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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


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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