United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

31st January 2021 : The Presentation of Christ (Candlemas)

WORSHIP IN THE EPIPHANY SEASON

As we are currently unable to offer communal worship in church, please remember that 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 hope to be able to resume regular worship as soon as possible.

ONLINE WORSHIP

Previous services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube via the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH9VxFd1cp4&t=11s

FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Give thanks for: a decrease in the number of local Covid cases; staff administering vaccines worldwide

Pray for: our diocese, as we try to solve financial problems and plan for the future; all awaiting operations

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; baby Ada; Robert Hall; Rita; Catherine Rushworth and her anxious family; Ann Garner; families of those in mourning

Give thanks for: Rita’s operation; hospital chaplains, especially Rev Janet Hallam at St Mary’s Hospital

Also to give thanks for: Ann Garner’s son-in-law has recovered sufficiently from Covid to be allowed home, but her daughter Catherine Rushworth remains seriously ill in hospital. However, she is no longer on a ventilator and has been able to participate in zoom meetings of the family, so there is a marked improvement. This is a great encouragement to Ann, who herself is suffering from blood clots and would appreciate ongoing prayers.

The list of those in need is being revised. If you wish particular names to stay on the prayer list, please inform Rev Susan. (It is in any case helpful to be kept informed of people’s condition and/or progress). All names will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:

Patricia Kendall; Ena Young; Otto Stein; Peggy Briggs

Ena Young’s funeral will be at Newtown, where her husband is buried. As yet there are no further details, but when the date is known an online link will be circulated for anyone wishing to attend by Zoom.

COLLECT FOR THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST

Almighty and ever-living God,

clothed in majesty,

whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,

in substance of our flesh:

grant that we may be presented to you

with pure and clean hearts,

by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

READINGS

NEW TESTAMENT READING Hebrews 2: 14-end

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, Christ himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

GOSPEL Luke 2 : 22-40

22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38At that moment she came and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

ADDRESS

Every so often, people who are not regular worshippers in church turn up for a service that is meant to fulfil their particular needs – a baptism, a wedding or a funeral being the most common examples. And it is tragic that this last year we have been virtually unable to meet their needs because of the restrictions placed upon us. They come, always, with an immense amount of good will: a baptism is a joyful occasion, and very few people are unmoved by the sight of a small baby being presented. The pride and pleasure of the parents in their offspring is a lovely sight and somehow contagious. Weddings, for all their nerve-wracking potential, are equally joyful: here is an example of (often, but not always) young folk making a new start, celebrating the official status of their relationship and sanctifying it. It is more than just a matter of turning up at a pretty venue. And even funerals bring an outpouring of emotions – sadness, of course, but also thanksgiving and gratitude for the space to remember. It is no coincidence that the most commented on tree in our Christmas Tree festival at St Mildred’s was the remembrance tree, where visitors could place a memento of their loved one on the tree and/or light a candle in memory.

But alongside all this is the element of the unexpected, the unspoken hope of something more that will touch the visitor beyond the day itself. There is no such thing as a routine service in the events we rather thoughtlessly call the “occasional offices”, and we often forget that the word “occasional” means something special, an occasion to remember, rather than the use we might make of the word to describe random things that happen from time to time – the occasional bus passes my house, occasionally I treat myself to a bar of chocolate, and so on. Each service has its own potential to reveal God’s presence in one way or another.

For Joseph and Mary, presenting Jesus in the temple was an occasional office: it was required by the Law of Moses, and it entailed a special trip to Jerusalem. It was not a baptism: but it was a thanksgiving for the birth of a child, committing the firstborn in a family to God’s care. It involved making a sacrifice, and there were degrees of cost to this. The birds had to be bought at the temple – either a pair of turtle doves (expensive) or pigeons (cheaper, for poorer families). Joseph and Mary came into the latter category and probably had no great expectations of the event.

But then in comes first Simeon and then Anna, older people of no account in the outward greater scheme of temple things. The aspects of their lives that made them remarkable were inward qualities: Simeon’s depth of faith and perception, with his willingness to feel the prompting of the Spirit, and Anna’s persistent faith as a permanent recipient of the temple charity that must have sustained her widowhood and her anchorite life. Something of her devout life must have shown itself to others, since she was known as a prophetess. She had a wise woman’s ministry to offer. It was Simeon and Anna’s arrival on the scene that changed the presentation of Jesus in the temple from a routine requirement of the Law to a very different occasion.

It is not surprising that Mary and Joseph were amazed at the prophecies Simeon uttered. While those in the temple were longing for a leader to rescue them and put an end to Israel’s domination by the Romans, the future that Simeon prophesies is very different: this will be no immediately successful, glorious and powerful king but will face rejection by his own people. He will endure opposition and Mary will have great suffering. How could anyone be joyful about that? And yet through Jesus not only will Israel see glory, but the whole world will find salvation. The Kingdom Jesus brings in will be for the entire world, not just for the redemption of Jerusalem. Young or old, Jew or Gentile, nobody is to be excluded from God’s purposes. It’s worth looking through Luke’s gospel to find more apparently unimportant people portrayed who are at the heart of Jesus’ ministry – women, lepers, sinners, those on the margins of society or just ordinary people like us, in fact.

Did this revelation come to Simeon early on in his life, to be stored away and pondered for decades until the right Saviour appeared? Or was it a sudden conviction born of the occasion? We have no way of knowing. Luke simply brings Simeon onto the scene, and then he peacefully fades away from the centre, making way for Anna, whose role is to repeat the news of Jesus’ arrival to everyone she meets. Evangelism has begun, and from a quite unlikely source.

Evangelism today is no different. Anyone with faith is capable of living their lives in a way that points to God and indeed is called to do so. Actions often speak louder than words. When in a few months’ time we start reviewing what our building is for and how best it can serve our community, it will be as important to note what we do as Christians as much as what we say when we enter for worship. And yet equally important is that we keep faith in our hearts, through regular prayer and reflection on how God is leading us. While we are unable to seek growth in our numbers at present, we can at least seek growth in the depth of our faith and learn from the example of Simeon and Anna. So often the green shoots of spring begin in the depths of winter, and amidst a gloomy and overcast environment the glimmers of faith and hope become clear.

Amen.

INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Gillian Jackson)

On this Candlemas Sunday may our minds picture the infant Jesus being presented to Simeon in the temple, by Mary and Joseph, for his service to God. May we be similarly drawn into a life of prayer.

Heavenly Father, as we try to understand the mystery of so much world-wide suffering caused by this Pandemic, help us to keep praying, knowing that you alone are capable of turning evil into good.

We commend to you Lord the 100,000 people who have died from the virus in this country and we ask you to be close to their families and friends. We pray for those who walk in darkness and in the shadow of death, that they may come to know your eternal light and life. In solidarity with them we pray that all will keep to the rules and take the vaccine when it is offered.

Seeking your great mercy . . . we depend on you, Lord

Lord Jesus, having known suffering we know that you walk with us when the way is hard and give us hope. We ask that you strengthen all those working in our NHS and care homes, our politicians, teachers, our shops and essential services, scientists, and all those helping with the vaccine rollout.

Seeking your great mercy . . . we depend on you, Lord

We pray for our churches of St James’ and St Mildred’s and we thank you Lord for all who lead us. Help us reach out to our relatives and friends and our local community, even if it’s just an occasional phone call or friendly ‘hello’ or smile if we pass someone, as we know Lord that all are important in your sight.

Seeking your great mercy . . . we depend on you, Lord

We pray for families as they struggle with juggling working from home and home schooling. We pray for those out of work that they will find new jobs; the poor, the persecuted, the sick and all who suffer; that they may be relieved and protected. For the aged, for refugees and all in danger, that they may be strengthened and defended

Seeking your great mercy . . . we depend on you, Lord

We humbly pray for our own needs and for the needs of those on our pew sheet for whom we have been asked to pray.

Seeking your great mercy . . . we depend on you, Lord

Thank you Lord for all that you bless us with: sunshine to cheer our hearts and joy in seeing the new green shoots of spring appearing, with the promise of warmer weather to come. Help us to walk in the light of your love.

Merciful Father,

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, you fulfilled the hope of Simeon and Anna,

who lived to welcome the Messiah:

may we, who have received these gifts beyond words,

prepare to meet Christ Jesus when he comes

to bring us to eternal life;

for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Amen.

To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence.

NOTICES

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.

MESSAGE FROM INDEPENDENT ARTS

The diocese have forwarded a press release from Independent Arts relating to an island-wide initiative. If you are creative and looking to fill the lockdown hours, have a look – especially if you are online, but I see there is also a phone number for other enquiries and a possibility of submitting artwork via a collection point. (See the bold print sentence!)

Press Release: Looking out from Lockdown

Looking Out From Lockdown is an Island-wide project celebrating the creativity of Island people during lockdown, both in 2020, and again now in 2021. In collaboration with Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Susie Sheldon, local arts for wellbeing charity Independent Arts is offering people the chance to exhibit their lockdown creations, be it painting, photographs, poetry, music, speech, pottery, writing, crafts, projects, inventions, baking, gardening or anything else creative completed to keep spirits up during lockdown. Whether it is something that captures the moment of lockdown one, or whether it is right now in lockdown three, everyone is urged to get creative and submit their projects to fill the gallery with their thoughts, visions and reflections in any art form, plus the story behind them.

The website will become a “time capsule” for our Island Community to admire and share in years to come when reflecting on our experiences during the pandemic. The plan is to hold physical exhibitions after restrictions end, so please save those creations that can’t be exhibited online. For contributors who are unable to photograph and submit work online to the website, there will eventually be the option to use drop-off points, where creations can be photographed and submitted on your behalf and returned. Charities, radio, local papers, schools, care homes, businesses, clubs and organisations and events during 2021 are all encouraged to get involved in this project and give people the motivation to get creative. Individual exhibitions of Looking Out From Lockdown could be held around the island, once restrictions ease.

The Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Susie Sheldon says, “This is an exciting project that should give everyone an incentive to concentrate their talents for a purpose. In these difficult times we all need a purpose to keep us motivated. Everyone has the ability to be creative in different ways and I am really excited at the prospect of seeing all the works, ideas, inventions, thoughts etc that have come out of the time Islanders have spent in Lockdown both in 2020 and again now. Let this be something really good that comes out of the difficult times we are all going through.

Lisa Gagliani MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Arts says, “When we heard about this idea, we knew it was perfect to add to our existing Islesolation Gallery developed in lockdown one – with this new impetus, we hope many more Islanders will find inspiration to have a go and submit something, as we know just how valuable making, doing and displaying one’s creativity can be at a time of stress.”

Jo Dare BEM, CEO of Age UK Isle of Wight commented: “Lockdown is challenging but to keep positive we know Islanders have been turning to existing talents, or learning new skills, some of which may have included, or been taught by, older residents. Whatever your age, whatever your way of letting time pass whilst keeping safe, and hopeful for the future, we want to see what you’ve been up to. You may even inspire someone else to have a go as well!”

Mayor of Ryde, Cllr Michael Lilley: “Looking out from Lockdown is a great project idea as it provides a message of hope and an outlet for voices and creativity of all our Island residents from their homes during lockdown. We need our community to stay safe but not silent and this provides an outlet to share our thoughts for the future and the fantastic imaginations within our community”.

To find out how to get involved, head to Independent Arts online https://islesolationgallery.com/LookingOutFromLockdown

Submissions are welcome from any Island resident, of any age, preferably via email attachment to gallery

Please check the Tips & Tricks section for help in providing a good quality image so that your creativity shines. For video or musical submissions, email and attach a YouTube link.

Editors notes: For further information about the Lord Lieutenant’s office contact: office Tel: 01983 756050

For further information about Independent Arts contact info or to submit something for the gallery email a good quality photograph and description to gallery Tel: 01983 822437

The online gallery will be an expansion of the ‘Festival of Islesolation’ Independent Arts created during the first lockdown in 2020, which was funded by Arts Council England. Independent Arts is a registered charity (Registered in England and Wales No. 297474) that has operated on the Isle of Wight since 1987. Its mission is to change lives through arts. Before lockdown it ran workshops in the community and in care homes reaching 1700 people each month. Now many of its services can be accessed online, via zoom and its own YouTube channel. See www.independentarts.org.uk for details.