United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
22nd August 2021 : Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
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 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.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: all involved in the rescue operations in Haiti and Afghanistan; political negotiators striving for peace
Pray for: the people of Haiti, following the earthquake and storm; the people of Afghanistan, especially the family of Elyas Shahrestani; young people leaving school or entering further education
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; Kayliegh; the family of Emily and Sammie; Beccy and family
Give thanks for: the continuing recovery of Sheila Dunn
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 REQUESTED DURING PUZZLE WEEK
Lily Pilbeam (RIP her husband)
Joshua and Jack
The parents of Alicia (aged 6) who has asked us to pray for them
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
COLLECT FOR THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
God of constant mercy,
who sent your Son to save us:
remind us of your goodness,
increase your grace within us,
that our thankfulness may grow,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Joshua 24 : 1-2a, 14-18
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. 2And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods.
14 ‘Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’
16 Then the people answered, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’
GOSPEL John 6 : 56-69
56Jesus continued, ‘Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’
66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ 68Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’
Here’s a list of things that have something in common, all of which I have experienced at one time or another:
Photocopying a long document with a dodgy copier
Building an IKEA bookcase
Conveying a passenger by car to an address on a housing estate
Writing a sermon
The thing they have in common is that when you start out, the task ahead looks simple, or at least manageable. But at a certain point, something goes wrong and you end up having to decide either to give up altogether or to soldier on. To be fair, the photocopier has been very reliable recently, but it wasn’t always so. IKEA bookcases probably don’t always contain the wrong number of parts or indecipherable diagrams. Some addresses on housing estates actually are easy to find, and sermon writing doesn’t always pose difficulties. But we all know those scenarios when something that should be easy suddenly becomes a major headache. Anyone who has ever done any DIY or had builders in knows full well that one job breeds another, until the situation becomes so stressful that you want to give up.
In our readings today we have got two such incidences where it is crunch time. First of all, we have got the Israelite people on their journey to the promised land. After a long and difficult journey, Joshua asks them to commit to serving God and not harking back to previous worship of other gods. And the decision is a resounding affirmation. They are now in a good place. Life looks better. It’s easy to be positive. So yes, they will commit wholeheartedly.
But it is a different story in our Gospel reading. Jesus offers the people a teaching that they find difficult to accept, and as a result, many of them turn away and give up. I wonder how that made Jesus feel? You can imagine him watching them go with a heavy heart and then asking his closest friends, “What about you? Are you going to go away as well?” Thank God for Peter’s immediate response and affirmation. His statement of faith at that point is not only important for giving Jesus the affirmation he needs most at that moment, but for the disciples as a whole as well.
It is much easier to commit when the going is good, but it takes a real act of faith to go on committing when you are not in a good place. It’s harder to keep sight of a vision when you are surrounded by problems. That’s why Jesus’ comment that his words are spirit and life is just as important as the harder saying that he is the bread of life. If we don’t eat the bread of life, life-giving bread, we won’t survive the journey. If someone is ill, one of the most important things to do is to hydrate them and feed them. That’s true both physically and spiritually. And yet so many people pay absolutely no attention to their spiritual hunger, or else go looking for spiritual food in the wrong places. After all, a lot of superstition originates in the quest to find meaning, to feed a spiritual hunger, even if people don’t realise that it is a spiritual hunger as such. For such folk the internet is a very dangerous place indeed to search, and the same goes for many of the religious channels you can find on television – although mercifully the TV evangelist doesn’t seem as popular an idea here as in other countries. And that’s why bookshops have a lot of books on so-called spirituality. But there is a difference between the sort of spirituality you might find in the self-help or spiritual section of a bookshop and the real thing that Jesus offers.
Oddly enough, it’s possible to do oneself a lot of harm through the very sources that are supposed to satisfy spiritual hunger. That’s because many such books are about selfishness, about the pursuit of something that will make us feel better, whereas the only focus of true religion is to worship God and focus on him rather than on ourselves. Jesus never said “Come to me and I will make you feel good about yourself and feed your ego”. He said we should come to him, the true bread, the living water, and that the words he had spoken were spirit and life. As St Peter said, “You alone have the words of eternal life”.
So as Christians we can expect that we might have a rough ride ahead. But we can also know beyond doubt that God is with us on our journey, in those hard places as well as in the good places where we would prefer to stay put. As the hymn says,
Father, hear the prayer we offer:
Not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength, that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.
Not for ever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be:
But the steep and rugged pathway
May we tread rejoicingly.
Not for ever by still waters
Would we idly rest and stay,
But would smite the living fountain
From the rocks along our way.
And it ends:
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our guide;
Through endeavour, failure, danger,
Father, be thou at our side.
INTERCESSIONS (Supplied by Carole French)
Lord Jesus, at this time, there is much turmoil among mankind. The continuation of the pandemic, more in some areas than others. Haiti suffering once again, from earthquake and storm. And the devastating scenes from Afghanistan of ordinary citizens desperately trying to escape a tyranny. We in our church are a small number who feel helpless when hearing & seeing these events. We can only pray that in some way an outcome by the right help can ease their suffering.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer
Give comfort to the sick whether in mind or body, those who are suffering from Long Covid, and give, Lord Jesus, comfort to their loved ones.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer
Thank You Lord Jesus, for our friends here today, those who live farther away, and we ask that all will be safe and & well. Thank You for our community, which is seeing changes to its surrounds, which hopefully will generate in time a benefit for all.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer
Bless Elizabeth our Queen, who has shown us her continuing strength and character. Give the same strength to all who help to keep us safe and those who heal.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer
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 all mercy,
in the eucharist you have set aside our sins
and given us your healing:
grant that we who are made whole in Christ
may bring that healing to this broken world,
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
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.
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.
AT ST JAMES’ EAST COWES
The Puzzle Week proved to be a great success, with many people commenting what a great time they had, and a fantastic sense of teamwork and camaraderie among the helpers. This has done wonders for our fellowship and outreach to the community. By the way, it was also a huge financial success, raising £8,639.02 for church funds. Many people have already been thanked, but a special mention is due to our hard-working Treasurer, Jill Traill, whose labours began when everyone else was recovering afterwards! Thank you, Jill!
BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY CHURCH FAYRE
Do come and support the Bank Holiday Fayre, 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? Open 12.00-3.30pm.
We also need tombola gifts, bric-à-brac, books, garden produce…. All donations welcome!
LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD
Café church will be resuming at St James’ in September on 19th. But for it to work we need a rota of people to help in setting up the hall and clearing up afterwards. Setting up can be done the day before: clearing up is mostly putting away, as we shall be using disposable cups and plates. Simplified breakfast will consist of toast, orange juice, tea and coffee, unless anyone wants to bring anything else. NB Due to Covid restrictions we still have to be very careful about food preparation, so be prepared to take responsibility for your own toast! Please sign up if you can help to make this service happen!
Coffee will again be available in September after the 9.30am service. Again, we need volunteers for the rota. Service is very much a part of our faith, so please don’t hold back. It is a good discipline to make sure that every so often we prioritise church over personal convenience!
Coffee mornings at East Cowes resume on 21st September. This time we need volunteers for two crucial tasks: to set up in the church hall on the morning of the day before, and to bake cakes for the cake stall. Please see Rose if you can help with either of these tasks.
As we begin to form links with the two Wootton churches, we are invited to attend their
“Friends of St Edmund’s” Open Weekend
28th/ 29th/ 30th August, 10.30am – 4pm
St Edmund’s Church, Church Road, Wootton Bridge
Theme for Exhibits – ‘For the beauty of the Earth’
It would be good if we could drop in and show our support for our neighbours in Christ! Rev Susan