St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
6th September 2020: Thirteenth 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.
Services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube: you can catch recent worship via the following link:
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: the recent “Eat out to help out” initiative that has boosted local economies
Pray for: Elyas, as he begins to train as a podiatrist at East London University; all whose careers are just beginning; the long-term and recent unemployed
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; Beryl Carpenter; Rosie and family; Barbara Blacklock; Hilda Bell; Paul & family; Emily; Norma Britton
Give thanks for: pastoral care given and received
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
Richard Cartridge; Roy Jouning; Graham Britton
COLLECT FOR THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
you search us and know us:
may we rely on you in strength
and rest on you in weakness,
now and in all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Exodus 12 : 1-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord. 12For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. 13The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 18 : 15-20
Jesus continued, ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’
I packed my bag and in it I put…… I expect all of you know that particular children’s game, and if this had been a family service we would probably have had a quick round of it now. Of course, the items get more and more improbable, and when it comes to packing things like elephants and the like you soon realise you wouldn’t get far with it. Nobody wants to lug around unwanted baggage, after all. Or do they?
The people of Israel, as they were poised for flight from the Egyptians, had very little to take with them, and they had a last meal before setting off. It had to be consumed in a hurry, so there was no time for waiting for bread to rise, and that’s where we get the tradition of eating unleavened bread from. But there were other aspects to the Passover meal, aspects which reminded the Israelites once they had left Egypt, of this significant point in their history. The whole Passover meal is really an enhanced re-telling of the Exodus story, where the foods symbolise various aspects of it – bitter herbs, because the experience of slavery in Egypt was bitter; salt water to symbolise tears; a roasted egg to symbolise new life; dried fruit and nuts to remember the mortar they had to use in making bricks for the Egyptians – and of course the roast lamb shank bone, which doesn’t get eaten at all. That’s to remind the Israelites of Pharaoh’s stiff-necked obstinacy in refusing to let the people go. Obstinacy is something you leave behind if you want to travel light. There’s no room in the bag for resistance: everyone has to pull together and get on with escaping.
In some ways, our situation today is not unlike the Israelites. We needed to escape, and Covid-19 has made it happen, despite our wishes. Church life has been completely thrown into chaos and all the churches are having to make tough decisions about survival. Nobody now can say “We always do this”, or “I always sit there” and so on, and even structures which we take for granted such as PCCs have been thrown into disarray. There is a strong sense that things that once mattered hugely have been abandoned. Both our worship and our spiritual lives look very different. We might not have realised it, but until now we have been constrained by a lot of things which have now gone out of the window, but the pandemic has forced us into making changes not just to our surroundings but to our attitude. I for one am very wary of going back to exactly “how we used to do things”, and while I don’t yet know what will become normal, I do know that we have got an immense opportunity to re-think our life as a faith community. In the midst of chaos, we are being recalled to the basics of our faith, to follow Jesus Christ in radical new ways. We can reinvent ourselves.
The current Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, once wrote that in contrast to hitting the ground running, a phrase that tends to mean springing into action before your feet have even touched the ground, we would be better advised to hit the ground kneeling. I think that is something we could actually do before we start panicking about not being able to pay the parish share, not being able to hold major fundraising events that we have been used to, not being able to organise ourselves as we have in the past. Unbeknownst to us, those things have gradually become shackles: it is said that over 70% of people who would call themselves Christian won’t go to a formal church service or join a regular structure such as the Church of England because they don’t see it as anything other than propping up a slightly weird club. But we have got so used to the idea that most people don’t go to church that we no longer even notice. Well, now we have to. The Church as a whole needs to repent and go back to basics. In conservationist terms, it needs to re-wild itself.
But it starts with prayer, not with strategic planning. I am hoping we can use this time to have a 24-7 prayer room down at St James’ church. We can commit to learning new ways to pray and see where the Spirit leads us. Because once we decide to let God run the place, you’d be amazed what can happen. Our Sundays can become more in tune with the Passover meal – a time for remembering and for preparing for action. We might write new liturgies – because we can – and find new ways to connect with our communities. St James’ can re-visit our work done for LYCiG and St Mildred’s can use that same resource to look for new ways to exercise their ministry. Everything is suddenly possible. And I take heart from the words Jesus spoke in today’s gospel reading: 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ And after all, if Jesus is with us, what more can we need? Amen.
INTERCESSIONS(supplied by Robert Hall)
Heavenly Father, we pray for your Church. We know that the diocese has some very important decisions to make regarding the Island: give them the strength and wisdom to come to decisions that most people will approve of. We also ask you to strengthen Christopher our Bishop, Peter our Archdeacon, Susan our Rector, and our associate priests Mike and Peter. We ask you to give them guidance and wisdom as they go about their work in your name.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we ask you to help and support all the teachers and children as they start another term at school, college, or university. Give them the understanding so that they can proceed in their learning, and that the teachers can explain any different lessons. We also ask you to keep all them safe in these troublesome times, and that everyone will obey the rules— not just for themselves, but also for people more vulnerable than them.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we think of all those people in the world that are less fortunate than we are. We trust that you will give wisdom to leaders so that wars can stop, we also trust that the help that they need- whatever the reason- will reach them. We also think at home, of the people who are unwell either physically or mentally: give them the strength through their troublesome times, and may they be able to get and accept the help that they need.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we think of our Community, keep them safe and well, and on the Island let everyone act with courtesy as they go about their everyday business. We also ask you to give everyone on the roads patience, so that we all can return home safe and well.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
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:
God our creator,
you feed your children with the true manna,
the living bread from heaven:
let this holy spiritual food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage
until we come to that place
where hunger and thirst are no more;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To conclude, rest quietly in God’s presence.
KEEPING SAFE IN CHURCH
We are delighted that many people have returned to regular worship in church! Please be aware, however, that for some more vulnerable folk this is an act of real courage, so social distancing continues to be vitally important. If possible, sit away from the aisle end of pews, so that others can go past safely, and once you have found a seat, stay with it. We cannot easily re-sanitise if you choose to move to somewhere else once you have sat down! Thank you for your understanding as we gradually acclimatise to our new situation.
If you have any issues, don’t hesitate to contact the vicar (01983 717026, revspaterson) or speak to the wardens or pastoral team.
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ
The café at St Mildred’s is open from 10.00am – 3.00pm, 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.
The next cream teas will be on next Sunday, 13th September, so do put the date in your diary! We can safely accommodate 28 people booked within the hall itself, and more (unbooked) in the gazebos outside. Safer to book than not to! Music is again supplied by Inspire, for whose talents we continue to be extremely grateful.
RIDE AND STRIDE 12th SEPTEMBER 2020
With the floating bridge being out of action, St James’ church will not be opening this year for the Ride and Stride Day. However, we still wish to support the event, so your donations to the Hampshire and Islands Churches Trust would be most welcome. A box will be put in church next Sunday for this.
Meanwhile, at St Mildred’s, Peter Robinson is yet again undertaking to participate and would value your sponsorship. Thanks, Peter – hope the weather is fine for you!
PCC DIARY DATES
Thursday 10th September at 2.00pm St James’ PCC in the hall
Friday 11th September at 2.30pm St Mildred’s parish centre
These are extraordinary PCC meetings, so there will only be two agenda items: reviewing our safeguarding policy, and looking at how our island churches can be sustainable for the future. The safeguarding policy is available on our church website www.whippinghameastcowes.org.uk and paper copies will be available at the meeting.