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Sunday, 29 November 2020
 ‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’ FROM THE REVEREND STEPHEN GUISE, PRIEST IN CHARGE – FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT



Dear Friends

‘O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!’

In this passage from Isaiah 64 the prophet is heard imploring the Lord to make himself known on earth – to put things right – and it probably resonates with the prayers of many of us especially during challenging times such as those we have all being living through lately.  We feel, perhaps, that the ‘world is going mad’, and we ourselves are all at ‘sixes and sevens’, our usual equilibrium knocked off balance by factors beyond our control.  We long for God to answer our prayers in a dramatic way, and to come to rescue us from the situation in which we find ourselves.
It is usual during Advent for the lectionary readings from the Hebrew Scriptures to be chosen from the book of the prophet Isaiah, not only because the writer so graphically and memorably expresses this longing, but also because, of all the prophets, he most clearly points to God’s answer – that is, to the coming of the Messiah, in judgement, but also in mercy and humility.  Here at St Mary’s, where we usually have only one reading prior to the Gospel, we follow this tradition, and ensure that these readings are used in preference to the New Testament epistle (the reading given for this Sunday is Isaiah 2:1-5).  

The first Sundays of Advent tend to focus on the need for repentance for human sin and folly – as Isaiah puts it a little farther on from the text quoted above, ‘Yes, you have been angry, and we have been sinners . . . and yet, you are our Father; we the clay and you our potter, all of us are the work of your hand.’  It is only on the last Sunday of Advent, when we reflect on the role of Mary as Mother of Our Lord, that we begin to concentrate more on God’s coming in great humility among us as the babe of Bethlehem.

And, of course, this year, as we reflect on these Advent themes, we shall be especially looking forward to the great feast of Christmas when, we hope, we shall be able once more, however briefly, to join with family, friends and loved ones in our permitted ‘bubbles’ and to give thanks with joy together that God has already ‘torn open the heavens and come down’ to us in his beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Fr Stephen


Collect for the First Sunday of Advent

Almighty 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.


1 Corinthians 1:3-9

A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

My brothers and sisters:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father 
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you 
because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 

for in every way you have been enriched in him, 
in speech and knowledge of every kind— 

just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 

so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift 
as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

He will also strengthen you to the end, 
so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

God is faithful; 
by him you were called 
into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Mark 13.24-37

A reading fromt he gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

Jesus 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."

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.