United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
29th November 2020 : Advent Sunday
WORSHIP IN THE ADVENT SEASON
Our churches having been closed for public worshipthis last month,we have relied on people joining online services if they so wished. 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. Since the 24-7 prayer room proved popular a few weeks ago, it has been reinstated at St James’ hall – though for safety’s sake we ask you to book a time rather than just turning up. (See elsewhere in this pew sheet for details of how to book.) If you do choose simply to turn up, please take note that the room may already be in use and look out for the “Prayer Room Occupied” sign on the outer door. THE PRAYER ROOM WILL CLOSE WHEN WE RETURN TO PUBLIC WORSHIP NEXT WEEK. We look forward to seeing you all again for our regular services at 9.30am (East Cowes) and 11.15am (Whippingham)!
Services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube: you can catch recent worship via the following link:
Alternatively, search on Youtube for St Mildred’s Church and find all previous services.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: the island being placed in Tier 1; public life beginning to resume
Pray for: all still feeling isolated and vulnerable; businesses struggling to survive; island ferry staff
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Ena Young; Brenda; Stuart; Andrew; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Rosie and family; Barbara Blacklock; Hilda Bell; Paul & family; Emily; Lilly; Jenny and Mike Abbott; Gary; Oliver; Jenny; Ruth’s family; Gemma and her family
Give thanks for: carers; paramedics; the NHS
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
Ruth Raper; Elizabeth Mew (“Bet”)
COLLECT FOR ADVENT SUNDAY
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
NEW TESTAMENT READING 1 Corinthians 1 : 3-9
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL READING Mark 13 : 24-end
Jesus said, 24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
How you reacted to the cover picture for Advent Sunday says something about you!
What did you see?
“Four candles” – You are a fan of the Two Ronnies (and of a certain age!)
“Three purple candles and a pink one” – you know your liturgical colours, and full marks for spotting that Mary has something to do with it as one candle is pink.
“An Advent wreath” – – You have something in common with 90% of the congregation.
“Only four candles? Call yourself a priest??!” – a key ingredient of the Advent wreath is missing and the vicar should know better than to choose that particular picture.
The missing item is, of course, the final (white) candle in the centre, which is symbolic of Jesus, the Light of the world. The whole point of the Advent wreath is that it is symbolic, tracing the story of the Incarnation chronologically from the patriarchs and prophets, through to Mary (the pink candle) and finally John, who takes us firmly into the New Testament period. (Occasionally these last two are transposed: after all, John was conceived before Mary conceived Jesus!)
So the Advent wreath is essentially a sort of calendar, not so much a counting down to Christmas as a gathering momentum that draws us into the deeper mystery of the Incarnation. If you miss out the final candle, we are left with a void, a nothingness after all the expectation – which doesn’t really make sense. After all, expectation brings with it the idea of waiting for something to happen.
So are we actually waiting for something to happen? Well yes – we are waiting with eagerness for public worship to resume, for a vaccine to be delivered, for the things in life to resume which we previously took all too much for granted. Meanwhile, we are restless and discontented. It is hard to “stay alert, for you do not know when the time will come”.
If that is so of our current experience, it is all the more true of the Second Coming. We can fill the time up to Christmas with activity and preparation, but the time of waiting for the Second Coming is far less certain. After 2,000+ years, it is hard to stay alert. Many people will be telling us that we are stupid to do so, “because he isn’t coming back”. And many have bought in to that idea, surely, because otherwise we might all be a bit worried about Judgement Day. You won’t even hear many sermons about it, either, at least in this country – it might be rather different over in America, where fundamentalists rage about the Second Coming. So this sermon bucks the trend.
The question that needs addressing is whether Jesus’ words from today’s gospel relate to Judgement Day at all. As it reads, it rather looks as if Jesus got it wrong – these things did not happen within the lifespan of his disciples. Now you might say that he also said only the Father knew the times, and also that in taking on human flesh, Jesus took on human limitations and was not omniscient. But the more likely explanation is, as ever, that the gospel needs to be read remembering that what we have is an edited version of word-of-mouth recollections. In the process, events and sayings have both accidentally and for editorial reasons been altered. It is far more likely that when Jesus says this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place (v30) he is predicting the fall of Jerusalem which happened in AD70 and not actually referring to Judgement Day at all. The return in this context is the return of God to Jerusalem, like a master of the house returning and expecting to find his servants ready and waiting. On the other hand, “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory (v26) refers to Jesus’ ascension, to his coming into heaven rather than his coming back to earth. The chronology has been muddled as Mark conflates two different events into one. It might have seemed very helpful to the early church at the time, but 2,000+ years later we have to step back and try and work out how it all fits together in the light of our own experience.
So – is there a Second Coming? Or should we just take Advent as a waiting for a traditional re-enactment of the first coming, as a baby in Bethlehem at Christmas? I think we can accept both. Yes, Christ will come again, at the centre of a new and restored Kingdom, whose basis was laid down on the cross on that first Good Friday. The gateway of heaven has indeed been opened to all believers. Yes, in the fullness of time we shall see the whole picture instead of the puzzling fragments we understand now. And yes, those whose hearts are open to God and whose lives are in tune with this Kingdom will enter it. Church is one way of keeping ourselves in tune with that Kingdom of God, and provides us with a regular way of sharing our faith and reminding us that God is central rather than our own whims and preferences.
But church attendance is not the only way of keeping us in tune with the Kingdom of God. It gives us a home from which we can come and go as we serve our neighbour and work at discovering other aspects of the Kingdom. The liturgical year with its seasons gives us balance and ensures we don’t forget that God is greater than we are. And so yes: we should indeed celebrate Advent as a preparation for Christmas in its own right, as we journey to find the Christ child and find him also en route in our neighbour, in our sharing of both joy and suffering, in the blessings that surround us and in the hope for what is to come. Amen.
INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Carole French)
We have prayed that once again we can come together in worship. We thank you now, Lord Jesus, that it will be soon.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer
We are not to think Lord Jesus, that we are selfish in wanting and hoping that every day life will begin to have a resurgence, are we? Help each and every one of us to not forget the deep sorrow so many, many families have suffered.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer
Thank you, Lord Jesus for the community in which we live and the authorities who throughout this year have worked hard to maintain our safety. For our local hospital staff, thank you.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer
Loneliness has left its mark on many this past few months, and those who are anxious need much support. Let those of us who can give a little time to help in whatever way. Give us the strength as individuals to accomplish this.
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:
O Lord our God,
make us watchful and keep us faithful
as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;
that, when he shall appear,
he may not find us sleeping in sin
but active in his service
and joyful in his praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To conclude, listen to the music below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York would like November to be seen as a month of prayer and suggest everyone prays on Thursdays at 6.00pm. A further suggestion is that we should fast as well, so if that is your personal discipline, please fell encouraged to do so. However, there are plenty of further suggestions to be found on the Church of England website, including a daily prayer suggestion. So here is the prayer for this week:
your Son Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly;
pour out your blessing upon our nation;
where there is illness,
bring your healing touch;
where there is fear,
strengthen us with the knowledge of your presence;
where there is uncertainty,
build us up in faith;
where there is dishonesty,
lead us into truth;
where there is discord,
may we know the harmony of your love;
this we ask in Jesus’ name.
For more ideas online, go to the section A Call to Prayer for the Nation on www.churchofengland.org
The island’s evensong choir, Cantus Vesperi, invite you to a carol service in St James’ church on Sunday 13th December at 4.00pm. Admission is by reservation only. This is, of course, due to limited space. Seats are now only available in the side aisles and the balconies, due to a number having been reserved already. Contact Rev Susan (717026, or email revspaterson) if you wish your name to be added to the list of reserved places. TODAY IS THE LAST OPPORTUNITY TO RESERVE YOUR SEAT!
Cantus Vesperi are regular winners in island choral competitions, and we can expect a most enjoyable hour of music, even if we are not currently allowed to sing as a congregation. There will be a retiring collection.
WHIPPINGHAM CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL
The Christmas Tree Festival will run from 17th – 21st December at St Mildred’s Church, as follows:
Thurs 17th, Friday 18th, Saturday 19th: 11.00 – 3.00pm
Sunday 20th: 1.00 – 3.00pm
Setting up will be scheduled on the Monday and Tuesday, with specific time slots allocated to the various groups displaying a tree. There will be a rigorous admissions system (one in, one out) at the door to ensure social distancing is observed. To register your interest in being a helper at any time during the festival, please contact Liz Wilson on padmore888 (tel: 07977 028060). We are hoping for lots of volunteers, even if you can only spare an hour!
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ
Next week (after 3rd December) the café will be open as per this notice from Sue Richmond:
The cafe’ will be open on Wednesdays & Thursdays from 10am – 3pm. We are now able to have indoor seating again!!
A Big Thankyou to everyone who has supported us with our Takeaway Service over the last 4 weeks – it has been much appreciated . Thankyou.
Stay safe. Sue Rx
CHURCHES OPEN FOR PRIVATE PRAYER DURING THE WEEK AHEAD:
St James’ – open on Wednesday morning 9.30-11.30am
Prayer room in St James’ hall open daily 9.00-5.00, but will close once the church is again open for regular worship. The last opportunity to spend time there will be Friday morning.
St Mildred’s – open 2.00-4.00pm Monday-Thursday
The boxes for Foodbank donations are in church and we invite you to drop in your donations during one of the times when the churches are open for private prayer or when you come to a service. Please be as generous as you can as the Foodbank expects a massive surge in customers this Christmas.
We are having a socially-distanced Christingle service at St James’ church on Sunday 20th December at 4.00pm. There will be space for a maximum of 50 children with their parents. Thank you to everyone who has offered to provide the ingredients for the Christingles themselves. We shall be assembling the individual packs at 2.30pm on the day of the service, in the church hall.