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Sunday, 19 April 2020
If you would like to listen to audio files of the readings, please switch to The Message blog.


‘The Incredulity of Saint Thomas’, Caravaggio, c1601-1602

Dear Friends
The Gospel reading for this day is John 20:19-end.  John’s description of the disciples meeting with the doors ‘locked’ because of their fear ‘of the Jews’ (the Gospel was compiled during a time when some Christian churches were experiencing persecution by Jewish communities) has a striking resonance with our current situation, when churches continue to remain closed – but, of course, with the important difference that the disciples were huddled together for self-preservation, whereas today’s locked doors are intended to assist the safety of the entire faith community.  There is an interesting article on this point by Angus Ritchie, in the 17 April edition of The Church Times, in which it is mentioned that some have been questioning the legality of the Archbishops’ directive to close all churches during the current crisis, especially since this has deprived many of a much-needed sanctuary for private prayer and solace in a time of grief, separation and fear of the unknown.
Most of us, however, understand the necessity for the directive, and accept this deprivation as part of the contribution we must all make towards the greater good - and it has, at least, led to the increase in on-line services, which are reaching, and being appreciated by, many who would not count themselves as regular churchgoers – the story of ‘doubting Thomas’ which concludes today’s Gospel reading, continues to resonate with many who, for whatever reason, find difficulty in accepting the faith.  The Spirit, in other words, continues to be at work in this situation, and many commentators are suggesting that ‘virtual church’ will remain a significant part of our outreach and mission, long after the lockdown has been lifted.
In my view, although this could well turn out to be a good thing, it could never replace the incarnational nature of meeting together in person for worship, in which all the senses, including those of touch and taste (the exchange of the peace, the reception of the bread and wine of the Eucharist) are involved in our corporate offering of thanksgiving to God.  

Nevertheless, in cases where this is not possible for any reason, ‘spiritual Communion’ is a recognized alternative, as indicated in the following prayer, which may be of help in our current situation:-
‘In union, dear Lord, with the faithful at every altar of your Church, where your blessed body and blood are being offered to the Father, I offer you praise and thanksgiving.  I believe you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.  And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I pray that you will come spiritually into my heart.  I unite myself to you and embrace you, do not let me be separated from you.  Let me live and die in your love.  Amen.’ [From the manual of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.]
With prayer continuing for our entire community of faith, and blessings,
Fr Stephen

Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter
Almighty Father,
you have given your only Son to die for our sins
and to rise again for our justification:
grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness
that we may always serve you
in pureness of living and truth;
through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:14a and 22-32

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

On the day of Pentecost.

Peter, standing with the eleven,
raised his voice and addressed the crowd,

"You that are Israelites,
listen to what I have to say:
Jesus of Nazareth,
a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs
that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know—

this man, handed over to you
according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,
you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law.

But God raised him up, having freed him from death,
because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

For David says concerning him,
"I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;

therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover my flesh will live in hope.

For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.

You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.'

"Fellow Israelites,
I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David
that he both died and was buried,
and his tomb is with us to this day.

Since he was a prophet,
he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him
that he would put one of his descendants on his throne.

Foreseeing this,
David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
"He was not abandoned to Hades,
nor did his flesh experience corruption.'

This Jesus God raised up,
and of that all of us are witnesses.

Daniel 6:6-23

A reading from the book of Daniel.

So the presidents and satraps conspired
and came to the king and said to him,
"O King Darius, live forever!

All the presidents of the kingdom,
the prefects and the satraps,
the counsellors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance
and enforce an interdict,
that whoever prays to anyone,
divine or human, for thirty days,
except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions.

Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document,
so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians,
which cannot be revoked."

Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict.

Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed,
he continued to go to his house,
which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem,
and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God
and praise him, just as he had done previously.

The conspirators came and found Daniel praying
and seeking mercy before his God.

Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, 
"O king! Did you not sign an interdict, 
that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, 
within thirty days except to you, O king, 
shall be thrown into a den of lions?" 
The king answered, 
"The thing stands fast, 
according to the law of the Medes and Persians, 
which cannot be revoked."

Then they responded to the king, 
"Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, 
pays no attention to you, O king, 
or to the interdict you have signed, 
but he is saying his prayers three times a day."

When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. 
He was determined to save Daniel, 
and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him.

Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, 
"Know, O king, 
that it is a law of the Medes and Persians 
that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed."

Then the king gave the command, 
and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. 
The king said to Daniel, 
"May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!"

A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, 
and the king sealed it with his own signet 
and with the signet of his lords, 
so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.

Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; 
no food was brought to him, 
and sleep fled from him.

Then, at break of day, 
the king got up and hurried to the den of lions.

When he came near the den where Daniel was, 
he cried out anxiously to Daniel, 
"O Daniel, servant of the living God, 
has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?"

Daniel then said to the king,
 "O king, live forever!

My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths 
so that they would not hurt me, 
because I was found blameless before him; 
and also before you, O king, 
I have done no wrong."

Then the king was exceedingly glad 
and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. 
So Daniel was taken up out of the den, 
and no kind of harm was found on him, 
because he had trusted in his God.

John 20:19-31

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

When it was evening on the first day of the week, 
and the doors of the house where the disciples had met 
were locked for fear of the Jews, 
Jesus came and stood among them and said, 
"Peace be with you." 

After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. 
Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 

Jesus said to them again, 
"Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 
"Receive the Holy Spirit. 

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; 
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." 

But Thomas (who was called the Twin ), one of the twelve, 
was not with them when Jesus came. 

So the other disciples told him, 
"We have seen the Lord." 
But he said to them, 
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,
and put my finger in the mark of the nails 
and my hand in his side, 
I will not believe." 

A week later his disciples were again in the house, 
and Thomas was with them. 
Although the doors were shut, 
Jesus came and stood among them and said, 
"Peace be with you." 

Then he said to Thomas, 
"Put your finger here and see my hands. 
Reach out your hand and put it in my side. 
Do not doubt but believe." 

Thomas answered him, 
"My Lord and my God!" 

Jesus said to him, 
"Have you believed because you have seen me? 
Blessed are those who have not seen 
and yet have come to believe." 

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, 
which are not written in this book. 

But these are written so that you may come to believe 
that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, 
and that through believing you may have life in his name. 

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

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

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