United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
21st March 2021 : Fifth Sunday in Lent
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.
Previous services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube via the following link:
Today’s service will appear on YouTube later this week.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: fairer weather and birdsong; all working to keep schools safe
Pray for: Myanmar; The Yemen; police officers, especially the London Met; women at risk of violence
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; David; Catherine Rushworth and her anxious family; Stuart; Thabani Maposa and family; Helen Hirons; Roo; Paul and family; families of those in mourning
Give thanks for: All improvements in health
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:
Winifred Wollweber; Ian Hirons; Hilda Chantler
COLLECT FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
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.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Jeremiah 31 : 31-34
31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
GOSPEL John 12 : 20-33
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
Jesus’ original listeners must have wondered what he meant by being lifted up. They almost certainly won’t have realised he was speaking about enduring a painful and drawn-out death on a Roman cross. They might have thought he meant “when I am on my royal throne as King” – but like everyone else around Jesus they will have expected that to be a day of joyful triumph, a kind of lengthy Palm Sunday with Hosannas and cheering. But of course we know, as the Gospel writer also knew, that it wasn’t going to be like that. Not initially, anyway.
The cross of Jesus is a travesty of a throne. With his crown of thorns and his lack of any sort of clothing, he didn’t look like any sort of king at all, and indeed for those who put him there he was simply a source of mockery and jeering. But what everyone had overlooked is that God is a God who exalts the humble and meek and lifts up the lowly. The Kingdom of God is a topsy turvy kingdom, where repentant prostitutes and tax collectors get in before worthy dignitaries, nobody is prized for the amount of physical wealth they have managed to amass and the least likely candidates turn out to be saints. So the clues were there, and the apparent disaster that took place by a rubbish dump just outside Jerusalem was actually the moment when God’s new kingdom was born. Our salvation took place on Good Friday, and what we celebrate on Easter Sunday is simply the astonishing outworking, the almost unbelievable consequence, of that dreadful afternoon.
And that is why it is the cross, and not the empty tomb, that is the world-wide symbol of our faith. It’s a symbol of immense power: authorities are so threatened by it that it gets banned as too controversial, too disturbing, too offensive to be acceptable. It isn’t only Christians that are affected when they see it: its message is universal. We should wear our crosses with pride and reverence. It’s the best silent tool for evangelism that we have.
At baptism, making the sign of the cross is like putting on an invisible badge that says “This one belongs to God”. It comes in the service before we actually start pouring water on people’s heads. And the result of wearing that badge is that we then go straight to the font, declare our faith and commit to the baptismal promises. And that is by no means the end of the story.
The aspect that gets overlooked is that baptism is only partly a human rite of passage. It is the official moment when we invite God to take charge, and he does so through his Holy Spirit. Outwardly we might not see that instantly, especially with small babies, but it becomes apparent when baptised people start changing the way they live their lives, when the Holy Spirit becomes an essential part of the life of a person. You can tell a spiritual, Spirit-led person by the decisions they make in both small and great things, the way they treat others, how they relate to Creation and how often they prioritise God above their own convenience and wealth. The same is true of a church, when rather than just being there as a social function, it is also living out its life on a deep spiritual level. Lose that sense of God’s presence and you end up with either an impressive but heartless pile of old stones or a ministry of distraction and entertainment.
So there is a purpose to being the church in this place, or indeed in any place. But most importantly of all, it is a purpose that doesn’t have itself at the centre. The cross of Christ is a symbol for everyone, not just for church devotees. Everyone. Jesus said, among other things, that we were to be the salt of the earth – but what good was salt if it lost its saltiness? And he said that nobody lights a lamp and hides it under a bushel, but puts it on a lampstand. Next year perhaps it might be possible to have extra palm crosses and to distribute them to the wider world on Good Friday as we walk in procession. It would be good to smile as we hand them over, instead of looking unbearably sad because our Saviour has died. And to invite folks on Sunday to see part 2 of the cosmic drama that ends with such a cliff-hanger on Good Friday. I’d say “Let’s do that this year”, but we can’t in a pandemic. So we need to think what we can do instead. Maybe each of us could take a pebble and decorate it with a cross and leave it somewhere public on Good Friday for people to see and comment on. Maybe on the other side could be our service time and place, and a simple word: Come!
Come and celebrate! Come and sense how much God loves you! Come and find new life, new hope! Never mind if you are not a churchgoer, not even a Christian, don’t see yourself as a spiritual person. You are God’s child, and he loves you. Come! No terms and conditions apply. Just come!
INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Robert Hall)
Heavenly Father, we ask you to give guidance, strength and wisdom to all leaders of churches worldwide. We especially pray for Bishop Christopher, Archdeacon Peter, rev Susan, and our associate priests, Mike and Pete. We also give thanks for all the work our churchwardens do on our behalf, as well as our Church Councils. We especially think of Rev Susan at this sad time. Give all of them strength in all the decisions that they have to make.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the scientists that have worked so hard to protect us from the Covid 19 virus. We also thank all the doctors, nurses and support staff that have enabled the vaccination to be given out so quickly to us all. We also thank you for all the hospital staff that have enabled the hospital to cope during this time. Please protect them all as they go about their work. We also thank you for all the emergency staff at this time going about their work in these troublesome times. Please protect them all.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, as schools re-start, please give all children and their teachers strength in the work that they do. Teach them all to keep safe in school and travelling to and from school.
We also ask you to keep all od us safe and well as the lockdown gradually relaxes. Teach us all not to rush and to give help to family, friends and neighbours who are unable to go out.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, give wisdom and strength to all the leaders in the world where there are wars and unrest. Give the leaders the wisdom to try and settle their differences, and if this is not possible, then agree to disagree peacefully.
We also think of all those people and organisations that are in these troublesome areas, that they help people that are hungry, unsafe, or attacked, so that they can keep these people as safe as possible.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we think of all those people that are no longer with us from local ones that we know personally to those that we hear about around the world. We also think of those people that no-one knows: but you, heavenly Father, know all these people and welcome them into your heavenly House. Let us remember the good times that we had with them, and know that they are in no more pain with you.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
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:
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us
that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters
we do also for you:
give us the will to be the servant of others
as you were the servant of all,
and gave up your life and died for us,
but are alive and reign, now and for ever.
To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence
DON’T FORGET TO PUT YOUR CLOCKS FORWARD NEXT SATURDAY NIGHT!!
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.
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 GiiftAid envelope for the donation, so much the better! Many thanks! Rev Susan
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.
*NB You will need to download the Zoom app and request the invitation links to attend these.
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
(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)
Session 5: Passing on the story of Jesus
Featured Bible Passages
• Acts 2:4
• Matthew 10:19-20
• Acts: 8:26-40
This session is based around Chapter 5 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.
One individual who follows where the Spirit leads is Philip. When persecution broke out, we learn that while the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, many of the early followers of Jesus were scattered but that ‘those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word’ (Acts 8.4). This is one of those examples where God is mysteriously still at work even through a terrible situation or crisis. I was interested to hear at an online event during the lockdown of one girl who had tuned into an online church service. She commented that she didn’t go to church, but her brother was involved in the service, and because she was missing him she tuned in to watch. This experience had her interested in the Christian faith, which she then wanted to explore.
It is incredible how often God works through extraordinary or difficult situations, or times when our plans go awry, to bring new opportunities. One of those who found themselves unintentionally scattered to Samaria was Philip, one of the seven who had been chosen to wait upon tables as the church started to grow. The Spirit prompts Philip to go to the desert road to Gaza where he meets the Ethiopian eunuch. Luke tells us that this individual was a person of great influence, ‘a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury’ (Acts 8.27). As Philip is told by the Spirit to travel alongside this man’s chariot, he heard him reading out loud (as would have been normal practice) a passage of Scripture from Isaiah.
I suppose having a conversation with a stranger on public transport is the modern-day equivalent, although I have to say that in many years of such conversations, I have never met someone who ‘just happened’ to be reading Isaiah 53! Philip finds that the Spirit is at work in him enabling him to explain the Scriptures so that that this Ethiopian Chancellor of the Exchequer can hear and understand the good news of the risen Jesus. In fact the response is so immediate that the Ethiopian eunuch commands the chariot to be stopped so that he can be instantly baptized in a nearby pool of water. We don’t hear of this man again, but Luke tells us that he ‘went on his way rejoicing’ (Acts 8.39) and we presume he then returned to Ethiopia as the first Christian disciple in that great continent of Africa.
When we stumble across a chance conversation with someone on the train or the bus, we cannot know the impact our words may have or the seeds sown that will bear fruit in places and locations other than our own. Stories like Philip’s should encourage us to seize every opportunity that comes our way and trust the Spirit to be at work.
• Pentecost was an explosive moment for the early church. Before the Holy Spirit came, the disciples were waiting. Afterwards, the good news spread like wildfire. Such is the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts, it might be appropriate to name the book the Acts of the Holy Spirit, rather than the Acts of the Apostles.
• The Holy Spirit is behind almost every encounter in the book of Acts. Especially significant is Peter’s dream in Acts 10. God’s instruction that Peter should ‘kill and eat’ opened up the good news to everyone and showed that God has no favourites.
• At the time of writing, the UK was in lockdown because of COVID-19. Hannah Steele points out that the role of the church is to share the good news in whatever circumstance it finds itself.
• As we seek to share this good news there are 6 principles we should follow: we should be risk takers and not comfort seekers; we should embrace variety and not a one-size-fits-all approach; we should be relational and not confrontational; we should seek God, not take God; we should go out there and not stay in here; we should go together not alone.
Questions to ponder:
1. This session encourages us to think globally. How can you perceive the Holy Spirit at work during the COVID-19 pandemic?
2. The Spirit often ‘propels us out of our comfort zones’. Have you ever surprised yourself by speaking boldly, or can you think of someone else doing this with remarkable results?
3. The work of the Holy Spirit is mysterious . . . Can you think of a situation which has been transformed beyond imagining by the work of the Holy Spirit?
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 5: Seeds
Gospel reading: John 12: 20 – 33
Jesus said, Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Action: Fill a yoghurt or similar pot with earth or compost. Plant the seeds and water them gently. Leave the pot in a sunny spot and keep it watered. Watch and wait.
Seeds are incredible things. They look dried up and dead but given the right conditions they can thrive and grow. What do we need to help our relationship with God thrive?
Loving Creator God,
As you have loved us, may we love others;
As you have forgiven us, may we forgive others;
As you have revealed yourself to us through Jesus Christ,
may we show your love to the world through our lives.
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 24th 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.
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.