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Sunday, 26 September 2021
This morning at our 10 am Parish Eucharist we also had a baptism. The friends and family of Jacob gathered to join our church family at a combined service. Father Roger performed the baptism and celebrated the Eucharist.

The Choir sang the anthem Ave Verum in the setting by W.A. Mozart as the anthem, and Joanna played a variation on a Lutheran baptismal hymn during the communion. We were joined by the Sunday School at communion and for the latter part of the service and the giving of a lighted candle to Jacob's Father
                        'Shine as a light in the World' 

It is always a great joy to have children in church, we have 'happy bags' of toys and books to entertain them and we love to hear them joining in whenever they feel the need, the sound of children in church is always good!!

Harvest next week! Decorating the Church on Saturday morning, our thanksgiving service on Sunday morning and the Harvest Tea on Sunday afternoon (tickets from the church wardens!)

A more solemn event is the Memorial Service for our friend David Barron at 12:30 on Saturday early afternoon.










The Baptism of Jacob

The Sunday School have been making vegetables out of lentils
 for harvest! 

     
The Sunday School joining the service




James 5.13-20

A reading from the letter of James.

Are any among you suffering? 
They should pray. 
Are any cheerful? 
They should sing songs of praise. 

Are any among you sick? 
They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, 
anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 

The prayer of faith will save the sick, 
and the Lord will raise them up; 
and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 

Therefore confess your sins to one another, 
and pray for one another, 
so that you may be healed. 
The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 

Elijah was a human being like us, 
and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, 
and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 

Then he prayed again, 
and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.

My brothers and sisters,
if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 

you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering 
will save the sinner’s soul from death 
and will cover a multitude of sins.


Mark 9:38-50

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

After Jesus had finished teaching the disciples,

John said to him, 
“Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, 
and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 

But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; 
for no one who does a deed of power in my name 
will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 

Whoever is not against us is for us. 

For truly I tell you, 
whoever gives you a cup of water to drink 
because you bear the name of Christ 
will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block 
before one of these little ones who believe in me,
it would be better for you 
if a great millstone were hung around your neck 
and you were thrown into the sea. 

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; 
it is better for you to enter life maimed 
than to have two hands and to go to hell,
to the unquenchable fire.

And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; 
it is better for you to enter life lame 
than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.

And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; 
it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye 
than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell,

where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

"For everyone will be salted with fire.

Salt is good; 
but if salt has lost its saltiness, 
how can you season it?
Have salt in yourselves,
 and be at peace with one another.”


Address

Looking at the last part of that reading. Those who treat children badly are pictured by Jesus as deserving a sea-side experience with a mill stone. And not just the little mill stone which women used at home, but a great mill stone, the large industrial one! So, we see firstly, then, that Jesus values children.

That might seem obvious, but children often weren't greatly valued in the ancient world. Valued mainly, sometimes, just for their potential. They might grow up in a few years’ time to earn money for the family, and eventually support their poor old parents in their declining years.

For us, and for Jesus, mercifully, children matter far more than that, right from their earliest days.  And I react when people say, 'children are the Church of tomorrow.' Through baptism children are part of the Church of today, as much as any of us.

Whilst we rightly have our Sunday School for the children, they must always, also, be welcome at services. And, in the weightier services, I think that at least some small provision for them ought to be built in, and some ways included for them to contribute!

The second half of the reading sounded quite gruesome. There is a grim tale of a hapless young cleric over fifty years ago, who chose this passage when giving a reflection to a small group of older clergy. He suddenly realised that two of the small group had actually lost limbs, and one of them was an archdeacon! I wonder what happened to him?

If we are wondering what someone is up to, we might look at their face, their expression, their eyes, to try to work out what’s going on in their head. We talk of affairs of the heart, and although our hearts might race a bit, it’s likely to be all mainly in our heads.

In Biblical times, however, it seems, they didn’t always think in terms of heads.  If you were wondering where someone was thinking of going, you would look at their foot and wonder, ‘what is it planning?’ Or look at their hand and ask, ‘what is that hand planning to do?’

The reading is not about chopping us up, but about managing our activities, keeping them healthy, and in balance. Just as we might aim for a healthy balance when we prune a fruit tree. Any branch of a tree might well need a bit of disciplining to avoid chaotic, unhealthy growth, and to make it fruitful.

If we have a job to work at, a family to care for, friends and relatives to keep in touch with, a home to maintain, finances to plan, things to study, cars to look after, leisure activities, various communities and social concerns to engage with. These may all seem like branches of our lives, and are, surely, best kept in balance, with none of them let to run completely out of control in our enthusiasm and attention, to the detriment of the other important parts of life. 

God, surely, normally calls us to disciplined, balanced, and, thereby, fruitful lives. We must thank God for all those good branches of our lives, but keep them in a balance with his help. Not ignore him and let some part of life become central - become an idol - damaging other important activities.

We welcome Jacob to the Church of God, the whole Church of history, today, in the hope that he will find joy and purpose, strength and hope in it, and we must pledge ourselves to do what we can for him under God.

Fr Roger
Sunday, 19 September 2021

This morning our 10 am service was Matins, but unfortunately Joanna, our organist was unwell. We were fortunate to have our friend James Roriston step in at the last minute to play for us, so we had Hymns, and sang the responses, but we said the Canticles and the Psalm. Father Roger took the service today and preached about the first reading from Isaiah chapter 45.

There was coffee after the service, it is such a pleasure to go across into the rooms and meet the Sunday School children at the end of their session!

Tickets for the Harvest Tea are available from the Church Wardens, in addition to tea there will be a Quiz and some 'Last Night of the Proms' singing to join in with!

Junior Choir will recommence on the 8th of October at 17:15, the session is 35 minutes, all existing members we are looking forwards to seeing you. If your child would like to sing with us please contact Joanna, they need to be 8 or older and of course interested in singing!





   

 8am Holy Communion

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

A reading from the letter of James

Who is wise and understanding among you? 
Show by your good life 
that your works are done with gentleness 
born of wisdom. 

But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, 
do not be boastful and false to the truth. 

Such wisdom does not come down from above, 
but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 

For where there is envy and selfish ambition, 
there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, 
then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, 
full of mercy and good fruits, 
without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace 
for those who make peace.

Those conflicts and disputes among you, 
where do they come from? 
Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 

You want something and do not have it; 
so you commit murder. 
And you covet something and cannot obtain it; 
so you engage in disputes and conflicts. 
You do not have, because you do not ask.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly,
in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. 
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

Draw near to God, 
and he will draw near to you. 


10am Mattins

Isaiah 45:9-22

A reading from the book of Isaiah.

9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.

12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.

14 Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.

15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.

16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.

17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.

21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.


Revelation 14:1-5

A reading from the book of Revelation.

1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.


Address

Two rather tricky Bible readings today. I think our hymns are largely centring on the second reading, but we might look at the first passage from Isaiah 45. 

When it says ‘he’ at one point, it means Cyrus the Great. He was not a Jewish figure, but an ancient and very successful ruler, and military leader, in Persia. This was in the 500s BC. He was also tolerant and magnanimous to those he conquered. At the beginning of our chapter, God is pictured as speaking about ‘Cyrus my anointed’, which seemed an odd way for the Almighty to speak of a heathen leader. Cyrus is called ‘God’s anointed’ here, in the 45th chapter of Isaiah. Some in America have noted that Donald Trump was 45th President of the USA, and try to argue that he was divinely chosen and divinely used!  And if you believe that…… 

The drift of this Jewish Scripture seems to be that God is behind everything. He is God, and it is not for us to be too confrontational or questioning with him. He can even get a great foreign heathen ruler like Cyrus to do useful things. 

What Cyrus did, of course, was to conquer the other great heathen kingdom of Babylon, where the Jews had been in exile for decades.  And Cyrus, being magnanimous and tolerant, now let the Jews go back to the Holy Land. So the Jews liked Cyrus, and thought that God had used him, - without him even knowing it. Such was God’s skill and power. 

There is a book of the 500 greatest garden designers in history, and it’s a bit surprising to see Cyrus in it! He had a garden, its ruins are now still there, in a desert, in what is now Iran. This seems to have been the first special garden using much stonework, which has to a degree, survived, and the first garden to have sophisticated water systems and water features. 

So, we are being told here, that God is behind everything, we should respect him, and that he moves in mysterious ways. We must remember whom we are dealing with. 

In the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 11, when St Paul is talking of the Eucharist, he says that we need to ‘discern the Body’, and there are sad consequences of not doing so. ‘Discern the Body’, - a rather mysterious expression, also translated, ‘recognise the body of the Lord.’ The Body of Christ can mean many things. His body which lived among us, which was crucified and buried. His risen body. The bread of the Eucharist. The body of Christ’s people. 

All of which need respect. But it is the Body of Christ, - the body of his people - which we are perhaps most likely not to discern well, or treat well, and might need to remember whom we are dealing with.  The Church is not like other organisations. There should be a sense of holiness. 

In matters of integrity, safeguarding of the vulnerable, etc., we should be showing better standards, or at least as good as, society in general. It is appalling that it so often fails to be so.

We are, of necessity, living in a part of the divided Church, as Anglicans, but have a loyalty to the wider Church of history, and, surely, must, as an Anglican Church, be free to embrace anything which we come to believe is sound, and useful, and inspired by God, from any part of the Church. 

The Church is not like other organisations. There should be a sense of holiness : it is God’s household not ours. When it comes to fundraising, methods must reflect that we are a Christian church. We can’t assume that secular approaches will always be suitable. When it comes to decision making, we can’t assume that just copying Parliamentary procedures, with parties and daily confrontation, is for us, or that democracy itself, is always perfect for the Household of God. 

In a healthy local Church there will always be ample candidates to stand at Annual Meetings. And the candidates will say what they stand for. Members on the electoral Roll will turn up in numbers and engage with the Annual Meeting and vote prayerfully. Those on Synods will be chosen to reflect the views of the parish, or diocese, they are from. It shouldn’t be about individuals striving for membership simply to push their own minority view. And no one ought to have to be appointed because no one else was willing.

We always have a balancing act if we treat the Church as God’s Household. We may feel moved to serve in a particular way, and should offer to do so, but that is never likely to be our decision, and it is probably inappropriate to push ourselves forward very forcibly. Things have to be agreed with the bishop, the parish priest, the PCC or whoever is relevant. And all of those folk did not appoint themselves. 

We must ‘discern’ the Church as the Body of Christ - as something unique and holy. It is never a place for us to seek power or focus on our career. If we have the right approach, we can rely on God to get a result better than we might have planned or hoped for.

Fr Roger


Sunday, 12 September 2021
This morning the 10 am service was a Eucharist celebrated by Father Roger. It was lovely to see the church with lots of people, and the Sunday School back in session and joining the congregation for communion.  We have returned to the Gospel of Mark for our readings having had a short diversion into John's Gospel over the summer. The reading was about the moment when the disciples realise who Jesus is but he warns them that following him will not be easy. In the sermon Father Roger told us of Dietrikt Bonhoffer who was a Lutheran priest in 1930s Germany and spoke out against the Nazi regime, he was killed in a concentration camp 2 months before the end of the war. He is one of the 20th century Martyrs honoured in the Church of England. We may not be called to give up our lives in this way, but following Jesus in our ordinary lives is a challenge of giving up the self in order to help others.

The Choir is back in full force and the anthem was 'What Wonderous Love is This' by Geoffrey Weaver  from a traditional American folk song. 

We were again able to have coffee after the service, although we are still taking precautions, masks and distancing, we begin to feel we are getting nearer to 'normal'

Our Harvest Thanksgiving Service will be on October 3rd. There will be decorating of the Church on Saturday morning the 2nd of October. There is also a church yard working party that day, and there is to be a memorial service for David Barron at 12:30 so it will be very busy!
On the afternoon of the 3rd of October there will be a Harvest Tea in the church hall, tickets, £3 each are available form Janet Harland. There will be some entertainments after tea!

Sunday School new term









 James 3:1-12

A reading from the letter of James.

 Not many of you should become teachers, 
my brothers and sisters,
for you know that we who teach 
will be judged with greater strictness. 

For all of us make many mistakes. 
Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, 
able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 

If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, 
we guide their whole bodies. 

Or look at ships: 
though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, 
yet they are guided by a very small rudder 
wherever the will of the pilot directs.

So also the tongue is a small member,
yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 

And the tongue is a fire. 
The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; 
it stains the whole body, 
sets on fire the cycle of nature,
and is itself set on fire by hell.

For every species of beast and bird, 
of reptile and sea creature, 
can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 

but no one can tame the tongue—
a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 

With it we bless the Lord and Father, 
and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. 
My brothers and sisters,
this ought not to be so. 

Does a spring pour forth from the same opening 
both fresh and brackish water? 

Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters,
yield olives, or a grapevine figs? 
No more can salt water yield fresh.


Mark 8:27-38

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

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; 
and on the way he asked his disciples, 
“Who do people say that I am?” 

And they answered him, 
“John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; 
and still others, one of the prophets.” 

He asked them, 
“But who do you say that I am?” 
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”

And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then 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.”


Sermon


This is the year for us reading from St Mark’s Gospel, but…. for many weeks we’ve been diverted. But today we are back. In fact, we are back with a vengeance. Today’s reading is an extremely prominent one, a pivotal point in Mark’s Gospel. Mark’s Gospel seems to be the very first written, and today’s reading is the big turning point in the middle of it. 

So… looking at St Mark. For many chapters, Jesus has been teaching and healing and acquiring disciples and getting people thinking. All very impressive and interesting, - and mystifying too, - who exactly who is he? What’s going on? It’s far from obvious. 

On the fateful day at Caesarea Philippi Jesus asks his disciples, ‘What are people saying about me? And what do you disciples think? ‘  Peter, usually hasty, says to Jesus, ‘You are the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One’, which is a huge statement. 

Jesus then says some startling things. ‘You must keep quiet. Messiah? Don’t use the M word.’ If they call Jesus ‘Messiah’, that might be right, but there will be serious misunderstanding. For the Jews, the Messiah was expected to be powerful, undefeatable, successful, carrying all before him. The Jews even now have a list of criteria the Messiah will meet, and Jesus does not remotely match up. How could the Messiah be rejected, and suffer – that is, surely, failure? 

‘Absolutely outlandish!’ Peter says, ‘You’ve got that wrong, Jesus! ‘ And Jesus turns on him sharply, saying that Peter’s vision is shallow, flawed and un-Godly on this painful, but vital, question. 
‘If anyone wants to follow me,’ says Jesus, ‘they must deny themselves, leave self behind, not put the usual issues and ambitions of self-interest central in their life, but discipleship. Christ and his disciples will only find the fullest life along a challenging path. 

If anyone wants to follow Jesus. It is something we have choose to do. You can’t just drift into Christianity. And the decision is not a once-for-all thing, we need to decide continually to persevere. 

Jesus’ friends had been confused and uncertain before that special day. Just before it, Mark writes that Jesus had opened the eyes of a blind man, then, in our story, he opened the eyes of the disciples, to the challenging realities. The story which comes after all this is the Transfiguration, where they see Jesus with the top brass, Moses and Elijah, and Jesus somehow being the main one. So that is an experience of reassurance and encouragement for the disciples. But when they come down from the mountain of the Transfiguration they are straight back into a challenging situation.

Today’s reading will possibly bring to mind Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German Lutheran minister and theologian in the 1930s, and a friend of Bishop Bell of Chichester. He wrote the book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’, which was really a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel. Bonhoeffer wrote, ‘When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die’. Not always die literally, of course, but in the sense of denying oneself to prioritize the demands of discipleship. But in Bonhoeffer’s case it did include dying literally. 

Bonhoeffer had been unhappy that his Lutheran Church had got too close to the Nazis, so he joined a break-away church. When war was declared, he was teaching in America, but chose to go back to Germany to do what he could. He was murdered by the Nazis in 1945, whilst still in his 30s. He was killed very shortly before his concentration camp was liberated. He’s remembered in the Church of England Calendar on 9th April each year, the day of his death. There are ten statues of 20th Century martyrs above the West Door of Westminster Abbey, including that of Bonhoeffer.

It is well to remember the story of when Jesus was on the way to the Cross. Some women supporters were calling out, sentimentally, to the effect, ‘Your mother was a lucky woman!’ and Jesus turned on them sharply, as he did on Peter, to the effect that he wanted followers, not admirers.

It is easy for us to say, ‘Jesus had a painfully challenging vocation. The apostles often did too. Unusual people like Bonhoeffer, caught up in the big tragedies of history, might, too, have vocations to costly discipleship. But ordinary people in ordinary times don’t need to take things very seriously, and they‘re not ever going to be called to real sacrifice, are they?’ The Gospels say no such thing!

 Fr Roger



Sunday, 5 September 2021
This morning, the first Sunday in September,  was our Family Service. It was lovely to see so many families and children back with us after the holidays. We were fortunate to have the Arch Deacon with us as the celebrant, and it was also a special day because we celebrate our Patronal Festival. St Mary our Lady has quite a few feast days, but we have chosen the celebration of her birth as our special Festival.
We had a lovely reading of a poem about St Mary and the Archdeacon preached, picking up the Gospel from Luke where Mary sings the poem we call the Magnificat. We learned that Magna means big and animus means our soul or essence. So by being magnanimous we expand our souls in the glory of God, and as we go out this week, back to school and work we should be magnanimous in all we do!

The Choir is back in session so as well as singing some well known hymns about St Mary, the ladies sang a setting of the Ave Verum by Faure as the anthem.

We had Coffee after the service!!! For the first time in over 18 months we were able to meet and chat after the service with suitable precautions. We left Church on a beautiful late summer morning refreshed and renewed for the week ahead.




 





Galatians 4:4-7

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Galatians.

When the fullness of time had come, 
God sent his Son, 
born of a woman, born under the law, 

in order to redeem those who were under the law, 
so that we might receive adoption as children. 

And because you are children, 
God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, 
crying, “Abba! Father!” 

So you are no longer a slave but a child,
 and if a child then also an heir, through God.


Luke 1:46-55

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

 Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Sunday, 29 August 2021
 
This morning we met at 10 am  for a Parish Eucharist, celebrated by Father Roger. Another lovely summers day, the last of the summer holidays, and much to think of and to commit to God's care in these difficult times.
Father Roger preached the sermon, based on today's gospel and discussed the difficulty of the Jewish dietary rues, and how fortunate we are that Christians don't have to follow them! The point of the story however is that it is our inner life that determines our behaviour, not what we eat or how we clean our plates!

Once again we sang some well known hymns, and set off home ready for the coming week.

Next week we will have our Family Service  and Father Luke will be with us, we look forwards to seeing every one back from holidays and ready for the new term.









James 1:17-27

A reading from the letter of James.

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, 
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

In fulfillment of his own purpose 
he gave us birth by the word of truth, 
so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved:
let everyone be quick to listen, 
slow to speak, slow to anger; 

for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 

Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness 
and rank growth of wickedness, 
and welcome with meekness the implanted word 
that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, 
and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 

For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, 
they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 

for they look at themselves and, 
on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 

But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, 
and persevere, 
being not hearers who forget 
but doers who act—
they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, 
and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, 
their religion is worthless. 

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: 
to care for orphans and widows in their distress, 
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.


Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

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

When the Pharisees and some of the scribes 
who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus,

they noticed that some of his disciples
were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 

(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, 
do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands,
thus observing the tradition of the elders; 

and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it;
and there are also many other traditions that they observe, 
the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.

So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, 
“Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, 
but eat with defiled hands?” 

He said to them, 
“Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, 
as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;

in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

Then he called the crowd again and said to them,
 “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 

there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, 
but the things that come out are what defile.”

For it is from within, from the human heart, 
that evil intentions come: 
fornication, theft, murder, 

adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, 
licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 

All these evil things come from within, 
and they defile a person.”


Address

We had best try to think about this slightly awkward Gospel.

Jesus is - as so often - disputing with the Pharisees. Because of these quarrels we tend to think of Pharisees as the bad guys. But, of all the Jewish groups, it seems that, on the questions of Jewish doctrine current at the time, the Pharisees were the group that Jesus was closest to. Maybe we will want to argue with those close to us, when we think they have blundered. But we might not be bothered to argue with those with whom we’ve little in common and not much interest in. 

On this occasion, it is the Pharisees and their pals who start the dispute. ‘Yuk’, they say, ‘Jesus’ people are not bothering to wash their hands properly before eating. We think that’s disgusting, and surely the Almighty won’t like it either! It’s not the proper Jewish way!’

Jesus accused them of hypocrisy. He isn’t, of course, really against hygiene, but the critics are making their slight revulsion about lack of hand-washing on that occasion into a big deal and making it an issue concerning God.  But, at the very same time, they are drawing a veil over, more serious unsavoury things within their own behaviour, which God very certainly wouldn’t like. 

So… our feelings of disgust about someone’s behaviour may well not be a sound and reliable assessment of a situation. Many people, for instance, may have a built-in inclination to find same-sex relationships distasteful, but distaste is not, in itself, an adequate response to those situations, or to what God might say about them. 

Jewish ways are complicated. They focus on the Old Testament scriptures, and especially on the first books, the Torah. But they also have an oral tradition, the collective wisdom, interpretation, and elaboration of the centuries. So, Jesus was accusing some the critics of trying to look good, fussing about the small print of the tradition, whilst not being genuinely Godly within themselves. He called them hypocrites, meaning play actors. He called some Pharisees ‘whited sepulchres’ because they made efforts to appear worthy and Godly, but concealed interior corruption, where godliness should be.

It is certainly tricky being Jewish. You should eat meat from animals with cloven hooves. Pigs have cloven hooves, but they are blacklisted, because they also need to be ruminants - like cattle. That is, animals which have a complex digestive system to deal with a plant diet, giving them two sessions of chewing everything. The pig is also objectionable because it seems dishonest: outwardly looking fine, showing the correct hooves, but sneakily hiding the wrong sort of digestive system inside itself!

First and foremost, of course, we must monitor our own selves, and be wary of hasty, harsh judgement of others. Very much easier to say than to do! But Jesus says that, in the long run, people will reveal themselves for what they really are. By their fruits you will know them. By what they do, rather than by what they say or how they present themselves. 

There are the sayings in St Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount. Always poignant for me, because they apply to congregations, and with imagery that ends up with plants. 

We read:
‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.’ 

We, and others, are members of the flock of Christ. We wear, as it were, sheep’s clothing. But, frighteningly, Jesus suggests, someone, perhaps ourself, is really a wolf in disguise, - very possibly without even knowing it, and without meaning any harm, and thinking that we’re making a sound contribution. But – in practice - being selfish, power-seeking, dominating, not attending closely enough to the Gospel, or the Christian community - and – whilst possibly putting in much useful work, or money, - being significantly destructive to the life of the Church. The shepherd, the priest, is one who must address such issues, and try not to be a wolf themself.

Some of my plants are cacti, bred for large colourful flowers. I’ve crossed an inconveniently large prickly plant, which has a few very big mauve and white flowers, with a small neat plant which has lots and lots of nice yellow flowers. It’s the crazy sort of cross that a serious breeder wouldn’t make! You would normally seek to improve things in small steps over many years. The dozens of offspring will grow for a few years. But sooner or later each one will flower and make its value clear, and a few might just prove quite special. Eventually, they will all show their true colours.

I remember a bride at a wedding at another church. She was so caught up with the idea that she had seen the groom’s true colours, and loved him for them. She wanted only the song, ‘True Colours’ played at every conceivable point of the service. ‘I see your true colours, that’s why I love you.’ Should the Church refuse, or try to argue her out of that? No, I decided.

Very soon, in the early days of the Church, Christians were freed from keeping the Jewish food laws. Christians now who might like a bacon double cheeseburger are in luck, but for the Jews it still fails their tests very badly, not just for including bacon but also by combining meat and dairy products, which is very much forbidden.

As the Gospel suggests, we must focus on what comes from within us, in terms of discipleship, rather than obsess about meals and menus.

Fr Roger

Sunday, 22 August 2021
This morning our 10 am service was a Parish eucharist, and Father Roger was our celebrant. We were also delighted to welcome our new Rural Dean, the Rev Martha Weatherill to our service.

We continue to take precautions against the spread of covid 19 with hand sanitizer, and masks in church, although we are now using more of the pews. We sang some well known hymns, as the congregation is now allowed to sing we are enjoying singing some of our favourites! All appropriate to the theme of our service.

Father Roger preached, picking up the readings, you can read his address below.

We had the opportunity to meet our new Rural Dean after the service and chat to her. 

We left church to a lovely summer's day, an improvement on recent weeks.

We will be celebrating our Patronal Festival on the first Sunday in September, the 5th. This will be a Family service, the Choir will be back in action, and the Archdeacon hopes to be with us, so a lovely occasion to start the new term!

Our Harvest Service will be on the 3rd of October at 10 am, this year we are holding a Harvest Tea on the afternoon of the 3rd, tickets will be available from the Church Wardens from the beginning of September.

Father Roger, the Church Wardens and the Rural Dean











Ephesians 6:10-20

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians

Be strong in the Lord 
and in the strength of his power. 

Put on the whole armour of God, 
so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 

For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, 
but against the rulers, against the authorities, 
against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, 
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, 
so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, 
and having done everything, to stand firm. 

Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, 
and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 

As shoes for your feet 
put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 

With all of these, take the shield of faith, 
with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Take the helmet of salvation, 
and the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times
in every prayer and supplication. 
To that end keep alert and always persevere 
in supplication for all the saints. 

Pray also for me, so that when I speak, 
a message may be given to me 
to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

for which I am an ambassador in chains. 
Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.


John 6:56-69

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

Jesus said to the crowd:

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, 
and I in them. 

Just as the living Father sent me, 
and I live because of the Father, 
so whoever eats me will live because of me. 

This is the bread that came down from heaven, 
not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. 
But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 

He said these things 
while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, 
“This teaching is difficult; 
who can accept it?” 

But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, 
said to them, “Does this offend you? 

Then what if you were to see the Son of Man 
ascending to where he was before? 

It is the spirit that gives life; 
the flesh is useless. 
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 

But among you there are some who do not believe.” 
For Jesus knew from the first 
who were the ones that did not believe, 
and who was the one that would betray him. 

And he said, 
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me 
unless it is granted by the Father.”

Because of this many of his disciples turned back 
and no longer went about with him. 

So Jesus asked the twelve, 
“Do you also wish to go away?” 

Simon Peter answered him, 
“Lord, to whom can we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. 

We have come to believe and know 
that you are the Holy One of God.”


Address

The whole armour of God in Ephesians. 

We were, for some long time, focussed on PPE, and on how many pieces of PPE you should wear in certain situations. Different grades of masks, visors, aprons, gloves and so on. Some have had difficulty in getting what was thought necessary. It all seems to be about protecting yourself, both for the sake of yourself, and for the sake of others, as you can’t continue to help them if you go under. And others are protected if you put a barrier around yourself and can’t pass your problems on.

As the need for PPE recedes somewhat for most of us, the readings tell us to put on the spiritual PPE which God freely offers us. It is whole armour, a panoply, a full kit, not little bits and pieces. 

There are ancient ideas of God as a great warrior, and his people being the army of soldiers he leads. He is the Lord of Hosts, the host being an army. Sometimes there’s a host of angels. The idea in our reading seems to be that God, the great warrior, offers his own armour to his people. 

But in Ephesians, of course, the big conflict, and victory, has already happened - in the life and resurrection of Jesus. That has happened, and it is something which can never be repeated or undone. It is a complete assurance to us that good and God will have the last word over us. 

But Ephesians suggests to us that, although Christ has won the decisive battle, we still live in a flawed and uncertain world and have lesser battles to fight for Christ and with Christ. Whilst Christianity says that we are ultimately safe, we ought to actually use the armour, which God freely provides, to help ourselves and others. We are to be strong in the Lord, not by our own tactics. We are not in conflict with flesh and blood, with people – but with the darker things in our lives and society. 

So how does that work out? Six bits of kit. 

Firstly truth. We are to protect ourselves with the belt of truth. That is, we must embrace genuineness and reliability. Those are God’s qualities. To the Greek mind, truth meant genuine and real, to the Hebrew mind, truth was about whatever was experienced as reliable. If we try to stand with God in our ways, that is going to protect us. Yes, but …. Immediately we get into the tough side of the Gospel. Jesus, who got things right, was not spared times of suffering, and said that his followers wouldn’t be either.

Secondly, the breastplate of righteousness. That will mean uprightness and justice - again God’s qualities. 

Thirdly, we are to go to others equipped to bring ideas of peace. ‘Peace’ in the Bible is not something quiet and dull. Peace is when all is alive, and thriving. We, who know that God has come to help us in Christ, can have a fuller, richer life through that, and take that with us, and share it. 

Fourthly, the shield of faith. This is another gift of God. If we actually do what we think God wants of us, - actually use what faith we have, - then we may be given more faith. Perhaps faith is like muscles: you have to exercise it to make it stronger. If it is strong, we are less likely to succumb to pressures to go in the wrong direction.

Fifthly, the helmet of salvation. The assurance that we are ultimately safe. Nothing can ever succeed in finally separating us from God and life. That conviction helps us go forward with confidence. 

Lastly, the sword of the Spirit. God’s Spirit at work deep within our very selves helping us to find the right words as we engage with people, and also helping us to pray. 

If we go around in elaborate PPE, or maybe in armour like Henry VIII, we will be noticed, and people may wonder what we are claiming to be. Likewise, those who appear Godly may look a bit stupid. We are obviously not all that special. 

Austin Farrer, was one of my favourite writers. He died suddenly a few days before the end of 1968. Shortly before that, he ended a sermon about ordination by saying that there’s something absurd about being a priest ‘because what we stand for is so infinitely greater than our poor little selves.’

‘But (he added) there’s the same absurdity, really, about being a Christian at all. None of us can be let off being Christ in our place and our station: we are all pygmies in giants’ armour.’ He goes on, ‘If Jesus is willing to be in us, and to let us show him to the world, it’s a small thing that we should endure being fools for Christ’s sake, and be shown up by the part we have to play. We must put up with such humiliation of ourselves – or better still, forget ourselves altogether.’ 

Fr Roger


Sunday, 15 August 2021
This morning our 10 am service was a Sung Matins. On a grey a drizzly morning we met for prayers and singing, lead on this occasion by our two Church Wardens, Chris and Janet. Archdeacon Luke had hoped to be with us, but events elsewhere in the diocese called him away, but he hopes to be with us for our family service in September. We took great pleasure in all being able to sing the Psalm, Canticles, and some stirring hymns now we are all allowed to sing!
Our readings, given below, were from the King James edition of the Bible, including the story of Jonah, were read by Janet.
We remembered in our prayers the people of Plymouth, those involved in the fast moving situation in Afghanistan, and all those living with grief and uncertainty. We also said the General Thanksgiving and 
closed with the Grace.

We look forward to a new incumbent when the right person is directed to us by Our Lord, but we continue to worship and pray together in the interim, and to adapt to every circumstance!



Lovely flowers outside the Parish Rooms

Coma and rest awhile, inside the church or in the church yard peaceful places to rest and reflect.


    

 8am Holy Communion

Ephesians 5:15-20

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians

Brothers and sisters,

Be careful then how you live, 
not as unwise people but as wise, 

making the most of the time, 
because the days are evil. 

So do not be foolish, 
but understand what the will of the Lord is. 

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; 
but be filled with the Spirit, 

as you sing psalms and hymns 
and spiritual songs among yourselves, 
singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 

giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything 
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


John 6:51-58

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

Jesus said to the crowd:

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. 
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; 
and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, 
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

So Jesus said to them, 
“Very truly, I tell you, 
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, 
you have no life in you. 

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, 
and I will raise them up on the last day; 

for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me,
and I in them. 

Just as the living Father sent me, 
and I live because of the Father, 
so whoever eats me will live because of me. 

This is the bread that came down from heaven, 
not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. 
But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”


10am Sung Mattins

Jonah 1

1Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

3But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

4But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

5Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

6So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

7And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

8Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

9And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

10Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

11Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

12And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

13Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

14Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.

15So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

16Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

17Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


2 Peter 3:14-end

14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

17Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Service Times

First Sunday in the Month:
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Family Service

Second Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Third Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Sung Matins

Fourth Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Variations can be found in the Parish Magazine or the Calendar at the bottom of this page.

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. 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.
  6. COVID-19 advice from the Diocese of Chichester here.

Please note that St Mary's are not responsible for the contents of external links

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