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Sunday, 5 June 2022
A cloudy, grey day, but thankfully no rain. A fairly full church celebrated the Feast of Pentecost together and today was Aleks' last day in the junior choir. We thank him very much for all his work in the junior choir over many years and look forward to him joining us in the adult choir once his voice has settled. The lovely flowers were red, white and blue and remembering that this weekend celebrates Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee, we sang the National Anthem just before the final blessing - one verse only.  Father John commented that Prince Charles likes 2 verses, but the Queen favours just one!

 Acts 2:1-21

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

When the day of Pentecost had come, 
they were all together in one place. 

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound 
like the rush of a violent wind, 
and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 

Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, 
and a tongue rested on each of them. 

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit 
and began to speak in other languages, 
as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven 
living in Jerusalem. 

And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, 
because each one heard them speaking in the native language.

Amazed and astonished, they asked, 
‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 

And how is it that we hear, each of us, 
in our own native language? 

Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, 
Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 

Phrygia and Pamphylia, 
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, 
and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 

Cretans and Arabs—
in our own languages we hear them speaking 
about God’s deeds of power.’ 

All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, 
‘What does this mean?’ 

But others sneered and said, 
‘They are filled with new wine.’

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice 
and addressed them: 
‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, 
let this be known to you, 
and listen to what I say. 

Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, 
for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 

No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.

Even upon my slaves, both men and women
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
 and they shall prophesy.

And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.

The sun shall be turned to darkness   and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.

Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord 
shall be saved.”

John 14:8-17

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

Philip said to Jesus, 
‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 

Jesus said to him, 
‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, 
and you still do not know me? 
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. 
How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 

Do you not believe 
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? 
The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; 
but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; 
but if you do not, 
then believe me because of the works themselves. 

Very truly, I tell you, 
the one who believes in me 
will also do the works that I do and, in fact, 
will do greater works than these, 
because I am going to the Father. 

I will do whatever you ask in my name, 
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 

If in my name you ask me for anything, 
I will do it.

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 

And I will ask the Father, 
and he will give you another Advocate, 
to be with you for ever. 

This is the Spirit of truth, 
whom the world cannot receive, 
because it neither sees him nor knows him. 
You know him, because he abides with you, 
and he will be in you.


A taxi driver said to me the other day that he quite liked religious buildings. They gave him something. He found it hard to describe it. Something Numinous, he might have said; a sense of awe; a momentof peace. He said it didn't really affect him; he wasn't religious.  I was waiting for him to make the next claim, one I've heard so often, though in this case it never came: I may not be religious but I am spiritual.

"I may not be religious but I am spiritual."  Spirituality is an interesting word. If religion is seen as a little frightening, too contentious, rather divisive, perhaps even dangerous, definitely risky, the deep end, spirituality can be seen as a kiddies' paddling pool, we might call the shallow end, warm and fuzzy, safe and unthreatening, that dampens you but won't submerge you and can't drown you.

The claim to be spiritual but not religious: what does it mean?  Where does it come from? It may appear that relgious belief is now more complex and difficult than it has been in the past. As a result of changes in our society over the past fifty years, driving through almost any city in this country we are likely to pass churches of many denominations, mosques, temples, synagogues, gurdwaras, shrine of various kinds.  That is true of so many cities certainly in the western world.  Our neighbours, our colleagues, our friends, members of our extended families, are likely to have had quite a different experience of the world from our own, quite a different faith journey.  We are encouraged these days to learn about all the world faiths and to understand different points of views.  It can be bewildering, even alarming.  It is no surprise if encouraged to come to our own conclusions we shy away from religious commitment.  But since we are equally reluctant to be seen or to see ourselves as purely materialistic, we call ourselves spiritual.

But until quite recently the word "spiritual" was understood simply to mean "religious".  The Church of England Bishops sitting in the House of Lords, as they have sat since the earliest days of parliaments in this land,are known as the Lords Spiritual.  As part of the 1944 Education Act, William Temple, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, pursuaded the Government of the day to include a statement of the purposes of education, definded as spiritual, moral, mental and physical developement.  The Archbishop intended spiritual and moral developement to mean pupils' Christian religious education.

Today tthe feast of Pentecost, when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, places the word "spiritual" at the very heart of the Christian faith and our religion.  And I think you will agree that "warm and fuzzy" hardly does justice to the experience of the first Christian Pentecost.

The apostles, with the Lord's Mother, his closest disciples, had at first been bewildered and frightened by the events of Easter and the succeeding fourty days and had only slowly come to believe that their dead Master really was the living Lord. The final Resurrection appearance on Ascension Day left them uncertain - and incarcerated in the Upper Rooom in Jerusalem. The Twelve elected Mathias to take the place of the traitor Judas Iscariot.  But what would they do next? They had no urge to tell anyone of the Resurrection,  They sat and waited, safe and secure.

The gift of the Holy Spirit changed all that. "And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them."  A rushing, mighty wind filling the house and tongues of fire resting on their heads: that does not describe warm and fuzzy.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not in the modern sense a "spiritual experience". It did not simply move them, it changed them.  Where before they had done everything possible to preserve their own lives, to stay away from danger, now they seemed to care nothing for their own safety or security and rushed out with such enthusiasm to tell everyone the Good News that the people thought them filled with new wine.

And it was no one day wonder; it carried on.  Not just the Twelve but the other disciples who joined them in proclaiming the Good News suffered contempt and brutality, imprisonment, torture and death rather than deny their living Lord.  St Paul becomes we might think a little too eloquent in describing his sufferings but there is no denying their reality or his pride in suffering with the Lord Jesus.  "Five times I have received from the Jews the fourty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hunger and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked." all this in the power of the Spirit for the sake of the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ: nothing warm and fuzzy, safe and unthreatening about that; no shallow end.

The Spirit changes us, drives us out, puts us at risk.  The Spirit also enables us to endure, and supports us on our journey.  The working of the Holy Spirit is not in any way limited.  Like the wind, the Spirit blows where the Spirit chooses. The Spirit is everywhere powerful for good. Wherever there is wisdom and understanding, counsel and strength, knowledge and fear of God, there is the Holy Spirit. Wherever there is self-giving, generous, unstinting love - in and beyond the Church; in and beyond all religions - there is God the Holy Spirit.

We see the Spirit working in the life of our Lord himself.  When Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. St Luke tells us that "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was lead by the Spirit in the wilderness.  When he returned to Galilee, he came to Nazareth and went to the synagogue, where he read from the Prophet Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has annointed me."

Above all, for us, it is the Spirit that constitutes the Church.  The Church is formed through the outpouring of the Spirit not only on the Lord's Mother and the Twelve gathered in the Upper Room but on the three thousand who, having heard St Peter preaching, repent and are baptised, those who "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." We are doing this  morning what they did and shall be breaking bread in a few minutes much as they did on that day 2000 years ago.  The priest will ask God to grant "that by the power of your Holy Spirit and according to your holy will, the gifts of bread and wine may be to us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ."  The twin Gospel sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, the backbone of the Christian life, are occasioned and validated by the Holy Spirit.

These are vital spiritual gifts that keep us firmly members of the Church, the Body of Christ.  St Paul said we who follow the way of Christ have "the first fruits of the Spirit" but still wait in hope for the fullness of the Spirit's gifts.  Let us pray today for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us, on the Church, on all humanity, that we and all people might show in our lives the fruits of the Spirit; "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfullness, gentleness and self-control."

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will not move us merely but change us, leading us from the shallow end and enabling us to risk the deep end.

Father John

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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