United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

15th August 2021 : Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

CURRENT AND FUTURE WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS

New government Covid rules are now in force, and we are reverting to our previous pattern of services – although we suspect Café Church could be a step too far as yet. New C of E guidance is also available for us, but as things stand, please continue to be vigilant and to observe social distancing measures at all times. 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. Currently there is no guidance on resuming use of the chalice, so please be patient!

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=J2kNADnUL2s

FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Give thanks for: the successful Puzzle Festival week; all volunteers at both churches

Pray for: the people of Greece suffering from wildfires; climate change measures; all who are in danger of homelessness

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; Paul and family; Deanna and family; William and family; Gemma; Sheila Dunn; Kayliegh

Give thanks for: an increase in families asking for baptisms; the falling Covid rate on the island

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.

PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:

All who died in the Plymouth shooting this week

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

COLLECT FOR THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Almighty God,

who looked upon the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary

and chose her to be the mother of your only Son:

grant that we who are redeemed by his blood

may share with her in the glory of your eternal kingdom;

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.

Amen.

READINGS

OLD TESTAMENT READING Isaiah 61 : 10-end

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

GOSPEL Luke 1 : 46-55

46 And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

ADDRESS

Here’s a little joke for you. Jesus is sitting with a crowd of people, and the woman has been brought to him, accused of committing adultery. Jesus says nothing, but eventually he looks up and says, “Let whoever is sinless among you cast the first stone.” So far, so good. But then a stone whistles past his head from behind him and strikes the woman dead. Jesus looks up in surprise and says, “Oh, I didn’t know you were there, Mum”.

For centuries the Church has promoted an image of Mary as the perfect woman. Now of course, it’s very easy to idealise Mary and make her out to be something impossible, a role model that nobody else can live up to. Roman Catholics in particular go down the route of assuming that Mary was hardly human, so perfect have they made her. The ultimate denial of Mary’s humanity is in the doctrine of the Assumption, according to which Mary didn’t die of old age or anything even remotely normal: she was assumed into heaven without having to die. Now there’s a heresy for you!

While I am happy to proclaim Mary as a saint, I think we have to be very careful how we treat sainthood. I was very suspicious when, while I was once in Osnabruck , they re-hallowed the local church and laid to rest a number of relics which were supposed to be bits and pieces of saints’ bodies. That to me is mere superstition, reverence gone bad, as it were, although I can accept that others may genuinely find that sort of thing both helpful and inspiring. Nevertheless I will happily revere Mary as a human being, as the mother of Our Lord, without hesitation.

Quite often people look down their noses at teenagers and behave as if they haven’t got a brain cell between them, but actually I think that’s unfair. There are plenty of adults who still haven’t got a brain cell between them, after all. What is endearing about teenagers is their resilience, their boundless optimism and willingness to take risks. That’s something that is evident about Mary, after all. But also we know that she was someone who thought a lot about God. Time and time again we are told that she “pondered things in her heart” – and the fact that the Magnificat is based on Hannah’s song from 1 Samuel shows that she knew her scriptures and reflected on them. That is itself unusual in a time period where women and girls were not taught in the way that the men and boys were. Somehow she has imbibed a theological education of sorts, and it is from her that Jesus gets his own values and judgements. So we shouldn’t under-estimate Mary – but neither should we make her unreal, the idealised image that was supposed to keep women happy and stop them from interfering with the organisation of the Church down the ages.

But what might Mary have to say to us here, I wonder? I think we might be surprised. This, after all, is no wallflower. It’s Mary who instigates the miracle of the turning of water into wine. She shows complete and utter faith in Jesus, and she is not easily ignored. On that occasion she gets her own way: but not always. When she tries to claim a prior importance over the people who are crowding round Jesus, he says very firmly that those around him are his mother, his brothers and his sisters. So Mary has to accept that she has no special place, no shortcut, no easy route to Jesus. Mary gets no special treatment at all, and a sword does indeed pierce her heart. But what would she say to us?

First of all, those words come back at us that she spoke at Cana of Galilee: “Do whatever he tells you” – and so we have to learn to listen for what God is telling us. Secondly, I think we also have to remember that when Mary asked how it was possible for her to have a child when she had no husband, the angel told her that God’s power would accomplish this and that with God nothing was impossible. So when we are wondering how on earth we are going to do x, y or z it’s worth bearing in mind that it isn’t us who are acting so much as God through us. When God sows an idea in our heads, we need first of all to test whether it is of God (and a handy question there is, “Who is going to benefit – us or God?”) – and then to trust God to help us to bring it about. So I am not fazed by any ideas we might have for growing our church – I am certain that if it is God’s will it will happen. But God does tend to require what you might call match funding – we can’t simply say yes and expect him to do all the work. This is a partnership, God and us working in a specific place. We have to play our part and be ready to be surprised, just as Mary was ready to be surprised – and inconvenienced, and have all our ideas turned on their heads.

One thing we do know about Mary is that once she had agreed to God’s plan she was given the resources she needed – a cousin to show her how to cope with motherhood, an older man to look after her and her baby, places of refuge in times of danger. These would have been among the things Mary treasured in her heart and thanked God for. If we were to cultivate a similar attitude of gratitude and awareness of God’s blessings, we would find our lives transformed. There is energy to be had from being thankful and from looking for God in our circumstances.

So – here we are, setting out on our journey, building up the church after the pandemic. And I think it is wholly appropriate that we commit our task to God’s care and invoke the prayers of the saints on our behalf, of Mary in particular. Because she who gave birth to Jesus will have every sympathy with us wanting to give birth to his kingdom. If you know it, the Hail Mary prayer is a useful one that you might want to join in with:

Hail Mary, full of grace: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death. Amen.

INTERCESSIONS

Like Mary, Mother of Jesus, we seek to praise you Lord, for all the great things you do for us. As a church we thank you that we have been able to hold another successful Puzzle Week and we pray that this community outreach will have a positive effect on many.

Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer

We pray for the poverty-stricken areas of the world and those affected by wild-fires and climate change. We ask for your help Lord as we all try to contain the spread of Covid, bringing before you those countries and people currently in lockdown or without sufficient quantities of vaccine to combat the virus.

Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer

We thank you Lord for the joy of being permitted to sing in church again. We pray for the revival and renewal of worship and fellowship as we explore ways of working jointly with our sister church of St Mildred’s, and the two Wootton churches.

Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer

Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen, and give wisdom to all in authority. We pray for peace in all nations of the world and remember all who bear the responsibility of leadership.

Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer

We pray for all those in education, and young people who have just had their exam results. Guide them Lord into a bright future and keep them safe. We pray for our families, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and local communities. Help us to carry each other’s burdens, encouraging one another to enjoy life in the present.

Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer

Through the ages you have shown compassion to those who trust you, Lord, and have shown mercy when we have gone astray. We ask you to be close, and to comfort those who are anxious, in difficulty, illness, sorrow or need.

Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer

Gracious God, grant us courage to follow the example of Mary in saying "Yes" to your call and help us to keep in mind your presence with us, in every situation.

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 most high,

whose handmaid bore the Word made flesh:

we thank you that in this sacrament of our redemption

you visit us with your Holy Spirit

and overshadow us by your power;

strengthen us to walk with Mary the joyful path of obedience

and so to bring forth the fruits of holiness;

through 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\HON 311 Living Lord.MOV

..\Jane’s recorded music\HON 295 Let all mortal flesh keep silence.MOV

PUZZLE WEEK

AT ST JAMES’ EAST COWES

A massive thank you to everyone who supported in any way, and especially to Rose and Robin, as well as Sue Lane, for masterminding the whole event so magnificently!

CLARENCE ROAD EVANGELICAL FREE CHURCH

Clarries Club recommences on Friday 10th September at 10.30 and will meet fortnightly, starting with a coffee morning. Do support this venture by our neighbours in Christ! Telephone Derek or Myra (717895) for further information.

FRIENDSHIP GUILD

St James’ Friendship Guild is looking for volunteers to lead or act as treasurer to this very worthwhile group as we recommence activities. Talk to Wendy Farrow if you are interested, and see the Jigsaw magazine for details of a special meeting due to happen on 6th October. Lockdown has shown us the value of companionship, and as a church we are very well placed to offer outreach to the lonely as well as sharing our own friendship with each other.

ST MILDRED’S CREAM TEAS

Cream teas will be served at St Mildred’s on 5th September from 3.00 – 5.00pm. Come and be entertained by singer Jo Walkden, whom we are delighted to have back with us.

BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY

Do come and support the Bank Holiday dog show and barbeque at St Mildred’s – hot dogs of all kinds to be seen, and some of them to be eaten!! Why not visit the stalls as well?