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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. 

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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