United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
13th September 2020: Fourteenth 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 last week’s worship via the following link:
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: God providing a church for Elyas in London that is actually the same church where Raj used to worship before moving to the island! Thank God for Constance Marion Quentina Hare-Smith, baptised today at St James’ church.
Pray for: Constance’s family; all facing quarantine restrictions; those returning from holiday; performing arts
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; Rosie and family; Barbara Blacklock; Hilda Bell; Paul & family; Emily; Norma Britton; Lilly
Give thanks for: pastoral care given and received
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
Roy Jouning; Graham Britton; Beryl Carpenter
COLLECT FOR THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
whose only Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills
to worship you in spirit and in truth;
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.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Exodus 14 : 19-end
19 The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. 20It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. 24At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. 25He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.’
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.’ 27So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. 29But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 18 : 21-35
21 Then Peter came and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” 29Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’
I once came across a cartoon depiction of Moses leading the people of Israel across the Red Sea, with the waters standing up high on either side of them. The caption was simple: Hurry up – the little green man’s beginning to flash!
Of course, they all got across safely, whereas the Egyptians pursuing them all drowned. It’s a classic story to illustrate faith in action – faith in a God who saves his people and deals with their enemies in a thoroughly satisfying way. It may well have been written down to remind the faith community that they worshipped a God who could do amazing things, against all the odds, a God who loved them and protected them, and like all folk legends, it has undoubtedly grown out of all proportion in the telling and re-telling. But that doesn’t matter – the message remains the same: trust God, step into the unknown, and let God deal with your enemies.
It might be helpful for us to remember that message in the light of today’s gospel. How many times should I forgive someone else, my brother or sister in the community? Seven times? No, rather more than that. And Jesus goes on to tell the story of the penalty for not forgiving, in terms of a giant financial debt. We perhaps don’t realise the scale of that debt – it is simply unpayable. It is most likely the sum of all the unpaid taxes in the kingdom that are the responsibility of the servant to collect, not just a personal amount. Ten thousand talents equates to millions in today’s currency. Although the servant promises to repay it, there is no way he will ever be able to. It’s an empty promise. And the king knows it – yet he still lets him off. By contrast, the amount owed by the second debtor is miniscule and could indeed be repaid. But the amazing mercy and generosity of the king is not repeated by his servant, who is owed this really small amount.
But this is a parable about the kingdom of God, so how does it all fit together? There is no doubt that the first servant is guilty as charged. His only hope is to beg for mercy: and astonishingly that mercy is shown. Yet somehow it doesn’t penetrate into his heart. He can’t possibly think that extorting a few pennies from a fellow servant can even begin to pay back the debt which has just been forgiven him anyway. No wonder his fellow servants are distressed – and they take action.
So what can we as a church learn from all this? Well, surely the debt that can’t be paid is the price of sin, that Jesus takes away. Nothing done by our own efforts can pay the price Jesus paid on the cross. So what is our response? Do we, as a church, act like people who have been forgiven, whose debt has been paid, who have been let off the hook? What might the church look like if we did? Notice that I am implying that we perhaps don’t always resemble that image of people who have been set free. I wonder if there are ways we could help each other by encouraging an attitude of gratitude in each other. And how might we do that? By doing things for each other that make people grateful – and mutual forgiveness plays a huge part in the process. And isn’t it interesting that, if we don’t, it isn’t God who is the first to condemn us, but other people, the servants who are appalled and distressed by the lack of response to the King’s forgiveness.
Sometimes it is extremely difficult to go around looking like people whose debt has been paid. Nobody wants to look like a grinning idiot. And yet I suspect that a lot of the reason we don’t radiate God’s joy very well is that we are too caught up in worrying about the future, worrying how to meet current obligations and expectations, trying to maintain human economies that simply aren’t God’s economy. That’s where the culture of busyness comes from. But if you read the passages leading up to today’s Gospel, you will find the three stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (or prodigal son) – stories that speak of God’s forgiveness and the result. There is no busyness there: it’s a celebration. So I suggest we focus on celebrating rather than on trying to regain our previous frantic busyness, on giving rather than on receiving, on remembering God’s goodness rather than on asking for yet more blessings. When what we have runs out, because we have given so freely, we need to know we can trust God to provide because he knows what we need before we ask. Currently we have the go ahead to experiment and make changes: the little green man is indicating we can cross safely from slavery of busyness to a whole new way of being church. But we had better hurry – just in case he starts to flash. Amen.
INTERCESSIONS(supplied by Jean Kirby)
Let us pray to our God and thank him for bringing us to worship in his church today.
Faithful God, thank you for helping us to pray, to deepen our love for you so that as we pray through this coming week, we may do it with your heart of compassion.
As the children return to school we ask your blessing in all areas of growth, in our schools, colleges and universities. Lord, guide all who influence the minds of young people.
We give thanks for our friends and family, especially those who brought us to know you. We pray for all who teach in our church and all who set an example of care and love in the community.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Caring God, we pray for all those who are afflicted by physical, emotional or mental illness. Help them to keep their eyes fixed on you, and give them the courage to face the trials and temptations that may come.
We come before you asking for a quick control of the Coronavirus currently ravaging our world. Hear graciously the prayers we make for those who are affected.
We pray that an effective medicine to combat the sickness be speedily found.
We pray for the relevant governments and health authorities that they take appropriate steps for the good of the people.
We pray for the families and communities affected by the virus wherever they may be and we give thanks for the dedication of doctors, nurses and hospital staff
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Lord God, gather into your eternal kingdom all who have come to the end of this earthly life and rejoice to see you as you really are. We remember all whom we love but can no longer see and thank you for your everlasting love and faithfulness to all who serve you.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Lord, we bring you thanks and praise for the beauty of your creation and we pray that you will open our eyes to see all the beauty around us. As the season changes and summer gives way to autumn, help us to appreciate your greatness in giving us the different seasons, each fulfilling our various needs.
Help us to safeguard your world, so that our children and future generations will benefit from the natural beauty which you have created.
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 source of truth and love,
keep us faithful to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,
united in prayer and the breaking of bread,
and one in joy and simplicity of heart,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Time of reflection:
There are many opportunities to make a positive impact on the lives of those who live around us.
The trick is learning to seize the opportunities when they present themselves.
When chances to be kind, to be gracious, to be forgiving, or to make someone smile present themselves – we must learn to take them. That way we can spread these same things like a series of viruses through our population, in the hope of creating a new kind of pandemic.
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.
Both churches will be celebrating Harvest Festival on 4th October so please bring along tinned and packaged food if you can, which we can pass to the Food Bank. It is particularly important this year as many people are facing acute shortages.
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ
The café at St Mildred’s is open from 10.00am – 4.00pm, 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. Refreshments are available after Sunday worship.
CREAM TEAS AT ST MILDRED’S
The next cream teas are…. TODAY 13th September! We can safely accommodate 28 people booked within the hall itself, and more (unbooked) in the gazebos outside. Music is again supplied by Inspire, for whose talents we continue to be extremely grateful.
Both PCCs had meetings this last week, with very encouraging decisions being made. The one decision that affects both churches is that we are planning to put on a week of prayer in the shape of a 24-7 prayer room. While it is for both churches, it will function at St James’ church hall, at a time in October that has yet to be finalised. The archdeacon has promised to come and launch the week at a special service, so look out for details.
A 24-7 prayer room involves individuals committing to spending an hour in prayer, surrounded by different resources. You might simply sit and follow a guided meditation. You might express your prayer through a simple scribble on a slip of paper, or by placing pebbles in water, lighting a candle, reading a devotional book, drawing or painting…then again (as you are alone!) you might sing or dance in the space. It is yours for a whole hour of privacy. You will need to sign up for a specific time. More details nearer the time, but this is our initial step towards listening for God’s word and gaining a sense of direction for both churches for the future. Exciting times!
ENA YOUNG and BRENDA BOLTON
St James’ members might like to know that Ena has decided to move into care and now lives at a care home in Newport. Meanwhile, St Mildred’s folk might like to know that Brenda has moved to a care home in Cowes. Please ask Rev Susan for details if you would like to write to either of our friends (Data Protection strikes again!) and if possible sign the best wishes card today at church. Ena will not be able to receive visitors for a fortnight, as she has to quarantine on arrival.