United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

11th July 2021 : Sixth Sunday after Trinity

ST MILDRED’S PATRONAL FESTIVAL

CURRENT WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS

A general feeling seems to have crept in that we can now relax and put Covid behind us. If only! But as things stand, please continue to be vigilant and to observe social distancing measures at all times. This particularly applies to the time after services when it is tempting to chat in groups, leaving some folk apprehensive. With the summer season, cases on the island are increasing, and we need to maintain due caution, especially remembering that to have had two vaccinations does not stop people from carrying the virus.

Meanwhile 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.

ONLINE WORSHIP

Previous services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube via the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaZMqeFRRv8

FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Give thanks for: George Hill, to be baptised today; St Mildred’s church; all called to the religious life, especially Mildred

Pray for: all travelling on holiday; all refugees; all feeling threatened by the impending slackening of Covid rules

PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:

Please pray for: Reg and Eileen; Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Beryl; Joy and Dave; Maureen; Margaret Perkins; Jane Brand; Paul and family; Deanna and family; William

If you wish particular names to be added to the prayer list, please inform Rev Susan. All names are reviewed on a monthly basis. Please keep Rev Susan updated if you would like a name to stay on the list beyond the current month.

NB Very few people asked for names to be retained, so the list is somewhat depleted this week!

PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:

Anthony Wollweber

*************

AT ST JAMES’ CHURCH

COLLECT FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

Creator God,

you made us all in your image:

may we discern you in all that we see,

and serve you in all that we do;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

READINGS

NEW TESTAMENT READING Ephesians 1 : 3-14

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

GOSPEL Mark 6 : 14-29

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ 15But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ 16But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’

17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ 19And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ 23And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ 24She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the Baptist.’ 25Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ 26The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

ADDRESS

If you wanted a career where you were always destined to be popular, it has to be said that you wouldn’t volunteer to be a prophet. Prophets are distinctly unpopular, not least because they have a reputation for prophesying bad things and rarely seem to give good news. I don’t know what you imagine when you see the word “prophet”, but images of sandwich boards and handy phrases such as “The end of the world is nigh” go hand in hand with the Dad’s Army image of a wild-eyed Scot saying dramatically, “We’re all doomed!”

But that is an absolute caricature of what the Old Testament prophets were about. First of all, they didn’t actually choose to be prophets: we are repeatedly told that “The word of the Lord came to…x, y or z” and sometimes that they struggled against this difficult vocation, and yet seemed unable to keep from uttering their prophecies. John the Baptist stood very much in the same tradition, both in his appearance and in the very direct things he said. And people listened to him, which made him dangerous to Herod.

But it wasn’t always like that: in Old Testament times prophets needed a much more visual image to gain the attention of the people. And so they devised ways of imparting their message that relied heavily on imagery and sometimes dramatic actions to show what they meant. And perhaps the parables of Jesus also owe something to that tradition. Amos, for example, told of having a vision of a plumb-line, which gives us a vivid image. This, he says, is how the people of Israel will be judged. They have become like a leaning wall, which nobody notices is leaning until you compare it with the plumb-line.

Now that sort of thing happens very easily, so gradually that it gets away with it. After all, the wall is still doing what it is meant to do. Unless you have a very good eye, you aren’t likely to notice a few degrees out of the perpendicular. And even if you do, it tends to look quaint and quirky. It gives character to a building. Look around you – our church is full of walls that aren’t actually vertical at all. But none of us would be able to say when it happened, or how. It’s only when the angle is pronounced that anyone comments on it.

You could say the same of Herod’s circumstances in Mark’s gospel. Now there’s a pronounced angle if ever there was one, in terms of Herod’s behaviour and the standards of the Jewish Law. But the deeds and misdeeds of a ruler were probably taken for granted by the average people of the day. What did it matter to them if Herod took his brother’s wife for his own? It was the sort of behaviour you would expect. But not John. He spoke out openly against it, and took the consequences. It was all part of proclaiming a totally different sort of Kingdom from Herod’s, one where Herod was not the ruler at all.

But John’s prophecy is far from being a negative, doom-laden message. On the contrary. He declares a new age, a liberation, and a need for change. For Herod, that was a threat: for the people who flocked to listen, including some of Herod’s own soldiers, it was a revelation.

It seems to me that there are two ways of approaching prophecy and the change it heralds. One is to shut it down, to silence the voice, like Herod did. But the other approach is to listen, albeit cautiously, and test out whether the prophecy is valid or not. That won’t necessarily be a comfortable thing to do, but it is something we all need to do if we are serious about being open to God. Because the Spirit of God tests us all the time, prompting us and stirring our consciences. It begins when we honestly examine our hearts and our motives before him. When we bring our day before him, and look back over our deeds, how would we measure up on a plumb-line? How upright are we? Or have we allowed bad habits to creep in that make life easier for ourselves? And as a church, how true are we to our calling to go out and love and serve the Lord? Do we look after our people? Are we inclusive as a community? What would need to change to make us better Christian witnesses? Those are all prophetic questions, and ones we might need to sit and reflect on. But we don’t need just to reflect. We also need to be ready to respond and embrace change, if it is God-given and serves to further God’s kingdom. Otherwise, how can we say with integrity that we offer our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice? Or ask God to send us out in the power of his Spirit to live and work to his praise and glory?

As I look around, I see increasingly how much we are blessed, and how God has shaped the church’s mission so far. And I am deeply grateful for that. It makes me want to give more of myself, because generosity breeds generosity. I am hoping that together we will find a new sense of direction and impetus as we encourage each other. We are a pilgrim people, and so, as our post communion prayer has it, may God refresh and sustain us as we go forward on our journey. Amen.

AT ST MILDRED’S CHURCH

COLLECT

Almighty God,

send down upon your Church

the riches of your Spirit,

and kindle in all who minister the gospel

your countless gifts of grace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

READINGS

NEW TESTAMENT READING Philippians 4 : 4-8

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

GOSPEL Luke 18 : 18-22

18 A certain ruler asked Jesus, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

19 ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.” ’

21 ‘All these I have kept since I was a boy,’ he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’

ADDRESS

Both of the readings today give us the recipe for how to live a satisfying and good life, and yet if you asked generally what people imagine such a life would be, they will rarely begin by saying give away your money, be nice to everyone and don’t worry about what will happen as a result! On the contrary, most people I know think that life would be a bit better if they just had that bit more money (but not shedloads) and no need to worry at all. We all want to act from a position of security, and I suspect the young man in Luke’s gospel is no different.

We all find our security in different ways. For some it’s about being able to make choices which make us feel we are in control. For others it’s about being part of a community, among a group of trusted people, family and friends. For some it’s about living with very well-defined structures and boundaries which give order to our lives. So these last 18 months have been a real and major sense of insecurity for us all, because there has been very little sense of being in control, close communities were decimated by lockdown and isolation, and the various structures on which we have depended have been seriously eroded as new patterns have emerged. Just to0 compound everything, people’s incomes from work have been threatened and in some cases have disappeared. Use of foodbanks has soared, and businesses have gone under. Well might we despair.

Except that we don’t. Actually, some things have become better. People turning out to clap the NHS have discovered a new way to form little street communities, for instance, and those friendships seem to be lasting even though the clapping has long stopped. The environment improved no end when cars were not on the roads and aeroplanes weren’t polluting the skies. People found new ways of working from home and might never return to a daily commute. It is gradually being discovered that human interaction and good relationships count for far more than the pursuit of wealth for its own sake. There is cause for rejoicing both at the new patterns and the resilience of the human spirit. But the cost has been high: lives have been lost; many folks have been through appalling trauma. And it is not over yet.

Now is a good time to reflect on what qualities of life we most admire and welcome back, on the gifts of God that are less measurable but more precious than mere capitalism. Focussing on things that are true, noble, pure, lovely and admirable will indeed help us to develop a more positive mindset than one based on criticising, fearing, resenting or envying. We are all God’s children, and, because there is not a single person who has not been affected by our pandemic experience, we are all in a position to understand each other better and work for mutual flourishing.

Now the phrase “mutual flourishing” got a bit hijacked during the long debate about whether women should or should be priests, but that aside, it’s a good concept, because it means thinking positively about people we don’t necessarily agree with and seeing them as equal to ourselves in importance. A lot of our lives are spent actually seeing other people as objects, or at least as defining a particular role: for instance, when I go to the supermarket, I see a cashier, rather than a person. I seldom stop to think of the cashier as also being a member of a family, a Christian, a community volunteer, a member of a political party – life is too short to see the whole person, so I just see the bit of the person who matters to me at that moment. But we have to fight actively against that becoming the norm in our lives: once we see people as a role instead of as a human and a child of God, we are in danger of not understanding why that person is at least as important as us. If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, we should have learned that relationships are of paramount importance to humanity. We need each other. And the quality of our relationships means we absolutely need to guard against stereotyping and behaviour that demeans the humanity of anyone else.

And we have a patron saint who gives us a fine example to follow: Mildred did exactly what St Paul recommends us to do and Jesus challenges us to do. May we not be afraid to accept that challenge and, secure in our faith, step out into this new unknown with peace in our hearts and ready to share the love of God wherever he sends us. Amen.

INTERCESSIONS

We set our hope on Christ:

May we live for the praise of his glory

Heavenly Father, we thank and praise you for this day and for our community. Strengthen our fellowship and keep us mindful of your blessings. We thank you for the gift of baptism and pray for George, to be baptised today. May our lives and his reflect your boundless love, and may we always be ready to se the signs of that love in others.

We set our hope on Christ:

May we live for the praise of his glory

We thank you for all who work to improve our lives, through acts of kindness and neighbourliness, in sacrifices great and small, in self-giving above and beyond the call of duty. Especially we thank you for our emergency services, and for the work of dedicated police and welfare officers who work so hard to maintain order and justice.

We set our hope on Christ:

May we live for the praise of his glory

We pray for the prophetic role of the church and pray that we may never hesitate to speak out on behalf of those whose lives are blighted by prejudice and selfishness. Help us to work for a better society where individual needs are recognised and met, and where personal responsibilities are seen as being as important as individual rights. Teach us never to blame others for our own faults and make us more aware of our tendency to treat others as being somehow less important than ourselves.

We set our hope on Christ:

May we live for the praise of his glory

We pray for our government, asking for discernment and common sense as they seek to release us from restrictions and work towards a more normal life. Save them from seeking popularity at the expense of discernment and grant everyone patience to proceed with caution and not to take undue risks at this dangerous time.

We set our hope on Christ:

May we live for the praise of his glory

We pray for all who are in need of your healing and sustaining help, especially those named on our pew sheet. We also remember those who have nobody to pray for them or who feel they are too worthless to be helped by you. Help everyone to see you as their loving Father, and show us how best to respond to such needs as we can ourselves meet in your name.

We set our hope on Christ:

May we live for the praise of his glory

We thank you for the lives of your saints, be they well known ones such as John the Baptist or less famous ones such as St Mildred. On this commemoration of St Mildred, we pray for all churches named in her honour and ask that her example of humility and grace may be a pattern for our own lives. We remember too with thanksgiving all who have influenced us over the years and whose triumphant entry into your presence we celebrate along with all your faithful people.

We set our hope on Christ:

May we live for the praise of his glory

We commend ourselves to your care and humbly ask you to be with us throughout the days and weeks ahead.

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 of our pilgrimage,

you have led us to the living water:

refresh and sustain us

as we go forward on our journey,

in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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

..\Jane’s recorded music\AMHS408 Silent, surrendered (1).MOV

..\Jane’s recorded music\AMHS788 Take this moment, sign and space.MOV

***********************

FOOD BANK MOST NEEDED ITEMS THIS MONTH

URGENTLY NEEDED FOOD ITEMS – JULY 2021

  • SQUASH
  • RAZORS
  • SHAVING FOAM / GEL
  • HAND WASH
  • WASHING UP LIQUID
  • SHOWER GEL
  • SHAMPOO

DUE TO THE GENEROSITY OF THE PUBLIC WE HAVE PLENTY OF

  • SWEETCORN
  • BAKED BEANS
  • TINNED SOUP
  • CEREAL
  • SANITARY ITEMS
  • RICE
  • TEA

RESPITE RESIDENTS

Maureen Moore is currently staying at the Gouldings, Freshwater, Tel: 01983 752135

Margaret Perkins is about to move from her current respite care home to somewhere that will offer physiotherapy. Details unknown at the time of going to press, but will be published next week!

LOCAL BUS NEWS

Please be aware that due to Wightfibre working on Adelaide Grove this week, all buses have been diverted up York Avenue instead of Victoria Grove!

ST JAMES’ BROWSERS’ LIBRARY

The Browsers’ Library will open on 24th July, from 10.00 – 12.00 in church. Volunteers need to be there from 9.30am, and we expect to be packed up by 12.30. If you would like to offer to help out at this new community venture, please have a word with either Margaret Prior (07849 191817) or Gillian Jackson (01983 281633). We also hope to offer tea and coffee, and to sell a few jigsaws. Come along and see!

DIOCESAN UPDATE **IMPORTANT NEWS**

There are plans across the diocese to reorganise the ministry of all churches so that groups of churches can function more as a cohesive entity than as small individual parishes. The scale of the proposed reorganisation, and the very tight time schedule that has been imposed, have made this restructuring somewhat problematic, but the current thinking is to reduce the number of parishes across the island to just 7, with churches working in much larger groups than ever before. On the island, we would lose (at the latest count!) 2 clergy posts, and the vision is for clergy and laity to work as teams together, assisted by paid staff who would enable the administration to become more centralised and streamlined. As yet nothing is set in stone, but please pray for all those most closely involved in this major programme.

From our perspective, we are likely to be asked to partner with Wootton (St Edmund’s and St Mark’s), who have previously been in a plurality with Havenstreet and Binstead. These latter two would become part of a much larger grouping also encompassing Ryde, Seaview, Brading, Yaverland, St Helen’s and Bembridge. Other proposed teams are also much larger than our proposed group would be. If the move goes ahead, Wootton would look to appoint a half-time priest in addition to the post here.

In view of this, a meeting has been set up for the PCCs of East Cowes, Whippingham, Wootton and the Archdeacon to begin to explore what might be possible. PCC Members – please put in your diaries Wednesday 14th July at 7.00pm. The meeting is to be at St James’, in the church rather than the hall as it is more spacious. If you are a PCC member, please make this a priority, as we need to make sure as many people as possible are involved in discussions and planning. It is also an excellent opportunity to begin to get to know each other better.

Thank you! Rev Susan