United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

3rd January 2021 : Epiphany

WORSHIP IN THE EPIPHANY SEASON

As we are currently unable to offer communal worship in church, please remember that the diocesan website www.portsmouth.anglican.org still 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. You must do whatever feels right and safe for you – though of course we very much hope to be able to resume regular worship as soon as possible.

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=YH9VxFd1cp4&t=11s

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

FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Give thanks for: the joy of Christmas and the revelation of the Epiphany

Pray for: those discovering the meaning of faith for the first time

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; Ruth’s family; Gemma and her family; baby Ada; Robert Hall; Rita

Give thanks for: fresh beginnings and new hope

PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:

Beryl Hall

COLLECT FOR THE EPIPHANY

O God,

who by the leading of a star

manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth:

mercifully grant that we,

who know you now by faith,

may at last behold your glory face to face;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

READINGS

NEW TESTAMENT READING Ephesians 3 : 1-12

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. 8Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

GOSPEL READING Matthew 2 : 1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘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.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

6 “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.” ’

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then 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.’ 9When 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. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On 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. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

ADDRESS

One of the more questionable joys of bright winter mornings when the sun shines in through the windows is that it becomes clear how very messy they are! I thought I had done an efficient job last time in cleaning off splashes and general dirt from the kitchen window, but standing at the sink it quickly became very clear that my work had been in vain as a vast smudge of smeary dirt now extended across the entire width, easily obscuring the scene outside. Now I love sunshine, but I can’t help feeling aggrieved when it shows up my imperfections on the domestic front! So yet again I must have another go. There is a better result to be had, for all that I am frustrated and unhappy about having to set about it yet again.

But the scenario has something in common with the theme of revelation that we focus on at Epiphany. The kings (wise men, astrologers, magi – call them what you will!) who made the long pilgrimage to visit baby Jesus did more than offer their precious gifts. They deepened their faith – and they went home by another route. It turned out that the goal they thought was a final one was actually a turning point for a whole new journey, and we simply don’t know how, where or when it ended for them.

The same is true for all of us. We are content with our faith, which may have served us for decades, but at some point (or points plural) we reach a stage when we have to realise that, like my grubby windows, it is less than perfect. There is some dissatisfaction that makes us set out from our cosy spiritual home and follow our own particular star to a new revelation.

But what is the star that leads us? Well, rarely does that star actually look like a star – sometimes it looks like the opposite. The prompting may simply be a realisation that in crisis, our faith has not been sufficient to sustain us as we had hoped. Or that a relationship we thought was secure has been lost. Or that we no longer have the physical or financial resources to continue our lives as they were pre-Covid. It does not necessarily seem that a star is leading us so much as that a bombshell has hit us. We leave our comfort zones reluctantly and with apprehension, even with fear and trembling.

Yet, if we persevere, we find that there is a whole new understanding and way of living our faith to be had. If we are forced to clear away the smudges and smears that we have been so used to in the windows of our faith, we can look up to see things afresh and begin to re-evaluate. That in itself is a step towards our own discovery of Christ, not safely asleep in a royal palace, but right in the midst of the messiness of humanity. And when we do discover him, in some completely unexpected place, we may well count it worth losing the previous false securities that we had before we set out. Like the wise men, we too might go home by another route, wondering about the sheer grace of God who redeems disaster, who goes with us in our journeys, even when those journeys are full of wrong turnings and hesitations.

The revelation of God is different for each of us, but we choose to acknowledge it ritually in our worship, wherever that worship may be taking place. We can also choose to let it change us as we begin to see new horizons, new hopes, through a window that God gives us the grace to keep cleaning, knowing that our best efforts are still only partial. But knowing also that the same grace that led the wise men not only was poured out on Paul as he laboured to fulfil God’s purposes and proclaim them to the Gentiles, but is equally poured out on us, day by day as we too find our own way home to God. Amen.

INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Gillian Jackson)

Thank you, loving Lord, for this chance of a fresh start. In this new year we pray that your gifts of peace, joy and love will be made known to all, and bring healing and new life to the whole world.

In you, O Lord . . . We put our trust

Thank you for your most generous gift to us of Jesus, your Son, that through belief in him we might have eternal life. We ask that we may daily be renewed in faith by your Holy Spirit. Help us to give generously to those without enough food this winter.

In you, O Lord . . . We put our trust

All-knowing God, we pray for a further strengthening of your Church throughout the world. Give blessing to those watching Church services online or on the TV. Guide us as we seek to support a new Bishop to lead our Portsmouth Diocese following the announcement of Bishop Christopher’s retirement.

In you, O Lord . . . We put our trust

We pray for the Queen, our royal family, our Government, and all in authority. Grant them wisdom and respect for humanity. We thank you Lord for the trade agreement reached with the European Union and pray for its future success. We pray that you will support all who are working and all who have lost their job.

In you, O Lord . . . We put our trust

Compassionate Lord, please comfort the lonely and the bereaved. We pray for the sick and those who care for them. We thank you for the new vaccines being introduced to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. We pray for all in our NHS; in your great mercy Lord, give them the strength and courage needed to carry on.

In you, O Lord . . . We put our trust

Gracious God, we know that if we keep travelling steadily along your pathway, in due season you will honour us with every blessing. Keep us strong in our faith as we go forward into this new year, filling us with renewed hope and confidence in placing all our trust in you.

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers,

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

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:

Lord God,

the bright splendour whom the nations seek:

may we who with the wise men have been drawn by your light

discern the glory of your presence in your Son,

the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence.

NOTICES

RIP BERYL HALL

Beryl’s funeral will be at 11.30am on Tuesday 5th January in St James’ church, followed by a streamed service from the Isle of Wight crematorium. If you would like to be invited to the live streaming, please contact Robert (298278). Our prayers and thoughts go with him as he faces this very sad time.

WHIPPINGHAM CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL

One of the joys of Christmas was the Whippingham Christmas Tree Festival. Huge thanks to the organising team, led by Liz Wilson, Carole French, Jean Kirby and Sue Richmond. It wasn’t about money, but we were very blessed to have raised £568.76, of which £285 went to the Salvation Army and the rest to church funds. Congratulations to all involved – let’s do it again next year!