United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

6th December 2020 : 2nd Sunday of Advent

WORSHIP IN THE ADVENT SEASON

Welcome back! It is good to see so many of you back in church as we travel through Advent together. If you are as yet unable to rejoin us, 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 our church safety procedures are still firmly in place.

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=98VIiQGgiqA

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

FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Give thanks for: the resumption of church worship; the progress towards a vaccine

Pray for: all working to distribute the vaccine; our care homes; all who are travelling at this season to see relatives

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 and her family

Give thanks for: all working with the mentally ill; volunteers and NHS staff

PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:

All dying in Syria, Yemen and other war zones; refugees who do not survive their perilous journeys

COLLECT FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Almighty God,

purify our hearts and minds,

that when your Son Jesus Christ comes again as

judge and saviour

we may be ready to receive him,

who is our Lord and our God.

Amen.

READINGS

OLD TESTAMENT READING Isaiah 40 : 1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

3 A voice cries out:

‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

6 A voice says, ‘Cry out!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’

All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.

9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’

10 See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

GOSPEL READING Matthew 9 : 27-31

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 28When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ 29Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’ 30And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, ‘See that no one knows of this.’ 31But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.

ADDRESS

I was travelling this week to a meeting with the Archdeacon, for which it seemed I might be late. The journey would have been fine, if nobody else had been on the roads, of course. But especially it would have been fine if the workmen had not been digging up the road along which I needed to go, with a special set of traffic lights straddling the exact part of the road where I needed to turn into his drive. So I sat there, with the rain drumming down, powerless to get to my destination, even though it was actually within walking distance of the car at the point where I was stuck. Grr! But the lights changed, and I made it in time, and I even managed to get out again into the flow of traffic afterwards. Workmen. Huh!

But of course, there are one or two things to bear in mind here. For one thing, if I had left enough time for the journey in the first place, there would have been no problem. It’s no good blaming other people for my own error of timing. And for another thing, doubtless the road needs repairing. The workmen are providing a necessary service, in the rain and cold, and grumpy vicars just make their unpleasant work even less rewarding. Arguably, their work was more important than my meeting anyway!

And so to today’s message from Isaiah: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord…… say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’

Where, exactly, is our God then? Actually, he is not far off in the distance, at the far end of a long miraculously level highway. Jesus reminds us that he is the highway. It is Jesus who is the path to God, who makes it possible for us to be in that parent/child relationship – the earthly children of the heavenly Father. It is Jesus for whom we are preparing this Advent – the Jesus who longs to come into our hearts and whose glory is revealed here and now, not just in some distant luminous haze. And it makes me wonder what our role is. Are we the grumpy travellers who fail to prepare ourselves for encountering Jesus? And do we secretly resent the obstacles that get in our way, the awkward people whose own vocation clashes with ours and makes our life more complicated? Or are we those self-same awkward people, the would-be repairers of the road, the hands-on workforce trying variously to provide signposts, to fill in gaps, to convince impatient travellers that this badly-marked highway is the best way to go?

It seems to me that communities are made up of both types of people. We do tend to fail to prepare ourselves properly for our spiritual journey. By which I don’t mean that we need to make sure we are good and holy before we set out: I mean that we don’t always equip ourselves for the various obstacles we encounter, or spend time allowing ourselves to receive God’s blessings before we start asking him for more, or enable other people to do what they perceive God is calling them to do, be it never so humble. Yes, we can all be grumpy travellers. But we can also be the workforce that is often resented, trying to do something that others won’t see the reason for, setting up signposts for others to flash past and ignore. Getting our hands dirty in difficult conditions, but working as a team to try and make things better for other folk. Where is the glory in that, you might ask? Mother Theresa might well have asked the same question.

But whatever our role is, it is all part of God’s Kingdom. And God doesn’t wait for us to be a bit less grumpy, a bit better prepared, successful or perfect: he loves us as we are and invited us to open our eyes and look around at the glory that is already there before we reach that greater glory. Here is your God – here in the battered patient workers, here in the spiritual travellers, here in the midst of the obstacles and difficulties that beset us. Our God doesn’t abandon us to get by as best we can – he invites us to take his hand and be led, sometimes even carried, and to transmit that love and care to the people we meet.

Right now, the national church is trying to work out what that means in terms of how we organise ourselves both to travel spiritually and to be the loyal workforce. Here on the island we are looking at what you might call Mission Partnerships – groups of churches working to supply what is needed in the various areas, connecting with secular groups such as schools and health centres and councils so that new partnerships can be formed, with a firm commitment to prayer at the heart of it all. After all this time of sitting helplessly wondering how to continue our journey, we have a new sort of society around us to engage with. We can use this time of Advent to start planning who our mission partners might be and we can take heart that there is hope ahead. So at the risk of sounding like a government Covid awareness slogan:

Prepare the way of the Lord!

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed!

Here is your God!

Amen.

INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Gill Jackson)

Heavenly Father, after another month of national lockdown we know we are lucky to be able to gather here again on this second Sunday of Advent. We pray for those less fortunate. Thank you for the new vaccines now being manufactured to combat Covid, bringing us and millions of others around the world, hope for a brighter future.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

We pray for all people accessing services of worship online, that they will draw comfort from hearing your word Lord. Help us as a church to embrace our local community, helping the poor, the vulnerable and the lonely, that in so-doing we may glorify your name.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen and our Government. We pray that you would grant wisdom to all in Authority, especially those involved in Law and Order, Animal Welfare, Science, our Armed Forces and our religious leaders.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Gracious God, we thank you for our families and friends, whether at home or abroad. In this season of goodwill help us to reach out to those we may have lost touch with. All-seeing Lord, please bless all those who are working and keeping things moving. We bring before you all who have lost their jobs due to the far-reaching effects of the pandemic and pray that you will help them find new forms of employment. We pray for all those involved in education and especially for the future lives of all young people.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Compassionate Father, we pray for all who are in pain or suffering at this time and those awaiting operations or in hospital. We thank you for all working in our NHS, and in care homes, doing such amazing job looking after those they come into contact with. We pray for all who have lost their lives, particularly during this unprecedented year. Please Lord, comfort the bereaved. In a few moments of silence we remember those we love but see no longer.

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Loving Father, at this Advent time help us respond to your call to prepare a way in our own lives for the Saviour of the world to enter in, so that we might reflect your calm and tender mercy and your forgiving love. We pray that people will show restraint in gathering with others this Christmas so that we can all safely look forward to a better year next year.

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:

Father in heaven,

who sent your Son to redeem the world

and will send him again to be our judge:

give us grace so to imitate him

in the humility and purity of his first coming

that, when he comes again,

we may be ready to greet him

with joyful love and firm faith;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

To conclude, simply rest quietly in God’s presence.

NOTICES

ARCHBISHOPS’ CALL TO PRAYER

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:

Almighty God,
as your kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin to the
light of holiness,
that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

For more ideas online, go to the section A Call to Prayer for the Nation on www.churchofengland.org

ADVANCE NOTICES

CAROL SERVICE

The island’s evensong choir, Cantus Vesperi, invite you to a carol service in St James’ church on Sunday 13th December at 4.00pm. Admission is by reservation only. This is, of course, due to limited space. If you have not reserved a place, we may yet be able to accommodate you, but there is no guarantee!

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 for the work of the church.

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. 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

Thecafé is open at the following times as per this notice from Sue Richmond:

The cafe’ is open on Tuesdays & Wednesdays from 10am – 3pm. We are now able to have indoor seating again!!

A Big Thankyou to everyone who has supported us with our Takeaway Service over the recent weeks – it has been much appreciated . Thankyou.

Stay safe. Sue Rx

CHURCHES OPEN FOR PRIVATE PRAYER DURING THE WEEK AHEAD:

St Mildred’s – open if the visitor asks in the café for access, but otherwise shut.

St James’ – closed, only open for Sunday worship.

FOOD BANK

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 or when you come to a service. Please be as generous as you can as the Foodbank expects a massive surge in customers this Christmas.

CHRISTINGLE SERVICE

We are having a socially-distanced Christingle service at St James’ church on Sunday 20th December at 4.00pm. There will be space for a maximum of 50 children with their parents. Thank you to everyone who has offered to provide the ingredients for the Christingles themselves.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Having previously said that we would assemble the Christingle packs on the day itself, this of course is not practical as they have to remain untouched for at least 72 hours beforehand. We shall therefore be assembling the individual packs at 10.30am on Wednesday 16th December in the church hall.