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Sunday, 8 November 2020

Paul-Alexandre Protais (1826-1888), ‘The Morning before the Attack’,
The Condé Museum, Chateau de Chantilly*

Dear Friends

Although not set for today, the reading from the second book of Maccabees (2 Maccabees 12:32-45) has echoes of Remembrance, particularly in the second half.  The passage describes how Judas Maccabaeus and his army had just fought an engagement in one of the many battles for Jewish independence from Hellenistic forces and rule.  He and his men were wondering why, although they had won the battle, so many of their comrades had died.

We have to understand the mindset of those days in order to interpret the passage correctly.  There was a superstition that, if their cause was good and right, they should have been protected from such severe casualties.  However, the reason is revealed – under their tunics many of the soldiers had been carrying idols, looted during the aftermath of a previous battle.  Instead of bringing them luck, as they hoped, the reverse had happened.  The Jewish law forbade the carrying of such items and this, it was assumed, was the reason why the men had perished.  To make amends, Judas took up a collection and sent it to Jerusalem as an expiation for the ‘sins’ of the fallen, and the passage notes that this action, which is described as ‘altogether fine and noble’ was ‘prompted by his belief in the resurrection’.  Judas, in other words, expected the dead to rise again and therefore it was neither superfluous nor foolish to pray for them so that they might be ‘released from their sin’ and gain the ‘splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end’.

We see in this passage from the inter-testamental period one of the first explicit references to the resurrection occurring within the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures.  It was on the basis of this passage (and others, of course, from the New Testament) that the Catholic practice of praying for the dead, and of conducting requiem masses, developed.  By 1928 it was proposed that the Church of England, too, should conduct up to three services of Holy Communion for the war dead on each All Souls’ day, as a response to the terrible carnage of the Western Front, which had resulted in so many families being unable to bury their loved ones, who were ‘missing, presumed dead’.

The passage from the Gospel of John contains the famous statement which is usually read on Remembrance Sunday: ‘No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.  Within the context of the day, this is taken particularly to refer to the sacrifice of the fallen for their friends and fellows, but it should, of course, also be understood as referring to Jesus’ supreme and saving sacrifice for the whole of humankind, both living and departed.

Fr Stephen

Collect for the Third Sunday before Advent (Remembrance Sunday)

Almighty Father, whose will it is to restore 
   all things in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations, 
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule,
who is alive and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-end

A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,
about those who have died,
so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so, through Jesus,
God will bring with him those who have diesd.

For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, 
that we who are alive, 
who are left until the coming of the Lord, 
will by no means precede those who have died. 

For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, 
with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, 
will descend from heaven, 
and the dead in Christ will rise first. 

Then we who are alive, who are left, 
will be caught up in the clouds 
together with them to meet the Lord in the air;
 and so we will be with the Lord forever. 

Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Matthew 25:1-13

Hear the gospel of our Lord according to Matthew.

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples:

"The kingdom of heaven will be like this. 
Ten bridesmaids took their lamps 
and went to meet the bridegroom. 

Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 

When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 

but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 

As the bridegroom was delayed, 
all of them became drowsy and slept.

But at midnight there was a shout, 
"Look! Here is the bridegroom! 
Come out to meet him.' 

Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.

The foolish said to the wise,
"Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 

But the wise replied, 
"No! there will not be enough for you and for us; 
you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' 

And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, 
and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; 
and the door was shut. 

Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 
"Lord, lord, open to us.'

But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' 

Keep awake therefore, 
for you know neither the day nor the hour. 

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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