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Sunday, 12 September 2021
This morning the 10 am service was a Eucharist celebrated by Father Roger. It was lovely to see the church with lots of people, and the Sunday School back in session and joining the congregation for communion.  We have returned to the Gospel of Mark for our readings having had a short diversion into John's Gospel over the summer. The reading was about the moment when the disciples realise who Jesus is but he warns them that following him will not be easy. In the sermon Father Roger told us of Dietrikt Bonhoffer who was a Lutheran priest in 1930s Germany and spoke out against the Nazi regime, he was killed in a concentration camp 2 months before the end of the war. He is one of the 20th century Martyrs honoured in the Church of England. We may not be called to give up our lives in this way, but following Jesus in our ordinary lives is a challenge of giving up the self in order to help others.

The Choir is back in full force and the anthem was 'What Wonderous Love is This' by Geoffrey Weaver  from a traditional American folk song. 

We were again able to have coffee after the service, although we are still taking precautions, masks and distancing, we begin to feel we are getting nearer to 'normal'

Our Harvest Thanksgiving Service will be on October 3rd. There will be decorating of the Church on Saturday morning the 2nd of October. There is also a church yard working party that day, and there is to be a memorial service for David Barron at 12:30 so it will be very busy!
On the afternoon of the 3rd of October there will be a Harvest Tea in the church hall, tickets, £3 each are available form Janet Harland. There will be some entertainments after tea!

Sunday School new term

 James 3:1-12

A reading from the letter of James.

 Not many of you should become teachers, 
my brothers and sisters,
for you know that we who teach 
will be judged with greater strictness. 

For all of us make many mistakes. 
Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, 
able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 

If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, 
we guide their whole bodies. 

Or look at ships: 
though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, 
yet they are guided by a very small rudder 
wherever the will of the pilot directs.

So also the tongue is a small member,
yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 

And the tongue is a fire. 
The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; 
it stains the whole body, 
sets on fire the cycle of nature,
and is itself set on fire by hell.

For every species of beast and bird, 
of reptile and sea creature, 
can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 

but no one can tame the tongue—
a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 

With it we bless the Lord and Father, 
and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. 
My brothers and sisters,
this ought not to be so. 

Does a spring pour forth from the same opening 
both fresh and brackish water? 

Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters,
yield olives, or a grapevine figs? 
No more can salt water yield fresh.

Mark 8:27-38

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

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; 
and on the way he asked his disciples, 
“Who do people say that I am?” 

And they answered him, 
“John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; 
and still others, one of the prophets.” 

He asked them, 
“But who do you say that I am?” 
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”

And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them 
that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, 
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, 
and be killed, and after three days rise again. 

He said all this quite openly. 
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 

But turning and looking at his disciples, 
he rebuked Peter and said, 
“Get behind me, Satan! 
For you are setting your mind not on divine things 
but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 
“If any want to become my followers, 
let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 

For those who want to save their life will lose it, 
and those who lose their life for my sake, 
and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 

For what will it profit them to gain the whole world 
and forfeit their life? 

Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 

Those who are ashamed of me 
and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, 
of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed 
when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


This is the year for us reading from St Mark’s Gospel, but…. for many weeks we’ve been diverted. But today we are back. In fact, we are back with a vengeance. Today’s reading is an extremely prominent one, a pivotal point in Mark’s Gospel. Mark’s Gospel seems to be the very first written, and today’s reading is the big turning point in the middle of it. 

So… looking at St Mark. For many chapters, Jesus has been teaching and healing and acquiring disciples and getting people thinking. All very impressive and interesting, - and mystifying too, - who exactly who is he? What’s going on? It’s far from obvious. 

On the fateful day at Caesarea Philippi Jesus asks his disciples, ‘What are people saying about me? And what do you disciples think? ‘  Peter, usually hasty, says to Jesus, ‘You are the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One’, which is a huge statement. 

Jesus then says some startling things. ‘You must keep quiet. Messiah? Don’t use the M word.’ If they call Jesus ‘Messiah’, that might be right, but there will be serious misunderstanding. For the Jews, the Messiah was expected to be powerful, undefeatable, successful, carrying all before him. The Jews even now have a list of criteria the Messiah will meet, and Jesus does not remotely match up. How could the Messiah be rejected, and suffer – that is, surely, failure? 

‘Absolutely outlandish!’ Peter says, ‘You’ve got that wrong, Jesus! ‘ And Jesus turns on him sharply, saying that Peter’s vision is shallow, flawed and un-Godly on this painful, but vital, question. 
‘If anyone wants to follow me,’ says Jesus, ‘they must deny themselves, leave self behind, not put the usual issues and ambitions of self-interest central in their life, but discipleship. Christ and his disciples will only find the fullest life along a challenging path. 

If anyone wants to follow Jesus. It is something we have choose to do. You can’t just drift into Christianity. And the decision is not a once-for-all thing, we need to decide continually to persevere. 

Jesus’ friends had been confused and uncertain before that special day. Just before it, Mark writes that Jesus had opened the eyes of a blind man, then, in our story, he opened the eyes of the disciples, to the challenging realities. The story which comes after all this is the Transfiguration, where they see Jesus with the top brass, Moses and Elijah, and Jesus somehow being the main one. So that is an experience of reassurance and encouragement for the disciples. But when they come down from the mountain of the Transfiguration they are straight back into a challenging situation.

Today’s reading will possibly bring to mind Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German Lutheran minister and theologian in the 1930s, and a friend of Bishop Bell of Chichester. He wrote the book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’, which was really a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel. Bonhoeffer wrote, ‘When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die’. Not always die literally, of course, but in the sense of denying oneself to prioritize the demands of discipleship. But in Bonhoeffer’s case it did include dying literally. 

Bonhoeffer had been unhappy that his Lutheran Church had got too close to the Nazis, so he joined a break-away church. When war was declared, he was teaching in America, but chose to go back to Germany to do what he could. He was murdered by the Nazis in 1945, whilst still in his 30s. He was killed very shortly before his concentration camp was liberated. He’s remembered in the Church of England Calendar on 9th April each year, the day of his death. There are ten statues of 20th Century martyrs above the West Door of Westminster Abbey, including that of Bonhoeffer.

It is well to remember the story of when Jesus was on the way to the Cross. Some women supporters were calling out, sentimentally, to the effect, ‘Your mother was a lucky woman!’ and Jesus turned on them sharply, as he did on Peter, to the effect that he wanted followers, not admirers.

It is easy for us to say, ‘Jesus had a painfully challenging vocation. The apostles often did too. Unusual people like Bonhoeffer, caught up in the big tragedies of history, might, too, have vocations to costly discipleship. But ordinary people in ordinary times don’t need to take things very seriously, and they‘re not ever going to be called to real sacrifice, are they?’ The Gospels say no such thing!

 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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