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Sunday, 4 April 2021
Blessing the Easter Garden

                                                    Christ is Risen

                                                 He is Risen Indeed

Easter Sunday and for the first time since Christmas we were able to be in church for a celebration of the eucharist, with full social distancing and face coverings, and to accommodate everyone, we had people in the Rooms and fortunately it was a beautiful sunny morning so there were people sitting in deck chairs outside the north door of the church, the service being relayed using the sound system normally used for the Fete! 
This was Father Stephen's last Sunday with us, as he and Margaret begin their full retirement from today, so it was with great sadness we had to say goodbye to them.

Father Roger, who has been such a support to us all, was the celebrant today, and he opened the service by blessing the Easter Garden. Then we proceeded to the main service. We were able to have our small 'Covid Choir' to sing the traditional Easter hymns for the service, and Joanna accompanied them on the piano. During Communion the Choir sang the Ave Verum in the setting by Mozart, one of Father Stephen's favourite pieces, and two hymns. At the end of the service, Mike Allistone gave a very heartfelt speech of thanks to Stephen and Margaret, reminding us of all the achievements within the Parish that Stephen has overseen, not least of which is the building of the Parish Rooms next to the church, and that he leaves the Parish in very 'good order' despite being in a pandemic! Presentations were then made of cards and presents for both Stephen and Margaret. After which Father Stephen gave the final blessing. We came away from church, sad to say good bye to a much loved parish priest, but wishing them both a very happy retirement.  

The Easter Garden

The Covid Choir


Graham Sutherland, ‘Noli me Tangere’, 1961,
Mary Magdalene Chapel, Chichester Cathedral

Dear Friends

There is always a choice of Gospel readings for Easter Sunday, and those that are set for today are Mark 16:1-8 and John 20:1-18.  The reading from Mark is the shorter of the two and describes the women coming to the tomb early in the morning, carrying spices to anoint the body of Jesus, and wondering how they are going to manage to roll the stone away from the tomb.  Then they see, however, that it has already been rolled back (it would have been very large indeed) and, on entering the tomb, they see a young man in a white robe sitting on the right-hand side – are we meant to think this was an angel?  He reassures them that Jesus has been raised from the dead and that they must tell the disciples and Peter that they will see him in Galilee.  The reading concludes with what most commentators believe was the original ending to this gospel, describing the women running away from the tomb and saying ‘nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.’  The subsequent verses (9-20) which complete this gospel as it has come down to us provide additional resurrection stories, as they were made known by other witnesses.

The reading from John is more fulsome and describes Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb so early in the morning that it is still dark.  As in the story from Mark, she finds that the stone has already been rolled away and she rushes to tell Peter and ‘the other disciple’ (usually presumed to be the evangelist himself) the news that Jesus is no longer in the tomb.  There ensues a little running race to the tomb in which John, probably the younger of the two, arrives first and sees the linen cloths lying on the ground but it is Peter, impetuous as ever, who first enters.  We are told that, on the evidence of the linen cloths, ‘the other disciple’ ‘saw and believed’ as he begins to understand that Jesus has indeed risen from the dead.  

These two then return home, but Mary Magdalene lingers at the tomb, weeping, and wondering where Jesus’ body has been taken.  She explains her grief and bewilderment to two angels who are now seated where Jesus had been lying and there follows the moving encounter with Jesus himself, whom at first she does not recognize, ‘supposing him to be the gardener.’  (Some paintings which depict this resurrection encounter emphasize this point by picturing Jesus with a hoe or a wide-brimmed hat.)  Jesus asks Mary why she is weeping and then addresses her by name: ‘Mary’, to which she responds with ‘Rabbuni’ (meaning ‘Master’ or ‘Teacher’).  She is told not to cling to him because he has not yet ascended to the Father (the famous ‘noli me tangere’ theme, much explored by artists) and Mary becomes a powerful witness to the Resurrection as she goes to tell the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’
These brief but telling narratives (there are others in other gospels, such as the story in Luke of Jesus meeting the disciples on the road to Emmaus) provide the ground and basis of our Resurrection faith and hope as Christians – our confidence that sin, suffering and death can never have the last word because God, through his Son, has ‘made all things new in him’.

This will be the last of my ‘thoughts for the week’ as I am retiring from my post as Priest in Charge at Sidlesham, with Easter Sunday being my last in the parish.  It has been a great privilege and joy to serve here for just over twelve years, and I take this opportunity to wish you all a truly blessed and happy Easter.

Fr Stephen

Collect for Easter Sunday

Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.  Amen.

 Acts 10:34-43

A reading formt he Acts of the Apostles.

Peter began to speak to those assembles in the house of Cornelius: 
“I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 

but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right
is acceptable to him. 

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, 
preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 

That message spread throughout Judea, 
beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and with power; 
how he went about doing good 
and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, 
for God was with him. 

We are witnesses to all that he did 
both in Judea and in Jerusalem. 
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 

but God raised him on the third day 
and allowed him to appear, 

not to all the people 
but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, 
and who ate and drank with him after
he rose from the dead. 

He commanded us to preach to the people 
and to testify that he is the one ordained by God 
as judge of the living and the dead. 

All the prophets testify about him 
that everyone who believes in him 
receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Mark 16:1-8

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

When the sabbath was over, 
Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, 
and Salome bought spices, 
so that they might go and anoint him. 

And very early on the first day of the week, 
when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 

They had been saying to one another, 
“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 

When they looked up, 
they saw that the stone, which was very large, 
had already been rolled back. 

As they entered the tomb, 
they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, 
sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 

But he said to them, 
“Do not be alarmed; 
you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. 
He has been raised; he is not here. 
Look, there is the place they laid him. 

But go, tell his disciples and Peter 
that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; 
there you will see him, just as he told you.” 

So they went out and fled from the tomb, 
for terror and amazement had seized them;
 and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Service Times

First Sunday in the Month:
10:00am Family Service

Second Sunday in the Month
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Third Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion (said)
10:00am Sung Matins

Fourth Sunday in the Month
10:00am Parish Eucharist


  • The 8:00am said Holy Communion will recommence for all Sundays beginning Sunday 2nd May 2021

  • 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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