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Sunday, 24 May 2020
Audio files are available on "The Message" page.

‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’ FROM THE REVEREND STEPHEN GUISE, PRIEST IN CHARGE – SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, 24 MAY




‘The Ascension of Christ’, Albrecht Durer, Woodcut, 1510, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Dear Friends

Some churches celebrate the Ascension of Christ on the Sunday after the Ascension, rather than on the feast day itself, which always occurs on the Thursday before the seventh Sunday of Easter.  Being a fairly traditional church, we at St Mary’s have kept to the time-honoured pattern of celebrating Ascension on the actual day (which this year would have fallen on 21 May), retaining the following Sunday as the seventh of Easter.  I feel somewhat vindicated in keeping to this separate celebration of the Ascension, which enables us to focus during the Sunday, in John 17:1-11, on the passage from what is known as Jesus ‘High Priestly prayer’.

In this prayer (which takes up the whole of chapter 17), Jesus discloses a knowledge, not only of the situation which pertained at the time (ie during the Passover of circa AD33), but also of the future, when, in verse 20, he says, ‘I ask not only on behalf of these (ie those in the upper room), but also on behalf of those (ie including ourselves) who will believe in me through their word, that they also may be one as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.  I have given them the glory you gave to me that they may be one as we are one.’

This passage is usually recommended also for reading during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – ie that Jesus’ oneness with the Father may be replicated in Christian communities as they join together for worship and service.  As we know, there has been much progress in Christian ecumenism during the last fifty years or so, although there are still, of course, also many areas of difference and even disagreement.

In the letter to the Ephesians (chapter 4) we read of the way in which these two themes, of the Ascension, and the unity of all Christians (and, indeed, pointing implicitly also to the unity of all humankind), are inextricably linked:-
‘He went up to the heights, took captives, he gave gifts to humanity.  When it says “he went up” it must mean that he had gone down to the deepest levels of the earth.  The one who went down is none other than the one who went up above all the heavens to fill all things.  And to some, his gift was they should be apostles; to some prophets; to some evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; to knit God’s holy people together for the work of service to build up the Body of Christ, until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God . . so the body grows until it has built itself up in love.’

Our unity in Christ, then, through baptism and participation in worship, service and the sacraments, is a foretaste of the fullness of the glory which awaits us in heaven, when Christ, as our head, shall be ‘all in all’ – a wonderful promise indeed, especially during times of trial such as we are currently going through.

Fr Stephen


Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.



Acts 1.6-14

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

When the apostles had come together, they asked him,
"Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"

He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods
that the Father has set by his own authority.

But you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

When he had said this, as they were watching,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven,
suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.

They said, "Men of Galilee,
why do you stand looking up toward heaven?
This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,
will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet,
which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away.

When they had entered the city,
they went to the room upstairs where they were staying,
Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas,
Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus,
and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.

All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer,
together with certain women,
including Mary the mother of Jesus,
as well as his brothers.


Gospel John 17.1-11

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

Jesus looked up to heaven and said,
"Father, the hour has come;
glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,

since you have given him authority over all people,
to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

And this is eternal life,
that they may know you, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

I glorified you on earth
by finishing the work that you gave me to do.

So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence
with the glory that I had in your presence
before the world existed.

"I have made your name known
to those whom you gave me from the world.
They were yours, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.

Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;

for the words that you gave to me I have given to them,
and they have received them
and know in truth that I came from you;
and they have believed that you sent me.

I am asking on their behalf;
I am not asking on behalf of the world,
but on behalf of those whom you gave me,
because they are yours.

All mine are yours, and yours are mine;
and I have been glorified in them.

And now I am no longer in the world,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.
Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one, as we are one.

Service Times

First Sunday in the Month:
10:00am Family Service

Second Sunday in the Month
10:00am Parish Eucharist

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

Fourth Sunday in the Month
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Notes:

  • The 8:00am said Holy Communion will recommence for all Sundays beginning Sunday 2nd May 2021

  • 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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