United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
28th February 2021 : Second 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 – though of course we very much look forward to seeing some of you in church. Wrap up warm!
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: improved weather; birdsong; signs of hope
Pray for: our schools; all asylum seekers; all facing an uncertain future
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: HRH Prince Philip; Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Oliver; Rita; Catherine Rushworth and her anxious family; Stuart; Paul and family; families of those in mourning
Give thanks for: the extended roll-out of the vaccination; volunteers at the testing and vaccination centres
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:
Brenda Palethorpe ~ Funeral: 12.45pm, 2nd March at the crematorium
Myra Widdowson ~ Funeral: 10.30am, 10th March at the crematorium
Please pray for these and their families on the relevant day if possible.
COLLECT FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
by the prayer and discipline of Lent
may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings,
and by following in his Way
come to share in his glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Genesis 17: 1-7, 15-16
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2And I will make my covenant between me and you and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ 3Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
15 God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’
GOSPEL Mark 8 : 31-end
31 Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’
I was talking to someone recently about a thing called Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is the feeling that many leaders experience if they feel they are not up to the task ahead. That although everyone looks to them to lead, one day people will notice that their confidence in the leader is misplaced and that the leader is just – well, an imposter. At a clergy conference I once went on, something like 80% of us identified as having that syndrome. That was quite an eye-opener.
The key question to ask, when you are facing the thought that you don’t live up to expectations despite having got away with it for so long, is whether the expectations were ever realistic in the first place! But all too often that question isn’t asked until far too late. And the same can easily be true of our thinking about God. So often we portray him as being like a taskmaster who has unreasonably high expectations of us which we fail to live up to. Lent doesn’t always help us in that regard: being told for 40 days that we are miserable sinners doesn’t actually make us feel any better about either ourselves or God. It’s not that we don’t take sin seriously, just that if we let it dominate our minds we shall lose sight of hope. After all, given the law of averages, there will surely be times when we actually get something right and do something that pleases God. So I don’t see Lent as primarily a time for looking back at our sinfulness, but as a time to look forward and make preparations. That, after all, was what Jesus did in the wilderness.
Now part of that preparation might indeed involve assessing our limitations. But when we do so, it is more helpful to see what is possible rather than dwell on the things we have asked God to forgive. Last week, when we had read about Jesus’ baptism and those words of God “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased” I talked about remembering daily that God loves us as we set out on our Lenten journey. Today’s readings give us several examples of God loving individual people just as they are and not as any sort of imposters trying to please him.
First, there is Abraham. We think of him as one of the great patriarchs of Israel, but actually he is far from perfect. For one thing, whenever he gets scared of people like the Egyptians, he tends to try and pass Sarah off as his sister instead of his wife. The thinking is this: If I say you are my wife, they will kill me to get you. But if they think you are just my sister, they will spare my life. So poor old Sarah (or Sarai, as she is then) gets stuck in Pharaoh’s harem, which rather puts at risk God’s great promise that she and Abram will have any descendants. Though until God rescues Sarai, Abram does quite well out of the deal in terms of getting a good bride price for her. That’s in the chapters leading up to today’s reading, but he does it again later on in Genesis. Despite his questionable behaviour, God still loves Abram!
Then there is Sarai herself, who is barren and can’t see any way she can have a child who would fulfil God’s promises. Again you have to remember that the promises have been in place well before today’s reading. But it is Sarai’s idea that if she is herself unable to have a son, she can get her slave girl Hagar to have one for her. It all backfires, of course, but God doesn’t give up on Sarai. She does indeed eventually have a son, Isaac, despite the fact that when God tells her it will happen she laughs in his face. Hence the name Isaac, which means laughter. God doesn’t give up on people just because they show a lack of faith in him. For the record, God doesn’t give up on Hagar either – he is the God of victims as much as the God of those who make mistakes.
Finally, there is Peter, one of the closest of Jesus’ disciples. When Jesus starts talking about having to suffer and die, his instinct is to try and protect him from it all. One of the other gospels has Peter saying, “Heaven forbid, Lord – this shall never happen to you!”. With the best of intentions, Peter is trying to prevent the unthinkable from happening, and Jesus is having none of it. Yet despite Peter going from a favourite disciple to being called Satan, and despite the denials that he was later so ashamed of, we know that Jesus still loved him, with all his faults.
The point we should recognise and build into our preparations for whatever work God is calling us to next, is that God’s plans have already factored in our limitations, our sinfulness, our weaknesses, our ability to get things wrong. And he has still picked us as the best people for the job. We are none of us imposters. We are his children, chosen and loved, every one of us. So let us love one another, as he has loved us. Amen.
INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Carole French)
Lord Jesus, the congregation today can begin to look forward, hopefully to a safer future, as the extremely amazing work by our scientists and medical teams in all aspects continues. We give thanks for this.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
All teams in Authority are striving to bring our everyday life to a more normal existence. Give wisdom to Government and local councils, as they plan to do this.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Whilst this terrible pandemic seems to be easing, let us never forget the dreadful loss of life, and how many families have been left broken hearted. Give comfort Lord Jesus to all those mourning.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
We pray for our Queen, who herself at this time is very concerned about her husband.
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:
you see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves:
keep us both outwardly in our bodies,
and inwardly in our souls;
that we may be defended from all adversities
which may happen to the body,
and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence
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.
PCC DATE ~ ST JAMES’
St James’ PCC will meet by Zoom on Thursday 4th March at 7.30pm. You should by now have received hard copies of the accounts: please look at them before the evening so that we do not spend unnecessary time during the online meeting. Jill Traill will be happy to answer any questions.
PCC ~ ST MILDRED’S
It would be good if PCC members would add the free Zoom app to their desktop/laptop/tablet or phone so that we can resume regular PCC meetings. As St James’ have discovered, the process is actually fairly simple!
CHOOSING A NEW BISHOP
The announcement of Bishop Christopher’s retirement began the Vacancy in See process which will ultimately see a new Bishop of Portsmouth appointed. This is an important and significant time for our diocese. We would therefore like to you to pray in your church communities, and as individuals for Bishop Christopher and his wife Sally as they prepare for retirement, and also for the Vacancy in See committee as they undertake the work to produce the Statement of Needs for the Diocese.
The Vacancy in See committee wants to hear from as wide a range of people from across our diocese with regard to our needs, and the skills we wish to see in the next Bishop of Portsmouth. To aid this process, the Vacancy in See Committee is asking people to respond to a set of questions. Please fill in the short survey here by noon on 10th March 2021. These will be collated to support the work of the Vacancy in See Committee.
Press Ctl + click to follow the link above. If you are unable to complete an online survey, you might like to address any comments to those who have been asked to be parish reps: St Mildred’s – Liz Wilson; St James’ – Gillian Jackson
CHOOSE A LENT COURSE!
Option 1: Live Lent (The diocesan Lent course for this year)
If you choose this option and would like to read the full book, I am happy to order you a copy. (SPCK, £9.99)However, you can get the general flavour from the extracts shown here
Session 2: Catching Up with God
Featured Bible Passages
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.” But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.” So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” And the slave said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.” ’ (Luke 14:15-24 )
Jesus himself told a story about an urgent and compelling invitation. In Luke 14.15–24 we read the story of a man who prepares a lavish banquet. But on the day when his guests are supposed to arrive, one by one they make their excuses not to attend. Angered by this response, the master instead commands his servant to go into the town and bring in anyone he can find, including those who are not normally invited to such prestigious gatherings. Parables such as these would have been shocking to Jesus’ listeners, particularly the religious who considered themselves safely on the list of those invited. Through these parables, Jesus asks who are the recipients of this good news and suggests that it is not the prestigious and important people, those who simply assume they are invited. Jesus’ extraordinary kingdom prioritized the poor, the neglected, those who didn’t think they stood a chance.
The parable of the banquet, like those of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son in the following chapter of Luke, reveal God’s heart for those who are not yet part of his kingdom. Central to the notion of evangelism is this simple yet profound theological truth: God loves. Any understanding of evangelism that takes its starting point from anywhere else can so easily become coercive, manipulative or purely pragmatic. The overarching narrative of Scripture is that God loves people. Evangelism, then, finds its ultimate motivation not in the crisis of a church in decline that needs to act in order to prevent its own extinction. Evangelism is always only and ever because God is love. Our witnessing, therefore, is only ever in response to the invitation that God has already made. As I discovered that day at the hairdresser, my role as a witness was to follow up and speak clearly of the invitation God was already making.
In theological terms, this conviction is often expressed as Missio Dei, a Latin phrase meaning ‘the mission or sending of God’. This concept was articulated at a conference on mission in 1932 by the theologian Karl Barth. This signified a move away from under-standing mission as something that the church did in response to God’s action, and instead reimagined mission as rooted primarily in God’s being and his intention in the world. The term Missio Dei was later formed and identifies God himself as the initiator of mission rather than the Church or any other Christian organization. While mission is far broader than evangelism and encompasses the scope of the Church’s presence and action in the world, such as social justice and environmental concern, the call upon the Church to witness is an integral part of its mission. Understanding mission as primarily rooted in the nature and purpose of God means also that evangelism is not our clever idea or a calculated response to try and boost church membership during a period of decline. Evangelism finds its rationale and origin in the love of God for the world, and this theme bubbles over in many of Jesus’ parables.
The three lost things (a sheep, a coin and a son) collectively focus on the one who is seeking. In turn, the shepherd, the woman and the father seek diligently and sacrificially for the one that is lost. First, the shepherd leaves behind the 99 that are safe (by all accounts a high-risk strategy) and looks for the one that is lost. The woman, though she has nine other coins, is not prepared to wait for the natural light of morning but uses valuable resources to search thoroughly until the one missing is found. Finally, the father, whose son has severed his familial ties and set off for an independent life, glimpses his son in the distance and runs towards him, silencing the prodigal’s cries of regret and remorse with joyful celebration. In these stories Jesus teaches the religious leaders, who chastise him (as they do on several occasions) for his questionable choice of dinner guests, that God’s love is for the lost, the least and even the lawbreaker. In so doing, he challenges them that they should not be surprised that the Messiah acts in this way. God’s love is and has always been for such as these.
• Our storytelling should be in response to God’s initiative and in partnership with His Spirit. These two principles are seen through Jesus’ own storytelling. He was a prolific storyteller – the gospels recount more than 35 parables, telling stories that offered a completely different way of seeing the world and thus invited his listeners into a new way of life in the Kingdom.
• Jesus came to announce good news as the culmination of the story of scripture – God reaching out to the world in love. Evangelism is announcing this good news in a way that is urgent, compelling and invitational, following the pattern and initiative laid out by Jesus.
• Evangelism is not something that we do alone. We are to partner with God in evangelism. In some senses it is completely out of our hands, and yet God chooses to partner with us. Our partnership with God should give us confidence and lead us to prayer.
Questions to ponder:
1. Have you ever felt you were just the person God wanted in a particular situation? Did later events confirm that in some way?
2. How do you think you might become more aware of God at work in relationships and conversations you are involved in?
3. Who might be regarded as ‘the least’, ‘the lost’ and ‘the law-breaker’ in your community, area, workplace (or even closer to home)?
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
Beginning on the first Sunday of Lent (TODAY!) 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 2: Cross
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8: 31 – end)
Hold the cross, see how it is shaped to fit into your hand. Do you have any other crosses at home to compare it with? I wonder what ‘taking up your cross’ means to you?
Lord Jesus, you call us to follow you. Though we are uncertain, guide us. Though we are afraid, comfort us. Though we are weak, give us strength. Though we are unsure, give us faith. Though we may get lost, lead us home. Amen.
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 3rd 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.
*Following last week’s evening service, we are experimenting with muting the individual participants. This will mean that if you wish to hear music, you may want to have a piece ready to play as you pray. Nobody else will be able to hear your choices!