United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

14th March 2021 : Fourth Sunday in Lent

Mothering Sunday

CURRENT WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS

We are back! For those who feel confident to attend, our services have now resumed, since this was 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.

ONLINE WORSHIP

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

Church Service – 3rd Sunday in Lent – YouTube

Today’s service will appear on YouTube later this week.

FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Give thanks for: the ministry of Bishop Christopher; our mother Church; the Blessed Virgin Mary; all mothers

Pray for: family counsellors; all who have lost their mother; foster and adoptive parents

PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:

Please pray for: HRH Prince Philip; Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Hilda; Beryl; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Oliver; Rita; Catherine Rushworth and her anxious family; Stuart; Thabani Maposa and family; Helen Irons; Roo; families of those in mourning

Give thanks for: loosening of restrictions around Covid; all who nurture us

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 Dow; Winifred Wollweber; Ian Irons

COLLECT FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT

God of love,

passionate and strong,

tender and careful:

watch over us and hold us

all the days of our life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

READINGS

OLD TESTAMENT READING Exodus 2 : 1-10

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. 3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ 8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’

GOSPEL Luke 2 : 33-35

33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

ADDRESS

Women are sneaky. We can’t help it. I’m pretty sure that if I took a straw poll it would confirm it. You only have to read the story of Moses to see that it’s true. First of all, Moses’ mum has had to be pretty ingenious to hide him away successfully for three whole months. You have to remember that the Egyptians at this point have been getting pretty worried that their Hebrew slaves outnumber them, so they have ordered that every male child is to be killed at birth. But the brave midwives have rallied round and found a cunning way to stop this happening. "Those Hebrew women, " they say, "they go into labour and give birth so fast that by the time we get there it’s too late and the baby has been whisked away!" But even so, it’s pretty hard to keep a baby secret for ever, so Moses’ mum and sister need a plan B.

It’s no accident that Moses is put into a watertight basket and left where Pharaoh’s daughter can’t help but find him. And that his sister happens to be watching out to see what happens. If it goes wrong, she will probably be able to snatch him away. But Pharaoh’s daughter is of course also a woman. Not only does she take Moses, but a bit of smart thinking on the part of his sister guarantees that Moses’ birth mother gets paid to look after him while he is brought up in luxury. Notice that Moses’ Dad has nothing to do with any of this! It’s the women who make it all happen – even Pharaoh has no role to play.

Most of what women get up to in the bible has been played down or edited out altogether. You have to look hard to find them. But that’s okay, because women are used to quietly getting on with things behind the scenes. And certainly whether you are a birth mother, a foster mother, a stepmother, a childcare provider – the role is essentially the same, to make things happen. Unobtrusively, without making a fuss.

Now today we are celebrating Mothering Sunday, and I would like to say that actually the role of the church is exactly the same as the role of mothers. Making things happen, unobtrusively, without making a fuss. Historically that has always been at the heart of parish ministry. It doesn’t mean not caring about wider issues: it means modelling a pattern of nurture and care that enables everyone to thrive. It means that churches run by volunteers look out for the needs of others and make a difference. Time was when the welfare state decided we were rank amateurs who ought to move aside for the paid professionals to do things. But the tide has turned. Many excellent social welfare tasks wouldn’t happen if churches didn’t get involved. Ecumenism is at its best when local churches work together and put the task in hand before any other issues of differences. That often involves accommodating those differences and valuing our diversity as opposed to focussing on the things that divide us and hoarding up separate treasures of expertise. Together we are stronger. And that brings me to the inclusion of people other than mothers on days like today.

While it is good and right to celebrate the motherhood of those who are lucky enough to be able to choose it, there are other groups of people whose contribution ought to be mentioned. Firstly, those women who either choose not to be biological mothers or who find themselves unable to do so. Celebrating motherhood does not mean that other women should not be valued just as much. The mothers who brought us all to birth may well have been enabled to do so by other women who weren’t mothers themselves. You don’t have to be a mother to be a midwife, after all. You don’t have to be a mother to be the inventor of windscreen wipers, life rafts, car heaters, dishwashers, medical syringes or anything else that makes life today so much better for all of us, not just mothers. All of those were invented by women! But you don’t even have to be a woman to play a part in enabling others to thrive – which is essentially what mothering is about. And that means today, although we look back with gratitude on our own mothers, we celebrate all those people – men as well as women – who have fed and nurtured us, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and enabled us to be who we are today, often at great cost to themselves.

Praise God for people who nurture us, especially mothers. Praise God for mother Church, the bride of Christ. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Amen.

INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Jean Kirby)

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation you have loved us from the beginning when you gave us life through our parents. You have showered blessings upon us through our homes and loved ones. So, heavenly Father, we pray to You on this special “Mother’s Day.”

We come before You and lift up in prayer all mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers and mothers to be. We give you thanks for their presence, talents and gifts which they share in our church society and the world. May all mothers know of your loving gentle presence and may they always turn to You Lord in times of joy, sorrow and glory.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer

During this time of pandemic, we pray for our communities:

for the elderly, confined to their homes and separated from family and support; for children returning to school; for those who have lost their source of income; for those who have no home at all.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer

We pray for key workers:

For all medical staff and hospital workers, who go to work knowing the risks they face; for medical researchers, seeking ways to prevent and to cure; for social workers, protecting the vulnerable; for care workers, providing contact and support to those who have no other help; for teachers, worrying about their charges.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer

We pray for the world:

For the leaders of the nations and their governments;

For areas most besieged by the pandemic; for broken places where healthcare and resources are scarce, and the pandemic brings further suffering.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer

We pray for those who are sick:

For those afflicted with coronavirus; for those with other illnesses and conditions which leave them vulnerable; for those with poor mental health; for all who suffer; remembering especially those on our prayer list.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer

We pray for those who have died:

For those taken unexpectedly; for the families they leave behind; for their friends; for those who have died alone; and for those who have no one to remember them.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer

Lord, listen to our prayers and hear the voice of our supplications,
as we, who trust in your word, eagerly await your help:
for you are the God of our salvation.

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:

Loving God,

as a mother feeds her children at the breast

you feed us in this sacrament with the food and drink of eternal life:

help us who have tasted your goodness

to grow in grace within the household of faith;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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

NOTICES

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.

MOTHERING SUNDAY

Please collect your special flowers on the way out of church after the service. Feel free to take some for anyone unable to attend in person!

BISHOP’S LENT APPEAL – A MESSAGE FROM THE DIOCESE

Each year, our bishop organises a Lent Appeal to help one local and one global good cause. Worshippers from our diocese donate money and hold fundraising events to support those charities.

As in 2020, God’s creation is the theme of the appeal, as we commit ourselves to care for God’s world and God’s people. More than £10,000 was contributed during half of Lent 2020, and we hope to increase that amount this Lent to support international conservation by A Rocha, including in Ghana, and local sustainability work, including at the Sustainability Centre in East Meon. Do suggest other local environmental charities we could support.

We’re delighted to announce that you and your congregations can now make donations to the Bishop’s Lent Appeal online – including giving with Gift Aid. This makes individual and personal gifts easier and relieves parishes and treasurers of the work of collecting the gifts and compiling tax reclaims.

If you would rather put a donation on a plate in church, we will see that it gets sent on. If you are able to fill in a GiftAid envelope for the donation, so much the better! Many thanks! Rev Susan

EASTER ARRANGEMENTS

The services for Holy week and Easter will be as follows:

Palm Sunday ~ Usual time of service at both churches, this year without a procession of palms. However, the palm crosses will be blessed at the start of the service.

Monday – Thursday of Holy Week ~ 7.30pm online meditation, with a special Maundy Thursday focus on Thursday.

Good Friday ~ 9.30am Communion from the reserved sacrament at St James’, East Cowes

~ 2.00pm Communion from the reserved sacrament at St Mildred’s, Whippingham

NB You will need to download the Zoom app and request the invitation links to attend these.

(Holy Saturday ~ decorating of both churches for Sunday)

Easter Sunday ~ Festival Communion at 9.30am (St James’, East Cowes) and 11.15am (St Mildred’s, Whippingham)

CHOOSE A LENT COURSE!

Option 1: Live Lent (The diocesan Lent course for this year)

If you choose this option and would like to read the full book, I am happy to order you a copy. (SPCK, £9.99)However, you can get the general flavour from the extracts shown here

Session 4: Communicating Like Jesus did

Featured Bible Passages

• John 4:4-29

• Mark 10:51

• Matthew 9:36

This session is based around Chapter 4 of Hannah Steel’s book Living His Story. A featured passage is below, but you are encouraged to read the whole chapter as the questions often reference the book.

Featured Passage

When you read Jesus’ encounters with people in the Gospels you get the impression that each person is held in his gaze. When the rich young ruler claims to have kept all the commandments, we are told that ‘Jesus, looking at him, loved him’ (Mark 10.21). In the midst of the bustling crowd, Jesus seeks out the woman who touched his cloak. In that moment, the needs of the wider crowd come second to Jesus’ desire that this woman knows that she has been seen and that she is loved. There is in Jesus a relentless pursuit of the one over and above the crowd, and there is a personalized response given to each individual over and above a set formula or singular message.

Sometimes Jesus is the one who initiates the conversation. In the conversation with the Samaritan woman, for example, Jesus begins the conversation by asking her to give him a drink of water (John 4.7). In so doing, Jesus subverts the cultural norms of the day, but he does it in order to initiate conversation with her. Similarly with Zacchaeus, Jesus initiates the conversation. He senses Zacchaeus’ interest (the fact he had climbed up a tree to get a better view was a bit of a giveaway), but Jesus is the one who calls him out of his hiding place and into hospitality (Luke 19.5).

At other times we see Jesus responding to the initiative of others. Jesus responds to the secretive but courageous action of the bleeding woman who reaches out to touch his cloak. Mark tells us that as she touched his cloak she was instantly healed. However, Jesus is not content to leave it at that, seeking her out in conversation so that she knows she is precious and loved (Mark 5.34). Jesus responds to the question of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19.16), the cries of the demon-possessed man (Mark 5.7) and the request by Jairus, the synagogue leader, to heal his daughter (Mark 5.24).

On other occasions, Jesus responds to the initiative of a third party. He strikes up conversation with Nathaniel, but only after Philip has introduced them (John 1.47). Jesus is able to operate in a different mode in each of these conversations, sometimes responsive and at other times taking the lead.

While Jesus deals differently with each of the people before him in such a way that it would be impossible to construct ‘Jesus’ seven-stage approach to evangelism’, he does always seem to know what the next step each individual needs to make. In some instances, this next step is dramatic; for the rich young ruler the next step was to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor. But for the unnamed woman in the crowd, it was the knowledge of peace and reassurance. I have found it helpful to think in terms of ‘steps’ in my own encounters with people. It is rare to meet someone who is ready on the basis of one conversation with you to surrender their lives to Christ there and then. It can happen, but such instantly transformative encounters are few and far between. Thinking in terms of ‘next steps’ can be helpful and relieve the pressure. What is the one thing I can helpfully say to this person now that might help them to think Christianity is worth further exploration? What one comment might I make about Jesus that might make them intrigued to explore more about him? Viewing conversations in those terms can free us from either the paralysis of thinking we have to say everything and therefore saying nothing, or from saying too much and losing the person along the way. I like to imagine what it might take for someone to leave a con-versation with me thinking, ‘Huh, I’ve never thought that before.’

Study Notes

• Sharing the good news is much more than having a prescribed set of words to share, although this can be helpful. If we are to be witnesses, we need to think of sharing the good news with our whole lives, considering how we spend the 110 waking hours we spend out of church as much as the 2-3 we spend at church.

• The gospels recount more than 150 conversations between Jesus and one other person. Conversation and relationship were crucial parts of his ministry.

• Jesus relates to all kinds of people. The gospels depict Jesus conversing with the rich and the poor, religious leaders, political leaders, the educated and the uneducated, people on the inside and people on the outside. We need to think about who we are relating too.

• Jesus talks to different people in different ways, but there are some common features to Jesus’ conversations: He always started from a place of love; he is not afraid of vulnerability; he is interruptible; he listens; he asks good questions (more than 300 of them); his conversations were restorative and full of grace.

Questions to ponder:

1. Taking your personality type into account, think of three natural ways you might share your faith. (These may not involve speaking explicitly of spiritual matters.)

2. Have you ever experienced an interruption that turned out to be a God moment? How might you become more prepared for interruptions in your everyday life?

3. What strikes you most about the way Jesus interacted with people? How might you learn from his approach?

Option 2: Lent at Home (A less word-based course suitable especially for use at home. The clue is in the title!)

LENT AT HOME (2021) Lent is a season when many people make a special focus on enhancing their ever-growing and loving relationship with God. Christ’s life, ministry, and death are remembered during this season. Also, it can be a time to think about our own journey of faith – the good bits and the bad – as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week and Easter. In this course are depictions of some objects, readings, actions and prayers to help you in that preparation. Perhaps you might be able to gather together an actual collection of the objects referred to.

How to use this course

Every week there is an object, Bible reading and reflection for each week of Lent. The Bible readings are taken from the Sunday readings used in church during the season of Lent. At some point during the week, spend a little time with the object, readings, actions and prayers. You might like to use it as a prompt for conversation with others in your household or you might want to leave the object somewhere you will see it as a reminder to continue thinking about these things throughout the week. May you have a blessed Lent and remember that God loves you.

Week 4: Mothering Sunday Heart

Gospel reading: Luke 2:33 – 35 (See today’s Gospel reading)

Action: This reading reminds us of that bittersweet time in Mary’s life when she and Joseph took Jesus to the temple. There, Simeon and Anna recognised Jesus as the Messiah ~ the one who would change everything. As a mother, Mary would also know deep anguish and pain. You might like to read other ‘mother’ stories in the Bible ~ Exodus 2: 1 – 10 (Jochebed, the mother of Moses) and 1 Samuel 1: 20 – 28. (Hannah, the mother of Samuel). These three stories are of mothers who loved their children but, in different ways, had to let them go.

Holding the heart, you might want to think about your own mother or the person who mothered you. What might it feel like to pray to Mother God?

Prayer:

God our heavenly Father,

We give you thanks for all those who love and have mothered us.

We thank you for your abundant love

And, though we may wander far from you,

surround us always with your love

and lead us home. Amen.

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 continuing on Wednesday 17th March 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.

The reading

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 may be played

Minister: Lord, have mercy upon us.

All: Christ, have mercy upon us.

Minister: Lord, have mercy upon us.

Let us pray:

Music may be 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.

All: Amen.