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Sunday, 30 January 2022
Today we met at 10 am on a beautiful sunny winters day to celebrate Candlemas and Christingle. It was a family service, which we would normally have on the first Sunday in February, but nex week we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. 
Father Roger took the service, the children and their families sat in the transepts and the rest of the congregation and the choir were in the nave. We continue to wear masks and take covid precautions. 
The children were given the christingles and we sang the christingle hymn. Father Roger explored the story of Candlemas and the history of the Christingle, both telling of the Light of Christ being in the world.
The Choir sang the Nunc Dimittis in the setting by CV Stanford in C  as the anthem.
We were joined by Father John, who is coming to do some of our services and give a hand while we wait for a new Vicar to be appointed.
There was coffee after the service.

As mentioned above, please come along to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of the Queen next Sunday.















Malachi 3:1-5

A reading from the book of the prophet Malachi.

See, I am sending my messenger 
to prepare the way before me, 
and the Lord whom you seek 
will suddenly come to his temple. 
The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—
indeed, he is coming, 
says the Lord of hosts. 

But who can endure the day of his coming,
and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 

he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, 
and he will purify the descendants of Levi 
and refine them like gold and silver, 
until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.

Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem 
will be pleasing to the Lord 
as in the days of old and as in former years.

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; 
I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, 
against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, 
against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, 
the widow and the orphan, 
against those who thrust aside the alien,
and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.


Luke 2:22-40

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

When the time came for their purification 
according to the law of Moses, 
they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem 
to present him to the Lord 

(as it is written in the law of the Lord, 
“Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”),

and they offered a sacrifice 
according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, 
“a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;
this man was righteous and devout, 
looking forward to the consolation of Israel, 
and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit 
that he would not see death 
before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; 
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, 
to do for him what was customary under the law, 

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;

for my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother 
were amazed at what was being said about him. 

Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, 
“This child is destined 
for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, 
and to be a sign that will be opposed 

so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—
and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna 
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. 
She was of a great age, 
having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 

then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. 
She never left the temple 
but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 

At that moment she came, and began to praise God 
and to speak about the child
to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything 
required by the law of the Lord, 
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; 
and the favour of God was upon him.


Address

Two things today. We will be thinking about the story we read. And thinking about these strange things – the Christingles. 

But first, another little story.  The space adventures, Star Trek, began many years ago, and long ago I saw a very strange episode, where the heroes couldn't see things correctly, and life was quite impossible for a while. They had landed to explore a strange planet. As they walked around, they tried to avoid the things that would trip them up, -  but they tripped up anyway. Not very nice! Eventually, they realised the problem. All the things they could see on the ground, and were trying not to trip over, weren't actually there!  And all the things that were there were invisible.  So they tripped over them. If you can't see and understand what's what, life is pretty tough! We'll come back to that idea.

Today we have our story about baby Jesus, when he was six weeks old. And after today we will put the Crib away, until next year, and think about Jesus when he was older. A few things are supposed to happen for a Jewish baby boy, and Mary and Joseph wanted to have everything right. When Jesus was a week old he would have been be given his name. 'Jesus' is really the same name as 'Joshua'. Have we got any Joshuas? The name means something like 'God saves'.

Then, when Jesus was six weeks old, Mary and Joseph took him to the Temple in Jerusalem for the first time. The idea was that your first baby boy belonged to God. So, in a strange way, you had to buy him back from God. Pay five shekels at the Temple. Our Treasurer shouldn’t even think about it!

Then one last thing. When a baby was born, their mother had a break from going to the synagogue and the Temple, and from social occasions, for six weeks. Then, after six weeks, life would get back to normal and the parents would make another offering at the Temple. This time, it wasn't money, but a lamb and a bird. (Which was a dove or a pigeon). Lambs were expensive, so the rules said that if you were poor, you could take two birds, instead of one expensive lamb and one bird. Joseph and Mary were poor, so that's what they did.

When I was six weeks old, I was probably in our air raid shelter to avoid bombing in the Second World War. That was because Hitler was seeing things all wrong, wanting to control big parts of the world, and hating some groups of people and trying to kill lots and lots of them, and far too many people were going along with his ideas, causing a lot of trouble. We've heard the story already of baby Jesus being taken to Egypt for a while, because the very nasty King Herod wanted to kill him. Herod was another of those leaders seeing things all wrong and causing huge unhappiness. Herod even murdered many of his own family.

Well, Christingle. It was invented about 250 years ago by a church leader in Moravia. That is somewhere between Germany and Poland. Christingles are rather odd really, but the different parts mean things, and they are trying to say some important things to us. 

We have the round orange to remind us of the world. We know that the world is like a big ball, and the man in Moravia in 1700s knew the world was like a ball. But in Jesus' day, of course, they would have thought that the world was pretty flat. If we were inventing the Christingle now, I don’t think we would choose an orange! We know now that if we went into space and looked at the world, it would look like a mostly blue and green ball, with some white icy areas. Perhaps the hot Sahara Desert would be orange. But an all-orange world of hot deserts would be a disaster! 

Lighting the world up, we have the candle, making us think of Jesus the Light of the World. The four little cocktail sticks in the orange are about the four seasons of the year. The raisins or sweets on the sticks are to remind us of the crops we get at different times of the year.

At the Temple, Jesus and Mary and Joseph met some old people, who’d been waiting a long time for God to do something special for the Jewish people - to send someone special. And now they are very happy, because they realise that baby Jesus is the one. The old man Simeon says that Jesus is a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel. That means that Jesus is to be a light for everyone, those who are not Jews, and those who are. Jesus is the one that God has sent to help the whole world to see and understand things right! Simeon said some famous words about that, and the choir will sing them later on.

We need help to see and understand things rightly, and its not always easy. One of parents’ jobs is to tell children to keep out of trouble. And so they should. But not necessarily when they are grown up. Jesus didn’t.

The red ribbon right around the orange, right round the world, is about God's love for everyone right round the world. But the ribbon is red, the colour of blood, because when God came to help us in Jesus, Jesus was hurt and killed, before he rose again. Jesus did not get into trouble because he messed up, but because he got things right. So, we can see that following God and being loving, might cause us trouble. But it can still be the right thing to do, and it can end well. When we’re grown up, real success is about following God, even if it means trouble.  Not about keeping out of trouble at all costs.

Fr Roger

Sunday, 23 January 2022
This morning we met at 10am on a dull and overcast day for our Parish Communion service. We continue our Epiphany readings and today the Gospel recounted the story of Jesus teaching in the Synagogue, which Father Roger reflected on in his sermon, you can read the lesson and the sermon below.
We were delighted to welcome back Joanna and to sing with the organ. The Choir sang the Ave Verum in the setting by Gounod as the anthem, visit our Music Blog to find out more about this piece of music and its composer. 
Unfortunately we had no children in church today as the local school has seen an outbreak of corona virus. 
There was coffee after the service.

Next week we will be celebrating Candle mass, with christingles, If you have a Children's Society box please bring it along. We will be joined by Fr John Hall, who is going to help us during our interregnum, along with Fr Roger and Archdeacon Luke. Fr John is retired and lives in Chichester, and has kindly offered to help us. We look forward to seeing him.

The following week, the first Sunday in February, We shall be having a service of thanksgiving and celebration for the 70 years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Second to which all are welcome.


 

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

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

Just as the body is one and has many members, 
and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, 
so it is with Christ. 

For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—
Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—
and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 

If the foot would say, 
“Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” 
that would not make it any less a part of the body. 

And if the ear would say, 
“Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” 
that would not make it any less a part of the body. 

If the whole body were an eye, 
where would the hearing be? 
If the whole body were hearing, 
where would the sense of smell be? 

But as it is, 
God arranged the members in the body, 
each one of them, as he chose. 

If all were a single member, where would the body be? 

As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” 
nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 

On the contrary, 
the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 

and those members of the body that we think less honorable 
we clothe with greater honour, 
and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 

whereas our more respectable members do not need this. 
But God has so arranged the body, 
giving the greater honour to the inferior member, 

that there may be no dissension within the body, 
but the members may have the same care for one another.

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; 
if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ 
and individually members of it. 

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, 
second prophets, third teachers; 
then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, 
forms of assistance, forms of leadership, 
various kinds of tongues. 

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? 
Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 

Do all possess gifts of healing? 
Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 

But strive for the greater gifts. 


Luke 4:14-21

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

Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, 
returned to Galilee, 
and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 

He began to teach in their synagogues 
and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, 
where he had been brought up, 
he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, 
as was his custom. 
He stood up to read, 

and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. 
He unrolled the scroll 
and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

And he rolled up the scroll, 
gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. 
The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 

Then he began to say to them, 
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 


Address

The tale is told that Archbishop Michael Ramsey, when he was old, went to the Church where he had been baptised, and was much moved to see the font where his journey had started. Some years’ ago, I was asked to take a funeral of someone I’d known since childhood in Gosport. In fact, it was the man who’d worked in the Portsmouth Harbour Master’s Office who had planned the mooring positions for the large number of naval vessels in the Solent for the Queen’s Review of the Fleet shortly after the Coronation. This funeral put me back in touch with the Church where I grew up in 1940s and 50s, and had been a Cub and a server, and they asked me to preach there, after of an absence of nearly forty years. Happily, we were able to see the old font, but only in the nick of time, as they were to remove it to install something more trendy. 

So, we read that Jesus returned home for a Jewish Sabbath morning service, on the Saturday. Our own Sunday eucharist is a game of two halves, and this story of the synagogue service might remind us of how we got the first half of our service. Our second half is clearly the stuff of Jewish meals, the Last Supper and the Resurrection. But our first half, is based on the synagogue service with its readings and sermon and prayers and hymns. 

In New Testament times at the synagogue there probably wouldn’t be a Rabbi about. There would be a Caretaker, who doubled as the Schoolmaster teaching the local boys at the synagogue school during the week. At that time, they had not quite got round to educating the girls in the Law, and in Hebrew. 

For the Saturday service at the synagogue, they would look up the correct reading from the Torah for the day, bring the right scroll from the special place at the front of the synagogue and read it. That would be from the first books of our Old Testament, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, - the Law. For the second lesson, they were more flexible. They would find a man there who seemed to have a clue, let him choose a passage from the books of the prophets, let him read it, and then he would sit to speak about it. So it was, that when Jesus was gaining a reputation as a teacher, and went back to his home synagogue at Nazareth, it was pretty inevitable that he would be called on to choose a passage, read it and speak.

He would sit to speak. That was the custom. Jesus, later, would sit in boat near the seashore to speak to those on the shore, - sit where they couldn’t jostle him. From this we get the idea of the bishop’s chair. The bishops won’t always use them much these days, for instance to confirm people, as they probably did when some of us were confirmed. But diocesan bishops always have their special seat in their cathedral, and the word ‘cathedral’ means ‘where the bishop’s seat is’. The bishop’s chair is perhaps ‘a seat to teach from’, rather than a throne! Some new bishops ask to be ‘installed’ not ‘enthroned’.

The Epiphany season is when we are meant to be discovering whom Jesus is. He caused a lot of controversy when he chose the Isaiah reading at the synagogue. “God’s promises in Isaiah are now being fulfilled, with me, - now”, he claims! What follows is, that those who reckon Jesus does have something very special to offer, say, “we’re his old neighbours, if he’s amazingly important, we demand special benefits, because we knew him first.” Jesus then replies to the effect: “No chance, - it doesn’t work like that. God is even-handed, you don’t get priority!” Things then got rather nasty, and Jesus left.

The first half of our service has obviously moved on from the synagogue service, although we might well still use their hymns, - the psalms. For the readings, we have gained the Christian epistles, Acts, Revelation and so on… and especially the Christian Gospels. The Gospels are central for us, rather than Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. 

So what about the Jewish readings, from the Law and the Prophets? We can have up to three lessons on a Sunday, but usually have less, and no Old Testament reading at all, although sometimes that might have had more interest than the epistle that day. Many parishes do more, and that ought to be under review by a new priest here. Jesus’ life and background and vocation, and the conflicts he met, were all rooted in the Old Testament, and we lose a grip of that to our detriment. This could, of course, be also addressed with Bible study groups. In Wales, I objected that Readers, licenced lay ministers, in their training, studied no Old Testament at all, which was bizarre. The leader of the course was promptly promoted to Archdeacon, and I was in the doghouse yet again! But a minority is not necessarily wrong.

Looking back to the women in my family long ago, one thing they seemed to like was remnants. Cheap left-over ends from expensive rolls of cloth. Remnant is a theme in the Bible. The future very often seems to lie with a minority. Nearly 4000 years ago, at the start of the People of God, Abraham was one ageing man from a small, and not very advanced nation. “How odd of God to choose the Jews”, as the saying goes. Later, it was often a lone prophet who had the right idea. 

When the Jews had their 12 tribes, the northern 10, the majority, were eventually lost to the main story, overrun by the Assyrians. Only the minority, the two southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah, around Jerusalem’ became the focus. And when they went into exile in Babylon, only a remnant of them returned to Jerusalem. And Jesus was the ultimate remnant of those. 

So, God can work through remnants and minorities, and majorities at meetings do not necessarily have the answers. A vote at a meeting doesn’t decide the will of God! The 39 Articles of Religion are encouraging when they ask us to accept, not just that church meetings can be wrong, but that they sometimes have actually been wrong. 

But when a lone individual does take a lead, it has to be discerned whether it is because they are in tune with God, who is urging them. Or, less happily, whether they are led by a wrong vision, personal ambition or concern for power. 

In the end, God’s activity in the nearly 2000 years of Old Testament times, became focussed in Christ, who was sometimes very much alone. But when light is focused by a lens to a point, it will immediately start to spread out widely again, which is what we in the Body of Christ are meant to be about and need to have a vision of where we have come from. And that has to mean knowing the Old Testament. 
And we still have important remnants – very possibly minority figures in the Church who have the right way forward. The role of a parish priest is not just to have some of the answers, but also to be to be able to spot them when others have them. 

Fr Roger
Sunday, 16 January 2022
This morning our 10 am service was a said Matins, conducted by Father Roger. We were able to sing some hymns, thanks to our stand in accompanist Sylvia, but the Canticles and the psalm set for the day were said. Father Roger spoke about the second lesson, and the Women of Macedonia including Lydia, who used their talents to make purple die, he made the point that work, paid or voluntary brings us closer to reflecting the glory of God. You can read the full text at the bottom of this entry.

There was coffee after the service.
We have had some frosty mornings in the churchyard!







8 am Holy Communion
 
1 Corinthians 12: 1-11

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

Concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters,
I do not want you to be uninformed. 

You know that when you were pagans, 
you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 

Therefore I want you to understand 
that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” 
and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 

and there are varieties of activities, 
but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit 
for the common good. 

To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, 
and to another the utterance of knowledge 
according to the same Spirit, 

to another faith by the same Spirit, 
to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 

to another the working of miracles, 
to another prophecy, 
to another the discernment of spirits, 
to another various kinds of tongues, 
to another the interpretation of tongues. 

All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, 
who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.


John 2:1-11

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

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, 
and the mother of Jesus was there. 

Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 
“They have no wine.” 

And Jesus said to her, 
“Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? 
My hour has not yet come.” 

His mother said to the servants, 
“Do whatever he tells you.” 

Now standing there were six stone water jars 
for the Jewish rites of purification, 
each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 

Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” 
And they filled them up to the brim. 

He said to them, “Now draw some out, 
and take it to the chief steward.” 
So they took it. 

When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, 
and did not know where it came from 
(though the servants who had drawn the water knew), 
the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, 

“Everyone serves the good wine first, 
and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. 
But you have kept the good wine until now.” 

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, 
and revealed his glory; 
and his disciples believed in him.


10am Matins

Isaiah 49:1-7

1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;

3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.

5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.


Acts 16:11-15

11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;

12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.


Homily

In Acts 16, St Luke is talking about the missionary work which he and St Paul were doing:
On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

Lydia is a rather special person in the Bible. When St Paul and St Luke came to Macedonia, Lydia may well have been the very first European to be baptised. She was head of a household, which means she had probably lost her husband, and the household would be family and servants and slaves. The tone was set by the head of the household. A whole household would be baptised and become Christian together. 

Roman Emperors and kings wore purple clothing, which was thought of as special. Lydia sold purple cloth. She was, it seems, a high-powered businesswoman, in a world where men tended to dominate. 

Purple dye was very expensive, you got it from some sort of gunge coming from certain sea snails when they’re cross. So it was not easy to get the dye in quantity and it cost a lot. Emperors and Kings and rich people wore the purple cloth to show off their wealth. And one great thing about this dye was said to be that it is that it didn’t fade, but it actually got brighter over time. Bishops also took to purple.

Lydia showed St Paul and his friends hospitality. After that Paul got into bother, as good Christian leaders tend to, and was put in prison for a bit, but, when he got out, he went back to see Lydia and her folk again before he moved on.

I remember a happy occasion baptising a child called Lydia at Donnington. I also remember, less joyously, a certain bishop’s wife called Lydia! Passing swiftly on…. we must focus on our Lydia, the one in our reading. A businesswoman. It is said to have been Napoleon, but quite possibly another Frenchman, who, in 1700s, spoke of the English as a nation of shopkeepers. Une nation de boutiquiers. The point seeming to be that strength and security can be built on trading, and there is something good about providing for yourself, and perhaps others, by running a thriving business and using your energy and your range of skills to do it.

My ancestors were certainly not short of such people. On my Father’s mother’s side there were bakers in Sidlesham in Victorian times. But my mother’s folk were also active, in Kent and Hampshire. Like many others around 1915, in the first world War, my mother, aged 11, passed – not, in those days, the 11+ exam, to go to Grammar School, - which would have suited her – but the exam to show that you had learnt enough to leave school and were ready to enter the world of work. When fully grown my mother was 5’1, 155 cm, and doubtless much less, aged 11 in 1915. But she was enterprising, went straight to night school, learnt cooking, won a prize of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book, and got jobs. By the second war she was running a grocery shop. Her mother and her aunt had each been doing the same. In due course she gave up the shop and got married, and I was born. My grandmother’s shop was bombed, but I knew my great aunt’s shop in the 40s and 50s. My Mother never lived to see either of her grandsons, or to know them, also being enterprising, as internationally active CEOs!

At the Crib Service on Christmas Eve, there was a telling of the Adam and Eve story for the children. Mankind was disobedient, was thrown out of the beautiful garden, and then had to work in a harsh world. What we didn’t tell the children, at the time, was that – even in the beautiful garden – people were meant to be working! Adam and Eve were put in the garden to tend it and work it, not to relax all the time! 

The point being that we have skills and abilities, time and energy, and will not exactly be humans reflecting the image of God if we don’t use those things constructively. We surely owe that to God, we owe it to ourselves to create, and to enjoy achieving something, and owe it to others whom we can benefit by doing something useful. 

All this has no firm connection with whether work is paid or not. A lot of useful work is voluntary, often including childcare and housework. And anything we might do as a hobby, like golf, might well be a paid career for someone else. A scientist might see ‘work’ as something we use our energy on, quite regardless of whether it’s paid. I remember, long ago, talking to a trade union leader who seemed to see work as a necessary evil, but I and the Bible saw it as part of being human. Complete retirement from worthwhile activity isn’t something to aspire to, and it is sad if disability tends to force it on us. But come what may, we can probably manage to pray for, and encourage others, which is a useful job of work.


Fr Roger







 
Sunday, 9 January 2022
This morning our 10 am service was a parish eucharist, and we were very happy to welcome Archdeacon Luke as the celebrant. Today we were reading and thinking about the baptism of Our Lord in the river Jordan by St John the Baptist. In his sermon Father Luke reflected on the fact that we are all joined by baptism into God's grace. 

We were without Joanna this week, and were very happy to welcome Sylvia to play the piano for us for this service. The Choir returned to its 'Covid' position in the South Transept near to the piano, and sang the hymns and the Ave Verum in the setting by W.A.Mozart as the anthem. 

There was coffee after the service.

Next week we will have a said matins with hymns. 





 Acts 8:14-17

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

When the apostles at Jerusalem heard 
that Samaria had accepted the word of God, 
they sent Peter and John to them. 

The two went down and prayed for them 
that they might receive the Holy Spirit 

(for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; 
they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 

Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, 
and they received the Holy Spirit.


Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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

In the wilderness John proclaimed a baptism of repentance.

As the people were filled with expectation, 
and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, 
whether he might be the Messiah,

John answered all of them by saying, 
“I baptize you with water; 
but one who is more powerful than I is coming; 
I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. 
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

His winnowing fork is in his hand, 
to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; 
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Now when all the people were baptized, 
and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
the heaven was opened, 

and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven, 
“You are my Son, the Beloved;
with you I am well pleased.”
Thursday, 6 January 2022

 This afternoon the Sunday School held their Christmas Party, with activities in the Parish Hall and importantly tea in the Parish rooms. Here are some photos and a big thank you to every one who helped to organise this lovely event!

 






Sunday, 2 January 2022
This morning our 10 am service was a Family Communion, and we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany. As Father Roger pointed out in his sermon, this marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men, as recorded in Matthew's Gospel. Using some very clever visual aids he demonstrated the amazing story of God putting his glory aside and becoming human like us and subject to all the problems that humans must bear. 
We sang 'We Three Kings' as the offertory hymn, and the three wise men paraded to the crib with their gifts, thanks to the Sunday School!

There was no anthem as the Choir is in recess until next week. There was coffee after the service.
This coming week we go back to 'normal' with choir practice and Sunday School at their usual times.

Next week we will have the Archdeacon with us at 10 am.




The wise men arrived at the crib, they parked their Camels outside!






The Star precedes the Wise ones with their gifts to the Crib


 



Isaiah 60:1-6

A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.

Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.


Matthew 2:1-12

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

In the time of King Herod, 
after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, 
wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, 

“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? 
For we observed his star at its rising,
and have come to pay him homage.” 

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, 
and all Jerusalem with him; 

and calling together 
all the chief priests and scribes of the people, 
he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 

They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; 
for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men
and learned from them the exact time 
when the star had appeared. 

Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, 
“Go and search diligently for the child; 
and when you have found him, 
bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 

When they had heard the king, they set out; 
and there, ahead of them, 
went the star that they had seen at its rising,
until it stopped over the place where the child was. 

When they saw that the star had stopped,
they were overwhelmed with joy. 

On entering the house, 
they saw the child with Mary his mother; 
and they knelt down and paid him homage. 
Then, opening their treasure chests, 
they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 
they left for their own country by another road.


Address

Jesus came as a baby at Christmas. The Epiphany season is about everyone seeing what Jesus is really all about.

Today we have the Wise Men, following a star to find baby Jesus. It doesn’t say there were three Wise Men, it doesn’t say they were actually kings, but it says that they were from the East. That means that they were not Jewish, not from God’s people, they were outsiders. So we learn that Jesus has come for everyone! They were a group of Wise Men, bringing three gifts.

If the Wise Men saw the star and then undertook a long difficult journey, baby Jesus would have grown up a bit before they arrived. In fact, we read that Mary and Joseph had moved out of the stable and into a house by the time they arrived. The Wise Men, it has been thought, were scholars from the ancient Zoroastrian religion of Persia. Astronomers or astrologers, studying the stars, but they were people trying hard to get to the truth, and that’s normally a very good thing.

These days we have Professor Brian Cox studying the heavens. He points out that the stars have made us what we are, and our star, the sun, keeps us alive. At one level that is doubtless very true. But he has said that we don’t need to invent any other gods apart from the stars, and we would certainly argue with that. A star will not inspire us to love and morality, good behaviour, and hope for the individual, or anything non-technical. Allan Jenkins, who used to be the priest-in-charge here, and I, both studied Physics at a certain college in London, and our professors and teachers contained a surprisingly large sprinkling of Godly people.

You may remember that before Archdeacon Luke came, we had a temporary Acting Archdeacon. He was called David Twinley, and he gave us an address on the Greek concept of kenosis. I’m sure you recall it - vividly? That idea is in St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, chapter 2. It is about God wanting to come among us on earth in Jesus’ life, and so the second person of the Trinity, (who is the Word of God) had to ‘empty himself’, and ‘lay aside his heavenly glory’, to do the job. The Father is the first person of the Trinity, and the Holy Spirit the third. The second person, the Word of God, would ‘empty himself and lay aside his heavenly glory’ to be alongside us in Jesus.

Before this gets boring, we’ve found a use for the star. It can be a sort of picture.

Long ago, God could sometimes seem to be a bit like our star, the sun. God there, but far away, having made us, loving us, but a long way away. Giving us life…. but a long way away.

To get close, God must lay aside his glory and empty himself. How do we show that? Well, we can chop off the spiky bits of the star, and we get….. Doesn’t that look nice? What do you mean, ‘No?’

We’ll have to try again, chop more off, so that the star can really come down among us. There’re still some little bumps on it. We’ll chop them off! You can’t see very well so I’ve coloured in where we’ve chopped them, to make it clear.

I think that some of you children are the sort to give a good kicking to a truncated icosahedron. Does anyone want to confess?

Well we’ll chop the bumps off. Can anyone guess what we will get? A football. That is really down-to-earth. In fact, it hits on the ground rather a lot, it has a rough time, it gets kicked around.

That can remind us that God coming down to earth was costly. Jesus would get hurt and killed when he came to help us.

Even while Jesus was still a baby, Mary and Joseph had to become refugees in Egypt to save him from nasty King Herod. But it would all end well, and if it hadn’t, we wouldn’t be in church today, and there wouldn’t be a Church!



(We went from stellated icosahedron to icosahedron to truncated icosahedron.)

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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