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Sunday, 30 August 2020


Fra Angelico, Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven, c1428-30, The National Gallery, London

Dear Friends

To our polite, middle-class ears, Jesus’ rebuke to Peter, for being horrified at the thought of his master having to face a public and shameful death on a cross, may seem almost savage and unnecessarily strong.

But perhaps having early on in his life of mission been tempted by Satan with similar words, in an attempt to deflect him, Jesus sees the danger that Peter could be beguiled away from the hard road of discipleship. Jesus knows that he himself must pursue his destiny and duty by accepting the cross, in order to fulfil what he had been sent on earth to do – to save humanity. To do otherwise would be to play into the hands of the Tempter.

It’s a pivotal moment. Last week we saw Peter acknowledging Jesus’ true identity with the words: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’. But now, in today’s narrative, we see the same disciple almost turning 180o – failing to understand that, contrary to the interpretation of many at the time, the Messiah’s destiny was to suffer and die. Peter completely misreads the situation – ‘God forbid that this should happen to you’. He little comprehends that it is imperative that Jesus must take, not the broad and easy high road, but the narrow path which will lead to the cross – to avoid this would be to fail to fulfil the messianic purpose for which the Father had sent him. It was, paradoxically, the only way in which Christ could open the way to heaven for us, and hence, ultimately, to come in his kingdom, with his angels in glory.

Fr Stephen

Collect for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more than ready to hear us when we pray
and to give more then either we desire or deserve:
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid
and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask
but through the merits and mediation
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy SPiri,
one God, now and forever.

Romans 12:9-end

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans.

Let love be genuine; 
hate what is evil, 
hold fast to what is good; 

love one another with mutual affection; 
outdo one another in showing honour. 

Do not lag in zeal, 
be ardent in spirit, 
serve the Lord. 

Rejoice in hope,
 be patient in suffering, 
persevere in prayer. 

Contribute to the needs of the saints; 
extend hospitality to strangers. 

Bless those who persecute you; 
bless and do not curse them. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, 
weep with those who weep. 

Live in harmony with one another; 
do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; 
do not claim to be wiser than you are. 

Do not repay anyone evil for evil,
 but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 

If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, 
live peaceably with all. 

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, 
but leave room for the wrath of God; 
for it is written, 
"Vengeance is mine, 
I will repay, says the Lord." 

No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; 
if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; 
for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." 

Do not be overcome by evil, 
but overcome evil with good.

Matthew 16:21-end

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

From that time on, 
Jesus began to show his disciples 
that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering 
at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, 
and be killed,
and on the third day be raised. 

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, 
"God forbid it, Lord! 
This must never happen to you." 

But he turned and said to Peter, 
"Get behind me, Satan!
 You are a stumbling block to me; 
for you are setting your mind not on divine things
but on human things." 

Then Jesus told his disciples, 
"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 will find it. 

For what will it profit them 
if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? 
Or what will they give in return for their life? 

"For the Son of Man is to come with his angels 
in the glory of his Father, 
and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 

Truly I tell you, 
there are some standing here 
who will not taste death 
before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
Sunday, 23 August 2020
This morning our 10 am service was a celebration of the Eucharist, Father Stephen was the celebrant. Observing the guidelines on social distancing and wearing masks we spread ourselves out in the church. Joanna played the Andante from Louis Vierne's first organ symphony before the service. This movement in 3/8 time has a gentle pastoral rhythm resembling the third movement actually titled pastoral. The muted and slightly melancholic air  set a suitable sense of tranquility as we awaited the start of the service.

We are already at the eleventh sunday of Trinity, Janet Harland read the set readings for the day, and Father Stephen preached. The readings and sermon are both below

During Communion we listened to a recording from Westminster Cathedral firstly of O Salutaris hostia (O saving victim) by Rossini, followed by Mawby's arrangement of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria.

We are not able to offer refreshments at the present time, so we left the church after the recessional voluntary the small fugue in D minor BWV 680 by J S Bach.

We are pleased to say that individual volunteers have made an excellent job of keeping the churchyard looking lovely over the lockdown and the summer. We are now able to organise a socially distanced churchyard working party on  saturday 5th of September. Please bring your own refreshments!!


Francisco de Zurburán (1598-1664), ‘St Francis in Meditation’, 1635-9, National Gallery, London

Dear Friends

Isaiah had once said to his ‘audience’: ‘Look to the rock from which you were hewn (and to the quarry from which you were dug.’  In today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 16:13-20) Jesus also makes use of a rock analogy, as he describes Peter as the rock on which he will build his church.  Is Jesus being ironical by likening Peter to a rock in this way?  In other passages it is clear that he knows only too well that Peter has feet of clay – of all the disciples, he is the one who is most liable to ‘run off at the mouth’, and to ‘put his foot in it’ (if that is not mixing metaphors too much!).  Jesus knows, however, that, Peter, although flawed, is basically loyal, and that is why he is a good example to discuss with Sunday School children and others – because, just like us, he is clearly very human.  He wants to do the right thing but often fails (there is a useful evening prayer which implores the Lord to ‘fight with us against our weakness’ which comes to mind in this context).

In some ways, St Paul, from whose letter to the Romans (Romans 12:1-8) today’s epistle is taken, might seem like a better candidate for being called ‘the Rock’.  He’s not 6’6” tall and muscly like the Hollywood actor who was given that as a nickname; on the contrary, St Paul is characterized as being of small stature, and yet resilient – one who endures many hardships for the sake of the Gospel.

St Paul perhaps exemplifies the prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola as one who is given grace to ‘fight and not heed the wounds, to toil and not seek for rest, to work and not ask for any reward’ save that of knowing that we do God’s will.  This total commitment and dedication were depicted in much Counter-Reformation art – for example, the 17th-century Spanish artist, Francisco de Zurburán, provides a powerful evocation of the single-mindedness and deep prayer of monks and nuns in his painting, ‘St Francis in Meditation’.

Perhaps we feel that such dedication is beyond us, and that our discipleship can never be like that of St Paul, or even of St Peter?  But we can take heart that God is fully aware both of our strengths and of our weaknesses, and that he has called us to serve him as best we can, using our varied gifts, as St Paul himself says, ‘according to the grace given to us’, for the purposes of building up Christ’s body, the Church, in the situation in which we have been placed.  

Fr Stephen

Collect for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

O God, you declare your almighty power
most chiefly in showing mercy and pity:
mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments,
may receive your gracious promises,
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen,

Romans 12:1-8

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, 
by the mercies of God, 
to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, 
holy and acceptable to God, 
which is your spiritual worship. 

Do not be conformed to this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, 
so that you may discern what is the will of God—
what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you 
not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, 
but to think with sober judgment, 
each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 

For as in one body we have many members, 
and not all the members have the same function, 

so we, who are many,
 are one body in Christ, 
and individually we are members one of another. 

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 

ministry, in ministering; 
the teacher, in teaching; 

the exhorter, in exhortation; 
the giver, in generosity; 
the leader, in diligence; 
the compassionate, in cheerfulness. 

Matthew 16:13-20

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

 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, 
he asked his disciples, 
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, 
but others Elijah, 
and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 

He said to them, 
"But who do you say that I am?" 

Simon Peter answered, 
"You are the Messiah, 
the Son of the living God." 

And Jesus answered him, 
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! 
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, 
but my Father in heaven. 

And I tell you, you are Peter, 
and on this rock I will build my church, 
and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,
 and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, 
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 

Then he sternly ordered the disciples 
not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Friday, 21 August 2020
Sunday, 16 August 2020
This morning we met at 10 am for Mattins. After a week of extremely hot weather, we met on a cloudy rainy but mercifully cooler morning. Today in our service we remembered the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our Patron Saint. We have our Patronal Festival to mark her birth in September, but this is also an important St Mary's day. Our Prayers and music reflected St Mary.
Before the Service Joanna played Priere a Notre-Dame from the Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann.

The Canticles and Psalm 138 were said, as Joanna was suffering from hay fever. Father Stephen's address is below as are the readings.

In place of an anthem we listened to a recording of  an Ave Maria by Mendelssohn. A work in 3 sections with a soaring tenor solo (in this recording Andrew Carwood) and the full choir of Westminster Cathedral to the fore in the middle section.

In the notices Father Stephen reminded us to order christmas cakes and puddings from Dr Platts, proceeds to the church. Orders must be received by 1st October.

The organ voluntary at the end of the service was J.S. Bach Fugue on the Magnificat BWV 733.


Russian Icon of the Dormition (‘Assumption’) of Mary

Dear Friends

This Sunday, the tenth after Trinity, also falls directly after the day (15th August) when we remember especially our patron, St Mary.  Many churches dedicated to St Mary hold their patronal festival on this day, but in Sidlesham, we tend to ‘reserve’ that for the first Sunday in September.

Nevertheless, it is right to remember Mary today and her role in our salvation.  The Magnificat, which we heard as the second reading, is the song which the evangelist Luke places on Mary’s lips during the narrative of the Visitation, and we heard a ‘prototype’ of it in the first reading, from Isaiah.  In fact, as Sister Elizabeth Ruth Obbard points out in her thoughtful meditation on this passage, biblical scholars think that this could well have originally been a song of the anawim, Israel’s lowly, trustful followers of Yahweh, which was subsequently attributed to the mother of God.  Be that as it may, it certainly expresses the very heart of her spirituality – a spirituality with which each of us can identify.

Here is a song of joy rising from a background of shame and suffering.  Mary is in the position of an unmarried mother, she does not know that the future holds for her, and yet in this situation there bursts from her a paean of praise as her cousin Elizabeth greets her: ‘Blessed is she who believed.’

And Mary, of course, believed even when all was going wrong – when life was not taking the course she would have expected!  Mary believes and trusts despite all the apparently adverse and strange circumstances in which she finds herself – and, as we know, the promise made at the Annunciation is to be completed in her life in ways which she could not possibly have imagined at this stage.  She is truly the handmaid of the Lord, and trusts that the Lord will not desert her.

In some ways, then, we can understand the mystery of the Visitation as the mystery of Christ growing within each of us.  The seed of the Word is planted in us at baptism and we are meant to be Christ-bearers for the world, sharing him in our ordinary human exchanges.  And when life seems perplexing and challenging, as it does for many of us at this time, then we can recall, and be grateful for, the example of Mary, as one who can share with us the secret of her own joy – the Lord is with her (and with us) always.  As one who is now in heaven, she knows in reality what we can at present only know by faith – that nothing can be wanting to those who know, and trust in, God.

Fr Stephen

Collect for the Blessed Virgin Mary

Almighty God,
who looked upon the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and chose her to be the mother of your only Son:
grant that we who are redeemed by his blood
may share with her in the glory of your eternal kingdom;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

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.

Luke 1:46-55

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Chrsit 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, a
nd 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, 9 August 2020
This morning we met at 10 am for our celebration of the Eucharist on one of the hottest days of the year, but the thick stone walls of St Mary's kept it cool inside. We had music from Joanna at intervals during the service and following social distancing and wearing masks we managed our worship very well, although we all miss singing, and the fellowship of our coffee after the service, we are keeping up the line of worship that dates back to the year 1220 on this site.
once again the flowers were wonderful!


Alessandro Allori (1535-1607), ‘St Peter Walking on the Water’,
c1590, Uffizi Museum, Florence

Dear Friends

The well-known miracle of Jesus walking on the water in today’s Gospel reading 
(Matthew 14:22-33) happens just before dawn.  The disciples had embarked in a boat and were crossing the Sea of Galilee when a storm blew up – as we know, storms on lakes can be particularly treacherous as the water is confined, as in a bath, and has nowhere to go, and so is blown back and forth.  Jesus had let the disciples go on ahead while he prayed – we cannot know what about, but it may be that he had not long heard of the brutal execution of his cousin, St John the Baptist.  Whatever the case, it was clear that Jesus wanted to be alone and to have the peace and quiet to try, with his Father’s help, to make sense of things.

In Jewish mythology the sea and areas of deep water were the domain of hostile creatures – places where all sorts of dangers lurked.  They were symbols of chaos, and the understanding was that only God could restore calm and tranquillity once the dark forces within them had been unleashed.  One of the motifs of the theologically complex narratives of the Transfiguration (the feast for which was celebrated just a few days ago, on 6 August) is that Jesus is revealed to his disciples in his cosmic role as divine Lord of all creation.  And in today’s Gospel, there are echoes of this as he walks across the turbulent waters to reassure his terrified disciples, and to reveal his mastery over the cosmic powers as the storm is calmed.

Matthew is the only evangelist who describes Peter’s impetuous attempt to emulate his master – he gets out of the boat but then takes fright as he realizes that he cannot, of his own volition, be saved from the waves.  Only Jesus himself can do this, as he stretches out his hand and rescues him.  The narrative is intended to emphasize, not only Jesus’ lordship over the wind and waves, but also the need for all of us to trust in him.  There are echoes of this in the baptismal liturgy when parents and godparents are asked ‘Do you believe and trust in God?’ – in other words, belief alone is insufficient, we need to put our whole trust in him so that we, too, may be saved.

Fr Stephen

Collect for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Almighty God,
who sent your Holy Spirit
to be the life and light of your Church:
open our hearts to the riches of your grace,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.  Amen.

Romans 10:5-15

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law,
that "the person who does these things will live by them." 

But the righteousness that comes from faith says, 
"Do not say in your heart, 
"Who will ascend into heaven?' " 
(that is, to bring Christ down)

or "Who will descend into the abyss?' " 
(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 

But what does it say? 
"The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart" 
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 

because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord 
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, 
you will be saved. 

For one believes with the heart and so is justified, 
and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 

The scripture says, 
"No one who believes in him will be put to shame." 

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
 the same Lord is Lord of all 
and is generous to all who call on him. 

For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." 

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? 
And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 

And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? 
As it is written, 
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" 

Matthew 14:22-33

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

Immediately after feeding the crowd 
with the five loaves and two fish,

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat 
and go on ahead to the other side, 
while he dismissed the crowds. 

And after he had dismissed the crowds, 
he went up the mountain by himself to pray. 
When evening came, he was there alone,

but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, 
was far from the land, 
for the wind was against them. 

And early in the morning 
he came walking toward them on the sea. 

But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, 
they were terrified, saying, 
"It is a ghost!" 
And they cried out in fear. 

But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, 
"Take heart, it is I; 
do not be afraid." 

Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, 
command me to come to you on the water." 

He said, "Come." 
So Peter got out of the boat, 
started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 

But when he noticed the strong wind, 
he became frightened, and beginning to sink, 
he cried out, "Lord, save me!" 

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, 
saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" 

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 

And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 
"Truly you are the Son of God." 

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Please note that from  Sunday 9th August,  face coverings will be mandatory in places of worship.  So please remember to bring and wear your mask (or face covering) when visiting St Mary's as this is a government requirement.

Sunday, 2 August 2020
The first Sunday in August brings us to our first family service since we have been able to have services. Although being August there were not many families around. The celebrant was Father Stephen, and Chris Field took this opportunity to tell us about the resources that the Sunday School leaders used when preparing the sessions, they have been continuing with the work in lockdown using the internet to provide activities for the children and parents to do together. A big thank you to all the sunday school staff, and to the parents and children for keeping going during these difficult times!

As has become our custom, social distancing and face masks were all in place, and the communion was given only as the bread. Once again Joanna provided music during the service, but still no singing. Good news from the Plant and Book Sale a splendid result, in total the two sales, Cakes and Jam the week before and Books and Plants this week have raised £900! a great help towards filling the gap left by not having a Fete this year.

If you would like to order a christmas cake, or pudding, Hilary Platts is taking orders now, please let her know.
Source Lesley Bromley


Tintoretto, ‘The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes’, 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Dear Friends

Today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 14:13-21) depicts Jesus wanting to be alone for a while to think: the execution of John the Baptist represents a turning-point in the narrative and Jesus needed to have some time to consider the implications.  But neither the crowds following him, nor the disciples, could leave him alone – they were a ‘flock without a shepherd’.

How would Jesus deal with this situation?  It was clear that people needed to eat and rest, so he delegates this need to his disciples, who are at a loss, and seem ill-equipped to meet its demands – let alone to understand its deeper meaning, whereby the basic human need to assuage hunger is symptomatic, also, of a spiritual hunger.

So Jesus, with the foreknowledge which had drawn them all out into the wilderness in the first place, turns things around through the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes.  The subsequent twelve baskets-full of scraps point to the abundance of God’s mercy and are, at the same time, a sign and foretaste of the banquet of the kingdom.  The story should also be interpreted as a pattern for the Holy Eucharist.

Fr Stephen

PS: The 10.00am service on the first Sunday of the month is usually a Family Communion, although at the moment it will not be possible to involve our Sunday School children in a presentation, so we are very grateful to Chris (Field) who will be providing a talk, as well as taking the intercessions, this week.

Collect for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Almighty Lord and everlasting God,
we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern
    both our hearts and bodies
in the ways of your laws
    and the works of your commandments;
that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever,
we may be preserved in body and soul;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Romans 9:1-5

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans.

I am speaking the truth in Christ—
I am not lying;
my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit—

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.

For I could wish that I myself were accursed
and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people,
my kindred according to the flesh.

They are Israelites,
and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants,
the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;

to them belong the patriarchs,
and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah,
who is over all,
God blessed forever. Amen.

Gospel Matthew 14:13-21

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

When Jesus heard that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
But when the crowds heard it,
they followed him on foot from the towns.

When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd;
and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said,
"This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late;
send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages
and buy food for themselves."

Jesus said to them,
"They need not go away;
you give them something to eat."

They replied,
"We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish."

And he said, "Bring them here to me."

Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish,
he looked up to heaven,
and blessed and broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

And all ate and were filled;
and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces,
twelve baskets full.

And those who ate were about five thousand men,
besides women and children.

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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