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Sunday, 18 April 2021
This morning we came together at 10 am for Matins, having had a said communion service at 8am, something we have not had during the Pandemic. The 8 am communion services will resume as a regular service from the beginning of May. 
Both services were taken by Father Roger,  at the Matins the Venite, Psalm 4 
and the Jubilate were sung, the first two to chants and the Jubilate in the setting by CV Stanford. The Te Deum was said by the whole congregation, as were the responses. The Choir sang Increase my Faith by Losemore as the Anthem. Father Roger's sermon is presented below. It was another beautiful sunny day although the air is still very cold, as we left the Church in a socially distanced manner. 







Holy Communion 8 am

Acts 3.12-19

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Peter addressed the people, 
“You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, 
or why do you stare at us, 
as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
 the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, 
whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, 
though he had decided to release him. 

But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One 
and asked to have a murderer given to you, 

and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. 
To this we are witnesses. 

And by faith in his name, 
his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; 
and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health 
in the presence of all of you.

“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, 
as did also your rulers. 

In this way God fulfilled 
what he had foretold through all the prophets, 
that his Messiah would suffer. 

Repent therefore, and turn to God 
so that your sins may be wiped out.


Luke 24.36b-48

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

 While the eleven and their companions were talking about what they had heard
 Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 
“Peace be with you.”

They were startled and terrified, 
and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 

He said to them, 
“Why are you frightened, 
and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 

Look at my hands and my feet; 
see that it is I myself. 
Touch me and see; 
for a ghost does not have flesh and bones 
as you see that I have.” 

And when he had said this, 
he showed them his hands and his feet.

While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering,
 he said to them, 
“Have you anything here to eat?” 

They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 

and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, 
“These are my words that I spoke to you 
while I was still with you—
that everything written about me in the law of Moses, 
the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 

and he said to them, 
“Thus it is written, 
that the Messiah is to suffer 
and to rise from the dead on the third day, 

and that repentance and forgiveness of sins 
is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, 
beginning from Jerusalem. 

You are witnesses of these things. "


Collect

Almighty Father,
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
    with the sight of the risen Lord:
give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened and sustained
    by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
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.
Amen.



Our two Biblical readings today, may not be immediately the most gripping, but they do give us a theme, about this People of God we belong to. Saying that it has a cohesive history for something like four millennia. 

I can’t help being a trendy modern young thing, but today raises the question of why, at Matins, we normally use a Bible translation which was a great achievement, but perhaps unduly weighty and literary in style, and old fashioned - in 1611! They apparently thought then that weighty, literary, sonorous, and old fashioned were somehow religious, irrespective of how a passage was originally written. What is appropriate, surely, is the truest translation, which gives a feel for the actual style and meaning of the original Greek or Hebrew writer, using the best current scholarship. And scholarship has advanced since 1600! If we are more interested in something other than the truest translation and scholarship, we surely need to think about that! Today, I for one, would have preferred to hear about looking for God’s tenderness and compassion towards us, rather than listening for the sounding of his bowels!

Usefully, the first reading does focus us on God’s ‘loving kindness’, sometimes translated ‘steadfast love’. This reflects a very important Old Testament word, in some ways comparable to the special New Testament word for love, agape.

So how old is this People of God which we belong to? We may well look bemused when an independent, non-denominational Church says that it was founded, in, say 1970. What we belong to was really founded early in the second millennium BC, long before Christ, when Abraham left Ur and his old gods, with their little statues, to go in faith into the unknown, feeling called by one unseen God. A God of whom there could be no effigies or images. Our readings today are aware of this big picture.

Many years ago, rather madly, whilst working as a vicar, I did a long teaching practice, teaching Maths.  But was collared to also teach a lot of Judaism, for several months, to several classes of teenagers. As part of this, there had to be Passover meals enacted. This, for me, was not something I could work through as an outsider or an atheist, as some teachers might: I was never Jewish, but inevitably experienced the special meal as part of my own religion and history, prefiguring the Christian Easter and Eucharist.

The long book of Isaiah. from which we read, reflects the work of more than one prophet, over a long period, maybe from 700 and something BC to around 400BC. Our reading belongs to the later writings, when the Jews had come back from exile in Babylon, and were rebuilding their life in the Holy Land. They looked for help to the God whom they had already known for well over a thousand years, thinking especially of how he had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, under Moses, eight hundred years before their own time. 

In our second reading, St Paul is doing what the first Jewish Christians were very keen to do, which is trying to make sense of Christ, and try to see how he squared with their treasured Old Testament scriptures. They must do that, to make sense of their experience of Christ, and if they are to convert more Jews to Christianity. St Paul, too, looks back – in his case – twelve hundred years – back to Moses. Paul sees the events with Moses, - who was the greatest in the Old Testament, - as somehow prefiguring events with Jesus, - the new greatest. The same God seen as behind the whole long story. And just as some of those with Moses went badly off the rails, so Christians, - says Paul, - had better not be too casual about their morality. We, too, might find ourselves at odds with God!

The Old Testament is not read most Sundays in many churches. That would mean having three readings much of the time, (shock and horror!), but very many churches do, and I think we had to when the Bishop came. When I sometimes take a service near Petworth, where Chris Hubbard, our former churchwarden is, we always do. If a new priest here wanted that, I should be pleased and not try to undermine it.

The Old Testament is relevant to much in the New. It is what shaped and inspired Jesus’ life and ministry. When working in Wales, I was shocked that those training to preach as Lay Readers did no Old Testament studies at all. Like most of my thoughts in those days, it was received very coldly, and the person running the training course was promptly promoted to Archdeacon! Happy days.

There are a few key things to remember with the Old Testament. Firstly, we need to realise that it reflects the thought and experience of the People of God over a great amount of time. However, not all was written down early on. The ancient creation stories of Genesis, were perhaps only actually written down a very few hundred years before Christ. Realise that thoughts, say, about life after death, - thoughts on many things, - develop and change over that long period, they don’t stay the same. 

Another thing is to appreciate, is the different sorts of writings. Some are historical stories - things that happened, - some are more timeless stories, not fitting neatly into history, but none the less enshrining great truths about the state of God and humanity. Some, like Job and Jonah, are stories written to make important points. The Psalms, of course, are hymns. And the prophets have a special place as seers and courageous ministers of God in their own day and circumstances …. and so on.

So, for any Old Testament reading, - or New for that matter, - we need to identify what type of writing it is, history, fiction, myth, or whatever, and what period of history and thought it reflects, and what sort of society and circumstances the writer was in, and why he wanted to write. It is useful to have in our minds an outline of the history, the big picture of Biblical times. We may well in our minds have a rough idea, or better, of English history back for a millennium or more. That can usefully be done for a millennium or more of Biblical times too.  We must realise, also, quite vitally, that this big history of the People of God extends from the Old Testament to Christ’s ministry and Pentecost and to our own time, to include us. It is a history we must live in now!

Fr Roger.


Matins 

Isaiah 63.7-15

A reading from the Book of Isaiah.

7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.

8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.

9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.

11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?

12 That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?

13 That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble?

14 As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.

15 Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained?


1 Corinthians 10.1-13

A reading from the letters of St Paul to the Corinthians.

1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

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. 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. 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.
  6. 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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