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Sunday, 19 December 2021
This morning our 10 am service was Matins as this is the third Sunday in December. Father Roger took the service and in his sermon he talked about how we cant wait for Christmas to come, not just for the birth of the baby Christ, but for all his teachings mean to us in this life and the next.

We sang advent Hymns, the Venite, psalm 144, the Benedicite and the Jubilate Deo as it is Advent and had coffee after the service.

4th Sunday in Advent


Hebrews 10:5-10

A reading from the letter to the Hebrews.

 When Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;

in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.

Then I said, 
‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”

When Christ said, 
“You have neither desired nor taken pleasure 
in sacrifices and offerings 
and burnt offerings and sin offerings” 
(these are offered according to the law), 

then he added, 
“See, I have come to do your will.” 
He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 

And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified 
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ 
once for all.

Luke 1:39-45

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

Mary set out and went with haste 
to a Judean town in the hill country, 

where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth. 

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, 
the child leaped in her womb. 
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 

and exclaimed with a loud cry, 
“Blessed are you among women, 
and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 

And why has this happened to me, 
that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 

For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, 
the child in my womb leaped for joy. 

And blessed is she who believed 
that there would be a fulfillment 
of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

10am Sung Mattins

Isaiah 32:1-8

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

9 Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.

10 Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.

11 Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.

12 They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.

13 Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:

Revelation 22:6-21

6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.


‘I can’t wait.’ That seems to be the theme for today. We might dimly (in some cases) remember our feelings as a child just before Christmas or a birthday, when very soon presents might appear. In Bishop Martin’s case, and mine, birthday and Christmas presents arrived about the same time. Today, the last Sunday before Christmas, has something of that feel. 

We might be thinking at Christmas of a new king coming. In the first reading, Isaiah and his community just can’t wait for a decent new King. It seems that King Hezekiah was the answer to their prayers about 700BC. He was King of Judah, the southern part of the Holy Land. King Hezekiah was around when the other part, the northern part, the Kingdom of Israel, was overwhelmed by a heathen army. That region’s religion became compromised, and their ethnicity become more mixed. They became the Samaritans, whom the Jews in the South would come to detest. 

Hezekiah proved to be one of the best-respected kings and was of the House of David. And so, he was an ancestor of Joseph, and therefore legally, at least, the ancestor of Jesus. 
In the second reading, St John is just finishing his Book of Revelation. In the end, God will have things right, and John can’t wait. 

Had we been at the Eucharist today, the focus would be on Mary, preparing for the birth of her baby. She will be looking forward to that soon to being over. 
When we were looking at the prophets at the Family ser
vice, we said that prophecy is not like visions of the future in a crystal ball. The seers see into the reality of their own times, as God might see it, and speak of hoping in him, and of what he wants of us.  Today we might have been expecting another passage from Isaiah, ‘a virgin will conceive and bear a son, called Immanuel’. So, is the prophet in that passage really foreseeing Jesus’ conceived by Mary in a particular house in Nazareth many centuries ahead? The prophet’s Hebrew message to the people at a bad time was, rather, something like, ‘a young woman will have a baby, and, with God’s help, things will get better.’ By the time it had been translated through Greek and Latin it was not simply a young woman, but a virgin. We must hesitate to project prophecies centuries ahead - or to translate things without care!

That is not, of course, to deny the Virgin Birth. It can have interesting meanings, about a special new start for humanity, but will also raise much mystery. Was Jesus being a ‘Son of David’ simply a Jewish legal thing through Joseph, for which he would not need to be Jesus biological father? In 1922, almost 100 years’ ago, the two Archbishops got excited about this and other issues. They probably realised that the bishops are supposed to be the guardians of our doctrine. So they thought that they ought to discover what doctrine was actually held by the more enlightened in their Church of England. They appointed a commission. It was obviously, a tricky job, as it took the group appointed until 1938! Even so, some of our younger members may have missed the whole thing. Here is my copy.

We must insist always that Jesus was fully human, - one of us, - whatever else he was. And it is harder to maintain that if he wasn’t born normally. Much more could be said, but in the last resort, our salvation does not depend on the Virgin Birth! As a matter of history, it seems, Jesus was called ‘Son of God’ because of how he was, not because of rumours about his conception. And had he not been very special, no one would remotely care about rumours surrounding his birth.

So what we are looking forward to? At weddings now, the couples tend to be older than half a century ago. In Portsmouth Diocese in 1960s I think I must have married some brides, and possibly bridegrooms, below the new legal age which is just arriving. But I wonder what couples make of the current prayer about growing old together joyfully looking forward to heaven?  I’m not sure that that is on their minds at the time of the wedding.

We started Advent talking of trusting God to see us through, whatever we need to go through along the way. We are ending Advent by looking forward to the good end of things, where Christ will be at the centre. Especially if we are of a modern scientific bent, we can’t really now envisage heaven as set in the sort of time and space that we now know, - so we will struggle to envisage it at all! It is not far into the sky or simply into the future. Recently I used a prayer of John Donne at David Baron’s service, which seems to get it right, as best we can. 

“Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.” 
This is about being constantly fulfilled without being bored. Free from threat, or cause for anxiety. 

I can’t wait! 

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.

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