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Tuesday, 12 January 2021

 As we are in Lockdown at the moment the Sunday School is not meeting, but the learning goes on! The team of Sunday School leaders prepare work for the children to do and parents and grandparents have been helping and encouraging the youngsters with the tasks. 

Here are some pictures of the work underway and a lovely picture of John the Baptist baptising Our Lord.

Many thanks to all the team and all the youngsters and their families for keeping going during the pandemic!

The Sunday School will be sharing more of their activities with us in weeks to come!


Sunday, 10 January 2021

Piero della Francesca, ‘The Baptism of Christ’, National Gallery, London

Dear Friends
We have now reached the second week of Epiphany.  ‘Epiphany’, of course, means ‘manifestation’ – in this case, the manifestation of Christ’s glory - and the theologically rich and complex themes of this time of year are explored through three discrete but interlinked episodes from the Gospels.  On the first Sunday of Epiphany we tend to focus on the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus, and the presentation of their gifts.  Today, we join with other Christian churches in reflecting upon the manifestation of Christ ‘in Jordan’s stream’ – ie at this baptism, when his divine Sonship is revealed.  Subsequently, we shall be celebrating the way in which Christ’s glory was first disclosed to his disciples at the miracle of the transformation of water into wine during the wedding feast at Cana – a pivotal moment, as recounted in the Gospel of John, in which his disciples began to ‘believe in him’.
All three manifestations are covered in the Sundays of Epiphany-tide, which continues until the Feast of the Presentation at Candlemass, and all three include the imperative for us, as Christian disciples, not only to believe, but also to obey the Lord’s call to spread the word – to evangelize, in other words.  This is something which we Anglicans can be hesitant about, but we can, at least, recognize situations when a ‘word in season’ could help others to make a step towards their own discipleship.  Of course, this is not easy during the current lockdown situation, but I can’t help thinking that there are many ‘out there’ who might be just waiting for us to share the joy and hope we derive, during dark times such as these, from being followers of Christ.
A little later this month, between 18 and 25 January, we shall be observing the week of prayer for Christian unity, during which the Collect for the Confession of St Peter is often used.  The Collect recalls the incident at Caesarea Philippi when Peter was inspired to confess Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 16:13-20) and perhaps helps us to reflect upon our own role, as disciples, in mission and evangelism:-
‘Almighty God, who inspired your Apostle Saint Peter to confess Jesus as Christ and Son of the living God: build up your Church upon this rock, that in unity and peace it may proclaim one truth and follow one Lord, your Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Fr Stephen


Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your son,
annointing 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 with you, in the unityof the Holy Spirit,
one Gos, now and forever.

Acts 19:1-7
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

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 1:4-11

Hear the gospel o our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

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." 
Saturday, 9 January 2021

 Dear All,

 I do hope everyone is well and not too bored!

I would like to let you know that Fr Stephen, the churchwardens and PCC have taken the decision to suspend Sunday church services at St Mary’s until the pandemic situation improves.

 There are a number of ways in which we can worship at home please see Useful Links on the top right of this page for ideas.

 The church will be open during daylight hours for private prayer and weddings and funeral can take place if required and under the regulations applicable at the time.

Fr Stephen will, of course, be available if you require his support.  Please ring the Vicarage or contact one of the churchwardens  if you wish.  If you need any practical help with anything during the lockdown do ring or email Janet or I and we will arrange help for you.

 I have got to submit a form to the Church of England authorities giving numbers of how we managed to worship at home during the previous 2 lockdowns last year - spring and autumn.  – with numbers!  If you listened to services on the radio, watched services on the television, attended another church or live streamed – however you tried to stay in touch with church and worship, would you be kind enough to let me know how and during which lockdown – I would be very grateful.

 Take care and stay safe,


Fr Stephen and the church wardens telephone numbers are in the Church magazine. Or you can email us on the Contact us page.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

This sunday we had a Family Eucharistic, at which we celebrated the Epiphany. We would normally have a procession of the Maji by the sunday school children, but this was not allowed with Covid 19 restrictions, and Mrs Field gave a talk instead of the children. The celebrant was Father Roger as Father Stephen is shielding. We had no choir but Joanna chose some lovely recorded mudic for us.

As it now transpires this is the last service we can hold for the time being. We pray that every one can keep safe and healthy in these terrible times. We will continue to post the set readings for each week, and any news that we have. God Bless every one and we look forward to every one being vaccinated and safe from the Corona virus.

Matthew 2:1-12 

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

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. 
Sunday, 27 December 2020
This morning we celebrated a Eucharist for the feast of St John the Evangelist, and the celebrant was Father Roger. This was a said service, as the choir is not in session until after the new year. After being battered through the night by storm Bella, it was a clear cold winters day and the service was a moment of calm after the wild weather. We were not entirely without music, as Joanna played a recessional piece at the end of the service.

Visitors from a strange land are approaching the Manger

Fr Roger's address

St John’s Day

The feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist, who – like some other worthies - is honoured with a day close to Christmas. Jesus came into a difficult world. Straight after Christmas we remember Stephen the first Christian martyr. Tomorrow, the babies Herod murdered, and baby Jesus’ escape to Egypt. Archbishop Becket got murdered on 29th. Immediately after Christmas Day we are reminded of uneasy realities.

Today we are thinking of John the fisherman, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, the brother of James, and of our sophisticated John’s Gospel. That is complex and well-organised. Published perhaps 60,70,80 years after the resurrection, apparently having been developed and refined by an ongoing group of followers. The gospel is built around seven ‘signs’ – significant actions of Jesus – which point to his stature – things like changing water to wine, feeding 5000, raising Lazarus. There are also 7 prominent ‘I am’ sayings. I am the true vine. I am the good shepherd, and so on. Sayings made weighty because ‘I am’ was the name of God himself given to Moses long ago. The followers of John who finalised the Gospel were reflective and well-organised, and would doubtless hope our church would be too, and united. For it is in John’s Gospel, chapter 17, that Jesus prays so movingly, and at length, on the night before he dies, for the unity of his followers. Maybe Church organisation and unity are the uneasy themes that St John will point us to today.

So often people might focus on what they would like their local church to be like, or what it will be convenient and possible for their local church to do. But the church is not ‘theirs’, and not merely something parochial. it is the household of God. Indeed, we are only allowed to meet here during the pandemic because we are not a normal household, and not just a social club. Our calling is not to do our own thing, but to be a genuine local manifestation of the whole wider church, preferably at its best, looking to God and to what he seems to want of us! Things which might not appear comfortable, or easy to achieve, or to our liking. The whole church will include especially the ancient churches, Orthodox and Roman, besides the strong points of the many offshoots. One thing we usefully do now, is to use the same Sunday readings as many other churches, week by week, and the same calendar and festivals as much of the wider church. And we should do that with a sense of discipline and commitment, to keep in step, and not mess about with those things too casually at parish level.

As for our Anglican part of the whole Church, the best model for that, I believe, is one which has never been made very official, but which seems right. The model of a rope made of three strands: Scripture, Tradition and Reason. In a rope, the three strands have to work seriously together in a balanced way. Scripture, Tradition and Reason.

Firstly, Scripture, which must always have a central place. But how we achieve that is not always clear. Some will want weird and wonderful interpretations of the Scriptures, and some will want virtually no interpretation, taking things too literally. “It says here in plain English”, - never mind that it is actually written by ancient people living far away, with different cultures and no plain English, but rather in various styles of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. “No need to study all that stuff,” some think, “we know what it says.” That is how the creationists are, especially in America, picking a quite inappropriate fight with decent science, concerning evolution.

Secndly,Tradition. That is something serious. Not simply, ‘we’ve a wonderful tradition here, we clean the church on the second Wednesday of the month at 5.30 and then eat cup cakes’. Christian tradition is more serious. It’s about what’s been handed on to us from earlier centuries, the approaches which God seems to have led his people into, over many years. Things like having sacraments, bishops, priests and deacons, clergy vestments attending to the Bible together - celebrating the Eucharist as a priority on a Sunday, and doing it in certain ways. We are under an obligation to take tradition of that sort very seriously. But, the question is, how do we best do that?

The conservative catholic Anglicans tend to say, something like, ‘whatever happened in the 3rd century is ‘it’’. Nothing can ever change. So women priests and bishops can never be. Others will say, we have a living

God, and the very Bible promises that God’s Spirit will lead his people to new things in new days. Tradition is something living which will gradually evolve under the living God. Others seem to suggest that we need not bother very much with the old ways at all. Some evangelical groups have lively services but never a Eucharist. I’ve known an Anglican Church not always bother with a gospel reading at the Eucharist. Parts of the Church do, surely, treat central parts of our tradition too lightly.

Scripture, Tradition and Reason. Reason. God gave us brains, it seems rude not to use them in his service. Use our brains together, not least about how we should best use Scripture, and how we should best be true to tradition.

Painfully, the C of E has effectively splintered into disparate groups – on one side, conservative Catholics, strong in this part of the country, like Bishops Martin and Will, and our Archdeacon, and on the other hand, there are conservative evangelicals, like the last Vicar of Hunston. None of whom really seems to accept our numerous women clergy. The conservative Catholics don’t, because women aren’t in the most ancient tradition, and the conservative Evangelicals don’t because that doesn’t fit with their particular view of how the Bible should be read.

Then, beside the two conservative wings, we have a central group in the C of E, who do accept and include women priests and bishops. But the central group has its own spectrum, from a catholic end, good on tradition but not necessarily keen on Bible, to an evangelical end keen on Bible and probably weak on tradition. Bishop Ruth is on the Evangelical side of the centre. It works rather quaintly, and we might think, sadly. Conservative evangelicals will not be keen about an evangelical bishop, - if she is a woman, like Ruth. The conservative catholic end of our church will not be keen about a catholic-minded bishop - if she is a woman.

But if, like me, you are in the central group, you may feel that there are good and proper ways of embracing both bible and tradition. Without that, our very many female clergy remain unacceptable to large conservative groups, and will feel unwelcome inside many parish churches, as will some male clergy like me, who support them. That is an issue: I can try to contribute here only because Fr Stephen is friendly and tolerant, even though we have different stances.

Our Church’s unity has been concerning for a long while. Our Archbishops, who should surely be the centre of our unity, oddly, no longer ordain our new bishops, many of whom would not want them involved. New bishops, now, are ordained by three bishops of their own tribe within our Church, so that the separate tribes can continue, separately. That is our official system, that we’re supposed to commit to, but is it really the best that can be done about unity and love? I suspect that those who finally produced John’s Gospel would have things to say to us about it! Not to mention he whose life inspired the gospel.

1 John 1

A reading from the first letter of John.

 We declare to you what was from the beginning, 
what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, 
what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—

this life was revealed, 
and we have seen it and testify to it, 
and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 

we declare to you what we have seen and heard 
so that you also may have fellowship with us; 
and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 

We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you,
 that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, 
we lie and do not do what is true; 

but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, 
we have fellowship with one another, 
and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

If we say that we have no sin, 
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, 
he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins 
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

If we say that we have not sinned, 
we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

John 21:19b-end

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

After this Jesus said to Peter, "Follow me." 

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; 
he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, 
"Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?" 

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, 
"Lord, what about him?" 

Jesus said to him, 
"If it is my will that he remain until I come, 
what is that to you? Follow me!" 

So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. 
Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, 
"If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" 

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, 
and we know that his testimony is true. 

But there are also many other things that Jesus did; 
if every one of them were written down, 
I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Friday, 25 December 2020
On Christmas Eve at 4pm the first of our Christmas Services was a gift service for the children. At this service the children brought up the figures for our nativity, Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds and quite a lot of sheep as you can see! This is the service that we normally hold on Christmas morning. In this year of Pandemic, on the verge of moving into the highest tier of precautions we were not able to hold a Midnight Mass for the Nativity. Our main Christmas service was the Eucharist of the Nativity on Christmas morning, celebrated by Father Stephen at 10 am. The choir sang in a socially distanced manner some carols, and the setting by Darke of 'In the Bleak Midwinter'.  We left wishing each other a merry christmas from a safe distance!

Isaiah 9:2-7

A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

The people who walked in darkness 
have seen a great light; 
those who lived in a land of deep darkness— 
on them light has shined. 

You have multiplied the nation, 
you have increased its joy; 
they rejoice before you 
as with joy at the harvest, 
as people exult when dividing plunder. 

For the yoke of their burden, 
and the bar across their shoulders, 
the rod of their oppressor, 
you have broken as on the day of Midian. 

For all the boots of the tramping warriors 
and all the garments rolled in blood 
shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 

For a child has been born for us, 
a son given to us; 
authority rests upon his shoulders; 
and he is named 
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

His authority shall grow continually, 
and there shall be endless peace 
for the throne of David and his kingdom. 
He will establish and uphold it 
with justice and with righteousness 
from this time onward and forevermore. 
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 

Luke 2:1-14

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ accoerding to Luke.

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 Savior, 
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!" 
Sunday, 20 December 2020

On Wednesday the 16th of December Father Stephen drew the winning tickets from the Grand Christmas Draw. The many prizes were then distributed to the winners. Many thanks to everyone who gave prizes, and bought tickets. We were delighted thanks to the generosity of everyone to raise almost the same amount as we usually raise at our Christmas Fair! In such a difficult year in so many ways we are blessed to be in such a generous community.


Today, the 20th of December, was the fourth sunday in Advent, and the third in December, so our service was Mattins. We said the Venite and the Jubilate, but the Choir sang the Benedicite, in the setting by Lloyd, and the set psalm for the day no 126.

The Choir also sang the Advent Prose as an anthem, and some Advent hymns.

In the evening at 6pm we had 'Village Carols' at which the choir, in a covid safe manner sang some well known and not so well known carols, and we had a selection of readings, some biblical, some secular. It was much appreciated by the small audience who had booked beforehand and were seated in a socially distanced manner. It was good to have some christmas celebrations in this time of restrictions.

There will be a gift service at 4:00pm on Christmas eve, and a Eucharist at 10 am on Christmas Day.

 Isaiah 7:10-16

A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

The Lord spoke to Ahaz saying,

"Ask  a sign of ther Lord your God;
let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven."

But Ahaz said, "I will not ask,
and I will not put the Lord to the test."

The Isaiah said: "Hear then , O house of David!
It is too little for you to weary mortals, 
that you weary my God also?

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Look the young woman is with child and shall bear a son,
and shall name him Immanuel.

He shall eat curds and honey by the time
he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good,
the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted."

Luke 1:26-38

Hear the gspel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

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.

Service Times

Services are suspended.

The church is open during daylight hours for personal prayer and reflection.

Useful links

Here are some links to resources you may find helpful:

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