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Sunday, 29 August 2021
 
This morning we met at 10 am  for a Parish Eucharist, celebrated by Father Roger. Another lovely summers day, the last of the summer holidays, and much to think of and to commit to God's care in these difficult times.
Father Roger preached the sermon, based on today's gospel and discussed the difficulty of the Jewish dietary rues, and how fortunate we are that Christians don't have to follow them! The point of the story however is that it is our inner life that determines our behaviour, not what we eat or how we clean our plates!

Once again we sang some well known hymns, and set off home ready for the coming week.

Next week we will have our Family Service  and Father Luke will be with us, we look forwards to seeing every one back from holidays and ready for the new term.









James 1:17-27

A reading from the letter of James.

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, 
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

In fulfillment of his own purpose 
he gave us birth by the word of truth, 
so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved:
let everyone be quick to listen, 
slow to speak, slow to anger; 

for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 

Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness 
and rank growth of wickedness, 
and welcome with meekness the implanted word 
that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, 
and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 

For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, 
they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 

for they look at themselves and, 
on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 

But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, 
and persevere, 
being not hearers who forget 
but doers who act—
they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, 
and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, 
their religion is worthless. 

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: 
to care for orphans and widows in their distress, 
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.


Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

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

When the Pharisees and some of the scribes 
who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus,

they noticed that some of his disciples
were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 

(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, 
do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands,
thus observing the tradition of the elders; 

and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it;
and there are also many other traditions that they observe, 
the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.

So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, 
“Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, 
but eat with defiled hands?” 

He said to them, 
“Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, 
as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;

in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

Then he called the crowd again and said to them,
 “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 

there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, 
but the things that come out are what defile.”

For it is from within, from the human heart, 
that evil intentions come: 
fornication, theft, murder, 

adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, 
licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 

All these evil things come from within, 
and they defile a person.”


Address

We had best try to think about this slightly awkward Gospel.

Jesus is - as so often - disputing with the Pharisees. Because of these quarrels we tend to think of Pharisees as the bad guys. But, of all the Jewish groups, it seems that, on the questions of Jewish doctrine current at the time, the Pharisees were the group that Jesus was closest to. Maybe we will want to argue with those close to us, when we think they have blundered. But we might not be bothered to argue with those with whom we’ve little in common and not much interest in. 

On this occasion, it is the Pharisees and their pals who start the dispute. ‘Yuk’, they say, ‘Jesus’ people are not bothering to wash their hands properly before eating. We think that’s disgusting, and surely the Almighty won’t like it either! It’s not the proper Jewish way!’

Jesus accused them of hypocrisy. He isn’t, of course, really against hygiene, but the critics are making their slight revulsion about lack of hand-washing on that occasion into a big deal and making it an issue concerning God.  But, at the very same time, they are drawing a veil over, more serious unsavoury things within their own behaviour, which God very certainly wouldn’t like. 

So… our feelings of disgust about someone’s behaviour may well not be a sound and reliable assessment of a situation. Many people, for instance, may have a built-in inclination to find same-sex relationships distasteful, but distaste is not, in itself, an adequate response to those situations, or to what God might say about them. 

Jewish ways are complicated. They focus on the Old Testament scriptures, and especially on the first books, the Torah. But they also have an oral tradition, the collective wisdom, interpretation, and elaboration of the centuries. So, Jesus was accusing some the critics of trying to look good, fussing about the small print of the tradition, whilst not being genuinely Godly within themselves. He called them hypocrites, meaning play actors. He called some Pharisees ‘whited sepulchres’ because they made efforts to appear worthy and Godly, but concealed interior corruption, where godliness should be.

It is certainly tricky being Jewish. You should eat meat from animals with cloven hooves. Pigs have cloven hooves, but they are blacklisted, because they also need to be ruminants - like cattle. That is, animals which have a complex digestive system to deal with a plant diet, giving them two sessions of chewing everything. The pig is also objectionable because it seems dishonest: outwardly looking fine, showing the correct hooves, but sneakily hiding the wrong sort of digestive system inside itself!

First and foremost, of course, we must monitor our own selves, and be wary of hasty, harsh judgement of others. Very much easier to say than to do! But Jesus says that, in the long run, people will reveal themselves for what they really are. By their fruits you will know them. By what they do, rather than by what they say or how they present themselves. 

There are the sayings in St Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount. Always poignant for me, because they apply to congregations, and with imagery that ends up with plants. 

We read:
‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.’ 

We, and others, are members of the flock of Christ. We wear, as it were, sheep’s clothing. But, frighteningly, Jesus suggests, someone, perhaps ourself, is really a wolf in disguise, - very possibly without even knowing it, and without meaning any harm, and thinking that we’re making a sound contribution. But – in practice - being selfish, power-seeking, dominating, not attending closely enough to the Gospel, or the Christian community - and – whilst possibly putting in much useful work, or money, - being significantly destructive to the life of the Church. The shepherd, the priest, is one who must address such issues, and try not to be a wolf themself.

Some of my plants are cacti, bred for large colourful flowers. I’ve crossed an inconveniently large prickly plant, which has a few very big mauve and white flowers, with a small neat plant which has lots and lots of nice yellow flowers. It’s the crazy sort of cross that a serious breeder wouldn’t make! You would normally seek to improve things in small steps over many years. The dozens of offspring will grow for a few years. But sooner or later each one will flower and make its value clear, and a few might just prove quite special. Eventually, they will all show their true colours.

I remember a bride at a wedding at another church. She was so caught up with the idea that she had seen the groom’s true colours, and loved him for them. She wanted only the song, ‘True Colours’ played at every conceivable point of the service. ‘I see your true colours, that’s why I love you.’ Should the Church refuse, or try to argue her out of that? No, I decided.

Very soon, in the early days of the Church, Christians were freed from keeping the Jewish food laws. Christians now who might like a bacon double cheeseburger are in luck, but for the Jews it still fails their tests very badly, not just for including bacon but also by combining meat and dairy products, which is very much forbidden.

As the Gospel suggests, we must focus on what comes from within us, in terms of discipleship, rather than obsess about meals and menus.

Fr Roger

Sunday, 22 August 2021
This morning our 10 am service was a Parish eucharist, and Father Roger was our celebrant. We were also delighted to welcome our new Rural Dean, the Rev Martha Weatherill to our service.

We continue to take precautions against the spread of covid 19 with hand sanitizer, and masks in church, although we are now using more of the pews. We sang some well known hymns, as the congregation is now allowed to sing we are enjoying singing some of our favourites! All appropriate to the theme of our service.

Father Roger preached, picking up the readings, you can read his address below.

We had the opportunity to meet our new Rural Dean after the service and chat to her. 

We left church to a lovely summer's day, an improvement on recent weeks.

We will be celebrating our Patronal Festival on the first Sunday in September, the 5th. This will be a Family service, the Choir will be back in action, and the Archdeacon hopes to be with us, so a lovely occasion to start the new term!

Our Harvest Service will be on the 3rd of October at 10 am, this year we are holding a Harvest Tea on the afternoon of the 3rd, tickets will be available from the Church Wardens from the beginning of September.

Father Roger, the Church Wardens and the Rural Dean











Ephesians 6:10-20

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians

Be strong in the Lord 
and in the strength of his power. 

Put on the whole armour of God, 
so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 

For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, 
but against the rulers, against the authorities, 
against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, 
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, 
so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, 
and having done everything, to stand firm. 

Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, 
and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 

As shoes for your feet 
put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 

With all of these, take the shield of faith, 
with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Take the helmet of salvation, 
and the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times
in every prayer and supplication. 
To that end keep alert and always persevere 
in supplication for all the saints. 

Pray also for me, so that when I speak, 
a message may be given to me 
to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

for which I am an ambassador in chains. 
Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.


John 6:56-69

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

Jesus said to the crowd:

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, 
and I in them. 

Just as the living Father sent me, 
and I live because of the Father, 
so whoever eats me will live because of me. 

This is the bread that came down from heaven, 
not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. 
But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 

He said these things 
while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, 
“This teaching is difficult; 
who can accept it?” 

But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, 
said to them, “Does this offend you? 

Then what if you were to see the Son of Man 
ascending to where he was before? 

It is the spirit that gives life; 
the flesh is useless. 
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 

But among you there are some who do not believe.” 
For Jesus knew from the first 
who were the ones that did not believe, 
and who was the one that would betray him. 

And he said, 
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me 
unless it is granted by the Father.”

Because of this many of his disciples turned back 
and no longer went about with him. 

So Jesus asked the twelve, 
“Do you also wish to go away?” 

Simon Peter answered him, 
“Lord, to whom can we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. 

We have come to believe and know 
that you are the Holy One of God.”


Address

The whole armour of God in Ephesians. 

We were, for some long time, focussed on PPE, and on how many pieces of PPE you should wear in certain situations. Different grades of masks, visors, aprons, gloves and so on. Some have had difficulty in getting what was thought necessary. It all seems to be about protecting yourself, both for the sake of yourself, and for the sake of others, as you can’t continue to help them if you go under. And others are protected if you put a barrier around yourself and can’t pass your problems on.

As the need for PPE recedes somewhat for most of us, the readings tell us to put on the spiritual PPE which God freely offers us. It is whole armour, a panoply, a full kit, not little bits and pieces. 

There are ancient ideas of God as a great warrior, and his people being the army of soldiers he leads. He is the Lord of Hosts, the host being an army. Sometimes there’s a host of angels. The idea in our reading seems to be that God, the great warrior, offers his own armour to his people. 

But in Ephesians, of course, the big conflict, and victory, has already happened - in the life and resurrection of Jesus. That has happened, and it is something which can never be repeated or undone. It is a complete assurance to us that good and God will have the last word over us. 

But Ephesians suggests to us that, although Christ has won the decisive battle, we still live in a flawed and uncertain world and have lesser battles to fight for Christ and with Christ. Whilst Christianity says that we are ultimately safe, we ought to actually use the armour, which God freely provides, to help ourselves and others. We are to be strong in the Lord, not by our own tactics. We are not in conflict with flesh and blood, with people – but with the darker things in our lives and society. 

So how does that work out? Six bits of kit. 

Firstly truth. We are to protect ourselves with the belt of truth. That is, we must embrace genuineness and reliability. Those are God’s qualities. To the Greek mind, truth meant genuine and real, to the Hebrew mind, truth was about whatever was experienced as reliable. If we try to stand with God in our ways, that is going to protect us. Yes, but …. Immediately we get into the tough side of the Gospel. Jesus, who got things right, was not spared times of suffering, and said that his followers wouldn’t be either.

Secondly, the breastplate of righteousness. That will mean uprightness and justice - again God’s qualities. 

Thirdly, we are to go to others equipped to bring ideas of peace. ‘Peace’ in the Bible is not something quiet and dull. Peace is when all is alive, and thriving. We, who know that God has come to help us in Christ, can have a fuller, richer life through that, and take that with us, and share it. 

Fourthly, the shield of faith. This is another gift of God. If we actually do what we think God wants of us, - actually use what faith we have, - then we may be given more faith. Perhaps faith is like muscles: you have to exercise it to make it stronger. If it is strong, we are less likely to succumb to pressures to go in the wrong direction.

Fifthly, the helmet of salvation. The assurance that we are ultimately safe. Nothing can ever succeed in finally separating us from God and life. That conviction helps us go forward with confidence. 

Lastly, the sword of the Spirit. God’s Spirit at work deep within our very selves helping us to find the right words as we engage with people, and also helping us to pray. 

If we go around in elaborate PPE, or maybe in armour like Henry VIII, we will be noticed, and people may wonder what we are claiming to be. Likewise, those who appear Godly may look a bit stupid. We are obviously not all that special. 

Austin Farrer, was one of my favourite writers. He died suddenly a few days before the end of 1968. Shortly before that, he ended a sermon about ordination by saying that there’s something absurd about being a priest ‘because what we stand for is so infinitely greater than our poor little selves.’

‘But (he added) there’s the same absurdity, really, about being a Christian at all. None of us can be let off being Christ in our place and our station: we are all pygmies in giants’ armour.’ He goes on, ‘If Jesus is willing to be in us, and to let us show him to the world, it’s a small thing that we should endure being fools for Christ’s sake, and be shown up by the part we have to play. We must put up with such humiliation of ourselves – or better still, forget ourselves altogether.’ 

Fr Roger


Sunday, 15 August 2021
This morning our 10 am service was a Sung Matins. On a grey a drizzly morning we met for prayers and singing, lead on this occasion by our two Church Wardens, Chris and Janet. Archdeacon Luke had hoped to be with us, but events elsewhere in the diocese called him away, but he hopes to be with us for our family service in September. We took great pleasure in all being able to sing the Psalm, Canticles, and some stirring hymns now we are all allowed to sing!
Our readings, given below, were from the King James edition of the Bible, including the story of Jonah, were read by Janet.
We remembered in our prayers the people of Plymouth, those involved in the fast moving situation in Afghanistan, and all those living with grief and uncertainty. We also said the General Thanksgiving and 
closed with the Grace.

We look forward to a new incumbent when the right person is directed to us by Our Lord, but we continue to worship and pray together in the interim, and to adapt to every circumstance!



Lovely flowers outside the Parish Rooms

Coma and rest awhile, inside the church or in the church yard peaceful places to rest and reflect.


    

 8am Holy Communion

Ephesians 5:15-20

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians

Brothers and sisters,

Be careful then how you live, 
not as unwise people but as wise, 

making the most of the time, 
because the days are evil. 

So do not be foolish, 
but understand what the will of the Lord is. 

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; 
but be filled with the Spirit, 

as you sing psalms and hymns 
and spiritual songs among yourselves, 
singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 

giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything 
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


John 6:51-58

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

Jesus said to the crowd:

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. 
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; 
and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, 
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

So Jesus said to them, 
“Very truly, I tell you, 
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, 
you have no life in you. 

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, 
and I will raise them up on the last day; 

for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me,
and I in them. 

Just as the living Father sent me, 
and I live because of the Father, 
so whoever eats me will live because of me. 

This is the bread that came down from heaven, 
not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. 
But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”


10am Sung Mattins

Jonah 1

1Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

3But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

4But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

5Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

6So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

7And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

8Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

9And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

10Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

11Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

12And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

13Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

14Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.

15So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

16Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

17Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


2 Peter 3:14-end

14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

17Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday, 8 August 2021
This morning we met at 10 am for our celebration of the Eucharist in what can only be described as terrible weather! Pouring with rain and very windy outside we were warm and dry in the church, and enjoyed being together and able to sing hymns, choir and congregation together! We continue to take precautions, using the hand sanitiser and wearing face masks, and spreading ourselves out through the church. 
As it is August there is no formal choir, so no anthem instead we sang a communion hymn.
Father Roger was the celebrant, and his homily can be read below. 

Next week we will have another visit from Father Luke, the Archdeacon, for Sung Matins, we look forward to seeing him again.



 







 Ephesians 4:25-5:2

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians.

Putting away falsehood, 
let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, 
for we are members of one another. 

Be angry but do not sin; 
do not let the sun go down on your anger, 

and do not make room for the devil. 

Thieves must give up stealing; 
rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, 
so as to have something to share with the needy. 

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, 
but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, 
so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, 
with which you were marked with a seal 
for the day of redemption. 

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath 
and anger and wrangling and slander, 
together with all malice, 

and be kind to one another, 
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, 
as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 

and live in love, 
as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, 
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 


John 6:35, 41-51

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

Jesus said to the crowd, "I am the bread of life. 
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, 
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 

Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said,
 "I am the bread that came down from heaven." 

They were saying, 
"Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, 
whose father and mother we know? 
How can he now say, "I have come down from heaven'?" 

Jesus answered them, 
"Do not complain among yourselves. 

No one can come to me 
unless drawn by the Father who sent me; 
and I will raise that person up on the last day.

It is written in the prophets, 
"And they shall all be taught by God.' 
Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 

Not that anyone has seen the Father 
except the one who is from God; 
he has seen the Father. 

Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 

I am the bread of life. 

Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 

This is the bread that comes down from heaven, 
so that one may eat of it and not die. 

I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; 
and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." 


Sermon

You may be wondering what is going on with our Gospel readings, - we are experiencing a few strange weeks!  We have a cycle of three years for these readings, majoring on Matthew, Mark, and then Luke. This year we are on St Mark’s Gospel, and Luke begins at Advent, four Sundays before Christmas. St John doesn’t have a year. His book is special but rather different, including long, somewhat dense, discourses. We do, however, put in some important and favourite parts of John’s Gospel every year on major occasions like Christmas and Easter. 

On top of that, we have our present strange situation. St Mark’s Gospel, which is scheduled for this year, is shorter than the others. So… the powers that be insert weeks and weeks of St John, five weeks, I think, now, just on St John chapter 6.

‘I am the Bread of Life’, last week was part of that. Today, ‘I am the Living Bread’. Generally, it’s all a long discourse about the Eucharist. So its timely for us to notice that St John has his own way of treating the Eucharist.

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that the Last Supper, on the Thursday night, when the Christian Eucharist started, was the actual Passover meal that year, with its menu including roast lamb, and unleavened bread. Matthew, Mark and Luke also tell us that Jesus said something mysterious when he said the Graces, about the bread and wine being his body and blood - his very self, his life and death, - those things being for them and for their nourishment, and to be shared among them in a way that will link them to him and to each other.

But St John tells it all in a different way! He has the Last Supper on the Thursday night alright, - but it isn’t the annual Passover meal, it is just before Passover, so leavened bread would be used. One consequence of St John’s timing is that Jesus died on the Friday afternoon, just before Passover, at the very time that the Passover Lambs were being sacrificed. Whatever the history, there is huge symbolism in that. 

We have much to think about in St John’s long account of Maundy Thursday, including washing the disciples’ feet, the command to love one another ‘as I have loved you’, and Jesus’ prayer that his followers ‘may be one’. But… surprisingly, perhaps, St John does not have, ‘This is my body, this is my blood, do this in remembrance of me.’

In St John those ‘I am’ sayings are a feature, and only John has them. I am the Bread of Life, I am the Living Bread. Also, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, I am the Resurrection and the Life, I am the Door of the Sheepfold, I am the True Vine, and so on. These sayings are very weighty because ‘I am’ is the name of God himself which he told to Moses. 

One outcome of the varying accounts of the Last Supper is that we can use either leavened or unleavened bread for our eucharist. There is, perhaps, something lost by us not breaking and sharing one loaf or one wafer. If we each took a unique piece of the one thing, like taking a piece of a jigsaw, it would underline our calling to be united by Christ and in Christ.

There is the saying, ‘We are what we eat’. One of the things which might overtake us is the unexpected need to avoid certain foods. They’ve had me off milk and cheese! We need discipline to avoid the unhelpful, which we might fancy, and to eat what will be good for us. Discipline, regarding spiritual nourishment too is a useful concept. Bible, Church worship, prayer, study, and good deeds, with some sort of priority and dedication, and not just when we feel like them, and not just when convenient.
In St John chapter 4, Jesus says,  ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’. And in St John ch 9, ‘As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.’ 

So what is our work? Jesus was sent by the Father, then Jesus sends his followers. We have to see ourselves as being, with God, on a mission to the community.

The bishops of the Lambeth Conference adopted “Five Marks Of Mission” in 1988. They were then adopted by the General Synod in 1996.

To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom

To teach, baptise and nurture new believers

To respond to human need by loving service

To seek to transform unjust structures of society

To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain the life of the earth

The last bit about caring for creation may sound trendy, but it has always been there in the first few pages of the Bible.

If we were to turn our minds to all that, those five areas of activity, as a parish church, with God, we should need more than our Weetabix to help us on our way, and would soon be looking for spiritual nourishment with real seriousness to keep us going! Certainly, we need to appear to the world as a community focused on those five things, rather than appear principally as a community trying to preserve a nice ancient church building, and raise money for the diocese, - although all that needs to happen as well.

Fr Roger


Sunday, 1 August 2021
8am Holy Communion and 10am Family Service.

Ephesians 4:1-16

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians.

I, the prisoner in the Lord, 
beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling 
to which you have been called, 

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, 
bearing with one another in love, 

making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit 
in the bond of peace. 

There is one body and one Spirit, 
just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 

one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 

one God and Father of all, 
who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace 
according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 

Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”

(When it says, “He ascended,” 
what does it mean but that he had also descended
into the lower parts of the earth? 

He who descended is the same one who ascended 
far above all the heavens, 
so that he might fill all things.) 

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, 
some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 

to equip the saints for the work of ministry, 
for building up the body of Christ, 

until all of us come to the unity of the faith 
and of the knowledge of the Son of God, 
to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 

We must no longer be children, 
tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, 
by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 

But speaking the truth in love, 
we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 

from whom the whole body, 
joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, 
as each part is working properly, 
promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.


John 6:24-35

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

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples 
were at the place where Jesus had given the bread, 
they themselves got into the boats
and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the lake,
they said to him, 
“Rabbi, when did you come here?” 

Jesus answered them, 
“Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, 
not because you saw signs, 
but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 

Do not work for the food that perishes, 
but for the food that endures for eternal life, 
which the Son of Man will give you. 
For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 

Then they said to him, 
“What must we do to perform the works of God?”

Jesus answered them, 
“This is the work of God, 
that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 

So they said to him, 
“What sign are you going to give us then, 
so that we may see it and believe you? 
What work are you performing? 

Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; 
as it is written, 
‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 

Then Jesus said to them, 
“Very truly, I tell you, 
it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, 
but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 

For the bread of God 
is that which comes down 
from heaven and gives life to the world.” 

They said to him, 
“Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, 
“I am the bread of life. 
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, 
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 


Sermon

Jesus says he is the Bread of Life. That he is what we need for life. Just as we need food.
But not all food comes to us in the same way. Christina and I have had a good crop of strawberries this year, but the plums have been hopeless. With food like plums and strawberries, you can pick them gently from the plant and just wash them and eat them, easy. But bread is something else.
Bread is made of wheat, or, in some times and places, of barley. And the wheat or barley has a challenging time, not an easy time.

Imagine some stalks of wheat growing happily in a field. At harvest time they are cut down. That’s not gentle! 
Then the wheat is bashed so that all the seeds fall out. That’s a bit rough!
Then it gets worse! The seeds are ground down to make flour and they don’t even look like wheat anymore.
Then the flour is mixed with water, and – if it’s not going to end up as very solid bread,-  yeast and salt must be put in. 
Then the dough is kneaded, - pushed and pulled and bashed, - and then made into separate little loaf shapes.
If it is to be light bread with yeast put in, it then has to wait a bit while gas bubbles form inside it and it swells up. I wouldn’t fancy that! 
What a business, after the wheat stalks had been growing quite happily in their field! 

But it gets worse! The little loaves are then put in a very hot oven. After a bit they come out as bread, looking nice and smelling nice. But it’s not over yet. For the bread to be useful it is then sliced or cut or pulled apart. Only then it can be useful and feed people, but it’s had a tough journey.

Two hundred years ago there was a clever Danish man called Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard is a strange name. It means churchyard. His family must have lived by a churchyard. He said that life can only be understood backwards, but has to be lived forwards.

When we are growing up, living life forwards, we can have a lot of things to cope with, like the wheat does. We can think that if we have a difficult time and our friends don’t, then something has gone wrong. But there are plus sides to that. We can be learning how to be strong and to cope with difficult times, when they are not learning that. 

Now that I’m much nearer 80 than 70, Kierkegaard would say that its about time I started understanding life looking backwards. He thought he’d managed it, although he died at only 42.
Growing up, I might have been a bit worried that various long spells of illness, and someone dying, in my small family, and me having a great amount of extra duties at home, and limited money, were messing up my school’s plan for me to be a scientist. My friends, with whom I was competing in exams, seemed to have a much easier time, with meals cooked for them, shopping done for them, and having holidays and leisure activities. And why was I keen about drama and language and poetry and nature when I was supposed to be focussing on physics, chemistry and maths from the age of 14? 
Looking back, there were bad things that happened and difficult years as I grew up, but it all became useful preparation for becoming a priest, and a father, aged 24, and then having a quite turbulent career in the Church.

God is very clever. Even when bad things happen, God can bring good new things out of the situation which would not have happened without the bad things.

Jesus, when he was quite grown up, at the age of about 30, found a calling to teach, preach and heal, and try to get people to behave better and turn to God. He felt called to direct people to what he felt the Jewish religion was really all about. He was a radical, wanting to get to the root of things. Being 30 was indeed quite grown up. In Jesus’ world you might be thinking of becoming a grandfather at 30.
Of course, Jesus met trouble. The official Jewish leaders didn’t like what he did, or how he became popular. After three years they got the Romans to kill him.  Jesus’ crucifixion, - obviously something very bad. Yet, we call that day Good Friday, because after it God brought a great new stage of life, at Easter, both for Jesus and for his friends.

So it is Jesus’ life which will feed and encourage and strengthen ours. A life that came to good things by faithfully following the right path with God our Father, rather than ignoring God and choosing the easiest way.

The bread did not come about easily, nor did Jesus’ truly successful way of life. Nor will ours.

Fr Roger

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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