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Sunday, 31 January 2021

Andrea Mantegna, ‘The Presentation of Christ in the Temple’, c1455,
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Dear Friends

‘See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.’

This passage, from the third chapter of Malachi, is invariably read out at the start of the service for the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or Candlemas, which occurs on 2 February, although it is often transferred to the nearest Sunday – of course, I use the word ‘invariably’ advisedly as, sadly, this service will not be held at St Mary’s this year.

The service traditionally starts with the distribution, blessing and lighting of candles, with the congregation processing into church, either from outside or from a nearby hall (in recent years we have tended to use the parish rooms for this).  What is the significance of this part of the liturgy?  Well, by carrying a lighted candle we, as it were, re-enact the bringing of the Christ-child into the temple, as described in St Luke’s Gospel, when Mary and Joseph ‘present’ their first-born at the Temple in Jerusalem.

It is a joyful moment, but is also bitter-sweet, as Mary must come to terms with the prophetic words of Simeon, that the child she has borne will be destined ‘for the falling and rising of many in Israel’ and will be a ‘sign that will be opposed’.  Even Mary herself will not escape sharing in the suffering of her son, whose life is not to be one of ease and adulation but will lead to the cross – ‘a sword will pierce your own soul too’.

So the Feast of Candlemas represents a pivotal moment in our liturgical year.  It is a last look back at Christmas but also helps us to begin to turn towards Lent and the events of Passiontide.  

Ultimately, of course, those events would lead to the salvation of the whole world - but, for the time being, the child Jesus was taken back to Nazareth, where he ‘grew, and became strong and was filled with wisdom’.

Fr Stephen

Collect for Candlemas

Almighty and ever-living God,
clothed in majesty,
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple, 
in substance of our flesh:
grant that we may be presented to you
with pure and clean hearts,
by 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.

Malachi 3:1-5

A reading fromt he book ofthe prophet  Malachi.

Thus says the Lord God:

See, I am sending my messenger 
to prepare the way before me, 
and the Lord whom you seek 
will suddenly come to his temple. 
The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—
indeed, he is coming, 
says the Lord of hosts. 

But who can endure the day of his coming, 
and who can stand when he appears? 
For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; 

he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, 
and he will purify the descendants of Levi 
and refine them like gold and silver, 
until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 

Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem 
will be pleasing to the Lord 
as in the days of old and as in former years. 

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; 
I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, 
against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, 
against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, t
he widow and the orphan,
 against those who thrust aside the alien, 
and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. 

Luke 2:22-40

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

When the time came for their purification 
according to the law of Moses, 
mary and Joseph brought him up to Jerusalem 
to present him to the Lord 

(as it is written in the law of the Lord, 
"Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord"), 

and they offered a sacrifice 
according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, 
"a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; 
this man was righteous and devout, 
looking forward to the consolation of Israel, 
and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit 
that he would not see death 
before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. 

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; 
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, 
to do for him what was customary under the law, 

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 

"Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, 
according to your word; 

for my eyes have seen your salvation, 

which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 

a light for revelation to the Gentiles 
and for glory to your people Israel." 

And the child's father and mother 
were amazed at what was being said about him. 

Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, 
"This child is destined 
for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, 
and to be a sign that will be opposed 

so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—
and a sword will pierce your own soul too." 

There was also a prophet, Anna 
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. 
She was of a great age, 
having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 

then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. 
She never left the temple 
but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 

At that moment she came, and began to praise God 
and to speak about the child 
to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 

When they had finished everything 
required by the law of the Lord, 
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; 
and the favor of God was upon him. 
Monday, 25 January 2021
 Despite the church being closed for formal services, the childen in the Sunday School are still very active with tasks to do at home.

This week, the reading was about the miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. 

The foot prints are to remind us that we should try to walk in the footprints of Jesus.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Orthodox Icon: The Wedding at Cana

Dear Friends

On this third Sunday of Epiphany, the Gospel reading (John 2:1-11) recounts the episode in which Jesus turns the water into wine during the wedding feast held at Cana in Galilee.  It is a passage which is often used during marriage services held in church and, as with all narratives within the fourth Gospel, it is theologically rich and can be read on several levels.

There is, of course, the immediate context of a first-century Jewish wedding feast.  Wedding parties lasted several nights (with guests often going to work during the day) and expectations in terms of the food and drink provided were high.  In this case, it appears that the host family was reasonably wealthy, since they had servants and the kind of stone water-jars which only the more prosperous could provide.  To run out of wine at a wedding would have entailed at the very least social embarrassment and, at worst, could even lead to lawsuits if disgruntled guests considered that they were not receiving the kind of hospitality appropriate to the value of their wedding gifts!  So this might perhaps explain why Jesus, after initial demurrals, performs what could otherwise seem a ‘non-essential’ miracle in this instance.
But there are other layers to this story.  The miracle is the first of the seven ‘signs’ portrayed in this Gospel, in which Jesus’ glory as Son of the Father is revealed.  Within the Jewish mind-set the words ‘marriage feast’ had immediate connotations of the longed-for messianic banquet in which God’s loving purposes for Israel – and, ultimately, for all humankind – would be made manifest.  So this sign, performed in the village of Cana, points us to the lavish extravagance of God’s banquet in which the best is saved until last – the Gospel writer is letting us know that this sign demonstrates that the dawn of the messianic age has come in Jesus Christ.

How are we meant to respond to this story?  We are told that, as a result of this miracle, his followers ‘believed in him’ – that is, they became committed disciples rather than just a group of friends who were accompanying Jesus out of curiosity, to see what would happen next.  The words of Jesus’ mother, Mary, ‘Do whatever he tells you’, are surely significant here.  Again, on one level, this is a delightfully ‘human’ response to Jesus’ insistence that his ‘hour had not yet come’ – the Jewish mother who is sure that her son can do something to rectify an awkward situation.  On a deeper level, though, her words are directed to us, his latter-day disciples, to ‘do whatever he tells’, a process which involves a lifetime’s listening to his word, and responding in obedience.

Fr Stephen


Almight God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles
the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your mighty power;
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 forever.

Revelation 19:6-10

A reading form the book of Revelation.

I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, 
like the sound of many waters 
and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, 
crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, 
for the marriage of the Lamb has come, 
and his bride has made herself ready; 

to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure"— 
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 

And the angel said to me, "Write this: 
Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." 
And he said to me, "These are true words of God." 

John 2:1-11

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

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, 
and the mother of Jesus was there. 

Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 
"They have no wine." 

And Jesus said to her, 
"Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? 
My hour has not yet come." 

His mother said to the servants, 
"Do whatever he tells you." 

Now standing there were six stone water jars 
for the Jewish rites of purification, 
each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 

Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." 
And they filled them up to the brim. 

He said to them, "Now draw some out, 
and take it to the chief steward." 
So they took it. 

When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, 
and did not know where it came from 
(though the servants who had drawn the water knew), 
the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, 

"Everyone serves the good wine first, 
and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk.
 But you have kept the good wine until now." 

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, 
and revealed his glory; 
and his disciples believed in him. 
Sunday, 17 January 2021

Greek Orthodox Icon: The Calling of Philip and Nathanael

Dear Friends

As mentioned in last Sunday’s ‘thought for the week’, we continue to explore, during Epiphany, narratives from the Gospels which encourage us to reflect upon the ‘epiphany’ (unveiling, or manifestation) of the glory of God in his Son, Jesus Christ.  The Feast of Epiphany itself focuses upon the visit of the Magi to the infant Christ, and the presentation of the three symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, as recounted by Matthew.  Then, last week, the story of the baptism of Christ, which is to be found in all three synoptic Gospels, to a greater or lesser extent, depicts Jesus coming up out of the water after his baptism in the river Jordan, experiencing the Holy Spirit descend upon him, and receiving confirmation, through the ‘voice from heaven’ of his unique role as Son – it is one of the key instances in the New Testament in which the Trinity begins to be revealed (although the word ‘Trinity’ as such is not to be found within any of these documents).

This Sunday, the focus, in the narrative of the calling of Philip and Nathanael (John 1:43-51), is upon the way in which Jesus, newly anointed for his messianic role by the Spirit, begins to gather around him a group of disciples.  As so often in the Scriptures, it is a story which reflects the fact that God’s choice can be unexpected and frequently rests upon those who seem least ‘worthy’.  As one commentator has suggested, if you put yourself in Nathanael’s shoes, and your friend, Philip, comes to you with the outrageous suggestion that the One about whom Moses and the prophets have written is a denizen of Nazareth – a small village in the backwaters of Galilee, truly the back end of nowhere – it is perhaps not surprising that Nathanael’s reaction is at first incredulous, and even cynical: ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’.  It is not at all what he was expecting – Nazareth is ‘off the religious map’ and this is not what is supposed to happen when the Messiah comes!  Nevertheless, he responds to the invitation to ‘come and see’, and Jesus praises him for his integrity: ‘There, truly, is an Israelite in whom there is no guile’.  As a result, Nathanael finds himself the recipient of a promise that he will see God’s glory revealed in a way that will demand his lifetime commitment – God, through his Son, has made even Nazareth (and Nathanael) new.

The season of Epiphany is a time in which we, too, are especially invited – although at times we may feel as sceptical or incredulous as Nathanael – to offer our lives once more to be transformed and renewed, so that God’s glory may be revealed, even in us.

Fr Stephen


Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the povertyof our nature
    by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
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 forever.

1 Samuel 3:1-10

A readinf from the first book of Samuel.

The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. 
The word of the Lord was rare in those days; 
visions were not widespread. 

At that time Eli, 
whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, 
was lying down in his room; 

the lamp of God had not yet gone out, 
and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, 
where the ark of God was. 

Then the Lord called, "Samuel! Samuel!" 
and he said, "Here I am!" 

and ran to Eli, and said, 
"Here I am, for you called me." 
But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." 
So he went and lay down. 

The Lord called again, "Samuel!" 
Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, 
"Here I am, for you called me." 
But he said, 
"I did not call, my son; lie down again." 

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, 
and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. 
And he got up and went to Eli, and said, 
"Here I am, for you called me." 
Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 

Therefore Eli said to Samuel, 
"Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, 
"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.' " 
So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 

Now the Lord came and stood there, 
calling as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" 
And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." 

John 1:43-51

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

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. 
He found Philip and said to him, 
"Follow me." 

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 
"We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, 
Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." 

Nathanael said to him, 
"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" 
Philip said to him, "Come and see." 

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, 
he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" 

Nathanael asked him, 
"Where did you get to know me?" 
Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." 

Nathanael replied, 
"Rabbi, you are the Son of God! 
You are the King of Israel!" 

Jesus answered, 
"Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? 
You will see greater things than these." 

And he said to him, "Very truly, 
I tell you, you will see heaven opened 
and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
Tuesday, 12 January 2021

 As we are in Lockdown at the moment the Sunday School is not meeting, but the learning goes on! The team of Sunday School leaders prepare work for the children to do and parents and grandparents have been helping and encouraging the youngsters with the tasks. 

Here are some pictures of the work underway and a lovely picture of John the Baptist baptising Our Lord.

Many thanks to all the team and all the youngsters and their families for keeping going during the pandemic!

The Sunday School will be sharing more of their activities with us in weeks to come!


Sunday, 10 January 2021

Piero della Francesca, ‘The Baptism of Christ’, National Gallery, London

Dear Friends
We have now reached the second week of Epiphany.  ‘Epiphany’, of course, means ‘manifestation’ – in this case, the manifestation of Christ’s glory - and the theologically rich and complex themes of this time of year are explored through three discrete but interlinked episodes from the Gospels.  On the first Sunday of Epiphany we tend to focus on the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus, and the presentation of their gifts.  Today, we join with other Christian churches in reflecting upon the manifestation of Christ ‘in Jordan’s stream’ – ie at this baptism, when his divine Sonship is revealed.  Subsequently, we shall be celebrating the way in which Christ’s glory was first disclosed to his disciples at the miracle of the transformation of water into wine during the wedding feast at Cana – a pivotal moment, as recounted in the Gospel of John, in which his disciples began to ‘believe in him’.
All three manifestations are covered in the Sundays of Epiphany-tide, which continues until the Feast of the Presentation at Candlemass, and all three include the imperative for us, as Christian disciples, not only to believe, but also to obey the Lord’s call to spread the word – to evangelize, in other words.  This is something which we Anglicans can be hesitant about, but we can, at least, recognize situations when a ‘word in season’ could help others to make a step towards their own discipleship.  Of course, this is not easy during the current lockdown situation, but I can’t help thinking that there are many ‘out there’ who might be just waiting for us to share the joy and hope we derive, during dark times such as these, from being followers of Christ.
A little later this month, between 18 and 25 January, we shall be observing the week of prayer for Christian unity, during which the Collect for the Confession of St Peter is often used.  The Collect recalls the incident at Caesarea Philippi when Peter was inspired to confess Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 16:13-20) and perhaps helps us to reflect upon our own role, as disciples, in mission and evangelism:-
‘Almighty God, who inspired your Apostle Saint Peter to confess Jesus as Christ and Son of the living God: build up your Church upon this rock, that in unity and peace it may proclaim one truth and follow one Lord, your Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Fr Stephen


Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your son,
annointing him with the Holy Spirit:
grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling
    as your adopted children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive with you, in the unityof the Holy Spirit,
one Gos, now and forever.

Acts 19:1-7
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

While Apollos was in Corinth, 
Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, 
where he found some disciples. 

He said to them,
"Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" 
They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 

Then he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" 
They answered, "Into John's baptism." 

Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, 
telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, 
that is, in Jesus." 

On hearing this, 
they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 

When Paul had laid his hands on them, 
the Holy Spirit came upon them, 
and they spoke in tongues and prophesied— 

altogether there were about twelve of them. 

Mark 1:4-11

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

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." 

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee 
and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 

 And just as he was coming up out of the water, 
he saw the heavens torn apart 
and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 

And a voice came from heaven, 
"You are my Son, the Beloved; 
with you I am well pleased." 
Sunday, 3 January 2021

This sunday we had a Family Eucharistic, at which we celebrated the Epiphany. We would normally have a procession of the Maji by the sunday school children, but this was not allowed with Covid 19 restrictions, and Mrs Field gave a talk instead of the children. The celebrant was Father Roger as Father Stephen is shielding. We had no choir but Joanna chose some lovely recorded mudic for us.

As it now transpires this is the last service we can hold for the time being. We pray that every one can keep safe and healthy in these terrible times. We will continue to post the set readings for each week, and any news that we have. God Bless every one and we look forward to every one being vaccinated and safe from the Corona virus.

Matthew 2:1-12 

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

In the time of King Herod, 
after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, 
wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, 

"Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? 
For we observed his star at its rising, 
and have come to pay him homage." 

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, 
and all Jerusalem with him; 

and calling together 
all the chief priests and scribes of the people, 
he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 

They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; 
for so it has been written by the prophet: 

"And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, 
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; 
for from you shall come a ruler 
who is to shepherd my people Israel.' " 

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men 
and learned from them the exact time 
when the star had appeared. 

Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, 
"Go and search diligently for the child; 
and when you have found him, 
bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." 

When they had heard the king, they set out; 
and there, ahead of them, 
went the star that they had seen at its rising, 
until it stopped over the place where the child was. 

When they saw that the star had stopped, 
they were overwhelmed with joy. 

On entering the house, 
they saw the child with Mary his mother; 
and they knelt down and paid him homage. 
Then, opening their treasure chests, 
they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 
they left for their own country by another road. 

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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