone, welcome to Lent.

The Lord be with you.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.Let us say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us, and is with us always.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin; give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Genesis 9, v 8-17

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Mark 1, v 9-15In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

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

Reflection written by Jenny

Which season is your favourite? There’s so much I love about spring. I’ve been looking out for signs of spring for weeks, watching the catkins shaking in the wind when I draw back the curtains each morning, finding snowdrops in the garden, watching the daffodils shooting up and listening out for bird song. Sunrise appears sometimes when I’m having my porridge and sunset when I’m thinking of getting our tea ready. The promise of longer, warmer days is in the air. It lifts my spirits. Does it yours?

We’ve just begun a new season in the church’s year. Lent began on Wednesday. Lent comes from an old English word meaning “lengthen”. For us it’s celebrated in spring as our daylight hours are getting longer. It’s a period of forty days and it leads up to the celebrations of Easter. When we observe Lent we are remembering Jesus’ time in the wilderness, mentioned in our Gospel reading for today, the time between Jesus leaving his home town of Nazareth and the beginning of his ministry. Let’s look at this reading more closely. It will help us to think about the season of Lent and how we can use these forty days to prepare ourselves for the plans God has instore for each of us and how we can serve the Lord our God the best we can.

The Gospel began with Jesus’ baptism. We know so little about Jesus’ life as he grew up in Nazareth but his parents loved God and would have taught him their Jewish faith. We read of his hunger for the things of God on that visit to the Temple when he was twelve. Jesus was being prepared for his coming ministry. We may feel very small but we influence our children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, children we know in our community without us being aware of it. How we react to the changes of life will impact on them. Do we know what it is to ask God for his help and guidance or do we feel we can do it all our way? Jesus chose to follow his Father God’s path for him.

And so it was that Jesus was baptised by John. When we come to God in baptism and put our trust in Jesus, God sees us not as we are naturally but sees us are we are in Christ. He says to us too, “You are my beloved son or daughter.” What a wonderful assurance it must have been for Jesus to hear his Father’s voice affirming his chosen path. There are moments in our lives when we may feel very close to God. Often baptism or confirmation is such a time. These times are precious but such experiences don’t happen every day. Usually, we have to walk by faith and simply trust God.

We read that after Jesus’ baptism, he immediately had a difficult time in the wilderness when he was tempted by the devil. In the Bible the word for temptation often stands for a time of trial or testing. We read that it lasted for forty days. Forty days is a significant time period occurring many times in the Old Testament scriptures.  If we look back to the story of Noah, it rained for forty days and forty nights and caused the terrible flood which destroyed the world as Noah knew it. Forty years was the time the Israelites wondered in the desert after their escape from slavery in Egypt. The number “forty” is used to separate two different time periods. For Jesus the forty days separated his working life in Nazareth and the beginning of his public ministry.

Jesus will help us when we go through times of testing. He knows what it’s like to struggle in difficult times. He’s been through it himself and can empathise with us. Our circumstances and situations may be different but the Bible assures us “….we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God …. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV)

Jesus knows the struggles we all have coping with life in this pandemic. He knows the sadness and grief many have experienced and wants to help us in our need. He knows how it feels when jobs are at risk and the things we find security in are taken away. We may feel exhausted with home schooling. We might simply feel fed up with our own company and longing to be with family and friends again. Whatever our struggles we can share them with our heavenly Father who is never too busy to listen.

What did Jesus do in the wilderness for his forty days? We can imagine Jesus alone talking things over with God and listening to what his Father said to him. In Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 we have more details of the devil tempting Jesus to take a different path to the one God had for him. Jesus was praying and fasting. Lent can be such a time for us. We can use it to have time alone with God, to share things with Him, to listen to what He says to us and like Jesus prepare ourselves for what comes next. If you’re like me and find it a bit difficult to remember what caught your ear yesterday, write it down in a notebook. Doing this can be so encouraging and helpful. It helps you to be expectant that God will speak to you. If Jesus needed this time to be alone with his Father, so do we! Just as we might do a bit of spring cleaning in the house, so we need to examine our lives and ask God what changes should we make. Is there a new ministry the Lord has in store for us?

Remembering we are precious children of God, let us use this season of Lent to deepen our relationship with the Lord and prepare to fulfil our ministry in witnessing to God’s saving love in whatever way God calls us. May your Lent be a special time for you.

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

During this coming week let us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world. That it may keep a Holy Lent.
For all in authority, nationally and locally, and for the announcements that are to be made tomorrow.
Our Local communities, we give thanks for the generosity of so many that has enabled repairs to the Church car park to go ahead, and we welcome all those who have recently moved into the area.
Our families, friends and neighbours, we give thanks for all those who walk by our side through good times and hard times.
For grandparents and their grandchildren.
Our local schools, that they may fully open very soon.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital. Our care homes and for all those who miss seeing their loved ones.
Let us thank God for our awesome created world.

Lord God, you renew us with the living bread from heaven; by it you nourish our faith, increase our hope and strengthen our love; teach us always to hunger for Him who is the true and living bread, and enable us to live by every word that proceeds from out of your mouth, 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. 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.

The Blessing.

May Christ give us grace to grow in holiness, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

Notices.

It is not too late to join John’s Lent group.
              
Do look out for the fun quiz which will be sent out this week.

An enormous thank you for your wonderful generosity with donations towards the much-needed work to the driveway and Fishbourne Church car park. The work is well underway. If you know of anyone who may like to give a small donation towards the cost of this please do get them to contact Robert Christie on: 01243 532642

 
 

ASH WEDNESDAY

17th February 2021

Welcome to our special service this week.

For many people, today is an important beginning to Lent, we would normally gather in church for a service, during which we would be marked on our foreheads with the sign of the cross, using ashes made by burning last year’s palm crosses.
It may seem a very odd thing to do, but this simple symbolic action reminds us that although we are but dust, we have the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This year, we can’t gather in church but I invite you to follow this service, uniting your hearts with others who will be doing the same in their own homes.
If you did not have an old palm cross you can make one from card or paper, and then carefully burn it, collecting the ash in a small bowl to be used a little later in the service when I will give some simple instructions.
If you have never attended the Ash Wednesday service please do join in with us so that together we commit ourselves to this life-giving Holy season of Lent.

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

Let us begin this season with prayer.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the wrongdoings of all those turn back to you. Create and make in us new and loving hearts, that as we acknowledge the times, we have done wrong and given thought only to ourselves, we may receive from you perfect forgiveness and peace, renewed life and faith, and a determination to walk with your son Jesus Christ in whom we make our prayer. Amen.

The Readings:

1 Corinthians 9, V. 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. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

Matthew 6, V.16-21“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

A short Reflection.

Lent, what is it all about, why does the church keep these few weeks every single year? Some people love it, others face it with a sense of foreboding. Whatever you feel, here we are again, and once more we are faced with choices, what to take on, what to give up, what to do, or what not to do, and perhaps we may even wonder, does whatever we choose make any real difference to our lives. The short answer to that question is ‘yes’, even if we are not aware of it.

During my time here in Fishbourne, I have been inspired by so many of you as I have watched and listened to you as you give up this or that, or take on something new for these few weeks. Even children readily tell me how they are giving up biscuits or chocolate, and they stick to it with amazing discipline.

Whereas, I find myself starting off really well, but really struggle to keep it going. (I really hope I’m not alone in this). But I keep trying.

For me, one of the most important aspects about Lent is Love, not just about us trying to love God more, but about allowing Him to Love us, warts and all. We cannot earn His Love; we can’t demand it. It is simply there, always. And I believe that as we journey through these weeks of Lent, giving up this or that, or taking on something new, we create space and time that enables us to understand just how much we are truly loved, it really is beyond our imaginings, and bit by bit we are able to accept that awesome love from God, and allow it to refill our hearts once more.

We do not have to be perfect, we do not need to have great faith, all we need to do is to allow God to hug us, to share with Him all that we are and all that we do. All that we hope for, and all that we fear. We just need to sit with Him in silence confident that His transforming power will continue.
This last year has been really tough for all of us, and it may be that we wonder at times, just where is God in all the suffering, loneliness and separation of loved ones. Perhaps our prayer life has become dry and empty, or we may wonder when on earth will we be able to cuddle those we have missed so much and get back to some sort of normality.

Whatever we are facing, let us always remember, Jesus Christ is always with us, to the very end of time.
This Lent, may we all encourage one another, let us remind ourselves that God is with us in the small things in life, He is with us in our joys and in our sorrows, in our failings and in all that we manage to get right.
His incredible love for us was shown on the cross, a love offered to the whole world, reaching out through all time. It is this love that gives us the grace to walk together through these next few weeks.
During this Lent, whatever we choose to do, may we also have the grace to let God love us that little bit more, just as we are. Amen

Let us say sorry for those times when we have forgotten how much God loves us.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

The imposition of Ashes, (signing of the cross on our foreheads)

God our Father, you create us from the dust of the earth; grant that these ashes may be for us a sign of our penitence and a symbol of our mortality; for it is by your grace alone that we receive eternal life in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Now we press one of our thumbs into our own ashes, if you haven’t managed to make any, that’s okay, you can do this symbolic action without.

We make the sign of the cross on our foreheads and say to ourselves the following words. Do say your own name at the beginning.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,
Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.

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

The Peace.

Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.

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. 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.

Lord our God, grant us the grace to desire you with our whole heart; that so desiring, we may seek and find you; and so finding, may love you; and so loving you may continue to accept your love for us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing.

Christ give us grace to grow in holiness, to take up our cross and to follow Him, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, may you have a Holy Happy Lent.

 
 
SUNDAY BEFORE LENT
14th February 2021
Good morning everyone, welcome to our service this week.The Lord be with you.God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us, and how he is with us always.Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AmenThe Gloria.Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. AmenThe Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross; give us grace to perceive His glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with Him and be changed into His likeness, from glory to glory; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.Today’s Readings.2 Corinthians 4, v3-6And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.Mark 9, v.2-9Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.It is always good to hear from someone else, and so this week I include a reflection offered to all parishes from Will Hazlewood, the Bishop of Lewis.May I speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen.Do you have a favourite Apostle? For me it is Peter, I love the way that he gets things so incredibly right and so incredibly wrong.  Just before we get to the account of the Transfiguration in Mark’s Gospel, we hear of two of these scenarios with dear Peter. First, he has managed to proclaim so boldly; the first of the disciples to do so, that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God. Then almost in the next breath he has managed to say ‘no’ to the account that Jesus says of what is going to happen to him. How he must be crucified, how he must die. Peter rails against that with every bone in his body, as he says, ‘no that cannot be I will not allow you to die, that’s not how this is supposed to end’. With the words ‘Get behind me Satan’ still ringing in his heart and his ears as he trudges up that mountain side. The going quite hard work as he slowly climbs towards the summit.
Prayer for us, let’s face it, can sometimes feel a bit like that. We too can so easily be weighed down by our own failures to acknowledge God in our lives and to proclaim his Kingdom on earth. But what happens on the top of that mountain is quite incredible. Mountains all through the Old Testament have a particular place in the stories of revelation where God often encounters people on mountain tops. Moses and Elijah have had encounters with the living God before on mountain peaks but on those occasions, they have had to shield their eyes from the glory, the splendour, the beauty of God’s presence, it is too bright they cannot bear to see it. Yet in Christ’s transfiguration they get to see fully the divinity of Jesus wrapped up in the humanity. The beauty, the transcendent Christ is also glimpsed by those frail disciples transfixed in fear. Their response is so human isn’t it? If they had an iPhone, I suspect they would have desperately tried to video the whole affair. They try to hold onto it by building little shelters. They want this moment to last longer, where they see Christ as he really is and hear those comforting words from heaven.  We too can be like that can’t we? Those moments when we are caught up in prayer and feel God’s presence. Those moments in a church or in a cathedral or at a pilgrimage site or looking out over a beautiful view. Those moments when we feel God is close to us.  Perhaps those moments when we are the household of faith gathered with our friends, people we know and love who’ve walked this earth with us. It’s not easy to step back down the mountain. Yet Jesus leads us towards his passion towards the cross towards death and towards resurrection.We too can be transfigured with God’s love when we use seasons like Lent to increase our level of prayer, perhaps trying things like fasting or arms giving or anything that enlarges our heart and reduces the ‘I’ in each of us. We too can be transfigured not entirely for our own benefit but for the benefit of those that we will meet in our communities and world. If we spend time this Lent in prayer, seeking to understand more fully God’s love for us then we will be in a much better position to walk with Jesus through the events of Holy Week. To watch as he washes the feet of his disciples and calls them friends. To watch as he says, ‘do this in memory of me’. To watch his horrific crucifixion, the lying of his lifeless body in the arms of his mother. To grieve with Mary Magdalene as she walks towards the tomb in the dawn, assuming everything is finished. finally, to rejoice in Christ bursting from the tomb calling us by name and telling us that death and the fear of death should be banished forever as we walk in that new dawn light. So, in this season of Lent let us drink deeply from our communication with God in prayer who always seeks to listen to us and is always waiting to greet us and lead us home. Amen.Let us declare our faith in God.We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.During this coming week let us pray for:God’s church throughout the world, for John as he prepares to lead our Lent group.
For all in authority, nationally and locally.
Our Local communities, and for those who will begin work in the church carpark this week.
Our families, friends and neighbours, giving thanks for their love and care.
Let us pray for all parents as they continue to do a fantastic job home schooling their children, may they enjoy the half term break.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital.
For all our amazing NHS staff and key workers.
Let us give thanks for the created world, and for those moments of awe that we experience.Holy God, we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ; may we who are partakers at His table reflect His life in word and deed, that all the world may know His power to change and save. This we ask 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. 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.The Blessing.May the road rise up to meet you, the wind be always at your back, the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall softly on your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.Important Notices. Final reminder: please do let John Sheppard know if you would like to join his Zoom Lent group.Ash Wednesday. There will be a short service for you to join in with this coming Wednesday. Sadly, we cannot do the usual service in church which includes us receiving the sign of the cross on our foreheads in ash, but if you are able to burn one of your old palm crosses, (safely), you will be able to do this at home.Lent 2021. This year, let us be the church community that prays every day. I invite you to join your hearts with one another and take time each day to pray the Lord’s Prayer, reflecting for a while on each line.Church Car Park. Thank you so much for your wonderful generosity, so far, we have raised just over £8000, which means we are well on the way to cover the costs of repairing the driveway and church car park. Every single donation, no matter how small is gratefully received.
 
 
2ND SUNDAY BEFORE LENT
7th February 2021

Good morning everyone, welcome to our service this week.

The Lord be with you.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us, and is with us always.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth, and made us in your own image; teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Readings and reflection.

Colossians 1, v15-20

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

John 1, v1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

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

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.

Reflection for today

Have you ever played the game where several people sit in a circle and someone comes up with a message and whispers it to the person next to them?  The message is then quietly passed from person to person all round the circle until it is announced by the last person.  The words they report invariably bear little resemblance to the starting message but invariably make some sort of sense.  In my family we always called it the Message Game.  Try it sometime once we can get close again.  It’s a very powerful effect!!

At first sight, our Epistle reading is a restatement of everything we already know around the majesty of Jesus Christ, very refreshing but not absolutely necessary.  Looking at it in context though, this is addressed to a very large and active first century Church in Colossae, Asia Minor.  Here was a city which had not been evangelised directly, either by Paul and his colleagues or those who actually knew Jesus, and was in a place known for its philosophical and cultural development and independence.  This meant some aspects of the faith suffered from the effect of the Message Game, and distortions set in.  Mysticism, strange rules around eat and drink and a de-emphasis of Jesus in favour of Angels were all-powerful influences, probably drifting in from nearby Greece.  Paul clearly felt the need to restate the basics, which had perhaps been forgotten in this far-flung place.  Its rather like breaking into the circle in the Message Game half way round and readjusting the words to ensure accuracy.

Turning to the Gospel reading, again we have a very powerful statement by St John of all the basics.  Jesus is the Word, communicating God through himself.  He is the Light, pouring God into the World, inextinguishable by any forces of darkness.  Unlike his co-gospel writers, John doesn’t open with historical facts, a list of ancestors, tales of John the Baptist or Jesus’ birth, its straight in to the real meaning of it all. He seems to be saying “you have read the three preceding Gospels, now here is what it all means!!”

Even before Covid, we could perhaps be accused at times of allowing the basic facts of our faith to become obscured in our thinking.  To a limited extent the Message Game has an effect in our 21st century lives.  Now that we are isolated and largely prevented from meeting, I can’t help feeling the effects of the Message Game might become even more pronounced. Maybe the Zoom based bible meetings planned during Lent will help remind us of the central messages but, for now, this week’s readings, by no less than Saints John and Paul, are designed to counter any effects of the Message Game we might suffer.  Why not scroll back up the page and read them again for good measure!!

Do keep safe and God Bless

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

During this coming week let us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world.
For all in authority, nationally and locally.
Our Local communities, businesses and those who are worried about losing their jobs.
Our families, friends and neighbours, we give thanks for all those who walk by our side through good times and hard times.
Let us pray for all parents as they continue to do a great job home schooling their children.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital, for those who have Covid and for all the families and friends who have lost loved ones to this terrible virus or because of another disease.
For all our amazing NHS staff and key workers, and for those who are administering the Covid vaccinations across the world.

God our creator, by your gift the tree of life was set at the heart of the earthly paradise, and the bread of life at the heart of your church; may we who have been nourished at your table on earth be transformed by the glory of the Saviour’s cross and enjoy the delights of eternity, 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. 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.

The Blessing.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

Notices.
Don’t forget, (Lent is fast approaching), to let John Sheppard know if you would like to join his Zoom Lent group. This will be a great way to connect with each other in stimulating discussion and enable a really good focus during these coming weeks.

Please do take some time to think about how you will keep Lent this year, you may consider giving something up, or doing something new. It does not have to be an enormous task; I look forward to hearing what each of you decide to do. Your ideas may help others.

Moira

WELCOME TO OUR SPECIAL SERVICE THIS MORNING, WHICH INCLUDES AN ACT OF REMEMBRANCE FOR ALL THOSE AFFECTED BY COVID.31st January 2021

You may wish to light a candle, a symbol of Hope.

The Lord be with you.

Although we are apart physically, we come together in our hearts in Jesus’ name to offer our prayer and thanksgiving, to

pray for the needs of the world, and to ask for forgiveness for those times when we have forgotten how much God truly loves us. So that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may give ourselves afresh to the service of God through all we do for those around us.

You may wish to sing or say the verses of this hymn, ‘Let there be Love’.

Let there be love shared among us,
let there be love in our eyes.
May now your love sweep this nation,
cause us, O Lord, to arise.
Give us a fresh understanding,
brotherly love that is real.
Let there be love shared among us,
Let there be love.

We say sorry to God.

Lord God, our maker and our redeemer, this is your world and we are your people: come among us and complete us.

Your Word is a lantern to our feet and a light to our paths.
Lord have mercy.
God, be gracious and bless us, make your face shine upon us.
Christ have mercy.
May your ways be known on the earth, your saving power among all the nations.
Lord have mercy.

May the God of Love and power forgive us and free us from all our sins, heal and strengthen us by His Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

A special prayer for today.

Lord God, whose Son, Jesus Christ, understood people’s fear and pain before they spoke of them, we pray for those in hospital; surround the frightened with your tenderness, give strength to those in pain. Hold the weak in your arms of love, and give hope and patience to those who are recovering. We ask this through he same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We say or sing:

Let there be peace shared among us,
let there be peace in our eyes.
May your peace sweep this nation;
Cause us, O Lord, to arise.
Give us a fresh understanding,
sisterly love that is real.
Let there be peace shared among us,
let there be peace.

The first of our special Readings for this morning.

Revelations 21 v. 1-6a

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;
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”.

Our Act of Remembrance.  

It was one year ago today that the first two people were taken into a Newcastle hospital with Covid. Nobody could have imagined that one year later way over 100,000 people would have lost their lives to this terrible virus. None of us had any idea how 2020 was going to unfold, and the huge impact it would have on people’s lives. Every one of us has been changed during this crisis, directly or indirectly, of that there is little doubt.

This terrible milestone in the pandemic is more than just numbers, it is about real people, individuals who have died, every one of them had infinite value.

And so, let us Remember. Those we know and those we have never met.

It is about the thousands more, family, friends, communities and colleagues who have lost loved ones.

Let us Remember all the agony and loss that they are dealing with.

Today is also about all those who work in the NHS, care homes, in schools and on the front line, and the scientists who have made the vaccines.

Let us Remember their tireless self-giving, compassion and expertise.

It is about the incredible kindness that has been shown by ordinary men, women and children throughout this last year, little acts of kindness that have made a huge difference to the lives of so many.

Let us Remember with thanks in our hearts.

In our Remembering, let us not forget those who have supported us, those who have held our hands in good times and in sad times throughout this last year, even if only from a distance.

Please do now keep a minute’s silence, as we join with countless others up and down the country in an Act of Remembrance.

We say or sing:
 
Let there be hope shared among us,
Let there be hope in our eyes,
May now your hope sweep this nation;
Cause us O Lord to arise.
Give us a fresh understanding,
Brotherly love that is real.
Let there be hope shared among us, let there be hope.

The second reading.

Matthew 5. v.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.

The Lord’s prayer.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; they will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. 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.

The Blessing.

God of power, may the boldness of your Spirit transform us, may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us, may the gifts of your Spirit equip us to serve and worship you, now and always. And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us and all those who we love, now and always, Amen.

We say or sing:

Let there be joy shared among us,
Let there be joy in our eyes,
May now your joy sweep this nation;
Cause us, O Lord, to arise.
Give us a fresh understanding,
sisterly love that is real,
Let there be joy shared among us,
Let there be joy.

May God’s Love, peace, hope and joy fill all our hearts.

Notices.

It is so good to hear that more and more people are receiving their Covid vaccination, within our communities and around the world. What an enormous global undertaking.

The readings that were set for this week are: Heb. 2 v. 14-18 and Luke 2. v. 22-40, if you would like to read them during the coming days. They tell us about the Presentation of Christ which is celebrated today as well.

Thank you for taking part in this service, keep safe and well.

Moira.

 
3rd SUNDAY OF EPIPHANY
24th JANUARY 2021
Good morning everyone, welcome to our service this week.The Lord be with you.God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.Let us say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us, and is with us always.Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AmenThe Gloria.Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. AmenThe Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence: renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.Today’s Readings.Revelation 19, v 6-10

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready;
to her it has been granted to be clothed
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

John 2, v 1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Reflection on today’s reading

And the water was turned into wine, not just any old wine, but the very best anyone had ever tasted.
There is little doubt that this passage from John’s Gospel is well known. Even those who would claim not to be Christian know it, and we hear many people refer to those words at different events, often in a jokey way.

In fact, it would be fair to say, that lots of people get so fixated on the amount of wine, and how good it was, that they overlook the deeper profound meanings that John invites us to explore and understand in this story.

During these coming days, I invite you to take a little time to think about the story in a different way, remembering that every word John writes in his gospel, has layer upon layer of meaning, each one points beyond itself.

Let us imagine, what if the story of the wedding at Cana, was in fact the story of life, when Mary utters those words, ‘they have no wine’ she is in fact speaking a truth about all our lives.
Many of us know those times when it feels as if our wine has ‘run out’. Perhaps it is within broken relationships, bereavement, or those moments when everything feels dull, empty or without real meaning.

Maybe we feel agonizingly helpless at not being able to do anything to relieve another person’s pain and suffering, those times when we just don’t know what to do, when we feel that we have run out of options, and we have nothing left to give. Some will have known that feeling of loneliness, when God seems absent and we fear we have nothing left to offer, to God, to others or to ourselves. We feel empty but don’t always know what to do.

Despite our best efforts, good intentions and hard work it seems that the wine of our life has run out, no matter how clever or capable we think we are, there comes a time when we realise that our own strength and resources are simply not enough. Now that day can feel like a disaster or a failure, but it is exactly then that we need to remember today’s reading.

I’m sure the bride and groom at that wedding would have felt they had failed, but when Mary speaks those words, ‘they have run out of wine’, she is not condemning them, rather she is simply making an observation, giving perhaps a diagnosis about the human condition.
The great news about today’s reading is that God meets us wherever we have ‘run’ out, He meets us in the place of our deepest need, in just the same way as at that wedding, even though at first it seemed as if He didn’t care.

Of course, He cared, He didn’t say, good, I’m glad they have run out of wine, they have had enough already, He didn’t judge the family for not planning properly, rather, as we know He showed in the most extraordinary way just how much He cared for them, and in doing so He reveals how He continues to care for each one of us, about every detail of our lives, about every battle we face and every worry that we have. Jesus cares more than we can ever understand.

We just need to let Him in to those places where our wine has run out. We need to let go of trying to do things in our own strength and allow Jesus to fill us to the brim with His amazing grace.
Ultimately, the day we realise that our ‘wine’ has run out, is in fact the beginning of another miracle as we turn afresh to God. For Christ does not simply refill us, He transforms our lives in ways we cannot imagine, it is a moment of true resurrection, and it happens constantly in our lives.

Every time the good wine, the grace of God is poured out, our lives are changed. I have to say, I don’t know how this happens, I only know that it does. Throughout my ministry, I have seen despair change into new hope, fear into courage, worry into peace, and I have seen people do things they never thought was possible. I have witnessed people face the darkest points of life, and come through it, even if it takes a long time.

This is what the story of the wedding at Cana is all about, it is a story the world needs to hear, especially at this time when so many are facing such difficult times, when it may well feel as if their wine has run out.

Throughout this pandemic we have all seen so much tragedy, but we have also witnessed such goodness, care and love.

May we all open our hearts every day, and let God fill us to the brim with his life transforming grace and power. For the best is yet to come.

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

During this coming week let us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world.
For all in authority, nationally and locally, especially Joe Biden.
Our Local communities, businesses and those who are worried about losing their jobs.
Our families, friends and neighbours.
Let us pray for all parents as they home school their children during these weeks.
For the miners trapped in the Chinese gold mine and all those so badly affected by the floods this week.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital, for those who have Covid and for all the families who have lost loved ones to this terrible virus.
For all our amazing NHS staff and key workers, and for those who are administering the Covid vaccinations. Let us also remember in our prayers our local funeral directors who are also on the frontline.

Almighty Father, whose Son Jesus Christ is the light of the world: may your people illumined by your word, shine with the radiance of His glory, that He may be known, worshipped and obeyed to the ends of the earth; for He is alive and reigns, now and for ever. 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. 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.

The Blessing.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

Important Notice.

Don’t forget to let John Sheppard know if you would like to join his Zoom Lent group, not long to wait now. This will be a great way to connect with each other in stimulating discussion.

 

2ND SUNDAY OF EPIPHANY

17th January 2021Good morning everyone, welcome to our service this week.The Lord be with you.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heave

n, and to bring us to eternal life.

We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us.

Most merciful God,

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; 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. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Revelation 5:1-10

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
    saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
    and they will reign on earth.”

John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Reflection written by Jenny

Who knows you best? Who knows your special days, your birthday, the anniversary of a loved one’s death? Who knows your concerns? Who knows your secret desires?

The Bible tells us in Psalm 139 that God knows us intimately. He knows us better than our closest friend, better even than we know ourselves. He knows our thoughts. He’s familiar with all our ways. In other words we have no secrets from God. He knows the longing of our hearts. He knows how we are coping in this pandemic and how we’re feeling this morning.

I guess, like Nathanael, we would find it a bit disconcerting if a stranger told us he knew what we’d been doing and what we were like. Nathanael, in our Gospel reading, had responded to his friend Philip’s invitation to come and see Jesus. Philip had met Jesus the day before and had recognised Jesus as the one “about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote.” For hundreds of years the people had been looking forward to the day when God’s anointed one would come to save them from injustice and evil. No wonder Philip was excited!

What do we know about Nathanael? When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he saw “an Israelite in whom there was no deceit.” This was indeed a complement. Nathanael was a faithful believer in the promises of God. He would have been looking for the coming of God’s Messiah. Perhaps when he was sitting under the fig tree he was also praying for the coming of God’s kingdom. When Jesus spoke to him it was as though Jesus had seen into the depths of his heart.

At first when Philip had told him that Jesus was the son of Joseph from Nazareth, Nathanael had been sceptical. He lived only four miles away in Cana. Nazareth was a garrison town for Roman soldiers and had a reputation for poor morality and a lack of religious values. Encountering Jesus for himself, Nathanael saw something special, something good. Like Philip he recognised Jesus’ uniqueness. He called him a rabbi, the Son of God and the King of Israel. When Jesus said that Nathanael would see “heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man,” what did he mean? Nathanael would have remembered the story of Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28. It was as though Jesus was saying to him, “I am the way from earth to heaven. I’m going to make this possible. Watch this space!”

What does Jesus see when he looks into our hearts? Does he see someone who loves the things of God? Do we sit under the fig tree and be still so we can contemplate these things? Jesus invites us as he did Philip and Nathanael to follow him. He says, “Come and you will see.” It’s an invitation to find out for ourselves and to go on finding out each day.

We’re in the season of Epiphany. Our readings are about God being revealed. John in his gospel has already in this first chapter revealed Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (1:29)

The book of Revelation is thought to have been written by the apostle John near the end of his life. He was in exile on the island of Patmos at a time of terrible persecution. It conveys its message using symbolism. It tells us that ultimately God is in control. Our reading is part of a vision of heaven. John was invited to come and see. (4:1) He glimpsed the throne room and God upon the throne being worshipped day and night. Then our reading. John sees a scroll with seven seals in God’s right hand. John is overcome with sadness because there was no-one to open the scroll and find out what was written on it. He is told not to weep, for the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David is here and he alone is worthy to open the scroll.

John looks for a lion, a symbol of power and might and kingship, but instead he saw a “Lamb, standing as if it had been slaughtered”. John knew this was the Lord Jesus, who fulfilled the ancient prophecies of a coming king and a suffering servant. The Lamb too was worshipped in heaven because he had died and given his life on a cross to save us from our sin.

It’s so easy to say this and me to write this but we need to take it deep into our hearts. This is what Jesus has done for each one of us. Can we ever understand the depths of the love Jesus has for us? It cost the Father and the Son everything. This is what Jesus told Nathanael that he would see. This is what Moses and the prophets foretold.

What difference does this make to our everyday lives? We’re all affected by this dreadful pandemic. We can be sure that God knows how we are feeling. He invites us to follow him and be a disciple. Discipleship is active. We begin by coming and seeing for ourselves and we go on day after day staying close to the Lord Jesus. He is the one who knows the longing of our hearts and can satisfy them, even during such difficult times as these.

You may like to join me in the prayer of St Richard as a response to Jesus’ invitation to come to him.

Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits you have given me,
For all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know You more clearly,
Love You more dearly,
Follow You more nearly. Amen.

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

During this coming week let us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world, pray especially for those who are unable to come together for worship at this time.
For all in authority, nationally and locally.
Our Local communities, businesses and those who are worried about losing their jobs.
Our families, friends and neighbours. For those who are missing a hug from their loved ones and those who are feeling anxious or afraid at this time.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital, and for all our amazing NHS staff and key workers, and for those who are administering the Covid vaccinations.

Let us sit for a moment of stillness and quiet as we place before God our own needs, our worries and fears but also our thanks that He knows all that is in our hearts, He knows all our needs, and longs for us to come to Him.

God of glory, you nourish us with your Word who is the bread of life: fill us with your Holy Spirit that through us the light of your Glory may shine in all the world. We ask this and all our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

Important Notice.
Please note, if you receive an email, supposedly from me, saying something like, ‘are you there’, or not including your name, do not respond to it.
It may look genuine, but is a scam which has been reported. Be assured, I will never ask any of you for money by an email. Please can you let your friends and families know as well and be very careful as there are several other scams going on at the moment. If you are ever unsure about an email, or a phone call, always check with someone else before responding. Moira

 
 
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST
10th January 2021
Good morning everyone, welcome to our service this week.

The Lord be with you.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate i

n heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.

We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.

We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Acts 19 v. 1-7

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied— altogether there were about twelve of them.

Mark 1 v. 4-11

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

This is my Son.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of Christ, a wonderful event, and yet one that often passes us by with little impact on our lives. It is not as cosy, fun or colourful as Christmas, nor as exotic and picturesque as the Epiphany, nor as amazing as when Jesus turned the water into wine. We are told about it in just a few lines of scripture.
But nevertheless, today’s celebration is a continuation of the Christmas season when we are given hints and reminders about who Jesus is, and I for one believe that the baptism of Jesus should be up there with the best of them, because, it is here at that river that we discover an amazing truth. Not only do we read of God announcing that He is the father of the child born at Christmas, but we also learn that because of Christ’s baptism, each one of us is also a beloved son or daughter of God through our baptism. It is ultimately an event which promises eternal hope.

In the culture in which Jesus lived, public declarations of paternity were of great importance. The pronouncement by the voice from heaven, ‘I am this child’s dad’, is ultimately a declaration to us that this man, standing in a river, wet and quite possibly bedraggled, is truly God’s Son. What an incredible revelation that is for all people. And yet, despite that the story in Mark comes across as rather unexciting. We read that God was simply well pleased, perhaps if it said, God was full of delight and joy it would have more impact.

The voice of God says, ‘this is my Son, my Beloved, which is beyond all things, an expression of profound love between parents and children. Think about taking a new born child into your hands, that tiny bundle of wonder, and we don’t need to be its parents or even related to it in order to feel that tug in our hearts, that little lurch which we can’t describe. That is actually what God is talking about when he says He is well pleased. It is about a love which is indescribable.

And that is why I believe today’s celebration is such a fantastic one. The Gospel reading simply oozes with love, delight and tenderness. We don’t need to fully understand why Jesus came to be baptized by John, maybe it was simply an opportunity for this revelation of love to be made, but we can learn that it is the event, this baptism, which reveals that we too are beloved children of God.
For God delights in us, every single day no matter what.
The challenge to us, is to accept how God truly sees us, and those around us, so that we know that every person we meet, every person we speak to, is in fact a precious child of God.

We are without doubt living through one of the most challenging scary times in lives, one which most of us have never experienced anything like. We may be fearful, lonely, fed up even, but let us never forget that God loves us, we are His beloved children and He calls each and every one of us by name. So please do remember, no matter how you are feeling or what you face in life at this moment, never forget there is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s love revealed to us through Jesus Christ His Son. It may not always feel like it, but He has promised to be with us always, and in our hearts, we too will hear Him declare ‘you are my beloved son/daughter, in you I am well pleased’.

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with His love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

During this coming week let us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world.
For all in authority, nationally and locally.
Our Local communities, businesses and those who are worried about losing their jobs.
Our families, friends and neighbours. For those who are missing a hug from their loved ones and those who are feeling anxious or afraid at this time.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital, and for all our amazing NHS staff and key workers.
Ann Robinson’s family as they prepare for her funeral which will take place on Monday 18th January, 2.45 p.m. at Chichester Crematorium.
Let us sit for a moment of stillness and quiet as we acknowledge in our hearts that each one of us is God’s Beloved son or daughter and give thanks for the beauty of the created world around us, may we all hear his voice.

Almighty God, you have promised to hear the prayers of those who ask in your Son’s name; we pray that what we have asked faithfully we may obtain effectively; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Let us pray:

Lord of all time and eternity, you opened the heavens and revealed yourself as Father in the baptism of Jesus your beloved Son: by the power of your Spirit complete the heavenly work of our rebirth through the waters of the new creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing.

May the Father from whom every family in earth and heaven receives its name strengthen us with his Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith.
And the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

Notices.

I have received a lovely letter from Stone Pillow thanking you all for your wonderful generosity in donating so many gifts just before Christmas.

 
THE JOYFUL EPIPHANY
3rd January 2021
Good morning everyone, welcome to our first on-line service for 2021. May I wish you all a very Happy, Blessed and Peace filled New Year.Let us begin with the prayer of St. Richard.

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ. For all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. Most merciful redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.

The Lord be with you.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
That we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your Holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.

We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face; 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. Amen.

Today’s Readings.

Ephesians 3, 1-12

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.

Matthew 2, 1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “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.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘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.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then 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.” When 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. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Sermon for Fishbourne 3 January 2021 (Epiphany)

My parents, like many of their time, were creatures of habit.  My sister and I (when breaks in lockdown allow us to get together!!) often laugh about this.  One habit of theirs was taking down Christmas decorations very quickly after Christmas.  Never mind Twelfth Night, once Christmas Day was done, it was a race to clear up.  The glitter usually survived Boxing Day, but only just!!  Another routine was taking us to Church on the first Sunday of every month, whatever the season.  By the time the first Sunday of January came, Christmas trimmings were long forgotten at home and I well remember being surprised that the Church was still bedecked.  I don’t think I listened to the sermons closely enough to understand why!!

The fact is that it’s not until this Sunday, The Epiphany, that we get to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men.  Matthew provides a very clear picture of the event in this week’s Gospel Reading.  In a world devoid of electric light, watching the night skies was very important and many countries East of Palestine had developed great knowledge and experience of celestial events.  The earth and the skies were seen as more connected than perhaps we perceive now and often big earthly events were seen to have parallels and indications in the night sky.  The Wise Men were sufficiently convinced of this to allow the appearance of a “star” to persuade them to make a long journey of many days. Their arrival, with gifts, underlined the kingly nature of the baby as well as highlighting his significance to all people, not just the Jews.  

Even in this strange year we have managed to retell the timeless story of Christmas in church settings, with our contemplative services and drive-in carols.  I hope you see these as rather different, perhaps exciting, opportunities to enjoy the lovely traditions we have come to see as synonymous with Christmas.  In contrast though, back then this was no cosy, picture book story.  It was political dynamite.  Declaring Jesus King of the Jews, as Matthew does in verse 2, surely makes Herod, already rather insecure, an imposter and a usurper.  Herod died shortly after these events but his sons followed him and one of them, Herod Antipas, went on to play a significant role in the life of Jesus.  The House of Herod did not take kindly to suggestions of a new “King”!!

We have certainly been witnesses to momentous events over the last year, some very difficult to bear.  Perhaps the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which has recently been in the night sky, (and which happened three times in 7BC and some would consider “that star”) heralds a better 2021.  As it says in the often-used seasonal blessing, “may the perseverance of the Wise Men be ours this season”.  

I wish you all a Happy New Year, a blessed Epiphany and I look forward to being able to meet up again soon

Keep safe and God Bless, from John

During this coming week let us pray for:

God’s church throughout the world.
For all in authority, nationally and locally.
For teachers, young people and parents as they prepare for a new term in these challenging times.
Our Local communities, businesses and those who are worried about losing their jobs.
Our families, friends and neighbours. And for those who are missing a hug from their loved ones.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital, and all our amazing NHS staff.
At the start of this new year, let us remember all those who have lost loved ones due to Covid.
Let us sit for a moment of stillness and quiet as despite the challenges 2020 presented us with, we do have so much to be thankful for.

Almighty God, you have promised to hear the prayers of those who ask in your Son’s name; we pray that what we have asked faithfully we may obtain effectively; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

You may wish to sing that well known carol, We three Kings of orient are.
And as you do, let us all think about what we can give to the Christ Child this year.

Let us pray:

Lord God, the bright splendour whom the nations seek: may we who with the wise men have been drawn by your light, discern the glory of your presence in your Son, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you,
The wind be always at your back.
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall softly on your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

Finally, as we look back at 2020 and reflect on all the challenges it presented to us, many are glad it is over, but let us not forget the amazing acts of great kindness that have taken place all around us, and how we have all learnt what is truly important in life.  These next few months will continue to be tough, but together we will get through them. As I have said before, we may be physically apart, but we are forever together in our hearts. Please do keep safe, and continue being so very kind.

Moira
 

The contribution below from The Rev’d David Hider covers the period between Christmas Day and the Sunday afterwards, when there will not be a separate article.

It is laid out in sections that can be taken separately or read as a whole.

The material used is that that would be used at Services on Christmas Day
(‘Midnight’ / Christmas morning) and the First Sunday after Christmas.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John, chapter 1, verses 1 to 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and  without him not one th

ing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all peopl

e. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

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

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

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.

Reflection
The effect of last Saturday’s Government announcement hit like a blow from a sledge-hammer. In effect, for so many people, us included, ‘Christmas’ was cancelled – inasmuch as many planned and much-needed family gatherings were to become illegal. I could have cried – not just because our small family gathering had had to be shelved, but for the thousands of others around the country having a similar rotten experience and, especially, for all who would lose out as a result of Care Home visits also being cancelled. But, fortunately, Lemon-Ted saw my distress and came and gave me a big hug. So, when it came to preparing this contribution for the Church website, I have to admit that my heart was not in it at all. Indeed, I was on the point of withdrawing and asking for someone else to take on the task. Then, I read the Bible text above and it reminded that, in the past, for me, Christmas usually started with the reading of these wonderful words of John, ending with a truly magnificent promise: “The Word became flesh and lived among us: and we have seen his glory.” Beautiful language and the centre of the Christian message about Christmas. The Christmas gift worth more than anything else that we could receive. The Christmas gift that has the potential to make each one of us a more thankful, wondering, realistic and loving person. In other words, the Christmas gift that continues to make us more like Christ. And it gets better. The text also says: “Jesus was in the world and the world came into being through him.” This affirmation of the part that Jesus played in the creation of the world is truly mind boggling. We can cope with a baby – but, is this not the greatest miracle in history? The reducing of the world’s Creator into a tiny Child?  Miraculous it may be – but, it is God at work, in person, in the saving of the world.  This little Christmas-Child, who meets us at this time, looks out with eyes that are older than creation and challenges us to make him and his mission known. It reminds of the continuing need for us to build faith and confidence in Jesus Christ so that we may truly believe that he was – and is – the Son of God.

Read the text, again – this time, out loud for the best impact! Perhaps, a good antidote for these difficult times in which we are currently living.

So, MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!
Thank you for joining our act of online worship at this festive time.

We start by bringing to mind those times when we have failed God and each other.
                                        [Pause]
Lord our God,
in our sin we have avoided your call.
Our love for you is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes away early.
Have mercy on us;
deliver us from judgement;
bind up our wounds and revive us;
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                     [c.f. Hosea 6]

May almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners,
bring us his pardon and peace, now and for ever. Amen.

Our response is to say (out loud?):

Glory to God in the highest.
Glory to God in the highest.
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Glory to God in the highest.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
Glory to God in the highest.

we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Glory to God in the highest.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
Glory to God in the highest.

you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
Glory to God in the highest.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Glory to God in the highest. Amen.

We pray the Christmas Collect
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,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Letter of Paul to Titus, chapter 2, verses 11 to 14
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Advent Candles
Pause to imagine the lighting of the centre, white candle on the Advent wreath (ring).


Father in heaven,
you so loved us that you sent your Son, among us as Saviour and Lord.  
Fill us with your blessing,
that we may grow in love and continue to live our Christian faith.  
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke, chapter 2, verses 1 to 20
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph 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. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And 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.In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”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.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.We reflect upon a Christmas Message
What a year it has been for preparing for Christmas, especially with the uncertainties and disruption caused by the continual changes to Government policy on dealing with Covid-19! How many have felt the strain of shopping for Christmas presents in such times? Given, I suspect that some will have resorted to online shopping, how many have already felt, or will be feeling, the strain on the bank balance, especially those who used only credit cards for their purchases? And, in these strange times, how many worry that they might receive a present from someone that they have not given one to, or might receive a more expensive present than the one they have given to the same person? And, how many feel that receiving an unexpected present requires some sort of kind action in return? Yet, our Christmas cards and Christmas calendars, in their jolly and enthusiastic way, still call it “The season of good cheer”. But, let’s face it, Christmas does tend to put a bit of a strain on pretty well everything – from relationships among family and friends right down to the bank balance. Whatever else it does, the season certainly costs a lot and, as Christians, we are not immune to the problems caused by the annual Yuletide stakes.  Among our Christmas purchases might have been a box of Christmas crackers – from the very inexpensive to some that have eye-watering prices. When our children and, later, grandchildren were younger, one of the highlights of our family Christmas gathering was the pulling of Christmas crackers followed by the wearing of paper hats, the telling of silly jokes and the gathering of naff gifts. But, the fun was immeasurable. In the example of Mary as she pondered the words of the shepherds, I pondered (again, in true Lemon-Ted style, but without the jar of marmalade!) about our family experience and it came to my mind that the humble Christmas cracker can actually become a visual aid to our Christmas story. A bit like this and I have included the Scripture references (boring, I know!) in case one (or all?) of them might be of particular comfort to you at this time.As we remove the decoration on the outside of the cracker with the anticipation of what is inside, this might remind us that God said: “I made everything and it is my gift to you to enjoy. You are to take care of my creation.” (Genesis 1:1;2:15)Peeling back the paper of the cracker to expose the contents might remind us that we are to give back to God the first and best of what we are given (or earn) ourselves. “Do not hold back your offerings to me.” (Exodus 22:29).With the tube of the cracker now exposed, there is always inside:
–    a hat (usually in the shape of a crown) to remind us of God’s complete Sovereignty over us and everything, as indicated by the title given to God-in-Jesus, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).
–    a motto to draw our attention to the words of the Bible. The Scriptures, which are God’s breathed words, tell us of God’s great love for each one of us and of his requirement for us to both love him and to love one another [e.g. “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12)].
–    a gift to remind us that the baby Jesus was God’s greatest gift to us all (Isaiah 9:6). This is God’s free gift to us – and there are no strings attached as there is nothing that we can do to earn God’s favour with our gifts to him. The idea of Jesus as the gift of God to humanity is the very heart of the Gospel: “God so loved the world” as St John tells “that he gave his only-begotten Son” (3:16). It is only when we keep this fact in the front of our minds will our Christmas-giving make any real sense.So, the humble Christmas cracker might be used as a visual aid to remind us of the need:
–    to take care of God’s Creation;
–    to be generous in his name;
–    to recognise that he, alone, is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and not us;
–    to study his word which will guide us through life;
–    to see that what really matters is not the giving and receiving of things, but the giving of God himself, in Jesus, to us, and of the acceptance of that gift – which we then celebrate in our self-giving to him and to one another.Assuming that people have read this far, the smart ones amongst you will have noticed that one vital part of the humble Christmas cracker has not been covered by this writing. The cracker itself – the bit that goes bang when pulled from each end. As the squeals of one of my grandchildren would indicate when the ‘bang’ happened – ‘it frighted me!’ – the sound can make us jump, make us sit up and take notice. “Keep awake, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13) This gift that we celebrate today in the form of an infant Child will one day return and we need to be ready for that! It might be today …God’s action, on that first Christmas Day, in giving us the gift to end all gifts – his Son, Jesus – was a demonstration of a lifestyle for all time. The real challenge of Christmas, then, is not measured by the presents that we give each other – not even in the family gatherings that we may have had to put aside for this year – but to let Jesus, who came in human likeness, lead us into a “humanness” like his.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.A Christian CreedLet us affirm our faith by using this simple CreedDo you believe and trust in God the Father,
source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist?
We believe and trust in him.Do you believe and trust in God the Son,
who took our human nature, died for us and rose again?
We believe and trust in him.Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit,
who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world?
We believe and trust in him.This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.A Suggestion to guide our Prayers at ChristmasFather God, at this holy time, your Son our Saviour was born as a human child. Renew your Church as the Body of Christ.Father God, at this holy time, Christians the world over are celebrating his birth. Open our hearts that he may be born in us today.Father God, at this holy time, there was no room for your Son in the inn.
Protect with your love those who have no home and all who live in poverty.Father God, at this holy time, Mary in the pain of labour brought your Son to birth. Hold in your hand all who are in any kind of pain or distress today.Father God, at this holy time, your Christ came as a light shining in the darkness. Bring comfort to all who suffer in the sadness of our world.Father God, at this holy time, shepherds in the fields heard good tidings of joy. Give us grace to preach the Gospel of Christ’s redemption.Father God, at this holy time, the angels sang ‘Peace to God’s people on earth’. Strengthen those who work for your peace and justice in all the world.Father God, at this holy time, strangers found the holy family, and saw the baby lying in the manger. Bless our homes and all whom we love, and help us to live as the holy family.Father God, at this holy time, heaven is come down to earth and earth is raised to heaven. Keep in safety all those who have gone through death in the hope of heaven.Father God, at this holy time, angels and shepherds worshipped at the manger throne. Receive the worship we offer in fellowship with Blessed Mary and all the saints.Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.God our Father,
whose Word has come among us in the Holy Child of Bethlehem:
may the light of faith illumine our hearts and shine in our words and deeds;
through him who is Christ the Lord. Amen.Lord, we know the Christmas story so well.
Help us to understand it better.
Make it more real to us, so that:
    with Mary and Joseph, we may journey in faith to Bethlehem;
    with the shepherds, we may hear again to good tidings of the Saviour’s birth;
    and with the angels, we may glorify your holy Name.
So, give us new joy in our Christmas worship
and fill our hearts with wonder, love and praise. Amen.Loving Father, as we thank you for the joy of Christmas,
we bring to you those for whom this season is clouded by sickness or anxiety,
by poverty or unemployment, by loneliness or bereavement.
Keep them from resentment or despair
as they remember the birth of Jesus who for our sake became poor,
that we might possess the true riches;
and may the song of the angels find an echo in their hearts; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.Go in peace:
the wisdom of the Wonderful Counsellor guide you;
the strength of the Mighty God defend you;
the love of the everlasting Father enfold you;
and the peace of the Prince of Peace be upon you;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.And, finally!
As this is the last of these postings for 2020, we thank Alan Frost for his skills, patience, dedication and time in ensuring that these website messages go out on time and for contributors, John and Jenny.Thank you for all the kind messages and cards that we have received. Appreciated!So, it just leaves me to wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Hug-laden 2021.
 
 
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
An act of online worship by The Rev’d David Hider.

20th December 2020

As Advent 2020 draws to a close, thank you for joining today’s act of online worship.

Let us bring to mind our continuing failures to love God, his people and his Creation:

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
The first commandment is this:

‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Amen.

[Pause]

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray the Collect for Today

God our redeemer,
who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son:
grant that, as she looked for his coming as our Saviour,
so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our Judge;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Second Book of Samuel, chapter 7, verses 1 to 11 & 16

Now, when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.

Your house and your Kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Advent Candles
Pause to imagine the lighting of the fourth candle on the Advent wreath (ring).

Lord Jesus, we approach that holy moment when your coming as man is renewed in our hearts. Give us peace and allow us to celebrate your presence with joy, that we may some day share your glory. We ask this of you, who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, as One God, now and forever. Amen.
 

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke, chapter 1, verses 26 to 38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

We reflect upon today’s Message prepared by Jenny Blamire

Two readings describing events about a thousand years apart. The second, very familiar, about a young woman, a virgin called Mary, who was visited by an angel. The first, perhaps not so well known, about King David, Israel’s greatest king who subdued all his enemies and built a prosperous golden time for his people. Mary and David had something very special in common. They were both passionate about their God and listened carefully to his words.

David was enjoying a time of peace in his very beautiful palace built of cedar wood. He’d spent a fortune on it. As he looked around him something troubled David. He began to think about the Ark of the Covenant, the place where God dwelt.  “The ark of God remains in a tent.” It didn’t seem right that he should live in such luxury while God’s house, although built to God’s specifications, was a mobile home. Surely he could build God something more fitting, a far superior building – a temple. He shared his idea with Nathan, the prophet.

Nathan said, “That’s a great idea David, go ahead.” The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart and Nathan knew that David’s motives were right. He wanted to do this for God’s glory. What could be wrong with that but in the quietness of the night Nathan hears God speak to him and God said, “No”.

Exactly how we don’t know. May be in a dream as he slept but when Nathan woke next morning he was convinced he had to go back to see King David. Are we good listeners? When God speaks to us do we hear what he says? Do we think we must be mistaken or do we ask God to help us sort it out? Whatever our age and whatever our experiences it’s not easy, but we can all expect God to speak and prompt us.

Do we ask the Lord about our plans and projects or do we just get stuck in?  I remember Jenny Green visiting our church and telling us about how Potters Village started. She knew that if that germ of an idea to build a child crisis centre in Kisoro in SW Uganda were to come to fruition, it needed God’s blessing. She needed to ask God about her plan.  As we know God said yes and the funds needed were generously given.

However God said no to David’s offer. God pointed out that a glorious building such that David proposed is nothing compared to the wonderful knowledge that God’s presence is with us where ever we go. God’s idea was greater than David’s. Through Nathan God gives David an amazing promise that one day He was going to build an everlasting kingdom that would be linked with the royal house of David. His kingdom would last longer than the strongest building. It would last for ever!

It is a 1000 years later in our Gospel reading that we hear of God’s promise to David being fulfilled. The angel appeared to Mary and gave her the message that her son will reign on the throne of his ancestor David and his kingdom will never end. Later ordinary people often addressed Jesus, as Son of David because Joseph and Mary were both descendants of King David. Mary’s son is to be king of this kingdom which will never end. It was a mind blowing message!

The angel gave Mary a name for her son. She was to call him “Jesus”. This name told her so much about him. The name means literally “God is our salvation” or “God rescues”. In other words God is Saviour. The angel told Mary that “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.”

It is in only a few days’ time that we shall be celebrating the incarnation, God coming to earth and being born as a helpless baby, but who would grow up to rescue us from the sin that spoils all our lives and make it possible for us to have a relationship with God. Celebrating this year’s Christmas has been the most debated I’ve ever known! However you are spending the day, whether alone or with family or friends, I hope you will be blessed. You may have lots of time or little, but it would be good to read the Christmas story and think about what it means for us. If you are a Mum or Dad share it with your children.

God calls each one of us to put our trust in him and to respond to his Son Jesus. When Jesus was born that first Christmas that was just the beginning. His kingdom is still here and still growing. God is looking for people who will make themselves available to him to continue the work.

David was a king, wealthy and influential. He wanted to be obedient to God and accepted God’s no. Mary was just a humble young woman from Nazareth. When Mary was called to collaborate with God, her response was, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord” and “Let it be with me according to your word.”

In our church life and in our individual lives let us learn to listen to God speaking to us and be obedient. Sometimes God will say no to our plans and sometimes he will call us to work with him to further build his everlasting kingdom. There is nothing more fulfilling than this.

May I wish you all a very special Christmas.

A Christian Creed
Let us affirm our faith, by saying the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

A suggestion for our Prayers in Advent
Watchful at all times, let us pray for strength to stand with confidence
before our Maker and Redeemer:

That God may bring in his Kingdom with justice and mercy;
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

That God may establish among the nations his sceptre of righteousness,
embracing the provision to all people of a fair share of the world’s resources;
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

That we may seek Christ in the Scriptures
and recognize him both in the sacraments and in the faithful witness of disciples;
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

That God may bind up the broken-hearted, restore the sick
and raise up all who have fallen,
especially those suffering from the many effects of Covid-19;
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

That the light of God’s coming may dawn
on all who live in darkness and the shadow of death;
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

That, with all the saints in light, we may shine forth as lights for the world;
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

We commend ourselves and all for whom we pray
to the mercy and protection of our heavenly Father:

Almighty God,
as your blessed Son Jesus Christ first came to seek and to save the lost;
so may he come again to find in us the completion of his redeeming work;
for he is now alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.

So, we pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:

Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

Heavenly Father,
who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of the promised Saviour:
fill us your servants with your grace,
that in all things we may embrace your holy will
and with her rejoice in your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father, in your mercy Christmas comes again,
and in faith we set out on the road to Bethlehem
to revisit the events that happened there long ago,
Lead us on our journey, and kindle in our hearts the spirit of expectancy;
and may we not rest until we, too, bow and wonder before the Child of Mary,
the everlasting Son of the Father, and sing ‘Glory to God in the highest!’. Amen.

Eternal God,
as Mary waited for the birth of your Son,
so we wait for his coming in glory;
bring us through the birth pangs of this present age
to see, with her, our great salvation
in Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

 
THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
By The Rev’d David Hider
13th December 2020

Thank you for joining our act of online worship, today.

Let us bring to mind our continuing failures to love God, his people and his Creation:
Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

The first commandment is this:

‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Amen.

[Pause]

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray the Collect for Today

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you:
grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world
we may be found an acceptable people in your sight;
for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 61, verses 1 to 4 & 8 to 11

The servant of the Lord said:
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion –
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.
For I the Lord love justice,
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
    and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
    and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
    that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
    my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to spring up before all the nations.”

Advent Candles

Pause to imagine the lighting of the third candle on the Advent wreath (ring).

As we draw near to you, Lord God, keep us aware of your presence in all we do. Come with power to enlighten us by your grace, that we may live in praise and peace all our days. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John, chapter 1, verses 6 to 8 & 19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

We reflect upon today’s Message

I don’t know about you, but my spirit was truly lifted when the regulators gave approval for use of the first vaccine to defeat Covid-19 and, even more now with the first doses being administered. I cannot wait for mine! It has been such a horrible time for so many and, in truth, it will continue to be so for some. And, not just the poor victims of the disease. For instance, those in many in our Care Homes who have been cut off from family visits and hugs for over nine months. And, then, there are those who are suffering from the economic realities of lost jobs, reduced incomes and uncertainty of housing. Plus, we must add, our young folk whose schooling has been so devastatingly disrupted and all whose confidence has been shot by the experiences of lockdown. So, with the good news, it felt as if we were starting the climb back up towards some sort of normality. But, no! As quickly as the Prime Minister was making the joyous announcement, the ‘scientific experts’ were down-playing the whole thing with phrases like ‘certain restrictions having to continue until next winter’ and ‘even those who have had the vaccine will still have to self-isolate if contacted by the Test-and-Trace system’. My newly uplifted spirit felt crushed, yet again. As I pondered this in true Lemon-Ted style (but without the jar of marmalade!), I recalled some words of St Paul who warned followers of Jesus: ‘Do not quench the Spirit and do not despise the words of the prophets’ (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20). Another Bible version puts it: ‘Do not stifle inspiration and do not despise prophetic utterances’. Surely, this is what the PM wants – us to be individually and collectively inspired to start the long journey back to a normality where our natural social behaviour flourishes again and our economy regains lost ground.

Today, this word “inspiration” often has more to do:
–    with the speech of a charismatic leader,
–    with something unusual in human experience,
–    and, indeed, for us, with how we understand the Bible was written,
And, the word “prophetic” seems to have been claimed:
–    as a time when something unusual will happen,
–    as a time to have ideas about the end of the world
–    and, indeed, for us, as the time for the second coming of Christ.  
But, the writer of Isaiah, whom we think of as being one of the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, or John the Baptist (of our Gospel text), would not recognise such associations for these words. For them, inspiration and prophecy did not have to do with the unusual, or the mysterious, or with what we might call “the spiritual”, it had to do with the hard edge of human experience. So, these words have a relevance to us in our current life-restricted situation.

As we can read above, in Isaiah chapter 61, prophecy and inspiration have to do with:
–    poor people,
–    broken-hearted people,
–    people in captivity,
–    people in prison,
–    people who were mourning,
–    people who were living in ruined cities and in dwellings that needed repair.
In other words, in today’s world, these speak to all who are ‘victims’ of Covid-19 and its ripple effects across individuals and communities. In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, he deflects attention from himself and points to the One who – just a few verses beforehand – is described as “flesh”. He means Jesus, of course – but the inspirational and prophetic word used is from the butchering trade, “flesh”. As real as that – flesh.

These readings – Isaiah chapter 61, John chapter 1 – reveal the scandal of the inspiration and prophecy which is at the heart of our faith. It would be so much easier to talk about prayers, religious duties, unusual spiritual experiences and personal revelations, but the inspiration and prophecy central to our faith is about:
–    relieving hunger,
–    releasing people from their bondage and sorrow,
–    caring about the kind of places people live in.  
In other words, the stuff of the current situation facing many in this nation at this time. That is why John the Baptist, great man as he must have been, points to Jesus, who has an insight about reality which the Baptist does not possess – and, that is why it is wholly appropriate to call Jesus, “flesh”. It is the ordinary stuff of human experience that Jesus came into and cares about, that is the focus of the love of God for humanity through Jesus.

As keen gardeners like me know only too well, when the garden is overgrown with weeds, the answer is not to sing hymns (though these might help one’s mood), but to start digging. So, it follows that:
–    If feeding hungry people means giving generously and working politically for changes in the nation’s economic priorities, then that is the disciple’s task.
–    If making places decent to live in means understanding complex social and economic issues and having a political commitment which involves putting down the mighty from their positions of office, then that is the disciple’s task.  
–    If liberating oppressed people and those held captive by their experiences means learning about social and psychological issues which are outside our present experience and committing time and energy to them, then that is the disciple’s task.  
–    If comforting mourners means just that and, if it means working to eradicate as far as possible the unnecessary sources of suffering – poverty, disease, drink or drug driving (not just in this Christmas season), the violence of drug peddling, the inhumanity of sexual trafficking and abuse, futile war, the wickedness of displacing people from their land, greedy capitalism and so on – then that is the disciple’s task.
The disciple’s task is always that of giving fleshly expression to the love of God.

John the Baptist admitted he was not fit to tie Jesus’ shoe laces – because he had a hunch that the kind of wooing of the crowd that he could do so well was not the real issue. And, so it proved. What we see in Jesus is the real fleshly work of God. It scandalised the nation’s leaders of the time who, to maintain their positions, found it convenient not to remember this inspiration from their Jewish Scriptures. This fleshly work of God is the fundamental challenge in discipleship of the love of God – both then and now.

Where will it lead? Where will such costly discipleship get us, or the society we seek to change? Who can tell where the future that God inspires will lead? So, then, our priority and responsibility is to hear (with head and heart) the word of the Lord:
–    to have the courage not to stifle its inspiration for poor and hungry people and people who are homeless and in mourning.
–    to live the courageous discipleship which turns prophecy into action.
Word AND deed! To do these things will not only lift our own spirits, but the spirits of all who would benefit from such actions so surely needed in these trying times. ‘The servant of the Lord said: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; …’

A Christian Creed
Let us affirm our faith, by saying the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

A suggestion for our Prayers in Advent

In joyful expectation of his coming to our aid, we pray to Jesus.

Come to your Church as Lord and judge.
We pray for Bishops Martin, Ruth and William, Moira, John and Jenny.
Help us to live in the light of your coming and give us a longing for your Kingdom.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.

Come to your world as King of the nations.
We pray for the Queen and leaders of all nations, especially our own.
Before you rulers will stand in silence.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.

Come to the suffering as Saviour and comforter.
We pray for those suffering from Covid-19 and its mental and physical effects.
We give thanks that the first doses of the vaccine against Covid-19 are being given.
Break into our lives, where we struggle with sickness and distress,
and set us free to serve you for ever.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.

Come to us as shepherd and guardian of our souls.
We remember those who have influenced our lives to become who we are.
Give us with all the faithful departed a share in your victory over evil and death.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.

Come from heaven, Lord Jesus, with power and great glory.
Lift us up to meet you, that with all your saints and angels
we may live and reign with you in your new creation.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.

Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay;
give new courage to your people, who trust in your love.
By your coming, raise us to share in the joy of your Kingdom on earth as in heaven,
where you live and reign with the Father and the Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.

So, we pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:

Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for your heavenly gifts;
kindle in us the fire of your Spirit
that when your Christ comes again
we may shine as lights before his face;
who is alive and reigns now and for ever. Amen.

Support us, O Lord,
all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at the last;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

 
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Thank you for joining our act of online worship, today.Let us bring to mind our continuing failures to love God, his people and his Creation:
                                            
Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
The first commandment is this:
‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Amen.[Pause]Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.We pray the Collect for TodayO Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us,
and with great might succour us;
that whereas, through our sins and wickedness
we are grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us,
your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.A Reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 40, verses 1 to 11Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that she has served her term,
    that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all people shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry out!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
    their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
    surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
    O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
    O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
    lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
See, the Lord God comes with might,
    and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead the mother sheep.Advent Candles
Pause to imagine the lighting of the second candle on the Advent wreath (ring).Father in heaven, set our hearts ablaze to follow in the steps of John the Baptist.  
May we bring light and love to all we meet,
that the darkness of sin and fear may be overcome.  
In Christ’s name we ask this.  Amen.
 The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark, chapter 1, verses 1 to 8The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”We reflect upon today’s Message written by John SheppardWe are now firmly in Advent.  This is a time to look forward to the arrival of the Son of God on Earth, our Christmas Celebration.  Biblical characters particularly associated with this looking forward are uppermost in our mind at this time. People like the Old Testament Patriarchs, the long list of Old Testament Prophets and that great New Testament character of this weeks Gospel, John the Baptist. One way or another, these characters foreshadowed that first Christmas.A few years ago, I worked for a while as a contractor in Holborn in the City.  Living on the South Coast made this pretty inconvenient, Southern Rail were still learning how to deal with their newly won franchise (nothing changes)!!  To be sure I’d get there in time, I usually arrived at London Bridge way before I needed to and started to look for ways to while away the time before I started work.On the sheltered pavement outside the block were I worked, a man had set up home.  He had what looked like a comfortable bed, much food given him by surrounding takeaways and a very endearing turn of phrase.  He looked a mess, wearing ill-fitting clothes and sporting lots of rather random hair but, as I soon realised, he was great to talk to, never without a well thought through opinion.  Unlike most people in Holborn Circus, who largely gave him a wide berth, I got to know him quite well and came to appreciate his thoughts, expressed in a lovely lilting accent.I was reminded of this experience when reading today’s Gospel.  God sets up perhaps a rather unlikely person with a crucial message for the people.  Apparently avoiding the conventional, John (to become the Baptist) went about passing this message on in his very individual style.  Unlike the man in Holborn, Gospel writer Mark tells us many people from Jerusalem went out to hear John (v5).  Humble he might have been, but he was doing nothing less than preparing the way for the Son of God!!This “preparing” role was fulfilling An Old Testament Prophesy with which John would have been familiar.  It’s recalled in our Old Testament reading where Isaiah talks of the need to announce the news of Gods coming amongst his people on Earth.  800 years before it happened, the coming of God to “take care of his flock like a shepherd and carry them in his arms” (v11) must have been comforting indeed to a troubled people.They might have been written nigh on 3,000 years ago, but the balmy words of Isaiah seem particularly appropriate to our world today.  As we work our way through this (somewhat a-typical) season of Advent, lets open our hearts to the message of John. Although it might feel like it sometimes, we have not been forgotten by God.  Rather like my friend on the pavement, John might have been unconventional and a bit of a mess but, as it turns out, well worth listening to.Do keep safe and God BlessA Christian Creed
Let us affirm our faith, by saying the Nicene Creed:We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.A suggestion for our Prayers in Advent
Watchful at all times, let us pray for strength to stand with confidence
before our Maker and Redeemer.That God may bring in his Kingdom with justice and mercy,
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.That God may establish among the nations his sceptre of righteousness,
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.That we may seek Christ in the Scriptures
and recognize him in the breaking of the bread,
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.That God may bind up the broken-hearted, restore the sick
and raise up all who have fallen,
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.That the light of God’s coming may dawn
on all who live in darkness and the shadow of death,
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.That, with all the saints in light, we may shine forth as lights for the world,
let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.We commend ourselves and all for whom we pray
to the mercy and protection of our heavenly Father:Almighty God,
as your blessed Son Jesus Christ first came to seek and to save the lost;
so may he come again to find in us the completion of his redeeming work;
for he is now alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.So, we pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:Our Father in heaven.
Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.Father in heaven,
who sent your Son to redeem the world and will send him again to be our judge:
give us grace so to imitate him in the humility and purity of his first coming
that, when he comes again, we may be ready to greet him
with joyful love and firm faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.To help anyone who feels isolated and fearful as a result of the new Covid-tier regulations, here is a prayer (attributed to St. Patrick) to help give you hope:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us. AmenAlmighty 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;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.
 ADVENT SUNDAY29th November 2020 from The Rev’d David HiderHappy New Church Year! Thank you for joining our act of online worship, today.Let us bring to mind our continuing failures to love God, his people and his Creation:                                            
Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
The first commandment is this:‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Amen.[Pause]Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.We pray the Collect for TodayAlmighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.A Reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 64, verses 1 to 9O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
    so that the mountains would quake at your presence –
as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil –
to make your name known to your adversaries,
    so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
    you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
    those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
    because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
    or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
    and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
    and do not remember iniquity forever.
    Now consider, we are all your people.Advent Candles
Pause to imagine the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath (ring).
Heavenly Father,
as we begin this Advent,
give light to our eyes and peace to our hearts.  
May the Lord find us watching and waiting in joy when he comes.  
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark, chapter 13, verses 24 to 37Jesus said to his disciples: “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”We reflect upon today’s MessageWith falling numbers across the major Christian denominations against a background of a world in which the new religion is materialism, secularism and self, the Church of England faces challenges as to its future. Added to which, issues, such as equality, sexuality and (still!) the place of women-in-ministry cause pain and hurt and threaten to divide it further. As a long-term priest in the CofE, it can sometimes feel that the darkness is starting to overwhelm it and that the first priority is basic survival. If you have ever felt like that in your everyday life, be assured that you are not alone. God’s people have felt these challenges from the earliest of times. Today, we travel back in time – even further back than the fledgling first-century Christian Church – and see what light the Scriptures can offer.But, first. One Isaiah or three? Scholars differ, but there seems to have been at least two. Chapters 1-39 contain the words of the eighth-century prophet Isaiah and are known as Proto-Isaiah. Chapters 40-66 are known as Deutero-Isaiah (Second Isaiah?). Sometimes, a further distinction is made between Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40-55) and Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56-66). The same Isaiah? Scholars suggest that this is unlikely because of the long time span covering the content of the writings.The first section of the Book of Isaiah was written against a background of a new start following a period of darkness and deals with the challenges facing God’s people in the southern Kingdom of Judah. They were facing the prospect of military invasion by the superior forces of Assyria. Yet, the real problem which concerned Isaiah was the corruption of leaders and the failure of the people to be faithful to God’s Word. Even in those dark times, Isaiah records the promise, by God, to bring salvation through a descendent of the house of David. As sure as night follows day, the inevitable happened and Judah was defeated. The middle section of the Book of Isaiah deals with the period known as the exile, when many of the people were carried off to Babylon – then, things started looking up for God’s people. The third and final section of Isaiah, covering today’s reading, deals with the period following the return from exile. It is a time when the people looked back at their recent dark history, when they acknowledged their faithlessness to God’s Word and sought God’s mercy: “Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry and do not remember iniquity forever.  ….we are all your people.”Our reading from Mark’s Gospel is also full of light and dark imagery. The dark imagery represents the tribulations of the age and the light imagery the coming glory of God. But, the emphasis in today’s text is the call to the Church to maintain a faithful witness to God, until such time as God’s Kingdom is fulfilled. Readers of last week’s website message will find helpful tips as to how.Running right through the Scriptures is a repeated theme of people’s disobedience to God, a seeking of God’s mercy and a promise of future well-being. It is a message of both comfort and challenge. “Comfort” to assure us that God is still with us – having been with us through all the sad times and the joys as well. “Challenge” because Christian discipleship is about reflecting God’s light around the world – by preaching the Good News, teaching and nurturing, sharing the love of Christ in Christian service, working to transform our community into a better place, and caring for this wonderful earth which we know as God’s creation.So, again, as Advent dawns and the year ticks round towards Christmas, we remember the young Mary, carrying the infant Christ. It is a picture that reminds us that, not only did God shape us as a potter shapes a pot, but God came to earth, too, shaped as a vulnerable infant in Mary’s womb. God came as Christ-shaped to know the joys and the sorrows of human life and was sent to be a light shining in the darkness – to nurture us with the Good News of the Kingdom of God.May, in this period of Advent, you come to know comfort and joy through the grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And, of course, be kept faithfully awake, just in case …
 
A Christian CreedLet us affirm our faith, by saying the Nicene Creed:We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.A suggestion for your PrayersIn joyful expectation of his coming to our aid, we pray to Jesus.Come to your Church as Lord and judge.
We pray for Bishops Martin, Ruth and William, Moira, John and Jenny.
Help us to live in the light of your coming and give us a longing for your Kingdom.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.Come to your world as King of the nations.
We pray for the Queen and leaders of all nations, especially our own.
Before you rulers will stand in silence.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.Come to the suffering as Saviour and comforter.
We pray for those suffering from Covid-19 and its mental and physical effects.
Break into our lives, where we struggle with sickness and distress,
and set us free to serve you for ever.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.Come to us as shepherd and guardian of our souls.
We remember those who have influenced our lives to become who we are.
Give us with all the faithful departed a share in your victory over evil and death.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.Come from heaven, Lord Jesus, with power and great glory.
Lift us up to meet you, that with all your saints and angels
we may live and reign with you in your new creation.
Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay;
give new courage to your people, who trust in your love.
By your coming, raise us to share in the joy of your Kingdom on earth as in heaven,
where you live and reign with the Father and the Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.So, we pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:

Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

O Lord our God,
make us watchful and keep us faithful
as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;
that, when he shall appear,
he may not find us sleeping in sin
but active in his service
and joyful in his praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God of our longing,
be with us during these days of Advent
as we accept your invitation to climb your holy mountain.
May we walk in the light of your love and learn your ways
so that each day may draw us closer to you and another
as we await the coming of the One who is and who is to come,
Jesus Christ, Your Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Almighty God,
as your Kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin to the
light of holiness,
that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

 

LAST SUNDAY BEFORE ADVENT
22nd November 2020 – from The Rev’d David Hider

THANK YOU for joining our act of worship on this last Sunday of the Church’s year.

Let us bring to mind our continuing failures to love God, his people and his Creation:
                                            
Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
The first commandment is this:
‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Amen.

[Pause]

Come, let us return to the Lord and say:
Lord our God, in our sin we have avoided your call.
Our love for you is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early.
Have mercy on us; deliver us from judgement;
bind up our wounds and revive us; in Jesus Christ our Lord.

May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To which we respond, by saying:

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Glory to God in the highest.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Glory to God in the highest.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
Glory to God in the highest.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Glory to God in the highest. Amen.

We pray the Collect for today

Eternal Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 15 to 23

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31 to 46

Jesus said to the disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

We reflect upon today’s Message

‘Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people…’ So begins the Post-Communion Collect set for today (the words are shown later). ‘Stir up, Sunday’, as some call the day, referring to the tradition of preparing Christmas puddings on this day. But, the actual words are: ‘Stir up the wills …’. Let’s do just that by shouting out loud – so loud to alert our elected politicians to the message that Christianity matters and worship in our Churches is not a just social gathering, but essential to the life and well-being of those who would regularly gather there (in other words, not just on Christmas Day!). So, let us shout the Creedal exclamation:   
Christ has died!
Christ is Risen!
Christ will come again!
‘Shout it’ could also take the form of an electronic communication** directly to Downing Street or to the local MP. Today, as we celebrate the festival of ‘Christ the King’, provides a good opportunity to make Christian voices heard.

We all know about elections as, living in a democratic country like ours, these are used to make decisions to choose people to serve our country and local communities. Our Gospel reading provides, yet another, “make-your-mind-up-time” – only, this time, we are not asked to choose between candidates as in election terms, but we are asked to declare our position in regards to Jesus who came as a servant to his people. So, the matter is more of a referendum than an election (and we all know about referendums, don’t we?). The question which we consider is, quite simply: “Are we for Jesus, or not?” Or, as our Gospel text puts it: “Are we to be placed with the sheep, or with the goats?” What follows is a bit technical (but, hopefully, not tedious!), as I try to provide a convincing argument to vote ‘for’ Jesus (which also might help others make up their minds!).

What does Jesus offer us? Let us look at a small part of his ‘manifesto’.
Why do we need Jesus?  It is Jesus who has brought us back into a relationship with God, our Creator:
– to bring meaning and purpose to our lives, as was intended. Jesus said “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), showing that only he can satisfy our needs.
– to give us life beyond death. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life”     (John 11:25-26) and “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) to remind us that only in him do we find eternal life.
– to provide for forgiveness, our deepest need (Mark 2:5). This was the whole purpose of the Cross.
Why should we bother with Jesus? Simply, because Christianity is true and of vital importance to every human being.
    – Christianity is based upon historical evidence. There is more concrete     evidence to support the Christian faith than any other historical event.
– Jesus is the Son of God, on an equal footing with God. Jesus said: “Welcome me – welcome God” (Mark 9:37) and “Receive me – receive God” (Matthew 10:40) to show that he was more than just a man or just a great religious teacher. He also said: “To have seen me is to have seen God” (John 14:9)
    – Jesus is the supreme example of a selfless life. No-one, before or since, has     ever shown such love and compassion to his fellow-beings.
    – Jesus’ teaching is the best ever to have been given. As an example, no-one,     since, has bettered the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
    – The resurrection story is true as is seen by the transformation of the lives of     the disciples to such an extent that the Christian faith survives today on the     strength of their witness.
Why did Jesus come? To give his life to pay the price for our sins (Mark 10:45).  This was not just a physical death with its emotional pain – this was the spiritual anguish of being separated from God as he carried all our sins. Jesus died for – rather, instead of – us. He did this because he loved us and did not want us to pay the penalty for all the things that we had done wrong. He did it for you – he did it for me. He would have done it if you, or I, had been the only person in the world. The blood of Jesus was the ransom price to set us free.
– Free from the guilt, addiction and fear of our sins which cut us off from God eternally.
– Freed to know God, to love, to change through the presence of his Holy Spirit in our lives.

So, now we know the ‘manifesto’, what will we do? As with any election or referendum, our choices are limited to three options.

1) We can vote against! Our Christmas story tells how King Herod wanted the baby Jesus killed. Why? Because Herod saw Jesus as a threat to his reign. Or, we can join with the crowd of our Easter story and shout ‘Crucify him!’? And, so, the sort of people who would vote against are:
    – those who do not really believe,
    – those who feel that they do not need / want Jesus in their lives,
– those who just find that the whole subject requires too much hard thought and sacrifice.  
But, of course, if we choose to vote against Jesus, we must be prepared accept the consequences. In this case, we get placed with the opposition party – the goats! (Matthew 25:41).

2) We can do nothing! There are people who do not even bother to vote at elections. They make no effort to get involved. They see elections as a waste of their time – something which gets in the way of the busyness of their lives. The townsfolk of Bethlehem at that first Christmas were so wrapped up in their own concerns that they missed what God was doing when Jesus was born. At that first Easter, Pontius Pilate tried to wash his hands of making a decision about Jesus – yet, history says ‘Crucified under Pontius Pilate.’ You see, abstaining lets in the opposition – it is, in effect, a ‘No’ vote.  

And, likewise, so is hedging your bets, or trying to vote both ways. The Christmas story tells us that the inn-keeper let Mary, Joseph and the nearly-born Jesus in – but only to the cowshed. He did not commit himself truly to the needs of their situation. At Easter, we hear how Simon Peter tried to sit in both camps – one moment he was declaring his support to Jesus and, then, when challenged by others, he denies his connection. The fooling-around, laughing and dice-throwing soldiers (Matthew 27:39-44) sent Jesus to the Cross without compassion for the victim of their actions. Today, we are tempted to trivialise Christmas without thought for its significance for our lives. Opting out of our responsibilities lets in the opposition, too – it is, in effect, another ‘No’ vote. But, whatever we decide, whatever we do, we must remember that this “election” is on – the time to make our own decision is running out.

3) We can vote for – that is, give a ‘Yes’ vote! Then, we would be like Joseph who accepted Mary and her Son, despite the potential for scandal. Or, the Wise Men who travelled from afar just to honour the new King. These men voted “Yes” for Jesus. Or, we would be like the thief on the cross, who recognised his fellow-sufferer for who he truly was (Luke 23:42). Or, Joseph of Arimathea who, bravely, went to the Roman authorities to ask for Jesus’ body to bury (Luke 23:52). Whatever others said, the thief and Joseph were for Jesus, too. Are we? Who among us will give an unequivocal ‘Yes’ today?

So, there we have it. A ‘manifesto’ for Jesus, together with the options – and consequences – to vote as we see the matter. Sheep or goat? We all have a ‘voting slip’ – we should use it! And, as with all elections, the response is entirely and individually ours. Our answer, of course, being between us and God. Join me and vote ‘YES’ for Christ the King. If not, in the words of the great Irish comic, Dave Allen, ‘may YOUR god go with you’!

** Email addresses (which you might need to copy & paste into your browser):
No.10:    https://email.number10.gov.uk
Local MP:    gillian.keegan.mp@parliament.uk

A Christian Creed

Christ has died!
Christ is Risen!
Christ will come again!

Let us affirm our faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Though he was divine,
he did not cling to equality with God,
but made himself nothing.
Taking the form of a slave,
he was born in human likeness.
He humbled himself
and was obedient to death,
even the death of the cross.
Therefore God has raised him on high,
and given him the name above every name:
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
and every voice proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

A suggestion for your Prayers

Please also continue to pray for Moira and her family.

In peace, let us pray to Jesus our Lord, who ever lives to make intercession for us.

Saviour of the world,
be present in all places of suffering, violence and pain,
and bring hope even in the darkest night.
Inspire us to continue your work of reconciliation today.

Lord of the Church,
empower by your Spirit all Christian people,
especially Bishops Martin, Ruth and William, Moira and Readers, John and Jenny,
and the work of your Church in every land.
Give us grace to proclaim the gospel joyfully in word and deed

Shepherd and Guardian of our souls,
guide and enable all who lead and serve this country and our local community
and those on whom we depend for our daily needs.
Grant that we may seek the peace and welfare of this place.

Great Physician,
stretch out your hand to bring comfort, wholeness and peace
to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit,
especially those suffering from Covid-19 or its consequences through lockdown.
Fill us with compassion, that we may be channels of your healing love.

Conqueror of death,
remember for good those whom we love but see no longer.
Help us to live this day in the sure and certain hope of your eternal victory.

Let us commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.

So, we pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:

Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

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. Amen.

Lord Jesus, foundation stone,
Lord and Saviour:
bless those who are foundation stones,
bearing the weight Of responsibility
and other people’s trust and vulnerability.
Bless those who are stones below our eye line,
those who do the little jobs, the unfashionable jobs,
but who keep the wall secure.
Bless those who are the capstones
sitting on the top for all to see,
the gifted ones, the ones that get the attention.
Bless the misshapen stones
that fit in between the others,
plugging the gaps, the ones that can get looked down on.
And bless those who pass by this spiritual house we are being built into,
as yet unaware of your love for them. Amen.

God the Father,
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, one glory;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

And, finally!!!

In case you missed it last week! A Call to Prayer

The Archbishops have written to all the clergy in the Church of England stating that their conviction that the first and primary response of the Church at this time was prayer.

“Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer. More than anything else, whatever the nation thinks, we know that we are in the faithful hands of the risen Christ who knows our weaknesses, tiredness and struggles and whose steadfast love endures for ever.
Above all we recall people to some of the fundamental spiritual disciplines that shape our Christian life. How we do this is up to each congregation and clergy person. We will publish resources to support you before the first day of lockdown. During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer.”

The Archbishops, in consultation with the House of Bishops, decided that this call would take the form of an invitation to every Christian and person of goodwill to pray at 6pm every day for the period of this present lock-down. This call is going far and wide – and the hope is that many of our ecumenical partners will join us.

The Archbishops promised some resources in the form of different styles of written prayers with a particular thematic focus for prayer each day. The weblink to the resources is here.  In addition, there is a link there to a simple printable prayer booklet – ‘Prayer Booklet’. This material is intended simply as one tool to enable participation – the hope is that individuals and worshipping communities make these times of prayer their own. There is no desire by the Archbishops to be directive in this – rather simply to encourage all to be united in Prayer for the Nation.

Church of England Advent campaign
The Church of England 2020 advent campaign, Comfort and Joy,  holds together the hope that Christmas will bring joy and celebration after a uniquely difficult year. Read more about this resource here.

Christmas will still happen …
Jennie Christie has supplies of Church Christmas cards (£4.00 for 10) and pens (£2.00 each) to sell. Contact: 01243 532642 or jennifer_christie_uk@hotmail.com

 

SECOND SUNDAY BEFORE ADVENT – 15th November 2020

THANK YOU for joining our regular weekly on-line act of worship.

Let us bring to mind our continuing failures to love God, his people and his Creation:
                                            [Pause]

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To which we respond, by saying:

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

We pray the Collect for Today

Heavenly Father,
whose blessed Son was revealed
to destroy the works of the devil
and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life:
grant that we, having this hope,
may purify ourselves even as he is pure;
that when he shall appear in power and great glory
we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the First Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 5, verses 1 to 11

Concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, chapter 25, verses 14 to 30

Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

We reflect upon today’s Message from Jenny Blamire

When I first started to read my Bible regularly I used to ask myself a series of questions about the passage. As I read the two readings for today one of the questions came to mind immediately. Is there a warning to heed or a promise to claim? These readings have both and have much to teach us about living our lives well in the knowledge that one day Jesus will return! How does God want us to live out our lives so that one day he might say to us, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant?

Jesus tells the parable of the talents when he was teaching about what the Bible calls the last days. It follows the parable about wise and foolish virgins, which we heard last week, about being ready for Jesus’ return or for the end of our lives.
What exactly was a talent worth? If you were a labourer in New Testament times and if you worked every day for 15 years, you might nearly have earned one talent. So when the landowner went on his journey, what he was entrusting to his servants was massive. It was a huge responsibility which all three servants must have felt, but their reactions to the task were different. The first two took their master’s task seriously. The third ignored the master, a case of out of sight, out of mind.
The servants had been told that one day the master would return and they would have to give an account of the money and tell the master what exactly they’d done with it. Jesus was telling his hearers, and us in our turn, that one day we will all be answerable to God as to how we’ve lived our lives. The servants were entrusted with the master’s property. How do we view what we’ve been given? How have we used our money, our possessions, our homes, time and our God given talents, in fact all that we have and all that we are? Do we view them as ours alone or are our lives entrusted to us by God? It’s something we need to think about and is part of how we prepare for our day of judgement. That’s quite a sobering thought!

Jesus told this story to make us aware that how we use our lives, our gifts, talents and abilities do matter because God loves us and wants us “to enter into his joy”. The reading from Thessalonians has a similar theme and it gives us some clues about how we are to live now. Live as children of the light, and there is that same warning to be ready for Jesus. We are to “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation”.

What does this mean in practice? In his nineties, Billy Graham wrote a book called “Nearing Home” about “Life, Faith and Finishing well”. His secret to being ready for that time when he passed away was to build his life on Jesus Christ, a sure foundation. He made a commitment to follow Jesus when he was young man and urges us to do the same. It’s never too late. That commitment is the beginning of our journey as a Christian.

St Paul encouraged the Thessalonian church to encourage one another and build each other up. The Thessalonians were living through a time of persecution and that encouragement really helped them to keep going. We are living through a second lockdown, different circumstances but we still need encouragement. I know I have really valued those phone calls I’ve received from friends and family who are just catching up and sharing their lives with me.

The gifts and talents we have been given are very varied but maybe we can use them to help us through this difficult time. With the time not spent on travelling to work each day one member of our family has enjoyed a return to painting, (on canvas not walls!) while another friend has started playing the piano again. It’s good to take care of our own wellbeing and then we’ll be able to look outwards and help and encourage each other.

In the sixteenth century St Teresa of Avila wrote a poem about doing this, called “Christ has no body”. It contains these words.  
“Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks Compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.”

We can serve our world and use what we have to bless others.
The warning to use our talents well is clear. What of God’s promises in these readings? Both readings assure us that what God wants for us both in this life and the next is for us to live with him. May we hear Jesus’ words and choose life.

A Christian Creed
Let us affirm our faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Though he was divine,
he did not cling to equality with God,
but made himself nothing.
Taking the form of a slave,
he was born in human likeness.
He humbled himself
and was obedient to death,
even the death of the cross.
Therefore God has raised him on high,
and given him the name above every name:
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
and every voice proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

A suggestion for your Prayers

Please continue to pray for Moira and her family, especially during this coming week which includes her mother’s funeral. Please pray for any known to you who are unwell or feeling the strains of the restrictions on life. And, please include the families of Mary Argiroy Westcombe and Norman Edward Gubbey as they prepare for respective Interment of Ashes and Funeral Services at Fishbourne Church.

We pray for strength to follow Jesus.

Jesus said: ‘Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.’
Saviour, we hear your call. Help us to follow.

Jesus said: ‘Unless you change and become humble like little children,
you can never enter the Kingdom of heaven.’
Saviour, we hear your call. Help us to follow.

Jesus said: ‘Happy are the humble; they will receive what God has promised.’
Saviour, we hear your call. Help us to follow.

Jesus said: ‘Be merciful as your Father is merciful;
love your enemies and do good to them.’
Saviour, we hear your call. Help us to follow.

Jesus said: ‘Love one another, as I love you;
there is no greater love than this, to lay down your life for your friends.’
Saviour, we hear your call. Help us to follow.

Jesus said: ‘Go to people everywhere and make them my disciples,
and I will be with you always, to the end of time.’
Saviour, we hear your call. Help us to follow.

God of mercy,
you know us and love us and hear our prayer:
keep us in the eternal fellowship of Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:

Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

Gracious Lord,
in this holy sacrament
you give substance to our hope:
bring us at the last
to that fullness of life for which we long;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Heavenly Lord,
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

And, finally!!!

In case you missed it! A Call to Prayer

The Archbishops have written to all the clergy in the Church of England stating that their conviction that the first and primary response of the Church at this time was prayer.
“Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer. More than anything else, whatever the nation thinks, we know that we are in the faithful hands of the risen Christ who knows our weaknesses, tiredness and struggles and whose steadfast love endures for ever.

Above all we recall people to some of the fundamental spiritual disciplines that shape our Christian life. How we do this is up to each congregation and clergy person. We will publish resources to support you before the first day of lockdown. During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer.”

The Archbishops, in consultation with the House of Bishops, decided that this call would take the form of an invitation to every Christian and person of goodwill to pray at 6pm every day for the period of this present lock-down. This call is going far and wide – and the hope is that many of our ecumenical partners will join us.

The Archbishops promised some resources in the form of different styles of written prayers with a particular thematic focus for prayer each day. The weblink to the resources is here.

In addition, there is a link there to a simple printable prayer booklet – ‘Prayer Booklet’. This material is intended simply as one tool to enable participation – the hope is that individuals and worshipping communities make these times of prayer their own. There is no desire by the Archbishops to be directive in this – rather simply to encourage all to be united in Prayer for the Nation.

Other Notices
Christmas will still happen …
Jennie Christie has supplies of Church Christmas cards (£4.00 for 10) and pens (£2.00 each) to sell. Contact: 01243 532642 or jennifer_christie_uk@hotmail.com

A notice from Jenny Blamire about Jenny Green’s retirement

CMS has sent the following, now slightly abridged, email to (our) Jenny which covers all that is needed to know:

“CMS are hosting a virtual Event of Thanksgiving for your church’s link Mission Partner Jenny Green on Thursday 3rd December from 6:30pm to 7:30pm and we’d love for you and your congregation to join us. Our aim is to gather together all of Jenny’s supporting churches and individuals to say a big thank you to her and pray for her together as she ends her service with CMS after so many years.

It will be run on Zoom, I imagine that a lot of your congregation are becoming increasingly comfortable using virtual platforms now. I’m hoping that the date and time won’t clash with any other church event you already have planned.

I’d be incredibly grateful if you could help me by advertising the event to your congregation and all those who have supported Jenny in her work over the years. You just need to get the Eventbrite link (below) out there. Use your email list, Facebook page, newsletter or however you communicate with your congregation at the moment. Once they sign up they will be given instructions on how to join the event.

The Eventbrite link for this event is here.

It will be a mixture of talks, questions and prayer, including a prayer from the Bishop of Bradford, so it should hopefully be an enjoyable experience for everyone.”

Of course, you’ll need to supply your own celebratory drink and cake!

To date, Allan and Jenny Blamire have signed up to attend.
 

An Act of Remembrance – 8th November 2020

The Lord is my shepherd;
 therefore can I lack nothing.

 He makes me lie down in green pastures
 and leads me beside still waters.
 He shall refresh my soul
 and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I will fear no evil;
 for you are with me;
 your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
 You spread a table before me
 in the presence of those who trouble me;
 you have anointed my head with oil
 and my cup shall be full.
 Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me
 all the days of my life,
 and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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.

Two minutes’ silence may be observed.
 
When you go home tell them of us and say,
for your tomorrow we gave our today.

O God of truth and justice,
we hold before you those people
who have died in active service.
As we honour their courage and cherish their memory,
may we put our faith in your future;
for you are the source of life, peace and hope,
now and for ever. Amen.

THANK YOU for joining our (slightly longer) weekly on-line act of worship.

Let us bring to mind our continuing failures to love God, his people and his Creation:
                                            [Pause]
Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy
forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To which we respond, by saying:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

We pray the Collect for Today

Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the First Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 4, verses 13 to 18

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, chapter 25, verses 1 to 13

Jesus spoke this parable to the disciples. “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

We reflect upon today’s Message

Being a (just!) post-war baby, one of the main forms of entertainment, when I was younger, was listening to the radio – The Archers, The Billy Cotton Bandshow, The Goon Show, Peter Brough and Archie Andrews, Hancock’s Half-Hour, The “Big” Bands, and the like. One of the comedians of my youth was Al Reid, who used to work into his comic routines the phrase: “enough was said at our Edie’s wedding”. It is a phrase that still occurs in today’s spoken language – particularly, among an older generation trying to protect family members or friends from embarrassing incidents. Well, it was an embarrassing incident at a village wedding that sparked Jesus on the occasion covered by this morning’s Gospel account.

For a moment, imagine the setting: a Jewish village (or small town), Jesus sitting surrounded by the usual group of disciples and by curious local folk who were pleased to hear all he said – and by a few serious men who were the experts in the Jewish law and religion, probably disagreeing with each other except on one subject which was that they were united in opposition to this new teacher.

Whether Jesus and the crowd around him observed the incident of the wedding happening in that village, or whether the incident had happened earlier or elsewhere and was common gossip, we will never know. However, the usual wedding procedure was for the bridegroom to visit his future father-in-law to agree the marriage contract. When this business was successfully completed, the bridegroom, now accompanied by his bride, would return to his own home for the wedding feast. The bridesmaids were expected to greet the couple as they came near to the house.

In the case of the incident recorded here, the negotiations obviously took longer than was expected. Night fell and, only after dark, did the couple return. Of course, all the bridesmaids were asleep. Embarrassingly, when they were woken up by the cries that the bridegroom was on his way, only some of them had oil in their lamps.

The point of Jesus’ story was very simple. He looked at the mixed crowd of people listening to him as he taught. Some heard his words eagerly and welcomed the new insights and freedom he brought – while others argued and disputed, rejecting his words and him. No doubt Jesus made the most of it, jokily comparing the long faced serious religious men with the ill-prepared, dizzy young bridesmaids. It is no wonder that ordinary people were glad to listen to him.

The parable teaches that none of us know the time when we must give account of ourselves, the time when we come face-to-face with Jesus. In one sense, it is every moment – in another, at death. We know neither the day, nor the hour. And, let us all be quite sure, with the end of a life comes the judgement of that person.

In these strange times, feedback on such articles such as our Sunday website messages are quite thin and, so, it is difficult to assess the health of Christianity and its spread amongst the community. This is understandable as we see each other rarely – and will do so even more over the next few weeks! However, the creators of these Sunday messages all hope and pray that readers try to remember both what is said and try to improve their own lives by putting into practice the Christian teaching. This, in turn, should also positively affect the lives of those around them. It is only if we can find ways to enlarge the spread of the Gospel message – to love neighbour, self (and God!) – that we can ever begin to hope to avoid creating the environment for further international, national and personal victims of human violence and mistreatment.

And, this brings me nicely to the humble poppy, the public symbol worn for both Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day (Wednesday 11th). The letters that make up its name, P-O-P-P-Y, might be seen to help us with achieving this task of widening the appeal of the Good News of Jesus. It works like this:
   People of God who need to see
O    Ourselves as a people who are in need of God’s forgiveness because of our
   Personal desire to live according to his teaching, so that we might bring
P    Peace and reconciliation with neighbours and those around us by always saying
Y    Yes, to God’s way; no, to the ways of the world.
Tough words, but to exercise the bravery of following them through as individuals will help turn our own weaknesses into God’s wider opportunities.  In turn, this bring about the transformation needed to avoid future conflicts that bring risk of adding to the number of those whose sacrifice we remember on this Remembrance Sunday.

A Christian Creed
We say (or sing!) together in faith

We believe in God the Father,
God almighty, by whose plan
earth and heaven sprang to being,
all created things began.
We believe in Christ the Saviour,
Son of God in human frame,
virgin-born, the child of Mary
upon whom the Spirit came.

Christ, who on the cross forsaken,
like a lamb to slaughter led,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
he descended to the dead.
We believe in Jesus risen,
heaven’s king to rule and reign,
to the Father’s side ascended
till as judge he comes again.

We believe in God the Spirit;
in one Church, below, above:
saints of God in one communion,
one in holiness and love.
So by faith, our sins forgiven,
Christ our Saviour, Lord and friend,
we shall rise with him in glory
to the life that knows no end.
(May be sung to any 87.87.
or 87.87D. – e.g. ‘Alleluia, Alleluia, hearts to heaven…’ – tune.)

A suggestion for your Prayers

On this day of Remembrance, let us pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict,
and ask that God may give us peace:

for the service men and women who have died in the violence of war,
each one remembered by and known to God;
May God give peace.

for those who love them in death as in life,  
offering the distress of our grief and the sadness of our loss;
May God give peace

for all members of the armed forces who are in danger this day,
remembering family, friends and all who pray for their safe return;
May God give peace

for civilian men, women and children whose lives are disfigured by war or terror,
calling to mind in penitence the anger and hatreds of humanity;
May God give peace

for peace-makers and peace-keepers, who seek to keep this world secure and free;
May God give peace

for all who bear
the burden and privilege of leadership, political, military and religious;
asking for gifts of wisdom and resolve in the search for reconciliation and peace.
May God give peace

O God of truth and justice, we hold before you those
whose memory we cherish and those whose names we will never know.
Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world,
and grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us harm.
As we honour the past, may we put our faith in your future;
for you are the source of life and hope, now and for ever.        Amen.

Please also continue to pray for Moira and her family. Her mother died on Wednesday.

God our Father, help Moira and her family to face life as it now is
with courage and hope, knowing that you are always with them.
Help them not to think of the darkness of death,
but the splendour of life everlasting in your presence.
Comfort and support them, strengthen and uphold them,
until they meet again those they have loved and lost;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:
Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

God of peace,
whose Son Jesus Christ proclaimed the Kingdom
and restored the broken to wholeness of life:
look with compassion on the anguish of the world,
and by your healing power
make whole both people and nations;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

And, finally!!!

Thanks to Simon Juggins for these ten quick facts about Remembrance Day

  • The armistice, which called for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, was signed by the Allies of World War 1 and Germany at Compiègne, France at 05:45 a.m. on 11 November 1918, and took effect at 11:00 a.m. that very morning – the ‘eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month’ of 1918.
  • Fighting continued up to 11 a.m. with 2,738 men dying on the last day of the war.
  • The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days and had to be extended several times. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919, five years to the day after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that had directly led to the war.
  • Armistice Day was first observed in 1919.
  • From 1921 to 1930, Armistice Day services were held on the Monday of the week in which 11 November fell.
  • In 1931 the UK House of Commons passed a bill that changed the name to ‘Remembrance Day’ and decreed that people should pause in a moment of silence to honour and remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve their nations during times of war, conflict and peace.
  • Poppies are used to remember those who have given their lives in battle because the flower grew in abundance on the silent battlefields after World War One ended.
  • Some 54 countries now observe Remembrance Day on or about the 11 November, although the name of the day varies, including: ‘Veterans Day’ in the USA; ‘Independence Day’ in Poland; and the ‘Day of National Unity of the Armed Forces’ in Italy.
  • New Zealand’s national day of remembrance is ‘Anzac Day’, on 25 April. This came about because the paper poppies intended for the first Armistice Day arrived by ship too late for the first 11 November event, so it was decided to distribute them at the next commemoration date, which happened to be ‘Anzac Day’, and the date stuck.
  • The German National Day of mourning is the secular public holiday of Volkstrauertag, which since 1952 has been observed two Sundays before the first Sunday of Advent; in practice this is the Sunday closest to 16 November. The anniversary of the signing of the armistice itself is not observed in Germany. Each of the major German churches has its own festivals for commemorating the dead, observed in November: ‘All Souls Day’ in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, and ‘Ewigkeitssonntag’ or ‘Eternity Sunday’ in the case of the Lutheran church.

As the quote often used at this time of year goes: “If we are to maintain our peace and freedom, we must always remember.”

 

A Call to Prayer

The Archbishops have written to all the clergy in the Church of England stating that their conviction that the first and primary response of the Church at this time was prayer.
“Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer. More than anything else, whatever the nation thinks, we know that we are in the faithful hands of the risen Christ who knows our weaknesses, tiredness and struggles and whose steadfast love endures for ever.

Above all we recall people to some of the fundamental spiritual disciplines that shape our Christian life. How we do this is up to each congregation and clergy person. We will publish resources to support you before the first day of lockdown. During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer.”

The Archbishops, in consultation with the House of Bishops, decided that this call would take the form of an invitation to every Christian and person of goodwill to pray at 6pm every day for the period of this present lock-down. This call is going far and wide – and the hope is that many of our ecumenical partners will join us.

The Archbishops promised some resources in the form of different styles of written prayers with a particular thematic focus for prayer each day. The weblink to the resources is https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches/call-prayer-nation. In addition, there is a link there to a simple printable prayer booklet – ‘Prayer Booklet’.

This material is intended simply as one tool to enable participation – the hope is that individuals and worshipping communities make these times of prayer their own. There is no desire by the Archbishops to be directive in this – rather simply to encourage all to be united in Prayer for the Nation.

Notices.

Christmas will still happen …
Jennie Christie has supplies of Church Christmas cards (£4.00 for 10) and pens (£2.00 each) to sell. Contact: 01243 532642 or jennifer_christie_uk@hotmail.com

Update by Jenny Blamire on Revd. Jenny Green’s Work in Bradford
Jenny’s last prayer letter was written in March 2020. In it she highlighted some of the events of the previous year which give us a flavour of her work.

Last Christmas was a very busy time for her with many carol services in local church schools, in the churches where she works and in a hotel where a group of newly arrived refugees had been given space. On Christmas Day itself, Jenny and children shared lunch with a few lonely folk from their community.

Jenny wrote that joint church and community-run events are very popular in her area of Bradford and help the church to build bridges with the local community. One such event was a Victorian celebration of 170 years of St Matthew’s Church, one of the churches Jenny is attached to. Many people came and enjoyed the food and Victorian dancing.

One sad happening for the church was when a burglar broke into the church and caused much destruction. He was caught by a passing police patrol car. Jenny describes him as typical of those whose lives are ruined by addiction.

Jenny has continued to work with community groups and a handful of individuals who are on the edge of discovering faith in Jesus.

To bring you up to date, the big news is that Jenny has recently retired. I have written a card to send Jenny our best wishes for the future. We have been contacted by CMS to ask if we would consider supporting another missionary link. CMS has given us some suggestions and the new PCC will consider them (in due course – Ed).

Update on Potter’s Village
Potter’s Village is a child crisis centre, set up by Jenny Green in 2007, in the very poor area of Kisoro in SW Uganda. The village provides a home for up to 18 babies and very young children. As well there is now a medical centre with a nutritional unit and an anti-natal clinic. A great addition to the work of Potter’s Village in the past year has been the setting up of a rehab centre for children with disabilities. It was the work of a volunteer physio from the UK, who had extensive experience in rehabilitation. She has been training a nurse and an assistant to run the programme. The centre is open on Mondays and Tuesdays and after their initial assessment children and parents attend monthly and are taught exercises to do at home. Parents are also taught about the importance of stimulating play and social interaction and where necessary about feeding techniques. Some children have been supplied with special chairs, standing frames or walkers which are made by local carpenters. In parts of Uganda there is a lot of superstition and stigma about disability but the word is spreading that this new and much needed service has started.

There was an appeal recently to help keep the medical centre open and be able to pay staff during the pandemic. The funds were raised and the number of patients treated in the medical centre have continued to increase.

PV is a wonderful place and a demonstration of Jesus’ love.

 
ALL SAINTS TODAY – 1st November 2020

A short Act of Worship for All Saints’ Day from The Rev’d David Hider

THANK YOU for joining our weekly on-line act of worship.

Let us bring to mind our repeated failures to love

God, his people and his Creation:
                                            [Pause]

Come, let us return to the Lord and say:
Lord our God,
in our sin we have avoided your call.
Our love for you is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes away early.
Have mercy on us;
deliver us from judgement;
bind up our wounds and revive us;
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[c.f. Hosea 6]

May the God of love and power forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

To which we respond, by saying:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

We pray the Collect for All Saints’ Day
Almighty God,
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:
grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living
that we may come to those inexpressible joys
that you have prepared for those who truly love you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Collect for the Fourth Sunday before Advent and following days
Almighty and eternal God,
you have kindled the flame of love
in the hearts of the saints:
grant to us the same faith and power of love,
that, as we rejoice in their triumphs,
we may be sustained by their example and fellowship;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the First Letter of John, chapter 1, verses 1 to 3
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, chapter 5, verses 1 to 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.”

We reflect upon today’s Message prepared by John Shepherd

I’ve always been fascinated by the world of aviation.  The way it developed historically, with various pioneers pushing flights faster and longer is a powerful example of human endeavour.  One milestone, the rush to travel faster than sound, was particularly challenging.  After many failed attempts, often resulting in terrible accidents, the team at the US Air Force claimed that once speed exceeded the magic 768 miles per hour, things start working in reverse so controls need to be managed opposite to how they work below that speed.  I think this is something of an apocryphal tale, but, true or not, Chuck Yeager of the US Air Force was the first to safely achieve supersonic flight on 14 October 1947.  

This story came to my mind when reading this week’s Gospel.  Chapters 5-7 of Matthew contain the much-quoted Sermon on the Mount and today’s reading is the start of this, often referred to as the Beatitudes. This is a set of pronouncements by Jesus, each one (in many translations) starting with the words blessed are the….  

So, counter-intuitive though it might be, Jesus is being really clear about the variety of people who are as one with God.  For example, those in a lowly situation (such as the meek), or those in need (such as those suffering mourning or persecution) are blessed and so can know they have found favour with God.  Perhaps this was news to his audience on that Mount who might have seen such people as difficult to deal with and a long way from God.  Their blessings are not just an ambition or a prediction, they are Gospel in black and white courtesy of Matthew. Good news, happening in the here and now!!  Like the controls of a supersonic plane, some of the ways we view the world are turned upside down by these inspiring verses and indeed some of the other quotes from Jesus we have read in recent weeks as we progress through “Ordinary Time”.  

Today, 1 November, marks All Saints Day, the end of Ordinary Time.  Its a day when we remember the 10,000 or so people who have achieved the status of sainthood in one way or another.  Many of these are great examples to us today.  Their influence is all around us and their names frequently crop up in our day to day lives. Not only are most of our churches named from them, but in Chichester, they provide names for our hospital, at least one of our schools, our Christian bookshop, many of the city’s streets…The list is long and hopefully this reminds us of the great things many of them achieved. Indeed our Gospel writer for today, Matthew, is among the most prominent of Saints.  Its important though, as Jesus reminds us through the writings of St Matthew, to remember finding favour with God is not confined to these people. They might be examples and sign posts to the way but in fact, anyone (not least us) can do it.  Just look at the many groups singled out for mention in the beatitudes.  Jesus’ words must have provided inspiration to many who had become marginalised by a society increasingly distant from God’s word.  
Perhaps once in a while (as many of us are doing in these weird and troubled times) we need to look at things anew or even upside down like those 1940’s aviators, determined to break the sound barrier!!  

I hope you find the words (which are printed above in this mail) inspiring, a reason to question traditional thinking and a reminder of the headline message of All Saints Day.  Its not some kind of exclusive club, the grace of God is open to all

Do keep safe and God Bless

A Christian Creed
We say together in faith

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.

We believe in God the Father, who created all things:
for by his will they were created and have their being.

We believe in God the Son, who was slain:
for with his blood, he purchased us for God,
from every tribe and language, from every people and nation.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit: the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’
Even so come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
[c.f. Revelation 4:8,11;5:9;22:17,20]

A suggestion for your Prayers

Please continue with your prayers for Moira, her family and any known to you.

United in the company of all the faithful and looking for the coming of the Kingdom,
let us offer our prayers to God, the source of all life and holiness.

Merciful Lord, strengthen all Christian people by your Holy Spirit,
that we may live as a royal priesthood and a holy nation
to the praise of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Bless Martin, Ruth and William our bishops, Moira and all ministers of your Church,
that by faithful proclamation of your word
we may be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets
into a holy temple in the Lord.

Empower us by the gift of your holy and life-giving Spirit,
that we may be transformed into the likeness of Christ from glory to glory.

Give to the world and its peoples the peace that comes from above,
that they may find Christ’s way of freedom and life.

Hold in your embrace all who witness to your love
in the service of the poor and needy; all those who minister to the sick and dying;
and all who bring light to those in darkness.

Touch and heal all those whose lives are scarred by sin or disfigured by pain,
that, raised from death to life in Christ, their sorrow may be turned to eternal joy.

Remember in your mercy all those gone before us,
who have been well-pleasing to you from eternity;
preserve in your faith your servants on earth,
guide us to your kingdom, and grant us your peace at all times.

Hasten the day when many will come from east and west, from north and south,
and sit at table in your Kingdom.

We give you thanks for the whole company of your saints in glory,
with whom in fellowship we join our prayers and praises;
by your grace may we, like them, be made perfect in your love.

Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour and power,
be to our God for ever and ever. Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:

Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

God, the source of all holiness and giver of all good things:
may we who have shared at this spiritual table
as strangers and pilgrims here on earth
be welcomed with all your saints
to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God of holiness,
your glory is proclaimed in every age:
as we rejoice in the faith of your saints,
inspire us to follow their example
with boldness and joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

Notices!!!

The funeral for the late Geoff Holland has been set for next Thursday (November 5th), 11:45am at Chichester Crematorium. The Service will be taken by his next door neighbour, the Revd Sue Burnett. She has asked Gay Dent [jlgadent@gmail.com] to collect the names of any Church member who might want to attend. Because of the pandemic restrictions, numbers are limited. Thank you, Gay, for doing this.

 
We will remember 2020
This is a reprint of Moira’s midweek message:

“Dear all, despite all the restrictions that we are facing this year, we will remember once more all those who have given their lives for our freedom.
    To enable as many people as possible to attend a service this year we will hold two Remembrance services. The first will be on Sunday 8th November, at Apuldram church following the 8.00 a.m. service. The second will be on Sunday 15th November, 9.30 a.m.** at Fishbourne church.
    Although our churches can only hold a certain number of people we can all still remember. I know how artistic so many of you are, and so I invite you to create a poster, perhaps with a poppy or of an image you would like to use which depicts this important time, add the words, ‘we will Remember’. Then put the poster in your window as so many did with the Rainbow pictures. Let’s fill our communities’ windows with these. If you can’t make your own, perhaps you could ask one of our talented young people to paint you one.
    Another lovely idea, especially for those of you who love the beach, is to collect a stone, paint a poppy on it with the year 2020, and place your stone in one of our churchyards, in Apuldram by the war memorial, and in Fishbourne below the notice board with the plaque on it.
    Then lastly, on the 11th day, of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, let us all stop, stand at our front doors if we are able to, keep a minute’s silence and Remember.
    May it be, that,  From the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will Remember them.”

[** The Act of Remembrance will take place within the Service of Holy Communion.]

Jennie Christie still has supplies of Church Christmas cards (£4.00 for 10) and pens (£2.00 each) to sell. Contact: 01243 532642 or jennifer_christie_uk@hotmail.com

LAST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – 25th October 2020
From Rev’d David Hider

THANK YOU for joining our weekly on-line a

ct of worship.
Today is also known as Bible Sunday (see the Collect below).
Let us bring to mind our repeated failures to love

God, his people and his Creation:
                                            [Pause]
God our Father,
long-suffering, full of grace and truth,
you create us from nothing and give us life.
You give your faithful people new life in the water of baptism.
You do not turn your face from us, nor cast us aside.
We confess that we have sinned against you and our neighbour.
We have wounded your love and marred your image in us.
Restore us for the sake of your Son, and bring us to heavenly joy,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the God of love and power forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

To which we respond, by saying:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

We pray the Collect (this week’s Special Prayer)

Blessed Lord,
who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
help us so to hear them,
to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them
that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word,
we may embrace and for ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses 1 to 8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, chapter 22, verses 34 to 46

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’’? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’ No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

We reflect upon today’s Message
According to today’s Gospel as it is presented, the Pharisee did not actually say a prayer. But, from the context, it does not take too much imagination to invent ‘the Pharisee’s prayer’. Given his attitude to Jesus, he might well have prayed, ‘Please, God, help me get the better of him’. Yes, there is malice in the Pharisee’s approach. And, as for Leviticus and the injunction ‘not to nurse hatred towards your brother’ (19:17), forget that!  Pharisees have to protect the Law and to trap any man who appears above the Law. Hence, the question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law’?

We can get the impression that, whatever Jesus said in reply, it would not have mattered. The Pharisee’s mind was made up. Some people are like that, aren’t they? A genuine change of heart is impossible and a radical conversion is out of the question.

Sometimes editors – even Gospel editors – deploy this incident in the life of Jesus in a different way. For example, in Mark’s Gospel, the person who asks the question about ‘the greatest commandment’ is a Scribe. But, both his approach, and Jesus’ reply, is different. From Mark (chapter 12), we get the impression that the Scribe is favourably disposed to Jesus and, when the conversation ends, Jesus commends him saying: ‘You are not far from the Kingdom of God.’

As for Matthew’s Pharisee, he is a completely different kettle of fish. Continuing the encounter, Jesus asks his own question: ‘The Messiah: whose Son is he?’ The Pharisee answered: ‘The Son of David’. For him, the Messiah would trace his earthly paternity to David. This Pharisee saw things from a human perspective. Of course, some people are like him, aren’t they? As for the Scribe in Mark’s Gospel, the Messiah would trace his paternity to God – he saw things from a divine perspective. And, some people are like him, aren’t they? When they approach Jesus, they as good as pray: ‘Please God, help me to be like Him.’

‘Please God, help me get the better of him’. ‘Please God, help me be like Him.’  Depending on our standpoint, both are legitimate prayers. Now, some of the prayers we utter are significant – they change lives. Yet, at the same time, it is also true that many of the prayers that we utter are forgotten – they die a death.

It is no great secret that I struggled while training for ordained ministry. The academic nature of the learning with lots of texts and difficult-to-pronounce words (and their meaning) to overcome. Sometimes, I was belittled by tutors for my lack of apparent prowess with these studies. So, I can relate to the first of those prayers and, in some ways, I did ‘get the better’ of them – because I satisfied the examiners and was duly ordained. However, the second prayer is something that I struggled – and, if truth be told, still struggle – with. I would say it with a genuine attitude, but I still lacked the faith and prowess to carry the resultant demands. Talking these matters through with my Spiritual Director – a wise elderly priest – of those times, he spoke of three prayers that might help me and (if I remember correctly) gave them these names:
    first, ‘the shipwreck prayer’ – ‘Please God, get me out of this’;
    second, ‘the castaway’s prayer’ – ‘Please God, help me face up to life’s here and now’;
    third, ‘everyone’s prayer’ – ‘Please God, help me love my neighbour as myself’.

Some of the prayers that mark us for life are rooted in people. None more so than ‘the shipwreck prayer’ – a prayer that is a kind of ‘covenant’ that we make with God (e.g. ‘do this for me, God, and I’ll do something in return’). When God answers the prayer – even a little – as he always does (but not necessarily as we demand!), we must keep our word also.    

‘The castaway’s prayer’ is much more ‘matter of fact’ and helps us to realise that God is with us in our present realities to help us cope with our own ‘here and now’. Sometimes, he is carrying us through the mire of our situations.

The third prayer, ‘everyone’s prayer’, is one that that we dare not avoid. Two words in that prayer, ‘neighbour’ and ‘myself‘, remind us that, as John Donne wrote: ‘No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.’ (Devotions [1624]). All of us are inter-related, that what we do, near or far, affects another human being, or a whole community, or even the life of the planet itself.

In summary, it is ‘what we do about what we pray’ that reveals our true faith. The Pharisee’s prayer was a negative, selfish prayer which stopped him growing beyond the confines of his belief. These other three prayers – the shipwreck’s prayer, the castaway’s prayer and everyone’s prayer – can be positive and creative as each demands that we see ourselves, our circumstances and our neighbours in a new light. And, that light is the Gospel light of a Jesus who challenged the Pharisees – and who, most definitely, challenges each and every one of us, including me.

A Christian Creed
We say together in faith

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.

We believe in God the Father, who created all things:
for by his will they were created and have their being.

We believe in God the Son, who was slain:
for with his blood, he purchased us for God,
from every tribe and language, from every people and nation.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit: the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’
Even so come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
[c.f. Revelation 4:8,11;5:9;22:17,20]

A suggestion for your Prayers

Please continue with your prayers for Moira, her family and any known to you.

We pray for strength to follow Jesus.
Jesus said: ‘Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.’
Saviour, we hear your call.

Jesus said: ‘Unless you change and become humble like little children,
you can never enter the kingdom of heaven.’
Saviour, we hear your call.

Jesus said: ‘Happy are the humble; they will receive what God has promised.’
Saviour, we hear your call.

Jesus said: ‘Be merciful as your Father is merciful;
love your enemies and do good to them.’
Saviour, we hear your call.

Jesus said: ‘Love one another, as I love you;
there is no greater love than this, to lay down your life for your friends.’
Saviour, we hear your call.

Jesus said: ‘Go to people everywhere and make them my disciples,
and I will be with you always, to the end of time.’
Saviour, we hear your call.

God of mercy,
you know us and love us and hear our prayer:
keep us in the eternal fellowship of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:
Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

Lord God, you have taught us to pray to you as ‘Our Father’:
help us to see the world through your eyes and to love your children with your love; and show us how we can share with them the knowledge of your Fatherhood
and an experience of your redeeming grace,
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God of all grace,
your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life
and the word of his Kingdom:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.

Merciful God,
teach us to be faithful in change and uncertainty,
that trusting in your word
and obeying your will
we may enter the unfailing joy of Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

Notices!!!

Hopefully, you have remembered to put your clocks back one hour to mark the end of British Summer Time!

The funeral for the late Geoff Holland has been set for Thursday 5th November, 11:45am at Chichester Crematorium. The Service will be taken by his next door neighbour, the Revd Sue Burnett. She has asked Gay Dent [jlgadent@gmail.com] to collect the names of any Church member who might want to attend. Because of the pandemic restrictions, numbers are limited. Thank you, Gay, for doing this essential task.

Remembrance Sunday will be marked during Church Services at Apuldram on November 8th and Fishbourne on November 15th. Necessarily, these may not take the form of previous years, but will still be sensitive to the occasion.

Jennie Christie still has supplies of Church Christmas cards (£4.00 for 10) and pens (£2.00 each) to sell. Contact: 01243 532642 or jennifer_christie_uk@hotmail.com

 
TRINITY 19 – Sunday 18th October 2020
From Rev’d David Hider.

THANK YOU for joining our weekly on-line act of worship.

Let us bring to mind our repeated failures to love God, his people and his Creation:
                                            [Pause]
Lord God,
we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us
and restore us to the joy of your salvation,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                   

[c.f. Psalm 51]

May the Father of all mercies
cleanse us from our sins,
and restore us in his image

to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To which we respond, by saying:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

We pray the Collect (this week’s Special Prayer)

O God, forasmuch as without you
we are not able to please you;
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit
may in all things direct and rule our hearts;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 1 to 10

From Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, chapter 22, verses 15 to 22

When the chief priests and Pharisees had heard the parables, they realised that Jesus was speaking about them. Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

We reflect upon today’s Message written by Jenny

As a child, when I heard this story from Matthew’s Gospel, I used to think how clever Jesus was to give such a good answer! But as a child I had no idea of the principles Jesus was teaching or what it might mean in real life situations for people. I hadn’t heard of Bonhoeffer for example, when he came into conflict with those in power in his country of Germany only a dozen years before and how it cost his life.

This question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” posed by the Pharisees, who usually opposed the Roman occupation, was not because they wanted Jesus’ teaching on church/state matters but rather they wanted him by his answer to provide evidence they could use to get Jesus condemned to death. Here they have even joined forces with their bitter enemies, the Herodians, a political party supporting the Romans.

The much hated tax the Pharisees were talking about was one that had been introduced when Judea became a Roman province in 6AD. Each person had to pay a head or poll tax, which could only be paid with a Roman coin. The image of the emperor and inscription on it was considered blasphemous by Jews. The money went straight into Caesar’s coffers and some of it was spent on pagan temples.

If we look at the question again, whichever way Jesus answered it he’d have been in dire trouble. In his answer, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” he lay down an important principle to follow, one that still applies today. We all belong to the country where we live. We share in the public services, in our country’s education system and its healthcare and so much more. In return we have to be good citizens.

As Christians we also belong to the kingdom of God. Similarly we’re to be good citizens of that kingdom and give to God the things that are God’s. As we think about our dual citizenship, we can see that what is God’s is of a completely different order to any earthly kingdom. From Psalm 96, “But the Lord made the heavens. Splendour and majesty are before him, strength and glory are in his sanctuary.” Jesus is saying belonging to God’s kingdom, if ever there were a clash with our earthly citizenship, should take priority.

We’re so blessed in our country to be able to practise our faith freely but thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ are persecuted for theirs. How often do we remember to pray for them or take the trouble to find out about their lives? Following Jesus can bring very real danger. Persecuted Christians can be denied education and work opportunities, put on false charges and imprisoned, assaulted and abused. They may not be able to go to church freely. Some churches have been bombed. Nearly three thousand Christians died for their faith last year.

“Open Doors” is a charity supporting the persecuted church. Search “Open Doors World Watch List 2020” for much more information. I feel so humbled when I hear what suffering others go through and I wonder how strong my faith would be.

Give to God the things that are God’s. I can hear my Mum’s voice in my head. When I was growing up she used to say, “You can never out-give God.” What can we give God? May be there’s a clue in our first reading to the church at Thessalonica. Paul praised them for their faith, love and hope. (v3) Even these three things were a gift from God.

God calls us to respond to his love with faith and simply come to him and ask for his forgiveness when we’ve gone astray. In the words of the Christmas carol, “What can I give him? Give my heart.” God wants us to give him our hearts.

As we receive God’s love, God will give us a love for others, so we can reach out to those around us with kindness and share the good news about Jesus with them.

Hope is so needed in the circumstances we find the whole world in today and in the situations that affect us personally. But hope is one of the gifts God gives. The Thessalonians received the word of God with joy (v6) and that is where they found their hope. I have a much loved notebook. In it I write down some of the wonderful promises in the Bible. Looking through my last three entries I can see Psalm 33:20-22, Matthew 11:28-30 and Psalm 103:11-12. These words lift my heart.

We had a letter, a brown envelope, from a government department this morning. It was actually giving us back some road tax but had a warning on the envelope, “Tax it or lose it.” As citizens of our country we must obey its laws. As citizens of God’s kingdom we respond freely and His blessings are of a completely different order. What else keeps our brothers and sisters of the persecuted church faithful to Christ? Please remember to pray for them today.

A Christian Creed
Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe. Amen.

A suggestion for your Prayers

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

For the peace of the whole world,
for the welfare of the Holy Church of God,
and for the unity of all;
let us pray to the Lord.

For Martin, Ruth and William our bishops,
for the leaders of our sister Churches,
and for all clergy, especially Moira, and people within their pastoral care;
let us pray to the Lord.

For Elizabeth our Queen,
for the leaders of the nations, including our own in these difficult times,
and for all in authority;
let us pray to the Lord.

For these communities of Fishbourne and Apuldram,
for every city, town and village,
and for all the people who live and work within them;
let us pray to the Lord.

For good weather, and for abundant harvests for all to share;
let us pray to the Lord.

For those who travel by land, air, or water,
for the sick and the suffering, including any known to us,
for prisoners and captives,
and for their safety, health and salvation;
for those who have recently died, including Geoff Holland;
for the dying and any who are bereft in grief;
let us pray to the Lord.

For our deliverance from all affliction, strife and need,
and for the absolution of our sins and offences;
let us pray to the Lord.

Remembering all who have gone before us in faith,
and in communion with all the saints,
we commit ourselves, one another, and our whole life to Christ our God;
to you, O Lord. Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:
Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

Holy and blessed God,
you have fed us spiritually with the body and blood of your Son
and filled us with your Holy Spirit:
may we honour you,
not only with our lips
but in lives dedicated to the service
of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Faithful Lord,
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love,
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

Notices
(And what would an act of worship be without this item!)

Please see last Tuesday’s electronic communication for details about:
a forthcoming Church cleaning event on Thursday 22nd October at 10am;
the sale of Church Christmas cards (£4.00 for 10 cards) and pens (£2.00 each).
Contact for both the above is Jennie Christie: Telephone: 01243 532642 or email jennifer_christie_uk@hotmail.com

Plus, there is a response from Gillian Ellis following her recent well deserved legal appointment.

You can read this newsletter here.

 
TRINITY 18.

11th October 2020

A short act of worship from Rev’d David HiderTHANK YOU for joining our weekly on-line act of worship.

Let us bring to mind our repeated failures to love God, his people and his Creation:
                                            [Pause]

Almighty God,
long-suffering and of great goodness:
we confess with our whole hearts
our neglect and forgetfulness of your commandments,
our wrong doing, thinking, and speaking;
the hurts we have done to others,
and the good we have left undone.
O God, forgive us, for we have sinned against you;
and raise us to newness of life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins,
heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

To which we respond, by saying:

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

We pray the Collect (this week’s Special Prayer)

Almighty and everlasting God,
increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind
and reaching out to that which is before,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians, chapter 4, verses 1 to 9

My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

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.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, chapter 22, verses 1 to 14

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

We reflect upon today’s Message

Thankfully, even at this distance of time from their writing, the Gospel still knows the tremendous pressures of our daily life – and, especially, at this time of having to deal with the on-going effects on our lives of coronavirus. It knows exactly what pulls us this way and that. It knows precisely that we live by necessity as well as by choice. It knows absolutely all the vital and important things we must do. But, it also asks, even amid all this and more, whether we respond with promptness, enthusiasm and joy to this final and decisive invitation of Jesus to the wedding banquet? And, let us all be sure to remember that our decision could make all the difference in the world to our eternal future!

I wonder whether you noticed that, at the end of the parable forming today’s Gospel text, there was introduced a character who attended the wedding banquet without a wedding garment – the man who arrived at the feast without dressing up for it, the clown who showed up at the party in his old clothes? Did you notice the rough treatment that this character received from the host? Yes, this joker actually wanted to come to God’s party, but did not want to change his wardrobe – or, put another way, did not want to make the effort to change his spiritual clothing.

In today’s text, Matthew is saying this:
    the most crucial choice that we make is what kind of world we are choosing to live in;
    how we are going to treat others in it;
    and, how much we understand ourselves to be in solidarity with all of humankind, especially with those who get the short end of the stick.
 
Let us not be mistaken, commitment to the kind of community that God wants in this world entails – for each one and everyone of us:
    a change of attitude;
    a change of values;
    a change of goals;
    a different set of loyalties;
    a different way of apportioning time, abilities and money;
    a different scale of values and attention to relationships;
    and, a different set of priorities towards people and property.

For some, it may also involve:
    a change of vocation or career;
    a reassessment of lifestyle;
    or, whatever God may ask us to do.

And, if it does not involve some – or all – of these things, then, our professions of faith, our vows of discipleship, our positive RSVPs to the banquet may be empty, fraudulent and worth no more than a niche in hell!

When times were normal and we were able to hold proper Services in Church (do you remember those days?), there were times when I looked out at some of you with a feeling of great sadness. The glazed eyes; the internal clock on which you are relying to tell that my sermon-time was nearly up; the mental switch-off which said “here he goes again”! Sure, I have never claimed to be the best preacher in the world – or, now, the best author of these messages. But, I do try, at every opportunity, with whatever fragment of talent God has given to me, to bring to your attention the detail of the Christian faith. Or, in other words, the things which you ought consider for your spiritual health, both this side of death and beyond. My heart aches and pleads that you do just this! As Jesus said: “You never know the hour …!” (e.g. Matthew 25:13) Yet, as has been often said at the Church door following a Service: “It’s all a matter of faith, Vicar!” Or, sadly, for some, blind faith.

You might remember this little story. Two nuns were crossing the desert in their hired four-wheel-drive Range Rover when it ran out of petrol. Remembering that they had passed a petrol station only a mile or so back, the nuns searched the back of their vehicle for a container. All they could find was a child’s potty. Being better than nothing, they took the potty, walked back to the petrol station, explained their predicament to the owner, filled their unusual container and returned to their vehicle. As they were carefully pouring the liquid into the filler-tube of the vehicle, a magnificent gold-coloured, stretched limousine drew up. As the darkened, rear electric-window slowly slid down, a man put his head out and – watching the nuns pouring the contents of the potty into the petrol-tank – said:  “I might not share your religion, but I do admire your faith!” For him, a sure case of blind faith!

So, have we got it? Have we understood this crucial choice that faces us? We must treat our Lord’s invitation with the urgency that it deserves. And, for the sake of what God wants for human life on this earth – just as we would for a royal banquet – we should be prepared:
    to accept the invitation;
    to honour our host;
    and, for this high and joyous occasion, redesign our (spiritual) wardrobes.

As Jesus said: ‘For many are called, but few are chosen.’ Thankfully, St Paul encourages: ‘Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen, and the God of peace will be with you.’

A Christian Creed
We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

A suggestion for your Prayers
We pray for strength to follow Jesus. Saviour, we hear your call. Help us to follow.

Jesus said: ‘Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.’

Jesus said: ‘Unless you change and become humble like little children,
you can never enter the kingdom of heaven.’

Jesus said: ‘Happy are the humble; they will receive what God has promised.’

Jesus said: ‘Be merciful as your Father is merciful;
love your enemies and do good to them.’

Jesus said: ‘Love one another, as I love you; there is no greater love than this,
to lay down your life for your friends.’

Jesus said: ‘Go to people everywhere and make them my disciples,
and I will be with you always, to the end of time.’

God of mercy, you know us and love us and hear our prayer:
keep us in the eternal fellowship of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

We pray in the words that Jesus taught his first disciples:
Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.     
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours; now and forever. Amen.

We praise and thank you, O Christ, for this sacred feast:
for here we receive you,
here the memory of your passion is renewed,
here our minds are filled with grace,
and here a pledge of future glory is given,
when we shall feast at that table where you reign with all your saints for ever. Amen.

Lord, we have but one life to live,
the life you have given to us, the life you have redeemed.
Help us to make the best use of it and not to waste it or fritter is away.
Show us your plan and purpose for our life,
and let it be our joy to do your will and serve you all our days.
Lord, let us not live to be useless, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

God, our Judge and Saviour,
teach us to be open to your truth
and to trust in your love,
that we may live each day
with confidence in the salvation which is given
through Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and your loved ones, this day and for evermore. Amen.

 
 

TRINITY 17. 4th October 2020Good morning everyone, I trust that you are all well. Thank you for joining us once again.

The Lord be with you.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
That we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your Holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

We say sorry for those times we have taken for granted the many Blessings God has poured into our lives.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Gloria.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy upon us,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God, the Father. Amen

The Collect Prayer. (The special weekly prayer)

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restful till they find their rest in you: pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly city where we shall see you face to face; 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.

Today’s Readings.

Philippians 3: v.4b-14

Matthew 21: 33-46

Sermon for Fishbourne.

One effect of lockdown appears to have been an increase in interest in gardening and horticulture.  Like millions of others, I try to keep awake on Fridays for Gardeners World!!  Allotments have received more attention than usual and perhaps provide a way of enjoying some safe social contact in these strange days.  Many of my friends enjoy tending allotments and see the rent they have to pay as real value for money when you weigh up the friendliness, produce and exercise that allotments provide.

Something similar happened back in biblical days.  People with money to invest would buy up land, set it up to produce various crops and then let it out to tenants who would care for it and share the produce with the owner as a form of payment.    

This weeks Gospel Reading is often called the parable of the wicked tenants. Coming after the Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem, it’s a story told by Jesus in the last few days before the crucifixion, when his relationship with the authorities was very strained.

It tells of a man who set up some of his land as a vineyard, complete with some of the equipment needed to make wine.  Being security conscious, he was also careful to fence it securely and built a watchtower to enable early warning of anyone intending to trespass.  

He then let out the vineyard and, as was traditional at harvest time, he sent his servants to collect his share of the produce.  Unfortunately, the tenants wouldn’t give anything and they dealt severely with the servants, including killing one of them.

Needing to find a way to apply more pressure, the landowner sends his son to collect his dues.  He couldn’t believe they wouldn’t respect a family member and acquiesce where before they had played hardball.  Again, they refused to part with any produce and went as far as to kill the son, hoping, by dint of the law at that time, to inherit the property.  

 If you put Israel in place of the vineyard, God as the landowner, the son as Jesus, the prophets as the servants and God’s grace as the produce, Jesus’ meaning becomes clear.  Gods people unable to share Gods grace and rejecting those God sends, both prophets and, indeed, his only son.  Unsurprisingly this story went down very badly with Jewish authorities. They would have arrested him then and there, had it not been for a large enthusiastic and highly supportive audience.  

As we make our way through the twenty first century, being reminded of this story is no bad thing.  As well as increasing our interest in horticulture, perhaps Covid will heighten our awareness of each other and make us more open to God’s word and his efforts to communicate them to us.   Lets take the wicked tenants as clear examples of how not to behave!!
   
Do keep safe and God Bless

This week we pray for:

Our churches and all who work so hard to care for our buildings.
Those who work in our local shops.
Those who are worried about losing their jobs or homes.
Our families, friends and neighbours.
Those who are unwell either at home or in hospital.
Young students as they face such uncertainty at the beginning of this term.
Those who have recently died, their families and those who face their dying in the coming weeks.
Almighty God, you have promised to hear the prayers of those who ask in your Son’s name; we pray that what we have asked faithfully we may obtain effectively; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

In our hearts let us send a message of peace to our friends and neighbours.

Notices.

Please do note the change of time for Fishbourne’s APCM, although you may join the meeting by zoom, you may also attend by coming into the hall, Moira will host the meeting from there.
As Covid numbers continue to rise, please do keep safe, let us all play our part in keeping others safe, let us never forget, we are in this together.
If you book a place to attend a service, but then find that you are unable to come, please can you un-book your seat so that someone else can come.
I will be heading back up to Scotland on the 12th October, to be with my Mum and help care for her. She has now been told she has just a few weeks left to live. Be assured, services will continue in one form or another, at the same times and places.

Let us pray:

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you,
The wind be always at your back.
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall softly on your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us, this day and always. Amen.

And so be at peace, with God, with yourself and with those around you.

Have a great week and don’t forget to keep an eye on your neighbours to make sure they are still doing ok especially do be on the alert for any families that have to isolate as they await the results of Covid tests.

Love and prayers to you all, Moira

 
TRINITY 16 – HARVEST

27th September 2020

Good morning everyone, I trust that you are all well. Thank you for joining us once again.

The Land has yielded its harvest, God has blessed us. Psalm 85 v.12

If you wish you might like to sing: We plough the fields and scatter.

The Lord be with you.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
That we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your Holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

We say sorry for those times we have forgotten how much God loves us.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God