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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.
Sunday, 13 December 2020
Today is the third sunday in Advent often called Gaudete Sunday. We lit the pink candle today, Gaudete means rejoice, and so we have a day of feeling positive and joyful in the middle of this somber season.

Our service was a Parish Communion and Father Stephen was the celebrant. Father Roger preached the sermon. He told us something about the great challenges to the Church today, facing our history and going forward on issues such as abuse of the vulnerable, gender and sexuality issues and finally racism. It was this latter subject that he enlarged on in the rest of the sermon. He described the racist behaviour he had seen when, as an Englishman , he had worked in North Wales, the cold comfort given him from a South Wales priest who assured him he had received worse!! There is much to improve in the way we deal with people of any race or Nation, and the positivity of Gaudete Sunday, the power of prayer and faith in Our Lord will bring us to a more equitable society.

The Choir sang Advent hymns, and Gabriel's Message setting by E Pettman as the anthem.

After the service there was the opportunity to buy Christmas gifts and decorations that the Sunday School children had made, in a Covid safe fashion. Hilary was also selling hand made jewellery in aid of the Church funds.

Please do not forget to book a seat at our Christmas Services.






Fr Roger's Address

Advent 3

It is Gaudete Sunday, when the clergy might wear Rose Pink. A hopeful day as we prepare for Christmas. We hear a lot about ‘positivity’ and ‘negativity’, but positivity has limited value unless it is based on something appropriate. Our positivity, now, is based on God. Gardeners are getting their seeds ready and looking forward to the new growing season in 2021 - the next 12 months. But God being good and active and offering hope for the future can be on a much longer time scale than that.

The reading from Isaiah is one of many warm and hopeful and confident passages. When, - in the gospel today, - John the Baptist is asked about what God is up to, he points ahead confidently to the Coming One, in whom God will meet us.

But God in Christ meets us in many ways, not just as the baby in the manger. He meets us, and challenges us, - as we heard not long ago, - in the poor, the sick, the prisoner. He can meet us, too, when we have a growing awareness - perhaps for decades - of important things we need to address. Maybe a vocation to some role in the church, or in a difficult caring profession, or to let our God-given creativity blossom. There can, surely, too, be sorts of awareness which creep up on society and on the Church, over a very long period. It seems that that has happened to us recently.

Not only have we had to face Covid and Brexit, recently, but three long-standing issues, which, - like the proverbial buses, - have all come along at once. I’m thinking about the work now completed on abuse and safeguarding. Something that has been there in the background for as long as we can remember. Now, it seems, the church will properly address it. Secondly there is the publication on sexuality, marriage, and gender issues. Living in Love and Faith, LLF, which we are asked to engage with seriously, although it is 460 pages of rather tough going. But needing very careful attention. There are various guides published to help, but I’ve started to look at the main book, as it’s free on the iPad. The other issue which has come to the fore recently is racism.

The Church and society have various failings in all of these three areas, but for us it must be a matter of God’s call to us to address them. And confidence in him to take us forward if we make the effort, of work and of will.

I thought to talk a little of racism today. Its been there all along in our lives, but often ignored. We’ve been reminded recently that centuries of slavery underly much in this country. We now realise better, perhaps, the hurt caused, still surfacing, and the real injustice.

Each of us will remember things about racism throughout our lives if we stop and think. My memories are like this:

My Father was born in New York at the end of the 1800s, because his Father had gone to work there. For the rest of his life, my Father was known in the family as ‘Son’. Not ‘son’ s-o-n, but ‘sun’ s-u-n. When a young child, his golden hair reminded his black neighbours of the sun. For those neighbours, slavery would not have been a very distant memory. One of the unhelpful jokes, circulating when he was young, which he always remembered, was, Please whistle my dog, my lips am too thick.

When I was born in the Second World War, golliwogs, black dolls were around, as many of us will remember. They had been around for a hundred years, - not that I had dolls, you understand. My nursery rhyme book had one page which read, Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief. I did wonder about that. Fifty years later, though, I would be multi-tasking, as a Rector and two Vicars, in Wales, and Governor of a Church School in North Wales, and I was quite active in the School. But surprised to see an unpleasant racist joke against the English on the Staff Room wall! The Dean of the Cathedral would say to me, You may think it difficult coming from England, but I came here from South Wales, I have it worse!

Now for a shaggy dog story! In the 1940s and ‘50s I knew my great aunt, who had a grocers’ shop near Fratton Park Football Ground in Portsmouth. She’d lost her fiancé in the First War. She never married, and stayed alone …except …..for a shaggy dog. A very black shaggy dog which she called Nigger. That is how things were, she never struck me as racist. Around 1950, I will played at Red Indians, feathered headdress, bow and arrow sort of thing, but I meant no harm to Native Americans, - in fact, I’d never even heard of Native Americans or thought they might be offended to be called Red Indians.

In 1969 I was in a parish in Portsmouth and got a letter out of the blue, asking me to consider a post at Bulawayo Cathedral, just as Southern Rhodesia was turning into Zimbabwe. I had just moved to a new parish, and couldn’t get involved, but often wonder how things would have been had we gone. Ideas on racism would certainly have had a chance to evolve!

In 1980s, I was a Vicar in Cheshire, and attended a service with one of my Lay Readers, who was a well-to-do mature gentleman, with a big house, - nay, a Hall. We were marking the visit of a certain Caribbean bishop – a very large and impressive black man. The Reader volunteered that his family had once lived in that part of the Caribbean. The bishop asked his surname, and then said solemnly and rather sadly, ‘we’ve a lot of them’. The implication seeming to be be that the Reader’s family had been major slave owners, giving their surname to all those working on their plantation! … Awkward!

In the 1990s, our daughter worked in Holland, and Christina and I would occasionally visit. I’ve an interest in Judaism, and was very saddened to see the Jewish memorials vandalised by neo-Nazis.

I started to think about racism again in late 2018, when I had my knee operation. One of the very kind - and the most conspicuous of the hospital staff - was a young woman who had trained in Nigeria, and was doing her best for us, a long way from her home. It struck me that it would be quite appalling if she were treated badly by idiots just because of her colour.

Pennies seem to have been dropping lately. Safeguarding, gender issues, and racism, surely have to be confronted properly, now that we have made big new steps recently. These are issues for the Church and for society. But we must be conscious that the Church has failed particularly badly in these areas, and also be conscious that the Church has a vocation to actually be leading and helping society in these matters, given our distinctive vision of what it is to be fully human, and in a living and positive relationship with God.

For years some of us, thinking about an annoying problem, hard to get to grips with, would talk of the ‘nigger in the wood pile’. It might then have changed to the ‘colonial brother in the woodpile’, but that was no really on. It was also the to habit to say to someone helpful and reliable, ‘you’re a white man’. Abuse within the Church, of several sorts, has also now finally to be tackled seriously, whilst giving those accused a proper chance to clear their names if they are not guilty.

The Church and society as a whole has these and other failings. It seems a forlorn hope that they will disappear quickly. You may come to think that embracing our Christianity better, and promoting Christianity to others is the way forward. If people have no notion of a loving God, who values everyone, of living sacrificially as followers of Jesus, with the associated hope and joy, courage and moral vision and fibre, then society will be the worse, and is now the worse. I see church worship as central to evangelism, a welcoming community committed to impressive worship and caring for others.

The C of E, however, has effectively diversified into disparate strands - conservative catholic, open evangelicals, and conservative evangelicals. Only the middle one of those three really accepts our numerous women clergy. Another, fourth strand, is surely what we need. The genius of Anglicanism was that it was thoughtfully and radically Catholic. God-given reason brought to bear on the way we are loyal to scripture and on how we are committed to tradition. It is that main strand of our church, and of it’s worship, and it’s discipline, which is being lost. Rather than do it well, people rush to label it as out-dated, even suggest that it is what got us in a mess in the first place! What they follow, instead, for me, is not so good and true. And that may actually matter in the end to the health of the nation.

One thing that has come to the fore during our time of dodging the virus, is racism. It’s been there all along in our lives, but often ignored. We now realise better, perhaps, the hurt caused, and the real injustice. Each of us will remember things throughout our lives if we stop and think. My memories are like this.

I remember my Father. He was born in New York at the end of the 1800s, as his Father had gone to work there. For the rest of his life, my Father was known in the family as ‘Son’. Not ‘son’ s -o -n, but ‘sun’ s-u-n. When a young child, his golden hair reminded his black neighbours of the sun. For those neighbours slavery would not have been a very distant memory. One of the unhelpful jokes circulating when he was young, was, Please whistle my dog, my lips am too thick.

When I was born in the Second World War, golliwogs, black dolls were around, and had been for a hundred years, - not that I had dolls, you understand. My nursery rhyme book had one page which read, Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief. I did wonder about that. Fifty years later, though, I would be a Governor of a Church School in Wales, and be surprised to see an unpleasant racist joke against the English on the Staff Room wall!

Now for a shaggy dog story! In the 1940s and 50s I knew my great aunt, who had a grocers’ shop near Fratton Park Football Ground in Portsmouth. She had lost her fiancé in the First War. She never married, and stayed alone …except for a shaggy dog. A very black shaggy dog which she called Nigger. That is how

things were, she never struck me as racist. Around 1950, I will have played at Red Indians, feathered headdress, bow and arrow sort of thing, but I meant no harm to Native Americans, - in fact, I’d never heard of them!

In the 1950s my Grandmother in Portsmouth was, however, rather shocked and somewhat mystified when her neighbour took in an Asian lodger, Pakistani, I think. In 1958 the Notting Hill race riots began in London. A few years after that I would be a student living near there. A certain black curate on a bicycle was noticeable in parts of London. That was Desmond Tutu who was also studying at my College. When I was an altar server in the College Chapel, I borrowed his cassock. It seems that he got where he did, partly because, as a small boy, in South Africa, he was very surprised and impressed when a white priest was actually polite to his black mother.

In 1980s, I was a Vicar in Cheshire, and attended a service with one of my Lay Readers, who was a well-to-do mature gentleman, with a big house. We were marking the visit of a certain Caribbean bishop – a very large and impressive black man. The Reader volunteered that his family had once lived in that part of the Caribbean. The bishop asked his surname, and then said solemnly and rather sadly, ‘we’ve a lot of them’. The implication being that the Reader’s family had been major slave owners, giving their surname to those working on their plantation! … Awkward!

In the 1990s, our daughter worked in Holland, and Christina and I would occasionally visit. I was greatly saddened to see the Jewish memorials vandalised by neo-Nazis.

A good chunk of my family now live in France and have dual nationality, so I follow events there. In 2016 an elderly Roman Catholic priest was murdered in church by Islamic extremists. When I attended a church service in France after that, there were armed soldiers at the church door. Recently a teacher murdered, - not so far from my grandchildren’s schools – he was apparently teaching about the right to be offensive to Muslims and others, in what is a secular country. Three issues there. Firstly, it seems that the man was simply doing his job. Should that be his job in school? Secondly, then, this right to be extremely offensive. I don’t think we have that, and people preaching here on some biblical themes might be locked up. The third issue is the idea that the Almighty delights in barbaric murder. That should be deeply offensive to mainstream Muslims, as well as to us, although we don’t always hear Islamic leaders condemning this behaviour as much as we’d hope.

I started to think again about racism more seriously in late 2018, when I had my knee operation. One of the very kind hospital staff was a young woman who had trained in Nigeria. It struck me that it would be quite appalling if she were treated badly by idiots just because of her colour.

Pennies seem to have been dropping lately. Racism has surely to be confronted properly now. For years some of us, thinking about an annoying problem, hard to get to grips with, would talk of the ‘nigger in the wood pile’. It might then have changed to the ‘colonial brother in the woodpile’, but that was no really on. It was also the to habit to say to soon helpful and reliable, ‘you’re a white man’. Abuse within the Church, of several sorts, has also now finally to be tackled seriously, whilst giving those accused a proper chance to clear their names if they are not guilty.

The Church and society as a whole has these and other failings. It seems a forlorn hope that they will disappear quickly. You may come to think that embracing our Christianity better, and promoting Christianity to others is the way forward. If people have no notion of a loving God, who values everyone, of living sacrificially as followers of Jesus, with the associated hope and joy, courage and moral vision and fibre, then society will be the worse, and is now the worse. I see church worship as central to evangelism, a welcoming community committed to impressive worship and caring for others.

The C of E, however, has effectively diversified into disparate strands - conservative catholic, open evangelicals, and conservative evangelicals. Only the middle one of those three really accepts our numerous women clergy. Another, fourth strand, is surely what we need. The genius of Anglicanism was that it was thoughtfully and radically Catholic. God-given reason brought to bear on the way we are loyal to scripture and on how we are committed to tradition. It is that main strand of our church, and of it’s worship, and it’s discipline, which is being lost. Rather than do it well, people rush to label it as out-dated, even suggest that it is what got us in a mess in the first place! What they follow, instead, for me, is not so good and true. And that may actually matter in the end to the health of the nation.





Isaiah 61:1-4 and 8-11

A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah

The servant of the Lord said:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, 
because the Lord has anointed me; 
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, 
to bind up the brokenhearted, 
#to proclaim liberty to the captives, 
and release to the prisoners; 

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour, 
and the day of vengeance of our God; 
to comfort all who mourn; 

to provide for those who mourn in Zion— 
to give them a garland instead of ashes, 
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. 
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. 

They shall build up the ancient ruins, 
they shall raise up the former devastations; 
they shall repair the ruined cities, 
the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice, 
I hate robbery and wrongdoing; 
I will faithfully give them their recompense, 
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Their descendants shall be known among the nations, 
and their offspring among the peoples; 
all who see them 
shall acknowledge that they are a people 
whom the Lord has blessed. 

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, 
my whole being shall exult in my God; 
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, 
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, 
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, 
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 

For as the earth brings forth its shoots, 
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, 
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise 
to spring up before all the nations.


John 1:6-8 and 19-28

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

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

He came as a witness to testify to the light, 
so that all might believe through him.

He himself was not the light,
but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John
when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem
to ask him,, "Who are you?"

He confessed and did not deny it, 
but confessed, "I and not eh Messiah>"

And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?"
He said, "I am not."
"Are you the prophet?"
He answered "No."

the they said to him, "who are you?
Let us have an answer for those who sent us.
What do you say about yourself?"

He ssaid,
"I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
"Make striaght the way of the Lord," "
as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.

They asked him, "Why then are you baptising,
if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?"

John answered them, "I baptise with water.
Among you stands one whom you do not know,

the one who is coming after me;
I am not worthy to untie the thing of his sandal."

This took place in Bethany across the Jordan
where John was baptising.
Sunday, 6 December 2020
This morning we were able to return to church again. We had a family service with Christingles, most appropriate as it is St Nicholas day. As we are accustomed to in the family service, the presentation was given by Mrs Field, She talked about Advent, and the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and see how many of the gifts of the Spirit we are showing in our lives, rather like an Ofsted inspection. She challenged us to remember what he gifts of the Spirit are! (1 Corinthians verse 12, if you want to check for yourself!) Following this the christingles were distributed.
The Choir were able to sing 2 Advent hymns and 'How Beautiful Upon the Mountains' by John Stainer as the offertory. It was a great joy to be back in Church again!

The christmas draw will take place on Wednesday 16th December at 3 pm.

Our Christmas Services will be a little different this year. 
On 20th December at 6pm there will be Village Carols, at which there will be readings and some carols sung by the Choir. Because we have to observe social distancing numbers will be limited, so if you would like to come please either sign the form at the back of the Church or contact the Churchwardens to reserve your place.

On Christmas eve there will be a service of gifts at 4 pm.

On Christmas morning there will be a said service with carols by the choir at 10 am.





Father Stephen lighting the Advent Candles








Lighting and distributing the Christingles.







 Mark 1:1-8

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

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, 
the Son of God. 

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, 
"See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, 
who will prepare your way; 

the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 
"Prepare the way of the Lord, 
make his paths straight,'"
 
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, 
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 

And people from the whole Judean countryside 
and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, 
and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, 
confessing their sins.

Now John was clothed with camel's hair, 
with a leather belt around his waist, 
and he ate locusts and wild honey. 

He proclaimed, 
"The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; 
I am not worthy to stoop down 
and untie the thong of his sandals.

I have baptized you with water; 
but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." 
Sunday, 29 November 2020


Let us wait together for the Arrival (Latin =’Adventus’) of our King on Christmas Day, Praying for God’s Grace and remembering those who, at this time of anticipation of Joy, have so much less than ourselves.

 

The tradition of having an Advent Wreath comes from Germany, but is now common in all branches of the Western Christian Church.  There are three Dark Blue Candles and one Pink candle. The Dark Blue colour is the Liturgical Colour of Advent, purple has been used because it was an expensive dye in ancient times only used by Kings and Emperors and so it reminds us that we are waiting for the coming of the King at Christmas. At St Marys we are using a dark blue for Advent, and now keep Purple for Lent. The pink candle is lit on the 3rd Sunday in Advent known as Gaudate Sunday from the psalm Rejoice in the Lord used on that day.

 

The symbolism of the Wreath

The wreath is a circle of evergreen foliage symbolising everlasting life. It can be made of all types of evergreen leaves including furs, laurel, yew, holly and even camellia or magnolia leaves. In advent it should have minimum other decorations, but of course you can add Christmas decorations on Christmas Eve if you want to!

 

The symbolism of the Candles

There are a number of traditions about this, but the best known one is probably as follows

1.   The first dark blue candle is for God’s People a symbol of Hope

2.   The second dark blue candle Is for the Old Testament Prophets, the candle of Peace

3.   The third Candle, the pink one is for John the Baptist the candle of Love

4.   The last dark blue candle is for Mary the Mother of Christ the candle of Joy

 

The White Candle

On Christmas Eve you can add in the center of your Wreath, a White Candle to signify the Light coming into the world with the birth of Jesus.


Making an Advent wreath


You will need a circle of Oasis in a plastic base. This has to be pre soaked in water, you can wrap the oasis in Cling film to help retain water but this is not essential if you can water the oasis regularly.

You also need 4 candle spikes and your candles. 






Place the candle spikes evenly round the Oasis. Then select the evergreen material you want to put in your wreath from the pile on the table. Stick the twig ends into the oasis to form a complete covering. You can add other things such as pine cones, ribbons (dark blue  for advent but change to green red or gold at Christmas) berries (care with small children!) etc, but it should be fairly plain, to reflect the somberness of Advent.

 

Taking Care of your Advent Wreath

To make the wreath last the 4 weeks of Advent, you will need to water it regularly. Put it on your sink drainer and pour a jug of water over it at least once a week.

 

Put the wreath on a tray before putting it on furniture to avoid watermarks.

 

Remember all the greenery is capable of catching fire, so NEVER leave the lit candles unattended and have a Jug of water nearby at all times in case of an accident. You can buy fire retardant spray at some Florists to spray your wreath with.

 

Do not let children light the candles without the assistance of an Adult.

 

When should I light my Advent Wreath Candles?

Light one today, next Sunday light 2 and so on until Christmas. It is a nice moment, perhaps on Sunday evening to gather as a family and light the candle and say a short prayer together. Do not burn the candles for too long or the first one will be gone before the end of Advent!! If possible snuff the candles rather than blowing them out to avoid blowing hot wax all over the wreath and your dining room table!!!

Some pictures of our  wreath making afternoons pre Covid!




 

 

 

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 ‘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."
Sunday, 22 November 2020
‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’ FROM THE REVEREND STEPHEN GUISE, PRIEST IN CHARGE – SUNDAY NEXT BEFORE ADVENT: FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING




Christ Pantocrator, detail from Deesis mosaic,
12th century, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Dear Friends

The Feast of Christ the King emerged in the 1920s as a Christian response to the secularizing influence, first and foremost of the Communists in Russia, and to the parallel emergence of the Fascist dictators, Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain and ultimately Hitler in Germany.  Their strutting, posturing and inflammatory speeches were given credibility, in the view of many, by the swingeing reparations demanded by the Versailles agreement, following the First World War.  Germany was largely starved into submission and economic ruin at that time, and suffering from galloping inflation.  So Hitler’s early land-grabs, notably of the Czech Sudaten lands, were not immediately seized upon by the former Allies, who had had enough of war, although there was horror at the slaughter of civilians at Guernica during the Spanish Civil war.

It was during this time that the Pope promulged the Feast of Christ the King as an antidote to such totalitarianism, reaffirming Jesus Christ’s kingship over all – a Kingdom of peace, love and freedom, whose King rules from the Cross of Calvary, not by force of tanks, artillery and bombs. Many Anglican parishes adopted this feast during the 1970s and it grew in acceptance within the wider Church, becoming ‘officially’ accepted within Anglicanism at the beginning of this century with the publication of Common Worship Times and Seasons.

We, of course, have continued to benefit from the liberation from tyranny which was won, at such cost, by those who sacrificed their lives during the Second World War, but sabre-rattling  between the big powers is never far away, which is why we, as Christians, must continue to pray for peace, and to ask Christ the Universal King to keep us steadfast in the ‘peace which passes understanding’.

Fr Stephen


Collect for Feast of Christ the King

Eternal Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
   that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


 Ephesians 1:15-end

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus
and your love toward all the saints, 
and for this reason 

I do not cease to give thanks for you 
as I remember you in my prayers. 

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation 
as you come to know him, 

so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, 
you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, 
what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 

and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power 
for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 

God put this power to work in Christ 
when he raised him from the dead 
and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 

far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, 
and above every name that is named, 
not only in this age but also in the age to come. 

And he has put all things under his feet 
and has made him the head over all things for the church, 

which is his body, 
the fullness of him who fills all in all.


Matthew 25:31-end

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

Jesus said to his disciples:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, 
and all the angels with him, 
then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 

All the nations will be gathered before him, 
and he will separate people one from another 
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 

and he will put the sheep at his right hand 
and the goats at the left. 

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 
"Come, you that are blessed by my Father, 
inherit the kingdom prepared for you 
from the foundation of the world; 

for I was hungry and you gave me food, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, 
I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 

I was naked and you gave me clothing, 
I was sick and you took care of me, 
I was in prison and you visited me.' 

Then the righteous will answer him, 
"Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, 
or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 

And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you,
or naked and gave you clothing? 

And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison
and visited you?' 

And the king will answer them, 
"Truly I tell you, 
just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, 
you did it to me.' 

Then he will say to those at his left hand, 
"You that are accursed, 
depart from me into the eternal fire 
prepared for the devil and his angels; 

for I was hungry and you gave me no food, 
I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, 
naked and you did not give me clothing, 
sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 

Then they also will answer, 
"Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty
 or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, 
and did not take care of you?' 

Then he will answer them,
"Truly I tell you, 
just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, 
you did not do it to me.' 

And these will go away into eternal punishment, 
but the righteous into eternal life."

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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