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Sunday, 5 December 2021
This has been a busy weekend for St Marys, as we held our Christmas Market on Saturday 
The Market took place in the Church, the new Rooms and on the Vicarage Lawn! Holding it between 11am and 3pm allowed us to offer lunch time food of a traditional German style, along with gluhwein and warm spiced apple juice, or coffee. The stalls were accompanied by the entrants in the Christmas tree competition, which was won by Amelia, who made a thought provoking 'Rubbish Christmas Tree'  The whole event was very successful and raised money for the church, the Grand Draw will take place on the 16th of December, there is still time to buy tickets!!!
Many thanks to every one who made this event such a success especially to Janet Harland and Chris Field, who made it happen!

Sunday was the second of Advent, and a Family Service as it was the first Sunday of the month. We lit the second candle of the Advent wreath which represents the Prophets, and Father Roger told us about the history of the Old Testament Prophets in his address, quite a hard job being a Prophet!!

The Choir sang 'How Beautiful upon the Mountains' by John Stainer as the Anthem. It was lovely to see the Junior Choir singing with the adults. There was coffee after the service.

Philippians 1:3-11

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Philippians.

My brothers and sisters,

I thank my God every time I remember you, 
constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 

because of your sharing in the gospel 
from the first day until now. 

I am confident of this, 
that the one who began a good work among you 
will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 

It is right for me to think this way about all of you, 
because you hold me in your heart,
for all of you share in God’s grace with me, 
both in my imprisonment 
and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 

For God is my witness, 
how I long for all of you 
with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 

And this is my prayer, 
that your love may overflow more and more 
with knowledge and full insight 

to help you to determine what is best, 
so that in the day of Christ 
you may be pure and blameless, 

having produced the harvest of righteousness 
that comes through Jesus Christ 
for the glory and praise of God.

Luke 3:1-6

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

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, 
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, 
and Herod was ruler of Galilee, 
and his brother Philip 
ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, 
and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 

during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, 
the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 

He went into all the region around the Jordan, 
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,

as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”


Our first Advent candle was to remember the patriarchs, the leaders when God’s people started. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and later Moses. The important Jews who lived over 1000 years before Jesus.

Today we are remembering the great prophets, who lived in the last 1000 years before Jesus, right up to Jesus’ time, and John the Baptist was the very last one.

At the November family service we had the story of Jonah, who didn't want to speak up for God and be a prophet, delivering God's messages, because it was a tough and dangerous job.  There are quite a few exciting prophets, and their story fills the 1000 years before Jesus was born.

The story in our reading today, happens just as Jesus is starting his work. John the Baptist, who was the last of the great prophets is quoting the earlier prophet Isaiah. You will probably hear about John the Baptist properly next week from the Archdeacon. John told them to prepare for something special, just as Jesus was arriving on the scene. John was tough and brave, and eventually got his head chopped off. Many people have great respect for John. In an Orthodox Church, an icon of John the Baptist is one of those special artworks always there for people to kiss as they arrive. 

So...beginning a 1000 years before Jesus:  the Jews had got into their Promised Land, the Holy Land, and had an idea. 'We should have a King, just like other nations do.' But that was a bit rash, they were not supposed to be ‘just like other nations’, and God was meant to be their King. Things did not go well. They had three kings over 100 years. The first one, Saul was not a great success, David was, but he was naughty, then there was Solomon, who was better.

So, when someone like the great King David was naughty, who did God send along to tell him to behave? A prophet. In this case, Nathan the Prophet. To shake King David up, Nathan very bravely told the King a story.  A rich man had a lot of sheep, and a poor man who had just one lamb which he was very fond of. When the rich man needed a lamb to make a meal his guests, instead of using one of his own many sheep, he took the poor man's only one. The King didn't like Nathan's story. 'Where is that scoundrel who does that sort of thing? We'll punish him.' Nathan said to the King, 'You are the man' ‘You're the man who behaves like that!’  King David had everything he could possibly need, but he wanted to marry a poorer man's wife, and even had the man killed, to help him do that. Very naughty. 2 Sam 12. The dramatic story should remind us that if we read a lesson in church, we always need to discover what it’s about, and not end up obscuring it, and we need to convey any drama there, not let it be lost. 

One of the problems of having a King, was that, to keep the peace, your King had to marry a princess from another country. It’s what you do. But the foreign country didn't worship God, so we have a Queen arriving at the heart of God’s Holy Land with a different religion and bringing along different prophets, sometimes a lot. So God's prophets had lots of dangerous work trying to keep the King and the nation on the right track. The prophet Elijah had a weary time with Queen Jezebel and her hundreds of problem prophets. And Elijah had to flee for his life.

After the 100 years of Kings Saul, David and Solomon, - trouble - and the country split in two. A Jewish King in the north, and another Jewish King in the south around Jerusalem. And each had their prophets trying to keep things right. Up north, early on, they had the great prophet Amos. He was scathing about the need for God’s people to do better. He accuses them of ‘trampling the needy and doing away with the poor -  wanting to sell grain, skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.’ Amos 8:4-6  Amos also speaks against the rich women ‘who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to their husbands, ‘Bring us some drinks!’ ‘ Amos 4:1,8:5-6  He labels them with the name of a famous breed of prize cows.

Around 700 BC, or BCE as we say now, that northern Kingdom was conquered. They went in a different direction from the southern Jews and became the Samaritans whom the Jews in the South ended up hating. And they hated Jesus when he made a Samaritan the hero of his Good Samaritan story. But Jesus was, of course, making a very good point about caring for all of our fellow human beings, whether they are like us or not.

Eventually the southern Jews themselves were in trouble, and taken as captives to Babylon. As the psalm, number 137, and the pop song say, 'By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. Our captors demanded of us a song, but how could we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?'

They had lost everything. Their homes and their families' lands, their Temple and village synagogues, their proper Jewish food, their times when they could rest on the Jewish Sabbath, and their chance to worship properly. So whom did God send along? A prophet. In this case, Jeremiah. He said, 'you may think you have lost everything, but you haven't lost God. Build houses, plant crops, look after yourselves, raise families, strengthen your community for the future.' Eventually a foreign King, Cyrus the Great of Persia, conquered the Babylonians, and he let the Jews go back home and try to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.

But life wasn't easy – in the three hundred years before Jesus, they were controlled by the Persians, the Greeks, and lastly the Romans, in Jesus' time. 

So, at the time of the first Christmas, the Jews were very unsettled. 'We haven't had a decent King for ages. We haven't had a decent prophet for ages. We haven't been free of foreigners controlling us for ages. Help, God!' What they got was Jesus, and John the Baptist as a prophet announcing him. Not what they expected, not what many of them would accept, but Christians believe Jesus was what they needed!

The prophets are called seers. People who see. They don't have a crystal ball, saying. 'I can see someone in 583 years’ time wearing red and doing so and so.' It's not like that.  Prophets 'see' - understand - how God looks at things - and what he must think about the leaders, and the community, and what God wants done to make things better. The prophet has to tell people that and will often upset them and be unpopular and get into danger - which takes courage. A prophet only does the job because he feels that God has picked him out for it, and he had better do it. It’s not a job you’d ever apply for, but they were the heroes over the 1000 years before Jesus. 

Prophecy though, is not completely over. Any of us can be moved to it. Clergy are ordained to be ‘watchmen of the Lord’, and to stir things up and be unpopular, if called to it. 

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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