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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. 


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. 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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