United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
26th September 2021 : Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity
CURRENT AND FUTURE WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS
Our current service pattern is now set to continue – but the bad news is that with the recent outbreak of Covid within St James’ congregation although we will be able to serve coffee after the service, Café Church has to be put on hold for a little longer. 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.
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: the recent baptism of Jack Malcolm Mitchell (Jane Carter’s grandson!); all the newly baptised and those whose baptisms are in the near future; the recent grading improvement at St Mary’s Hospital
Pray for: all anxious about energy supplies or financial pressures; staff under pressure at St Mary’s Hospital
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; William and family; Gemma; the family of Emily and Sammie; Beccy and family, Richard Sewell, Jemma; Sheila Dunn; Mary Blow; Luke Dadson; Judith Myatt
Give thanks for: paramedics, health centre staff and pharmacists
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:
Bridget Salter; Gordon Chubb; John Hannam
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
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.
NEW TESTAMENT READING James 5 : 13 – end
13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
GOSPEL Mark 9 : 38-end
38 John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ 39But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
42 ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
49 ‘For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’
I was recently making a huge batch of pancakes for a group of people, and I was in a bit of a hurry. So I quickly broke the eggs and whisked them, added milk and water, and then the flour to make the batter. I always add a quantity of salt to the mixture as well, so I did that, and then stared aghast at the mixing bowl, because I had accidentally added sugar instead of salt to my savoury pancake recipe. It all hung in the balance then as to whether I would have to start again or whether I could rescue the mess I had just made.
Jesus talks about us needing to be salty, and I think we all get the reason why he does so. Forget savoury pancakes – salt is a preservative as well as a flavouring, and its presence either makes or breaks whatever it is added to. But who is he speaking to? Who are the “little ones” at the beginning of our reading?
Most people will assume Jesus means children. But that is not so. The context of the message he has about offering a cup of water and not putting stumbling blocks in anyone’s way refers not to children, but to people who are not part of the inner core of disciples.
So perhaps we should ask ourselves some questions:
How do we as a church respond to “outsiders”?
· Sometimes we want to put them right, educate them into our way of thinking.
· Sometimes we fail to welcome them at all and turn them away.
· Sometimes we want to ignore them – after all, they are other denominations, maybe even other faith groups.
· Sometimes we work with them – Churches Together is a good example.
Whatever our response, and some of those I have just mentioned are more questionable than others – we need to be sure we are acting as salt, the real thing, the accurate reflection of Jesus. And if we clearly aren’t doing so, we need to bite the bullet, accept that this will mean us sacrificing something and change our behaviour asap.
Sometimes the world is more like sugar than salt. It likes the feel-good factor, the instant gratification, the privilege of being able to make choices. It is appalling that Fair Trade shopping is simply not affordable to people on lower incomes. Fair trade should never be a lifestyle choice so much as the thing that everyone can do. It’s worth asking ourselves what are the sugary things in life that we waste money and resources and energy on, and what are the real priorities.
But sometimes it is our church that is more like sugar, or at best, sugar with salt buried deep below. People can be so put off by the sugar that they don’t find the real substance. And most of our disagreements are about “sugar issues” rather than about our faith. It might matter to us aesthetically to have nice furnishings, to keep things just as we imagine they always were, to have our liturgy just so, and so on, but if that puts off the “little ones” who are new in their faith, then we have much to answer for. I once went to look at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, where the comedy programme Rev was filmed. And I expected to find them very well off, with loads of money from the commercial appeal of being on television. After all, the church just down the road was incredibly swish and due to host a major find-raising banquet for the high and mighty. But St Leonard’s was distinctly shabby. I was surprised at how down-at-heel it looked. And then I read a notice that said, effectively, “You might be surprised at the poverty of this church. It’s because we spend our money on outreach, social help and being good neighbours. Please give generously.” And I did. And I know which of the two I wanted to be part of, if I lived there.
The solution to the sugary barriers that cut us off from being part of God’s plan calls for drastic measures: cut off your hand, your foot, take your eye out. Now that is not meant literally, but as a way of showing how radical we need to be for the kingdom. Get rid of the things that clutter, that distract, that make it impossible for other people, perhaps new in the faith, perhaps completely without faith, to come close to God.
So here are two questions to ponder:
· What are the “sugar issues” for this church?
· And how do we respond best to Jesus’ challenge to replace them with saltiness for the kingdom?
In quietness and humility, let us bring our prayers to Almighty God.
Your Son taught us that we should let the little ones come to him, and so we bring before you today the little ones of our community: the poor and despairing; the outcasts; the failures; those who are desperately seeking meaning for their lives and those who have lost the will to do more than survive. Forgive us the barriers we put up and show us how to build better relationships with the community in which we are set.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
We pray for families in our community, and especially where there is tension and where relationships are poor. We thank you for stable families and happy children, and we ask you to bless and protect all those who are at any kind of risk, be it from illness or from violence. Bless the work of the Children’s Society and all other agencies who are overstretched and yet long to make a difference. We especially commend to your care those teenagers who have become homeless and vulnerable.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
We thank you for the apparent success of the Island Festival and the happiness it brought. We pray for all who are still bracing themselves for an upturn in Covid cases as a result of the festivities, and ask you to protect us as the weeks unfold. Bless the work of St Mary’s Hospital in particular, and all who struggle to maintain the NHS both here and further afield. We bring before you hospital chaplains, especially our own chaplain on the island, Rev Janet.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
At this Embertide, we pray for the ministry of all your faithful people, both within and outside the church. As the Church of England seeks to re-elect a General Synod, we pray for all those standing for election, and that those who vote may do so in accordance with the values of your Kingdom. Help us to be a people of vision and creativity, but above all of compassion and mercy, just as you are compassionate and merciful. Make us salt in the world, and restore us when we fail to find our way. Be our strength in hours of weakness, in our wanderings be our guide. Through endeavour, failure, danger, Father be thou at our side.
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:
Lord, we pray that your grace
may always precede and follow us,
and make us continually to be given to all good works;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence
St James’ Friendship Guild meeting scheduled for this month has been postponed. Please look out for further details of when we can resume.
COFFEE MORNINGS AT ST JAMES’
We have reluctantly decided to postpone the return of our popular coffee mornings for another month, as we wait to see whether there is a further Covid spike in the wake of the Island Festival. Please bear with us as we try to keep everyone safe and be aware of potential dangers…..Thank you!
Have you been along to the Browsers Library at St James’ yet? Do drop in on Saturday from 10.00-12.00 for a coffee, choose a free book, buy a jigsaw or just have a socially distanced chat. All visitors please wash your hands on entry: all returned stock is kept separate until it is safe to return it to the shelves. (Not that you have to bring them back, of course…!) We can always use more volunteers – it isn’t arduous, but it is unfair to expect Gillian, Margaret and Rita to bear the brunt of the work unaided. Please sign up on the list by the exit door.
Both churches would welcome donations of tinned or dried harvest goods for Harvest Thanksgiving NEXT SUNDAY. If you can help decorate the church as well, please see the wardens to find out when this is due to happen.
Singabout will be resuming on Thursday 7th October at St James’ church hall at 2.00pm. If you like community singing, why not give it a go?
A message from Rev Judith Swaine, our Island prison chaplain:
Prisons Week this year is 10 – 16 October 2021.
This is the week we are asked to pray especially for those who live and work in prisons and their families as well as those who are victims of crime and the catastrophic and far-reaching effects. If you would like to take part in the prayer week there is a prayer sheet that can be downloaded from the Prison Week website; https://prisonsweek.org/
Anyone who feels they may have a discernment toward serving God through (pastoral) ministry to those in prison and has a couple of hours free each month might be interested in volunteering to become an Official Prison Visitor. This is a scheme run by the National Association of Prison Visitors and seeks to provide visitors for those prisoners who would not otherwise receive visits. It is so important for prisoners to have contact with the ‘outside’ world to help with their rehabilitation and prepare them for when they leave prison.
If you would like to find out more about being an Official Prison Visitor, without obligation, I would love to hear from you at HMP Isle of Wight.
Please contact me by e-mail on Judith.Swaine
God bless and thank you
Rev Judith Swaine
HMP Isle of Wight
Anyone who does not have access to email or the Internet is welcome to ask me to obtain details and resources!