United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

25th December 2021 : Christmas Day

CURRENT AND FUTURE WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS

Please continue to be vigilant and to observe social distancing measures at all times. We need to be particularly wary of the omicron variant, which is highly contagious. At present numbers in church remain unrestricted, but if this changes we will give details on the pewsheet. IT IS NOW COMPULSORY TO WEAR A MASK IN CHURCH, although this may be removed for singing.

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: doctors and nurses; paramedics; the ambulance service

Pray for: all people suffering from poverty, illness, domestic troubles, or loneliness this Christmas; all those affected by the new Covid variant

PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:

Emergency prayers needed for: Kay; Sandra; Sandie; Ruth M; Paul and family; William and family

Long term, please pray for: Charles; Stuart; Alistair; Lusia; David; Reg and Eileen; Irene and Henry; Richard G; Bob; Beryl; Joy and Dave; Margaret; the family of Emily and Sammie; Richard S; Peter; Mike; Marie; Carol T.

Give thanks for: all people involved in producing and administering the Covid vaccines

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 FOR THE DEPARTED:

All those whose anniversary falls at this time.

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COLLECT FOR CHRISTMAS DAY

Almighty God,

you have given us your only-begotten Son

to take our nature upon him

and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin:

grant that we, who have been born again

and made your children by adoption and grace,

may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit;

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

OLD TESTAMENT READINGIsaiah 52 : 7-10

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.

For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

GOSPEL – Luke 2 : 1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

From the book of Isaiah

The prophet tells his listeners that the authority of the Christ-child to bring peace and justice will last and grow forever. What do you think this means for us, living over two thousand years after His birth? Is the Nativity just a nice little story for children, or merely a celebration of motherhood transformed into narrative myth? Or might there be a direct and constant relevance for each one of us in the moment when God became human? How could this comfort us in these difficult and uncertain times?

From the Gospel of Luke

The evangelist here tells us that the first people to see the infant Jesus were some local shepherds. Given that ancient shepherds were considered to be rough, ignorant, and generally unsavoury characters, what does this tell us about the Christian message? Is God’s love just for respectable and educated people like the wise men, or is it also (perhaps even first and foremost) for the less able and less privileged? If the Nativity story happened in East Cowes or Whippingham today, whom do you think the angel would invite to be the first visitors?

INTERCESSIONS

Lord Jesus, you were born to share with us in all experiences of life. We come to you now, trusting that you will understand the needs of the world, your church and the people for whom we pray.

Lord Jesus, “Prince of Peace”, speak of your wisdom and give guidance to the leaders of nations in ways they can hear and understand. Speak and may your kingdom of peace, justice and righteousness be established on earth.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Lord Jesus, “Mighty God”, speak of your holiness to your church throughout the world. Speak and let your people celebrate your birth with a new commitment. Let us joyfully proclaim your glory so that the whole earth is filled with the sound of praise and thanksgiving.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Lord Jesus, “Everlasting Father”, speak to your children of your love. Speak and be born again in our hearts today. Speak and let your love surround us and those with whom we share this Christmas. Help us to see you in others so that by loving and serving them we may also love and serve you.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Lord Jesus, “Wonderful Counsellor”. Speak words of comfort, love and compassion to those who are suffering bereavement, loneliness or sickness of body or mind. Speak and let them find peace and reassurance in knowing the light of your presence with them in their darkness.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Lord Jesus, in your compassionate understanding of what it is to be human, hear our prayers. Use them, and us, to bring new peace, joy, love and hope into the lives of those for whom we have prayed. For you are born to bring salvation to all through the grace of God our Father.

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:

Post Communion

God our Father,

whose Word has come among us

in the Holy Child of Bethlehem:

may the light of faith illumine our hearts

and shine in our words and deeds;

through him who is Christ the Lord.

Amen.

To conclude, either follow the links below to our new YouTube channel or simply rest quietly in God’s presence

Away in a manger – AMHS 60 – YouTube

In the bleak midwinter – HON 248 – YouTube

O little town of Bethlehem – HON 377 – YouTube

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26th December 2021 : The First Sunday of Christmas

COLLECT FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF CHRISTMAS

God in Trinity,

eternal unity of perfect love:

gather the nations to be one family,

and draw us into your holy life

through the birth of Emmanuel,

our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

READINGS

NEW TESTAMENT READING –Colossians 3 : 12-17

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

GOSPEL – Luke 2 : 41-end

Now every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.

SERMON

The Sunday we all had a break from church!

I expect many among you might be asking, why the sermon, if we haven’t got any church services today? So this isn’t so much a sermon as a reflection….

We are all having a break of one sort or another, and as I write this it may well be that we have an enforced break with a new lockdown in the near future. So let’s look a bit at breaks, starting with the following image:

This is an example of a Japanese kintsugi pot – a pot which has been broken and reassembled, filling in the cracks with gold to make an object of beauty. The gold-filled cracks actually add value to the pot! It stands as a good example of the human condition, where we are all in one way or another slightly damaged by our encounters with life: we may experience some kind of physical damage, or the trauma of a broken relationship, or simply an experience which has left us feeling shattered, where we can’t see a good outcome. Those are the times when we are most likely to be open to hearing God in our lives. If we are able to fill the cracks of our life with the gold of God’s love, then we too might become even more valuable than we were when we were allegedly intact. Our willingness to allow God to fill our cracks with his gold make something of a difference between whether we emerge more beautiful or hopelessly embittered. I remember reading about a disabled person who hoped very much that her disability would be existing in her new resurrection life because she identified very much as the person she was because of her disability. However, the downside of that sort of hope is that it presupposes there is no better body to be had than the one we already have. Yet we are far more than just being physical bodies, as the Christian hope expresses very clearly. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he speaks in such a way as to make us envisage a holistic life: if everyone behaved the way he suggests we would near perfection, but as it is, this is not entirely likely to happen because we are all fallible people and we make mistakes.

It’s very heartening to know that even the blessed Virgin Mary and Joseph were capable of making mistakes. They travelled a full day before noticing that Jesus wasn’t there, and although you can say that they thought he was elsewhere in the company it is surely irresponsible of them not to notice that he didn’t turn up for any meals! The following three days are every parent’s nightmare, although for them it had a happy conclusion when they found Jesus in the temple. I wonder whether Luke is actually making reference to Jesus’s death and resurrection by naming 3 days as the period when Mary and Joseph thought they had lost Jesus.

That particular crack in Mary and Joseph’s parenting skills is filled by the gold of their new understanding about Jesus. We are told that Mary treasured these things in her heart as she so often did, and she will have grown in her understanding both of her son, of God and of her own fragility. For us it is a heartening reminder that even the most perfect woman on earth was herself fallible, frightened and did not know what the future held. Imagine having given birth to the son of God and then having lost him! Yet Mary used the occasion to grow in faith – Even though she gave her son a good telling off as any responsible parent would surely do out of sheer relief!

You will see that I have so far used the word break in terms of fracturing cracking rather than in the temporal sense of a holiday, but if we turn to that other definition, the break that we experience in our regular worship is just as possible to fill with gold as the sort of cracks I’ve been talking about earlier on. Regular church worship is a blessing but we should never forget that God exists outside the confines of church and that he is at his closest to us when we sit or walk or simply stand in open reverence and gratitude for the blessings he bestows upon us. It turns out we haven’t had a break from God at all and nor would we wish to. Wherever we go, God goes with us in our hearts.

The famous psalm 139 puts this rather well: Lord, you have examined me and you know me: you know me at rest and in action, you discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeying and my resting places and are familiar with all the paths I take. For there is not a word that I speak but you, Lord, know all about it. You keep close guard behind and before me and place your hand upon me. Knowledge so wonderful is beyond my grasp; it is so lofty I cannot reach it.

The rest of the psalm speaks of God’s care in creating us and being with us – bar a few verses at the end which frankly are better left unuttered, referring to slaying our enemies. The final verse Watch lest I follow any path that grieves you; lead me in the everlasting way is a good thought to take with us until we meet again.

Amen.

INTERCESSIONS

Let us bring our prayers for the needs of ourselves and others to almighty God who is also our loving Father, full of compassion and mercy.

We pray for the leaders of churches and the teachers of faith that they may be blessed with wisdom and insight to encourage and guide those who are seeking the way to God.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

We pray for the leaders of nations and all in positions of authority over others. We pray that they may be blessed with compassion, a sense of justice and the humility and meekness to accept the responsibilities that come with power.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

We pray for the community in which we live and worship. We pray that our fellowship may be one in which all are welcome to share in our journey of learning and discovery.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

We pray for those who are weighed down by illness, pain, bereavement or anxiety. We pray that the peace of Christ may rule in their hearts bringing them comfort and hope in their suffering.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

We pray for those who have gone before us into God’s eternal presence and give thanks that they join us in singing praise and thanksgiving to God who loves us and calls us to himself.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray that you will accept these prayers, offered in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and give us grace to speak and act also in his name always giving thanks to you through him.

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:

Post Communion

Heavenly Father,

whose blessed Son shared at Nazareth the life of an earthly home:

help your Church to live as one family,

united in love and obedience,

and bring us all at last to our home in heaven;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

To conclude, simply rest quietly in God’s presence.

SOMETHING TO PONDER ON

A lovely message from Pope Francis …

What exactly is Christmas?

Christmas is usually a noisy party: we could use a bit of silence, to hear the voice of Love.

Christmas is YOU, when you decide to be born again each day and let God into your soul.

The Christmas pine is you, when you resist vigorous winds and difficulties of life.

The Christmas decorations are you, when your virtues are colours that adorn your life.

The Christmas bell is you, when you call, gather and seek to unite.

You are also a Christmas light, when you illuminate with your life the path of others with kindness, patience, joy and generosity.

The Christmas angels are you, when you sing to the world a message of peace, justice and love.

The Christmas star is you, when you lead someone to meet the Lord.

You are also the wise men, when you give the best you have no matter who.

Christmas music is you when you conquer the harmony within you.

The Christmas gift is you, when you are truly friend and brother of every human being.

The Christmas card is you, when kindness is written in your hands.

The Christmas greeting is you, when you forgive and re-establish peace, even when you suffer.

The Christmas dinner is you, when you gave bread and hope to the poor man who is by your side.

You are, yes, the Christmas night, when humble and conscious, you receive in the silence of the night the Saviour of the world without noise or great celebrations; you are a smile of trust and tenderness, in the inner peace of a perennial Christmas that establishes the Kingdom within you.

A very Merry Christmas for all those who look like Christmas.

– Pope Francis

NOTICES

ST MILDRED’S CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL

Thank you so, so much for coming to the Christmas Tree Festival and making a donation or buying a raffle ticket and having a slice of cake. We raised an incredible £872 which has been divided between our Church Funds and the Salvation Army at Newport. £436 has been delivered to them today, their reaction was ‘we are thrilled to bits’ lovely to know this money will help so many people this Christmas.

The cafe will be open again on Tuesday 4th January, all being well. Thank you so much to everyone who has visited the Church and cafe this year. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

THANK YOU!

A special thank you to all who worked so hard for the Christmas coffee morning at St James’. It raised an impressive £317.30, which is a really good result given the circumstances. Well done! (This result was be on the electronic copy of the pew sheet last week, but we went to press earlier than usual when the result was still unknown!)

EPIPHANY CAROL SERVICE AT ST MILDRED’S

On Sunday 9th January at 4pm, there will be a Service of Nine Lessons and Carols for Epiphany at St Mildred’s. Music will be sung by the liturgical choir Cantus Vesperi, who kindly provided us with a carol service at St James’ last year.

CHRISTMAS REFLECTIONS

A few Christmas reflection booklets are still available to pick up from the churches. Have you got yours?

PEW SHEET ARRANGEMENTS

Pew sheet arrangements continue to be handled by Stuart. Please can any prayer requests, intercessions, and other notices be sent to him each week by Wednesday evening. His contact details are stuart_mckerracher

ONLINE PHOTO OF ST MILDRED’S REREDOS

I have received an email from Mr Roger Mechan, a keen septuagenarian photographer who has taken a rather lovely picture of our reredos and is selling framed copies as gifts available online. For those able to access the internet, you can find sight of it at this link:


https://shop.photo4me.com/1079418/framed-mounted-print?o=21&e=12&s=309&u=in&share=true

Roger is donating profits to the church, so why not have a look?

BROWSERS LIBRARY

Have you been along to the Browsers Library at St James’ yet? Do drop in on Saturdays from 10.00-12.00 for a coffee, choose a free book, buy a jigsaw or just have a socially distanced chat.

DOG WALKING VOLUNTEERS REQUIRED

The Cinnamon Trust is the national charity whose wonderful volunteers help people over retirement age and those in the latter stages of a terminal illness by offering all kinds of free pet care. They are looking for volunteers to help a resident of East Cowes whose delightful dog would love to go for a good walk.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can download a volunteer registration form from their web site appeals. If you would like to have a more in-depth chat about becoming a volunteer, please call during office hours (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) on 01736 758 701.

FOOD BANK

There is still an urgent need for these items, if you can help:

Long life milk

Long life juice

Custard

Sponge puddings

Coffee

Due to the generosity of the public, we have plenty of:

Cooking sauces

Baked beans

Tinned vegetables

Tinned tomatoes

Tinned fish

Tinned meat

Tinned soup

Pasta

Cereal

Tea

AND FINALLY…

A huge thank you to everyone who has made our churches look so wonderful for this festive season! It is a joy to see how well the worship spaces look with their Christmas decorations, and the work that has gone into each arrangement is much appreciated.

Another huge thank you to everyone who is still supporting us at the rectory through your prayers and kindnesses. We much appreciate your care and love. Bless you all! Rev Susan and Charles