United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
28th March 2021 : Palm Sunday
Holy Week begins
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.
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: new Christians, especially Penny Downer, being baptised on Easter Day at East Cowes
Pray for: resolution of shipping problems in the Suez canal; worldwide vaccination distribution
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: 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; Thabani Maposa and family; Helen Hirons; Roo; Paul and family; James; Maureen; families of those in mourning
Give thanks for: All improvements in health; lowering of the Covid rate on the island
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:
Ian Hirons; Hilda Chantler
COLLECT FOR PALM SUNDAY
True and humble king,
hailed by the crowd as Messiah:
grant us the faith to know you and love you,
that we may be found beside you
on the way of the cross,
which is the path of glory.
Today there are three readings: a Gospel from the Liturgy of the Palms and two Communion readings, including the Passion Gospel.
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
NEW TESTAMENT READING Philippians 2 : 5-11
5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
GOSPEL Mark 15 : 1-39
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ 3Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ 5But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ 10For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ 13They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ 14Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’
I wonder if, like me, you watched the recent television footage of what happened in the aftermath of the murder of that unfortunate girl, Sarah Everard? It’s already old news, and those who weren’t directly touched by it will have forgotten even her name already. But for those most closely involved, it is an ongoing situation.
Huge masses of women – and indeed men – turned out to hold a vigil in her memory. There was a palpable atmosphere of grief and of anger, that she had met such a dreadful end, from the hands of a representative of the very set of people we depend on to protect us. It was intended to be a peaceful gathering. But of course it was no such thing: the grieving and angry participants also had in their midst the usual amount of troublemakers who had no intention of behaving responsibly. Social distancing went out of the window. Violence erupted, and there was plenty of footage of police officers trying to restrain both men and women (but the focus was of course on women being oppressed by male violence, it made better television). The Met came out of it particularly badly, but the image that stands out in my mind is the senseless and shameful burning of police cars which would normally be essential assets in everyday policing. Such is the potential of any event where emotions are running high.
I suspect it was precisely that sort of potential that existed when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey – an image directly from the Old Testament prophet Zechariah: 9Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and ridingon a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. The expectation was that Jesus was imminently about to be established as their King: their hopes of freedom were high. The authorities, foreseeing a bloodbath, were on high alert. Yet it was all a massive anti-climax: Jesus had a look round and retired out to Bethany for the night. If only the crowds out on their London vigil had done similarly and gone home quietly.
When people are worked up, excited, and then angered and disappointed, all sorts of things happen. People behave in ways they normally would not. The rush of emotions clouds judgement. They don’t listen. They just react, almost always with disastrous consequences. It was the herd mentality that meant they didn’t hear Pilate offer to release Jesus. They didn’t register that there were two similarly named people in Pilate’s offer. And Pilate simply gave up. It did not really matter personally to him which man was released and which one was crucified. Faced with the mob, and the threat of himself being seen as Caesar’s enemy, he literally washed his hands of the whole affair.
Many people nowadays have washed their hands of the whole affair, but for wholly different reasons. The main one is simply disappointment. They look at the evidence for a loving, caring God whose servants have something profoundly new and different to offer, and what they see does not convince them. Now you can argue that that is partly because they are not listening, not engaging with the bigger picture of what life is all about, too easily distracted by the pleasures and anxieties of the day: but the truth cannot be denied that if people look at the Church as a whole they don’t recognise us as bringing life and hope. The vibrancy of faith seems to have become rather dulled over the centuries. Media coverage is also not helpful in a world that wants instant gratification and is very ready to condemn on the slightest pretext. Quite appalling instances of Christians behaving far worse than non-Christians very often outweigh the quiet truth that churches work massively hard to feed the hungry, protect the vulnerable, keep youngsters safe on the streets, visit the care homes, look out for the needs of prisoners, and so on and so forth. Our image is often poor.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Every little parish across the whole of this country is perfectly placed to build up close relationships with the people around them. It is inevitable that the people around us will be greater in number than the worshippers on a Sunday. And so, as this is their church, their needs must be important to us. Maybe, like those irritating automated phone calls, we have said for too long, “Your call is important to us. Please hold.” But we are a church that, even if it dies, will live. Covid has all but crucified us. But this is only the cliff-hanger: what happens next is of crucial importance – and I use the word crucial advisedly. While we wait helplessly for God, we know that this is not the end. Faith prevails for us as it did for Jesus. So I would say to a sceptical world, Hold your breath. The best is yet to come.Amen.
INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Robin Mainstone)
Father, as the crowds welcomed Jesus and sang your praises, we pray that many more will welcome you into their hearts and lives over the coming year. We pray for opportunities to spread your good news and courage to take them.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Father, we recall the donkey Jesus rode on, and we pray for that humility in our hearts which treats status and image casually, and truth and loving service seriously.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Father, the children sang and shouted your praise, and we pray for the children in our homes, our cities and across the country. May we not fail them in the support and teaching they need at this time.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Father, the crowds were responding to the healing love they had seen in action through Jesus. We bring to you in our love and imagination all those we would have brought to Jesus for healing and help, give them comfort and reassurance, wholeness and hope especially at this time of covid 19.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Father, Jesus knew he was riding to his death. We pray for all on that last journey, especially those burdened with fear and guilt. We commend to your eternal love all who have died, thanking you for the blessings we have received, and even for the grief which is part of the love we share.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Father, we to spread our coats on the road as we express our thankfulness for all you have done for us and the amazing extent of your Love.
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:
Lord Jesus Christ,
you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,
and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation:
give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
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 10.30am – 2.30pm 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.
The services for Holy Week and Easter are as follows:
Palm Sunday ~ Usual time of service at both churches, this year without a procession of palms. However, the palm crosses will be blessed at the start of the service.
*Monday – Thursday of Holy Week ~ 7.30pm online meditation, with a special Maundy Thursday focus on Thursday.
Good Friday ~ 9.30am Communion from the reserved sacrament at St James’, East Cowes
~ 2.00pm Communion from the reserved sacrament at St Mildred’s, Whippingham
*NB You will need to download the Zoom app and request the invitation links to attend these.
(Holy Saturday ~ decorating of both churches for Sunday)
Easter Sunday ~ Festival Communion at 9.30am (St James’, East Cowes) and 11.15am (St Mildred’s, Whippingham)
LAST CHANCE – 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 7: Stories of finding Jesus
Featured Bible Passage
• Acts 17 : 16-end
This session explores how we can share the good news by bridging from common references such as books and films. With Paul’s sermon at Athens providing the principal example, this session aims to equip you to share the good news in this way, outlining key practices and questions to consider as you do so.
This session is based around Chapter 6 of Hannah Steel’s book Living His Story. A featured passage is below:
One of the best examples of this thoughtful gift-giving approach is seen in Paul’s visit to Athens in Acts 17. He shows us an example of intelligent and imaginative evangelism. Athens was a famous location in the first-century world. Boasting a strong intellectual heritage from the Greek philosophers of the fourth and fifth centuries BC (the likes of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates), its incorporation into the Roman Empire had not dampened its reputation as a city of immense intellectual and educational importance. Paul had grown up in the city of Tarsus, which was also well known as a centre of philosophy and a plethora of Hellenistic religious cults. While Paul was steeped in the Scriptures as a Pharisee, his background in philosophy meant he was well prepared for his missionary trip to Athens.
As was his usual custom, Paul goes to the central meeting places of this historic and busy city. He speaks the good news of Jesus in the synagogue but also in the marketplace. It is not long before Paul is creating a stir and arousing the interest of the philosophers of the day. In particular Luke mentions the Epicureans and the Stoics, who gathered around to hear him speak and to debate his ideas. The Epicureans were agnostic secularists; they were not concerned about the possibility of gods, as they considered them too far removed to be relevant to human life even if they were real. The Stoics, on the other hand, were pantheists who believed in a strong sense of unity between humanity and the divine. To the Stoics, God is everything and everything is God. While these two types of philosophers were very different from one another, Paul’s preaching about the good news, and in particular the idea of resurrection, clearly aroused a response. Whether they wanted to argue against him and disprove his new and unfamiliar teaching or whether they were intrigued by the possibility of Paul’s new teaching, they all wanted to hear more and so brought him to the Areopagus, a place where the latest ideas were discussed and debated. Despite the apparent pluralism of Athens, Paul’s teaching about Jesus and the resurrection caused a stir and people were intrigued. Paul had a captive audience of philosophers and the latest thinkers of the day when he addressed the crowd.
However, before looking at Paul’s approach in Athens, it is worth noting how Paul initially felt when he arrived in this strange and unfamiliar place that had not yet heard the good news of Jesus. Luke tells us early on that Paul ‘was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols’ (Acts 17.16). A more literal translation of Paul’s deep distress might be that ‘Paul’s spirit was pained within him’. Just the sight of this huge city bursting to the brim with idols to various different gods caused a visceral response for Paul the evangelist. His belief in the uniqueness of Jesus as the way to the Father stood in stark contrast to the religious world view in front of him. Gone is the hot-headed Saul who would have his way through coercion and control, as we see at the beginning of Acts. Instead we see a different Paul, still as passionate and zealous but now resolute to show that the deepest desires of the Athenians can only be adequately met by the risen Jesus. Paul is determined to show this with wisdom, grace and clarity. In so doing, he provides us with an effective model for how we can present the gift of the gospel in such a way that it relates to people’s deepest longings and connects with the culture around us. The gospel cannot be delivered in a vacuum but is always spoken in a particular language, clothed in particular phrases and concepts. Paul’s model shows us how to do that in the different situations in which we find ourselves, especially those where the message of the gospel seems peculiar or even alien to the surrounding culture. What we see in Acts 17 is imaginative evangelism at its very best.
• The good news of the Kingdom of God is a wonderful gift. However, like all gifts we need to be thoughtful in how we offer it. Paul provides a wonderful example of a thoughtful presentation of the good news in Athens.
• Sharing the good news like Paul requires us to consider four steps: (1) Looking and listening to those around us and what they value; (2) giving credit where credit is dues; (3) looking from a different angle; (4) pointing to Christ.
• It is helpful to think of the story of the gospel as an answer to four fundamental human questions: Who are we? What is wrong? What’s the solution? What’s the future? In sharing the gospel with others, we should consider how the gospel answers these questions.
• That said, these are not the only questions that those around us are asking. We need to be listening out for the questions that are being asked and be thinking about the answers the gospel provides.
Questions to Ponder:
1. Which book or film that you have recently absorbed might give you a way of sharing the gospel – or more generally talking about the big questions of life – with others?
2. Do you regularly check out some of the things causing a stir in popular culture and, if not, how might you (enjoyably!) keep yourself well informed?
3. In what book, film, drama, musical, TV programme or radio broadcast do you find a winning presentation of the gospel?
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
Every week 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 6: (Palm Sunday)
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting “Hosanna!”, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel! (John 12: 12 – 16)
On Palm Sunday we traditionally read the Passion Gospel to prepare ourselves to travel with Jesus through the events of Holy Week. Holding your palm cross, reflect on how the crowds changed in such a short time. They began by singing Hosanna! and ended by shouting Crucify him! We aren’t any different to that fickle crowd in Jerusalem, we are all capable of making mistakes, of getting in wrong, but because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we can be forgiven and have the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Son of God,
This week may we walk with you through the events of your Passion.
May we praise you with Hosanna
and remember that it is our sins which cry ‘Crucify!’
Make us witnesses of your sacrifice for your love’s sake.
HOLY WEEK EVENING WORSHIP ON ZOOM
If you would like to take part in a Zoom service of 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.
The Zoom service will be available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings this week. There will then be a break during Easter week, and Wednesday evening worship will resume on the second Wednesday of the month from Wednesday 14th April.
HOSPITAL CHAPLAINCY REQUEST
We have been asked (rather belatedly!) if churches can supply any Easter eggs for staff at St Mary’s Hospital as their regular givers have this year failed to materialise. If you think it would be good to give our dedicated NHS staff an Easter surprise, eggs can be left at the main foyer in the hospital at any time, marked as being for the Chaplaincy. They are particularly looking for Cadbury’s mini eggs!
If anyone wishes to donate and cannot get to the hospital, I am prepared to take eggs if they are left at the St Mildred’s café on Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
Many thanks, Rev Susan