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Sunday, 28 February 2021

‘The Rebuking or Calling of St Peter’, Anonymous, Flemish School, c1600

Dear Friends

It may feel as if we are only just beginning ‘Year B’, or the ‘Year of Mark’ in the Common Worship lectionary, but today’s reading (Mark 8:31-end) occurs at approximately the mid-point of the Gospel.  Its narrative reflects the fact that, as human beings, we tend to let things lapse into a routine, and it could be that the disciples at this point in their journey with Jesus were happy to settle back into an easy and comfortable relationship with him.  Jesus, however, is aware that things are soon going to become more challenging, since the ‘Son of man was destined to suffer grievously’.  Peter’s remonstration, although very understandable, is sternly denounced by the Lord: ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do’ – Peter, in other words, had become too earth-bound in his approach, even though, immediately preceding this episode (in Mark 8:27-30), he had recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and therefore so much more than simply a ‘good bloke’.

Jesus makes it plain that not only must he accept the path of suffering and death, but that this is the pattern which his disciples must also expect: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?’  These are challenging words, addressed not just to Peter but to all of us who account ourselves as followers of Jesus.  This is the cost of discipleship and it cannot be otherwise – it is a question of faith and trust (in the epistle reading for this Sunday, Romans 4:13-25, we see Paul holding up the example of Abraham in this respect).  

For most Christians there will come similar ‘times of reckoning’, when we are given a choice – do we stay hiding in the shadows, half-hearted in our commitment, or do we stand up and proclaim that Jesus is, indeed, the Messiah, the Son of God, and that we are prepared to follow him to the cross knowing that, ultimately, this is the only route to true joy?

Fr Stephen


Almighty God,
you show to those who are in error the light of your truth,
that they may return to the way of righteousness:
grant to all those who are admitted
   into the fellowship of Christ’s religion,
that they may reject those things
   that are contrary to their profession,
 and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same;
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 Romans 4.13-end

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans.

The promise that he would inherit the world 
did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law 
but through the righteousness of faith. 

If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, 
faith is null and the promise is void. 

For the law brings wrath; 
but where there is no law, 
neither is there violation. 

For this reason it depends on faith, 
in order that the promise may rest on grace 
and be guaranteed to all his descendants, 
not only to the adherents of the law
 but also to those who share the faith of Abraham 
(for he is the father of all of us, 

as it is written, 
"I have made you the father of many nations")—
Abraham believed in the presence of the God 
who gives life to the dead 
and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 

Hoping against hope, 
he believed that he would become 
"the father of many nations," 
according to what was said,
 "So numerous shall your descendants be." 

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, 
which was already as good as dead 
(for he was about a hundred years old),
 or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, 
but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 

being fully convinced that God was able to do 
what he had promised. 

Therefore his faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness." 

Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," 
were written not for his sake alone, 

but for ours also. 
It will be reckoned to us who believe in him 
who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 

who was handed over to death for our trespasses 
and was raised for our justification.

Mark 8.31-end

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

Jesus began to teach his disciples
that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, 
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, 
and be killed, and after three days rise again. 

He said all this quite openly. 
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 

But turning and looking at his disciples, 
he rebuked Peter and said, 
"Get behind me, Satan! 
For you are setting your mind not on divine things 
but on human things." 

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 
"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, 
and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 

For what will it profit them 
to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 

Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 

Those who are ashamed of me and of my words 
in this adulterous and sinful generation, 
of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed 
when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

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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