United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
19th July 2020: Sixth Sunday after Trinity
St James Patronal Festival
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: shop workers and those who supply our island
Pray for: hospitality outlets as they re-open for tourists; all getting married soon
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Ena Young; Olivia; Dave and Liz Smith; Brenda; Stuart; Andrew; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Sarah and colleagues; Beryl Carpenter; Rosie and family; Barbara Blacklock; Hilda Bell; Paul & family
Give thanks for: the Food Bank volunteers; East Cowes Community Hub
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
Audrey Thorne; Frank Sellman
COLLECT FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you in all things and above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
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.
READINGS AT ST JAMES’ CHURCH
NEW TESTAMENT READING Acts 11 : 27 – 12 : 2
27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 20 : 20-28
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of him.
21 ‘What is it you want?’ he asked.
She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’
22 ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’
‘We can,’ they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
What have the following people all got in common?
In case you are wondering who they are, we have got: JS Bach, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde..
The answer is that they had no idea they were going to be famous after their deaths. Bach was ignored until the 19th century, Oscar Wilde died in poverty, Poe never made enough money from his writing to support himself and van Gogh only sold one painting in his life. If only they could have known how history would judge them! I can only think of one person who was fortunate enough to find out how he was likely to be remembered and be able to act on it: Alfred Nobel, the discoverer of dynamite. The story goes that in 1888 Nobel’s brother Ludvig had died in France from a heart attack. Thanks to poor reporting, at least one French newspaper believed that it was Alfred who had perished, and it proceeded to write a scathing obituary that branded him a “merchant of death” who had grown rich by developing new ways to “mutilate and kill.” The error was later corrected, but not before Alfred had the unpleasant experience of reading his own death notice. This apparently shocked him so much that he decided to devote himself to rewarding activities that helped the common good, hence the Nobel peace prize, among other categories.
On a less positive front, the disciple Judas probably hoped to be the man remembered for instigating the events that would force Jesus into taking his kingdom there and then and setting the Jewish people free from Roman oppression – but instead he is remembered for betraying his Saviour and his name is vilified. And I sometimes wonder if the brothers James and John weren’t also guilty of wanting the power and the glory. It isn’t something they would want to be remembered for, of course. The evangelist Matthew is so horrified at the idea that two disciples should show such a selfish desire for the best seats in the kingdom that he makes it their mother who asks on their behalf. But still the idea persists that these two, one of whom is the patron saint we honour today, are less than perfect, even though they are in the inner circle of three who could claim to be Jesus’ closest friends.
But actually, it’s good for us to have a patron saint who is less than perfect. James’ ambition is not in itself bad: he wants to be the nearest to Jesus in the kingdom. His commitment is admirable. But he is wrong as to how to set about it. Jesus makes it very clear that to be the greatest in the kingdom you have to be the servant of everyone else. More than that, whoever wants to be first must be the slave of the others. A slave had no rights, no freedom to say no, no social status, none of the things we take for granted. At heart, we too would much rather have the prestige, the choices in life, and the privileges of people of power. And we do have all these things! Giving them up is a constant battle – so it is good to have a patron who knows all too well what a battle it is, a man who was impatient for the things he thought he was entitled to and had to learn a very different way of looking at life. And it’s curious that in this country we remember him more for that than for the things he later did with his life, such as taking the Gospel to the Iberian peninsula, before he was martyred on his return. Taking the gospel to Spain had long-term results that James would have been unaware of. It is becoming very popular to make a spiritual journey alongside the tourist trail in his footsteps. In Spain they called him Sant Iago, and he is allegedly buried in the crypt at the cathedral there, with a whole town named after him. Plus he is the patron saint of Spain. That’s quite impressive for a humble fisherman from Galilee. Yet I would much rather remember him for his human failings and his character as a close friend of Jesus. Once you elevate saints into icons you forget that they had as many temptations as we have, as many problems and failings, and as much need of grace as the rest of us.
None of us can tell how we will be remembered. But it’s worth thinking about how you would most like to be remembered? You might think writing your own obituary is a rather morbid thing to do, but as an exercise it does teach us what we secretly want to be remembered for, and that’s not a bad way to start an honest prayer to God: Dear God, this is what I am aiming to be in life. Please help me to do it better, not for my glory, but for yours. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
READINGS AT ST MILDRED’S CHURCH
OLD TESTAMENT READING Genesis 28 : 10-19(a)
10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards Haran. 11He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ 16Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ 17And he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’
18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19He called that place Bethel.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 13 : 24-30, 36-43
24 Jesus put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” 28He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” 29But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
I wonder if anyone here likes making pumpkin soup? Well, here are two different ways of making it, depending on what sort of person you are. You will need mushrooms, onions, butter, flour, sieved pumpkin, stock, honey, evaporated milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Type 1: Analyse the process. This soup can be made quite efficiently if we pay due attention to the process. Eg Melt some butter in a pan over a slow heat while you chop the mushrooms and onions. Analyse the equipment. Try to use as few utensils, pans and bowls as possible. For instance, if you first measure the curry powder, then the butter, then the honey with the tablespoon, then you will only have to wash it once and the honey will slide off the butter. Analyse the recipe. Alterations should be made from the beginning. How many people are you serving? How much will everyone eat? Is the recipe large enough? Too large? Chop and measure everything precisely. Measuring cups, a carpenter’s level, thermometer and ruler might be helpful here.
You get the idea.
Type 2: You may need to substitute some ingredients according to who will be eating the soup, so these are just guidelines. If there is someone who doesn’t like mushrooms you can leave out the mushrooms or substitute potatoes. If onions are hard on someone’s stomach you can leave them out or substitute parsley or green peppers. A full tablespoon of curry powder may sound too strong for someone, so you can leave it out reduce the amount or substitute some other seasoning. In fact, you may want to leave it to the last minute to decide whether to serve the pumpkin soup. You may want to omit it entirely from your menu and serve another soup or a different dish altogether. Whatever. It will be fine.
Both those recipes come from a psychological personality test called Myers-Briggs, which tries to establish how different types of people react to different situations. It helps to explain why we find some people easier to get on with than others. Type 1 was for someone who prefers to make judgements based on what they can sense – in this case how exact the physical measurements can be, and how things can be made more efficient. Type 2 was for a different sort of person who goes by how things feel, how to make the best of what might possibly be there and accommodate them. Needless to say, there is a place for both those approaches in life.
The parable of the wheat and the weeds seems to me to contain both sorts of people. The servants wanting to get rid of the weeds are the organisers, the ones who see how things could be done better, who react to what they can see. But the owner is more like the type 2 chef – this is what we have got, let’s go with it because there may be some good there that we can’t see.
We need to be very careful when we are tempted to go exclusively with the type one approach for that very reason: there may be something going on that we can’t understand and might accidentally destroy if we rush in and try to make it all more efficient. It’s far safer to leave that side of things to God and just to deal with what we have. That means the Church will never be the streamlined, efficient business machine we would like to see, where everything is planned, budgeted for, measured and organised: it will always have a certain messiness about it, and its boundaries are the better for being porous rather than exclusive. The only way to strike a balance is to say, “This is what we are hoping to do, God willing.” God willing does not mean we will always get our own way, but it opens the door for God to say, “Actually, no. That’s not in my plan for you. This is what I am saying to you…”
And that all means that we have to pray and pray, so that we discern what God is saying. We have to accept that sometimes he speaks through people we had not considered worth listening to, because actually the Old Testament reading has it absolutely right: 16Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ When we recognise that, then maybe we too shall go on to say, like Jacob, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God!’
INTERCESSIONS (supplied by Carole French)
Those of us here today, come with the hope that with prayer we will find guidance and strength to help us find self-esteem, a lessening of anxiousness and comfort in our faith.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
We together as a congregation in your House, Lord Jesus, give thanks for the support of Rev Susan during the past weeks for holding our companionship together. We ask that all churches have the same, so that Christians the world over help their communities at this time.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Lord Jesus, Help is alongside us in many ways: leaders giving guidance & reassurance, law enforcement, front line workers, all striving to keep us safe and maintain the norm, even though they all had the same concerns. Give them strength and resilience.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Take into your care, Lord Jesus, the souls of all who have passed away this week. Give comfort to those who grieve. We pray for those who died, having no one with them.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Our community is precious to us, we give thanks for where we are and what we have around us. We pray selflessly that we will remain the same.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
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 of our pilgrimage,
you have led us to the living water:
refresh and sustain us
as we go forward on our journey,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
To conclude, rest quietly in God’s presence.
Peter and Jill Traill
Golden Wedding Anniversary
this coming Saturday, 25th July!
WORSHIP IN AN UNCOMMON SEASON
Initially at least our services are a straightforward communion service with no hymns – however, we shall have some introductory and closing music, as well as some extra music during the service. Communion will be 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. Please follow the directions of the stewards for going up to receive communion and be aware of the usual social distancing requirements. I will of course continue to administer communion in the pews to anyone unable to walk to the altar. We are advised to remain standing to receive the bread.
On leaving the church, please drop your service booklet into the basket by the exit door and note that we are leaving by a different door from the way we came in. At St James’ this will be via the south door at the front, and at St Mildred’s via the royal chapel.
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ RE-OPENING
The café at St Mildred’s has re-opened from 10.00am – 3.00pm, 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. During this initial period the church will be available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for private prayer, but it is hoped to expand this by an extra day to match the café opening times in due course. If you would like to volunteer and are not on the current lists, please contact Peter Robinson (299230) to be allocated a slot at a suitable time. NB The rule about over 70s has been lifted, but please check with me first as I have to give permission!
The pew sheet is available on the parish website from Sunday afternoon. (You will be able to re-read the sermon and engage critically with it as well as re-read the readings and use the prayers provided!) Those who are unable to receive email will continue to receive a hard copy. Please have a look on your way out and see whether you live near to anyone who needs to have a hard copy delivered. Now that we are open again, I am very grateful for your help in delivering these.
Sadly, I have failed dismally to add Jane and Nigel’s music to the prayer room website – which means you will just have to enjoy it during the services and remember how good it was! Don’t hesitate to mention if you have any hymn requests and we will see if these can be accommodated! NB They also play under the name Inspire on a Wednesday afternoon while the church is open at Whippingham.
RECTOR’S TIME OFF!
Charles and I are taking a week’s rest from next Friday (24th) and will be back in action on Saturday 1st August. Next week’s celebrants will be Rev Peter Hutchinson (St James’) and Rev Mike Exell (St Mildred’s). I am very grateful to them for making it possible for me to have a break!