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Monday, 7 January 2019
Today we celebrate the visitation of the wise men.

Chris Field gave us a talk about another celebration that takes place on Epiphany.

The Feast of Lights

The themes of Epiphany are of light, anointing and commissioning for public ministry. The theme of discipleship is the initial focus in the readings for the Sundays after the Epiphany.
Today we are going to take part in a very simplified version of a ceremony  from the Episcopal Church in America. It is called The Feast of Lights and it is one of darkness and light, showing how the message of Jesus spread throughout the world and throughout the ages to the present day. It is traditionally held on the Feast of the Epiphany.

We come to bear witness to the Light. In the fullness of time, God entered this world in the birth of Jesus, the Word of God, the Light of the world. Jesus grew to adulthood in Nazareth of Galilee. He came to the river Jordan to be baptized by John, and when he came up out of the water, the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended upon Him, and God said,
"You are my beloved Son."

 On Christmas Day this candle was lit for Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

Jesus chose twelve ordinary men to receive His light. He spoke to them saying:
"While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light." Then He sent them as apostles to establish the Church, to spread His light to all people, in every race and in every nation on earth. The first candle will be lit for Simon and then please pass the light onto your neighbour each time a name of a disciple is read out. So that a candle is lit for each of the Twelve Apostles . . .

For –
Simon, called Peter. Jesus called him “the rock” on which he would build the Church.
 Andrew, his brother. A fisherman.
James, the son of Zebedee. Also a fisherman.
John, his brother. A fisherman.
Matthew, the tax collector.
James, the son of Alphaeus.
Simon, the Zealot.
Thomas. Following the resurrection, many felt he had doubts of Jesus’ rising to new life.
Judas Iscariot. who was to betray Jesus with a kiss. Let his candle be extinguished for the light he was unable to carry to the end.

We wouldn’t want anyone here to be labelled as Judas and not receive the light to pass on and so  the same candle will be relit for

MARY MAGDALENE who was the first witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, and the one who first bore that news to the Twelve. She had been with Jesus for much of His ministry, and her special and favoured relationship with the Lord is shown in the fact that it was to her that Jesus first spoke after He had risen. From ancient tradition in the Church, she is often accorded a status equal to an Apostle.
MATTHIAS is another who is ranked with the original Twelve. He was elected by the remaining eleven to take the place of Judas in their number.

Matthias and Mary Magdalene together show that the Apostolic Succession is proven not only by lineage but also by faithful presence and witness.

Many women have served as disciples, witnesses, and apostles.

MARY and MARTHA OF BETHANY, and a SAMARITAN WOMAN met Jesus at Jacob's well and were among the first to confess Jesus as the Messiah.
JOANNA and SUSANNA travelled with Jesus through Galilee and financed his journeys.
MARY, of course was the Mother of our Lord, and was present at the cross and among those gathered at Pentecost.
PHOEBE and PRISCILLA were deacons in the early church.
JUNIA was an apostle and contemporary of Paul.
LOIS, EUNICE, and TABITHA were disciples during the early years of the church.

Twelve more candles should now have been lit to recognise each of these faithful women of Scripture and the early Church, who both led and served their communities of faith.

These apostles went out into the world to spread the light of the Gospel of Christ. There were many who opposed their witness and the Word.

PAUL was one of those who tried to put out the Light. He was known as Saul of Tarsus, a fanatical persecutor of all followers of Jesus until one day he was overcome by a vision of the Light of Christ. Taking the name of Paul, he carried that light throughout the Mediterranean world, establishing the Church far beyond the cities, and people of the Jewish culture. From the seeds he planted and those who accompanied him, the light of Christ has spread from a small group in Jerusalem to two billion people in every nation on earth today. Today he is called, "the apostle to the Gentiles."

Let us light a candle for Paul.

 And so the story of Jesus spread throughout the world.

 In the year 596, Augustine was sent from Rome by Pope Gregory the Great to be a missionary to England. He became the first Archbishop of Canterbury and reorganized the remnants of the old Celtic Churches throughout Britain and Ireland, which had existed since the second century and had been built up by revered predecessors in the faith, such as PATRICK of Ireland, ALBAN in England, DAVID in Wales, and NINIAN in Scotland.

 Let five candles be lit for these patriarchs of British Christianity.

STEPHEN LANGON was an Englishman at the University of Paris and later, in 1207, became Archbishop of Canterbury. He made it much easier to read and study the Holy Scriptures by introducing the system of dividing the Bible's texts into chapters and verses.

THOMAS CRANMER became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. He had been much influenced theologically by the Lutheran reformers in Germany, such as Martin Luther. When the English Church rejected the authority of the Pope in 1534, he led the creation and adoption of a new liturgy for the Church, producing the first two versions of the Book of Common Prayer, which has been the lifeblood of Anglican worship throughout the world ever since. He is known as the father of Anglican liturgy.

QUEEN ELIZABETH I, a laywoman whose genius, leadership, and personal faith truly established Anglicanism as a strong and distinct tradition. She preserved and brought together into one Church the ancient catholic order and the principles of the Reformation. Her vision presented the possibilities of unity with diversity.

Let us light three more candles for these three important people in the development of the Christian faith in our country.
Let us now pass the light to Father Stephen here at St Mary’s.

We, the people of St Mary Our Lady are now the recipients of the faith and faithfulness, which has been entrusted to us in Sidlesham as congregations in full communion with each other. With joy and gratitude, we ponder that the faith of Christ, announced by a miraculous star two thousand years ago, has been passed down through the centuries to our places of worship – by
Magi, apostles, saints, bishops, local clergy and laypeople: men and women, extraordinary and ordinary. The light is passed from the Bethlehem manger to this place and to our homes. Our prayer is that we sustain and grow the Light that is Jesus Christ, and pass it on -- to those now beside us, and around us, and to those who come after us. As an outward sign of this, please would you pass on the light to any unlit candles in church. Let us keep our candles alight while we say the Creed.

Before the collection, we sang We Three Kings and three of the children from Sunday School, beautifully robed as the Magi brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

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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