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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

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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