United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
14th February 2021 : Sunday next before Lent
CURRENT WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS
We are back! For those who feel confident to attend, our services will resume on Sunday 21st February, since this is the majority verdict of both PCCs. However, please do not feel pressurised into attending if you do not feel safe to do so: the PCC decisions were not unanimous. Even if you have had the vaccine, be aware that others have yet to do so, and that those who have been inoculated can still be carriers of infection. Contrary to all our longstanding habits, this is not a social occasion, and you are strongly discouraged from lingering afterwards, either indoors or outdoors, to chat.
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 – though of course we very much look forward to seeing some of you next Sunday. Wrap up warm!
Previous services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube via the following link:
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: our loved ones; our homes; all resources that help us stay in touch
Pray for: Brexit arrangements and trade deals; refugee camps and other places not receiving the vaccine yet
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Oliver; Rita; Catherine Rushworth and her anxious family; Stuart; Paul and family; families of those in mourning
Give thanks for: the ongoing vaccination programme; our hospital and health centre
If you wish particular names to be added to the prayer list, please inform Rev Susan. All names will be 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.
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
Dorothy Russell ~ Funeral: 9.45am, 22nd February at the crematorium
Ena Young ~ Funeral: 1.00pm, 22nd February at Newchurch.
Brenda Palethorpe ~ Funeral: 12.45pm, 2nd March at the crematorium
Please pray for these and their families on the relevant day if possible.
COLLECT FOR THE SUNDAY NEXT BEFORE LENT
whose Son was revealed in majesty
before he suffered death upon the cross:
give us grace to perceive his glory,
that we may be strengthened to suffer with him
and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
NEW TESTAMENT READING 2 Corinthians 4 : 3-6
3Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
GOSPEL Mark 9 : 2-9
2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Those of you who are clued up about the niceties of the Anglican lectionary might be scratching your heads and wondering why we are apparently celebrating the Transfiguration today in our readings, when the actual festival doesn’t occur until 6th August in six months’ time. Why we apparently do it twice in the year is a good question, especially since a lot of people haven’t even heard of the occasion and have no idea what it is all about. Of course, we are indebted to JK Rowling for the fact that thousands if not millions of children now know the word Transfiguration, even if they associate it with Harry Potter turning mice into teapots. There is at least scope for explaining what the word really means and talking about Jesus as a figure of glory as well as a human being.
The reason why we have those particular readings today at around the end of the Epiphany season is that they are just that: an epiphany – the last epiphany – before we turn away from the relative cosiness of revelation to the Gentiles and face up to the harsh reality of what Jesus is about to go through. It is of course a continuation of the same theme: what started as a humble birth in a stable attended by poor shepherds grows to include the Gentiles and now broadens yet again to encompass the salvation of the whole world as Jesus looks ahead to Jerusalem and what will happen there. The timing is significant: it is shortly after Peter has identified Jesus as the Messiah, and after Jesus has begun to explain about being rejected, put to death and rising again from the dead. It comes in Mark’s account immediately after Jesus has spoken of the Son of Man coming in glory as the Kingdom of God breaks out. And that is how those three disciples are privileged to see him, revealed in glory. It was a profound spiritual experience, and maybe they were the only disciples ready to experience it.
However, it is what happens next that I want to focus on. Not only are the disciples sworn to secrecy, just when they must be bursting to tell the others all about it, but when they get back down the mountain they are immediately plunged into the sort of crisis that needs instant action and drives any thoughts of glory out of their heads. No boasting about having a superior spiritual experience with Jesus: while they have been off up the mountain, life has been carrying on down below – there is a boy in crisis needing healing, and the other disciples have been unable to drive the demon out of him. Even Jesus is frustrated – “How much longer do I have to be with you!” he exclaims – and then responds to the crisis.
Well, at least it was a real crisis. For us, so much of the stuff that takes up our time and energy and prevents us from focussing on God is actually relatively trivial. We are (when we are not in a pandemic!) too busy. Too busy to attend midweek services, even in the evening; too busy to go to Lent groups; too busy to spend those vital ten minutes in prayer. Why is God always at the bottom of our pile of priorities? I will be honest: I am not sad that there is no Lent course this year, because so often for all the careful planning and prayer that goes into running Lent courses, the actual turnout from a congregation of perhaps 50 people can be counted on the fingers of one hand. And maybe it was ever thus: maybe there were only three disciples on that mountain with Jesus is that the rest were too busy. Someone had to run the shop down below: but without prayer they were incapable of doing what needed to be done.
And so we come back to prayer as the mainstay of our lives. Not just prayer that asks God to do things for us and for those we love, important though it is to intercede, but prayer that is ready to pause for a short space just to enjoy God’s presence. Why not spend some time thinking yourself into that Transfiguration experience? Or simply reflect on those moments in life when you have experienced your own small epiphany, and give thanks? Prayer is a habit we need to cultivate, the relationship we need to invest in. And something else might have to go in order to make room for it. I wonder what that might be? Lent during a pandemic is a great time to experiment and see what works for each of us.
Another way of incorporating prayer into our lives is to pause before we go to sleep and in our minds play back the events of the day. First of all we look for the moments which have given us life and made us feel blessed and give thanks for them. But then we play back the day again, looking for those times which have been less good and offering them to God for his healing and his forgiveness. It’s not about judging ourselves to see how many spiritual points we have scored: it’s about putting ourselves into God’s presence and seeing what is revealed to us. And so the whole of Lent becomes a series of epiphanies and simultaneously takes us a step nearer to the cross and to that closeness with God that is a reflection of his glory in the world. It turns out that much as we long for those deep spiritual mountain top experiences, all along God is with us down on the plain, blessing us and revealing his Kingdom. To him be the glory, now and for ever. Amen.
INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Jean Kirby)
God of love, you gave us Saint Valentine as an example of love, as we celebrate the feast of this loving caring saint we ask you to bless our friendships and may the love and affection we share with each other always come from a sense of care and respect as we follow the example of your Son Jesus, who is Lord for ever and ever.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Almighty God we pray for the leaders of the Christian Churches throughout the UK as they seek to meet the needs of their congregations, whether their churches are open or not. We ask you to give us all a vision of how you want our church to be in the future.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Merciful Lord, we pray for the many people in all parts of the world who have contracted the Coronavirus. Bring comfort to those grieving for loved ones, for those who have died, and peace to those worried, fearful and uncertain of the future. We pray for governments and authorities who are developing strategies to contain and deal with this virus. As procedures are put into place to try to halt its spread help us to be responsible in the things we do in our own lives to prevent the spread of this virus.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Loving God, we thank you for our churches of St. Mildred’s and St. James’ and our community, where we have found a welcome, have worshipped and learned, cared and grown. In this time of change and uncertainty, may we support one another, cherishing the gifts of the past while building together a new tomorrow. As we journey forward, let our lips sing a song of hope, may our vision be guided by your Holy Spirit, encouraging us to set out joyfully on the paths that lie ahead, seeking our wisdom and your will to move us with the power of your Spirit into the future you would have us form.
Accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
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:
we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ:
may we who are partakers at his table
reflect his life in word and deed,
that all the world may know his power to change and save.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ
The Café is currently open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11.00am – 2.00pm for takeaways only. While we are grateful to those who volunteer, it must be stressed that we will ONLY open if people feel it is safe to offer this service and that any volunteer should feel free at any point to withdraw if they need to do so. Our continued thanks to the team for their dedication at this very difficult time.
We shall be attempting our first Zoom PCC on Thursday 18th February at 2.00pm. PCC members will be able to access this online meeting by downloading the free Zoom app on your iphone, laptop, tablet or desktop computer and, when an email arrives in your email inbox entitled PCC Zoom meeting, simply clicking on the link. The meeting will be short, just to get us used to the system.
ASH WEDNESDAY – 17th February
We will still be closed on Ash Wednesday in terms of formal worship. However, if anyone would like to receive the imposition of ashes (in a Covid-safe manner) I will be in both churches during the day to offer this ministry.
At St James’ ~ 9.30-10.30am
At St Mildred’s ~ 2.00-3.00pm
Normally Churches Together would offer an ecumenical Lent course, but that is clearly not possible this year. However, next Sunday there will be some materials for you to ponder during Lent by way of a commitment.
EVENING WORSHIP ON ZOOM
If you would like to take part in a weekly Zoom service of Celtic Evening Prayer please tell Rev Susan and I will send out an online invitation. You do not have to own a computer to do this: Zoom can be downloaded onto an i-phone or an iPad very easily, after which it is just a question of responding to the link that will be sent to you by email. See below for the service format….We will (if people wish to do this) be starting on Wednesday 24th at 8.00pm.
The service below can be used alone, with no Zoom participation, if preferred.
A Celtic Service
of Evening Prayer
Minister: The evening mist rises from the ground to refresh our souls. The birds cease their songs. And in the darkening shadows of night, we come together in prayer.
Minister: Let us worship the Lord.
All: All praise to his name.
Minister: For the joys and blessings of this day,
Let us worship the Lord.
All: All praise to his name.
Minister: For our Lord Jesus Christ who brought light to the world, let us worship the Lord.
All: May we walk in his name.
Minister: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
All: The darkness in our lives brings us grief, and our sins are heavy to bear.
Minister: Hear what our Lord says:
“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
When Christ came on earth he lived as a man who knew both hardship and despair. He knows our need. Let us come to him now and lay our burdens at his feet, and confess those sins of which we are ashamed.
All: Eternal King and Father of all, in our pride and our weakness we have failed you and we are truly sorry. We are ashamed that through our own fault we have brought darkness and misery into the world. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour, who died for us, forgive us our sins. Illumine the dark corners of our lives with your spirit of light, and kindle once more the flame of your love in our hearts. Amen.
Minister: Eternal God, you have lowered the canopy of night and its gentle shadows cover us with your peace. May the dews of heaven heal our wounds and wash the tears from our eyes. And may the burning light of Christ banish for ever the darkness from our souls, that we may be at peace. Amen.
Minister: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
A candle may be lit
All: Eternal light shine in our hearts;
Eternal goodness deliver us from evil;
Eternal power be our support;
Eternal wisdom scatter the darkness of our ignorance.
Eternal pity have mercy on us,
That with all our heart and mind
And soul and strength we may seek your face
And be brought by your infinite mercy
to your holy presence. Amen.
At the end of the reading:
Reader: This is the word of the Lord:
All: Thanks be to God.
There follows a time of quiet reflection while music is played.
Minister: Lord, have mercy upon us.
All: Christ, have mercy upon us.
Minister: Lord, have mercy upon us.
Let us pray:
Music is played
Minister: I give thanks…..
I ask for guidance….
I pray for those I love….
I pray for those I have met today….
I pray for those who are suffering….
All: Our Father…..
All: Kindle in our hearts, O God, the flame of love that never ceases, that it may burn in us, giving light to others. May we shine for ever in your temple, set on fire with your eternal light, even your Son Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our Redeemer. Amen.
Minister: Deep peace of the running wave to you;
Deep peace of the flowing air to you;
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you;
Deep peace of the shining stars to you;
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you.
God’s blessing be yours,
And well may it befall you.