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Sunday, 13 June 2021
It was a beautiful early summer morning this Sunday when we met for our Parish eucharist at 10 am. The Church Yard Working Party have done a great job of tidying up the churchyard and it was looking particularly lovely in the sunshine. We are on our journey through Trinity now, and the Gospel told us of one of Jesus Parables, the story of the mustard seeds. In his sermon Father Roger discussed the use of Parables in the Gospels and how they make us work hard to deeper understanding of the Good News. You can read his words below. Our Covid Choir sang hymns and as an anthem 'Fairest Lord Jesus' a traditional hymn, set to a Silesian folk tune. 
We left church after the service to enjoy the beautiful weather,  refreshed and spiritually renewed.
the Covid Choir

Socially distanced congregation









 2 Corinthians 5:6-20, 14-17

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

Brothers and sisters,

we are always confident; 
even though we know that while we are at home in the body 
we are away from the Lord— 

for we walk by faith, not by sight. 

Yes, we do have confidence, 
and we would rather be away from the body 
and at home with the Lord. 

So whether we are at home or away, 
we make it our aim to please him. 

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, 
so that each may receive recompense 
for what has been done in the body, 
whether good or evil. 

The love of Christ urges us on, 
because we are convinced that one has died for all;
therefore all have died. 

And he died for all, 
so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, 
but for him who died and was raised for them. 

From now on, therefore, we regard no one 
from a human point of view; 
even though we once knew Christ 
from a human point of view, 
we know him no longer in that way. 

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: 
everything old has passed away; 
see, everything has become new! 


Mark 4:26-34

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

Such a large crowd gathered around Jesus
that he got into a boat and began to teach them using many parables.

Jesus said, 
"The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 

and would sleep and rise night and day, 
and the seed would sprout and grow, 
he does not know how. 

The earth produces of itself, 
first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 

But when the grain is ripe, 
at once he goes in with his sickle,
 because the harvest has come." 

Jesus also said, 
"With what can we compare the kingdom of God, 
or what parable will we use for it? 

It is like a mustard seed, 
which, when sown upon the ground, 
is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 3

yet when it is sown it grows up 
and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, 
and puts forth large branches, 
so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." 

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, 
as they were able to hear it; 

he did not speak to them except in parables, 
but he explained everything in private to his disciples. 


Collect

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Chrsit's sake,
who is alive and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit
one God, now and forever.
Amen.


Address

A congenial Gospel reading – plants, one of my passions. And ‘parables’, - the word links to Maths, parabolas, another of my favourites. y = ax2 + b, that sort of thing. But we must spot the main issue here. These stories might be parables about plants, but they are Jesus’ “parables of the Kingdom”. It is the Kingdom of God that we must have an eye to!

Jesus speaks about the Kingdom using many parables. The thing about a parabola in maths is that it is a curve which heads for a certain line, but never gets there. As it approaches, it veers off and turns back away again. So - a parable points to something, but doesn’t get there and spell it out – we have to think out where Jesus is pointing.

The Kingdom is obviously about the world, and people, being in line with what God wants. We look at the world, and look at ourselves, and look at the Church, and think, ‘O dear!’  Things don’t seem ideal, maybe rather depressing. But these parables today are actually meant to encourage us.
 
One of the crops I like to grow, in a small way, is early potatoes. As long as the soil is in reasonable shape, you plant the seed tubers, and – apart from perhaps keeping the frost off the shoots, if needed – you don’t do a lot, and get on with something else. It seems that nothing special is happening. But, but, the new potatoes develop, and when they are ready, we’re very interested then, and actively enjoy the crop, as I’ve been for the last week or so.

Our first parable is along those lines. The man sows seed; he doesn’t seem to do anything very special, but, in due course, - great! A valuable crop has been arriving. When it’s come, the man is suddenly active and excited, enjoying the harvest.

In the second of today’s parables, the tiny seed gradually becomes an impressive plant. How did that happen? We’re not sure. We may have planted a seed, but probably haven’t done anything very special towards the big successful outcome. 

So, in each case, a low-key, apparently insignificant action, followed by very little action, remarkably delivers the goods.

Jesus, it seems, is speaking of himself, and his friends and the Kingdom of God which he announces. On the face of it, Jesus is an untrained disloyal Jew going round with a group who are very far from being the leaders or scholars of their society. Jesus may see himself and his few followers as looking like a very unpromising new little group to have the momentous job of announcing the Kingdom - the great new stage of all of humanity’s life with God.

But Jesus was very likely familiar with a passage in the prophet Ezekiel, a picture about God making a very big tree grow from a very unlikely little cutting, - so that birds will come to nest in it. That picture is about God restoring the nation’s life - beginning in a very small unpromising way. 

The passage from Ezekiel goes like this:
‘“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. ‘“I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”’
Ezekiel 17:22-24

So Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed might be Jesus teaching that what he and his friends, - at first sight few and insignificant, - what they bring, is nothing less than the Kingdom, the great new stage of life with God. Jesus may well have known that when Ezekiel spoke about the unlikely little cedar cutting growing huge, he had hoped God would bring a great new stage of things. Ezekiel had wanted to inspire hope and confidence in God around the time the Jews were exiled in Babylon nearly 600 years before Jesus. Assurance that God can work through small beginnings.

We may well get exasperated with the Church. The whole Church has long been very divided. I find the deep divisions in the Church of England, which have now become institutionalised, and, seemingly, made permanent, - I find that inappropriate and painful, on a daily basis. In the Church some grapple with unfair workloads whilst others seem not to be contributing. Financial constraints seem to destroy sensible and appropriate clergy staffing and decent patterns of worship in many places. Clergy training moves in questionable directions. There are moves by some to try to get the bishops’ pay cut and one diocesan bishop has met a rebellion! But we must soldier on as best we may. The parable seems to say that, - in spite of all - ‘It’s essentially alright – God is accomplishing things – persevere and try to see the good’. 

Remember, too, that – as in a conflict - the frontier of God’s Kingdom is never static. It advances and retreats, and its boundary runs through our very selves. We, as individuals will not often be completely on the side of the angels!

There is a quote somewhere, which, I can’t find, to the effect that the Church has an uneasy history, and many and obvious current flaws, but it is only through the Church that any of us has received the Gospel, and it is only through the Church that future generations will receive the Gospel. We have to hang in, and we should do so with real hope. 

Fr Roger
Sunday, 6 June 2021
 This morning we set about ‘Beating the bounds’-not of the parish-but of the churchyard. Due to the current Covid regulations our Rogation walk was restricted to only consecrated ground. After singing ‘Morning has broken’ we walked to the kissing gate area and prayed for the arable farm down Church Farm Lane. We continued then to the extension to the churchyard and saw that Chris Spiby had put a few of his cows in the adjacent field. The children among us were delighted to see them!  We prayed for all farmers who have animals which provide us with food. After that we thought about the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and we were reminded of the contribution of insects as Jane Robinson had brought a hive, minus bees, for us to see. Continuing on we prayed for all domestic animals and appreciated the presence of two pet dogs walking with us. Then, at the north gate with thanked God for our gardens and the green spaces. Finally, we gathered at the church entrance where, after a prayer, we sang ‘For the beauty of the earth’. Father Roger then said a final blessing.

 








2 Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1

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

Just as we have the same spirit of faith 
that is in accordance with scripture—
“I believed, and so I spoke”—
we also believe, and so we speak, 

because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus 
will raise us also with Jesus, 
and will bring us with you into his presence. 

Yes, everything is for your sake, 
so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, 
may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. 
Even though our outer nature is wasting away, 
our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 

For this slight momentary affliction 
is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 

because we look not at what can be seen 
but at what cannot be seen; 
for what can be seen is temporary, 
but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, 
we have a building from God, 
a house not made with hands, 
eternal in the heavens.


Mark 3:20-35

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

The crowd came together again, 
so that they could not even eat. 

When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, 
for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, 
“He has Beelzebul, 
and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 

And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, 
“How can Satan cast out Satan? 

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 

And if a house is divided against itself, 
that house will not be able to stand. 

And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, 
he cannot stand, but his end has come. 

But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property 
without first tying up the strong man; 
then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, 
people will be forgiven for their sins 
and whatever blasphemies they utter; 

but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit 
can never have forgiveness, 
but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 

for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; 
and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 

A crowd was sitting around him; 
and they said to him, 
“Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, 
asking for you.” 

And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 

And looking at those who sat around him, he said, 
“Here are my mother and my brothers! 

Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

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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