United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

11th October 2020: Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

WORSHIP IN AN UNCOMMON SEASON

We are sorry if you missed today’s service! For those who couldn’t get there, our services are a straightforward communion service with no hymns – however, we have some introductory and closing music, as well as some extra music during the service. Communion is offered in one kind, and there is the option of not receiving at all if you feel it is safer for you to let the priest receive on your behalf. Everyone follows the directions of the stewards for going up to receive communion and remain aware of the usual social distancing requirements. Communion is administered in the pews to anyone unable to walk to the altar: if you are thinking of attending and require this, please have a word with the steward on arrival. We are otherwise asked to remain standing to receive the bread.

On leaving the church, service booklets are dropped into the basket by the exit door and we leave by a different door from the way we came in. At St James’ this is via the south door at the front, and at St Mildred’s via the royal chapel.

Please DO NOT take your service sheet away with you!

ONLINE WORSHIP

Services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube: you can catch recent worship via the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XfsN_K8Cqo

Alternatively, search on Youtube for St Mildred’s Church and find all previous services.

FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Give thanks for: people of prayer; neighbours going the extra mile

Pray for: all who are lonely, facing an uncertain future, or adapting to new and unwelcome realities

PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:

Please pray for: Grace Lane and family; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Ena Young; Brenda; Stuart; Andrew; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Rosie and family; Barbara Blacklock; Hilda Bell; Paul & family; Emily; Lilly; Jenny and Mike Abbott; Gary; Irene and Henry; David Algar

Give thanks for: all who run our community café at St Mildred’s, providing a safe place to socialise

PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:

All whose year’s mind occurs at this season

COLLECT FOR 18th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

God, our Judge and Saviour,

teach us to be open to your truth

and to trust in your love,

that we may live each day

with confidence in the salvation which is given

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

READINGS

OLD TESTAMENT READING Exodus 32 : 1-14

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 2Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ 3So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4He took the gold from them, formed it in a mould, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ 5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.’ 6They rose early the next day, and offered burnt-offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

7 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” ’ 9The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.’

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.” ’ 14And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

GOSPEL READING Matthew 22 : 1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14For many are called, but few are chosen.’

ADDRESS

A few years ago on holiday I went to an agricultural show where you could see all sorts of interesting farming activities being exhibited, such as sheep shearing. It really was amazing to watch how the shearer managed to hold the struggling animal and smartly remove its heavy fleece, avoiding getting kicked and equally avoiding harming the animal with what looked like a lethal weapon. Afterwards the sheep trotted away resentfully, doubtless feeling a bit chilly, and it was someone else’s turn to get shorn. I daresay it pretty quickly got used to the feeling of having no thick heavy fleece – and it might even have been relieved to be shot of its heavy burden.

You will be thinking that I am about to say this is a parable of the church at present, shorn of all its unnecessary structures and rather resentful that we can no longer rely on heavy rituals that tend to dominate our worship lives. Maybe it is, and I leave that thought with you, but I also recall at the same show an even more amazing spectacle, and that was duck herding. As you can imagine, whereas sheep have some vague sense of where they are supposed to be, and the sheepdog keeps them in good order, duck herding is a whole new level of madness. The ducks have absolutely no interest in being herded, and the poor old sheepdog has to work twice as hard, not least because a wily duck can take off, whereas sheep stay firmly rooted to the ground. It was hugely entertaining, and very impressive whenever the dog won the battle and got them to go where he wanted them – up ramps, through tunnels, round obstacles, and so on.

So – are the people of Israel, left to their own devices at the foot of the mountain, more like sheep or ducks? On the one hand, the Israelites are a set group with a particular lifestyle in common, like sheep who know each other and live in a particular domesticated sort of fashion, whereas ducks are far more of a wild species. You can get a sheep to follow orders far more readily than a duck will, and while Moses is there acting as a sheepdog they will be safe enough, you would think. But personally I think the Israelites are more like ducks, who don’t hang around when the useful source of food disappears. If someone on a river bank stops throwing bread into the water, they will soon swim off to another passer-by who has a better supply of food. And that is much what the Israelites did without Moses’ guidance: they made something else to worship, God got very angry and Moses had to mediate for them.

Being God’s chosen people didn’t mean not having to face problems, disasters, hardships and life itself in general. What marks out God’s people has nothing to do with being in any way privileged. It’s what God’s people do in adversity that matters. Whether we run off after other things that entice us or whether we stay faithful. Whether we prioritise God or just treat him as did the wedding guests in today’s parable – as an inconvenience or as a low priority in our busy schedule. It is salutary for us to read that parable, even if the early church was so scandalised by it that they tacked on a final paragraph condemning the unfortunate man without a wedding garment. It was unthinkable that the outsiders, the dregs of society, got more of a welcome than the regular crowd. That God might have no admissions policy beyond people wanting to come to his banquet. So they invented a dress code, and the man failed the test. I don’t think Jesus did that at all – I think it’s what happens when a well-meaning scribe decides many years after the event that Jesus couldn’t be that scandalous.

Because God is scandalous. The Gospel is scandalous. It is good news for a world outside the church. Is it good news for us as well?

Amen.

INTERCESSIONS(supplied by Jane Brand)

Father bless your Church in all the world and its earthly leaders, especially Susan, Mike and Peter. Give them all wisdom, patience and courage as they guide the members of their communities through this pandemic.

Listening Friend, hear the prayers rising from the prayer room in East Cowes this week. Give us patience and faith so that we, unlike the Israelites, may discern Your Will for our community.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

God the Creator help us, your selfish, destroying people, to better care for your beautiful Earth and each other. Encourage us all to nurture and help those in other industrialised nations and the third world, to find a more sustainable way of living, so we may all enjoy the good things on your planet.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Healer, care for all those suffering during this pandemic, those with Covid 19, those who are fearful of seeking help with other ills, those anxious and lonely, those unable to be with the people they love and those mourning in isolation. Bless them and give them courage.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Great Teacher, bless all the schools, children and staff, may they enjoy their learning, friendships and school experiences after the long absence from their academic life.

Guide and protect all those young people who are living away from home at Colleges and Universities in such difficult and unusual circumstances. Give Grace and Blessings to them and their teachers.

Give courage to all those who are unemployed or expecting to be unemployed in the next few weeks. To those seeking to provide jobs and further training, give imagination and kindness.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

O Great Love, thank you for living in us and loving in us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts longings for the healing of our world, knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God. Amen.

PREPARING FOR SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

In union, Lord, with the faithful at every altar of your Church, where the Holy Eucharist is celebrated, I offer you praise and thanksgiving. I present to you my soul and body with the sure hope that I may always be united to you. And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you and embrace you with all my being. Let nothing ever separate you from me. May I live and die in your love. Amen.

You might like to sit in silence for a while, then pray:

We praise and thank you, O Christ, for this sacred feast:

for here we receive you in our hearts,

here the memory of your passion is renewed,

here our minds are filled with grace,

and here a pledge of future glory is given,

when we shall feast at that table where you reign

with all your saints for ever.

Amen.

To conclude, rest quietly in God’s presence.

NOTICES

ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ

The café at St Mildred’s is open from 10.00am – 4.00pm, Mondays to Thursdays. Social distancing is in place, and although it is preferable for folks to eat outdoors, it is perfectly possible to have a table indoors for tea, coffee and cakes. The church is also open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Refreshments are available after Sunday worship.

APCMs

The APCMs have been delayed this year because of the lockdown, but provisionally are now set for the following dates:

St Mildred’s ~ 7.00pm on Tuesday 20th October

St James’ ~ 7.00pm on Thursday 22nd October

To comply with social distancing, each will take place in the relevant church rather than in the hall. It is hoped to produce reports in advance so that the meetings can be kept short, as masks will be required.

24-7 PRAYER ROOM

The 24-7 prayer room is up and running! If you haven’t been down to use it yet, have a word with those who have, who will be able to tell you how it worked for them. If you HAVE been in for an hour or so, do tell others! Finally, if you think it can be improved in any way, tell the Vicar!!

How do I take part?

It will be possible to book a slot online, or by phoning Rev Susan (717026) to arrange your initial hour.

How to book online: Easy – just click the following link and choose your time! The sooner you sign up, the greater the chances of getting your preferred time slot!

Please come and explore this opportunity to get God’s attention – and pass the word on to anyone else you know who might be interested.

Once you have arrived at the hall, knock on the door to be let in, as we shall ask everyone to keep themselves safe by having the door locked during prayer times. This is also to stop anyone barging in and disturbing the person at prayer. Ideally, we ask you to book as individuals, rather than with other people: the exception is if you are in need of physical support (e.g. disabled issues). The point is that there are no distractions by way of chatting that might get in the way of focussing on God.

It sounds rather daunting: what on earth will I do for a whole hour?

The hall has been set up with all sorts of different prayer resources, from simple candles and books, to guided meditations and water for placing pebbles. There is music if you want it, tea and coffee and biscuits, comfortable spaces, art stations where you can try your hand at different kinds of art, from simple colouring to water colours. Not forgetting posters and other visual stimuli and a board on which to pin your individual prayers or poems. Whatever you do in that hour is up to you.

How will I be protected from Covid issues?

Everyone needs to sanitise their hands on entry, and there is more sanitiser available at points round the hall to clean your hands after you have touched different prayer stations. At the end of your session, we ask you to move whichever chairs you have sat on to one specified side of the hall, so that they are not used again until a few days later. There is a wipeable comfy chair, so please use a wet wipe to clean that as well if you use it. Before leaving, please also wipe over the toilet if you have used it so that the next person can be assured of cleanliness. Leave all used wipes in the designated bins, which are regularly emptied.

What if I get into any difficulty?

There is a mobile phone in the hall especially for emergencies so that you can phone for help.

Please feel free to talk to Rev Susan if you think anything has been overlooked!

FINALLY, TO PONDER….

. . . and then the whole world walked inside

and shut their doors

and we said we will stop it all.

Everything.

To protect our weaker ones,

our sicker ones,

our older ones.

And nothing

nothing in the history of humankind

ever felt more like LOVE than this.

From East Cowes WIs Facebook page, courtesy of Washington Concord WI (Tyne and Wear).