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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." 

Service Times

Services are suspended.

The church is open during daylight hours for personal prayer and reflection.

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. We will be updating Fr Stephens Message page on a regular basis.
  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.