United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
17th January 2021 : 2nd Sunday of Epiphany
WORSHIP IN THE EPIPHANY SEASON
As we are currently unable to offer communal worship in church, please remember that 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 hope to be able to resume regular worship as soon as possible.
Services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube: you can catch recent worship via the following link:
Alternatively, search on YouTube for St Mildred’s Church and find all previous services.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: rain to keep the air fresh; places to walk
Pray for: teachers and school children; St Mary’s Hospital
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Irene and Henry; 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; Lilly; Jenny and Mike Abbott; Gary; Oliver; Jenny; Ruth’s family; Gemma and her family; baby Ada; Robert Hall; Rita; Jamie
Give thanks for: Rita’s operation; Rev Dion’s continuing recovery
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
Violet Hurt; Peggy Briggs
COLLECT FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EPIPHANY
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
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.
NEW TESTAMENT READING Revelation 5 : 1-10
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; 2and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ 3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. 4And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’
6 Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. 8When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9They sing a new song:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
10 you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.’
GOSPEL READING John 1 : 43-end
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ 46Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ 48Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ 49Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ 50Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ 51And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’
Hands up if anyone has ever actually seen an angel? What would you think if someone you were in awe of said that you would see angels ascending and descending on them? First you might doubt that person’s sanity, then you might doubt your own! Poor old Nathanael was having a very strange day indeed. But then, revelations seldom if ever come when you are expecting them. And lest we imagine that Nathanael was in any way naive in his reaction to Jesus, just compare the episode of him meeting Jesus with the episode described by John the Evangelist in his revelation that forms today’s other reading. Describing heavenly things is a task that seldom gives as much clarity to the audience as it had to the person describing the vision. What mind-boggling scene was John even trying to convey? But let’s return to Nathanael and those very strange words of Jesus about seeing angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
The image that Jesus uses harks right back to the story of Jacob, resting overnight on his journey and having a vision of angels. It is an episode that conveys a clear blessing on Jacob – his descendants will be as countless as the specks of dust on the ground, and God will never leave him. It turns out that this resting place (later called Bethel) is what might be described as one of the “thin places” where one feels closer to God than anywhere else.
The idea of seeing heaven opened is a good way of describing that sudden sense of God’s presence, and there are plenty of examples of a similar closeness to God occurring through dreams in both the Old and New Testaments. That this time (in Genesis 28 12-19) angels are involved suggests to me at least the idea of messengers. It is a picture language way of confirming that God spoke to Jacob. But what might it mean for Jesus to use the same image when he speaks to Nathanael?
Whether or not you believe in angels, the association of them with messages to and from heaven may well indicate a representation of what happens when we open our minds to prayer. Heaven being opened and messengers ascending and descending who are focussed on the Son of Man suggest that it is through Jesus that prayers reach heaven and are answered. Jesus is the gateway to heaven, in fact. Does that make you think of other sayings about Jesus? “I am the gate….I am the bread of life…I am the true vine…I am the light of the world….” John’s Gospel is full of this sort of saying, and perhaps Jesus’ words to Nathanael contain an idea that is not so dissimilar.
The idea that Jesus is some sort of gateway to God is central to Christian belief. It is because Jesus became incarnate and shared the fullness of human life, giving that life for us and being raised up to heaven in the Resurrection that we have that direct connection to God which all too often we take for granted. We do not believe in a God who is remote and distant, detached from our human condition, a Creator who set the world in motion and then strolled away and left us to it: our God is passionately involved with the world and goes on revealing himself to us and sharing every aspect of our lives. Sometimes we sense him through the created order, in those “thin places” I mentioned earlier, but at other times we sense him in the words someone speaks to us, the acts of kindness and compassion that come our way, the lives we see others leading (which we might try to emulate), and so on.
When we respond to the blessings that others pass on to us, we become transformed into something greater than we started out being. That is why solitude and lockdown are spiritually so bad for us, even though they are necessary in the current pandemic. At heart we know that we are made to relate to other people and only reach our fullness of life when we experience the love of other people. And so it is right that, in the words of our Collect today, we should pray for grace to be transformed and renewed – not only for our own sanity and wellbeing, but for the glory of our heavenly Father, who created us to reflect his own heart of compassion and love. Amen.
INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Carole French)
At the moment, we can only seem to see darkness even if skies are clear. We are honest enough to say that we cannot see as yet a positive outcome soon. Help alleviate the anxiety which we all share, and strengthen our faith.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Give comfort to those known to us who have loved ones battling this terrifying illness, and extra strength to all medical staff who are continuing their duties through exhaustion and sometimes despair, yet never losing their compassion.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
All in authority are desperately trying their very best to curb this situation and yet the doubters continue to ignore what they are unable to see around them. We hope they will eventually realise that we all need to help one another.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Bless our community Lord Jesus, and we pray that as the year continues, and seasons become brighter, so may we.
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 click on the musiclink below sit in silence for a while, then pray:
God of glory,
you nourish us with your Word
who is the bread of life:
fill us with your Holy Spirit
that through us the light of your glory
may shine in all the world.
We ask this in the name of 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.
CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) SCAMS – BE EXTRA VIGILANT
The HSAB (Hampshire Safeguarding Adults Board) has been made aware that Scammers are trying to take advantage of people’s worries and uncertainty about the pandemic, especially those who are alone, self-isolating or in financial difficulty within the Hampshire Area.
· The latest incident we have been made aware of is an older person being cold called from an individual claiming to be able to provide a COVID vaccine for a fee.
The NHS is the only organisation which has access to the vaccine, and will never ask for money. Medical or health professionals will not come to your home unannounced and without prior notification. If anyone attempts to force or coerce you into handing over funds – in person or otherwise – always contact the police.
Coronavirus-related scams include:
· Sales of fake products such as face masks, supplements, anti-virus kits and sanitisers, which may be harmful or simply never arrive
· Bogus healthcare workers who try to gain access to your home by claiming to offer testing for COVID-19
· People pretending to be from charities offering to do shopping or carry out cleansing tasks
· Emails asking for donations to the NHS.
The HSAB Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Hub has information on where to get help and find out more information on COVID-19: https://www.hampshiresab.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-public-and-professionals
Contact number for Adult Services Referrals and Enquiries: 0300 555 1386
Contact number for Hampshire’s Out of Hours Service: 0300 555 1373
CARERS TOGETHER ZOOM MEETING
Carers Together is a new initiative to support informal carers (unpaid carers who look after a friend or relative), organised by Embracing Age, with funding from Allchurches Trust.
Lockdown has been particularly tough on carers and we want to come alongside and support them. We are looking for informal carers to participate in our pilot project.
Starting on 21st January we’ll be hosting zoom meetings for informal carers every Thursday at 3pm. Those without internet access can phone in. The idea of the meetings are to give carers the opportunity to chat with others in similar situations for mutual support, in small breakout room groups. They’ll also be monthly guest speakers on relevant subjects with discussions afterwards.
For those who would like prayer support there will be opportunities for this as well. The initiative will have a distinctive Christian flavour but be accessible and welcoming to those outside the Christian faith as well.
For more information, or if you would like to get involved, email tina or phone her on 020 3778 0035, and see The Web Site
Source: Tina English firstname.lastname@example.org
A special thank you to the wonderful anonymous donor from St James’ who has presented us with money to go on affording to pay our organist for several weeks during the lockdown period. Income being down, this is a much appreciated and generous gesture. Bless you! Rev Susan