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Tuesday, 30 March 2021

 This Sunday the children were making palm crosses at home. We hope next year we will be able to have our Palm Sunday procession again. 

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Greek Orthodox Icon: ‘The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem’

Dear Friends

The service on Palm Sunday begins with the Liturgy of the Palms, for which the Gospel readings given are Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16, describing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey – the Gospel writers understood this event as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-12 (‘Rejoice, heart and soul, daughter of Zion!  Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem!  Look, your king is approaching, he is vindicated and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey’).

It is usual, once the palm crosses have been blessed by the priest, to then process either around the church or, weather permitting, outside, singing ‘All glory, laud and honour’.

Once back in church, the Liturgy of the Passion follows, and we hear the canticle drawn from Philippians 2:5-11 about the self-emptying of Jesus ‘taking the form of a slave’ and humbly becoming obedient unto death ‘even death on a cross’.  The canticle ends with the exultant confession of faith that Jesus has now been raised on high by God, and given the ‘name above all other names’ so that ‘every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father’.  It is probable that St Paul took these words from a liturgy which was already in use within the early Church and reworked them into the form in which we now read them.

Sometimes, at St Mary’s, we have proclaimed the Gospel (which this year would have been either Mark 14:1-end of 15 or Mark 15:1-39) in dramatic form, perhaps asking members of the Sunday School, or from the congregation, to take the parts of the main protagonists.

I have always thought it is superfluous, after this, to have a sermon.  It is usual for the congregation to stand during the recitation of the Gospel, even though this is rather long, and the recitation itself provides all that is needed for profound meditation on the Passion.  It is concluded with a time of silence and prayer.  Communion then follows.

Let’s hope that by next year the normal flow of the Palm Sunday liturgy, along with the rest of the Holy Week and Easter services, including Stations of the Cross, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday observance, can resume.  These are always moving rites, and also a witness to those who, for whatever reason, continue to ‘pass by’ the true meaning of Easter.  If I can be forgiven for throwing in here a personal memory, I have vivid recollections of the enactments of the Passion Gospel which were arranged by those studying for the priesthood at Chichester Theological College during the Holy Weeks of 1986 and 1987.  The enactments took place in the pedestrianised area of the city streets, culminating in the Crucifixion which was staged at the Market Cross.  In the first year, I was the ‘props man’ and, amongst other things, was required to carry the ‘cat-o-nine tails’ which was used for the scourging scene.  It was a powerful and profoundly moving witness to the Passion, and it was heartening to see how many people paused from their shopping and took time to join in as spectators.

Sadly, such enactments are not possible this year, for all the reasons of which we are well aware.  I shall arrange for the Paschal candle to be blessed on Easter Eve, and I shall look forward to joining with as many of you as can be present for the socially distanced Easter Sunday Eucharist.

Fr Stephen

Collect for Palm Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
   to take upon him our flesh 
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
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.

 Philippians 2:5-11

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Philippians.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,

he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
ven death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Mark 14:1-15

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

It was two days before the Passover 
and the festival of Unleavened Bread. 
The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way
to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 

for they said, 
“Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,
as he sat at the table, 
a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, 
and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.

But some were there who said to one another in anger, 
“Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 

For this ointment could have been sold 
for more than three hundred denarii,
and the money given to the poor.” 
And they scolded her. 

But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? 
She has performed a good service for me. 

For you always have the poor with you, 
and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; 
but you will not always have me. 

She has done what she could; 
she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 

Truly I tell you, 
wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, 
what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, 
went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.

When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, 
and promised to give him money. 
So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, 
when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, 
his disciples said to him, 
“Where do you want us to go and make the preparations 
for you to eat the Passover?” 

So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 
“Go into the city, 
and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; 
follow him, and wherever he enters, 

say to the owner of the house, 
‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room 
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 

He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready.
 Make preparations for us there.” 
Thursday, 25 March 2021
 Hebrews 10:4-10

A reading from the letter to the Hebrews.

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;

in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.

Then I said, 
‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”

When Christ said 
“You have neither desired nor taken pleasure 
in sacrifices and offerings 
and burnt offerings and sin offerings” 
(these are offered according to the law),

then he added,
“See, I have come to do your will.” 
He abolishes the first 
in order to establish the second. 

And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified 
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ 
once for all.

Luke 1:26-38

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

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God 
to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 

to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, 
of the house of David. 
The virgin’s name was Mary. 

And he came to her and said, 
“Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.”

But she was much perplexed by his words 
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 

The angel said to her, 
“Do not be afraid, Mary, 
for you have found favour with God. 

And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, 
and you will name him Jesus. 

He will be great,
 and will be called the Son of the Most High, 
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, 
and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

Mary said to the angel, 
“How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel said to her, 
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, 
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; 
therefore the child to be born will be holy; 
he will be called Son of God. 

And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son;
and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 

For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

Then Mary said, 
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; 
let it be with me according to your word.” 
Then the angel departed from her.
Wednesday, 24 March 2021
 I was listening to the Archbishop of York today on the radio (what a lovely man).  After his Covid 19 vaccination, as a way of saying thank you, he made a donation so that other people around the world could be vaccinated. My husband also heard him and said what a good idea, so we made our donation this morning.

You can do this easily via Christian Aid »

Don't forget to tick the box so they can get Gift Aid, making your donation even bigger.

We are lucky in the UK as our vaccination programme seems to be streaks ahead of most other countries. The vaccines currently in use are both highly effective and very safe. The poorer countries will struggle to pay for the much needed vaccines. We can all help the world get back to normal by helping us all to be vaccinated.
Sunday, 21 March 2021

‘The Taking of Christ’, Caravaggio, 1602,
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Dear Friends

On this Passion Sunday, for which the lectionary readings are Hebrews 5:5-10 and John 12:20-33, we are invited to meditate once more upon the obedience which Christ offered to the Father in accepting crucifixion and death for our sake, and especially upon the love which impelled that acceptance.  So I would commend, for your personal reflections and devotions, the following collection of Scriptural sentences and prayers which offer a memorial, entitled Ad Crucem, of the crucifixion:-

‘When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to myself.’
‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
‘This day you will be with me in paradise.’
‘You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.’
‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’
‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’
‘Truly this was the Son of God.’
‘O Lord Jesus Christ, 
who promised to refresh all who come to you in travail, 
we offer you our prayer
as we approach the time of your most bitter passion;
mercifully grant that all we have begun in your strength
may be finished for the glory of your Name.  Amen.’
‘We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you
because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.’

And, as we hear again on this Passion Sunday the invitation to in the Gospel to follow Jesus like faithful servants, we can reflect, too, upon our own obedience to God, and that this is simply a response to and of the love that has already been shown to us – as the hymn puts it, ‘love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.’

Fr Stephen

Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
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.

 Hebrews 5:5-10

A reading from the letter to the Hebrews.

Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, 
but was appointed by the one who said to him,
“You are my Son,     today I have begotten you”;

as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, 
Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, 
with loud cries and tears, 
to the one who was able to save him from death, 
and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 

Although he was a Son, 
he learned obedience through what he suffered; 

and having been made perfect, 
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 

having been designated by God 
a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

John 12:20-33

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

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 

They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, 
and said to him, 
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 

Philip went and told Andrew; 
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 

Jesus answered them, 
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 

Very truly, I tell you, 
unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, 
it remains just a single grain; 
but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 

Those who love their life lose it, 
and those who hate their life in this world 
will keep it for eternal life. 

Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there will my servant be also. 
Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

“Now my soul is troubled. 
And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? 
No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 

Father, glorify your name.” 
Then a voice came from heaven, 
“I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 

The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. 
Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 

Jesus answered, 
“This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 

Now is the judgment of this world; 
now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all people to myself.” 

He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Unless there is a very sudden change in circumstances , we are delighted to be able to say that St Mary's will be restarting services on Easter Sunday.

We will be holding a l0am service every Sunday and on the third Sunday of the month when this is a Mattins service, we shall also be having an 8 am Holy Communion service (Please check the Calendar here for more detail). The regulations for social distancing, the wearing of face masks, hand sanitising, no singing will all still be in effect. We will also still only be able to receive the bread and not the wine at communion and the ‘one- way system’ for communion will continue to apply - up the centre aisle and back by the side aisles. We must also continue to minimise the use of microphones and movement and so sidesman duties and reading will continue to be carried out by the churchwardens. Regrettably, we will still be unable to meet for coffee after the service. But, it is another small, but very important, step towards ‘normality’!

Sunday, 14 March 2021

‘Christ on the Cross with Mary and St John’, Rogier van der Weyden, c1443-1445
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Dear Friends

The readings provided for today represent an embarrass de richesses since not only do we have those for the fourth Sunday of Lent, but also a number of alternatives for Mothering Sunday which, of course, falls on the same day.  I am tempted to pick Exodus 2:1-10, the story of the birth of Moses and his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter, who calls him Moses because, as she says, ‘I drew him out of the water’ (according to a popular etymology the name was derived from the Hebrew mosheh, ‘to draw out’).  She is duped by Moses’ mother and sister – but, in this case, happily so, and as quite often in biblical narratives, circumspection and even cunning can be used by God to bring about good.  ‘How can this be so?’ our more self-righteous self may ask, but it is, nevertheless the case that this is reflected in many of the most pivotal Scriptural narratives.

In one of the epistle readings allocated for today, Colossians 3:12-17, St Paul insists, nevertheless, that, as Christians we are called to a higher standard: ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God and whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’

For the Gospel there is a choice between Luke 2:33-35 or John 19:25b-27.  In the first, the story of the presentation of Christ in the Temple, Simeon addresses Mary and prophesies that ‘a sword will piece your own soul too’, which brings us back down to earth and recalls us to the message of Lent and Jesus’ life-long preparation for his passion, cross and resurrection – and that we, his disciples, will have to share in his suffering if we are also to share in his resurrection.

The other Gospel reading is the exchange at Calvary when Jesus addresses his mother Mary from the cross: ‘Woman, here is your son’ (indicating John, the ‘beloved disciple’) and then to that disciple: ‘Here is your mother’.  We are told that ‘from that hour the disciple took here into his own home’ – a foretaste, perhaps, of the embryonic Church?

Fr Stephen

Collect for Mothering Sunday

God of compassion,
whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth,
and on the cross dew the whole human family to himself:
strengthen us in our daily living
that in joy and sorrow
we may know the power of your presence
   to bind and to heal;
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.

1 Samuel 1:20-28 

A reading from the first book of Samuel.

Hannah conceived and bore a son. 
She named him Samuel, for she said, 
“I have asked him of the Lord.”

The man Elkanah and all his household 
went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, 
and to pay his vow. 

But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, 
“As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, 
that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, 
and remain there forever; 
I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.”

Her husband Elkanah said to her, 
“Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; 
only—may the Lord establish his word.”
So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. 

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, 
along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour,
 and a skin of wine. 
She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; 
and the child was young. 

Then they slaughtered the bull, 
and they brought the child to Eli. 

And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, 
I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, 
praying to the Lord. 

For this child I prayed; 
and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. 

Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; 
as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.”
She left him there for[m] the Lord.

Luke 2:33-35

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

The child’s father and mother 
were amazed at what was being said about Jesus.

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.”
Wednesday, 10 March 2021

 The theme this week was to know Jesus’ summary of the Law – Love one another. 

The boys had a great time playing the traffic light game, talking about loving God and one another, and then colouring in their bracelets.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

‘Christ Driving the Money-Changes from the Temple’, El Greco, 1568, 
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Dear Friends

The three readings set for this Sunday (Exodus 20:1-17, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and John 2:13-22) are linked particularly by the theme of obedience.  The first gives the Ten Commandments in the version provided by the compilers of the book of Exodus.  In the second, St Paul emphasizes that, for Christ, the cost of obedience was the Cross, a ‘stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God’, demonstrating that God’s ‘foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.’

The passage from the Gospel of John describes the confrontation between Jesus and those who were using the Temple as a market-place – selling cattle, sheep and doves, and acting as money-changers.  It is to be noted that Jesus uses the whip of cords for the animals alone.  The episode is placed early in the Gospel, and immediately puts Jesus at odds with the Temple authorities (a central theme of the rest of the Gospel), whereas the synoptic accounts include it towards the end, as a prelude to the final confrontation with Pilate and the Jewish religious leaders.  Even in John, however, that final confrontation is hinted at when Jesus responds to the question, ‘What sign will you give us for doing this?’, by speaking of the temple of his body: ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up’ – in other words, Jesus’ obedience to his mission, which will lead him to the Cross, will be vindicated at the Resurrection.  

In the Johannine account, too, there is an emphasis upon the way in which the episode impressed itself upon the disciples, who came to understand it more fully only after the Resurrection – ‘After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.’

During Lent we, also, are invited to enter more fully upon the way of obedience – obedience not only to the Ten Commandments (which emphasize the wrong we should not do rather than the good we are created to do) but to sharing in the way of the Cross, in whatever way that presents itself to us in our current circumstances – trusting in God’s promise that, ultimately, this is the true path to life, peace and joy.

Fr Stephen

Collect for the Third Sunday of Lent

Almighty God,
whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life 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.

 1 Corinthians 1.8-25

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

The message about the cross 
is foolishness to those who are perishing, 
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 

For it is written, 
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, 
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." 

Where is the one who is wise? 
Where is the scribe? 
Where is the debater of this age? 
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 

For since, in the wisdom of God, 
the world did not know God through wisdom, 
God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, 
to save those who believe. 

For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 

but we proclaim Christ crucified,
 a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 

but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, 
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 

For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,
 and God's weakness is stronger than human strength. 

John 2.13-22

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

The Passover of the Jews was near, 
and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 

In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves,
 and the money changers seated at their tables. 

Making a whip of cords, 
 drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. 
He also poured out the coins of the money changers 
and overturned their tables. 

He told those who were selling the doves, 
"Take these things out of here! 
Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" 

His disciples remembered that it was written, 
"Zeal for your house will consume me." 

The Jews then said to him, 
"What sign can you show us for doing this?" 

Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, 
and in three days I will raise it up." 

Then they said, 
"This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, 
and will you raise it up in three days?" 

But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 

After he was raised from the dead, 
his disciples remembered that he had said this; 
and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

The Sunday School continues its work on line, and have sent some pictures of their activities in the last 2 weeks. For the first Sunday in Lent they studied the Old Testament reading about Noah's Ark, and looked at the theme that God Loves us. Here is the rainbow that is the sign of the covenant between God and his People. 

This week they learned about trust and that we can put our trust in God. One family played the trust game of falling backwards and trusting some one behind us to catch us. Some of the Children weren't too sure about trusting their siblings!!

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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