United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
15th November 2020 : 2nd Sunday before Advent
WORSHIP IN THE KINGDOM SEASON
Our churches being closed for public worshipthis month,we rely on people joining online services if they so wish. The diocesan website www.portsmouth.anglican.org has a direct link to parishes that are streaming live worship, while for those unable to access such resources this pewsheet continues to contain material for offering a “spiritual communion” at home. Since the 24-7 prayer room proved popular a few weeks ago, it has been reinstated at St James’ hall – though for safety’s sake we ask you to book a time rather than just turning up. (See elsewhere in this pew sheet for details of how to book.) If you do choose simply to turn up, please take note that the room may already be in use and look out for the “Prayer Room Occupied” sign on the outer door.
Services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube: you can catch recent worship via the following link:
Alternatively, search on Youtube for St Mildred’s Church and find all previous services.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: a potential Covid-19 vaccine; friendship; people who encourage us
Pray for: all who will struggle to access a vaccine; integrity of pharmaceutical companies
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Irene and Henry; 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; Oliver; Jenny
Give thanks for: successful treatments; the prayer room resource; volunteers at both churches
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
Ruth Raper; Elizabeth Mew (“Bet”)
COLLECT FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY BEFORE ADVENT
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
NEW TESTAMENT READING 1 Thessalonians 5 : 1-11
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 25 : 14-30
Jesus continued, 14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
I may well have told you the story of 3 year old George, who was keen to prove to me once during an all-age service that he had been listening to the gospel reading very carefully. I had asked the children what the various servants had done with the talents entrusted to them, and so far they had got it right. But George, when asked what the servant with the one talent had done with it, blithely announced to the rest of the congregation, “He put it in the potting shed”..!! If only. At least in a potting shed one expects things to be nurtured and to grow. Young George’s family were clearly gardeners, and George was doing exactly what the gospel writers were doing in editing and making sense of the stories they either remembered or had heard passed on to them: George had made sense of it within his own context.
Our lectionary writers have done exactly the same thing, in pairing the parable of the talents with the extract from Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica: it has become a story about the end times, when Jesus will return in glory for the final Judgement. But was it originally intended that way? Not necessarily. For one thing, if the parable is supposed to be about Jesus returning in judgement on his servants (i.e. the disciples), it is impossible for Jesus to have described himself as any sort of ruler who reaps where he does not sow and is by nature harsh and demanding. If you are looking for harsh and demanding people in the vicinity, the most likely candidates are the scribes and Pharisees! After all, Jesus has already criticised them for being hypocrites who make heavy burdens for others without lifting a finger to help them (Matthew 23 : 4) and who shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces (Matthew 23 : 13).
If we take out the references to entering into the joy of the master and being thrown into outer darkness, which twist the story into being about the last days, we are left with a parable about being entrusted with treasure and the servants’ responses to that trust. If Jesus is addressing the scribes and Pharisees, it is not surprising that his words caused so much fury. But what might it say to us? If we are Jesus’ servants, what is the treasure entrusted to us?
The most obvious answer is that the treasure is the good news of the Kingdom, which we are to share with the rest of the world. The sure knowledge that God sent his Son to live and die for us, that he calls us beyond our own preoccupations to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves. We each have to work out what that might mean. As the established church in this country, there is always a temptation to protect this treasure and to make sure it remains intact: we do this by devising rules, agreeing doctrines, developing a hierarchy of control, and so on. I wonder if that makes you feel uneasy? There is such a thin line between upholding the Gospel and becoming Pharisaical in our possessiveness. And meanwhile, we can’t help noticing that the Kingdom of God doesn’t always respect the boundaries of the well-intentioned Church of England!
This year has seen the sweeping away of many things we would previously have thought indispensable to the Church. Some of that can and must be rebuilt: other aspects we now know we can live without and begin to recognise that they were cramping us into some sort of liturgical and social treadmill. And in the midst of it all, there are people crying out in despair for help, for hope, for love, for fellowship – if we did but know how to reach them. There are promising signs of new creativity, and of faith being strengthened in adversity. In one of the Star Wars films of old, the character Obi-Wan says to his enemy, Darth Vader:
You can’t win, Vader. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Is that an image for the Church to work with? While we are all encouraged to bunker down and hide ourselves away, we need to stand firm amidst the limitations imposed on us, and to actively look ahead for how we might step out in faith as a church, rather than cling to a treasure that is not ours to hoard. Our opportunity is coming, not least through the forthcoming reorganisation of the island churches. Let’s be ready for it. Our Lord and Master expects no less. Amen.
INTERCESSIONS(supplied by Mary Marsh)
God of compassion, have mercy upon this nation and our world in this time of fear and confusion: we bring before you those who are suffering from the Coronavirus; the aged and those who are most vulnerable and pray for all who tend to their needs; we pray for those who are now in isolation; may they know your comfort and company. We pray for health professionals, doctors, nurses and hospital support staff that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health:
We pray for those who are guiding our nation at this time, and shaping national policies, that they may make wise decisions:
Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.
We pray for those who have made our lives a little easier during these difficult times. We thank you for our friends, neighbors and family who have helped us with our day to day tasks. We thank you for those who have helped to keep our church open – Rev Susan and the PCC. We thank Nigel and Jane who have brought joy with their music at our services. We thank you for our volunteers who have helped to keep our coffee shop open throughout the weeks.
Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.
Lord we want to thank you for all those who work so hard at the food banks on the Isle of Wight. We thank Rusty Adams (Foodbank Office Manager) and his 200 volunteers. The bank is 100% reliant on donations and we give thanks for those who continue to donate.
Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.
Remember in mercy those of whom we are now thinking in our prayers, and especially those named on our pew sheet. Bless all that is being done for their good, and surround them with your healing love and power for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.
Finally, a short prayer for ourselves:
Lord, we thank you for our happy days, but you know the fears and anxieties that sometimes fill our hearts at what each day will bring. Free us from panic and worry. Anchor our thoughts and minds in your great power and love and send us into each new day with your peace in our hearts and the sure confidence of your fatherly care.
accept these prayers,
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
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:
in this spiritual sacrament
you give substance to our hope:
bring us at the last
to that fullness of life for which we long;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
To conclude, listen to the att6ached hymns or just rest quietly in God’s presence.
1. O Jesus, I have promised
2. Guide me, O thou great Redeemer
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York would like November to be seen as a month of prayer and suggest everyone prays on Thursdays at 6.00pm. A further suggestion is that we should fast as well, so if that is your personal discipline, please fell encouraged to do so. However, there are plenty of further suggestions to be found on the Church of England website, including a daily prayer suggestion. So here is the prayer for this week:
Loving Father God,
be with us in our distress;
be with our families, friends, and neighbours,
our country and our world.
Give health to the sick,
hope to the fearful,
and comfort to mourners.
Give wisdom to our frontline and key workers,
insight to our Government,
and patience to us all.
Overcome disease with the power of your new life,
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
For more ideas online, go to the section A Call to Prayer for the Nation on www.churchofengland.org
The island’s evensong choir, Cantus Vesperi, have offered to provide music for a carol service in St James’ church on Sunday 13th December at 4.00pm. Admission may have to be by ticket, but you are invited to express your interest in attending in advance of any tickets going out more widely than our two congregations. This is, of course, due to limited space. Seats are now only available in the side aisles and the balconies, due to a number having been reserved already. Contact Rev Susan (717026, or email revspaterson) if you wish your name to be added to the list of reserved places.
Cantus Vesperi are regular winners in island choral competitions, and we can expect a most enjoyable hour of music, even if we are not currently allowed to sing as a congregation. There will be a retiring collection.
WHIPPINGHAM CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL
The Christmas Tree Festival will run from 17th – 21st December at St Mildred’s Church, as follows:
Thurs 17th, Friday 18th, Saturday 19th: 11.00 – 3.00pm
Sunday 20th: 1.00 – 3.00pm
Setting up will be scheduled on the Monday and Tuesday, with specific time slots allocated to the various groups displaying a tree. There will be a rigorous admissions system (one in, one out) at the door to ensure social distancing is observed. Further details will be available next week, but meanwhile, to register your interest in being a helper at any time during the festival, please contact Liz Wilson on padmore888 (tel: 07977 028060). We are hoping for lots of volunteers, even if you can only spare an hour!
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ
The café is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10.00am – 3.00pm for takeaways only. If you are taking your daily walk, why not drop in for some refreshment on your way?
CHURCHES OPEN FOR PRIVATE PRAYER DURING THE WEEKS AHEAD:
St James’ – open on Wednesday mornings 9.30-11.30am
Prayer room in St James’ hall open daily 9.00-5.00, including weekends. Please book either by phoning Rev Susan (717026) or directly online via this link: https://www.24-7prayer.com/signup/432475/
St Mildred’s – open 2.00-4.00pm Monday-Thursday, and also Sundays 11.00-12.00 noon
The boxes for Foodbank donations are in church and we invite you to drop in your donations during one of the times when the churches are open for private prayer.