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Sunday, 28 November 2021
This morning we came to our 10am service in bright winter sunshine to celebrate Advent Sunday, the first day of the Church's year. Our service was a Eucharist celebrated by Father Roger, and as we are now in the penitential season of Advent, the liturgical colour is purple, and we have no flowers. Father Roger started the service by lighting the first candle on our Advent Ring, representing the Patriarchs.  

We sang some well known Advent Hymns, and the Choir sang, as the anthem, an Advent Carol 'In Nights Dim Shadow Lying' arranged by Dr George Guest. (You can find more information about the anthems sung at St Marys on our Music Blog use the About Us tab to visit the music page and blog.)

We were once again able to have Sunday School, and the Children joined us in Church for the communion.

There was coffee after the service.

Don't forget the Christmas Market next Saturday 11:00am to 3:00pm  in the Church and the Rooms.













1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians.

How can we thank God enough for you 
in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 

Night and day we pray most earnestly 
that we may see you face to face 
and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

Now may our God and Father himself 
and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 

And may the Lord make you increase 
and abound in love for one another and for all, 
just as we abound in love for you. 

And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness 
that you may be blameless before our God and Father 
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.


Luke 21:25-36

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

Jesus said to his disciples:

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, 
and on the earth distress among nations 
confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 

People will faint from fear and foreboding 
of what is coming upon the world, 
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 

Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ 
with power and great glory. 

Now when these things begin to take place, 
stand up and raise your heads, 
because your redemption is drawing near.”

Then he told them a parable: 
“Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 

as soon as they sprout leaves 
you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 

So also, when you see these things taking place, 
you know that the kingdom of God is near. 

Truly I tell you, 
this generation will not pass away 
until all things have taken place. 

Heaven and earth will pass away, 
but my words will not pass away.

“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down 
with dissipation and drunkenness 
and the worries of this life, 

and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. 
For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 

Be alert at all times, 
praying that you may have the strength 
to escape all these things that will take place, 
and to stand before the Son of Man.”


Sermon

Advent Sunday, the beginning of the one-year-in-three when many of our Gospel readings are from St Luke. But – by any standards – today’s reading is a difficult one. It’s not the end of the world, we might think, but it – ever so slightly – is!  Advent – can have themes covering the whole Christian vision, from creation to the end of the world, and the Four Last Things, heaven, hell, death, and judgement. 
Jesus had predicted wars, natural disasters and the persecution of his followers. He had predicted catastrophe for Jerusalem, because, he thought, the Jewish establishment had got things wrong. It was not that God was vengeful, but that actions have their consequences, sooner or later. In AD70 in fact, the Romans razed the Jerusalem Temple to the ground, and it’s not restored - yet. St Luke probably knew that that had already happened when he wrote todays reading. The Jews today still think that when the true Messiah comes, the Temple will be rebuilt. And because that hasn’t happened, Jews now think that Jesus cannot be the true Messiah. And, you will remember, the Muslims currently have a big mosque on the site. 

Our reading is coloured by various Old Testament sayings. When it talks of the sea being out of hand, it is envisaging, - not climate change, - but a brief return to the watery chaos from which, Genesis says, God first created. The Jews sometimes thought that celestial bodies were allowed by God to control the pagan nations. So, when the reading speaks of heavenly bodies being disrupted, it might be saying that time will, one day, be up for the heathen. God’s people would, in due course, learn of the unexpected and catastrophic destruction of Pompei in AD79, but that probably happened after Luke wrote. It may have given people thoughts about the end of the world at the time, but today’s reading probably doesn’t reflect that particular situation. 

We will be aware that ideas about the universe have changed, the earth no longer seen as flat, and our planet not the centre of the universe. We might now expect an end of the world, primarily, when the sun cools in the very, very, far future, or when our galaxy is crashed by the Andromeda Galaxy. We might once have wondered about an end to our world if nuclear war got out of hand. That threat seems to have receded, but it was around in the Cold War in 50s and 60s, when the Russian leader famously said, ‘we will bury you’. Some wonder whether us, and the world as we know it, will be ended by climate change eventually. In any case, we personally get older, and at some point, before our 120th birthday, we can expect our world, as we know it now, to end. 

For the first Christians, whose outlook was coloured by their Jewish background, the winding up of history, and judgement by God, was expected, sooner or later. Now that Jesus had come, and died and risen, - it all seemed to be happening – and very likely the end was nigh, and Jesus would return in glory as judge. St Paul, in the early days, seemed to say, that this could be soon – don’t bother to do long-term things like getting married. Luke, however, in the end, did go on to travel widely with St Paul on missionary trips founding churches. Luke then proceeded to write the Acts of the Apostles and came to the idea that the Gospel would spread around the world before we met any dramatic ending.
The message for us is, that whatever happens to us as individuals, to our society, our church, our world, we are not to panic. Corporal Jones, when he said, ‘Don’t panic! ‘, was, rather comically, actually panicking. We are not to!

We rather need to embrace the words of St Paul, about God’s providence, come what may.
‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …….  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8, 35-39)

The idea being, that although things might sometimes can get very bad indeed, and have in many times and places in our lifetimes, none of the destructive things of war, poverty, illness, natural disaster, - none has the power to finally cut us off from God, or prevent him from bringing us to good new life.
Paul also said: ‘For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ (Philippians 1.21)

It saddens me somewhat that even church members feel unable to have positive New Testament readings at their funerals. Sometimes a person does leave a request that we should dress in bright colours at their service. Although well-meant, that can seem an uneasy thing to do. Although in monasteries there has sometimes been a tradition of having a party when someone dies.

Advent was originally not so much a time for preparing for Christ’s coming as a baby at Christmas, but a time to understand how he was to become known to the whole world at Epiphany. Adult candidates for baptism, in particular, would look at the whole Christian view of life and death during Advent, and be baptised in January at Epiphany, if they wanted to take the faith on board. In Advent then, they might be thinking more about Jesus’ second coming to be our judge, than about his first coming as a baby.
As we travel our road for one more church year, let us hope that we can gain from it under God, and meet a new cleric along the way. Maybe our chances of meeting God are rather better than of meeting the cleric.

If life sometimes seems to be something which is likely to be used up or ebb away, Advent will say the opposite. We have an end. Not in the sense of demise, but in the sense of a value and a purpose and an accountability, - with life and God actually coming towards us and seeking us.

Fr Roger

Sunday, 21 November 2021

This morning our 10 am service was Sung Mattins as it is the third Sunday in November. Father Roger took the service and the readings were from the King James version of the Bible. The Choir sang 'Oh thou the Central Orb' setting by Charles Wood as the anthem. 

There was coffee after the service in the Parish rooms.

We are rapidly approaching our Christmas Market which will be on Saturday the 4th of December between 11:00am and 3:00pm. The Market will be held in the Church and the Parish Rooms, there will be stalls, a plant sale, the Christmas Tree competition entries will be on display, and there will be Christmas Market food in the rooms with Spiced apple juice,  Mulled wine, coffee to accompany the German specialities of Bratwurst, Kartoffelpuffer or Raclette!! So do come along.

At the present time we are planning a Carol Service on Sunday the 19th of December at 6\:00pm this will be the traditional 9 Lessons and Carols.

Next Sunday is Advent Sunday, the first day of the new Church year.







This evening the Choir were invited to sing Evensong at St Mary's Church Barnham

Joanna played for the service and the Choir sang The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in the Setting in B flat by C.V. Stanford. The Anthem was Oh thou the Central Orb setting by Charles Wood. The service was followed by refreshments where the choir and congregation were able to meet and talk. The service was appreciated by all.



 8am

Revelation 1:4b-8

A reading from the book of Revelation

Grace to you and peace from God 
who is and who was and who is to come, 
and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, 
the firstborn of the dead, 
and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and freed us 
from our sins by his blood, 

and made us to be a kingdom, 
priests serving his God and Father, 
to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, 
who is and who was and who is to come, 
the Almighty.


John 18:33-37

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

ilate asked Jesus,
“Are you the King of the Jews?” 

Jesus answered, 
“Do you ask this on your own, 
or did others tell you about me?” 

Pilate replied, 
“I am not a Jew, am I? 
Your own nation and the chief priests 
have handed you over to me. 
What have you done?” 

Jesus answered, 
“My kingdom is not from this world. 
If my kingdom were from this world,
my followers would be fighting 
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. 
But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 

 Pilate asked him, 
“So you are a king?” 
Jesus answered, 
“You say that I am a king. 
For this I was born, 
and for this I came into the world, 
to testify to the truth. 
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 


Mattins

Isaiah 32:1-8

A reading from the book of Isaiah.

1 Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.

2 And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

3 And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.

4 The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.

5 The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.

6 For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.

7 The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.

8 But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.


Revelation 3:7-22

A reading from the book of Revelation.

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.


Homily

This Sunday, the last of the church year, immediately before Advent Sunday, is known as the Feast of Christ the King. In our second reading we were reminded that, in the early days of the Church, Christ was often expected to return as judge quite soon, with the world coming to an end. They also feared that times of persecution might overtake them in the meantime. So they needed to be in good shape in order to cope with whatever stresses came along next. St John the Divine presents Jesus writing, something like an Ofsted inspector, trying to get seven, rather different, churches around Asia on track, before any big showdown. We heard the report on two of the seven churches. It is the last one, regarding the Church in Laodicea, which always proves most memorable. 

In all of this, it’s impressive that Jesus, or St John the writer, seems to know intimately all these places, -their history, their community and their industry, as well as the state of their congregations. So, what about Laodicea, how is it doing? And if we ask that question, we may then feel that we have to go on to ask, ‘What about ourselves?  ‘Jesus says to them, ‘I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.’ - Not promising! 

There is a thought that Laodicea’s water supply was not cold enough to be refreshing, nor hot enough for other useful purposes, but lukewarm and, therefore, disappointing. More importantly, spiritually, they were lukewarm. Wanting the trappings and respectability of religion but without real cost, inconvenience or any challenge which might unsettle a comfortable life. 

It’s further suggested that, with the water supply coming from a hot spring six miles away, it meant that it was vulnerable to be cut by the enemy in a siege. So Laodicea was in the habit of compromising, and appeasing if confronted, rather than fighting. Not a stable peace, and not a reputation to have. But Laodicea was prosperous and well-known for banking, and for cloth made of local glossy black wool, and for producing medications for eyes and ears. 

Jesus also says to that Church:
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Not only is this church spiritually bankrupt, but it is blind to the fact that it is bankrupt. It needs help to see. It needs to cope with real challenges and their cost, in order to become truly rich. The church thinks of itself as prosperous and proud, and self-sufficient. But it will take more than banks, special black cloth, and eye ointment to get it into shape. They need other riches: the white clothing of costly deeds, and healed spiritual sight. 

In Cheshire, in 1980s, I was with a prominent evangelical Bishop, Michael Baughen. He used to recall sadly a stone memorial to a long-departed cleric, where the inscription said that the man had served for many years ‘without a trace of enthusiasm’, - which was meant to be a compliment! In some times and places enthusiasm, warmth and passion regarding religion are not the done thing.  People might want Christianity and church, but safest to be lukewarm and very proper about it. After all, if you give God an inch he may take a mile. Wisest to keep God in his place. And any warmth or zeal is rather vulgar and un-English, isn’t it?

There was my other experience, which happened in Wales, which I will have mentioned before. In some services a Bible reading might end, not, ‘This is the word of the Lord’ but, ‘Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church’. A youngish lady churchwarden made it quite clear that that sort of thing was definitely not wanted. The interference of the Holy Spirit was not ever to be contemplated. But I reckoned it was certainly needed! 

The reality, of course, is that God’s Spirit will suggest and urge, but not force. If we are open to him, life might get complicated, but he will not destroy our personalities or make us into mindless religious robots. As we say in this service: his service is ‘perfect freedom’.

As for Laodicea compromising and appeasing… My deep concern is that the Church of England is so keen to appease factions, and everyone play nicely, that it is settling permanently into four diverging sub-species, two of them catholic-minded, and two of them evangelical-minded, who don’t have to fully accept the ministry of all our priests or be in full communion with them. Yet, the prayer of Jesus on the night before he died is that his followers, ‘may be one that the world might believe’. Mission and Unity must go together, and mission is an absolutely core activity for the Church. Recently a person who is supposed to be a leading light of our Church’s evangelism has written that in our society now, our Church is, “simply not associated with spiritual experience at all.” We should indeed say, ‘Heaven help us!’.

Christ goes on, in today’s reading, saying: ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.’ The word for ‘love’ here is not the usual one, agape, but philia. As in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, = not the cheese. Its saying that God is, at least, ‘still friends’ with the congregation at Laodicea, - as we hope he is with the Church of England! 

These seven letters, Christ’s message to seven rather different churches, in a way can speak to a wide range of churches now. Our ways may often not be all that different from those of church people far away and many years ago. 

Fr Roger
Monday, 15 November 2021

 This morning our service was an act of Remembrance for all those lost in conflict since the first World War.

We met at 10:45 in order to incorporate the 2 minutes silence at 11:00 am into our service. The Service was lead by Archdeacon Luke who also gave the homily, reflecting on our confidence that all sacrifice is founded on the hope we are given by our faith  in Jesus Christ our Lord. The Roll of Honour of those from Sidlesham who died during the 2 world wars was read by Mike Alliston.

The Choir sang 'So they gave their bodies for the commonwealth' set by Peter Aston as the anthem. after readings, prayers, reflections and hymns we sang the National Anthem, and then processed to the War Memorial where wreaths of poppies were laid by representatives of Church and Community organisations.

There was coffee after the service.

Next week our 10 am service will be Mattins.






representing those who were lost




















 Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-25

A reading from the letter to the Hebrews.

Every priest stands day after day at his service, 
offering again and again the same sacrifices 
that can never take away sins. 

But when Christ had offered for all time 
a single sacrifice for sins, 
“he sat down at the right hand of God,” 

and since then has been waiting 
“until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” 

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time 
those who are sanctified. 

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence 
to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 

by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain 
(that is, through his flesh), 

and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 

let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, 
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience 
and our bodies washed with pure water. 

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering,
for he who has promised is faithful. 

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, 
but encouraging one another, 
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


Mark 13:1-8

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

As Jesus came out of the temple, 
one of his disciples said to him, 
“Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 

Then Jesus asked him, 
“Do you see these great buildings? 
Not one stone will be left here upon another; 
all will be thrown down.”

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, 
Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 

“Tell us, when will this be, 
and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 

Then Jesus began to say to them, 
“Beware that no one leads you astray. 

Many will come in my name and say, 
‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, 
do not be alarmed; 
this must take place, 
but the end is still to come. 

For nation will rise against nation, 
and kingdom against kingdom; 
there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. 
This is but the beginning of the birth pangs"
Sunday, 7 November 2021
This morning we had our Family Service at 10 am on a lovely sunny autumn morning. The Church was full, with the families sitting in the transepts, and the choir were spread over the pews at the back, every one still wearing masks against covid. We sang some familiar hymns, and Father Roger gave his address from the alter steps to include all the families. He spoke about the story of Jonah and the Big Fish, and how God calls us to do his work in our community.
The Junior Choristers sang the solo in the anthem 'Lead me Lord' with two of the sopranos, and we closed our service by singing 'The Lord of the Dance' 

There was coffee after the service.

Next week is Remembrance  Sunday, The Archdeacon will be with us for our act of worship in remembrance of the fallen will start at 10:45 in Church, encompass the 2 minutes silence at 11:00 am and conclude with the laying of wreaths at the War Memorial in the Church yard. All are welcome at the service and at the wreath laying.

Do buy tickets for the Grand Draw, now available from Mrs Janet Harland, and put December 4th from 11 to 3 in your diary and join us at the Christmas Market.





The Choir, Senior and Junior preparing for the service.





 Hebrews 9:24-28

A reading from the letter to the Hebrews.

Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands,
a mere copy of the true one, 
but he entered into heaven itself, 
now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 

Nor was it to offer himself again and again, 
as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year 
with blood that is not his own; 

for then he would have had to suffer again and again 
since the foundation of the world. 
But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age 
to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 

And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, 
and after that the judgment, 

so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, 
will appear a second time, 
not to deal with sin, 
but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.


Mark 1:14-20

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

 After John was arrested, 
Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,

and saying, 
“The time is fulfilled, 
and the kingdom of God has come near;
repent, and believe in the good news.”

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, 
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—
for they were fishermen. 

And Jesus said to them, 
“Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 

And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

As he went a little farther, 
he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, 
who were in their boat mending the nets. 

Immediately he called them; 
and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, 
and followed him.


Homily

That story was right from the start of when Jesus became famous. He wanted some people to travel round with him. The first people he found were Simon and his brother Andrew who were fishermen. Simon got a new name. Jesus called him ‘Peter’. The next people Jesus asked were James and his brother John, two more fishermen. They all agreed to join up with him. They felt that there was something special about Jesus, and God wanted them to work with him. So, Jesus already had four of his twelve apostles.

At this service we often read only one story from the Bible, but you can read up to three. One of the others for today is a story that most of you will know. It's on the same theme of being called to work with God, but in this case, the person asked messes up!

It's the story of Jonah in the Old Testament. In the centuries before Jesus, one job you'd rather not have, was to be one of God's prophets. The prophets had to tell people messages from God. Often people didn't like getting the messages, they were usually about behaving better. And people often did nasty things to the prophets.

Oh dear, Jonah felt that God wanted him to be a prophet. And, worse than that, God wanted him to leave the Holy Land and go to another country, to a city called Nineveh, and tell tens of thousands of foreigners to behave better, or else God would punish them. ‘Disaster’, thinks Jonah. ‘I don't want the job. If I go, they won't take any notice of me, and they might do horrible things to me. In any case, I hate foreigners. I don't want anything to do with them. I don't want my God to bother with them either. I've got to get out of this!’ Jonah makes a cunning plan. 

The country where Nineveh is, is to the north-east. ‘I'll get on a boat in the opposite direction. I'll have a break in Spain. If I get away from God's Holy Land, perhaps then he'll forget about me and this job he wants me to do.’ So Jonah finds a boat going to Spain and pays for a place on it. The other people on board are not all Jews like him, but they’re from all sorts of places. Then there's a very big storm and they are likely to sink, and all be drowned. They think, ‘someone must have upset one of the gods, - that's causing the storm’. So, they have a sort of raffle, and Jonah's name comes out. ‘You must be the one, Jonah’, they say. ‘Which God do you worship?’ ‘I worship the God of the Jews, the Hebrews’, says Jonah. ‘Oh dear’, they say, ‘he is a serious God, an important God’. ‘You must throw me overboard’, says Jonah. ‘If you get rid of me, things might settle down, and everyone else will be safe’. They don't like that idea, it seems very unfair to Jonah, but in the end they throw Jonah overboard and the sea goes better.

But God has not given up on Jonah. He sends along the big fish to gobble him up. (Not a whale). So, Jonah is in the dark inside the fish, and perhaps not very warm. You are lucky that you are not here a couple of hundred years ago. Then, you might have sung the hymn about Jonah inside the fish. It goes like this: “My God this is an awesome place, without coal or candle, with only fishes' tripes to eat, and fishes' tripes to handle”.

Jonah is now thinking that he'd better try to work with God, and he says some prayers. God gets the fish to cough him up on land. God still wants him to go to Nineveh, and he thinks he'd better. But he's still in an awkward mood. ‘If I go and tell all those horrible foreigners to behave, they won't take any notice, then .... Oh good......God will marmalise them, zap them, sizzle them. I'll really enjoy that,’ thinks Jonah,’ ‘because I hate foreigners!’

So Jonah gets to Nineveh, and he gets a shock. The people listen. They turn to God. They behave. God doesn't sizzle, zap or marmalise them. Jonah is really fed up, he'd been looking forward to that! So he wanders out into the desert and sulks. A big plant starts growing next to him. ‘That's good’, thinks Jonah. ‘I really like this plant, and it's giving me some shade from the hot sun.’
There are a few of us here who like plants and get very keen on them, and I do too. Here's one of my favourites, it's starting to die off a bit for the winter. Earlier in the year has nice red and orange striped leaves and bright orange flowers.

Then, in the story, God sent a caterpillar to nibble the stem of Jonah's plant, and it fell over and died. ‘Oh, my best plant’, said Jonah, ‘that's very sad’. Then Jonah realised what God was saying to him: ‘You were bothered about your plant, but I care for about 120,000 people and a lot of animals in Nineveh. And so should you. You should care about foreigners’. Jonah realised that God is God of everywhere. You can't get away from him by travelling for miles. And if you think God wants you to do something, you need think about it properly!

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

Blog Archive

Archived posts by year: