United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
29th August 2021 : Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity
CURRENT AND FUTURE WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS
Our current service pattern is now set to continue – but the bad news is that with this weekend’s outbreak of Covid within St James’ congregation we still will not be able to serve coffee after the service as planned, and 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. Currently there is no guidance on resuming use of the chalice, so please be patient!
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: all involved in the rescue operations in Haiti and Afghanistan; political negotiators striving for peace
Pray for: the people of Haiti; the people of Afghanistan, especially the family of Elyas Shahrestani; young people returning to school or further education
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Reg and Eileen; Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Beryl; Joy and Dave; Margaret Perkins; Paul and family; Deanna and family; William and family; Gemma; the family of Emily and Sammie; Beccy and family.
Please also pray for Sheila Dunn and Mary Blow, both of whom now have Covid. We also send our deepest condolences to Mary on the very recent death of her son in America from a heart attack, and to Margaret Butler, whose husband died on Saturday 28th.
Give thanks for: the recent wedding of Patrick Butt and Maryanne Flood; the forthcoming wedding of James Jolliffe and Alison Oke. May God bless them with much happiness in their marriages.
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.
THE LIST IS BEING REVISED FOR NEXT SUNDAY.
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
Pamela Ewen; Peter Butler; all killed in the suicide bombings in Kaboul
COLLECT FOR THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
St JAMES’ CHURCH
you search us and know us:
may we rely on you in strength
and rest on you in weakness,
now and in all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
ST MILDRED’S CHURCH (BCP COLLECT)
who hast called thy Church to witness
that thou wast in Christ reconciling the world to thyself:
help us so to proclaim the good news of thy love
that all who hear it may be drawn unto thee;
through him who was lifted up on the cross,
and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Deuteronomy 4 : 1-2, 6-9
So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you. 6You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!’ 7For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? 8And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?
9 But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.
GOSPEL Mark 7 : 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, 2they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ 6He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
“This people honours me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.”
8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’
14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’ 21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’
If you had to compile a list of unpopular jobs in today’s world, I wonder which jobs would be on it? Perhaps the tax man, or the Church Commissioner would feature quite high up, or maybe traffic wardens or civil servants. Yet all those jobs, in themselves, are perfectly valuable and need doing. The tax office is there to make sure that taxes are gathered in the right amounts so that the tax system can fund the things we depend on in society. Civil servants are there to call governments to account and provide a counterbalance to their decisions – or at least to advise on probable outcomes. Traffic wardens ensure that dangerous parking is prevented. Church Commissioners have the unenviable job of stewarding the Church’s assets as best they can. So they are all good and necessary in themselves, but they can so easily get bogged down in petty details and structures that exist for the sake of it. You may remember the episode of Yes, Prime Minister, where Humphrey is rejoicing in the perfect hospital, where everything runs like clockwork: but it does so because there are no patients in it to mess up the system.
The Temple system of Jesus’ day was an absolute model of streamlined efficiency. It was built on a complicated system of rules, so that no eventuality was left unconsidered. There were countless rules for cleanliness, for example, which had their roots in a people who had been nomads, beset by plagues, desperate to survive in the wilderness. The whole book of Leviticus is about the rules of the day, and there were plenty of scribes and Pharisees whose life’s work it was to make sure there were no infringements. So they were utterly affronted when Jesus’ disciples failed to wash their hands before eating.
Jesus’ reply cuts right to the heart of the matter. It’s not a lack of adherence to the traditions that defile you: it’s the stuff that goes on from within. It’s quite possible to live within the letter of the law, but actually to be totally corrupt. Ask anyone rich with an offshore account that saves them having to pay tax, for example. The hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees makes Jesus really angry. There they are, nit-picking about whether his hardworking disciples have got clean hands or not, while at the same time they are exploiting the poor, twisting the law to suit their own ends and excluding vast swathes of people from the temple. I think it is highly significant that after his crucifixion the veil of the temple was torn in two and everyone could see into the holiest of holies. No more secrets. No more systems.
The thing is, humans tend to like systems. We like to be in control. We like to be efficient. When our neat systems fail us, we no longer have that sense of security. And in itself, the control, efficiency and security aren’t necessary a bad thing: but when they take over and we lose sight of humanity, compassion and moral values, then we are in trouble. After all, there was nothing more efficient than Hitler in his quest for world domination and racial purity. And nothing more monstrous either.
So we need to be very careful as we seek to reorganise the Church that we don’t fall victim to that same ruthless efficiency that made Jesus so angry. If we encourage a management culture that makes people into things instead of people, then we are not going to be living by those Kingdom values that Jesus exemplifies. There are some simple things we could do that would help us keep track of our tendency to rely on systems, after all. We could make sure our PCC agendas deal first and foremost with how well we serve our communities. We could, on the whole, leave finance and other nuts and bolts stuff to the standing committees. We could take every opportunity to open up our buildings to the community for their use, without worrying too much about the financial costs. What would happen if we just asked for a donation, I wonder, in winter months? I’m dreaming here, because I don’t know what use they might have for them. But if we don’t dream we shall end up on the same old treadmill as the restrictions ease up, only with us all getting that bit older and that bit less keen to change anything.
The diocese is hoping to have a day of prayer on 8th September to put our plans before God and seek his guidance for the future. I’m all in favour of that: so we need to sort out how it would work here, in both churches. And we need to publicise it widely. I believe God is telling us what to do, but maybe we just aren’t listening because we are all too busy. Well, maybe we should just stop. Sit quietly and see what ideas God gives us. We could do that in both churches and encourage folk just to drop in for a while, bring a cushion if necessary, and light a candle in the stillness.
Here’s a little prayer that we might use now:
Lord Jesus Christ,
Grant renewal to us your people:
Renewal of love for you and for one another;
Renewal of faith in your promises and in the power of the gospel;
Renewal of vision for the work of your kingdom throughout the world.
Renew our lives, O Christ, after your own image.
Renew us by your indwelling Holy Spirit,
And make us strong for service and witness,
In your name and for your glory.
INTERCESSIONS (Supplied by Robert Hall)
Heavenly Father, we know that we are not able to keep your commands without your assistance. We have thoughts and deeds that do not please you. Try as we do, we always need your power and guidance to do what is right- even if it isn’t what we think we should do. Your Son, Jesus Christ, died so that we might be forgiven. Please help us as we go about our daily lives trying to keep your word.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we think of all the people who are fleeing their countries due to earthquakes, political unrest, flooding or starvation. We ask that you look after them, protect them from these disasters and hope that they all reach a safe haven. We also ask you to protect all the armed forces, and civilians, who are trying to get them to a safe place. We also think of the missionaries that are bring your word to them, and providing transport help where needed.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, please protect all the people on the Island at present. Let them all, residents and visitors alike, enjoy the beauty of the Island, the sunshine and the events that they attend this weekend. We trust that you guide them in the safe way to proceed so that everyone can return to their homes, refreshed, safe and healthy.
Let all of us not just think of ourselves, but of all the others around us.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, As our Church proceeds with the future, let us encourage our friends in Whippingham and Wootton to join us so that we can all together encourage others to know and hear your word. We do not know what lies ahead, but trust you will guide us on that path, We also ask you to show Archdeacon Peter, Rev Susan, Associate Priests Mike and Pete that way that you would like us to go so that they can guide us all.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we think of all those that are not with us to date. Some are with you in the heavenly home, some are in hospital or in nursing homes, and some are not confident to join us with the Covid 19 still around. Protect them all with your heavenly hand and let them know that we are thinking of them.
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:
God our creator,
you feed your children with the true manna,
the living bread from heaven:
let this holy food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage
until we come to that place
where hunger and thirst are no more;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence
AT ST JAMES’ EAST COWES
The Puzzle Week proved to be a great success, with many people commenting what a great time they had, and a fantastic sense of teamwork and camaraderie among the helpers. This has done wonders for our fellowship and outreach to the community. By the way, it was also a huge financial success, raising £8,639.02 for church funds. Many people have already been thanked, but a special mention is due to our hard-working Treasurer, Jill Traill, whose labours began when everyone else was recovering afterwards! Thank you, Jill!
BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY CHURCH FAYRE
Do come and support the Bank Holiday Fayre, dog show and barbeque at St Mildred’s – hot dogs of all kinds to be seen, and some of them to be eaten!! Why not visit the stalls as well? Open 12.00-3.30pm.
NOW INCLUDING A NEW MAGIC SHOW!!
We also need tombola gifts, bric-à-brac, books, garden produce…. All donations welcome!
ST MILDRED’S CREAM TEAS
Cream teas will be served at St Mildred’s on 5th September from 3.00 – 5.00pm. Come and be entertained by singer Jo Walkden, whom we are delighted to have back with us.
CLARENCE ROAD EVANGELICAL FREE CHURCH
Clarries Club recommences on Friday 10th September at 10.30 and will meet fortnightly, starting with a coffee morning. Do support this venture by our neighbours in Christ! Telephone Derek or Myra (717895) for further information.
The Archdeacon’s Visitation takes place on 7th September, when our church wardens will be formally sworn in at the Minster. Please pray for them all as they begin another season of duty in their busy and important roles.
ST JAMES’ WI
The next WI meeting is on Tuesday 7th September, 7.00pm for 7.30pm start.
ST JAMES’ EAST COWES PCC
St James’ PCC meets on Wednesday 15th September in the church hall at 7.30pm.
St James’ Friendship Guild is looking for volunteers to lead or act as treasurer to this very worthwhile group as we recommence activities. Talk to Wendy Farrow if you are interested, and see the Jigsaw magazine for details of a special meeting due to happen on 6th October. Lockdown has shown us the value of companionship, and as a church we are very well placed to offer outreach to the lonely as well as sharing our own friendship with each other.
OTHER SEPTEMBER DATES
Coffee mornings at East Cowes resume on 21st September. This time we need volunteers for two crucial tasks: to set up in the church hall on the morning of the day before, and to bake cakes for the cake stall. Please see Rose if you can help with either of these tasks.
As we begin to form links with the two Wootton churches, we are invited to attend their
“Friends of St Edmund’s” Open Weekend
28th/ 29th/ 30th August, 10.30am – 4pm
St Edmund’s Church, Church Road, Wootton Bridge
Theme for Exhibits – ‘For the beauty of the Earth’
It would be good if we could drop in and show our support for our neighbours in Christ! Rev Susan