United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

24th January 2021 : Conversion of St Paul (transferred)

END OF WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

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.

ONLINE WORSHIP

Services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube: you can catch recent worship via the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH9VxFd1cp4&t=11s

Alternatively, search on YouTube for St Mildred’s Church and find all previous services.

FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Give thanks for: the new hospice chaplain, Rev Julia Myles; the newly elected President of America; new beginnings

Pray for: miners trapped underground in China, and the relief effort there, all churches to work more closely together

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; Catherine Rushworth and her anxious family; Emma & Luke

Give thanks for: signs of improvement in Catherine’s response to treatment; Jamie’s faith as he continues to fight cancer

PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:

Violet Hurt; Peggy Briggs

COLLECT FOR THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL

Almighty God,

who caused the light of the gospel

to shine throughout the world

through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul:

grant that we who celebrate his wonderful conversion

may follow him in bearing witness to your truth;

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

NEW TESTAMENT READING Acts 9 : 1-22

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ 7The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ 11The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ 13But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ 15But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ 17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ 21All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ 22Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.

GOSPEL Matthew 19 : 27-end

27 Then Peter said in reply, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?’ 28Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. 30But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’

ADDRESS

I wonder if the day we celebrate the conversion of St Paul ought perhaps to be known instead as St Ananias’ Day. We could certainly do with people like Ananias, whose courage, humility and prayerful gentleness are just as important as the blinding flash that dazzled Saul on his journey to Damascus. The great saint who is responsible for a large proportion of our New Testament through his letters to the early church actually needed the ministry of a trusting servant of the Lord to reach his full potential and make sense of his experience. Without Ananias all we have is a blind man struggling to make sense of an overwhelming personal event.

Every so often I encounter people who, rather like Saul, are full of zealous fervour for their faith and determined to convert everyone else to their own viewpoint. While such faith can lead to spectacular results, it only does so if it is accompanied by an equal amount of humility, an acknowledgement that we are not the ones who have achieved glory by our own merits and indeed that we are likely to be the least in the kingdom of God. All parish priests know, for instance, that anyone with a sense of vocation in the congregation must be prepared to have that vocation tested and affirmed by others before the tentative next steps can be taken. This applies as much to secular vocations as to ministerial ones. We all need an Ananias with the courage either to affirm or to challenge whatever is apparently happening.

Equally, we also need an Ananias to set an example of godly living and to encourage us in life. Some people, simply by being true to themselves, change others around them without even trying to. You might only need one St Paul, but the Ananias factor needs to be more of a group effort! Because at its heart, Christianity is utterly communal. We have been reminded of this through the current pandemic, when loneliness has been a real issue for many and the work of the Church has suffered for want of being able to assemble people together, not just for worship, but also for community action. Our God leads us into fellowship because we are made in his image, and he is a God who lives in Trinity, in permanent dynamic relationship. While we have made something of a meal of “the doctrine of the Trinity” it is perhaps best described as being a dance – God is the interaction of the three components, a dance made all the more complex by his interaction with us and our inclusion into his purposes. (Anyone wanting to read more about this idea is welcome to borrow from me “The Divine Dance” by Richard Rohr!)

The point of living in relationship, whether it is relationship with other people or relationship with God, is that it always involves a sense of motion, or of journey. Any relationship that does not change over the years is likely to die: if we are still saying the same prayers now that we used routinely at the age of 5 with no change in understanding or of relating it to our lives, then we are in for spiritual trouble. Prayer that is not prayed within our life context has little value but remains just a bubble of wishful thinking or sentimentality. Only when prayer is released into the wild, as it were, does it become dynamic and transformative. That is one reason why St Paul urges us to “pray continually”, in or out of season, whether we feel like it or not. As and when our prayer life becomes dry and fruitless, it is time to ask what God is up to. After all, when cracks appear in our faith it may well be that God is pointing us to some deeper understanding, some deeper revelation of himself. It is through the cracks of faith that a greater light shines through.

Our churches are, if not physically, undoubtedly spiritually cracked at present, and I wonder what new light might be shining through for us to explore and delight in? We have learned that our faith is deeper than a mere habit, and that we each matter to each other in a way we might previously have taken for granted. When we eventually re-gather for worship, the tone will be joyful and grateful, even celebratory. It would be good if all the churches joined together in mourning losses, celebrating survival and giving thanks for past and future joys. After all, just as St Paul needed Ananias, so we all need each other for completeness and have similar sadnesses and joys to acknowledge.

We are currently still in the Epiphany season, appropriately enough, and the time is ripe for us to be making new discoveries about God, about our faith, about the nature of our churches. For in a kingdom where the last shall be first and the first shall be last it may well be that God has something for us to hear as we seek his will.

Amen.

INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Sarah Kite)

Let us pray for the church, the body of Christ that we may truly live in the unity we receive through the Holy Spirit:

God, our strength,

Change us by your grace

For the leaders of our churches that they may be faithful in the unity to which all Christians are called, we pray especially for our archbishops Justin and Steven:

God, our strength,

Change us by your grace

For the nations of the world that they may live in peace with one another and promote justice for all:

God, our strength,

Change us by your grace

For all people that we may be good stewards of the earth, that we may take responsibility for our part in caring for creation:

God, our strength,

Change us by your grace

For the people of our society and in our community that we may be transformed to live as caring neighbours to each other:

God, our strength,

Change us by your grace

For the sick and suffering that they may be transformed by your healing presence:

God, our strength,

Change us by your grace

For all families and households that in their struggles and joys they may find fulfilment in your love:

God, our strength,

Change us by your grace

For the dying and for the grieving may they be comforted by your presence:

God, our strength,

Change us by your grace

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 click on the music link below sit in silence for a while, then pray:

Lord God, the source of truth and love,

keep us faithful to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,

united in prayer and the breaking of bread,

and one in joy and simplicity of heart,

in 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 394 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.MOV

..\Jane’s recorded music\HON 309 Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour.MOV

NOTICES

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 tina@embracingage.org.uk

THANK YOU!

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

CARTOON EXTRAS

The Church Times cartoonist, Dave Walker, has made a number of his cartoons available to churches during lockdown for a nominal and voluntary subscription. Having duly paid up, I thought it would be good to remember actually to include some of these on the pewsheets. So here is a worksheet for those who are interested, which combines humour with prayer and realism. Enjoy!