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Sunday, 19 September 2021

This morning our 10 am service was Matins, but unfortunately Joanna, our organist was unwell. We were fortunate to have our friend James Roriston step in at the last minute to play for us, so we had Hymns, and sang the responses, but we said the Canticles and the Psalm. Father Roger took the service today and preached about the first reading from Isaiah chapter 45.

There was coffee after the service, it is such a pleasure to go across into the rooms and meet the Sunday School children at the end of their session!

Tickets for the Harvest Tea are available from the Church Wardens, in addition to tea there will be a Quiz and some 'Last Night of the Proms' singing to join in with!

Junior Choir will recommence on the 8th of October at 17:15, the session is 35 minutes, all existing members we are looking forwards to seeing you. If your child would like to sing with us please contact Joanna, they need to be 8 or older and of course interested in singing!


 8am Holy Communion

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

A reading from the letter of James

Who is wise and understanding among you? 
Show by your good life 
that your works are done with gentleness 
born of wisdom. 

But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, 
do not be boastful and false to the truth. 

Such wisdom does not come down from above, 
but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 

For where there is envy and selfish ambition, 
there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, 
then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, 
full of mercy and good fruits, 
without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace 
for those who make peace.

Those conflicts and disputes among you, 
where do they come from? 
Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 

You want something and do not have it; 
so you commit murder. 
And you covet something and cannot obtain it; 
so you engage in disputes and conflicts. 
You do not have, because you do not ask.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly,
in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. 
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

Draw near to God, 
and he will draw near to you. 

10am Mattins

Isaiah 45:9-22

A reading from the book of Isaiah.

9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.

12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.

14 Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.

15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.

16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.

17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.

21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Revelation 14:1-5

A reading from the book of Revelation.

1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.


Two rather tricky Bible readings today. I think our hymns are largely centring on the second reading, but we might look at the first passage from Isaiah 45. 

When it says ‘he’ at one point, it means Cyrus the Great. He was not a Jewish figure, but an ancient and very successful ruler, and military leader, in Persia. This was in the 500s BC. He was also tolerant and magnanimous to those he conquered. At the beginning of our chapter, God is pictured as speaking about ‘Cyrus my anointed’, which seemed an odd way for the Almighty to speak of a heathen leader. Cyrus is called ‘God’s anointed’ here, in the 45th chapter of Isaiah. Some in America have noted that Donald Trump was 45th President of the USA, and try to argue that he was divinely chosen and divinely used!  And if you believe that…… 

The drift of this Jewish Scripture seems to be that God is behind everything. He is God, and it is not for us to be too confrontational or questioning with him. He can even get a great foreign heathen ruler like Cyrus to do useful things. 

What Cyrus did, of course, was to conquer the other great heathen kingdom of Babylon, where the Jews had been in exile for decades.  And Cyrus, being magnanimous and tolerant, now let the Jews go back to the Holy Land. So the Jews liked Cyrus, and thought that God had used him, - without him even knowing it. Such was God’s skill and power. 

There is a book of the 500 greatest garden designers in history, and it’s a bit surprising to see Cyrus in it! He had a garden, its ruins are now still there, in a desert, in what is now Iran. This seems to have been the first special garden using much stonework, which has to a degree, survived, and the first garden to have sophisticated water systems and water features. 

So, we are being told here, that God is behind everything, we should respect him, and that he moves in mysterious ways. We must remember whom we are dealing with. 

In the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 11, when St Paul is talking of the Eucharist, he says that we need to ‘discern the Body’, and there are sad consequences of not doing so. ‘Discern the Body’, - a rather mysterious expression, also translated, ‘recognise the body of the Lord.’ The Body of Christ can mean many things. His body which lived among us, which was crucified and buried. His risen body. The bread of the Eucharist. The body of Christ’s people. 

All of which need respect. But it is the Body of Christ, - the body of his people - which we are perhaps most likely not to discern well, or treat well, and might need to remember whom we are dealing with.  The Church is not like other organisations. There should be a sense of holiness. 

In matters of integrity, safeguarding of the vulnerable, etc., we should be showing better standards, or at least as good as, society in general. It is appalling that it so often fails to be so.

We are, of necessity, living in a part of the divided Church, as Anglicans, but have a loyalty to the wider Church of history, and, surely, must, as an Anglican Church, be free to embrace anything which we come to believe is sound, and useful, and inspired by God, from any part of the Church. 

The Church is not like other organisations. There should be a sense of holiness : it is God’s household not ours. When it comes to fundraising, methods must reflect that we are a Christian church. We can’t assume that secular approaches will always be suitable. When it comes to decision making, we can’t assume that just copying Parliamentary procedures, with parties and daily confrontation, is for us, or that democracy itself, is always perfect for the Household of God. 

In a healthy local Church there will always be ample candidates to stand at Annual Meetings. And the candidates will say what they stand for. Members on the electoral Roll will turn up in numbers and engage with the Annual Meeting and vote prayerfully. Those on Synods will be chosen to reflect the views of the parish, or diocese, they are from. It shouldn’t be about individuals striving for membership simply to push their own minority view. And no one ought to have to be appointed because no one else was willing.

We always have a balancing act if we treat the Church as God’s Household. We may feel moved to serve in a particular way, and should offer to do so, but that is never likely to be our decision, and it is probably inappropriate to push ourselves forward very forcibly. Things have to be agreed with the bishop, the parish priest, the PCC or whoever is relevant. And all of those folk did not appoint themselves. 

We must ‘discern’ the Church as the Body of Christ - as something unique and holy. It is never a place for us to seek power or focus on our career. If we have the right approach, we can rely on God to get a result better than we might have planned or hoped for.

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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